Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stories from The River's Edge

Sunday, November 11th, The River's Edge will celebrate our first two years of ministry! God has taken a dream and a prayer and turned it into a vibrant light shining into the hearts of many lives in North Central Iowa! Help us to celebrate what God has done by sharing your story here! Click on the "comment" button below this post, and share one of your favorite River's Edge stories or memories. Share something that God has done in your life or taught you. Give God glory for how He's made an impact in changing your life! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If God performs miracles, how does He choose who receives them?

A friend, Mary, recently asked me the question in the title of this post: "If God performs miracles, how does He choose who receives them?" What a great question! I don't know if I have a complete answer for it, but it brought a couple thoughts to mind. 1. We all recieve miracles every day! Every moment I live and move and breathe I consider a miracle from God. The fact that my body is pumping blood, taking in air, beating a heart, hearing, seeing, feeling, moving - all at the same time without ever taking a holiday!!! God gives us all miracles every day! 2. I'm sure what Mary is asking, however, is whether a certain, specific act that we have in mind will or will not be granted, e.g. "will my friend be healed?", "I need $$ to pay the bills, will God provide?", etc. In these cases, we're definitely in for trouble if we start comparing our situations with other people, like, "how come she was healed, but not my friend?", or "why did he find a $100 bill on the sidewalk and I didn't?" When we see things like that, we can start to feel "short-changed", or like God "chose" to give them a miracle but not us. When we start doing that, we will never be able to even see our own miracles because we're blinded by jealousy over what we see others receiving! We need to remember our role in this relationship with God and focus on that. We're not to be worrying about God's decision-making process or "will He or won't He" stuff. Instead, we're supposed to be faithfully seeking Him, spending time with Him in prayer, laying our burdens on Him, leaving them there with Him, trust that He will act in His way, believe that He will work, and then leave the choice to Him, knowing that His ways are higher than our ways! Some verses on this topic are: James 5:16 "the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective!" Psalm 37:25 "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread." Psalm 55:22 "cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you!" God acts when we faithfully pray! He doesn't pick and choose which prayers to answer - He acts on every prayer!
Here's a parable I read online recently:

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied..."Things aren't always what they seem."
The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest.
When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," the first angel accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die."
"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night, as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for the farmer's wife. I gave the angel the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."
Sometimes, this is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way we think they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it, however, until some time later.

The most amazing verse in the Bible!?

We're in the middle of this sermon series, "The God Questions". After last Sunday's service where we talked about "Why does God allow suffering", my friend, Jay, showed me a very sweet passage in the Bible - and I just read it again this morning. It's in Job 1:20. Job just went through perhaps worse loss and pain and suffering than most of us will ever experience in all of our lives. He's just been told that his entire business that he's built for years has been destroyed, all of his servants and even all of his children have been killed! Unbelievable! Job's immediate response in 1:20 is to do the usual things that people in that day did when they were in mourning, he tore his robe and shaved his head, but then "he fell to the ground in worship." And to paraphrase, what he said to God and anyone else who was listening was, "I didn't have anything when I came into this world, I won't have anything when I leave this world. But the centerpiece of my life is, has been, and will always be, the Lord and His love - so God, I give You praise!"

What an amazing focus on God! That focus gave Him amazing success in life, and amazing strength in the most unbelievable suffering.

I want my life to reflect that same focus and god-given strength.