Embrace what your Father has given you

Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, the few people left of the nation of Israel. I’ve carried you since your birth. I’ve taken care of you from the time you were born. Even when you’re old, I’ll take care of you. Even when your hair turns gray, I’ll support you. I made you and will continue to care for you. I’ll support you and save you. (Isaiah 46:3-4)

As I get older, I think more and more of what could have been. I had dreams, great dreams for my walk with God, for my life, for everything. And sometimes it just feels like I missed something somewhere. Sometimes, I just don’t understand what happened. Sometimes I feel it is too late, I am too old. And it is difficult to know what to do with the past, with the present and the future. Trust God, of course, but how, for what, when? And because God never changes and is always good, he hears and listens. Because He is the good Shepherd, He always leads to green pastures. Because He is light, He never leaves us in the dark. Because of Christ, because in Him we are reconciled with the Father, we will never be lost again. So, the Great Shepherd of the sheep saw me in my darkness and leads me toward the following words that John Piper said, which encouraged me and helped me to see what I could do:

“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.

The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep” — about those who have died — “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real — really felt, really expressed — and hope is real that changes it profoundly. I have in mind two kinds of losses: those who had something precious and lost it, and those who hoped for something precious and never had it. It works both ways. Sixty years go by, and forty years on you think, “I’ve come to terms with that,” and then one morning it breaks over you, and you weep about a 40-year old loss, or a 40-year “never have,” and my counsel is, yes, go ahead, embrace that moment. Weep. But then, say to your weeping after a season, “No. You will not define me, sorrow, because my God has said, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11).

Therefore, even though it was good in one sense, and I miss it in one sense, I trust my God, and he has not withheld anything that is good for me.” Yes, let there be weeping in those seasons — feel the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life he’s given you. “

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Who are you like?

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. (1 Kings 16:30 ESV)

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. (2 Chronicles 34:1-2 ESV)

Reading the books of Kings and Chronicles, we see quickly that there were bad kings and good kings. When we look deeper, we see that there were bad kings and kings worse than them as well as good kings and excellent  kings.

There were bad kings who knew that God was God, but “worshipped” Him as they wanted, making idols and altars, creating pagan places of worship. Then, there were those who worshipped Baal and other false gods. There were good kings who did not do everything God would have wanted them to and kings after God’s own heart who followed David’s example. And there were good kings who became evil and an evil king who repented.

Every human being belongs to one of those categories. If you don’t think that you are a Christian after God’s own heart, today is your opportunity to repent. There is always room for repentance in God’s kingdom, always an opportunity to become like Josiah.

Before him there was no king like him , who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. (2 Kings 23:25 ESV)

Be blessed!

God is good, isn’t He?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

How hard it is to believe this verse. We all know it. We quote it often. We use it to encourage others and lift our own spirit. But we don’t believe it. Before you react, let me ask you a question. When was the last time you got frustrated, angry or anxious? If we really believed what the Holy Spirit says here, we wouldn’t feel frustrated with our circumstances. If we really believed It, we wouldn’t be anxious about tomorrow . We would be sure that everything is okay because our God is God.

But the fact that God is God is all the problem. He is so holy, so righteous, so pure, and we are so rebellious, so sinful, so impure. Why should He be good to us? Well because He is merciful and loves us. But… He proved it on the cross. But… Yes, but He is God and He never lies or changes. He is merciful and gracious and faithful and good and shows it in so many ways every day. Let us praise Him for all His wonderful deeds.

 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. Psalm 18:35

God rejoices to do us good.

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them… I will rejoice in doing them good. (Jeremiah 32:40-41 ESV)

This is one of those promises of God that are difficult to grasp, to fully accept. God rejoices in doing you and me good. That’s extravagant love! Can you think of any fact more encouraging than that?

Sometimes our situations are so hard to bear that it feels like God is doing all He can to make us miserable. In those days, we need to remember.

To remember those low moments, those moments where we were so weak that we were sure God’s grace could not be enough for us and yet we saw God answer prayers after prayers.

To remember that time when we wanted that specific seat and prayed, then those two guys just left and we got the spot.

To remember that exam we were sure to fail and we got the mark we wanted.

To remember that surprising phone call which rejoiced your heart.

To remember those moments of unexpected blessings, those heavenly winks.

It was God doing us good and rejoicing in it. So let’s be encouraged and comforted. The all-powerful God, the one who hold all things, takes pleasure in doing us good.

Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23:6 NET)