by Sara Collins | Oct 24, 2018 | Finding Hope in the Waiting
We know that our God is able to do anything. We may have even grown up singing,
*Our God is so BIG, so STRONG, and so MIGHTY; there’s nothing our God cannot do!*
But what does that mean in our everyday lives? How does this knowledge give us hope? We are prone to even forget this all-important truth as we deal with our everyday struggles. In my youth group and family devotionals we have been learning the characteristics of God. They are two different studies, but it is amazing to see how the two have been intertwining! It has been so encouraging to be reminded that God is eternal, holy, unchangeable, all-wise, all-powerful, and all-good. Because God is all of these things perfectly and infinitely we can trust Him with ALL of our cares and know that He will do what is best for us. And that gives us hope.
God is Perfectly Wise
Wisdom is different from knowledge. Knowledge is factual; Jeopardy contestants may be knowledgeable but not necessarily wise. Wisdom is the knowledge applied in ways that are good and right and helpful. God’s holy nature guides His wisdom so that everything He does WILL be the best thing.
First, let us discuss the wisdom of God for a moment. Romans 16:27 states that He is the only wise God and Proverbs 8:22-31 says that through wisdom God created the world. Psalm 104 and Job 38-41 also discuss God’s wisdom in creating and sustaining the world. Every time I go outside and observe the majesty of the tall oaks and cedars and the delicacy of the flowers, I know. When I consider the complexity of the human body and the harmony with which every living thing works, I know. As I contemplate the reality that in the past 6,000 years day and night, summer and winter, springtime and harvest have not ceased to come year by year, I know that God created the world in wisdom.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew.
I recently read in Daniel 2 when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a disturbing dream and called for all the wise men of the city to not only interpret his dream, but know the dream without being told it first! He was tired of phony magicians and ‘yes’ men. But no one could do that! Only God! He revealed this dream to Daniel — a dream that was in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind alone — God knew it! He knew it because He had planted it there, a dream telling of future nations to come. God is all-wise.
God is All-Good
You do not take pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells in you. Psalm 5:4
You are good and you do good. Psalm 119:68
For He is good and his salvation endures forever. Psalm 106:1
The verses state the fact that God is good, but what does that mean? First, He is good to ALL of His creation, we see this in the evidence of beauty and sun and rain on the good and the bad (Psalm 145:8-9; Matthew 5:45). Second, He is good in that He grants salvation to those who believe in Him (Romans 5:8) Because of His goodness He is willing to forgive. He grants salvation, mercy, and grace to sinners who repent and confess that He is Lord. We have His blessing instead of His wrath.
In a reading through the book of Mark, one thing that strikes me is how many times Jesus had compassion on people. Just regular people who were in pain; who couldn’t solve their problems on their own and cried to Jesus for help. They were poor, destitute sinners who had nothing to give in return. Even when Jesus was tired or in need of physical refreshment, He couldn’t refuse them. Mark 1:41 says he was moved with compassion when a leper came beseeching Him for healing. Jesus earthly ministry shows the goodness of God.
God is All-Powerful
Hebrews 1:3 tells us, He upholds all things by the word of His power, and Isaiah 40:26 says, He calls the stars by name because of the greatness of His might and strength. Nothing is to difficult for Him and no one can ward off His hand (Jer, 32:17, Dan. 4:35). The bible is replete with examples of His power; in one of them we see him protect three men in the midst of a fire that was so hot that the guards who were outside the fire died. His protection was so encompassing that the men didn’t even smell of smoke! Elsewhere in the book of Daniel we see Him shut the mouths of lions so that they did not devour Daniel.
Among other things, we see that God has power over nature, which we see in the dividing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14 and the raging storm being stilled through Jesus words in Mark 4. However, because God is all-wise and all-good, we are not afraid of His power — we can know He will use it for what is good and right and best all the time!
When we understand that God is perfectly and infinitely wise, powerful and good, we can trust that He has our best interests in mind and is able to accomplish all things for our good. We can believe the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who were called according to His purpose.” He is absolutely able to take care of whatever needs I have regardless of how difficult or big. Praise the Lord! Go to Him in prayer and trust that He has your life in His hands.
by Sara Collins | Oct 19, 2018 | Finding Hope in the Waiting
Last time we talked about recognizing the blessings and provisions that God has poured out in our lives. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the need of the moment that we forget the times that God has provided in the past and how blessed we truly are. As I was reading through the book of Mark during my daily bible time, I made the observation that even the disciples were prone to forget who Jesus truly was and what He could do. Here are some things I noticed when I was reading through the following familiar gospel account.
Jesus provides food for the multitude
Do you remember the true account of the feeding of the 5,000? Jesus was in a secluded place and five thousand men, not to mention the women and children, had followed him, desiring to hear his teaching and hoping for healing. It came to be evening and the disciples were concerned about how this multitude was going to eat. When they came to Jesus about it, He responded, “You give them food.” In disbelief, they tried to find solutions.
Should we buy food? Six months wages wouldn’t be enough!
Should we send them away to buy food? Hmmm.
Andrew had found a boy who had 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. They were thinking, “No way this will feed all these people!” But they brought him to Jesus anyway as their only solution.
Then Jesus did the unimaginable — he had everyone sit down and He prayed to bless the food. He started passing around what was a minuscule amount of food and … it … just … kept …. coming! He fed all those thousands of people and ended up with more leftovers than He started with! God’s provision is abundant!
On another occasion Jesus and His disciples were in the countryside with 4000 men in addition to women and children. In a similar fashion he fed all of them from only seven loaves and a few small fish. They ate until they were satisfied and had seven baskets of food leftover!
Do you not understand?
We know the stories; God’s provision is amazing. But the conversation I want to zoom in on happens a few days later. Jesus and His disciples were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. They had already gone to another town, had a run-in with some Pharisees, and now were headed back. Jesus wanted to warn them about the leaven of the Pharisees, but they were distracted. They had realized, to their horror, that they had forgotten to bring bread. There was one loaf, but it was not nearly enough to feed all of them They began discussing this and wondering how they would eat. Sound familiar? Listen to Jesus response:
“Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?”
They *said to Him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?”
And they *said to Him, “Seven.”
And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:17-21
These 12 men had been walking with Jesus for over a year and had front row seats for many miracles, including these two where he provided food. Yet, in the midst of the dilemma, they had forgotten that Jesus could provide the most basic of needs. They forgot that they could place all their cares, needs, and burdens on Him and He would take care of it.
Jesus can provide for us too
What about us? If we know Jesus as Savior then we have personally experienced the greatest miracle of all — going from death to life!
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:1-5
Salvation is our greatest need. If God had seen fit to send His Son to suffer the wrath that we deserved, why would He not also provide for our other needs as well? And not only does He promise to help us, He is able to help us. God is absolutely able because he is perfectly wise, all-good, and all-powerful — you can read more about that in this post.
When we are waiting on God, trusting in Him to provide, we have to know that He CAN provide. He is completely and totally willing and able.
by Sara Collins | Oct 17, 2018 | Finding Hope in the Waiting
Sometimes trusting in the Lord means we act even though we don’t understand why — we just know we are trusting in Him. This is where I was this morning. Yesterday I was planning to spend money on this amazing bundle of courses that was going to help me with all the in’s and out’s of blogging. I was so excited to learn everything I’ve been searching for and pay one relatively low price for the whole bundle. Well … let’s just say that wasn’t God’s plan for me. Through several ways God showed me without a doubt that I was not supposed to buy that bundle. This would be the third time in the last few months that I tried to spend money on an e-course only to be told no. I was getting the message that at this point I wasn’t supposed to be spending any extra money on my blog.
Does this change God’s will for my life??
All of a sudden, I was at a loss. What am I doing? Am I even supposed to be blogging anymore? From the start my goal was, and continues to be, to glorify God in all that I write. I felt as though I needed to learn this stuff to grow in my blog and if He didn’t want me buying it, then maybe He didn’t want me blogging. I have struggled with promoting my posts so that other people can see them and read them and hoped to learn to do that better. I have struggled with learning all the regulations and fine details of the business side of it and hoped to learn about that. Then there’s that controversial word — monetization. There are operating costs, even though I try to keep them at a minimum, not to mention the needs of my family. I’ve struggled with balancing the idea of monetization without having a site so full of pop-ups and ads that distract from my main purpose. Again, I was hoping to learn that as well.
But the nudging of the Spirit told me, “Just write. Just focus on writing and I’ll work out all the details.”
I didn’t understand, but I went to my quiet time and prayed for God to teach me from His word. My bible plan has me reading from four different portions of scripture every day and two of them for that day were exactly what I needed to hear. Colossians 3:2 says, “set your mind on things above (spreading the gospel) not on things on earth (blog stats).” Just write. God will work out the earthly details.
Then my plan brought me to Psalm 37 — this happens to be one of those psalms I turn to a lot when I need guidance and a large portion of it is underlined. Verses 3-5 and 7 say,
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him
So that is what I am doing — committing my writing to Him. Praying that I will glorify Him through it. Trusting that He will bring my message to the people who need to hear it. I will delight myself in Him and rest patiently in Him and know that He will give me the desires of my heart (which, incidentally, will also be His desire for me because I will have been delighting in Him).
by Sara Collins | Oct 16, 2018 | Finding Hope in the Waiting
When life is not as we think it should be, it is so easy to focus on what we do not have rather than the blessings God has poured out on us. When we are constantly thinking about what we lack we start to become bitter and grumpy and generally have a bad attitude.
I know this from experience! Back when we were stuffed in our itty bitty home I would spend my free minutes looking at my favorite real estate app, daydreaming about the house I wanted. This was not fruitful because not being able to actually buy a new house caused me to be discontent and grumpy to my family. When I realized this poor attitude and its origin, I had to make the decision to put aside this app and stop dwelling on what I didn’t have and start dwelling on God.
Start a Blessing Book
One thing I have learned about putting away sinful or negative thoughts is that they must be replaced with God-honoring thoughts otherwise they will just come back. So, in response to a timely sermon from my pastor, I began a blessings book — A journal where I wrote the blessings that I currently had in the midst of it all. Honestly, it was hard to start — I didn’t feel blessed. So I copied Psalm 103:1-5 in the front to remind me.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Then I began listing my blessings — my children, my husband, my church family. After awhile, it became easier and easier to notice the blessings. I noted times that God provided for us; our house was warm and dry, and my family was healthy. I even noted the need for a costly car repair that came upon us suddenly and that we actually had the funds to accomplish it. Recording the blessings God had poured out on us became a way to focus on what I did have instead of what I didn’t.
Read a good book on the character of God
Soon after beginning the blessing book, I began reading a study by Elizabeth George called Powerful Promises for every Woman — 12 Life-Changing Truths from Psalm 23. I was reminded how the Father cares for me and provides for me, even in the rocky places. Through this study I was able to see even more the everyday blessings and ways that God provides for me.
I also began reading some biographies on men and women who lived for the glory of God. George Mueller, Franny Crosby, Esther Ahn Kim, and Jim Elliot just to name a few. Among many lessons, one thing the lives of these ordinary men and women taught me was perspective. My measly “sufferings” didn’t compare with what they sacrificed for the name of Christ.
On my current list of books to read are these books recommended by my pastor. If you want to learn more about God and His character — these would be a good place to start. When we learn about God and His character then we see our own troubles and concerns in the right perspective. They become “momentary light afflictions” in the view of eternity. We also come to know and trust Him more and more with all our cares. From my understanding this list is in order of easiness to read to more difficult.
- Holiness – J.C. Ryle
- Holiness of God – R.C. Sproul
- The Gospel According to Jesus – John MacArthur
- Practical Religion – J.C. Ryle
When we dwell on who God is and the great ways He has provided for us, then we are not dwelling on the negatives. We can know that God will provide for all our needs in His perfect timing and we can rest in this knowledge. By the way, we can KNOW for sure that Jesus CAN and WILL provide for our needs, read more about that in this post.
What do you do to help you focus on your blessings rather than your complaints?
My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1-2
by Sara Collins | Oct 14, 2018 | Finding Hope in the Waiting
This is an important truth we must always remember: God is faithful regardless of how we feel! When time drags on and life continues to be hard we must continue to remember this unchangeable truth. Turn to scriptures that remind you of this truth; write them on the mirror, print them on pretty cards and tape them around the house, anything to remind you that He still cares. In this post, I have listed a few of my favorites.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13
- Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness stretches to the skies. Your righteouesness is like the mountains of God; your judgements are like the great deep. Psalm 36:5-6
- I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take courage and wait for the Lord. Psalm 28:13-14
- I will trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. I will give thanks forever because you have done it, and I will wait on your name, for it is good, in the presence of your godly ones. Psalm 52:8-9
- Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22
- When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God whose words I praise; in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Put my tears in a bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:3-4;8
- The Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You. Psalm 84:11-12
- Give thanks to the Lord, For He is good … From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? … The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation … Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 118
- I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;fFrom where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
- I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. Psalm 130:5-7
This is just a short list of some of my favorite psalms, I encourage to go to your bible and read the entire psalm for context. You will be blessed by it. In coming days I will also list some of my go-to verses from the rest of scripture.
What are your favorite verses to go to when you are feeling weak?