Archive for December, 2010

God Always Has A Plan

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

December 23, 2010

I am now at the YWAM center in Lonavala, Maharastra, India. I am not sure how many students are here at this young adult convention, but there are a good number. They have come from all parts of India. Several groups drove 25 hours from the southern most part of India. The young adults here are wonderful and I consider myself fortunate to spend time with them. Yesterday one of the students shared the most touching testimony of how he came to Christ and to the church. Convinced that there was error, he eagerly studied the Bible and books to find all the errors. But instead of that he discovered Jesus and became a believer. He is one of the best medical students of his “college,” and is faithfully living out his faith among the other students who are largely Hindu and Muslim. He prays much and has been seeing specific answers to prayer. He has also been faithfully honoring God by not taking examinations on the Saturday Sabbath. His friends have ridiculed him in this, and assured him he will fail, but God has intervened countless times to allow him to take and pass alternate exams that are considered impossible to pass.  The wonderful thing about all of this is that his friends from the other faiths are watching carefully and are fully aware of his motivation as a Christian. He could have chosen to take the exam on the Sabbath as a matter of expediency, but he has chosen to honor God and God is honoring him. Please join me in praying for this modern Daniel.

Some thoughts from the Bible…

“But he shook off the creature into the fire.” Acts 28:5

“They will take up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them….” Mark 16:18

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purposes.” Rom. 8:28

Acts 27 and 28 cover Paul’s perilous journey to Rome, and his two years of confinement where he was “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31)

It is interesting that in the course of the journey to Rome there were decided differences of opinion between Paul and the sailers on what they should do. Paul, perceiving oncoming dangers, advised them to not leave the port. His words were overruled, however, and they quickly found themselves in great danger. In an effort to save themselves, the sailers tried various maneuvers to keep the boat aright. But facing strong contrary winds, they allowed the ship to be driven before the wind. Over time they threw their cargo overboard, their ship’s tackle and eventually even lost the ship; all of this was due to not listening to Paul.

In the sailers’ defense they didn’t know anything about Paul and were probably prejudiced against him. He was a prisoner and prisoners were not listened to much, especially when it came to sailing a ship.

During this time Paul isn’t mentioned. However, from verse 21 we get the sense that Paul had been seeking God’s help through prayer and fasting. When he emerged, and after reminding the sailers they should have listened to him, he encouraged them that there would be no loss of life, though the ship would be lost. Paul also told them about an angel who had come and visited him, sent from the God he belonged to and whom he served.”

True to Paul’s words, the ship was eventually run aground on Malta and all the men safely made it ashore. The locals showed “an unusual kindness,” unusual perhaps because their visitors were prisoners and prisoners were not usually treated kindly. They even made a fire where the men could warm themselves.

It was in the course of gathering sticks for the fire that a major “praise the Lord” event took place. Reaching into the sticks, Paul was suddenly bitten by a venomous viper. The locals looking on, concluded that Paul must be a murderer  and were quite certain he would quickly die. But shaking the snake off and suffering no harm, Paul quietly continued gathering sticks. Surprised, the locals then decided he must be a god.

When arriving at Malta Paul had only been known as a prisoner who was undoubtedly justly condemned for some crime. But as a result of God’s intervention, they recognized there was something other worldly about Paul.

Some things strike me.

(1) God cares and is always willing to communicate. God communicated with the sailers because he cared about them, but to no avail. God is still as willing to communicate and help in our day.

(2) God usually communicates through his godly children, but they are not always listened to due to prejudice. In this case God communicated through Paul. Unfortunately Paul was not sufficiently respected and therefore his message was disregarded. Still today prejudice against God’s messengers plays an unfortunate role in God’s voice being heard at times.

(3) Taking our concerns to God through prayer and fasting is always a good policy. Because the sailers would not listen to him, Paul took his concerns to God. God honored his obedience in praying and fasting, and sent needed communication. I don’t pray and fast enough and I suspect you don’t either. Jesus’ words, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21) is still true in our day. Are we praying and fasting when we face problems?

(4) We serve because we belong! Paul was a great servant of God, but he served God because he belonged to Him. Here at the convention I have been talking with the young adults about what it means to surrender and completely give oneself to God. It is because we belong to God that we serve God.

(5) God sometimes uses negative events to bring great blessings. In Paul’s case it was being bitten by a viper. In our case, it may be some other misfortune. In all such cases, God is working for good to those who love Him, and sometimes His only way of initially bringing the needed blessing is negative.

(6) God carefully orchestrates all the details necessary to work His good will. God made sure the viper was hiding in the sticks when it was needed. God works just as decidedly on our behalf in whatever way is needed. I know it may seem trite to suggest that God is always decidedly working on our behalf, but I really believe it and am doing what I can to always live with that understanding.

(7) Finally, God always has a plan to reach others. When Paul arrived at Malta the chance of him significantly influencing the people on the island was minimal; they only knew he was a prisoner. But God had a plan to overcome their prejudice, and as Paul quietly obeyed, God worked His plan. We are still reading about the blessings that came in our day. I can’t help but believe that God has a plan to reach people everywhere, no matter what religious background they have.

As I write I struggle with a cold, and many of the young adults here are similarly struggling. We would appreciate your prayers for our getting well. I believe I will fast and pray today to seek God’s help in turning this sickness around. I have been wondering why God allowed all of us to be so affected and believe that it is part of God’s good will on our behalf. I am not sure what to do, but am certain that obeying Jesus’ injunction can only help.

Father in heaven, thank You that ALL things somehow work for good. I don’t know what is going on in the life of the person reading this but You do. Please be a constant presence today, bringing wisdom and help in all the best ways, so that today may be a blessed day in every regard. You know the prayers that are going up. Perhaps for overcoming some physical ailment like I am; perhaps for something else. Thank you for not only knowing what is going on, but also bringing together the elements necessary to bring the needed blessings. Encourage my friend today that every prayer is being heard, and that regardless of how bleak circumstances may look, that those very circumstances are part of Your great plan of blessing. Thank You for being more than able for my friend, today! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

God bless you today Dan!

This was first sent as one of my “almost daily notes.” I would love to add you to the list if you are interested. Please write me to request being put on the list.