Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“When my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I…Let me find refuge and trust in the shelter of Your wings.”
Psalm 61: 2, 4
“Birds fly to the trees, and the stork to the fir, the wild goat to the high hills, and the coney to the rocks. There is a shelter for every one of these creatures, great and small. Think a moment then: If God has made each creature happy and given a place of refuge to each creature, then depend on it, He has not left us without a shelter…’My God, do You shield and shelter the coney in the rock, and is there no rock for me to shelter in? Assuredly, You have not made us and left us without a refuge; when You give to the rabbit the cleft in which he may hide himself, there must be a shelter for me’…Have You not yearnings after the Infinite – hungerings which bread cannot satisfy, thirstings which a river could not quench? Well then, if You have such longings as these, surely there must be a provision to meet them. With my thirstings, my longings, my mysterious instincts, there is a God…there is a heaven…there is a fullness to meet my emptiness. You and I want a shelter, there must be a shelter.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Strengthen My Spirit
Hiding In Thee
“O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine would I be;
Thou blest, ‘Rock of Ages,’ I’m hiding in Thee.
How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe;
How often, when trials like sea billows roll,
Have I hidden in Thee,
O Thou Rock of my soul.
Hiding in Thee, Thou blest ‘Rock of Ages,’
I’m hiding in Thee.”
William O. Cushing
“With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God.”
Psalm 62: 7
Today’s Study Text:
“The Bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25: 5
“Delay Is Not Denial – Part 4
“Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out.”
George-Louis Leclere de Buffon
Is there some special need in my life where I feel that God’s response to my cry for help has been delayed?
How does God’s silence make me feel?
In my life has there ever been something I was denied and later realized God had actually answered my request in a way which proved to be for my benefit?
“What distinguishes the foolish and wise is readiness for the Bridegroom, even in the face of delay. The wise are prepared for delay. Thus, when their faith in the Bridegroom’s return is tested, they have the resources available to sustain them. In the midst of life’s joy and pain, ease and adversity, intrigue and boredom, the faith of the wise remains enough. They keep their light shining before others, continuing in community, study, and prayer, doing deeds of mercy, offering forgiveness, and spreading justice and peace.”
Pastor Lindsay P. Armstrong
Feasting on the Word
Year A, Volume 4
“The word delay tends to leave a bad taste in our mouths these days. We don’t like delays; instant gratification is more our speed. We dislike waiting for anything.”
Delay Is Not Denial
Delay! Whenever I see or hear that word spoken I am taken back to the many years when I was traveling on a daily basis, often flying to 3 or 4 cities every week. It was a hectic time in my life. To be honest, nothing frustrated me more than to arrive at the airport and see the words “delayed” on the “Flight Schedule” board. Inevitably, if my flight was behind schedule, it meant, if I had to make a connection in some other “HUB” city, I’d most likely miss that plane as well. Especially when storm systems were making their way across the country, it made it almost impossible not to get stuck in some city I hadn’t planned on visiting.
After a couple of excursions that left me side-tracked in a location no where near the city I needed to end up in, I began taking a small tote bag filled with “Dorothy’s essentials.” I made certain the bag easily slid under my plane seat and with all my special requirements for a pleasant trip in my trusty bag, I’d settle in, not allowing myself to get in a panic because my schedule had been upended by events which were totally out of my control.
My years of traveling for business helps me understand the plight of the 10 Bridesmaids who found that the Bridegroom’s delayed arrival turned their plans upside-down. While they all carried lamps, half of the girls didn’t bring along enough oil to carry them through an extended time of waiting. The fact was they had not been told the hour or minute of the Bridegroom’s arrival. They may have tried to estimate how long it would take the Bridegroom to arrive at the Brides’ home. But obviously, if they had a temporary time schedule, they missed the mark. As Pastor Lindsay Armstrong points out, “The parable of the Ten Bridesmaids speaks a profound word to our fast-paced, twenty-first century populace; it is a fresh reminder of the need to prepare for delay…In this parable, the Bridegroom arrives later than anticipated and not all of the Bridesmaids are prepared for the delay. Some have only enough oil for the timetable they imagine.”
Over 25 years ago, I was looking through the shelves of books at our local Christian bookstore. (Remember those days where you could go to a real store and look at the books?!) One specific book which caught my eye was a paperback penned by Don Anderson who at that time was a pastor in Austin, Texas. The title of the book is what really got my attention: Abraham, Delay Is Not Denial. While I read the book years ago, I remembered many of the lessons it contained and pulled it out recently.
I’d like to share several of author Anderson’s observations as exemplified in the life of Abraham: “Good things take time. God wants it that way. I think that truth is illustrated marvelously in Scripture by the life of the patriarch Abraham. God had good things in store for His servant Abraham. The Lord made tremendous promises to him, but there was no instant gratification in Abraham’s life. There was, instead, a whole lot of delay. You see, Abraham didn’t have to wait just days, weeks, or years to witness the fulfillment of God’s promises to him – he had to wait decades. As the Lord showed His servant, and as He wants to show us, His delay does not equal His denial.”
Maybe you can relate to Abraham’s experience. You know God has His hand on you. You know He has a special work for you to do for Him. You’ve felt His call upon your life. But things haven’t fallen together in the way you thought they would. I hear you! Believe me, this next year, 2016, will be 10 years that I’ve been writing daily devotionals and leading out in our Transformation Garden Prayer ministry AND working at another job as well. Five years ago, I was so positive I had worked everything out in such a way that I could devote all my time to the Garden. And then, within 5 minutes, everything blew up in my face. I was sorely disappointed to be sure but I figured that God would quickly come to my rescue and work everything out, just the way I wanted Him to. Well, that was 5 years ago this August. Rather than things getting easier they’ve gotten more complicated. That is until a few weeks ago when I finally said, “Dear Father, it’s all Yours. My time. My challenges. My path. I’m on a day-by-day basis!” And somewhere out in the universe, I think my gracious Father let out a big sigh and whispered, “Dorothy, what took you so long? I’ve got everything under control. Just stand back and watch Me at work.” As Pastor Anderson continues in Delay Is Not Denial: “Abraham learned some heavy lessons from his Creator during the waiting period, too. We can benefit from his schooling. God wants us, like Abraham, to realize that delays in our lives are only delays from the human perspective.”
“The countdown to the faithful fulfillment of one of God’s promises is always right on schedule in His time. The Lord delights in us when everything is on hold from our point of view because we learn to be patient, prayerful, and personally sensitive to His leadership as we wait for new indications of His will. Many times for us, as for Abraham, the temptation to take matters into our own hands becomes very great, yet when we do so, we can make gigantic mistakes. But if we remain faithful even in what seem to be impossible circumstances, we delight the heart of God…The Lord is so gracious to us…He has a plan for our lives that puts all the pieces of the puzzle in place with none left over to concern us.”
In Pastor Armstrong’s comments on Matthew 25: 1-13, this observation caught my attention: “One of the secrets in Matthew 25 is that faithful action done now prepares us to weather the unexpected timing of God, even as it prepares us for a heavenly wedding celebration…Our Redeemer comes ‘at the right time’ – which is altogether better than coming at the convenient time or on our time – and He’ll bring a party with Him.”
“In His time, In His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day,
As You’re teaching me Your way,
that You do just what You say,
in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
may each song I have to sing,
be to You a lovely thing,
in Your time,
In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful,
in Your time.”
In His Time
(Words by Diane Ball)
“It is well and good, Lord, if all things change, provided we are rooted in You. If I go everywhere with You, my God, everywhere things will happen for Your sake; that is what I desire.”
John of the Cross
“Lord, You have searched me out and known me;
You know when I sit down, and when I rise up,
You discern my thoughts long before.
You know my journeys and the places where I rest;
You are acquainted with all my ways,
You are behind me and before me;
You have laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
So great that I can hardly bear it.”
Psalm 139: 1-2, 5-6
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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