Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?...Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt, I am sure, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impeding and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing Can Separate Us
“God, who or what in all the world
Can convince me that You
No longer love me –
That You’ve given me the slip
And thrown me over?
Shall mounting pressures interfere
With my personal relationship with You?
Shall shadowy fears that plague my nights?
Shall a palpitating heart
Or a strange buzzing in my head
Or pounding pain
Or bitter tears?
Or what if people laugh at me and reject me
Until I feel utterly confused and alone?
Or what if I can no longer work
And unpaid bills pour over me
Like a deluge of crashing bricks?
Or what if an accident incapacitates me.
Or what if I can no longer remember names
And my blurry eyes see double
And my hands tremble?
Or what if an earthquake crumbles my
home and my furniture is buried in thick mud?
Or what if I am left alone
Without family or friends?
Am I finished then?
Does this end my small scene?
No, dear God.
In all these impossible circumstances
I know that nothing is impossible with You.
I am utterly assured that:
In weakness or sickness
Catastrophe or anxiety
Loneliness or despair
I am Yours and You are mine.
Nothing can separate me
From Your matchless love!”
Ruth Harms Calkins
Today’s Study Text:
Text #1: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a posterity and to continue a remnant on the earth, to save your lives by a great escape and save for you many survivors.”
Text #2: “We are assured and know that God being a partner in labor, all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
The God of Dothan – Part 14
“From the Pit to the Prison to the Palace.”
Part B – God’s Providence
Definition of Providence: Foresight. Care or preparation beforehand. Divine direction.
“God’s providence will fulfill all His promises.”
How have I seen God’s hand of providence, His divine direction, at work in my own life?
“While providence supports,
Let saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guide His children well.”
“God has plans for this world, not problems. There is never a panic in heaven.”
W. Ian Thomas
My dear friend Mimi was here at our house this morning assisting Jim and me with household tasks that our cracked-up bodies just aren’t able to perform. Today we were all in a joyful mood for a long-awaited event had occurred in Mimi’s life which we have been praying about for several years. While there’s been more than one hill to climb and several deep and painful valleys, this was a day of rejoicing. I reminded Mimi of the fact that our hearts had ached so much when the dream she and her husband had to open their own restaurant had slipped away and another individual had even used part of the name they had chosen when they opened an eatery in the same place, hoping to capitalize on the great reputation of Mimi’s families’ food.
But here’s what really struck me, in a thankful tone, Mimi said to me, “El sol brilla para todos,” or as this phrase is translated, “The Sun Is Bright for Everyone.” And then with her twinkling eyes she continued, “God sends the sun to all of us.” As I reflected on at least 10 years of challenges which Mimi has been met with in all parts of her life, I felt as if I had a living and breathing “Joseph” standing in my kitchen, for at every turn of events, Mimi has watched for God’s hand at work in her life, until she was able to exclaim: “God shines His sun on everyone.” This I know to be true, as Phil Webb notes, “If a Christian has to change their plans, it is always because God has something better in store.” Believe me, Joseph’s life story portrays this fact over and over again.
How I wish I could have been in Pharaoh’s palace as, with heavenly confidence and God by his side, Joseph spoke to this imminent ruler of Egypt and said to Pharaoh, “The two dreams are one: God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do” (Genesis 41: 25, Amplified Bible). Now I want to take us back to Genesis 37, where we read that Joseph told his brothers about the dream that, “I have had.” Here’s what Joseph said to his siblings, “We brothers were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf rose and stood upright, and behold, your sheaves stood round about my sheaf and bowed down” (Genesis 37: 7). Then, just a few verses down in Genesis 37: 9, Joseph informed his brothers that he had dreamed again. This time, as he related, “Eleven stars and also the sun and the moon bowed down and did reverence to me!”
Interestingly, in this entire exchange, God’s name didn’t ever come up, not even once. However, after years of time, being moved from a pit to a prison and finally to a palace, Joseph’s point-of-view has drastically changed. From the very first moment that Pharaoh asked for his advice, Joseph was quick to let him know, “It is not in me: God (not I) will give pharaoh a favorable answer of peace” (Genesis 41: 16, Amplified Bible). Joseph did not claim to be the person with the ability and knowledge to solve Pharaoh’s dilemma. God had the answer – make no mistake about it. As Joseph had been witness to every detour and alternate route and bypass in his life, he became aware of divine intervention at every turn. What we call “providence” had directed his every step.
I love the way author Carlyle Haynes describes God’s workings in Joseph’s life as well as yours and mine, “The hard blows that are dealt us in the circumstances that surround us now and the trying experiences that test our characters are not seen at the moment to be what they really are. As with Joseph, so with us: it is not until afterward that we see our disappointments, hardships, trials, misfortunes, as well as the wicked things done to us by others and designed by them to harm us, to be part of God’s ‘providential supervision’ of our lives. It is only in retrospect that we see them as instruments to carry forward God’s purpose in our lives. We will surely come to see this if we firmly and faithfully seek to carry out the will of God, and if we keep ourselves from marring His plan by taking our lives out of His hand. Keep in mind always that God is never hurried; the perfecting of character He has in mind is a slow work.”
As we purpose to follow God wherever the path He leads takes us, may we like Joseph, place our full trust in our Father’s “providential supervision,” for to do so will result in our eternal happiness and ultimate peace.
I always find myself inspired by the timely and Godly wisdom from the pen of A. W. Tozer. His words about God’s leading are so appropriate to our study today, “I do not know why God does some things, but I am convinced that nothing is by accident in His universe.”
If you have happened to go to the website www.transformationgarden.comand read the page, “Our Story,” you’ll find this quote by Roland Bingham at the top of that particular page, “There are no accidents in the life of the Christian.” Every time I’m working on a devotional or prayer blast or responding to a question here in the Garden, I’m reminded that even what we think may be the worst that can happen to us, can be part of our Father’s “providential supervision” of our lives.
“At the center of the universe a heart beats. That heart is a heart of love. And God has ordained that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’”
God Sent A Man
Discoveries Along The Road
“My great and loving God, I used to think of You as far away, a God to travel to, to be attained after a long life journey through a difficult and hostile world. Somehow, I’d got this idea that if I stuck to the right path with my eyes fixed on the road code, at the end of it all, I’d arrive somewhere close to Your Kingdom. A few times I did notice that when I touched on a thought of You, I felt a strange stirring within me like a tiny first knocking on a door, but that would pass and I’d plod on, deeply afraid of getting lost.
Then came the day of the earthquake, an upheaval which brought me to the ground and had me calling out, like Job, for death. Everything in my life was disaster. But when at last, I could pick myself up, I discovered an extraordinary thing. The walls round my heart had fallen down, revealing You at the core of my being. God You’d been with me all the time and I hadn’t known it! What a breakthrough! What rejoicing! I put the road code in my pocket and danced. Was there any discovery left in this life?
Indeed, there was. The long months of weeping had cleared my eyes, and as I journeyed on, I saw You, brighter than day, in everything. Not only were You at the heart of every pilgrim on every road, You were also a glowing light in everything You had created – each lamb and hawk, each rose and weed – You Yourself made a unity of Your world, weaving all things into a oneness of light. Everything I saw as contained in You. Surely this was the ultimate celebration!
But there was more to discover. You, my loving God, opened another door and showed me – You were also the earthquake.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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