Our God Is In Control Of Everything

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[Editor’s Note: My friend who wrote this following article works with Pioneer Bible Translators in a sensitive area in Southeast Asia.  We need to uphold him and other Christians in prayer as they seek to get God’s Word out to the people in their mother-tongue languages.]

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One of the greatest things about working in a new field is that you get to see God open doors and solve problems firsthand. Sometimes we get a glimpse into the intricate ways that He “makes your ways straight” long before we even knew we would need His help.

For the past couple of years, we have been trying to start a translation project with a tribe that my parents and grandparents worked among in the last century. Let’s call them the Bimble tribe for now. They live in the North-eastern part of South Asia and have no translation in their own language, but they are very eager to have one.

Last time I visited, we were able to convince the churches in the area to listen to us and consider giving us permission to do translation work in the Bimble language. So now I left to go see all the Bodies in the area and collect their decision to allow us to work or not. When I arrived and contacted the Church of God (Anderson) elders, they were delighted that I had returned to their area and came to visit me the same day with papers granting me permission and promising help in anyway possible from their Body. It seems they had been waiting for me return for quite a while.

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I was travelling with a friend of my father and bolstered by this wonderful news, we went to meet the head of the CNI Body in town. It was a good thing we did. He was leaving town for a meeting and would not be back till the end of the week. He regretted that he would not be able to type up the permission letter but told me to make one and he would sign it. At which point, I went from being worried to being delighted.

It is always nice to be able to make people say exactly what you want them to but I made sure he saw my draft before I left that night. He also asked me to redo his letterhead while I was at it and promised to sign it as soon as he got back.  The only scary part was that he planned to return the night before I had to fly out and any delay would ruin this plan.

And sure enough, the Adversary was up to his tricks and the next morning there was a bandh. This is a forced political closure of all roads and businesses, like a strike of everything, and was started by the opposition parties and some rebel groups. Needless to say, I was a little worried. The bandh lasted right up until my last full day in town so there was very little I could do except pray that the people I needed to see would be able to return to town and would have time for me to see them.

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On that last day, we rushed to see the head of the Presbyterian Body since they are the largest in the area and we had to have their acceptance in order to succeed. We did this putting our faith in God because due to the bandh we had not been able to make an appointment or anything like that.

When we arrived, there was no one around. The leaders were all in a meeting of the council that runs the Presbyterian Body. We decided to wait anyway, praying that God would give us an opportunity to meet the leaders. After a long time, we became a bit discouraged and decided to see if there was anyone else there at all.

We walked into the only other office with people and met the vice-head of the Body. He listened to what we had to say and was sceptical at first but soon his attitude changed. He became enthusiastic about our plans to translate the Word into Bimble. He became so interested that he decided that he would take us to the Head of the Body and make sure we got an appointment with both him and the chairman of the Council.

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When they arrived, we went in and were introduced to the chairman and to the Head of the Presbyterian Body. However things started to do downhill from there. The Head changed his mind and objected. He told us that there is no need to do a translation in Bimble and that they could not give us permission. But, as seems to be the case whenever things get out of hand, the Tetragrammaton (LORD God) intervened.

The Chairman remembered that my father’s friend had performed his sister’s wedding (full blown weddings are a bit rare and are very grand, so doing one is considered an honour) and he started listening very carefully. Eventually, when we explained our idea of doing an oral translation he decided that it might be a good idea. And within seconds, the Head of the Presbyterian Body followed suit. We got our permission verbally and they even promised to support us if any of their people had questions.

That same night the Head of the CNI was able to sneak into town on the last bus and we were able to get to his house even though there was a lockdown on the streets to stop people from rioting. It helps that we were driving an ambulance. 🙂 He signed the paper and offered his personal support. It just goes to show that no matter what happens — strikes, bandhs, riots, or lockdowns— The Tetragrammaton is really the one in charge of everything.

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God Opens Doors and God Closes Doors – Pt. 1

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 15

What does it mean to say, “God opens doors and God closes doors”?  This sounds like a highly cryptic and spiritual saying.  In practical life, this means that when we get blocked from doing something, it is very possible that it is God who has shut out that opportunity, no matter how hard we want it and how hard we try to get it.  We can’t obtain or achieve something we wanted.  And that frustrates us.  A lot!

But then there are times when everything seems to just go perfectly.  Every piece of a complex puzzle will fit right into place, and just at the right time, often at the very last opportunity it still comes through for us.  We are glad for that.  But do we ever stop to wonder and ask, “Is God behind all of this and that is why the path to this was successful?”  In spiritual terms, did God open all the right doors at just the right time to make this all happen and pull together so well?

These questions are important ones to ask, for it can shed light on our lives in a way we may not have considered or had forgotten.   That God can and does interact with us, His creation.  What does draw our attention usually is when things don’t go well for us.  Max Lucado points out some examples for us on page 122 of his book*.  He says:

You try one door after another, yet no one responds to your résumé. No university accepts your application.  No doctor has a solution for your illness. No buyers look at your house.

     

Another important question is to ask if this idea is Scripturally sound?  Does God interact with humanity and does He do so in an individual way, guiding and leading individuals to specific goals?  It seems to me that the obvious answer in the Bible is “Yes!  He does!”  Throughout the early books, God is seen to have interacted within the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, the many prophets, and more. God continually offered  instructions and guidance to help the nation of Israel to grow and to flourish.

One of the greatest examples in the New Testament is how God specifically guided Paul and his small band of missionary friends.  They prayed to God to show them where they should go, and God would reveal that or impress that upon them and all went quite well.  But there was one period of time that totally stumped Paul and probably got him quite irritated and maybe even frustrated with God.  In Acts chapter 16, Paul and his team kept trying to enter into a new section of Asia, but somehow God blocked that at every turn, and they didn’t go that way.

While wrestling with these disappointments, Paul suddenly then had a vision of a man who was standing in Macedonia (a Roman province in the country of Greece) who was calling Paul to come there to help them.  Paul understood that to be God’s leading and the next day his team crossed the narrow strait which separates Asia from Europe, and he began to teach about Christ and the Kingdom of God.  The message hit home.  A woman responded in faith, was baptized and became the first European convert to Christianity.  The closed door to Asia led Paul to bring the Gospel to Europe.  And the world history has never been the same.

     

Now some may say that all these are stories that belong to history and the ancient peoples contained within the Bible.  And yet, if one was to ask Christians around the world today, he may be surprised to hear the testimonies by the thousands that clearly point to an outside benevolent being (namely, God) who was not only there, but He is very active in their day-to-day activities.  Max Lucado shares a story with us in Chapter 16 of what happened when he and his congregation tried to go ahead with a building expansion project for their church.

The people had prayed and believed that God would have them go forward.  But then a number of obstacles kept hitting them so that the money they raised was never enough to go forward with.  Prices on all materials kept getting pushed higher and higher so that they found it would be too difficult to purchase the material.  In the midst of all this, Lucado was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.  Then later that year, the recession hit North America which spread world-wide.  Wow!  The church expansion ideas were put on the shelf.  But think of what it would have been like if they had tried to push through the door that God had closed on them and which never opened to go ahead with the building project.

Lucado wrote this on pp 124-135:

It was a classic God’s story/our story contrast.  From our perspective we saw setbacks.  God, however, saw an opportunity to keep us out of dangerous debt and bolster our leadership team with a new senior minister.  A plan to protect us from a budget-busting mortgage and to grant us fresh leadership.  God closed the wrong doors so he could lead us through the right one.

I don’t know where you are at on all of this.  If you don’t believe in God, then you will have trouble with all I have written and suggested.  But even some Christians who read this may have difficulty believing that God interacts with us in our daily lives.  I challenge you to really go out there and listen to the thousands of stories of people who can testify that if it had not been for God opening or closing some door in their life, then they would have been so much worse off.

And consider Lucado’s last words on page 131, “And this is what God is trying to teach us.  Your blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you.  Quite the opposite.  It is proof that He does.

     

* [God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

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God And His Word Will Guide Us

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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Trusting God for the Future

God will reveal what we need to know for the future when the time is right. We know that, for some reason beyond our understanding, some things must wait in a trusting relationship with God.

Other texts make some things clear:

  • It is always the will of God to pray for sexual purity and to ask God for that to be true within family, friends, and society. This means celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in the “one man/one woman” marriage bond. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NASB).
  • It is always the will of God to pray that others hear about Jesus Christ and His salvation. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day”(John 6:40, NASB).
  • It is always the will that we baptize and coach those who take that step: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • It is always the will of God that we become a people of God with other believers together as the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us, and that everything in heaven and on earth be “summed up,” joined together under the Lordship of Christ. “He made known to us the mystery of His will . . . the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10, NASB).

–Adapted from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka

Lord, thank You for what You have revealed to me in Your word, so that I am able to pray with clarity about what is on Your heart and mind for my life. May I be obedient in these things as You teach me to hear the voice of the Spirit.

Posted 19 Nov 2011

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Perhaps the most frequently asked question by Christian young people is, “What is God’s will for me?”  Now this could mean they are wanting to know what God’s overarching plan is for their life.  Or, the person may simply want to know which decision they ought to make as they consider more than one option of what they could do in the realm of day-to-day living.

What’s interesting these days, is that these questions are being asked by Christians of all ages.  There is certainly more options available to most people living in the developed western culture.  Along with that is greater freedom to make important life-changing decisions.  Then add into this the current instability of our society, where job security is no longer guaranteed, and the economic downturn is causing many people to have to rethink their options and their lifestyle.

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It is good to know then that in the midst of the turbulent world in which we live, that we can be sure that there are still some absolutes upon which we can stand and which can help to guide us in how to live.  I am thinking of the Bible, which provides us with tangible and realistic ethical principles which can guide us in how to live our lives, just as the North Star has been a point of reference for sailors over the centuries which helped them to navigate the seas.

Many of us though desire to know more clearly and specifically what exactly it is that God would have us do.  I looked at this issue briefly in a recent article as I tried to encourage people to go forward when we sense that God is leading us to make important decisions.  (You can read that article here.)  Take a good look at the three questions near the end of the article.

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What is important to realize is that Christianity is not just a religion with a book full of rituals which we must perform to be in good standing with God.  No, Christianity is a relationship with a Living God.  And He is intimately concerned about us and desires that we seek His help and His guidance in our lives.  1 Peter says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

We also know from Scripture that God is ready to guide us in our daily decision making, as long as we are prepared to fully trust Him as to what He is telling us to do.  Proverbs 3:5-6 say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

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And knowing that God cares so much just about me and about my wife, Jill, helps me to relax and not worry too much about how things will turn out for us in 2012.  Sure, there are some big questions in front of us.  Do we maintain a home in Canada?  Do we consider living long-term in Papua New Guinea again?  Is that even an option?  How does living and working in Dallas fit in, like I did this year?  Do we let my muscle condition dictate where we live, or not?

Yet in the midst of all these questions, I have a sense of peace knowing that my God will walk before me and show me that way.  As we head into the New Year, do you have this sense of peace?  Let God’s Spirit and His Word, the Bible, provide you with this security, and give you hope for a good new year.