Have you ever asked God, “Why is this so difficult?!?! If you’re really God, and if you really love me, if Jesus really did die to make me holy, why is this all so difficult???”
A few days ago, I finished the book of Joshua. While not every story tells of an amazing victory, the book leaves the reader feeling optimistic. Yes, the job is not complete and difficulties are to come, but God is powerful and faithful, the people are continuing to press forward, and the enemy is being driven out.
And then Judges starts… and we are immediately confronted with the reality of failure.
The failure is a major one, and so the angel of God Himself appears to rebuke Israel because, while He has been faithful to them, they have not been faithful to Him.
The title above comes from Psalm 104:20 in the NTR, an easy-to-read (Ha ha! As if anything in Romanian is easy!) Romanian translation, “Tu aduci întunericul şi se face noapte; atunci toate fiarele pădurii încep să mişune.” The English translation is, “You bring the darkness, and it becomes night, then all the wild beasts of the forest begin to move about.”
The “you” here is referring to God. There’s an uncomfortable truth here, a really uncomfortable truth if you take time to think about it. This verse says that the God who is light and joy and all things good is also the author and bringer of darkness, even difficulty and trouble.
Imagine you’ve taken a walk alone into the woods. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life is beautiful. In this heavenly place, you find a tree just off the path and sit down in its shade. Soon enough, the wonder of the place draws your head to drowsiness, your eyelids close, and you dream happy dreams.
I’ve written before about Vasilica, her faith, her life, and the difficult situation she is in. As we visited her last night, I was reminded once again of the power of God to turn normal, insignificant people into men and women of destiny, into saints.
For saints are not merely extraordinary Christians dead and gone, people to admire. Rather, every follower of Jesus is called to be a saint, a holy man or woman of God, full of his power and love. Saints are simply nobodies who said “yes” to the One and so became somebody.
1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
Ephesians 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
Lately, I’ve been getting much strength from the guys over at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. They aren’t great at everything, but they excel in worship. If your devotional life needs a kick-start, I definitely recommend heading over there to use their free resources.
Ephesians 3:16 reads, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…”
If you need some strengthening in your “inner man”, I highly recommend checking out their live webstream. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they’ve got teams leading worship and intercession. And they broadcast it for all of us to enjoy anywhere we can get online! 🙂 You really can’t go wrong there.
So grab your Bible, turn off your cell phone, and head over to the 24/7 prayer room. Let the Holy Spirit strengthen you in your inner man.
A couple days ago, I realized the Bible had become dry and flavorless to me. I was reading it most mornings, but I read it to get it over with, to do my religious duty. I left the same way I had come, without having encountered the Living Water.
I’m sure you’ve gone through times like that in your walk with God. Sometimes, it’s simply the regular cycle of revelation (God reveals something amazing) and contemplation (we take time to think about it). Other times, it’s due to sin in your life that blocks God’s grace. Other times, God is intentionally drawing you into a desert time in order to draw you deeper, just as he drew his own beloved Son (Mark 1:11-12). Sometimes, the word loses its savor because you’re simply in too much of a hurry or you’re distracted.
I’m having trouble with the internet connection here, so I’ll make this update short. Despite the colder weather (fall has finally come to Romania, it seems), we had a wonderful meeting last night with the gypsy community at Mihai Bravu. Because of the cultural differences, we’re often left wondering how much of what we are saying really has an impact.
Well, last night, three people came up for prayer after a straightforward message about how Jesus calls us to walk in holiness. The first, a woman, realized she had been speaking curses against her husband by her bitter words. A man recognized he needed to surrender to Jesus and be born-again. The third, a young man, came up asking for prayer that a spiritual heaviness would lift from him; when we learned he wasn’t a Christian, we told him we’d pray for him but that the only way to have ultimate peace in his spirit is by surrendering to Jesus.
As part of my Romanian language studies, I like to watch Romanian movies. Ideally, I would watch each movie three times, once without subtitles, a second time with them, and a third time without them. That usually doesn’t work because either I don’t have enough time or the movie doesn’t have subtitles in English.
Although it sounds like just having fun, it really does teach me the language. I learn when to use what phrases. I learn new vocabulary. I learn how to pronounce words. I learn about the culture and mannerisms. A translator we had to hire once said she honestly thinks watching TV is one of the best ways to learn a foreign language. And nearly everyone I know tells me they learned English by watching cartoons. So there’s my argument: seriously, I’m studying.