Wheat-growers know that a heap of golden grain harbors chaff, stalks, sticks and rocks – flaws that only appear when the wheat is shaken up and sifted through a whole series of sieves. God is in the business of sifting hearts: Discerning attitudes, intentions and assumptions, and showing up the gap between our aspirations and our choices under pressure.
Peter had to be sifted by danger and fear before he knew his lack of lasting loyalty to Jesus.
I’ve learned that He can and He does speak through silence. Sometimes it means “No” and sometimes just “Wait.” Sometimes it’s “Yes, dear child. You’re doing My will for this season, and I have nothing new to add,” and sometimes it’s “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” 7
Because sometimes we’re not quite ready for a Yes.
The benefits of disappointment are many, but they’re optional: I don’t have to accept the sifting; I don’t have to cooperate with God. But I’ve grown to know, in a deeper, more tested way, that I can always (always!) trust His plan.
I’m still in the middle of my story, and it’s still hard to see its trajectory. But meanwhile I’m encouraged by His plan for my friends.
I know God is not vacillating or fickle. He is not purposeless or indecisive or cruel. There is absolutely no question that He loves to say “Yes” to us. He knows disappointment brings heartsickness, but He times His delay for our greatest, most lasting gain. We ask for a twig; He plants a seed – and when at last the desire comes, it’s become a whole tree of life. 12
Disappointment, embraced, brings life – because He is the God of Yes!
"The Son of God…[is] not Yes and No, but in Him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him."13
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
story behind the hymn’s writer:
Robinson’s widowed mother sent him at age 14 to London, to learn the trade of barber and hairdresser. How ever, his master found he enjoyed reading more than work. Converted to Christ at age 17, Robinson became a Methodiat minister. He later moved to the Baptist church and pastored in Cambridge, England. He wrote a number of hymns, as well as on the subject of theology. His later life was evidently not an easy one, judging from a well known story about his hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” One day, he encountered a woman who was studying a hymnal, and she asked how he liked the hymn she was humming. In tears, he re plied, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thou sand words, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”
"Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed" (Rom. 4:18). (Weymouth)
Abraham’s faith seemed to be in a thorough correspondence with the power and constant faithfulness of Jehovah. In the outward circumstances in which he was placed, he had not the greatest cause to expect the fulfillment of the promise. Yet he believed the Word of the Lord, and looked forward to the time when his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude.
O my soul, thou hast not one single promise only, like Abraham, but a thousand promises, and many patterns of faithful believers before thee: it behooves thee, therefore, to rely with confidence upon the Word of God. And though He delayeth His help, and the evil seemeth to grow worse and worse, be not weak, but rather strong, and rejoice, since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.
He commonly brings His help in our greatest extremity, that His finger may plainly appear in our deliverance. And this method He chooses that we may not trust upon anything that we see or feel, as we are always apt to do, but only upon His bare Word, which we may depend upon in every state. —C. H. Von Bogatzky
Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith; as long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as where natural prospects fail. —George Mueller
“You are trying to make us feel guilty,” the woman protested loudly, interrupting the meeting of one of my staff members who was out sharing about the lost world and the work of the native missionaries.
“No,” he assured her, “that is not my intent at all, but I believe God has put us here for a reason besides living for ourselves.”
In my own travels, I often encounter similar situations. People get upset or defensive because they don’t want to be disturbed in their comfort, the pursuit of their goals and in living their peaceful lifestyles. To be confronted with the reality that over 2 billion unreached people will plunge into hell unless they receive a chance to hear the Gospel is irritating, troublesome and uncomfortable to many believers. Why? Because their desire is to enjoy their salvation, families, church fellowships, seminars and conferences without such a painful interruption.
When Jesus was telling the story about the rich man and Lazarus the beggar, He illustrated very clearly that the two had nothing to do with each other. The rich man was in his mansion enjoying the best of life, while the sick beggar was outside the gate hoping for a handout. It wasn’t Lazarus’ fault that there was no interaction between the two. He had positioned himself strategically at the door where the rich man could see him clearly every time he went in and out of his gate. However, the rich man chose to ignore the beggar for a very calculated reason. If he looked at Lazarus and the dogs licking his sores, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy his steak dinner in peace!
What was his sin? He was selfish with his life and with all God had entrusted to him.
Similarly, when the apostle Paul described to Timothy why the last days would be so difficult, his number one reason was: “For men will be lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:2).There is no statement that more accurately describes the mindset of our present generation. We are constantly bombarded and counseled to be protective of ourselves, our possessions, our rights and our wants. Everywhere we turn we are told that we deserve the best. In fact, we are offered self-help books and services on every conceivable subject.
What about the Church? It is sad to say that this self-centered mindset has infiltrated much of the Body of Christ, especially in more affluent countries. Our worship, our teaching and our spiritual desires are primarily focused on, “Lord, bless me, give to me and let me enjoy.”
Whatever happened to the war we are supposed to be in and to the command: “And do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)? Jesus taught us that the laws of the kingdom of God are in sharp contrast with the mindset of this world. For example, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). We are fooling ourselves if we attempt to practice a Christianity without embracing the cross and death to our own selves. Winning this world for Jesus will never happen until we have the mind of Christ: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
A few months ago while on the mission field, I met a brother who has a death warrant on his life for preaching the Gospel. He has been imprisoned many times, beaten, stabbed, shot at and on the run for months at a time. Yet he is eager to endure all these things in order to win one more soul to his Savior and King. “My life is nothing,” he says. “It all belongs to Jesus.” This brother has a wife and children who suffer alongside him—willingly. For them, Jesus is worth it all—the best reason to live.
Having the mind of Christ sets us free from our self-centeredness and enables us to minister to the Lazarus in front of our door!
How can we get that mind of Christ? Jesus gave the answer: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
It starts with a deliberate decision to walk away from the mindset of self-preservation and allow the Lord to pour out our lives for the millions who have never before heard the name of Jesus.
The tragedy of the modern-day Church is that we have misunderstood obedience as legalism.
Toys and trinkets are easily won, but the greatest things are greatly bought. The top-most place of power is always bought with blood. You may have the pinnacles if you have enough blood to pay. That is the conquest condition of the holy heights everywhere. The story of real heroisms is the story of sacrificial blood. The chiefest values in life and character are not blown across our way by vagrant winds. Great souls have great sorrows.
“Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths, Such as men give and take front day to day, Come in the common walk of easy life, Blown by the careless wind across our way.
“Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance, Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream; But grasped in the great struggle of the soul, Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.
“But in the day of conflict, fear and grief, When the strong hand of God, put forth in might, Plows up the subsoil of the stagnant heart, And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.
“Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours Of weakness, solitude, perchance of pain, Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field, And the soul feels it has not wept in vain.”
The capacity for knowing God enlarges as we are brought by Him into circumstances which oblige us to exercise faith; so, when difficulties beset our path let us thank God that He is taking trouble with us, and lean hard upon Him.
These are difficult days in our world’s history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let’s live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.
Outlive Your Life is a book that calls us to live lives that are beyond ourselves, to see beyond meeting our own needs each day and to get out of our own comfort zone and taking the opportunity to be agents of change. To live lives that God has meant for us to live - a great big adventure and to participate in how He is working in other lives outside of our world.
Max Lucado uses the book of Acts to examine how God worked in the lives of the early Christians then, and how they impacted the early world. He also uses different daily analogies and to-the-point perspectives of how God has called us to and can make a difference in this world.
I liked how he starts of the book’s premise with an emphasis on the uniqueness of how God creates each of us and to appeal to that desire in us to live our lives to the fullest of what God meant for each of us to be.
“You’ve been given your life. No one else has your version. You’ll never bump into yourself on the sidewalk. You’ll never meet anyone who has your exact blend of lineage, loves and longings. Your life will never be lived by anyone else.”
He touches and highlights the realities of our current world: social injustice, poverty, suffering, pain put in the same mix as abundance, wealth, luxury and greed. Max Lucado begins by acknowledging how some of us shy away from facing these harsh realities and looking out of our own shells before going into the application of outliving our lives.
He includes Scriptural verses and a short prayer at the end of each chapter which I found helpful and apt in wrapping up each chapter, bringing home the message and encouraging me to commit it to God.
This book has encouraged me to expand my worldview, challenged me to ask God for compassion, to pray a prayer for God to break my heart for what breaks His. To give everything for His kingdom’s cause, to ask Him to show me how to love others like how He has loved me.
This book reminds me of my life-prayer that I took from a song:
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”