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Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. Hebrews 10:35
As I boarded the airplane that evening, I was really weary. The weekend of ministry had been extra hard for some reason, and I felt a head cold coming on. I dropped into the seat for the ride home and dozed off almost immediately. Somewhere in my subconscious, I was still aware of the plane takeoff and the smooth sailing in the sky. The flight attendants had already served everyone, and now the overhead lights were off. I must have been asleep for most of the trip when the jolt of the plane woke me. The turbulence was some of the worst I had ever experienced. My window seat allowed me to look outside, but there was no visibility, only thick, dark clouds. It was quite unsettling as the plane lurched up and down and from side to side. I strained to see the ground but to no avail. It seemed like an eternity before the captain came on the intercom. His deep, soothing voice was comforting. "This is your captain speaking. Folks, there is no reason to worry; the haze is thick and the turbulence is rather bad, but ground control has us on their radar and they will help us make a safe landing. We will be landing soon." Although the plane continued to rock, and it wasn't a comfortable experience, the control room below could see the big picture. They could land the plane safely. At that moment the Lord reminded me that even though at times the circumstances of our lives become tumultuous and hinder our visibility, the heavenly Father always sees the big picture. Not to worry, He has us on His radar screen. We often strain to see in the natural something that God is doing only in the spiritual. Experiences like this have taught me several things. First, the relationship we maintain with the Father and the atmosphere produced by that relationship are very important. Religious rules and regulations won't carry us when the going gets rough. We need an intimate fellowship with God. Our relationship is found in a deep, abiding faith as we rest in the arms of a good and faithful Father. Second, if we expect to be prepared to face life's trials, we must maintain a meaningful relationship with the Father. When the bottom drops out and we are rocked by trauma, there isn't time to build a trusting relationship with God. At those times we need to rest in the relationship we've already developed with Him. Life can be exceedingly challenging at times. Yet prayer should be our first response to a challenge. In answer to our desperate cry for help during life's twists and turns, the Lord is drawing us to listen to His voice. This isn't a step into the dark; it is a step into the light of faith in Him. This walk of faith insists that we silence our busy and fretful hearts, preparing us to hear God's voice. Our hearing and obeying Him is confirmation that the new nature of Christ is at work in us. Now we just need to step out and trust Him. To the degree that we learn the voice of our heavenly Father and desire to understand His ways, to that same degree we will also hear His voice and walk in His ways. Our personality, intelligence or talents have little to do with it. The next time you find yourself in the haze of life's turbulence and there is no clear view, draw close to the heart of God. There you will find peace. He has you on His radar screen, and you can trust Him to bring you safely home.
Into the Deep
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He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. Psalm 103:7
One day, as I sought the Lord in my prayer time, I wept over several painful experiences in my past. "Lord, how can I understand your ways?" I asked. As I waited expectantly on the floor of my prayer closet, the Lord reminded me that His ways are not like our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts (see Isa. 55:8). Then He gave me a vision to help me understand the way He works in our lives. Imagine that you are a leaf that has fallen from a tree. The wind picks you up and blows you into a briskly flowing river-your life. You tumble through the rush of life's demands at an alarming pace. Week after week you bump up against the world system. Although you dip into deeper waters for an hour or two on Sunday morning, seeking a touch of God, the river is unrelenting. On Monday morning you once again get caught up in the twigs and debris of the material world. You know the Lord, and you long to know Him more; yet you are soulishly directed. Instead of depending on the Holy Spirit as your rudder, you aimlessly drift through life-always in a hurry and never quite sure why. At times you get sidetracked in a tributary. Here the water is still and stagnant, and you get stuck in the mud. The dark night of the soul begins to fall and you suppose that God has forgotten you. Eventually the rains return and the torrents dislodge you from the mire. Back into the river you go, bumping against the riverbank-tumbling and tossing through life. Eventually the river empties into the vast ocean. Get ready! Your life is about to be changed forever. For it is in the depths that God reveals His ways to you. King David said it well: "Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me" (Ps. 42:7). As you earnestly seek the Lord, a large wave crests above you. You cry out to God to know Him, and the wave crashes and washes you with His love. Yet the pull of the current is strong along the ocean floor. As a 12-year-old, I once was caught in an undertow at the beach. To submit to the current would have proven deadly; instead, I resisted and lived. Yet God's ways work differently. He is pulling you into the deep in order to bring you to death to self. Do not resist His work. As the waves continue to break, you are pulled to the ocean's floor where you are helpless. Self-sufficiency is gone and death to self begins. The ocean floor is dark and undisturbed. The only hope you have is divine illumination-God-directed living. From the darkness, the Lord is able to reveal His light on the situation. The pressure at this depth is great. After all, you are now under the weight of almighty God, who wants you to be still and know that He is God. He wants you to resign yourself and to submit to the process. This is no time to fight, struggle or strive with God. For it is here that you learn His ways, which are utterly different from yours. This process may take months or even years. Death to self creates desperation, and desperation creates a hunger. Hunger provokes a pursuit of God. It is in this pursuit of God that you are led to purity of character and a purging of your behavior. I have great news for you! What we try to crucify on our own rots, but what the Lord puts to death He resurrects! It is well worth the journey to move from the busy river into the deep waters with God. From this experience you can expect to gain a renewed confidence in the Lord and a huge impartation of faith-not just any faith but God faith. This faith is instilled by the Spirit of the Lord and cannot be self-generated. Others cannot go with you into the deep; you must experience it alone. Do you trust the Father with your life? Are you willing to journey into the deep with God? Don't wait until you understand the process, because you never fully will. It is beyond the mind's ability to comprehend. Just be willing to say, "I'm ready; let's go." Do you want to know God's ways? Then launch into the deep with Him today.
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Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Psalm 125:1, NIV
When Bryan, our youngest son, was just a small boy, he asked his dad to put him on top of a large seven-foot-high concrete platform at the library. Eddie did so. After a few minutes, Eddie reached out his hands and said, "Jump, Bryan! Daddy will catch you." Bryan was not so sure. Eddie said again, "Jump, son. I won't let you fall. You can trust me to catch you." Cautiously, but obediently, Bryan jumped into his daddy's arms. About four months later, Bryan was climbing a tree at a park. When it was time to go, Eddie reached out his arms to Bryan and quietly said, "Jump." To Eddie's astonishment, Bryan joyfully jumped into the arms of his loving father. Trust had been developed by choosing to trust....
Most of the disappointment and pain we have suffered have come from misplaced trust. We have loved God and trusted people. Some of those people have violated our trust. Now we must learn to trust God and love people!
What is the central verse in the Bible? I'm talking about the verse that falls in the middle, with an equal number of verses before and after. My instinct says this verse should be especially significant, and here is what I found:
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (Ps. 118:8).
As if to underscore His point, God says in the next verse:
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes (Ps. 118:9).
Could it be that the people who have brought us the most disappointment weren't really our problem after all? Sure, they may have hurt us, but is it possible that the greater sin was our expectations of them? We weren't supposed to put our trust in them. We were to love them and to trust God. What about your trust in God? Does your prayer life indicate your trust in Him, or are you praying anxiety-ridden, worry-filled prayers? God wants you to pray confident prayers based on who you know Him to be and what you know Him to have promised. Trust is absolutely necessary for any deep and abiding relationship with God. In fact, it is the doorway to intimacy with Him. Has your trust been damaged because you misplaced it by trusting someone to do something or to be someone that he or she refused to do or be? I'm sure you found it hard to trust the next time around. If so, you must grab hold of your trust and place it squarely in your unfailing, unconditionally loving Father in heaven. Pause here for a moment. Then take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a revelation: God Himself has allowed men to fail you in order to teach you to trust Him alone. He is jealous of your trust. He says, "For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exod. 34:14). Wow! Did you hear that? His name is Jealous! He is seriously committed to receiving our trust-so committed, in fact, that He guarantees our misplaced trust-based relationships will fail so that we will finally learn to place our trust in Him alone (see Ezek. 13:10-15). Why do you think this is true? Because He is the only one who will never fail us. God is the only one who will never let us down. Even those who love us most will hurt us from time to time. Not the Father! He is completely trustworthy. Our failure to trust Him is a miserable sin. It is the sin of unbelief. You may say, I'm just cautious; you can never be too careful, you know. Perhaps. But many of us use those words to disguise our unbelief. The sad truth is that we have never learned to put our trust in God alone. Solomon's words give godly counsel:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
Will you trust the Lord to hold you, to love you, to heal you? Will you jump into His loving arms? Others will continue to disappoint you, but you can trust the Lord. He will not let you fall. Guaranteed!
Moorings of Our Journey
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When He bad stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." Luke 5:4
Many of us prefer to keep our boats safely tied to the pier rather than launch out into the deep with Christ. To be sure, when a boat is tied to the pier, it is sheltered within the harbor; the wind is calm and the water is smooth. But boats are designed for sailing, not docking. The boating adventure begins out in the open sea with the wind and the salty ocean spray in your face. The same is true of your spiritual journey with the Lord. If, like most people, you are content to stay in port, tied to the dock, then you will have limited opportunity to know Him. However, if you intend to discover who He truly is and your destiny in Him, then cast off your moorings in faith and launch out into the deep with Him. If you will forsake your fears and risk a deeper intimacy with Jesus, then you will learn more about Him; and in the vast ocean of His Spirit, you will find the very desire of your heart. Simon Peter was so anxious to experience the supernatural power of Christ that when he and other disciples who were in a boat saw Jesus walking toward them on water tossed by waves from a contrary wind, he asked:
"Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus (Matt. 14:28-29).
But something happened to Peter in the process. The text tells us:
But when [Peter] saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt 14:30-31).
Facing life's trials is a lot like launching out into the deep or stepping out of the boat. When we've finally risked enough to step out and then find ourselves confronted with overwhelming odds, we immediately cry out for Jesus to deliver us. The Lord is saying, "I want to do more than deliver you. I want to develop you." Even in the test that Satan prepared for Peter we can see how Jesus was trying to develop Peter's character. "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you'" (Luke 22:31-32). Surely Peter must have been shocked to hear of Satan's plan to sift him, but I'm sure he was relieved that Jesus had prayed for him. By now Simon Peter knew that the Father always heard and answered Jesus' prayers.
Excerpted from 40 days Beyond the Veil by ALICE SMITH Copyright © 2003 by Alice Smith. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted October 27, 2003
Do you desire a closer more intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus? Alice Smith¿s new book 40 Days Beyond the Veil is just the book for you. In Her first book Beyond The Veil, Alice shares with us how we can have a personal, intimate relationship with our Lord. In this book she leads us on a 40 day journey that teaches us how to develop that relationship and take us into a deeper more intimate fellowship with Jesus. Friend, take this journey with Alice; it will change your life for eternity!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2003
I love to read books that impart to me nuggets of gold and wisdom that not only impact my life the first time I read it, but continue to impact my life as I meditate and re-read these words of truth! Each chapter in Alice Smith new book 40 Days Beyond The Veil gives readers profound insights how we can allow the journey of daily life to draw us into a closer walk with God and make a difference in the lives of those around us. This devotional book is one I'll continue to read in the days and years to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.