Revival: Is simple desperation enough?

So many of us pray for, talk about and hope for revival … but what does the concept mean to you, or for you or your community?

We hear stories from history of the great Welsh revival with Evan Roberts, or the Great Awakening with Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards. Modern-day missionaries tell of amazing moves of God in otherwise miserable places such as, for example, Mozambique.

Obviously a key ingredient is to have a felt need to be revived. If we’re comfortable where we are, who or what needs reviving?

The first time this idea whacked me was while listening to the stories of a friend working with Open Doors with Brother Andrew. In visiting difficult areas of the world, he had been struck by the fact of capital-L Christian Life thriving in areas where Christians live (and often die) under severe persecution.

Kevin Turner has me agonizing again over my—our—comfortable little worlds with a powerful article in this month's Charisma Magazine (see below for link*). An evangelist ministering primarily in regions of the globe where the gospel is restricted, Turner reminds us with first-person authority and passion of the too-prevalent sad fact of lack of Life in the Christian comfort zone.

While he addresses the American Church in particular, his points and questions obviously apply for most western churches.

"How is it that God can visit a mud hut in the middle of Africa yet bypass the comfortable sanctuaries we created for Him in our country? ...  Why are other nations experiencing revival and we aren't? Could it be that calamity clarifies while comfort confuses? Calamity is an excellent teacher. It shows us in an instant what is truly important. Our materialism leaves us content without God.”

Turner sees real life and growth in the churches of devastated areas of the world, and like my friend and many others, identifies desperation as the key to revival.

Certainly it is of critical importance, but who among us would invite calamity even with the promise of a magnificent move of God? We can feel desperate for many reasons, and any one of them can be enough to have us begging God for relief. For the affluent westerner it may well be an anguished cry of: “Is that all there is?”

Still, turning to God in desperation, alone, isn’t enough for genuine growth (a by-product of revival, after all) to happen. After Jesus tells us that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, he says, in what we’ve come to call The Great Commission:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28: 18-20)

They not only help identify felt needs and so ‘catch the fish’, but help clean them up, train them, and release them—revived—into their own spheres of influence to do the same. Neither comfortable Christians nor simple converts can create or even enable revival, but desperate disciples can and do. So to my mind, the 'equation' might become:
Desperation + Discipleship = Revival

* Why Isn't the American Church Experiencing Revival? by Kevin Turner, in Charisma

Advent 2012: Anne's Christmas Letter

By the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

Are you ready for Christmas? Tree decorated, cookies baked, presents wrapped?

It is so easy to get distracted among all the preparations for the seasonal festivities that we forget what those preparations were supposed to be for. We become rushed and worried, wondering if we have forgotten anything, and doing some things at the last minute.

We forget that Christmas is a season that starts on December 25th and continues until the 12th day, called Epiphany. There will be lots of time for things we think we have missed.

Because of our busyness, we end up not having the time to adequately prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, after all? We give presents—not to feed our greed, but in thanksgiving for the greatest present of all time, the gift of Jesus. We share our wealth with others because we know that Jesus was born in the worst possible situation of poverty. We decorate, celebrate, light candles, and feast on special food to remind us of the victory won for us on a special night long ago. We re-read the great story and tell it in song so that it is never forgotten. We gather with other believers to worship God Who created us …Who sent His Son to free us … and Who filled us with His Spirit that we would have the power to share His love.

Are you ready for Christmas? It is never too late to choose to follow the way of the Saviour who was born in a stable and lives forever. May you have a blessed and holy Christmas season.

Dying Man Finds Life in Dying Church

Three years ago, Greg Thomas told his family to start planning his funeral. Diagnosed with stage four cancer, he began taking long walks in the country around his home in Montgomery, Minnesota … alone with his dog and his thoughts.

One day, a sort of spiritual serendipity led him to a little church which had been built in 1868 by Czech settlers, but abandoned for the last 100 years. Thomas would have loved to go inside, but the doors to the old Catholic church were locked tight.

 "I tried it more than once," he says. But the church was always locked. Its foundations were crumbling, the paint peeling, but it was there on the church steps, a man crumbling himself began to pray.

Eventually, Thomas contacted the foundation responsible for the upkeep of the church cemetery, telling them he wanted to repair the church. The foundation called Thomas' offer "a godsend."

Today, as Thomas works, he also prays inside the church.

"There's been a lot of tears shed on these [church] steps, and they've been tears of joy, tears of pain, but tears of blessings too."

  Photo: KARE 11 News

Photo: KARE 11 News

Miraculously, as the tiny church's exterior was restored, it seemed Greg's body was being restored as well.

"The old church is newly clothed in white," narrates KARE 11 News' Boyd Huppert in a video report. "And Greg's cancer is now in remission."

"It's what He's done for me," Greg explains, referring to the Lord Jesus, "and this is my way of saying thank you.”

Vincent van Gogh’s unappreciated journey with Christ

No one viewing Vincent Van Gogh's painting Starry Night walks away unmoved.

But how many know about Van Gogh's abiding faith in Christ? Both his father and grandfather were pastors in the Dutch Reformed Church, and apparently many in the family gravitated toward religion or art.

Vincent’s zeal for Jesus grew in his early twenties. Wanting to study theology, he unfortunately failed the seminary entrance exam, so went off to serve as a missionary to coal miners in Belgium instead.

Much evidence exists of his literally pouring out his life in sacrifice and service on behalf of the diseased and destitute. Sadly, and likely a contributing factor to his later psychological problems, even church authorities rejected him for what they thought was his improper dress and excessive zeal.

Read the whole amazing story by Mark Ellis here, including reprints of some of his more overtly Christian-themed paintings.

The Journey of a Lifetime

Who of us in today’s society doesn’t hope for that quick-fix—the seminar, the experience, the program—to instantly solve all problems, relieve stress and strain?

As obsessed as we are with speed, God knows that deep-rootedness, strength and stability can only happen gradually and with care. Real maturity can never result from a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving. By tests and trials we grow and learn.

"God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” (Hebrews 12:9-11, The Message) 
"And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (2 Corinthians 3:18b, The Message)

So while Christ-likeness is our eventual destination, the journey lasts a lifetime.
 

Re-Imagining Church: Keeping the Gospel relevant for changing times

By Louise Sisson

Louise recently attended a study on Re-imagining Church led by area Bishop Linda Nicholls. Following are some of her thoughts and impressions. 
It’s not that the church of God has a mission in the world, but that the God of mission has a church in the world.” 
I went into this study comfortable as a Christian, sitting in the pews on a Sunday morning, being fed the Word of God, sometimes wondering how we, at St. George’s, could make ourselves more inviting and welcoming.

The bishop challenged us in this study to quit focusing on our church and bringing people in (not that that’s not important) but to find ways to take the church out into the community. We must find a fresh expression of church for our changing cultures, to benefit people not attending any church.

Church once formed the focal point of our communities. How do we make it relevant again? If you asked people on the street what our church building means to them or to the community, how do you think they would answer?

The church must be like water – flexible, fluid and changeable. Water doesn't change but the container might. Jesus taught his disciples through example and sent them out (Mk. 3:13-14). He promised that he would be with them “always, even to the end of time” (Matt. 28:20).

Confident in God’s promise, we are to go out and spread the Gospel. We are to listen carefully, to connect with people through loving service, to form community (not necessarily in a church building), to evangelize through example and to show our Christian love through our actions. Amazingly this can evolve into worship.

Teacher, pastor, leader? How can we know if someone is 'called'?

The way we know someone is called as a teacher is not by their knowledge, degrees, or how articulate they are, but by seeing the Teacher in them.

How we know someone is a true pastor is not by their certificates or even their compassion for people, but when we see our Shepherd in them.

Similarly, we know someone is called to leadership in the church when we see our King coming forth in them. No one can have true spiritual authority unless abiding in the King.

[adapted from Dan Luehrs' The Ascending Lifestyle]

Powerful and Free: Confronting the invisible ceiling in the Church

We live on a beautiful blue planet suspended in sparkly darkness, lit up half the time by our glorious sun and the other half (sort of) by our reflective moon. Life should be good—for all of us. It is good for many, but not for too many more ... and atrociously horrific for all the rest.

Wherever you stand in your belief system, you know this is not right. Whether something good went wrong, or really wherever and however infection set in, we are infected. The planet and its people are infected. If you’re not infected personally, you are at least affected. And infection always spreads. With nearly as many permutations and combinations as beauty, it keeps us ever seeking new antidotes.

Mysteriously however, a huge infection being slowly well-treated in most of society continues to infect, primarily, people of faith. As much as we Christians in particular proclaim freedom for all, an oppressed people group remains in our midst: women.

“Nonsense,” church men reply. “I let my wife do whatever she wants.” You let your wife?

What's worse is many otherwise powerful Christian women, in ministry themselves, confess to traces of misogyny. When you’re in the culture, absorbing, for example, all the scriptural references to men, how can you not feel at best ‘less than’, at worst, invisible?

Once upon a time I dated a black fellow who would proclaim he was not ‘black’, but ‘brown’. Well yeah ... and I’m not white, I’m pink. But I didn't feel any need to make that point. Obscure analogy I admit, but perhaps it begins to at least partially, racially, illustrate the gender issue.

Recently I listened to, and was gobsmacked and hugely healed while listening to, a talk by Danny Silk which inspired all these ruminations. As Danny says, the message is for "anyone who knows a woman.” 

Preview: did Jesus—this Friend of humanity/brother/prophet—come only to break the curse over men … and not women?

You can download Danny's talk here: The Invisible Ceiling.  He has also written a book on the topic: Powerful and Free: Confronting the Glass Ceiling for Women in the Church.


Waiting, listening, praying: The Attentive Life

"I hope that this book will help us to pay close attention both to the beams that surround us and the Source that upholds us, in such a way that time and eternity, this world and the next, are always intersecting."                    —Leighton Ford, The Attentive Life

As the world swirls faster and faster about us, headlines scream, sirens blare, lights flash, computer screens whir, iPhones sing and shout. And people, who created all this stuff to make life easier, safer or simply more fun, begin to burn out. Or already have.

Enter, for one, the Slow Movement. Stress has obviously led to unprecedented health problems. ‘Stop the world I want to get off’ is a feeling we all have sometimes. Why is this happening? What is wrong? What are we searching for? The one thing common to all these trends is connection. We want connection to all that it means to live—we want to live connected lives.

Interestingly, the French word for ‘slow’ is lent. And this particular season of the year, the 40 days before Easter in Christian circles, is called Lent. Not for that reason of course—it’s just that the connection fascinates me. The term’s real origins come from old German. Since spring is the time of year when days become longer, the Germans called the season Lencten, derived from their own word for ‘long’.

So Christians sometimes try to fast from something during Lent, which in a round-about way is how Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Lent, got its name. Translating from the French it means Fat Tuesday: Eat all you can so it won’t spoil while you're fasting (once upon a time); eat and party all you can just because you can (now).

Yet the true idea of Lent is, within Christianity, to do less of something, symbolizing giving up one’s own selfish desires and focus more on getting right with God. To pay attention to caps-lock LIFE, instead of this, that and the other.

Which brings me to a beautiful, brilliant book, The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things, by Leighton Ford. The miraculous story of how I connected with Dr. Ford and discovered his work and writings I'll leave for another day.

Dr. Ford explains his certainty that too often we keep ourselves busy and distracted out of fear that if we slow down and are still, we may look inside and find nothing there.

"What God is doing in both [our vocational and our personal journeys] is similar; very much like the interweaving of the intricate strands in a Celtic cord, a work of art designed to show how God is at work weaving the inner and outer parts of our lives into a unified pattern.” 

In a section entitled One Who Paid Attention: C.S. Lewis Looking Along a Beam, Ford writes of Lewis’s realization of “two ways of looking at life: looking at the dancing and moving events, the happenings and surroundings of each day, and looking ‘sideways’ so to speak, ‘along the beam’—to see not only what is happening but why, and what it is that gives meaning to the happenings of our lives.”

Ford blames French philosopher René Descartes for bedeviling us with dualism: the idea of a division between mind and matter. “Many of us now assume,” he writes, “that knowledge is either ‘scientific’ and based on facts or ‘mystical’ and based on fancy, and never the twain shall meet.”

Lewis provides the counterargument from Christianity, Ford notes, it being "the most materialistic" of all religions. “God must have loved material things: after all, he made them!"

"We need again to heed his [Lewis’s] wisdom. True knowledge is found in the Word who became flesh, as we look both ‘at’ and ‘along’ the beams each and every day.

"This knowledge from God and of God, and not just the experiments of the scientist or the intuitions of the mystic, will save us and transform this world.”

In God's Slipstream: Listening to the whisper of the Spirit

At a Vital Church Planting Conference in Toronto a few years ago, the U.K.’s Rev. David Male imagined the future by suggesting that pioneering church planters committed to expanding the mission-shaped church should “keep in the slipstream of God.”

"In looking to what lies ahead," Mr. Male said, “Listen to the whisper of the spirit.”

He also warned church pioneers not to fall into the trap of tarting up a bankrupt, old-model church in contemporary disguise to try to attract the unchurched. He compared this to the makeover given old cars on the television show Pimp My Ride. Stay away from the “pimp my church” approach, he said.

To illustrate for modern-day disciples, Male spoke of the uncertain future faced by the disciples after Jesus’ death. He also quoted John V. Taylor’s observation that mission is more like an unexpected explosion than a physical extension of an old building.

[Click here to read the entire article in the Anglican Journal]

Jesus and Satan argue about computer skills

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly, God was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, God said, “THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.”

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They googled.

They downloaded.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They did spreadsheets!

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports.

They did every job known to humanity, and more.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them re-started their computers. Satan searched frantically, screaming, “It's gone! It's all GONE! I lost everything when the power went out!”

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly added all his files from the past two hours of work to a memory stick to show God.

Satan observed this and became irate. “Wait!” he screamed. “That's not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don't have any?”

God just shrugged and said, "JESUS SAVES."

Carrying a Mystery to Term

"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” Luke 1:37, Amplified Bible

While the Christmas season ends for another year, the mystery enfolding—and enfolded by—the season never ends. It didn’t even begin that first Christmas. It simply revealed itself to us: to all and any who could see or hear, listen—who had ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’—in the eons to come. A mysterious Word, existing since the beginning of time, wrapped in a baby and born into a world so already full of its own words, wonder, beauty and noise—that hearing, seeing, the capital-W Word and Wonder beyond and behind it can be nigh on impossible.

In Mary’s encounter with the angel and then with the Holy Spirit, the divine seed was planted. She treasured and wondered at the words spoken to her, and her body nurtured the ‘Word’ to term.

Imagine carrying and giving birth to a mystery. In a way every mother does, but can you imagine carrying and giving birth to a world-changing mystery that both pre-existed you, life itself, and contained the answers of time and eternity? Completely impossible to comprehend, and that’s the point. Mary embraced what she did not understand, nurtured and treasured it. The holy seed came to term and the world would never be the same.

Have you ever had an inexplicable, dramatic encounter with holiness, with God? By its very nature you can’t explain it to anyone else, but like Mary, you can treasure and nurture it. Trust that the divine seed will come to term.

People who hold onto and nurture what God has said to them, or allowed them to experience—even though they don't understand—carry the fruit of the revelation from God that says: "Nothing will be impossible with God." That’s the commonly translated version of the angel’s words to young Mary when she wondered aloud how on earth she could give birth. A more accurate translation from the Greek would be more like “no freshly spoken word of God will ever come to you that does not contain the ability to perform itself.”
 

Safe within Your Love

If the world, your world, seems crazy right now, this is the book for you.

Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) wrote from her own brokenness, pain, sorrow and loss into incredible peace, joy and ‘foundness’ in God alone.

Her husband had been one of the 19th century’s most celebrated evangelists. Tragedy thundered in via first the loss of a young daughter, later a son, and then public scandal which devastated her marriage.

A wise, discerning woman, Hannah aptly analyzed and examined the day’s religious movements which so mirror many today. Whether attempts to legislate purity or holiness, an over-emphasis on razzle-dazzle emotionalism, the promotion of success in the material world as opposed to spiritual victory over the world-bound soul—she found no truck with any of them.

Safe Within Your Love, a compilation of Hannah Whitall Smith’s writings into a 40-day devotional by David Hazard, is sadly out-of-print. So while I try to convince the publishers to get it out there again, forthwith are some nuggets:

"Earthly cares are a heavenly discipline. But they are even better than a discipline. They are God’s chariots, sent to take the soul to its high places of triumph…. The dangerous ‘vehicle’ is the visible thing; the chariot of God is the invisible.”

"Some Christians think that the fruits which the Bible calls for are some form of outward religious work—such as holding more and more meetings, visiting the poor, conducting charitable works, and so forth. The Bible scarcely mentions these . . . but declares that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). A Christlike character must necessarily be the fruit of Christ’s indwelling.”

Editor and compiler David Hazard offers a reflection at the end of each short chapter. Here’s one gem:

"My Physician Father, I see it now…
For every one of my soul-sicknesses, you give me a ‘medicine’ for my healing.
For my pride and independence, you give one who likes to dominate. For my impatience, you send one who grates. For my criticalness, you give me one who is sorry indeed.
Today, I will receive your treatments . . . even if they sting.”

Hallalujah Haliburton: Sizzling Summer Service 4

Head Lake Park simmered and shimmered on a recent Sunday as hundreds of people from Highlands’ area churches sizzled under the hot August sun singing songs of son-shine, listening to messages of hope and grace, and afterwards, witnessing a joy-filled baptismal service in the river.

Harry Morgan, pastor of the area United Churches, opened with prayer. He also joined in with the talented music group, led by Karen Frybort. The team of singers and musicians from several local churches confessed to having only practised together once beforehand, but had 5 weeks of prayer backing them up.


Bev Hicks, leader of the Northland Faith congregation, gathered the children together for a story on character- and life-formation. He held up a boring block of wood, then compared it to a carving of a polar bear, created years ago by his father.

“This polar bear once looked just like this block of wood!” he explained. After describing the transformation, he had the young people turn to face the crowd behind them and proclaim:

"Give God something to work with!"

Bert Zavitz, former pastor of West Guilford Baptist Church, brilliantly illustrated the biblical idea of “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Bert had been asked to bring a tossed salad for a Kawartha Lakes Youth Unlimited staff meeting.

“What goes into a tossed salad and who do I get to toss it at?” he first wondered. But as he got down to the business of creating, he began to see how the ingredients could be compared to our unity-in-diversity in the body of Christ, the church. Each ingredient represents a different church in our community and individual Christians within our churches.

First there’s lettuce: without water, it wilts. And who of course is the water of life who keeps us from wilting? Tomatoes “are meals unto themselves, churches that have everything and do not need anyone else. But boy, they add a lot to the salad when they join!” he added.

Peppers: more colour, crunch, and that needed extra spiciness of the Holy Spirit’s fire. Onions add flavor but also bring tears to our eyes, like “those churches where there is a lot of weeping, even when a joke is told”. Oh and carrots: great colour, more crunch, plus improve our vision. They’re the “churches and individuals who have had vision for our community for things like Youth Unlimited, Church of the Rock, and the Jericho Centre.”

What or who might the croutons represent, he wondered. Perhaps "those dried-up squares in every church, the traditional types still wearing suits and ties?” For those who like to add bacon bits, what might they represent? How about “the churches and individuals who are what Jesus called us to be, salt and light in the world?”

Finally, what every salad need to bind it all together: salad dressing. “The Holy Spirit is like that salad dressing, binding the whole salad of the Kingdom of God together,” Bert surmised.. Over and over the bible speaks of oil: the oil of joy, anointing with oil, the oil of peace. “The oil of the spirit works like oil poured on troubled waters to bring peace and unity.”

Bert is a violinist, and the ‘mother of all violins’ is of course, the Stradivarius. A Stradivarius can’t be hung on the wall as a museum piece; it must be played every day, he explained. Just as with the special gifts God has given each one of us. They’re not to be 'hung up'. Not used properly they can even become instruments of war. They are not toys to play with, but instruments to play, tools to build with.

He further illustrated his point (and the main thrust of Paul’s message to the Ephesians on unity) by referring to a quote from A.W. Tozer:
Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are … tuned to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So 100 worshippers together, each looking to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
After Pastor Anne Moore's prayerful close to the service, Harry Morgan officiated at the post-service baptism of Freyja MacDonald, who attends his church. While full immersion isn’t the United Church’s normal protocol, it is how Jesus did it and how Freyja wanted it as well.

You took my parking space at church

One day, a man decided to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up alongside him and the driver stepped out, yelling, "I always park there! You took my place!"

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him. "That's my seat!” she exclaimed. “You took my place!" Somewhat distressed by the rude welcome, the visitor said nothing.

The visitor then went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him. "That's where I always sit! You took my place!" Even more troubled, the visitor still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation prayed for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up. His appearance began to transform. Horrible scars appeared on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?"

The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, "I took your place."

When you've read this, simply say a prayer. Maybe, just maybe, 
we can get the world to start thinking of who took our place.

(adapted from various sources)

From darkness and death into LIFE: Joy comes in the morning!

by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

It is said that on one occasion Michelangelo turned to his fellow artists and said with frustration in his voice,

“Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead? Why do you concentrate on that passing episode as if it were the last word, as if the curtain dropped down there on disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted only a few hours. But to the unending eternity, Christ is alive; Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!”

Lent, and especially Holy Week, are a preparation time of denial to ensure that Easter is even more glorious by comparison. Jesus’ death on the cross finished his work of sacrifice to take away our sins. We must remember that terrible Good Friday and try to understand his suffering. It may be helpful to do that in the company of others at worship. We also must joyously celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and victory over the grave every day—but especially at Easter. Christ is alive and so are we, forever.

Alleluia!

God will use it ALL for good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
―Romans 8:28
by Jon Walker

Joseph’s life was anything but peaceful. He was sold into slavery by jealous brothers and later thrown into prison on false charges. Yet, he remained free of bitterness or regret and saw God as the 'Great Engineer' behind even the worst of circumstances.

In a final confrontation with his brothers, he graciously noted, “You meant it for bad; God meant it for good" (Gen 50:20).

“God meant it for good” says:

You can accept the past. No sin, no action, no choice on your part is too big for God to handle or too big to be worked out for good. Just ask Joseph! Better yet, ask his brothers who ended up relying on him for their survival.

You can embrace the present. There’s no need to play the 'what if' game. The past is forgiven and gone, and the future is in God’s omnipotent hands; so you’re free to focus on the present: “Wherever you are, be all there,” says Jim Elliot. God wants you in the present because that’s where His grace will flow.

You can look expectantly toward the future. Even if you make mistakes today, God still controls your future. Walking in the Spirit, you can live life to the fullest, without fear of making mistakes that take you out of God’s control. Even when things appear to be terrible, you can trust that God is still working out His divine plan for your life.

Jon Walker is editor of the Daily Hope Devotionals and author of Costly Grace.