When Life is Dark and Heaven is Quiet

Posted byBryan LowePosted inbelieverdarknessdiscipleshipencouragementfollowing JesusGodlife lessonsSatantheologyunderstandingTags:discipleshipGodJesuspromisestestingtrialsunderstanding

God’s people have always had to wrestle with the things from the dark.  As believers, the Bible tells us that we’re in a permanent state of war against Satan. There has never been an armistice or treaty signed to my knowledge.  Each one of us is on the front lines.  The devil has been practicing with a deadly form of “spiritual terrorism.”  And he terrorizes many with his posturing and manipulation.

Life can get quite dark, and desperately bleak. No one needs to educate us about the dark nightmare that is now active. Over a couple of millennia, God’s covenant people have been harmed and harassed.  Enemies are constantly manipulating and twisting God’s Word. As disciples, we’re under steady surveillance by the dragon.

Sometimes heaven is silent. But I believe it is never, ever disinterested.

But He certainly has not overlooked us.  As we read our Bible, our faith becomes like Teflon.  Nothing can stick to you; even though so much is thrown at us.  When life is really dark or terribly bleak, we can protect ourselves and others. There are times when we can sense nothing.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

We are not theologians, we are just simple disciples.  He knows this.  I believe He simplifies things in order to help us understand. God has little reason to complicate things for us.

I believe that we are “surrounded” by saints of all ages.  They see in us a faith that justifies us.  And I must admit, that helps me.  I am part of a continuum.  I now know that my simple faith must always pass the test of discouragement.

But now the torch is passed, and now you must run with it faithfully and honestly.  And when all is so dark, and things seem far too quiet, I still intend to hold up that torch and carry it all the way to my Father’s house.

“There was a castle called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair.”

John Bunyan, “Pilgrims Progress”

I don’t know

I feel the most unsettled when I’m uncertain about the future.Many of you are also probably facing circumstances that have left you feeling caught off guard and unsure about what tomorrow holds. So many times I find myself bracing for impact when I check my daily news feed. If there’s one word that seems most certain to describe the times we are living in, it’s “uncertain.”There are thousands of scenarios that evoke these feelings of uncertainty, fear and exhaustion from life not being like you thought it would be.Whatever your situation, you probably feel like you can’t change it, but you still have to live through the realities of what’s happening right now. Sometimes you just have to walk in your “I don’t know.” The Lord makes it clear in His Word that things will not always go as we wish they would in this life. The crucial detail for us to have peace in the middle of everything we face is to stay close to the Lord. We think we want comfort in the “I don’t know” times of life. But comfort isn’t a solution to seek; rather, it’s a byproduct we’ll reap when we stay close to the Lord.I wish I could promise you that everything’s going to turn out like you’re hoping it will. I can’t, of course. But what I can promise you is this: God is close to us even in our “I don’t knows.” God has lessons for us that are crucially important for our future, and we’re learning them in the middle of our “I don’t knows.” God has a strength He must prepare us with, and the training ground is here in the “I don’t know.”This time isn’t a waste, and it’s definitely not pointless when we are walking with God. Let’s cry out to God, declaring that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time. And let’s choose to believe there is good happening, even in these places. We can rest in the knowledge that wherever God is, good is being worked.-What difficult “I don’t know” season are you walking through today?

Lysa TerKeurst

PROVERBS 31 MINISTRIES

The Creation of “YOU”

Promise #124:  
I gently formed you in your mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:13 (WEB)
For you formed my inmost being.
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

The New International Version Bible says Psalm 139:13 this way… For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. The New Living Translation says… You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  No matter what translation you prefer, this is a gentle picture of God’s loving creation process.

You were not blasted into creation, but gently formed in your mother’s womb by a loving God who took the time to delicately knit all your inward parts together. May the revelation of your creation bring a sense of well being to your soul. You were not a mistake. God planned you before the foundation of the world and He determined the exact time of your birth.

One of the greatest tragedies in this world today is the feeling that our lives were a mistake. Some people were even told that by their parents. The truth is that no life was ever a mistake. Each person ever created, was created with intention by the One who is love itself.

God gently formed you in your mother’s womb and He is the One who brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6) There is absolutely no doubt about it!

The Power of Broken Prayers

Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club

How do you approach God and people when your faith is small, when you can’t believe and when you wonder if God is even listening?

That’s why I want to encourage you today to pray broken prayers. Consider this passage in Luke:

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13).

There was something about this man that I think you can relate to. He was broken by life because he was a leper. We are not sure how he caught leprosy, but nevertheless he had it and it was a terrible disease. To be a leper in those days was to be an outcast. I will spare you the details of the horror of this disease, but beyond the physical pain and suffering there was the mental pain and suffering because no one wanted to be around you. Lepers were shunned and people thought they were cursed by God and their leprosy was a result of their sin. Some scholars say a leper couldn’t come within six feet of any other Israelite and within 150 feet if there was an east wind blowing (I guess this was the original form of social distancing).

In our story, this leper comes to Jesus. He was sick, probably in pain, and shunned by the outside world. In one word he was broken. In his place of brokenness he cried out to Jesus for help and Jesus responded.

How Does This Apply to You?

There are usually two ways we end up in positions of brokenness or helplessness. In one instance you are doing everything right. You are living right. You are giving right. You are serving. You are following God, obeying his word and doing everything you are supposed to do – and all of a sudden you get hit with life, leading you to a broken place. 

On the flip side, maybe you are doing everything wrong. You’ve made a series of bad decisions and choices and your life feels like it’s falling apart. Everything is breaking down around you and you don’t know what to do. You too are in a broken place. 

You see, it does not matter how you got there, you end up just like the leper. Whether it’s by your own fault or no fault of your own, you are in this place of desperation and brokenness. What do you do?

The Power of the Broken Prayer

What I love about this story is the way the man came to Jesus. He came and threw himself at his feet. He came humble. He came honest and he came broken. He didn’t even pray what would be considered a faith-filled prayer. He said Lord, if you are willing. In essence he was saying I know you can, I just don’t know if you will.

His prayer was not coming from a place of expectation, it was coming from a place of desperation. In other words, he came to Jesus just as he was. Unclean, rejected, desperate, broken and out of this place he cried out to Jesus. He was offering what I would consider a broken prayer, yet this prayer had much power in it.

Lessons from This Broken Prayer

1. Come to Jesus Just the Way You Are 

Too often we make the mistake of thinking we have to come to Jesus with everything right. The same mask we wear into church on Sunday morning we take into prayer and into the presence of God. If I could encourage you with one thing let it be this. Stop thinking you have to always have it all right. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have your faith right, your worship right, you have to pray the right words and when you do then God will hear you. That is not what God responds to.

You can come to Jesus just as you are, broken and all, with the mask off and pour your heart out to him. Broken prayers aren’t perfect prayers, but they come from a place of humility and honesty and that is exactly what God wants. 

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

2. God Doesn’t Only Respond to Our Faith, He Also Responds to Our Brokenness 

There is something amazing in this story of Luke that if you read too fast you will miss. Before Jesus healed him, he touched him. Remember this was a man who was shunned by society. Who knows how long it had been since someone had touched this man?

Before Jesus addressed his obvious physical need for healing, he addressed the less obvious emotional need to be touched. We already mentioned earlier that this man did not pray a prayer of great faith, yet Jesus responded. This tells me that God not only responds to your faith, he responds to your brokenness as well. Jesus could have healed the man first and then touched him, but he didn’t – he touched him first.

That is why it’s ok to come just as you are. Don’t worry about having everything all neat and buttoned up, God will respond to your broken condition.

3. When You Touch the Heart of God, It Will Move the Hand of God

Luke 5:13b – “’I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”

I believe the reason why Jesus moved in this man’s situation is because this man touched his heart. When you touch the heart of God, it will move the hand of God. You must also be mindful of something. When you pray broken prayers, sometimes God will change the situation instantly which is what happened here. However sometimes the situation may remain the same, but he will change you instantly. At the place of brokenness, you are laying it all down and asking God to move on your behalf as he sees fit. The beauty of the broken prayer is that you may come to God broken, but you will walk away whole.  

If you are sick you may walk away healed, but even if God doesn’t heal you, walk away whole.

If you are discouraged you will walk away encouraged.

If you come with no faith you walk away believing God to do great things in your life.

If you come with no joy you walk away with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

If you come with no peace you walk away with peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of brokenness. 

The beauty of the broken prayer is that God takes it, strengthens you and gives you the confidence to know that God is going to bring you through. 

Final Thought

I don’t know what feels hopeless, broken, or desperate in your life today. I do know that if you will pour it out humbly and honestly, God is waiting to touch you, heal you and restore you. You are reminded from Scripture to cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you. The situation you are in today matters, and Jesus is waiting with open arms to touch all the broken places in your life. However, it begins when you take the mask off and begin offering up those broken prayers.

God’s plans give us hope and a future

Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Read at Bible Gateway
Read all of Jeremiah 29

NOTHING can separate us from the love of God

New International Version

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Read at Bible Gateway

Read all of Romans 8

A Call to Love

If there was ever a time when we are called to show an extraordinary display of love for God and each other, it is now. I’ve been questioning what we as Christians are doing to show love during these hectic times.

Reading the following scripture, I tried to put a filter in place to determine whether modern-day Christianity actually survives the test of Jesus’ definition of love. Let’s read this together and ask the Holy Spirit to help us answer that question.

The Great Commandment

 Matthew 22 (English Standard Version)

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 

This is the great and first commandment. 

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Along with these scriptures, we would be remiss not to read and understand God’s further definition of love.

1 John 4:20 (English Standard Version)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So, let’s ask ourselves:

  1. Do we treat everyone with this kind of love? Does it matter whether they have the same color of skin as ours, speak with the same language that we use?

2. Are we prejudiced in any way?

3. Do we encourage hate of any person?

4. Do we support bullying?

5. Do we reach out and pick up the peaceful person that was just beaten down–by fists or guns–or words? Or do we join in?

6. Do we judge a person by whether they are poor, or not?

7. Do we act out, in any way, with disdain, judgmental thoughts or actions, or do we try to understand a person who is different from us? who may have a different religious affiliation? a different way in describing their belief system? Or do we think that we are the only people who have all the answers?

8. Do we agree that requiring servitude by anyone is ok? is loving? is the way Jesus would treat people?

I think this is a somber time in all of our lives when we should quietly sit and reflect on these questions. If we fall short of the definition of love as Jesus describes it, we have an imperative to go to Him and ask forgiveness, turn away from that wrongful attitude, and humble ourselves as we seek God’s guidance in remedying our actions. That way He will be glorified rather than being ashamed of us.

Are we really Christians?

If we don’t display the love and light from our Lord, then we should stop using His name–in vain!

Your sister in Christ,

Sharon