Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

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How often do we proclaim that God is in control?

How many times (you don’t really have to count) does the Bible tell us that God is in control?

Yet, it seems that too many times we see things happening in the world that would indicate God is not in control. We see good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good ones.  We see mass murders, crimes go unpunished, people in positions of authority abuse that authority and no one does anything about it.

The writer of the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) asked about these things as well, and his conclusion was that nothing really matters- all our efforts are as useless as chasing the wind. His final statement is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

With all due respect to the writer of Kohelet, I have the answer to why it seems God is not in control:

Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

I was in the business world for some 40 plus years and most of that time was in control of something: my own office, a department, a number of different departments, and anywhere from 12 to over 350 people at one time or another. And what I learned from that is when you are the one in charge, to develop your people and give them the skills and understanding that they need to improve themselves, you sometimes have to leave them in control and let them screw up on their own.

Of course, you don’t let them screw up anything really important, or anything that would cause harm to themselves or others, but just let them have their way with the little things and give them the chance to swim, or sink.

And always be there to fish them out if they need you to.

With God and humanity, it is the same. God is in control of everything- there is nothing he cannot do or make happen. But just because he can make anything happen doesn’t mean he will make anything happen. He will often leave us to our own devices to allow us to learn the important lessons we need to learn.

What are those lessons? Well, for one, we need to learn to depend on God and not on our own strength. What better way to do that then leave us alone to totally mess things up to the point where we have to call on him for help?

Another lesson we need to learn is patience, as in waiting on God for justice. What better way to do that than to allow evil to propagate and let us see it happen?

I like to say, “Proverbs 20:22 tells us, ‘Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.‘, and sometimes God actually let’s us see that happen.”

One of the most important lessons we need to learn is about forgiveness. How can we learn that unless someone hurts us?

God is unquestionably able to control everything that happens everywhere, but he doesn’t. He controls everything by not controlling everything and allowing us to control those things that will lead us to better understand God, his ways and our role in his plan of salvation.

Don’t let yourself be fooled by those that argue because of all the evil and wrong done in the world God doesn’t exist because if he did, he would not allow it. They just don’t understand how it works. They are trying to box God into their own understanding and desires and that will never work. God is so far above us that we cannot even imagine or ever understand his ways, and we shouldn’t be able to.

I once read that a God who can be understood by the mind of Man is not worthy of the worship of Man. I totally agree.

I am not all that upset when I see the evil that is being done in the world, but it is not because I like or condone it. Just like you, I would love to see evil excised from our lives but it ain’t gonna happen until God is ready to take out his righteous vengeance on the nations.  My response to evil is not apathy, but trusting confidence that God will render justice when he is ready, and that his justice will be perfect.

I know that God will let me control whatever things he puts in my power to control, and as long as I try to let God lead me I know he is there waiting to catch me if (and when) I mess up.

 

Apathy or Patience?

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In many of my messages I mention that I do not read the newspapers or listen to the news on TV. Nor do I pay much attention to who is in Washington or what they are doing.

Consequently, I have sometimes been accused of being apathetic. Frankly, if someone thinks I don’t care…they are right: I don’t care what they think.

I do care about what is happening in the world, and there are times I could just SCREAM!! at the many people who follow the crowd running from one extreme to another, like a pendulum that is swinging from one apogee to another.

And when I see this happening, as with the recent gun control issues and the constant badgering of the Presidents (both present and past), I think of the many verses in the bible that tell us how we must wait on the Lord. You may ask, “Wait for what?” and my answer would be….justice. I don’t believe we will receive an answer to the problems we face, but eventually, in God’s good time, there will be justice served on the ones who are the cause of the problems.

When David’s own son rebelled against him, David accepted the situation and waiting for God to make the decision about what would happen. Let’s look at some of the things David said during this terrible time in his life:

2 Samuel 15:25, when they were taking the Ark with the king as he fled Yerushalayim:  “Then the king said to Tzadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again.  But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”

2 Samuel 16:11-12, when David was being cursed at by a member of Shaul’s family: “Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to.  It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

 

I could list many, many examples here of the bible telling us to wait upon the Lord, which is the same as saying have hope that God will make everything right (in the end.) So I ask you: am I really apathetic because I do not care that much who is in charge or what the maddened crowds are screaming about, or am I patiently waiting for God to act as he sees fit?

My answer to you is that I am trusting in God to make things right in the end. I don’t care that much for the news, which is always sad, designed to evoke emotions of fright and concern, and is untrustworthy. I don’t care who the President is, why or how he or she got there, and what they want to do. The United States government is not a race horse, and the worst thing that any President has done is to leave behind the programs he wanted to get done for the next President to sort out.

No…I am not apathetic, I am faithful. Faithfully waiting on the Lord to make things right; faithfully hoping in God that I will be rescued from the tsouris we are all experiencing in the world, and faithfully looking forward to the day when I will be in his presence.

I respect those who are advocates and trying to make a change for the better, and do not deny their tremendous value in our society.

I just ain’t one of ’em.

Why It’s So hard To Remain Faithful: Part 2 of 2

The first reason I gave why maintaining our faith is so difficult (Nov 9, 2015 post) was because we live in a disposable world.

This second reason is similar: we want immediate gratification.  I know that all good things come to those who wait, but I  don’t want to wait. I want it all, and I want it NOW NOW NOW!!!

We are very much like the nasty little Verucha Salt in the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (personally, I preferred the “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” movie with Gene Wilder.) She was the little selfish brat who wanted everything and she wanted it all now. It was all given to her, and as such, it didn’t seem that anything she received had any real value for her.

Faith is something that takes time to develop. It needs to be nurtured, supported, and practiced. Definitely needs to be practiced! Faith is the belief in things unseen.  I believe the greatest way to strengthen our faith is to have our prayers answered. What better proof of God’s existence and willingness to help us? But…we need to be patient for our prayers to be answered.

God’s covenant with Abraham was when Abraham was 75, and it took another 85 years before he saw his descendants in the land (his son Isaac was born when he was 100 and his descendants/grandchildren, Jacob and Esau, were born when he was 160.)

Not exactly what one would designate as immediately gratifying.

We need to be patient (hopefully not as patient as Abraham had to be) when we ask for answers to prayer, and when we begin to faithfully obey the Lord.  Patience is one of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) and it helps us to develop spiritual maturity, too.

But the world doesn’t want patience, or maturity, and especially not anything spiritual (unless it is demonic- that’s all the rage today.) The world says we should have it now, and when we don’t get it to blame God, and to blame those who tell us to wait on God. God isn’t real, God doesn’t care, God’s promises are false- that is what the world wants you to believe. In fact, it wants you to reject God and the idea of God altogether. It’s all about me, Numero Uno, I am my own Messiah, yadda-yadda-yadda.

That’s so much fertilizer you could grow crops to feed a small nation with it.

God exists, and He will answer your prayers so long as you present them faithfully and honestly. What we ask for in Yeshua’s (Jesus) name we will receive, and when we pray in His name we are to faithfully believe it will be ours; when we do, it is ours already. Daniel prayed but it took three weeks before the angel appeared to Daniel because of the interference of the enemy. Daniel was patiently praying, even though the answer was on it’s way the moment Daniel asked for it.

The human sense of timing isn’t always trustworthy (said the man with many children) and we need to trust in God to know the best time for things to happen. I have been praying for reconciliation with my children for over two years since they threw me out of their lives, and I continue to pray. I only hope that God will answer me before I die, and I also know that even if this prayer is never fulfilled, it is not God’s fault. I trust faithfully that God is providing the angels and people to talk to my children, but it is, ultimately, up to each and every one of us to make our own decision about God, and life. So, despite how many times I know God is providing the opportunity for my children to let go of their hatred and unforgiveness, it is their choice to do so, or not to do so.

That’s a hard lesson for all of us to learn- people make their own choices and we can’t force them to do what we think they should. And what makes it even harder: they have the right to make their own choices. 

We choose life (Torah observance) or we choose death (purposefully ignoring Torah and choosing a sinful life.) How many times in the bible do we hear God ask us to choose life? Dozens of times.

Just because your prayers aren’t answered right away doesn’t mean the answer isn’t already on it’s way, or already approved but the time to deliver it isn’t right yet. We don’t know when we will receive the answer to prayer or what it will be until we get it, but we can be sure it will be answered. Even if the answer is “No.”

The world and the enemy (not much difference) want us to seek immediate gratification, and if something can’t be gotten here and now it’s best to forget about it, it isn’t worthwhile, and to go for something easier, cheaper, and more immediate.

God is worth waiting for; salvation is worth waiting for; God’s existence should not be based on how quickly a prayer is answered but on the fact that so many others have had their prayers answered. He exists, He is,He always has been and He always will be. When you are a spiritual being with no lineal timeline to live by (as we humans do), then everything is immediate.

That’s the ticket! You want immediate gratification? Isn’t immediate gratification when there is no waiting for anything? When now, later, back then, soon, past, future, present…all occur at the same instant, isn’t that the ultimate form of immediate gratification? Well, you can have that! In the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), after Yeshua does away with the enemy and we are all in our resurrected bodies and the new heaven and new earth are established, time will no longer exist. That’s when everything will be now; there will be no past, no future, everything will be right this very second!

You just have to wait for it.

Bruck’s 3 Rules of Prayer

Everyone has rules, and I have my own rules for prayer.

Rule #1: God always hears your prayers.

There are places in the Bible where God says He will not hear us. For instance:

1 Samuel 8:18 (And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. KJV);

Isaiah 1:15 (When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. NIV);

Jeremiah 7:16 (So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. NIV)

But does this mean God doesn’t hear your prayers? I don’t think that is what He means- He always hears us, He is just not listening, as in paying attention.

He always hears us, but when we have rejected Him and have sinned so often and so purposefully that we have thrown a wedge between us and God, He will have no option but to ignore our pleas. Think of it this way- we are calling to Him, He hears us but holds up His mighty right arm to our face and says, “Speaketh thou to the hand!”

God always, always, always hears our prayers, but how he acts is His choice. Which brings us to the second rule.

Rule #2: God always answers your prayers.

And sometimes that answer is, “No.”  As above, God hears you, alright, but decides to answer with silence. Or maybe He will just say, “Nope! Ain’t gonna happen.” And at other times His answer will be “You got it, babe!” and that answer will be wonderful, confirming, and blissfully full of blessings. Or it may be something totally unexpected, which leads to the last rule of prayer.

Rule #3: The answer usually isn’t what you expect or when you expect it, but it will always be just what you need and just when you need it.

God knows what we need better than we do, better than we can, and better than we ever will. And because He is a loving and compassionate Father, Judge and Savior , He will provide not what we want (which is usually not good for us) but what we need. And whereas our timing is usually lousy, God’s timing is always perfect because He knows what will happen and when it will happen, so He can make things occur just when they should. We won’t always get what we want, and we rarely will get it when we want it, but we will have a much better batting average if we learn to pray more in line with God’s plan for us. Look at the prayers of Abraham, Moshe, the Prophets, Yeshua’s prayers and those of His Disciples: their prayers were answered not only when they were asked, but often exactly as they requested. That’s because they were praying for something that was within God’s plan. And yet, there were other prayers which were not answered as requested. Take Shaul as an example, in 2nd Corinthians 12:7:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Here is one good reason for us to expect God to decide what He will answer and when: God, and God alone, knows the best time to do something and the best time not to do anything, because it is all about Him. Shaul’s prayer was for himself, but God turned it into something that gave the glory where it belonged- to God.

God always hears, God always answers, and the answer is rarely what you expect or when you expect it. But it is always perfectly suited to help you and to glorify God. So, keep praying. Just because you don’t get the answer you want or expect doesn’t mean He didn’t answer you. It may be ,”Yes, but not yet”; it may be, “No. Now stop bothering me.”; and it may be, “As you request, it shall be done.”  And when we pray in Yeshua’s name we will receive what we ask for, SO LONG AS what we ask for is in God’s will and glorifies God. If you pray in Yeshua’s name to win the lottery, don’t be disappointed if you don’t, and don’t blame God. Winning the lottery isn’t what God is about. However, if you pray for salvation for yourself or someone else, God will listen, and He will answer.

I pray every day for the salvation and reconciliation of my children with God, and Donna and I, and that we will be a family centered on God. I know that God will answer my prayer by giving my children every possible opportunity to come to Him, but in the end, it is their choice. God will not force someone to ask for salvation. I pray in Yeshua’s name for the salvation of my wife and children, but they have to choose it. God will answer me, I faithfully trust that He will send angels of mercy to them, that He will make sure they have every opportunity to recognize Him, His work in their lives, and that He will protect them from evil, both physical and spiritual. And I know that He hears and He is answering this very moment, but since they have to choose, if they never come to salvation it is not because God didn’t hear and answer my prayer.

Make your prayers “God-worthy” by keeping them in line with God’s plan for you, as best as you understand what it is. And keep praying- you never know what the answer may be or when the answer will come, but if you pay as close attention to what God is doing in your life as you want Him to pay attention to your prayer, I believe that you will, eventually, see the answer.

Whatever it is.

Disappointment is a Blessing

I was hoping to get a video of a Space Center launch this morning. I was standing in my backyard, bare-footed in the wet grass, camera set to video, heart racing, all ready to get a video of the rocket going right over the house (which is the pathway it usually takes) so I could post it and make everyone back up North say, “Wow! That’s really cool!”

So, there I was…standing…waiting….standing some more….still waiting….waiting…..waiting….

Nada! Nichts! Nuttin, Honey!

As disappointment began to set in, I realized that this is not unusual- they have scrapped launches before, and even though the sky overhead is nearly cloudless, at the KSC (Kennedy Space Center) it could be storming wildly. That’s how it is, here, in Florida.

Then I thought that life is a series of disappointments: in ourselves, in our family, our children, parents, friends, our religious leaders, Presidents (oh, really?), and pretty much in everyone at one time or another.

The one who we know will never disappoint us is God, right? Well, maybe not. We know God loves us and answers prayer, but sometimes He will allow us to suffer (mostly because we have done something we shouldn’t have done) and sometimes His answer to our prayers is, “Nope! Not gonna happen.” And sometimes it seems like He has taken a holiday and turned off the cell phone. We call to Him, we ask His help, we cry out to the Lord and all we get is voice mail.

Jonah was disappointed in God when he didn’t destroy Nineveh. Elijah was disappointed after he showed God’s awesomeness at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18) and then cried to God that he wanted to die because he was the only prophet left (he wasn’t, in case you are wondering), Moshe wasn’t too happy when Pharaoh ordered the Jews to make bricks without straw after Moshe asked for their freedom, and I’ll bet that you’ve had some time, or times, in your life when you have felt a little less than happy with what God was allowing in your life.

I know I have.

The thing to remember during these down times is that once we are down we have no where left to go but up, and God is always there. We may not hear or feel Him, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there. We don’t see the sun at night, but it’s still there. In fact, the moon is evidence of the sun’s presence, because it reflects the light the sun gives off. We don’t see the sun, but we do see the evidence of it’s presence.

That’s what we need to do when we don’t see God in our life: we need to look for the evidence of His presence. Even if we don’t feel Him, we can always see His effect on others, we can see Him working in the lives of people all around us, and we can take hope and comfort in knowing that, although it is disappointing to feel left out (for the moment), God is still alive and well and kicking.

The enemy loves to see us disappointed, sad, feeling lonely, and harboring feelings of defeat. God gives us a spirit of victory, not defeat, and every victor has suffered defeat. We don’t learn from our victories, we learn from our defeats. We don’t appreciate the good times unless we have suffered through bad times.

We can’t appreciate the love of God before we know Him. When I was unsaved I didn’t know God’s love or appreciate anything He had done in my life. I was blessed with many talents and opportunities, and I never even knew what wonderful things He had done for me. After I knew the Lord, after I accepted His grace and His spirit filled me, well, then I realized how wonderful it all has been. Even the bad times. Now I can really appreciate the Lord for all He has provided and is providing, and I thank Him, every day.

Disappointments are necessary things in life. In fact, without disappointment there can not be a fullness of joy, there can not be a true feeling of appreciation, and there can not be progress. Always winning is not winning- it is stagnation and unrewarding. There is, if nothing else in this world, a sense of balance that was divinely built into our existence. Shaul (that nice Jewish tent maker from Tarsus) tells us that before the Torah was given, there was no sin; in fact, he says the Torah created sin (Romans 7:7) and in his own way (convoluted would be the term I respectfully use for Shaul’s manner of writing) Shaul (if you haven’t figured it out yet I am talking about Paul) shows us that the Torah is still valid and necessary because we haven’t fully come under Yeshua’s rule. Not until all things have come to pass will anything in the Torah be changed or invalidated (Matthew 5:17.)

Disappointment offers you two options in how you can react: one is to wallow in sadness and self-pity, which eventually will help the enemy separate you from God, and the other is to accept this as an opportunity for joy, comfort and hope when you remind yourself this is only a temporary situation. God will never let those who worship Him go long without what they need, and he is more than able to provide all you need, shaken, pressed down and overflowing.

Just keep running the good race, keep you eyes on the prize, don’t look back, don’t worry about what anyone else has, and stay focused on your walk with God.

God is always there, He is never sleeping or slumbering, and he is always able to help. Just reach out, and be patient.

He is a busy guy, so give Him some slack and wait for your turn. I can guarantee it is coming.

 

PS: The launch did go off and the trail over the house was spectacular! Only by the time I saw it the rocket had passed by and was over the horizon, and all I had left to photograph was the cloud trail left behind. Another disappointment. Oh well, SWISH!!  (search for ‘swish’ if you didn’t read that blog post)