God and evil?

Have you ever wondered why there is evil in the world?
If God is sovereign…and God is good, why is there evil?
What is the connection, if any, to God and evil?
If you are like me, you have wondered these same things. That is why I’m really enjoying reading the book Spectacular Sins ~ and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ by John Piper. I shared a quote with you awhile back from the first few chapters of the book. Now that I’m all the way up to chapter 4 (ha!) I thought I’d share another portion that I really appreciated. As you may know, John Piper always backs everything he says by sharing the Scriptures that his view comes from. This is important to me. Sometimes something sounds good to me, but if it isn’t backed by the Truth, then it’s NOT truth.
Eight Things to Do with Evil
1. Expect evil. (1 Peter 4:12.)
2. Endure evil. (1 Cor. 13:7, Mark 13:13.)
3. Give thanks for the refining effect of evil that comes against you. (Eph. 5:20, 1 Thess. 5:18, Rom. 5:3-5.)
4. Hate evil. (Rom. 12:9)
5. Pray for escape from evil. (Matthew 6:13.)
6. Expose evil. (Eph. 5:11.)
7. Overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21.)
8. Resist evil. (James 4:7.)
Four Things Never to do with Evil
1. Never despair that this evil world is out of God’s control. (Eph. 1:11)
2. Never give in to the sense that because of seemingly random evil, life is absurd and meaningless. (Rom. 11:33, 36.)
3. Never yield to the thought that God sins or is ever unjust or unrighteous in the way He governs the universe. (Psalm 145:17.)
4. Never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. If you trust him with your life, you are in Christ. Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you – even if it takes your life – is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That wrath fell on Jesus Christ our substitute. (Gal. 3:13, Rom. 8:3) Only mercy comes to us from God, not wrath, if we are his children through faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. (Heb. 12:6)
When we renounce the designs of the devil and trust the power and wisdom and goodness of God displayed in the humble triumphs of Jesus Christ, we fulfill God’s purpose in letting Satan live a little longer. We glorify the infinitely superior worth of Jesus. So I invite you to trust him and to stand in awe of how he saves you and defeats satan in one great sacrifice of love.

Litany of Humility

I came across this prayer and knew it was *for me!* So many things that I struggle with are listed in this prayer! I am not familiar or comfortable with praying “written prayers.” But during this Lent season, I am going to try it. My hope is that the times during the day when I find myself wanting to get on the computer or wanting to “connect” with other moms (which is why I get online alot of the time!) that I can pull out a prayer already written for me…and stay focused. Of course, I will still pray as I usually do, free-for-all, lol! But, some of these prayers are so beautiful and I really think it will help me to focus and concentrate on specific issues.

Litany of Humility
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930)

Be still…

This week I am memorizing Psalm 46:1-2a, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. What then shall I fear?” As I have been reading through that verse this week, I have also been reading the rest of the chapter and making it my prayer this week.

Verse 10 of this chapter has often been a favorite of many people. I have read it and been convicted many times myself. However, you know sometimes when God wants to really drive a point home with you, He emphasizes an “old favorite” and teaches you something in a new way? Well, that is what God has done this week for me.

Check out verse 10 in a few different versions:

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 (Message) “Stop the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything!”

Psalm 46:10 (Amplified Bible) “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (Contemporary English Version) “Calm down and learn I am God! All nations on earth will honor me!”

Psalm 46:10 (Holman Christian Standard) “Stop – and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”

And my all time favorite for what God is showing me this week…

Psalm 46:10 (NAS) “Cease striving and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Cease striving. Cease striving? I feel like most of my day is spent striving. Striving to be a better mom. Striving to get rid of the selfishness. Striving to not feel guilty. (vicious cycle that is!) Striving to get it all done. Striving to do this. Striving to do that. I don’t think all my striving is pleasing to God.

I think He might be wanting me to cease. To really be still. For me, part of this is actual physical stillness…because I’m not good at that. But, a bigger part of that is for my heart and thoughts to be still. To stop all that striving in my own mind. Thinking I can get it all done on my own. To be at peace with where God has me and not always longing for being at the next stage spiritually, physically, emotionally. I worry a lot about how messed up emotionally I am, how messed up I am period. I think God is telling me to cease. Cease worrying about all that emotional baggage that I worry way too much about. Cease worrying about how I’m messing up my kids for life. 🙂 Just cease. Cease.

Spend more time in prayer instead of all those wasted hours/days of worry and striving. Spend more time communing with the One who has all my days ordained, instead of striving to get my days in order according to my own plan. Spend more time at the feet of the One who holds my heart in His hands…lovingly in His hands, instead of striving to figure out how I can work myself out of this mess or that mess. Spend time meditating on Psalm 139 and how God created me in His own image, created my sensitivites and emotions and personality…instead of wishing all those things away.

Be still. Cease striving. Know. Know that He is God.

Compassion, Meekness, Quietness, Kindness

The words I listed in the title of my post have all had an impact on me in the past week. I am learning that as I choose to focus on this thing called “compassion” the Lord is showing me that so many of the words and qualities are all intertwined. In the original verse I chose to memorize, Col. 3:12, compassion is mentioned right alongside kindness, gentlness, humility, patience…all things, if I were to be completely honest, that I need more of in my life!
This week I have begun a book study with a small group of ladies from an online message board. The book is called Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell. I have read this book (well half of it) before and really, really thought it was very good, practical and encouraging. Teri Maxwell shares some of her own experiences where the Lord showed her that she was lacking in meekness and quietness. She shares scriptures and practical help for those of us who are also seeking these qualities.

 

So, as I have been continuing to focus on compassion, while also starting this book on being meek and quiet, I am seeing how much they all go together! And if I were to be completely honest and blunt with you, I would also say that up to this point I have had serious doubts that these changes could even happen in me.Therefore, as of today, I am claiming a verse over this study and over this area in my life. A verse that I have read so many times throughout my lifetime, but still brings such encouragement.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13.

And another verse that I am going to cling to as well:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8.

I looked up some synonyms of compassion: charity, pity, condolence, kindness, leniency, mercy, tenderness. All things that I desire to be. I have also looked up the definitions for meek: mild temper, soft, gentle, not easily irritated. And quiet: peaceable, not turbulent, not giving offense, mild, meek, content.

Well, right away I notice a few (or maybe a LOT) of things that I am NOT. I’m not always kind, I am not always tender and gentle. I am actually quite easily irritated. And I’m not always content either. It looks like I have alot of work to do. Or, should I say, it looks like God has so much to do in me. He has such a difficult job being my Father, the molder of my heart. Praise God that nothing is impossible (or difficult) with Him! I am praying, though, that I would open myself up to His changing power. I want Him to do this in me so badly that I can taste it. However, I know that the responsibility does not lie with Him alone. He has the power, I have to be ready, willing and able for it.

For the past few weeks I have been looking up scriptures with the words compassion, meek and quiet in them. Here are the ones that have stood out to me the most.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert.” Neh. 9:19.

“But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.” Neh. 9:28.

“Praise the Lord…who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:4

“when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion for these people…” Matthew 14:14.

“…the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.” 2 Cor. 1:3.

“He leads me beside quiet waters…” Psalm 23:2

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting and strife.” Prov. 17:1.

“He will quiet you with His love…” Zeph. 3:17

“The one I esteem is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2.

“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Psalm 37:11

Oh Father, You show me so much through Your Word. So much so that at times (like now) I am completely overwhelmed with my own inadequacies. Yet, more than my own shortcomings, Your character and Your will for me shine through. You are the God of compassion, a Father to the fatherless. Jesus had compassion as soon as He saw people everywhere He went. I want that. I want my attitude to be like His. But, God, you are going to have to come into my heart and just do a complete makeover. I trust You, though. I trust You completely. I want to yield myself to You and allow You to do Your thing. Work in me. Change me. Mold me. Amen.

Prayers of Adoration

One Sunday morning, our pastor opened our service by having us pray prayers of adoration to God going through each letter of the alphabet. This unique way of praying has stuck with me…and I think it would be neat to just do this periodically. So many times I have my list of prayer requests to bring before God, but in my selfishness I forget to praise and adore Him.

A ~ awesome

B ~ beautiful

C ~ cleansing

D ~ defending

E ~ everlasting

F ~ Father

G ~ good

H ~ my Help

I ~ immovable

J ~ just

K ~ King

L ~ full of LOVE

M ~ merciful

N ~ never-ending

O ~ omnipresent

P ~ Prince of Peace

Q ~ quiets me with His love

R ~ reigning over all

S ~ sufficient

T ~ trustworthy

U ~ understanding

V ~ victorious

W ~ welcomes me

X ~ eXalted on high

Y ~ yearned for

Z ~ Zealous in his love for me