Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever…But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73: 25,26, 28
“You’re all I want in heaven!
You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left You are falling apart!
Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God
Oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
God, I’m telling the world what You do!”
Psalm 73: 25-28
The Message Bible
“What care the child when the mother rocks it, though all storms beat without? So we, if God doth shield and tend us, shall be heedless of the tempests and blasts of life, blow they never so rudely.”
Henry Ward Beecher
“Cradle an infant on the softest bed,
Soothe it with songs of lullaby to rest;
More gently will it lay its little head,
More sweetly slumber, on its mother’s breast,
Where the first draught of life and health it found
There will its sleep be sweet, its slumber sound,
Return, my soul, to God, thine only rest;
There, and there only, art thou truly bless.”
Today’s Study Text:
“This is God’s message, ‘Call on Me and I will answer you.”
Jeremiah 33: 2, 3
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 4
“I Will Answer You”
“Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer.”
Am I at a time in my life where I have been praying for something for so long that it seems as if God isn’t going to answer my prayer?
What does it feel like when my prayer apparently goes unanswered?
Has there ever been a time in my life when it appeared God did not answer my prayer, certainly in the way I wanted, and I felt betrayed by God’s inaction?
“God denies a Christian nothing, but with a design to give them something better.”
“I have had prayers answered – most strangely so sometimes – but I think our heavenly Father’s loving-kindness has been even more evident in what He has refused me.”
It’s a day I’ll never forget. I had just dropped my then “boyfriend” off at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and I was returning home by way of the 405 Freeway which at that time most everybody called the San Diego Freeway. The traffic was awful (as usual). And I was beyond tired, as the weekend which was supposed to be enjoyable, turned out to be beyond painful. The climax of the visit of this individual was some cruel words at the airport and off he went. I’m not certain how I made it back to my parent’s house with all the tears that were blocking my vision.
My broken heart made me rather mad at God. I remember telling Him how unfair He was for I thought this was the perfect person for me and I’d prayed about our relationship so much that I somehow felt God should be in sync with my wishes. Instead, the person I wanted so badly at that time was sitting on a plane, headed back to Tucson, Arizona, most likely absorbed in thoughts about his new “flame.” For quite a while, my solution to the heartache I felt was to ignore God and do whatever I wanted. “Why pray?” I concluded. God never gives you what you want anyway. Skip the disappointment. Go out and get whatever it is that pleases you.
Maybe you have never been as headstrong as I’ve been in my life. I hope you have been able to take God’s advice. But if perchance, like myself, you feel that God has given you a bitter pill to swallow at some point in time, then you may well have found that your life experience mirrors mine. However, nearly 20 years later, when I ran into my former “Mr. Perfect,” I just shook my head in disbelief as I said quietly to myself, “What were you thinking? How idiotic could you have been to think this guy was God’s choice for you?” During that 20-year span of time, God brought “my Jim” into my life and I didn’t have to chase him down. He arrived at a party at my parent’s house with another girl who thought she was going to catch Jim in her net. But God had other plans. As Jim and I like to tell people, “We started a conversation 39 years ago and it has never stopped right down to this day.” I still am in awe of the fact that it was because of what I believed to be an unanswered prayer that the two of us are together today.
Isn’t it wonderful that in Jeremiah 33: 3, first God commands us to pray and then He tells us that He answers our prayers. Just to be clear I checked out what the Hebrew word, ánáh or answer means and here’s what I found – to “answer” in Hebrew is “to respond,” “to pay attention.” This is important for us to understand. As defined by the Hebrew, ánáh doesn’t mean “to give me just what I ask for or to do things my way.” Oh, I may want that to be the definition in my narrow, little world with my limited vision.
However, what God is telling each one of us in Jeremiah 33: 3 is that when we pray, He listens, He hears and He will respond. Possibly not in a second. We may have to wait until He has worked out His timing. But do not doubt – He will reply. Just because His answer isn’t within Dorothy’s time frame or as Dorothy wished it to be doesn’t negate the fact that God hears me and will act on my behalf. As the author William Barclay makes clear, “God will always answer our prayers; but He will answer them in His way, and His way will be the way of perfect love. Often if He answered our prayers, as we at the moment desire, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be to our ruin.”
As I think back over my own life, I often wanted God to answer my prayers in accord with the way I viewed things. I thought I was such a great encouragement to my former boyfriend that I was blind to the fact that I was allowing someone to take from my emotional well-being without even desiring to put something into the relationship as well. God understood this fact and I just didn’t want to see it. God was looking out for my spiritual health more than I was. And so He had to disappoint me by answering my prayer in a way that upset me. Only to later give me someone so much better. Someone He knew would have the spiritual depth I longed for.
Several years ago I ordered a book on-line for $.99. The title was Prevailing Prayer and the book was written by the great evangelist D. L. Moody. When I received the book, I found out it was printed in 1885 and was from the first printing of this treasure. Although the book is tattered and falling apart, I regularly pull it out to read because of the spiritual lift I get in my prayer life as I contemplate the words in this gem of a book. Chapter 11 is called “Answered Prayers” and I want to leave each of you with the inspiration Pastor Moody shares about answered prayer:
“Jeremiah prayed, and said: ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched-out Arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee.’ Nothing is too hard for God; that is a good thing to take for a motto…God has said, ‘Call on Me, and I will answer thee’…let us remember that when we pray we ought to expect an answer. Let us be looking for it. I remember at the close of a meeting a man came up to me weeping and trembling. I thought something I had said had aroused him, and I began to question him as to what it was. I found, however, that he could not tell a word of what I had said. ‘My friend,’ said I, ‘what is the trouble?’ He put his hand into his pocket, and brought out a letter, all soiled, as if his tears had fallen on it. ‘I got that letter,’ he said, ‘from my sister last night. She tells me that every night she goes on her knees and prays to God for me. I think I am the worst man…I have been perfectly wretched today.’ That sister was six hundred miles away, but she had brought her brother to his knees in answer to her earnest believing prayer. It was a hard case, but God heard and answered the prayer of this Godly sister…He was soon brought into the Kingdom of God – all through his sister’s prayers…Christian friends, continue to pray. Remember with ‘God all things are possible.’”
D. L. Moody
“Go, tell Him all! The sigh thy bosom heaves,
Is heard in heaven,
Strength and peace He gives,
Who gave Himself for thee.
Our Jesus lives;
Have faith in God!”
Never forget that your Creator has given you His Word – He answers prayer. As C. G. Turnbull observes, “God is going to test me with delays; and with the delays will come suffering, but through it all stands God’s pledge: His promise of every blessing that I need…let me praise Him for them today; and let me wait on the Lord and be of good courage, and He will strengthen my heart.”
“Unanswered yet the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing?
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Nay do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your work is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows: Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, “It shall be done” – sometime, somewhere.”
Miss Ophelia G. Browning
“Lord, give us grace to hold to you
when all is weariness and fear
and sin abounds within, without
when love itself is tested by the doubt…
that love is false, or dead within the soul,
when every act brings new confusion, new distress,
new opportunities, new misunderstandings,
and every thought new accusation.
Lord, give us grace that we may know
that in the darkness pressing round
it is the mist of sin that hides your face,
that you are there
and you do know we love you still
and our dependence and endurance in your will
is still our gift of love.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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