Hearing testimonies about how God did something spectacular in someone else’s life can challenge us. While we may rejoice to hear about answers to prayer, we may also wonder why God hasn’t done anything amazing for us lately.
It’s easy to think that if God showed up in astonishing ways for us like He did for Abraham, then we would be more inspired to be faithful servants of God. But then we remember that God showed up for Abraham every 12 to 14 years, and most of Abraham’s journey was rather ordinary (see Gen. 12:1–4; 15:1–6; 16:16–17:12).
God’s work is usually done behind the scenes in the ordinary things of life. As 1 Corinthians 10 says, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out.” Every day God is busy shielding us from devastating onslaughts of Satan that would otherwise leave us helplessly defeated. And when temptation hits, He is making exit ramps for us so we can escape.
When we put our head on the pillow at night, we should pause to thank God for the amazing things He has done for us that day in the midst of our ordinary lives. So, instead of longing for Him to do something spectacular for you, thank Him! He already has. — Joe Stowell
Lord, help me to be constantly aware that Your power and presence are with me even in the ordinary times in my life. Thank You for Your amazing work on my behalf that I know nothing about.
God is always in control behind the scenes, even on “ordinary” days.
VP Mike Pence Rolls Up Sleeves Alongside Franklin Graham to Help Harvey Victims
Thank you for your support and prayers over the past week as Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been ministering at evacuation centers and homes throughout southeast Texas.
The chaplains were joined by Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence on Thursday in Rockport. They met with Franklin Graham, prayed for the people of Texas and lent a helping hand after one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
We thank you again for the prayers and support you have already given as chaplains have shared the love and compassion of Christ in Texas.
PHOTOS: Chaplains Offer Hope to Texas Evacuees and Residents
Since the hurricane swept over the Gulf Coast, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been there to offer emotional and spiritual care to people who are suffering.
These photos will give you a glimpse into the powerful ministry God is orchestrating throughout Texas.
Franklin Graham addressing a group of people outside a damaged church in Rockport, Texas. “We need Christian men and women willing to come to south Texas to help us. There’s so much need down here,” he said.
Chaplains Deliver Desperately Needed Hope to Southeast Texas
By BGEA • August 30, 2017
Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team arrived in Texas not long after Hurricane Harvey hit. Chaplains are now ministering in Victoria, Dallas, Houston and Rockport, Texas, with more sites to be added.
Franklin Graham visited some of the hardest-hit areas of Texas on Thursday. He paused to pray with a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain who has been ministering to residents
Chaplains are delivering emotional and spiritual care alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in Victoria, which is located between Corpus Christi and Houston. Help send chaplains into disaster zones to offer hope in crisis.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team shares the hope of Christ during times of crisis. “We see this as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and care for people, for them to know that God hasn’t forgotten them,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.
Vice President Mike Pence, along with his wife and second lady Karen Pence, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, visited families impacted by the disaster.
Gov. Abbott also signed a proclamation declaring Sunday (Sept. 3) a day of prayer in Texas. “As we gather today here at this church, it’s important that we remember that the greatest power that exists is the power of God and the way that God can touch and move all of our lives,” he said.
Franklin Graham spent time with Texas residents and the chaplains who have been ministering to them.
Flood rescues after Harvey have been intense and ongoing as floodwaters recede.
An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area alone.
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain David Barlow shares a smile with firefighters in Victoria. (see photo above) Often, first responders are deeply affected by the work they’re called to do in times of crisis. Continue to pray for these men and women on duty across Texas.
With Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working in the background, chaplains take a moment to pray with a homeowner affected by Harvey in Victoria, Texas. (see above)
A week after Hurricane Harvey crashed into Texas, more than 1 million residents are displaced.
Police and emergency personnel are working around the clock to rescue flood victims. Large pockets of land are still underwater across the state.
A 9-year-old reads from the Bible (picture above) as a chaplain listens inside a home. Officials say thousands of people are still stranded in their flooded homes and officials are asking residents to be patient as they wait to be rescued.
Chaplains circle up to pray while visiting the home of residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. (picture above)
Though they’ve been displaced twice from hurricanes, this family remained joyful in the hope of Christ. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” —Psalm 5:11, ESV
Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, has set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, according to the National Weather Service. Two weather stations in the Lone Star State have reported total rainfall over 48 inches.
On Wednesday, the tropical storm continued to pound the Gulf Coast with torrential rains, flooding and strong winds. The full force of the storm’s impact has begun shifting to western Louisiana.
Rapid Response Team chaplain Mike Mattingly comforts and prays for Felix Cavazos, a victim of Hurricane Harvey.
Hundreds of chaplains are standing by to deploy in multiple sites across Texas. Will you keep the people of Texas in your prayers?
After installing the above article, it was learned that President Donald Trump declared Sunday, September 3, 2017, to be a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. How timely, how appropriate and how refreshing. What a beautiful contrast to the previous administration who ignored the One True God of the universe, through cancelling the National Day of Prayer and annually holding Ramadan in the White House. May the Lord bless Donald Trump.
Take a moment today to stop everything you are doing and say a special prayer for all those in Texas that are experiencing the devastation of hurricane Harvey and all the flooding in the South.
May God watch over them. Amen
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.—John 15:13
During the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, missionaries trapped in a home in T’ai Yüan Fu decided their only hope for survival rested on running through the crowd that was calling for their deaths. Aided by weapons they held, they escaped the immediate threat. However, Edith Coombs, noticing that two of her injured Chinese students had not escaped, raced back into danger. She rescued one, but stumbled on her return trip for the second student and was killed.
Meanwhile, missionaries in Hsin Chou district had escaped and were hiding in the countryside, accompanied by their Chinese friend Ho Tsuen Kwei. But he was captured while scouting an escape route for his friends in hiding and was martyred for refusing to reveal their location.
In the lives of Edith Coombs and Tsuen Kwei we see a love that rises above cultural or national character. Their sacrifice reminds us of the greater grace and love of our Savior.
As Jesus awaited His arrest and subsequent execution, He prayed earnestly, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” But He concluded that request with this resolute example of courage, love, and sacrifice: “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). His death and resurrection made our eternal lives possible. —Randy Kilgore
Lord, may the world see our love for each other—and the deeds that come from it—as a great testimony to the bond of unity we have in You. May they want to know You too.
Only the light of Christ’s love can eliminate the darkness of hatred.
INSIGHT: The Bible speaks of God’s love for us in terms of a generous sacrifice. The apostle John writes of a God who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). To prove that God truly loves us, John directs us to Jesus’s sacrificial death: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Alluding to His own sacrificial love just hours before He went to the cross, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Sim Kay Tee
You have heard the saying “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Due to our sinful human natures, sometimes the only time we pray is when our backs are to the wall, and there is no one else to turn to. Pray is our last resort.
10)Suffering Brings Rewards
There is a special reward for those who suffer patiently for Him. Paul tells us in II Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” We are made perfect through suffering. Steel is iron plus fire. Soil is rock plus crushing. The Christian life is faith plus suffering. It is God’s way of doing things. It is God’s own way of making us what we ought to be. God’s way is through fire, and through the fire He will perfect us.
Christianity does not promise us an easy walk. We will always encounter many trials and tribulations, but if we look to Jesus in faith, He will carry our load. Christianity promises us 1)all the grace of God we need, 2)a peace of mind beyond understanding that only a Christian has, and 3)we know we are heaven bound once we are “born again.” What more can we ask for? Are you suffering? Then thank the Lord for it because it shows you are growing in Christ.
Continued from Part 7… This entire eight part series on suffering is all listed under the category entitled Devotionals/Inspirationals.
When you and I suffer, then we can be of comfort to someone else walking down a road similar to ours. If we do not experience another person’s suffering, then we cannot honestly say “we know how they feel.” Our comfort comes from the fact that no matter what our trial, Jesus knows how we feel. He has already been there and He has suffered more than we ever will.
8)Suffering Makes Us And Keeps Us Humble
God wants His children humble. Pride caused the devil to fall and the first parents to sin. God hates pride and exalts the humble. Our trials teach us humility. Paul, who went to heaven and was given a revelation that no other man ever experienced, was also given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble so he would not be lifted up in pride.
Remember, the normal path of the believer is one of tribulation. Jesus said: “In this world ye shall have tribulation.” And Paul tells us that we must “through much tribulation enter into the kingdom.” If we do not suffer trouble, tribulation and persecution, it is either because we do not belong to the Lord or because we are worthless from the standpoint of fruit and service. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.”
Every “Born Again” Christian should be persecuted by worldly people, and when you come to know Jesus, you will probably lose a few old friends. Read John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” about the trials a Christian will encounter.
We learn to put our pride on the shelf, we learn how to be humble and we learn about the grace of God. Often though, it is only when we suffer a set back that we turn to God, because there is no other place to turn to. When we are ill, or lose a loved one, or have financial problems and the like, THEN, and only then do we depend upon God because there is no one else to depend on.
When God leaves us utterly alone and does not visit us with testings and trials, we may be sure that our lives are barren. Gold is put in the fire for refining. A farmer carefully tills the soil in order to raise good crops.
Sunshine all the time only makes a desert. We need rain and storms or else how would the plants grow? How would we grow? In the midst of our difficulties we must trust God and have faith in Him. Faith must be tried in order to grow. JUST LIKE EXERCISE STRENGTHENS OUR BODIES, OUR TRIALS STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH. Without trials, how could our faith grow?
6)Suffering Teaches Us Patience
Paul said we glory in tribulations.
Romans 5:3-5 King James Version (KJV)
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Continued from Part 4… This entire eight part series will be listed under the category entitled Devotionals/Inspirationals.
3)Suffering Makes Us More Like Christ
God allows us to suffer to accomplish the ultimate purpose for which He has called and chosen us. The purpose of God in choosing and saving us is to make us more like Jesus Christ. Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.” We are to be conformed to the image of His Son. Jesus was called the “man of sorrows.” Is it any wonder that we will experience affliction, pain and grief as He did? Hebrews 2:10 “For it became Him, for whom are all things… in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Following Jesus means tasting Calvary and the Garden of Gethsemane, it means darkness and suffering. Paul said in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable unto His death.” Wherever He leads, I will go.
4)Suffering Makes Us Appreciative
We do not appreciate our blessings until we lose them. How can a day be beautiful unless we have stormy days to compare with it? I never cherished my good health until I got pneumonia. I was so weak that I could not move my little finger. I then learned how to lean on the Lord, how to pray, and how weak and feeble my body really was. This happened just after I came to Christ – after our “born again” experience, God often chastises us or allows us to suffer so we can grow in the Lord.
Suffering is a doctrine that is found throughout the Word of God. The Emerging Church totally ignores this teaching. What would Job say if Joel Osteen said to him: “Have your best life now?” God builds us up through trials and tribulations, not through creature comforts and living on easy street. Following are ten reasons why Christians suffer. The list is not conclusive. A couple of them will be mentioned in this posting with more to come.
Why Christians Suffer –
1)Suffering Silences Satan
The best example is the story of the patriarch Job. When God pointed out to Satan what a good man Job was, the devil accused Job of doing it only for gain and profit which came to him materially because he feared the Lord. In order to prove his point, God allowed Satan to take his possessions, health and family. The result was that Satan was silenced. Instead of murmuring, complaining, and becoming bitter, Job praised God and said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
How wonderful it is to see people love the Lord and smile while suffering. The next time you feel like complaining, read the diary of Ann Frank.
2)Suffering Enables Us To Glorify God
The eleventh chapter of John tells us about the death of Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus. Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but allowed him to die in order to teach a lesson to Lazarus and his two sisters. Jesus said in John 11:4: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.”
Our trials, tribulations and suffering build us up. Who has not heard of the common story of the overly protected child who later has trouble functioning in school and everyday life? The devotional below reveals how trees placed in a protective space, collapsed under their own weight. Why? Because they were never exposed to the winds of adversity. They never had a chance to develop strong roots and a solid trunk! God grows us, and in order to grow us, He allows us to suffer and be tested. Without a Goliath in his life, the strength of David’s character would have been dormant and not seen by man. Goliath did not make David a heroic man of faith. Goliath simply revealed what was already in David. Trials do NOT make or break us, they reveal what is in us.
Following the devotionals from Our Daily Bread, the topic of suffering will be further expounded upon. In Christ, Pastor Steve
Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! Mark 4:41
Imagine a world without wind. Lakes would be calm. Falling leaves wouldn’t blow in the streets. But in still air, who would expect trees to suddenly fall over? That’s what happened in a three-acre glass dome built in the Arizona desert. Trees growing inside a huge windless bubble called Biosphere 2 grew faster than normal until suddenly collapsing under their own weight. Project researchers eventually came up with an explanation. These trees needed wind stress to grow strong.
Jesus let His disciples experience gale-force winds to strengthen their faith (Mark 4:36–41). During a night crossing of familiar waters, a sudden storm proved too much even for these seasoned fishermen. Wind and waves were swamping their boat while an exhausted Jesus slept in the stern. In a panic they woke Him. Didn’t it bother their Teacher that they were about to die? What was He thinking? Then they began to find out. Jesus told the wind and waves to be quiet—and asked His friends why they still had no faith in Him.
If the wind had not blown, these disciples would never have asked, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).
Today, life in a protective bubble might sound good. But how strong would our faith be if we couldn’t discover for ourselves His reassuring “be still” when the winds of circumstance howl?
Father in heaven, please help us to remember that anything that frightens us comes with an invitation to find the strength of knowing and trusting You.
God never sleeps.
INSIGHT:In Mark 4:35–5:43 the gospel writer tells of four miracles to prove that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God” and therefore has absolute authority over the forces of this physical world (4:35–41), over the powers of the spiritual world (5:1–20), over physical illnesses (5:24–34), and over death (5:35–43). These miracles were designed to answer the question, “Who is this?” (4:41). The first miracle was Jesus calming the storm on Galilee. Because the Sea of Galilee is in a basin about 700 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, sudden and violent storms are common (v. 37). That Jesus was tired and soundly asleep showed that He was fully human (v. 38); that the storm instantly obeyed Him showed He was divine (v. 39).
When I married my English fiancé and moved to the United Kingdom, I thought it would be a five-year adventure in a foreign land. I never dreamed I’d still be living here nearly twenty years later, or that at times I’d feel like I was losing my life as I said goodbye to family and friends, work, and all that was familiar. But in losing my old way of life, I’ve found a better one.
The upside-down gift of finding life when we lose it is what Jesus promised to His apostles. When He sent out the twelve disciples to share His good news, He asked them to love Him more than their mothers or fathers, sons or daughters (Matt. 10:37). His words came in a culture where families were the cornerstone of the society and highly valued. But He promised that if they would lose their life for His sake, they would find it (v. 39).
We don’t have to move abroad to find ourselves in Christ. Through service and commitment—such as the disciples going out to share the good news of the kingdom of God—we find ourselves receiving more than we give through the lavish love the Lord showers on us. Of course He loves us no matter how much we serve, but we find contentment, meaning, and fulfillment when we pour ourselves out for the well-being of others. —Amy Boucher Pye
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Isaac Watts
Every loss leaves a space that can be filled with God’s presence.
INSIGHT: When we choose to follow Christ, we won’t necessarily be popular. Our highest calling is not self-promotion or self-preservation. A hero jumps into deep water to save someone who is drowning, but that same person could well lose his or her life (to quote Jesus) in the process of seeking to save someone else. Jesus indicated that even family members (normally our closest natural connection) may be squared off against us. While others may become our obstinate opponents because of Christ, we are obligated to show unselfishness because of Him (Phil. 2:3-5). “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). It’s a profound paradox. To lose our life for Him means to find it. Has there been a time when the choice to follow Christ has cost you? Jim Townsend