Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 | Author:

The Word for Wednesday is a meme for Christian bloggers to share what is on their hearts. If you’d like to join us, just click the WFW tab above for details.

At Bible study last night, we spent some time in that often overlooked little book of Amos.  As is our custom, we then spent some time in prayer.

What follows is a (hopefully) more coherent version of what I was stirred to pray, this verse still in my heart:

Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;  (Amos 5:18)

Father, like your people in Zimbabwe who thank you for their dictator, Robert Mugabe, I thank you.

I thank you for 9/11 and the chaos it created in our country.

I thank you for Hurricane Katrina and the frailty of man’s plans that it revealed.

I thank you for the financial crisis and the meaninglessness of money that it exposed.

I thank you for the BP oil spill that has shown us how weak we are.

I thank you that our government has become corrupt from top to bottom.

I thank you that the apostate church in America has been left bereft of your Holy Spirit.

I thank you that the evil in our society is growing more blatant by the day.

I thank you for these, and all the other trials and testings that are befalling our nation, and I pray that they will make us humble.  I pray that many people will turn to You in their hour of need.  I pray that Christians will be prepared – and have the boldness – to speak the truth to all who seek You.

And I pray especially, Lord, for those who have been deceived by a false gospel; for those who believe they know You, but don’t; for those who think that political action leads to heaven; for those who think they will enter Your kingdom because of the good things they have done; for those who long for the day of the Lord, but will find darkness instead of light; and for those who call You ‘Lord’ – that You have never known.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’  (Matthew 7:21-23)

And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out.  (Luke 13:23-28)

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7 Responses
  1. Jim Wetzel says:

    It seems contradictory, doesn’t it, to thank God for things that can be described as disasters? Still, if you buy a piece of ground and want to get started building a house, the first thing you do is to destroy any existing building that’s standing in the place. Even if there isn’t one, you have to prepare the ground and start digging for a foundation. And that certainly looks like destruction. You have to tear stuff down before you can build what you want.

    Thanks for the thought-provoker!

  2. akagaga says:

    I hadn’t thought of it in “the house” context, but you’re right. And God’s house is not a building made with bricks or boards, but a heart that is open to His Holy Spirit.

    Since I posted it, I’ve also thought of the “give thanks in everything” of 1 Thes 5:18. Last year I had a disagreement with a pastor who said that’s not really what the verse means. I tend to discount people – pastors or otherwise – who start with that premise.

  3. jon-paul says:

    WOW! Inspiration beyond words…all I want to do is pray in the Spirit and focus on God’s light! Thank you and so well-written!

    jps

  4. In all honesty, I wouldn’t go so far as to thank God FOR the circumstances; not based on what I know of God’s character through the Bible.

    1 Thessalonians says to give thanks IN all circumstances, not for them. I believe that horrible things that happen on this planet earth have been wreaked on man BY man; it has only happened since the fall of man. God did not send that snake to tempt Adam; this is how I know: James 1 says that God does not tempt (in the Greek this also means test or scrutinize) anyone, but every good and perfect gift is from Him, because His very nature is GOODNESS.

    9/11 was an absolutely horrible situation, and many of God’s people died that day. God did not cause it to happen. However, because God is God, He was not lost amidst the ruins, and I don’t believe it struck Him by surprise because He is not human like us. I believe that because God is God, He brought victory into that situation and used it to wake people up to see their need for Him, and to see the need to go back to the solid Christian foundation of this nation.

    God did not intend 9/11. Exceedingly wicked people caused it to happen, but what they intended for evil, God did work out for good. For this reason, I will look back and say, “God, I thank you that You are not limited by man’s deeds, and I thank You that what the devil tried to destroy You will revive and You have worked through this incident to bring people to Yourself. In all these troubles, You love us and make us more than conquerors.”

    As far as “the house” goes, think about it this way: Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (psalm 127). The house that fell–God did not tear it down; it fell by itself, because it was built in vain, it was not built soundly, according to the laws of nature which the Author of nature established. God never forces Himself upon people; this is clear when one studies the Scripture to search out the character of God. God offers freedom; freedom cannot be forced upon anyone! One can only RECEIVE a free gift. They could also choose not to, and instead sell themselves into slavery– slavery to sin, and receive the ultimate wages of death.

    We give thanks in everything because we know that God is ultimately in control. He does not cause everything that happens to happen, but He works out the good end. We give thanks because He is not defeated; He always leads US in triumph in Christ Jesus. And this is the victory that overcomes the world: OUR FAITH. He has given us faith that can move mountains. We give thanks because nothing changes who God is, not even the bad circumstances. He has given us the victory, but that means there’s got to be a battle!

    We pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, there won’t be any more sorrow. Here, there is sorrow. That tells me His will is not yet completely fulfilled on this earth. Nonetheless, we have hope, because we have faith! We confidently expect that the enemy’s defeat is guaranteed. We give thanks to God because we know, though we do not see, that Satan will soon be trampled under God’s feet, and there will be no more evil!

  5. akagaga says:

    @Jon-Paul As usual you are too kind, my friend, but I am always humbled when one of His servants is inspired to seek Him for a deeper understanding.

    @Alice A few years ago, I would have agreed with most everything you said. Since then, I’ve come to believe that many times what we are taught in any given church represents one particular viewpoint and not the whole of scripture, which is why there is victory and success in a multitude of counselors. (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)

    I think our disagreement stems from the Reformation and that age-old battle between Calvinism and Arminianism. Without getting into the specifics of either, and acknowledging that there are sincere Christians on either side of that fence, I think both positions make the same mistake: they point to certain scriptures but ignore others.

    Our challenge as Bible-believing Christians is to allow God to renew our minds to the whole of scripture, and when one verse seems to contradict another, we shouldn’t just choose one the one we’ve been taught, but need to pray for clarification. In my experience, those answers can be painful, if we are honest and open to the working of the Holy Spirit.

    We pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    We sure do, and God’s will is that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4) Are we really going to complain if He allows evil and suffering to further that end? Shouldn’t we rejoice as heaven does when just one sinner is saved? Is our form of government and our preferred way of life more important than saving those souls?

    If the promises we cling to, and the things we work for, are those that personally benefit us here on earth – like a nice house, a good job, and a just government – then I think we have lost sight of heaven and God’s main purpose for the church.

    He does not cause everything that happens to happen, but He works out the good end.

    I would agree with this if we define what “the good end” includes. Does it only include happy things, and our ideas of the way the world should be, or does it include the trials that make us more like Jesus? Does it include the death of Christians, say on 9/11, if those deaths ultimately lead to more souls being saved?

    I would prefer to say that He does not cause everything that happens to happen, but He certainly allows it. To deny this is to deny His sovereignty. Just as Jesus could have called down legions of angels when He faced the cross, He didn’t. Could God have stopped 9/11? Of course He could – but He didn’t.

    Even though we define certain things as evil, God truly does have a master plan that we should be hesitant to question. It includes saving as many souls as possible, and transforming the minds and hearts of His people.

    Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15:20)

    Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

    In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:6-7)

    They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:40-41)

    Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, (Hebrews 5:8-9)

  6. In all due respect (this is your blog and your meme!), this is not a matter of disagreement about “what we have been taught” or what tradition we have. I don’t have a tradition, I have a searched-out conviction (see here: http://asinamirror.com/belated-wfw-suffering) I did not pick and choose certain Scriptures, because all Scripture says the same thing–it has the same Author who never contradicts Himself.

    When I prayed for clarification when it seemed the Scriptures said two different things, God showed me that I had the clarification right in front of me– His Word is truth! The only dimness came from my false perception.

    If the promises we cling to, and the things we work for, are those that personally benefit us here on earth – like a nice house, a good job, and a just government – then I think we have lost sight of heaven and God’s main purpose for the church.

    Ehh… I’m sorry, but saying that suffering is not God’s plan is not saying that we should seek things that personally benefit us here on earth. I think that perspective comes from assuming this is a battle between institutionalized doctrines. I have not taken a side. I don’t even really know what the sides are. All I know is that God saved me from certain death. And He used someone else’s tragedy to do that! (Please read my post for more.) I actually believe in Romans 12, that God wants our lives to be a sacrifice. I also pray and believe for God’s will to be done on the earth– the same will that is done in heaven! There is no suffering of any kind, there.

    I am only saying in very condensed form what I have learned through my study of the character of God. It is not my wish to fit into any mold or follow any particular teaching, though I will allow my faith to be teachable. A few years ago, it was not even my will to live. Can I say that God used that? All I can say is that my own suffering was the result of my own sin, and only God could set me free. And I see so clearly through His Word that suffering came into the world because of sin.

  7. akaGaGa says:

    @Alice I don’t have a tradition, I have a searched-out conviction. I have no doubt that you have searched the scriptures. I know that you seek after God and desire to please Him. But I suspect that whatever convictions you arrive at are quite similar to those of your pastor and/or your parents. That’s where the tradition comes in. The fact is that we are products of all those who have impacted our lives, for good or bad. We absorb the viewpoints of those who teach us. This is why I think it’s important to hear multiple teachers. Where one teacher errs, another can provide balance, and the whole body benefits.

    And with that? I will stop beating a dead horse. :)