Our modern culture doesn’t believe that, of course. It is easier to blame God than to acknowledge that there is an evil presence in our lives that is constantly on the attack. It is easier to cry “God’s judgement” than to acknowledge that there are consequences for our actions. And it is easy to be confused about where the ‘bad’ things in our lives come from if we don’t seek the face of the Creator and ask for an explanation. I think sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t really want to know the answer.
Having been at this ‘Jesus thing’ for quite some time I have learned a few things. So today, instead of tackling all of the evil in the world, I want to focus on just one aspect: What happens in our lives when we fail to put God first?
I have watched marriages crumble when one partner places their careers or families ahead of God. I have seen families disintegrate when God gets placed farther and farther down in their list of priorities. I witnessed an instance where an international evangelist put off going on mission trip because of his wife’s birthday! And I heard her anguished cries of “please, don’t put me before God”. She knew. She understood. That mission trip was ordained by God and she knew it. Everything was in place for a mighty move of God and he postponed it. Today they live separate lives, no longer a couple, no longer serving God together. I won’t share what nuclear bomb took out their marriage but suffice it to say that she saw it coming and couldn’t stop it, no matter how hard she tried.
I know another international evangelist who also had his own church. I watched as he began taking more and more trips abroad and leaving his congregation in the hands of associates. Here was a man who served God at home and abroad. Yet he finally lost his church and he no longer travels abroad. He lost every ministry he had. Why?
Do I believe God did that? Do you? Some say God removed His hand of blessing from their lives. Others say the devil crept in unawares. You might say it is a consequence of actions/inactions that forever changed their lives. It is possible that when we fail to be good stewards over the territory God places on our lives, He removes the opportunities for a time of reflection and discipline.
Here’s what I know in my knower: God loves us and wants the very best for us. He is love. He is also justice. He is also mercy. So: the God who wants the very best for us and loves us unconditionally is not beating us over the head every time we mess up. He is a good father who encourages us, trains us, watches over us and, yes, disciplines us when necessary. DISCIPLINE. Something we hate and love to blame God or the devil for. Something we need that we rail against. Something that keeps us headed toward the finish line – His Kingdom.
I want to encourage you today. God creates calamity as a form of discipline. The bigger the calamity, the greater the need for discipline.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me, there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, 7The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these,” (Isaiah 45:5-7).
It is up to us to respond appropriately and correct our behaviors. And the greatest folly we can enter into is letting something or someone else assume the place of highest priority in our lives. Surely the Lord will discipline us for that, and we would deserve it. If we have asked him to be Lord of our lives and then let something else usurp that position, we deserve whatever befalls us. To be truthful, we all deserve death and hell. Thank you Jesus!
So the next time you are feeling sorely put upon and blaming God for things not going your way, take some time out to be alone with God. Reflect on what is happening and take it to Him. Talk with Him. And be honest with yourself. Whatever is happening, He is in control and only He can see the outcome. Place Him in the position of headship in your life and watch for His Glory on your behalf!
Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside you, what He hath prepared for him that waits for Him.