In the book of Acts, written by Luke, we learn some of the history of the early church. There is a Greek word that we see 22 times in the Book of Acts and that word is “dei.” “Dei” is translated as “it is necessary” (Strong). Which means that Luke is driving home the point that things are necessary throughout history because it is in God’s plan. In the very first chapter of the book, Luke hits us with the hard truth: “it is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).
We see some amazing works done by God in the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts:
A commonality can be found amongst all these things, God is in control even when He is working through people. Knowing all this gave me confidence in two things: 1) I do not get to know the why for everything that happens, and 2) God is still in control.
It can be hard to fully trust that God is in control when things feel uncertain, messy, and painful. We live in a broken world. As humans, we often feel like we need to know who, what, when, where, and why to be confident that things are going smoothly and there’s no need for panic. However, Jeremiah 17:7 tells us, “...blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
So I ask, what matters more, knowing everything and constantly worrying when things don’t go according to your plan? Or being blessed greatly and trusting in God’s most perfect plan for you?
Sweet friend, God is in control always. Jesus dying on the cross? He knew. Christians being persecuted? He knew. God is sovereign through it all. Luke gives us a glimpse of this truth stating, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts. 2:23). While there were many sins committed around the crucifixion of Jesus, God’s plan was always to send His son down to die on the cross for our sins. His perfect plan was still brought to completion even amidst the brokenness of the world.
So the next time a door closes, take a moment to thank God for always being with you. For creating a most perfect plan for you that might not be what you envisioned but will bear so much fruit to you and those around you.
Reference: Strong, James. “The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.” Hendrickson Publication, 2021. https://biblehub.com/greek/1163.htm
Memory Verse: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As far as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”Isaiah 55:8-9
In Exodus 16, the Israelites are in their second month of wandering through the wilderness. They have faced the harshest realities through this journey, to the point they even consider going back to oppression and slavery to be better than this. They surely couldn’t be difficult or flawed. But you know who was making life pretty difficult for them? Moses.
Even though God appointed Moses to lead them through the wilderness and confirmed this truth time after time, they were too disconnected from God to fully understand the situation. They’re grumblings weren’t being heard by Moses, they were being heard and felt by God. Moses stopped them to ask, “why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” (Exod. 17:1). They even frustrated themselves to the point of wishing they would simply die before following Moses any longer (Exod. 16:3).
What a way to feel about a leader appointed by God. That death would be better than following him. Again, sounds harsh, right? It is.
So how do we soften our hearts? Obedience and prayer.
Moses isn’t without difficulties himself, none of us are. He’s killed, run away, made excuses for what God called him to do, disobeyed God, and so much more. However, Moses continually turned to prayer and actively tried to obey what God commanded of him. He had his moments of doubt, but for the majority of his life, he completely trusted and obeyed God. Moses actively sought God, prayed that God would use him and guide him, and acted as a messenger of God in the first five books of the Bible.
So let us continually be seeking opportunities to obey God’s will so that we can be a light in this world. It’s a humbling experience, just like wandering in the wilderness for forty years, to be obedient even when it isn’t easy.
But it becomes slightly easier when we remember why we are being obedient. Why we continue to press on through the hard things- because God is good. Because God’s perfect will is better than anything we might have in mind for our lives. So we trust Him and we pray. We pray that God would show His will to us and give us the hearts to be used by Him. To soften our hearts so that we can shine His light to those around us.
These two things won’t make it so that we aren’t difficult in the eyes of others and our neighbors will never again be difficult to us. But it does mean that we can delight in His works being done in us and in the hearts of others.
This week I challenge you to find the difficult or challenging people in your life and pursue them. Pray for them, pray with them, get into God’s word with them. And don’t forget to pray over your heart too.
Memory Verse: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
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