Hide & Seek
“Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.
Recommended Reading – Psalm 139:7-12
When we try to hide from God, we are like small children hiding in plain view. We may think we are hidden, but God sees us. The thought of God’s omnipresence can either be comforting or frightening.
It’s easy to forget that God is everywhere. Adam and Eve sought to hide from God. Jonah hoped to sail away from God and His plan. Each of them learned firsthand that it is impossible to evade God. God is unlimited and infinite with respect to time; He is eternal. God is unlimited and unaffected by space; He is present everywhere at the same time.
While God’s presence is frightening when we are trying to continue in sin, His constant presence can be a deep comfort for those who follow Him. His forgiveness, grace, and mercy are as constant as His presence. We no longer need to fear challenges, difficulty, or even death because He is with us and has promised to remain with us. Even if we fight against or ignore God’s glory and presence, we cannot diminish them.
A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, “darkness” on the wall of his cell.
C. S. Lewis
Treasures in Darkness
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3
“I have never been in this place before. It is new ground for me, and I find I am way out of my comfort zone. I am scared to death to trust Him at this level. I had to confess to the Lord I have not been able to accept or believe His love for me in this area.” Those were the words I expressed to a friend when I was in a difficult place in my life. That day when I confessed those words, God led me to this passage of Scripture.
What we perceive as dark periods in our lives are designed to be treasures from God. They are actually riches stored in secret places. We cannot see those times in this light because of the often-accompanying pain or fear that prevents us from accepting these times as treasures. They have a particular purpose from God’s viewpoint: “…so that you may know that I am the Lord…who summons you by name.”
You see, unless we are cast into times in which we are completely at God’s mercy for breakthroughs in our lives, we will never experience God’s faithfulness in those areas. We will never know how personal He is, or that He can be trusted to meet the deepest needs in our lives. God wants each of us to know that we are “summoned by name.” Every hair of our head is numbered. He knows every activity we are involved in. His love for you and me knows no bounds, and He will take every opportunity to demonstrate this to us.
Has God brought you into a place of darkness? Trust Him today to reveal that hidden treasure that can be found in this darkness. Let Him summon you by name.
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18
Recommended Reading – Deuteronomy 8:18-20
One day while vacationing in the south of France, singer Paul Anka heard a song titled “Comme d’habitude.” He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to translate and record it in English. Back in New York, Anka sat down late at night and began writing his version on an old electric typewriter. He had only one soloist in mind — Frank Sinatra. Anka composed the lyrics as he thought Sinatra would have written them if he were dying: “The end is near … I’ve lived a life that’s full … I’ve done it my way.” It became one of Sinatra’s greatest hits: “My Way!”
As our culture has advanced in entertainment, technology, science, and education, a humanist philosophy has overtaken our hearts. People want to do things their way, take all the credit, and live as though God has little to do with everyday life. Like the people of Babel, we want to make a name for ourselves with no thought of God.
But it’s God who gives us the ability to do things, even to gain wealth; and we must remember that what we do is only successful when we do it — His Way.
God’s way is still the best way.
Zig Ziglar, in his book by that title
Responding to Life
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Recommended Reading – Ephesians 1:11-12
We are used to hearing people say, “I did what I thought was best.” Even if a person’s actions didn’t produce the desired outcome, we empathize with him or her because we”ve been there ourselves. Faced with a decision, we gather our facts, seek advice, weigh the pros and cons, and then finally make a decision. Because we are imperfect, it’s hard for us to imagine someone choosing and acting perfectly. It’s hard to imagine someone with a sovereign will whose decisions are always right and for the good.
But that is how the Bible portrays God. Paul says that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). God doesn’t gather facts, weigh options, seek advice, compare outcomes, and then decide. Rather, God”s will and word have been “forever … settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89), carried out, as it were, before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and God is sovereign (Acts 4:24). Those biblical truths must define our response to every circumstance in life.
Good when He gives, supremely good; nor less when He denies. E’en crosses from His sovereign hand are blessings in disguise.
Fears That Keep Us From His Presence
“Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So He got into the boat and left.” – Luke 8:37
Jesus did many miracles when He lived on earth. One of those miracles involved the deliverance of a demon-possessed man. The people of the community witnessed this awesome demonstration of God’s power when Jesus commanded the demon spirit to come out of the man and go into the herd of nearby pigs. The man was healed and sat at Jesus’ feet.
You would expect the people who witnessed this to embrace Jesus as one performing good deeds and to honor Him. The opposite was true. Instead, they were overcome with fear. Why? Many of us respond the same way to Jesus when He does an out-of-the-ordinary act among His people. We are fearful because we have never personally experienced this before. So, we draw wrong judgments. The result is that Jesus removes Himself from us.
The Lord is able to do far exceeding above what we think. Jesus does not remain in the places where there is fear of His goodness. It is often subconscious fears that prevent us from going to a deeper level with Him. The people in Gerasenes could not benefit from Jesus’ presence because of their fears.
Have you feared Jesus because of what He might require of you? Have you feared that He might ask of you something you are not prepared to give? Do not let your fears drive Him from your presence. His motive is always love for His children. You can trust Him.
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.” – Psalm 127:2
Coming into the Promised Land in business will change the way you and I view our work. No longer will we see getting up early and staying up late as God’s way. Living in the Promised Land in work means we know that God is the source of our provision and that our work is an act of worship to Him. Provision is a by-product, not an end in itself. Work is no longer something that must be sweated and toiled upon to make ends meet. “Could this really be true?” you might be saying. God has made it clear that obedience is the assurance of provision. Whenever we go beyond the normal workday due to fear of non-provision, we are operating in unbelief. We are saying that it is up to us to make things happen. Sure, there are times when we work longer hours due to a deadline, but we must be sure the motive is not out of fear of loss or fear of non-provision. If we are obedient to what God has called us to, He will provide our every need. This can be a hard lesson for goal-oriented workplace believers.
I recall coming into this understanding. I had been a workaholic. Long hours were common. Then God shook up my world and I was challenged by a friend to examine my motives for working long hours. I realized the source of those long hours was fear. Once I came into this understanding, I refused to work long hours even though the natural man would tell me I’d never make things happen if I worked a normal work week. Again, this reasoning is based on a lack of faith. If we are obedient to what God has called each of us to, we will not lack. At times it may be less than what we might like; at other times it may be more than we deserve. These are God’s ways.
The Bible tells us to come out of Babylon. Babylon is a system of work and philosophy that is contrary to God’s ways. Are you operating in any aspect of work from a Babylonian value system? Ask the Lord to reveal this to you. Begin to walk in the freedom He has given us in our work life.
Losing Your Life for His Purposes
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” – Luke 9:24
When the time came for God to fulfill Joseph’s dreams, Joseph himself had virtually no interest at all in it. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it” (Lk. 9:24). God wants to teach us a different set of values so that the kind of thing we start out wanting becomes secondary. God has something in mind for us that is far greater than the interest we began with.
Joseph’s day of exaltation had arrived. Yet, through it all, a very real humiliation had to take place. We know about the humiliation Joseph had experienced for 13 years after being sold by his brothers into slavery, then taken to Egypt. We know how he was falsely accused and cast into prison.
Then came a different situation. Joseph had had a triumph and was given an exaltation, but the kind he really never asked for. He did not appear to be all that interested in what was about to happen. He watched as the Pharaoh took his ring off his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. Joseph never asked for that. All he wanted was to go home. He longed to go back to Canaan, to see his father, and to have his dreams fulfilled.
Therefore, here we find an extraordinary incongruity: a humiliation in the heart of vindication. A triumph that was the opposite of everything he, himself, could have envisaged. Joseph wanted to go home, but a one-way ticket to Canaan wasn’t available. Before he knew it, he had Egypt in his hip pocket. He had never prayed for that. But God wanted Egypt. What God wanted is what Joseph got.
Joseph was given something that he could be trusted with because it didn’t mean that much to him.