Nothing Can Stop God

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I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
— Ecclesiastes 3:14

Around the holidays, one of my favorite desserts to make is seven-layer cookie bars. Jason’s mother made these for their family nearly every year, so I've decided to carry on the tradition. The good thing is it’s an easy dessert to make. The bad news is they’re so delicious I find it hard not to eat the entire pan myself. (Why do sweet, tasty things have to be so unhealthy and fattening?)

Anyway, this week I made a batch of cookies bars for the family Thanksgiving dinner, but I made one change—I left out the nuts (unless, of course, you count the one making them, hehehe!) The logic behind my choice was there would be plenty of bars for the Rongione family dinner on Thursday and the White family dinner on Saturday. One dessert, two occasions. I like it! That being the case, I left out the nuts because my niece is allergic. Makes sense, right?

But here’s the thing. I could make them with nuts or without, but once the cookie bars are baked, the deal is done. You can’t add anything to them or take anything away. All the yummy ingredients have melded (and melted) together into one tight package, and there’s no way to pick out what you don’t like or add in what you do. It’s a finished product. . .just like God’s work.

Our key verse is Ecclesiastes tells us that what God does is forever, and nothing can change it. Sure, men try. For ages, people have been attempting to change God’s Word to fit their liking and to twist the truth to fit their lifestyles. But the truth is still the truth, and God’s plans haven’t changed. Despite man’s attempts to explain God away, He is still in control of it all, and what He has established is forever.

That’s good news, but it gets even better because it goes beyond what God has done and extends to what God is doing now. Check out these verses:

Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
— Isaiah 43:13
For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
— Isaiah 14:27

I love that! God is saying, “I will do what I will do, and nothing will stop me.” Nothing! Isn’t it comforting to know nothing can deter God from His plans? After all, Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the thoughts God has for us are of peace and not of evil. He has good plans for us. Plans to prosper us. Plans to help us become more like Him. Plan above and beyond our wildest dreams. And nothing can stop those plans. No sickness can get in the way. No financial hardship can make them an impossibility. No doubt can scare them away. God has a plan, and He will fulfill it. End of story.

That ought to have us singing praises and jumping up and down for joy. It ought to bring peace to our hearts and calmness to our minds. But I think we’re often so preoccupied with the problem we forget the promise. We lose sight of how powerful God is and what He can do. We’ve already discussed how nothing is impossible for God, now we need to carry that a step further and hold fast to the truth that once God has begun something, He will see it through. (Philippians 1:6) There’s no stopping Him. He won’t be defeated. He won’t give up. He won’t grow tired or weary. He’ll see it through to completion. That’s the truth, and there’s nothing we can do about it except believe it.

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
— II Corinthians 13:8

Telling It Like It Is

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You’ve probably learned by now that I have many favorite verses and passages in the Bible. There are those I turn to for comfort and those I cherish when I need strength. So many times, I read through my morning devotions and say aloud, “Ooh, that’s a good verse” or “I need to mark that!” Often, I’ll jot the verses down in my journal so I can study them out a little more at a later time. But if I had to choose one favorite verse of Scripture, it would have to be John 16:33.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33

Let’s break it down. First off, Jesus tells the disciples why He’s sharing this passage with them—so they might have peace. It seems a bit odd since the chapter is a blend of bad and good news. Jesus would be leaving, but the Comforter would be with them. Jesus would no longer be there to teach them, but they could ask anything of the Father. They would all forsake Jesus, but He would not be alone. From good to bad, then bad to good. It doesn’t sound like the recipe for peace, does it? Neither does the next portion of the verse.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation.” Not exactly a pep talk. At this point you’re probably wondering, Why is this your favorite verse? Of all the wonderful verses in Scripture, why would you pick this one? Honestly, there are two reasons. The first one deals with the final phrase of the verse, but I also appreciate this particular portion because, unlike many of today’s philosophies, this verse doesn’t set me up for disappointment. It tells it like it is.

In the modern day of self-help and pulling oneself up by his or her bootstraps, it’s easy to become disillusioned. We’re told anyone can do anything, be anything, and have anything. And when those lofty dreams fall through, we find ourselves overcome by discouragement and depression.

Even certain Christians contribute to this disillusionment by painting the Christian life as one of ease. No worries. No troubles. No heartache or sorrow. Always happy. Living the life of our dreams without a care in the world. Once again, when our lives don’t live up to that expectation, we judge ourselves, convinced we must be doing something wrong.

Jesus cuts through all the disillusionment. No sugar coating. The truth, plain and simple. Life is hard. At times, it will be unfair. There will be storms, tears, heartaches, and questions. Some days, we will struggle to put one foot in front of the other and will possibly even consider quitting the fight. Yes, this is real life. And while it sounds grim, at least it’s the truth and doesn’t set us up to believe in something that will never be. I appreciate that! But even more, I appreciate the “but” that comes next.

“Yes, life will be hard. . .BUT. . . don’t worry about it because I have overcome the world.”

Can I get an amen? No matter how big our problems get, God is bigger. Whatever challenges we face in this life, God has already overcome them. He’s not intimidated by the things that rob us of sleep and steal our joy. He is never overwhelmed by a doctor’s report or an unexpected bill. He’s already taken care of things, and He wants us to know that. Why? So we might have peace.

Peace in the midst of the storm.

Peace when the battle is raging.

Peace when we feel like giving up.

Peace when we’re not sure if we’re coming or going.

Before we faced the first trial of this life, Jesus made us a promise. “The world will be rough, but I’ll see you through it.” And if we believe that promise and cling to it with all our heart, we’ll have less stress and more joy. Don’t be afraid. God’s got this!

What's Good?

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I heard this topic discussed in a recent Sunday School class, and I enjoyed the lesson so much, I wanted to share it with you.  Have you ever thought about the definition of the word, “good”?  What does it mean to you?  Typically, we think of definitions like “positive, happy, and right,” and those are all correct.  But “good” has another meaning, and it’s imperative we understand this particular definition when reading and claiming God’s promises.

According to the online dictionary, the word “good” also means “benefit or advantage to someone or something.”  Benefit.  Advantage. Gain.  Profit.  Things that are good for us are things that will benefit us in some way, even if that gain is not immediately recognizable.  Let’s face it, sometimes the things that are good for us are not exactly pleasant at the time.  Like eating kale, for example.  Or how about yearly physicals at the doctor?  Or exercising (unless you’re one of those crazy people who actually like to sweat).   Or putting money away in a savings account instead of spending it on the latest trends.  Or saying “no” to your child, knowing it will cause a battle of wills and, most likely, a temper tantrum.  These things are beneficial.  They will help us in the long run though we tend to balk at them in the short term.

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
— Psalm 34:10
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
— Psalm 84:11
Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
— Psalm 85:12
The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
— Psalm 145:9
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28

This is just a handful of verses promising that God will be good to those who love and serve Him.  No good thing is lacking.  Everything is working together for good.  Good to all.  So, if we use our typical definitions of the word “good,” these promises seem to fall short.  How can a sick child be a good thing?  How can anyone qualify divorce as good?  Cancer.  Foreclosure.  Failure.  None of these things belong in the same sentence with words such as positive, happy, or right.  There’s nothing positive or happy about them, and they certainly don’t seem right.  After all, when we’re serving God, we expect God to reward us with good things just like He promised.

And He is, just not in the way we expect.  God uses things in our lives that may not appear good at the time but are for our benefit.  He realizes it is trials and hardships that cause us to grow and become more like Him.  Nothing He does in our lives—no matter how cruel it may seem at the time—is done out of spite or meanness.  God doesn’t work that way.  Instead, He is carefully molding us and making us into what we need to be.  The process is long and often painful, but we can trust that the One performing the work knows exactly what He’s doing.

Is God good?  Absolutely.  

Is He working all things for our good?  Without a doubt.

Will His work in our lives always feel good?  Nope.

But is it worth it?  I’ll let the psalmist answer that.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
— Psalm 119:71