a few weeks ago, i joined a women’s Bible study with my friend Jenni. it’s through her (mega) church. it’s a beth moore study from 2004. the title is “Believing God.” would you like to know the five truths we repeat weekly?
1. God is who He says He is.
2. God can do what He says He can do.
3. I am who God says I am.
4. I can do all things through Christ.
5. God’s Word is alive and active in me.
and i promise you i just typed those from memory. because after just a few weeks, i’ve got THAT down.
today (9/4/12, actually – that’s how long ago i started this post!) we started week three (talking about truth #2 above). and OH WHAT A START. there were so many amazing snippets that i jotted down today. and the overall lesson. the truth. the reality. GOD CAN DO WHAT HE SAYS HE CAN DO. do you believe that, friend? if you are a child of God, you should. you need to. and not only BELIEVE it, but LIVE it.
for a number of years now, i’ve wondered about REALITY vs BELIEVING. see, i believe in God. i believe all those truths beth has taught us. i believe what the Bible says. i have (personally) lived, breathed and experienced miracles – things that only God could do. and yet, as a saved sinner, i still wonder does REALITY have a place in the world of BELIEF? example: when i was 19, i decided to transfer from one private college to another (significantly more expensive one). because i decided late in the school year to do this, i missed the financial aid deadline and the school i wanted to attend was only going to help me obtain student loans. lots of them. but they weren’t offering me ANY aid. NOT A DIME. at the time, i think it was about $15K to attend that school for one year. and that’s about what my mom’s income was per year (she was still temp’ing at the time). i can VERY CLEARLY remember my mom sitting me down in the living room one day in early august 1994. she looked me in the eye and asked me where in the world i thought the money was going to come from for me to go to college that year. i remember looking at her and saying (somewhat flippantly, perhaps) “God will provide, mom.”
and that was the end of that conversation. (at least that’s the end of what i remember. my mom reads this blog and may choose to insert some other version of reality here).
so you tell me. did i honestly BELIEVE that God would provide for all my needs for my (ridiculously expensive) schooling that year? or was i simply being NAIVE (aka: 19) in assuming that He was in control of the situation? that my needs would be met? that the money would come from somewhere?
back then, when i was 19, i would tell you it was my FAITH. it was my BELIEF. it was my CONVICTION that God led me to that school and He was going to provide. over a decade later, i honestly don’t know. but perhaps that’s part of my problem. why am i trying to analyze the past? why am i trying to downplay my belief/trust in God?
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as a side note, God totally provided. i went into quite a bit of debt for my sophomore year of college and i lived on very little – financially – that year. at one point, i had $5 to my name and it lasted me two months. seriously. but God provided. i did not go hungry. i had friends. i had fun. i DID stuff. and before the school year was over, i had an AMAZING on-campus job lined up for the next school year and i had been notified that i would receive some good financial aid for the next school year. so He did provide. my sophomore year wasn’t easy. it wasn’t always fabulous. but i don’t recall ever LACKING anything i needed for school (including money for books, food and laundry).
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okay. back on track. fast forward to may 1999 when i loaded 80% of my personal belongings into (and ONTO) my saturn and i drove across the country to washington state. to Lynden. to a place i had visited TWO times. to a place that borders canada. to a place where cows outnumber people. to a place where they say “pop” instead of “soda.” to a place where i knew ONE family (and my FRIEND wasn’t even there). where i had NO job. NO friends. NO church. NO family.
but once i arrived, i never worried about my future. my security. i knew God would provide. i knew i would (eventually) find a job. and pay off my bills. and make friends. and learn my way around. i don’t know that i ever felt CALLED to move. but i know that, for years, i had wanted to move. somewhere. anywhere. and this was the ONE time when my dreams and plans actually became a reality. God was in that move with me. whether it was His desire for me to go or not, He blessed my move.
there are lots of other examples i could share, especially from my elementary and junior high years. i’ve prayed for deodorant, soap and tampons (seriously. i’ve done that. that’s how poor we were). we received $200 in CASH (anonymously) in our mailbox when we needed car repairs. my mom’s sunday school class took up a collection and gave HER money for Christmas one year (to buy ME presents – i chose shoes).
so when we’re talking about BELIEVING GOD, i believe. i KNOW He’s there. i KNOW He provides for His children. i KNOW He cares about EVERYTHING (even tampons and deodorant).
but to this day, i still WONDER where is that LINE between FAITH and being NAIVE? between BELIEF and REALITY? is there a line? should there be a line? or to live a LIFE OF FAITH (oh how I long for this, dear friends!) do we have to be willing to APPEAR naive? do we have a “leg up” on the rest of the world (believers included) when we live a life of faith?
With the support of a myriad of scriptures, Beth assures us that we CAN believe God can do what He says He can do. We can believe that He still performs miracles today. See, friends, “you cannot take the ‘miraculous’ away from God and have Him still be the God of the Word” (Beth Moore). In the New Testament (see Luke 9:41), Christ said that those without faith to believe in miracles are “an unbelieving and perverse generation.” But on the flip side, Matthew 16:4 teaches us that those who focus on miracles alone are “a wicked and adulterous generation.” So miracles are real, as has been evident in my own life. And God still performs them today. Beth helps us see that there are two extreme teachings on miracles:
CESSATIONISM and SENSATIONALISM
Sensationalism, among other things, requires miracles for belief. It is self-centered rather than God-centered and it prioritizes what God can DO rather than who He is.
Cessationism, however, says there are no more miracles and this CHEATS a believer and undercuts hope. See Gal 3:1, Heb 11:1, 1 Pet 1:21, Rom 4:18 and 1 Cor 13:13…. we DO HAVE HOPE, friends. Scripture tells us this. Mark 9:23 tells us that EVERYTHING is POSSIBLE for him who BELIEVES.
so why, then, do some “bad” things happen to believers? why do people fight and struggle against God, finally agree to His plan that they’ll go to the mission field and then never get there b/c they can’t raise the funds? or get there and have to leave b/c they get sick? or get there and HATE it? *** why do some people hear only SILENCE from God even when they are seeking Him? *** why does God say He wants to give us the desires of our hearts but we don’t always get that (a spouse, children, a home, a certain job, etc.)?
i have no direct answer to these questions, friends. our lives as believers are lives of faith. it was a faith commitment we made to follow Christ. it is a faith commitment we make daily to die to self and live for Him. Ultimately, it’s all up to God. It’s His Sovereign will whether He answers our prayers the way we ask. As Kay wrote in her notes, “With the right heart, we can request the fulfillment of any promise in the entire Word of God. We are greatly helped, however, by understanding that God has not obligated Himself to fulfill every promise from Genesis to Revelation to every believer throughout history.”
i would love to go on and on and on about this topic. the more i talk/write about it, the more i understand it. the more i glean from it. the more sense it makes to me. but i fear that i have to end this post at some point so i can share these thoughts with all of you. i am hoping to listen (for a second time) to Kay’s video lesson so i can grasp some of the information a bit better. in this post, i haven’t even touched on the last 15 minutes of the lesson!