Every Delay is a Good Delay

Can you call your mayor’s personal phone number? What about your governor’s private number? Can you give Vladimir Putin a call? My guess is that your answer is “no” to all three of these questions. How amazing is it that we can’t talk to children of Adam and subject to God’s will, but we can talk to God, Himself!

When my wife and I were missionaries in Eastern Europe, we quickly learned to live with delays. And, when anyone told us, “No problem!” we knew it would be a big problem, and that seemed to happen daily! Slowly, through these delays, we learned that delays were often very good. We learned that how we saw our problems and needs disagreed with God’s intent.

When we finally realized that delays were good, we began saying, “Every delay is a good delay.” This phrase has become part of our family’s lingo. At the heart of most delays, we can find God applying the brakes on our requests. Sometimes, God allows delays for reasons only He knows. We see this in the life of Daniel when he was visited by an angel:

12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,

Daniel 10:12-13

There are some “I don’t know why” delays, but God is sovereign, so His will is never compromised. When we experience a delay, we can rest in our trust in God. God is not playing with us as we do with cats. I once had a cat named Max. I’d exercise him with a laser pointer. He never could catch the red spot on the floor because it wasn’t real. That’s not God’s relationship with any of His children. If God delays an answer, then that delay is good. We know this is good because Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Therefore, whatever God does is good.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

Psalms 31:24

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash


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Changing Roles and Responsibilities

7 And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Has there ever been a place in your life when it was time for you to leave so someone else could fill your role? I’ve been on both sides of this, and it can be challenging.

One thing that blessed me in my local church was this elderly gentleman named Fuzzy that played an upright, string bass. His talent was marvelous. One day, after I’d been a member of a local church for several years, the music director told me that Fuzzy was going to retire from playing bass, and he made the request that I fill his spot – I played electric bass.

When Fuzzy and I met to talk through “his” role, I was saddened. He loved the decades he’d spent playing bass, but he had been praying for someone to replace him; his age interfered with his talent. His prayer was answered, but the reality was brutal. I think John the Baptist may have felt some of this.

I’m not diminishing John’s joy. But there’s a message here for us:

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:2-4

When John the Baptist was in prison, he no longer preached to huge crowds, no longer baptized throngs of people. He was even isolated from his home and his way of life. Doubts were pummeling him. I don’t think he sinned, but he needed confirmation that he had been correct. Fuzzy kind of did that with me.

For several Sundays, he sat close to where I played. He wanted to know if I played the songs correctly and was doing the right things to fill his role. He wanted to know that he had chosen correctly.

We all have times when we surrender our role, our position, to someone else; it’s tough, and you want to know that it was the right decision. I’ve seen this at work, and I’m seeing it in the stages of our lives.

There was a time when I thought I was ready to conquer the world, then my first child was born. Then God gave me more children. The next thing I know, I’ve become a grandparent. What happened to conquer the world? What happened to my role in raising children? Now I am being silently asked to move to the role of an elderly person. This is how God works. John the Baptist experienced it, and every one of us will experience it if we haven’t already.

The good news is that God determines the times and circumstances when His preordained will touches our lives and moves us to a new place to share the gospel and glorify Jesus.


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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.


Dance for Job

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

It is easy to run right by this verse when we read Psalms 28, but there is a gift for us in this verse. The Holy Spirit, through King David, is telling us that we can go ahead and let our hearts “dance for joy1” even before we have received God’s mercy.

The phrase “my heart exults” means “dance for joy.” So, if our hearts trust2 in God3, then we know we will receive God’s mercy. We are not being presumptuous. Instead, if we are in the right relationship with God, then His mercy is reliable. We can rest assured that His mercy will be given to us. So, go ahead, rejoice. Let your heart dance for joy!


1 – Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
2 – This is, our hearts trust in the Lord.
3 – That is, we have received God’s great salvation only available through Jesus Christ.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Aloe Vera

We have an aloe vera plant in our home. In fact, we’ve had aloe veras for most of our married life. It became a part of our family out of necessity. Both my wife and my daughter tend to burn themselves while cooking. The juice squeezed from an aloe vera stalk helps diminish the pain and reduce the damage from minor burns (this is not intended as medical advice).

Another fascinating characteristic of the plant is its ability to survive during prolonged dry spells, like when I forget to water it for a few weeks, I mean if that were to happen. 😉 When watered, the plant is efficient. It absorbs the water and stores it in its stalks like water tanks. But it doesn’t just ‘hold’ water. It transforms the water into a healing balm.

A Corollary

They are an amazing plant. When I looked at our plant today, I could see a corollary to the life of a Christian. The Holy Spirit lives in us, but He doesn’t just reside in us; He changes us, teaching us Truth and helping us to grow to be more like Jesus.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

God is in us, and He has prepared us as a balm to minister to the needs of others. Like the aloe vera plant, we are changed by the Holy Spirit within us and the Scriptures we study, the sermons we hear, and the worship in which we participate. Then, in an instant, when someone near us needs help, we have within us what is required. Praise God! How wonderful God is.


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How Do We Want to Be?

A common question is, “Who do you want to be?” Parents often ask their young kids this: “Nikki, do you want to be a scientist when you grow up?” This question gains more urgency when their children want to drop out of college! Asking “who” is important, but a better question, I think, is to ask ourselves or and our kids, “How do you want to be?”

This question is vital for each of us because it asks about our Christian character. The “how” takes us to our hearts and asks what kind of character we want to possess. Do we want to be a giver, a person who gives of his or her time, skills, manual labor, and money? Is that how you want to live?

God Cares About Your Character

Do you want to be an agent for change? Do you want to be the person that beings Jesus into difficult situations? Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of Jesus, do you want to affect your child’s PTO or change the environment of work meetings that you attend? Do you want to quell arguments, heal division, and quiet people who love to be disruptors?

Perhaps, you want to be the person that introduces Jesus to the kids at your church. You want to be that person who loves unconditionally, gives generously, and prays continually for children and young people. We aren’t limited to one of these! These are but a few of the “how’s” that Jesus, our Lord, may lead into us.

Many churches today are experiencing a free-fall in attendance due to COVID, dissension within the congregation, a crisis of relevance, and many other excuses. Nevertheless, the missing people on Sunday mornings are not released from their “hows.” Christian character isn’t something we can put on and take off.

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Proverbs 28:6

Our character is our best measurement of our relationship with Christ Jesus. Godly character is life-changing for us and all with whom we come in contact. Let’s ask ourselves again, “How do I want to be?”


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Is Jesus Just a Good Influence?

Is Jesus just a good influence, or is He your Lord? I can ask this of you because God already asked this of me. No, I didn’t hear an audible voice or receive inscribed stone tablets, but just the same, Jesus asked me this while I was praying today. Jesus didn’t ask me this just to give me something to write about.

So, as I was praying, the Holy Spirit dropped this question in my heart. It was a question from Jesus for “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,1 ” As you may expect, this messed with my agenda!

Confessing Jesus as Lord

I thought, “Have I allowed myself to become so casual with Jesus that I’ve forgotten He is my Lord (owner) for He purchased me through His agony and death on the cross?” As I pondered this question – good influence or Lord – I was reminded that everyone would someday confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 2

This passage makes it clear that everyone who has ever existed will one day kneel to Jesus and confess Him as Lord. Christ’s Lordship is not within anyone’s control. From Alexander the Great to the Buddha to you and me, we all will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

This knowledge puts us in a favorable position: We haven’t died, yet! I know many people that seldom cuss, are often helpful, and generally are well thought of. No doubt, someone in their lives was a faithful Christian, but not them. Jesus has influenced them, but they have not bowed to Him.

Why We Were Called

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.3

Jesus personally called you and me. He called us to be zealous for good works. Jesus called us because He has a unique purpose for each of us, which brings us back to my opening question. Is Jesus just a good influence on you, or is He Lord of your life?

Side Note: The reason that, in many churches, people bow is to show that they have yielded their lives to Jesus. It’s better to bow now than to wait until you have no choice but to bow.

As Christians, is Jesus Lord of how we live? Do we filter everything through, “Is this your will, Jesus?” I had to consider my answer carefully. I pray that you do the same.

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  1. John 16:12-15
  2. Philippians 2:10-11
  3. Titus 2:14

Leave Behind God’s Goodness

We all like to think that we are good people, and I am sure many of us are good’er 😉 than our goodness was in the past. But we can’t rest on our laurels… who could? Each of us is on a journey that Jesus uniquely created for you and me. In many ways, our journeys are like road trips – I love road trips.

As you and I travel on our great adventures, our landscapes change. You may start in rolling hills and progress to broad plains, and then into majestic mountains while I begin with sandy beaches. During your life and my life, we may pass through many breathtaking terrains. We can pass through the hills and mountains and still be exactly the same as we were when we started, but that’s not the point of a road trip, and that’s not the point of our lives.

God’s Goodness

It is God’s good pleasure to have us travel through many situations and stages of life. And it is His good pleasure for us to learn to do good in all circumstances. Our lives are not intended to just make it to the finish line but to help people, to possess a good character, to leave behind God’s goodness as we move forward in His will.

Today, God reminded me of this.

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Isaiah 1:17

If we are obedient to Isaiah 1:17 then we will leave behind God’s goodness as we travel forward on the journeys He created for us.


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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.


Good is God

Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.

Amos 5:14

When we read the Bible, we need to pay attention to the context of the verses. Amos 5:14 is a great example. When we read something like, “seek good,” what God is telling us is to seek Him.

Let’s remember: And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18 Of course, Jesus is God the Son, but He was telling the rich, young ruler to pay attention when he spoke of spiritual matters. That’s a good lesson for all of us.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Who Am I?

It is the Holy Spirit in us that makes us helpful to others. It is our imperfections (not sin) that make us relatable to others. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote:

13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:13-14

Moving on from the fourth chapter to the fifth chapter, Paul wrote:

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25

Who Am I?

It is God living in me that makes me valuable to others. Who am I that I would think for a moment that I can guard, encourage, deliver, bless, or in any way benefit someone else from my flesh? I can barely put my socks on in the morning. But when God lives in us, He not only will use us to affect change on the behalf of others, but He will make it clear that the glory that falls upon the ones to which we minister is from God alone.

It is clear that you and I do not possess gems of wisdom but only the sameness of others, things that all can relate to. We may need glasses to read the news or new tires for our car or to pass on a lunch get-to-gather because this month’s expenses are greater than expected. It is this comfort of commonality that people learn that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

It is in our shared likeness with others that we avoid being off-putting and gain being relatable. And it is in the words of God that come from our lips that proclaim the Truth and Glory of God that feeds people, rescues people, and asks of them to change their direction.

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

Presumptuous Sins

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!Psalms 19:13

Definition of Presumption:

  1. Behavior or attitude that is boldly arrogant or offensive; effrontery.
  2. The act of presuming or accepting something as true.
  3. A condition or basis for accepting or presuming something.

God’s Word never ceases to astonish me. Somewhere in His Word, He addresses everything that matters. While reading Psalm nineteen, I came upon this verse. Of all the big things like Jesus, salvation, redemption, reconciliation, and resurrection, just to name a few, God stops for a moment and tells us that there is danger in presumption.

Now, I have not met everyone in the world, but I am confident that all of us have gotten ourselves into hot water because we presumed to know something that we didn’t. 😉 How much more dangerous is it to presume something about God. Yikes!

Let’s all be humble, truthful, and accurate in all we say, and even more so when it comes to God’s Word.


References

American Heritage® Dictionary

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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