DOES GOD SPEAK TO US?

Dr Martin Luther King certainly knew He does. God speaks especially to His people but also to anyone in order to achieve His purposes in His world. Even kings such as Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:1-3) and Darius (Daniel 6:28), to name two kings of major empires, Babylon and Persia. Read one of Martin Luther’s encounters from his book Stride Toward Freedom (1958): “I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. Finally I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of coffee. I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. “I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”

“At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.” Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything. “Three nights later, on January 30, I left home a little before seven to attend our Monday evening mass meeting at the First Baptist Church. A member of my congregation, Mrs. Mary Lucy Williams, had come to the parsonage to keep my wife company in my absence. After putting the baby to bed, Coretta and Mrs. Williams went to the living room to look at television. About nine-thirty they heard a noise in front that sounded as though someone had thrown a brick. In a matter of seconds an explosion rocked the house. A bomb had gone off on the porch.

“The sound was heard many blocks away, and word of the bombing reached the mass meeting almost instantly. Toward the close of the meeting, as I stood on the platform helping to take the collection, I noticed an usher rushing to give Ralph Abernathy a message. Abernathy turned and ran downstairs, soon to reappear with a worried look on his face. Several others rushed in and out of the church. People looked at me and then away; one or two seemed about to approach me and then changed their minds. An usher called me to the side of the platform, presumably to give me a message, but before I could get there S. S. Seay had sent him away. By now I was convinced that whatever had happened affected me. I called Ralph Abernathy, S. S. Seay, and E. N. French and asked them to tell me what was wrong. Ralph looked at Seay and French and then turned to me and said hesitantly “Your house has been bombed.” I asked if my wife and baby were all right. They said, “We are checking on that now.”

“Strangely enough, I accepted the word of the bombing calmly. My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it. I interrupted the collection and asked all present to give me their undivided attention. After telling them why I had to leave, I urged each person to go straight home after the meeting and adhere strictly to our philosophy of nonviolence. I admonished them not to become panicky and lose their heads. “Let us keep moving,” I urged them, “with the faith that what we are doing is right, and with the even greater faith that God is with us in the struggle.

What is your experience with prayer? Hopefully, we can learn from Martin Luther King’s experience: if we are doing what is right and are moving forward in trust, then God will orchestrate the outcome.

Some of us will have an experience like that of Martin Luther particularly when we come before God in our weariness, confessing our inability to continue confronting a godless world. Sadly, much of the church no longer believes God answers prayer and is in total control of His universe. What about you?

CAN WE BE JOYFUL IN SUFFERING?

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Philippians 4:4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.James 1:2

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20

God hates evil and He commands us to hate it as well so so these verses certainly don’t mean we are to rejoice in evil, per se, However, we should believe Romans 8:28, which tells us God will work all things together for our good, including evil things that happen to us.

Believing this frees us to thank God in the middle of difficult and even evil circumstances, knowing that in His sovereign grace, He is accomplishing great, eternal purposes in us through these things. We walk by faith, believing in what God has done, is doing, and will do to bring a good end to all that troubles us. Choosing to rejoice, recounting our blessings in the midst of trials, affirms trust in God.

This response requires faith that God lovingly superintends our challenges. Viewing our sufferings as random or obsessing over someone else’s bad choices that caused our sufferings robs us of happiness. A weak, small, or faulty view of God always poisons the well of our contentment.

Being Spirit controlled is inseparable from giving thanks in everything. The more we grow in our understanding of God’s attributes, the happier we become.

.The deeper our knowledge of God’s character, the deeper our reservoir of strength, perspective, and happiness in hard times. Who is this God we are to trust? What is He really like?

Scripture teaches that we have a God who loves us and is sovereign over the universe, including all evil. We can’t be happy, and remain happy, without believing in the sovereignty of a loving God. The beauty of the Christian worldview is that while we’re encouraged to take initiative and control what’s within our power, we also know that the enormous part of life we can’t control is under God’s governance.

Scripture tells us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleasesPsalm 115:3. It assures us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9. And since God is eternally wise and good and happy, and we’re not, we’re far better off with Him, not us, in control.

Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

In light of that eternal glory being achieved for us by our momentary troubles, Paul offers the following words of eternal perspective: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:1

This article is excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book Does God Want Us to Be Happy?

Addendum: When times are difficult, hard, and bring sorrow, then remember, chose to bring to mind, the wonderful deliverance Jesus has achieved for you. Then put on the garment of praise.  The spirit of heaviness will depart – no need to let things depress us and get us down. He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will bring good out of every situation for us. God is good. Sometimes it takes effort to start to praise God – especially if we come from a dark place, a place of difficulty or even a place of tragedy. Yet be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and sing and shout your praises to God, breakthrough into the inexpressible joy of the Lord – it is the place of strength for life.