Saturday, January 23, 2010

2010 – Day 23. Jan. 23 – Bargaining with God

Study from Exodus 5 – 8; Passage for Reflection: Exodus 8: 15 … NIV But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

My Journal for Today: Have you ever had a plague of frogs in your life? Well, maybe not literally; but maybe you were immersed in a catastrophic disease, involving yourself or a loved one? Perhaps you were in the midst of a rancorous divorce for a long period of time; or maybe you experienced the grief which follows the death of a loved one. And sometimes these emotionally laden plagues can be overwhelming; can’t they?

And in the midst of a plague of “frogs or locusts, or flaming hail stones,” did you ever find yourself bargaining with God? Maybe you prayed, “God deliver me from this horrible habit [whatever your sin stronghold might be], and I’ll never do it again!” Or maybe you could be heard to pray, “Lord, if you solve this problem for me, I’ll be a better servant for whatever you want me to do.” And then when the plague passed you and the panic diminished, your part of the “bargain” was forgotten or ignored into the future. Ever been there? I have.

Or maybe … all of a sudden … out of the blue, after praying a bargain basement prayer to God, perhaps the plague went away … quickly, seemingly giving you a positive answer to your prayer. Most certainly God can do that; and, though not often, occasionally He does. But most of the time, the plague of circumstances, which has you so wrapped up or is discouraging you, must run its course in time; and you have to deal with the fact that God may have heard you but answered with a “wait and see” or maybe a “sorry, Charlie” response. Oh, how easy it is to think that God has rejected you or forgotten you as you’re riding out a long-term storm in your life. When God says, as He did to the Prophet Habakkuk, “Things are going to get worse before they get better;” … it’s hard to be patient and believe in the truth of Romans 8: 28 (and I hope you know that one by heart). To believe and live with the truth that ALL things work together for my good, as a Christian, in the midst of some personal plague is a big and hard pill to swallow. And often I’m tempted to bargain with God for relief. But God is God; and He will not be mocked by our trying to make Him into a “genie in the bottle,” with pitiful bargains we usually can’t or won’t keep anyway.

I hope you’ve grown to the place in your walk with God that you know He is doing good things for you … yes, even when the plague of frogs is upon you. I really hope, and will pray today, that you believe and live with the truth that any storm in life is there for a purpose and that purpose involves bringing you closer to God and reshaping you into the image of His Son.

Yesterday, I was a breakout speaker at a Maximum Man Conference in Jackson, TN; and I had the opportunity to meet and hear Dr. Tony Evans, the well-known Pastor and speaker from Dallas, TX. And his talk last night was taken from Jer. 29: 11-13 [linked here]. That’s a great passage, taken from a chapter where the Prophet was having a really tough time in the midst of a Book where God’s people were REALLY having a bad time. And then there is this wonderful verse, Jer. 29: 11, which is so uplifting when you, like Jeremiah, may be experiencing one of those “plagues” or storms in life. Isn’t it great, when you’re going through a bad time – a really bad time – to know that God still has plans for you, … that He wants to use this current rotten set of circumstances to draw you to Himself and then to use you for HIS glory. I don’t know about you; but the timing of Dr. Evan’s message last night, being totally in accord with my devotional this morning, spoke volumes to my soul. I hope it has for you as well.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I actively pray, as I do often, that You’ll be patient with my impatience … that You’ll give me grace when I’m graceless … and that You’ll reshape me into Your image when I’m so covered with the warts of my past sin. Amen

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