After winning such a stunning victory over their enemies, the people were once again faced with the realities of life. Taxes were raised, new enemies came along, and there were more battles to be fought. The peace they enjoyed was only temporary. All this was a reminder that the peace man works for doesn’t last. True lasting people can only be found in Jesus Christ. Have you ever brought your troubled heart to Christ to find peace?
Whenever Satan rules a city, or a family, or a heart… it is always filled with darkness, sorrow, brokenness and despair. But the moment God steps in, it is transformed into light and joy and wholeness and hope! God takes our ruins and restores them; He takes our rags and clothes us in His robes of righteousness. Have you ever experienced this amazing transformation in your life?
The king turns his favor toward Mordecai and Esther, and evil Haman is hanged on his own gallows. But was it really Esther’s cleverness that brought all this about? No, once again we see that God was lining these events up long before Esther spoke a single word. And the same is true in our lives. Even when God seems absent, He is actually at work behind the scenes, moving in ways we cannot see, and in this we take great comfort!
As you go through the mundane events of your daily life, are you aware that the providence of God is at work in you and around you in every circumstance, encounter and decision? God is working for you, or in spite of you, to bring about His ultimate will so that He may be glorified, and so that you will be conformed into the image of His Son. You can find rest in knowing that regardless of what you are going through, God is in control of it all.
In a world of more than 7 billion people, it is easy to feel that your life has no significance to God. But as we look through the Bible, we do not see God using hundreds or thousands of people to bring about His plans. Instead, we see Him using individual men and women. God is still looking for just one willing person to stand up and say, “God, I choose to be identified with you. Please use my life for your glory.” Will you be that one?
What do you do when you’re living for God, but your life is still filled with hardship, yet evil people are prospering everywhere you look, and it seems like nothing bad ever happens to them? Even though it may feel like God has forgotten you, He has not. Even though it seems at times like evil will triumph, always remember that God is at work behind the scenes, and one day, He will make all things right.
No one likes to suffer. We don’t even like minor inconveniences. But the Bible makes it clear that suffering is part of God’s plan for the Christian life. So the real question is, how will you respond to suffering when it does come? Peter gives us a blueprint to follow and shows us that there are actually some surprising benefits that can come from our moments of suffering.
“Don’t worry, I know where I’m going!” Have you ever said that to anyone in the car, and then you ended up getting lost? It’s one thing to be on the wrong road while driving, but it’s a far more serious thing to be on the wrong road in life. How do we find direction for daily decisions? Is there anything more reliable to go on than just our feelings or how things look, and if so, how do we discover it?
Have you ever felt disappointed with Jesus? Have there been times when you cried out to Him for help, but He didn’t show up the way you prayed and hoped He would? We must learn that His delays always have a purpose, and in those times when we cannot see the power of Jesus, we must continue to trust in the person of Jesus. Although He may delay, He always knows what He is doing and He knows what is best!
Have you ever had a task before you that you dreaded so much, you tried to find ways to delay it or to keep from having to do it at all? Maybe it was a difficult exam, a dentist appointment, or a meeting with your boss. But none of those events come close to the crushing pressure that Jesus faced as He made His way to the cross. So then, what caused Him to pick up the pace and walk boldly towards Jerusalem, straight into the suffering that awaited Him, and what can we learn from His example?
Just a quick glance at the headlines reminds us that we live in a world filled with trouble. Terrorism, wars, toppling governments, economic instability — it’s enough to make us want to run and hide. But even though we live in a world of fear, we do not have to live in fear! The Bible reminds us that God is in complete control of all things, and that nothing happens in the world at large or in our own lives that is outside of His providence. Knowing this truth will bring us peace even in the most troubling times of life.
When difficult or painful circumstances come into your life, do you ever stop to consider that they may have been divinely orchestrated by God to bring about His ultimate purpose in your life? Many Christians see hard times as a sign that God has abandoned them or that He is not being kind to them. But the Bible teaches us that God is at work even in the worst moments of our lives, and if we will surrender them to Him, He will bring about a life of fruitfulness for His glory!