Sunday, June 29, 2008

Obedience after the work seems done (church bulletin cover)

School is out and summertime is upon us! For Winnipeggers, that’s the equivalent of offering sunlight and celebration to workers coming up from months in the Mines of the Mundane. Freedom, we cry! But what if as we came up from those shafts of hard work and honest labour, we found that God was asking us to help Him with something amazing He wanted to do? What would be our response?

There was a time when, after a hard night’s work for Peter and his fishing companions, Jesus asked Peter to put out into deep water and let down his nets for a catch. Peter’s response was to say, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But I’ll do as you say and let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). How much of our labour between September and June can be summed up by the words, “I’ve worked so hard already, and it hasn’t even seemed that worthwhile”? The hard work of life’s routines can produce a resistance to anything new God may ask of us come summertime. But God doesn’t stop moving in the summer, and may be asking us to do something far more wonderful than what we’ve seen since last summer! Yes, it’s easy to say, “I’m too tired – haven’t I already done enough?” And we might even dare to wonder at the value of doing the very thing God asks of us. But in so thinking, we must be careful that weariness doesn’t become the seedbed of unbelief in our hearts.

Peter, though, does as he’s asked, and the result is a net so full of fish that it was to the point of nearly breaking (Luke 5:6)! Obeying the voice of God is so much more rewarding that the toil of our own efforts. So no matter how weary I may be from the routines of September to June, if God is merciful enough to speak to me about what He’s doing these days, I want to be ready to obey Him. And God forbid that I should be so weary from the busyness of fall-winter-spring that I’m not willing to obey Jesus in the specific things He asks of me come summer. For it’s as I obey Jesus that I will be left so amazed at Him that I’d be willing to leave everything behind to follow Him (Luke 5:9-11)!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Be Prepared! It’s a Test! (church bulletin cover)

It’s exam season for a great many students out there. My 12-year old daughter is facing them for the first time. And as I watch her stress about it, I’m tempted to think that I’m glad I’ve gotten that over with. But that’s not entirely true.

Remember when the LORD tells Moses to send twelve spies into the Promised Land to spy it out (Numbers 13:1)? Have you ever wondered, “What was the point of that?” I mean, what did they need to check out if God already knew exactly what was in there and fully intended to give His people the land? What use were the spies if God planned on leading and directing His people every step of the way? Moses instructed the spies to check out whether the people of the land were strong or weak, many or few; whether the land was good or bad and whether the cities were well-fortified or not (Numbers 13:17-20). Why? Of course it’s good — it’s the Promised Land! And who cares how weak or strong the people or the cities are if the living God is your commander? Moses knew all that. And God knew all that. And that’s the point! The spies weren’t sent to reveal what was in the Land, but to reveal what was in their hearts! It was a test! And that makes me wonder how many of the paths God sends me down are also tests of the same kind — the kind that reveal what’s really in my heart. Faith or fear? Gratitude or grumbling? Worship or whining?

My heart is that my daughter does well on her exams, and as her father, I’m prepared to help and encourage her so that she can do well. God also desires that His children pass the tests He sends our way, and He too wants to help us to do so. And just as my daughter’s exams are meant to help her grow stronger in math or science or English, the tests God provides are so that we can grow stronger in character. To prepare for such tests, the Bible is our textbook and God is an accessible teacher. So instead of getting stressed about life’s tests, God invites us spend abundant time with Him so that we can be better prepared to approach tests confidently, fully persuaded of God’s truth whatever the circumstances!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Prayers cause things

I struggle to pray. I struggle to make time to pray, and then when I do pray, I struggle to keep at it amidst the many things pulling at me, crying out to be done. I feel so pragmatic in my mindset that the idea of stopping all activity and bowing at my desk or kneeling by a chair and speaking to an unseen God feels like I'm being unproductive. After all, there's so much to DO! But I think I also struggle to persist in prayer is because of the things I've prayed for so many years which appear to have gone unanswered. I expect we all have prayers like that -- and some of us have even stopped praying them because it's too difficult to keep asking in faith. They've become prayers of unbelief. Well, in the midst of such challenges, I came across a wonderful video clip of John Piper teaching on prayer. The final words of this clip have been echoing in my spirit for over a week now, and I want to share it with you. Take a look, and be encouraged -- prayer matters!

© 2008 by Ken Peters