Obedience brings blessing.
Is that true? In your life? Or to put it another way, have you ever found that sometimes, obedience can lead to adversity?
Think for a minute when God called Abram to leave his home, his family and all he knew, and to go to an unknown place. A land, God told him, “that I will show you.”
Abram responded with faith. He obeyed God. When God called Abram out of Haran, he packed up his wife and his nephew and his possessions and ultimately pitched his tent in the land of Canaan, the land God had promised Abram would be a place of great blessing for him and for his family.
The next thing we read, in Genesis 12:10, is “there was a famine in the land of Canaan.”
So follow the thread here. God calls Abram. Abram obeys God. And God sends a famine.
Which leads us to this conclusion.
Sometimes there will be famines in the place to which God calls you.
We tend to have this wrong-headed, warped idea that if we are following God’s plan for our lives, we will never face struggles. We won’t get sick, we won’t lose our jobs, we won’t experience disappointments or hard times. We think that if we love God and are faithful to Him and we do what He says, we can expect to be immune from anything difficult or painful in our lives.
We know that’s not true. The Bible promises hardship and struggle in this life. But in the back of our minds, we think it should be true. And when life is hard or painful, we wonder why God has let us down.
In the fall of 1984, I was offered a job to be the general manager of a radio station in Sacramento, CA. Mary Ann and I were living in Phoenix at the time, and the job offer was pretty exciting for a number of reasons. I had set a goal to become the general manager of a radio station before I was 30. I was 28 at the time. Mary Ann hated Phoenix. So the new job meant we would get out of town. The starting salary for my new job was a $30K increase over what I was earning in Phoenix, plus a company car. I didn’t have to pray hard to discern God’s will on this.
Seven months later, in May of 1985, the radio station owner came to me to tell me they had decided to let me go. As it turned out, the guy he had wanted to hire seven months earlier was suddenly available. I had been his second choice for the job. When his top choice became available, I was cut from the team.
Now, in that moment, it’s easy for anyone to ask the question “did we miss God’s will?”
Why would I think that? Because somewhere in the back of my mind is the idea that obedience leads to blessing, not famine. How could it have been God’s will for us to uproot and move to California only to get fired less than a year later?
The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I wonder if in the midst of the famine, Abram pondered if he had missed God’s call.
But Abram’s story reminds us that we can follow God and still wind up facing hardship, disappointment and adversity.
Dr. Howard Hendricks was for years a beloved professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Many of his students would cite him as the professor who had the greatest impact on their life and future ministry.
When he was in his early 70’s, Dr. Hendricks went to see a doctor to have a small skin cancer removed.
Eight hours into the surgery, there were still cancer cells remaining. Eventually, he had to have invasive surgery into his skull, which endangered his sight, his hearing, and his brain. Before they were done, the doctors had to remove one of his eyes. He ended up wearing an eye patch for the next 17 years until he died.
After the operation, the doctor told Him, “It’s obvious that God is at work in your life. This cancer went as far as it could go toward your ear without affecting your hearing, as far as it could go toward your eye without completely taking your eyesight, and as far as it could go toward your brain without affecting your mind.”
In the midst of the diagnosis and surgery, Dr. Hendricks said to his wife Jeanne, “Now we have the chance to see if we really believe everything we’ve always said we believe. Either God is sovereign or He is not. And, if He’s not, we’re in deep trouble. But I’m coming down on the side that He is.”
“If God had said to me, ‘I’ll give you another course [in trusting],’” he quipped, “I would have said, ‘Let’s make it an elective.’”
Here’s the point. Sometimes, when you are right smack dab in the middle of God’s will for your life, He will bring the trial. The illness. The car wreck. The financial challenges.
And while it’s possible that the adversity you’re experiencing is connected to a detour you took from the path God had marked out for you, it’s also possible you were doing exactly what God had planned for you. And His plan included hardship or suffering or pain.
Sometimes, obedience brings blessing. Sometimes, it brings famine. When it does, do as James tells us to do. Count it all joy. Follow Job’s example and teach your soul to say “blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Guys, are you hungry yet?
More importantly, have you signed up yet to be with us on Saturday morning for the Men’s Breakfast? If not, stop reading right now and click here! We need to know you’re coming so we can have enough food for everyone!
Great food, great fellowship, a great chance to spend time getting to know guys and hearing about how God is at work in our lives and in our church. I’ll see you there!
The following Saturday, August 20, join with others who are considering making Redeemer their church family and find out more about who we are and what’s involved in becoming a member.
We have lunch plans for you on Sunday, August 21. You bring either a main dish or a side dish, and after our service is over, we’ll all sit down for a feast together!
Let’s talk Awana.
We are three weeks away from our very first Awana Club meeting ever! The team is ready.
Now all we need is for you to register your children.
Like right now. Tonight. Or tomorrow. Or Monday at the latest. But now would be better!
I know you’re used to putting things off until the last minute.
Well, this is the last minute. Sign up now. Here. Do it.
And go ahead and send an email or a text message to any friends you have who might want to be part of the fun this fall. Something like this:
Dear (friend’s name here),
The church we are a part of (Redeemer Community Church) is getting ready to start a mid-week program for kids ages 3 years through fifth grade. The program is called Awana. It’s been around for decades and it’s a great time for kids to learn about God and the Bible and have a lot of fun at the same time.
I thought you might be interested in having your kids be part of Awana at Redeemer. It’s Wednesday nights from 6:30 – 8:15 at Redeemer – 11512 David O Dodd Road, just about a mile away from the Rave Theaters. You can find out more about Awana here. And you can sign your kids up here. Sign up ASAP – Monday, August 15 is the cut off.
If you have any questions about Awana, let me know. I think your kids would love it!
Finally, ladies, here’s a look ahead and some fall plans for you.
First, the Fall Women’s Bible Study in the book of Proverbs will start on Monday night, September 19.
Start planning now for the Fall Women’s Retreat (who couldn’t use a couple of nights away this fall…).
Any questions about either activity, see Jen Gurney.
Why has God revealed Himself to us in creation and in His Word? It’s not to make us smarter. His revelation has purpose and power in the lives of all who will believe. Ps 19 spells that out for us, as we’ll learn this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!