You can change your life, because I can change anybody who comes to Me, seeking to fulfill My will for their life. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been like or how long you’ve been a certain way. If I made the world and everything in it, don’t you see that it’s a small thing for Me to transform a single life into something better to fulfill My purpose and plan?
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and their pal, Daniel, were four young men who might have passed into obscurity if not for some remarkable things that happened in their lives.
The story begins around 500 years before Christ with these young men being taken far away from their homeland as captive slaves by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire.
As you know, people aren’t always able to fulfill their promises, but God always is. His Word says that He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”1 God stands behind His promises, so hold Him to them in your hour of need, and He will not fail you.
My elderly mother was on the phone. “The next time you visit, would you mind looking in the garage? Your brother is helping clean it out, and he came across some of your old things.”
What childhood leftovers could possibly remain? When I arrived, there it was: a ponderous manual office typewriter, as sturdy as ever, but a little rusty from three decades of disuse. The sight brought back happy memories. My parents had bought it secondhand to reward me for passing an important exam at age 11. I’d taught myself to type and spent many hours during my teen years hammering out poems and stories.
God is in the heavenly realm, but He works in the real world. He deals not just in spiritual blessings and rewards, but in tangible, black-and-white, dollars-and-cents material blessings and rewards as well. He’s the God of heaven, and also the God of this present world. He transcends both, rules in both, lives in both, dominates both‚ creates in both, and has the power to pay us in both currencies.
The secret to building self-control is to yield our lives to God and let His Holy Spirit guide our thoughts, our actions and our life. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,” Paul advises, “but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”1
Peter and I were taking a few days’ break at a small beach town. One late afternoon, I was taking a walk along the beach, when I looked up to find one of the most stunningly beautiful scenes taking shape before my eyes.
The scattered clouds began to take on pastel hues of peach, violet, and gold against the deepening blue of the sky. I love sunsets, but every once in a great while I encounter one that is so awe-inspiring that I can’t take my eyes off it. And the Great Painter was certainly getting my attention with this one. It was as if He was pouring liquid colored light into each cloud. The colors crept higher and higher until they seemed to overflow, and their streams became a living, swirling kaleidoscope of ever-changing beauty.
If you're like most people today, you're used to moving fast and expecting quick results. The problem with that—or at least part of the problem—is that what was enough yesterday seldom seems to be enough today, and escalating personal expectations carry over to what you expect from other people and from life in general.
You struggle to keep pace with the world, but at the same time you can’t help that some things simply take time. Most problems at work or with your health or relationships can’t be solved with the click of a mouse or the push of a button.
My friend Michael has a favorite saying for when God does something inexplicable in answer to prayer: It’s not odd, it’s God.
For some months, Michael and a few others of us have been working on a major new endeavor. One of the first things Michael and another partner did was map out the entire project. The plan looked terrific on paper—so simple, so straightforward, so sure. We soon found out, however, that God had a somewhat different plan and timetable. And part of His plan seems to be to teach us to depend more on Him as our all-wise CEO.
When someone suggested that I try to be thankful even in bad situations, it seemed impossible. I was familiar with the biblical admonition to “be thankful in all circumstances,”1 but it had never dawned on me to take that literally. Was it possible to have a thankful disposition and to vocalize and act on it, even when things were at their worst?