Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Change Agent: I'm Optimistic - Pt. 5 "God Works for My Good"

“…who satisfies your desires with good things…” (Psalm 103:5) 

I’ve learned a really cool lesson in life: I don’t always know what satisfies me. That might sound strange. You might think, “That doesn’t make sense, of course you know what satisfies you. If you don’t know what satisfies you—who does?” God does, better than I do.

I’m reminded of a lyric from an old Garth Brooks song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.” Boy do I ever have a list of things I’ve longed and prayed for that didn’t come to pass, and later, through the 20/20 lens of hindsight, I thanked God for saying, “No.” 

I also have a long list of things I thought I couldn’t live without, that I worked ridiculously hard for—that turned out to be flops. Oh, some of them were satisfying for a season, but that quickly faded and I was left with that old familiar void of wanting in my soul. There’s a reason for that.

St. Augustine was right when he said, "We were made for You, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

I wasn’t and you weren’t created to be satisfied by anything this world can offer. God satisfies us with good things. And guess who gets to define what good is? God does. And I’ve learned that God is a lot better at knowing what’s good for me than I am. I have too many memories of times that I set out on my own to blaze a trail and achieve satisfaction for myself, only to end up tired and wanting.

I also have some victory stories! It’s funny, because all of my victory stories begin with me surrendering to God.  That's probably the crux of this lesson.  I’ve learned, the hard way that in God’s Kingdom, victory begins with surrender to Him. Every time I strive after something in my flesh the fruit is always anxiety, strife and weariness. Every time I surrender my plans to God, the fruit is always peace, joy and authentic satisfaction.

God has taught me that my deepest desire is to know and walk in harmony with Him—and when I
"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Mt. 6:33) I reap real a sense of joy and lasting satisfaction that nothing in this world and offer.

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul" (Mk. 8:36)?

When I surrender to and pursue God—in whatever I’m doing—the result is always joy and peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track" (Pr. 3:5:6, The Message).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). 

God’s purpose for all of us is that we might know Christ and grow in Christ. When we walk in surrender to and pursuit of that purpose, we KNOW that God works in all things—the ups, the downs and everything in-between to deepen our relationship with His Son and make us more like Him in our character.  That king of relationship with Jesus is truly good and it satisfies our souls like nothing else can.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). 

I used to think this passage meant If you keep God’s rules and you’re really good—God will give you the stuff you want and make you happy. That line of thinking led to a lot of dead-ends, disappointments and disillusion. The reality is that God IS the desire of our heart and when we find delight in knowing and walking with Him—there is joy in all that we do.

Again, the key to victory starts with surrender. When I allow God to shape the desires of my heart I find satisfaction.

“God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns… For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Phil. 1:6 & 2:13, NLT).

Think about this, desire to follow God without the power to do it, is futile. And you can have all the power in the world to follow God but if you don’t possess the desire to follow, once again, it’s useless. But God gives us BOTH and when desire is coupled with power—Katy bar the door, there’s no stopping that person!  No wonder Peter wrote, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Pet. 1:3, NLT).

I’m optimistic because in Christ I know: all my sin is forgiven, I’m whole, redeemed, loved and my life is in the hands of a God who is always working for my good! And remember, those are just five reasons, drawn from five verses in a single psalm. We have 31,097 more verses to draw from!

As followers of the One who is the Way, The Truth and The Life, filled with His grace power and presence, we have a lot of optimistic light to share with this dark world! I’m glad you’re with me on this amazing mission!

Thanks for reading!  If you were encouraged--remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

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