Monday, July 31, 2017

“Old Faithful”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Psalm 89:1-2, “I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. (NIV) 
We waited and waited. Then finally, I stood in awe as the geyser, Old Faithful, spewed steaming water 150 feet into the air. The Yellowstone National Park ranger told us that it was myth that the geyser shot into the air every ninety-six minutes. He said it is faithful to spray the water, but not on man’s timetable. 

Doesn’t that sound like God? Scripture repeatedly states that God is faithful beyond our imagination. However, sometimes we doubt. The problem is that we want Him to act in faithfulness according to our requests, standards, and time allotment. We especially feel that way when problems rattle our lives. We ask, “Where is the faithfulness of God right now?” 

We want the Lord to react like a genie in a bottle. We call out our wishes and we demand He bring about miraculous results. I recently witnessed this attitude in an unbelieving friend. She landed unexpectedly in the hospital with an undiagnosed problem. Frustrated she said, “I cried out to God last night and He didn’t help me! What kind of God is He?” Although, my friend never gave a thought about God until a crisis arose, she expected His immediate help when she called out. She demanded the Lord be faithful to her needs on her schedule. Her disappointment resulted in a defiant attitude of doubt.

In addition, I discovered another intriguing similarity between the geyser, Old Faithful, and God’s faithfulness. The park guide explained after an earthquake, the time between eruptions lengthened. Earthquakes in 1959, 1983, and 1998 increased the average length between the geyser’s eruptions from 76 minutes to approximately 90 minutes. Just like Old Faithful, I have found that as God increases my faith, He sometimes increases the time between my “earthquake” and his rescue. By allowing a longer time span between crisis and aid, I must believe in, rely on, and depend upon His yet unseen faithfulness. 

Although doubt of God’s faithfulness may raise its ugly head, He has never been unfaithful to me. He may not rescue me as quick as I would like. He might answer my cry in a way I do not expect. However, He will always aid me in the manner that will help me increase my faith. He wants to teach me to sing of His faithfulness regardless of my circumstances as the psalmist did.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging . . .
    "Be still, and know that I am God;
        I will be exalted among the nations,
        I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalm 46:1-3, 10 NIV).

Yes, just as I stood and waited in awe for Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, I will wait in anticipation for God to show Himself faithful in my life. I will be still and know He is God.” Will you wait with me?

Dear Lord, help me to recognize Your faithfulness in my life. Aid me in understanding that You work according to Your faithfulness and not my desires. I pray that You increase my faith. Help me to relax and know that You are God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Jot down the Power Verses for today on index cards. Keep them in a handy place, so when you begin to falter in your belief in God’s faithfulness you can remind yourself He is always faithful.

Refection points:      
In what areas of my life do I doubt God’s faithfulness?

Do I expect God to react to my demands?

Does my faith depend on my circumstances?

Power verses:
Romans 3:3, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?” (NIV) 

Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV) 

Psalm 89:8, “O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. “(NIV) 

Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV) 

© 2006 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Birds in My Mustard Tree

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
  “He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20 (AMP)
What are birds in a mustard tree? Let me see if I can explain.

My pomegranate bush resembles a Christmas tree decorated by the hand of God. Its branches hang heavy with crimson bulbs of fruit. It sways in the wind and I catch a whiff of the overripe fruit. Various sparrows and robins sit on the branches like “twelve partridges in a pear tree.” Then I hear the high-pitched music of finches and hummingbirds beyond the lush fruit, deep within the branches. The birds on the outside limbs dance while the hidden birds sing a bird medley.

To me this pomegranate bush reflects in the physical world what happens in the spiritual world of faith. Our faith may be small and sometimes hidden, but it can make our souls sing. We find Jesus speaking about faith in our key verse, He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” Matthew 17:20 (AMP). He taught that even small faith could move a mountain.
But what are birds in a mustard tree? It’s my phrase for recognizing God’s response to my smallest faith and most doubt-filled prayers. The birds in my mustard tree are proof to me that God works as long as I have the tiniest bit of faith in His almighty power. Author David Jeremiah wrote in My Heart’s Desire,
You may sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable, and find yourself say, “Is this really true? I don’t see anything in it. I don’t hear God’s voice. I don’t feel His presence. There are days like that for all of us. The pursuit of God has no shortcuts. You simply must keep walking, keep seeking, and keep yearning. Keep at it, and you won’t be disappointed.

One example of mustard seed faith comes to mind as I think back to when my two sons were little boys. I began to pray for their future wives. So, I made a “shopping list” of prayers for daughters-in-law. My list included: godly, kind, sense of humor, good cooks, and fun families. Those prayers have been answered completely. I consider my “daughters-in-love” to be two of the most evident birds to result from my faith.

What would you list as evidences of your faith? 

If we combined our lists, we would be amazed at the variety of “birds” we would see. In the days and years ahead, we will see many more birds come to roost in our mustard trees of faith.

Even if my faith is as tiny as a mustard seed, God can bring about miraculous results. He can grow my faith so large that it can host a multitude of His wonderful deeds. I call these the “birds in my mustard tree.”

Dear Lord, show me the variety of truths about faith. I ask today for You to reveal to me the unseen aspects of my faith. Grant me the knowledge, wisdom, and revelation to perceive the birds that rest in my mustard tree of faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
What actions can I take in response to this message?

Do I consider my faith to be weak or strong or somewhere in between?

What would I declare as the fruit of my faith—the birds in my mustard tree?

Power verses:
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)
Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (NIV)
Acts 3:16, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 24, 2017

“G.F.I. “

 By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NASB)
I pulled in the driveway grateful to be home after a five-day conference. I pressed the remote and the garage door rolled open. Blood trickled toward me as I stepped from my car. I knew immediately what had happened—the freezer had gone out. All the meat had thawed and the bloody, watery juices had drained out of the freezer into a maroon stream that slowly ran toward the driveway. 

Mark, my husband, was out of town. I stood in my garage disgusted and slightly freaked out. What did I do? Of course, I called my husband for help. I didn’t care if it was late and there was a three-hour time difference.

He patiently said, “Check the G.F.I.”

“The what?”

“The ground fault interrupter. It’s in the electrical outlet where the freezer is plugged in.”

Sure enough, the G.F.I. had tripped and shut down the freezer. Nothing was wrong with the freezer, except now it had hundreds of dollars of rotting meat sitting inside it. Because of a G.F.I., my evening turned from one of anticipated relaxation to hours of vexing cleanup.

Isn’t our faith like that, too? We are believing and trusting the Lord, when all of sudden something happens—G.F.I—God Faith Interrupter. Our faith trips and we melt down like a gallon of vanilla ice cream in a hot garage.

It’s certainly difficult to understand the twists and turns in our journey of faith. When a God Faith Interrupter occurs, we need to grope in the darkness for verses to assure us that regardless of our circumstance, the Lord is loving, He is merciful, and He will guide us. God Faith Interrupters might shake our faith. They will be scary. They certainly will be unexpected and uncomfortable, but the Lord holds the charge of power to uphold our faith even when it shuts down temporarily.

Express to the Lord your fear of a God Faith Interrupter. Then thank Him that He will be with you, showing you mercy and loving-kindness, no matter what happens in this life.

Dear Lord, I prefer those times when my life goes smoothly. However, I ask for an extra measure of faith when my life takes a twist and moves off the planned path. Teach me to trust Your sovereignty in my life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Read Genesis 39.  Note the G.F.I. in Joseph’s life.  Consider how our Key Verse correlates with Genesis 39:20-23?

 What God Faith Interrupters have occurred in my life?

Did you believe that God was with you throughout the ordeal? Why or why not?

Power verses:
 Jeremiah 31:3, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” 

Genesis 39:20-21, “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” 

Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.