Tag: praying

How to deal with insurmountable problems?

I find the following excerpt taken from the Bible in One Year with Nicky Gumbel quite interesting and practical. Hope you think so also.

 Intercession for deliverance (from your problems)

2 Kings 19:14-20:21

Sometimes in our own lives we are faced with seemingly insurmountable problems.  This is a great model of how to deal with them.  Hezekiah did not despair.  He did not panic.  He did not give up.  He turned to God in prayer.

This account of Hezekiah’s prayer and God’s deliverance is recorded three times in the Old Testament – see also Isaiah 36–39 and 2 Chronicles 32.  The events of this period are corroborated by Babylonian sources.

When Hezekiah received the threatening letter and was faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, ‘He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord’ (19:14).  He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord … you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see … Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God’ (vv.15–19).

Hezekiah’s intercession begins by consciously recognising who God is.  As Andrew Murray says, ‘The power of prayer depends almost entirely upon our apprehension of who it is with whom we speak.’  When we intercede we are speaking to the one who alone is, ‘God over all the kingdoms of the earth’ (v.15).  He has the power to resolve these seemingly insurmountable problems.

Hezekiah’s prayer was for God’s honour and glory, ‘so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God’ (v.19).  Jesus taught us to start our prayers, ‘Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:9–10)

I love the expression, ‘He … spread it out before the Lord’ (2 Kings 19:14).  He spoke to God about the problem.  The apostle Paul writes, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6–7).

The prophet Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah saying that God had heard his prayer.  He delivered the people from the threat of the Assyrians in answer to Hezekiah’s intercession.

Hezekiah also prayed for his healing.  He was ill, at the point of death (2 Kings 20:1), and he interceded on his own behalf:  ‘Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord’ (v.2).  Again, God answered his intercession: ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you … I will add fifteen years to your life’ (vv.5–6).

Hezekiah experienced God’s amazing blessings in answer to his intercession.  However, the passage ends with a note of warning.  When envoys came from Babylon, Hezekiah showed off all his treasures (vv.12–15).  He appeared to be taking the glory for all that the Lord had given him.  Isaiah told him that as a result, ‘nothing will be left’ (v.17).  If we take the glory for what the Lord does for us, it is at our own peril.


Best way to Plan

God’s Purposes – taken from The Bible In One Year by Nicky Gumble

Back in 1981 Pippa and I felt that God was calling us to full-time ministry in the Church of England and for me to become an ordained minister.  We also felt that we should do our training in Durham starting in September 1982.  I was on the top of the waiting list for the theological college at Durham University.  I was told it was almost certain someone would drop out and I was virtually guaranteed to get a place.  Based on this I announced our plans widely, including telling the set of chambers, where I was practising as a barrister, that I was leaving.

Just before I was due to start we received news that, exceptionally, no one had dropped out that year and it would not be possible for us to go.  We tried everything to persuade them to change their minds.  We desperately tried to find another theological college that would accept us.  We prayed and pushed as hard as we could but to no avail.  The door was firmly shut.

The following year was extremely difficult.  I was given very little work by my chambers as they knew I was leaving and so had no incentive to build my career.  It was a huge disappointment and mystifying at the time.

In the end, we went to Oxford to study the following year and eventually started a curacy at HTB in 1986.  With hindsight, had we got the place at Durham, the timing would have meant that a curacy at HTB would have been out of the question and we would not be doing what we are doing today.  I am so thankful to God that he blocked our plans and that what we now believe were his purposes prevailed.

There are times when life is not easy.  It is difficult to work out what God is doing in terms of our work, family, temptation, finances, disappointments, bereavement or opposition.  How do we cope in these situations?

1.  God’s purposes and our plans

Proverbs 16:8-17

It is right to plan.  However, we need to do it with the necessary humility, recognising that our plans will only succeed ‘if it is the Lord’s will’ (see James 4:13–15).  The writer of Proverbs says, ‘In your heart you may plan your course, but the Lord determines your steps’ (Proverbs 16:9).

His purposes are ‘good, pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).  Sometimes we align our plans with God’s purposes, but from time to time – certainly in my experience – God thankfully overrules our plans.  We should always bear in mind that we may have got it wrong and ultimately it is the Lord who determines our steps.

God often works out his purposes through good leadership.  Good leaders motivate others (Proverbs 16:10).  They do not base their decisions simply on what is popular: ‘Sound leadership has a moral foundation’ (v.12b, MSG).  They cultivate an environment of candour: ‘Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisers who tell them the truth’ (v.13, MSG).  They ‘invigorate lives; they’re like spring rain and sunshine’ (v.15, MSG).

Thank you, Lord, that although we make plans in our hearts ultimately it is your purpose that prevails.  In making our plans may we always say, at least in our hearts, ‘If it is the Lord’s will’.

 

 


Why Me? Series 2. How many people do you know would do this?

One Saturday night after attending a Christmas Party, we came home to the sound of water flowing in the drain at the side of our house. It appeared that a pipe had burst and since this was a regular event, and it was very late we retired.

Unknowingly to us, one of the Water and Sewerage Authority main water lines that pass through the empty lot overlooking our house had burst.

The next morning the water was still flowing, but while I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast, I was startled by a sudden loud noise and heard water gushing down our driveway.

I quickly peeped through the kitchen window to see what had happened.  To my astonishment there was a huge landslide at the top of the driveway and it was still coming down. I immediately called out to my husband and my son.

We quickly drove the cars from the garage and headed to the road outside of our house.  From the road we could see that a huge part of the empty lot that overlooks our house  had slipped and was now in our backyard and some of  it was also in one of our next door neighbour’s backyard.

There were also huge rocks still making their way to the back of our house.

The water which was shooting up in the air and down into the empty lot was eventually re-routed by a gentleman who lives on the other side of the neighbourhood.

We live in a valley. Our house is on one side of the hill and this gentleman’s house is on the other side.  Below is a view of his house from our porch. Look closely and you will see a pink and white house with a roof that looks like part of a triangle.

He must have looked out from his porch and seeing  the water shooting up with such force and recognizing  what was happening ran to his car and drove up to the empty property and placed the burst pipe in the road, so that the water could flow in the road instead of in the property.

We had never met this person before.  This was around seven thirty on Sunday morning. We know that the damage could have been worse if he did not turn re-route the water.

That morning, sitting outside on the steps in front of our house all I can say is : Why Me? Why us? Why did this have to happen to us?

The landslide dumped tons and tons of soil, debris and rocks at the back of our house and stopped a couple of inches away from the house.  Water tanks, fruit, vegetable trees and some flowering plants in addition to fences and railings  were all destroyed.

That day I was very concerned about going inside and even sleeping in our house since it was also raining heavily and this was causing more sludge and rocks to slide down.

I cannot remember ever praying so much. I kept telling myself this house is ours, it was through God we got it and we are not leaving. I know God was watching over us. Why would this guy who we do not know leave his house, early Sunday morning and drive to the other side of the hill to re-route the water from our house? Also he never came to our house. He did what he had to do and returned to his house. Amazing isn’t it? How many people do you know would do this?

Investigations revealed that the pipe had been leaking for a while, so when it burst, the soil was already saturated, leaving nowhere for it to go but down.

Thank God the Water and Sewerage Authority handled all the clean-up. It took a long time because of the volume of soil and rocks.

My husband and I did not take time off from work as our sons were home for the Christmas Holidays, but every day I would go home for lunch to see the progress. It was difficult to concentrate at work.

Just imagine an excavator at the back of this house and the only way to get there is up a steep driveway and up some steps, and there is another house at the side of the driveway.

The clean-up exercise was eventually completed on Christmas Eve just in time for Christmas celebrations.

This was the most  traumatizing event that has ever occurred to me and my family  and when I look back I realize that as a result of this event  I now have a  closer Relationship  with  God. I also got to meet the owner of the empty lot, and we got the opportunity to re-design our back yard.  We are also more aware of what is happening around us and around our home.

We all have troubles in some way or another.  I could have chosen to say where is God in all this, but I know deep down, that some way, somehow he is close by because of the things that happen that cannot be explained.

I would love to hear your ‘Why Me’ stories and what you learnt from it.

 

 


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