The Purpose and Plan Behind Storms in Life

The Purpose and the Plan Behind Storms in Life

As many of you know, I am in northwestern Harris County, between Houston and The Woodlands,  and the remaining bands from Hurricane Harvey are pummeling us right now. The rain bands  have been pelting us, on and off now (mostly on), for two days. We see on the news that the whole southern coastal area of Texas is seeing catastrophic levels of flooding.  Our home has not taken in water as of yet; but we wait, listening to the storm and watching the water rise in the streets and around our neighborhood. We do not know for certain just how bad the destruction will be.

I shared more on this video on YouTube, or you can read more below it: 

We know it is going to be bad. Will tens of thousands of homes be destroyed, or will hundreds of thousands of homes be destroyed? And although I know it is a selfish thought,  of course, we also naturally wonder: is our home going to be one that is affected? Are we prepared? If we take in water and destruction, do we have a plan to seek help, to seek safety, and ultimately to rebuild? And if we are blessed to stay safe in a dry home, we still wonder:  are we prepared and willing to seek ways to personally help others who may not be so fortunate?

I've been thinking of what to write this weekend. Honestly, I've only been thinking a little bit about writing - because I obviously have a lot on my mind right now. However,  today my pastor addressed us with an excellent message through Facebook Live. He did this because  all the churches in the area are closed and unable to hold services today due to the storm. 

So in this moment, I feel that my notes, gleaned from the wisdom my pastor shared this morning, are the best words to also share with all of you today. So whether you are also going through the Harvey Storm (as I know many of you are); or whether you are in a different kind of life storm -- I hope these words will help you stay close to Him, and help you to seek His purposes throughout it all.  

Here are my notes:

God does have  a purpose to every storm  in life, and there is also a purpose and a plan beyond every storm.

Storms refine our faith. Adversity stretches us, and causes us to trust more and more in Christ for our needs and for our strength. 

Trials are the “classroom” for our spiritual development.

Storms are not always due to 
disobedience. Sometimes we go through a storm because  God has larger purposes for His kingdom plan. 

God may take you to a storm, and He made take you through a storm; but he never leaves you in the middle of a storm.

Through the storm, God is always working. He is always there.

God will not leave us in a storm. God would not have led us to it, if it was His intention to leave 
 us in it.  

Promises from God in the midst of a storm:

With Him, we can weather any storm that comes our way. Nothing that comes our way will overcome us if we stand in the power of God. Paul said, “Whatever it is, I can get through it, through Christ who gives me strength.” (paraphrased)

There is no promise of a storm-free life; but we are promised His presence in every storm. Peace came to the disciples when they turned to Christ during the storm. Sometimes we just have to sit and watch the destruction happen, knowing there is nothing we can do. But we never sit there alone.

Somehow God will use this for His glory. We probably don't want to hear this now; yet it is a definite
 promise from God. Romans 8:28 tells us,  "All things work together for good for those who love Him and are called towards his purpose."

He will use this storm, and all storms we encounter, in order to grow our faith. We will be able to use this experience as a future testimony. "He turns our tests into testimonies."

We cannot see it now, but God is using this to build a foundation for something that we cannot see.

Fear is the opposite of faith. We can be fear-filled or faith-filled, but not both.

We cannot control the outcome, but we can trust the One who does.

Storms in life can be of all kinds: financial, medical/health related, or family or job troubles.

God is the God of any and every storm.  

---------<end of notes>----------------

As I finish writing this, the rain has picked up once again, and it continues to pelt relentlessly. We will go to bed tonight not sure what tomorrow nor the days ahead will bring. 

We cannot control it. We cannot stop it.
 We cannot even get out of it.
 We have to go through it.

 We don't have to go through it alone. 

God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort we ourselves receive from God.
  - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

If you would like to see the entire message from Pastor Fleming on Facebook, it is posted on the church facebook page. I'm not able to find a way to link directly to the video, but you can find the video by scrolling to posts dated the morning of August 27, 2017 :

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Teaching 14: Some Things Only Change Through Prayer

Some Things Only Change Through Prayer
For today's post, the written summary is first, and you will find the video at the bottom of the post.

If you need to catch up on the summer with Jesus series, you can find a list
of all free video teachings and transcripts in this series, by going HERE.

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The backstory for today's passage:  Jesus, Peter, James, and John have just come down from the mountain of transfiguration. They have just met back up with some of the other disciples to discover that these disciples are having some trouble in their ministry. Specifically, there is a boy who needs healing from an "evil spirit," and the disciples, even though they have been successfully driving out evil presences before this, are not able to drive the foul spirit out from this boy.  

So with this background, here is the passage for today:

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

Why couldn't the disciples drive out this particular demon? Jesus answered, "This kind can come out only by prayer." What is Jesus' underlying assumption, then? Simple -- the disciples had not been praying, nor had the gone to God in prayer to help them with this specific task. 

We know from other accounts of Jesus's healings, that lack of belief had been a cause of failure for healings to occur. It seems that somewhere along the way -- after Jesus had left them for awhile to go up on the mountain for the transfiguration -- the rest of these disciples soon lost connection with their source of power -- God. Perhaps they had been so continuously successful in casting out demons for a period of time,  that they started doing the work in their own strength. Perhaps they were just "going through the motions"  of healings and casting out spirits. 

In prior accounts, we know that the lack of belief led to the failure to rid an evil spirit. Now, Jesus implies that, if the disciples had prayed for their situation, they would have been successful. We can assume that, most likely, the disciples hadn't been spending much time in prayer during the days that Jesus was away from them. 

Over and over again, Jesus both teaches and demonstrates that time spent in prayer is absolutely crucial in order to be close to God, in order to have the power of God at work in one's life, and in order for one to be able to do His work. 

So this brings us to these questions:  

What areas of our lives have we not prayed about in awhile? 

Are we honestly praying as much as we should?

What problems are we facing now, or are we anticipating facing soon?

What if our problem is the type that can only be overcome by prayer?

From this reading we see that Jesus clearly states that there are some types of problems that can only be helped by prayer. Yet, he didn't specify exactly which types of diseases, evil influences, or other issues were considered "prayer absolutely required" types of problems. On the other hand, we know that all problems. large and small, can be greatly helped by prayer. So for the logically minded, what is the obvious action to take for all of our problems? Let's look at the two propostions as we will then see the obvious conclusion. 

1. All of our problems can be helped through prayer. 
2. Some of our problems can only be helped through prayer. 

So if we have any problem, large or small, what should be our first response to help it or solve it?   

Yes, it's that simple. Prayer. Always the answer is prayer. Prayer never hurts us. Prayer always helps us. We already know this. We know this well. So why don't we do it? Why don't we pray, every single time over ever single problem - big or small? I can't answer that for each of us; however we can each answer it for ourselves. Here we go; fill in the blank below:

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because ________________________. 

Here are two ways that I personally filled in that blank:

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because-- the problem was of my own making, so I just assume that since I caused the problem alone, I can resolve the problem alone. 

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because -- I assume that God already knows about the problem and I don't understand why I really need to pray about it, if He already knows.

And in my responses above, I see that once again, my thoughts and assumptions are not in line with what God has revealed. Once again, my thoughts are not His thoughts and my ways are not His ways.

My thoughts:  I caused the problem alone. So I should solve the problem alone, rather than bother God with my foolishness.

God's thoughts:  You are never alone. (Joshua 1:5; 1:9; Matthew 28:20) Cast all your concerns onto me; because I care for you and I will help you. (1 Peter 5:7)

My thoughts: God already knows about this problem and so I don't understand why I need to actually "go through the motions" to pray about it. 

God's thoughts:  You have been taught to pray about all your concerns; and I want you to pray about everything. (1 Peter 5:7) Your decision to pray is a choice which demonstrates your trust in me and your willingness to follow and obey what you have been taught.  Your decision to pray is a demonstration of your faith and belief. (Hebrews 11:6) The prayer of a faithful and righteous person has great power. (James 5:16) (Just assuming that I already know what you want -- has not so much power.) 

So what did you write in your blank? When you do not pray about all your concerns, what is your underlying reason why not? Let's take all those reasons to task. Let's identify the areas where our thoughts are not in line with His. Let's meditate on His thoughts, allow them to replace our own -- and let us be the beneficiaries of His answered prayer, in all things, all concerns --  big and small. 


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