Sunday, January 24, 2021

Five Things That Romans 8:28 Does Not Say

Paul Harvey had a radio show called “The Rest of the Story.” He would talk about someone who overcame obstacles, but he kept the person’s identity a secret until the end when would reveal it and say, “And now you know…the REST of the story.”
 
Romans 8:28 is the Christian’s Rest of the Story: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). It’s important to understand 5 things this verse does not say, which helps us understand what it does say.
 
1. It doesn’t say “We hope” but “We know.” Paul did not say that we hope everything will turn out for good.  Even though Paul didn’t know what his readers were going through, he makes a universal promise to every believer until Jesus returns that we can know God will work everything together for our good.
 
2. It doesn’t say God causes all things to happen, but He causes all things to work together. Some people wrongly believe God causes everything to happen, even evil and tragedy.  While God does not cause all things to happen, He is in control of all things. James 1:13 tells us God does not tempt anyone, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to handle, but will provide the way of escape. This shows God does not cause temptation but He is in control of the circumstances around it. 
 
3. It doesn’t say all things are good, but that He works all things together for good. If Satan can turn good into evil, why can’t God turn evil into good? People did evil things to Joseph, but God turned those injustices around to promote him as a ruler in Egypt (Gen. 37-41). He can do the same thing for our situations.
 
4. It doesn’t say God does this for everyone, but for those who love Him. God causes all things to work together for good to “those who love God.” This is a promise to His followers, but isn’t a guarantee to everybody.
 
5. It doesn’t say for our happiness, but for His purpose. God may not have the first word in everything that happens but He does have the last word. When bad things happen, God says, “I have the last word and my purposes will be accomplished.” And now you know the REST of the story!
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, January 17, 2021

God's Providential Will

God’s Perfect Will
is what God desires to happen. When we obey what He calls us to do, we are fulfilling God’s perfect will (Rom. 12:2).
 
God’s Permissive Will is when God allows people to disobey what He wants. He gives us a free will, which means we can make decisions against His will (Acts 14:16).
 
God’s Providential Will is when God overrules the permissive will. Eph. 1:11 says, “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” God’s Providential Will means He can guide us, protect us, and provide for us in spite of the schemes of evil people who attempt to destroy us.  
 
We can understand God’s “Permissive Will” and “Providential Will” by seeing it as a chess game God is playing. He allows an evil person to move a chess piece (permissive will) and then He makes a counter-move (providential will).
 
PERMISSIVE WILL: He allowed Israel to choose Saul as king, who tried to kill David.
PROVIDENTIAL WILL: God protected David from Saul’s attacks and eventually promoted him to be king.
 
PERMISSIVE WILL: God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery, falsely accused, and thrown into jail.
PROVIDENTIAL WILL: God overruled those actions, promoted him to be a ruler in Egypt, and saved Israel during a famine. Years later, when Joseph was reunited with his brothers, he told them, "As for you, you meant evil against me (PERMISSIVE), but God meant it for good" (PROVIDENTIAL) (Gen. 50:20). Their “little hands” and God’s "big hand" were both working at the same time, and God used them as pawns to accomplish His purposes.
 
PERMISSIVE WILL: God allows His followers to be persecuted.
Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorned your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man..." (Luke 6:22).
PROVIDENTIAL WILL: God rewards His followers for being persecuted.
"...Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven" (Luke 6:23). 
Did you see God’s Permissive and Providential Wills in this verse? When people persecute you (permissive will), at the same moment God is giving you a great heavenly reward which will last for all eternity! (providential will).
 
So when evil people seem to be winning, remember to keep a positive attitude, focus on God’s “big hand” at work, trust Him, and leap for joy!
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, January 10, 2021

God's Permissive Will

Contrary to popular belief,
not everything that happens is God’s will. Otherwise, why does Jesus tell us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10)? There are three aspects to God’s will.

God’s Perfect Will is what God desires to happen. When we obey what He calls us to do, we are fulfilling God’s perfect will. Romans 12:2 says “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
 
God’s Permissive Will is when God allows people to disobey what He wants. He gives us a free will, which means we can make decisions against His will. Acts 14:16 says, “He permitted all the nations to go their own ways.”
 
God’s Permissive Will went into effect when Israel chose Saul to be their king. It wasn’t what God wanted, but He allowed them to do it. The people of Israel told the prophet Samuel to appoint them a king so they would be like the other nations. God told Samuel, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:7).
 
When Samuel presented Saul to Israel, he said, “Here is the king whom you have chosen” (1 Sam. 12:13). King Saul deliberately disobeyed God, so Samuel informed Saul that the Lord had rejected him as king (1 Sam. 15:26). Not long after this, Samuel anointed David as God’s choice to be king (1 Sam. 16:13) but it would be years before David actually took the throne.
 
Saul continued being Israel’s king, even though God had rejected him. On two occasions Saul threw spears at David, trying to kill the future king of Israel. Unfortunately for David, he had to suffer the consequences of Israel’s foolish choice of Saul. He spent years running from Saul, who was continually trying to kill him. Even though God’s Permissive Will was still in effect, God was able to lead David and protect him from Saul’s attacks. Keep in mind that God is still able to lead and protect His people, even when an evil king like Saul is on the throne.
 
Fortunately, God has a Providential Will, where God can overrule the Permissive will. We will examine that next week.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett
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Sunday, January 3, 2021

Can God Answer Prayers Instantly?

When my daughter Hannah was in grade school, she wanted to join the Girl Scouts. I said, “Hannah, if you’re supposed to be in Girl Scouts, God will provide a uniform for you. Why don’t you pray and ask Him for one?” She went into her bedroom and prayed for God to provide a Girl Scout uniform.
 
Two minutes later the phone rang. The woman on the other end of the phone said, “You don’t know me, but I have a Girl Scout uniform that I would like to give away. Do you have a daughter who needs one?” I was so stunned I did not even know what to say. I thought, Is this really happening? Just two minutes ago Hannah prayed for a uniform. This is impossible!
 
I snapped out of it and answered, “Yes, we do have a daughter who needs a uniform. You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but she just prayed two minutes ago for a Girl Scout uniform and then you called. Your phone call is an answer to a child’s prayer.” What are the odds that a woman who didn’t know us would call with the answer just after Hannah prayed?
 
You might be asking yourself why God would answer a prayer for a uniform while millions of suffering people are not getting their prayers answered. To be honest, I cannot tell you why some prayers aren’t answered. I just know that God did answer this little girl’s prayer.
 
Perhaps the Lord responded to her childlike faith and wanted my daughter to know He could answer her prayers.
Maybe God wanted to prove to the woman who called that He really exists.
Maybe He answered because He knew I would write about it so that thousands of readers would be inspired to pray about everything.
Maybe He did it to show that not every prayer has a long delay before the answer comes.
 
God is the one who decides when He will bring the answer to our prayers. Sometimes He does it quickly. Other times He requires us to wait. But always remember God’s timing is perfect.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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BIBLE STUDY:  “The Five Purposes of Prayer”
 
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett
www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Whatever Unites Also Divides

Did you know that whatever unites also divides? If I asked everyone in a crowded room with blue eyes to stand up, it would unite the blue-eyed people, but it would also divide them from everyone else.
 
Some people think unity should be our primary goal, but that’s incorrect. Believing the truth is more important than unity. Adrian Rogers said, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie.”
 
Jesus caused division wherever He went. “So there arose a division in the multitude because of Him” (John 7:43). He said, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51-52). When people united with Him, it divided them from family members who didn’t believe in Him.
 
Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30). The division continued as the apostles preached the gospel. “The people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles” (Acts 14:4).
 
You can choose which side you’re on. You can stand with Jesus, or you can side with those who hate Him because you’re afraid of their peer pressure. One day all God’s people will be united in heaven—and it’s because we followed the truth.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Jesus Came to Feel Your Pain

A farmer made a sign advertising puppies for sale. A little boy read it and said, "Mister, I want to buy one of your puppies." The farmer said, "These puppies cost a lot of money, probably more than you can afford." 
The little boy said, "I've got 39 cents. Is that enough to take a look?"
"Sure," the farmer said. He whistled and called, "Come here, Dolly."
 
Out from the doghouse and down the ramp came Dolly, followed by four little puppies. A few seconds later, a fifth dog came out, slipping down the ramp and lagging behind. It hobbled because it had two badly deformed legs. The little boy pointed to the frail dog and said, "I'll take that one!" The farmer knelt down and explained, "Son, you don't want that one. He'll never be able to run and play like the other dogs."
 
The boy reached down and rolled up the leg of his pants, revealing his artificial leg. He said, "Mister, I'll never be able to run and play like the other boys either, so that little puppy is going to need someone who understands."
 
God became a man 2,000 years ago to experience all the pain we go through as humans. Jesus felt the sting of rejection, the pull of temptation, the pressure of stress, the ache of loneliness, and the pains of going hungry. Hebrews 2:17-18 says, "He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest." Hebrews 4:15 adds, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." This means Jesus feels your pain as you are experiencing it and knows how you feel.
 
Are you going through a difficult time? One reason Jesus came to earth was because He knew you would need someone who feels your pain. Everything that you're going through, He's already been through in some way. And that’s why He’s a merciful Savior.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Making Life Count Ministries
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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Jesus Came to Explain God

Author Max Lucado was a missionary to Brazil before he became a writer. In his book Just Like Jesus, Max said he sometimes served as a translator for an English speaker. When the guest speaker stood before the audience, Max stood right next to him. His job was to convey to the Brazilians what the speaker was saying. When the speaker gestured, Max made the same gesture. When the speaker raised his voice, Max also raised his voice. When the speaker got quiet, Max got quiet.
 
One reason Jesus left heaven and came to earth was to “translate” God to us. Jesus didn’t do anything unless He saw His Father doing it (John 5:19). When the Father got louder, Jesus got louder. When the Father gestured, Jesus also gestured. This is why Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
 
Jesus demonstrated how to act like God in every circumstance. When people hated Him, He loved them. When they falsely accused Him, He didn’t try defend himself but was silent. He showed us how to forgive by actually forgiving the ones killing Him. The disciples could understand whatever He taught because they watched Him do what He was teaching them.
 
Do you remember those “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets? Not too many people are wearing them now, but the saying still holds true. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in my situation?” And then let Him translate though you.
Over 270 printable Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
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Receive these devotionals (free) by email: You can subscribe in the box on the right at www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com (Your email will not be given out. You’ll receive an email when the new devotional is posted)
 
Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett
www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com