Articles by Dr. Paul Cannings
A few years ago, I read about a woman, in Atlanta, Georgia, who washed clothes for a living. She would take some of her money and save it. She did this for a number of years. Over a long period of time, she accumulated a large sum of money. It seemed that the natural thing, in her senior years, would be to retire and use the money to have a fun retirement, not so.
The birth of Jesus Christ was the pivotal point of all history. It marked forever, “God with us” forever. Those who accept Christ will experience God forever. As Gentiles, we had no hope of experiencing any of this (Ephesians 2:12). Christ birth gave us hope. Christ must be ‘the must’ in Christmas because His arrival marked the new beginning.
When people are traveling by plane, and the ride is smooth, they tend to feel over a long period of time that everything is well until there is turbulence. If turbulence goes on for a while, they will say it was not a good flight and they are able to say that because despite the turbulence the plane landed safely. As a matter of fact, the first question people ask is how your flight was. My standard answer is, “It was a great flight; the plane landed.”
One of the hardest things to do is to wait on the Lord to respond during the most difficult times in our lives. Especially being in an American culture where most people do not like waiting or have so much at their fingertips. Long lines, long hold times, or restaurant lines can be frustrating. His sovereign will can be mysterious; for example, Joseph knew his brothers would bow to him, but he had no idea what that meant for his life when he had no power to control anything that took place. Since Joseph believed in God all he could do is wait.
If God allowed you to be in Joseph’s place, would you be able to forgive? Our response is dictated by our perspective. In order words, if Joseph focused on what his brothers did to him, especially since they never sought to find him, the circumstances may seem overwhelming. When Joseph reflected on what his brothers did, he cried repeatedly. However, when Joseph focused on what God did for him and what God’s plan was for His people, Joseph was better able to remain focused. “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God …….” (Genesis 45:7-9; NASU) Believing Romans 8:28-29 is more than a notion, especially in the case of Joseph; “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.” It seemed like Joseph’s life was a wreck while it was being blessed.
Why is it that couples who once had a great dating relationship, get married and struggle repeatedly for long periods of time? I did not say that couples struggled in their dating relationship. I truly mean couples who had a lot of good times together. They had good communication, supported each other through difficult times, and spent a lot of time together. They get married and begin to struggle after a period. This is a problem that is repeated.
The news is dominated by all that has taken place in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda soldiers have swooped in and for their religion and love for their country, they have gained control of Afghanistan. What they are doing to their own country, men, and women is hideous, disgusting, and Satanic. They have been out all night, forsaking their jobs, families, committed to risk their lives to institute the beliefs of their religion. Let me be clear, NOTHING about serving God, and evangelizing the world requires us to function as they have, NOTHING. Their dedication, however, to their cause is unending, and if we had the same dedication, like the disciples had, we would change the world and protect it from being destroyed by Satan.
Have you ever prayed and prayed for God to resolve an issue, only to have to wait and wait and wait? I wonder what it was like for Sarah who prayed for a child, not a nation; just one child and she had to wait twenty-five years. Even though she was forced to wait, it was hard. Remember, she took the lead and told her husband to try and have a child by Hagar; when God came and renewed the promise she laughed because by this time it was impossible for her to conceive based on human terms (Genesis 17:12). Not only did Sarah laugh, but her husband laughed also when God renewed His promise (Genesis 17:17). God teaches us that answered prayer is a direct correlation to a plan for our lives.
During the civil war two brothers joined the army on opposite sides. As the war continued, they found themselves advancing against each other firing one shot after another. One of them was shot and laid wounded crying out for help. The other brother heard him, and after making several attempts to ignore him, he ran to him pick him up; with bullets flying everywhere he took him to safety. If he hadn’t done this his brother would have bled to death. They continued to argue about the war, and helped to supply ammunition to each side, but they decided never to fight each other again because the blood that made them brothers was more important than the reason for the civil war.