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When God Stands in the Back

When God Stands in the Back

Podcast #802

opening day stirring faith

Hey there! You have found the Stirring Faith Podcast — When God Stands in the Back

Today’s broadcast focuses on those times when it feels like the presence of God has gone missing. It’s as if He has moved to a seat in the back of the room. He is not leading but just stands there. I pray you find some clarity and hope here.

We have recently moved over from being identified as THE SHE YEARNS PODCAST to STIRRING FAITH WITH CHERI STRANGE. But don’t worry. If you are a current subscriber, you will not need to do anything. You should automatically be updated with the changes.  We are so glad you are here to share it with us.

For your reassurance, Stirring Faith contains the same type of quality content and messaging you found in the previous seasons with the She Yearns Podcast. We simply felt we needed clearer packaging to help people locate the podcast and recognize who it was for and what it was about. Thank you for listening and being a part of the community!

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Besides Experiencing a Burning Bush— Your God is For Me is one of my favorite recent episodes. You can find it here if you are interested.

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Thank you for listening,

 

Hope Shelved

Day 9: Hope Shelved

Scripture

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. Haggai 1:2-4; 7-8

 

Devotional Material: Hope Shelved

The doors of opportunity had slammed shut. It was obvious. For years I worked toward becoming a published author in the Christian market. Not because I wanted to move that direction, but I pursued it because I believed God was leading me down the path. After about nine years, of writing and submitting, a publishing house was interested. As I pushed through the process of receiving that long-awaited contract, the editor, who had been so interested, literally died. Can you believe I never heard from that publishing house again?

All those years and that was that. I stuck my manuscript and my calling in a notebook. Since I’m not really fond of rejection, I had no intention of pursuing more avenues. I shelved it. Done.

Hope Shelved

How about we adopt some kids? Women’s minister at a church sounds cool. Maybe try a marathon or two. Host a bar-b-que for the neighborhood. Anything but risk exposing myself to intimidating nay-sayers and a world of rejection. So that’s exactly what this girl did.

It was at the end of the kitchen bar on a December morning after the dust was nice and heavy on that notebook when I encountered this message from Haggai.

 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD.

Revisiting the Shelves

A church plant was not the message to me at that moment. In fact, it had nothing to do with an actual structure. I had taken the work He envisioned for me to do and put it neatly away. The plan didn’t work out, so I quit. Instead, I pursued other assorted projects. His agenda was out of sight. On that December morning, the words from this passage penetrated my heart and mind like a bucket of ice tossed into the shower. I knew what I needed to do.

It was time to revisit the shelves and recommit to that which He called me to pursue before—even if I could not yet see how it was going to turn out. This was a hope-extending experience for me in my kitchen just as it was for the people in the days of Haggai.

What About You?

Is there anything the Lord has placed on your heart in the past that, for whatever reason, you have shelved? Maybe God does want you to build something or help in that capacity. Maybe He is speaking to you about another issue of obedience. Let me encourage you to move forward if God is the one stirring you.

Although it’s our natural preference, we cannot expect to be shaded from discomfort or disappointment in the stepping out. In fact, the Bible assures us of the opposite (2 Timothy 4:5; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 3:3). The point here with Haggai is not that it all works out so that we can tie a bow on top, but that God takes pleasure in our obedience and is honored in our service to Him.

 

 

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The Other Side of the Dungeon

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Day 6: The Other Side of the Dungeon

Scripture

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

Devotional Material

Spurgeon says of himself for days after the incident at the Surrey Garden Music Hall:

“Even the sight of a Bible brought a flood of tears and utter distraction of mind.”

Crushed spiritually and mentally to the degree he physically cannot function is where we find our renowned preacher. Not only was Spurgeon questioning his ability to preach again, but picking up a Bible brought an emotional torrent. Would he ever recover? He doesn’t yet know.

But he found help in the Lord.

He returned to his mourning congregation, hurting. Likely, he was filled with all sorts of competing thoughts, anxieties, and emotions. As this grieving leader took his place, he began to pray this gut-wrenching prayer:

“We are assembled here, O Lord, this day, with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow…Thy servant feared that he should never be able to meet this congregation again.”

He was serious. It took superhuman strength to get up that morning, stand there, and pray. Spurgeon did what you and I need to do when he found himself in a dungeon experience. He refused to quit but exhibited perfect trust under delay and disappointment, just like Jesus called John the Baptist to do.

We know this evidenced through his life and ministry. He refused to quit and trusted God. Later he said this:

“I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory…but, as far as my witness goes, I can say that the Lord is able to save unto the uttermost and in the last extremity, and he has been a good God to me.”

That is the essence of Jesus and the promise for your life today. Your God will be faithful to do the same for you. I don’t know how He will choose to do it. But please remember that if John the Baptist can find himself in a season of discouragement; and if Charles Spurgeon can go “to the uttermost and in the last extremity” and still find God to be good– we can trust this same God.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

Lift up your eyes, my friend!

Don’t you dare quit!

Your help is coming.

 

For His Glory and with much affection,

 

 

Conquering Your Dungeon

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Day 5: Conquering Your Dungeon

The first days are so painful sometimes but I know days five and six are coming. God does not leave us alone to climb out of our dungeons. He helps us in conquering them. Today’s message not difficult to write because I am so familiar with it. For me, the encouragement and strength as essential–the very purposes we are gathered. I pray God’s Word does not return void, penetrating your own heart and mind.

Scripture

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

Devotional Material

Charles Spurgeon was a renowned pastor in London during the 1800s. He was not popular because he was soft on truth, nor did he pander to the critical base. It was his giftedness in preaching the Word. Spurgeon was able to present a truth, draw you in where you felt it is written for your particular need, and sense Divine inspiration.

This man, like our John the Baptist, was full of conviction, confident in his calling, with the ability to deliver faithfully. Spurgeon developed such powerful sermons that even translated in other languages across continents, just reading them could be used by God to bring people to salvation.

At age twenty-two, Spurgeon was newly married with two babies and already had what we would call a tremendous following. So much so that he and his congregation decided to rent the Surrey Garden Music Hall to accommodate the crowds they were anticipating. This music hall was built with a bottom floor and balconies where people sat facing the stage. Quarters would be close in order to hear the speaker without sound equipment. For an evening message, 12,000 people would attend. Another 10,000 would stand outside leaning in straining to hear something.

Such ministry success, however, brings out the worst in some people. A few minutes after six p.m. someone yelled “Fire! The balconies are giving way!” With that announcement came mass hysteria. People were still coming into the theater which blocked the exits. A balcony, indeed, gave way from the weight, but there was no fire. It had been a lie–intentionally told to create the hysteria and mass commotion. What resulted were seven deaths: people trampled by those trying to escape; and twenty-nine seriously injured. Spurgeon was helpless, and had to be carried out on the verge of consciousness. He didn’t believe he would ever recover from the event.

Yes. In this world, you and I will have trouble.

But we know this tragedy does not mark the end of an era for Spurgeon for the same reason your difficult situations, tragedies, or deep discouragements will not mark the end for you. His story is not over and neither is yours!

Even before we know how the story ends we can make progress in our own realities.

  • Refuse the defeating thoughts battling within your mind.
  • Instead, embrace the truth of God’s Word that He will help you through this difficulty.

With much affection,

 

 

Dungeon Experiences

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Day 4: Dungeon Experiences

Scripture

Matthew 11:4-6

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Matthew 11:4-6

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

 

John is, indeed, having a dungeon experience.

“ARE YOU THE ONE or am I completely off base?”

“I mean, I thought you were, I think you might be, but… It’s so dark and lonely down here. This is radically different from what I imagined. I’m just not sure anymore.”

Can you relate? John needs A STRAIGHT UP ANSWER.

“Are You the One?”

Jesus offers John’s messengers an answer in Matthew 11:4-5. They are to report what they see and hear from Jesus. He doesn’t answer like John wanted, does he? Ever been there before?

“Should I keep going? Maybe I should put it on the shelf? Do I confront? Is it time to quit? Should I stop thinking about this possibility altogether? Lord, I need to know!

John’s answer does not arrive in a tidy “yes” or “no” format, but it is conclusive. Jesus calls John to consider how he recognized the Messiah in the first place. What did the Word of God say the Messiah would do? How would the people know when they found Him (Isaiah 61:1)?

John was having difficulty seeing truth in the midst of discouragement. Sound familiar? What you thought was going to happen is not jiving with your reality? You begin to question your ability to discern God’s voice in your life? Did you just make the whole thing up?

Jesus then does something precious. He adds this onerous line (Matthew 11:6):

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

What does He mean by this? One commentator suggested the language means something far from being offended by Jesus but that the “one” in question exhibits “perfect trust under delay and disappointment.”

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “John, blessed is the one who is not offended by me but considers what I am doing compared to what the Scriptures declare the Messiah WILL DO and keeps the faith! Trust that you can hear your God under delay and utter disappointment even in a dungeon because you will be blessed if you do!”

Sometimes God meets us in our need just like John. In the middle of our discouragement or disappointment of how we thought our life should measure up, God lifts our eyes to a greater calling. Positively Jesus met John in his dungeon experience and restored him to believe again.

Lord, do it for us, too!

When you are having a dungeon experience, allow Him to meet you right there. God can restore your hope and lift your eyes to believe again, too.

I pray that even if you and I have to experience delay and utter disappointment we will do exactly what John did. May God clearly meet you in your need today.

With much affection,