Compare and Contrast: God’s purposeful plan

No matter how I try to begin this entry what first comes to mind is I cannot compare and contrast God’s purposeful plan in the lives of His people.

“Who has understood the Spirit of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?  Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?  Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?”  Isaiah 40:13-14

In this blog we are following Pastor Bob Jennings’ journey of his last days here on earth.  He has been faithful in sharing with us how a Christian dies.  The day I posted this article, Mike Fechner also made a post to his blog , Building Bridges of Christ’s Love.  I was dumbfounded as I read his story of healing.  I thought God is a God of contrast yet at the same time I realized we really cannot compare Bob’s story and Mike’s story, Bob’s dying and Mike’s healing.  Is God so small that the human mind can compare and contrast His purposeful plan for our lives?  No.  God is God and He will do as He pleases.

This shouldn’t unnerve us nor rattle our faith but bring a certain security in knowing that as our sovereign God, He knows all things and has a purposeful plan in every individual’s life.  What brings a great security and comfort to me is, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  (Ps. 139:16b)   Not one of my days is a mistake; I am cancer free because there is a purposeful reason for my remission.  There is not one mistake in Bob’s life nor Mike’s life; both have purpose and this purpose ultimately is to bring glory to God’s character and name. (I am secure in stating that both of these men with their arms around one another would share a hearty, “Amen!”.)  I don’t think I need to wrestle with the question why God calls one believer home and heals the other; I rejoice in both cases.

Here is Mike’s story:

Awakened to Pray

Fechner Family before Mike's Surgery

Does God still do miracles? Is He truly the same yesterday, today, and forever? The answer is emphatically YES! We have become like the early church, whose members prayed for Peter’s deliverance from prison yet struggled to believe their prayers had been answered. While Peter stood at their door knocking, they argued with the servant announcing his arrival. They dismissed her as crazy rather than believe their prayers had been answered! (Acts12:13–16)

Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to share the many miracles the Lord has done in direct response to your believing prayers. My prayer is that we may know that God has so much more that He wants to do in this generation if we will pray by faith the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit while trusting in our Sovereign Lord for the answer! Miracles are awaiting the church in this season of awakening if we will believe our Great God and pray His Word by faith.

When I was diagnosed thirty-eight months ago with stage 4 non-smoker’s lung cancer, I believed the diagnosis and accepted as truth that I was a dead man walking. I planned my funeral, arranged my affairs, and prepared for death to take me within eight months—eighteen months at the longest—anticipating seeing God face to face. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) was ever on my heart.

As I waited for death, a group of intercessors came into my office, among them, Kay Boleman, who had been assigned to be my intercessor while I was on the staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church. These prayer warriors prayed as the Bible instructs us to do:

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14–15, emphasis mine)

They prayed a “prayer of faith.” The Greek could be translated “a prayer of believing” or “a believing prayer.” That is, they prayed believing that I was already healed.

That was a critical ministry they performed on my behalf. People in the pit of despair simply do not have the capacity to believe. I needed Kay and the others to pray over me and for me. Their prayer of belief lifted my eyes from this death sentence to see my great God and to hear His promises. And I believed, that day, I was healed. I began to walk daily in this confidence, no matter what men would say. I do not ignore science; I simply give more credence to the Word of God. I did accept the best course of medical treatments offered, but I placed my trust in the Great Physician to heal me.

Let me be clear. “Praying in belief” is not our attempt to bring God around to our way of thinking or to get His approval for our desires. God is sovereign and He calls us to trust His character. Trusting in our Sovereign God for the answer to prayer means that if He tells me it’s time to suffer greatly and then go home to be with Him, I should rejoice knowing that this will bring Him Glory. (I will explain this further in a later post.) Jesus is King and we must surrender to His sovereignty.

The week before surgery, the pastors and elders of Prestonwood Baptist Church held a prayer service on my behalf. The elders anointed my head with oil and prayed believing God for my healing. My mother prayed in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming that I was healed. On that day, I believed, by God’s grace and mercy, that this surgery would be the final chapter in my battle with cancer. Click here to listen to her prayer now.

Before surgery, Dr. James Batiste, a Neurooncologist with U.T. Southwestern Medical Center, warned that removing a tumor the size of a golf ball from my brain would likely cause balance problems, which would take anywhere from two weeks to six months to resolve. He mentioned that I should expect nausea, headache, impaired speech, sore neck, and muscle spasms during my long recovery.

When I was taken back to surgery, I remembered the last words of my oldest son Michael, who prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for entrusting this to our family.”

When I woke, the surgeons reported that the tumor was completely contained and came out in one piece! My doctor said, “We all know that Somebody else had something to do with this.” I spoke freely and clearly, experienced no nausea, no major headache, felt no more pain than a sore neck. The next day, Dr. Batiste came to see my first attempt to walk; as he watched, I walked with no assistance. He said, “Please quote me on this: This is a miracle.” (Click here to see for yourself.) Less than forty-eight hours later, note the improvement.

By that afternoon my bodily functions were all normal and I needed nothing more than Regular Strength Tylenol for minor pain. In fact, I spent much of my time in the waiting room praying for families whose loved ones lay in the ICU. I was released from the hospital three days after surgery instead of the expected four to seven days, and I have been feeling great. A week after leaving the hospital, I began working out at Gold’s Gym .

I tell you this for two reasons. First, I want to encourage you. We serve a God who continues to work supernaturally for our good and His glory. (Rom. 8:28–39) Second, to proclaim that the Lord is calling all of us to be awakened, to know Him, and to experience Him in a fresh and powerful way! There are miracles yet to be experienced if we will, again, become a people who pray by the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting in the sovereignty of our great God.

As Jesus said to His followers,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7–11)

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