He Knows Your Name: Surprised by God When You Least Expect It

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It is part of life in this world. Yet, for some reason, we still find it shocking. If we are going to suffer well, we need to explore again the biblical promises about suffering. We live in a world broken by sin. Death, and all that goes with it, should be expected because we belong to Adam.

This is a world where hurricanes strike, floods wash away, and famines leach away life. God has told us that we live in a creation groaning under the weight of sin, and longing for renewal. But in many ways that makes the New Testament teaching on suffering even more surprising.


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While the Bible leaves us with no delusions about the broken nature of things, the fallen nature of life in this world is not particularly prominent in the pages of the New Testament. With the coming of Jesus we find a new promise about suffering:. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. Matt — The great New Testament promise about suffering is not so much that all will suffer, but that it is guaranteed for those who follow a suffering Lord. This promise is made in so many ways and in so many places that it is impossible to avoid. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. John , And from Jesus on, suffering becomes foundational to apostolic teaching.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he has already told them about suffering:. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. These brief quotations only scratch the surface of the New Testament teaching on this issue. All Christians, without exception, must suffer. We should be as surprised about suffering as Christians as I should have been when my son leaped through the front door.

Hearing that Christians have suffered should strike us in the same way as learning that Bob went to the shops to buy milk this morning. What would we expect to happen when the God who has been rejected and reviled for thousands of years steps into history as a man? John describes it as the coming of light and life into darkness. The encouragement is that the darkness has not overcome the light.

But even those words reveal the friction. The light is not overcome by the darkness, but the darkness desperately wishes that it would be so. As we read the Gospels, we see exactly what it means that the light has stepped into the darkness of this world. Jesus speaks truth, and the religious authorities send spies to trap him in his words. Jesus eats with sinners, and the powers that be accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus heals, and the Pharisees wish to kill. It is one of the great ironies of the gospels that Jesus is hated because he does the right thing, but it is not surprising.

And Jesus teaches us to expect the very same. If they killed Jesus because of his righteousness, what should we expect people to do to us? It is still true at the beginning of the third millennium. I know of a man who was refused a promotion because he was too honest. He would not be involved in offering or receiving bribes when negotiating for business.

I know another man who eats alone in the lunch room more often than not because he is too good—the other blokes feel uncomfortable telling their crude jokes in front of him. Coming to Jesus means becoming like Jesus. If we are truly changed by the Spirit, our lives will be a stench to those around us. Peter knew that living as a Christian would mean being called evil.

But at this point, the keen-eyed observer may have noticed a small fly in the ointment. We are speaking about persecution rather than general suffering. People daily suffer through cancer, war, accidents and more. Nor did they loom large in the minds of the apostles. This raises at least two significant issues. First, does the New Testament really say so little about general suffering in a fallen world? We need to look at the evidence for this idea. Second, if this really is the case, then what does it mean for us as Christians and how we suffer well? A negative statement is always harder to prove than a positive statement.

It is easy to say that elephants are grey. How do you know? Have you seen every elephant that has ever lived? Could it be that there is a tribe of pink elephants living on some remote archipelago that are yet to be seen by human eyes? As soon as I say that the New Testament is not particularly interested in the general suffering of a fallen world, it is easy for our minds to jump to those passages where the New Testament clearly talks about such things. Towards the end of his ministry, Jesus tells his disciples that the last days will be full of earthquakes and famines and wars Mark When Paul details his own suffering, he talks about being cold and hungry and tired 2 Cor Romans 8 speaks of the groaning of this present creation.

And James can talk to believers about rejoicing when they face trials of various kinds. So why would I say that the New Testament is not particularly interested in the general suffering of creation? Let me try and make my case. Firstly, and perhaps more significantly than it might first seem, the New Testament contains nothing like Job or Ecclesiastes.

Job wrestles with what it means to suffer as an innocent man. The writer of Ecclesiastes contemplates the futility of life in the face of death. Both books are concerned with the kind of suffering that we might classify as general suffering in a fallen world—the suffering of illness and accidents and famine and failure. It could be argued that the Old Testament has done such a good job of dealing with these things that there is no need for a New Testament equivalent.

The big problem for the writer of Ecclesiastes is death. Death robs everything of its significance, or more specifically, of its gain or profit. And the answer to the question is that there is no gain. No matter what human beings do—seek wisdom, chase pleasure, pursue fame, or work for wealth—it ultimately results in no lasting gain.

Death means that whatever we achieve is lost to us forever. Any gain that is made is, at best, short term.

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According to Ecclesiastes, the problem that causes the lack of gain is twofold. If news vans come by, the receptionist or security guy, whoever sees it first, she notified all the top people, letting them know the building is on lockdown. Popoff's employees are on guard for more than just the media. Sometimes, Sanchez said, those taken in by Popoff's message would breach security. She had come to talk to Peter. But she soon began to worry that she wasn't really working for a church. But I had never heard about him before. When times were good, they would ramp up.

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The workload depended on what Popoff was saying on his paid television spots. And tubs and tubs of gold and stones came in. They would take the stones out, take the gold to be resold. Sanchez, who quit in early , was one of two ex-employees who spoke with me. So one day I took the Garden State Parkway to have a look at Unit Pack, a family-run firm that specializes in packaging those little samples of shampoo, pharmaceuticals, and the like. I met the very friendly father and two sons who owned the place, and they confirmed for me that they do business with Popoff, but they didn't say much more.

And then, on my way out, I got even closer to the truth. I was walking out toward my car when I saw a guy pulling down the metal door at a loading dock on the side of the building. He looked ish and was wearing a Cowboys baseball cap and a greasy Unit Pack jumper. Two rings through his lower lip framed his broad smile. We started talking. He said he was the only guy in receiving—if it came to Unit Pack, it came to him. I asked about Popoff. I held up my broken finger. He touched it and le t loose a loud stream of glossolalia, speaking in tongues, as Pentecostals do.

Once or twice a month he comes. For Peter Popoff, we do 35 gallon-size jugs at a time, once or twice a month. One time they came with gallon-size jugs. And then he said something mysterious, maybe even beautiful. I still can't decide. Popoff, he said, sends his own pre-blessed water, in a ounce bottle, to add to all the jugs of Poland Spring.

So that every little package of water contains a few molecules of holiness. Was it possible, I wondered, that Popoff believes in his own powers, just a little? Did he fear God just enough to gesture toward authenticity, so that if he was ever questioned at the pearly gates about the millions of dollars of other people's gold and silver and Social Security money, he could say that in every New Jersey-packed packet of holy water there was a minuscule amount of blessing?

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I didn't know it then, but I would soon get to ask Popoff in person. Late last November, my nationwide dragnet for tickets to see Popoff snagged something. One of the friends I'd cajoled into donating got a text message inviting her to an event in Washington, D. That's how I found myself, two days later, hustling into the Marriott Wardman Park for a 7 p. As it happens, I'd broken my left pinkie a month earlier, so my hand was in a splint. I looked like the real deal: a man in need of supernatural healing.

The conference room was packed with a thousand people, maybe two thousand. In this crowd, I was very white, very young, and very male. Some of the ladies had walkers or wheelchairs, some were healthy enough to dance in the aisles to the gospel music playing over loudspeakers. Hired men in suits passed out slips, telling us to jot down the ailments for which we needed intercession. When Peter Popoff finally emerged, he gave a short sermon, but his heart wasn't in it. No matter: He knew that we weren't there for his preaching. He descended into the crowd, trailing an entourage of security men, his son, and a camera crew.

Arthritis, they said. Or kidney problems, a bum ticker, thyroid. Every kind of sickness.

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He spent two or three minutes with each hopeful worshipper, leaning in to whisper, and then—what they'd come for, what they needed— touching them. Popoff is of the same generation as Bruce Springsteen, and he clearly shares the Boss's compulsion to never let an audience down. He worked the aisles for two hours that night, back and forth, until finally he was in my section.

Before I knew it, he was upon me. The lights of his camera crew were blinding, but here he was, choosing me. He touched it, and then he let loose a loud stream of glossolalia, speaking in tongues, as Pentecostals do. It felt good, as hugs do. The night that I was healed and hugged by Peter Popoff, I saw no sign that he was using an earpiece. If he had any plants in the audience, he didn't make good use of them. As he approached each of us, he asked what ailed us—he didn't pretend to know. And we in the audience were eager to believe in his powers.

The earpiece, I realized, was always an unnecessary gimmick. Popoff is better than he knows. I sensed the same ambivalence when I met Larry Skelton. He was introduced to Popoff when Popoff was only 15; Skelton was the organist in Popoff's father's road show, then in Popoff's, off and on, from to Skelton didn't return my calls, so one Sunday, I staked out his house in Mesquite, a hard-luck Dallas exurb.

At about half past noon, he and his wife pulled into the driveway, back from church, I figured. Skelton invited me in, with an air of resignation. His wife eyed me warily. Skelton wanted to make it clear, before we talked about his friend Popoff, that faith healing was real. All of a sudden, that leg began to grow out to the same size as the other.

I asked if Popoff was the real deal. He thought for a moment, then replied that, yes, Popoff was the real deal. But I'd noticed his hesitation, and he could tell that I'd noticed, so he explained. On the days when the Holy Spirit didn't show up freely, you had to help it along; after all, you still needed to pass the hat.

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Email Format html text mobile. Father, I thank You for your guiding hands that leads me through life. Never leave my side, Lord. I want to move forward with my life. Let nothing stop me from pressing forward to the divine destiny You have in store for me. Father, I now pray for all my hopes and my dreams. You know the deepest desires of my heart. Father, You are my provider. You have blessed me with so much I thank You Father for you never left me empty. For You have always provided just when I thought I was lacking.

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Father, bless me with what I really need in life. I place my great trust in You that You only want what is best for me. You have promised that a great plan is ahead of me. I hold on to that promise, Lord. I believe and trust in Your gracious providence. Father, I surrender my life to You. I live for You alone. I will live all my days praising and loving You no matter what happens. Indeed, the mind of God is far different from the mind of man. There are things in life which are beyond our comprehension.

But, God works beyond logic and human understanding. We just have to trust the God is in control, and everything. Trust that He is in charge. He knows best! No matter how many times I fail, God will never run out of love,. He is a Dad who will patiently. He will always be there to. Even though people have given up on me,.

God will still give me another chance to stand up. He will not get. My God cares about me. There is no moment in my life. He knows what I have been through. He understand what I am going through. He has not left my side. He has been faithful to His promises. I entrust my life to God. He knows me better than I know myself. I have a God who loves me so much! He understands, accepts and loves everything about me.

My God is a loving and forgiving Father to me. I won't exchange this relationship with Him. Lord, I know that You desire what is best for me. I'm entrusting everything to You. Even though I don't understand. All things work together my good. I will not complain. I will not blame you. I will allow Your hands to move in my life. I will bask in Your loving arms and let You mold me into.

Even though I'm surrounded by sufferings and pains,. Even though I experience many problems and difficulties in life,. I still believe Lord God that You are bigger and more powerful than them. I won't be defeated and be crushed by them as long as I have You in my life! Your are bigger than anything in this world! Lord, thank You for You never fail to help and guide me. You never stop loving me even at my darkest hour.

You're my light and guide. I can't live without You. Lord, I still believe that You're still in control. I will be still and know that You're in charge. Thanks Lord for being my refuge and strength. In You I find peace, joy and comfort. I cast unto You all my fears, worries and cares. It's an honor Lord to be Your child. I won't allow anyone to steal my joy. Your love is more than enough for me to live and survive in this world! All things will work together for our good! Let's trust that God knows best. God will never stop loving us no matter what happens. There is nothing we can do that will make Him love us less.

He is bigger than any problem, trial or difficulty we face in life. Win your morning in order for you to win your day! Lord, I'm ready for an overflow of blessings in all areas of my life! Indeed, nothing is impossible with God! He alone is our sure help and reliable friend! I serve a big God! I will not give up. Thanks Lord for You never stop thinking of me. Thanks Lord for Your heart never stop beating for me. I will forever be grateful for Your love. Email This BlogThis!

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