None of us will go through this life without enduring trials. In his latest book, ‘Always True: God’s 5 Promises When Life is Hard,’ James MacDonald shares with his readers what he has learned.
Here is the synopsis of this book:
God Keeps His Word. Every Time. Sometimes in life we are going along, doing all right, managing the ups and downs of our routines, when out of nowhere a boulder drops from the sky and crash lands on our lives. It might be a serious illness, a job loss, or something that just wasn’t in the plan…But the weight is often sudden and crashing. We’re desperate for help to come or we might not make it.
That’s the place in my life where the message of this book was born.
First, I sat down and gleaned the lessons from Scripture about life’s trials that eventually became the book When Life is Hard. But when life was hardest, I needed more than just lessons – I needed life support. I needed God’s promises.
This book contains five promises God makes over and over, to every person of faith, in every generation. When you make these truths your own, they’ll become intensely personal, incredibly practical, and profoundly reliable.
Here is the biography of this author:
James MacDonald is the founding and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Chicago with a weekend attendance of 13,000 and more than sixty church plants across North America and around the world. Pastor James’s teaching can be heard on Walk in the Word, a daily thirty-minute radio program heard on 1,100 outlets across North America. Pastor James is a frequent speaker around the world and serves on the Board of the Gospel Coalition.
Here is Pastor MacDonald talking about trials:
In the Foreword, Pastor MacDonald’s wife of thirty years, Kathy, shares what this book means to her family, and how he endured trials in his life:
Yes, we talked and prayed together, but it was his cancer, his church crisis, and his burden as a leader of our home. For months I watched him battle and search for something solid upon which he could place his weight and rise from the swamp of pain and perplexity into which I had helplessly seen him sink. I prayed fervently that our heavenly Father would fill his soul with something fresh. This book is the record of what he found. The content has fed our church and I pray that it fuels your heart, too, in whatever you are facing. But before it was any of that for other, it was the rock upon which James stood.
If you are searching just now for some stability in the midst of a raging storm, you are not going to read theory or ivory tower pie-in-the-sky nonsense here. You are about to trace the path of a weary, heavy-hearted follower and find what he found to sustain him on his journey.
James is so different today because of what he has written in Always True. Trace his steps and you will discover afresh as he did the awesome things our great God has given to us in His promises. They truly are exceedingly great and precious. Take the time, do the work, read the whole book, because if you do – if you do, your life will be changed forever as ours has been. (pp. 9-10)
For those who are skeptical about the ‘always’ past, Pastor MacDonald offers this:
Always true? Really? Yes, thanks for bringing that up. Does the idea of absolute truth cause you to raise an eyebrow? Only in God’s Word can you find a statement that is invariably true. No one else but God, and nothing other than His Word, delivers a nonnegotiable, unconditional “always.” If you are unconvinced or unsure that the Bible is God’s Word – just give it a chance. Scripture can and will resonate in your soul and rock you to the core of your being like nothing else can. Don’t wait to be convinced that the Bible is God’s Word, just crack it open – give it a chance to grip your heart with hope…and it will. No matter what you are facing today, you can be sure that these promises are true for you, right now. Take hold of them, cherish them, believe them, and wait for God to make them reality. I have taken and proven the promises of God, and you can, too.
They are always true! (pp. 14-15)
Pastor MacDonald shares with us the hardest part of believing the promises:
The hardest moment of hanging on, of course, is the gap between believing His promises and receiving the fulfillment of that promise. The Christian life would be easy if the time was short between when you first appeal to God’s promises and when you receive what He promised. If you could invoke God’s pledge one day and cash it in the next, Wow – wouldn’t that be great?! Forget about fast-food promises – that’s not the way God works. (p. 20)
Pastor MacDonald goes on to share with us five promises of God:
1. God is Always with Me (I Will Never Fear)
2. God is Always in Control (I Will Not Doubt)
3. God is Always Good (I Will Not Despair)
4. God is Always Watching (I Will Not Falter)
5. God is Always Victorious (I Will Not Fail)
I will focus on the second promise, as that seems to be the one that gives me the one that I have the most trouble believing! “How can God be in control when He has given all of us free will?” is the question that comes to my mind with great regularity. Here Pastor MacDonald writes about God’s sovereignty over humanity:
God is so in control that He rules the universe with His feet up. He’s not stressed or strained in any way. He’s not pacing back and forth. He doesn’t wipe sweat from His brow. There is no world problem that stretches Him. God is infinite. He could have made the universe a billion times more complex that it already is. He’s God and He’s sovereign.
The truth lies behind every one of God’s promises. He can be present with us because He’s sovereign. He is able to listen to all of our prayers at the same time because He is sovereign. How many thousands of people were out of bed and on their knees last night, calling out to God – and He heard every one of us simultaneously? Why? Because He’s God and He’s sovereign. (p. 68)
I love this way of look at our lives:
…Look back at your life from where you stand today. Do you see God’s sovereign hand directing the circumstances and relationships and events of years past? There has been nothing that others have done that could thwart God’s plan for your life. No circumstance, near or far, can change what God purposes to do. In fact, the events that have frustrated, hurt, and derailed your plans may be some of the biggest parts of God’s plan for you – even more obvious than His blessings. Consider reevaluating your painful memories in the light of God’s sovereignty. What has He been bringing out in you all along the way? (p. 71)
Each promise chapter includes truths to introduce us to the promise; they are so encouraging! Here is what Pastor MacDonald shares for Promise #3: God is Always Good:
The more you go through in life, the deeper your love for the Lord will grow. You test His promises and find Him good and faithful. He knows what He is doing. He is worthy of every moment of trust. (p. 82)
Here is more regarding God’s goodness:
Have life’s difficulties caught you off guard? Do you wonder today if God is good? If He wasn’t going to use that hard thing for your good, it wouldn’t have happened. He had to sign off on every single thing that touches your life (He’s sovereign, remember?). If He let it happen, He’s going to use it for good. That’s not to say He wanted it; He’s not the cause of evil, but He is the solution. He’s the master chess player who takes every move me make or someone else makes and strategizes the next move to ensure His purposes are accomplished.
I have come to realize over time that the ultimate good of Romans 8:28 is not “my blueprint for life;” the ultimate good is God’s blueprint for the universe and my place in it. I’m committed to God’s purposes. I want His will to be fulfilled and His kingdom to advance. I want to be a part of that grand plan. Being on board with God’s objectives means I understand this is not about me. (p. 94)
Pastor MacDonald makes the observation that God’s promises are experienced in Jesus Christ:
If you are peaceful, resting, and trusting in His Word, that’s a good sign that you’re getting it! If you’re striving, worrying, and feeling spent, that’s a clear sign that you’re calling the shots and carrying the weight and figuring it out on your own. It’s one way or the other – which is it going to be? (p. 133)
It is such a relief to give our burdens to Him, and exchange our life for His!
Pastor MacDonald ends with ‘A Final Note of Encouragement:’
You can live that overflowing life. Make it your daily practice to track the carry-over of God’s faithfulness from yesterday and the accumulation of His blessings today, and then let the results spill over into other lives. It’s never a question of competition over whose cup is most full – encourage others to enjoy the overflow of God’s promises by helping them spot what God has been doing in them and for them. You can have a powerful ministry of one-on-one conversations in which you begin, “I could hardly wait to tell you the ways I’ve noticed God’s promises working in your life!” They will be all ears! (p. 146)
What a great outreach idea!
I really gleaned a lot from this book. Pastor MacDonald has been through a lot of his own trials (which he details in his book, ‘When Life is Hard’). He provides a lot of Godly wisdom. He incorporates both examples and Scripture to back up his points. I intend to refer back to this book time and time again, and I thank Dr. MacDonald for sharing his experiences and his knowledge in order to help out other people.
You can order this book here.
This book was published by Moody Publishers and provided by C. Grant & Company for review and giveaway purposes.
I have one copy of this book to give away; many thanks to Julie at C. Grant & Company for generously providing the copy!
There are several ways to gain entry:
1) Leave a comment here on the blog, sharing with us which of these five promises is most important to you in your life right now. Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.
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Win a copy of ‘Always True’ by @jamesmacdonald and @MoodyBooks from @andrealschultz. http://bit.ly/
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This giveaway is for U.S. residents only. The deadline for entry is Monday, March 21, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 and will be contacted via email. The best to all of you!