God’s Patience in One Man’s Life

Part of having faith is knowing that God has a plan for each of us. But we also know that sometimes we can’t know how that plan will play out. Sometimes God plays the long game.

When Tim Bisagno was ten years old, a visitor said that if, later in life, he was struggling, he should get in touch. Growing up as a pastor’s kid in a megachurch, Tim understood that God had called him to full-time ministry. He dutifully attended seminary, but his heart wasn’t in it.

‘I was running from God for many many years,’ Tim told Mel on 180. ‘And I successfully, but temporarily, covered up His voice in my heart and in my mind. It was calling me back to Him, and I covered it up with drugs and alcohol.’

But God kept patiently reminding Tim of his destiny. ‘Like Chinese water torture, He’s just tapping you on the shoulder. It doesn’t hurt but, boy, is it annoying! So, I tried to get that to go away.’

Tim loved God, but he didn’t want to serve Him. He couldn’t think of anything worse than full-time ministry. Eventually though, he reached a turning point. ‘It was really just being sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ he said. ‘I knew the truth, but I wasn’t living it. And that was the worst place imaginable.’

Tim’s last stumbling block was doubting God would want to hear from him. ‘The enemy will tell you that you’ve already asked for forgiveness for this ten thousand times. And He’s sick of hearing this. He knows that you’re just going to do this again. You should just stop talking to Him. Those are lies.’

After a three-day bender, Tim lay on the floor, and told God he couldn’t do this anymore.

‘But I can,’ God replied.

Then He reminded Tim of the man who, 17 years earlier, had offered his support. ‘I called him,’ Tim said, ‘and that was the beginning of the end of that cycle. I got sober 32 years ago now.’

But I’ll tell you one thing they do know. They know that they feel like hell. And what they’re afraid of is that the way they feel couldn’t be any worse than hell. We want to meet them, right there, because that’s where they’re at

In that time, he’s learnt that the kind of ministry God had in mind was quite different from the pastoring he’d imagined. He used his artistic talent to build a successful rock band, then a TV show, MXTV, bringing the Gospel message to young people all over the world.

In late 2019, with no notion of the pandemic that was about to sweep the world, Tim asked God for advice on the future of evangelism. ‘What do we do about connecting with this generation, known as the most connected generation, yet they’re the most disconnected spiritually and emotionally? Where can we have a place for them to go?’

Ten years earlier, after their house had flooded, Tim’s wife had bought a web address, for nine dollars, where they could back up all their important documents. When God reminded him of ‘asafeplaceonline.com’, Tim knew that once again the path had been prepared for him.

The website connects young people, 24/7, to volunteer counselors, who bring Christ-like understanding and good news to their struggle. ‘Young people today, they barely even believe in hell,’ Tim said. ‘But I’ll tell you one thing they do know. They know that they feel like hell. And what they’re afraid of is that the way they feel couldn’t be any worse than hell. We want to meet them, right there, because that’s where they’re at.’

In January last year when the project launched, God asked Tim to pray for 333 salvations. When they had just one that month, he was worried. But the monthly numbers soon improved, reaching a high of 432 in September. Now God has asked him to pray for 999 salvations. ‘Why not 1000?’ Tim asked.

‘Because I care about that one more than you do,’ God answered.

‘So we’re absolutely trusting now for the 999. I believe we’re in a harvest, and so I’m praying for a bigger tractor. This is not just a harvest for A Safe Place Online now. This is a harvest for the Kingdom.’

Tim’s story proves that God can put plans in place that may only come to fruition years later. It’s an important reminder that if you follow His guidance, even when you’re fearful, He can bring you the kind of success you could never have achieved alone.

Difficult People: 2

‘Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.’ Ephesians 4:26–27

God designed our mental make-up so that, before we panic, we have an opportunity to ask Him for help. The primary place in our brains that processes strong negative emotions, like rage or fear, is the amygdala. And when it’s removed from certain animals, they become incapable of expressing rage and fear.

Now normally when input comes into your brain, it goes to the cortex for processing. But in about 5% of cases, when serious trouble happens, it goes straight to your amygdala. In other words, the thinking part of your brain gets short-circuited. Not good! But—in between your brain’s intake and your body’s response—there’s what researchers call the ‘life-giving quarter-second’. And that quarter-second—although it doesn’t sound very long—is actually huge. Paul writes, ‘In your anger do not sin… and do not give the devil a foothold.’ (Ephesians 4:26–27 NIV)

That split-second is the opportunity for you to give control to the Holy Spirit. That’s the moment when you can choose to be responsive to the Spirit of God, or you can be responsive to the forces driving you towards sin.

That one quarter-second in your mind can be an opportunity to say, ‘Holy Spirit, I’ve got this impulse right now; should I act on it?’ It’s amazing how the desire to hurt someone you love can be so strong, then lead to such pain when you give in to it. But another piece of good news is that when you blow it—and you will blow it—God sends another quarter-second right behind the first one. He’s committed to you, and He will keep working with you until you get it right!

SoulFood: Rom 1:1–3:20, Matt 13:1–9, Ps 67, Pr 4:1–2

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Romans 1–3:20 ()


1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

  “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

  “None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12   All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13   “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
  “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17   and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Matthew 13:1–9 ()


13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Psalm 67 ()


To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

67:1   May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
  that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
  Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!
  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you judge the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
  Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!
  The earth has yielded its increase;
    God, our God, shall bless us.
  God shall bless us;
    let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Proverbs 4:1–2 ()


4:1   Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
  for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.

Sat 06 February, 2021

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