Tag Archives: Control

God Knows Where You’re Going Even If You Don’t!

30 Aug

(This is a re-print from May of last year).

Ruth didn’t know the God of Abraham or that she needed Him. God was working on other situations in the background that would eventually involve Ruth. She was completely unaware that God even existed and certainly didn’t know of God’s plans for her future. She was born into a pagan family, raised to worship idols. Ruth was doomed to a life headed for eternal destruction – unknown to her. A man named Elimelech came into Ruth’s life, by God’s providential will.

Elimelech lived in the promised land of God. A drought caused him to mortgage his land, leave his kinsmen, his friends and his country and move with his wife, Naomi and their two sons from Bethlehem to Moab. He was trying to provide for and protect them, but shortly after Elimelech moved his family to Moab he died, leaving Naomi and her sons alone in a strange land.

Naomi should have taken her sons and gone back to their homeland at that time. Instead she stayed in Moab and eventually her sons disobeyed God’s commands and married pagan women named Ruth and Orpah, who served idols. After only a few years of marriage, both young men died, leaving their mother, Naomi, and their heathen wives, Ruth and Orpah alone.

Naomi had lost everything except her two daughters-in-law. Since she had nothing left and did not know what difficulties she might face when she returned to her homeland of Judah, she prepared to leave Moab. Naomi called Ruth and Orpah to her side and encouraged them to return to their families. She was trying to protect the young women, but neither of them wanted to leave her. It was evident that Naomi was very loving and kind and that Ruth and Orpah must have experienced and learned of the love of God through her and through their husbands.

It’s hard to imagine a daughter-in-law loving her mother-in-law so much that she would be willing to leave all she knew, including her own mother and other family members. Ruth was so drawn by God’s love through Naomi that she hungered for more. She knew that she would not find that same love from her people.

This is a beautiful portrayal about how the love of God draws men to Himself. The love of Jesus shines through God’s children and draws others to Him. Their hearts begin to yearn for Him. They want to give up everything else to follow Him.

Ruth had experienced a taste of God’s love through Naomi and did not want to go back to her old life. On the other hand, Orpah had the same opportunity. She loved Naomi. She struggled with letting go, but Orpah wasn’t willing to give up her old life or leave her idols and the sinful ways of her people. She could not let go. Her flesh had a strong hold on her.

We can identify with Orpah. She was not unlike us. She loved her family – Moab was all she knew. It was comfortable to Orpah. It was familiar. Although she was torn in her decision, she was unable to let go of her past. She couldn’t step into the unknown. Orpah made a wrong choice. It was a choice that more than likely condemned her. But the choice was hers. We can identify with why she did it. We face hard decisions every day. Will we go with God or go back to what is comfortable?

Letting go of all we are familiar with – stepping into the unknown – that is what faith is.

• Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. NIV

This story is continued – Check back in a few days to see what God had in store for Ruth. Remember, she doesn’t yet know God – she doesn’t know she is actually right in the middle of His will for her life.

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The Rewards of Obedience vs. The Cost of Disobedience

18 May

Obedience Or Rebellion?

1 Sam 15:22-23   22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. 23 Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.” NLT

As God’s children we want to please Him. Our inner struggle is constant though it might not be prominent. There is a undurcurrent within us that we have become accustomed to. I don’t believe it is because we are bad or purposely rebellious. With me it’s more about sometimes not knowing for sure what the right thing is. Of course, many times it is very obvious what is right and what is wrong, but I want to speak to what is buried deep within our hearts at the root of our reasoning.

I have always been a confident person in most areas of my life. Even as a child I was compliant – always wanting to do the right things. To rebel was not in my nature, at least not to the point of being defiant. When I faced decisions that I believed were wrong, I somehow just couldn’t force myself to comply. In the few times I did, I was in constant turmoil until the situation was terminated.

As I am reaching the winter of my life I can see that even though I was unaware of it, God had a plan for me. (He also has one for you!) Here is proof in a few of my favorite Scriptures from Psalms 139, written by King David:

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. . .

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.  NIV

Notice starting with verse 13 that God created our inmost being – His eyes saw our unformed body and all our days were ordained for us before one of them came to be! Selah – Pause and calmly think of that.

None of us are here by accident. God made us – He created us with a purpose and He knew today, right now, what you and I would be doing at this very moment. – No words can express the emotion for knowing that.

The Rewards of Obedience

It takes us a while to realize there is more to life that “me.” Seriously? It is human nature from the moment we are born into this world. We spend a lifetime struggling with ourselves vs. the good and the bad.

Recently I had an assignment from God. You might ask “How can you be sure it was from God?” I know because He instructed me clearly to do something I have said at least a million times that I would not do! The interesting thing is that He won’t force me to do it. It won’t even hurt me NOT to do it. In fact, it would be easier for me NOT to do it. After all, I could just chalk it up to “not being sure it was God.” Or, I could just stop thinking about it and move on.

Well, I don’t know about you, but God won’t allow me to do that. It’s that deep, small voice that continually woos me. I can make it go away – at least for a little while. Then, I sense it wooing me again. I then begin to get deliberate in praying about it to make sure I haven’t imagined the entire thing.

God is so good about giving us little sign posts along our journey. If we aren’t sensitive to the Spirit we might not recognize them. We might think “It’s only a coincidence.” God gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us and to counsel us and to lead us into truth. We have the choice as to whether we listen and follow His instruction or to just ignore it until it goes away.

God’s Instruction to Me

That brings me to my main point – My obedience to that still, small voice could be a life changing event for a child of God who is seeking desperately to find a solution to a great problem. My attitude, though I didn’t realize it was wrong, kept me from even considering offering my help. The reason? – I didn’t want to get involved. It was all about me and the price I wasn’t willing to pay to obey God. It wouldn’t really have hurt me, except that I would disappoint God by my disobedience.

No, that’s really not all my disobedience would do. God made it clear to me that to be disobedient could rob someone of a complete change in their life – a life free from hell on earth. I know it sounds drastic. In fact, it is.

Could someone else do it? I don’t know. That’s not the issue. The issue is will I choose to obey or not? Maybe I am the only person that could help. The consequences of my disobedience could be amazingly wonderful or disastrously terrible.

Think about that for a moment. I did. It kept me awake all night asking God if He was really asking me to do something I was adamantly opposed to doing. I’ve missed God before. Not always on purpose but because I am always still evolving (really). I’ve also missed Him out of ignorance of the Scripture or misunderstanding. Sometimes I’m just rebellious. Ugh! It’s hard to even say.

I learned from Charles Stanley that when God is speaking to you and you are struggling with what you think He is saying to you that peace will eventually develop and you will know God is leading you. If that peace does not develop, I call that a “red flag.” There isn’t a deadline that God can’t push back or overcome. Don’t look at the deadlines – look to the God who created you and made you for this day.

Send Me – Yes, No or Maybe?

God was searching for someone to send to His people and Isaiah said:

Isa 6:8  8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me !”
NIV

Have you ever said that? I have, however: I recently discovered that many times my “send me” reply is conditional on  my terms. Goodness! God really has a way to slap us on the wrist, doesn’t He?

I’m hoping you can see that our minds and hearts are so full of the busyness of the world that God’s voice doesn’t always make through to our hearts. It isn’t His fault. It has to do with the condition of our hearts and our natural instinct to rebel. Sorry to have to say it.

The Final Outcome

After struggling with myself and trying to determine whether I had simply lost my resolve or if God was actually trying to get through to me, peace began to develop. Let me add, the peace was in my spirit, not in my head. My mind was spinning with many doubts and questions and concerns about something I had been claiming as impossible for me to do for many years.

But, when I opened my heart and let God – He began to use His sweet Holy Spirit to speak to me in His ways by speaking to me of How Jesus would handle the situation and my purpose for being one of His disciples.

The Future? – What does it hold for this situation? – I don’t know. It’s a little scary. But I know the Creator of the Universe. He made me – formed me from a tiny seed planted within my Mother. He had a plan 69 years ago for what I would do this very day. He’s the One I look to, not the situation I dread. Do I have a plan? No. Do I know what the outcome will be or what will happen along the way? No. Am I nuts? – I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.

God has proved Himself to me over and over and over. As I heard from Sunday’s message by Pastor Scott Jones at Grace Church, not all of the amazing miracles and things Jesus did while He was on earth were recorded. I can identify with that because my Father God – My Friend, Jesus – and the Sweet Holy Spirit – are constantly present in my life doing things for me that are too many to count.

He is trustworthy – are you?

 

 

Back to Goliath

28 Mar God Is With Us

Continued from last week . . .

1 Sam 17:4-7   4 A champion named Goliath , who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went ahead of him.  NIV

In the beginning David didn’t have much of a part to play in the battle that was taking place. He was just there to deliver food to his older brothers. I think it so odd that the war was so close that David could walk the distance to deliver food for his brothers. And, to think – they could actually hear the giant, Goliath, yelling obscenities at them.

David was struggling with the fact that not one soldier was doing anything about this enemy of theirs. He questioned them about it, wondering why someone didn’t shut him up. The truth is that they were all afraid. They had heard of the giant’s reputation. No one had ever survived his attacks. They knew that to fight him meant sure death.

David’s reaction (remember, he was just a boy – not a soldier) was one of great wonder and frustration. He reprimanded the soldiers for allowing this man to dishonor them and God with his taunting. David’s brothers made fun of him and told him he didn’t have a clue about anything because he was just a shepherd boy. They demanded he go back home and leave the Goliath to them.

David didn’t go home. He went out into the desert to pray. As he prayed his faith grew stronger. He went back to where the soldiers were and offered to fight the giant. Of course, they laughed and jeered at him, and  made fun of him. His brothers were embarrassed and even questioned why God had anointed him to be the future King instead of one of them.

David went to Saul, the reigning King, and asked for his permission to confront Goliath. King Saul also denied his request telling him he could now allow such a young boy to be subjected to sure death. David didn’t quit there. He continued to present his case to the King until he was finally given permission to fight Goliath. The other soldiers gathered burial clothes for David and attempted to deliver them to David’s brothers. The brothers were angered and refused the burial garments. Saul tried to persuade David to put on his armor and carry his spear, but David refused. They were too big for him, and too heavy.

Amazing!

God had seen in David a man after His own heart. He knew that David had faith in Him and that he would follow Him in obedience, not looking at circumstances, and not doubting God’s provision and protection. Can we say that about ourselves? At what point would we have given in and given up? Apply this to your situation today. What Goliath are you confronted with – a difficult circumstance – the loss of a job – not enough money – a failed relationship – illness? There are many Goliath’s in our lives. Some we feel confident to face. Others, not so much.

The most amazing part of this story to me is how much negative reaction was happening around David. No one even gave his request to fight Goliath a tiny bit of thought. The had already accepted defeat. They even believed this giant was so big that even God couldn’t stop him!

After warning David again and again, they realized they couldn’t stop him so they just gave in, expecting Goliath to kill him. In the movie, David’s brothers asked him what he was going to do since he wasn’t going to take the King’s weapon? David replied, “I don’t know.” Have you ever been there – said that? I have.

David made his way down the mountainside right into the enemies’ camp. All the while the enemy soldiers were taunting him, laughing at him, and making fun of him. David kept his eyes on Goliath who was also jeering at him and laughing at him. This is what he said to the enemy soldiers:

1 Sam 17:45-47 “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” NIV

David just kept staring at him as he reached down and gathered five stones. As Goliath threw his head back in laughter at David, David released the pebble from his sling which hit Goliath in the forehead and killed him immediately. The soldiers stopped jeering and gasped at what had happened. King Saul’s soldiers, watching from the mountain began to cheer for David’s defeat of the giant.

Back to Our Personal Goliath

This Bible story is more than an “old movie.” This event took place. What some call “Bible Stories” were written down by God’s chosen men, inspired by His Spirit. They were recorded so that we could learn about God and His ways, and so that we could get a better picture of how vital our relationship is to Him AND our obedience.

I have personally faced a few giants in my walk with God. David’s encounter was and is uplifting. He made it a point to trust in God and not in himself. He knew that he, alone, could not win the battle. He wasn’t even sure just how to proceed. What he did know was that God is bigger than any giant we face, but we can’t just wander around in fear, murmuring to ourselves about what we’re going to do. It also doesn’t help to begin accepting and preparing for defeat!

Walking with God is our assurance that we can face any giant – any – with God at our side. We will always be victorious, even if things don’t turn out exactly like we want them to. With God, HE takes the weight of the load off our shoulders, as we put our trust and confidence in Him and as we seek Him for answers – and the most important part  – that we obey as He directs us.

 

 

 

TRANSITION (Part 2) – Is God Happy With You?

14 Sep

We’ve been talking about change – It appears to me that many of us are heading for change in our lives. One way we can tell is that our Spirit within begins to get a little uncomfortable. We’re not sure why and we begin to question ourselves about certain issues in our lives. I have always likened it to climbing a ladder – the feeling you have when you are in between steps – you’re not fully on the bottom step nor are you fully on the next step – you’re pushing with one side and pulling with the other. It’s like you are still where you are, but shifting to another level – you’re not firmly on either step.

Many of us don’t like change – some fight against it with everything they have, and dig their heels in refusing to budge. Others look forward to it with anticipation and eagerness because they have learned to trust God, and have let Him lead them. They are confident because He has never failed them, and He knows what’s best.Blog Pix

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this subject, Pastor Brett Jones, a senior pastor at Grace Church, Humble, Texas, spoke with us about growing to our full capacity – maximizing our opportunities. God gave each of us talents and abilities that He gave to no one else. That is so exciting to me! It doesn’t mean any of us are any better than the other. It just means our God is a personal God and He isn’t making “cookie cutter” disciples out of us. He cares enough about each and every one of us to give us something special from Himself so that we will be equipped to do the work He planned for us while we were yet in our mothers’ wombs.

When we tell God we can’t do something, He will send someone else. I don’t know about you, but I would not like it at all if God had to send someone else to do what He originally intended for me to do.

IS GOD HAPPY WITH YOU?

Listening to the message Pastor Jones was giving us I had one of those “Seriously?” moments – an eye opener, if you will. Pastor said, “Just because God provides for us doesn’t mean He’s happy with what we are doing”. That was a “Selah” (Pause, and calmly think of that) moment for me. God has provided for me in so many ways – ways that seem like miracles to me many times. The thought that while doing so He may not be happy with what I was doing astonished me! Then, Pastor said, “Provision does not mean favor”. – Another startling revelation to me. He explained that God blesses us and continues to give us favor because of His amazing love for us – not because of what we do or not do.

I always feel blessed by God. He is good to me all the time – (in case anyone is wondering, I DO make mistakes, and have problems just like everyone does). I just thought that since I do see God’s favor all the time and I am so blessed by Him, He must surely be pleased with me. I want Him to be pleased with me. Now – what if He isn’t?

10604440_270154343182016_9023185512106127701_oThis is kind of what I mean about that awkwardness we feel when it’s transition time! We find ourselves in a place of feeling safe – comfortable – things are fine just like they are (in our way of thinking). Then, we learn we can never get too comfortable. God won’t allow us to just sit comfortably by while life moves  on by. If we’ve finished here on this earth we might as well go on to heaven, don’t you think?

Sometimes I remind the Lord that I am 68 years old, in case He has forgotten (but he hasn’t – remember, according to Psalms 139 God formed me in my mother’s womb and he planned every day of my life before I was born. So, that’s how I know He knows how old I am, and what I am still capable of doing. Sometimes I just have to speak to my old body to keep up.

So, the next jolt for me in the sermon was that we should not just be saved – we should do what God put us here to do! I really never thought of that. I do try to stay in tune with what God requires from me. But what He has in mind and what I have in mind sometimes differ. We have different ideas about who I am and what I can do.

Pastor Jones again, “The goal of God is not just for us to go to heaven – it is to fulfill our assignment.” Did you know we all have assignments? Do you know what yours is?

Think about this – pray about it – meditate on God’s Word, and ask Him to give you the answers.

We’re going to go a little deeper in my next post.

TRANSITION

11 Sep

The DicBlog Pixtionary describes transition as a period of changing from one state to another. Other meanings include:

  • change
  • passage
  • move
  • transformation
  • conversion
  • metamorphosis
  • alteration
  • switch
  • progress
  • development

This was Sunday’s message presented by Pastor Brett Jones,  one of our senior pastors at Grace Church  http://gracechurchlive.com/locations/humble-campus/.  I have been considering some major changes in my life for many months now. Actually, the seed was planted a few years ago, but I had so many doubts and pre-conceived ideas about making any changes. I was fearful that I was too old and just not qualified to do what I dreamed of doing. I lacked the faith to follow through. So, even though I never really gave up on the idea I did do exactly what the following message is going to speak to. God knows just what we need and when we need it!

It’s not always easy to make changes, and some of us don’t like change at all, so we decide to stay right where we are continuing to do just what we do. Pastor Jones referred to a Scripture in Exodus where God’s people were calling out for help – they were suffering – they were being mistreated. God told Moses that He had heard their cries and seen their suffering, and that He had a plan to rescue them. :

  • The people were suffering and cried out to God
  • God heard them and He was concerned for them
  • God had a plan to rescue them
  • God already had an answer waiting, and a place to take them

Pastor Jones explained to us that God had already set the destination – He had already made preparations for them. What had to happen next was that the people had to recognize God was directing them. He sent someone to help them and they struggled with recognizing  the man God sent because he was just an ordinary like you and me. So, they began to question, criticize and complain. (Sound familiar?)

Many times we have mind-sets and pre-conceived ideas about the way our situations should work out. We can get so focused on that one idea that we literally don’t see the forest for the trees. We are unwilling to look at any other options.  So, we prefer to stay in our comfortable little world because at least we are familiar with it, and we let fear convince us that anything different would be too uncomfortable and too much trouble.

The truth is that remaining in the same rut (Charles Stanley calls a rut an open-ended grave), is much harder t10623321_270154349848682_7235250059908727006_ohan stepping out in faith toward what God has already prepared for us. Most of our limitations in life are given to us by us, according to Pastor Jones. We just aren’t willing to adjust our capacity to take a step forward. We focus on our shortcomings, our failures and our limitations instead of what God can do, but God has plans for us that we can’t even imagine!

God doesn’t get in a hurry and we shouldn’t either. I am impatient much of the time, as I imagine many are in today’s world. However; I’ve learned (the hard way) that God doesn’t expect me to be stressed, always hurrying, frustrated because I’m not meeting my own goals, and sometimes just plain weary.

Pastor Jones told us that when God gives us an opportunity He expects us to follow through. God wants us to grow to our maximum capacity, and maximize our opportunities.  One of the most powerful statements he made was that if we don’t have the capacity to do something, we will pull it down to our level.

Pastor Jones explained it this way; he likened it to the Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years when they could have made their trip in less than a couple of weeks. Look at what they did:

  • They continually complained about their situation
  • They blamed their leader because he didn’t do more for them
  • They doubted God and Moses and continued to mumble about their situation
  • They saw miracle after miracle but it wasn’t good enough for them, they still doubted God
  • They continually wanted to go back to slavery because it was what they knew
  • They didn’t have the capacity to move forward and enlarge their vision

As a result, all of the Israelites under the age of 20 were not allowed to receive the things God had planned to give them. Even Moses, himself, didn’t get to enter the Promised Land because he became frustrated and angry, and struck a rock demanding water from it instead of waiting on God.

We are all subject to the consequences of disobedience and rebellion. We sometimes believe that the way things are just isn’t  our fault. We limit ourselves so much to our small world that we fail to look up and see that God can, and will, save us if we ask Him and then let Him.

We need to ask God today for help in maximizing every opportunity He gives us, and to help us look beyond our own finite world. (Finite means something has an end or finishing point.) Let’s don’t look around us and determine our lives are dull, stale, a waste – or finished! Let’s look to God, the author and finisher of our faith, and follow as He leads us to our destination – with the full assurance and expectation of achieving all He has for us.

Pre-Conceived Ideas

6 Aug

Father, You alone never fail me. You alone never change. You alone love me no matter how I act or behave, or fail. I never have to fear your rejection or separation from you. I never have to wonder if you have forgiven me when I mess up. Your love is the only perfect love.

  • John 5:1  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. NIV

This morning, as I went to prayer I was thinking about some of life’s disappointments and failures. As I meditated on it God began to lead me into the words of adoration above. There is complete rest in the knowledge that God is always on our side. He fights for us and no one can stand against us. The outcome may not always be what we think we want and it may not make us feel good. God is not in the business of making us feel good. He wants us to be complete in Him and He is continually working within us to cleanse and purify us.

Sometimes we don’t even know what is deep within our hearts until it begins to come out. Don’t stop that process. God wants us to let it out. He wants us to be aware of what is within us, otherwise we’ll stay the same. God doesn’t want us to  stay the same.

Charles Stanley says that a rut is an open-ended grave. God doesn’t want us in a rut. There are times when everything around us seems to be falling apart. I call those times “transition times”. I explain it as climbing a ladder and the feel of leaving the lower step to go to the next step. It’s that “in between” step when you know something is changing and you’re not sure just what it is. You’re also not sure you want to go there. God doesn’t want us to stay where we are. It has taken me a lifetime to figure that one out.

Every time I get comfortable God puts the ladder in front of me and says, “Climb”. I sometimes sit and stare at the ladder, knowing it’s going to lead me to another rung and I like the rung I’m on. However; the ladder doesn’t go away it stays IN the way until I start to climb again.

I can assure you that God’s plan for each one of us is so much better than we can imagine or think. If we could just trust Him, blindly, and keep climbing – what a wonder we would see in our lives. It’s never bad. It’s always better. Things might get a little out of whack around us, but Psalms 91: says:

  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”
    3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge;his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night,nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side,ten thousand at your right hand,but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
    9 If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge — 10 then no harm will befall you,no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands,so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
    14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble,I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” NIV

Look at verse 7 – it says that a thousand may fall at your side . . .  that means to me that things might get a little crazy around us but we are still in His hand and if we’ll just stay there He will protect us.

I wish I had the words to tell each one reading this how much God loves you and how good He is. All of our failures and disappointments can’t even come close to His love and His goodness – His provision and His protection.

I encourage you to keep walking – put one foot in front of the other. Don’t let fear and panic get you to turn to your own methods. Trust Him. God honors our faith. As long as we do our best (not being perfect) God will direct our path and take us through the storm. It usually isn’t immediate. But, the storm will pass and you will be in a better place.

Give Him a chance. Let Him show you His love and His power. Put aside your fears, your pre-conceived ideas and you won’t be disappointed. God is bigger than mankind. We can’t even come close to understanding His ways or just what He’ll do to deliver us.

Taking matters into our own hands is like jumping off a building and then screaming to God on the way down, “Bless this stupid thing I’m doing, God”. Then we wonder what could have possibly gone wrong.

God Alone can make things right. Try it His way – just try it. He won’t fail you.

Do You Like The Path You’re On?

16 Jul

“You would like your path more if you knew what God is saving you from and/or what He is preparing you for.” I definitely connected with this statement from Pastor’s sermon this past Sunday  It brought to my mind many things that I have experienced in life but didn’t understand at the time. However; walking with God is a walk of faith – there are many things we won’t understand.

My mind tells my heart that if I understood “why” – then I could cope a little better. But, my heart knows better. My heart knows that I serve a God who loves me so much and wants nothing but the best for me. He has proven Himself to me many times – over and over again.

Life can be hard. It has taken me a very long time to realize that the choices I make definitely take me off God’s path at times.  Making some of life’s major decisions without seeking God first cost me years of uncomfortable consequences. Had I sought God and then obeyed His direction, I could have avoided many of the hardships I have faced in my life.

I look back at the hopes and dreams I had, and how I imagined how wonderful my life would be. I regret that I did not have a better understanding of the weight each of my decisions would have on my life – the present and the future. If I could have a “do-over” I wouldn’t do it. But, knowing now what it has taken me a life-time to learn, I would definitely be much more careful and deliberate about how I made my way down life’s paths.

I can see now that some of the things that caused me pain and heartache were my own fault. At the time they were happening, it didn’t seem so. I hate to admit it, but a great deal of my choices in life were decisions I made myself – not wanting advice from anyone or without seeking God first.

I did “pray” on the run – I muttered a quick prayer and told God what I wanted – after I had already jumped into whatever it was I was about to do. I thought my plan for my life was  whatever I wanted it to be. I never realized how self-absorbed I was. I didn’t mean to be. I didn’t realize God had a plan for my life and had I just allowed Him to, He would have directed me into the right path.

That all being said, even when we are on God’s path there can be difficulties. God’s path is not a straight road to a problem free environment. He cares more about our relationship with Him and our spiritual growth than our comfort. Though that may not be music to our ears, God’s ways and His plan for our lives bring great rewards in ways that can’t be imagined or described.

The incredible miracle of it all is that He is with us all along. He watches over us, and is always patient with us. He uses some of the consequences of our obstinate choices to teach us that He loves us and He can still turn our situation into something good.

I am thankful, beyond words, to now have a personal relationship with the God of the universe – the God of Abraham – the way HE intended. Though my path is not always easy mentally, and/or physically – I finally have the peace that I am on His path and that if I stay on it, He will keep me at peace and He will walk with me through every valley – AND – I will overcome any obstacle as long as I put my faith and trust in Him and not try to do it by myself.

God has a plan for each one of us. Don’t waste your time trying to do anything without Him. His Word promises that he will direct our paths, but first we have to talk to Him to find out what that path is. Ps. 199:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” NIV

Keep in mind that a lamp provides just enough light on a path to see only what is right in front of us. We don’t have to know what lies ahead. We need to be content to know that when God leads us we can trust Him no matter where that path goes. As long as we let Him lead we can’t go wrong, and even when we don’t understand what is happening we can trust that as long as we are following Him the outcome with be to our benefit.

The key to it all is that His WORD (the Bible) is the lamp – without it we can’t see where we’re going!

Do You Like The Path You’re On?

16 Jul

“You would like your path more if you knew what God is saving you from and/or what He is preparing you for.” I definitely connected with this statement from Pastor’s sermon this past Sunday  It brought to my mind many things that I have experienced in life but didn’t understand at the time. However; walking with God is a walk of faith – there are many things we won’t understand.

My mind tells my heart that if I understood “why” – then I could cope a little better. But, my heart knows better. My heart knows that I serve a God who loves me so much and wants nothing but the best for me. He has proven Himself to me many times – over and over again.

Life can be hard. It has taken me a very long time to realize that the choices I make definitely take me off God’s path at times.  Making some of life’s major decisions without seeking God first cost me years of uncomfortable consequences. Had I sought God and then obeyed His direction, I could have avoided many of the hardships I have faced in my life.

I look back at the hopes and dreams I had, and how I imagined how wonderful my life would be. I regret that I did not have a better understanding of the weight each of my decisions would have on my life – the present and the future. If I could have a “do-over” I wouldn’t do it. But, knowing now what it has taken me a life-time to learn, I would definitely be much more careful and deliberate about how I made my way down life’s paths.

I can see now that some of the things that caused me pain and heartache were my own fault. At the time they were happening, it didn’t seem so. I hate to admit it, but a great deal of my choices in life were decisions I made myself – not wanting advice from anyone or without seeking God first.

I did “pray” on the run – I muttered a quick prayer and told God what I wanted – after I had already jumped into whatever it was I was about to do. I thought my plan for my life was  whatever I wanted it to be. I never realized how self-absorbed I was. I didn’t mean to be. I didn’t realize God had a plan for my life and had I just allowed Him to, He would have directed me into the right path.

That all being said, even when we are on God’s path there can be difficulties. God’s path is not a straight road to a problem free environment. He cares more about our relationship with Him and our spiritual growth than our comfort. Though that may not be music to our ears, God’s ways and His plan for our lives bring great rewards in ways that can’t be imagined or described.

The incredible miracle of it all is that He is with us all along. He watches over us, and is always patient with us. He uses some of the consequences of our obstinate choices to teach us that He loves us and He can still turn our situation into something good.

I am thankful, beyond words, to now have a personal relationship with the God of the universe – the God of Abraham – the way HE intended. Though my path is not always easy mentally, and/or physically – I finally have the peace that I am on His path and that if I stay on it, He will keep me at peace and He will walk with me through every valley – AND – I will overcome any obstacle as long as I put my faith and trust in Him and not try to do it by myself.

God has a plan for each one of us. Don’t waste your time trying to do anything without Him. His Word promises that he will direct our paths, but first we have to talk to Him to find out what that path is. Ps. 199:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” NIV

Keep in mind that a lamp provides just enough light on a path to see only what is right in front of us. We don’t have to know what lies ahead. We need to be content to know that when God leads us we can trust Him no matter where that path goes. As long as we let Him lead we can’t go wrong, and even when we don’t understand what is happening we can trust that as long as we are following Him the outcome with be to our benefit.

The key to it all is that His WORD (the Bible) is the lamp – without it we can’t see where we’re going!

Crazy Thoughts

26 Jun

Do you ever have thoughts that surprise you? Do you ever feel a slight “nudge” inside the pit of your stomach when you are doing something and all of a sudden you get a “feeling” you shouldn’t? Or, maybe a nudge that you should do something and you don’t?

Thoughts run rampant in and out of our heads all the time. How can we know where it all comes from? I wish I had the ability to put into words how important it is for each of us to spend time getting to know God intimately. Just because we may be advanced in years, or really, really smart, doesn’t mean we are hearing God speak to us. Nor, does it mean we are hearing correctly from within.

Think about it. Meditate on it. So many different events in our lives have molded and shaped our attitudes and our beliefs. Whether we intend to or not, we have mind-sets and preconceived ideas. In other words, our minds are “made up” about certain things. We have no intention of listening to anyone tell us anything different. Besides, we don’t have time to slow down!

We are creatures of habit. We like having our own way. We certainly don’t like anyone else telling us anything that goes against what we already know and believe to be true. Seems like today that our patience wears thinner and thinner. Our world moves faster, time is of the essence. We have appointment books that tell us where we’re going next or what we’re going to do in the next hour. We just don’t want that messed with!

Frankly, not listening to what I call “that red flag” inside of us – in the pit of our stomach, can be really bad. I’ll give you an example. A few days ago I was on a trip in an area I was unfamiliar with. I was driving a car I was unfamiliar with. I was far away from home and having a great time. I was sight-seeing along the coast and happened to see a sign stating that there were no more gas stations for the next 30 miles. I looked at my gas gauge and saw that it appeared to be okay. But inside, I “had a feeling” that I should probably stop and get gas. (Wait for it . . .)

It was getting late, and based on the mileage I had gotten so far, I was really sure I would be okay in waiting to get gas. Oops! should have listened to that small voice inside. The dreaded warning light popped up on the gas gauge and I had more that 33 miles to go. Don’t know how that happened, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that I should have listened to that very still voice inside trying to warn me of danger ahead. Obviously, I couldn’t have a “do-over”.

I was on a virtual roller coaster along the mountains and coast of California. It was getting late – would be dark soon. The gauge was fine when I started the journey. What I didn’t count on (and wasn’t familiar with) were the mountains using more gas.

I’m normally calm and at peace. I’ve been down this path so many times you would think by now I would pay attention. It happens – I just didn’t want to take the time to stop if I didn’t have to and it appeared to me I didn’t have to. What frustrated me eventually was that I knew better. I had done it before – ignore the warnings, I mean. I didn’t really realize they were warnings at the time. But, we can always look back and see where we’ve been – think about it.

Anyway, I literally had a panic attack. I kept watching the gas gauge. I tried to read the manual to see how much gas I actually had left – no clue in the book. I wondered if a light would come on to warn me when the gas was getting lower. Got my answer right away – the warning light came on. At that time I had about 20 miles to go. At a red light in the middle of nowhere – don’t ask me – I jumped out of my car and ran to the car behind me. I told them my story and asked them to please keep an eye on us and told them why. I’m not sure what I expected them to do, I just felt like I had to do something. But, they didn’t even respond to me. They just looked at me like I was crazy. I guess I was at that stage.

I jumped back in the car and the light turned green – still don’t know why that light was there. Anyway, while I was stopped at the light I re-set my trip gauge so I could count down the 14 miles I had left to go. One mile down, now five – okay now we’ve gone nine – just maybe we’ll make it. By now it’s getting darker. I see transients along the road. The people I stunned when I jumped out of my car on the mountain top were still behind me. I coasted down the hills, hoping that would help.

My personal vehicle only has eight miles left after the light comes on – my book says so. So, I had no idea what await me. Alas, I began to see houses and lights and we had just about reached civilization. So, at least there was life close by if we did run out of gas. But, we didn’t. We actually made it to the gas station on time. I waved to the lady behind me as if to say “Thank you, I’m okay now”. I’m sure she really didn’t care at all. But, I felt as though I had imposed on her and should at least thank her for keeping an eye on me – even though she had no choice at all since I was in front of her. She was probably more concerned that I not run out of gas and cause her to run into me.

Can you see my point? Had I only listened to that small voice inside warning me. I could have actually enjoyed my sight-seeing trip. But, all I saw was that blazing yellow light calling me a dummy all the way. Just imagine what would have happened had I actually run out of gas – how much fear, frustration, time, trouble I would have had to endure, all because I did not listen to God’s Holy Spirit warn me.

You ask me how I know it was God’s Holy Spirit? Because I know God looks out after me and he warns me of things like that. Why didn’t I listen? The same reason you don’t. I thought I knew better based on what I already knew about the car. And, yes, even though I know God and listen for His voice all the time, I’m not perfect. I get in a hurry. I think it’s my own inner voice speaking and I ignore it. I was talking to my sister, we were laughing and having fun. The voice was small, I even considered it my own imagination because the car appeared to have plenty of gas.

Are you getting the picture? I’m no super human – I love God, I talk to Him and I listen to Him. I should know better because I’ve made enough mistakes in my life. So, why am I telling you all this if I don’t have the right answer? Because it takes a lifetime of training – you won’t “arrive” until you are in heaving at the feet of the Master. We must continually be aware of God – acknowledge Him – as the Scripture tells us. Keep our minds on Him and He will keep us in peace – again a quote from the Bible.

We always need God. We have to listen all the time. We can’t just assume we have all the right answers and we don’t need to stop and ask Him. When, in truth, many of our mistakes are made because we do just that. We are the ones to blame. God tries to warn us. We have to listen and then – yep, obey.

What’s Missing?

15 Jun

Continued . .

I am writing about Walking With God. Job is an example of endurance, which means faithfulness under trial. “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 Satan accused Job of serving God only because God blessed him. Satan’s claims in the book of Job were that God would not have followers if He did not reward them! Job’s example was for us to learn some valuable lessons about trusting God when everything around us tells us otherwise.

Much of life is cruel, painful and disappointing. The people we love may treat us unfairly and may even wrong us again and again. Almost daily, we come into contact with people who are rude and unkind. We live in a world where truth is difficult to recognize anymore.

Success is not only temporary; it still leaves a void in our lives. No matter how much we have materially or how popular we are, without God we will eventually perish.

“Do you not know of old, since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?” Job 20:4&5

Many times, as we try to be all that we believe God wants to be, some of our decisions are affected by what others think. It is difficult to take a back seat – even to God. We live in a society where we have learned that we are lacking something if we don’t make things happen. The natural thing for us to do is to take matters into our own hands and begin to seek results based on our own experiences and our own wisdom and knowledge. We acknowledge God in our “quiet time” then we go about our business doing what comes naturally to us. We don’t really spend time seeking God and letting Him direct our every path and our every decision. We don’t want Him to have that much control. One reason is because He’s probably going to give us some instructions we don’t want to follow. So, we just make sure we are respectful enough to say our traditional prayers. However; we definitely turn to Him when there is a crisis. After all, that’s when we really need His help. We can manage everything else.

Let me ask you something. How do you feel when someone comes to you only when they have a need? God made us for fellowship with Him. He created us and loved us enough to give us His only Son to die that we might live. Have we heard that story so much that we’ve lost the value of it? Or, have we really ever understood what it means?

Some of us go to church and follow our traditional rituals out of habit or guilt. Or, we may go to save face. How many of us truly go to church on Sunday, or any other day of the week because we love God with all our hearts and want to go and worship Him? Why do we attend so many classes and studies? We gain so much knowledge, yet what do we do with it? Are we studying God’s Word because we love History and we are fulfilling an obligation to read our Bibles every day? Let’s investigate the motives behind our Christian walk and our service to God.

What is God to you? He is the Supreme Being – the Maker of all things. We take a few hours out of our week to pay our respects to Him. We do our best to memorize Scripture and familiarize ourselves with Bible stories. We pick up some interesting facts along the way.

We fill our days and weeks with committee meetings and programs and social gatherings. We love having our schedules arranged and our days planned ahead. We’ve become so busy that we don’t even time with those we love. We’re okay with it. Instead of communicating face to face, we stare at bigger and better wide-screen computer screens with beautiful graphics and wonderful sounds. We work on our laptops and watch our big screen TV’s at the same time we are answering all of our emails. Sometimes we even communicate with several people at one time online. Communication has reached a level that causes us to distance ourselves from those we love.

Where does communication with God fit into all of this? Never in our history have we had so many ways to communicate with so many people from anywhere in the world at any time. Yet, we fail to communicate with the One who created us for friendship and fellowship with Himself. We may think that all of our sophisticated technological equipment means that God is just outdated – too old-fashioned. Where does He fit into all of this?

What kept Job was his faith in God and his personal integrity. God used Job to prove that his friends couldn’t supply what he needed. They didn’t have the ability to comfort him or answer his questions. They tried to find answers that would explain what was going on in Job’s life, but all they did was make matters worse.

God also used Job’s example to disprove the accusations of the devil. Job did not serve God just because God blessed him with material things and health. He didn’t turn from God when his wife refused to stand by him or when he lost everything he had. Job knew he was in right standing with God, no matter what others thought. His friends did not encourage him, they did all they could to try to discover what Job was doing wrong. If you are perplexed about something in your life, wait on the Lord and let Him work out His hidden purposes.

What is it that you believe are true works of God’s blessings in your life? Are they health and wealth? Are they freedom from pain and suffering? Are they success on the job or in a marriage? How about perfect children? How many times do we examine God’s love for us based on our surrounding circumstances? How often do we blame Him for the unpleasant things that happen in our lives? We examine what happens to us against our behavior or someone else’s behavior. The standards we use are standards of good and bad as they relate to whatever seems right to us.

When something goes wrong in our lives (according to what we have perceived against our standards of right and wrong) – we begin to assess the blame. Many of us automatically assume someone else is at fault.
Somewhere along the path of life we have acquired a standard of right and wrong. We have also already made up our minds after experiencing life, what things are good in life and what things are bad in life. Each of us has a totally different view of this standard for successful living.

Along this path somewhere we have found God. At that point in our lives we begin to learn about Him and we acknowledge that He exists and that He is a supreme being. We stand in awe of Him and usually we allow Him a couple of hours on Sundays, and possibly an hour or so on weeknights to fulfill our obligations to Him. Some of us go a few steps further and join an extra hour or so of Bible Study. (That makes us feel really special.) And, even others of us go beyond that to doing all sorts of extra activities to show our devotion and love for God. We’re trying to earn His love and acceptance just as we try to earn it from everyone else.

It’s also possible that we want to fulfill a need within ourselves – something that is missing. It’s our way of patching a hole within our hearts – some sort of shortcoming or failure in our lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It gives us stature. We feel somewhat satisfied that we have added another accomplishment to our uneven list of successes and failures.

Continued . . .

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