Tag Archives: Faith

God Speaks (Part 1)

9 Nov

D0Ib5j36RymFSNPX5X1m_darkoceanGod Speaks

One critical point to understanding and experiencing God is knowing clearly when God is speaking. If a Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!

God speaks through the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. He also speaks through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church or other believers.

Many Different Ways

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets and in other various ways (Heb. 1:1)

One truth that is evident throughout the Bible is that God speaks to His people. In the Old Testament, God spoke through:

Angels
Visions
Dreams
The use of the Urim and Thummin
Symbolic Actions
A Gentle Whisper
Miraculous Signs
And Others

How God spoke in the Old Testament is not the most important factor. The fact THAT He spoke is the crucial point. Those He spoke to KNEW it was God, and they KNEW what He was saying.

2 Tim 3:16-17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  NKJV

The pattern in Scripture is that God may not tell you all you need to know in the beginning but He will tell you what you need to know to make necessary adjustments and to take the first step of obedience. What is your part?  – To Wait until the Master gives you instructions. That can be really hard because we want to make things  happen.

If you start DOING before you have direction from God, more than likely you will be wrong.  Bible examples: Noah knew the size, type of materials, and how to put the ark together.  When God told Moses about building the tabernacle, He was very specific about the details. When God called Abraham and said, “Go to the land I will show you” – that was not very specific. That required faith. But God said, “I will show you”. God always gives you enough specific instructions to do NOW what He wants you to do.

When you need more directions, He gives you more in His timing. If you do not have specific instructions from God in a matter, pray and wait.  Learn patience. Depend on God’s timing. His timing is always right and best. Don’t get in a hurry. Don’t skip over the relationship to get on with the doing. When we understand spiritual truth, it is because the Holy Spirit is working in our lives..

When we move from the Gospels to Acts and to the present, we quite often change our whole mind-set. We live as if God quit speaking personally to His people. We fail to realize that an encounter with the Holy Spirit is an encounter with God. God clearly spoke to His people in Acts. He clearly speaks to His people today. From Acts to the present, God has been speaking to His people by the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual truths can only be revealed by God. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God . . . No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” I Cor. 2:9-12

Jesus said the Holy Spirit  “Will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

You never discover truth – truth is revealed.  The Holy Spirit reveals truth to you, He knows you personally and He knows how to speak to you so that you understand.

Mos of this was an excerpt from Henry Blackaby’s book “Experiencing God.” I highly recommend it.

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My First E-Book Now Available On Amazon

8 Oct

Book CoverGrief, pain, hardship and tragedy happen to all of us equally. God gives us all the same opportunity to come to Him through Jesus, His Son. There is a misconception that Christians should be free from pain and suffering. They should have it better than everybody else, and that if they are having problems there must be some deep dark sin in their lives.

God is often judged by the circumstances that affect the lives of His followers. If something bad happens to them, it might appear that God failed or that He is punishing them or teaching them a lesson. The misconception is that Christians are loved by God more and therefore He treats them better and gives them more.

God is frequently viewed as a mere option in our world today. Even some Christians view God’s participation in their lives to be necessary only if they are unable to handle something on their own – especially a crisis.

This series of books will visit many of the hard questions asked about God and what it means to be a Christian. Step by Step guidance will help the reader understand how to become a Christian, how to live daily walking and talking with God, and how to understand His will for your life.

Walking with God is a deliberate action taken by those who want to be born again into life everlasting with Him – it requires only believing in Jesus Christ, asking for His forgiveness of our sins, and learning how to live and walk daily with Him in your heart and at your side.

God is very real. He isn’t a figment of our imagination. He isn’t spooky or strange. He is loving and kind. He is good and loves each and every one of us more than we can even understand.

God doesn’t just love Christians. He loves every single person in the world. He doesn’t favor Christians. Christians aren’t better than everyone else. Knowing and following Jesus Christ doesn’t mean a life with no sorrows or pain.
The difference is in our hearts. Walking daily with God and talking to Him at any time you want to is better than having your best earthly friend by your side all the time,and even better than any other person you believe to have everything you want and/or need.

God is the peace you need, and the protection you need, He has the provision you need, and the guidance you need. He can and will direct every step you take, if you let Him. It’s not always easy. That’s where faith and trust come in.

God is the one thing in this life that has never changed and will never change. But, it doesn’t mean He is old fashioned or out of date. There is nothing on this planet that wasn’t already arranged by Him long, long before time, as we know it, began.

The first book in this series is part of my testimony. It starts about the time I graduated from high school. I was raised in a Christian home, went to church because my mother made me, and all I knew of God was that I was supposed to love Him and be good.

As it is said, “Life Happens”. I went to church from the time I was a little girl and accepted Jesus at a Baptist Camp at the age of nine years old, I didn’t really come to know Him until life started invading my space. Those were the times I began to “consider” God – wondering if He was really there and wondering what He wanted from me.

I am now 68 years old. I can tell you it has taken a long life of mistakes, pain, hardship, suffering and grief – just like everyone else I know – Christian or not. The only thing I would change if I had a “do over” would be that I would have worked harder at getting serious about my relationship with God and I would not have worked so hard at doing things my way. I would have spent the necessary time getting to know my maker and letting Him guide me rather than having Him constantly have to bail me out of my troubles and set me back on my feet.That’s life. After this one there’s one in eternity. Where will you spend yours?

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.

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!

We Are Limited – God Is Not!

12 Jun

There isn’t one day in our lives that God doesn’t already know about. We may encounter surprises or unexpected circumstances, but God is never surprised. He knows everything we do before we do it. We may not always be prepared, but God is.  He has every answer we need, and He will accomplish all that He has purposed for us. Our part is to walk with Him, and follow in obedience.

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

Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

God wants to use each one of us for His purposes, which sometimes requires us to step out of our comfort zones. Our confidence should be in Him, not in our own abilities. As we take the first step, God is at our side, guiding us. He will equip us for any task He  brings our way. Past mistakes or  fear will attempt to hold us back, but God doesn’t require perfection; He wants our love, trust, and obedience.  As we follow His lead and do our part, He will do those things we can’t do; He will make a way.  Our challenge is to take the first step.

It is in our nature to want to know things in advance, but according to Scripture, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Our eyes should be on Him and what He can do – not on ourselves and what we can do. We are limited, God is not.

Faith vs. Doubt

24 Mar

I want to have strong faith. I know I have the faith of a mustard seed, but I want never to doubt! I don’t know if that is possible.

I have lived the majority of my life as a child of God. So, I have had many opportunities to trust God. Sometimes, I didn’t trust Him at all. At other times, my trust was limited.  It was easy to have “faith” when I was fairly certain of the outcome.

Earlier in my walk with God, I knew about doubt and faith and being double minded. I found that I wavered a lot, just not intentionally. I wanted to believe. I knew, in theory, that I could trust God and that He could do anything.  I also knew from sitting under many years of teaching from the Word of God, what faith was all about. But, it took years for me to really get it.

Now that I am a senior citizen, I can say that although I would like to have learned about the subject of God and His ways quickly and then “graduated,” that just isn’t God’s way.  If that were the case, I wouldn’t have need of a day-to-day relationship with Him. My relationship with Him wouldn’t  grow, nor would I have learned what it means to really trust Him – following the Holy Spirit as He leads me through life.

Scripture says that I must pick up my cross daily, and follow Him. I can relate it to a relationship with a significant other. As we grow old together, we continue to learn new things about each other as we face life’s challenges. As I walk daily with Jesus Christ, my Lord, my relationship grows deeper and I come to know Him more as I walk in obedience to Him – I even learn about His ways when I don’t walk in obedience.

With each trial I face, I have the opportunity to either trust Him and follow Him in obedience, or not. Either way, if I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit, I can get to know Him and even myself, better. Trials aren’t sent as punishment or because God doesn’t care. Trials come for many reasons. Possibly, I act in disobedience – maybe not even on purpose. Or, something happens beyond my control. What is important is that I take everything to Him in prayer.

With each step that I take in my daily walk with God, I learn to trust Him more and more. I find contentment and peace as my relationship with Him deepens.

I have reached a place that I know, without any doubt at all, that God knows what is best for me. He will not fail me. Even when I make mistakes, He is there to help me. I have no doubt – none – about that. It doesn’t mean that I won’t have trouble, disappointment, or even sorrow, in my life. It means that God is with me every step of every day. If I allow Him to, He will teach me by His Holy Spirit, to rest in peace and trust Him with the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have doubts about circumstances and whether I am doing what is right.  And, I even doubt sometimes if God is going to do what I ask – the way I ask – when I ask. But, the bottom line is that I do not doubt that He will do what is best for me in His time, not mine.  My part is to yield to Him, trust Him and know that His ways are higher and better than mine.

What I can’t do is get upset and rebellious when things don’t go the way I want them to.  If I really want God’s best, I have to follow Him and trust Him. Otherwise, I get into trouble and have to humbly ask Him to forgive me and then to show me the way back.

God has proven Himself faithful to me again and again. He knows me so much better than I know myself. He knows what I like and what will make me happy. So, I can trust Him and not doubt that His ways are truly the best for me.

I have witnessed God’s miracles again and again, in the worst of circumstances.  God is so amazing – there aren’t words to express how good He is. Not because of what He can do for me, but because He loves me so much. His love is the same for everyone – we just have to receive it.

More Month Than Money

31 Jan

Following is my latest writing challenge entry for the FaithWriters group I belong to at http://www.FaithWriters.com.

I was really scared. So many thoughts were racing through my mind, “How in the world am I going to make it? I don’t have gas for my car. I can’t buy groceries. My lights are about to be turned off. I haven’t been able to pay my rent. What if I am evicted?”

Without fail there are daily concerns that we cannot ignore. We can turn away from some things, making them go away for the moment, but not financial necessities.

“Oh Ye of little faith” – I was tormenting myself with these words. I never paid much attention to them before. Anyway, it was just a lighthearted remark used when someone was worried about something and didn’t want to make an issue of it.

I spent so much time looking back at my failures or looking forward to problems that “might” occur that I wasn’t even living in the present. Then, I remembered reading the Bible in Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV), “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Money is a very sensitive subject. Most of us have more month than we do money. We can pray, of course. (Usually we get pretty serious with God when we can’t make ends meet.) But before we start whining and telling God how awful things are, we need to take a good look at how we got there.

We may be facing circumstances too serious to ignore. That’s when we begin to question our behavior and our actions. We look deep inside and, if we are honest with ourselves, it becomes clear – somewhere along the way we made some unwise decisions, resulting in our current circumstances.

Money issues never go away. Our faith is tested over and over because decisions must be made concerning how we manage every dollar we spend. We can’t ignore the consequences when our electricity is about to be cut off and freezing rain is in the forecast. Or, we may be too embarrassed to admit to our friends we can’t attend their wedding because we don’t have gas money.

God knew, long ago, the challenges we would face today and inspired His chosen men to record, in the Bible, the answers we need. But we treat God’s Word like we do the instructions that are included when we purchase something needing assembly. We don’t take time to read the instructions and when we run into trouble, we blame it on the “piece of junk” we purchased instead of our avoidance of reading the directions.

We can’t get angry or blame God when we choose to ignore His written instructions. When we get to the end of our money before we get to the end of the month, it isn’t God’s fault.

The answer is easy – the solution is another choice. God leaves the decision with us. We get to use the free will He has given us.

Malachi 3:8-10 New Living Translation (NLT) “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.[a] Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV) Jesus took care of it all when He bowed His head and freely gave up His Spirit on the Old Rugged Cross – “It” being everything – past, present and future.

At The End Of The Day

10 Jan

As a project oriented person, I get up early and sometimes decide there isn’t enough time in the day to meet all my deadlines. That “feeling” gets the best of me and I start the day all wrong.

I have answered a call from God to lead a prayer team ministry for my church and have committed to spend time with Him each morning in intercession. I am usually excited about it.

Some days my workload is so heavy that it is difficult to sit still and focus on prayer. So, I decide to skip my appointment with God and go right to work. That decision is based on a thought placed in my mind by Satan who comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

When I listen to the thoughts in my mind, rather than to the Holy Spirit, my days are usually filled with confusion, turmoil, and frustration. When the day is gone I have accomplished very little. I realize that my precious time, with the one I love the most and the one who trusted me enough to call me to the ministry of prayer, was stolen. He called me to stand in the gap for His people. Instead, I let inner turmoil and unrest get the best of me. I yielded to the deceitful lure of the clock not giving me enough time to meet deadlines in my work-day. I should have kept my appointment with the one who promised to direct my steps.

At the day’s end I look back at the time I wasted. At first, guilt creeps in because I knew better. The enemy managed to gain control of my first thoughts that morning. And at the end of the day, he tried to condemn me for listening to him. At the same time, he whispered in my ear just how little I must love God not to spend time with Him as I had promised. The enemy was attempting to steal my peace again. Quickly, I shut him down. Then, the conviction of the Holy Spirit turned my heart to God to ask for forgiveness, which was immediate. The Holy Spirit gently instructed me that if I had spent time with Him first, my day would have been much better.

God is the one who makes all things work together for good and blesses the work of my hand. He is the one who tells me I can make my plans but He will direct my path. He is the one who gives me the wisdom and knowledge I need to make my day successful. God is the one who rebukes the devourer for my sake. And, with His help, I can successfully finish my daily race.

The day’s end is determined by the day’s beginning. The choice I make at the beginning of each day to spend those first moments with my Lord or to proceed without His direction will determine what I accomplish and how emotionally, physically and spiritually spent I become. I want my day, every day, to begin with Him, remain in Him, and finish with Him. At the end of the day I want to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant“. I want to feel His peace in my spirit, knowing I have given everything to Him.


Do You Live in Bondage or Walk in Freedom?

31 Oct

WHAT DO I PAY FOR FREEDOM?

We all want to be free. What does that mean to you? If you love the God of Abraham, freedom comes by walking in obedience to Him. To be able to do that you must first know Him.  You must be born again by inviting Jesus Christ into your heart. To know Him you must spend time reading His inspired Word written down for us in the Holy Bible. This is where true freedom is.

God wants only the best for us. Satan tries every way he can to deceive us; his mission is to steal, kill and destroy. Some have unknowingly tried to make the God of Abraham like pagan gods by worshiping an “image” of whatever they have made Him out to be.  Instead He is our Father in Heaven who wants to know us personally and develop a relationship with us – a personal relationship.

Serving God is not following a set of rules, nor is it just attending services to fulfill an obligation. Serving God is an honor and a privilege. He loves you and me with a love we can’t understand. We have to use our faith to receive it. The more time we spend getting to know Him, the more we are drawn into His presence and the more our spiritual eyes and ears are opened to His ways and His truth.

WHAT IS FREEDOM?

Freedom means different things to different people. God has a plan, a pattern for our lives – a road map, if you will. He didn’t just toss us in this world and tell us to sink or swim. If you belong to Him, He is with you always and will never, ever leave you. He will walk with you through whatever comes your way. He doesn’t always remove the pitfalls but He does pick us up and dust us off when we fall down. He sets us back on our feet and stays with us, continuing to guide us.

If you are a believer in the God of Abraham and you want to live a life dedicated to Him, you are expected to walk in obedience to Him at all times. You can’t know His will for your life if you don’t know Him. We make it so hard on ourselves. The Bible tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That doesn’t mean we won’t have problems. If becoming a Christian meant being free from all problems . . . well, it just doesn’t.

CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES

We face a world full of choices and decisions every day. Some are easy – most are not. Let’s discuss the ones that have us really bound tightly. We have a problem and we take it to God in prayer. We tell Him the problem and then tell Him what solution we need.   ????   Hummmm, it really doesn’t work that way. We can certainly tell God what we want and how we would like the answer to come.  Then comes the hard part. If our minds are set on only receiving our answer the way we want it we may be in for many disappointments. Preconceived ideas generally set us up for disappointment. The Bible tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that we cannot fathom the depths of His understanding. In other words, He has plans for us that we can’t even understand, let alone ask for.  We ask Him for something based on our limited knowledge of how things should be worked out.

GOD IS FULL OF SURPRISES!

The most exciting thing about God is He is full of surprises. His answers will always be the right ones. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Also understand that when God answers prayer it isn’t always a “yes”.  It can be “wait” or . . . “NO”! Oops – not what we wanted to hear.

THIS IS WHERE THE FREEDOM COMES IN . . .

If you limit God to what you know and what you can see you are possibly setting yourself up for a great fall. You are also in danger of becoming “bound” – Encarta Dictionary defines bound as “. . . obliged to do something or behave in a particular way”.  Two definitions from the Thesaurus for “bound” are “obligated” and “constrained”.  That is opposite from “freedom”.

It’s a matter of the Spirit being in control – yielding our Spirit to God for His guidance. He loves us like we love our children. He wants the best for us and has the ability to make it happen. He also has the ability to “see around the corner” – He knows what is coming, we don’t. His answers sometimes aren’t what we want to hear. Yielding to God is not always easy. It means yielding (submitting) to Him. Many times it means we don’t get our way. This is where trust comes in. If you will notice, when you let God have His way you are putting your trust and “faith” in Him. Remember, faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Scripture also tells us that without faith we cannot please God.

NOW FOR THE HARD PART

When God answers with “No” or “Wait” or leads you in another way, your emotions (soul) kicks in and you want to dig your heels in – have it your way. You can. But when you do, you have lost your freedom. Say what? You heard me correctly. When you pick and choose which of God’s directions you will follow, you are not actually being obedient.

Let’s say you pray that God remove you from a situation and you tell Him how you want it done. He answers by sending just what you need to be removed from the situation, but it’s different from the terms you told Him you wanted. So, instead of following God’s plan and being removed from the situation, you hold out for doing it your way. In the meantime tension builds, stress becomes harder to deal with and everything turns out to be a mess. Then, the “way out” God offered you may not still be available or even if it is, you have delayed your freedom by trying your own way first. If you had done it His way immediately, you could have avoided many of the problems and most of the stress.

That is sort of a simple way of saying it, but I think the message is clear. We have freedom of choice – God gave us a free will. But, we have the honor and the privilege of having His Holy Spirit as our counselor and our guide to give us the perfect solution to our situation. It doesn’t mean we will always immediately like the way God has shown us. But, as we step out in faith we will eventually see that His ways are better than our ways and He has a reason for wanting us to follow the map He gives us.

Do You Ask Amiss?

14 Oct

It’s time to switch our focus a little to some of the other gifts given by the Holy Spirit. We have been talking about motivational gifts which are given to individuals so they can be used of God to meet the needs of others. I have summarized them below:

Motivational Gifts found in (Romans 12:6-9)
  • Leadership/Administration – organizes and guides God’s people to attempt great goals –
  • Service/Helps – enables pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc., to have more time to study and leaders and administrators time for giving the church body purpose and direction
  • Prophecy – Proclaimers/God’s Loudspeakers
  • Exhortation – Encouragers – “How to” Persons
  • Teacher/Pastor  – Guardians of the Flock/Explainers
  • Mercy – Reaches out with genuine love which uplifts, soothes and  heals those who are hurting

Discovering the gifts God has given us is a process. We aren’t mature, spiritually sensitive overnight. God is progressive. He will always be working with us and grooming us. We will be continually running our races until He calls us out of this world. We should be sensitive to the gifts God may have given us,  listen for confirmation from others. We should make the practice of our gift(s) a priority in our lives and be willing to work at the process of understanding ourselves.  We should be content with the person God is shaping us to be and careful not to  compare ourselves to others or covet the gifts and callings God has made evident in their lives. Keep in mind that to desire the gift or calling of another is to keep us from what God has planned for us and would keep them from the call of God upon their lives.

We should expect a constant discovery of all that God has placed within us. We need to yield to Him as He guides us to the work He is preparing for us and should not isolate ourselves from others. We must be alert, not imitating others or trying to model ourselves after anyone other than our Creator. We have to be honest with ourselves about our likes and dislikes and be willing to face the areas in our lives that God wants to help us change. He doesn’t expect perfection from us. He wants our submission and our willingness to let Him lead us. He wants our friendship and our fellowship. He isn’t in a hurry. After all, we have an eternity with Him!

We can be  hindered in finding our gifts or what God has for us. James 4:2,3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you gt on your pleasure.” Our motives must be to honor God by edifying others, not to build up ourselves.

Christians and non-Christians alike have been gifted with abilities and talents. Natural gifts usually edify the person and draw attention to them and their particular talent. Gifts from God are not inherited or earned. They are given freely by Him as He chooses and are evidence of the Holy Spirit being present in their lives. They have experienced the gift of salvation and made Jesus their Lord.

God is the source of all gifts. He weaves them together with our personalities – our temperaments –  as we yield our lives to Him. God can use our natural abilities, and/or talents as a path for a spiritual gift.  He will make it clear as we follow Him.

There are differing gifts, but one Spirit. Following are the Ministry Gifts found in Ephesians 4:11-13 which will be discussed in  our next series.
  1. –Apostle
  2. –Prophet
  3. –Evangelist
  4. –Pastor
  5. –Teacher

There are also Manifestations of the Spirit – Operational Gifts as seen in I Corinthians 12:7 (listed below):

REVELATION GIFTS
  • Word of Wisdom
  • Word of Knowledge
  • Discerning of Spirits
POWER GIFTS
  • Faith
  • Healing
  • Miracles
UTTERANCE – INSPIRATIONAL GIFTS
  • Prophecy
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of Tongues

In addition to my own material I have included quotes from the following:

  • C. Peter Wagner “Your Spiritural Gifts”
  • Gordon Lindsay “All About the Gifts of the Spirit”
  • Adult Education and Discipleship Ministries – FBC – Garland “Gifts are for Giving”
  • Biblesoft Libraries
  • Sandy Trice
  • David Francis
  • KJV
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