Tag Archives: Hope

God Knows Where You’re Going Even If You Don’t – Part Two

8 Sep

Continued from August 30

NOTHING BY ACCIDENT

. . . God prepares our way as we struggle day by day, putting one step in front of the other – sometimes not knowing where life is taking us.

As providence would have it, Ruth decided to go and work in the fields to glean the corn so that she and Naomi could eat. She just happened to select a field owned by a well known kinsman of Naomi’s husband named Boaz. One day Boaz saw Ruth gleaning in his field and asked the worker over his servants who she was. When the worker told Boaz it was Ruth, he had already heard what she had done for Naomi. She had proven herself as a notable woman in her deeds – everyone heard about it and then saw it. Boaz recognized that God had recompensed Ruth for all she had done for one of his own and saw that God was rewarding her and covering her with his protection.

Boaz gave instructions to his workers that they were to allow Ruth to continue to glean in his field. He even told them to drop extra corn so that Ruth might pick it up. He commanded them not to rebuke her or send her away. He also ordered them to watch over her and to keep her safe.
Boaz showed much kindness to Ruth for which she was very grateful.

One day, Ruth humbled herself and bowed low before him in thanks and asked him why she had found grace in his eyes. He told her that word had come to him about how she had devoted herself to her mother-in-law since her father-in-law’s death. He also knew she had left her father and her mother and her country to live in a land and people she knew nothing about. Boaz told Ruth that God wanted to repay her for these things and because she had put her trust in God and turned from pagan idols. Then, he told her that he wanted her to stay in his fields, close to his maidens. He wanted to make sure she was protected. This was God’s way of watching over her, again, unknown by Ruth.

When Ruth went home and told Naomi of the day’s events Naomi praised God and told Ruth that Boaz was a near relative who could redeem them. Naomi was a godly, perceptive woman. She wanted to find a home for Ruth and a husband. She wanted Ruth to prosper.

When the harvesting was finished, Boaz went among his workers to the threshing floor where they were winnowing the harvest. There was food and drink and celebrating.

Naomi told Ruth to bathe and perfume herself and change her clothes. She wanted her to put on her best clothes but not to look like a harlot. Naomi then instructed Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be eating and drinking. She told Ruth to stay out of sight, not to let anyone see her, but to watch and see where Boaz slept. Ruth was to wait until he fell asleep and then go and lift the covers and lie down at his feet. Naomi told Ruth that Boaz would then tell her what to do. Ruth agreed to do everything Naomi told her.

Once again Ruth proves her courage her respect and complete trust in Naomi. Keep in mind that Ruth was from a foreign land. She knew nothing of the customs of Naomi’s people. God’s love continues to draw this young woman and continues to soften her heart. She was not an Israelite. She was a woman from another land. God had forbidden marriage to the pagan women there. It is even believed by some Bible scholars that Naomi’s sons died an early death because they married against God’s will.

This is an amazing act of God’s mercy and grace. God opens His arms to receive everyone. His love drew a pagan woman to Himself through one of His own. He then completely changed her through her hardships and made her into a virtuous woman, worthy of a good husband, a man of stature and wealth. Incredible!

The picture portrayed here is one of extreme proportions. To summarize, the two sons of Naomi sinned against God by taking foreign wives, forbidden women because of their heritage. Then, one of the very same women turned her heart over to God through her commitment and dedication to Naomi, one of God’s own people. God open the door for Ruth to marry into this godly family. How true it is that God’s ways are so much higher than ours!

To Be Continued . . .

Advertisements

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.

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.

 

 

 

My Inspiration to Blog

19 Jan

I have been working toward writing more. In that regard, I was “studying” about blogging at The Daily Post – Blogging 101. They requested we submit an article to them as to our inspiration for blogging. Following was my response. Thought I might as well share it with my followers.

What inspires me as a blogger: People – All people, everywhere inspire me to blog. I want all people to know God in heaven, like I do. Not that I’m special. I certainly am not. I’m just the opposite. I’m ordinary. Probably not even ordinary; below ordinary. But, I serve a God who loves me just like I am, warts and all. Really. How do I know this? Because day after day, no matter what goes on in my life, He is there to encourage me and lift me up. He is there to let me know I am special – special to Him. That’s all that really matters to me. It’s all that matters because I’ve tasted so many other things that don’t satisfy.

The one constant in my life, the one person who is always there with an open hand for me to come and sit a while, is Jesus Christ, my Lord. He’s not only my Lord, He’s my friend. It’s not as quirky as it might sound. It is so real. That’s the reason I’m inspired to blog. I want everyone to know that God loves them just exactly as they are and has open arms to welcome them – no requirements other than to acknowledge Him, ask His forgiveness of sins, and accept Him. It’s that simple.

There aren’t a list of rules to follow after that. Simply be. One day at a time. Listen with your heart and your spirit. Listen to your conscience. His burden is easy, His yoke is light. I blog to give hope to everyone who might not have any, and acceptance to those who don’t feel accepted by anyone. This inspiration is constant – never-ending.

You Don’t Have To Be Here To Be Here!

6 Nov

I was watching a movie the other night and was immediately inspired by a scene where a popular school teacher had died. Several children were sitting in a group, reminiscing about good times and feeling down and sad. They were interrupted by another teacher who wanted to encourage them. He said to the group,  “I know you are really sad that your teacher died but don’t you know you don’t have to be here to be here? Every time you give your knowledge away or what you have learned – every time you give something to someone – you give a little part of yourselves to them. You have a little bit of everyone who has given into your life. They are here with you, you just have to know where to look.”

Wow! So many thoughts and feelings flooded my heart and my mind. That is an awesome truth. First, I thought of my Mother who died a few years ago. I miss her so very much, yet so much of her is still with me. I  have many of her material things, but I don’t drag them around with me to keep her near me. My Mother is always – always – with me. She’s in my heart. I hear her voice when I do something I know she wouldn’t like. I hear her sweet, loving words to me when I am discouraged or hurt. I can see her face in my mind’s eye. So many of the things I learned came from watching her and listening to her. I hear many people say,  “I’m turning into my Mother.” Many of us say that as though it were a bad thing when, in fact, it can be a very good thing. That’s where the statement “. . .you just have to know where to look” comes in.

Just think about how many people have become a part of us – our parents – our siblings – our friends, and so on. We glean from each and every one of them, even if it is to determine we don’t like certain things they do, and we surely don’t want that part of them to dwell in us. More than likely, we even catch ourselves picking up certain traits of others – repeating their phrases or their reactions.

Unfortunately, deposits into our lives by others are not always positive.  Some of the deepest hurts and fears left as residue from them may  keep us bound by vows we have made as a result of the pain they have caused. They are still with us. That means we are looking at the wrong place in our hearts. (We might say, “I’ll never let anything like that happen to me again,” or “I learned my lesson – I won’t do that anymore”). Surely there are also good things deposited into us by others yet we tend to focus on the negative things and not the positive. We then begin to put walls around our hearts and push others away based on what one person did to us. Over the years, the deposits made by others can even keep us away from the destiny that God has prepared for us.

The Scriptures tell us Eccl 5:5-6 ” It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.” NIV   We should re-think any vows that we may have made and ask God to forgive us. We can’t assume that because one person has hurt us that others will. That is when it is vital that we “. . . know where to look.”

My mind races with how many ways this affects us. I’ve had a good, long life. I’ve experienced a great deal of pain and loss. (See how I mentioned the pain and loss first?) I have also been blessed with so much good – more good than bad. When I think of the pain and loss, I think of the people who are here with me, even though they aren’t here with me! On the other hand, when I say certain things or experience some feelings of fun and joy, I think of others who are with me, even though they aren’t here with me. So many of life’s experiences have made me who I am today.

The most important fact of all is that God is with me – and He is here with me even though I can’t see Him – He is here with me! There is never a time He isn’t with me. He lives in me – He never leaves me. He isn’t just a memory. He’s alive and He is with me always – at all times – good and bad. He talks with me – He listens to me – He helps me to overcome the negative things that have been deposited in my life by others. His is the influence I need to live by – nothing else – good or bad. My memories of others are part of my life forever, but they don’t make me who I am. God does that.

If you don’t know the God of Abraham, invite Him into your life. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come and live in your heart. He is an amazing God – Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV

Only God can see to it that our  hearts are cleansed and free from everything that would keep us bound.

 

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

29 Jul

I did not write the following three paragraphs. I don’t remember where it came from but I read it years ago and it touched my heart. I pray that this will speak to all who read it:

As Christians we are expected to appear victorious. We are expected to be on a continuous spiritual high. We are expected to fly, as the sparrows, undaunted into the storms of life. After all, we are God’s children.

We wear masks to cover our broken spirits, and our emotional wounds. The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.

We must be affirmed and we must affirm others. Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the New Testament – to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face I wear

For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks —

    masks that I’m afraid to take off

    and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me

But don’t be fooled, for God’s sake don’t be fooled.

I give you the impression that I’m secure

That all is sunny and unruffled with me

    within as well as without,

    that confidence is my name

    and coolness my game,

    that the water’s calm

    and I’m in command,

    and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth, but my surface is my mask,

My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.

Beneath lies no smugness, no complacency.

Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.

But I hide this.

I don’t want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weaknesses

and fear exposing them.

That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend,

To shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation,

my only salvation,

and I know it.

That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,

and if it’s followed by love.

It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself

from my own self-built prison walls

from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.

That glance from you is the only thing that assures me

of what I can’t assure myself,

that I’m really worth something.

 

But I don’t tell you this.

I don’t dare.

I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh

and your laugh would kill me.

I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good

and you will see this

and reject me.

 

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game

With a facade of assurance without

And a trembling child within.

So begins the parade of masks,

The glittering but empty parade of masks,

And my life becomes a front.

I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything that’s nothing

And nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.

So when I’m going through my routine

Do not be fooled by what I’m saying.

Please listen carefully and try to hear

what I’m not saying.

Hear what I’d like to say

but what I can not say.

 

I dislike hiding.

Honestly.

I dislike the superficial game I’m playing,

the superficial phony game.

I’d really like to be genuine

and me,

But I need your help, your hand to hold

Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.

 

It will not be easy for you.

Long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.

The nearer you approach me

The blinder I may strike back.

Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;

I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.

You wonder who I am?

You shouldn’t –

for I am every man

and every woman

who wears a mask.

Don’t be fooled by me.

At least not by the face I wear.

– Anonymous

Comfortable?

26 Jun

As God’s children we are sometimes led into areas we are unfamiliar with. In the Scriptures there are stories of many who were called by God into unfamiliar territory or tasks that appeared to be way out of their comfort zone.

In Genesis we are told that God told Abram (later called Abraham) to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household to go where God would later show him. Wait for it . . .

What in the world would you do if God placed that instruction in your heart? Oh, and did I forget to say that Abram was 75 years old at that time. So, in case you are thinking you’re too old – think again.

Further, the Scripture says, “So, Abram left, as God had told him”. Okay, I’m sure I can imagine what you may be thinking. I don’t have the space to say it all here. However; if you think God wouldn’t ask something of you without giving you a map from beginning to end, you are mistaken, my friend. That is what faith is all about.

Besides, I’m sure God may have directed many of you reading this, already. And, if so, how did you respond? I can probably guess at many of the questions and excuses that you could come up with.

“God, are you talking to me?”
“I must have imagined that.”
“Surely God wouldn’t tell me to do that.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I can’t do that. How would I . . . ”

You see, the very lives we live follow God into many unknown areas and uncharted waters if we are truly listening to Him and letting Him direct us. It may not be about going to a “far country” as God instructed Abram. But, it may be a tug at your heart to do something else which may take just as much faith. We can’t map out our lives like we do a vacation. When we walk with God, life gets very interesting at many levels. Besides, a “far country” is anywhere that is unfamiliar to us.

Think I’m a little out of balance? Well, it’s okay if you think that. Sometimes I’m not so sure myself. But, I do know this. I trust my God in heaven. I know His voice, and I follow His direction to the best of my ability.

Do I make mistakes? You can be sure of it. Will I again? I’m sure of it. Why? Because I am most certainly human. But, I have plenty to say about how faithful God has been to me in the midst of many a trial and many a storm. Most of them took me on a journey of not knowing exactly where I was going or how I was going to get there. AND, about another million questions. My peace came from within, knowing that God would never fail me because He never has.

Each journey I take with my Heavenly Father, takes more of my trust and faith. And, each journey gets more exciting. Scary, yes, but exciting. God knows where I’m going – that’s what is important.

Walking with God doesn’t allow for being in a rut. Don’t like being uncomfortable? Neither do I, but I want what God wants for my life and that usually means being a bit uncomfortable. It also means not coming to a dead-end. My friends, God wants you still kicking until He calls you to your mansion in the sky. If you sit down and get comfortable you’ll miss out on some exciting things.

Do You Know Where You Are Going!

13 Jun

THE BIG TRIP

Whether you know it or not, God is taking you on a journey. Meditate on the following questions. Open your heart to receive new insights into what God is asking of you.

1. Think about one or two things you are facing that are new to you or that you are not sure about.

2. When you plan a trip there are things you know and things you do not know. Think about the things that are new to you and what challenges they present. Ask yourself if these things are keeping you from doing what God is asking of you.

3. The Destination – Do you know the destination? Did you choose it or did God?

4. Do you enjoy the journey, or do you just want to get to the destination? Most of us just want to hurry up and get where we are going. God doesn’t get in a hurry. There are milestones along the way for you to manage. Don’t let them frustrate you or cause you to turn back. This is the most important part of the journey.

5. If you chose the destination are you willing to let God change it? Or, are you determined to go your own way? Make sure it is a God thing and not just a good thing — because all good things aren’t necessarily God things. His hand is upon those things that He has called you to do. Don’t waste your time with something that does not have His blessing on it.

6. If God did choose the destination, are you charting the course (telling God how to do things)? God doesn’t need you – you need God.

7. How much of your plan is based on past experiences and things you know? This can be a major problem when you are walking in faith. Let God do the leading – He will probably take you down a path you have never been before – Check with Him continually – Make sure you are not just doing what you always do. God may have a much better way — IF you will allow it!

8. What part does fear, anxiety, not knowing the outcome — driving you and to what extent? Oooo – hard one! Remember, God said “Fear not, for I am with you”.

9. When something unexpected happens, do you automatically assume you’ve made a mistake or that you must be headed in the wrong way? Don’t let obstacles stand in your way. Think about the Israelites when they left the only home they new and followed Moses to the promised land. They wanted to turn back at every obstacle. They would rather have lived in the slavery they knew so well than to fight for what God promised them. They just wanted to sit back and let Him do it all for them.

10. When you get where you think you’re headed and it is different from what you had planned, do you try again to go back? Or, do you seek God for you inner peace to determine what your next step is? – DON’T GO BACK! God is able to take you out the front door!

11. Would you just as soon stay where you are or do you really want to take the trip God has planned for you?

12. Do you want to see (learn) new things along the way?

13. Are you willing to let go of what you believe the outcome is to be and let God give you something better? It may not always look better to you. That’s where faith comes in. Trust God. He knows what you want more than you do! Really.

14. Do you understand that “better” to God has a different meaning than “better” to you? Can you, and will you, trust Him to see you through to the end?

15. How many times along the way are you tempted to turn back?

16. How many times have you actually turned back? What were the results? Do you think that means God can’t get you back on track? Charles Stanley says “God always knows how long it will take you to get where you are going and He knows when to start preparing you”. Your timing is not God’s timing.

17. Do you think God could/would change your course or destination along the way? Would you let Him? Or, would you determine that the enemy had come to steal from you? God will definitely change your course many times. He wants you to let him do the driving. I once heard a teacher say that following God is like going through one of those car washes where you stay in the car. God wants you to “Put it in neutral, take your foot off the brake and your hands off the steering wheel”!

Some Hints:

Don’t limit God with the way you are praying.

Don’t do things the way you have always done them before.

Do what you need to do and leave the rest to God.

Experience the lessons in the journey – don’t miss it while anticipating the destination.

When you get where you are going – don’t turn around and go back!

Let God surprise you – trust Him with the parts you don’t know.

What Does The Future Hold?

6 Jun

Today’s world gives us plenty of reason to become discouraged. Worldly conditions are becoming more and more uncertain.  We wonder if things are going to get better. It is frightening. Our economy is bad. Many of us don’t have a job, leaving us with financial problems. There have been hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and wars. Our leaders have been caught lying and cheating. Danger lives on our streets and invades our homes. Our schools are overrun with children out of control. Shootings are taking place in public places where we should feel safe. We are experiencing occurrences in our weather that are inexplicable. We are seeing more bizarre acts of violence. What is happening?

Life is challenging! We work hard and play hard. We move at a very fast pace. We have rigid schedules, time constraints, very little leisure time. Eventually, we become tired and weary. We may even become so exhausted that we begin to make decisions based on our raw emotions. We lose our enthusiasm. We become skeptical, sarcastic, and hard to live with. We may even become so overwhelmed that we become weary and want to give up.

Remember the childhood nursery rhyme, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”? We dreamed about our future, our plans, how wonderful life would be. We weren’t prepared for how difficult things could be. The second verse of that nursery rhyme is, “Row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream”.  We didn’t know that some of our dreams would turn into nightmares!

We couldn’t wait to grow up so we could be in control of our own lives and do what we wanted.  We would then be able to go anywhere and do anything without asking anyone. Well, how did that work for us? It is sort of like joining the army so we wouldn’t have to do what mom and dad said!

Over time, our daily routines can change from exciting and challenging, to dull and boring. Eventually serious issues come up, causing more and more stress, fear, and anxiety.

God wants us to experience unsurpassable peace. It doesn’t mean that the world around us is going to be different. Situations around us won’t necessarily change. People who challenge us won’t be different. Difficult things won’t cease to affect us.

The change that will take place has to be internal. We will begin to transform our way of thinking.

There is good news! God gives us this Word from the Bible.

  • 1 Peter 1:6-9  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  NIV

Inexpressible joy – wow!  Impossible to put into words – unutterable – unspeakable  – can you even imagine what it must feel like to feel so much joy that you cannot put it into words or express it in any way?

Our relationship with God begins in our hearts. Our temperament, personality, disposition and moral fiber come from our hearts. We have to begin there.

  • Prov 2:1-6 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom. . .” NIV

 

  • Prov 2:9-11 “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you,and understanding will guard you.” NIV

Our accountability is to God, our Father, for in our hearts is where He lives. We must develop a personal and intimate relationship with Him. It is paramount to our reaching joy inexpressible. Attaining life’s most important treasures comes from this most important relationship. Nothing else can take His place. We may strive to reach our goals and objectives on our own. We may even gain a little ground. It won’t last. Nothing will last that is not of God. Joy inexpressible only comes only if our spirits are in tune with our Almighty Heavenly Father. It can happen no other way.

Most essential is making Him our first priority. The omnipotent God of the universe, the creator or life who has complete, unlimited universal power and authority wants a personal relationship with us. He wants our hearts devoted to Him. He wants to spend time with us! Joy inexpressible! How can we understand or explain it? We can’t.

When we reach intimacy with God, we will be so in love with Him that He can ask what He wants from us and we will be eager to obey. This is part of what inexpressible joy and peace that passes understanding is all about.