Archive for September 2013

Faith or Fear

I spend some time in Corporate America doing consulting work. I am struck by people who are credible, good at what they do, yet walk the halls in constant fear of what might happen to them. It’s almost like a strangle-hold that says the corporation is in control of their lives.

Perhaps they have gotten the provider and provision confused. God is our Jehovah Jireh, our provider, and He provides for us in many ways. A job that we have comes from Him. It is His provision for us. So if we have faith that God is our provider, then there is no place for fear. For we must put our trust in Him.

Here’s a verse from 2 Corinthians:

“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Have faith, not fear. We can be confident in our God for all things!

 

A Future and a Hope

In Jeremiah 29 the prophet speaks to those who were carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.

“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”

Jeremiah 29:10-14

You may feel you are captive in a Babylon of your own. God’s promise still holds true. We can call on Him, pray to Him and He will listen. He will deliver us from whatever our modern day captivity is.  Our job is to diligently seek Him, to give Him our whole heart in everything. He is our freedom when we invite Him to take over. He is our future and our hope.

Choosing Godly Behavior

How does God want us to act? In a way that glorifies Him. And yet, we are human, we can’t really do that without His help.

In Galatians 5:22-23, the apostle Paul talks about the fruit of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

The notion here is that if we live with the Spirit in us, we will see these fruits manifested. Does that mean if we get mad, the Spirit suddenly left? No, we are human. Yet, we can choose how to react to something. And, we can ask Him for more of His Spirit to live in us.

For example, if something happens at your job that isn’t what you wanted, you have a choice. You can work through it and focus on getting God to help you through. You can choose joy in the situation. That doesn’t mean to gloss over the pain or disappointment you feel. It means to come back to a place of joy, a place of relying on God’s strength.

We have a heavenly father who wants to help us through circumstances, even when they seem unfair or we don’t totally understand them. When we focus on Him, and lift our eyes to Heaven, He can shine through us no matter what the circumstances. He can grow us through circumstances we don’t like, so that we become exactly what He needs us to be, to carry out His specific purpose for us on the earth.

The Potter and the Clay

In recent days the Lord has directed me to study and ponder Isaiah 29. Verses 15 and 16 give a poignant message. The prophet is speaking to the people of Jerusalem.

“Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord.

And their works are in the dark:

They say, ‘Who sees us?’ and ‘Who knows us?’

Surely you have things turned around!

Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;

For shall the thing made say of him who made it,

‘He did not make me?’

Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,

‘He has no understanding?’”

What leaps out at me about this passage is the notion of the potter being the clay. That God made us, so clearly he understands us, yet sometimes we get it backwards. We start telling God what to do rather than asking Him what to do.

For we are made and molded by His hand. He understands exactly what He created with each one of us, much better than we understand it.

Look to God as your potter, whose loving hands crafted everything about you . . . numbered every hair on your head. He sees your heart, sees your wounds, understands every trouble you have. Let Him be the potter who molds the clay.

Stay the Course

Recently, Diana Nyad, 64 completed her swim from Cuba to Florida, a goal she has pursued for 35 years. With kayaks, divers and other members of her team around, she swam for about 53 hours to complete her 110-mile journey. She finished with minor injuries, yet avoided sharks and jellyfish along the way.

Was this any easy feat? No. And yet Nyad never lost focus, never lost sight of her goal. She did not let fear of looming dangers get in her way.

Is walking and serving God an easy feat? Not always. We may face stumbling blocks of a different nature. Sometimes it’s our own anger, frustration or pain that gets in the way of our goal of following the Lord’s leading. We may not always be the most popular people when we follow God and diligently obey His direction for us. Perhaps there are detractors, who whisper behind our backs about what we do as Christians following God’s direction.

Who is the team we can rely on to support us as we follow the Lord? We all need support of a body of Christ, of a group of Christians who will support us in the right way. They support us in a way that doesn’t tear us down, rather builds and strengthens us to serve Him. That doesn’t mean that we won’t get “tough love” directly from God or from our support system. The tough love needs to be delivered with grace.

On the flip side, if God directs you to share something with a Christian friend, make sure the message is always delivered with grace. For we live now and eternally because of Jesus’ amazing grace! Use His grace and love to support you as you stay the course of your Christian journey.

 

Depending on the Lord’s Wisdom

In Isaiah 29: 13-14, the prophet speaks to the people of Jerusalem about the fact that empty rituals do not bring people closer to God. The principle of resorting to human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom was a spiritual downfall of Jerusalem at that time. We see Jesus and Paul speaking of the same principles in the gospels and 1 Corinthians.

What does that mean for us, who are striving to live a God-centered life? If we go to church and just go through the motions without having an experience with God, how can we grow close to Him? Even if we have a daily quiet time and read the Bible every day, if it becomes a ritual rather than a time to connect with God, it will not serve to build a stronger relationship with Him.

I find that there are many people who have an opinion of what I should do, who are not shy about sharing their ideas. I even get caught up in my human logic about what to do in certain situations.  And yet, my logic is nothing like the wisdom of God.

How do we live by the wisdom of God rather than man? We have to hear Him first. Sometimes He will give you direction during your prayer time, sometimes it happens during Bible-reading time, where a scripture will “leap off the page,” to give you direction in a situation, or God’s insight. When you practice hearing Him, He will begin to direct you, even when you don’t ask Him to.

Stop today, listen for His voice, His direction. Seek His wisdom.

 

 

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