Sunday, December 29, 2013

Are you Prone to Wander?

In 1757 age the age of 22, Robert Robinson penned the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. This verse happens to always pierce my soul:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.
When she was younger, my daughter was prone to wander. She would get mesmerized by something glittery and couldn’t help but to drift away to investigate. I was always asking, “Where’s Janelle?”

She has outgrown her wandering toddler ways. However do we as believers ever mature past the wandering stage of our faith? We are admonished by scripture to “beware lest ye also” (2 Peter 3:17, KJV). This isn’t about losing your salvation; rather that we should be on the guard from following after our own desires instead of God’s will. We are enamored with coveting worldly pleasures, pleasing people, or seeking after financial gain and start to lose our spiritual ground.

It doesn’t take much to wander away from our first love, Jesus Christ. We must stand firm and disciplined in our faith walk so we don’t find ourselves lost and distant from His presence in our lives. What can we do to keep from wandering away from the Lord?

B-        Be aware of your weaknesses
E-        Engage in conversations with God about your weaknesses
W-       Walk in the Spirit
A-        Admit to other believers your struggles
R-        Read scripture intentionally and specifically to your needs
E-        Equip yourself with the full armor of God

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
(1 Corinthians 10:12)

We are secure in our salvation in Jesus Christ. Yet we need to be careful so that we don't become prideful in our own religious activities and deceive ourselves. God is good and He will draw you back to Himself—yet why should you waste precious time? Cling to what is right and let go of anything that draws your heart away from Him.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Living in the Moment

How you ever been challenged to live in the moment? We’re so accustomed to wanting our happy days to last forever and our sad ones to go by as quickly as possible. However, as a child of God—our every single moment on earth has been designed specifically for us!

The Lord knows the number of the hairs on your head. He knew the day of your birth and knows the day when you take your last breath. There’s nothing good or bad that happens to you that He’s not intimately acquainted with.

“What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? (Job 7:17-18).

Isn’t it something that God examines you every morning? His testing isn’t to give you a good or bad grade, but rather to reveal the glory that is within you. The glory of God is exposed when you are pressed and the fragrance of Christ rises up around you. Those you live with, those you work with, and those you worship with will take in the aroma of Jesus.

How many times we resist the molding and shaping that happens when we face various trials and temptations? We want this moment to move swiftly from our midst—but doing so skips one of the most important steps in your spiritual growth—perseverance!

There’s so much more to you than what is on the surface. There’s a rich, deep reservoir of maturity that wells up within the believer who willingly embraces the moments of testing like a courageous soldier of Christ.

Learn to take a deep breath and relax in your moment of testing knowing that God will never leave you and He gives you the strength to go through it.

 The New International Version, 2011. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Let Go

Letting go isn’t easy for some of us. This fall I’m letting go of my oldest and only son going to the military as well as my oldest daughter leaving for college. At this stage of my life, a child will be graduating and leaving every two years. It seems like my day are flying by so fast that I keep losing track of time. Every one of us will experience some kind of letting go in this lifetime. We are made to let go of:

Loved Ones
Good Health
Relationships and so on.

While we may mentally accept that letting go is a part of our lives, we struggle emotionally. Many times we struggle because we don’t want change and we don’t feel ready for the adjustment. Sometimes we struggle because we’re full of regret from what could’ve been if we had done things differently. We also may struggle because we cherish the memories and want to relive them as long as possible.

Whatever the reason for our struggle…we must eventually let go. We can’t move forward to the next journey that God has for us if we stubbornly dig our heels in protest. There’s one main reason you can let go: trusting in God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” 
(Proverbs 3:5-6).

Letting go is possible for those who’ve put their trust in God. If you can trust that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, (whom you’ve never seen) so that you will experience eternal life (which you don’t have yet)—you can trust God in letting go.

The joy of trusting God is that you’ll one day be in a place where you will never, never, never have to let go of anything. Heaven isn’t just sitting around on clouds all day. It’s a place of ongoing activity filled with joy, love, and peace.

We must trust God now while we’re on this earth filled with sin, sorrow, and pain. He is worthy of your trust. The Lord will be with you on this journey of letting go if you would put your hand in His to lead you in the best direction. It's in your best interest to recklessly with all abandonment trust in the Lord.

Let Go…and Let God

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dig out of the Pity Party Pit!

Have you ever felt so frustrated that you were ready to give up? Usually after a deeply disappointing experience, we fall into the triple P (pity-party-pit). Use the following acronym  "DIG OUT!" for the next time when you feel a pity party coming. 

D-        Do something with yourself
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

The easiest thing to do is to roll up in the fetal position and throw a blanket over your head. Instead take a walk, work out, call up a friend for coffee, clean up the house, or bake cookies. Do whatever you need to do to take your mind in a totally different direction.

I-           Initiate the scriptures you’ve memorized in the past
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

It’s the truth you know in your heart and mind that will set you free. Begin to rehearse those scriptures in your mind over and over again until you sense the peace of God taking hold of your heart. When you ruminate on God’s word in faith, your heart attitude changes from despair to hope once again.

G-        Go back to God in prayer
“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 17:6).

When we’re in the pit, we tend to just pour out our frustrations to God. Now it’s time for you to listen. Be quiet in this prayer time listening for the sweet, still voice of the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.

O-        Order your words, actions, and thoughts in line with faith
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Step outside of your situation and look at it again with eyes of faith. Recognize that nothing happens to you without God’s knowledge or presence. He has a plan for your life to turn everything (good and bad) for your best interest.

U-        Understand this tactic of Satan
“For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

One of Satan’s best weapons against believers is the spirit of discouragement. He wants us to get our eyes off God and onto our circumstances. The root of doubt, unbelief, or fear comes from the devil to keep us unstable in our faith so we can’t be about our Father’s business.

T-         Thank God at every opportunity
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

When we’re in the midst of the triple P, we neglect to see all the beautiful and miraculous surrounding us every day. Start with simple thanks…for the air, the trees, and sky. Work your way into your particular situation and find something to give thanks. Expressed appreciation to the Lord always results in lifted spirits.

Get out your shovel of faith and dig your way out of a pity party!

The New International Version, 2011. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tired of Fighting Part II

Don’t you hate constantly being in conflict? What can we do about it? The following checklist is for those who want to be free of conflict as much as possible based on James 4:7-11.

(   ) Submit yourselves, then, to God. (v. 7)
To submit to God means that you recognize that you’re not in control of your life because you’re ultimately accountable to God for what you say and do.

(   ) Resist the devil, and he will flee you. (v. 8)
The devil will make suggestions to your thoughts in a conflict. He will try to convince you of the worst things about a person and give you evil ideas for dealing with them.

(   ) Come near to God and he will come near to you. (v. 8)
God doesn’t want us to run away from Him when we mess up. He wants us to come to Him, confess our sins, and be free from the guilt, shame, and regret that plagues.  

(   ) Wash your hands, you sinners. (v. 8)
Did we raise our voice? Curse someone out? Hit somebody? Whatever we did in this conflict that didn’t honor God—we need to confess our sins to one another.

(   ) Purify your hearts, you double-minded. (v. 8)
Sometimes we can sit and stew about something until it steals our joy and peace. We need to look intently at our hearts where pride, jealousy, or envy can reside.

(   ) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (v. 9)
Choose to resist glorying in your conflict. While it may be funny or pleasurable for a season—the ramifications of our sins can follow us for life. Recognize that Jesus bore the cross because of your sin.

(   ) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (v. 10)
Choose to lower yourself. You make the choice to forgive others if necessary. Begin to see the bigger picture that God wants to use you in great ways, but your pride will block it.

(   ) Brothers [and sisters], do not slander one another. (v. 11)
Resist the urge to slander the one you disagree with. You stay above the conflict by not talking about it with other people—except if you are seeking wise counsel from a mature believer.

After following the checklist, ask yourself this question:

Am I handling this conflict in such a way that this person would want to know Jesus after dealing with me?

We are called to peace not conflict. We are called to resolve conflicts quickly with grace and mercy. We are called by God to be His representatives first in our home and then to the world.

Aren’t you tired of fighting yet?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tired of Fighting?
How many of us have ever had a fight or quarrel in the last 24 hours? Most of us have had some disagreement with others. Reality TV shows center around some kind of drama. If everyone got along, the show would be cancelled. It’s reminiscent of the school days when someone yelled out, “Fight! Fight!” and the mob of people would run to watch the unfolding drama.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1).
We have fighting not only in the world of reality TV, but actually in the church! Everyone knows about fighting in churches, but it’s not God’s will for His people. We’re to show the world a better way and stay above it—not being drawn into a stupid, messy fight.
Why do we fight?
#1) Wanting our own desires first 
God will grant the desires of your heart when you seeking His will and not your own selfish gratification. We need to first look for what is best for the kingdom of God in the right way and then He will take care of what you desire. (Matthew 6:33).
#2)  Wanting but never attaining 
God grants our desires according to His will and not ours. We frustrate ourselves when we mix up our needs with our wants. God meets all of our needs according to His riches and glory. (Philippians 4:19)
#3)  Refusing to ask God first
Many people don’t want to ask God first because they are ashamed because He sees their heart. We know it’s wrong to ask for things like…another woman’s husband or to win a million dollars in the lottery. We don’t ask and then we take it out our frustration on those around us. (2 Kings 1:13)  
#4) Asking with wrong motives
We get frustrated when God doesn’t answer our prayers, but we don’t want to take the time to examine our hearts to make sure our motives are right. Pure motives desire Gods' will even if we don't get what we want out of it.
In all of the above, we take out our frustration on people and then we have quarreling between ourselves. What are we to do when faced with this kind of conflict? Check out the next blog Tired of Fighting Yet Part 2 to find out.
The New International Version, 2011. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Talk to the Hand!

Is it easy to ignore criticism? Things like I think your spouse was flirting with me, your child needs more structure, you could stand to lose a few pounds, you didn’t have to be so harsh, or just simply…you need Jesus. Ugh…it’s painful.

Why is it so difficult for us to hear truth?

Because truth demands change! Anyone who rejects the truth of godly counsel will remain in their baby state of faith. Let’s grow up and take steps of faith.

Step #1)          Confess our sins. 
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and 
purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). 

Sin causes us to stumble and darkens our eyes to the truth. Our unwillingness 
to deal with sin keeps us from moving forward to a better life of peace 
and stability. Deal with it by owning up in confession and 
receiving God’s forgiveness.

Step #2)        Acknowledge the truth from the Spirit of God.
“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:6).

God the Father sent the Spirit of truth to lead and guide us in the right direction. He speaks in a still, small voice in our spirits, but we can’t hear Him if we are too busy listening to our idols. We need to be quiet before God and listen.

Step #3)          Live the truth we know from the Bible.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”
(James 1:22).

By consistently reading, memorizing, and meditating on God’s word, we will live the truth. Live what you understand from the Bible to be right. No more excuses. God gives each believer the grace to live righteously.

Step #4)          Repent of bad behavior.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

To repent is showing that you’re no longer ignoring truth. You may have to apologize to someone, pay back money you owe, or walk away from certain friends. Repenting is the proof that you’re living for Jesus Christ and not for yourself.

Step #5)          Walk in restoration with God and people.
“Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

We can take medicine to heal our physical bodies, but the only medicine for a broken spirit is the Lord. When we turn away from our own ways and turn towards Christ, He heals our hurts. He wants us to come with a broken and contrite spirit so He can heal our wounds.  

Should we accept all criticism as if we have sinned? Of course not. We must pray for discernment and be willing to ask the question “Is there truth to what I’m hearing?” Always screen criticism through the light of God’s word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Put down the hand of protest and receive the gentle pruning from God.

 The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

When God says Wait!

Waiting isn’t fun whether it’s in traffic, the grocery line, or the doctor’s office. It’s even more difficult when you are waiting on God to answer your prayers. You don’t have a definite “yes” or “no” so you hang in limbo.

A “wait answer” from God doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to do. Waiting on God is an opportunity for you to grow up stronger and more mature in your faith. It stretches your trust in God’s best timing.

What to do while you wait?

W-    Walk Closer to God
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Your most intimate times will be in the quietness of His presence. This happens when you set a deliberate time and place to meet consistently with God. Have your Bible, notebook, and worships songs (or hymn book) nearby.

A-    Ask for a greater measure of faith
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).

God increases your measure of faith when you make His word a more predominant feature of your life. Your Bible should be opened more often during the week than just on Sundays. Waiting on God means engaging your heart and mind to read, meditate, and pray specific scriptures every day.

I-     Investigate your motives
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Could you give up your request if God wanted you to? Or do you clasp your hand tightly over it? God knows your heart better than you do. Hand your desire back to God so He can mold and shape it into something much better than what you could’ve imagined.

T-     Trust Him
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all our ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Consider God’s reputation in the Bible, in your life, and in the testimonies of other believers. Hasn’t He been faithful to you? Has God ever failed you? You see what is in front of you, but God sees everything. He’s got the big picture in mind and He won’t let you down if you trust completely in Him.

God is faithful to hear and answer every single prayer according to His will, not yours. If you really believe that God exists and shows His favor on those who love Him—you will grow up in your faith whether He answers yes, no, or wait. He’s got your back.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When God Says No

It feels like a dead end to hear “no.” A parent, a spouse, a friend, a boss, or God can refuse your request leaving you with questions that may never be answered.

What do we do when God tells us no?

Throw a temper tantrum?
Stop praying or reading your Bible?
Stop attending church?

Let’s be honest and admit that sometimes we want to quit the faith when things don’t go our way.

Just as earthly parents tell their children “no” in order to protect them, God does the same thing with us. His unconditional love won’t allow a “yes” for requests that run against His will for your life or the generation coming behind you.

What should you do when God says “no”?

Step #1)          Trust completely God’s loving hand over your life.
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust” (Psalm 25:1).

When God says no, it will break your heart and you may be tempted to not trust in Him with all your heart. Yet this is what trust is—trusting when you can’t understand His ways. When you trust in God in the darkness, your walk with Him becomes more keen and clear than if you could always see what’s next.

Step #2)          Recommit to follow Christ no matter what.
“But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

When Nebuchadnezzar threatened Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego with the agonizing death by fire, they recommitted themselves to serve only God even if they had to die. Every believer will be tested in this way that will stretch and grow our faith so that we will learn perseverance under fiery trials.

Step #3)          Revaluate our life journey with God.
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38).

Taking up your cross isn’t a pretty walk across a park. At times it’s difficult, painful, and heartbreaking. You need to make sure that you’re all the way in the faith. Jesus gives meaning in the madness, strength to the weary, and salvation to those who turn to Him with their whole heart.

Step #4)          Surrender your will to His will
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

God wants each one of us to come to the place of reckless abandonment to His will for our lives. We surrender our hopes, dreams, and visions for His ultimate glory. As a result, we faithfully trust in His ability to give us the good and perfect gifts in His timing.

When God says “no,” He is doing you a HUGE favor. Check out the next blog, When God says Wait, to learn the last step in answered prayers.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Friday, June 21, 2013

When God Says Yes!!!
God said yes after you’ve prayed, sought godly advice, considered your circumstances, and stepped out on faith, right? Now strap in and begin the journey of the bumps, potholes, and swerves.

God said yes and you made the team, but sit the bench. God said yes and you get the job, but have a horrible boss. God said yes and you bought the house, but the basement flooded. Did God really say yes? 


Bumpy Road #1)       Be careful what you ask for!
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”
(Proverbs 16:9).

When God answers our prayers we often expect everything to be easy street. However we must keep in mind that God’s ways are always bigger than our desires. His plans for your life are often much bigger than you because He’s working everything for the good of those who love Him.

Bumpy Road #2)       Expect to be blessed above and beyond what you asked for!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

God will always outdo your expectations because He loves and wants you to experience His abundant blessings. The Lord looks beyond our meager requests and pours out a blessing that we can’t keep to ourselves. He blesses us to be a blessing to others whether it’s spiritual, emotional, physical, or financial.

Bumpy Road #3)       Stay alert to the strategies of the enemy!
“In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

When David was at rest from warfare, he fell into the horrible web of adultery, murder, and lies. It’s when everything seems to be going our way that our enemy, Satan, will launch a sneak attack on our minds. Keep aware of his schemes and continue to stay close to the Lord in prayer and Bible study even when you aren’t in the desperate straits before He answered said yes.

Bumpy Road #4)       Recognize that God isn’t always going to say yes!
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

God isn’t your own personal Santa Claus. He’s your Father in heaven who knows what is best for you at the right time and the right purpose. The Lord isn’t waiting around to answer all your prayers so that you could have a comfortable life. Rather He will make you uncomfortable to stretch and grow your faith in Him.

Don’t be surprised about your bumpy road, rather continue to trust in Him and rejoice in the fact that He’s hearing your prayers and answering them according to His will—not yours. But what happens When God Says No...check out my next blog to find out!

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What is God’s Will for my Life? Part 2

It’s difficult at times to discover God’s will for your life. 
Take the following S-T-E-P-S in order to understand the best direction for you: 

S-     Seek Intimacy with God  
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).

Do you really want God more than you want His direction? Intimacy with God doesn’t happen overnight. True intimacy is developed over time with honest effort. Faith will compel you to set aside prayer time and Bible study to know God better.

T-     Take in Godly Counsel
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20).

Make sure to carefully examine the life of your advisors. They should be people of spiritual maturity without the pretense of religious hypocrisy. A godly advisor will always want God’s best for you over their personal preferences.

E-     Examine your Circumstances, but don’t rely on them
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).

Sometimes God can speak through your circumstances, but this calls for wisdom. The Holy Spirit will enlighten your heart to the correct scripture for your situation. Your circumstances should always take second place to the leading of the Spirit and scriptures.

P-     Pursue Steps of Faith
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).         

At some point in time, you have to take that step of faith by trusting in God. At first, you may be wobbly and unsure, but keep the scriptures foremost in your mind. God loves for His people to rest in His provision, protection, and peace.

S-     Sort out the Bumps along the Way
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26).

No path will be smooth everyday all the time. You need bumps along the way to keep you close to the Savior. Remember God is with you no matter what…even if you get off the road, He will steer you back in the right path. Be faithful.

God always answers prayers with either yes, no, or wait. As you mature in the Lord, you will learn to have peace even if the answer isn’t what you wanted. Check out my next blog When God says Yes  in preparation for following God’s will for your life!

The New International Version. 2011. Grand RapidsMI: Zondervan.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What is God’s Will for my Life? Part 1

Have you ever been frustrated because you don't know which way to go…but you’re sure that you must go somewhere? God promises to show us the way:
·         “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalms 32:8).
·          “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
·          “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
·          “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).

But why are you not hearing anything? Let’s start with a few questions first:

#1)  What is God teaching me in this period of waiting?
God is always teaching us through the joys and adversity of life. Sometimes the Lord is quiet for a season to develop our trust in His word. God speaks everyday through the Bible. At anytime you can open up the scriptures and read aloud what He is saying to you. Knowledge and application of God’s word is a vital part of hearing what the Lord is saying to you. 
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalms 119:105).

#2)  Is there any sin in my life?
Many times we sin and keep going because we haven’t reflected over our day to see if we have offended the Lord or others with our words, actions, attitudes, or thoughts. Make it a habit to begin or end each day with a question to God: have I sinned against You? Be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction and assume responsibility for your sin.  
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”
 (Psalm 66:18).

#3)  Am I willing to be on God’s timetable and not mine?
We are so accustomed to having our way—the way we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Yet God has a master plan for each one of us with a purpose that is always bigger than our small time agenda. God moves in His own timing no matter what’s going on around us.
 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

After you have prayerfully considered these questions, it will be time for you to take the next S-T-E-P-S in knowing what God’s will is for your life. Check out Part 2 so you will make the right move.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Your Questions…God’s Answer

Job had questions about his situation. His friends offered their opinions, but they fell short on the answers Job was seeking. After both Job and his friends finished talking—God showed up in a storm and said:

“I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:3).

God has a history of asking questions:
Adam was asked “Where are you?”
        Cain was asked, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
                  Moses was asked, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”
                            Elijah was asked, “What are you doing here?”
                                         Peter was asked, “Why did you doubt?
                                              The disciples were asked, “Who do you say I am?”

What questions do you have for God? First observe His questions to see if you can come to Job’s conclusion of: 
“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” 
(Job 42:2).

Question #1) “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).

Answer: His Plan
God has a plan even in the most chaotic events in your life. You are most tempted to doubt His love for you during trials and tribulations. However you’re never outside of His love when bad things happen. Praying to God consistently and studying the Bible diligently gives reassurance that a loving design is being worked out for your good and His purposes.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Question #2) “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)

Answer: His Presence
God never takes a vacation. He’s everywhere all the time. You may be tempted to believe that God has left you when desolation crowds in on your life. Just because you don’t sense His presence doesn’t mean that He’s checked out. Have faith in God. He is with you in the days of light and days of darkness.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Question #3) “Would you discredit my justice?”(Job 40:8).

Answer: His Patience
God isn’t blind to injustice. You cry out for God’s hand to intervene in response to wickedness and yet see nothing changing. You may be tempted to take matters into your own hands. However, if you step back and trust, you’ll see that God is longsuffering and demonstrates fairness in the final judgment for the righteous as well as the unrighteous.   
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Question #4) “Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?” (Job 40:9)

Answer: His Power
God’s power is beyond human comprehension. During your most difficult days you may be tempted to forget that He is all powerful. However you must remember that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lifts you up to overcome adversity. Your God has all the power over everyone including the devil and his followers.
“Power belongs to you, God” (Psalm 62:11).

When you are suffering through a trial, draw strength from your faith in God—
His Perfect Plan for your life,
             His Comforting Presence to keep you going,
                       His Enduring Patience to sustain you, and
                                        His Absolute Power to keep you.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Got Questions?

When Your Life Begins to Turn Upside Down 

Have you ever questioned God when you’ve been hit unexpectedly by heartache? Job was a righteous man who served God with all his heart. He was blessed with children, wealth, and status—but in one day he lost everything. Job asked questions without sinning against God.

Though he [God] slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).

Why did I not perish at birth? (Job 3:11)
When going through a trial, you may feel that your birth was a mistake. 
You may think that your hurtful experience would’ve been avoided if you were never born.  
Answer: "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). 

You could’ve died at birth, but by the grace of God you survived. This is your life journey—all the good and all the bad—you can make it in Christ. In this trial He is working all things for your good even though it’s difficult to bear.  

What strength do I have that I should still hope? (Job 6:11)
Even the strongest of men and women in spirit, mind, and body 
have been brought down to their knees when tribulation visits.
Answer:  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:4).

One of the first lessons to learn in every trial is that you have no strength to deal with it on your own. Call on the Lord to replenish your spirit, mind, and body so you can move forward with your life.

Why have you [God] made me a target? (Job 7:20)
Do you ever feel like there is a bull’s eye on your forehead? 
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a “normal” life?
Answer: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 
(2 Corinthians 12:9).

God is using your pain to prove your faith. This leads to perseverance and makes you grow up in Christ. Every time you pray, serve, meditate, love, and forgive in spite of your trial, you become stronger in your faith.  

Who can say to him [God] “what are you doing?” (Job 9:12)
Tunnel vision can happen when you’re suffering. 
It’s difficult to step back and see what God is doing in and around you.
Answer: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declared the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Although you may feel like you’re alone and drifting, God is at the helm of your boat—leading and guiding along the way. He is your compass through your dark days and worthy of your trust.

Now What?

Job’s pain began with,
“I cry out to You, God, but You do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.” (Job 30:20)

Job’s pain ended with,
“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted”(Job 42:2).

What happened in between? 
God answered Job with His own questions.
Check out the next blog "Your Questions...God's Answer" into this awesome transformation.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What do you want? Part II

           Have you ever been exhausted waiting for God to answer your prayers? Or have you ever prayed for something so much bigger than you—that only a God-intervention makes it happen? 

Sometimes it feels like biting off more than you can chew.

I prayed for a BIG THING years ago. I was tired of praying about it even though I felt assured in my spirit that I was in the right direction. Nothing around me looked like it was ever going to happen.

Did I Miss God?

I wondered if I got off the wrong track somewhere. I checked and rechecked my motives. I sought godly counsel and advice. I even asked God to shut the door if it wasn’t His will. But the door always remained slightly ajar—not quite open, not quite closed. One day I fell back on my bed and said aloud, “Whatever happens…happens.” I was tired of wanting what may never happen. Believing in prayer became too hard. I heard a strange question in my mind:

So you want an Eliezer?

Eliezer Prayers (Genesis 15:2)
Abraham was frustrated because he was promised to have children numbering as the stars in the sky. Yet years later, he still was childless. Eliezer was Abraham’s head servant and destined to become the heir of the household.For Eliezer to become Abraham’s heir—he wouldn’t have to believe God. 

Whatever happens…happens. But God wanted Abraham to press forward in faith. God wants us to press forward in faith as well in spite of our BIG THING. We could just throw up our hands and give up. It is much easier in the short run, but if we do—we will always wonder What if I pressed in faith and believed God?

Ishmael Prayers (Genesis 16)
Sarah advised Abraham to sleep with her servant, Hagar, to produce an heir. It was simple biology 101—no faith required. It was an act of the flesh to bring about their answered prayer without having to wait on God. Their manipulation of God’s original plan with human effort only caused more pain and agony.

When asking God for our BIG THING, we may be tempted to step in the way and make it happen. We may seek human help/intervention financially or we may manipulate people or scripture to justify our actions. At any rate, it’s our own way and God won’t get the glory.

Isaac Prayers (Genesis 15:6)
Prayers of faith for that BIG THING may take time, effort, and patience. It’s the best way because the outcome results in the total glory going to God. For Abraham and Sarah to have a child in their old age was God. There’s no other explanation for 2 elderly people to have a son that would lead to the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God got the glory!

Your answered prayer to the BIG THING will have nothing to do with your skills, intelligence, influence, or financial status. It’s a magnificent testimony of God’s goodness and grace in spite of yourself.

My BIG THING took 18 months of praying, believing, trusting, and waiting. In that time I told others about it, even though I knew if it fell through, I would be embarrassed. But instead other people began to believe in God for their BIG THING. Not for worldly possessions to consume on our lusts, but rather to use our prayers of faith as a powerful and effective weapon in building up the kingdom of heaven.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

The New International Version. 2011 (Jas 5:16). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.