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.