Monday, February 19, 2018

When God Feels Far Away

When my son was twenty, he spent six weeks in Iceland, hiking and backpacking all over the country. I picked him and his buddy up at the airport afterward. They looked disheveled, filthy and like they hadn't had a bath in weeks. Apparently, they hadn't had a bath in weeks! I wanted to give him a big hug anyway, after all, he's my son!  I didn't care what he smelled like, I was just glad he was safely home. But he was too embarrassed, so I told him I'd give him a hug after he got cleaned up.  Once he got home, he got took a long bath and then I was finally able to hug him and welcome him home! I would've hugged him no matter what, but I understood what he was doing. I do it, too.

Sometimes, I feel like that with God. Like I'm too dirty to approach Him. I stay away, as if to protect Him, thinking He certainly wouldn't want to have anything to do with me. I begin to avoid Him, and eventually, I feel far away from Him.

One thing I do know: when I feel far away from God, or unworthy of approaching Him, it's never because of Him. He promised to never leave me or forsake me. So, clearly it's me that moves when this happens. I begin to believe lies..."God probably really regrets making you His child since you can't seem to get it right." or "You're never going to get it right because you know, no matter how hard you try, you will never measure up." You know.... lies. Big ones, that seem so convincing and real.

Why do they seem real? I can tell you, if I'm being completely honest, that when I begin to fall into these thought patterns, I'm usually not in the Word. I think I can manage on my own, I've gotten "busy" or "distracted" and haven't taken the time to let the truths of His Word sink into my heart and mind. So, I'm easily deceived. We are all easily deceived by lies when we don't know the truth.

I was meditating on Ephesians 5:25-26 the other day, and God revealed something very sweet to my heart. Read this carefully:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word." (Ephesians 5:25-26)

As I meditated on this Scripture the other day, it struck me how imperative it is that I study God's Word. I've always known that it was important, I've always felt it was necessary. This verse showed me why, in a way that I had never thought of before.

If you read the verse above again, you'll notice that Christ sanctifies (makes us holy) and cleanses us with the washing of water by the Word. When I'm not in God's Word, learning and meditating on the truths, I begin to feel dirty, in a sense. I begin to only see my sin, not my Savior. I begin to focus on my efforts instead of His. I begin to believe things that His Word clearly tells me are not true. So, what this verse shows me is that I need a "bath". A really good one! From the inside, out. He cleans us up by His Word!  It cleanses our hearts and our minds so we can hear from Him again. It restores hope where despair has set in. It replaces the lies with truth and it gives us peace where anxiety has slipped in.

If you find yourself feeling far from God, here are some practical steps you can take to draw near to Him:   

1. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 Take some time each day to be still, with no distractions, and meditate on His Word. Before you begin, you'll want to pray that He will meet you there and draw near to you as you draw near to Him.  There is actually a wonderful app called Abide that can help you as you learn to meditate and connect with God on a deeper level. I highly recommend it if meditating on God's Word is a new activity for you!

2. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8  Take one verse each day and try to remember what it says. It doesn't have to be word-for-word, but if you can just remember the content of the verse, the context, and the application for your life, you can take your mind there throughout the day. Perhaps when you are at a stop light, when you're waiting in line, when you have a few moments.

3.  "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Talk to God throughout the day, like you would to a good friend. Prayer doesn't have to be with your eyes closed and on your knees all the time. It's just talking to God throughout the day, giving Him your cares, speaking Scripture back to Him and remembering that He is there, with you, every moment of every day. 

4.  "Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord." Psalm Psalm 89:15  Worship God throughout your day! When we worship Him, which basically means "the feeling of adoration and adoration for a deity", we bring delight to His heart, walk in His presence and find true joy.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Podcast with Jonny Fairplay

Had a great time chatting with Jonny Fairplay tonight on his podcast, Survival of the Fairest! We talked about life after Survivor, how I'd play differently if I played again, our thoughts on the season that just wrapped up, and we even got to chat about our faith! If you're interested in checking it out, here's the whole conversation:

Friday, December 29, 2017

Spiritual Terrain

"Like this mountainous planet, we have a mountainous spiritual terrain. Every traveler climbs heights and plunges to depths. As long as you have a pulse, your timeline won't be a flatline. Welcome to the journey of the beloved child of God." -The Quest (Beth Moore)

My husband loves to climb mountains. Really big mountains. Scary ones that I am not sure I am thrilled he wants to climb. He enjoys the discipline of training, the hard work, meticulous planning and the view from the top... but I can honestly say that the climbing part is probably not his favorite part. Crazy thing is, that's why he loves it. He likes to push himself - to take risks that have been calculated carefully and test himself in ways that help him to be a better man, a better leader, a better father & husband. I respect him so much for that. Though I'm sure he's given me a few gray hairs!

As I was reading through The Quest this morning, the above quote made me think about my husband and his excursions. I realized that his climbs are probably just as spiritual as they are physical; because it's a parallel of our journey with the Lord. There are highs and there are lows. There are disciplines, challenges, risks and the more adventures we go on with God, the more we test our character, our hearts and our minds. As a result, our faith grows. The views from the top are always worth the journey that can be extremely dark and difficult. There are times when we will want to quit out of complete exhaustion or frustration. There are times when we almost feel like He is just not with us anymore - that He has left us on our own.

Are you a follower of Jesus who feels like you are currently in a dark depth in your journey? Your journey is not finished. God is working in you and through you and this season, as dark as it may seem, is for a purpose. God wastes nothing. His promises are STILL the same:

"I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." (Matt 28:20)

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be open to you." (Matt 7:7)

"I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind & heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28)

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise." (Hebrews 10:23)

There are so many more scriptures that I could list. Perhaps taking time today to look up some of those scriptures that give you hope will help bring some light into the dark places you are experiencing today? "What I whisper to you in the darkness, shout from the rooftops when daylight breaks!" (Matt. 10:27) This means the light is coming, friend. It's on the way!

Don't. Give. Up.

Trust the process.

God is in this.

And He's got you.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why So Much Evil?

I have struggled with what to say since hearing about the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have literally felt numb. Heartbroken. Grasping at what to say, if anything, that wouldn't sound trite. I have wept as I've seen friends posting things on social media that seem to blame God. Why would He allow this? If He is good, why doesn't He stop it? Why do Christians just say they will "pray"? These are all fair questions.
 
Before I give my thoughts on this, I want you to know something very important. Just because we don't understand why God is allowing things, just because we don't think He's being fair....that doesn't mean we cannot know His heart. He reveals His heart throughout the Scriptures. I may not understand His hand, but I can always understand His heart. Once you really know God's heart, you don't blame Him. You go to Him and ask Him for understanding. That's what I have been doing these past three days.

Just like light, good exists. Darkness is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good. God is Good, God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5) We have been pushing God away in America for years now. He allows us to choose to do this. And when we push the Light away, we are left with darkness. The choices we make as a result of our free will are delivering dire and sickening consequences. That's what evil does. Hear me clear: this is not His will for us. His will is that no one should perish. His will is that all of us would turn to Him. (2 Peter 3:9)

God is not allowing evil to exist for any other reason than the fact that His heart is for all of us to turn to Him. If He extracted evil (and He very well could), He would have to extract the lot of us. It's clear that we are all sinners and fall very short of God's standard of righteousness. (Romans 3:23)
Some evil is way harder to swallow than other evil in our eyes. In His eyes, evil is evil. Sin is sin. It separates us from Him and His heart grieves about that so much. He hates sin so much that He sent His Son to die for us, in our place, taking the payment for our sin, so our sin"would not be counted against us". (Romans 3:21-26, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20) When we recognize and admit that we have evil and sin in our hearts, go to God for forgiveness and receive this unimaginable gift of salvation, when God sees us, He sees us as righteous. Not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done for us. (Romans 10:9, see this article on GotQuestions.org)

If you hate evil, if you hate darkness, I want to let you know that you are loved and God is pursuing your heart. He hates it, too. The evil that happens in this world is a reflection of life without Him, and if you are tired of living that life - a new life is waiting for you. As a believer, I still suffer injustice, I still grieve, I still have to live in this world that pushes God away, but I don't have to look at every single thing as hopeless. Because I know God is good. God is Light - and in Him is no darkness at all. He helps me through the questions, He gives me peace that passes understanding and He helps me make sense of things that seem to make no sense. And when I can't seem to make sense of it, I know I can trust Him - because I know Him.

So yeah, we've had some horribly bad news recently; but I'm here to testify that there is also very, very Good News. And I believe, with all of my heart, that those precious souls who were taken on Sunday were met by Him instantly. They are now in His presence, free of this evil and complete in Him. Their suffering was not in vain. 

I'm not trying to simplify this. I know it's complicated and extremely difficult. I don't have all the answers...but I know the One who knows everything and I know He is good. That gives me tremendous peace.

Pray, friends. Pray like you've never prayed before.  I'm so weary of hearing people say that prayer is a cop out, because it's absolutely not. If you could see the battles raging in the spirit realm, you would know that our loved ones and friends who pray are fighting a tremendous battle. Join with them. And trust me, God hears. He sees, and He is faithful.

Evil will not have the final word.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wrestling with God

This has been a hard year for me, I guess you could say it was a year of wrestling with God. After pulling back from my speaking ministry for a couple of years to focus on a business that ended up failing, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I began to question if God might be mad at me for giving up a thriving speaking ministry for a business that He knew would never even survive! Lies flooded my mind that convinced me that I had blown it. Surely, God had moved on. He would probably never allow me to speak again.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I spoke at a ladies retreat for Mount Pisgah Church. I shared four
Mount Pisgah Church Ladies Retreat 9/15-17 2017
sessions throughout the weekend. The retreat committee asked me to be their speaker last year - long before my business failed and long before these lies began to flood my mind.

As the months and weeks led up to the retreat, I felt really overwhelmed. I even considered calling the retreat coordinator and letting her know I didn't think I was the right one for the job. I felt unqualified. I'm ashamed to admit that there was actually a fear in my mind that God wouldn't show up. What if He didn't show up? I knew I couldn't do this without Him!

Whatever lies came to my mind prior to the retreat, I made a conscious choice not to believe them. I believed His Word instead. The lies still came (daily!) but every time a lie would come, I would fight it with truth. As I prayed last week before the retreat, I was being honest with how unworthy I felt to be someone to share with these ladies. God spoke to my heart: "I led them to you, so you would lead them to Me. Just show up."

He had a plan and He would be faithful to complete it...

It wasn't about me, it was about Him...

Even when I didn't believe it, I prayed He would help my unbelief...

He reminded me that He loved those ladies so much...there was no way He wasn't going to show up.

He also reminded me that He loved me so much...and He was not mad at me.

So, I went.

Shaking, trembling....fighting my unbelief with Truth from God's Word. 

And He showed up. Big time. Maybe more than ever before, because guess what? I was completely surrendered to Him, knowing that in my own strength, this whole thing would fail. I was completely dependent on Him. Where I am weak, He is strong.

He isn't finished with me yet.  I just wrestled with God, and though I may walk away with a limp to remind me that it's not about me, I will never regret or resent this past year.

Because it confirmed my call.

Thank you, Lord.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Total Eclipse!

There is so much excitement here in my little town of Travelers Rest, as we will be in the direct path
of the total eclipse coming up on Monday, August 21. It's going to be a monumental, and historical day. I've never seen a total eclipse and honestly, I think it's pretty amazing that it is coming (literally) directly to my front door in SC!

As I've thought about the eclipse and have read what to expect, I must admit a little anxiety has crept in. Just a little. I mean, it's weird. It will assault my senses and confuse my "normal" for a few minutes. Darkness in the middle of the day - and plunging temperatures almost immediately (we can drop 10-20 degrees in seconds) are kinda freaky sounding to me. Birds go quiet - dogs go crazy. I guess you could say I'm fascinated, but a little freaked out.

Light is so comforting. It's warm. It's inviting, it allows things to grow - to flourish. It is revealing (hello, fitting room lights) and it's also a bit un-nerving if you are in a dark room and someone flicks on the LED light. But the light will be gone. And as excited as we all are (and I know we are!) about experiencing this phenomenon, I really think it's going to be alarming in some ways.

I wonder if an eclipse could be a tool that God uses to reveal to our hearts what the world would be like without the sun. Or perhaps The Son? Even for a few seconds. On the day of the crucifixion, the sun went dark for three whole hours! Can you imagine?

As you read the account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Luke 23:44, the Bible says, "By this time it was about noon and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. the light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary was torn down the middle. The Jesus shouted, "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!" And with those words He breathed His last."

Science claims it was not an eclipse (based on the calendar & the moon), but the Greek word that Luke used when He wrote this scripture was Eklipontos - a participle of the verb ekleipō - which means “fail/leave off/cease.” Whether it was an eclipse or not, it was definitely a Divine Darkness God sent to reveal to the world that in killing His Son, they would lose it's Light. Darkness would ensue.  After all, Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the Light that leads to life." John 9:5, He said, "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

Jesus also claimed in John 3:19-21 says, "God's Light came into the world, but people loved darkness more than the Light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the Light and refuse to go near it for fear that their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants."

Let's be honest here. We are pushing the Son out of our world. We hate the Light because it exposes us and reveals our true hearts.  Every day we read how we are pushing God out of our schools, our families, our governments and even our churches, folks. If we lose our Light, we will live in complete darkness. How can we not see this? Has the darkness appealed more to us than the Light? Do we realize what we are choosing? God is not going to force Himself on a country or a world (or a heart) that doesn't invite Him in. CS Lewis said it best: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." 

I am going to spend some time while enveloped in the darkness of the eclipse thanking God for the Light of Jesus that He willingly sent to this dark, cold world. Hope. Forgiveness. Redemption. The Light that gives us sight and offers light and love to every heart who will invite Him! 

And even for a few minutes or seconds, when the world is dark and cold, may we all be reminded that "Once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true." (Ephesians 5:8-9)

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Help..."

I'll warn you, I'm about to get real here. It won't impress you at all and it might actually tempt you to judge me, but that's between you and God. (smile)

I've usually been a "good Christian girl" who wakes up early and has a set quiet time with God - reading and studying scripture, praying and just being still. However, the past few weeks or so, I wake up for my quiet time and end up getting distracted. I check my messages on my phone, open my
computer and catch up with people on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I post things from my personal page, from my business that is closing, the new job I'm starting and the fundraiser I was organizing. But my Bible lays there - unopened - unread - unused. It got easier, honestly, to just ignore it and get on with my busy day. After all, I have so much to do! But yesterday, things changed.

Though it seemed easier to ignore after awhile, I must tell you something - I have felt every tinge of sadness and grieving in my spirit throughout the day as I have put other things before God. I couldn't shake it and it wouldn't go away, no matter how much I promised not to ignore Him the next morning (and then failed to deliver). I was beginning to feel like I was drowning in a weird way. I felt like I needed Him to save me from myself, but I didn't know how He would ever get through to me.

I got up yesterday, got distracted and then as I was about to get up off the couch to start my day, I realized I had done it again. I had ignored God. I told myself, "You are NOT getting up until you spend some time with Him." But I felt so torn because I had such a big day planned. I whispered, "Help." and then reached for my journal that has some words that would be from Jesus (and Scriptures to accompany and affirm the words) on one side of the page, with the other side being lines I can journal on. I opened it up to yesterday's page and wouldn't you know....God was there. It was so amazing. Here's the first part of what I read on the page:
"What are the triggers that pull you away from Me?
What temptation can yank you from My arms?
What can fling you so easily into the abyss, and then as I wait and reach for you, I hear your small voice, "Help." and I am there."
Are you kidding me? Did He just say that? He heard me whisper, "Help." and immediately, He was there. I read the rest of the page through tears and journaled for the first time in weeks. It was awesome. I asked God to continue to help me, because clearly I didn't have the discipline in my own strength. He is helping me already.

This morning, I woke up at 4:30am - way too early if you ask me - but, it was Him. I know it was. My heart began to race and the first words that came to my heart were, "Yes, Lord". So I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee and spent way more time with God than I had in a long time. I can tell you, my day has been amazing. I don't feel tired. I don't feel defeated and I don't feel my spirit grieving anymore.

If you are struggling to put God first today, why not whisper to Him, "Help." He will be there. He will help you - He only waits for you to ask.

"You will seek Me and you will find Me when you seek me with your whole heart." - Jeremiah 29:13

"My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds "Lord, I am coming."  -Psalms 27:8


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hold On

Hopelessness.
Despair.
Doubt.

There’s no question in my mind that the disciples must have felt these
emotions as they watched Jesus being brutally crucified. What was going on? They gave up everything to follow this man and believed He was the Son of God – the promised Messiah!

Just days earlier, the people of Jerusalem lined the streets while shouting, "Hosanna!" with palm branches and shouts of joy as Jesus made His triumphant entry. But now, there He was, dying a humiliating and horrifying death on the cross. Some of those same people who had earlier hailed Him were now cursing Him and spitting on Him. Some were, along with the disciples, weeping over Him as they still had hope He might be their salvation, their King.

The disciples could not understand at that moment that all was well. They could not understand that the plan was going just as God designed from the beginning of time. At that moment, things looked so dark and discouraging to them…. but resurrection was coming.

Hope was around the corner. If only they had a glimpse of that coming glory!

Friends, if life seems hopeless, overwhelming or confusing, please hold on.

There must always be a death for a resurrection to come.

Death of a dream, death of a relationship, death of a habit that you feel you can never break or even death of our foolish pride – these are types of deaths we all experience in our lives every day.

If only we could have a glimpse of the coming glory! If only we could know that things will get better!

Maybe we cannot understand at those moments that all is well, that things are going just as God designed from the beginning of time. Things may look dark, difficult and discouraging…but resurrection is coming.

Yes, things looked hopeless the day Jesus took His last breath.
But resurrection came. 
And resurrection is coming for you, too.

Hold on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What if?

This is a note to my friends who follow Jesus. I have had so much on my heart lately that I haven't even known what to say, how to speak, how much to share, how much not to share. It's a weird season for someone who loves communication! I think many of you are right there with me, though. This may take a few minutes, so do me a favor and pray before you read on and don't rush through it. Also, when you see a scripture, don't skip over it thinking you already know it (smile).

Friends, hear my heart when I ask you....

What if, in our desire to help "change the world", we are only making things worse?

What if what we are trying to do actually goes against God's perfect plan for us in such a time as this?

What if it's true that people don't change because someone else imposes morality on them, or because of rules or laws? 

We already know from personal experience that people change when hearts change. And how can hearts change if the focus is always on the outward behavior? Galatians 2:21 says, "I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die." And yet, we focus only on the law when we try to change people from the outside, in.

Of course, my heart's desire would be if the laws of the land lined up with the laws of God! What a beautiful day it will be when that happens! Let's keep in mind though, that even WE cannot keep all those laws perfectly. We know that will not happen completely until Christ returns. In the meantime, I am concerned that our focus is more on law and behavior modification than it is our most important calling of all - to love God and love othersJesus said in John 13:34, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.Just as He loved us. That means, in spite of sin. That means, in a broken and deceived state. That means no matter what - unconditional love. 

God knew that people would be most open to His ways and His gospel not through controversy, but through unity and love. He tells us in 1 Timothy 2:8, "In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy." 2 Timothy 2:23-24 reminds us, "Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people."

Remember in Romans 2:4? That verse says, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Are we being kind or are we being condescending? Are we tolerating others or demanding that they change and be more like us? Are we patiently praying for and trusting God for their salvation? Are we pointing fingers at others but ignoring the thing that matters most? By the way, the thing that matters most? Love. 
  
Personally, I'm too aware of my own sin to throw judgment on anyone (Matthew 7:2 makes it clear that the judgment I give to others is the measuring stick that I am judged by...no thanks). Even Jesus didn't come to judge, but He came to save the world from their sin. (John 3:17) That includes me and you.

However, as children of God who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we now have God's Spirit, which gives us the ability and desire to obey His Word. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations."

Don't miss this: He put His Spirit in us so that we can follow His decrees and be careful to obey His regulations. That means, before this happened, we were unable to do this. People who have not accepted Christ are literally incapable of obeying God's laws that we want to impose on them. It's almost like we are trying to get them to obey our Father, but they don't live in our household. It's crazy to think that when we focus on something they cannot understand or accept, that we could change their hearts. No, only He can change a heart.

Billy Graham said it best when he said,  
"It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love."

Galatians 2:16 says, "We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Jesus Christ, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For not one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law."  No, actually, people are made right with God and then (and only then) are capable of obeying the law. (On a side note - take a few moments to read all of Galatians 2 if you can - woo baby!!)
  
Oh, my friends. I am not saying that we lay down and accept things the way they are.  I am
saying just the opposite. But what if getting up and doing something looks different that we thought? What if doing something means we stop being so angry about what is going on around us and started taking inventory of our own hearts? Are we loving people or shoving people? Are we listening or do we just want them to shut up and hear us? Are we showing God's kindness in our lives?  

What if, in the pursuit of holiness and justice, we realized that our hearts are in desperate need of healing, too? 

What if, instead of arguing and shouting, we remember that nobody is ultimately accountable to us, but to God

What if, even though we really thought we were right about something, we realized in humility and admitted that we could be wrong? 

How can we show others His kindness today so that when that day inevitably comes for them, they will hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."? 

So what now?!

Here are some practical, Biblical things we can do to show God's kindness and love to others. Once you read through them, if you have any other scriptures you want to share in the comments, please do!

Colossians 3:12-15 "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in perfect peace. And always be thankful."  

Colossians 4:5-6 "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive, so that you will have the right response for everyone."

1 Peter 3:13-17 "Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.  Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!"


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Learning to Wait

Whatever we need in today’s world of convenience can be had within minutes, if not seconds. We definitely live in the age of instant gratification.
Need to talk to someone? Pick up the phone. No need for wires anymore. No cords. No dials. 
Need something to eat? Fast food. Microwaves. Boxed, prepared dinners. No need to wait. (We won't get into how unhealthy this can be...that's another blog!)
Want to get caught up on the news? Turn on the TV. Or the computer. Within seconds, you’re all caught up.
Folks, we are losing our ability to wait. And it’s killing us spiritually.
Let’s think for a moment…
Noah waited 120 years from the moment he started to build the ark to the moment God brought the first rain drop.
The Israelites waited 430 years in captivity to the Egyptian nation before God rose Moses up to lead them out of their slavery.
There was no word from God for 400 years until Jesus Christ finally came and fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies as the Messiah.
That’s a lot of waiting. 
A lot of years. Centuries, in fact! We can miss the years and years of waiting as we quickly turn the pages of our Bibles in these stories. But don’t you just wonder what those times of waiting must have been like? Clearly, the promise was not forgotten and there was always a remnant of faithful believers who stayed focused on the promise, while living in what seemed to be silence. But I believe there were many who began to doubt.
Are you waiting on something? I know the struggle of waiting. 
Waiting on a phone call from a doctor with a biopsy result. 
Waiting for a word about whether or not I was being offered a job. 
Waiting on an update from family about a sick loved one.
Waiting on God to handle a situation where I saw injustice. 
I’m still waiting on some loved ones to trust in Jesus Christ.
Some things we wait for are serious and some are just the fulfillment of a dream. Sometimes we’re waiting for God to act when we’ve seen and experienced terrible injustice. 
We often have to wait on God. I’m beginning to realize that in that wait, God is allowing us to be tested. He is growing our faith. He is preparing hearts around us and He’s preparing our own heart, too. He is lining up His perfect timing. 
Sometimes He even gives us an answer we do not want to accept after we wait - but we can trust He is protecting us and lining up His plan in the midst of our heartbreak. God is good. Our disappointments and times of waiting do not change that fact.
The Psalms and Proverbs have beautiful scriptures on how we can wait:
Wait honestly:
I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3
Wait quietly:
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. Psalm 62:1
Wait hopefully:
I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:81
Wait patiently:
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1
Wait courageously:
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Wait expectantly:
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:30
Whatever you are waiting for, I want to encourage you to keep believing and use this time of waiting to draw near to God, to learn to trust Him in new ways, asking Him to prepare your heart for the answer. Wait honestly, expressing your feelings to God during those times of weariness. Wait quietly, not complaining to anyone who will listen. Wait hopefully, knowing God hears and God has a plan. Wait patiently, trusting God’s timing is perfect (and usually not the same as ours!). Wait courageously, not fearfully or doubting. Wait expectantly, knowing God is working and He hears you. 
Yes, you can have instant gratification when it comes to waiting on God. But not in the way you might think. You see, it depends on where you choose to place your focus. If you are focusing on what you’re waiting for, you will be disappointed and will not have that instant gratification you’ve probably come to expect in today’s world. 
But if your focus is on God and knowing Him in a deeper way, you will be fully satisfied - instantly - as you seek His face, His purposes and His will. 
Come to think of it, that may just be what you’ve actually been waiting for all along.
Isaiah 30:18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.


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