We Miss Out When We Refuse to Wait

waiting

Luke 11:5-10 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

Just after giving the model of prayer, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus uses a story to press home another dimension of prayer.  He describes a man who goes to a friend late at night to borrow some bread.  The friend doesn’t want to help, but ends up giving him the bread because the man continues to ask.  The point, according to Jesus, is that we should keep asking, keep searching, and keep knocking because only then will we get all that we need.  But God already knows our needs, so why make us go through the continual asking, searching, and knocking?

Maybe Jesus knows that we need something that can only come through persistent waiting.  Just as we can’t display love without first having someone to love, we can’t develop perseverance without first having something through which we persevere.  God wants to develop patience and perseverance in us, and He has chosen to do so through moments and even seasons of waiting.  So when we intentionally and habitually avoid waiting, we rob ourselves of becoming the person God created us to be.

Jesus isn’t asking us to always choose the longest checkout line at the store.  But following Him sometimes means that we are asked to do things that are contrary to our impatient nature.  What if we spent time praying in those traffic jams rather than fuming?  What if a confusing time of indecision about the future is God’s call on us to wait on Him in prayer?  His lack of answering prayer may be His best way of drawing us to Him to keep asking.  We will only know if we start waiting.

J.I. Packer, a Canadian Christian theologian once said, “When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God.  When action is needed, light will come.”  Sometimes we do something just to do something.  Maybe we would be better served by doing nothing and just waiting.  We need to trust that God will work out all things for our own good.

What makes you so annoyed at waiting?

Where do you think God may be calling you to wait and persevere in prayer?

May we approach our times of waiting as a chance to draw closer to God.  We will be rewarded for our waiting many times over.  By not waiting, it usually leads to us settling for something less than what God intended for us and I don’t think that is the kind of treasure that any of us wants.

Advertisements
Posted in Attitude, Bible, Change, Communication, Decisions, God, Growth, Jesus, Opportunity, Reinventing Yourself, Relationships, Thoughts/Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Good Stuff Is

good-stuff

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 (NIV)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

God’s plan for us is much bigger than anything we could ever imagine.  It’s beyond anything we could ever cook up in our own finite minds.  Sometimes it takes a scary experience to remind us of the fact that our lives were meant to be so much more than what we are currently making of them.

Sometimes we are faced with situations in life where we find ourselves asking ourselves:

What have I done with my life so far?

Have I listened to God?

Have I really lived my life to the fullest?

Have I heard God’s voice?

Most people run from experience to experience, connecting a random set of dots in hopes that somehow they’ll extract meaning, significance, and maybe, just maybe, bliss, if they are lucky.  Meanwhile, right under the surface, a divine rhythm is calling us into something more.  What a tragedy it would be to have a life of scattered, meaningless interests when spiritual bliss is right there for the asking.  What a waste to live a just-getting-by faith when we are promised life to the fullest.  Jesus reminds us of this fact in John 10:10:

John 10:10 (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus tells us that the reason He came was to give us life – life to the absolute maximum.

Revel in this truth today.  Forget about what happened yesterday, a week ago, ten years ago.  That’s futile to try to change the past.

Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, once said, “It is quite true what philosophy says: that life must be understood backwards.  But then one forgets the other principle: that it must be lived forward.”  I agree with Soren.

Here are three questions I want us to ponder today:

What good stuff has God been doing in your life recently?

How has God’s plan been bigger than you could imagine?

How has God been calling you to Himself to experience more of Him?

 

Focus in on Jesus today.  I mean laser focus.  He is where the good stuff is.

Posted in Bible, Dependence, faith, God, Growth, Inspirational, Jesus, Motivational, Prioritize, Reinventing Yourself, Thoughts/Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Message of Hope

hope5

Job 23:10-14 (NIV)

10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
    I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
    I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
    He does whatever he pleases.
14 He carries out his decree against me,
    and many such plans he still has in store.

 

Imagine going to a nice restaurant for dinner.  The table is set with linens, fine china, and crystal glasses.  The waiter delivers your plate with a flourish of gusto.  In the middle of that exquisite plate is a single marshmallow.  What a letdown!  Instead of receiving a nutritious, meaty meal, you are left with a puff of sugar and no satisfaction.

If we become lax, our lives can resemble that disappointing meal.  Instead of being believers with a weighty message full of hope, we can find ourselves with nothing to offer but a bit of fluffy sweetness.  God’s message is meant to nourish and sustain; our family, our friends, and even we ourselves cannot be satisfied by meager provisions.  Our Father wants us to have such an impact on those around us that people will never be the same after knowing us.

If God is building a valuable message into our lives, we must receive everything that comes our way as being from Him.  When a bad event passes through God’s will to affect us, He will bring good from it.  We know this from this verse found in Romans:

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Truthfully, a person can share a message of hope more effectively if he or she has first suffered.  When we are hurting, we seek comfort from people who have faced similar hurt.  Likewise, others will trust our comfort if we have known similar pain.  Tough times can destroy is as a person or, if we choose to learn and grow from it, can bring us to a whole new level.  Choose to be the latter.

Whatever the circumstances, we should be evaluating what God is doing in us.  Like a gem polisher, He will work off our rough edges by running us up against tough experiences and people. When we look for His purposes and lessons, we are hastening the time when our life message reflects the hope that is available in Jesus Christ.

Posted in Attitude, Bible, Change, Communication, Decisions, Difficult Times, God, Growth, Image, Inspirational, Jesus, Motivational, Opportunity, Reinventing Yourself, Relationships, Thoughts/Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Happens to Us As We Do God’s Will?

gods-will

Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

Too often our lives are filled with merely trying to survive each day.  If we can just get to the end of our days without committing a major mistake of making someone upset, we call it a successful day.  But God desires so much more for us as His children.  His will is that our lives be filled with purpose and meaning each and every day.

The Book of Colossians speaks to us about God’s will.  Paul specifically prays that God would fill believers with the knowledge of His will in verse 9 from the above reading.  Not only do we want to know God’s will, but apparently God wants us to know it also!  He wants us to know it because He know that His will is the best for us as His children.

Then in verse 10, we read what happens when we live out His will.  First, we start walking in a way that is worthy of Him.  Our walk refers to our day-to-day interactions and decisions, and these should represent His name and reflect His love.  Paul says that if we do this it will “please Him in every way.”  Our lives are to bring God pleasure and delight, in the same way a son brings joy to his father.

Later in verse 10, we read that as we walk in God’s will, we will be “bearing fruit in every good work.”  The fruit of the Spirit is certainly a part of this (as we see in Galatians 5:22-23), but fruit can also refer to our work for the kingdom and the good effect that we have on others.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Lastly, in verse 10, we read that we will be “growing in the knowledge of God.”  As we do God’s will, we will come to experience His character and presence in richer and fuller ways.

As pastor Rick Warren once said, “Focusing on ourselves will never reveal life’s purpose.”  I think that those people who are struggling to find their purpose in life might be focusing on the wrong thing.  Instead of focusing on themselves and coming up with their own answer, maybe they should put their focus on God and ask Him to help give them the answer they are seeking.

To know and do God’s will is to find that deeper purpose for our lives.  A purpose that takes us out of ourselves and mere survival and calls us up into His larger, redemptive story.

When do you feel the greatest amount of meaning and purpose in your life?  Is God a part of those times?  If He isn’t, you might find that connecting with God and His will for your life can open up a whole new level of purpose and meaning in your life.  Maybe your days of “just surviving the day” could be a thing of the past.  We only get one life to life so we really should seek to live the best possible life that we can.  We will never be able to do that on our own.

A life with God is immensely better than one without Him.

Posted in Accountability, Attitude, Communication, Decisions, Dependence, Fruits of the Spirit, God, Growth, Influence, Inspirational, Motivational, Opportunity, Reinventing Yourself, Relationships, Thoughts/Mindset, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Your Life Message?

life-messages

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

What statement is your life making?  Every person testifies to personal beliefs and priorities by the way he or she lives their lives.  Jesus said that to the watching world, believers should be like salt and light, which simply can’t be ignored.  If we add salt to soup, the improved taste is obvious, and when we bring light into a room, darkness goes away.  Our character, conduct, and conversation should make a loud and clear statement about the importance of God, the necessity of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

To live a life of significance that brings glory to the Lord, believers must begin by reading and studying the Scriptures.  As we meditate on His Word, God reveals Himself, and we gradually absorb His principles into our daily living.  This is how God slowly changes and transforms us from the inside out.  This enables us to make a greater impact on the world.  It enables us to make God’s light shine into the world.

One good way to learn Scripture’s lessons is by researching the lives of great saints like Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, Esther, Mary, and Paul.  A person could spend many weeks studying each one’s life message, as revealed in the Bible.  Their stories have much to teach us about the way they coped, what they discovered from mistakes, and how they interacted with God.

We can also find some godly people that we know and talk to them.  Learn what they do to intentionally live godly lives.  Let them be your mentor and let them help you in your own efforts to move in a more godly life message.

From these biblical accounts as well as other passages, we learn that our heavenly Father has a goal for our lives.  He desires to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.  Recognizing this, we can set an example of successful godly living for others to follow.

Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

In this passage, Paul is asking us to follow his example.  My challenge for this week is to take the time to learn a little more about the example Paul is talking about and put into motion some rhythms in our lives that will bring us a little closer to living an example similar to his.

This will not be an easy task, but it will be so worth it.

Posted in Attitude, Change, Communication, Decisions, God, Influence, Jesus, Life Stories, Mentoring, Motivational, Opportunity, Reinventing Yourself, Relationships, Thoughts/Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiveness Starts With Yourself

forgive

Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

 

Often our inability to master a certain skill or our response to a shameful situation causes us to feel anger and self-condemnation.  When we allow the seed of self-condemnation to grow, it sprouts bitterness and cynicism, the opposite of love.

Jesus was once asked about His view on the most important commandment in the law.  He said there were actually two:

  1. to love God
  2. to love your neighbor as yourself

Often, it is summarized as “love God; love people.”

Unfortunately, when we summarize it in this way, we miss such an important element of what Jesus actually said, which was loving our neighbors as ourselves.

So we must ask the question: Have we allowed ourselves to be loved and forgiven by both God and others?  Not just knowing that Jesus paid for our sins, but experiencing His forgiveness and feeling loved by Him?  Or, are we choosing to believe the lie that we are stuck just the way we are?

Gipsy Smith, a British evangelist, once said, “There’s no sight like seeing the light from Calvary kiss a human face as it fills the heart with the assurance of Divine forgiveness.”  Have you felt that Divine kiss in your life?

So many of the laws God gave to His people concerned relational matters, and one of them speaks about loving your neighbor as yourself.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

See, Jesus wasn’t the first to say this.  Jesus was quoting the law in His answer; it was nothing new.  The people who worshiped God had known about this commandment for thousands of years.  We are still commanded to love ourselves first so that we can love our neighbor, for we can only give what we have received.

So what is holding us back?  If Jesus’ work is enough to rescue us for eternity, why wouldn’t it be enough for our forgiveness in the present?

Where do you struggle to feel forgiven and loved by the Lord?

Let’s all take a moment, wherever you are as you are reading this, and take a deep breath and allow ourselves to feel forgiven and loved.  Once we do that, then and only then, will we be able to truly pass it on to others.

Posted in Accountability, Attitude, Communication, Forgiveness, Fruits of the Spirit, God, Grace, Jesus, Opportunity, Relationships, Thoughts/Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Really Understand Jesus’ Sacrifice?

sacrifice

Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV)

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

Jesus journeyed into the deepest pit of despair hours before His crucifixion.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He repeatedly prayed for “the cup” to pass from Him.  Christ was staring into a chalice of wrath and judgement that must have made His soul recoil.

Isaiah 51:17(NIV)

17 Awake, awake!
    Rise up, Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord
    the cup of his wrath,
you who have drained to its dregs
    the goblet that makes people stagger.

Mankind had filled that cup with the most depraved deeds and thoughts that they could conceive.  According to Scripture, Jesus Christ did not just die for our sin; He became our sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The holy, perfect Lamb of God took upon Himself all that was vile and dark within each of us.

Jesus knew the consequences of taking on Mankind’s evil.  God’s holiness prevented Him from being in the presence of sin.  Therefore, the heavenly Father would have to separate Himself from the Son.  Jesus had always enjoyed perfect oneness with God.  To contemplate a wrenching rejection must have been terrifying and heartbreaking.

There was no question that Jesus would obey the will of God.  He would become sin and be separated from the Father, if that’s what was required to save mankind.  So, yes, in the garden, He pleaded for another route to our redemption.  However, when it was clear that the Father’s answer was, No, this is the only way, Jesus obediently sacrificed Himself for us.

Jesus Christ sacrificed more than His life.  He exchanged perfection for wickedness and holy union for separation.  The Savior did this so we could be transformed into righteous men and women with an eternal future.

No wonder all of heaven exalts Him.

Revelation 5:11-14 (NIV)

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

 

We should do the same.

When you stop and think about the enormity of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, it really should bring a tear to our eyes.  It is a level of love that we will never find anywhere else.

Posted in Attitude, Bible, Decisions, Forgiveness, God, Good Friday, Grace, Jesus, Love, Relationships, Salvation, Sin, Thoughts/Mindset, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment