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Why wait?

 I have noticed a pattern in my life. When I become restless for something or some situation to change and I act out on my own to change it, it seldom works out for good. I know I am not alone in this. Too often we respond to our situations with impatience and irritation. We want to see quick results. We want instant gratification. We want, we want…and when we try and force the issue it does not usually end well. Sadly we followers of Christ sometimes forget that without God’s approval a lot of the things we desire and want to force are not the best things for us. Most of us know believers that got impatient waiting on a godly spouse and decided to accept someone that gave them the attention they were craving. One thing leads to another and they end up marrying outside their faith. Ten years down the road they cry out to God, “Why is my marriage such a mess?” We’ve all been guilty of rushing ahead of God’s best for us in one area or another. Though some situations are much more serious when we do this, such as marriage, all situations are more difficult when we rush ahead of God’s will.  Our emotions can often be the driving force that set us on a path outside of God’s will. Hasty decisions seldom bring about the best results. God has created us to have fellowship with Him. He has made a way through Christ, for us to be able to come before Him morning, noon and night. He longs for our fellowship with Him. When we stay close to Him we are much more inclined to wait on Him for our answer. It’s when we take our eyes off of Him that we begin to stress and get impatient for results. The scriptures are full of verses petitioning us to wait on God. To lean on Him for direction, guidance and for all of our needs! Let’s take a look at just a few of them.. Lamentations 3:25,26 NIV 25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him;  26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Psalm 33:20-22 NIV 20  We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 37:9 KJV 9  For evildoers shall be cut off;  But those who wait on the Lord,  they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 25:5 NKJV 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,  For You are the God of my salvation;  On You I wait all the day. Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV 1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. —Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. I personally love this verse, Psalm 37:34 NKJV 34 Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. And finally a verse we should all put to memory,  Isaiah 40:31 NKJV But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The one thing we can be sure of is that we will never regret waiting on God. What He has for us is far better than anything or anyone we could ever gain through impatience. He has our long term benefit at heart. He knows the future. He knows who and what we need in our lives. If you are in the process of making a decision that could affect your future ask God for wisdom. Ask Him for direction. Ask Him to open doors He wants open in your life and to shut doors He wants closed. Seek His will in the matter and then wait on His answer. Rushing ahead without consulting God will not give you the result that is best for you in the long term. It may gratify you for the short term but God’s will in the matter will bring the best long term results! Lord, please remind us to look to You as our source for everything. Teach us to wait on You instead of running ahead with our own plans. Give us a heart that loves You more and more and trusts You in all things. In the name of Jesus, Amen  “Stand still” – keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The WAY back

It is an amazing thing to me that the Son of God came to the earth in such a beautiful, simple manner. There was no pomp and circumstance at the time of His birth in the lowly manger. He came as a baby in order that He would go through and experience the various stages of life we would and yet not sin. The Word of God tells us He was tempted in every way just as we are. Hebrews 12:15 NIV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.  Our temptations are not foreign to Him. That in itself is sometimes hard for me to wrap my mind around. When He came to the earth He could have come in all His glory and majesty as the exalted Son of God, but rather He came humbly to demonstrate His love and affection for us in a way that we can understand. He was man and He was God. He dealt with the same things many of us deal, with yet did not sin. Through His holiness and obedience He made a way as the sacrificial lamb for us to become holy. When He willingly sacrificed His sinless body for our sin ridden bodies He opened  the door for our redemption by the blood that was shed.   That is love!

Until we really grasp that fact not just in our head but in our hearts, we will continue to strive to make ourselves acceptable to Him. However, striving will never accomplish acceptability. On our own, we will NEVER be clean enough, kind enough, loving enough, or giving enough. We simply cannot make ourselves be acceptable by anything we do. It is only by accepting that when He died on that cross, His shed blood made me acceptable in the eyes of God. It is through Christ alone that we are able to stand clean before God. It is through Christ alone that we are changed. When we come to Him and ask His forgiveness and ask Him to be Lord of our life we receive the Holy Spirit who begins to work in us to conform us into the image of Christ. Through prayer and prayerfully reading our Bibles we will grow closer to Him and deeper in our walk as followers.  There will be times in our walk that we stumble. It is during these times it is most important that we confess our sin quickly, get back up and move forward. If we allow the accuser of the brethren (Satan) to cause us to feel we are no longer good enough to come before God we have missed the most important message of the gospel.  We will NEVER be good enough. That is why we need our redeemer! That’s why God sent Christ! John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you are a Christian that is struggling with feelings of defeat, discouragement, failure etc. because of a stumble, a fall or outright disobedience than it’s time you confess your sin, and accept His forgiveness. He promises that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us from our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) HE does NOT LIE. Don’t allow pride or fear to keep you from intimacy with the lover of your soul. Pride will tell  you that you need to straighten yourself up first before you come to Christ. You can’t straighten yourself up without Christ! Too often we listen to the wrong voice when we stumble and rather than confessing our sin and turning back to the One who willingly died for us, we try and fix ourselves up first. It is pride cloaked in works.  His love for us is more than sufficient to forgive us and set us back on track!

Don’t waste another minute striving to get back to a place where you feel you will be good enough to come back to Christ. It’s impossible on your own. Instead accept once and for all that the blood He shed on the cross will cover every one of your sins. Not just some but every one. Ask for forgiveness right now and KNOW that  if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Begin to thank Him for His love and mercy and get back into a place of intimacy with Him through spending time with Him and in His Word.

Lord I am sorry for the things that I have done that have grieved You. I am sorry for hurting or disappointing myself and others through my actions. I pray for your forgiveness right now and I believe Lord that when I confess my sin You are true to Your word and that You are faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness.  Thank You Lord! Keep me close to You and give me a hunger for Your word that I may grow closer and deeper in love with You.

In the precious name of Jesus,

Amen

Are you ALWAYS prepared to give an answer?

As we follow Christ it’s important that we always remember that our lives are to exemplify His character.   I don’t think we really get this until we realize deep down how much He loves us. I spent years knowing in my head He loved me but it really has been only the last few years when I began to believe in the depths of my heart that HE LOVES ME!  Me, who stumbles from time to time. Me, who wasted years living a life without the intimacy I now share with Him. Me, who is so far from perfect it isn’t funny. That’s right, HE LOVES ME and HE LOVES YOU too! The more I think about what He did for me on the cross and what He continues to do for me daily, I can’t help but love HIM!

It’s not enough for us to simply enjoy our relationship with Christ, but out of that relationship He has called us to love and serve others. This is going to look a little different in each of our lives.  Some are called to minister as evangelists, prophets, teachers etc.. others are called to minister in their daily life as parents, neighbors, friends etc. but all are called to minister in one manner or another.  We are to be ready and willing to not only do the labor He has called us to but also to give any man or woman that asks, the reason why. We read in 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Those are powerful words. That means when we are waiting in line for half an hour to pay for our purchases and the cashier is learning as she goes, we need to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should we be asked. That means when someone cuts us off in traffic we are to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why, should someone ask. That means when someone blames us for something we haven’t done, we need to respond with the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should someone ask.  This is something we need to be mindful of regardless of where we are, who we are with or what we are doing.

Often we designate certain areas of our lives that we know we must tow the line so to speak, but the word of God tells us that we should ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks to give the reason for the hope that you have! The only way this is possible is by staying close to Christ. It is out of His love and Holy Spirit that we are able to see each person we meet as someone He has put in our path. When we abide in Him throughout the day, we see as He sees. When we walk in our own strength we see as we see and will miss many opportunities to share His love to a world that desperately needs Him.

Over the last year I have formed a habit of praying each morning on my way into work that the Lord will bring people into my office that He wants there. I ask Him to help me to demonstrate His love to those He brings in. Yesterday I had a new client come in that was particularly challenging. After listening to her for a few minutes I was ready to respond with some “attitude.”  It was then the Lord reminded me, “Did you not ask me to bring people in? This is one of the people I have sent.”  Instantly, my response changed! I realized it was by His appointment this woman had come into my office and I was to respond to her the way Christ would. It made the rest of our conversation go so much smoother and by the end of the conversation her entire demeanor changed for good!  However, even if it hadn’t improved, I was still to respond as Christ would. It is not dependent on how others treat us but how Christ would treat them.

Too often we become desensitized to the fact that we are His hands and feet everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. If you find yourself struggling with this please join me in the following prayer…

Lord, please stir our hearts to be prepared to answer ANYONE who asks the reason for the hope we have in You. Give us a love for what You love and a hate for what You hate. Let us be Your hands and feet today in all that we do, remembering to do all with gentleness and respect.

In the precious name of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King,

Amen

Waiting Room behavior

Have you been waiting on God for some time for an answer? I have. I have cried out to God several times for a situation to be resolved and I am still waiting. I had initially hoped He would resolve the issue quickly and all would be well. He has not done so, despite many prayers and petitions. Do I think He is ignoring me? NO, I know He hears my cry and I also know He will answer it in His time.

If I am completely honest I must admit in my earlier walk with Christ I used to get very annoyed and sometimes very angry when I didn’t see answers come quickly. Sadly I see many believers still behaving in the same way. If God doesn’t answer them how and when they want Him to, they rebel in their hearts. It’s as if we think by being annoyed or angry we are going to strong arm God into giving us our results when we want them. Manipulation may have worked with others we have dealt with but it will NOT work with our Heavenly Father.  You can’t rebel yourself into getting your way!  I am grateful to God that He has taught me that the hard way! He didn’t give in to my immature demands. Instead, He waited for me to get to the end of my arrogant demanding and when I humbled myself often I would see results that  I had longed for. He requires our love and obedience even when we don’t see things going our way. Even when things seem so wrong! We must never forget that He is the creator of the universe. He knows the beginning from the end. His ways are not our ways!

I am learning to praise Him despite immediate unanswered prayers. I am learning to worship Him and love Him despite difficulties I am facing. I am learning to trust Him despite what I see with my eyes. That is what the word of God tells me to do and that is what I want to do. When I find myself starting to grumble and complain, He reminds me that I am to trust Him with everything. Not just what I happen to understand. It’s called growing up in faith. No longer demanding my way and when I don’t get it withholding my love and affection from the One who NEVER withholds His love from me.  My prayer is that as I journey on through the rest of my life I will do as David says in Psalm 130:5 NIV 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,  and in His word I put my hope.  And as I wait, I hope I will continue to praise Him and worship Him for who He is, not just for what He does or how quickly He does it.

Lord help us all to   Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Keep Him in your goals

There are many things I hope to accomplish in this coming year. I have goals I hope to achieve in my home, at my place of work, at my church and even personal  goals I want to accomplish. I think these things are important. I find when I have a goal it is much easier to keep moving forward.  A goal keeps me focused. It helps remind me of what I need to do and how I need to do it. Without a goal I tend to stagnate.

As important as our short term goals are they must never become more important than or take the place of God’s long term goal for us. In fact we may have to tweak our short term goals on occasion when the Lord reveals to us that it is in the way of something He has planned for us. We must learn to be flexible with our goals, always being sensitive to the Spirit of God’s leading. After all, His ways are better than our ways! He knows the beginning and the end! We form our goals with short term vision. He doesn’t.

With that in mind, there is one long term goal He has for all of us. This goal must never change! This goal can be found in the book of Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Any goals we set, any plans we make must include “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Even our own personal goals must not impede the ultimate goal of running the race God has marked out for us. A race that will ultimately result in hearing the words, “Well done though good and faithful servant!”   Anything we plan that pulls us away from Christ is not a plan that He will bless or flourish but as we submit ourselves to His will for us and plans for our future, we can be assured that He will guide us as we go. He will also nudge us when we get off track.

Why not join me in 2014 and ask God to direct every goal and plan for the future?

Lord we pray that in this coming year You will guide our steps, You will give us vision for the future and You will keep us close to You. We know that anything done without You is done in vain. We ask for Your hand in all we do, no matter how small the plan or goal. If we begin to wander off the track You have planned for us, help us to be sensitive and obedient to the nudging of Your precious Spirit and get back on track.  We ask this in the name of our beautiful Savior and King, Jesus.

Amen

Don’t make an idol of your peeps!

It wasn’t too long ago since I realized I had been making an idol out of some of the people in my life. This may sound extreme but believe me it isn’t that unusual. I see it done all the time. When we choose to put others before our relationship with Christ we are really making an idol of them. We have been called to follow Christ in love and in obedience. He longs for our heart. He longs for us to seek Him daily and to be sensitive to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.  Too often we put the needs and desires of others before His and we in turn tune Him out.

When we put Him first we are allowing Him to work in us and through us in the most effective way possible, enabling us to love better, make wiser decisions and to walk out a life that will be much more fulfilling. We must make a daily choice to do this. It will not just happen. When we do, our family and friends will also benefit. We will be the person God has called us to be and be able to bring His love and wisdom into many of their circumstances. When we put them first, we lack both and we operate  in the flesh. We also become dependent on them for our happiness and satisfaction. No person is capable of giving us true happiness or satisfaction but Christ.

We are called to love our family and friends. We are called to serve them and others outside our circle but we are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37 )  When we keep Him first in our lives, He will guide us in how to love others. Not in a self serving, suffocating love but in a love that has their best interests at heart. When we reverse this and put other people first we lose our abiding love for Jesus and others become our focal point. They become our source of joy and will inevitably let us down from time to time. Jesus never will. He will equip us to love others in the healthiest way possible!

If you are allowing anyone or anything to come between you and your intimacy with Christ, I challenge you today to ask  for His forgiveness. Tell Him you want Him to be first in your life and ask for a renewed love for Him and His Word. He delights in answering such prayers. Don’t waste another day. Put Him first this Christmas season and see Him move through you to reach others in the most effective way possible!