Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead...

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Where Am I Going? Is God There?

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged! 

Here it is the last week of December, 2010.  I have a tradition during this last week of each year that I would like to share with my readers.  As I look back over the past year and write down what God has taught me,  I ask Him to begin to show me what He wants me to learn in the coming year.  Sometimes, I am given a Scripture, other times a word, sometimes nothing at all...  It's always accompanied by time in the Word and a deep prayer time.

This year, as I look back, I am pondering in my heart where I thought I was "going" when I was on my journey through life in 2010.  Was I following Him, others, or my own desires?  Some days, I was clearly following the Spirit of God, but others seem to be clouded by my own interests and desires. 

I have come to the end of 2010 realizing I need to close two businesses and open a new one!  I've come to realize the value (yet again) of a bible teaching church and heart felt worship.  I also have noticed the limited amount of Christian friendships over the past year in my life.  Relationships, a church home, and provision in my business had been severely lacking in my life. 

I must say, I have felt my love for the Lord diminish.  I don't even really know how it happened, but I found myself praying less and less.  Several disappointments regarding answers to prayer or no answer to prayer left me angry at God sometimes.  Some days, I felt myself running in circles with no direction.  I decided to stop praying for myself and only pray for others for quite a while.  It's amazing what a lack of communication does to a relationship...

I have come to ask forgiveness for walking on my own without heeding to my Lord's direction.  I wonder if there are others out there who are in the same position right now?  Have you wandered down some paths that were not in God's will for you?  Did you pray about it, receive a big "NO" and do it anyway?  I am so grateful for God's willingness to forgive and restore.  Aren't you?

In 2011, I will be pressing on!  There will be a lot of changes occurring that I am already aware of...  Transitions seem to be the "word" God is giving me at the moment.  There will be loss, change, and additions to my life that will require me to trust God in new ways.  I am not sure who I will meet, where I will travel, what issues will come, but I know my Lord will be in it all and all of it will be for His glory!

May you trust in the Lord with all YOUR heart and not lean on your own understanding...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trading Fake Smiles for Authentic Relationships

How are you?  I'm fine, how are you?  Ah, the standard greeting society offers us and we respond back with.  I wonder how truthful we are when we reply each time?  Don't you just wish that you could say how you are "REALLY" feeling sometimes?  Authenticity should be a way of life for the Christian woman.  There are places and times for getting into conversations with people concerning your life struggles, but if we are never truthful how can we expect others to notice what we might need? 

Exuding joy in the midst of trials is not the same thing as pretending everything is fine when it's not!  Perseverance and testing usually doesn't produce a smile on our face.  Everything is usually NOT fine.  However, we can still have joy because our joy doesn't come from our circumstances.  Joy comes from our salvation.  The testing of our faith is something all believers go through.  It's meant to refine, develop, and strengthen us.  Now, there are times when you are meant to share your heart only with God.  But, we are never encouraged to walk through life alone.

Sometimes we need an encourager to build up our courage again.  Sometimes we need a teacher to share the truth about God's character.  Other times we need a helper to provide a meal.  Some days we need a prayer warrior to help us battle the enemy.  You see, we need the body of Christ.  When you act independently, you are hurting yourself and the body of Christ because you are not functioning properly.

When you are going through times of testing, be honest with those you are in community with...  Let the help you carry the burden and pray for you.  When you don't, pride creeps in and pride comes before a fall.

James: 1-2

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 

Today, press on so that you will be mature and complete in Christ!  God will comfort and help you through His Holy Spirit and the body of Christ...if you let Him.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My God Speaks To Me In My Affliction

How many times have you said to yourself or heard other people say "where is God when I am suffering"?  You know that place.  It's that place where you find yourself with the inability to come up with solutions.  You are afraid of what might happen next.  You are hurting emotionally, spiritually, and possibly physically.   Friends and family have appeared to have abandoned you and you are alone...or are you?  Could it be that you are exactly in position to best "hear from God"?  In the stillness of our affliction, He is where He has always been...on the throne.  He promised to NEVER leave you or forsake you!  It's funny, actually it's you and I that have moved away from Him when we feel abandoned.

Oh, how precious the moments are when you are in that quiet place alone with the Father pouring out your heart before Him.  Do you ever just feel inclined to turn to the Psalms?  Isn't it encouraging to hear the heart pleas from David being authentic before the Lord?  What is even more amazing is that in the midst of his suffering, praise and thanksgiving stream out of his pain.  How?  Could it be that God spoke to him in his affliction?

Maybe David was reminded of the true character of God.  One thing is prominent, he "knew" his God.  David walked closely with Him and was called a "man after God's own heart."  He knew the truth of Scripture.  He put His hope in God.  When David sinned, sooner or later, confession was on his lips.

So, I ask YOU today, does God "speak" to you in your affliction?  You may not hear an "audible" voice, but the Word tells us that He does speak to us.  The question is -- are you listening?

Jeremiah 36:15

"But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering;
       He speaks to them in their affliction." 

Press on knowing that He does speak in and through your suffering and affliction.  I am praying that He will deliver you from you suffering, but with a greater sense of knowing Him better, renewing your awareness that sharing in the suffering with Christ will bring you to a whole new level in your walk with Him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Disappointment Is God's Framework For Teaching

Ever been disappointed?  Sure you have, we all have been discouraged when our expectations have been crushed.  How do YOU respond to those disappointing times?  Do you allow it to cause you to spiral into depression or do you stay attentive to the teachable moments the Holy Spirit is bringing to you through it?  We can build up our spirit with the truth of the Word of God so that when disappointments come we are equipped to see through spiritual eyes into the situation. 

God is our Potter and we are the clay.  It's important to keep this in mind because He is always at work in our lives molding us into the image of Christ.  We were never promised that we would be free from temptation or struggles when we became a believer in Jesus Christ.  As a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite.  Following Jesus can be the most wonderful experience, yet it is also a painful one.  It's painful because we are to "die to self, to take up our cross daily, to resist temptation..."  We can do this only through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Changing your framework or the way you think is NOT an easy task.  The Word of God tells us to renew our mind daily...  As we do, the Word is sown into our minds and hearts preparing us to face the day ahead!  Each of us has a story to tell about how we were disappointed by people, circumstances, companies, money, jobs, and even God.  We can read books, go to counseling, talk with other believers, and even reason within our own minds over the question "why".  However, only God holds the answer to the question "why" disappointments have come.  The answer lies within His Word and sometimes it may not even be revealed to you until you have entered heaven.

So, how do you press on?  By keeping your eyes on Christ and His Word!

Here are a few situational statements and how you could chose to move into God's framework and let Him teach you...

Disappointment in your company:
~Chose to be thankful that the Lord has provided you with a job.  Even if it isn't where you want to be at this time.  Look around!  Is there someone to minister to?  Is there a new skill to learn?  Are there some divine connections to be made?  Maybe you just lost your job with that company.  Could it be that God has a new and better opportunity ahead?  Is He strengthening your level of patience?  Does He want to teach you to trust Him?

Disappointment in people:
~If the person you are disappointed in isn't a Christian, could your situation be an opportunity to share the gospel?  Could it be an opportunity to model Christ before them by forgiving them, loving them despite their actions, showing kindness despite their rudeness...  When Christ hung on the cross He said to the Father "forgive them for the do not know what they are doing...". 

~If the person is a Christian and they have disappointed you it's still wise to remember that they are still human and able to sin.  It can be a hard pill to swallow when both of you understand the truth of God's Word and still hurts another.  It is still an opportunity to forgive and show love and mercy.  Why?  Because your Lord and Savior has first shown you love and mercy!  Could it be that you were also sinning?  Remember, "take the log out of your own eye first".

Disappointment in God:
~Maybe the hardest disappointment to overcome is disappointment in God.  When God doesn't answer your prayer in the way you believe He ought, it can be devastating.  Many are disillusioned by the "promises" they think they have because they are Christians or even if they aren't Christians!  The author of that deception is Satan.  Satan is very good at mixing the truth of the Word of God with a lie and making it appear real.  The only way of knowing what your true promises are from God are written in His Word.  They don't come from an emotional experience and they don't come from a motivational speaker's opinion.  The Word of God will change your outlook on God.  Remember, you can only trust God to the extent that you know Him through His Word.

~A fresh framework of God may look like this...  God permitted this disappointment to show me that my greatest desire needs to be for Him and Him alone.  God allowed this struggle because He foreknew that I would one day be able to help another.  God let this company terminate my job because He knew that it was evil to it's core and He had something better for me.  God allowed me to get sick because He wanted to demonstrate that He works all things together for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Whatever you face friends, know that you CAN change your outlook to reflect a teachable heart...  However, it will cost you something.  You will need to let go of your bitterness, anger, fear, pride, and anger.  Is it worth it to you?  Focus on what it will be like if you can!  Pressing on is a lot easier with less baggage...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Cure for the Common Offense

Have you been offended lately?  There are various kinds of offenses.  Some can rock your world and others we don't even blink an eye at...  One thing is for certain.  Offenses will always present themselves because we live in an imperfect and sinful world.  However, as women who desire to forget what lies behind and moves forward, it's important to learn to free ourselves from all encumbrances.  We can not move freely in God's Will while we are carrying our offenses.

Here are just a few steps that can lead you to your cure for the common offense.

1.  Put the Offense Under Interrogation.  Ask yourself why you were offended in the first place.  Is there something inside of you from the past you haven't dealt with?  Were you the target for another person's emotions that haven't been dealt with?  Was it a sin caused by an unbeliever or a believer? 

2.  Change Your Thinking.  Your attitude and thoughts can determine your actions.  Always pray before you actually respond to an offense.  Could you have a wrong perception of that person?  Think about whatever is honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, and worthy of praise.  Dwell on this and let your response be filtered through it.

3.  Be Merciful.  God has shown great mercy on us and because He has, we are to do the same.  Mercy in nature is undeserved favor.  While we were still sinners He sent His Son to pay the price for our sin and bring us back to Himself.  Surely, we can draw upon that mercy for another.

4.  Be Forgiving.  Forgiveness is NOT letting someone get away with what they have done to you.  It's letting go of it and trusting that God will take care of it.

5.  Walk in Freedom.  When you have let go of an offense you will be able to freely move toward your God-given purpose!  Holding on to offenses only enables you to spiral into a pit of additional sins.

Be wise, let go, move on!