faith

Control

I have been parked in the book of James for many weeks now. I am reading scripture, praying for wisdom and deep understanding. I plainly ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on any dark places where I do not fully allow his truth to penetrate and expose my hardened callouses and sinful pride. I am watching Francis Chan’s video series on James, working through a guided study by Max Lucado, as well as healthy discussion in my adult small group.

Lucado posed a question that seriously captured my attention; it is this:

Would you change the way you are living if you could see your future?

Why or why not?

In high school I lettered in debate of all things. Believe it or not, I am not fond of arguing. I do like researching and presenting logical facts, as well as being able to present and defend both sides of a question. My first response to this question on a personal level is YES. Yes, I would want to see the results of my lack of faith and sinful actions. Therefore, if I could quickly see the bellyflops and heartache of my poor choices, I would steer clear and adjust my words and decisions. Wouldn’t anyone want to avoid deep hurts to themselves and others they love? I would certainly change the way I am living if I could see into my future.

Take time to read James 4:1-10

Let’s look at it more pragmatically. As Christ followers, there are certain truths we all profess to believe.

  • His ways are higher than our own. Isaiah 55:8-9
  • We pray for God’s will to be done. Matthew 6:9-13
  • All good things come from God. James 1:17

I’m about to sound like I’m steering off course here, but stay with me. Do you remember the popular television game show, Let’s Make a Deal? The audience was typically dressed up in crazy costumes and trying to get noticed. As the chosen contestant was presented with different choices along the way hoping to be one of the final standing to play for the big prize hidden behind a door, box, or curtain. The excitement was fun for all, and what made it even more entertaining is that there was always the possibility someone may get ZONKED and end up with nothing of value other than a good laugh.

All of us have a free gift of grace, Jesus took care of that on the cross. He knows each one of us, and knows us better than we know ourselves even down to the number of hairs on our head. We live in a fallen sinful world, and many of us may think we get zonked more than average. Moreover, what the world would consider a ZONK, bad luck, a series of unfortunate events, etc. isn’t always what it seems. Many of the worst situations in my life, have been times that I turn to God and lean into him with a comfort that can not be explained until you have lived it personally. In life we have choices to make everyday. We don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

If I truly want to pray, and live according to God’s will, I must trust him. I must be willing to be obedient to let him lead me. I must give up my craving to know ahead of time and stop “helping him out.” That is something I have a tendency to do. I want control, so sometimes I try to get a sneak peak by snooping around, nowadays cyber-stalking is such an easy temptation. I tend to want things to go the way I want and I find myself manipulating situations to formulate my desired outcomes. When I do these things, I am not letting God do his will. I am acting as the world would and quite honestly seeking their approval and applaud. In my meddling, I am working against God. I must allow God to do a work in me and be content, satisfied, and filled with joy without knowing what is behind each door. I must stay in his word, able to hear his voice, and go where he leads. I desire to know God’s will, but more than that, I must be willing to do God’s will. I must be obedient to act (have my go-shoes on Designer Shoes of Peace). Faith and love are action words. Create in me a pure heart Lord that allows me to bravely walk upright along the path you have designed for me. I humbly give up my rights to be in control. Let my life be lived for your kingdom, and set apart from this world. Thank you for delivering your Holy Spirit to reside in me. Continue to transform my thinking through the reading of your faultless God-breathed scripture.

Armor of God · Prayer

Our Only Weapon

Are you struggling to be in the word? If so, I guarantee your Armor is not at its full power. Do not be surprised by the enemy gaining ground on you. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Stop, do not pass go (remember monopoly?) Go find your Jesus issued uniform. Put on your protective gear, the Armor of God. Return to the word, dig in and cover yourself in truth. Rest in his promises. May this post encourage you to be in prayer, be in the word, and know truth, develop your faith, be at peace, stand firm, and take a posture of victory. James 1:22 “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT) 

 I have been growing in the word for many years now, and the last several I have been walking ever so closely to my Savior. He called me out upon the waters. My faith gained much growth once I started the practice of writing in prayer journals.  Naturally I am not a writer. I have not been trained and I’m sure my style is unorthodox to say the least. Writing just isn’t my thing. Remember, I am a retired science teacher. I love quirky teenagers, sports, and I have a strange sense of humor. I have a difficult time staying still and focused.

Journaling is a discipline that I found really difficult at first, but soon realized it allowed me to stay focused and organized in my thoughts. When I try to pray without writing my mind wanders, and before I know it, I am making a mental list of things to do, and/or finding some pressing household chore that must be done immediately. Even worse, I may fall asleep right in the middle of my conversation with God. How’s that for brutal honesty? Thankfully we have grace. I developed a daily habit of writing. Soon, I found that my time spent with God began to increase. I would have such focused moments that words would flow through my hand with ease and fluidity. This process also helped me remember how faithful God was because I could look back and see how my prayers were answered. At times it felt like he wasn’t listening or acting in my timeframe, but once the scope was widened (time passed) I could see His sovereign fingerprints all over my life. His ways far surpass my limited perception. I have also developed a habit of meditating on his word and writing it in my journal. When I have no words, I pray His words! My quiet time has become my daily bread, my manna.

 Back in December of 2015 I felt a stirring inside of me and began to pray. I asked others to pray for me as well because I felt that a new season was coming. Like many, I have lived the majority of my life making decisions based on feelings, doors that were open, natural advancements, etc. On occasion I would sprinkle prayer in for good measure. More times than not, I would move ahead without any clear answer from the throne. With my faith at an all time high, I felt that I would continue to pray it through and fully trust God. I wish I could say I was consistently patient and quietly waited for the Lord to point me in the right direction. Admittedly there were several times I would circle around my prayer and pick it back up and try to “help God out”. Um, hello, newsflash…God doesn’t need my help. He does need my cooperation though. I would try to figure out ahead of God what “new season” could mean, and I had several “what ifs” that had my brain swirling. In the end, there would be nine full months of praying while the Holy Spirit corrected me in my impatience and my feeble attempts to gain control of the situation. He firmly, consistently, and lovingly reminded me again and again of His will, not my own. Isaiah 55:8 is a verse that continually is on replay in my mind, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

My last big event of the Summer was a family cruise (right before school started and kick off of student ministry season). I had slipped away on a very quiet early morning on a large ship in the middle of the Caribbean to spend time in the word and to pray with my journal and Bible in hand. Very clearly, I was told to step out of student ministry. Who told me? Jesus spoke, and I felt compelled to tell everyone I was with later at breakfast of my clarity. I would have to say “no” to something that was so near and dear to my heart. Working with students had been my love for nearly 20 years.  My new season first had to begin with an end.

 How do you know if you are following God’s will and following the path He is calling you to? PEACE is the answer. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself and my time, but I had peace. I knew all I needed was Him. He got me this far, and I was listening for his direction to where I would go next. I decided I would not move until he said go. God tells his people over and over throughout the Bible to be still, or to wait, or to rest. So here I was in the sit and stay position. 

 Do not buy into the world’s idea of coincidences, or luck. May you fully realize that God is in control, and He has called each one of us here. For me right now that means, opening up and writing for others to read. More importantly, for others to be encouraged to develop faith that can move mountains. God alone holds the power to my words. He alone is my rock, my refuge, and satisfies my every need. I was lost, but now I’m found. Dear Friends, find out what he is calling you to do. If he is pushing you outside of your comfort zone, do not shy away. I pray that God would confirm his next step and direction for you. For me and many followers before me, through a few tears and in much awe and with lots of prayer I hope that you are encouraged by strong Christian friends (wise modern day sages). I pray that your spiritual eyes and ears be open to other timely affirmations regarding your calling. Be bold to submitted fully to truth of the living word of God. 

 Lord, help us all to realize that YOU Lord equip those whom you call so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-10 It is all for your glory!

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