Tag Archives: faith

Just Like Joshua

Parents often repeat commands to their children for emphasis. In the first chapter of Joshua, he was told by God to “Be strong and courageous,” three times. God’s words in these verses seem to be a very matter-of-fact way of informing a willing man that the next steps must be taken, and success would not be a part of the equation if strength and courage were absent. The next steps were to obtain the land promised to the Israelites.

God’s marching orders held no promise that a supernatural feeling of courage would well up inside of Joshua’s soul. Nope. No “peace that passes understanding” feeling would signify it was time for Joshua to move. The words feel or feelings do not make an appearance in this chapter. God did not tell Joshua to feel strong and courageous. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous.

Did God promise His presence? Absolutely! But there was no promise that Joshua would not necessarily be shaking in his sandals as he carried out these sacred steps.

Just like Joshua, we are told many times in the Bible to be courageous. And just like Joshua, God does not tell us to feel courageous. He says, “Be courageous.”

It will not be possible to find in ourselves the confidence in our own ability to carry out our call, but there is something we can have absolute confidence in – God will show up and walk us through it. Step by step. Forward steps. Even backward steps. He will help us get back on track and be right by our side. Yes, we may have some shaking-in-our-boots or sandals moments, but God’s presence is a guarantee.

When we obey God and follow through with something that takes us straight out of our comfort zone, He blesses us. In Luke 11:28, Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The blessing of God is worth the prayer, perseverance, and persistence that hard assignments from Him require.

Courage is often about us doing what God has asked us to do even though we might still feel nervous or fearful. Courage is asking God for strength to do it anyway – even though fear may be whispering (or shouting) in our ear that we are the wrong person, that it is the wrong time, or that we heard the wrong message. Courage is the strength to keep repeating to ourselves until we believe it that, “God is with me.”

If we insist upon waiting to be struck with a feeling of courage before we step out of our comfort zone and onto God’s path, we will wait ourselves right out of an opportunity to do something great.

 

 

 

Waiting Well

Tuesday morning, my prayer ended with me crying out, “God, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to start praying for a different result? Am I supposed to ask You to give me a new plea, a new prayer, a new passion? Or am I just supposed to continue to wait?” His answer was a deafening silence.  

Now God does not answer me audibly, so silence is not new. When I “hear” from God, it is a new thought, a new impression upon my spirit, a new sense of direction; accompanied by peace. Those responses are how I have always known that God “answered,” my questions. So when “none of the above,” happened after my heartfelt, hollered, hopeless, “What am I supposed to do…?” inquiry, it hit me like a ton of bricks: If I am not sensing the Holy Spirit’s prodding to pray in a new direction, then I am to keep praying and continue waiting. 

I know how to keep praying; I have done that many a time. I have frequently assumed God thought I was similar to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Jesus’ disciples urged Him to send her away when they became annoyed with her repeated requests.  But I am always encouraged that the story ends with Jesus blessing her because of her faith. 

I wrestle with the waiting. Although I am pretty good at impatient, irritated waiting, waiting well with an uncomplaining, unfazed, unwavering spirit is not a talent of mine.

Waiting well takes a conscious and intentional effort. Psalm 31:24 (ESV) says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Maybe part of the courage He expects from me is in returning to Him over and over with the same prayer and believing that He is not getting sick of me or my request. Maybe the other part of that courage is believing that His silence is not avoidance and boldly believing He is working in unseen ways. 

On Tuesday, I chose to wait well. By Wednesday, I experienced some moments of not waiting well. And on Thursday, I felt led to start my day in front of my computer writing about what I had been contemplating. 

I asked God to speak to me about what waiting well truly means. At that very moment, my eyes directly went to a “Verse of the Day” email in my inbox. I opened it, and it “happened” to be Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

My first thought was, “Wow, God, thank You for an unbelievable direct answer to my prayer!” My second thought was, “Wow, God, if only You could answer this other prayer so quickly and directly.” My third thought was, “It is up to You, isn’t it? I’ll continue working on this blog post and learning how to wait well, and You continue being God. Thank You for showing me that verse when I needed it and teaching me how to wait well.” Between you and me, I spent entirely too much time dwelling on my second thought.

Apparently, God still has some work to do in my heart. Thankfully, doing great works in our hearts is one of His areas of expertise. 

As I continue to wait for God’s response, God will continue to work in my heart, and I will continue to have a choice on how to wait. Waiting well may take more discipline than waiting with impatience, but it will always afford more opportunities to watch our powerful God work in ways that only He can. 

**This was my November contribution for devotableapp.com – Great place for encouragement  and hope!

I Will Praise You Anyway

I would like to share with you a song I wrote this week, “I Will Praise You Anyway,”  When our prayers don’t get answered the way that we hope, we can sometimes be angry, confused, and maybe hurt – OR we can choose to trust that God’s “No,” answer is for a better reason that He knows about because, well, He is God. We can make the choice to praise Him anyway, because He is so worthy!
If I am being honest, I am struggling with some prayers that He has answered with a, “No,” lately and I am still working on not being angry, confused, and a little bit hurt…I’m trying to come around to what I know the truth is…He is really good at being God, and He knows what is best for us! 🙏

Lyrics:
That is not what I pictured. That is not what I prayed for. Your answers have left me confused.
I thought I was praying for Your will. I tried to trust You and be still. But I can’t stop my heart from feeling bruised.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway.
So when I’m in the desert again, remind me Your faithfulness will never end. And when You answer, “No,” it’s because of Your love.
If I’m only praising You, when You do what I think You should do, You’re not getting the praise that You are worthy of.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway.
I don’t want You to be a God that I can predict or fully comprehend, but God, if I am being honest I am near the very end of my human understanding of why You’ve allowed some things to happen…
But You are God, and I am not. And when I was young, I was taught that sometimes Your best plans include some pain. I will praise You anyway.
You’re always there to wipe the tears away. And You supply the strength to say: I will praise You anyway. I will praise You anyway.

So Much More

During a recent Sunday School class, we were discussing the nature of God and our identity in relation to Him. A remark that the teacher (who happens to be my husband) made, stuck with me. He said, “God isn’t just a better version of the best version of us.” How true that is.  God is so much more.

Are you ever tempted to humanize God in order to make Him easier to understand? I have been guilty of trying to reduce Him to a human level as I tried to comprehend His ways. However, that is a mistake for a few different reasons. 

1. As a society, we have gradually minimized the very essence of God. We continue to lose the wonder of a wonderful God and the awe of an awesome God. He is beyond compare and beyond description. True wisdom begins once we comprehend that His awe will never be comprehended!  Proverbs 9:10a says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Realizing the awe He is worthy of opens our hearts to receive His wisdom, and He gives it eagerly.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” 

2. We expect God to think the same way we think. We assume He will solve problems using the same reasoning we do. However, Jeremiah 55:9 says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  He sees the past, present, and future of a universe full of people He loves. He is working all things for good for those who love Him, according to Romans 8:28. There are countless moving pieces on this planet, and somehow He keeps perfect track of every single one of them.  All while drawing each of us to Himself. The circumstances of this world are interwoven in a way that only a perfect God could accomplish. Actually, it is a relief that He thinks differently than us. Would you want God to think in the limited, self-centered, inconsistent way that we do?  Neither would I.

3. We run the risk of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. If we minimize God’s holiness in an attempt to understand Him, we may inadvertently increase our significance to more closely match His. When we start to erase the gap between the amazingness of God and the reality of who we are, a problem arises. Thinking that we are equal to and just as deserving as God is not a minor matter. It is pride. Pride is a sin, and sin has consequences. Remember Satan’s downfall?  

Remembering that God is God and we are not is always valuable. We often attribute human characteristics to God, and we describe His qualities using a human scale. We forget the awe and wonder that is due His name. However, He is more than we realize, more than we give Him credit for, and more than we can ever comprehend. God is so much more.

(This was my September submission to devotableapp.com — check that website out for a daily devotion!)

I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I heard God’s voice. Loud and clear.

I had been praying unceasingly for a breakthrough in a difficult situation, yet I had such an unsettled feeling about how it was going to turn out – until that day. God replaced my tension with His peace. I heard God voice the reply I had been waiting for: “I’ll come through.”

As time moved on, I continued to tell myself, “There is still time for God to come through; I know I heard Him correctly.” However, time kept moving, and then time ran out. The breakthrough I had fervently prayed for did not come to pass.

Then doubt crept in. Did God really say what I thought He said? Was it my imagination? Was it wishful thinking? Perhaps Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” was meant for someone else. Maybe it was meant for EVERYBODY else. Except for me.

Then the questions started. “God, did You forget what You told me? Did You forget about this situation? Did You forget about me?”

I got frustrated that God did not do what I expected Him to do. I considered giving Him the silent treatment, at least temporarily. Then I had guilt about being frustrated with God and also about avoiding Him.  

While I tried to sort through those confused feelings, I came to the realization that I DID hear God’s promise correctly. However, I filled in the blanks as to how He was going to accomplish it. When He did not do it the way I supposed He was going to, I doubted He was going to do it at all. 

I had happily accepted His assurance, but I had assumed His approach.

If we compiled a list of adjectives to describe God, the words predictable and conventional would not make the cut. Our unpredictable God frequently employs unconventional methods. 

When God grants us His unmatched “calm down, I will come through,” peace in relation to a promise He has made, our jobs are to 1. accept the peace, and 2. allow Him to choose how and when He will bring the promise to completion. What a blessing to know He is a promise-keeping God who always comes through.

Prayer: Lord, help me hear Your voice and trust Your ways. Help me feel Your Presence as I wait in confidence and expectation. Amen.

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

Acclaim His Name

     fullsizeoutput_ced3Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.  Psalm 89:15-17 NIV

The dictionary tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming means: to announce or proclaim with enthusiastic approval and to applaud. The Bible tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming God looks like and what happens because of it. “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,” is a portion of Psalm 89:15 which points out that acclaiming God brings blessing. The word learned in this verse suggests that acclaiming God does not necessarily come naturally to us – evidently, we must learn how to make it part of our lifestyle.

If someone was asked to attest to our relationship with Jesus, would our words and actions speak for themselves, or would that person be forced to guess how serious we are about our faith? Is our love for and excitement about being a believer evident, or is it more of an implication we hope people catch? Does our life display a passion for Christ and a passion for seeking and fulfilling our God-given purpose, or is it something we hope others sense without having to be too forward? 

Many of us do not hesitate to credit God for loving us beyond measure and for counting us as one of His cherished children. But do we openly acknowledge Him? Do we make an effort to tell others how great He is, and that He is directly responsible for the blessings in our lives? I do not think it is necessary or realistic to begin every single one of our sentences with phrases such as, “Let me tell you why God is so great,” or Thank God that He…”  For most people, that would be a contrived, forced exchange. However, I bet we can agree that allowing His beloved name and our thankfulness for Him to become a natural component in the flow of our everyday discussions would potentially cause many in our circle to see Him in a different, positive light.

Maybe we are worried about being “that annoying Christian,” or “that Jesus freak,” who talks about Him entirely too much. But He created us, died for us, forgives us, desires a relationship with us, and makes it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him – do we honestly think we come close to talking about Him enough? Friends, do we acclaim Him? Should we not, as Christians, be intentionally seeking opportunities to acclaim the awesomeness of God?

Of course, the goal of acclaiming God is not to “get blessed.” The goal is to please God…and the bonus is that He blesses us. 

I have added the word acclaim to my vocabulary. My aim now is to add it to my lifestyle.

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

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Lord, I was confused for quite some time about that answer. “Yes,” would have made perfect sense, and I felt prepared to accept the blessing that I requested. And I was prepared to thank You for it.

But You said, “No,” and it came out of nowhere because I thought all signs were pointing to You responding to this prayer the way I hoped.

I felt blindsided, Lord. And You are very well aware of that because I told You several times. And then I asked several times, “Why, God?” And I did not sense an answer.

I began to realize I was in need of a heart check. I prayed that You would adjust my attitude to one of gratefulness, not one of bitterness. And while You were probing my heart, my eyes needed an exam as well. I needed You to clear my vision; to help me to focus on the many blessings in my life, instead of what I thought was missing.

Lord, I know in the future there will be more unforeseen responses to my prayers.  Remind me that whether or not I understand Your reply, it will be good. It will be right. It will be the answer that allows Your, “All things work together for those who love the Lord,” promise to be on display in my life. Lord, help my definition of good to be in alignment with Your definition of good.

Lord, from now on, help me to invite You into my heartache instead of shutting You out. Help me to acknowledge and appreciate Your Presence in my pain. If I intentionally listen for Your voice, my heart will be open to new and exciting lessons about Your restoration and redemption.

Lord, I am grateful for Your blessings. You bless me with more than I deserve and more than I could ever earn. You generously give to overflowing out of Your deep love, even though I too often zero in on the empty areas because of my short-sightedness.

You take no delight in my distress. You are willing to teach, guide, and love me through disheartening moments. You come alongside me. You never barge in and insist that I instantly proclaim Your plan as better than mine. Instead, You tenderly offer Your enlightenment, as I process the pain and revitalize and regain trust in You.

Lord, You have promised hope and a future to all Your children. Help me realize that if I am trusting You with my future, it also means believing that You know what You are doing in my present.  Replace any lingering feelings of lack and loss with Your perfect peace.
In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.