spiritual life

26
Feb

4 of Paul’s Most Powerful Prayers

Prayer is simply talking with God. Seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it? But oh, how we complicate it!

All the usual questions come to mind – Where should I pray? Is there a specific position of prayer that really expresses my sincerity? How long do I pray? And most importantly, what should I pray?

The Bible provides some great examples of prayer from both Old and New Testament characters, like:

  • Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:2-19)
  • Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)
  • Jesus (Matthew 6:9-15)
  • Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)

Personally, I don’t believe that God is so much concerned about the place, position, or length of prayer we pray. In those areas, do what comes naturally to you, because most likely, He is concerned about the matters within in our hearts. Would you agree?

Therefore, if we take the first three elements of prayer discussed above off the table, that leaves the content of our prayers. Today, I propose that we look at the prayers of Paul as an example of what to pray. (And, of course, I would suggest that we do it in light of the teachings of Jesus).

Though Paul would not have the opportunity to learn about prayer directly from Jesus like the other apostles, his prayers were completely God honoring. They show a level of spiritual maturity that was also reflected in the overall behavior of Paul. And the subject of his prayers provides real guidance for Christians attempting to further their walk with Jesus.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

  1. Praying for Spiritual Wisdom

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. Eph. 1:16-20

In this prayer, Paul is praying for those new to the faith to be given wisdom. You can bet that before Paul ever started praying for God’s wisdom to be given to the Church that he was in constant prayer that God would give him wisdom. And he would be right, because as the saying goes, you can’t give what you don’t have. To help mold and shape the Church, Paul would need wisdom.

When God provided that wisdom, Paul was eager to share it with others. In our walk with Christ, we should first seek the foundational building block of wisdom. From there, our understanding of everything else will grow.

2. Praying for Spiritual Strength and Growth

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16-18 NLT

Right after praying for spiritual wisdom, Paul prays for spiritual strength and growth. Knowledge of God’s ways is life changing in and of itself, but it takes inner strength to carry out God’s instructions daily. Paul knew firsthand what it meant to come face to face with the truths of God’s Word.

He also knew how the daily grind of life as well as the challenges of being of a believer could wear away at the soul. So, he prayed for strength, knowing this in turn would give room for spiritual growth on more than a superficial level. And in tandem, the believers’ spiritual growth would fortify their spiritual strength, allowing the cycle to repeat.

3. Praying for Knowledge Regarding God’s Will

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10 NLT

In this prayer, Paul repeats some of the same themes he has used in other prayers (e.g., wisdom), but he also adds a new line. Paul asks that the Church be given complete knowledge of God’s will. So, what’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Knowledge is simply the information you have been given. Wisdom is the ability to take in information, make sense of it, and then apply that knowledge correctly when making decisions.

Initially, Paul would seek from God the ability to understand His will and then once fully prepared, ask God to reveal His will. I like to think of it this way. Had we not been prepared in 2nd grade to take on the information coming in 3rd grade, once we reached 3rd grade, we would not have been able to fully use what we were being taught. To know God’s will on a level that makes it useful to us, we must be ready to receive it.

4. Praying for Partners in Ministry

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:4-6 NIV

What I love about Paul was his insatiable appetite for all followers of Christ to be active proclaimers of the gospel. As one person who took as much territory for Christ as possible, Paul was keenly aware that if his efforts were doubled by others also taking ground for Christ, the gates of Hell would be completely crushed sooner than later. Likewise, we should be constantly in prayer for our fellow Christians and rejoice when they succeed.

What would happen if we prayed these types of prayers? What if we could stay others-focused? I am the first to admit, I struggle with those questions. However, I have also been a witness to what can be accomplished if we pray with conviction for wisdom, strength, growth, knowledge, and ministry partners. To that end, I will repeat Galatians 6:9 –

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV)

I’ll be praying for you!

 

 

 

 


Scriptures from:

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

28
Jan

5 Verses To Help Us Understand Change

When people and situations in our life change, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Most folks aren’t crazy about change, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, in some cases, it is necessary for us to be able to move forward.

If someone had told me five years ago what I would be doing today, I don’t think I would have believed it. Life has changed! But changes were necessary in order to position me for what God has called me to do today.

What about you? Has anything of significance changed in your life lately? I realize not all change is happy change, but hopefully, even in those times that the world feels upside down, somehow you can find a silver lining.

Scripture is very clear that change was, is, and will be a part of life. So today, I want to show you 5 scriptures that back up that statement.

1. God commands us to change our mindset from that of world-focused to kingdom-focused.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

2. Sometimes God calls us to change our physical location.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

3. If we are a child of God, our spiritual nature should be constantly changing.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

4. Our perception of Jesus will one day change from what we thought we knew about Him to a level of complete understanding.

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

5. One day, even the heavens and the earth will change from their current status to something gloriously new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. Revelation 21:1

Are you starting to get the picture? God is a God of change. But luckily for us, it is always out of love that He moves and shifts our lives around.

Today, take some time to list out the things that have changed in your life over the last six months to a year. Then, ask God to show you why the change was necessary.

If we all took a few minutes each week to jot down how our life is changing, we would probably start to see some patterns. I challenge to you to journal any changes you experience over the next 30 days. And then, talk to God. He would love to show you where He is leading you. Will you be open to guidance?

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

15
Jan

Defining Your Top Fifty Goals in 2017

We are officially two weeks into the year! How is 2017 going so far? Did you set any New Year’s resolutions, or for those who don’t make resolutions, did you pick out some goals for the year? What’s driving you this year? If I asked you to come up with the top fifty goals you would like to see happen, could you? How long would it take you to create such a list?

Recently, I was asked to list the top fifty goals I would like to carry out if there were no restrictions on my obtaining them. And then, I was asked to label them as a 1, 3, 5, or 10 year goal –meaning the timeframe in which I thought they could be accomplished.

It was both interesting and fun to sit and actually let my mind wander! What did I want to happen in the near future?

Believe it or not, it took me a few days to list 50. Oh, when I started writing my list, thoughts just came flying, and I feverishly wrote them out. Then, around 20-25, the process became much harder. What else did I want to happen? “You mean I can list more?”

More seemed so greedy, more seemed so selfish, but after a while MORE came!

What about you? Are you struggling to set a few goals or can you easily come up with 50? What categories do they fall into, such as family life, wealth, or ministry. What do they say about you as a person or as a Christian? Exercises like this one can really help us do a “heart-check” on where we are spiritually. Listen, I believe we can and should think bigger. We serve a BIG God, and those that make the big ask delight Him!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

However, though we can ask for anything; we shouldn’t expect to receive everything!!

Now wait a minute, Matthew 7 said “ask, and it will be given.”  Yes, it does, but don’t take it out of context with other scriptures along the same subject:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

 

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Now I’m just confused!

Don’t be! We should allow ourselves to dream. Dreaming brings creativity and allows us to think beyond what we can readily see. Sounds a little like walking by faith versus sight, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, as Christians, our requests must align with the will of God. If not, well then, the answer is most likely no! (no magic 8 ball required)

So now, let me give you the rest of the instructions (yes, I left a few details out, but only to help make a point). Once you have your 50 goals and have labeled them by their potential year of completion, from the goals you labeled as one year goals, pick the top 4. How closely does your top 4 goals line up with your Christian faith and God’s will for your life? It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

If only we did this exercise on a regular basis! It could really help to steer our life into a more meaningful, God-oriented existence. And if we were successful in living completely under the influence of God’s will, what would our top 50 look like then? This year, let’s lean into Him and allow Him to shape our top fifty goals! There is no telling how blessed and enriched life will become. I, for one, am ready for it!! Will you join me?

Blessings to you and yours!!

Elaine


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

17
Apr

Four Communication Failures with Our Husbands and How to Fix Them

Proverbs18_21

“You never listen to me.” For probably the millionth time in our twenty-three year marriage, those words came spilling out of my mouth. And my sweet husband, who had continued to work toward completing the task he was working on, looks up and repeats back to me the highlights of what I was just talking about. Oh, I hate it when that happens!

Now, maybe you have a similar situation or perhaps a different spin on this situation. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit –sometimes we are not the best communicators when talking with our spouses. And frankly, that inability to feel as if we are being heard is really our problem and not theirs.

I realize there are times when the communication issue lies with our husband, but if we want our relationships to grow, we have to own our downfalls as well.

When Darrell and I first got married, I was a hot communication mess! At the tender age of 21, having only dated a couple of guys before meeting my husband, I was indeed relationship-challenged when it came to discussing the deeper things in life. After the first big disagreement we had, I shut down. My emotions were running so high; I couldn’t process all that had just occurred. Taking everything that came out of his mouth personally, I just stop talking –for three whole days!

Thankfully, I married a guy who is extremely patient, was a few years older than me, and has a great sense of humor. Though I could never stay mad at him for anything, it took years for me to reach a point where we could have a conversation without me flying off the handle. Truth be told, on a rare occasion, I still have those moments, but they are fewer and far between.

So as women of God, let’s discuss four communication failures that creep into our marriages and learn how to improve our conversations with our spouse. (Trust me, I have experienced them all!)

  1. Use of the Silent Treatment. You know what I mean. You at the height of an argument and he makes that one statement that sends you into orbit, and then suddenly –crickets! The silent treatment is on. You vow to yourself that you are not saying another word –ever. Oh, we ladies are a master at this one. We sulk around the house, carrying on as if nothing happened, with lips sealed tighter than two pieces of metal welded together.

But what does the Bible have to say about all this? For this communication failure, let’s look at Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT):

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Over the years, I begin to realize my silence was rooted in deep anger, and that anger was hurting me more than my spouse. It certainly affected him, but I was the one opening myself up to the devil’s antics. I was the one really losing. Once I got a hold of this, I started taking the time to reflect on why I was so angry, and eventually I learned to go back to my husband, after a cooling off period, and articulate the issue. This was huge turning point in our communication with each other and has strengthened our marriage tremendously. Make a commitment today, that before the sun goes down you will break the silence and discuss why you became so angry.

  1. Emotional Sabotage. In this case, you are probably already upset about something that your spouse has nothing to do with and you are just waiting for a reason to unleash your frustration. Maybe he doesn’t appear to acknowledge your discontented state. Maybe he just asked what’s for dinner. But that’s all it takes for you to let him have it! And there he stands stunned as if he walked into a minefield and stepped on a hidden explosive.

Psalm 25:28 (ESV) states:

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Girlfriends, life is downright aggravating some days, but let’s not use our men as emotional punching bags. For years, I justified my actions by minimizing how my attitude was affecting our marriage. Everyone has their breaking point and needs to vent. However, a marriage license is not a consent for you to treat you husband anyway you want (and vice versa) and he is obligated to take it! That kind of thinking can lead to a huge divide in your marriage, which at some point may be unfixable. Work on the one person you can work on – YOU!

  1. Dangerous Assumptions. This starts off as an issue in our thought life, but it becomes a communication issue when we don’t verify the truth or untruth about the assumption. I believe most of our dangerous assumptions (e.g., he doesn’t think I am pretty anymore, he thinks I’m too skinny or too fat, etc.) is rooted in fear. In those times, remember 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT):

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Are we allowing our own fears and insecurities to fill in the blanks of those crazy thoughts that run through our heads and try to discourage us? Before you assume what your husband is thinking, ASK! It might just cut down on the number of sleepless nights you’re having!

  1. Allowing the Bank to Go Broke. I love the concept of each person in the relationship having an emotional bank in which the other person needs to make deposits into. Those deposits become withdrawals (e.g., your husband feels well-loved, so he sends you flowers in reciprocation). Whenever there is a marriage series at our church, this exchange is discussed. And it makes so much sense! I think it really goes back to one of the greatest teachings of Jesus:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Remember, we not only communicate with our words, but with our body language and actions. If you are longing for your husband to be a little more affectionate, evaluate how you have communicated your affection for him lately. Make deposits into his account regularly and enjoy the return on investment!

Communication is hard sometimes. It involves some work on the part of both individuals. To be sure you are strengthening your communication skills with your husband, remember to avoid these four communication failures: Using the Silent Treatment, Emotional Sabotage, Dangerous Assumptions, and Allowing the Bank to Go Broke. Preventing these hazards can be as simple as breaking the silence before dark, working on controlling your own emotions, clarifying your husband’s thoughts and viewpoints, and making consistent deposits into his emotional bank.

Happy wife, happy life! Happy husband, joyous wife!


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

10
Apr

Five Ways to Handle Your Chaos

Spirit of Power and Love v2

So there I sat, my face in my hands, tears of frustration rolling. Three years ago, if you had told me that I would be working on my second book, holding down a full-time job, caring for my elderly mother, raising a high school senior, and encouraging my husband to make a bold career change, I would have laughed. But the stress and tension of it all was very real when I let myself feel all the emotions I had pent-up inside. What had I gotten myself into, and more importantly, how do I get out of it?

Can you relate? Has your life ever felt like a game of Twister? Pushing you. Twisting you. Challenging you to reach out and touch one more circle (aka responsibility). It can really throw a girl into a self-pity party like no other!

And in the mist of it all, we think about our Christianity and how our faith should be enough for us to take on the world –and we feel worse.

I have been in this situation more times than I like to admit. On the outside, I seem to have it all together. On the inside, there is a lava pit bubbling. Often, friends who know all the things I juggle on a day-to-day basis will ask: “How do you do it all?”

My answer to that is always the same: “I have Jesus.”

Listen, none of us are superheroes. Although some of us can put on a strong front for a while, trust me, we have our moments too! We are all God’s creation, and how we handle the chaos of life is tied to our uniqueness. But let’s look at some ways in which we can all find comfort and feel a little more in control, even when life gets hairy.

  1. First, and foremost, we have to hold on to this promise by Jesus:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

Girlfriend, He’s got this. Don’t think about it. Don’t run through all the scenarios your mind is tempting you to consider. Just BELIEVE it!

  1. Stop beating yourself up for being human! Those little tear ducts in your eyes are there for a purpose. Sometimes, we just have to let the tears flow. Most research studies agree that crying on many levels is a healthy form of releasing our emotions. When I stay all balled up inside, it only leads to more stress and often to feelings of anger.
  2. Don’t believe the myth that you can really balance everything you do. It is impossible! Not too long ago, my pastor shared this thought with me, and it changed my entire perspective.

I know, some of you are about to quote Matthew 19:26 or Mark 10:27 to me, which states: “…with God all things are possible.” Hey, I love that verse too, and believe it will all I’ve got. But if you really look at the context of the verse, it is focused on salvation –not our everyday responsibilities.

The point is we are all attempting to balance many things in our life. But while we have one thing under control (70%), something else is lacking (30%). Maybe your tasks are at a 60/40 split or a 25/25/50 split. Owning up to the fact that they will never be at a 50/50 split, takes a LOT of pressure off. The key is to do the best that we can at the task at hand and then when we can turn our attention to something else, give that task the attention it deserves. That’s it! That’s all you need to do!

  1. Don’t go overboard! Listen, emotional release is needed, but don’t try to win an Oscar while you are at it! I hear you giggling, so I know you know what I mean. Flinging yourself on the bed or going through five boxes of Kleenex may be just a little excessive. Remember what 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) teaches us:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

Once you have let the tension out, let it be done! Your family will thank you later.

  1. Lastly, don’t attempt to do life alone! We were created for fellowship –fellowship with God and with others. Surround yourself with two or three really good friends and do life together! Get involved in your local church and assist others in their time of need. Soon you’ll have a network of folks to rely on in your time of need! I highly recommend it!

Feeling better? I hope so! Life is tough some days, but you don’t have to let it defeat you. I challenge you to post this list of reminders everywhere you need to! Let them lift and encourage you in those weary and tired moments.

  1. Remember, Jesus has overcome the world!
  2. Relax; it’s OK to be human.
  3. Come to terms with the fact that complete balance in life is a myth.
  4. Don’t go overboard! Strengthen your self-control muscle daily.
  5. Do life with others!

There it is in a nutshell. My ability to handle the chaos in my life stems from these five truths! I hope you will take this to heart. If you have something to add to the list, go for it! Make it your own, and consider sharing it with the rest of us! Looking forward to seeing you (and me) grow in this area!

Blessings!

 

How do you handle the chaos of life, and what one thing do you want to start doing in order to handle it better?

 


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

13
Mar

Singing a New Song!

Psalm 96_1

It was a whirlwind of a week. There is no other way to explain it. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, I have seen and experienced it all.

The Challenges

Some of the events that affected me started a couple of weeks ago, but concluded this week. For example, my husband and I recently reconnected with some dear friends and were planning to get together with them within the week. But then, there was a death in their family. How our hearts ache for them for their loss. But God’s timing is perfect. How grateful we are that after years of being out of touch, we have found them again and can support them through this time of sadness.

Soon afterwards a beautiful soul in our church became gravely ill. The outcome was, well, let’s say potentially negative. A consistent offering of prayer went up to heaven, covering her and the family and beckoning God to that hospital room. And He did not disappoint. Miraculously, in just a few short days, she received an organ transplant, saving her life. And throughout this process, this person faced each day courageously, confidently, and full of faith and grace. It is a true lesson of how we are each in the palm of His hand.

Back here on the home front, I watched my mother, who some of you know is a stroke patient, hit one of the lowest emotional moments I have seen yet. She was so depressed and anxious, I wasn’t sure if she would pull out of it. However, just as the springtime sunlight began to pour in this week, she bounced back and had some really terrific days.

And lastly, after weeks of tension building up over where life is going in this new passion of mine, and perhaps a small tantrum I threw, my husband and I started to talk. Like really talk. We had one of the best conversations we have ever had over how to get to where we want to go next in life, and most importantly, get there together. And if that wasn’t enough, God threw in an awesome opportunity that we are praying over. It could be a game changer, and so we have been at His feet seeking discernment in this decision. The best part–it has caused us to start dreaming of a better future!

Tune Up Those Vocal Cords!

Why do I tell you all that? Because in this life, even those of faith, tend to feel that we live in isolation and that the problems mounting around us are overwhelming. But in these times, God has an unusual instruction for us. 

Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

Psalm 96:1-3 NLT

Well, I must admit my singing is more like ‘make a joyful noise’ (Psalm 100:1) then a song, but I try to make the most of it!

Even through the tough stuff, the rough stuff, the sad stuff, the scary stuff–we need to keep singing His praises, and in some cases, sing a new song! Instead of looking at the circumstances, we need to look to our God.

 Focusing on Him brings peace, strength, and wisdom. Leaning on Him keeps us safe in the storms of life.

When We Find Ourselves Out of Tune

How do we find the right song? First, take a step back from your circumstances and take a really deep breath. I get how hard that is sometimes. Trust me, this week, I had to take my own advice! Second, count your blessings. I know how Christianese that might sound, but it is so important. One of the ways my husband and I dealt with the opportunity before us was to write a list of pros and cons. This works in many situations. Grab a piece of paper, write your troubles on one side, but then write your blessings on the other. I am confident your list of blessings will be longer, and your perspective will start to change. Lastly, pray! Once we start talking with God, He will begin to fill our hearts with more hopes and dreams than they can possibly hold. And in that moment, you will find yourself singing a new song!

Hear the words of David, who was no stranger to troubles and sorrows:

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Psalm 30:11-12 NLT

Thank you Father God that you are with us in all circumstances and that when we ask, you give us a new song to sing!


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

6
Mar

When Our Plans Don’t Match God’s

GUEST POST: MITZI NEELY

Making a u turn

It always feels good to have goals and a plan in place to accomplish those goals. We tend to spend weeks, months or years writing and fine-tuning all the things we want to accomplish.

It’s very time-consuming deciding on a destination or end goal and mapping out just the right path to get there, only to find that somewhere in the journey it wasn’t the direction we were supposed to go.

That kind of revelation can sometimes bring us to a grinding halt. And then we find ourselves wondering, ‘Now what? Lord, what do you mean that’s not the direction you intended me to go?’ After all, my plan was going so well.

Like many of you I’ve been that person. I’ve had to change direction in the middle of something small and I’ve had to change direction in the midst of something of huge proportions. Are the lessons the same? For the most part they are. Are the gamut of emotions involved the same? Absolutely not.

Some of the journeys we have traveled have been long and arduous and planned to a tee. Some of the journeys have been short field trips; the kind that were easy to adjust and we could change course in an instant. But regardless of what the goals or destinations were I’ve always made a point to rely on Him for His will to be done. Psalm 37:23 tells us, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm.”

Isn’t it reassuring to know that Jesus knows something we don’t? He knows what’s ahead and what’s changed that He no longer wants us to be a part of. Things could be rocking along fine for us and in the words of author, Suzanne Eller, in The Mended Heart, ‘Jesus can stop us with a blazing light of glory and a voice of thunder because He knows something we do not.’

Of course it’s exciting when we pray through a series of journeys and find the open doors and the pathways have been made smooth for us to move through.  The challenging part is when we realize we’ve almost reached our destination only to find the door has been firmly closed on us.

That’s the time to re-evaluate our plan and our goals. That’s the time when we find ourselves at a crossroads and we either decide we are flexible enough to make the minor adjustment or totally change our thought process to a full-blown u-turn.

It is so important for us to have intimate conversations with our Heavenly Father. And it’s essential to hear God’s clear directions in the middle of our selfish prayers wanting what we want. His word tells us in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

It’s difficult to understand why our journey has been re-routed. But it is comforting to know that God wants His very best for us. Why would we get in the way of His best?

We don’t always understand the big picture and we certainly don’t understand the reasoning behind the twists and turns of life. But one thing we can be certain of is our ‘God wants us to pursue and embrace things of great worth, rather than those that hold little value.’ (Suzanne Eller, The Mended Heart)

Even though I struggle to understand all that He has for me, I know without a doubt He has my absolute best at heart. That makes me smile all over. And it reminds me how much better I handle things when I have perspective and peace about the situation.

I’ll be praying for you.

Mitzi


 

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This post was written by Mitzi Neely. Mitzi is an inspiring motivational speaker, a gifted soloist, an accomplished seamstress, and a dedicated career educator.  She encourages women of all ages through her experiences and shortcomings. She has been blessed with  a passion and love for people that stretches across the generations. Her heart is to lighten your load, while conveying her message that nobody’s perfect. So often God places certain people in your life at just the right moment; whether the reason is to help teach you, help you grow in your walk with Him, or to simply love and lift up others. Whatever your struggle or need, you will find encouragement through her words. Follow Mitzi at peacefullyimperfect.net because the joy of the journey is learning His word together.

27
Nov

Black Friday!

Black Friday

Hard to believe another Thanksgiving has gone by, and the Christmas season is directly in front of us. I hope you had a wonderful day of family, food, and fun! Today, many of you are just coming back from some early (and I mean early!) Black Friday shopping, and others are getting ready to head out the door. I don’t really want to bring you down, but I do want to speak to your heart today!

We get so excited about Thanksgiving, and some of us are even more excited about Black Friday. While I definitely see the positive side of Black Friday (who doesn’t want to shop for 50-80% off!), I also see the other side of it –the side we tend to ignore, at least until the 6 o’clock news comes on, and we hear the stories of people literally being tramped over by the crowds rushing in the store to buy their child the latest and greatest toy. Ironic that we can be so thankful one day for all that we have, and then desperate the next day to buy, buy, buy.

Now, I realize that most folks are actually out there buying gifts for someone else, but the reality is they really love the hunt for bargains, to be able to say I got “this” for “this price.” But the gifts we give at Christmas should be reflective of the person who we are celebrating, shouldn’t it?

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16
Nov

That New Christian Feel

Believers Celebration Sunday

I’m not sure what your church service looked like this past Sunday, but this was mine! At Believers Church, we had service outside underneath a HUGE tent adjacent to the property our church family will soon call home (hopefully within the next 18 months to 2 years). We called it Celebration Sunday!

Yes, we got a little crazy, but isn’t the love of Jesus something to be crazy about!

So what were we celebrating? I am so glad you asked! During this service, we were able to look back and see how far the church has come since the Rescue Project, a former project that allowed the church to build our current worship center. Back then, the church was really no bigger than your average Baptist church is today, and my husband and I weren’t part of the membership! We have, however, benefited from the hard work and strong faith of those who took God at His word and launched out into the unknown “to rescue those who were drowning in their sin.” Darrell and I came to Believers in 2006. Next year, we will have been with the church 10 years! And the growth has been incredible, so much so that we have outgrown our current building and are working toward building a new church that house all the kids, teens, and adults that Jesus sees fit to send us each Sunday (almost 1500 total).

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7
Nov

Thankfulness for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

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Well, it’s November, the month of Thankfulness (which should be every day, right?). So as I reflect on November, I thank God for all that has happen this past year and for all that will come. What I struggle with the most is thanking Him for what is happening in the moment -right now, today! You too! I’m so glad you spoke up!

Crazy how we can reflect on past things or even dream of future things, but those things right there in front of us always seem to elude me. I am sure I am not alone in this, which is probably why Cinderella’s hit Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Til It’s Gone) was so wildly popular in the 80’s. (but I digress!)

I am so thankful for a God that sees me in the moment, and although it is against our nature, I strive to see Him the very same way. I want to catch Him working in my life every hour, even every 5 minutes! Good to know Jesus “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8 NLT). It gives me hope that I might actually catch up to Him someday. Ironic that to get up to speed with God, I actually need to slow down. Slow down from the busyness of the day, slow down and push out the distractions, slow down and listen for a small, still voice whispering words of mercy and grace to me.

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