While I was swinging my son on a swing, God revealed to me an important lesson. My son was about 3 years old at the time, and he was enjoying me pushing him on the swing. When I got him up high enough, he would say to me, “I can do it myself daddy!” When I stopped pushing him, as we adults know, he started to slow down. Then he would ask me to push him again. Each time he got high enough, he again would say, “I can do it now daddy!”
God showed me in this instance that we all do the same thing with our Heavenly Father. When we get to a spot where things are going well and we are in a good place, we say, “I can handle it myself now, Father.” But then when things get hard, or we start slowing down, we ask for a push again. Realizing that we need His help. We have to realize that without Him, we can try do things our way, but ultimately, we are no match for His great power. Without Him we can do nothing.
~By David Huneycutt~
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)
Let’s face it, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It’s hard. In some cases, it seems impossible. Problems come our way, trials threaten to derail our walk with the Lord, struggles pull our focus away from Him and to our circumstance and we lose focus and start to question. We question why God would allow bad things to happen to good people, we question whether He sees and cares what we are going through. We wonder when we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It makes us cry out in anger and desperation when there is no resolution in sight.
There are problems that are so large in nature and that there is literally no possible way for us or anyone other than God to do anything to reverse it, and we plead for mercy and beg Him to work miracles.
Then there are the obstacles, big and small, that seem to go on forever. We stay faithful to the Lord at first, but as the weight becomes too much to bear, and we feel like our prayers haven’t been answered, we either turn away completely or get so distracted by the problem that God is no longer the center of our lives and instead of trusting Him we become angry.
And finally, there are the little insignificant storms that on their own are easily managed and more of a nuisance than anything else. But when more and more of these little storms pop up and the waves get rougher, suddenly our storm has become a hurricane meant to be catastrophic. Before we realize it, we have become so focused on just living through the storm that we lose sight of our anchor.
All these types of problems are ways that the enemy uses to take our eyes off Jesus and place them on our circumstances.
Lately those individual problems have started to pile up. They have become a huge boulder of weight that sit on my chest and leave me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. We all have times like this. We all go through obstacles that seem never-ending and hopeless. So, what do we do when we have times like these? How do we stay focused on our Savior rather than our situation?
Well, now that I have had some time in deep prayer and words of encouragement from my sweet friends that always speak truth into my life, I can see what He is trying to show me. While I don’t know the specific reasons for my own struggles or when they are going to end, I can find hope in His promises.
He allows us to go through tough circumstances to grow our relationships with him. It’s part of the sanctification process. (James 1:2-4) When we are doing the work of our Lord that was set aside for us to do, satan hates it and wants to stop it at all costs. So, he makes us feel alone and causes us to think only about the problem instead of what goodness that God is going to do through that problem. (Romans 8:28). Not only that, but He shows His great power through our weakness, not only to us but also to those around us. When the lost see what God can do, seeds are planted in their hearts that hopefully one day will bear fruit if they choose to accept Jesus as their Savior. Since God is all-knowing, (Psalm 139:2-3)He can see a way to use our struggle as a tool to witness to the lost and to minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ. If everything was always perfect, then how would we be able to give advice to those who are going through a tough time? He has a plan which is far better than anything that we could come up with on our own. This plan isn’t for our earthly happiness, but rather for His glory so that more people will come to know and trust in Him. Our rewards come later when we stand before Him and He welcomes us Home with open arms.
If today is the day that your earthly life is over and you stand before the throne of God, what will you say about why He should let you into His Kingdom?
Some people would say, “I was a good person,” or “I went to church on Sundays,” or “I helped those in need,” and while these things are good, they are not enough. That response alone is not enough to get us through the pearly gates. These are behaviors, and while they show that we might “behave” the right way, it doesn’t show that our hearts have been changed.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Others might say, “Well I said the prayer.” Also, great, but a prayer in and of itself doesn’t save us. It is the heart that tells our truth, not just our words. Romans 10:9-10 says, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
So, when you start to wonder about whether you are saved, (and trust me, we all have at one point or another), the questions to ask yourself should be:
If you know that you have not given your life to Jesus and claimed Him as Lord, I encourage you to do so now. There is no better time to have that blessed assurance than today. All you need to do is:
A – Admit to God that you are a sinner, pray for forgiveness, and turn away from your sin.
B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He came into this world to save us from Hell by giving His life to pay for our sin.
C – Confess your faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Choose to live your life for Him from this point forward.
If you have talked with God with a sincere longing to know Him, you can now rejoice that your eternity is sealed by the Holy Spirit! Find a church and a Christian friend that can help you learn to grow your faith in Jesus and live a life of service unto Him.
I live in the darkness
wailing and pain,
the burning of fire
And weight of the chains.
If I’d said yes
When He said my name
I wouldn’t be filled
with all this shame.
I stood in the pew
no time left to waste,
hearing the call
but rooted in place.
I chose to go
my own way,
And now I pay
The price of my sin
He offered to wave,
if only my heart
To Him I gave.
If there’s still time
I beg you to run
Straight to the Father
Through the Son.
He can clean the slate
Through the blood so pure
Say yes to Him today
And you can be sure
To avoid this Hell
It never ends
My only friend.
So many times we are guilty of thinking that life is about us. That, yes we were created by God, but to live a good life of pleasure and worldly comfort, never having problems and being thankful to Him for everything that He blesses us with until the day that we die and are welcomed into Heaven with open arms. Think about it! When bad things happen, we are surprised! It's like we don't expect it. We think everything is just supposed to be perfectly fine and we won't have any problems. But that isn't biblical. Never once does it say that we won't have problems, or that we should live for our own pleasure.
The truth is, that we were created by God FOR God, not for ourselves or our own happiness. God created us to serve Him in word and in deed. In Ephesians 2:10, it says that "We are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." He created us with His own hands, not to be rich, or famous, or have 5000 friends on Facebook, but to be saved by Jesus and do good works. These good works happen after salvation, and once the Holy Spirit abides in us. The rest of verse 10 says, "Which God prepared in advance for us to do."
God isn't living spontaneously. He is eternal. He doesn't decide things based on a whim or mood. He remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is never changing. He knew before the beginning of time what our life's work would be, and it wasn't for us to receive blessings. It was for His glory, and while He does bless us far beyond what we could ever deserve, He has work for us to do, period, the end.
When we forget who made us and why, we forget our purpose. Our purpose is to spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth so that as many people as possible come to know Him. Sometimes bad things happen, not in punishment, but to bring us back to the reality of HIM. We were created by Him for Him. Life is all about Him, He created us, has plans for us, and sometimes He let's us go through hard circumstances to remind us how much we need Him, and why we are here to begin with. He loves us so much that He doesn't want any of us to die and go to Hell, so He provided a way through Jesus for us to be saved from damnation. Our job is to spread the word. Are we living for our temporal worldly happiness, or are we denying ourselves and living for Him?
Why am I surprised
I’ve known for many years
That you tend to play
On all of my worst fears.
I know my path is set
I know He walks with me
So you don’t get to win
So just let me be.
I’ll always be on guard
No matter any doubt,
My Savior stands beside me
This I cannot live without.
You’re nothing but a liar
Messing with my head,
But in the end you know
Evil ends up dead.
So leave me to my Jesus
There’s so much left to do
We are marching on
To take the lost from you.
After praying this morning for clarification on some things going on in my life, I opened God’s Word, for guidance. I do not do this because I am looking for a sign, but rather because God’s Word is my “baseline of truth” to quote our church’s Youth Pastor, Jason Easter. There is not a place in His Word that I can go where God cannot teach me something.
This verse was part of our Sunday School lesson recently and it came to mind as I was praying for guidance.
“ALL scripture is God-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As a friend in class said, it doesn’t say that SOME of the Bible was inspired by God, but ALL of it. From cover to cover. The “Word of Truth,” is a gift from God that can help us in ANY circumstance that life throws at us.
So, imagine my surprise when I come to Isaiah 56:9-12. There I am, reading about the wickedness of man, and thinking, “Why couldn’t I get something cool about soaring on wings of eagles or God telling me to rest in Him?” LOL.
So, as I was reading I looked at this verse from my rose-colored glasses or from the perception of my innocence and everyone else's sin. All I could see was that the people of Israel were making bad choices…. again. "Seriously? Are they ever going to get it together?"
When I got to verse 11, the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks and I had to read It over again.
Isaiah 36:11 “They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way; they seek their own gain.”
How often do we think about how God needs to change the hearts of those around us but forget that though we are saved, we still dwell in the world where the motto is, "I didn't do anything wrong." We tend to see everyone else's flaws rather than taking a good look at our own. Suddenly I could see the obvious truth. I had been thinking that I was somehow better than the watchmen of Israel. But in all actuality, I am them. Not literally of course, but I am a chosen Child of God; human and flawed. Sometimes, I still want what I don’t have, lack the truth of my own sins, want my own way, and am selfish.
So, as He opened my eyes to the truth, I could see that I needed to stop praying for God to fix other people and for Him to continue His work in me. There will never be a time when I don't need to grow and learn. I am no better or more innocent than anybody else. My sins nailed Jesus to the Cross just like those of my worst enemy, and I still need to be forgiven and repent. So rather than asking Him to "fix" my problem by changing someone else, I need to ask Him to “fix” me. When we come to Him recognizing our own failures and constant need for His help, He will use our malleable hearts for our good and the advancement of The Gospel.
So my prayer today is, “Thank you Lord for the truth of your Word and that you opened my eyes to see it with clarity. God, what do you want to change in me? How can I be better for you? Show me the way to be more like Jesus and please forgive me for forgetting how far fallen I was when you pulled me in.”
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs:26:12
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge practice the very same things.” Romans 2:1-2
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
Just how far are we willing to take this whole "faith" thing?
Are we only willing to go as far as the doors of our local church or are we ready to cross oceans if He calls us?
Until He asks us to give up our wealth? Or are we willing to give everything we have?
Just as long as it doesn't affect our safety? Or did we forget that He gave His life?
Right up til He asks me to change myself? Or would I let Him mold me into a new creation?
Only in good times? Only in need? Or is He my go-to in any and every circumstance?
Just until He won't fix my circumstance? Or am I willing to go through any hardship for His Glory?
Only until people start to make fun? Or will I keep my eyes focused on Jesus and His purpose for me while not caring if I am the butt of a joke?
Just until I lose friends? Or am I willing to go alone wherever He leads?
Just until the persecution gets to be too much? Or will I find joy in suffering for Jesus because that is confirmation that I am following His plan for me?
Only as far as my He will let me go without requiring sacrifice?
Until I'm asked to give up my worldly comforts? Or would I still follow Him if I lived in a box on the street?
Just as long as I keep my life? Or would I freely give my last breath in obedience to His requests?
My life is not about me. It's not about me being successful or rich, comfortable or happy. It's about furthering the Gospel of Christ, so that God gets the glory and more people come to Him. Am I doing everything possible, giving up as much time as He asks to speak His truth? Or do I live based on what I want and what I think is important and what I don't want to give up? Am I taking up my Cross every day to live a life of service to Him and others? Am I loving others even when it means swallowing my pride and asking for forgiveness? Am I forgiving my worst enemy for the sake of righteousness with my Savior? Am I sacrificing my own needs and wants to be as close to Him as I possibly can?
It's hard to live in a world where every advertisement that we see says that we deserve the best and that we should do what feels good in the moment, but those are lies that the enemy tells us to try and keep us sinning and not being obedient to God. Christians are called to be different from the world. We were made to stand out, not to blend in. If we claim Jesus as our Savior, then we must be willing to make sacrifices for Him. He WILL call us to give up things that stand in the way of our relationship with Him. Jesus gave His own life so that we can have a relationship with the Father, and He did it knowing full well that we have nothing but dirty rags to offer in return. What greater example of self-sacrifice and love could there ever be?
What is it that the Lord is asking you to give up? Is He calling you to do something that scares you? What is He asking of you today? He won't force his will upon you. He gives us free will to choose whether to be obedient. Will we give all that we have and all that we are for the good of the Gospel or will we continue to blend in with the rest of the world?
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
I am a hot mess. I am a high anxiety, tightly wound, overly emotional female that has a crying fit at least once a week. Sometimes it is about things that are a big deal, but other times I might find myself crying and eating a candy bar because I forgot to check the mailbox. I complain and worry, I sin and am sometimes selfish, I don't always say the right words, and I am afraid of things that normal people don't even think twice about. I have very little patience, and I don't function well in disorganization. But if there is one thing that I have learned with certainty, it is that God will take the most unlikely, unqualified, broken mess of a human being and give them a task that is only possible through Him.
I am not a writer. I am not eloquent in how I speak and can barely stay on one topic for longer than a few minutes. My grammar is not always correct and I can't ever figure out where to use a colon versus a semicolon. Not once in my entire life did I think, "Hmmm, I would be a good writer." But my plans didn't take into account His power and purpose.
Let's be real here. God doesn't need us. He is all powerful and can make the entire world bow down in worship anytime He wants. But He doesn't, because He wants us to choose Him of our own free will. He wants to change the hearts of sinners and transform us into vessels that tell the world about Jesus with passion. All He wants from us is a willing heart. He wants us to be ready and willing to do His Work, not begrudgingly or out of guilt, but simply because we want everyone around us to know that this awesome God loves us. He wants us to excitedly tell people about this God who became flesh and took on our punishment, giving His very life so that we can know Him. He wants us to have a fire within us for Him and a boldness that can only be explained by His hands. So, He pours His Holy Spirit into us and over time this causes an eagerness to blossom. This eagerness, He then uses to speak into the lives of people around us and testify about His goodness.
It's easy to let the enemy make us think that there is nothing we can do to grow the Kingdom of God, but I promise that God has the desire and the ability to work in us and through us for mighty things. He has a purpose for you and if you are willing to give in to His calling for you, one day you will look back and stare in awe at His goodness and grace. What is He calling you to do that makes you want to run the other way in fear? Pray for Him to give you the courage to follow Him wherever He leads.
If there is ever a day
that I'm not around
Let your hope
in Him be found.
Not in the world
or temporal things
Like I-phones, cars
or diamond rings.
Remember the promises
I held so dear
from God's Holy Word
and it will be clear.
It's okay to cry
and it's normal to mourn
but don't let it keep you
from being reborn.
He is drawing you near
and knocks on the door
just let Him come in
and be lost no more.
He will always guide you
when you seek His face
just always put him first
and time you will not waste
He is not done
with His plan for you
you must not give up
there is sharing to do.
When you think of me
think of Heaven's gates
I'll be dancing with my Savior
and touching His sweet face.
I look forward to the day
that we meet again
there will be a celebration
and it will never end.