Thursday, April 21, 2016

Afraid of Change?

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This text is important throughout the Biblical narrative. Why is that? These words were spoken three times in the Old Testament. First, Moses spoke these words to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6. He tells them to, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” The second time is the passage you read above when God restates these words to Joshua. The third time we find these words is in 1 Chronicles 28:20 “Then David said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.” We now know that David was encouraging Solomon with the same words Moses used to encourage the people of Israel.

All three of these instances share two commonalities. First, the persons receiving the words were afraid of change – they feared God’s plan. Second, God, either directly or through His chosen mouth piece, spoke a command and exhortation to those persons regarding their situation.

In Deuteronomy, Moses was about to die. He would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land with the children of Israel. The people would have to carry on without Him as they crossed over into a land flowing with milk and honey. Although they were eager to see this place promised to them, they feared moving forward without their fearless leader who had carried them through each situation in the desert. They weren’t sure what life would look like without Moses. God tells Moses to reassure them that it was God who deserved their trust. He was the one who brought them through the desert and He would bring them into the Promised Land. They need only be strong and have courage.

In the book of Joshua, Joshua feared inadequacy. He was afraid that Moses’ sandals would be too big to fill and he would fail the people. Sure he had worked with Moses but was he ready to lead the people in the many campaigns ahead of them? God told Joshua multiple times to be strong and have courage. God would be the one to win the battles, slay the giants, and give the Israelites the land. God promised to be with Joshua wherever he went as long as Joshua was obedient.

In Chronicles Solomon was afraid of not being able to complete the temple. He feared failing God, his father, and the people. Why did God want him to build the temple anyway? It was not his plan. What if he did something wrong? David reminds him of this consistent truth – God will not fail you therefore do not fear.

So what is my point exactly?

I am glad you asked…

So often we fear stepping into God’s plan. We fear change. We long for God to speak but when He does we fear obedience.

Joshua 1:9 has been a verse that has brought clarity and encouragement to my life many times. When I was seventeen a dear friend of my mother wrote this verse inside a graduation card. It took root in my heart that very moment and hasn’t left me since. I was terrified when the time came to choose a college. This verse settled my heart as I packed my bags for Lee University and began my classes. I attended school there in perfect peace knowing God had led me to that campus. Then it was time to graduate and I was fearful of the unknown. This verse sprouted up in my soul as I walked across the stage and into a world filled with possibilities. I carried its truth with me as I married my husband and moved away from my childhood home forever. As I kissed my husband goodbye knowing He would be gone for six months I cherished the words spoken to the Israelites, Joshua, and Solomon: “Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go…”

So, what are you afraid of?

A new job?

A new ministry?

Moving to a new town?

Sharing the gospel with your best friend?

Adopting a child?

Going on a mission’s trip?

A Deployment?

Pursuing the dream God has placed in your heart?

Whatever it is – Do not be afraid.

God is leading your life. If He makes an opportunity possible, take it. If He puts a road block on the path you thought was the one, turn around and find the path He has marked. If you do this – you will thrive because He will never fail you or forsake you. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Morning Mantra: Commit, Trust, He will...

Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

I recognize that each person reading this blog is at a different place in his or her journey. Some of you know exactly where you want to be and are heading in that direction. Others have been in the same spot for a long time and are looking for a change. Many of you walk through life each day not knowing why you are in the place you are and do whatever it is you do.

Like all of you, I have been in each of these phases at one point or another. To be honest, I’m exiting a season of doubting my purpose. I have sought out different options, made it right to the cliff of decision, and have slowly backed away. Each time sensing a lack of peace.

If you are currently navigating through the murky waters of indecision or indirection, please, open your heart and mind to God’s Word. He has much to say in regards to finding our path in this life. With this in mind let us take a look at Psalm 37:5.

I love the words of the psalmist, David, in this passage. They are perfect for those of us in a season of confusion, doubt, and/or lack of purpose.

He first writes, “Commit your way to the Lord.”

Fellow followers of Christ, before you make any decisions in life, commit your way to God. Too often we act first and consult God second. We must make it a habit to consult God first. We must commit our path, our whole life, to Him. Then, after you have asked the Lord for direction do what David says next, “Trust also in Him.”

Trust in the Lord.

Many believers get nervous when people start talking about “God’s plan” for them. Most of the time it is because they not sure if what the Holy Spirit is saying to them is actually Him or the bad pizza they ate last Tuesday.

Following the Spirit is a matter of faith. This is where you have to act. If you sense God directing you, act in faith. He will lead you. The Holy Spirit walks through life with us every day. He will not let you wander aimlessly down the wrong path. Trust His guidance and follow the directions He gives you through His Word and presence. This is not a magic formula. I am simply advising that you listen to the Holy Spirit. In my experience the Holy Spirit has given step by step direction: a nudge in the pit of my stomach, a thought, or a scripture verse that seems to leap off the page.

Finally, David tells us that “He will do it.”

David is a great testament to the power of committing your way to God. He was a ruddy looking shepherd. David's father didn’t think enough of him to bring him before the prophet Samuel when Samuel was looking to anoint a king from among Jesse’s sons. He was the youngest of his siblings, destined to work on the family farm.

Then, one day, David took food to his brothers who were fighting with the Israelite army. He saw the Philistine giant that everyone had been talking about. King Saul’s army was shaking in fear just as the citizens of Judah had reported. In that moment, David committed his way to the Lord. He determined that if God could help him defeat bears and lions in the wilderness, then He could empower David to defeat the giant. So David went to the brook and picked up five smooth stones. He took his sling, committed it to the Lord, trusted Him, and hurled the stone at the giant with all of His might.

Do you remember what happened?

God did it. The giant fell to the ground and Israel won the battle.

If you commit your way to the Lord and trust Him then He will do it.

He will illuminate the path that you have tried so hard to see but cannot.

Commit to His leading. Trust Him to reveal Himself to you. Because He will do it.

Therefore, if you are in a place of doubt trust that God does not lie. He will do what He says.

If you’re afraid, commit that struggle to the Lord and trust that He will empower you through His Spirit to overcome what troubles you.

If you are lacking direction, trust God and step out in faith. If you have committed your way to Him then He will do it.

No matter where you are in your journey with Christ try to remind yourself of Psalm 37:5 every morning: Commit, Trust, He will…



Sunday, April 3, 2016

On Coffee and Cream

2 Timothy 1:6 "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

What exactly is going on in this passage? I am so glad you asked! Let's look at it together. Take a minute and open your Bible, turn on your iPad, or click on biblegateway.com and find 2 Timothy 1.

You'll find that Paul is writing to encourage Timothy. How do we know this? Just take a look at verse seven - Paul reminded Timothy that God had not given him a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind. Therefore, something had happened between Paul's first letter and this one that had shaken Timothy's courage. In this letter Paul takes a little time to encourage him. He did this by reminding Timothy of the heritage he had received through his mother and grandmother who were faithful followers of Jesus (see verse five). It is then that Paul says let God stir up the gifts that are inside of you, Timothy. We learn that there must have been a gift inside of Timothy that had settled down at the bottom and was no longer being used. Paul wanted to see Timothy allow God to stir it up.

That is what I want for you today.

Picture this: it's morning. You have woken up, walked down to the coffee pot, brewed your favorite coffee grinds, and poured that delicious first cup. You've added the perfect amount of cream, and perhaps a little sugar, while your taste buds salivate at the anticipation of that first sip. Then, in the middle of this process, the phone rings. Unfortunately, you must rush to the other room to handle the business before you. By the time you return to the coffee, the cream and sugar have settled to the bottom, and that perfect concoction has not come together to create that delicious sip you wanted to enjoy. So, you go to the utensil drawer, pick out a spoon, place it in the cup, and begin to stir. As you do this, the cream, sugar, and coffee become one beautiful, swirling unit that is now ready to satisfy your taste buds as you sip and indulge.

Our lives are similar to the coffee. God has made us. We are His favorite blend. He has a special purpose for us as He pours us into His cup for His use. The Holy Spirit adds the cream and sugar, or gifts, to that cup. It is ready for use. The problem is that we stay stagnant and do not participate in the plan God has designed for us. We prefer to stay on the counter instead of fulfilling our purpose. Most of the time believers want to be used for God's purpose but they, like Timothy, are fearful. Therefore, we sit, and as we sit on the counter, our gifts settle to the bottom of the cup to the point that we forget there were gifts placed within us.

Today is the day we can ask God to stir up the gifts within us.

Some of you are reading this blog and do just that. You share your gifts with the people around you and honor God by fulfilling your purpose. To you I say, "Way to go!" Do not be discouraged or grow weary. Allow the Holy Spirit to continue pouring into you so that you can pour out to others - just like a cup of coffee.

There are others reading this who may be like Timothy, a bit scared to use your gifts. May I encourage you today to go for it? God has not given you a spirit of fear but of love, courage, and a sound mind. You can do it! The Holy Spirit has placed that gift inside of you for such a time as this. If you are unsure of what that gift is, ask the Holy Spirit to tell you. He will. Go for it! Allow God to stir it up.

For those of us who have sat still so long that our gifts have settled to the bottom, I pray that God will stir those gifts up. God has a purpose and a plan for you. You have not been told that you are an encouraging person by chance. You are not hospitable on your own. You do not jump at every chance to serve others because you're a nice person. You do not have a skill or talent because you were slapped with a special skill at birth. Your gifts are not happenstance - they were specifically planned for you. Allow God to stir them up so that you can share them.

I challenge you to wake up tomorrow and drink a cup of coffee, not only because it is delicious, but also because it will remind you to share your gifts with the world around you.

Today you have the chance to be like Timothy and allow God to place His spoon in the cup that is your life, and stir!

Wave Walker and Saltwater Guzzler

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