Here in Israel today, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee & heard about Jesus walking on the water & Peter joining Him. This was in the middle of a storm & in the middle of night, so there was lots of fear & anxiety. On another occasion, Jesus was sleeping in a boat somewhere in the Sea of Galilee also during a storm. In both scenarios, Jesus had affirmed the trip before the storm started.
My point is that when we follow Jesus, we can’t assume that our lives will be storm free. Indeed, sometimes we will follow Jesus into a storm. And to get through the storm, we must keep following g Jesus. While we follow Jesus, it’s helpful to remember that He’s the Prince of Peace & His peace will overcome any storm 🙂
How can I get this done? Where will I get the time for that? How should I use this money or talent that I have? Have you asked God these questions? Often, such questions are anchored in the requirement to trust God
And sometimes trusting God can be both challenging & frustrating! I’m in Cambodia for a super quick trip. This morning I was trying to figure out all of the moving parts for today, since my flight leaves tonight. I couldn’t make everything I needed to accomplish today, fit into a schedule. So I decided to trust God when I left the hotel this morning & I’m pleasantly surprised at how well God has put together this day!!
Trusting God can be a daily & even an hourly discipline, based on Proverbs 22:19. And this trust is an essential ingredient to a closer walk with God!
I go through seasons in my life where everything seems manageable. This means that I have a balance with my workload, time, responsibilities, family stuff, travel, etc. And then I go through seasons that seem very unbalanced: too much work, not enough time, overwhelming responsibilities, unresolved family challenges and maybe a host of other hotspots. So in these seasons, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m drowning and I can’t manage everything – there’s not enough of me to adequately match everything that’s being demanded or required.
In these seasons, it helps me to focus on what’s immediately in front of me and taking one day at a time. Indeed, I don’t have the resources, wisdom, energy or wherewithall to get very far into the future and it can overwhelm me when I try. Maybe this is why God did the manna thing for Israel, giving adequate supply of bread for each day. This forced the Israelites to trust God on a daily basis and this is a helpful mindset that we can also choose for today. Let’s thank God for giving us daily provisions, adequate for each day 🙂
I recently received an email advertisement about getting 40% off a purchase at a store I frequent. When I attempted to use the discount, the cashier said that the discount wasn’t applicable because of the fine print. To my thinking, this is deceptive or tricky marketing and it doesn’t foster trust. It’s advertising that’s appealing, but the experience isn’t fulfilling.
Thankfully, Jesus isn’t a marketing trick. Indeed, Jesus far exceeds our wildest expectations and worthy of all our trust. There’s nothing tricky in Jesus, but rather everything trustworthy! Just because human marketing & expectations leave much to be desired, let’s allow our trust in Jesus to deepen since He is the ultimate expression of genuine love!
There are times in my life where I am inadequate to meet the needs and demands of what’s happening around me. In these times, I know that I’m not smart enough, not strong enough, don’t have the energy to match the demands, nor do I have the endurance to match the race stretched in front of me. In these times, it’s tempting to get overwhelmed by the questions, the shortfalls, demands, inadequacies and scarcity I feel in my soul. Such deficiency is often a universal human condition and maybe that’s by Divine Design. Maybe God has always intended for us to never be enough, such that we must choose to reach outside of ourselves to find provisions beyond our finite resources.
Let’s be certain that we reach for God to participate in our lives every day and not just as a last resort! Indeed, God is more than enough for our overflowing deficiencies!
For a few weeks now my phone has been messing up with stuff that I write – it’s been incredibly frustrating!! I’ve done all the updates reboots etc with no improvement. This is why there are no commas in this post – arg! And my spell check is doing really funky stuff! When we are accustomed to using a tool in our daily living & that tool gets unreliable things change.
Thankfully God is faithful & unchanging. God isn’t merely a tool in our lives to get stuff done nor is God only a sugar daddy for providing for our lives. Let’s be sure that we don’t only see God as a function or tool but rather the essential intimacy in our daily living!
I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence. The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience. In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:
take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”
Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”
Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
More than 50,000 soldiers dead all triggered by a concubine running away from her husband. I’m reading the last few chapters of Judges in the OT & these events leave me baffled & cold. They baffle me because even though Israel obeyed God’s directives, they still lost two battles and 40,000 soldiers died.
These events leave me cold because of the human ability to be barbaric: the concubines husband cut her up into 12 pieces and sent her body parts throughout the 12 Tribes of Israel. Clearly, this is a very dark time in Israel’s history.
And there are times / events in our lives when we don’t understand God. Why does an omnipotent God allow atrocities and deplorable behaviors? And how does
God’s loving character reconcile with His judgment? Making these questions get even more personal, why doesn’t God heal various ailments & terminal illness?
Or why does a cheater co-worker get the promotion & we get bypassed, again?
I’m grateful that God is abundantly able to handle our questions, doubts, fears, uncertainties & pain.
While we wrestle with these questions, or different ones, let’s stay in fellowship with God for the simple reason that He holds us together because of His infinite love for us!
Stay-cation is this week’s plan & this far its going pretty well. We solicited input from our kids for various activities to do this week, hence the picture below 🙂
So I wonder what it would be like if we let God direct our activities. This morning I read in Matthew 11:28 that Jesus will give us rest for our weary & heavy laden souls. So when we “stay” in Jesus, maybe the abiding helps us to rest & we can live in “stay-cation” mode, letting God direct our steps.
“Who ME???” I think Gideon said this several times in Judges 6-9, in the Old Testament. I like Gideon alot because he’s relatable. His dialogue with God and various people around him reveal that he wasn’t a faith giant – anything but!!! Replying to God’s directives, Gideon put out fleeces, questioned God’s participation with Israel, snuck around at night to obey God & eavesdropped at the enemy’s tent to hear of Gideon’s impending victory.
Gideon wasn’t the poster child for supernatural faith and courage in the face of impossibility. But he is the posterchild for all of us who have doubts, fears, frailties and deficiencies. No matter how your faith feels at this moment, robust of ragged, God can do the impossible! More importantly, God isn’t repelled by your questions, doubts nor fears. Be encouraged in your heart, no matter how much fear or faith you may feel at any given moment. We can remain encouraged because God loves us and that love is never dependent on our faith, fear nor frailty!
I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche.
I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!
Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly.
And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂
A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂
Theoretically, I like to learn. In practicality, sometimes it’s difficult for me to learn. In full disclosure, I struggle to learn to trust God & I have a difficult time learning patience & being steadfast, along with many other things.
But it’s interesting that Jesus’ disciples were called “learners”. So when I follow Jesus, my mindset needs to be that of a learner & to live in a continuous state of learning. I want to encourage you to keep a learning mindset, so that our following Jesus keeps getting better & closer everyday! With the help of Holy Spirit, we learn to be better parents, mates, students, employees & humans. So what are you learning?
Sometimes I want to take care of my soul & not have any help with that. I want to take care of my own thoughts, emotions, desires, decisions, etc. So I struggle to let down my guard & let others gain more than just superficial access.
But today, I read Psalm 121 & it’s all about the Lord being my keeper. As I think about the Lord being my keeper, this means that I give the Lord access to my soul – emotions, thoughts, desires, values & perspective. So I’m challenged to let the Lord keep my soul, which He can do far better than me!! Let’s be sure to let the Lord be the keeper of our soul!
Oftentimes I’ll ask God to give me the finances to do stuff that’s on my heart. And sometimes the money comes, but more often God gives me creatives ideas, time, relationships & solutions that help me to make progress on various plans. I’m also learning that God gives me wisdom & / or endurance.
Let’s be certain to recognize that God absolutely supplies our needs, often in ways that we don’t anticipate. Sometimes, God can even change a need so that it can align with the provisions that we have!
I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.
I’m waiting, maybe with some patience, in the airport here in Bangledesh because the Pope is just landing at the airport. Consequently, the airport is shut down & everything has come to a halt. Clearly, he’s a significant dignitary so everything is on pause at the airport until he clears out. This has thrown off everyone’s schedules, interrupted plans & is making a major headache for traffic.
So this makes me think about how i facilitate Jesus’ presence in my life. While i want my life to be convenient, smooth & hassle free, Jesus as my Sovereign, gets to interrupt & change my plans. What would be even more wise on my part, would be to proactively ask Jesus to direct my steps & maybe i can avoid some frustrations with plan changes. Or i can also aim to keep a flexible attitude & be patient in the various hassles & disruptions i can face in any given day 🙂
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
If the truth be told, I need deadlines because I’m too proficient with procrastination. So while I don’t like the feelings associated with the word, “now” I value the associated urgency that helps me to get stuff done. There’s also a challenge to the word “now”, when there’s an anticipation of an upcoming event or deadline. These thoughts are related to the timing of stuff – in the future or immediacy of the present.
When we walk with the Holy Spirit, let’s stay flexible in our thoughts about timelines, what needs to be accomplished today & stuff that’s upcoming. Remember that the Holy Spirit is present in every “now.”