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The Obstacle of Faith…

Trust is tough.

I sometimes go back and forth between trusting God blindly, knowing he has my best interests in mind, and then saying I trust him, but deep down I want Him to show me a sign that he’ll come through for me…to basically prove it.

Unfortunately, I think this is one of the biggest obstacles of faith. This idea of believing without seeing. The idea of trusting without knowing for sure. The idea of wholeheartedly trusting God that He knows best for us and has our best interests in mind.

There are areas in my life right now where I would love to see a sign, where I would love for God to prove to me that He is God. But truthfully, he shouldn’t have too. He is God. And even if He technically never did another thing “for” me, He is no less loving and He is no less God. Shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t we be able to love and worship God solely for who He is and not how it personally affects us?

Let me expand on that. When Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, he was tempted 3 times by Satan. I believe Satan’s second test on Jesus will help illustrate my point. Let’s pick the story up in Matthew 4, verse 5…

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

You may be wondering how this plays into our biggest obstacle of faith. Satan, you see, wasn’t just testing Jesus to show how much power he had, he was asking Jesus to jump to prove that God would save him…that God did indeed loved Him. Satan tempted Jesus right where we all have this innate, fundamental human longing… the need to be loved. The desire to be cared for. But Jesus knew better and so can we. Jesus knew that God loved him and so there was no need for proof…He knew. Scripture confirmed what Jesus believed deep down. Without a shadow of a doubt Jesus fully, wholeheartedly just knew.

That’s why in our own lives, our faith in God shouldn’t be just about the signs that we see. I mean, if we are worshipping God just to see what we can get out of it, how genuine is that worship? We should have faith in Christ because he is worthy of it…He is worthy of our trust, our desires and our hearts. And there are a lot of reasons why we don’t see the “signs” when we want too.

For starters, our timing simply isn’t Gods timing…this is a tough one to grow comfortable with, but He will come through for us when the time is right. Also, sometimes we need to reach a place of absolute surrender…a place where we know that there is no other way out of a situation but through Gods movement. This is the hardest place to be but this is where growth happens…this is where trust grows. This is how our faith gets bigger.

And I think a funny thing happens when we reach a place of genuine trust and faith in God. When we reach that place that our worship and our desire to be with God is based purely on the fact that He alone is worthy and deserving of our devotion. And when we reach that place where we don’t need proof because we just know…

We’ll get our sign.

“A miracle will always happen on the other side of obedience.” ~Pete Wilson

Help Me Know Me…

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” ~Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

This is such a great prayer to have in your life. Asking God to search your heart and help you change things that need to be fixed so that you can live a more pleasing life for the Lord. But a funny thing happens when you pray this prayer…you end up learning a whole lot about yourself.

The truth is, God already knows your heart. He knows everything about us. So when we pray for God to search our hearts, it’s actually more about helping us learn more about ourselves.

Ruth Haley Barton adds, “[this verse] may point to the fact that the real issue in self-examination is not that I am inviting God to know me (since he already does) but that I am inviting God to help me know me.”

I think that is so true. This relationship with Christ isn’t about letting God know more and more about ourselves…He created us. He already knows all there is to know about us. This relationship is about us getting to know ourselves better and then allowing the grace and spirit of God to help line us up to the character of God.

For the next few days (weeks and years) allow God to search you; but not so that he can know you more, but so that you can learn something about yourself, and through that, become more like Christ.

 

We Are Far Too Easily Pleased…

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, rolling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ~C.S. Lewis

I think is an incredibly true quote. As I grow in my faith and start to understand the awesome grace that we have received from Christ, I am realizing just how far too easily we are pleased. Honestly, as Christians, I feel we settle for second best too often. We believe too many lies and pursue too many empty promises from the world about success, fulfillment, happiness, etc.

God makes some incredible promises to us and it’s up to us to truly believe Him. Do we really believe that God has something better for us than what the world can offer us? If your answer is yes, then it’s time to start knowing those promises, confessing them, and believing that they are real for your life.

No more settling for second best. It’s time to truly believe that promised of God are for us today and enjoy them.

Don’t be too easily pleased. Be picky in this area.

Only accept the best!

A Tricky Combination…

“When the need for hurry meets the desire for control, it becomes really easy to start worshipping someone and something other than our Creator God.” ~Pete Wilson

The need for hurry. The desire for control.

That kinda sounds like every one of us. We live in such a fast paced, quickaholic, want-it-now society that we have all, to a certain extent, become impatient people. We are always wanting to move on to the next thing on our list. And the desire for control is inside all of us. We all want to feel in control, powerful, and someone who has worth.

When you combine those two desires, however, is can be a tricky combination. This combination, as Pete said in the quote above, is the beginning of idols being formed in our lives. With all the distraction and busy-ness of today, it is so easy to let things take a higher place in our lives than God. We find worth in our work, our relationships, our titles, the car we drive, etc. But instead, we need to find our worth in Christ.

Today, be aware of the relationship that these two desires have in your life. Stop and think to see if you are starting to worship “things” and not Creator himself. Keep your desires in check and make sure they are honoring to the Lord.

Be still in Christ. Learn to slow down and rest in Him.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Is God At The Center or Top?

I have a question that I would like you to ponder…

Where does God stand in your life?

Is God at the center of your life? or at the top of your list?

I think there is a big difference.

When life starts to get busy (or maybe when I just start to get lazy) I start to compartmentalize sections of my life; and instead of allowing them to holistically flow through me, I start to have them be a part of a checklist.

My relationship with God is not immune to this.

Instead of God being the center of my life, the source from which all actions, thoughts, motives, etc. would flow, I now just try to have Him near the top of my “list” of things I need to do.

But there is no real passion in having God near the top of a list.

Wake up: check.

Eat Breakfast: check.

Quickly read my Bible and pray: check.

Leave for work: check.

When our relationship with God becomes just another agenda that we feel we need to fulfill, and then once we’ve fulfilled it we don’t need to pay attention to it any longer, it loses its power.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him…” Proverbs 3:6a

If God is just at the top of a list, He is not being acknowledged in all our ways. But when God is at the center of our lives, things are totally different. He becomes the source and everything flows from that. It is no longer an item that, once done, will be forgotten. It is something that is continually being used, referred to,and having our lives filter through it.

I know I need to continually check myself and make sure I keep God as the center, and not just near the top of my list.

How about you?

What Hurts More?…

This question is written on the wall at the Celtics workout facility. Quite a powerful question if you ask me.

This question applies to a lot more then just sports…Our focus is more than just to win championships. Life is going to be full of hard decisions. We have to decide how we are going to deal with what life throws our way. Scripture adds,

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~Romans 5:3-4

It’s not easy to make the tough choices. It’s not easy to push through pain and suffering. It’s not easy to push through and not give up. There is a reason why it’s called the road less traveled, and why the road is narrow…it’s harder. But it’s harder on the front end.

God promises us a reward for our perseverance…

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  ~James 1:12

Going through trials and coming out the other side builds character, and going through life with the baggage of regret is no way to live. So I challenge you to think about the decisions that you’re currently facing and the circumstances that you are in. Use the promises of God from Scripture to inspire you not take the easy way out, to not give up, and to trust in God with your decisions even though they may be hard. Cause like the quote says:

“What hurts more, the pain of hard work or the pain of regret?”

Be Still & Let Go…

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

So often in life we tend to not give God the trust and faith that He deserves. Life throws its curveballs and suddenly we tend to shrink back up and take on our problems by ourselves. I know personally when I think back on this cycle, I look back and realize time and time again how faithful God has been in my life.

He has always come through for me.

It usually comes down to trust. When the troubles on this life fall on us, do we truly believe that God has our best interests in mind? Do we truly believe that His will and plan is better than our plans for our lives?

A lot of people know the verse above but struggle with knowing how to be still and even what exactly that means. I think honestly when we hear ‘be still’, we think that means that we have to be inactive, and to us, inactivity means that our problems won’t get solved. But that is not true.

God is always working, on your behalf, behind the scenes, with your best interests in mind!

To be still means more to let go than it does to do nothing. With that definition in mind, that can open up a whole new mindset as to how we trust God. When we are still before Christ, we are not doing nothing, but we are letting go of the control that we think have over the situation, and giving back to God. Doesn’t Christ deserve our trust?

Today, be still and let go. Whatever it is you may be going through, give God the trust, respect, honor, and faith that He deserves. Let go of the control you think you have and give it back to God.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Be still.

Let go.

We Are Pursued…

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”  ~Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

This is one of my favorite verses. Whenever I’m feeling a little empty, time and time again I’m reminded of this verse. It brings me peace, hope, and comfort.

Sometimes we go through life with our own agendas and can forget the impact that Christ has on our lives. We simply let life take over our focus…

That’s ok. . . we are being pursued.

When our plans fail, our strength fails, and life throws a curve ball. . . We can find peace and know that we are being pursued by His love and goodness.

Let this verse serve as a reminder that we don’t need to have it all figured out. Our busyness and constant pursuit of our own plans can cloud the fact that sometimes we need to stop. We need to stop moving; stop the noise and busyness and allow His grace, mercy, love, and peace to run into us.

I love what A.W. Tozer says, “Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us.”

God actively pursues us!

Even when our priorities get screwed up and we pursue our own plans, we can find comfort in the truth that we are being pursued.

“Your beauty and love chase after me everyday of my life…”  ~Psalm 23:6 (MSG)


Enhancing Your Devotional Time…

We all know the importance of having a daily devotional time, but I’m sure we also know how challenging it can be to have consistently.

Today, I just wanted to offer some tips that I have picked up along the way to help add some consistency and enhance your personal time with the Lord.

1. Take the pressure off yourself.

I have noticed that, for some people, the idea of having a consistent and rich devotional life comes with it thoughts of stress. It shouldn’t be this way. I know many times in my life I’ve put too much pressure on having a consistent and healthy devo time. The truth is, this pressure would make my devo time more about accomplishing my checklist and less about who I was supposed to be spending time with.

Take the pressure off yourself. Lay your cares on Jesus. I don’t think Jesus is out to get us if we don’t read six chapters a morning and spend 2 hours in prayer. The most important thing to remember is that quality trumps quantity. Make your devo times more about who you are meeting with and less about the things you feel you need to do.

2. Discover how you are wired.

God made us all different. We are all uniquely wired and that is something to consider when having a quality devotional life. Just like how I do not learn in the same way my wife learns, your devotional time will not look exactly the same as mine. Don’t compare your spiritual life to others…it does no good. Some people will be able to read for a large amount of time, but may not be able to pray for very long. Others may have trouble reading the Bible, but can sit and journal for hours. We are all different…embrace it.

3. Make an appointment.

When things are in your planner, you are a lot less likely to miss them. Just like how you make an appointment with a doctor or hair dresser, you can make an appointment to spend time with God. When it’s on your schedule, it becomes more of a priority and should drastically help you remember to have your devo time.

4. Read through a devotional book.

Often times, others insight will spark our own imagination and intrigue and make Scripture come alive for us. I have noticed that when I read a devotional along side of reading the Bible, my devo times are greatly enhanced.

5. When in doubt, think Proverbs, Psalms & New Testament.

Those are my 3 “go-to’s” when I’m stuck on what to read. There are 31 Proverbs so you can read one for every day. Psalms is amazing and filled with wisdom for every season of life. And the new testament is filled with the life, spirit, and words of Jesus…you can’t get much better than that.

6. Pray what’s on your mind, not what you wish was on your mind.

When it comes to prayer, people are so often worried that they need to sound “spiritual” and “deep” when they pray. Also I know it is very easy to get distracted and lose your train of thought. To me, this means that we are fighting our own flow in our spirits. If world peace, hunger, and poverty is not currently on your heart, don’t feel pressured to pray about it. If laundry and paying bills in on your mind, pray about those things. You can not trick God, he knows our thoughts. Let’s start to go with the flow and just pray what is naturally on our minds. This will help with our focus issues and help us be able to prayer for longer amounts of time without getting distracted.

 

There are lots more little tips, but I didn’t want to lay them all out at once. The truth is, none of these are things that I have down pat either. I am not perfect and I struggle with consistency as well. But we are on this journey together and I figured we can benefit from each others wisdom.

I pray these tips begin to help you feel excited about your devotional time and that your quality will far outweigh the quantity with the Lord.

What Drives Out Fear?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18

What drives out fear?

Love.

It all comes back to love.

When we truly realize what kind of love it took for a father to give up his only son, and for a son to willingly take on all of mankind’s sin and be beaten and die for us; we realize what true love is. We realize that He cares for us, has the best in mind for us, and has our backs. When that type of love exists…there is no room for fear. Fear becomes unnecessary.

The truth is fear is a facade. It’s false. Fear is often what we make of it. If we make it become the biggest issue in the world, then it is just that. If we put it in its proper place and measure it against our mighty big god who shows us His perfect love…then fear will reveal itself as nothing.

Don’t let fear run your life.

Let God’s perfect love for you drive away all your fears. And what is neat is that when we spend more time with Christ, our love grows more perfect (vs. 17), so really, his love for us and our love for him diminish all our fear.

Soak up His love today and live fearlessly.

 

 

 

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