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Archive for October, 2010

The Future

I have no idea who said this, but it’s something that I’m sure has been applicable in most people’s lives: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God has a plan for every one of us. And while it would make life a whole lot easier, sometimes the plans we make for the future are not His plans for our future. Are you willing to give up on a goal or a dream if it becomes clear that it is not God’s plan for your life? I think this can be one of the hardest ties to break. When you have devoted a ton of time, thought, dreams, and work towards something, it is incredibly hard to give it up.

Psalm 37:4 (New International Version)

 4 Delight yourself in the LORD
       and he will give you the desires of your heart.

That is to me simultaneously encouraging and frustrating. My frustration is from plans and dreams that failed. I really wanted those things. But the encouragement comes in knowing that if I truly delight in the Lord, and make Him my priority, the desires of my heart will align themselves with his desires for me.

Break the tie binding you to what YOU think the future holds for you.

Am I the only one that struggles with unfulfilled plans or desires? Could you let go of your plans for God’s plans?

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Are you willing to let go of your desires in order to receive God’s desires for you?

Before you jump to raise your hand, really think about that. Are you willing to give up things in your life that are blocking your relationship with God? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone when prompted? Ready to move if God prompts you to?

The things we own are important to us. They are the tangible evidence of things we’ve done, goals accomplished. There is nothing wrong with having things. It’s when those things become more important to us than all else that issues arise. Could you give things up if prompted to do so?

Matthew 6:19-21

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

That last verse is the one that knocks my legs out from under me. If I put as much energy into maintaining my relationship with God as I do into maintaining my possessions, what kind of blessings could God pour over me?

Break the ties that bind you to your possessions.

Socializing is something that people have always done. People always have and always will need interaction with other people. It used to be cave gatherings, then barn raisings and church socials, and now chat rooms and webcasts.

We all have things in our life that we know are a problem. It might be a favorite show on TV. For some it is reading material. Or a website or social media that God is speaking to us about. Do you listen? I wish I did more often.

The time I spend on all of these things could easily be redirected toward something to further God’s Kingdom. Finding the balance is the hardest thing for me.

Break the ties created by society or lifestyle choices.

Am I willing to give up my desires to receive God’s desire for me? Are you?

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If considering beginnings, few could be much worse than Jephthah. He was the son of a Gilead and a prostitute. Oh and Dad was married to another woman who had legitimate children. Can you imagine the dysfunction he had to deal with growing up? The drama continued into adulthood too. Basically stripped of any inheritance and booted from the family. But look at how we are introduced to him:

Judges 11:1

1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.

A more unlikely man for God to use would be hard to find. But God does not care where you came from. Who or what your family was or is means nothing to Him. Because He loves you, dysfunction and all. He loves someone from a broken or nonexistent home just the same as someone from a perfectly happy family.

Break the tie which tells you that you can never be good enough to be used and loved by God because of where you come from.

Another area that is bothersome for many is trust. Having trust that God will love us without fail. Trusting Him to be our strength and fortress. Trusting that He will never leave and we can’t scare Him away.

If all we have ever known is disappointment and abandonment, how do we trust that it will be any different with God? Faith. It is the scariest leap to take but the most rewarding. There is peace and joy to be found in knowing Christ:

Matthew 11:28-30

28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Break the ties holding all the old hurts and disappointments and accept the comfort offered.

One more tie that holds us is the belief that our past sins can’t be forgiven. They are too bad or too sinful. We have this limit in our minds to how much sin God can forgive us of. But that is just not true! God wants us to know and embrace the fact that we are forgiven and new in Him.

2 Cor 5:17

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Throw off those anchors and weights holding you down. Victory is at hand! You can let it go; He wants to take it all from you.

Release everything in the past so that you can fully accept God’s blessings on your life and move forward free to be everything God wants you to be.

Break the ties to old sin. Accept the forgiveness that is there for the taking.

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Are you ready to accept God’s blessing? That was the topic of visiting speaker Jeff Beacham (http://www.firepowerint.com/ ) this past Sunday at my church. I really enjoyed his message and it got me to thinking. In order to fully receive God’s blessings and achieve all He has intended for me, I have to do some things too. And I’m not talking about volunteering for this or that.

It’s something inside that needs to be done. I have to let go of the things that are holding me back. So this is actually going to be my first series post. It will be three parts: Past, Present, and Future.

Hopefully in the process of writing this I will be able to identify some of the ties in my life, maybe you will too.

I will hopefully be posting part one tomorrow. I’m really kind of excited about this and I can’t wait to see how this goes.

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Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered Prayers

Garth Brooks had a point.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. There are many times in the past (and I’m sure in the future) where what I was asking for and what I actually needed were two completely separate things.

Sadly, it has sometimes taken me a while to understand, accept, and thank God for protecting me from myself. If I’m being completely honest, I’d have to admit that I really do have a propensity for making a mess of myself. I also have this annoying habit of convincing myself that I can indeed see the big picture and thus know exactly what and where I should be.

I bet I make God smile sometimes. Or shake his head at me.

Do you have things that you have been praying for that remain unanswered? Maybe it’s time to pray for guidance on whether it is the right direction after all. Perhaps God not answering in the way you want is a blessing in disguise.

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Making an Impact

I know that I have hit on this topic more than once. There is a reason:

I feel small and insignificant – a lot.

This is something that God is working on in me. This is a verse that comforts me in this regard:

1 Cor 12:23-24

23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

 

I often ponder how likely it is for me to do something mighty in God’s Kingdom. The answer is that I already have. I accepted Him. I have taken and returned His love. I have tried to share His love with others.

I have failed in my mind in some ways, but succeeded in ways that I will probably never know.

I don’t think I’ll ever be eloquent. But I am genuine. I’ll never be the wittiest, but I always try to be kind. I’ll never be able to feed all those that go hungry, but I can help a few. I can’t convince others that God is the light and the truth, but I can be a beacon for it.

So I was thinking over the last year what I have done to be a beacon to others. And here are a few of the things that come to mind:

I was baptized in front of my church, friends, and family.

I stayed up all night at a walk to raise money for cancer and invite people to church.

I went to a Cherokee Indian reservation and worked, taught, and prayed.

I decided to lay down my life for Jesus and quit smoking cold turkey.

I shared with a neighbor how prayer is my answer when I am troubled.

I tried to help and encourage my brother and sister in-law in their ministry.

I prayed for people I have never met.

I supplied needs for people I will never meet.

 

Those are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. Looking back I don’t think it is too shabby. I know I’ve made an impact.

How about you? What have you done this year that you think made an impact? Do you feel insignificant sometimes as well?

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Content vs. Community

I actually started this conversation earlier today on my friend Bill’s blog http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=4765

It really got me thinking about what role the church should play in my own personal walk. I have to admit to having a lot of confused and mixed feelings on this topic. On the one hand I grew up in an area where you stick like a tick to whatever church you go to. It very well might take dynamite to blast free. Then I lived down south. Can you say completely different world? Down south, church hopping seems to be a nearly Olympic event.

So all that said, I have no issue with changing churches if I feel led to. My question is this – what should I be looking for in a church? Is the goal to find a place where I am spiritually fed only during the sermons? Or should I seek out a place where I feel like I am truly part of a body and am being spiritually fed inside and outside the sanctuary?

Or am I just being a fair weather follower and constantly looking for greener grasses? I really don’t think that is the case, because I would love nothing more than to really dig into a church for the long haul. I just can’t seem to get anywhere close to there at my current church. But…. I like the direction of this church. I like most of their programs. I just can’t seem to fit in. I always feel like a weird and awkward outsider. It’s not supposed to be like that is it?

I would truly like some opinions on this as I have been struggling with this for a while now.

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