Waiting on God’s Will

Embed from Getty ImagesYou see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish.” 1 Peter 2:15 The Voice

As I was reading about Peter, I felt a catch in my heart.  I can be quick to rush ahead and overcommit. Sometimes I rush ahead when God only asked me to take a step. On occasion I have tried to strong arm things into position. I have not checked in with others or sought agreement in prayer.  You can guess the outcome!  They have been some hard lessons to learn.  I am learning that “doing” less and praying more works a lot better.

Doing what is right and good is simply a part of being obedient and loving God. It’s not about performance or rushing out to “do” more.  It is a lifestyle.  When in doubt about what God’s will is, I am learning to wait.  When God has opened doors for me, it has not been a crack that I have had to wiggle through.  The doors have been thrown open wide!  There was no question or doubt. When it’s His timing I will be propelled into motion.

Father God, help me submit to and honor Your timing and Your ways in all things. I know clinging to my will and understanding introduces confusion and chaos.  I do not want either. Help me to be firmly planted in You in humility and without reserve. Let 100% of my heart belong to You.

1 Peter 2:1-3, 15-17, 20-22, 25-27, Matthew 5:33

One Another

Embed from Getty Images“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].” Philippians 2:3 AMP

I was doing a scripture search for “another one” and was overwhelmed by the scriptures that popped up for “one another.” It resonated with me so much that I had to pay attention.  I have always known that the Bible was our instruction manual.  What hit me hard is how many instructions it has on how to treat each other.  That says two things to me.  One, it means that we are prone to errors in this area.  Two, we need it!

So, without an exhaustive search, here is what I noticed:

  • We have all received one grace after another, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and favor upon favor (John 1:16)
  • Stop grumbling and saying things against one another (John 6:43)
  • Love one another. This one must be particularly challenging for us. Jesus said it over and over again. (John 13:34, 35, 15:12, 15:17)
  • We are parts of one another in one body, dependent on one another. (Romans 12:5)
  • Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:6)
  • Keep out of debt except in love for one another. (Romans 13:8)
  • Do not criticize, blame and pass judgment on one another. (Romans 14:13)
  • Live in mutual harmony and full sympathy with one another. (Romans 15:5)
  • Welcome and receive one another. (Romans 15:7)
  • Be filled with enough goodness and spiritual knowledge to admonish, counsel and instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

There are a lot more but I think you get the picture from these examples.  We have received the most beautiful examples of how to love in the love that has already been given to us. We just have to receive it. I am convinced that the more I learn about the character of God and the more I receive His love, the better equipped I am to love others.  The more I learn how He loves me, the more I can emulate His love.  Still a long way to go.  But I am hopeful.  I have a great Teacher and instruction manual!

Father, thank you for Your love.  Teach me to love like You do.

Polish My Heart

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; test my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2 AMP

Jesus understood that the disciples needed to fail Him as part of their training. This failure became their greatest motivation for service. Sleeping in the garden. Scattering at the arrest. Denying to know Christ. Failure allowed the disciples to experience incredible grace for the very first time. Grace transformed them.

God’s grace lifts me up and transforms me too. It brushes away the remnants of my mistakes that want to cling to me. It polishes my heart with His love so that it’s bright and shiny again with hope.

Father, search my heart. Help me to rest confidently in You. Help me to seek You in all things. Help me receive Your grace more fully so that I can share it with others. Thank you for being with me every step of the way.

Proverbs 19:21, Matthew 11:28-30, John 16:33

Making Decisions

Embed from Getty ImagesBetter is a handful with quietness than both hands full with painful effort, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding on it. Ecclesiastes 4:6 AMP

I want to be wise and patient.  I want to be thoughtful and intentional, always watching for God and following Him. I have found that there are three things to consider before making decisions:

  • Gather facts – determine the realities of a situation. God will not ask us to enter into unrighteousness dealings (Jeremiah 22:13)
  • Let the Holy Spirit guide (Psalm 37:23)
  • Confirm your decision (2 Corinthians 13:1)

The confirmation piece can be challenging for me.  I do not want to run ahead.  I want to walk in faith according to God’s Word. So how do I know?

There is a distinction in my heart. My heart knows the difference. When self or pride grab hold of the reins, they try to muscle things; force things. Self and pride grab hold tightly, choking with control. When it is God, the Holy Spirit sweeps me along like a river current. Holy Spirit opens a path and puts a light on it.  The flow is open, not constricted. I can sense the difference between the dark and the light.

Take everything to prayer.  Pay attention to your heart. Do not look for more than is there.  Do not “imagine” things. Ask God the hard questions and then listen. Do not be puffed up or full of pride.  Keep your heart tender.  Watch for God and you will see Him.

Father God, help me to be wise and patient. Help me to be thoughtful and intentional, always watching for You.  Following You. Show me where and when to step. I pray I will not run ahead in pride. Help me patiently wait for You to clearly light each path.  Show me Your ways O Lord. Teach me.

Romans 12:15, Psalm 25:4

Live in Truth

Embed from Getty Images15-16 Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:15-16 The Living Bible

When we speak the truth we become more and more like Christ.  Now, that doesn’t always mean that people want to hear the truth.  So in spite of that, we are to follow the truth, speak the truth, deal in truth and live in truth.  That’s a mouthful of some nutritious words!

I have had situations in my life when I did not speak the truth for a number of reasons. I may have been aware it was not what someone wanted to hear.  I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.  I was concerned about rejection. And I’m sure there are more situations with more reasons that I didn’t speak the truth.  I may have spoken a watered-down, diluted version of the truth.  But bottom line, when it became all watered-down, it wasn’t the same message.  It no longer had the clarity the truth would have had.

And then I can also get wrapped up in my head.  Well, it won’t hurt if I do “x” because it wouldn’t hurt anything, when in fact it changes the landscape significantly from what God had already purposed.  In that instance, I’m lying to myself.  I’m not telling myself the truth.  That is not living in the truth.

Follow. Speak. Deal. Live.  All in truth.  Keep it simple.

Father, I repent for not setting boundaries and stepping out of Your will. I know it’s time to be clear: set boundaries, be accountable and be truthful.  Help me to always do it from the right heart.

Ephesians 4:25, Zechariah 8:16, Jeremiah 18:20, Ephesians 5:29, Galatians 6:7

Be On Your Guard

Embed from Getty Images13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

The phrase “be on your guard” struck my curiosity, so I looked it up.  Here is what I found:

Cambridge dictionary: to be careful to avoid being tricked or getting into a dangerous situation.

Freedictionary.com: to be careful and aware because a situation might be dangerous.

Thirdmill.org: to be vigilant, especially with a view toward Christ’s return…God’s people should remain watchful and fully alert to thwart the spiritual forces of darkness.

Answers.com: you must remain alert, anticipating an attack or other trouble.

So we are to expect trouble, trickery, attacks and danger. In this state of awareness, we are to stand firmly in faith and love. Think about that. In the midst of warfare, stand firmly in faith and love.  In perfect love there is no fear. All the trouble, trickery, attacks and danger are related to this world: both the physical realm and the prince of darkness. If we are not tricked or sucked into these things, we are able to stand firmly in the victory that has already been won in Christ.

In Acts, Paul was on a ship that was going to be destroyed.  He knew this because God had already told him. He also knew every life would be spared. So picture this: huge storm, impending shipwreck.  Everyone on the boat is fearing for their life as the boat is being tossed around like a toothpick and dashed against rocks.  Paul stood firm in his faith in God’s message.  He encourages the other men on the ship.  He might have said something like, “Guys, don’t worry!  I already know how this is going down – I have to stand trial and you all are safe with me.  I know this because God told me.  So don’t be afraid! His Word is golden!”

In the face of the storm Paul was full of encouragement and courage.  When I read this scripture I even sense joy.

Father, I pray my ear will be tucked into you so closely that not only will I know when trouble is coming, I will also know the outcome and trust you to do it.

Ezra 10:4, Joshua 1:9, Acts 27:22-25, James 1:2-6

Trusting Again

Embed from Getty Images“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV

According to John Townsend author of “Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships,” there are two types of trust. There is functional trust that is an alignment between saying and doing.  There is no discrepancy between words and actions.  That is an essential type of trust.  There is also relational trust.  Relational trust is an indicator of how safe it is to trust another person with your vulnerabilities and feelings. Trust damage is very serious.  That is why God has instructed us to guard our hearts.  We are to value and take good care of our hearts.

There are also two types of boundaries, defining boundaries and relational boundaries. Our defining boundaries are forever and unchangeable. They are like our skin.  They are a reflection of who we are.  Our protective boundaries are more flexible.  They can change if the other person responds to the boundaries we set in a healthy way.  They are like the clothes we wear over our skin.*

So how do we know when we can adjust our boundaries and trust another?  Whether you are entering a new relationship or revisiting a relationship, ask yourself these three questions:

• Are YOU ready to trust again?
• Has the other person demonstrated respect for your boundaries?
• Are you ready to begin the process of taking small risks, in a healthy way, with this person?

Father, help me remember who You made me to be by meditating on Your Word and embodying Your character. Let me not be swayed by others opinions or feelings when I firmly know where I belong.  Keep the lines of demarcation between myself and others clear so that I stand firm and confident.

Galatians 5:13-15, Romans 8:1-14, Galatians 5:16

For more information on managing boundaries, I highly recommend John Townsend’s book “Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships.”

*Adapted from “Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships” by John Townsend

Mature Love

Embed from Getty Images“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” Isaiah 51:1 NKJV

The goal of boundaries is maturity.  It is the ability to love successfully and work successfully the way God does.  We can’t really love well until we have boundaries.  Without them we love out of compliance or guilt.

The goal is to have a boundary structure that can set limits on self and others at appropriate times. Healthy boundaries protect and heal people from further damage.  For example, when trust has been broken with another person. A break in trust in a relationship is when you no longer experience or believe the other person will always fundamentally be there for you, and you doubt they are who they say they are. You cannot safely get close to someone who isn’t safe with relational trust.*

A break in relational trust goes beyond Proverbs 19:11 and requires that boundaries be set.  Symptoms that relational trust has been broken include:

  • Withdrawal
  • Movement to task (it is safer to “do” than to “connect”)
  • Unbalanced “giver” relationships – more giving than receiving; out of balance
  • Bad habits

There are two types of boundaries: defining boundaries and protective boundaries.  Defining boundaries are values that establish who you are and who you are not.  They are a reflection of what you value and believe is important. Protective boundaries are designed to guard your heart. They protect your life from danger and trouble. There are times that you have to protect your values, emotions, gifts, time and energy from people and situations that may waste or injure them.*

Boundaries create a space between you and someone in your life. We set our boundaries against hurtful or dangerous behavior and let them determine their own direction. Boundaries bring clarity. They protect you. They produce change.

Father, thank you for teaching me to set boundaries.  Thank you for growing and maturing my faith and my love.

James 1:22-25, Matthew 5:37, Galatians 5:1, Proverbs 4:23

*Adapted from “Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships” by John Townsend

A Life Worthy

Embed from Getty Images“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” Colossians 1:10 NIV

Paul so loved the early churches!  In Colossians 1 he gives a beautiful account of who God is, all He has done for us, and who Jesus is.  It tells us how God drew us out of darkness.  And that when he did that, he transferred us into the kingdom of His Son.  The Son of His Love.  Our Father desires to have all creation (not some) dwell in Jesus Christ permanently.  His intention is to have all things reconciled back to Him through the blood of the Son of His Love.  God does not want us to be  alienated from Him.

Then there is Jesus: the way, the truth, and the life.  It is through Him we have redemption. He was the exact likeness of God; the first born of all creation.  Jesus is the glue that holds us all together.  He pre-existed us. He, as head of the church, reconciled us through His perfect sacrifice.

Paul reminds us here that if we firmly continue in faith, holding onto our hope in Christ, we can be assured in reconciliation, being made perfect in God’s eyes.  That gives us a life that is worthy!

Thank you Father for making a way for us to be reconciled back into Your arms!

Colossians 1:1-23, John 14:6

Grace for the Humble

You who are younger in the faith: do as your elders and leaders ask. All of you should treat each other with humility, for as it says in Proverbs, God opposes the proud but offers grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 The Voice

Sometimes I have to sit quietly in prayer.  Listening.  I have to just sit quietly and allow God to sort out my heart for me.  When I ask Him to search my heart, He does. It is a place of surrender.   Moments of healing, when I can feel His love washing over my heart.  Moments of conviction, as I read scripture I feel a snag in my heart that needs to be addressed – repentance, forgiveness, letting go of things I’m holding onto.

I have to ask for God’s help. I have to continually surrender pieces of my heart.  All I can say is that for me it has been a process; a process of letting go.  As I leave more and more things in God’s hands, He begins to remodel my heart. It begins to become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  It begins to soften.  Priorities begin to shift.

As I shed the baggage, it has been key to leave the past behind and not pick it up again. No guilt or shame. Accepting the forgiveness that Christ has already given. Each day is a new day; a fresh start. Eyes forward and holding fast to God’s ways and God’s promises.

Father, help me focus on moving forward in faith. Show me what that looks like through Your eyes. Help me wrap my head around Your ways. Teach me to walk in humility.

Galatians 6:9, Philippians 3:10-15, Proverbs 3:6, Isaiah 55:8