To Rely on Him

 

Why? Why? Why? Your mind screams.

 

You can not understand the reasonings behind things happening in your life.

 

It seems you continue to be hit, knocked down and that there is no end in sight.

 

If you are here, you understand, if you’re not here, just wait at some point you will be.

 

Throughout all time countless peoples have questioned the Lord and wanted to know why, when bad or hard things happen.

 

I’ve always heard that we shouldn’t ask why but ask what now. That we aren’t to question the why so much as to seek to learn from them and glorify God through them.

 

This week I have asked why a lot. I have not understood or agreed with God’s plans and have struggled to understand.

 

Each time I ask why, the Lord whispers in my ear, 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, where Paul says, “So that we might not rely upon ourselves but upon God who raises the dead.”

 

Why God? I don’t understand and then that quite small voice whispers I want you to rely not on yourself and what you think is best. I want you to rely completely upon Me and remember that I am the God who raises the dead.

 

I love Paul’s wording here. He could have ended this statement numerous way, yet He ends it with a description of our great God who raises the dead.

 

I have thought a lot about this and the Lord has encouraged my heart.

 

For if God can raise the dead, then He can do absolutely anything.

 

This is the God we are to rely on during hard times, and times when we dont’ understand the heartache we may be going through.

 

When Paul wrote this He and the others had been through so much that the Bible says that they despaired of life itself. They wanted to die.

 

Yet Paul goes on to explain that He understands now that God has taken them through this time, so that they will rely not on themselves but upon Him.

 

We all can say we trust God. However the true test is when He allows hard things in our lives or when He says no to something we have prayed diligently for.

 

It is then we can pout like a child and grow angry with Him or we can surrender to our God who can raise the dead and trust Him.

 

I don’t know what you may be going through. You may be asking why and you may be struggling to understand God’s plans.

 

I encourage you to just hold on and to look to the Lord. He wants you to fully trust that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He longs for you to believe that He loves you and cares for you and is working all things together for good for you. He wants you to stop trying to figure it out and start trusting that He already has it worked out. The Lord longs to give you joy and peace as you let go and truly let Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endurance: The Steadfast Heart

What is endurance and what does it have to do with the Christian walk? I use to read verses about remaining steadfast and enduring the race and quickly passed them by. Because to be honest, I couldn’t fathom not enduring or remaining true to the Lord.

We are told countless times in the Scripture to stand firm, to endure and to remain steadfast. So what exactly does this mean. To endure means the ability to bear prolonged suffering, waiting or trials. When I think of someone in the Bible who was steadfast and endured, my immediate thoughts go to Job. Job was an upright man, he walked with the Lord and honored the Lord in everything. So much so, that the Lord asked the enemy one day if he has considered his servant Job. Satan was quick to point out that the only reason Job was so upright was because the Lord’s hand was upon him. The Lord then gave Satan permission to test Job to see if he would remain true. You all know the story, that despite how bad it got, Job remained steadfast in his faith. Even when his own wife told him to “just curse God and die.” Job refused and remained true to the Lord.

Another great example is Paul, for he says in 2 Corinthians 11 “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. I’m sure none of us have been through anything as severe, and yet Paul remained steadfast unto the Lord. Despite how bad it got, he was faithful. That doesn’t mean it was fun. It doesn’t mean that he never questioned God or struggled with doubt or fear. What it does mean though, is that despite his struggles he never gave up on the Lord.

Then there is David. David was anointed king as a young boy. Yet for years this was not a reality. Instead he spent many years on the run from King Saul and his own son. He lived in caves instead of the palace and I’m sure wondered when his time would come. Nevertheless, he trusted in God and endured.

I have thought a lot about these guys lately. See, enduring is not an issue we think of when life is going great. The true test is will we remain steadfast in our faith when life’s problems arise, when things are hard and when we just feel we can’t go on?

How do we then stand firm and remain true to the Lord in the storms of life, in times of waiting, when life is just hard. The truth is we have two options. First, we can give up on God and walk away. We can give into the lies and allow our hearts to grow hard and indifferent. Or, we can keep trusting, keep believing and keep holding on. The first is easy but leads to a path of destruction. The second is hard and it takes faith, it takes prayer and it takes holding fast to God’s Word. Yet, the second leads to life. It leads to joy, that can only be found in His presence. The first dishonors God and proves to the outside world that God isn’t enough. The second pleases God and displays His glory to others looking on.

I’m sure there were many in Job’s, Paul’s, and David’s day who told them they should just give up, just walk away. To just live for themselves. I’m sure there were many who thought they were crazy and mocked them. Yet, we know that the Lord honored them and blessed them because they remained true to Him. They endured to the end.

Life can definitely be hard and the storms will undoubtedly come. The Lord never promised us it would be easy. Yet, He has promised us that He will be with us and that He will never leave us or forsake us. And it is by His strength and through His grace we are able to endure.

 

Fully Committed

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chron. 16:9

I love the lessons found in the narratives of the Old Testament. The time period of the Chronicles and Kings are filled with good examples and bad examples. They are abounding with people who lived for themselves and others who sought to live for the Lord.

King Asa started off pretty good. 2 Chronicles 14:2 describes him like this. “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign alters and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord the God of their fathers and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense alters in every town in Judah and the kingdom was at peace under him.”

Asa also had a gret army of 300,000 men from Judah and 280,000 from Benjamin. These men were equipped with spears and shields and were brave, fighting men (2 Chron. 14:8). In Asa’s fight against the Cushites, though he had such a vast army, he didn’t rely on them, instead King Asa relied upon his God. He prayed and asked the Lord to help him and to fight against the enemy for him (v11). For he knew he and his men were nothing apart from God. The Bible says in 2 Chron. 14:12-14, that “the Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah…..because the terror of the Lord had fallen upon them.’

King Asa was a man committed to the Lord and to serving him.  In fact the Lord gave him peace for 35 years under his reign (15:19). BUT, in the 36th year of King Asa’s reign, Baasha the king of Israel went up against Judah and prevented people from leaving or entering the territory of Asa.  Instead of praying  and seeking the Lord’s help. The Bible tells us that Asa took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and his palace and sent them to the king of Aram, who was ruling Damascus (16:2-3). He asked that they make a treaty  and that he break his treaty with King Baasha. King Ben-Hadad agreed and King Bashan ceased his work on Ramah,

Well, it seems King Asa got what he wanted right! Yet, at what cost? For the Bible tells us that Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God…….. that from now on he would be at war (v7-9).”

The Lord had given King Asa victory before, yet years later, he has forgotten the deliverance of the Lord and turned to himself and others for help instead of His God. No longer did King Asa have a heart that was fully committed to the Lord, instead he turned away from Him.

As I read this today, the Lord in His still small voice asked me, “Am I fully committed to him?” “Will I rely on Him or myself?” He brought conviction on my heart as I thought about how I had been wanting to help Him out. How I tend to want to rely on myself and be in control.

Right now we are at a standstill. We are waiting to see what happens next. Waiting and waiting which  are entirely not fun. And the Lord wants to know, am I committed to Him, will I wait on Him, will I rely on Him?

What about you? What are you fully committed to? Are you committed completely to the Lord and His plans for your life? This is His desire for you. He cares not about what you can do for Him, what He cares about is your committment to Him and transforming you into His image.

King Asa became angry and until the day he died, never repented or sought after the Lord again. What a tragedy!!! We must have hearts committed to our Lord in the good and the bad and we must rely on Him completely for the help of man is useless. The Lord will strengthen the hearts of those who are truly seeking and relying on Him.

The Doubting Heart

“Every sin, at its root, is based in something we do not fully believe about God.” – Jeanie Allen

God doesn’t care, God has forgotten me, He isn’t interested in my life. He has forsaken me. All of these are lies based on a doubting heart. Panic attacks, what ifs and anxious hearts result from doubting hearts.

Satan is entirely too crafty. Have you ever noticed how the “worldly” seem so blessed and seem to have no problems? Though it may seem true, I believe it is because they are no threat to the enemy. We however, threaten him at his very core. He knows he can not take our salvation or snatch us from the Father’s hand. So he seeks to fill our minds with lies, our hearts with doubt and our lives with chaos. For his greatest desire is to get us to give up on God, to grow complacent and to destroy our witness.

Each lie we believe is therefore a result of doubts we have about God. When we doubt His Character, His sovereignty, His ability and His power, we fall prey to lies. Lies that if believed will lead to a hard heart and hard hearts which lead to turning away from God (Hebrews 3:12).

Remember the Garden, even then Satan tricked Eve by getting her to doubt the Lord. “Did He really say?” He deceived her by leading her to believe God was holding out on her and that she deserved more. His tactics have not changed, for he plays the same tricks on us each day.

“Did God really say…….” “Does God really care………” “If only………” This line of questioning will lead us to ultimately believe God is holding out on us and that we deserve better.

Don’t you see the pattern, each doubt leads to more and before long we are like the ship James speaks of in James 1:6-7. that is blown and tossed about, the one who is double minded and unstable.

Recently I had a day like this. I was like this ship, because I had let my guard down, believed lies and succumbed to a doubting heart. Because of my doubting heart I was tossed about and ready to throw in the towel. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy poured out His grace and declared Himself faithful.

I’m learning though that this is a daily battle. Sure some days will be easy and others hard. Yet, the enemy is seeking whom he may kill and destroy. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities…….Therefore we must be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6).

Yet isn’t this another struggle, to be strong in the Lord? I know my tendency is to be strong in myself. I think I can handle it, I can fight, I can resist, I can do it myself. Much like my Lauren, who believes she can do everything on her own.

Our flesh wants to do it and yet the Bible says we are to be strong in Him and in His might. We can’t do it and the sooner we realize this and fall on our faces in humility, the better off we are.

Let us then, set our mind on things above, fix our thoughts on Christ, dwell on that which is true and hold fast to His Word. For then and only then are we strong in Him and able to stand against the enemy. Only then can we resist Satan so that he will flee. Only then will we have peace even in the storms. Peace which passes all understanding.

Let us not be like the house built on the sand that falls due to doubt and unbelief. Let us be like the house built upon the rock, that despite what life throws at us, is steadfast because we are strong in Him.

“Nothing defines a soul more than what the soul believes about God.” -A W Tozer

Reckless Faith

A great book and testimony of the greatness of our God.

mandylynncarpenter

I read a book written by Beth Guckenberger entitled Reckless Faith. In this story she describes the faith it took for her and her husband to open up and minister unto countless orphans in Mexico. There were numerous times when they would not know how things could get any worse, when they would be at the end of their rope and the Lord would step in and save the day. Through this, the Lord taught them what reckless faith truly is.  She states, “Reckless faith isn’t fake. It doesn’t pretend. It feels deeply and lives fully. It ask questions and cries out. It tests boundaries and has dynamic conversations with God. It molds its understanding as it encounters new situations. God has a plan is a mantra for a way of life that says you don’t have to have all the answers to proceed. You can throw yourself toward…

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Whats your motivation?

The boys and I have been working our way through the book of Galatians. As we have read, I have been explaining the struggle this church was going through and why Paul was writing. As we talked today I asked them this question. “Why do we go to church? Why do we read our Bibles? Why do we pray? Why are we nice to others? To which I received a multitude of answers, that eventually led to the correct response.

I have thought about this a lot today. When I was young like my boys, I went to church because my parents took me. We prayed before our meals and before bed, because this was what was expected. I read my Bible because I was supposed to. Later in college I can remember praying when I had really blown it and going to church thinking this would somehow get me back in good graces with the Lord. Neither of these are correct reasons to do the above.

There are countless numbers of people who go to church, read the Bible and pray because it is expected. Countless numbers of people who think they can somehow earn God‘s approval and love.

As the boys and I talked this morning, I told them that if they go to church, read the Bible, pray etc for any other reason that out of love for the Lord, they were missing the whole point.

God does not need us but He desires a personal relationship with us, a relationship He has made available to us through Christ.

I’m convinced if we could ever grasp the great love of God and what we have been saved from. If we could fathom God’s amazing grace. Then we would want to go to church, we would want to tell others about Jesus, we would long to read our Bibles and pray.

The problem is for so many we have made it a to do list. Thinking that it’s what is expected and just going through the motions.

Paul understood this better than most, for he knew what he had been saved from and never forgot it. He looked at his people with a heavy heart, longing for them to understand and accept Christ. Amazed by God’s grace that He had saved and chosen Him.

I still remember vividly when I went to China. The countless people everywhere the eye could see. The most precious people you could ever meet, gracious and kind. Yet, the majority of everyone I met did not know Jesus but believed lies. Flying home I wept as for the first time ever I began to grasp the grace of God. It was as if the Lord opened my eyes to the fact that I could have been born in China and would be just like these, lost and in my sin. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, allowed me to know Him. He saved me and called me. Amazing.

One of my greatest prayers for my children is that they would come to truly understand the grace of God. That as they begin to recognize His great love for them, they will be overwhelmed with love for Him as well. That their greatest motivation for going to church and doing all the right things won’t be just because they know it’s what we want. But that they will long to do these things out of their own great love for the Lord.

How about you? Why do you do the things you do? Do you do it because it is expected? Do you do these things believing they will somehow increase God’s love for you or to get Him to love you more? Do you do these things motivated by guilt due to sin? Or do you do them as a result of your love for Him.