God’s Got This!

Three simple but powerful words. Sometimes in the storms of life, we get distracted, overwhelmed, discouraged, or scared. Our problems seem insurmountable. It is in the depths of our despair that we need to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness. No matter how difficult the situation, we serve a “greater than” God who is able as Ephesians 3:20-21 says to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever...”

We need never carry any burden alone. Nor do we need to analyze the size of our issue to evaluate whether it’s worthy of God’s attention. Psalm 68:19 says “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” God is omnipotent, meaning He is all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for Him! There are no limits to His power. God is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere at the same time. His presence and attention to your issue do not reduce His availability anywhere else. God is omniscient, meaning He is all-knowing. Nothing takes God by surprise. Revelation 22:13 says God is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He knows the end from the beginning, so it stands to reason that He knows everything in between.

Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.” The next time you feel anxiety rising, remind yourself that you are connected to the one who holds all power. Remind yourself that God’s GOT this!

Acknowledging Gifts

For some people, gift-giving is a task. For others, it is a joy. Major gift-giving often accompanies important milestone celebrations such as a wedding, birthday, or anniversary. By contrast, small gifts simply reflect appreciation. A small token can brighten someone’s day and remind them that they are loved. However, gifts require a measure of graciousness by the giver as well as the recipient. If you received a gift and didn’t express appreciation to the giver, what is the likelihood of receiving another gift from that person? Similarly, if someone gave you a gift and repeatedly boasted to others about what they did for you, would you want to receive another gift from them?

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for someone and they never thanked you? It’s frustrating to behave in a thoughtful manner which is not acknowledged. Can you imagine how our Heavenly Father could feel?

Thankfully, God’s ways are not our ways. Every day, we receive multiple gifts from the Lord – life, health, strength, wisdom, favor, peace, protection, provision, grace, mercy, and the list goes on. We often take these gifts for granted and barely acknowledge them. Yet the following day, by His grace, we are gifted with similar blessings all over again. We rarely express any measure of gratitude for receiving these gifts, only frustration and disappointment when the flow of gifts seems to dry up. The Lord blesses us with magnificent and common, regular and extraordinary gifts that are designed just for us. He winks at us, taking note of our obedience, being in touch with our innermost needs, then orchestrating events across the expanse of the universe that minister to us, even addressing needs which we don’t realize we have. God encourages us in our growth and extends mercy where we fall short. Psalm 145:9 says “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

Adopting an attitude of gratitude is essential to cultivating a vigorous and fulfilling prayer life. Reflecting on God’s goodness means changing your prayer priorities. Spiritually shifting focus from what you want to who God is cultivates a grateful and humble heart. The more you take an inventory of blessings, the more you recognize God constantly at work in your life, the better you’ll feel about every situation that concerns you. Acknowledging who God is and what He does sets the stage for an extraordinary life of gratitude.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

 

 

Shifting to Neutral

Society teaches us that the more driven and ambitious we are, the more successful we’ll be. Although it’s important to be accountable and responsible, navigating the world as a Believer inherently means releasing a false perception of control. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Every day, we base decisions on our limited view and understanding. Then find ourselves frustrated when we learn the situation does not match our initial perception. This fallacy can also endanger our prayer lives. Just like driving a vehicle, we think we are in “Drive” and moving forward, in control. Then later down life’s road, we realize that we were actually in “Reverse” entrenched in a situation that eventually causes a setback. We may find ourselves in “Park” trying to figure out exactly what is happening. Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

The good news is that we can always shift to neutral and ask Jesus to take the wheel. Instead of praying OUR will – for the outcome that we prefer or desire, we need to pray GOD’S will – trusting that He will move in situations for our ultimate good.  Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Even when the immediate outcome is painful or disheartening, we can trust in God’s faithfulness to keep us, even through difficult situations. We find ourselves spiritually content in every circumstance, not because of who we are, but because of who God is. He is the one who changes our mental and emotional outlook. Romans 12:2 says “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” He alone is the one who can open doors, fill any void, and meet every need, serving as the source of our joy, love, hope, peace, faith, and strength.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
-Phillipians 4:12-13

 

The Art of Letting Go

A beloved hymn begins this way:

Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

We are often guilty of clinging tightly to what is familiar, even when it is not healthy or beneficial for us. Fear of the unknown, repeating past mistakes, and other emotional considerations can weigh heavily on our hearts and minds.

In those instances, we must pray and ask God to grant us whatever we need – wisdom, strength, courage, and peace – to let go. The more a situation bothers us, the more important it is to attempt the deep spiritual work of confessing our limitations and our desire to release such situations to God.

We must remind ourselves that our every issue that concerns us is the perfect size for God to address. Every issue of our lives is God-sized. No matter how overwhelming or insignificant our problem seems to us, it is always the perfect size for God to intervene as only He can – with truth, wisdom, sovereignty, power, and love.  Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” No matter the history or extent, at best we only have a limited view where God has an eternal view. Isaiah 40:28 says “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Do you want to release some problems to God, but aren’t sure where to begin? Try this “prayer starter” to release a situation that troubles you:

Wise and loving God, I acknowledge that you are an all-seeing and all-knowing God. Forgive me for clinging so tightly to my issue(s) of ________. According to your word in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I seek freedom God and release this/these issue(s) to you in the name of Jesus. Grant me wisdom and courage to trust you more…

Respecting God’s Seasons

Our lives are composed of a series of seasons. Some seasons of life are highly anticipated and occur naturally. Other seasons of life come upon us unexpectedly, starting and ending with little warning. Seasons of our life may run the gamut from being joyful and inspiring to difficult and discouraging. We often want to control or dictate the seasons our lives apart from seeking God’s will for our lives. We are quick to make assumptions based on what makes sense to us instead of seeking God’s answers. Proverbs 12:14  says “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

No matter how dismal or triumphant each moment, we must remember that our sovereign God has a plan for each of us. We often enter or exit seasons based on our logic and limited understanding. As we deepen our prayer lives and seek God’s face, we begin to rely on God’s timing, trusting that He will show us the timing of each season. As we mature in our understanding of God’s grace, we will begin to desire the things of God, submitting our will to His. We learn to trust in God’s will and plan, knowing that it is far superior to whatever exists in our own mental map. Ephesians 5:15-2 says “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Regardless of what each season brings, we can trust in God’s faithfulness. He is always with us. His faithfulness is not dependent on our ability. Faithfulness is simply God’s character. 2 Timothy 2:13 says “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

I feel the winds of change blowing. The Holy Spirit is leading me to new endeavors. I thank God for each person who has encouraged me as I added to this blog weekly for 20 consecutive months. I hope that these posts have ministered to you and strengthened your prayer life. The Hebrew word for 20 is “Kaf” which is symbolized by an open hand, meaning to cover or give, open or allow.

As for me, I fully believe that God is allowing me to walk into a new season. Many dynamics and aspects of my personal life are changing, but I am excited rather than fearful because God is faithful. Psalm 136 says “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” His timing is perfect. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I pray that the Lord continues to bless, strengthen, protect and inspire you in your own new season. I encourage you to follow the Unite in Prayer and The Devotion Cafe blogs. Both of them offer heaping helpings of inspiring, convicting soul food. Trust in God’s seasons and remember always that prayer works!

Pause and Remember

Whether it involves our health, career, family, finances, household, or another aspect of our lives, crises have one thing in common: they always happen at the most inopportune time. When faced with disheartening news, it is easy to find yourself in an emotional tailspin, wondering whether you could have somehow averted the situation. Heavy bricks of fear, stress, confusion, frustration, doubt, discouragement, and worry, build a wall of uncertainty that disrupts your prayer life at a time when you need it most.

Although a crisis may have you fixated on an uncertain future, I encourage you to return or even improve your prayer life by making an intentional effort to pause and remember. Doing so will break down that wall! Deuteronomy 4:9 says to “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Reflect on your personal history and testimony. Run the mental movie of your life, reminding yourself of previous dire situations that the Lord brought you through. Romans 8:37 says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Remind yourself that the same Lord who created, delivered, rescued, healed, comforted, kept, provided for, and encouraged you in the past is the same Lord who is present with you now. Deuteronomy 31:6 says Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Remind yourself of how far God has brought you, the many creative ways that Lord sustained, elevated, and encouraged you, divinely arranging situations to ultimately benefit you, turning your weeping into joy. Psalm 30:11-12 says You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

In our humanness, we deeply desire to be complacent. God’s focus is less on our comfort and more about our maturity. God wants us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him. If our lives were always smooth, we would have an inflated sense of self and miss cultivating a genuine appreciation for The One who is capable of mending every broken place within us. Our God is one of restoration! He renews us each day, blessing us in ways that we cannot fully comprehend. Our everlasting Father is constantly on standby, never sleeping, never tired nor too busy, and always available to us.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
-Psalm 77:11-12

 

Unnecessary Roughness

Our increasingly abrasive society seems fascinated with demonstrations of power. Media reflects the many ways that we equate power with strength. Whether it’s a game show, reality show, or infomercial, we are constantly bombarded with the message that being strong means being extremely opinionated and self-serving, seeking to “win” at any cost.

This pervasive worldly view is the exact opposite of the teachings of Christ. Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” As disciples, or followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to gentleness. Modern society equates gentleness with weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being gentle requires supernatural strength beyond our human capability. Gentleness is a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Gentle behavior requires a great deal of awareness because first, you need to know your own flaws and limitations. Second, being gentle means that despite those personal shortcomings you resist the urge to wrongfully take out your aggravations on others. James 3:17 says “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” Our news headlines are brimming with non-examples of gentle behavior. Oftentimes, people commit cruel and insensitive acts, then dismiss the pain they’ve caused, excusing themselves with the simple explanation: It’s just the way I am. True enough, that IS the default behavior and the way that we are in our flesh. Yet the fruit of the Spirit means putting aside our self-centered ways for a more excellent, God-centered way.
1 Corinthians 12:31 says Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”

Fortunately, we are blessed with opportunities each day to draw upon God’s strength and respond with gentleness rather than callousness. It is my sincere prayer that when the next opportunity presents itself, we will respond with gentleness – one of the many spiritual weapons available through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9