Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Did They Take Advantage of You?

take advantage

Someone has taken advantage of me. By all appearances, it seems they’ve used a position of power to force my hand. They’ve taken from me. It smells like trickery because I am left the fool. Now, I have no choice but to do what they want. Grr…

Yet, the more I pray, the more I feel God nudging my heart: not to fight back, but to give-in. Yes, to give in to what they want.

It feels like the lesson of this situation wants to stick to my heart. It tries to teach me that I am weak. It wants to convince me that people will take advantage of me again.

I can’t trust again.
I must rise up and be powerful, so I don’t get hurt.

Yet, God speaks differently.

In His Word, I am reminded of the time the Arameans were coming against Elisha and the Israelites. Here, the enemy had the whole city surrounded and was about to strike. Elisha was trapped; the others had a clear advantage.

At this point, Elisha used wise prayer; He asked God to blind His enemies. When the forces finally opened their eyes, they quickly discovered they were defeated. They went in the wrong direction. The Israelites had won.

Although Elisha used a powerful powerful prayer strategy, this is not the part that most speaks to me. The part that speaks to me is how Elisha appeared to give way, to give in, to an enemy.

Take a look…

Once they had the Arameans trapped, “The king of Israel … shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”

“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”

So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel. (2 Kings 6:21-22)”

The enemy didn’t just get food, they got a feast. Why was this able to happen? Because they trusted God more than the people who hurt them.

And, this is what speaks to my heart today. I can trust God more than the person who hurt me. Why? Because God holds all power. God holds the purse-strings to everything. God makes armies bow. God brings redemption where things were stolen. God restores. And, He is always faithful.

Much more do I want to rely on God, than to allow a person’s actions declare who I am or how I will act. No. I won’t do that. God wins. He knows.

So, I go ahead and prepare a feast for someone who is acting like an enemy.

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How to Return to Trust

trust

Common to man is the subtle inclination to stop trusting God.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field…” (Gen. 3:1) Just as the snake came subtly to entice Adam and Eve in the garden — out of trust — so his tactics work similarly today. We must be on guard.

We seem to live in an era of confusion. Some things seem right, but they are not. Others seem wrong, and we get angry. In this day, it is easy to become afraid, disoriented, or unsure about the future. It is easy to feel unsure about what is really happening.

With our eyes on all that, we can lose focus on God. With emotions at peak levels, they can flood us and make us feel far from God.

So, what can we do about it?

I always think it is good to examine our own heart, first: Are we trusting God or beginning to take things in our own hands? Are we at peace or are we worried? Are we thinking more about God or ourselves?

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?” (Mt. 7:1-1)

Our own heart tells us heart things about us — apart from the world we live in. It shows us if we trust — or not.

Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” (Ps. 37:3)

When I see my trust waning, I do three things:

One: Repent from what has distanced me from God, then let it go. To dwell in it too long is to become far too self-focused (aka. self-centered).

Two: Reflect on the lies I have been believing. If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, it should be out-of-line.

Three:  Re-establish God’s greatness in my mind. I remember who God is and who I am. I remember that He is Mighty, Able, and All-Powerful. I remember nothing can stop my Lord Almighty. I remember He is Conqueror and Overcomer in all ways and at all times. I remember He has good for me, His child.  I speak these things out. I dwell on them.

Trust is not always natural, sometimes it has to be fought for. Just like in any marriage, sometimes you have to fight to keep on loving and believing in the one you most love. Likewise, focused attention gives way to a greater relationship with God, so that lesser offenses and the world around — don’t subtly pull us away.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  (Prov. 3:5-6)

 

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For the Tired and Weary

Do you feel tired? Weary from world happenings? God knows.

Do you feel lonely? Perhaps, many around you — don’t fully understand you. God understands.

There are seasons where God sets us apart to figure things out: us and God. It can feel odd.

I feel this right now. The Lord has positioned me in such a place where there is risk…where I need to pray…where I have to trust Him for big things…where He is working on me…where I have to look at our relationship afresh..where I am not sure what the future holds…where I’ve been going, going, going. Yes, it feels odd, annoying even. I am set apart from what is normal for me.

The feelings could overwhelm me — if I am not careful.

Yet, I know this: a wise person never allows feelings to force them to give up. They see them for what they are — like little waves — that are passing emotions. And, they come to understand the reason they are set apart — is to be with God.

Did you know that the biblical word “holy” (Hebrew: Qodesh) means set apart?  Whether we are John, Jesus, or David, there’s a God set-up for God’s setting us apart. This setting apart was always a part of God’s plan to use them in mighty ways.

John paved the way for Jesus. Jesus paved the way for sinners. We are set apart to pave the way for God’s great moves in our hearts, as we let Him do what He wants to do even through discomfort. We are set apart — so we can meet with Him.

We are set apart so that His leadings, love, and lessons can teach us to not only survive but to thrive, no matter what we face. It is here we learn to rise above other’s opinions, the world’s estimations, and natural limitations.  Here, we learn to completely rely on God.

So, don’t let a feeling throw you. This too shall pass. But, God’s love endures forever. And, perhaps, He is setting you apart because He loves your time together. And so that you can know that He has a very, very good plan for your life… And so you know Him as your truest King, above finances, health or relationships.

Take hope.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:29-31)

 

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Did God Really Say?

Sometimes, I say to my kids, “To delay is to disobey.”

For instance, I may instruct them, “Move away from the cake so you don’t end up eating it!”

If they delay and linger by it…eventually, they’ll put their finger smack dab in the center of it and lick the sugary icing off their finger. The temptation will be too great.

So often, to delay is to disobey. It leaves room to ask, “Did God really say…? Maybe it is okay if I…” (See: Gen. 3:1).  It opens the door to justification and rationalization.

Recently, God showed up in a big way in my life. It was an awe-inspiring breakthrough. I got clarity to a decisive next-step from God. On day 1, I was all in. But, day 14? I started to wonder, “Was that really you, God? Did you really say that? I am not sure it can work that way because ___, and ___and ___.”  I got an Eve-complex.

Questions — and all the reasons why it “couldn’t work” — were zapping my faith.

The delay was causing disobey to rise up in me. I began to sway.

It won’t be good because…
What I have here is really good…
It can’t possibly work out…

Rather than looking ahead to where God was taking me, I looked back at my circumstances.

Another woman did this. Her name was “Lot’s wife.”

And, God was not pleased with her behavior: “But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19:26)

She looked back at sin, at Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, I repent of looking back, delaying, and rationalizing my own way. I can’t move ahead when looking back. Nor can I go with God, when I’m going against Him. Forgive me, God!

And, He does, forgive me.

What about you? Where have you strayed? Looked back? Delayed? Where does it feel that you are working against God, rather than with Him?

You know, things of God won’t always make sense. They won’t always seem easy. They won’t always come together as we expected. But, this doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our life.  When we trust Him, even though, He helps us. When we keep our eyes on Him, despite what we think, He leads us. When we remember our best work has nothing to do with us, He equips us.

God has your best path and all you need — you already have — through knowing Him.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3)

Be encouraged, even if your way doesn’t make any sense.

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God Fights For You

There’s nothing worse than believing God for victory, only to experience defeat.

Has that ever happened to you?

Recently, I prayed and prayed, without change. I praised, without a breakthrough.  I hoped, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.

Even now, I need God for everything, yet I wonder how he can possibly show up — in this situation. What if I am left with nothing? 

Fear wants to grip me. It tries to make me focus on the natural over God’s supernatural power.

God, will you really provide? Show up? Help? Can I trust You, God?

The Israelites are a bit like me: They saw the Egyptian troops chasing them down. They got overwhelmingly terrified. They must have figured they were incapable.. They were seemingly angry at their leader, Moses.

Upset with themselves and unable to hold-it-in they even griped, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12, NIV)

Slavery was more appealing than trusting God for victory.

I’m like them when I say:

Why am I here, God? Where are you, God? Why haven’t you ____, God? This doesn’t make any sense, God!

Moses replied to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)

As I’m still, God fights. Wow. This is incredible. Beyond natural sight is God’s greater fight. Far more effective than worry is my Warrior, God. He is bigger than any big issue I face. And stronger than the very definition of the word — strong, as I understand it.

God can accomplish more in a split-second than I can produce in my whole life. I want the work to be His, not mine. He can do anything at any time.

Our God, while we are still — fights on our behalf. Are we letting Him fight for us or are we griping, opining, complaining, and doubting?

God is working, even when you can’t see it.

It doesn’t matter if it looks like God is late. Or, if you would have done it another way. Or, if you can’t really understand. Still, God’s way is the best way.

A kid can’t understand why he gets a novocaine shot at the dentist, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason.

You know, when the Israelites lost faith, God instructed Moses to tell them something. He said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Exodus 14:15) I believe God is saying the same today:

Move on from unbelief.
Move on from fearing your battle.
Move on from counting everything as a deterrent.
Move on from your old outlooks.
Move on from your self-limiting beliefs.
Move on from the idea there is no good plan.

And, trust God to fight your battle. You do this by: making space for God, listening to His heartbeat through His Words, and through ‘saying yes’.

God’s plan is good. Even here, in this instance, He had good reason for doing what He did.  It was so He could gain glory.

“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground…And I will gain glory through…The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:16-18, NIV)

And so the Israelites moved. The miracle happened. The sea parted. And God got all His glory. The Egyptians knew who was God.

Friend, don’t lose hope; there is a good plan in motion.

 

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You’re More Loved than you Know

love

We tend to either think, “I am so bad”, or “God is so good”.

It can be easy to go down the “I am so bad” track. I am sinful. I make mistakes. I am not perfect. I don’t have great relationships. I am not ___ enough.  I ____ (fill in your own despicable blank). We’ve all thought this way one time or another. Here, we allow the crushing weight of how things seem, overpower the great price Jesus paid for us. We get focused on us when it is all about — HIM!

When this happens, we don’t have to stay here. We can consciously break through the static of mind and thoughts — and return back to “God is so good” land — by remembering two words: But God.

But God is greater than my emotions.
But God still loves me.
But God sent Jesus and this changes everything.

But God showed His great love for (me) by sending Christ to die (for me and to save me) while (I) was still a sinner.” (Ro. 5:8)

But God, despite all of my flaws, still wants me.
But God, eternally and faithfully says, “She’s still mine…”
But God shows us He still wants us.

Nothing. No power, no scheme, no circumstance, no condition, no angel, no demon, no height, no depth, no worry, no fear, nothing — can separate us from Christ’s love.  (see Ro. 8:38) Nothing.

God is faithful to love me, always. To keep me, eternally. To help me, continually. To want me, entirely.

I am not disowned, dismissed, dejected or denied.

I am His. He is mine.
You are His, child of God. He is yours.
Forever. Completely. Entirely.
Wanted. Loved. Cherished. Chosen.

These words are not just words; they are absolute ownable truth for sons and daughters of the Highest Ruling King. King Jesus.

This changes everything. To know God more than a hypothesis, beyond theology, deeper than words…allows the very heartbeat of Christ to resound within you. It beats like unconditional, incredible love that never ends. It brings both security and significance that cannot be altered by men or circumstances. Because you own it, it can’t be sold away, taken or stolen.

And, if you don’t yet know Jesus? He wants to love you like this… Give Him your heart today. Tell him, “God, I want to know your love. The truth is: I sin. I mess up. I haven’t always done the best things. But, today, I ask for your forgiveness for all these things. Thank you that you freely forgive because Jesus freely gave His life on the cross, for me. With this, I am now free to receive all of your love. With this, I accept Jesus into my heart as my Lord, My Savior, My King, and The Lover of My Soul. I want you, above all!  I surrender all of me, to all of you, so I can receive your best for my life and so I  can live-out your most incredible plans. Thank you that your saving-grace now allows me to know your unconditional and unwavering love, forever…”

Friend? If you prayed this…please comment on this post and let me know. All of heaven and all of us — celebrate with all of you. May the rich and lavish love of Christ so flood your heart that nothing is ever left the same!

I love you all.

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Crippling Self-Reliance

self-reliance

“Do you have even the slightest reliance on anything or anyone other than God? Is there a remnant of reliance left on any natural quality within you, or on any particular set of circumstances? Are you relying on yourself in any manner whatsoever regarding this new proposal or plan which God has placed before you? Will you examine yourself by asking these probing questions? It really is true to say, “I cannot live a holy life,” but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy. “You cannot serve the Lord…”— but you can place yourself in the proper position where God’s almighty power will flow through you. Is your relationship with God sufficient for you to expect Him to exhibit His wonderful life in you.”  (Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers)

To answer his questions, I do rely on myself. I think, God got me here. Now I need to figure things out. Or, what will I do? How will I do this?

There are so many “I’s” in my thinking — when it is all about Him.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.“ (Zeph. 3:17).

These words remain true today…

God will do it.
God, my God, is mighty.
God has the way.
God knows my answer.
God knows my name.
Christ’s power is being perfected in my weakness.
Christ’s goodness overshadows what I think is good.
Christ’s victory is sure and steady.

The battle belongs to the Lord.

Today, I am provoked to re-surrender and to let God do things ‘His way’. I am inspired to more FULLY trust Him, believe Him, and to take Him at His Word.

Because…to work by my power is to, often, inhibit God’s power. It gets me ahead of God or it shuts off the mind of Christ, in me, as I run ahead with my own mind and thoughts.

I don’t have to have all the answers – God does. I don’t blaze my way; God does.

I wait, He moves.  I pray; He shows up. Sure, sometimes I meet God, through works He calls me to, but aside from that I love God and others with all my heart and leave the results up to Him… I rest, knowing I don’t have to worry or fear anymore. He has this.

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Few Words, Big Difference

God answers prayers, but our prayers may not always come easy.

Not too long ago, I rode down a long highway. A kid had to go to the bathroom. We stopped at a rest stop. There, I noticed 3 girls standing outside the bathroom looking aimless, dizzy almost.  I walked past them, but felt a check in my spirit.  Were they okay? There were two pre-teens and one crying toddler who looked disoriented. I hesitated and didn’t talk to them, figuring I’d check on them after I got out of the bathroom. The only thing was — after I got out of the bathroom they were (poof!) gone. A distance from me, I could see a man carrying the kid away with the two girls getting in a car.

Something didn’t sit right with me about the whole thing. I wish I would have checked in with the girls to make sure they were okay. I talked to my husband about how child trafficking breaks my heart. Who knows what story these girls have, but I wish I would have acted faster. Darn.

More recently, we got in the car for a road trip. I remembered that situation as we set out. I essentially prayed, “God, bust every child trafficker or abuser today up and down this highway. Expose them. Bring justice, this morning!”

It wasn’t but a few hours later that my husband saw a huge conviction go down online.  A huge child abuser source was stopped and brought in.

When did it happen? As the article conveyed the time; they got busted the same time I prayed.

This is not my win; it is God’s.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God used what looked like a horrible situation before, to bring immediate liberation to kids today. But, I couldn’t give up — I had to pray!

Do not allow a defeat to steal Christ’s victory that is right before you. Pray to see His better way!

Get down on your knees. Ask. Seek. Hope. And, believe again. Just a few words could make all the difference.

 

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Are You Headed the Wrong Way?

Today, I completely missed my turn. I took a new route to the supermarket and, because I thought the entrance would look the same as before, I drove right past it. I knew the store would be on the left. However, because I  came from a different direction, it was on the right.

Because I expected an old thing, I missed the new. Likewise, many of us — looking for an old thing — miss God’s new. We expect people to hurt us like yesterday, so we stay in our house, away from relationship and, yet again — we are hurt. We expect our finances to never change, so we don’t bother changing anything and live continually strapped. We expect our kids to never change so we dismiss them because they’ve hurt us and God’s love doesn’t reach them.

We go our way, yet God has — His way. One we may not even be able to perceive.

Today, what if we were to open our eyes up to perceive that God may have for us — a new way?

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Is. 43:19)

Be it yesterday or today, Isaiah or Romans, Moses or Paul, God continually does new things. He breaks through. He restores. He transforms. He offers new life. New opportunities. Healing. Help.

The question is not — “Is God Healer, Helper, and Restorer?” The question is — “Do we believe Him to be these things?”

Where might God want you to perceive His new? If you have been banging your head in one particular area, this is a sign that God may be calling you to do things a new way. If you feel constantly stuck, look out for His new way. If you feel like there must be more, expect Him to show you something new.

All His ways are good.

Prayer:

God, help me to perceive your leading and direction. I don’t want to be so stuck in an old thing that I can’t walk into your new thing for me. I thank you that transition and change are part of your heart. I thank you that as I wait on you that you will renew my strength. Today, I choose to trust your leading and guidance. I trust you to provide and to help me. I ask that all I do, think and say might bring glory to you. Help me to trust and love you even more. Thank you that I can do this by laying down my ways and by trusting yours. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray. Amen

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Don’t Lose Hope

lose hope

I want to encourage you. With God, there’s always a way.

You may be saying, I don’t know how… Or, I don’t have enough… Or, it doesn’t look like it is possible.

God is not beholden to the natural; He is the Orchestrator of the supernatural.

Mary probably thought, there is no way that I can carry “the son of the Most High” (Lu. 1:32). It must have seemed preposterous when an angel said she would. But, with God, she did — it happened — she birthed the Son of God.

David must have figured he’d end up managing sheep all his life. King? I wonder if he thought that impossible. Sure enough, Samuel, the prophet, passed by His strong, and probably good-looking, brothers and picked David. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” (1 Sam. 16:12)

The Lord promoted David, independent of looks.

It wasn’t until more than a decade later that David became King. Sure, he could have thought, forget this, God has forgotten me. But, God never forgot. He doesn’t forget you, either.

God is outside of time, yet always on time.

God showed up and David became King.

Don’t lose hope. God is always on time. He is independent of your perfection, your bank account, or your perfect actions. God is always faithful. And, right on time.

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