Saturday, October 26, 2019

Enduring By The Spirit's Guidance

        Today's blog is about having endurance in this difficult and harsh world.  Paul encourages us in Acts 20:23-24 by saying "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."   We should all have the same mindset, when our lives become entangled with struggles, stress, and hardships in all areas of our lives.  God isn't surprised by what we are facing or going through, but He gives believers the Holy Spirit to guide them through it all.  Our life mission is stated in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

        "The way that a person responds to hardship reveals his or her true character. And tough situations are the times when God’s children most need to match actions to words. It’s easy to say, “I trust the Lord” or “My God is faithful” when life is good. But unless believers recognize that He is sovereign even in adversity, they may be tempted to complain and seek pity. Christians who trust in the Lord’s faithfulness and supremacy will steadfastly focus on Him and as a result will see their anxiety and doubt subside.  Giving the Lord free rein allows Him to mature our faith, conform us to the likeness of His Son, and fulfill His unique plan for our lives."  []

       "If someone asked you what the Holy Spirit does, how would you answer? Some Christians may not be aware of what He is accomplishing in their life, but the Spirit’s work isn’t a total mystery—Scripture tells us what the role of our divine Helper is.
       Although the Holy Spirit indwells and seals us immediately upon salvation, His work within each believer takes a lifetime. He is our constant Helper, who transforms us into Christ’s image and equips us for our daily challenges so we don’t have to struggle through life in our own strength. In all of our difficulties, conflicts, and heartaches, He guides our way, guards our hearts, and gives us His wisdom."  []

He convicts us of sin (John 16:8). This is the first step in awakening us to our need for salvation. But even afterwards, the Spirit continues revealing sin in our life so we can immediately confess and receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
He guides us into all truth (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit teaches about Jesus Christ and God’s Word, and He helps us discern the difference between truth and error.
He fills us (Eph. 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit means that He is directing our path, much like a ship that is driven along by the wind filling its sails. This requires that we surrender our life to Him, acknowledging that He owns us and has the right to lead.
He bears fruit through us (Gal. 5:22-23). The Spirit produces qualities we could never consistently display on our own: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

         How we live comes from who we are, as we cling to the living hope found in Jesus alone, and there we will find strength to persevere.   Philippians 4:13  "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

         As for myself, this past week has not been easy or smooth sailing, regarding my health and comfort.  I do cling to my faith and seek to run the race, set before me by God, to the best of my ability.  When able, I surround myself with those who encourage me and allow blessings to be given and received with one another.  I do not isolate myself or have a pity party, where in which the devil wants to plant doubtful and negative thoughts.  I remind myself of past experiences, where I felt small, but God showed His strength and faithfulness.
         I'll share one of those stories because I shared it this week with a friend:  The second year I lived in Chicago [94-95], I went for an interview.  Driving alone in 5-lane Chicago traffic without GPS back then was scary to say the least, for me.  I got to my interview location on-time, but I discovered it wasn't accessible.  Although I could walk back then, I couldn't manage the steps without a rail.  I called the employer and explained my dilemma.  We had the interview in my van, but obviously I didn't get the job.  It wasn't all for nothing, I gained experience and courage.

In my distress, anxiety, and fear, Lord, teach
me to rely on You and draw close to You. Then I
know I’ll be able to stand strong in Your power
and won’t be dependent on my own strength.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Control and The Lack Of It

Romans 8:28  "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."

           Today's blog is about control and how little we have of it over most things in life.  Control is really an illusion we have in this life.  We have influence in this world, more than 'real' control.  God is the only one in true and real control over all things, events and beings.  Who controls time, the waves and tides, the sunrises and sunsets, your next heartbeat?  God, and He alone. Job 9:8 "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea."  We may fool ourselves during our healthiest, wealthiest, or most productive of days but God gives and takes away daily to remind us of His control over us in this world.  Just ask any stroke patient, car wreck victim or tornado did you let this happen and they will say 'it was out of my control."  God never causes bad things to happen, but He allows them to draw our dependency to Him.  

         "Ellen Langer’s 1975 study titled The Illusion of Control examined the level of influence we exert over life’s events. She found that we overestimate our degree of control in most situations. The study also demonstrated how reality nearly always shatters our illusion.  James identified the phenomenon long before she named it. In James 4, he wrote, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (vv. 13–14).  Then James provides a cure for the delusion, pointing to the One who’s in absolute control: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (v. 15). In these few verses, James summarized both a key failing of the human condition and its antidote."  []

       Jeremiah 5:22  "Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it."
      Jeremiah 31:35  "This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name"

          "From the Christian’s perspective, there is no such thing as chance. God is either directly or indirectly involved in everything that happens to us. He can therefore be trusted and obeyed in any circumstance, because even the smallest details are under His control."

Things don't just happen to those who love God,
They're planned by His own dear hand,
Then molded and shaped, and timed by His clock;
Things don't just happen
they're planned.Fields

As for myself, I have had those youthful, naive days where I thought I was steering the wheel of life and had to be reminded of how wrong I was. I've also had days where I thanked God that the situation was known to not be in my control. We influence our lives by God-given talents and opportunities, but ultimately God's will and purposes in each of us will prevail. Praise The Lord, for that.
Every day I am reminded of my lack of physical control that I have over things, but I'm not without, because God is in control and provides for all my needs. I've relinquished control over where I live, over not doing things for myself and over doing things my way always. I do have control over who I will serve and choose to be Lord of my life. I do control who I choose to spend my time with. I do control what I spend my money on, to benefit myself and others. I also control how I react to sin, other people, and adversity.
What I don't control are the number of days of my life, no matter how difficult it may be or become. I don't control the weather around me, outside of my room. I don't control others around me. but hopefully just have a positive influence and impact on their lives. I don't control other's relationship with God, but only help to share the gospel and Christ's love with them.

"If we go through life without thinking about the Lord, reading His Word, or praying, this is evidence that we are living for ourselves rather than for Christ. Before we continue going down this path, we should stop and heed God’s warnings in Scripture so we won’t have to suffer the consequences of rebelling against Him." []

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Current Courage Usage

Be strong and courageous.

1 Chronicles 28:20

              Last week's blog talked about how God has used my life experiences to build courage within myself and trust in Him above all else.  This week I want to continue with the theme of courage and how I use it daily.  I don't intend to use the following examples as a way to give myself a pat on the back, but just to say 'just because I do it, doesn't mean it's easy for me.'  Courage is a daily decision to put your life in the best possible way to show God is working on and thru you, to give you the best, abundantly full life.

              The most obvious and visible display of courage is wearing my mask out publicly, and not hiding inside privately.  I could say it would be easy to hide away, but it wouldn't be for me.  I am out-going and love to do things with other people.  I want to do what I can, while I can.  Other people's looks, misconceptions and judgements are theirs.  This is my life to enjoy, explore, live fully in, and endure.  My mask is not a choice, but a requirement to breathe.  I accept it and move on with it.  Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) said... "One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."  "When our Father allows painful things to happen, we must trust in His unchanging nature and enduring promises. People and circumstances change, but the Lord’s good and loving character does not." []

            Another area of daily courage is the dependency on others to do things in this life.  I used to be very independent with my activities in normal life, but that is not the case at all anymore.  It takes courage to allow people to not only help you, but to do things for you.  There is a release of power that no one ever wants to let go of.  Courage involves trusting God to send you the right people at the right time to help you.  It's a self dependence that transitions into a total dependence on God.  "God doesn't give us what we can handle, but God helps us handle what we are given."

           Courage also comes into play with just talking with people, friends or strangers.  I know there's an awkwardness when others can't hear or understand me, and I feel the frustration as much as they do, if not more.  I can't stay silent tho, because my mind is sharp and as long as I have breath, I will use it to voice what's on my it or not.  Courage helps me think of alternative words for ones hard to say.  Courage helps me encourage others with my words.  Courage helps me persist and get across the vocal cord barriers that want to silence me.

        "Fear is a hindrance. It creates anxiety in your heart, divides your mind, drains your energy, and gets in the way of whatever you're doing in life."  Courage is the counter-action that we can use to diminish and overcome our fears.   When you trust and believe that God is always with you, working things for your good, and that He will never forsake you...then courage is easier to have and hold on to.  May God bless you with steadfast love and courage all the days of your life.

Lord, give me the courage to rise above fear,
Even of danger, because You are near;
I would be faithful to face any foe
While I am walking with You here below.  —Hess