Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Break from Writing Here

I'm currently taking a break from writing posts for here for a few weeks. Some time to refresh and plan for some new posts here. I will be back with new posts on June 8.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Deal With It, or It Will Stay with You

"What you resist, persists. Until you deal with your feelings, you will be stuck with them." (Ken Blanchard)

This is a quote from a leadership book I was reading. The author was talking specifically about dealing with change in an organization or a team, but the thought stuck with me. The longer I've thought about it, the more I've realized how true this is for all of life - not just dealing with change.

And this is especially true when it comes to our spiritual lives. When God wants to work in our lives, we always have a choice. We can choose to go where God is taking us or we can choose to resist it all. If we choose to resist the things God is showing us or prompting us to do, then the feelings and struggles we are currently having will persist.

We have to choose to go where God is taking us and deal with what He is asking us to deal with, for them to go away. Until we do that, our feelings and struggles will remain with us. Even those things that we wish weren't a part of our lives any more. We have to face and deal with them, for them to go away.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

But, it's Just so Small!

Our culture tells us that bigger is better. That more spectacular is better. That we need to always be looking for the next big thing.

In the midst of that we usually miss the small things. We may talk about needing to pay attention to the small things, but the truth is that it's almost always just talk. We don't just miss seeing the small things, we often come to despise them.

Despising the small things doesn't go well in any of life, but it is especially dangerous in our spiritual lives. It's dangerous because the small things is how God often works.

Yes, God does the big and spectacular sometimes. But, I would say that those times are the exceptions. God works through the small things far more often. Sometimes we might not notice the small things He is doing in the moment, but when we look back they become clear.

Sometimes when we look back, we see how the accumulation of small things led to a big change over time. A change we would miss if we were looking for something big to happen in an instant.

Last week, I was reading in the writing of the prophet Zechariah when I was challenged on this. Zechariah 4:4 begins this way, "Who dares despise the day of small things . . . ?"

When I read that God pointed out to me that I had despised the small things, by getting caught up in looking for the big things, in looking for the spectacular. Then He showed me how the small things I was despising added up to be bigger than the big things I was looking for. I've had to allow God to change my view of the small things and learn to love and celebrate, rather than despise, them.

What are you usually looking for God to do? Are you caught up in looking for just big things?

Or are you allowing God to teach you to really pay attention to and celebrate the small things?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Impatient with God's Timing

I was reminded this week of how easily I get impatient with God's timing for things. I want things to happen when I want them to. I don't wait very patiently when they don't.

I definitely notice that when it comes to people and things I'm praying for in their lives that are God's will. Yet, I keep praying and nothing seems to be happening. Day after day, week after week, sometimes month after month and year after year, and my prayers don't seem to be changing anything.

And I get impatient. I get frustrated. I want to give up on praying for what I'm praying for to happen.

It seems like I get to the point where I'm ready to give up is the moment when I finally see God at work - in the way I expected and was praying for, or in a way I never would have imagined when I started praying. The signs that what I've been praying for is finally starting to happen.

Then I'm confessing my impatience to God. Asking for His forgiveness for my lack of trust in His timing.

I go back to praying for things with a renewed commitment and belief that God is at work. At least until the next time I get impatient with waiting for God's timing. Hopefully, each time I get a little less impatient in the waiting.

It's a cycle I've repeated many times in my walk with God. And every time, when I see what God had planned to do, I wonder why I got impatient again.

We wish God operated according to our timetable. We want Him to do it when we want Him to. But God asks us to trust Him with the outcome and to wait for His plan to happen according to His will.

I think this is a lesson, I might spend my entire life learning. My human thoughts and wishes get in the way often. But, I hope that over time, I learn to wait better for God's timing and not get so impatient with the wait.

How do you do at waiting for God's timing? Do you get impatient when things don't happen when you want? Are you learning to wait better for God's perfect timing for things?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Immeasurably More

The last verses of Ephesians 3 speak of how amazing a God we serve. Of all that He is able to do.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I've probably heard these verses quoted more than any others in this chapter. Yet they are a great reminder for me every time I read them.

I serve an incredibly powerful God! He can do so much more than I ever ask Him to - so much more than I even think He could. He is able to do what seems impossible.

And that power to do that is at work in my own life. God wants to do those same amazing things in my life. He is just waiting for me to ask Him to.

All that God does is for His glory. It is to point us an others towards Him.

This is the last post in a series on Ephesians 3. You can read previous posts in the series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rooted & Established in Love

As we continue to move into the prayer for the Ephesian church that Paul wrote in his letter to them, we are reminded of God's incredible love for us.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

God's love for us is a foundational truth for us. It's what motivated God to send His Son to die for us to make a way for us to come back into relationship with Him.

As I read this, the words "being rooted and established in love" jumped out at me. They speak of the importance of what our life is built upon. Paul was praying that the lives of the members of the church at Ephesus would be built upon God's incredible love for them.

Rooted and established speaks of more than just a head knowledge of it. They speak of something that goes down deep in our hearts - of something that life itself comes from. Everything in our lives needs to come from God's love for us.

God's love for us is something that we can only begin to grasp. We will never be able to fully comprehend it while we live on this earth. It is wider, longer, higher, deeper than we can comprehend in our limited human minds and hearts. As we get to know God more, we experience His love for us.

We also learn to grasp God's love for us more as we live in community with other believers. As we grow those friendships with one another we see glimpses of how much God loves us.

This post is part 4 of a series from Ephesians 3. You can read previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Strength in our Inner Being

Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church is filled with some amazing truth. It begins this way:

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith." (Ephesians 3:14-17)

Paul's writing always indicated how much he cared for the churches that would receive his letters. The prayers for them he included give us glimpses of his heart for the people and they speak of incredible truths.

Paul prayed that God would strengthen them because of His Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ was dwelling in them. I find it interesting that Paul didn't pray for them to be given strength from God. He prayed that they would be strengthened because of God's Spirit dwelling in them.

It's a small difference in terms of words, but it's a big difference in what it means.

If God is giving us the strength to live the way He outlines in His Word, there's some element of our own effort involved in it. We have to take the strength we've been given and then live the way we should.

If it is God's Spirit living in us strengthening us, then it removes our own effort from the equation completely. We live the way we should because we're completely dependent on God's Spirit in us to help is live that way. We become more dependent on God, not less.

This post is the third in a series on Ephesians 3. You can read previous posts here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Approach with Freedom & Confidence

Once Paul has established that we are all one in Christ, he moves into other aspects of the life of a follower of Christ. Much of it is very clear and all of it is amazing truth to hold onto.

Ephesians 3:12 says, "In Him and through faith in Him we approach God with freedom and confidence."

The "Him" Paul I speaking of here in Jesus Christ. In Christ, God accomplished His purpose in reconciling mankind to Himself - the way to God was opened up for us. We are left with a choice of whether we will take the steps to go that way or not.

We have to choose to believe in Christ and His work for us. That is where the relationship begins . . . grace. Once we put our faith in the grace shown to us, in the One Who poured His grace into our lives, we have direct access to God. We can approach God.

And the best part of it . . . we can approach God with freedom and confidence. We don't have to approach Him with fear, or with questions about whether we are able to this time. We don't have to wonder if He really wants us to approach Him.

We can approach God confidently and freely. He made a way for us to do so. He wants us to. When we approach God, we can walk right in, exactly the way we are.

The author of Hebrews says the same thing when he says these words in Hebrews 4:16,

"Let us then approach God's throne with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

God has made a way for us approach Him. And we can do so freely and confidently. Free to approach God any time. Confident that He will be happy to see us.

This post is the second in a series of posts on Ephesians 3. You can read the first post in this series here.