What If?

What if something bad happens?

What if this doesn’t go down like I planned?

What if I’m not making the right decision?

Our ‘what if’s’ stop us.  They confuse us.

I have learned to look at the facts, not my fears.  In my decision-making, the facts weigh in at 100% and my fears at 0%.  Because my fears are just emotions.  And emotions are circumstantial.  They feel real but they are often very fleeting and not supported by reality.

Moses let his emotions take over as he was standing out in the desert by the burning bush which didn’t burn up.  Here he was, speaking to the Creator of the Universe.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was revealing his plan for Moses and Moses replied with ‘what if’s.’

His fears got in the way of seeing what was actually happening. The Great I Am had heard the cries of his people and he was responding by asking Moses to lead his people out of slavery.  It makes me smile as God outlines his plan in Exodus 3 because that’s just how it all happened.  I really love the very last part where the Egyptians gave their silver and gold to the Israelites to encourage them to leave.  How awesome!  Only God could have made that happen.

But Moses didn’t get it.  His fears made it hard for him to listen.  God told him to assemble the elders of Israel and tell them the plan.  “The elders of Israel will listen to you.”  How does Moses respond?  “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?’

You aren’t listening, Moses.  Those are your fears talking.  The fact is that the One True God just said they would listen.  It’s done.  Don’t waste time and effort on your fears, Moses.

That’s much easier to say than to do, right?

I know I waste time and energy on my fears – my ‘what if’s’.  My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer and he was killed in the line of duty in 2016.  My fears and ‘what if’s’ are a lot bigger and darker since then.  The worst can happen – it does happen.

Some of the worst times are in the middle of the night when it’s dark and thoughts swirl through my brain.  On those nights, I watch the window closely and I’m always glad to see the sun start to bring light back into my world.  Because in the light, my ‘what if’s’ lose power and the facts once again come into focus.  My fears are literally over-shadowed by God’s love and his mercy and his faithfulness.

Moses needed to trust God.

I need to trust God.

What about you?

Please help us trust you, Abba Father.

I Want a Limp

Why is life so hard?

Why do bad things happen to me?

Why am I being bombarded by tough stuff?

We wrestle with God in our minds when we don’t understand.  We have questions.  We have frustrations.  We have fears.

In Genesis 32, we read about Jacob’s wrestling match with God.  They physically wrestled – all night.

Have you ever wrestled with God in your mind all night?  I have.  Thoughts swirling.  Stuck in frustration.  Questions flying around.  Emotions rolling.

When the sun rose for Jacob in the morning, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel ‘because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome..”

Then God blessed Israel.  God also wrenched Israel (Jacob’s) hip out of its socket while they were wrestling and Israel limped the rest of his life – evidence of his successful wrestling with God.

Like Israel,  I want to have evidence in my life that I have successfully wrestled with God.  I want to overcome my misunderstandings and frustrations and fears.  I want to be blessed.  I want a ‘limp’.

So I need to follow Israel’s example of not giving up,

not giving in,

not wandering away,

using all my strength to stay in the game,

keeping my heart and soul focused on God – not matter the cost.

That’s my plan.

What’s your’s?

Please give us a ‘limp’, Abba Father.

Beyond Measure

This doesn’t look like a good thing.

It doesn’t feel anything like a blessing.

What happened in my life is too hard and sad to ever have a good outcome.

But what it feels like and looks like is not all that’s happening.  God is orchestrating his will through the tough circumstances in my life.  He is planning the best future for me and it’s obvious that this future looks nothing like I thought it would.

When my son was killed, my plans and dreams blew apart and the only option I had was to hold on tight to my Rock.  I trust that my Father God knows what he’s doing.  Even though I don’t like it, I choose to trust.

Joseph’s story in Genesis encourages me.  He experienced many dark, confusing and cold places – and God was with him each time.  When Joseph finally was put in charge of all Egypt, he began to store grain in preparation for the famine which God had revealed to him was coming.  God blessed Joseph’s efforts to the point that he stopped keeping records of the amount of grain ‘because it was beyond measure’.

As we read on in the story, we see that God’s plan to save Joseph’s family from starvation during the famine was also ‘beyond measure’.  The plan started way back when Joseph was a teenager and only God could have put all of the puzzle pieces together in the way that he did.  Only God could bring this much good out of the evil his brothers intended when they sold Joseph as a slave.

I am a witness to the fact that God is still bringing good out of evil.  I trust that, like Joseph, God is with me and I will be blessed ‘beyond measure’ as he completes his will in my life.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Lies and Trickery

Saying things that aren’t true in order to get what we want.

Changing the facts a little to avoid dealing with the consequences for choices we have made.

Making it look like something it’s not in order to get our way.

Lies and trickery.  This all sounds pretty bad when it’s listed out like this.

None of us really do any of this – do we?  Are we tempted?

I have a very strategic mind which means all of the dots in my life connect.  I can see how each choice and decision connect to each other and where they are going to take me.  I can see how I got here and I can tell you where the dots are going.  It’s almost like being able to tell the future.

I am aware that not everyone’s brain works like this and, if I wanted to, I could use this to manipulate others into doing what I want them to do.  Trickery. Deception.  I don’t want to be a manipulator so I’ve worked hard at not using this strength to ‘trick’ anyone.

I don’t want people around me to feel like they’ve been manipulated into doing what I want.

When I read Abraham and Sarah’s story in Genesis, I definitely don’t want to leave a legacy of deception and trickery to my family and friends like they did.  Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife.  Sarah manipulated Abraham into having a son with her servant and then she decided both of them needed to go.  Their children and grandchildren continued this tradition of trickery as they lied to and tricked each other over hundreds of years for personal gain.

As we read through Genesis, we’re able to see all the pain and separation and distrust and suspicion that this legacy caused …….. from generation to generation.

I don’t want that in my family and relationships.  So I choose to be honest and truthful – even when it’s hard.

What about you?

Please help us to be honest and truthful, Abba Father.

Expecting An Answer

I don’t want to miss it.

I need to be watching expecting a response.

After I finish praying, my eyes should be wide open, watching for what God is going to do.

Because he answers.

In Genesis, Abraham sent his servant back to his homeland to find a bride for his son, Isaac.  When the servant reached the well outside of the town he was travelling to, he prayed to God, asking for success in finding the right bride.

“Before he was finished praying…”, Rebekah arrived at the well.

Rebekah has been chosen by God to become Isaac’s wife.  And she showed up at the well while the servant was still praying.

Does God answer my prayers like this?

Does he answers your’s like this?

I know he does this for me.  Some times, he changes my perspective while I’m praying and I realize during my prayer that he has already provided an answer.  Other times, he responds right away in the next thing that happens to me.  And other prayers he answers by opening up my eyes so I can watch him orchestrate the answer.  These are ‘wait’ answers because it’s not the right time yet.  These responses can take months to come together but they are always supernatural and always good.

James tells us to pray expecting an answer.

Open our eyes.

Watch.

We just asked the Creator of the Universe to intervene in our life.

Let’s not miss it when he does.

Thank you for answering our prayers, Abba Father.

Stop! Don’t Do It!

Where I decide to go matters.

Who I hang out with matters.

How I use my time matters.

Where I spend my money matters.

When I make good choices, even better things come by way.  When I make bad choices, I experience the negative consequences.  And that is never fun.

It’s interesting to me how God forgives my sins but he doesn’t take away all of the negative consequences of my sins.  He is a good Father and he wants me to learn from my mistakes – so he doesn’t take away the bad consequences but he helps me deal with them.

Why do you think he tells me to ask for wisdom in James 1?  Because I really need it!  Please give me more wisdom, Father! 

I have paid the consequences for some of the my bad decisions for a very long time.  And I have learned –

I have learned that there is a direct correlation between bad choices and bad consequences.  It’s not luck.  It’s not someone else’s fault.  I did it to myself.

I have learned how quickly bad decisions can become nightmares which can follow me around for a long time.

My mistakes remind me just how bad my choices can be and they keep me more humble.  No one is exempt.

Lot’s story in Genesis 13 has me wanting to yell, “Stop!  Bad Choice!  Don’t do it!”

Abram (later renamed Abraham) and Lot were nomads travelling around together at this point with their families and their herds of animals.  Their group got too large for the amount of food and water available so Abram talked to Lot about splitting up.  Abram gave Lot first choice of land.

Of course, Lot chose the fertile ground of the Jordan valley leaving the less desirable hill country of Canaan for Abram.

Bad decision, Lot!  Lot settled his family and flocks by Sodom which was such a wicked city that God later rained fire on it and destroyed it.  Lot’s decision to live there eventually caused him to have to flee, losing his wife along with everything he owned.

On the surface, it looked like an easy decision to live in a great location.  But the consequences of this decision were monumental.

It shouldn’t have been that easy.  There were lots of flags telling Lot that was not the best place for him.  He either chose to ignore them or didn’t even think that hard about it.

Lesson learned – many of our decisions should not be as easy as we think they are – especially if we want to avoid the negative consequences of a bad decision.

Please give us wisdom, Abba Father.

Open Doors

Closed doors.

My life has been a series of God opening doors and closing doors.  I wonder what doors he will open in 2018?  I’m sure there will be some that close.

When I understand that God is opening a door and guiding me down a specific path, I tell him ‘I’ll go’ and I add, ‘But close the door if I’ve got any part of your message wrong.”

Then I will move.

I’m not always sure of all the details so asking him to close the door if I don’t have it right gives me confidence that I’m on the right path.

Because I have seen him close the door if I misunderstood.  I have seen him close the door is it was something I wanted and I talked myself into thinking it was God’s direction.  I have seen him close the door if it wasn’t the right time – yet.

He also encourages me to keep moving when I’m on the right track by opening up more doors.  Recently, my family and friends have started the David Glasser Foundation to honor and continue the work of my son who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty last year.  The doors God has been opening for this foundation are amazing!  We have all seen them and we continue to see them.  God has made it crystal clear to us that we are on the right track.

Have you ever asked God to open or close doors?

For me, this works much better than asking for signs.  I know God speaks and guides us in a multitude of ways and he knows I am easily motivated by opened doors. I really like seeing a door close as well if it’s not the way I should be going.

One of the keys for me is to ask and then watch carefully.  Because God answers.

As we start another new year, I am reading ‘In the Beginning’ of the Chronological Bible again – for the 7th time.  I noticed a line I don’t remember ever reading before.  In Genesis 7 right before the flood began, Noah and his family entered the ark along with the ‘pairs of all creatures that have breath in them.”

Then –

“The Lord shut him in.”

God shut the door.  It wasn’t like the movies where Noah had figured out how to close the door himself.

God reached down and shut the door.

I can imagine Noah standing there, watching this big, wooden door close slowly right in front of him.  If I were him and I needed any more proof that God was in control of whatever was happening, I would have been convinced.

And I am convinced.

Because I have watched God open and close doors in my life this same supernatural way.  God has always been in control and he is still in control as we move forward into whatever is coming our way in 2018.

Are you convinced?

Thank you for your faithfulness, Abba Father.

 

Use It!

What do we already have?

A car?

A house?

Education?

Experience?

Passions like sports, food, teaching and mentoring, or music?

God asks us to use whatever we have to serve him and grow his kingdom here on earth.  So how does this apply to me?

My house is used for a small group Bible study.  It is also used sometimes for meetings about the Women’s Ministry I serve in.

My car has been used to bring neighbors and friends to church activities.  It is also used to pick up women I am mentoring as we go have lunch and talk and grow our faith.

God gave me an education and experience so I could have a great career.  I use those same assets as I serve in church.

God gave me passions for teaching and mentoring and music and he has given me opportunities to serve him in all of those areas.

During the discussion at Moses’ burning bush, God told Moses to go to the elders of what-is-in-your-handIsrael and tell them that God was going to bring them out of the misery in Egypt.  Then the elders were supposed to go with Moses to ask Pharoah to release the Israelites for 3 days to go into the desert to worship God.  Moses replied, “What if they don’t believe me?”

And God said, ” What is in your hand?”

Moses already had the tools, experience and passion he needed to obey God.  He just needed to use them.

Moses had his staff in his hand and, when he threw it on the ground, God turned into a snake.  I would believe God was in the middle of what was going on if I saw that, wouldn’t you?

Just like he did with Moses, God intends to  use what he has already given me for his purposes.

He intends to use what he has already given you to help grow your faith and  to grow his kingdom here on earth.

God is asking us, “What is in your hand?”

Thank you for all of the things you have already given us, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

So many decisions…

its hard to figure out our next steps.

A lot of options.

Why can’t we get a burning bush like God gave Moses?  It was big.  It was dramatic.  Moses couldn’t miss it.  If we got one of those, then we would listen and follow, right?burning-bush

In my life, God gives me what I would call burning potted plants.  They are a lot smaller than a bush but when I’m reading God’s word, praying and listening, God will set fire to the next small plant – lighting the way to my next decision – and then my next.

Here’s how it works – I’m regularly reading God’s word and listening to how he want to me to apply it to my life.  I pray – expecting God to move and answer but keeping my mind open knowing that God can answer in a way that’s much different that what I could be looking for.

I watch.

And he lines up my circumstances, one step at a time.

He will also add confirmations along the way.  Godly people around me will say something that reinforces a recent burning plant.  And it’s not unusual for my pastor on Sunday to say something that confirms my direction.

When God knows I am watching and listening, he can work through all of these things to make my next step clear to me.

I have found that I don’t need a burning bush if I’m paying attention.  My small burning  plants work just fine:)

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

We like to ask ‘why’?

I like to ask ‘why’?

And then I read about Joseph’s trials in Genesis and the answer is pretty clear.  A long list of bad things happened to Joseph and God worked to bring good  out of those bad things.  Joseph’s faith and wisdom grew as he trusted God through it all.

I don’t believe that God caused all of these bad things to happen to Joseph or to you and me.   Some of them happened because we live in a world where we all sin.  We pay the consequences for our sins as well as other people’s sins.  And Satan is working relentlessly to entice people to sin.  He is creating a lot of our trials.  I don’t understand why some people get mad at God when bad things happen – they should get mad Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop them.  But we choose to sin.  Other people choose to sin.  There are consequences for that sin.  When we get to where we’re going (heaven) we will no longer sin and there will be no more consequences.

you-intended-to-harm-meHere on earth – when God is with us like he was with Joseph – he can use these consequences so that something good comes from them.

This truth makes the account of Joseph’s life very important to me.

His brothers sold him into slavery but – wait.

Then he’s put in charge of the top Egyptian official’s house.

The official’s wife lies to get Joseph in trouble and Joseph is thrown in jail.

But – wait.  God was with him and he was put in charge of the prison.  Joseph helped the Butler and Baker get out of prison – good news for the Butler, bad news for the Baker.  The Butler forgot about Joseph for 2 years until Pharoah had a dream and Joseph was called out of prison to interpret it.  Pharoah was so impressed that he made Joseph 2d in command, right under Pharoah.

From that position, Joseph was responsible for saving the lives of a whole nation.  A serious famine was coming and God spoke a warning through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream.

God was with Joseph through all of the bad things that happened to him, making sure that he ended up exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

Joseph also saved the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  What the brothers had done was evil, but God used it for good purposes.

Joseph’s story is a great one to read when I’m wondering how God will use the recent tragedy in my life.  Joseph could never have predicted the part he was going to play in the huge famine that was coming.  God knew.

And he was with Joseph every step of the way.

Just like he is with me as I go through my trials.

Just like he is with you when you experience trials.

Thank you, Abba Father.