Too Discouraged

Problems pile up and then pile even higher.

Situations become worse, not better.

Broken relationships get even more painful.  It’s easy for you and I to get discouraged when we focus on the mountain of issues in front of us.

This is where the Israelites were when Pharoah made their hard work of making bricks even more difficult by not giving them the straw they needed to make the bricks.  Now they had to find the straw and they were expected to make just as many bricks as before.  What?!  Their situation was bad before but now it was really terrible!

I have had times in my life when I felt like that.  Have you?  I have found myself in situations that were hard to deal with and then something happened to make it even worse.  I’ll never forget getting a phone call that my mother was in the hospital just three months after my father passed away.  What was happening?!  I was only 21 years old, just lost my dad and now my mom was sick?   My world was going crazy!

The good news is that my mother had successful gall bladder surgery and lived 28 more years.

The bad news for the Israelites is that they got so discouraged with their current situation that they stopped listening to God.  That’s the opposite of what they should have done.

My discouraging experiences have taught me that turning to God and focusing on him is the answer.  There is a purpose for the dark times in my life.  God is always working things out for my good – even when I can’t see any good.  It can be very messy and confusing even when I’m right in middle of God’s plan.

I just need to keep listening and obeying.

Please open my ears, Abba Father.

 

 

Revealing

When times are tough, what I genuinely believe about God comes to the surface.  In the center of the struggle, my actions show my real feelings about God.

When I’m in the center of the storm, do I turn to him?

As my world spins and swirls, do I look to him for direction?

And – the big question – when its dark and discouraging, do I trust him?

Do I trust him when my heart is shattering into a million pieces?  Do I trust him when all of my future plans have just been blown apart?  Do I trust him when my life becomes sad and painful?

These are the situations where my true feelings about God are revealed.

The good news is that these are the same situations where the strength and power and grace and love of my Father God is also best revealed.  He’s always there – right in the middle of all the questions and problems and frustrations.

“I am Yahweh – the Lord.” God said these words to Moses thousands of years ago when Moses was faced with the extremely challenging task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

‘God Almighty’ is my God.  He has revealed himself in new and beautiful ways in the middle of the tragedy I have been going through these last 2 1/2 years since my son was killed.  God has been faithful through the storm of grief and emptiness.

He is always faithful.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

How Can I Do This?

Have you ever asked God that question?

When G0d gives you an assignment – a task to do, something you need to say, somewhere you are supposed to go – but you have no idea how it’s going to happen?

I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m there pretty regularly.  And I find myself asking God this question – how am I going to do this?

Then God reminds me of the words he spoke to Moses when he asked God this same question thousands of years ago.  God replied, “What is that in your hand?”

When God said these words to Moses – and when he says them to me – he means, “What have I already given you?  Use that.”

What has he already given me?  Good question.  This starts me into a process of reviewing the gifts and skills which God has grown within me.  These are the things God wants me to use to complete my new assignment.

I will also review what God has been teaching me lately – he has a purpose for opening my eyes to a new truth.  He wants me to use this new knowledge and awareness in order to complete the task he has given me.

Do you know what I discover when I review what God has already given me?

I find that God has been preparing me for the things he wants me to do and say and the places he wants me to go.

It’s all in my hand.

Thank you, Abba Father.

My Life is But a Breath

Breathe in,

breathe out.

In the big picture of time, that represents my life here on earth.  One second.

Job  showed that he understood this as he spoke to his unhelpful friends in Job 7,  “You see me now, but not for long.”

In the large scheme of things, the dash between the day I was born and the day I die is the length of time it takes for one breath.  Wow!  That helps to remind me to make sure I’m focused on the important things in my life.  I must not waste time on petty things or differences.

I need to love.

I need to forgive.

I need to care about people and not spend a big portion of my precious time on ‘stuff’.

Most of all, I’ve got to listen to my Father God and do what he asks me to do.  He has a purpose for me here on earth.  He has things he wants me to accomplish in this season of my life.

If I get anything done in this last part of my one breath, I want to be faithful to God’s will, his plans, his purposes.  When I get home, I want to hear those treasured words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Amen, Let it be so, Abba Father.

The Struggle

“Is not all of human life a struggle?”

Job tells it like it is.  I agree with him – do you?

Looking back, my childhood seems relatively struggle-free but I know that there were things I didn’t like and situations that were hard for me to deal with.

In my memories, it seemed like Jr. High was the worst time for relationship struggles.  Those years were strange and tough.

And then I got a taste of the adult struggles in High School as I started making plans for what my life would look like after graduation.

Life got more and more complicated after that.  Being a wife and a mother of two with a career was the epitome of the struggle.  It was a challenge just to get through each day.  I’m grateful to God for guiding me through that time, straightening out  my priorities and helping me focus on the important things.

Transitioning into the empty nest was a tough struggle for my husband and I.   Every day we missed the fun and craziness of having a house full of active teenagers.  Our priorities had to shift again.  One very positive thing is that we were able to give God more time and space in our lives.

Now that we are retired, the struggle is different but very real.  Priorities shift once again and there are still challenges.  The picture we had for our future exploded when our son was killed.  The hole his death has left in our lives is big and painful.  Rebuilding our plans for a future without him is extremely hard.

Job was right on – this whole life on earth is a struggle.

Thank you, Abba Father, for guiding me through the struggles.

The Accuser

I hear him.

Do you hear him?

The Accuser.  Satan is called the Accuser right in the beginning of the book of Job.  Satan is also called the Father of Lies in the Bible because he is a professional liar.

He whispers lies into my ears, accusing me of bad things I have done.  He accuses me of the wrong and hurtful things I have said.  Yes, I did those things and I said those things.

But  I know – and Satan knows – that all of these bad things I’ve done and said in the past, present and future are forgiven.  I was forgiven for everything when I accepted the free gift of grace offered by God through the death of Jesus on the Cross.  Jesus paid the price.  It’s done.

Why does Satan keep trying to make me forget that?  Why does he continually try to get me to live in guilt instead of the freedom that God gave me because I believe and trust in Jesus?

Why?  Because Satan doesn’t like my freedom in Christ.  He doesn’t like the fact that the Holy Spirit helps me ignore him.

So Satan whispers his lies….

hoping that I will listen and put myself in chains of regret, bitterness, unforgiveness and guilt.  Jesus died to release me from those chains.  That’s the truth.  So I’m not listening to the Accuser.

I am committed to listening to the words of my Father whose voice, when I listen, overpowers the whispers of the evil one.  My Father speaks to me with love…

and patience,

and grace.

I listen to him and I know the truth.  When I know the truth, I can live in the truth.

The Accuser can just go somewhere else with his lies.  No one is listening here.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Guaranteed Success

Always.

Joseph’s story in Genesis is filled with words like, “The Lord was with Joseph so he succeeded in everything he did.”  Everywhere he went, every job he did, Joseph did it well because God was with him.

Having God with him made Joseph special and unusual.  This was thousands of years ago before Jesus came to earth and changed everything.  Now God sends his Spirit to live inside every one who has accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus and has put their trust in him.

God made me special when I accepted salvation and he sent his Spirit to live inside of my soul.  He adopted me and I became the daughter of the King.   As I read the historical account of Joseph, I can tell that Joseph was a good listener and he also knew how to obey.  He heard God’s directions and did them.  This is where his success came from.

When I listen to God and obey,  I also succeed.

The same is true for you.

Let’s not miss it.  Success in God’s eyes often looks different from what we expect success to look like….

but his eyes are the important ones, right?

Please help me listen and obey, Abba Father.

Standing Against the Flow

It’s hard to stand against the pull of popular opinion.

It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when so many people around me are saying ‘yes’.

It’s no fun to stand up for what I know is right when the majority of my culture thinks it’s all ‘ok’.

But there are times and there are situations where I need to stand, even when it’s hard and difficult and definitely no fun.  I need to stand.

You need to stand.

Genesis 27 gives us a good example of what happens when people who want to do the right thing don’t stand up against the crowd.  Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son.  He should have stopped the whole nonsense when his brothers started talking about killing Joseph.  The discussion was bad enough but then Reuben actually let the rest of his brothers throw Joseph in the cistern, leaving him there to die.  The Bible tells us that Reuben was ‘secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father’.

Too little, too late, Reuben!

While Reuben was distracted with something else, the rest of his brothers sold Joseph to some slave traders passing by.  When Reuben got back, Joseph was gone.

Should have, could have, would have…….but Reuben didn’t.  He didn’t stop his brothers right at the beginning so he missed his chance to do what was right.  He had an opportunity to stand up to his brothers and help teach them what is right.  But he didn’t.

I can miss my chance to do what is right, too, if I follow the crowd when they are going down a crooked path.

Reuben didn’t do or say anything to stop them so he became part of the group that did this despicable thing.

He became part of the problem.

How often to do I miss my chance to stand up for what is right?

How often do you?

Please give us courage to stand up for what is right, Abba Father.

Tunnel Vision

I’ve had it.  Have you?

I think it happens to all of us at times – especially when our emotions are running high.  Then I see only what I want to see.  I notice only what I’m expecting, not what is actually happening.  When my perception clouds the facts, I can go down a path of thinking that is not right, it is not helpful, and it is not true.

If I don’t realize what I’m doing, I can go to a dangerous place which creates havoc in my life.

So I can relate with Hagar as I read her story in Genesis.  Abraham banished her and their son, Ismael, out into the desert with food and a container of water.  Because she was focused on this one container of water, she felt that all hope was gone when it was empty.

She prepared to die.

She forgot all about reaching out to the Creator of all Things – who created water.  His angel had spoken to her and guided her before but Hagar was in the tunnel – not looking for any way out except for death.

God heard Ishmael’s cries.  “Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well full of water.”

What?  Was the well there all along and she just wasn’t seeing it?  Was she so lost in despair and discouragement that she didn’t even look around?  Or did God create the well for her?

We don’t know – either way, God provided for her.

And he provides for me constantly.  I need to remember that because, like Hagar, there are situations where I get tunnel vision, especially when emotions are involved.  When I’m lost in my incorrect thinking, I need to remember to reach out to the One who has all the answers.

Please open my eyes to your plans and provision, Abba Father.

My Ticket to Ride

How close can I get to God?

That’s a great goal, isn’t it?

I’d like to get as close as Enoch.  Enoch was Adam’s great, great, great, great grandson and we read in Genesis that he walked in close fellowship with God.  “Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.”

Enoch never died.  God just took him home.  I don’t have any control over it, but that’s the way I’d really like to go.

Elijah was the only other person that we know of who God took up to heaven before he died.

How many bonus points does it take to get a chariot ride up the heaven?

God has a huge sense of humor so he knows I’m just kidding.  I was once told that it’s ok to joke around with God and that makes sense to me.  He is always watching us so we might as well make him laugh.

I wonder how many more people have ‘disappeared’ or gotten a chariot ride up to heaven?  It’s a safe bet that we don’t know about them all.  I prefer the chariot ride because I wouldn’t want the people I love who are left behind to have any questions about what happened.

It is obvious that both Enoch and Elijah had a very close relationship with God.  That must be the ticket.  So I’m going to work on my relationship with God knowing he has already determined my last day and what my trip into heaven is going to look like.

But it never hurts to ask, right?

Please put me on the chariot list, Father.