Archives for posts with tag: Worries

If anyone has ever taken a road trip with children, they would know that one of the most incessantly asked questions of any vacation voyage is, “Are we there yet;” to which the most frequently given response is, “We’re almost there.”  Whether we are five minutes or 105 minutes away from our destination, the answer is usually the same: We are almost there.  In those moments, it seems like we just cannot get there fast enough.  Sometimes, this is not only true of our physical journey, but our spiritual journey as well.  Sometimes, it can feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is light-years away.

Have you ever noticed that it is usually the children who ask, “Are we there yet” on road trips?  Why is that?  One reason is that the adults are the ones who, for the most part, know the final destination, including where it is and how long it takes to get there.  Also, most adults are mature enough to know that they must endure some temporary discomfort (e.g. cramped spaces, long ride frequent bathroom breaks, etc.) before they get to their final desired destination.  In other words, before we can be free to enjoy our fun in the sun at the theme parks, we have to endure the turmoil of the four-hour car ride.

So, you might be asking yourself: What does this have to do with our Spiritual lives?  I think it’s safe to assume that many Christians are living an “Are we there yet” lifestyle.  Most of us have faith and trust God, yet there are moments when we believe that we have not yet seen the manifestation of our faith.  We have put one foot in front of the other, yet we have not arrived at our desired destination.  We often find ourselves asking God, “Are we there yet?”  Sounds familiar?  How about one of these scenarios below?

  • God, it’s been years, and I have been praying for healing; yet I am still sick.  Are we there yet?
  • God, I have been believing in you to mend my marriage, but it’s still falling apart.  Are we there yet?
  • God, I have been praying so long for you to bless me with my partner, yet I am still single.  Are we there yet?
  • God, I have been praying to you for years to bless my womb with life, yet I am still childless.  Are we there yet?
  • Lord, I have been praying that you would bless my business ventures, yet I have only experienced closed doors.  Are we there yet?
  • Lord, I have been praying for my wayward child to return home, yet he (or she) is still so far from you and from home.  Are we there yet?
  • God, I have been praying for financial breakthrough, yet I am still in debt.  Are we there yet?
  • God, I have been praying for (fill in the blank), yet (fill in the blank). Are we there yet?

Yes, many of us have been asking God, “Are we there yet,” for quite some time.  But consider this revelation.  In order to get to a place of peace, we have to realize that we are God’s children, and that we are in the backseat of His proverbial car.  We have to know that when we allow God to drive us, He knows exactly where He is going and how to get there.  When God drives us, we never have to worry about Him being pulled over for going too fast or being honked at for going too slow.  Like children in the back seat, we have to be patient, mature and know that if we buckle up and sit tight, we will eventually arrive at our destination.  We might also realize that if we quit whining and complaining, we might actually enjoy the ride.  Ultimately, our lives and our walk with God comes down to this one simple truth, “We are either going to trust God, or we are not.”  Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.,” (NIV).

You and I have to believe that even though to the naked eye it might seem like we are light-years away from our desired destination, God is still in control and that He has a plan to bless and prosper us.  You see, in our minds, we might be thinking weekend getaway, while God is planning a vacation destination.

Father God,  Please continue to bless us with your peace that surpasses all understanding.  In those moments when we are tempted to ask, “Are we there yet;” comfort us.  Allow us to know that you are still in control and that you have a plan for our lives that will supersede our expectations.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

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Pride
Being thankful could be difficult— sometimes VERY. The mind is hard to silence and the heart is equally difficult to humble. Being thankful requires us to be intentional. It requires faith.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 says, “5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both,” (NLT).

We have to trust that even during what we perceive as difficult seasons, God is still on the throne. We have to believe that even when the desires of our hearts seem to be light years away, God has a plan for victory. No one said that walking by faith and not by sight would be easy, but we have to remember who God is. He is the same today, tomorrow and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If He did it before, He will do it again! If He did it for one, He will do it for all! He will do it for you.

King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived cautioned:

9 Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless, (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, NLT)

King Solomon was right. Everything in life is meaningless. Can any of us remember the worries that we had 10 years ago? Sure, we might be able to remember that we had some cause for concern, but those visceral emotions have fade. Even the memories of joyous events have faded. It is impossible to relive a moment. It is for that reason that we have to be thankful. We cannot relive today. Today is a new day. It’s not tomorrow or yesterday.  When you and I are not thankful for today, we spend our day wishing it were tomorrow, and in some cases, yesterday. Doing so never allows us to live in the present. The problem is, time doesn’t stand still when we fail to engage the present. In fact, it quickly sifts away. Before we know it, days have turned to months and months have morphed into years, even decades. We have to give thanks for where we are today, for tomorrow is not promised. Not only is tomorrow not promised. It does not exist. Tomorrow is a mirage. The moment we experience tomorrow, it has already become today. So, why are we living for tomorrow? We should enjoy today! We should give thanks for today!
Dear God, we thank you for today. We thank you for every moment—happy or sad. Lord, we know enough to know that we know nothing at all. We thank you that you have the universe and our lives under control. We thank you for the rainbow that hails after the storm because we know that is your promise of things to come. God, we simply thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Today, we are going to keep it real.  No airs.  No facades.  Just pure, raw nakedness.

Have you ever felt disappointed by God?  Never?  Be honest.  Some of you are disappointed right now.  You have stood on the Word.  You have stepped out in faith.  You have believe, and you have prayed.  However, you have not seen God move in your situation.  Now your situation appears more dire.  Now you are exhausted.  Now, you are humiliated.    Your enemies all seem to laugh and scoff at you.  What do you do now?  The God that you have told them would deliver you seems to be distant and silent.  Now even you have begun to believe that maybe He can’t or won’t rescue you.  You can’t minister to them because you are having a hard time trying to convince yourself.  Do you give up?  The Bible says that God is faithful even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).  So do you just give in?  Do you throw in the towel?  Why wouldn’t you?  Your heart is burdened from hurting.  Your hair is gray from worry.  Your eyes are heavy from crying.  Now is the time that even the most faithful would surrender.  What are you going to do?

I don’t know how many of you have every attempted a 30-minute work out on the Treadmill after a long day at work.  For me, getting past the first 15 minutes is the most difficult.  But once I push past that arduous time, I know I can complete the workout.  During the first 15 minutes, I am always tempted to quit.  There have been times when I have quit.  After some of the days that I have had, who would blame me anyway?  Here is the truth.  On several occasions, I would regret prematurely quitting my workout, especially when I noticed that my jeans have begun to fit a little tighter that I would like.  Alternately, I have never regretted completing my workout.  In fact, I usually have a sense of accomplishment when I brave the 30-minute course.  By the end of the workout, the stresses of the day usually melts away.  All my negative thoughts become replaced by positive one.  Oftentimes, I even begin to envision the benefits of having worked out.

The Bible says that we have an enemy who has come to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).  He has come to kill our spirit, steal our joy and destroy our hope and faith.  When the enemy attack, we need to make sure that we are wearing the full armor of God so that after everything we can stand.

There is no miracle formula for faith.  If there were, someone would have been rich trying to sell it by now.  What we do know is that we have more to lose than gain if we quit before our time.  If we throw in the towel prematurely, there is no telling what we would be giving up.  We might be giving up the very thing that we have been waiting for.

We never have to worry about missing the memo from God.  If we failed to receive it the first time, He always provides an opportunity for our lessons to be repeated.

Last night, I attended a midweek, young-adult service at one of my local churches.  Actually, the Tuesday night worship experience at this particular church is not your typical, midweek service.  The atmosphere is charged with and electrified by the Spirit.

The message of the night was from James 1:2-4:

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (NLT).

The take home messages of the night were:

  1. God uses our trials as an opportunity for growth.
  2. We should find joy in the pain of growth.
  3. When it looks like all is lost, God has one more move.

Wow! How many of us can perpetually see the glass half full?

Last night was my God reminder.  I heard God say, “Just in case you missed the memo the first time, ‘I am reminding you of who I am.’”  During the service, I remembered that God had laid this very message on my heart a few month ago.  I was excited to go home to find my journal entry and be reminded of what God had said then.

Once we embrace the fact that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8) we can rest in the knowledge that what He promised yesterday is still valid today.

Below is my 2/13/13 journal entry on James 1:3-4.  I hope it blesses you as much as it has me.

For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.  (James 1:3, NLT).

Endurance is preparation for the next time.  Think about jogging.  The first time you commit to jogging, you might only be able to run one block.  But in running that one block, the body is being conditioned.  The cells are being oxidized, and the muscles are being strengthened.  The next time you run, you might either

  1. Be able to run the same distance with less fatigue

Or

  1. Run further

Each time, however, there is an increase in strength that occurs.  The same is true of faith.  Each time you exercise your faith, your spiritual muscles increase, yielding increase endurance.  The things that you endured today might have seemed impossible last year.

So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing, (James 1:4, NLT).

Think about the jogging analogy.  Let’s say you were training for a 5K.  There would come a time in the training process where you could run the 5K without stopping, or without fatigue.  So as far as the 5K level, you would need nothing.  You would be perfect and complete.  However, if you decided to train for a half-marathon, additional training would be required and the cycle would repeat.

The same applies to our faith.  There are different levels of completion.  When you reach, what I will call, “level-one faith,” you are perfect and complete for THAT level.  It doesn’t mean that you are perfect and complete for life.  It simply means that you are ready to be graduated to the next level of faith.  There is always a growth curve—at least until death.

Dear God,

During this season, you have challenged so many of us to have faith in your word and your character.  I pray that we will continue to trust you as you develop us.  I pray that we will trust you with our lives, our relationships, our finances, our destinies, our purposes and our hearts.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!

 

Today’s message doesn’t really tie into the theme.  However, it weighed heavily on my heart, so I decided to blog about it. 

There are times when it feels as if the Father of the Universe, our Father, has forgotten about us.  Why wouldn’t He?  It would make sense that He would.  Surely the ruler of the Universe has more important matters to attend to than our daily minutia.  Or does he?

I don’t know how many of you have ever heard the saying, “the devil is in the details.”  I would like to turn that saying around and say that, “God is in the details.”  He is in the very minute details of our lives.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7).  I don’t think God is in the business of wasting time.  He did not just count the hairs on our head for the sake of being idle.  I believe the point He is making is that when it comes to us, nothing is inconsequential.  He knows and He cares about it all.  Please know that God may be seemingly silent, but He is never absent.  He is always with us.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 Know that life is cyclical.  Just as winter turns into spring and summer to fall, bad times also relent.  If God has not delivered on His promise to you, it simply means that your season for deliverance has not yet arrived.  God will never promise and fail to deliver.  He is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19).  He is also faithful when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).  Do no lose hope.  You have come too far to give up now.  I pray that someone needed to hear this.  May God bless you!

There are definite stand-out moments in our lives that transforms the way we think.  A little over a year ago, I had one of those moments.  It was a Sunday morning.  One of the pastors at my church had decided to relay a story that he had read about on a blog.  The story, he said, was written by a pastor’s wife.  Her blog began by stating that she had a seemingly perfect marriage until she received devastating news that would change her life forever.  Her husband, and pastor of their local church, had confessed to participating in an extramarital affair that resulted in his mistress’ pregnancy.  The blog further went on to describe the range of emotions that the pastor’s wife experienced after receiving the news.  She was angry.  She was hurt. She was humiliated.  Not only did her husband cheat, he had created a life-time reminder of his deception.  In her hurt and fury, she decided that she would separate from him.  During that time, she sought counsel from one of her pastors.  The advice that she received from this pastor was far from what she expected.  In fact, it was so startling that it not only impacted her life, but it also resonated with my soul when I heard this third-hand story. Her pastor said that she had every right to leave and punish her husband.  He went on to say that what her husband did was so egregious that no one would fault her for leaving and never forgiving him.  It’s what came next that made my heart race.  He said:

Even though you would be perfectly within your right not to forgive him, would you be willing to be a part of his redemption.”

Wow!  Would she be willing to be a part of his redemption?

Would you be willing to be a part of his redemption?  I bet you didn’t see that coming.  I didn’t see it coming, but that simple question has since shaped the way I perceive forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things that we are called to do.  It goes against our natural inclination.  When we are hurt, we either want to retreat or retaliate.  Forgiveness is seldom our first instinct.  Most of us have to make a concerted effort to forgive.

I have often heard that forgiveness is more about us than it is the other person.  While this is true, that pastor’s assertion suggests that forgiveness is also very much about the other person.  Sometimes our forgiveness allows others to forgive themselves.  This message is so critical that it is worth repeating.  Our forgiveness sometimes gives others the solace to heal.

“Are you willing to be a part of his redemption?”

Are we willing to be a part of some else’s redemption, especially if they have wounded us?  That is such a hard question and a costly demand.  It is impossible to get to this place of forgiveness without God’s help and grace.  We just don’t have it in us.  In those moments that require forgiveness, we have to ask God to step into our hearts and our circumstances.  There may be some situations so painful that only God can provide healing.  Know that only God can restore and heal that which has been broken.  Know that we will ALL be hurt by someone we love because we are all imperfect beings.  Remember, even though the degree and nature of the deception might vary, God is constant.  He never changes.  If we allow God into our broken relationships, HE WILL restore them.

If your trust has been violated and you don’t know how your relationship will ever survive, ask God into your situation right now.  Ask God to mend all that has been broken (e.g. your trust, your heart, your vows, your self-worth, your spirit, your dignity, your faith, your hope, your marriage, your relationship, etc).

I bet you are wondering what ever happened to the pastor’s wife.  Well, as the story went, she decided to forgive her husband and take him back.  Not only did she forgive him, she also adopted the child that was the product of the affair.

My prayer for today:

Lord, soften our hearts to forgive those who have hurt us.  Create within us the desire to be a part of some one else’s redemption.  Mend all that has been broken.  In Jesus’ name. Amen!

It’s amazing how when we become attuned to God’s frequency we begin to see examples of His glory in everything around us.  As I was driving to work in the rain this morning, I saw a group of blackbirds picking at remnant French fries that spilled into the streets from a tattered McDonald’s bag.  Immediately, I thought about the verse in Matthew where Jesus likened God’s desire to take care of us to his commitment to the birds in the sky.  In the verse Jesus went on to say,

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life,” (Matthew 6:25-34, NLT)?

As I waited for the light to change, I watched the birds fill their beaks with the morning treat.  Some quickly flew away after they had their fill.  When the light changed, the few birds that remained on the ground danced between the cars as they zoomed by.  I marveled at how carefree they were.

Imagine if we could be that way—never worrying about anything.  Trusting in God gives us that very freedom we desire.  In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said,

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

When we lay our burdens at the foot of the cross, Jesus gives us rest, but we have to trust Him.  We have to trust Him with EVERYTHING.  That includes our relationships.  Remember, God’s purpose for relationships is to create partnerships that will advance His kingdom.  Therefore, if you are single, trust that God will bring the right person in your life at just the right time.  If you are married, trust God to bless, preserves, maintain and/or heal your relationship.  Know that what God has put together, no one can separate (Mark 10:9).

It is God’s desire that we have and maintain successful relationships.  His plan is to prosper us in EVERY facet of our lives, but we have to trust Him.  My prayer for today is that you would trust God with your relationships, both existing and those to come.

Today’s prayer:

Lord, marriages are under attack.  Integrity is diminished and dissention is celebrated.  The D****** word is often the weapon of choice.  Lord, we know that with you we have a defense.  It’s called your Word.  The Bible says, that the Word is sharper than any two-edged sword, and “it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow,” (Hebrews 4:12).  We pray that what you have bound, no one, including us, can separate.  We pray your blessing, favor and provision over ever union you have created.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!