WORRY, FAITH, AND PRAYER

“Resting in the Lord is not dependent on you external circumstances at all, but on you relationship with God himself. . . Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting arises in our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish his own plans, but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.”  – Oswald Chambers

“Do not fret – it only causes harm.”         – Psalm 37:8

I read this today, and I needed it. It basically describes my life lately, in that it has been filled with worry. Worry that I won’t be fully supported by the time the semester starts, which leads to worrying if I’m in the right place, and all it leads back to, as Oswald Chambers has wisely pointed out, is me not putting all trust in God.

It’s a scary thing not to know where or what you’ll be doing a few months from now. Trust me. But it is a lot scarier to imagine going through the experience without God. Because of that, I’m making a declaration. No worrying. Just prayer, and the prayer isn’t asking God to solve the things I worry about, but rather to help me abide completely in Him and know that if one thing doesn’t work, He has something better for me.

Join me in my prayer to abide and trust, rather than worry and wonder.

O Lord, send me on my way.

That way may not be visible, but I trust that it is good,

Because it has been planned in advance by  You.

If I am on an undesired trail in your eyes, give me a detour and set me right.

And if my trail is true,

 I trust that You will keep building it ahead of me and the details will fall into place.

For You know where I’m headed, and You know where I’ve been.

You’ve prepared me and trained me, and You will put me on the course.

Thank you for guiding my steps. Amen.

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THE ‘MAGIC’ PRAYER (and why it often doesn’t work)

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”   – John 14:13-14

This a verse that, when we look, we immediately think of the things we’ve asked for and haven’t received, and almost feel cheated by this verse and what it says.

But that is only because we aren’t really hearing what it says!

“Ask and you’ll receive.” This is what we hear when we read this verse. What it actually says, however, is “ask for anything that brings glory to God, and you will receive.”

This verse is a promise to us, but it is a promise given by a God who is much more wise than us! We can ask for anything, and we might believe it is for God’s glory, but only He truly knows. Only He truly knows the end result, and the true motives of our hearts in everything we ask.

Remember this next time you ask and don’t receive, and praise God for knowing your true needs and desires! Praise Him for His wisdom, and your foolishness in the midst of Him! Don’t hold a grudge against God for not giing what you’ve asked; for holding a grudge against God is simply pride and selfishness. It is you telling God you know better than Him, and that is never the case!

“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”  -Proverbs 16:1-3

It isn’t until we are one with God that we can truly ask for anything in His name, and when we are at that point, the things we ask will be of Him, and undoubtedly bring glory to Him because of His presence in every essence of our lives. “Ask in my name” isn’t a magic trick to get what we want, but simply an example of what can be done when we live completely in the Holy Spirit rather than under our own ambition. Ask in the Holy Spirit, in unity with God, and you will receive. And if you ask out of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, that which you receive will undoubtedly bring God glory!

STRIP ME OF MYSELF

Lord, strip me of myself

and clothe me in you.

For I recognize the extent of my wisdom,

and how foolish it is to You.

For the only way to gain in my wisdom

is to completely surrender it

And to identify only in the wisdom of you.

In my own plan, I wander,

Yet in Yours, I can walk straight.

For you are my compass; my bearing,

And only You can light my way.

As I stumble out of the darkness,

You enable me to stand upright

And chase after the sun.

So if anyone looks towards me,

They are overwhelmed by your brightness.

IN TRIALS, SPEAK UP!

You’ve probably been there. A while into your relationship with Christ, something comes along and you get sidetracked. And you keep getting sidetracked. The busyness never ends, and by the time it does, God has begun to feel distant.

This was me about two weeks ago.

It’s really out of laziness, but a sporadic work schedule didn’t help. Spending quality time with God is a hard thing to do in the morning when you have to be out of the door by 6:35, and every other day of the week you’ve been waking up at 8:30 or 9. It makes it hard to set up a routine. My internal clock gets thrown off, and I find myself lacking the energy or motivation to get up the first time my alarm rings, which results in losing the time I was supposed to spend with God.

I’d work two, three days in a row, always sleeping as long as I could before pulling myself up just in time to eat and head to work. Then on my days off I’d sleep, wake up and check a few things online, and having those ‘few things’ turn into two hours of wasted time. And then I’d get busy, and forget to spend a quiet time with God.

I hit a patch where I’d spend a day, maybe two a week where I’d actually read my bible, and I could feel myself drifting away. My motivation was gone. My fire was slowly going cold, and I was beginning to resent God for it.

I was in the place where I knew I should talk to God, but simultaneously I knew the things I wanted to say were completely based on selfishness and laziness, so I waited as long as I could before bringing it up.

I knew I needed to talk it out with God, but out of my pride, I couldn’t bring myself to admit my selfishness. After all, when you plan on becoming a pastor of some sort, you should be able to recognize and fix your problems on your own, right?

I think I was missing the point. I like to think of these moments as God face-palms, because I’m sure that’s what He was doing when He looked down on me.

It’s amazing the things we can validate telling ourselves when we’re being fueled by our selfish human instincts. When did I start to believe that I was good enough to fix my faults on my own? Whenever that started was the day I started questioning God’s plan, but it took far longer than that to really ask God about it.

It took about a week and a half. It started small – as the smallest trace of doubt – and as I spent more time away from God, the doubt grew and grew until one Friday night, I couldn’t sleep. I was too busy wrestling.

I finally brought my doubt up to God. I asked some simple questions, and I desperately needed some answers. I asked how my life is so much better than it would be without God, because without God I could be pursuing my degree, making 50 grand a year, and indulging myself in the pleasures all 24 year olds with some extra money can imagine. I could be living completely for myself.

Following God’s plan, I was spending my days working temp construction – which is basically doing the work that no one else wants to do, making just enough money to pay the bills. The rest of my time was spent either being lazy, or being involved in ministry. In reality, I didn’t feel qualified at this particular moment at all. I was basically waiting for God to reveal a little more of His plan to me day by day.

It pretty much all came down to me asking God the question every five year old asks when they get brussel sprouts for dinner. “Do I have to?”

Don’t worry, God answered.

The next day, I was randomly surfing the web, when I went to my blog and decided to look back on the past. I decided to read the first two posts I ever put up, and they were all about God’s purpose, and the work He’d been doing in my life, and how insufficient I felt I was in the areas He was working. Yet despite my perceived weaknesses, I was confident in His work.

And then I realized where I’d really be without God.

I’d be living a life at 50%. I’d be avoiding my purpose, and my potential. I’d be settling for a life of meaningless pleasures because of a fear of not knowing what God would ask of me. I’d be a coward.

My life is so much better than that right now, and I can thank only God. Because if it wasn’t for Him, I might have a job where I’d be making 50 grand a year, thinking only about myself, and not thinking about the students and people I have the privilege of knowing and meeting and serving each and every day. I’d be doing things that wouldn’t scare me at all. Thinking about that scares me.

I’d be making 50 grand a year. But what good is 50 grand when it’s only at 50% potential?

It’s amazing how all we have to do is ask Him, yet so often we feel like we aren’t qualified to ask, or we think we can fix it on our own. In our doubting, we must simply turn to Him and start talking. David wrote psalm after psalm while in moments of extreme doubt, but he was never afraid to ask God about it, and God always answered. Remember that David also wrote psalm after psalm praising God and His glory? I think part of that is because God answered David in those times of doubt, and nothing is as comforting as that moment when God answers.

Know that God is always there, and you can never ask Him a bad question. He simply enjoys hearing your voice and walking you through your questioning, until you recognize His answer. He is the Wonderful Counselor – let Him counsel.