Author Archives: stellalin21

Two Kinds of Expectations

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Does God want you to have expectations? Sure He does! In fact, Psalm 5:3 states, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

We are often taught to not have expectations or maybe experience tells us that “too many expectations lead to disappointments.”

The kind of expectation that leads to disappointment is the anticipation of the way things “should” be or “how” they should happen.  We have a picture of the process in our mind and expect that things will occur accordingly, and when they don’t go the way we want it to go, we get terribly disappointed. It would be better to think of “your way” as a general blueprint for your plan but allow for flexibility so that God will still work it out — His way. If it does happen the way you wanted it to, great! But if not, the key is to not insist on making it happen your way. That’s what it means to “surrender your will.” It’s a power struggle between you and God. God always wins so the sooner you surrender, the happier you will be.

The other type of expectation is mentioned in Psalm 5:3. Ironically, it is easier to have expectations of the way things should be than to believe that the “impossible” can actually be possible. Do you believe that God actually wants you to have expectations so He can fulfill them? The difference lies in “how” and “will” (as in the future tense of the verb, “to be.”). Put your expectations before God and believe they “will” happen, but leave the “how” part to God.

One last thing I want to point out. The operative word here is “wait.” The psalmist wrote, “…I wait in expectation.” There is no indication that God answered this person’s prayer the same day.  Honestly I have had to wait so long for certain things that I wondered if my desires were out of line with God’s plan for my life.  What if God didn’t want those things for me?  I think the more appropriate question is, why would God allow this to be written in the scriptures if He didn’t want to answer our prayers?

“Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15

The psalmist was 100% confident that God would answer. Do you pray and wait with this kind of confident expectation?

#prayer #faith #expectations #disappointment #waitonGod #patience #prayer #belief #confidence #powerstruggle #waiting #happiness #hope #hopeinGod

Moving Mountains with Your Words

mountains“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Mark 12:24

When the Sadducees were trying to test Jesus with all kinds of questions, their interrogation showed that they clearly did not know the scriptures, and yet they were the religious leaders of their day.  Yikes!  Jesus, the Son of God, received the most persecution from the elite, well-educated religious scholars of that time period but they did not recognize His identity.  Do you know the Word well enough to not miss the mark if Jesus decided to come back today?

Know the Word.

Knowledge has different levels.  Filling your head with book knowledge is different from knowing a friend.  You can “know” the Word and recite scriptures to anyone who asks for a verse, but do you intimately “know” the Word as in having a deep relationship with Christ through obedience and faith?  If you have obedience but lack faith, I dare say that you still don’t “know” the Word because part of walking with God is walking by faith.  Faith is receiving the scriptures in your innermost being and actually believing in the truth of the Gospel.

Experience the power of God.

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

If you are looking for a bag of magic tricks, there is nothing grandiose or excessively ostentatious about following God.  In this passage here, you can see that transformation is a process.

  1. Someone teaches you the Word of God.
  2. You hear it and put your faith in the truth of the scriptures.
  3. You put off your old self.
  4. Your attitude is made new.
  5. You put on the new self.

Notice that a change of attitude precedes “putting on the new self,” which is visible to everyone else.  You have to change internally before you can project that externally.  Nobody knows your attitude except you and God alone.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”  Romans 10:17

The Word changes you, but you have to meditate on it day and night.  How long will it take for your attitude to change?  In other words, how long does it take to form a habit?  Contrary to the popular belief that it takes 21 days, researchers now say it takes 66 days to form a new habit.  We have to consistently read the Word, allow our faith to grow, align our thoughts with the scriptures and discard any negative thoughts that are not congruent with God’s truth.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” – Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Say the Word Out Loud.

In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, leading neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and Professor Mark R. Waldman of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles wrote, “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”  Their research shows that positive words build resilience in other regions of the brain and have a ripple effect in the rest of the body.

When you come across scriptures like Psalm 34:19 or Proverbs 24:16, say them out loud.  There are plenty of golden nuggets in the bible that you can discover for yourself.  Recite every promise of God so you can hear yourself saying it, and if you feel uncomfortable at first, it’s okay because it takes at least 66 days for a habit to become part of your character.  Practice makes perfect.  The biggest mountain we have to move is ourselves.  Once you can move that, you can move any other mountain that stands in your way.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

#powerofwords #musingz4life #faith #believe #receive #sayitoutloud

Broken Promises, Undying Faithfulness

broken promIf you married someone who was unfaithful to you, would you remain faithful?  The concept of making a vow and actually keeping it seems to have gone out of style these days as divorce rates skyrocket.  The role models we see in media and in our own lives have skewed our perception of loyalty, but I am willing to put my life on the line and bet that loyalty is still the #1 trait we want in our closest friends, our family and especially our significant other.

Underlying the concept of loyalty is the expectation we have of those closest to us.  From the beginning, when our parents made a promise that they would do XYZ, we as children expected them to carry through.  If they didn’t, of course we were terribly disappointed, but if they habitually made promises that they did not carry through, we grow up believing that it’s okay to say what we don’t mean without much regard to the weight of our words.  It’s okay to tell someone what they want to hear and later break your promise because, after all, words don’t mean anything.  When it comes to a life commitment to someone you love, in the back of your mind you might be wondering if this is going to work out in a few years.

What about when it comes to our relationship with God?  If we have been betrayed again and again by others’ lack of substance, are God’s words any good either?  You might hear people’s amazing testimonies about God’s faithfulness; you can buy hundreds of books from Barnes & Noble about God’s promises and really try your hardest to believe that God’s promises apply to you too, but these books just don’t resonate with you because you have prayed and asked God a million times already for that one thing, and He still has not answered.  So yeah, He may be answering everyone else’s prayers except yours.  What gives??

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”  2 Timothy 2:13

Regardless of any poor role models you may have had in life, keep in mind that God was not that father who abandoned you, the mother who abused/neglected you, or the relative/family friend who betrayed you.  Just as you wouldn’t want your significant other to judge you based on his or her experiences with their ex, it would not be fair to God to use your life’s experiences as a metric for His faithfulness.

Because we are not perfect, we are guilty of sinning against God every day, hurting Him with our doubts, our lack of faith, and our hurtful actions.  Constantly He reaches out to us, tries to woo us through some random act of kindness through a stranger or a friend, or maybe He tries to get your attention but you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His existence.  Despite all your rejections, God still waits for you faithfully, because He longs to fill the void in your broken heart.  God is faithful, and no matter what you do, He will remain faithful because that is who He is. Your behavior does not change God’s character.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

We are finite, and God is infinite, so is it possible for us to ever understand God and His ways?  Just because God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted (or when you wanted), it doesn’t mean that He is deliberately holding out on you.  God is always good, all the time, but trusting Him with your unhealed heart is probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your faith.  We are tainted with memories of broken promises and words that meant absolutely nothing.  And the media isn’t very helpful in building up the concept of loyalty in its truest form, either.  How do we rid of ourselves of such polluted, warped belief systems?

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts…”

Isaiah 55:6-7

Negativity, warped notions of loyalty, and wrong actions that result from such thinking are all wicked in God’s eyes.

Let go of your preconceived notions of who God is and allow yourself to fully embrace what the scriptures say about God’s unfailing love and loyalty.  Abandon any presumption that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and fully pursue Him with all your heart.  Don’t allow your bitterness from broken promises to ruin your understanding of God.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”  Numbers 23:19

#unfailinglove #promises #loyalty #integrity #Godisfaithful #faithfulness #reliable

Make Waves with Your Faith!

waves“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:3

In this momentous point of Peter’s faith, he faltered even though he was already walking on water towards Jesus!  His faith started out bold; no other disciple dared to challenge the verity of Jesus’s identity except Peter.  Instead of caving into fear, Peter confronted it by asking this Man on water to do what only God can do:

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, tell me to come to you on water.” (Matthew 14:28)

Peter asked God to do the impossible but it required participation of both parties.  God granted Peter’s request and now it was Peter’s turn to meet God where He was at (literally speaking)!  Even as Peter was in the midst of experiencing a miracle right in front of Jesus with the other disciples as his witnesses, he encountered a new obstacle that threatened to shake his foothold:

“But when he saw the winds, he was afraid and began to sink…” Matt 14:30

You don’t have to be a sailor to understand the unpredictable nature of the wind and waves at sea.  If you have ever taken a cruise, you might have gotten stuck in the middle of a frightening wind storm.  The ocean is calm one minute, and the next minute your very life is in danger.  The #1 rule about waves is that there is no rule.  The scriptures say that the boat was already at a “considerable distance from the land” (Matthew 14:24), which probably means the disciples were sailing in the big seas when Jesus popped up.  There was no mention of any storm – only the appearance of Jesus at the break of dawn.  When Peter “saw” the winds, most likely he saw some large, threatening tidal wave suddenly coming his way while he was walking on water.

Isn’t this how life works?  We are all sailing on the ocean of life.  Life could be going well for a while, but then small problems break violently into your boat while another large wave quietly passes by, or big tidal waves are threatening to overturn your boat as the passengers are tossed wildly back and forth, hanging on for dear life.

Taking that first bold step of faith is scary but God is with you through faith and fear.  When you are walking by faith, God is there to meet you.  When you are faced with fear, God is there to catch you.

Dare to ask God for the impossible.  What have you got to lose??

#makewaves #storm #stormsoflife #impossible #Godcandoanything #prayer #faith #fear #failure #bold #boldness #musingz4life #nothingisimpossiblewithGod #nothingisimpossible

 

How Fickle Is Your Trust in God?

dandy31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”  ~ Exodus 14:31

At the surface, this verse is about God’s incredible power being displayed against the Egyptians as God rescues His people out of Egypt, which inspires awe in his people as they put their trust in Him.  Upon closer examination, when you study out the history of Hebrew slaves after they escape Egypt, you will see that their initial awe in God was as capricious as the waves of the sea.

Is your trust in God as fleeting as beauty (Proverbs 31:30), strongly felt only under certain circumstances? What happens to your trust long after God performs the miracle in your life? Do you then forget God’s faithfulness and repeat your cycle of complaints as the Israelites did?

32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”

~ Deuteronomy 1:32-36

Trust = following God WHOLE-heartedly = Obedience without question

Despite God’s promises delivered through Moses’s mouth, the Israelites still did not trust. God tried to show them the way to go. God tried to guide them, but as stubborn sheep, they refused to follow.

Is there anything you’re UNWILLING to do right now (e.g., relocate, let go of a relationship even though you know it’s bad, repent of a certain sin that you keep repeating, etc.)?

Imagine this: some random guy, who appears out of nowhere, promises to deliver you and your people out of slavery, and leads you into the wilderness where there are no amenities. He also claims to be sent by God and if you want out, you’d better follow his lead.

The Israelites felt extremely vulnerable in the wilderness. Even though their situation in Egypt was bad, it was what they were familiar with. They had grown comfortable with their Egyptian master’s harshness and cruelty. Day and night the Hebrew slaves cried out for deliverance and when God finally delivered them, they certainly did not expect the wilderness.

The Hebrew slaves depended on their masters for food and shelter. Now, they had to depend on their Invisible Master who used Moses to lead them. And they didn’t really know Moses — after all, he was MIA for 40 years before God called him to go back to Egypt to lead His people!

As hard as it sounds to follow a random man who claims he will deliver you, God demonstrated numerous miracles for the Israelites that Moses was their chosen leader.  Witnessing this man depart the Red Sea and watching the ocean wipe away the millions of chariots, warriors and horses was not a big enough sign that this man came from God. They still wanted more.

We are not that different from the Israelites. We still forget God’s faithfulness and then we complain. How quickly we forget!

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9

We fervently beg God day and night to be delivered out of a bad situation, but when we are called to step out of our comfort zone and be vulnerable and naked before God, we don’t really “see” the deliverance, but only our apparent lack of resources.  To me, being vulnerable means that I have to constantly rely on God for support because I don’t know where my resources will come from.

Is there an area in your life that never works out no matter what solution you try?

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundation of the earth…?” ~ Isaiah 51:12-13

At the end of the day, all God wants is for us to trust in Him, no matter what is going on in our lives.  He may have delivered you out of a bad situation into something totally unexpected (and undesirable), but you never know what God is doing for your benefit.  Look at the evidence of miracles in your life.  Would God bring you this far only to disappoint you in the end?

#trust #pray #musingz4life

 

Nothing Breaks You Like Being in Need

graceIf I had never been in need, I would never feel the compassion that I do now for others who are in need. As a young woman, I was very independent, self-sufficient and emotionally distant. I expected everyone to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps because that’s what I had to do for myself. With no one to guide me since childhood, I’ve learned to navigate through life trying to survive the hell hole in which I grew up. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that if I fall or if anything happened to me, I had no family members who would offer support. I have nothing to fall back on, so I HAVE to be strong.

This produced an arrogance in me that isolated me from others. It wasn’t the type that made me feel like I was better than other people. In my pride I was so self-deceived that I did not see my need for help so I never asked for it, because deep down I did not believe that anyone would want to help me if I was not their family member. This was the type of arrogance that sucked any compassion that could have resided in my heart, because I viewed others as “lazy” and “needy” if they asked for help. Therefore, when my turn came to be in need, I also viewed myself in the same way: needy, lazy and useless.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a hard worker and through the years I learned that when life deals you a bad hand, it doesn’t matter who you are — you have to humble out and reach out!  “No man is an island,” as the English poet John Donne once said. We exist in community, not in isolation. There are those who are naturally compassionate and nurturing, but for people like myself, we have to be broken twice — or multiple times — to get in touch with our sensitive side.

God calls us to be humble toward one another, to clothe ourselves with humility and compassion (Colossians 3:12).

“But those who suffer [God] delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15

Without suffering, there’d be no compassion. Suffering does not always produce compassion; in fact it can produce quite the opposite — bitterness — and in my case there was lots of it!  When you stick with God, however, and allow Him to work on your heart through times of affliction, only He can uproot that bitterness and turn you into someone better.

You can probably help someone in need if you have the means and resources, but if you’ve never been in their shoes, an element of humanity might be missing. When we allow ourselves to feel our need for help (i.e., admit feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, financial straits, etc.), we will appreciate the assistance a lot differently when we do receive it. In turn we’ll be able to help others more effectively because this time, we’d be seeing them with different eyes.

#compassion #LoveLikeJesus #humility #dontbetooproud #prideisolates #nomanisanisland #musingz4life

An Open Door No One Can Shut

open-door“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” ~ Isaiah 22:22

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” ~ Rev 3:8

 

If God has something in store for you, no forces in hell or heaven can stop it.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13

God’s will + your efforts = unstoppable

“…because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 16:9

No opposition can shut the door that God holds open for you.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19:21

God’s will prevails.

Do not worry about your future. What’s meant to take place will take place!

It’s not the walk but the way you walk that will determine if you receive what’s meant for you. Example: The Promised Land was given to the Israelites but they had to pass through the wilderness. They lacked so much faith and provoked God to anger again and again that only 2 people made it to the Promised Land. Not even Moses himself made it!

#GodsWill #fate #destiny #QueSeraSera #sovereignwill #meanttobe #dontworry #opendoor #musingz4life