Category Archives: Belief

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

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

Refusing God’s Help: Humility or Lip Service?

wrongIn times of crisis, God will always provide a way out so you can get relief in a way that is still pleasing to Him. You have two options: you can accept help from God or you can get help from the wrong sources. Your intentions may even be in the right place, but if you’re resorting to unethical methods to achieve a result, your plan will often backfire, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

King Ahaz’s Story: A Message for Ahaz  (2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28; Isaiah 7)

Ahaz, King of Judah, heard that two nations were going to attack Judah. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and told Ahaz not to worry or fear “those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.” God promised that the invasion would never happen, BUT “unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm” (Isaiah 7:9, emphasis added).

God promised all this on the condition that King Ahaz stand firm in his faith. God even invited Ahaz to test Him: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want — as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead” (Isaiah 7:10-11).

Ahaz’s response sounded pious: “No, I will not test the Lord like that” (Isaiah 7:12), but his actions showed that he was just paying lip service. Instead of taking God’s offer to help, Ahaz turned to the gods of his enemies (2 Chronicles 28:22-23).

Reasons for Rejecting God’s Help

Today, we could make the same mistakes as King Ahaz did.

22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23)

Notice that Ahaz relied on his own understanding.  He turned against God because of his faulty logic.  Our flesh turns against God when we should be turning to God in our time of need.  In what ways do we rely on our own understanding?

Pride – Thinking, “I’m good.  I got this; I don’t need his help.  I can [do it/resolve my own problems/take care of it] on my own without anyone’s help.”

Low self-esteem – Believing you don’t deserve someone’s gracious generosity or kindness

Lack of faith – Allowing doubt or self-doubt to get in the way of belief

In my life, I have observed that God sometimes offers His help through people without my asking; other times I had to ask and cry out to God and wait for Him to come to the rescue.  God always delivers if you trust Him, but as Isaiah 7:9 states, unless your faith is firm, no one can make you stand firm.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Isaiah 30:18

#deliverance #Godrescues #trust #faith #prayer #seekGod #musingz4life #Godhelps

 

Trusting God: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

promiseWhen you say you trust God, how do you really know you trust Him?  Church is like a school where you learn all the theories about trust, and life is the school of application where you put these theories to the test. The true litmus test is when you are called to put God first even when it conflicts with your personal agenda and/or it makes no sense at all.

Look at the areas where you wish you had more success. Are you putting God first in those areas?  Consider the following scenarios:

Marriage

  • Fighting with your spouse all the time
  • Not applying scriptures to your marriage, such as submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) or considering your partner better than yourself (Philippians 2:3-5)
  • Not spending enough time praying together
  • Neglecting your spouse
  • Nagging your spouse

Career

  • Putting in overtime hours instead of spending time with family
  • Missing church services for work
  • Calling in “sick” when you just want the day off
  • Being dishonest in your work habits
  • Compromising your work ethics

Money

  • Spending money on yourself rather than tithing
  • Anxiety and worry instead of trusting in God’s provision
  • Harboring the wrong perspective about tithing (i.e., “the church is run like a business”; “all they want is my money”; “who knows where all the money is going?” etc.)
  • Living beyond your means
  • Choosing between paying bills and tithing (oftentimes, we pay “bills” outside of utilities and rent that we don’t really need to pay)

 Health

  • Neglecting self-care
  • Weak boundaries between self and others
  • Lack of exercise and a good diet
  • Shouldering all your stress instead of casting your anxiety upon God (1 Peter 5:7)

 Relationships

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places
  • Compromising your sexual purity
  • Linking up with non-Christians who can turn your heart after other gods
  • Marrying a believer too quickly as a gateway to guilt-free sex

As you may recall, Abraham went through a series of tests, from uprooting his whole life to an unknown land to sacrificing his firstborn, for whom he waited 25 years.

“By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later call his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

By faith, will you still obey even if you don’t know what will happen tomorrow?

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…” Hebrews 11:17

Do you embrace God’s promises when you need to make the tough (and righteous) decisions?

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

In the verse prior to this, the Scripture says if Abraham was justified by works, he’d have something to boast about.  If we were brought up in a household where we only received recognition when we did well in school, it would be tempting to get validation from our acts of obedience.  We’d only feel like “good Christians” if we are 100% obedient, never straying, never deviant from the Word.  We can point to our acts of obedience and say, “Look, God! Look at all the things I’ve done for you and all the ways I served!”

But time and time again, the Scripture highlights Abraham’s faith.

If faith is not the primer for your obedience, you will become short-sighted and blind (2 Peter 1:9). You will grow spiritually weary and lose sight of what’s truly meaningful.

In closing, I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

#Godspromises #promisesthatneverfail #Christ #trustGod #musingz4life #obedience #faith #belief

Meant for Greater Things

“Righteousness guards the man of integrity but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” Proverbs 13:6

Definition of overthrow:  “Remove forcibly from power”

Synonyms: depose, topple, oust, displace, dethrone

The definition and synonyms imply that there was a position of authority and power from which one is ousted when sin reigns in one’s life.

Jesus spoke of this authority that He gave to us (his disciples and future generations of believers):

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.Luke 10:19

We may treat sin lightly, saying to ourselves, “Oh that was just a white lie — completely harmless!” or “Who’s gonna know?” However, when we practice sins such as those  mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, fully knowing what we’re doing yet dismissing the gravity of sin in God’s eyes (Isaiah 59:1-2), not only are we endangering ourselves eternally but we also forfeit the power we could have on earth.

Jesus promises that you could do great things — even greater things than He did:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” John 14:12 (emphasis added)

In Christ, you have the authority to overcome evil and to help turn others to God. Why forfeit that power and jeopardize everything you have here on earth and your eternal future?

#holiness #reign #Christ #power #authority #musingz4life #righteousness #integrity

Abraham Believed…And So He Became

sec“How important is your faith?” asked Peter Garcia, Evangelist of the Lighthouse Ministry.  It is so important that “it defines you,” and that is exactly what happened to Abraham, commonly referred to as the father of our faith.  Today’s sermon was particularly powerful because, in my opinion, I don’t think that people have trouble believing – they just have a hard time believing the right things, especially good parts about themselves.  If you know the story of Abraham, the father of faith whom God exalted all throughout the scriptures, you probably have heard of his major mistakes and shortcomings, but it’s interesting to note that none of Abraham’s mistakes were listed in Romans 4.  Instead, you will find that Abraham focused on hope rather than his circumstances:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…” Romans 4:18 (emphasis added)

Putting your faith in God is more than just positive thinking.  It enables the impossible to be possible.  At an age when Abraham and his wife were biologically unable to procreate, God enabled Sarah to conceive because Abraham believed.  Also, just because Abraham had great faith, it doesn’t mean he was blind to the facts.

“Without weakening in his faith, [Abraham] faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…” Romans 4:19

Abraham knew full well that his body was good as dead in regards to procreation, but despite the facts of his circumstances, he still believed that God would work miracles because of who God is.  Sometimes, when a breakthrough or miracle seems impossible, we have to rely on God’s character to carry us through.  Where are the promises?  They’re coming!  What makes you think so?  Because God is faithful.  Because He said so.  In the eye of the storm, God will carry you through.  It’s all about trust.

“It is what it is, but it’s not what it seems.”  This quote from the sermon reminded me of the many times when I uttered, “It is what it is,” after I threw in the towel about some situation.  When I felt hopeless, I accepted things as they are.  But they don’t have to be that way, because God is always working behind the scenes, and we, like Abraham, need to press on because things will get better and the blessings God has for your life will happen…if you believe.  I’m sure there are times when you look back in hindsight, you realized that better things were happening behind the scenes but you didn’t know it until you found out later on!  If you don’t give up, you will have the opportunity in the future to look back on your current circumstances and understand why things turned out the way they did.  How will you allow the scriptures to change your perspective about your current situation?  And how will your faith transform you?

#faith #believe #trust #miracles #transformation #musingz4life #secondchances #hope #promises

Nothing More than You Can Bear

god-in-a-boxHave you ever felt all alone in carrying your burdens?  You have no close relatives or life partner who will divide life’s burdens with you, and you feel stuck trying to figure out life on your own.  You sense a large cloud up ahead coming your way, as in the form of elder care or child care after a bad relationship falls apart, and you don’t want to overwhelm your friends lest they think you’re needy or clingy.  You are tempted to numb out and escape, or you can face it head-on with the resources (or lack thereof) that you have.  What should you do?

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

Run to God.  He is the Grand Chess Master who sees the whole board whereas you are just a pawn with a limited view of what’s around you.  When you pray fervently, He will show you where to go and what to do, and you will feel at peace if you trust that God will take care of everything for you.

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

Trauma, pressure and stress are key ingredients in a recipe for addiction.  I’m not saying that everyone will turn to it when they’re under stress, but statistics show that time and time again, the growing number of users reveals that people need to escape the pain they feel, so they resort to a substance or habit that’s short-lived and pleasurable to get through the day.  Without using, the pain is just too great that it overwhelms the senses.  God offers another alternative:  Himself.

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles.”  Psalm 34:17

When you read the scriptures, don’t make the same mistake I made for many years.  Oftentimes I’ve been told that I just read the Bible like words off a page without letting it sink into my heart.  When you read, make a decision to believe that these are actual words coming from God who is watching over you and is ready to help you.  Just say the word, and He will be right there by your side to guide you along the right path.

“For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” ~ Hebrews 4:2 (emphasis added)

How can the scriptures be of any value to you if you don’t believe what the Bible says?

“And [Jesus] could not do any miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  Matthew 13:58

It is entirely possible that your lack of faith is stopping God from doing miracles in your life.  Here’s a few more juicy scriptures to chew on:

In Matthew 9:28, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

In Mark 9:23, Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Jesus said, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

It’s not a question of what God won’t do in your life.  It’s a question of what you choose to believe.  Will you open doors with your faith and watch God work in your life?

#RuntoGod #addiction #stress #overwhelmed #musingz4life #pray