Category Archives: Dependence on God

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

 

Fear of Man Proves to Be a Snare

lionOn a conscious level, many people take pride in the fact that they don’t really care what other people think of them.  Their opinions don’t define them; they live freely as they choose, and they walk confidently forward on any path they take.  I believe, though, that deep down inside we are all the same – we do care how others think of us, and other people’s opinions of us can drive us to do things that we ordinarily wouldn’t do in our right mind.  Sometimes, our perceptions of others shape how we think we’re perceived, and we act accordingly even if it’s not based on fact or truth.

To a certain extreme, we can allow other people’s opinions to hold us back from doing what we should do.  For example, have you ever felt “trapped” because you want to stand up for yourself but you’re too afraid of sticking out like a sore thumb or becoming a “nag” to other people?  You allow your fear of man to ensnare you in a pit of passivity – you know what you ought to do, but you don’t do it because you’re afraid.

Fear is a normal part of life.  Everyone feels it, but it is the courageous that feel the fear and still move forward in spite of it.  How much does fear rule your life?  If you’re not sure, count the number of times per day that you hesitate from doing/saying something due to a reason related to what others may think of you.  Do you live fearlessly or do you live in your own cage like a tamed lion?

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

What does it mean to NOT fear man?

  • You will live boldly and confidently, because you know your identity is found in Christ.
  • You will entrust the outcome of your words and actions in God’s hands.
  • God is your security and safety net.
  • You will not back down if someone treats you unfairly.
  • You will humbly stand up for yourself without being demanding.
  • You will take on Jesus’s spirit of humility in the face of opposition or undeserved treatment.
  • God’s opinion of you far outweighs what people think of you.
  • You don’t feel trapped by virtue of your own thoughts or perceived reality.
  • You lean more on God’s Word than your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

Being bold as a lion is about fearing God above all things, and then your fear of man’s opinions of you will subside.

#bold #courage #fearless #fearGod #musingz4life #fearofman #snare #trap

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

 

Following God unto Unknown Tomorrows

transform“Everywhere, people wish to be settled, but Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us that only insofar as we are unsettled is there any hope for us,” said Pico Iyer, essayist for Time magazine and professor at Chapman University, in one of his Ted Talks.

I can speak from personal experience that feeling unsettled is one of the most uncomfortable experiences of humanity.  One wanders the earth in search for a place called home, and it could be in the form of a relationship, a safe haven where we reside, or a community group such as a church or common interest group.  We cannot stop until we find something in which we can anchor our soul, and unfortunately sometimes we anchor our souls in transient things rather than the Eternal.

There is nothing greater than putting your hope in God, the Overseer of our souls.

“The Lord is good and does what is right.  He shows the proper path to those who go astray.  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.  The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his commands.” ~ Psalm 25:8-10

The mark of a believer is his ability to follow God’s lead, especially unto areas of the unknown such as his future – whom he will marry, where his career path will go, and if he will have children.  The future is scary, and if things haven’t been going as planned, the unknown seems full of darkness, uncertainty and gloom.

We can use this time of uncertainty to draw close to God, for “[m]ost of the time we’re in the dark, and that’s where real intimacy lies,” as Mr. Iyer put it.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4

As we move forward to the future every time we wake up, we get an opportunity to start fresh with God as our Shepherd.  Even in dark valleys, you do not need to fear what will happen to you because God is right there with you, walking beside you, comforting you with His staff, which for us today is the Word of God.

“You are my strength, I watch for you; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” ~ Psalm 59:9-10

If you have been disappointed many times by others, it’s understandable that your ability to trust in God may also be shaken because you can’t really see Him and you’re not really sure if He will come through for you.  However, the scriptures testify that God is indeed reliable, and if you put your trust in Him, you will not be disappointed.

“To You they cried out and were delivered.  In You they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalm 22:5 (NASB)

Nestled in our comfort zones, we don’t fully know who we are until we’re pushed unto the darkness where knowledge gives out.  When you don’t know what to do next, do you rely on your own understanding or do you pray and let God lead you?

Self-described as a full-time writer for the past 30 years, Pico Iyer said that the one thing he’s learned is this: “Transformation comes when I’m not in charge…We’re reminded of the first law of travel and, therefore, of life: You’re only as strong as your readiness to surrender.”

#trust #surrender #followGod  #picoiyer #tedtalk #wisdom #prayer #Christ #knowledge #ignorance #illusionofknowledge #relyonGod

The Difference between Desperation and Desire

boiling-waterHave you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it? How badly would your faith be shaken if you didn’t receive it in one, five or twelve years?  In the story of the Bleeding Woman (Luke 8:43-48), we see an example of a woman who was determined to get what she wanted.

Backstory of the Bleeding Woman

 “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”  Luke 8:43

All we know about this woman is that she had been suffering for 12 years before Jesus came to the scene.  If you have a loved one who has been suffering from a terrible illness for which the doctors have not found a cure, or for which certain medications/surgery would not be an option because of comorbid conditions, you know the frustration of hopelessness and despair.  Yet the woman did not give up hope.

Amidst the crowds, Jesus felt her desperation.

The woman didn’t just desire to be healed.  She was desperate to be healed!  When Jesus came, she was so determined to meet him because she knew in her heart of hearts that He was the only one who could heal her.  Nothing was going to stop her – no sardine-packed crowd, no doubt, no hesitation, no one’s opinion – she was adamant about getting through to Jesus for His healing power.  Amidst the crowd that was packed so tightly that no one could breathe, this woman reached out and her faith made Jesus turn His head.

The difference between desire and desperation is determination.

When you’re desperate for something, there’s a sense of urgency that propels you toward your goal.  The crowds who surrounded Jesus wanted to meet Him, so they followed Him wherever He went, but this woman cut through the masses and made Jesus notice her.  They say that the difference between a winner and a loser is one’s character that will carry one through. Why does one achieve his goal while the other one doesn’t? Character.

  Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

You achieve character first through suffering, then perseverance, and then you get hope from the character that’s forged within you.

“A sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4

Waiting is part of that diligence. But what about faith?

Without faith, people give up, and therefore they allow their character to soften instead of fervently relying on God.  How long will you wait before you receive the desire of your heart?

I cannot even fathom what it’s like to be in the Bleeding Woman’s shoes, but I do know what it’s like to wait for something forever and never receiving it.  Oftentimes I wonder if I should just give up and chalk it up to “It’s not God’s will,” but if the Bleeding Woman caved into that kind of thinking, she would have never gone after Jesus because she would have believed that Jesus never wanted to heal her. 

Twelve years is an awfully long time to wait for something.  You don’t know the future; you can only hope for the best.  I wonder how many times this woman felt like giving up.  Will a miracle ever turn up?  Will the suffering ever stop?  Waiting year after year, waiting in the dark, not knowing the future – that does something to your soul.  In my despair, many times I have “surrendered” my desires to God with a hint of unbelief.

Will you surrender your desire to God with a spirit of resignation, or will you, like the Bleeding Woman, fight with urgency and desperation to get God’s attention?

#nevergiveup #faith #prayer #determination #God #Jesus #character #hope #perseverance #persistence #healing #miracles #fightofthefaith #keepupthegoodfight #musingz4life #dependonGod

How to Keep Asking When the Answer Is “No”

dont-downgradeWhen the answer is “no,” do you give up or keep going?

Rejection is one of the main sources of angst for most people. They get so caught up in their frustration with the results that they don’t see past the present moment. Instead of knocking on more doors or trying a different course of action, they dwell on feelings of defeat and continue on a downward spiral of rationalizations about why they “can’t do it.”

Let’s examine, first of all, the reasons why people give up. The following list was derived and adapted from another blog post:

Top 10 Reasons Why People Give Up

  1. “You can’t do it!” If you have been told that over and over, you begin to believe it and internalize it as though it were truth.
  1. Your life is already good enough. You don’t want to leave your comfort zone.
  1. Lack of self-confidence. You shoot yourself in the foot before anyone else does.
  1. Lack of focus. You get too easily distracted by social media, phone calls, etc. that you lose focus and forget to go after your goals.
  1. You don’t see immediate results. We live in an age of immediate gratification but real results require real persistent, consistent and diligent effort.  Long-lasting results are not produced overnight.
  1. Lack of motivation, enthusiasm and inspiration. When things slow down and are not going as smoothly as you thought, it’s tempting to lose motivation.  Remember your initial zeal and passion when you started your project.  Don’t let your fire die out but keep it going until you bring it to completion and fruition.
  1. It’s not your dream. Have you been trying to make someone else’s dream happen rather than following your own passion?
  1. You miss your comfort zone. Remember what initially prompted you to step out of your comfort zone.  Don’t live a life of stagnation and mediocrity.
  1. People think it’s a stupid idea! Don’t let other people’s opinions sway you. 
  1. You think it should be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, but the sacrifices you make will be worth it in the end.

What do we gain from giving up? Do we just chalk it up to “It was not God’s will,” or do we keep on going?

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Feeling depressed and alone? Afraid to move forward

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 – Emphasis on “at the proper time.” God only knows when that time will be, but the harvest will be plentiful if you don’t give up.

Imagine the harvest that nine celebs would have missed out on if they gave up too soon!  Click here to read their full biographies.  Here’s a little excerpt:

  • JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, was on government aid and was so poor she could barely feed her baby before she got her big break
  • Stephen King lived in a trailer with his wife and they were so poor they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and they couldn’t afford a phone
  • Jim Carrey bombed his first stand-up gig but remained determined to cash in on his dream. He wrote himself a fat check and visualized his success every single day and night until he fulfilled his dream.
  • Tyler Perry was physically and sexually abused as a child, and he attempted suicide twice. In 2011, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment.  Tyler is a big-time overcomer!!

Even when the odds are stacked up against you, God can still make it happen. Nothing will be impossible for you, as long as you trust in God who makes all things possible.

“With man this is impossible but not with God. All things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

#persevere #persistence #PersistencePaysOff #trustGod #NothingIsImpossible #believe #musingz4life #faith

 

Taken for Granted

gods-handsIt’s easy to take people for granted after you’ve known them for a while.  The initial excitement of a new friend or lover wears off after a few months.  The term “Seven Year Itch” refers to the decline in happiness around the seventh year of marriage, but most people I have talked to these days have never had relationships that even made the five-year mark, let alone a year or two!  Divorce rates in Christian marriages continue to skyrocket.  If we cannot fathom what perseverance means in a marriage to another human being whom we can see, how can we understand perseverance in a relationship with God whom we cannot see?

Look at how God pursues us:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me
to my very face…”

 ~ Isaiah 65:1-3

All day long, God holds out His hands to a people who continually reject Him and choose to pursue their own imagination.  I’m not referring to imagination as in terms of delusions, but it’s more like dreaming of your future without including God in your plans.  When you plan for the next 30, 40 or 50 years until you die, do you consider how your life could glorify God in ever-increasing measure, or is it all about you?  God looks for you even though He never crosses your mind for a millisecond.

 11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord
    and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

~ Isaiah 65:11-12

 How about those who have already tasted the goodness of God and still choose to forsake Him?  Forsaking God is not an overnight process.  It varies for everyone, depending on how much one compromises with evil.  The more you compromise, the faster and easier it becomes to backslide.

 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

 ~ Matthew 13:3-9

 Some who come to the faith last a short time, while others last a very long time and then they fall away.  Very few last until they breathe their last, and that’s why the scriptures say that the road to destruction is wide but the gate to heaven is narrow (Matthew 7:13).  God reaches out to us every single day.  He reaches out to people who don’t know Him yet and extends the same to those who already have a relationship with Him.  Walking with God means having a loving relationship with Him, not only “till death do we part” but for eternity after death.

Have we taken God for granted and chosen the wider path, or will we pray and ask God for help to be obedient so we can stay on the road less traveled?

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome.”   

1 John 5:3

#NarrowPath #PleaseGod #love #obedience #musingz4life