Category Archives: God

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

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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

 

Are You in an SWB Relationship?

relationshipYou’ve heard of the term “FWB,” right? As it relates to spirituality, “SWB” is “Saved with Benefits,” meaning you’re saved but there is no commitment to obedience whatsoever. On a personal note, I thought I had a great relationship with God but there were still some areas in my life that were not quite right.

I’ve had an SWB relationship with God — loving the benefits of being a Christian without much sacrifice or suffering. When I say “suffering,” I don’t mean external circumstances or the past over which you had no control. I’m talking about it as in suffering for righteousness because nine times out of ten, obedience does not feel comfortable and it sure feels like suffering when you are denying yourself from what your flesh really wants.

“For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:16

Think not only of Jesus’s sufferings but also of Paul, Abraham, David, Job and other heroes of the faith!  These men are great examples who took their faith to the next level.  Each one is known for his unique love for God but when you closely examine their lives, you will also see how greatly they suffered in order to stay close to God.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24

Intimacy with God requires giving up worldly pleasures for the sake of a healthy relationship with Him based on love and obedience.  No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  If you are not serving God, you are serving something else.

We may not always be aware that we have an SWB relationship, but one way I realized this was through a conversation with a friend.  After listening to my complaints and rationalizations, she pointed out that many times we Christians like the benefits of Christ without suffering for righteousness.  To be honest, this conversation opened my eyes to see the countless times when I rationalized my sins in my own head and with other people!

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  Proverbs 26:12

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”  Proverbs 3:7

If we are well-meaning Christians, I don’t think we are intentionally in SWB relationships with God, but sometimes we need a little help from friends (especially strong Christians) who will open our eyes to the true condition of our hearts.

#relationships #God #compromise #SWB #musingz4life #righteousness #holiness #obedience #love

Lifted out of Insignificance

strong“Think of what you were when you were called…” 1 Corinthians 1:26

Gideon’s Story

When God called Gideon, Gideon did not think very highly of his origins: “…but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). Talk about low self-esteem!  When you think about your family, are you proud of where you came from? When you were growing up, were you ever ashamed to bring your friends around your parents because of how you were living? What kind of foundation did your parents (or guardians) lay for you?

I think it’s safe to say that Gideon came from a “broken home.” He certainly was not proud of his heritage and not only that, he felt like he was the WORST person in his family. The black sheep. Have you ever felt like you stood out — but in a bad way — in your “clan”?

Your Story

No matter what kind of upbringing you had, God has amazing plans for your life. I love the phrase “against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” (Romans 4).  As you read on in Judges 6, you will see how God used Gideon powerfully despite the odds that Gideon had to face.

As the saying goes, “It’s not how you start but how you finish.” When God called you, maybe you were not influential or born into wealth or a great family. Maybe you were born with a set of hardships such as congenital health issues, poverty or an impossible relationship with a parent or sibling. You may look at the statistics and wonder, “Is that going to be my future?” However, if you stay close to God and allow Him to mold and shape you as He sees fit (Jeremiah 18), He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn (Psalm 37:6).

It’s natural to feel inferior when you feel like you were singled out to have all the odds stacked up against you. However, your success would bring more glory to God than someone who was equipped with the right parents, the right financial resources and social support.

The longer you stay a Christian, the more you will see how God has been working in your life so that others may stand in awe of your triumph over the odds. How will your story end?

“Your beginnings will seem humble; so prosperous will your future be.” Job 8:7

#God #significance #insignificance #Gideon #selfesteem #musingz4life #perseverance #humblebeginnings #glory #Godsglory #YourStory

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

Always at the Top, Never at the Bottom

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When Duty Calls

“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.”  Proverbs 16:26

Nothing motivates people more than necessity.  Some people find it natural to be ambitious, but for others, they probably would stay in their comfort zone until they need to step up to the plate.  The young pregnant teen starts thinking about her child’s future and decides to stay away from the party scene; the young dad-to-be pushes aside college education to get a job that will pay the bills and provide for his family.  The single working professional suddenly has to find a different job that will pay more because new responsibilities were thrust upon them when they have to take custody of a niece or nephew.  The divorced family man is faced with new caregiving responsibilities when his father had a sudden heart attack or his mother had an unexpected fall and broke a hip.  You find yourself in a position where you have to plan – and you have to think fast!  Life happens, and the last thing you want to do is fail.  How do you guarantee success when you’re making plans for your life?

The Way to Success

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

The first scripture that comes to my mind is Proverbs 16:3.  Whatever you decide to do, or if you are clueless what to do next, pray about it and take it to God.  Include God in your planning and thinking, and get as much advice as possible.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22

Athletes have trainers; gym rats have personal trainers.  Executive coaching and life coaching are booming industries because everyone wants to be successful at what they do, so why not apply this same principle to spiritual training?  Make a new friend with someone at church, someone whose walk with God you highly respect.  Make it a point to meet someone who is successful professionally and spiritually, and watch how this person relies on God for everything they do.  After all, I don’t know about you, but I am a visual learner, and I learn best by watching someone model what I think is success.  Monkey see, monkey do.

 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

— Deuteronomy 28:13 (emphasis added)

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God….

12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8 (emphasis added)                                   

One important ingredient to success is to NOT forget God in the process.  God is the One whom we should strive to please.  If God is not happy with you, you may not like the results of your life.  Am I promoting works over grace?  Nope I am not.  However, the scriptures are clear that when you care enough about God to pay attention to His commands and do what pleases Him, “you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”  When you are pleasing God, you are nurturing your relationship with Him.  In a marriage, you do things to please your spouse because you love your wife or husband.  How would this be different with God?  All the sins we commit, the “bad things” we do, hurt our relationship with God, so why do it?

29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.”

Deuteronomy 28:29 (emphasis added)

If Deuteronomy 28:29 is the antithesis of obedience, then that means you will be successful in everything you do.

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31

At the end of the day, God calls the shots, and He decides whether you will be successful or not.  As long as we recognize that our ability to produce any kind of wealth comes from God, we will see how much we need Him, and hopefully this will inspire us to honor God and love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.

#success #victory #plans #musingz4life #depend #God