Category Archives: Prayer

Two Kinds of Expectations

2

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

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

 

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

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