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

 

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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

Are You Running the Race in Vain?

raceChristianity has often been referred to as a marathon.  Compared to sprints, marathons are longer and require that you pace yourself so that you have enough endurance and stamina to last throughout the whole race.  If you plan on being a Christian until you die, you most certainly have to pace yourself for the next 30, 40, or 50 years! In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to make sure that he was not running his race in vain (Galatians 2:2).  How do you know you’re running in vain?  We can learn a few lessons from our ancestors:

“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2

The only way to not run in vain is to turn away from your evil ways despite everything you’ve already done.  As Samuel said to Saul, “Do not be afraid…You have done all this evil yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).

Saul Didn’t Want to Wait (1 Samuel 13:1-15)

Samuel instructed Saul to wait for him.  Saul waited seven days but when Samuel didn’t come “on time,” Saul jumped the gun and did what he wanted.  Even after God took the kingdom away from Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul was given a second chance to repent when he was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites, but instead of following every instruction to the tee, Saul did what he felt best.  He even justified his actions and was thoroughly convinced that he was obeying God (1 Samuel 15:19-23).

It is totally possible to believe you are obeying God with all your heart yet still not be right with God.  Scary, right??  We are living in the New Testament times and Jesus’s blood has cleansed us of our sins if we put faith in His sacrifice.  The scriptures also say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  There is nothing we can do to earn salvation but Jesus’s expectation of our obedience is just the same as it was for the Israelites, our forefathers of the faith, in the Old Testament.

The Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land did not combine the message with faith.  Today, you can look at the Bible and think that it’s a bunch of fairy tales written by man, or you can put faith in the scriptures and believe it to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), thereby backing up your faith with action (obedience).

 What Lack of Faith Can Do

  • You can amaze Jesus with your lack of faith (Mark 6:6)
  • You can be your own miracle-stopper (Matthew 13:58)
  • You can make it impossible for yourself to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Lack of faith gives way to fear (Mark 4:40; Matthew 8:26)

Warning against Drifting Away

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3

No one is perfect.  Nobody’s going to run this race without injuries, pain or obstacles.  However, we have plenty of examples in the Bible that teach us so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes.  As long as we cling to Christ and allow the Word to cut our hearts, put our sins behind us and press forward to drawing closer to God, everything will be all right.  The biggest clue that will tip you off is when you want to manipulate the scriptures to justify personal gain instead of wholeheartedly obeying God with no ulterior motive.  If you obey God from a sincere heart, you then are not running this race in vain.

#integrity #sincerity #obedience #race #marathon #Christrianrace #musingz4life

Happiness Is Fulfilling Your Raison d’Etre

frankl“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.” Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist/psychologist, Holocaust survivor

We think we’d be happy if we received everything we ask for in life.  Living the American Dream means fulfilling your purpose and desires in this lifetime – landing the right career, marrying the right person, having the happy family in the right neighborhood.  There’s nothing wrong with the aforementioned goals, but the problem with it is that if you do not achieve a certain milestone by a certain date within your timeline, you could potentially set yourself up for misery.  Herein lies the danger: you don’t feel happy until you reach that milestone.

What happens in the meantime?  What if it takes so long to attain the goal that you begin to think it’s never going to happen?

Each human being has his or her own reason for being, but Jesus gives us the ultimate purpose:

 “[W]hoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom to many.” Matthew 20:26-28

With His own life, Jesus demonstrated His reason for being, and that was to serve others, not to be served.   

 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’” Acts 20:35

The everlasting cure to your current unhappiness is living for Jesus.  Serving the poor, helping the less fortunate according to your talents and abilities, and living to serve others for the common good will do more for your soul’s contentment than simply reaching the goals that satisfy you individually.

“For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:21

“No one should seek their own good but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

“Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” – Romans 15:2

“For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:33

There’s plenty of research to back up these biblical teachings.  In a TIME Magazine article, Jenny Santi wrote:

Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

Everybody who’s anybody in your life can benefit from a helping hand extended by you.  They could be your friend, a family member, a colleague, a stranger, an old lady crossing the street, the beggar standing at the corner when you exit the freeway ramp… If you make it your mission to serve others with Jesus’s best interest at heart, you will have a rich and satisfying life!

 “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”  John 10:10

#happiness #commongood #Jesus #Christ #musingz4life #serveothers #serve

 

Are You Extinguishing the Flaming Arrows or Holy Spirit?

holy-spiritIf some men in the Bible were referred to as “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:3), this implies that not everyone has the same measure of the Spirit.  In fact, you can actually extinguish the Holy Spirit after you become a Christian.

Do not quench/stifle/extinguish the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (I extracted 3 different verbs from various translations)

This command suggests that the presence of the Holy Spirit can fade away to the point that you no longer recognize His voice.

 “Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you are unable to accept my message.” – John 8:43

Definitions:

Quench – to subdue, destroy or overcome

Stifle – to suppress, curb, withhold, crush, or end by force

Extinguish – to put out, bring to an end, annihilate, obscure, eclipse, wipe out of existence

 

Before extinguishing the Holy Spirit, ask yourself if you are currently grieving the Spirit:

 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. – Ephesians 4:30

What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?

The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6 (Berean Study Bible Version)

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.  The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so… Romans 8:5-7

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13

Let me just say first of all that living to please God is not easy.  Obedience to the scriptures requires supernatural help, but that’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us when we are weak.  Obeying God begins with the mind; if you set your mind on pleasing God, the Holy Spirit will help you obey Him (which is why you put to death the misdeeds by the Spirit).  Have you ever felt that battle between your flesh and spirit, when you know you want to do what’s right but you do wrong anyway?  That is the classic struggle as described in Romans 7:7-12.  God understands our human nature.  But He always provides a way out of temptation and His Spirit enables you to obey the scriptures which go against the human grain.

Day by day, you have a choice – to live according to the flesh or to crucify your sinful nature.  Every day, you can choose to build upon the foundation of the Spirit or you can slowly extinguish the Spirit with your actions.  Every choice comes with a consequence:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  – Galatians 6:7-8

We are caught in the midst of a spiritual battlefield, and Satan wants your soul.  Until the day you die, he will continually fire flaming arrows at you, especially in the areas where he knows you’re weak.  You can shield yourself from the devil’s arrows with your faith:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. – Ephesians 6:16

It is with your faith that you can extinguish the devil’s flaming arrows — not just some of the arrows but ALL of the arrows!

How can you get more faith?

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

Keep feeding your faith instead of your doubts.  Keep digging into the Word, study out topics, ask lots and lots of questions, and surround yourself with people who will help you grow spiritually.

#faith #HolySpirit #FanIntoTheFlame #obey #truth #musingz4life

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