Tag Archives: Faith

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

Advertisements

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

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

 

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

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

 

Eyes on You

boat“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Have you ever avoided prayer because you knew it would push the pain to the surface?  Life can get pretty overwhelming at times, and when burdens overload our system, we shut down and life grinds to a standstill.  How does your body respond to stress?  Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms of stress:

  • Physical pain (especially in the neck and shoulders)
  • Over-eating
  • Depression
  • Crying
  • Negativity
  • Anger
  • Smoking (or other addictive behaviors)

The first step to responding to stress is changing the way you think.  When you feel helpless, when circumstances are way beyond your control and all you can do is utter, “God help me,” (if you could even mutter those words without crying) – look to the heavens and know where your help comes from:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

 Psalm 121:1-8 (emphasis added)

Crying helps and it’s good to let out the floodgates of tears every now and then, but the migraines that follow after an intense sob are very draining, and the sorrow won’t stop if your perspective doesn’t shift.  Recovery time is different for everyone; some can bounce back and go right to work, while others can spend half a day to days and weeks in bed, with no motivation or physical strength to get up and pull themselves together.

Shorten Your Recovery Time by Looking to God

My sub-heading was almost “Shorten Your Recovery Time with Mind Change,” but changing your perspective is only part of the process.  Looking to God will make mind change easier because, after all, you would be relying on God’s strength to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Let’s examine Psalm 121 again.  Every verse is practically saturated with God’s love for you.  He is with you from beginning to end.  He’s got your back.  He watches over your every move because He cares.  God will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life — your coming and going, “both now and forever more.”  Sometimes I jump wayyyyy ahead of myself.  I worry so far into the future about my family when I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow.  Anyone can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and all your stress would have been in vain.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Isn’t it true that each day has enough trouble of its own?  Do what you can today, and leave the rest up to God.  If you compound all the worries of the next 10, 30, 50 years to your shoulders right now, you will only add misery to your life.

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all….” Psalm 34:19

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (emphasis added)

Trouble is guaranteed.  Everyone has problems!  However, we can have peace if we put our trust in God, for He promises that He will deliver the righteous from all their troubles.  That’s a bold statement, but you will definitely experience a shift in your inner being when you start to change your mind about your troubles.  The only real long-term solution to your sorrows is looking to God and casting all your anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Accept, embrace, and cling to every promise in the Bible, because they are yours if you claim them.

#peace #Christ #prayer #trust #musingz4life #eyesonGod