Live to Love

A number of months ago I was sending a text message out to a friend and I ended with “Love you!” I noticed that after I typed in the word “love” …I had actually typed in the word “live”.

Probably not much of a surprise since the letter “o” is sitting right next to the letter “i” in the keypad…and for those of you who may be wondering…it wasn’t an auto-correction. I had to take that off my phone because the auto-correction was auto-annoying! Never getting words right! Some of you may know exactly what I am talking about!

Well, after that moment, I noticed this switch in words happened quite often…actually every single time! …“live” kept appearing instead of ‘love”…so much so that I really sensed the Lord was trying to show me something.

I had to keep changing “Live” to “Love” and then it hit me one day that God created us…we are alive today…we are living today so we can love… Love God and Love others!

The passage in Matthew 22:36-40 makes this very evident. One of the Pharisees tested Jesus with the question in verse 36. The Pharisees, who had classified over 600 laws often tried to distinguish the more important from the less important. So this particular Pharisee characterized as “an expert in the law” asked Jesus to identify the most important law.

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus’ response reveals that if we truly love God and others…we will naturally keep the commandments.

As Christians, so many times we worry about all the things we shouldn’t do instead of concentrating on all the things we should do to show our love to God and to others!

Love is more than just a feeling…an emotion…an affection. Many people in society throw this word “love” around so loosely without really understanding and demonstrating it. Unfortunately it’s a big reason why so many marriages end in divorce because couples are willing to say they love each other to on another but don’t back it up with action.

Real love requires action and has a lot to do with sacrifice. It is a selfless act.

God clearly demonstrated the greatest ultimate love…the kind of love that no human can top…through His greatest ultimate sacrifice…sacrificing his one and only son’s life on the cross…for you and for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

John 3:16…one of the most well-known Bible scriptures known by Christians and non-Christians…one of the most publicized scriptures at every televised sporting event…you can’t miss the guy holding up the sign!

Is yet a scripture that unfortunately many have overlooked and haven’t grasped…that the true meaning of love is sacrifice.

If sacrifice is a true measure of real love…how are you measuring up…loving God…loving your spouse…loving your children…loving your family (even your in-laws!)…loving your friends?

Is there action behind your “I love you” words? Is there sacrifice behind your “I love you” words? Or is it merely a feeling? Merely words?

Many of us are familiar with how the Bible characterizes love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Again, to truly express love as mentioned in this scripture…there must be action…the action of sacrifice. This sacrifice involves sacrificing our thoughts (what we really think)…our emotions (what we really feel)…and our will (what we really want to do). It is sacrificing our time, energy, and even money.

The Bible speaks of two types of love…phileo and agape. Both are Greek terms and appear at different points throughout Scripture. The Greek language also has terms for two other types of love…eros and storge…which do not expressly appear in the Bible.

Storge is an affectionate love, the type of love one might have for family or a spouse. It is a naturally occurring, unforced type of love. Some examples of storge love can be found in the stories of Noah, Jacob, and siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). While eros is important within a marriage relationship and is created by God (see Song of Solomon), it can also be abused or mistaken for storge love. The Bible is clear that sexual immorality (out-of-control eros) is a sin. (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)

Phileo refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy. The Scriptural account of David and Jonathan is an excellent illustration of phileo love. Agape speaks of the most powerful, noblest type of love…sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling…it is an act of the will. This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins. Jesus was agape love personified.

As Christians, we are to love one another with agape love. Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies. However, God commands us to have agape love toward everyone.

This includes those whose personalities clash with ours, those who hurt us and treat us badly, and even those who are hostile toward our faith (Luke 6:28, Matthew 5:44).

In time, as we follow God’s example of agape love for our enemies, we may even begin to experience phileo love for some of them as we start to see them through God’s eyes.
And so love…just like other Christ-like character traits…must be developed.

Developing the character trait of love will help us develop the many other character traits that are bound by love.

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

Paul says that we are to “put on” love…first and foremost…above all other virtues. Love is the binding ingredient for us to develop Christ-like character.

It’s like making a burger…you add ingredients like salt…pepper…garlic…onion…sweet n’ smoky seasoning (my personal favorite)…some bread crumbs…an egg (the binding ingredient)…to the ground beef or turkey.

The egg is what keeps the ground meat and other ingredients all together and allows you to shape it into a burger!

Without the egg…we have no burger. Without love…we have nothing…we gain nothing.

1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

We need to develop the Christ-like character of love first and foremost. And as the first commandment states…We are to love God first…We must learn to love God first. This how we will understand love and learn to love others…by loving God first!

Realizing that love is an action…love is a sacrifice…we can truly love the God who created us and love others…even our enemies…with the agape love we are to demonstrate!

We live to love!

Reflection Points:

  1. How do you define love? Is love a feeling?
  2. If sacrifice is a true measure of real love…how are you measuring up…loving God…loving your spouse…loving your children…loving your family (even your in-laws!)…loving your friends?
  3. Is there action behind your “I love you” words? Is there sacrifice behind your “I love you” words? Or is it merely a feeling? Merely words?
  4. What types of love are demonstrated in the Bible?
  5. How are you developing the Christ-like character trait love in your life?
  6. Do you find it hard to love your enemies…love those who have hurt you…love those who come against your faith in God? Do you demonstrate agape love

Action Points:

  1. Love is an action. Love is a sacrifice.
  2. As Christians, we need to develop the Christ-like character of agape love. This type of love is the noblest type of love. This is the way God loves His people.
  3. Developing this type of love, requires getting to know the One who created love and is our greatest example of love…God. Reading God’s word…studying God’s word…meditating on God’s word is the key to understanding what love is all about.
  4. Discipline yourself to spend time with God on a daily basis…reading His word and praying.
  5. Begin to see ways you can demonstrate sacrificial love to your spouse, children, family and friends.

Refining Moments

As I was rushing to get ready for church recently, I began quickly grabbing my jewelry to add the final touches to accessorize my outfit. My eye caught…just a little longer than usual…the silver ring I had just slipped onto my finger.

This particular ring isn’t just an accessory to me. It has great sentimental value as it belonged to my mother who passed away 5 years ago.

And just maybe the actual day of her death just a few days prior had prompted my sudden emotions at this moment as I reflected a bit longer on the silver ring. I had acquired most of mother’s silver and gold jewelry after her passing and cherish it very close to heart.

Silver and gold…precious pieces of metal that continue to gain value in our world today. And with our modern technology who would ever stop to think about the time and effort it took years ago to refine these metals.

We live in such a modern culture where machines and computers have taken over that we don’t tend to hear much about silversmiths and goldsmiths these days. But the process of refining silver and gold is quite interesting and truly an art…and actually has some life application for us as well!

The silversmith and the goldsmith start their work with impure silver and gold ore. Through the refining process they extract and mold the pure gold and silver by removing all of the impurities in the ore. These impurities are referred to as the dross.

This process involves fire and the close attention of the smith. The smith puts the ore in the fire to burn out some of the impurities…then takes it out and shapes it…and then he puts it back in the fire. All the while he keeps a close eye on his precious metal.

The goal of the silversmith or goldsmith is to fashion and mold the precious metal until it is pure and shines bright. He heats and works with his metal until he can see his image reflected in it.

The word refine is defined as “to become pure; to become more fine, elegant, or polished.”

It is through this refining process that we can enjoy these pure…fine…elegant…and polished pieces of silver and gold jewelry that may have sentimental value to us and as women so love to accessorize with!

How about in your life? Have you ever gone through the fire? Maybe you are in the fire right now…

As Christians, we will certainly have moments where the heat is turned up in our lives….where the fire may seem so hot…where the challenges may seem to consume us…where the struggles seem unbearable. Because…after all…the Bible never said “if” we face trials but “when” right? (James 1:2)

We will have moments in the fire…and it is in the fire that we will be tested…Because whether we like it or not…whether we feel ready or not…life is full of tests.

Tests that will test our character…test our patience…test our loyalty…test our faith…test our obedience…test our faithfulness…test our commitment…test our love…test just about anything!

Just as the silversmith and goldsmith use fire to mold and shape their precious metals… It is in the tests…it is in the fire… that we too are molded…we too are shaped…we too are fashioned into the image of Christ.

It is in the fire we are tested…It is in the fire that we are refined. And God says…

I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. Zechariah 13:9 NIV

The Bible actually characterizes God as our Refiner…

For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, Malachi 3:3 NIV

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Malachi 3:3 NLT

There are some very interesting and encouraging points to note about this verse from these 2 bible translations.

First of all, He [God] will sit like a refiner…This is so significant because just as a smith will sit to refine his metal, God will sit with us to refine us as we go in…and yes through the fire! (through has much better ring to it than in…doesn’t it?!)

This clearly demonstrates that God will never leave our side! He is with us the entire time…no matter how hot the fire seems!

And to drive this point even further…The smith keeps a close watch…close attention…on the piece of metal in the fire to make sure it isn’t destroyed or consumed by the fire.

Wow!

So not only is God merely with us in the fire…God is also actively keeping a close watch…close attention…on us to make sure the heat isn’t too hot to destroy or consume us!

He cares so much for us that even though He may turn up the heat…He will pull us out before we are overcome by the flames. He is only interested in turning up the heat hot enough to melt away the impurities…to melt away the dross…to melt away those areas of our lives that may not be pleasing to Him…to refine us!

Can you see any specific areas God is trying to melt away and refine in your life?

We will have these refining moments in our lives…we will have many refining moments in our lives…Because God is interested in making us look more and more like Him. He is interested ultimately in seeing His image reflected in us…just like the smith knows his metal is refined and finished when he sees his image reflected in it.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 MSG

The following two commentary excerpts continue to paint the picture of God as our refiner even further…

He shall sit as a Refiner. Christ, by his gospel, shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it, shall regenerate and cleanse souls. He will take away the dross found in them. He will separate their corruptions, which render their faculties worthless and useless. The believer needs not fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Saviour refines his gold. He will take care it is not more intense or longer than is needful for his good. Mathew Henry’s Concise

As a refiner sits and observes his metal while it is melting, and waits the proper time to pour it out and separate the dross from it; so Christ is here represented as sitting, while his people are purifying and refining by the various ways and means he makes use of: it denotes the continued care of Christ over them; his eye is upon them, that nothing be lost but their dross and corruption; and his patience in waiting to be gracious to them, and do them good; and his diligent attention to the proper season of doing it; designing by all that he does, not their hurt and damage, but their real good, for he saves them, though it be by fire; and indeed every trial and affliction is for the purifying of their souls, and the brightening of their graces, and increasing their spiritual experience, light, and knowledge. Gill’s Exposition

I love this! Don’t you?

God doesn’t want us to be fearful or afraid in our lives when we go through the fire because…

With Him in control…we will not be consumed or destroyed.

With Him in control…we will not be left alone.

With Him in control…we will become more fine, elegant, and polished.

With Him in control…we will become more like the image of Christ…more like Him!

With Him in control…we will be refined!

So…Be encouraged today!

We will have refining moments…and the fire may seem real hot…but God the Master Refiner is in control…He will never leave you and will keep His eye on you the entire time…and in His time He will pull you out…more refined than you have ever been!

After all, God and His word are far “more precious than silver and gold” …even the silver and gold we so cherish and accessorize with! (Psalm 19:10, Psalm 12:6, Psalm 119:72)

Reflection Points:

  1. Have you ever gone through the fire? Are you are in the fire right now?
  2. Does the fire seem so hot that your challenges and struggles seem unbearable and ready to consume you?
  3. Can you see any specific areas God is trying to melt away and refine in your life?

Action Points:

  1. We all will have moments in the fire. It is important to understand God’s plan and purpose in the fire. That he is the Master Refiner refining you.
  2. If you are going through the fire…pray and ask God what specific areas he may be trying to melt away and refine in your life.
  3. Trust Him that the fire will not consume or destroy you. Trust Him that He is in control. Know that He will never leave you and is keeping close watch over you.
  4. Know that He loves you and cares for you so much!
  5. Rejoice in the refining process…because the result of this process is that you are looking more and more like Him!

Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me

There will come a time in all of our lives when we want to be comforted…whether we are currently seeking comfort in a difficult circumstance we are going through right now…. whether we are still seeking comfort in a challenging situation we went through in our past…or whether we will seek comfort in a tough trial we may face in the future.

Who or what do you look to for comfort?

Do you look to your spouse, family, friends, or church? Do you look to things in this world to comfort you like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs…even TV, social media, shopping or working out?

How about God? Do you lean on Him for comfort first and foremost or only after seeking comfort from other people or things?

Now I am not saying that people cannot provide you with comfort…because they certainly can…but why not go first to the source and creator of comfort?

The Bible is very clear that our God is a God of comfort….And not only is He a God of comfort but the God of all comfort!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

As I have been focusing this week on this truth of God being the God of all comfort, I was reminded of verse 4 in Psalm 23…which really heightened my interest and curiosity!

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 NIV

Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me… NLT

Your rod and your staff reassure me… NET

Your rod and your staff give me courage… GW

Have you ever thought…what is so significant about the rod and the staff?

I mean I have read Psalm 23 over and over again and even memorized it in Sunday school as a young child and never really thought about the meaning of the rod and the staff! Have you?

If you aren’t familiar with Psalm 23…it’s ok! I highly suggest you read through it as there is so much beautiful imagery of the Lord our God being our Shepherd.

This Psalm was written by David…the greatest king of Israel. And many years before David became king, he was a shepherd boy and tended flocks of sheep in the hills around Bethlehem…which FYI…was where many years later an angel would find shepherds and tell them about the birth of our Lord Jesus!

And so, therefore, David was very familiar with sheep…and just as he was a shepherd to sheep, he uses this imagery of the Lord as a Shepherd to us…His sheep.

So why exactly are the rod and the staff a comfort to David…and to us?

Why do they give us comfort, protection, reassurance, and courage as the different bible translations imply??

A better understanding and greater perspective can be developed by digging deeper into the Hebrew meanings of these two words.

The Hebrew word for “rod” is shebet and has the idea of a “stick”. It originally referred to a part of a tree.

In the Old Testament, the rod was used to count sheep (Leviticus 27:32).

The “rod” was also used to protect the sheep from other animals. The rod was a club about 2 feet long with a knob on the end of it about the size of one’s fist. It was used to ward off enemies such as a bear or a lion because with one quick blow you could put to death such an animal.

The “rod” is also described in the book of Proverbs for discipline (Proverbs 13:24).

This “rod” was the shepherd’s symbol of authority, power, discipline and protection from danger.

The Hebrew word for “staff” is mishena and has the idea of “something to lean on,” “trust,” or “support.”

The “staff” was slender stick with a small prong on the end of it which served as a hook. It was used to help get the sheep out of trouble such as when it was stuck in thick branches or to help get the sheep who wandered off. It usually came from an almond tree which was a tree that represented long life. It was very strong so one could lean upon it for strength and support.

The “staff” was the shepherd’s symbol of strength, support, guidance, and direction.

The same Protector, the same gracious and merciful God, will be still with him – leading him, guiding his steps, shepherding him, keeping him from evil. Thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff – i.e. thy shepherd’s crook, and thy staff of defence – they comfort me. They make me feel that, however long and however dreary the way through the dark vale, I shall still have thy guidance and thy protection. Pulpit Commentary

And to further grasp a greater understanding of what exactly this means for us…I think it is important to examine the sentence just before David describes that the rod and the staff comfort him.

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 NIV

Whether we are going through the daily challenges of life or walking though the darkest valley we have ever walked through…Jesus is there to comfort us with His rod and His staff. Jesus is with us to protect us…strengthen us…support us…guide us…direct us…and even discipline us.

Not only does He tell us to not be afraid or discouraged, but we can find comfort that the Lord actually goes ahead of us! Isn’t that what a guide does? As a guide walks with us, he also walks a few steps ahead of us.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

There’s more here! Check this out! In Psalm 23:4, David isn’t talking about just a rod and a staff…He says your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This is significant because David is talking about the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff! The Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff comforts us!

And what is the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff?

I believe the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff refers to God’s Word. God uses the Word as His rod and His staff.

Think about it…The Lord…our Shepherd…can use His Word in just the same ways as a shepherd uses his rod and his staff.

God uses His Word to protect us…strengthen us…support us…guide us…direct us…and discipline us.

What God does with His Word is very much like what a shepherd does with his rod and his staff.

So if we allow God to use His Word in our lives…if we read and listen to His Word and try to do what it tells us…God will not leave us comfortless. His rod and His staff will comfort us!

The rod and the staff…His rod and His staff…paints a picture of a strong protective Shepherd who we can trust to comfort us no matter how dark and how difficult our valleys in life may be!

Do you trust Him and His Word today enough to experience the comfort from the God of all comfort?

Reflection Points:

  1. Who or what do you look to for comfort when you are faced with difficult circumstances…past…present…and for the future?
  2. Do you look to your spouse, family, friends, or church? Do you look to things in this world to comfort you like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs…even TV, social media, shopping or working out?
  3. How about God? Do you lean on Him for comfort first and foremost or only after seeking comfort from other people or things?
  4. What is so significant about the rod and the staff in Psalm 23:4 and why are they a comfort to us?
  5. Why does Psalm 23:4 say your rod and your staff, they comfort me?

Action Points:

  1. Many times it’s easier to just to lean on our family and friends for comfort…and there is nothing wrong with that. But how much more comfort will we find if we leaned first and foremost on the source and creator of comfort…the God of all comfort?!
  2. Understand that the “rod” was the shepherd’s symbol of authority, power, discipline and protection from danger. In addition, the “staff” was the shepherd’s symbol of strength, support, guidance, and direction. This clearly demonstrates how the rod and the staff can serve to comfort a shepherd.
  3. Moreover, understanding that God’s Word is the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff we can receive the Lord’s comfort during difficult circumstances. We must trust in God and His Word. Trust develops when we have a relationship with Him and grows when we spend time praying and reading the bible.

“The Process”

Do you ever just dread “the process”? We live in a results oriented culture…We want results and we want them now! Don’t we? …I know I do!

And so what exactly is “the process”?

“The process” I am talking about can be defined as “the systematic series of actions, steps, or stages directed to some end result.”

“The process” can have varying time frames…

“The process” can be short but more likely too long in our eyes…

“The process” can be something we choose or not choose…

“The process” can make us feel weary and tired and even discouraged…

“The process” can make us doubt ourselves…and even God.

Life is full of “the process” and it certainly can be challenging!

Whether we want a project finished like remodeling our home…whether we want a particular season in our life to end like changing diapers! …whether we want just a daily task completed like cleaning our house with 2 active little boys! (Yes…that would be me!)…

We must go through “the process.”

And then there are those instances in life…where ‘the process” is more than just challenging…

“The process” is flat out hard and heartbreaking…like wanting a difficult circumstance in our life to change or improve ie. our finances, health, or relationships…

And yet again…we must go through “the process.”

Are you currently facing “the process” somewhere in your life?

Whether we have control over “the process” or not…we are usually looking, waiting, praying, believing or working toward a positive end result.

We may not celebrate “the process”…we may not embrace “the process”…we may not enjoy “the process”…but that’s not always a negative thing.

Whether we like it or not…“the process” is clearly in the backdrop of many end results.

We tend to look forward to the end…the final result…the ultimate goal…the finish line…

And not so much “the process” that we must go through to reach that final outcome…whatever it may be.

And so with our focus on the end…oftentimes…we tend to miss the value in “the process.”

It is in “the process” that we find “the purpose” ….God’s purpose.

We serve the God of “the process” the one who created and uses “the process” not only for our purpose of an end result…or a completed goal…but for His purpose…and His glory!

God knows the value of “the process” …so much so that the Bible depicts “the process” in the lives of many individuals demonstrating that our God is the God of “the process” and “the process” has a purpose.

Abraham, Joseph, and David are just a few who went through “the process.”

Abraham went through “the process” when he was promised by God that he would be the father of many nations but he and his wife Sarah were so old that having children seemed impossible. “The process” took 25 years from the moment God made this promise to Abraham to the moment he actually had a son named Isaac. (Abraham’s Story Genesis 12:1-25:18)

It was in “the process” that God grew and deepened Abraham’s faith.

Is God growing and deepening your faith in Him in “the process” you are facing?

Joseph went through “the process” that began when he had a dream at a young age that he would rule over his brothers. But before that dream came true, he was…beaten by his jealous brothers…thrown into a pit… sold into slavery…accused of rape…put in prison. “The process” took over 22 years when Joseph’s dream eventually came true! And guess what? (Joseph’s Story Genesis 37:1-50:26)

It was in “the process” that God built Joseph’s character…the character that was necessary to accomplish the greater purpose God had for Joseph…and the purpose that went way beyond Joseph and his family!

Is God building your character in “the process” you are facing?

David went through “the process” of being known as just a young shepherd boy…and not old enough or big enough physically to fight in the military.

However, David learned and developed the skill of using his sling shot to kill lions and bears to protect his sheep. And so “the process” brought him…at the very young age of approximately 15years old…face to face with the giant Philistine Goliath who he overcame and killed with just one sling…one stone…and one try! (David’s Story 1 Samuel 16:1-31:13 and 2 Samuel)

It was in “the process” that God developed this young shepherd boy’s skill and abilities to face and kill the giant Goliath and this feat was just the beginning for the greater purpose that God had for David…ultimately as a king!

Is God building your skills or abilities in “the process” you are facing?

In the lives of Abraham, Joseph, and David, God had a purpose in “the process” …whether they knew it or not!

And so it is for us! God has a purpose in “the process” we too are facing!

For us… life as a Christian is full of ‘the process” as we face the challenges and difficulties that come our way…

But ultimately “the process” of becoming more and more like Christ…perfect Christ-likeness…should be our end goal…even though it will not come until the end of time.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

God doesn’t work in spite of “the process”. He works through “the process”!

He works in us and on us and even out of us so that He can work through us!

God will use “the process” to show you what He has put in you so He can use you for His greater purpose… because you just might not know what you got!

God will use “the process” to work on you to build your faith, character, abilities, and certain qualities in your life to have greater trust in Him and make you more Christ-like…because you won’t be able to grow and be strengthened in these areas otherwise!

God will use “the process” to show you what He wants out of you so you can then move forward to accomplish His plans and purposes…because God knows what’s holding you back…even if you don’t!

What is God working in you…on you…or even out of you…in “the process” so He can work through you…to make you stronger and more Christ-like?

There is purpose in “the process” and God will use “the process” for His purpose! Just as He did in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, David and many more!

Viewing “the process” through God’s eyes will hopefully help us and encourage us that we can get through “the process”…no matter how long…no matter how difficult…no matter how painful…no matter how tired we may be.

Viewing “the process” through God’s eyes will help us see the value in “the process” as God strengthens us in areas so He can ultimately accomplish His purpose through us!

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you currently facing “the process” somewhere in your life?
  2. Are you so focused on the final result that you are missing the value in “the process”?
  3. Can you see the purpose in “the process”?
  4. What is God working in you…on you…or out of you…in “the process” to make you stronger and make you more Christ-like?

Actions Points:

  1. If you are facing “the process” somewhere in your life right now, it is important…no matter how hard it is…to remember that God loves you and cares for you and has a plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. Remind yourself that Gods thoughts are higher than your thoughts and His ways are greater than your ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We may not always understand why we may be going through what we are going through but know that God has a purpose for taking you through “the process”.
  3. If you aren’t sure what God is working in you…on you…or out of you…pray and seek Him. Pray and ask Him to show you any areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him or any sin that may be holding you back from moving forward in accomplishing His purpose in your life. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Doubters to Doers!

We all experience doubt in our lives. When was the last time you doubted something…someone…or even yourself?

Doubt can creep in right after we make decisions…Did I make the right decision?

Doubt can creep in when we are trying to accomplish a job or task… Am I good enough? …or Do I have the ability to do this?

Doubt can creep in when we face struggles in life…Am I going to get through this?

We may doubt people, things, our abilities and even circumstances in our lives…

But how about God? Do you ever doubt or question God?

Doubt can creep in when our prayers aren’t answered right away…Does God hear me? …or Why hasn’t God answered me?

Doubt can creep in when we face what may appear to us as hopeless situations…Can God really help me? …Or Will God help me?

Doubt can creep in when we see bad things happen in our world…Why would God let this happen?

The word doubt is defined in the dictionary as “being uncertain about or lacking belief; distrust or questioning; lacking confidence; fear.

Even as Christians we can struggle with doubt. For some reason, we think that as Christians, we shouldn’t ever have doubt or that it is wrong or sinful to doubt…especially doubting God! We may have even learned that doubt is the opposite of faith and therefore, if we doubt…we have no faith.

And I can certainly see why we may think that way! After all the bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 as “being certain of what we cannot see”…and we just defined doubt as “being uncertain.” But check this out!

I love this statement made by Christian Theologian Paul Tillich…

“Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”

This is such a profound and eye-opening statement! It is stating that doubt is an element of…a component of…a part of…having faith!

Have you ever thought that? This is so significant because it shifts our perspective about doubt. And even biblically, we can see the truth in this statement.

God used many people in the Bible to accomplish great things…and guess what? They started out as real doubters!

There are many examples in the bible of individuals who experienced doubt…doubts in their abilities…doubts in their circumstances…and even doubts in God! Yet God not only chose to use them but accomplished great things through them…and through their doubts!

Abraham expressed doubt when he was told he would be a father in old age. (Genesis 17:17)

Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” Genesis 17:17 NLT

Sarah expressed doubt when she heard she would be a mother in old age. (Genesis 18:12)

So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master–my husband–is also so old?” Genesis 18:12 NLT

Moses expressed doubt when he was told to return to Egypt to lead the people. (Exodus 3:10-15)

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:10 NIV

Gideon expressed doubt when told he would be a judge and a leader. (Judges 6:14-23)

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” Judges 6:15 NLT

Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the LORD speaking to me. Judges 6:17 NLT

Job expressed doubt when he questioned God’s justice. (Job 7:11-21)

If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.” Job 7:20-21 NIV

Zechariah expressed doubt when told he would be a father in old age. (Luke 1:18)

Zachariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Luke 1:18 NASB

Peter expressed doubt when he questioned the Lord’s reliability and power to sustain him from drowning. (Matthew 14:30-31)

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:30-31 NLT

Thomas…and how could we forget Thomas! …The one even referred to as “Doubting” Thomas! He expressed doubt when told Jesus has risen from the dead. (John 20:24, 25)

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:24 NIV

All these individuals clearly expressed doubt…whether it was doubt in their abilities…doubt in their circumstances…or doubt in God and His promises. So what was God’s response to them?

God showed patience! God showed love and compassion! God showed faithfulness! And God used each of these doubters to accomplish great things…and used their doubt to grow their faith!

Abraham and Sarah became the father and mother of many nations and were blessed with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and even though he didn’t actually enter the Promised Land himself…the Israelites eventually did!

Gideon conquered a powerful army of several hundred thousand Midianites…with only 300 men!

Job was blessed by God in the latter part of his life by having his fortunes restored and receiving double portion.

Zechariah became the father of John the Baptist…who baptized many including Jesus!

Peter was one of the 3 closest disciples of Jesus and considered a model for Christians to follow. Jesus also called Peter his “rock” upon which the future church would be built.

Thomas is known to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India. Thomas was also martyred for his faith clearly demonstrating his devotion to Jesus.

Clearly we can see how God used these doubters to accomplish great things…And in their doubts…through their doubts…These doubters became doers!

Their doubts…as an element of their faith…moved them to greater faith!

Honest doubt is not a bad starting point as long as we don’t stay there!

And trust is the bridge we must cross from being a doubter to a doer.

What doubts are holding you back today? What doubts are keeping you from doing what God is calling you to do today? How does doubt play a part in your willingness to trust God?

Doubt makes us realize that we need to depend upon God…We need to trust God.

So we come back to the question…Why is doubt an element of faith? Because it propels us to grow in our faith! Doubt moves us to trust Him more!

Trust is the bridge from being a doubter to being a doer!

So how can we cross this bridge from being a doubter to a doer?

We must TRUST…

…In His sovereignty (Deuteronomy 4:39, Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 104)

…In His love for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:37-39)

…In His plans for our life (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 118:8)

…In His justice (Deuteronomy 32:4, Zephaniah 3:5, Revelation 15:13)

…In His faithfulness (1Corinthians 1:9, 2Thessalonians 3:3, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 119:90)

And this trust can only come from a relationship with God…a relationship that is purposeful in getting to know Him better…a relationship that pushes us to depend on Him and seek His will for our lives…a relationship that involves us spending time with Him praying and studying His Word.

One of the greatest things about our God is that He can and will still use us even in the midst of our doubts just as He did with these many individuals in the Bible.

Our doubts do not limit God from accomplishing His purposes. And instead God uses our doubts to help us grow in our faith! Remember this perspective…doubt is an element of faith.

Let doubt in your life help you move from a doubter to a doer…to accomplish and become all that God has planned for you…and consequently grow in your faith and trust in Him!

Reflection Points:

  1. When was the last time you doubted something…someone…or even yourself?
  2. Do you ever doubt or question God?
  3. What doubts are holding you back from doing what God is calling you to do today?
  4. How does doubt play a part in your willingness to trust God?

Action Points:

  1. Recognize that it’s ok to have doubts…but we can’t stay there!
  2. Begin to address the reason for your doubts…especially if it’s doubting God.
  3. Trust is the bridge that you must cross. Begin building your trust in God by strengthening your relationship with Him…praying and spending time studying His word.
  4. If you doubt God, draw closer to Him and depend on Him. Find scriptures that will speak to your specific doubts and pray that the Lord helps you move through your doubt and do the things He is calling you to do and be.

Knowing Him

We all have relationships in our lives. We have relationships with our spouses…our families…and our children. We have relationships with friends…schoolmates… neighbors…coworkers…and clients.

And in all of these relationships, we have different levels of intimacy. Some may only be acquaintances…while others are actual relationships. Some may be superficial …while others are more personal. Some may be strictly business…while others may be more casual. And some may be close…while others may be even closer and very intimate.

So how about your relationship with Jesus? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? If so, how would you describe it?

Is it really a relationship…or just an acquaintance?

Is it superficial…or more personal?

Is it more of a business relationship…you do something for Jesus and in return expect Him to do something in return?

Is it a casual relationship…sometimes you want to be with Jesus and other times you want to be left alone?

Or is it a deeper closer relationship…a passionate intimate relationship?

Wherever we stand in this broad relationship spectrum…It’s important to know that Jesus wants a close intimate relationship with us! Whether we may know this or not…we were created for intimacy!

You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. Isaiah 43:10 NIV

If you are Christian today and you don’t feel close or intimate with God…it’s not because He moved! It’s because we moved! We have pulled away for one reason or another.

Jesus says that He will never leave us or forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5)

We determine our level of intimacy with Jesus…not God. It is a choice. And it is our choice how close to God we want to be.

The word “intimacy” can be defined as “a close personal relationship; a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association.”

So check this out…this is pretty interesting! The definition says that intimacy is having “a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association.”

This expresses that there is an association between intimacy and knowledge. Knowing brings intimacy. So this therefore implies that “knowing God” is essential in developing and experiencing an intimate relationship with Him.

I am not talking about…“knowing about God”…but “knowing God.” Knowing about someone and knowing someone are 2 different things. Knowing about God does not bring intimacy…knowing Him does!

And the intimacy that’s created from knowing Him is a result of spending time with Him…and more specifically spending one on one time praying, reading and studying His word.

Just like in any relationship, the more alone time you spend with that person…..the better you get to know them…the more intimate you become.

In the Bible, at least 70 people traveled with Jesus when he preached but only 12 disciples were his close companions. And of the twelve, Peter, James, and John were closer still. But only one of these 3 laid his head on Jesus’ chest. One of these 3 the bible says is “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Jesus did love them all but only one of his followers achieved the highest level of intimacy.

Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” John 21:20 NASB

It was John! John achieved the highest level of intimacy with Jesus!

John spent much time with Jesus…John knew Jesus… and therefore John had a very close relationship with Jesus…John had an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Again…It’s not enough to know about Jesus…We must know Him!

So what exactly does “knowing God” mean?

In the Old Testament of the bible, the Hebrew word “yada” is used and translated in the English as the word “know” or “knowledge.” This Hebrew word has a much broader meaning than the English word “know.” The biblical Old Testament word for “knowing God” means:

To Perceive                   To Learn

To Understand               To Recognize

To Believe                      To Accept His Claims

To Conform                    To Be Willing

To Perform or Live         To Obey

To See or Experience

These words all come from the Hebrew word “yada” and hold important keys to getting to know God the way He wants us to know Him.

In the New Testament, the Greek words “oida” and “ginosko” are used and have broader meanings like the Hebrew word “yada” but in the context they are used in the New Testament, they also have the following additional meanings. The biblical New Testament word for “knowing God” means:

To Believe and Accept Jesus

To Know Jesus is to Know God

To Know Truth

To Respond in Faith

These Hebrew and Greek translations really take our understanding of defining “knowing God” to another level! “Knowing God” means much more than just understanding and learning about Him.

“Knowing God” is the key to experience a close intimate relationship with Him!

Today I would like to focus on the barriers that can hold us back from “knowing God” and experiencing this close intimate relationship with Him.

Before we can know God and experience intimacy, we need to first recognize if there is anything holding us back. There are several barriers that can hinder our relationship with God.

Barriers to Knowing God intimately:

1. Unconfessed Sin and Unrepentant Heart 

Disobedience is a major barrier because it creates distance in our relationship with God. We can’t have an intimate relationship with Him if we don’t respect His boundaries.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. John 14:21 NLT

2. Insufficient Vision

Lack of vision is another barrier. God offers us unimaginable love, joy, peace, and completeness through an intimate relationship with Him. And yet oftentimes we are satisfied with only being mere acquaintances.

God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Psalm 53:2 NIV

3. Lack of Belief 

Unbelief prevents us from trusting God and knowing Him intimately. We live in a physical realm and even though we cannot see Him with our human eyes we can experience the effects of His presence…and that requires us to have eyes of faith! 

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV

4. Preoccupied with Distractions 

Busyness can be a barrier to developing a closer relationship with God…even when we are actively serving Him. The story about Mary and Martha in the book of Luke is a great example!

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NIV

5. Spiritual Warfare  

As Christians, Satan knows he has lost hold on your eternal destiny so you better believe that he is going to do everything he can to prevent you from developing intimacy with God and fulfilling His plan for your life. And the previous barrier…busyness…is a great way for Satan to take your focus off God and distract you. FYI: A great acronym for BUSY is Being Under Satan’s Yolk!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

6. Idolatry  

Idolatry…anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our lives…is another barrier to knowing God intimately. God should be the center of our lives but we are often tempted to elevate someone else or something to that highest place of priority.

Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun, keep clear away from and avoid by flight if need be, any sort of idolatry, of loving or venerating anything more than God. 1 Corinthians 10:14 AMP

7. Lack of Discipline 

Many of us have the desire to know God and have an intimate relationship with Him but we lack the discipline. We aren’t disciplined enough to pray and read God’s word on a daily basis. Going to church and attending bible studies are great but will not create the intimate loving relationship with God as spending one on one time with Him…praying and studying His word.

The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4 HCSB

These barriers will prevent us from knowing God intimately.

Do you recognize any of these barriers in your life?

Interestingly, all the barriers that hinder us from knowing God and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus can be paralleled with the Hebrew/ Greek definitions for “knowing God.”

Unconfessed Sin and Unrepentant Heart…Knowing God means To Obey

Insufficient Vision…Knowing God means To Believe and To Perceive and To Understand

Lack of Belief…Knowing God means To Accept His claims and To Respond in Faith

Preoccupied with Distractions…Knowing God means To Be Willing

Spiritual Warfare…Knowing God means To Recognize and To Know Truth

Idolatry… Knowing God means To Recognize

Lack of Discipline…Knowing God means To Learn, To Perform or Live

God wants an intimate relationship with you! If you aren’t experiencing this intimacy, begin today to take the necessary action in developing and strengthening your relationship with Him.

The benefits of having an intimate relationship with Jesus are unimaginable! The amazing love, peace, joy and completeness you will experience in your life cannot be obtained by anything or anyone else in your life…only by “knowing Him!”

Reflection Points:                        

  1. Do you have a relationship with Jesus? If so, how would you describe it?
  2. So what exactly does “knowing God” mean?
  3. Do you recognize any barriers in your life that prevent you from knowing God and having an intimate relationship with Him?

Action Points:

  1. Understand that we were created for intimacy and that Jesus wants a close intimate relationship with you…not just an acquaintance.
  2. One of the best ways to get to really “know God” is spending one on one time with Him in prayer and studying His word. Begin developing a daily habit of spending time with Him. Practically speaking….get a bible you understand (My preference is the NIV Life Application Bible). Look to other resources that may help you such as devotional books and devotions that you can subscribe to and receive daily. This will result in developing an intimate relationship with Him.
  3. Recognize the barriers that may be preventing you from knowing God intimately. Pray that the Lord will help you overcome these barriers and to help you in seeking an intimate relationship with Him.

 

 

 

 

Gaze vs. Glance

When you drive your car…wouldn’t you say that you gaze out the front window and glance occasionally in your rear and side view mirrors? Sounds logical…right? Sounds like the instructions you were given in driving school…right?

Well, what would happen if you did the opposite? What if you glanced out the front window and gazed in your rear and side view mirrors? You would most likely find yourself headed down a disastrous road! …and most probably crash! Right?

And that’s what many of us do when we face problems in our lives…We tend to gaze at our problems…we tend to focus on our problems…which consequently results in us heading down a disastrous and sometimes deadly road…a road more often than not characterized by intense worry…fear…anxiety…and stress!

And have you ever found yourself while driving…glancing just a little too long in the rear or side view mirrors and when you finally look in front of you again…you see the car in front of you with their brakes on…and then you slam on your breaks?

That’s usually when we realize that we need to refocus our focus and keep our eyes on the road in front of us!

And that’s what some of us may need to do today…refocus our focus on God.

To gaze” is defined…“to look or fix your eyes steadily or intently at someone or something.”

“To glance” is defined…“to look at someone or something very quickly”.

Many of us have the tendency to gaze at our problems…and only glance at God. When we need to gaze at God…and only glance at our problems!

I was inspired this week by the popular devotional “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young and by our current women’s bible study called “Choose Joy” by Kay Warren…which by the way…I highly recommend both in encouraging you in your relationship with Jesus!

I thought I would share Sarah Young’s short devotion…. And if you aren’t familiar with Sarah’s writing style you will quickly notice she writes as if Jesus is speaking to you.

Gaze at Me; Glance at problems – THIS is the secret of living victoriously. Your tendency is to gaze at problems for prolonged periods of time, glancing at Me for help. This is natural for someone with a fallen mind living in a fallen world. However, I have called you to live supernaturally, and I have empowered you to do so. The Holy Spirit, who lives in all my followers, enables you to live beyond yourself – to transcend your natural tendencies. Ask My Spirit to help you fix your gaze on Me. Invite him to alert you whenever you get overly focused on your problems so you can redirect your attention to Me. This is hard work, because it is not only unnatural but also countercultural. Moreover, the evil one and his demons seek to distract you from My Presence. All these influences working together put massive pressure on you to pay attention to your problems – or else! So you need the assistance of My Spirit continually. Ask Him to help you deal with difficulties as needed, while reserving the bulk of your attention for Me – your constant companion.

I know that “Gazing at God and Glancing at our Problems” is sometimes easier said than done especially when we are facing difficult circumstances in life…whether we are dealing with issues involving our health….marriage or relationships…job or finances…or painful experiences as a result of grief and losses.

But as Sarah shared… “THIS is the secret to living victoriously!”

By gazing at God and glancing at our problems we aren’t denying or ignoring the problems we are facing…we are merely shifting our focus from our problems to God.

In the Bible, Daniel is a great example of someone who gazed at God…and glanced at his problems. Many of us have heard the story of Daniel spending the night in the Lion’s Den. If you are not familiar with this story…I highly recommend you read Daniel 6 sometime on your own.

To summarize, Daniel was sent into the Lion’s Den to ultimately be killed and eaten by lions as punishment for not following a decree that went out requiring everyone in Babylon to worship the king…King Darius. Well, Daniel didn’t worship the king…he worshipped God.

So he spent the night with the lions…and some say he slept with the lions all night. This is so significant! Why?

Because if Daniel had been focused on the lions he wouldn’t have been sleeping much! If Daniel was focused on the lions he would have been so fearful and worried for his life that he would have probably attempted to hide in the corner hoping the lions didn’t see him!

There are actually many pictures in books and paintings that depict this scene with Daniel in the Lion’s Den. And interestingly…many of these depictions show Daniel…surrounded by these hungry lions…not gazing at the lions…but gazing at God.

Daniel didn’t have his eyes on the lions…he had his eyes on God. He trusted God. And consequently…God shut the mouth of these lions and delivered Daniel!

When we gaze at our problems…they appear bigger…and we become more fearful…more worried…and more overwhelmed.

When we gaze at God…He becomes bigger…and we feel more confident and peaceful…and can actually sleep and rest…in the midst of our problems…like Daniel!

A great acronym for WORRY is…

W-Worry

O-Only

R-Robs

R-Rest

Y-from You

Trusting in God will give you peace…greater peace knowing that your problems are in the hands of someone who can handle them much better than you can!

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! NLT

What lions are you focusing and fixed on today? Are you gazing at the lions in your life or are you gazing at God…the one who has the power to shut the mouths of your lions?

Here are some great scriptures to help us focus on God…

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 KJV

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12:2 NASB

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3:1 NIV

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT

We need to gaze at God…and glance at our problems.

We need to magnify our Master…and minimize our mountains!

We need to focus on our Savior…instead of focusing on our situation!

We need to cast our cares on Christ…instead of our cares casting us down a road of worry…fear…and anxiety!

So how can we do this? How can we gaze at God in the midst of our problems?

1) Praise Him

When we praise and thank God in the midst of our problems, we shift our focus off of our problems…off of ourselves…and onto our God.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19 NIV

2) Pray to Him

When we pray to God in the midst of our problems, we are relying on Him and His power to help us and strengthen us…instead of relying on our own strength.

God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, No matter how desperate the trouble. Nahum 1:7 MSG

Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

And so it is when we gaze at God…and glance at our problems, we can experience the peace and joy that God has for each and every one us!

Reflection Points:

  1. What problems or difficult circumstances are facing today?
  2. Are you glancing at God and gazing at your problems…finding yourself fearful, worried and overwhelmed?
  3. Do you need to refocus your focus on God today?
  4. Do you need to gaze at God and trust Him more in the midst of your problems?
  5. How can you gaze at God and just glance at your problems?

Action Points:

Please review how you can gaze at God and glance at your problems. Begin praising Him and praying to Him in order to shift your focus.