“And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:15
Waiting is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but it is part of what it means to be a servant of God. Because your life is hidden in Christ, His agenda is what matters most. Because His agenda takes precedence over your own, waiting for His timing is as common as flour is for a baker. God has the arial view, if you will, and you can only see from where you are on the ground. Waiting is wisdom, My Friend. You would not want to rush what God is up to in your life or the lives of those for whom you have been praying. If the Almighty is not in a hurry, who are you and I to be in one? Ask the Lord to give you His perspective so that you can experience the peace that is also a part of being a servant of God. Determine not to be like the child for whom everything must happen right now. Exercise child-like faith that your Divine Parent knows what is best and that you can trust Him by choosing to be patient.
I believe that faith makes the Father smile. Because it is impossible to please Him without it (Hebrews 11:6) you and I can be confident of His pleasure when we put it into practice. So, how is your wait, My Friend? Is the Father finding pleasure in your behavior in your waiting season? I can assure you mine is not what it needs to be. I am learning that patience is in my best interest because it brings about the rest I am always asking God to give me—the growth too. Patience helps me slow down enough to savor where I am right now, whatever that season may be. It enables me to devote the needed attention to whatever God has placed in my hand at the moment instead of straining to get where I think I want to be. I also have to keep telling myself that if I choose to do today well, I will be ready for the day I have been longing for when it comes.
Pray with me: Father, forgive me for my impatience. Help me to trust You and to remember anew that You are in control and that this is all I need to know. Help me to be faithful in what You have for me to do right now knowing it is every bit as important as the thing I think I would rather be doing. Thank you that by your Spirit, I already possess the patience I need. Give me grace to allow its release in my life so that I can be pleasing to You in my waiting season. Amen.
“He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. ” 2 Kings 14:3
In some cases, it’s ok to be mediocre. No one can be the best at everything and some things are not important enough to deserve our energy and time.
Other things, however, mean so much that they deserve our utmost.
I speak specifically to your heart toward God. Today’s verse gives a chilling description of the heart of King Amaziah. At first it sounds like he was getting a glowing review: he did right in the sight of God. The description quickly darkens when it says he didn’t do right like his ancestor David, a man after God’s own heart. King Amaziah was satisfied being “good enough”.
Call me an overachiever, but I want to do more than just get by in my walk with God. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart. I don’t want there to be any area of my life that I am satisfied with the bronze or tin when the gold of knowing God deeper is available by His grace.
How about you?
When we start talking about being pleasing to God, the mind automatically looks at the mountain of times we failed before, but that’s not where we should focus. We must focus on the power God offers to help us persevere and overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
It begins with repentance and surrender. Are there morals you have let slip? Have you given up striving to hear Him say, “well done” because it seems nobody else is trying? The benefits of following hard after God far outweigh the “pleasures” of mediocrity. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
The cross was God’s way of reaching low to save us. Our best response is to aim high in pleasing Him.
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.” 2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT)
The apostle Paul was a jailbird of sorts. Imprisoned for preaching the good news, he did not let that discourage him. He just kept right on preaching while in prison. Can you just see him preaching to the guards chained to him? They probably worked in shifts and each time, Paul struck up a conversation with them and had compelling discussions about Christ. When life goes wrong for us, the temptation to allow that to discourage and distract is real. Satan is counting on it! Determine that no matter what is going on in life, you will not stop living for Christ and sharing His love and truth with others. Life is always going to be a combination of good days and bad, My Friend. Make up your mind that no matter what is going on, you are going to stay on the job of sharing Jesus with whoever happens to be in preaching distance.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
It is a rotten feeling when you fail, especially when you saw it coming, but chose to ignore it. The most natural response to personal failure is to either run away in shame or to minimize the truth of it. You may even speak brutally to your inner self and make dire predictions about your future. Add to this the voice of the enemy chiding you, and the misery can be unbearable.
Know that none of the above is the way God responds to your failure. Though you may feel unworthy of it, His love and grace are tender towards you. You may be disappointed in yourself, but God knew He would find you here and has been waiting for you with arms wide enough to hold you and your burden of guilt. Full confession is the best response–no excuses. Then, ask Him to restore you. He will show where you veered off course and empower you to win next time you pass that same spot.
Likely, you abandoned the very practices that kept you on the right path; go back to them. Only you know what those are, and if you have been gone long enough to have forgotten what they are, remembrance is only a prayer away.
Failure is not your identity, it’s only an event. Take God’s extended hand, ask His forgiveness, and get on with your life.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT)
I will never forget it. It was a spring day in my tenth-grade year and while walking home from school, I burst into tears. I remember sputtering and choking freely and having no idea why I was crying. This had never happened without immediate cause, and I knew there must be a reason for my tears. Scanning my heart and soul, the answer revealed itself: I was lonely. I had no friends and tensions at home were high. I was new in my faith with Christ and did not know a lot of believers. I was surprised that my heart could respond to something before my mind even knew why. I do not know if I said anything to the Lord about what I was feeling that day, but I do know that He heard my sorrow and, in His compassion, sent me what I needed. A lady at my church reached out to me, inviting me to attend a weekly program for Christian youth after school. This led to making friends who introduced me to other friends. Soon, I was serving at camps, going on retreats, and enjoying a fuller, more abundant life with people who shared my values.
Loneliness is not God’s desire for His children. There are not a lot of verses in the Bible about loneliness but plenty on how to prevent it. Think of all the “one another’s” in the Scriptures! I encourage you to be the cure for this malady in someone’s life. A phone call, a visit, or even a question they must answer with more than one word can unlock the door of loneliness so many endure. Make an effort to find out what another person’s story is, what impassions them, what they dream about. Our electronic culture makes it possible to “be around” without real, soul-nourishing interaction.
If you are the lonely one, the solution is the same, My Friend. Determine to give of your time and yourself to someone else. You will find the happy surprise that loneliness is overcome by giving to others what you need most for yourself. Whether you believe it or not, you are a treasure trove of valuable experience, laughter, giftedness, and significance. The lonely world is waiting for your unique light to shine, so shine it into someone’s lonely darkness. You both will be the better for it!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7
Just think of it, God bought back what you lost. The price was high (blood) but to Him, you were worth it. Oh, you know how unworthy you are of such grace and love, but that is what makes it so beautiful, isn’t it? Holy as He is, He was willing to condescend to rescue you (and me) out of a mess that He had no obligation to involve Himself in. His marvelous act of mercy says more about Him as a Giver than it does about the object of such beautifully scandalous grace. How can we render anything less than constant gratitude, praise, and service in the face of this gift we could never repay? How could any recipient of such rich forgiveness do any less toward others? Be careful, My Friend, not to allow your current crisis to cloud the bright hope your redemption locked in for you. Whatever life brings your way, your redemption through Christ means you can handle it (Philippians 4:13). God’s buy-back has a benefit package attached to it that means you are equipped with everything you need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3). Bask in His redemption of you today and share it whenever you get the chance.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30
Like an unwelcome guest, sometimes I feel this ugly emotion arrive in my heart, and I hate it so much! I wish I could say that I always squash it at the door, but that would be a lie. Jealousy, the green-eyed monster, has choked my joy more times than I care to admit. In my younger years, it was a stronghold that destroyed a friendship and threatened to do the same to me. I was naive to believe this spiritual malady would respond to just one visit to the altar. There were layers and crevices of this sin lurking in my heart that God’s Spirit would need to do multiple major surgeries to remove. It was a long and painful process, and I still have to do regular post-op checkups to remove ugly recurring polyps of jealousy.
Three truths have helped me gain control over this sin. First, the Lord reminds me that His plan for me is not going to look like what He planned for anyone else. It is unique to the gifts and calling He designed for my life. It is not a lesser plan, just different.
Second, He loves me. That sounds so simple, but jealousy has an accusatory twang that says God loves the object of my jealousy more than me. In my head I know this is a lie, but the heart has a way ofbeing slower to believe. God’s love for me (and for you, My Friend) is complete. His brand of love, proved irrefutably by the cross, means that jealousy is unnecessary. I have God’s full heart for all of eternity, and the more I walk in it and focus on it, the less of a hold jealousy has on me.
Finally, contentment is a gift that God wants me to give to myself. It helps me to focus on all God’s blessings to me. Contentment steals back time and energy that jealousy likes to burn. Shortening my gaze at what others have, contentment allows me to itemize the abundance God puts on my plate and inevitably to look up at the One Who provided that abundance with a heart of gratitude.
“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6
Sometimes change comes slowly, like when raising a child. You enjoy the gradual emerging of a beautiful person growing into adulthood and then one day you realize a new season and way of relating to this one you love is here. A bitter-sweetness tickles your heart as you accept that this change is a part of life.
Other times change blindsides and leaves you reeling. Stunned and unprepared, you try to get your bearings as you come to terms with the truth that things will never be the same again. What used to be takes on a hue of homesickness even though it may have only changed a little while ago. Sometimes tears accompany this change as you grieve a sudden loss of a loved one, a job, your health, or anything significant This is where your faith has a chance to shine as you search for a place to absorb the shock. Jesus stands ready to steady you, My Friend. He is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8) He will never forsake you, and His invitation to come to Him for soul-rest is a standing one (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 11: 28-30). Cling to the Rock of Ages as your world quakes beneath your feet and let Him uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Change can be hard, but do not fear, God will see you through this. You will come out on the other side even more confident that change is no match for the One Who never does.
“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Are you going through a hard time, My Friend? Perhaps you are grieving a loss or facing a challenge that could either stretch you or break you. Maybe you are struggling with a sin you thought you overcame, and you feel like you are starting all over again. Your heart may be heavy with worry over someone you love, and you are at the end of all your resources and maybe starting to lose hope. Fear may be gripping you now as you wait for a diagnosis or are living with one you dreaded. You might be just plain tired of nothing seeming to change, and you wonder how much longer you can hold up. This may be a season where there seems to be a parade of bad things happening one after the other.
Take heart, My Friend, it will not always be this way. Either God will change your situation or He will change you in it. The gospel puts a spin of joy and hope on everything, even your current hardship. Jesus said that once you invite Him into your heart, He becomes a permanent Resident. You are never alone. Though you may not feel or see Him, by faith, know He is there with you in your struggle. Ask Him to give you eyes to see Him. The fact that you are still in your right mind is proof of His power. You are not withstanding all you are going through without His help, so praise Him in this hard place. Remind yourself of everything He has said about Himself. Open your eyes of faith and you will see that peace is yours even when you don’t have all the answers.
Hold on, My Friend. God is in the same place He has always been and He is not going anywhere. If you feel distant from Him in your dark season, call those feelings the liars that they are and thank God that He is near. Fill your mind with His Word and your sense of distance will change. Trouble comes to us all, this just happens to be your turn. Determine to trust that God is in this storm with you, and He will not let you drown. You are not without hope, you are not without His strength to make it through, and you are not alone.