Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Comfortable Faith

   The word "faith" is tossed around a lot.  People talk about "my faith" as if it is something that they own or created.  Faith is a gift from God.  { It says so in Ephesians 2:8,9 }.  It's nothing that we concocted or mustered up out of nowhere.   It is given to us as a gift.  Now we do EXERCISE our gifts of faith, and they grow and mature.  We progress in being able to relax and be comfortable in trusting God in everyday life.  But we should all be reminded of the source of our faith : it is not in and of ourselves.
    Because of the way people look at faith, when they talk about "having" faith, they are oftentimes tentative or mysterious about it.   In their minds, it has a pie-in-the-sky, mystical quality about it.  They say, "I'm just going to have to have faith," as if that is a last resort or the very last option on our list.   It is unfathomable to me why people would go to every other resource or look under every rock for an answer to their problems, before calling on God.

   It's just a question of relationship.  Most people "think" they have some kind of a relationship with God.  But in times of trial or testing, they become tense and upset, and they cry out to a God that they really have never known.   God has provided a way to a relationship with him, and not a formal or conditional relationship, but one in which we actually become his adopted sons and daughters through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.  

   The title of this post is "A Comfortable Faith."  Jesus said that God would send us a Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, to dwell, or live in our lives.   It is definitely a surreal or metaphysical truth.  We do not understand the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That is, we cannot really explain it.  But he came by his Spirit to live within us.  We experience and know him. And he is there to comfort, encourage, teach, and lead us each and every day of our lives.

   It's funny how people don't recognize God in their lives, or look for a relationship with him, until they're suddenly in trouble and they have exhausted every single last option on their list.  They they turn and call on a God who they have never called on before.  My faith in God is not a "hurry-up-and-fix-it" kind of a faith.  It's a faith that daily believes that God is leading and guiding me, and has my best interests at heart.  It's a faith that knows that God cares for and loves me as his child, and has promised that nothing will happen in my life that he doesn't know about, and that doesn't have a purpose in his overall plan.  So when things come up that I don't understand or can't deal with, I know that he is STILL with me { he's been there all along }, and that everything will eventually work out for the best.

   When things are going well, we should thank God for it, and acknowledge his blessing.  But it's tempting to somehow think that when things go right for us, then somehow "we did it" or made it happen.  Of course, we put our energy and strength into certain personal achievements, but is our life something that we feel that we have manufactured or put together on our own?   God says that our earthly lives are fleeting and superficial.  So many times, we start thinking that we are invincible, or indestructible, when the truth is just the opposite.

    "Joy in life comes from trusting God."  

   I'm really glad that I have faith in my heavenly Father, and in his Son Jesus.  I feel sad for those people on earth who live their lives, in happy and sad times, without that knowledge in their hearts.   And it is not a fairy tale.  Not a made-up religious notion. It is a relationship that I cannot explain or see physically, but that I see the results of every day of my life.  It is a reality that we live by daily.  It is a relationship that is cherished and enjoyed.  And it is a relationship that will go on forever and ever.


PRAYER:   Thank you God, for the reality of your presence in our lives.  I don't understand everything about you..  aaah.. I don't really even understand your existence.  But I do HAVE FAITH in you, and believe that you are with me each and every day.   And I believe that when we call on you, you hear us, and are able to give us what we truly need.  Increase our faith, and bring faith to those that do not know or believe in you.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Redeeming the Time

   I’ve heard this phrase used so many times by pastors and teachers to symbolize that we mustn’t stop a moment to rest this side of heaven, because of all of the unfinished work that is left to be done in our lives on earth.

   It occurred to me that “God is not in a hurry”- most of the time, I see God working through “timely” and thoughtful acts and circumstances, not through “to-do” lists that are hastily accomplished and marked off.. or even left partially done.

   My concern lately is to be more thoughtful in the things that I do, to begin to exercise more wisdom and discernment in HOW I go about doing the things I do, and to ask His help in prioritizing my life.   I acknowledge that a lot of my life’s activity has been random and thoughtless, the mere “running to and fro” and actually accomplishing less and less.

   One version (NIV) translates the words “redeeming the time” as “making the most of every opportunity.”  Let's all seek and pray for each other to do this.
 "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,   
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
(Ephesians 5:15,16)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tween Times

     Many times, we catch ourselves in places that we desired to be, but not for an extended time period. A doctor’s appointment.  An unplanned conversation with an acquaintance or friend that drags on too long.  A traffic jam on a busy highway.   A relationship or a season in our lives that we’re ready to get out of and move on to something new and exciting.   Don’t you just hate these times? If we had planned to be caught in these types of circumstances for this long, we would have planned ahead and made preparations or arranged to have a “Plan B” in place.  But more often than not, we get in the middle of a situation, and neither know how to get out of it, or have any source of comfort or contentment to carry us on to its ultimate conclusion.

  I like to carry a book or a notepad with me when I am going to be in a situation where there may be some waiting time.  My first preference would be to get this appointment over and done, so that I can move on.  But sometimes there are just no good options or choices in a situation, so we make the best of it, sometimes enduring it more than enjoying it.

   These are the “tween times” of our lives.  The points of our journey in between Point A and Point B.  The places that we find ourselves, rather than put ourselves.   And even though many of us may like to plan our lives out in an organized fashion, these “tween times” are inevitable.   Our interactions with other people cause some of these times.  Perhaps a period of unemployment or transition to a new career.  Sometimes, it’s just the Stuff of Life.   They can become the grit and gristle that knaws at our inner beings, and cause us stress, anxiety, frustration and bitterness.

  People have referred to me before as an easy-going, laid back kind of person.  My exterior may appear this way, but truth is, I get as annoyed and frustrated at things as any other person.   It’s not so easy making choices about big things, like what career or job path we will follow, who we may choose as a spouse and life partner, or how we will plan our finances and pay our bills.   Fact is, we make unconscious choices every day of our lives, the kind that seem to be forced on us by uncontrolled circumstances.

   Whether it be a short or long-term situation, one that lasts thirty minutes or thirty years, it is important to make a conscious decision before these times develop, that we will face them with a peace and contentment, and trust God himself to use them in our lives.   He knows what we are going through and what we need to get us through it.  When we ask him to take our situation, he will either remove it, or more often, use it to make us better because of it.

  I've heard it said before, "I enjoyed the journey more than I did the destination." You see, sometimes these periods of waiting are necessary for our success and development. Hopefully, a new perspective on our "tween times" will help us enjoy them more, and not just be anxious for them to go away before their time.

  Hey, next time you get caught waiting too long in the doctor’s office, or in a traffic jam, or even in a difficult relationship, bring up one of my blogs and maybe it will bring you a smile in the midst of your little (or big) inconveniences.


"Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7
 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."      Isaiah 40:31