buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Inward struggle”

The Unexpected

Last week I wrote about the warning signs. How ironic as I was considering all the warnings that had occurred for my neighbor, I get one as well. This warning wasn’t in the form she received but from a warning in my own house. My carbon monoxide detector went off in the middle of my dinner one night. I first thought it was a low battery warning. I got the detector in hand, about to remove the battery when I read the fine print of warning messages. The fine print said that four beeps is a real alarm. I began to pay attention to the details. How many beeps am I really hearing? Now, I am truly alarmed! With a quick call to 911, I found myself in the middle of my front yard wondering what happened to my quiet night at home eating my evening meal. It was an unexpected interruption. I kept reminding myself that none of this is a surprise to God. I was interrupted by a warning that I could not control, but God could help me in this time of trouble.

When the firemen had accessed the situation, I found myself homeless for the night. I found the uncertainty of my immediate future but temporary homelessness. This is not to compare to my neighbor’s unexpected homelessness. I slept very little that night running scenarios of “what’s next?” in my head all night. The heating unit was replaced, but the future of “what’s next?” is still uncertain. I have deemed this year the year of change. (Of course, aren’t they all?) But this year will be different. I can’t keep going along the way I have been going. Circumstances will need to change. Sometimes I will have to make the effort to change them. I need to find a job. I need to find the place to do ministry. I need to find the opportunities that God has placed in front of me that I am just not seeing right now!

God brought the unexpected into my life that particular moment. I didn’t see it really coming. I knew the heating unit was very old, and I knew it would need replacing soon. I was hoping for a few more months use. So it was unexpected at this time, but not totally out of the realm of possibilities. I knew as soon as the alarm sounded I had run out of time. I don’t know the future. I just know the one who does hold the future in His hands. God isn’t surprised of our circumstances. I just have to remember when the unexpected happens, God has the expected outcome in hand. He knows what He wants accomplished in our unexpected interruptions.

God was in the details of the right time for the alarm to sound. I wasn’t in a deep sleep. I wasn’t alone in my neighborhood during the day. It was in the early evening when people were coming home from work. One of my neighbors “happened” upon the situation at the time I was contemplating where I needed to go for the night. It was kind of them to offer their extra bed. My friend had already priced a replacement unit for me. I already knew what needed to happen. It was the timing of it all that reminds me that God knows when to give us warnings and knows when the warning needs to be heeded. We have to pay attention to the details. There is a lesson in the unexpected. We just need the wisdom to understand what God is doing in the details of the unexpected.

Interruptions put us in a place of readiness to hear – looking to Him for guidance; realizing we can’t handle things on our own; accepting our own limitations in the middle of the crisis and realizing our God is in control of all circumstances. We can lean on Him when our strength fails us; when our world is turned upside down. When the unexpected comes, it’s time to pay close attention to the details. God has something in mind, but the circumstances might throw us into a temporary tailspin. But it shouldn’t send us into the mindset of great fear. It’s time to focus on our God who has the world in the palm of His hands. Nothing throws God into a tailspin – He’s got this.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

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Make Room

My Christmas list wasn’t very long this year. I had a couple of things on there that I really wanted – wanted not needed. In the last couple of days, I have been in the midst of making room for my new stuff. I have had to rethink where I used to have my router to get the best results for my new toy. I had to move a few things around in my kitchen for my latest gadget. It’s a matter of removing as well. Out with the old and in with the new. For many times in my past, I have gotten so much more than I have removed. Over the last few Christmases though, I have learned to let go of things that I no longer need or want. Someone else might like them better, so off they go. I wouldn’t say I was a hoarder by any means, but I always had a problem with letting go because I might need the item again one day. So closets have been full to overflowing, junk draws get more junk, hiding places no longer were hidden.

A few years ago that mentality changed. I like clean spaces with less clutter. I like things in their places. I have found that clutter around my house also flows into my mind and heart. I definitely had a mindset that was not in the clutter free zone. My heart too was full of things that were not honorable or pure. In the last couple of days, I have also been considering this past year – whether I have grown very much in my spiritual life. I realized I didn’t see much in the way of growth. What I see that really happened last year was clearing the space in my heart and mind. Both are less full of the bad stuff and greater room was made for God to work. This past year wasn’t really significant in the amount of work that was done on the outside, but the inside seems to be a bit freer of the junk. I have made room for Jesus by removing the flow of the bad stuff and giving Him more time to input the good stuff.

All this was not possible though unless the Holy Spirit moved in my heart to make the changes. I would not have done it on my own. I like junk. I like junk “food,” junk television, and junk conversations. But none of that honors God. Too much junk really creates a bad environment for growth. And I want to grow. I want to honor Him. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and feel remorse of how I have lived. Life is too precious. Stuff just gets in the way of real growth. I am challenged to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. I need more compassion. I want to be known as a kindhearted, generous person. I want to love others like Jesus commanded us to do. But none of this is possible unless I give Him room to work. This past year, I have seen the movement. I am challenged for 2015 to do more with what He has given me.

I don’t know what 2015 holds, I just know Jesus holds it in the palm of His hand. Nothing comes to me unless the Father allows it for my good – good things and all the bad that will happen next year. I am called to a purpose and He has to get me ready to accomplish all He wants done. That is His purpose in each of us. We have to make room for Him to do His work so that we are ready to finish what has been started. Be prepared this year to be a greater light in the darkness. To Jesus, the glory and honor is His. There is no greater purpose than us serving a loving Savior who is worthy of all our love and sacrifice. My prayer is that all who read this blog will know His love, His sacrifice and His devotion to making us a better light in our communities. May God bless our time here on earth to glorify our Risen Savior! May we all make room for Jesus this next year!

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

Daybreak

I love sunrises, but I don’t see them much. I am not up at the crack of dawn on most mornings. Occasionally I will see the breaking of the day. However, my morning usually begins long after the sun has made its appearing. The breaking of the day is seen as a new beginning, but I was struck recently by a couple of sermons that pointed out that daybreak was the end of the night; not the beginning of something, but the end of something.

The first passage was taught from John 21:1-13. It was the end of the time when Jesus walked the earth, but before the Holy Spirit descended. This is the passage where Peter decided to go fishing and some of the other disciples followed him. After Jesus rose again but had yet to ascend back to heaven, Peter went back to what he knew to do. Jesus was not with the disciples on a constant basis anymore. There was uncertainty of the future now. I assume Peter had no clue what he should do next. So he went back to what he knew to do. Peter was unsuccessful in that night’s fishing expedition though. They caught nothing. Now what?

Scripture says it was early in the morning when Jesus showed up on the shore (verse 4). The disciples were not in the place where they were supposed to be. Jesus found them doing what they knew to do at that time. Jesus directed them to fish the other side of the boat. All night long they had been fishing their favorite spots and caught nothing. The blessing happened at the end of the night after they struggled with those nets all night long. One word from Jesus redirected their efforts, and they were surprised by the abundance; so surprised that they counted the number of fish and recorded it!

The second passage was taught from Genesis 32:22-31. This passage finds Jacob about to encounter his brother whom he had deceived. He sent all his possessions and family across the stream so that he could be alone. That night, a man from God wrestled with Jacob; all night long they struggled against one another. Day was breaking and the man wanted to be released, but Jacob would not let the man go until he received a blessing. Jacob was touched by the man and received an injury that caused him to limp. But in that interaction, Jacob received a new name. No longer was he going to be called Jacob which means “deceiver” but Israel which means “he struggles with God.” The man blessed Jacob there, at the end of the night or daybreak. It was the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

The thing that has been suggested through these passages is that God has His own timetable. He is never late; He is never early, but He is always there at the time we need Him. He always is there when we are at the end of ourselves. When we finally come to the end of ourselves, God will meet us there. Sometimes we find ourselves like Peter wondering “now what?” Jesus came to him to redirect Peter’s path. The next section in John talks about that redirection. Peter was no longer going to fish at the lake, but fish for men. Peter was going to catch them, and Jesus was going to clean them.

I think that’s what we’re all called to do. We have to get rid of all our baggage; the things that keep us from experiencing a greater presence of His Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came to Peter, the fire of the Spirit changed the landscape of the face of discipleship. The Holy Spirit changed everything. We have to quit wrestling with God over keeping our lives separate from Him. That’s not who we are supposed to be. We are to be set apart, but it’s with the Holy Spirit’s help that we do these things. Personally, I am tired of fighting. I am ready for daybreak, aren’t you?

And he (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

Crazy One

The ladies from my small group were sitting around having a conversation after enjoying a meal together. Normally, I wouldn’t write about a conversation from my small group but this was a bit different. Somehow we got on the conversation about families. One of the ladies said we all have someone in our families who is crazy. I had to think a minute, “Do we have a crazy one?” I mentioned that we don’t we have one. The lady had a witty comeback. She said if I didn’t know of a crazy one, then I’m it! We all got a good chuckle out of that one. We went on to discuss a couple of other things before we wrapped up our time together. But I have been considering the idea of the crazy one since.

I have been called different. Maybe I am according to the majority of the population. I eat differently than most. I choose whole foods and cook my meals. I drink green smoothies every morning to start my day. I am energized and ready to accomplish all that God has given me for the day. I live simply with less junk cluttering my house – my body as well as my house. I exercise regularly. I wasn’t always this good about what I eat (and still fall to temptation on occasion) or the exercise. But since I have been seeking God and His ways, I found keeping my body fit and in the best shape possible is the way to honor God.

Many in my family follow Jesus’ ways so maybe we’re all a bit crazy. We all struggle though in different areas of our lives to live as we are called to do. It’s difficult in this day and time to live closely to Jesus’ ways. There are great distractions out there. It’s enticing. Satan knows what hooks us. He has studied us all our lives. He sets a trap for us like cheese is set for mice. The one thing that attracts me will be different than for someone else. It’s the cheese I like. And if I’m not careful, I will fall into the trap. I noticed the trap is always present. Satan tries to divert my attention from Jesus – daily, hourly.

The other day, I was feeling a bit weary. I don’t know why I am doing the things I am doing, and I got a little down about it. After my eyes turned inward, I started seeking food to comfort me. When I had a meal, which was a pretty normal meal. It didn’t satisfy that thing I was looking for, so the next agenda was my shopping fix. I went looking for something I wanted. I ended up just looking and nothing satisfied that longing in me. I came home, got my eyes fixed on Jesus again. He satisfied my longing with His presence. Why didn’t I start out that way instead of looking elsewhere? The longings in our hearts pull us in another direction if our eyes are not focused correctly!

So, am I the crazy one? Probably. I hope I am good crazy – crazy for the right things – like keeping my eyes on Jesus and His ways. I maybe different because of it, but that’s okay. I would rather be crazy or different instead of normal and falling into those dangerous traps that will keep me from Jesus! We need to be set apart. We need to be different. The world is watching us to see if we are different because of Jesus. We are to be like Him. We are to love like Him. It’s not easy, but He is always with us to help us live out this life for Him. Be different! Be the crazy one in your family!

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

Wavering

Doubt. Belief. Confidence. Fear. Trust. Unbelief. Have you ever had all those feelings wrestling in your spirit? I had them all in mere moments of one another just the other day. My spirit had been convicted of my lack of faith. Got up from my quiet time, confident my heart was set right before Jesus. But in just moments as I was taking my daily walk, the wrestling began. I am in a spiritual battle concerning my trust in God. Trust in what He has promised through His word. Trust that He is who He says He is. Trust that all things are possible even when it looks impossible. I am stuck with Egypt behind me and the Red Sea before me. Is there a way that I just can’t see right now? Faith says to be sure of the things I am hoping for and to be certain in the things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). As I was concluding my walk, the word that was given in my spirit was the word to Gideon from the angel of the Lord: “go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:14).

I am wrestling also about what I am supposed to do, and what God is supposed to do. What are my responsibilities? I read the passage about Peter collecting the tax money from a fish. The money was found after Peter went to fish. Jesus told Peter go do what he was trained to do – go fish – and the provisional tax money would be provided in an improbable place – in the fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27). Jesus asked Peter to go back to what he knew for just a short time until the tax money was found. Is this something Jesus is asking me to do? The strength that I have had in my past was financial work. If I go back, is it like I am giving up on what the Lord has called me to do? Or is this just for a short time until the provision is met? Or maybe it’s to get back on track with writing my story. One of the questions circling in my mind: if I knew I could not fail, what would I do?

Lots of questions with very few answers, right now. As I discern the real meaning behind the word given, I have to believe without seeing. I have to trust God and His Word. I should have the confidence in my heart that He’s enough for me even when I see the Red Sea before me. He has a way out that I am not seeing right now. And if I need to fish for a little while, then I have to trust God to move me into the right position for the right time for what I am called to do. I have to quit looking at the waves and just fix my eyes upon Jesus. I have His peace filling every pore of my being. He is the only one who has all the answers! Thank you Jesus!

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord is Peace. Judges 6:12,14,24

Wrestling with God

Do you know when you hear a message from God? Do you always like what you hear? I think of Jonah at times when I’ve heard something that I just didn’t like and want to run in the other direction. I think of Jacob when he came face to face with God and wrestled with Him (see Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob wanted a blessing, and Jonah wanted an exit. What do I do when I hear a message or witness God’s presence? Run and hide or run toward Him expecting to see the blessing? Jacob’s name was changed to Israel on the day he wrestled God’s messenger. Israel means “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” And Jacob received the blessing. God always has a blessing for those that overcome. The blessing may be here on earth, or it may wait for us in heaven.

Jonah ran as far as he could from God’s purpose. God wanted to use Jonah as a prophet to a people who Jonah hated. He knew of God’s compassion. If the people repented of their sins, God would forgive them and not destroy them. Jonah would rather have died himself then to do what God had asked of him. But God’s plan is always righteous. His ways are not our ways. He is always seeking people to do what He asks when He asks.

I believe I have my next step in my journey, and I am not thrilled with the prospect of doing it. I will be stepping out into a place I really don’t want to go, much like Jonah. I’m not sure if I’m wrestling with God or with Satan right now. I think if its God then there will be a blessing. But if it’s Satan, there will be nothing good coming from it. I will have procrastinated beyond God’s timing. I want to overcome and not run from God’s plan. It’s time to move forward and not look back.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2-3

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