buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Spiritual Maturity”

God is Good Like That

Eight years ago this weekend, I made the decision to quit my full-time job. It was a hard decision, but I did it not knowing how it would all turn out. I just knew it would turn out okay. I thought God was directing me to something new. I thought my health coaching career would take off. But it never turns out exactly as expected, right? Since I quit my full-time job, writing has been my thing.

Seven years ago this month, I started writing this blog. Hundreds of posts have been published. Writing has been a way for me to process what God is doing in me, around me and through me. I published two books during this time as well. Not sure if there will be another book in the future, but right now, it’s not happening. Who knows what the future will hold?

These last eight years have been a blessing, but it’s also been stressful. I have used all the money I saved while working in corporate America for twenty-five years. Three and a half years ago, I started working a part-time job in the natural health world that I truly love, but it doesn’t pay much. The financial stress hasn’t eased much. However, God has used these last eight years to teach me about trusting Him. I never know from one year to the next how I will manage to meet all the bills from month to month, but somehow God provides just enough to get by. God is good like that.

My corporate job was a financial budget analyst. Finance is one of my strengths but also one of my weaknesses. It has been a major stumbling block at times. I can worry about finances when things are looking a little grim. Sometimes, I believe I have provided for myself when things are going well. My security can be found in my savings account or my stock portfolio instead of my true security in Him. When it is all stripped away, I can rest assured in the fact that God is my rock and my refuge. I can trust in Him alone.

It’s taken all these years to believe it in my heart because I have trusted in Him to see me through the lean years. God provided the means in the “fat” years so that I could be sustained in the early part of the lean years. He prepared me for these lean years. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was working out a plan that I didn’t know I was following. God is good like that.

Throughout the Bible, we see God take people through some stuff in order to be useful to Him in the future. Joseph comes to mind. Joseph had a dream that eventually came true. But the years from seventeen to thirty were difficult for him. Abused by his brothers, sold into slavery, sent to prison; but it was nothing like the dream. Yet, God was working the plan to make the dream come true.

Moses too had a bright future. It would take eighty years for the plan to unfold for him. He must have needed more time to “season” than Joseph. Yet God was working His plan in Moses’ life. At eighty years old, walking in the desert one day – God calls him into his purpose. “Go and set my people free.” Joseph saw this day before his death. Joseph instructed his people to take his bones with them when they left Egypt (Genesis 50:25) because God will come to their aid. And just as Joseph predicted, 430 years later, God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt with Joseph’s bones in his possession (Exodus 13:19).

God may also have a hard place for us to endure for a time to season us for His purpose. We may not understand it at the time, but it’s a time of patient endurance that will bring us the greatest blessing if we just hold on to the hope we possess in Christ Jesus. Jesus said He would complete the work He started in us so hold on for that day. I am still holding on. I am still waiting for the dream to come true (hopefully it won’t take another twenty years to see it happen). How about you?

God said He would do it – trust Him. He is faithful and true. His Word shows us in the smallest of details, His plan is still unfolding and we’re a part of it. We just need to let God work it all together for our good and for His glory because He will do what He said He would do. God is good like that.

My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel. I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:3-6 (TPT)

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Who Needs a Miracle?

Three sermons converged this week to give me a greater sense of what God is doing in us every day. Pastor Jimmy Carroll at my home church is in the Miracles of Jesus series. Pastor James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel is working through Prayer Breakthroughs sermon series. Pastor Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church is asking the question in his series “Who Needs God.” All of these messages seemed to come together this week because I need a miracle.

I have had a few occasions when I have seen God work a miracle in my circumstance, but it’s been a long time since I have recognized His work. After listening to my Pastor on Sunday, I had the opportunity to pray for someone who needed a miracle for his son. I was able to encourage him with a few points from the sermon and offer a prayer for healing. One of Pastor Jimmy’s points from his sermon was that “it’s always in God’s power to heal but not always in God’s purpose to heal.” Sometimes there is a work that needs to be done in us before the healing takes place. However, healing may not be in God’s plan – at least on earth, healing will take place in heaven regardless of what happens here on earth. When we are in His presence, we will be whole. Praise the Lord!

Pastor James made the point that a breakthrough prayer needs persistence. I have heard over the years that we are to persist in prayer until we have an answer from God. In the Greatest Salesman in the World, the author Og Mandino wrote we are to persist until we succeed. Sometimes we fail to see an answer so we quit before the breakthrough. Pastor James had a point as well to share on persistence. “People who persist in prayer don’t lose heart – people who lose heart don’t persist in prayer.” Sometimes the delay in an answer is to fix the Pray-er; the Pray-er needs a breakthrough before we see the answer. Another point Pastor James made was this: “As I pray, God is making me spiritually fit to receive what He is already willing to do.”

Pastor Andy tells us that sometimes our views of God don’t mature as we age. We may have grown up knowing about God, but as we get older that view doesn’t change. When we face adult problems, our childhood image doesn’t fit our adult problem. Many walk away from the faith because the expectations were not met. We have that image of a “genie” god who will grant our wishes. When God doesn’t come through, we get disillusioned and walk away. God’s business is maturing disciples. He is into building our faith muscles. It’s okay to start out with little faith; but at some point, it has to mature. We have to grow up spiritually just as we grow up physically.

Luke 18 gives an account of one of Jesus’ stories about the persistent widow. Pastor James points out that the scenario is a worst case problem – a widow, a jerk for a judge and a plea for justice. It’s through persistence that the widow gets the judgment; not because of the righteousness of the judge, but because of her persistence. She kept going to the judge most likely with more passion each time she returned. The judge decided to grant her the request. He realized she would not give up – she wasn’t going to wear out, he was.

God is looking for faithfulness, but He is also looking for emotion. When we are moved, He is moved. It’s our heart that needs the breakthrough. Praying is the vehicle to get us there. Pastor James last point concerned the question Jesus asked at the end of the parable: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We are seeking something from Him; He is seeking something from us.

Persist until faith becomes sight. As I learn these lessons, I have opportunities to pray for someone else. I get the opportunity to see the miracle to happen for someone else. I think that’s what it’s all about. When we pray for others, we get the miracle too. And we learn a greater lesson about God; He is bigger than we can imagine, and He gives us a glimpse of Himself in the answer.

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Matthew 8:10, 13

Consider the Source

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to take a little road trip with my sister and brother-in-law. I love road trips because it’s an opportunity for uninterrupted conversations, which seems to be rather rare these days. However, there was a time in my life when road trips were very stressful. When I was alone with my Mom on a road trip, I knew I was going to be in for an interrogation. She spent the time “drilling” me with questions about my life. And my life was not in the best shape at that time. I didn’t want her asking too many questions because at some point, I would only be able to give her a bunch of lies to cover up the truth. Glad those days are over! Glad I survived them!

Yesterday morning when I was in my quiet time, I recalled the conversation with my brother-in-law (BIL). We talked about a series of topics, but one of the discussions came to a standstill. I tried to convince him about something I had heard. No amount of argument could persuade him about the topic. His mind was already made up and nothing would change it. He told me to consider my source. I believed my source was good and believed the facts were true. But nothing I said led him to believe me or my source. So I dropped the subject, and we talked about something else for the rest of the trip.

As I remembered the conversation, I was reminded I need to consider the source of the argument. When I consider spiritual matters, I have to go to the source of Truth. The passage in my quiet time was about spiritual maturity. Maturity comes with walking closely with the Lord; reading God’s Word and applying what is taught. As we grow spiritually mature, we are enabled to grow in our understanding. The more we know, the more we grow. Our minds have to be tuned to the right frequency to hear the Truth. We have to be able to listen and transform our thinking to what the Lord is saying. We have to consider the source.

When I traveled with my Mom, I didn’t want to listen to what she had to say because I knew she was right; and I needed to change. I wasn’t ready to make the necessary changes. As time moved on, I began to listen; and I began to change. I don’t want to live in ignorance any longer. I want to be able to discern the truth and apply it. As I discern the truth, I change my mind from incorrect thinking. This is spiritual maturity. It’s transformation as the Lord leads.

We don’t use the term “repentance” anymore, but this is the term associated with “changed” thinking. We read God’s Word and come into agreement with Him on His Truth. In James 1:22, we are told not to just listen to the Word, but do what it says. It is written that “anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23-24). Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In this same letter, Paul wrote Timothy about the end of times when people will not put up with sound teaching. “They [the people] will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). Discernment is the key to understand what we hear and read is truth or myths. And when we are confronted with the truth, we have to be open to change our minds to line up with God’s Truth. When our stinking thinking leads us in the wrong direction, repentance turns us around.

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said throughout His teachings, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Many in Jesus’ day ignored the message. They did not believe. They counted on their inheritance as sons and daughters of Abraham. Jesus’ message is still the same today. There is only one way to receive the true inheritance of heaven. Jesus Christ is the key to unlock the true riches of heaven. There is no other source for true light and life. Consider the message and change your mind if it’s not firmly established in Truth. If you have ears, please hear the message before it’s too late.

For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:22-24 (NLT)

Secret Things

I was reading the story of Jairus, the synagogue ruler who went to Jesus to heal his daughter. I have read this passage many times and actually love the story concerning the bleeding woman who intersects Jairus’ story. I experienced her pain for real and I can identify with her. But this time reading the story found in Mark 5:21-43, I saw something that I hadn’t really seen before. Don’t you just love that about the Bible? I do!

Jesus tells Jairus to believe and sent everyone else away except for Peter, James and John, his inner circle. What I found fascinating was: there are some miracles done in secret while others are done out in the open. The story of the daughter’s healing was a miracle done in secret; only experienced by the parents of the girl and Jesus’ inner circle. No one else was allowed to see what Jesus was going to do. The miracle of the bleeding woman was done in the crowd – everyone heard her testimony immediately after the miracle took place.

I have been pondering on these secret things since I went to a Living Proof Live event back in April. Beth Moore spoke about God’s secrets. He only reveals to us when we are mature enough to keep them until His time of revelation. He gives us the platform to share when He wants the secrets to be shared. Beth pointed out: in this day and age we share everything we know immediately after revelation. We don’t take in what we learn and ponder them before we share them. We take in a word and immediately tweet about it rather than actually letting the word get down into our hearts. This was profound for me. I have been considering this every time I have had a revelation lately. I am discerning what is for me, and what is beneficial for others to know. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stay silent.

I have been writing my story for the last year, but for the last few weeks I have been diligent about writing. Since reading this passage and pondering on the secret things, I am discerning when it’s time for revelation on my story. My Mom asked me not to share my story until she was gone and I have honored that request. However, I don’t know if it’s something I should share while my Dad is still alive. I don’t have clarity on that time. Not that it has anything bad about him, but it might bring up pain for him that he has already long since forgotten.

I have been called to write my story, so I am obeying in the writing. When it’s time for revelation that is God’s timing and not mine. Discernment is required for all things secret!

“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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