How’s your view?

This morning after I dropped my kiddo’s off at school, I decided to get a coffee and go sit down by the ocean. Like so many days here on the coast, the fog this morning was super thick. As I sat trying to look off into the distance, I couldn’t see but a few hundred feet in front of me. Typically from where I park, I could see Battery Point Lighthouse off in the distance but today there was nothing but grey.

As I sat there and thought about the fog and how it oftentimes drives us “coastal people” crazy, I was reminded once again that this is  how God sometimes leads us in our faith. Like the fog that causes shortsightedness, our vision is blocked by the circumstances or environmental factors surrounding us. What do we do when this happens? Do we lose our faith?

Oftentimes for myself, if I don’t have things all laid out or I don’t see the plan, I can tend to get anxious.  And yet God’s word tells us in Philippians 4:6-7. . .Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. God wants prayer to become our automatic response to doubt or unbelief. He wants to infuse us with his peace.

As I looked out to the ocean and could only see but a short distance in front of me, I knew that the horizon is still out there.  I knew that the lighthouse which is currently obscured from my view is still there. And it is the same way with God.  He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) and even though we cannot see him or the plan, we know he is always there working regardless of the circumstances and he is there for us when we call upon him.

As sure as the ocean stretches around the earth and provides a life-sustaining force for the life within it. So it is with God.  We who are in Christ Jesus are ever before him. We are engraved on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). Our vitality comes from staying with him and staying connected to him. He wants us to look to him constantly so he can show us the way.

Once we learn to trust God, we can rest in him regardless of our shortsightedness. God teaches us how to trust him in steps and will often only reveal them to us one at a time. When we through faith and obedience step on to the step he is showing us, will he then reveal the next one to us. This is walking by faith. If God showed us the whole staircase ahead of time we would be sure to bound on ahead of him and end up falling on our face or losing him in the process.  It is only through trusting him, staying in step with him and looking to him that we will ever reach the top of the staircase.

God wants us to trust in him and know that it is he who is doing the work. We must learn to trust him and walk with him in the process even when our sight is limited. ~ Father God thank you for who you are and how you continue to work in the lives of all those who put their faith and hope in you.  Help us to increase our faith. Help us to continually keep our focus on you. You are an amazing God. All Glory and Praise be to you King Jesus! In your name we pray. AMEN

Psalm 37:23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says. . . The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Philippians 1:6 . . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It’s All or Nothing

Have you ever asked your child to do a job or task and it was a half-hearted attempt? Like asking your child to go clean their room and only to go in there later and find they’ve chucked everything under the bed or into the closet.  In my book that just doesn’t fly.  When I ask  my child to do a job, I expect complete compliance.

In thinking of this concept, Isn’t that not how we sometimes treat our faith in God?  We are going through the motions but our attempt is half-hearted.  We go to church, we try to be a good person, we serve or help out in this or that ministry and we think we’re all good.

The other day I read in Hosea 6:6 . . .For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.  This means that God wants our “hearts” more than anything, not just our outward obedience.  He wants “all” of us, not our half-hearted attempts.  God wants us to know him and be known by him.  This happens when we diligently seek after him.

In Jeremiah 29:13 it reads…You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. The key word here is ALL.  Yes, no half-hearted attempts.  Seeking requires active participation.  It’s searching the scriptures and crying out to him. As we spend time with God in his word, we begin to have a greater knowledge of who he is, we experience his great love for us and what he desires for us.  This is the knowledge he wants us to have, knowledge of himself.

In my own life I went years and years of going through the motions.  And by merely going through the motions there was no life.  My faith was dead.  I was not spending time in the word or getting to know God. This is what Satan wants. Father please forgive me.  We will never grow in our relationship with God if all we do is hear the word preached on Sundays.  The God we serve arose from the dead, he is alive and active.  And through the power of Holy Spirit, he actively participates in the lives of those who seek him and are willing to do what he is calling us to do, but the key is we need to be “active” in the process.

We all want to have a purpose in this life. If we don’t we do exactly what? Nothing. We have an aimless existence. God has created each and every one with a purpose in mind and he has a plan for each of us.  The question is will we seek after what that is, His purpose.  In Revelation 3:15 it says…I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot.  I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  That is so clear to me.  God hates half-hearted attempts and yet as believers that is so often what we give him.

It’s like giving God the table scraps of our lives, the burnt offerings which are worthless.  We live to please ourselves and think we are doing the trick with our occasional Sunday appearance. We seek to please ourselves and our desires rather than seeking first the kingdom of God.  It’s like putting the cart before the horse.  It’s like seeking the reward without putting in the work.  We need to have the pulling power of the Holy Spirit up front and in the lead giving us the will and desire to do what pleases God.

Whenever I write things like this I always worry about stepping on toes but then I am reminded that if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing we WILL step on toes.  If we are fulfilling the calling that God has on our lives we must take up our cross “daily” to follow him.  We will either choose to live for ourselves or we will choose to follow after God.  God really makes things simple, we’re the ones who make them complex.  He wants our hearts to be fully committed to him.

This was a concept I struggled with for some time.  Would God really be serious about up giving up everything to follow him?  And the answer he showed me was Yes! He wants all or nothing. No half-hearted attempts.  This looks differently for all us because God plan for each one is different.  But as we seek him and seek out his purposes he will reveal that to us.  He loves us so completely and is calling us to the abundant life only found in him.  It’s all or nothing! We get to choose!

Father God I pray that you will ignite the fire in our hearts for you.  Yes, you really do want all or nothing. Give us the will and desire to do your work. Help us to burn brightly for you.  Thank you for your amazing love for us, a love so strong that it was willing to die for us.  Thank you for that sweet Jesus, help us in turn to die to self so that we may fully live for you. All praise to you King Jesus! In your precious name we pray. AMEN

Are you following “The Way?”

Yesterday on my morning run I happened to notice all the road signs along the route I typically run (I know, interesting fact huh?).  They’ve been there all along but yesterday I just happened to be paying a little “closer attention” to them.  I don’t know about you but I tend to be directionally challenged.  Take me out spin me around and I don’t know which way is which. I’m so very thankful for signs and for GPS!

Signs can be fun! We have one of those eclectic yards where we even have a few of them hanging around here and there.  One of my favorite being, “Watch out for dips” (haha).  I call it a yard with character. But the true purpose for signs is to give us direction and help us to navigate safely. As I looked at each sign as I ran, each one seemed to remind me of how we all need direction in our walks with the Lord (and boy do we ever). Without clear direction we can circle aimlessly or easily lose our way.

The first sign I came across is this one, “One Lane Road.” This reminds me that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 says . . .I am the way and the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by me.  In following him we have to choose the one lane road because the bible tells us that narrow is the way, and there are few that find it.  In Matthew 7: 13,14 the bible talks about broad is the road that leads to destruction and many are headed that way.  That’s scary thought to ponder, that some may think they are on the right road, but they may not be (Matthew 7:21). I want to be sure my life is on the narrow one lane road and that I am pointing others to “The Way” as well.

The second sign I came across is one which I found quite amusing because it’s on the one lane road.  It reads, “Please Check Lights, Fasten Seat belts.” In order to properly navigate in our walk with the Lord, we need to have our spiritual eyes open. Hence, checking lights meaning we are holding God’s word as our standard. We are walking in the light verses walking in darkness, we are making a conscious choice to follow him regardless of the cost. In John 8:12 the text reads . . .“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  The Holy Spirit is that light living inside us and he is with us as our helper and constant companion.

The second part of the sign reads “Fasten Seat belts.” To me the application here is to look out, be aware, be safe, and to use precaution. When we are actively pursing a relationship with God there will be bumps in the road. There will be sudden turns and sudden braking so seat belts are necessary for safety. In the same way when we are making progress for the kingdom of God, the enemy wants to distract us and will go to any means to get us off course, therefore we must always be on guard and prepared for action. It says in 1 Peter 5:8 it says. . .“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” When the bible gives a warning like that, we need to be listening! God never promises that following him will be easy, but he does promise to be with us every step of the way (Deuteronomy 31:8).

The third sign I came across read, “No Trespassing.”  It was a gated area with a lock on the fence.  No trespassing is clearly a warning of do not enter.  It’s forbidden territory, off-limits.  It is the same in our walk with God, his word clearly states right and wrong and we have to choose.  When we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, he gives us the power to choose correctly so that we can overcome temptation and be victorious over sin.

Like the signs that help give clear direction and help us to find our way, I’m so thankful that we as believers have the Word of God that is our guidebook.  It is the map, the source of direction we need to help us to navigate in our faith.  Father God help us to choose the one lane road, help us to stay the narrow way, guide us, direct us and lead us in the way of the everlasting. All Glory and Honor to you Lord Jesus. AMEN

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6

Do you remember your “first?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the “first” and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

There is something “magical” about firsts.  Now don’t get all technical with me about using the word magical.  In all things there is both good and bad but the thing I’m trying to get at here is a shear wondrous excitement.  It’s that tingly heart palpitation excitement you feel when you experience something new.  Like the first time you went off to your first day of school?  How about the first time you rode a bike? Or your first kiss? How about when you first fell in love? Or when you walked down the isle with your mate?  Or seeing your newborn baby for the first time?

I vividly remember the day when my first daughter Whitney was born.  Talk about a labor or love.  Hours upon hours of excruciating pain.  I chose natural childbirth for my first experience because I wanted to feel the pain (I know, crazy right?) It didn’t help that in my prenatal classes my instructor was really into natural birthing.  I have always had great pregnancies, but the birthing process, now that was another story.  I had never felt such intense pain as I wanted to die.  And yet, as soon as I laid eyes upon the precious baby girl, I was smitten with love.

Suddenly there was no more thought about the pain or what it took to get her into the world.  But now there was this amazing euphoria and adrenaline because the excruciating delivery was now over, and I was holding this sweet little miracle that God had now entrusted to my care. It was the same for each of the births of my children.  Afterwards, upon seeing them for the first time, there was this instantaneous love which made the labor so worth the process.

Yes, all the firsts we get to experience in life are great and wondrous things. In the same way God wants to be our “first love.”  Multiple places in scripture we are told. . . to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  That is to love “Him” as our everything.  I know when we first accept Jesus into our hearts that this is the direct result of that.  We’re in the word, we’re praying, we’re telling others about him and what he’s doing in our lives.  We’re in essence all fired up and ready to set the world on fire for him.

Sometimes slowly over a course of time, something happens to that once blazing fire of love.  We let other “things” creep into the first place spot in our hearts.  Weather its actual things, people, striving or whatever.  We get “sleepy” in our faith and suddenly we’re not spending time with God.  We’re not in his word yet alone even thinking about him.  We become consumed by everything else in the world and we’re merely existing, day-to-day. Or we’re letting our passion for other things drive us versus the passion we once felt for God.  In Matthew 24:12 we are told . . . because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.  The sleepiness of our faith has taken a hold of us and we drifting in la la land.  The fire that once was ablaze is now smoldering.

In order to start a fire we must fan the flames.  And in order to maintain a fire we must feed it.  It is the same way in our faith and love for God.  We must spend time with him and we must feed the fire of our hearts with the word and in prayer and communion with him to keep our love alive and vibrant.  We must spend enough time with him that our love continues to grow, not stagnate.  God’s love is pure love and to walk and abide in his love we must stay connected to the source and fan the flames of “his” love in our hearts. Remember we only have the capability to love because we are HIS  “first” love.

Father God thank you for your amazing love for us.  Help us not to lose our first love but to keep it alive and growing.  Help us not to grow weary and sleepy in our faith. When things get rough help us not to give up but to press deeper into you.  Help us to grow in and maintain the vibrant passion in the love that you have for us. You are an amazing God.  We thank you again for your amazing love. Help us to live and love fully “in you” and all you have for us.  All glory and praise to you, who is the lover of our souls! In your name we pray. AMEN