Purpose and Gratitude

oceans-2

I haven’t made time for this blog in a long time and I regret it.  Lately I’ve been under attack in so many areas of my life that I’ve taken my eyes and focus off the very one that serves as my everything.  I know I need the Lord, but unfortunately my time with Him has suffered.  This morning, I woke up to the sound of Pastor Kevin Furtick on T.V.  He was talking about becoming a graduate of gratitude.  In the kindergarten level, we’re grateful for what we have.  By high school, we are grateful even though we may endure a trial or two.  As a college grad, we see the blessing in the storm.  We accept the Lord’s invitation to dine “in the presence of our enemies.”  We trust Him so much that we know He’s working ALL things for our good.

One of the lessons that I constantly discuss with my girls is the importance of understanding purpose.  It’s easier to make good choices when we understand and focus on our purpose.  There’s a song by Hillsong United that says, “I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours and you are mine.”

Oh, how difficult it is to keep my eyes above the waves!  The trick is to spend time with the Lord daily, not just when we find ourselves surrounded by stormy waters and we need a life line because time is what builds relationships.  When I spend time in His presence every day I am reminded of how much He loves me.  I am reminded of my purpose and then I have peace so…. when the storms of life blow relentless winds of pain and the waves rise above my head I am already focused because I know that greater is He that is in me than He that is in this world.

I must keep reminding myself early in the morning before I do anything else that I am a servant of the Lord before I am anything else.  Before I am a wife, before I am a mother, before I am a teacher, and before I am a student, I am a servant of Christ.  That’s who I am and my purpose comes from that role first.  It drives the rest of my roles so my time with the Lord is of the utmost importance.  I can’t do life without Him, and when I try I am constantly overwhelmed by stress. Then, when something big finally does come, I can’t keep my eyes on Him because they weren’t on Him to begin with.

So here I go again, just like an Israelite.  Lord, I messed up again and I forgot about how important our time is.  Forgive me and let’s start anew so I can focus my eyes on you and keep them there.  My heart’s desire is to maintain an attitude of gratitude in ALL things.

The Great Commission

In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on the throne in His temple.  There are angels around Him crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.”  When Isaiah realizes where he is he freaks out.  He admits that he is a sinful man and that he lives among sinners. He thinks that he is doomed.  One of the angels overhears him and goes to him.  He puts a coal on his mouth and he’s like, “Dude, you’re good.  You are forgiven and your slate is wiped clean.”  Right after that, Isaiah hears the Lord asking about who He will send to minister to the people.  Immediately, Isaiah says, “Lord, here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:9).

When I read that I was overwhelmed with joy.  Isn’t it amazing how the Lord can use us in spite of ourselves.  How many times have I said the same exact thing?  The Lord doesn’t need a perfect person.  He needs someone who is willing to be used by Him, someone who is obedient and ready to surrender their own will.  At the beginning of the year I prayed this prayer:
Lord, I don’t know what you are doing.  I don’t always understand why things happen, but I know that you said in your word that your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are not my thoughts.  Despite all the wrong that I’ve done and despite the fact that I am not worthy to be called yours, you love me.  I know that you have plans for my life so Father strengthen my faith so that it will be greater than my fear…and God here I am.  Send me.

Repositioned not Abandoned

In our darkest moments we tend to feel as though the Lord has abandoned us.  Sometimes He’s re-positioning us for something greater.  We can’t see where He’s taking us because we are so set on where we were.  Pastor Rick Warren says that worry sets in when we take our focus off of God.  Instead we lean on our own understanding and worry.  We want things to happen in our time and in our way.

Just remember that God loves you and always has your best interest at heart.  If you can remember that very important fact then focusing on the Lord even during the most trying hardships will be easier.  The bible says that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His way are not our ways.  Keep your eyes on Him so that when he re-positions you, you aren’t left feeling gloomy over what was in yesterday.  You’ll instead rise to the occasion and see the blessing in what is to come.

Staying on Track

biblestudy

I never thought in a million years that I would write overtly Christian messages.  I thought I’d just write good inspirational “feel good” posts to uplift and encourage.  I never wanted to come across as preachy because I have people from all different walks of life who confide in me. A part of me has always believed that people feel comfortable talking to me because I’m NOT preachy.  I never judge and I work hard at being understanding and loving.

Lately, my covert op to “softly and subtly” spread the love of Jesus has taken on a much different turn.  Everything that I get seems to be very blatantly Christ centered.  What can I say?  Underneath it all I’m just a real life Jesus freak!

Now, on to today’s post…er…message…um…sermon…oh gosh…here goes…

As Christians our mission is to be the salt of the earth, but sometimes when life attacks we fall off track.  During tribulations we have to remember the mission of our adversary: to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  The enemy wants to refocus our attention on life’s challenges so that we can serve his plan and not the plan of the Lord.  Broken hearts, shattered dreams, and mistakes are just distractions that Satan uses to take us off of the track that the Lord has set us on.

Allowing ourselves to get submerged in the tragedies of life derails us.  We begin to think that we are so broken that we cannot be of service to the kingdom of God.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are definitely times when we need to step down and repent.  We need to ask the Lord to reorder our steps and allow Him to heal us, but we are NOT to get swallowed up by our troubles.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4: 17 NIV).

If we can remember that these periods in our lives serve a greater purpose, then we can thwart the plans of the enemy.  God wants to use our troubles for His glory.  Don’t you know that you aren’t the only one facing those trials? Your deliverance and perseverance through the storms of life provide hope for others.  As you give hope to others you simultaneously point them to the one whose very essence represents hope.

Trusting in God When Prayers are Unanswered

trustgod

Have you ever wondered why God didn’t answer your prayer?  Ever been excited for something that you just knew was going to happen and then it fell apart?  I’ve spent the last three months on a similar journey.  I was so frustrated that I even took time away from writing my blogs.

Crying Out

I spent the last three months crying out to God for something very specific that I strongly believed I needed.  To date He has not answered my prayer, at least not in the way that I wanted him to.  I had come up with this brilliant plan about how I would do all these things and God would give the increase as I needed.  In my prayer time I was like, “God all I need you to do is throw down the blessing and anoint the plan.”  When it didn’t happen in the timing and in the way that I wanted it to I was so hurt.  I felt rejected.  Guess what?  Sometimes God rejects our plans, but He never rejects us.  I cried like a baby, “Why? Why? Why?” Because:

My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways (Isaiah 55:8).

God sees the things that we can’t see.  We see what’s right in front of us, but God sees what’s in front of us, beside us, behind us.  He sees how things will unfold if they happen OUR way.  He never intended for us to understand everything and that is the reason we have to trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding (Prov. 3:5).

Our own understanding is so limited that when we go to the Lord with our plans we don’t even know if our plan is best.  It’s usually not and that’s why we ask for His will to be done.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6).

I didn’t acknowledge the Lord.  I assumed that I knew best and in doing so I asked Him to follow me instead of me being directed by Him.

Today, after choosing His presence over my plan I finally understand why my prayer wasn’t answered in my way.  I am so glad that God rejected my plan and chose to embrace me instead.  In these moments I am reminded of the importance of trusting in Him even when I don’t understand and He doesn’t answer the way I want Him to.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a).