Monday, June 30, 2014

Seize the Moment!

Our pastor preached a message that was very inspiring to me on Sunday.
He was preaching from Ephesians 5:15-17

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Here are the highlights from his message:
  • Be opportunistic!  (in a good, moral way- use every moment!)
  • The big picture is made up of the details (tiny pixels)
  • The masterpiece of your life is made of small, deliberate, un-wasted details
  • Faith enlists our moments into the service of joy!
  • These waste moments:  anger, apathy, laziness, bitterness...  (etc.)
Be purposeful and savor these moments of life:
  • productive moments
  • peaceful moments
  • grateful moments
  • playful moments
  • precious moments
  • prayer moments
  • praise moments
  • people moments
  • service moments
  • kind moments
  • risk taking moments
and the list could go on...  

I would add:  These are the moments we need to look for & by realizing them we create them.

God Bless You,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

In the Storm... Part Two

I shared with you how God was telling me to, "Stop struggling and surrender," in my storms.  I want to expand on that & dig into it a little more.

Let me explain how I understand the instruction to "stop struggling."  My struggle is that I want to navigate.  I want to control.  I want to fix.  I want to steer and direct.  I see a storm brewing and I think, "OK, I have to fix this.  Just let me get in here & mess with this & fiddle with that & correct this & push this & pull that."  Wrong.  I only end up getting myself in a bigger mess than I was in the first place.  Now, not only am I like a boat in a storm, but I've got the sail wrapped around my head, the ropes wrapped around my feet, and I'm taking on water.  I can feel myself sinking & the temptation is to just work harder & keep trying to "fix it."  No.  God is saying, "STOP."  Stop trying to fix things, stop trying to manage & direct, stop thinking things will change if you only do or say the right thing.  Stop struggling and surrender.

I also struggle with trying to figure out my storm.  I wonder to myself, "When will this storm be over?  Will I even make it through this storm?  What will things look like on the other side of this storm, if we make it?"  This is me, wrestling with my storm.  God is telling me: Stop struggling and surrender.

Surrender does not mean we just throw up our hands and say, "I give up!  Whatever happens happens!"  That is being defeated.  We are not defeated, in fact we are overcomers through Christ!  We share in his victory!  Surrender means that we take all of our cares, all of our burdens, all of our hopes, dreams, and desires, and we are making an exchange.  We give God everything, and in exchange he gives us his peace, his comfort, his power, his grace, his strength, his wisdom, his patience.  It's an amazing deal.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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."

So what do we do in our storm, if we are not going to just give up?  We pray.  While we are trusting God with our storm we wage war in the spiritual realm, to affect the outcome, but we trust God with the outcome.  Do you see the difference?  We are not trying to "fix" the storm, the storm is out of our control.  But we use the tools which God has given us.

We read in Ephesians 6:10-13 & 18-20:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand...
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

The storm is not our enemy.  The people around us who may be involved in the storm are not our enemies.  The devil is our adversary and that is who we are called to fight against.

The tools God has given us to use in our storm are very clear in that same chapter, verses 14-17:
"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

We pray.  We praise God for who he is and for the answers to our prayers, which he will bring.  We stand on God's word and his promises.  We maintain our faith in who God is and what he will do.  We live with righteousness and and an awareness of the gospel and our salvation.

Surrender definitely does not mean that we don't do anything.  In fact, our surrender is very active.  We just have to focus our actions in the right way and allow God to handle our storms in his way.  

God bless you and strengthen you through whatever storms you may face,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the Storm

Last night I had a dream that I was trying to navigate a sailboat through a very rough storm.  I was struggling and trying to get the sail up and in the right position.  As I observed myself struggling in my dream, wisdom suddenly was broadcast into the scene, saying, "Stop struggling and surrender."  The only way to weather the storm was to tie up the sail, give up navigating, and to just ride the storm out.

Then the scene changed to my pastor, preaching and bringing out the spiritual application to the story.  When we are in the storms of life we need to stop struggling and fighting against it.  Stop trying to force things to change in the direction you want them to go.  It is time to surrender and give it all to God.  Ride out the storm and trust that God will take you through it.  He will bring you to the other side, but you have to let him do it in his way.

I was reminded of the verse found in I Peter chapter 5:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.  

It also makes these verses in Matthew 11 come to mind:

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We have been going through some storms of life recently, but I love that God would speak to me through my dreams and give me his wisdom.  I am holding onto him and letting go of my struggles.  I place them all at his feet and surrender all my desires (my desired outcomes) to him.

I share this because you may be going through some storms also, and I want you to be encouraged.

God Bless You,