Devotion: Honest, But Desperate

Can I be honest?

If walking out of a doctor’s appointment after 30 seconds wasn’t social Siberia, I would have today. There was just something about this appointment, that made it worse than the rest.

I say all that to say:

I understand having a bad day or the urge to walk out of a difficult situation.

I want to ask you something that my Uber driver asked me on my way home. “What’s next?” Maybe, you aren’t too sure what your next step ought to be in the physical and emotional realm of things.

I want to be that friend who sits and prays with you – as you wait for God’s directive toward what is next.

What’s Next?

” Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).”

After we have grieved our situations with our Amazing God, we need to ask ourselves (or be asked by a loving friend) what is next for us. For myself, the next step(s) are clear. While I would love to run away from my life and ignore all responsibilities, I can’t do that. And, the odds are you cannot either. So instead of living in a fantasy world where I neglect all responsibility, I want to share what is next – for myself.

Your list may be completely different, depending on your circumstances, your relationship, and surrender to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

  1. Make the next appointment with someone new, and keep searching until I find someone who both listens and is compassionate.
  2. Spend the time praying.
  3. Dive into God’s Word – the Bible.
  4. Fellowship with other Christ followers.

Your answer to this question might look differently, I imagine, but this is my written response to such a question. But, I hope you include steps 2-4 in your plan of what’s next.

Choosing God’s Plan Over My Own

We desperately need to hear God’s Plan for what’s next!

Spending time in prayer, His Word, and fellowshipping with like-minded Christians are each important activities, which will help us discern God’s will for our lives!

And I am desperate for God’s direction.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).”

I have learned enough to stand on God’s promises, because He never leaves my side. He always is acting on my behalf and even working in ways I cannot see or understand. So, I want to remember the essential need to cling to His Word and Will.

Disclaimer: You can now support Gracefully Overcoming through your Amazon purchases. At no cost to you, Amazon will allow you to shop and Gracefully Overcoming get a bit of a benefit from your shopping. It can be any purchase you make. But, I am still quite fond of this title by Charles Swindoll.

In Him,
Stace

Prayerfully Reliant on God Alone [Book Review]

For the past week, I have been able to spend time with our Savior Jesus in prayer. Quality prayer. As I am learning, the fellowship we can experience with our Mighty God is beyond comprehension. This is the relationship I have hoped for. I am beyond thankful for this time.

Fellowship with God

How often are we placing ourselves in fellowship with God? Often we consider fellowship, as something between a fellow believer and ourselves. However, we can experience fellowship with our sovereign God Himself!

The difference is craving this time of sweet intimacy with an even sweeter King Jesus Christ who is our Savior. God desires to spend time with us. Let’s grow in enjoying God!

If you are like most, setting aside and carrying out a daily prayer time is a struggle. Unless you have seen firsthand the outcome of such devotion. Even then, you likely still might wrestle with some aspects of prayer.

I can testify this has been my experience – the struggle it has been to give my worship offering through prayer. However, something has occurred in the last few weeks to change this. Suddenly, I adapted to the act of beginning a prayer session with the Holy One. It isn’t about praying perfectly or for a strict hour. It is about realizing how our Mighty God has saved us through His Son Jesus Christ and meeting regularly with Him.

But, there is one book which has left an impact concerning prayer.

Mr. George Müller

Have you heard of George Müller?

He can be described as a man of persistent faith who truly knew how to operate from a place of prayer. This man crazily enough brought his needs only to God and allowed Him to speak that need to others. God impressed it upon others’ hearts to give, and it was always at the appointed time before the orphanage ran out of food, money, etc.

I say “crazily enough,” because how many of us could be that bold? Far too quickly, we share our needs with whoever will listen even if it is not God’s will for the need to be met. I say this because not every need is within the boundaries of God’s will. To pray more like this, is radical, forces us to follow only Jesus Christ, and develops within us an absolute dependence upon our Creator.

The George Muller book I recommend can be found on Amazon. Best part? It is free! While there, you could even pick up a digital copy of Grace Leads – which is on sale for $0.99 (until Wednesday, 8/7/19).

Image: Aaron Burden

Be blessed, my friends.

Stacey

From Wastelands to Rivers

The last post I wrote was on the hindrance that can keep us from experiencing a more abundant life. Though often unwell due to illnesses, I know my perspective needs work. The questions I asked in the last post were for me, not anyone else. Today, I want to address the dangers of having a rear-view mirror focus.

I am reminded of Lot’s wife (see Genesis 19:1-26). Lot’s uncle, Abraham, is a man who sought and obeyed the Lord God Almighty. One day, it became evident that Lot and his herdsmen needed to go else. There was more blessings than their land allowed, so Lot and all he had moved to the place of his choice. There was a land filled with sin and corruption, where none sought God. This brings us to Lot’s wife. It became time where God would issue judgment against the land, for their refusing to seek God. Lot and his family would be spared. Only, one problem? The wife.

Though surely she must have known the danger. Surely Lot told her “God said, Do not look back”. I mean, right? God is destroying the city. God is moving them somewhere brand new. It’s a new start. Even the chance to begin seeking God honestly and completely changing their lives – for the better. It may not seem like it, but a shift in circumstances can bring new opportunities.

They are on their way to this new life.
Then, Lot’s wife does the unthinkable…
She looks back.

Unfortunately, that’s kinda it for Lot’s wife. She knew the dangers of a rear-view mirror focus, and that is the end of her story. She perished. The temptation to look back was far too great. God made sure they knew not to look back. But, maybe she thought a small glimpse wouldn’t hurt. Only she couldn’t stop looking… A rear-view mirror focus can be pure destruction. God wants to do something new in our lives. Does it look crazy different than before we became “under construction”? Absolutely, but God is doing something new. Won’t we trust Him?

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you
not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create
rivers in the dry wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

Reflection Activities:

  1. How are you struggling to trust God where He has placed you?
  2. In what way are you tempted to look back?
  3. Spend time in prayer, and seeking God in His Word.

Lay Me Down

Where do your longings carry you? Or, do you run towards the One who is all pure and holy–letting Him determine your path? This morning, my longings awoken my spirit quite early. Where to run? To the tv? To Facebook? To food? Or, to my knees? Where…to run? When your deepest longing is left in such a state…just longing. Then, there are questions of what the future holds. Many have some longing of some sort. Better job, retirement, money, a house, a child, a wife, for answers, better doctors, for better health, for fame even, or maybe just for good friends who stand by your side. Whoever you are, you have longings of some sort. Some desire you long to see fulfilled. But, is it one that leads you to or away from Christ?

I am reminded of the picture of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38)—they longed to see the Messiah in their lifetime! You can be a God-fearing person and believer in Christ, and still have longings. The thing about it is: What kind of longings, and where do we turn in light of such longings? Do they draw us to Christ? Are they things that make us run to God—to prayer, to study the Scriptures, to fellowship with other believers? To complete abandon, surrender, and obedience to our Creator?

We all have longings. Do we allow the longings to lead us into sin? Or, do we grab the carnal sinful nature by the throat (by the power of Jesus)–determined to live out our lives fully for Christ by humbling ourselves, recognizing our need for Him, and praying that God will help us. Remember also what Galatians 5 teaches us:

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love…16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want…24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Gal. 5:13, 16-17, 24-26)

Do we have people we can be accountable to? Scripture is clear: Just because we desire something does not mean we are to pursue it… Are we seeking longings that will lead us to Christ? God promises us in Matthew 6 that He will provide for us. Yet so often, the longings we have make us feel like we are being deprived of something. God will provide all we need! Whoever you are, whereever you are: God will provide! Are you trusting Him to protect and provide for you? Often we want, but we don’t think about God protecting us in the process. We often just think about what we are not being given like some spoiled child (because we do not often deny the flesh—sinful cravings we have.). We don’t need to get whatever we want, so we need to just get over that. Would you rather have your selfish desire rather than to be protected by the Almighty God? Would you so choose heartache over God’s blessings that He desires to pour over you?

We forget that we are not our own, but we belong to the Lord. We need to seek His holy guidance. We need to pursue God. We need to learn to deny the flesh. Many things, but really just one—seek God. Seek Him with your whole heart, and all you are. The song my itunes just started playing is entitled “Lay Me Down” (Chris Tomlin) and the lyrics say:

“I lay me down. I’m not my own. I belong to you alone…
This much is true—there’s no life apart from you…
Letting go of my pride—Giving up all my rights—
Take this life and let it shine…
It’ll be my joy to say Your will, Your way.”
Video

Two questions:

  1. Do your longings (or desires) lead you closer to Christ? If not, what do you turn to? What do you need to do to change that?
  2. Are you leading your heart or allowing it to lead you? Remember what Jeremiah says: ““The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jer. 17:9)

Dreams and This Week’s Challenge

I started doing a devotional by a well known speaker the other day, and I thought I’d write a little bit about that today. In their devotional, it was centered on one thing: “God gives all of us dreams.” God does give all of us dreams. He plants
desires in our hearts.

Using the Word of God, we need to be wrestling with God to find out what He is calling us to do. He is calling each of us to do something, because we have a greater purpose. Each circumstance has a greater purpose. It is not about where we are in the moment, but it is about looking forward to where we can be. There is a balance between contentment and ambition that we need to be striking here. We need to learn to enjoy the seasons we are placed in. Right now, life may be very difficult… This may not be a life-long season. We are constantly meeting new challenges and we have to keep our goal in front of us at all times. God has called us to something. What that something is—-this is what we should be discovering. One thing I really want to learn is this.. I want to learn to live the dream despite the circumstances.

The concept itself is talking about God giving us dreams, but I think there is way more to the verse than simply God giving us dreams. It makes it look all happy and comfortable. But, what I got from the verse was something totally different.

Here is the verse in two different translation:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled, but those who obey what they have been taught are happy (NCV). –Proverb 29:18

Notice the difference.
Big difference, isn’t it?

Instead of “the vision”, we see what the verse actually means. This is why I thoroughly enjoy using the Bible resources within my reach.. I love to use http://www.biblegateway.com and http://www.youversion.com which both use a number of different translations to help me grasp the verse.

Without God’s guidance or the Word of God as our guide, we become uncontrolled people with messy lives. The verse itself takes about how we need God’s Word and guidance in our lives. We cannot lead ourselves. Without God’s guidance, law and order disappear. In one translation, it states that the people run wild without His guidance. We see it all around us. When people do not follow God, chaos erupts!

I am going to connect the dots as I wrestle with “dreams” and “God’s guidance” as my study continues. When we read God’s Word does He give us guidance for our lives? Yes! Does His guidance turn into revealing what He is calling us to do? Absolutely.

Without God’s vision for our lives, we will “run wild” as one translation states. I do not know about you, but living a chaotic life does not exactly thrill me. I like a calm life with as little drama or stress as possible. According to Proverbs 29:18, I can only have this by following the guidance of God. God’s guidance can only be heard when I combine two things: Time in the Word (Bible) and spend time in prayer—talking with and listening to my Abba Father.

My Challenge..

I want to seek His guidance for my life more and more. My time in the Word and Prayer are not always what they seem. I stumble and fall. I neglect my time with my Lord Jesus, just like everyone else. I have a resolution or challenge for myself this week: I want to spend 15 minutes daily in the Word and praying about what I am reading. This does not sound like a lot to most of you. Maybe, some are thinking “that’s it!”.

I am in this for the long haul, and it is about forming habits that have an eternal value. I am hoping to blog daily about what I am reading, contemplating, and wrestling with in my quiet time, but it will just depend on a variety of things. I am hoping to write something about what I am learning even if it is a quick paragraph about each day.. And if I fail to do it, I will admit it. It is about having accountability.

I invite anyone who is willing to join me in my challenge, as I grow in God’s Word and develop a more consistent prayer life. I firmly believe that committing to God’s Word for 15 minutes a day and spending time to pray and wrestle with what we are being taught will grow us leaps and bounds.