Everyday Faith

Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen.
                                                                                                 Hebrews 11:1

What promise(s) has God made to you, deep in your heart, that you have not yet seen come to completion?

If you’re not sure, I encourage you to spend some concentrated time with the Lord over the next few days, asking Him to identify the desires in your heart that He has planted there. We’ll talk more about that process later this week.

Today as I contemplate Hebrews 11:1 I am reminded that God develops our faith as much in the everyday ordinariness of life as in those crisis, on our knees, face to the floor times. At least He desires to, if we allow it.

As we read on through Hebrews chapter 11 we are presented with a list of a few of God’s faithful servants. This is sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith”. A pattern emerges as the list unfolds. In the lives of many of these saints God made a promise but the fulfillment of the promise was a long ways off. For some their promise wasn’t even fulfilled in the his or her lifetime, but each continued to be faithful, seeking God’s direction for every step they took towards the fulfillment of the promise.

Consider Joseph. God gave him dreams as a young boy where he ruled over his family, each member bowing down to him. Joseph believed these dreams/visions were from God and yet the road his life took did not appear to be taking him toward the fulfillment of the vision. Sold as a slave by his own brothers and taken to another country, Joseph was tested, lied about and thrown in prison. But he remained faithful to the vision God gave him, trusting the path God laid out for him. Years later Joseph saw his dreams become reality as God blessed him in ways he couldn’t have imagined. (See Genesis Chapter 37 & 39-50)

tulip potential

When God plants a desire in our heart or gives us a vision He often needs time to prepare us for the reality of that promise. Rarely are we instantly ready, and were God to bring the vision to completion before we are prepared it would certainly fail. We may also be tempted to think we have reached the vision in our own abilities instead of relying on God’s strength and direction. When we trust God to lead us where He wills, looking back we will see how we have grown and developed both spiritually and practically, watching each piece falling in place.

Walking through these times is not always easy. We can be tempted to lose faith or turn from God’s path toward what seems to be an immediate reward. At times we may even question the vision God gave us, wondering if the desire is ours alone and not one planted by God. It is during those times of unrest we need to run to the scriptures and fall to our knees. As we pour our hearts, our doubts and questions out to God He will point us to scriptures that will encourage us, build us up and replace our anxiousness with His peace.

Trust Him. He is faithful to bloom in us what He has planted.

tulip potential blooming

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.
Philippians 1:6

Blessings and peace as you watch God’s visions develop in you.

Paula

 

 

Advertisements

Strength for the Race

Hebrews 12:1-2

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do you like to run? In junior high school I ran a little cross-country. I liked how running made me feel free and light and the challenge of the ups and downs of the trail. The pursuit of running to not only beat my competitors but to better my own time was part of the appeal as well. For the most part I was in control of my own destiny.

wore

The race of life is a little different. We don’t always get to choose our race.

When life is filled with joy and we see a flat, easy road ahead of us we feel like we can run it forever. It can be tempting to run it on our own and not depend on Jesus or draw strength from our faith. We may also run past others, not stopping to see their needs or learn from those who have run their race before us.

Sometimes it feels like our life-race is uphill. We look ahead and behind and only see twists and turns. It takes endurance to keep going and not give up. It can seem impossible when we are tired and overwhelmed. We feel like there is never an end to the race, or an easy road ahead of us.

DSC05790

In an uphill race it is so important to keep our focus on Jesus and to allow those around us to come alongside us, support and encourage us. It can be so easy to feel like we’re all alone, but we don’t need to be.

As the writer of Hebrews points out, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, both here on earth and those who have gone before us to leave examples of running the race with endurance. We can be reminded that we have the same reward waiting for us that Jesus did, an eternal forever with our Lord. Jesus endured shame, disgrace, and a nasty death on the cross to bring us with Him to this paradise.

We are made lighter and more free to endure the twists and turns of life when we examine what entangles and weighs us down. Repenting of our sins and releasing the weight of worry and the need to control our surroundings frees us and reminds us to look up, and perhaps find the good things hidden along our path.

Whether the race is smooth or an uphill climb we can’t do it on our own, but by the grace and strength of Jesus, the precious Holy Spirit and those He has put in our lives to walk alongside us, we can keep going…and find blessings along the way!

 

Blessings and peace along your race today,
Paula

 

No Hope At All

Have you ever discovered that a bible verse you’ve quoted to yourself or others over and over has been somewhat incomplete and possibly misquoted?

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Many times I have quoted 1 Peter 5:7 to myself or someone else to ease the strain of anxiety or turmoil, either within or from without. I realize now that quoting it on its own takes it out of context and turns it into some kind of magic potion that is probably different from God’s intention for the verse.

You see when we take it out of context we omit a key piece to the peace that comes from casting anxiety on the Lord. Look at the previous verse:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand,
that He may lift you up in due time.

Humble ourselves?

Is submission easy for you? For most of us it’s not. Whether it’s submitting to the wishes and plans of a family member or friend or taking direction from your boss when you disagree with them, we humans don’t really like to submit to others especially if it means we may give up something we want (or think we want) in the process.

Let’s face it. Our nature is to want things our way and live a life of comfort. When I am anxious about something I often try to find a solution or make it better and more comfortable for myself and others. I wrack my brain and strive to find an answer for the dilemma or figure out how to change someone’s feelings or attitude.

That’s not always God’s plan.

God asks us to hope. To have faith in Him and hope, for the present and the future.

And hope requires submission.

Romans 8_24-25Romans 8:24-25

Hope requires us to admit that we can’t solve the problems around us and submit to the One who can…in His timing.

We look at the world around us and see so much that’s wrong. Innocent people losing their lives because someone doesn’t know how to control his or her anger, leaders who do not fear God or look to the best interests of those whom they lead but instead to their own desires and those we look to for truth disappoint us. It can be so hard to hope for the good.

But hope must be exercised in order to grow stronger. Hope linked with faith is an unbeatable combination.

Think of when you start working out to strengthen your muscles, lifting weights or doing work on your abdominal/core. Do you feel strong the day after the workout?

weight_lifting

No, those muscles feel weak. The thing is if you allow that feeling of weakness to override the knowledge that good will come from consistently working those muscles and believing you will gain strength over time, nothing will ever change. But if you consistently work on those muscles, believing in what you cannot immediately see, over time you will realize things have changed.

I believe the same is true for hope.

Hope is something that must be exercised, and goes hand-in-hand with faith. (more on that in a future post)

Hebrews 10:23 tells us:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

As we submit to God and His will, admitting we don’t understand but hopeful that God’s promises are true today just as in the days of old we will be able to cast away our anxiety and allow Him to take over.

If you’re having trouble with this and need proof of present hope, look a little deeper. Perhaps we need to look a little farther out of our own circle. There are stories every day of God providing for people in need, healing the sick, even bringing miracles. Just because we haven’t seen what we hope for come to be just yet doesn’t mean it won’t. It means we need to continue to hope, and put our trust in the One who promises He will never leave us or allow us to walk through the joys or struggles alone.

This isn’t only true for everyone else it’s true for me, and for you. It’s easy to forget and be tempted to give up hope.

Don’t do it. In this puzzle of life the missing peace can only be found by humbling ourselves under God’s hand, trusting, and hoping for what we cannot see…

and casting our anxiety on Him.

 

blessings and peace to you!
Paula

 

Dream A Little Dream

Happy New Year!

Usually for me the start of a new year is all about goals.

It’s about figuring out what I believe I can accomplish, writing it down, and making a plan to see it through to completion.

Sounds easy and straightforward doesn’t it?

Some years I accomplish my goals and some years end with goals not reached. Most years see some progress, but honestly at the end of the year there’s a little emptiness. Sure I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished but there’s a little something missing.

Every year I’m afraid to dream.

Goals are good. They are important. When they are S.M.A.R.T. goals we can see a great deal of success.
Check out this previous post for more on S.M.A.R.T. goals.
https://pauladavispeace.com/2014/01/18/are-your-goals-s-m-a-r-t/

But  sometimes there’s a dream in our heart that we’re afraid to utter — even to ourselves. We can’t pin it down enough to turn it into a goal. And perhaps it will take a little help from others and a dose of faith to see the dream become a reality.

dream

I have a couple of those. I can give you reason after reason why they stay buried and why they will never come true.

  • What if my dream is too big?
  • What if my dream is too big and I’m disappointed?
  • What if others think my dream is crazy?
  • What if I’m too old?

These are things that hold me back.

The last few months I’ve been thinking more and more about my dreams, and separating a true, deep desire from a hobby or something I’d be interested in trying. Sometimes being busy with little projects can distract us from going after that big dream – the desire of our heart.

One very cool thing is that God wants us to have desires and when the desires/dreams of our hearts are in line with what He wants for us God assures us they will come true.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

When the Lord plants a dream in us He will see it through to fulfillment. I believe at the same time it requires a few things from us:

  1. Spending more time in God’s word, building our faith.
    We can’t know if the desires we have deep inside us are from God unless we spend time with Him. When we spend time studying God’s word and being quiet before Him we can be sure He will confirm the desires that are from Him and show us those that are not. He will build our faith as we know Him better.


     Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
                                                                                                           Hebrews 10:23


  2. Setting aside fear
    When thoughts of fear and insecurities come to mind we need to stop thinking them. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but it is vital to our faith-building! Make an effort to be aware of how you’re thinking and choose a ‘faith phrase’ to use to replace the negative.


    For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
    1 Timothy 1:6-7


  3. Take the first step
    Ask God to show you one thing you can do to start chasing that dream in a concrete way. Then DO IT!! It may take years for the dream to be completely fulfilled, but it can’t be fulfilled at all if we don’t get started.


    Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Philippians 3:13-14


God does have big plans for each of our lives. As the days of this new year turn into weeks and months we are likely to get caught up in day-to-day activities that threaten to blur our dreams, so make a reminder for yourself. Write it down and/or find pictures that represent the dream. Put these reminders where you will see them regularly and keep it fresh throughout the year. I believe when 2015 comes to a close we will see ourselves closer to seeing our dreams become reality. It really is what God desires for us.

I wish for each of you joy, peace and prosperity throughout 2015. And I pray you will be unafraid – beginning today – to go after the dreams God has planted within you. You’re never too old – or too young to accomplish His desires for you.

And now I’m going to take my own advice!

blessings and peace to you…
Paula

Simple Faith

 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

 

I don’t know about you, but I often make faith too complicated!

In a recent post we talked about feeling far away from God and how going back to the basics can often bring us closer to Him. Seeing the little things all around us that we often take for granted can refresh our relationship with Him. You can read the complete post here:  https://pauladavispeace.com/2014/07/20/feeling-far-away/

Returning to the simplicity of childhood can also have us rethinking how we approach our faith.

I heard a story of two little girls whose great-grandfather died unexpectedly. They were very sad that they didn’t get a chance to say, “good-bye” to him and tell him they loved him. Since they had faith their great-grandfather was in Heaven with Jesus they asked their grandmother if they could send him a message. The grandmother got a couple of balloons, wrote notes on them and the girls released them to float up to Heaven. These little ones had faith that their messages would be delivered and they were at peace. The reality that scientifically there is no way the balloons could have reached their intended destination did not diminish their faith and thankfully someone loved them enough to not squelch that simple faith by reality that didn’t really matter at that moment.

hand balloon

“Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
Blaise Pascal

These girls didn’t need proof to believe. Their faith was enough.

How often do we allow our faith to be complicated by our environment and past experiences?

Maybe it’s different for you, but somewhere along the way through life I stopped believing that God can do ANYTHING. I like to think I believe it but when looking at seemingly impossible situations I find myself doubting more than believing. I look at the environment and circumstances around me instead of relying on simple faith.

Now, I’m not suggesting simple faith is easy but rather straightforward and uncomplicated.

 “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”
Andrew Murray

Some say those with simple faith see life through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. Often ridiculed, even from other Christians because they aren’t trying to figure everything out for themselves when in reality we see them living a more uncomplicated and less stressful life. Simple faith Expects from God the answers to questions we can’t answer ourselves and leaves them in His hand until the answer is received. Simple faith reaches out to Jesus as the woman subject to bleeding for 12 years knew that just a touch  from Him would heal her (Matthew 9:20-21) and believing it for our own circumstances.

Simple faith is getting out of God’s way.  It doesn’t put restrictions on God and His abilities or allow environment and circumstances to negate His power. It doesn’t think, only believes. Then stands back and watches God do amazing things.

I’m working on making my faith less complicated and returning to the simple faith I had as a child. I’m trying more and more to be aware of the voices in my head that negate the power God could have if I would only believe.

And I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
    He hears their cry and saves them.  Psalm 145:19

Do you know the freedom and blessings of a simple faith? Will you share them with us?

If your faith like mine tends to be too complicated, will you join me in returning to the simple faith God desires to have?

I look forward to hearing the wonderful results you see as well!

 

Blessings & peace to you as you continue on your journey of faith…
Paula

Feeling Far Away?

Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you found wonder in things all around you?

Simple things became magical, like splashing in mud puddles, blowing bubbles, or swinging. I could spend hours just exploring and finding things I hadn’t seen before. Sometimes I would just lay in the yard and look up at the clouds, thinking about how awesome it all was.

SwingHave you lost that wonder?

I sometimes do.

I get so used to seeing things around me and forget how our world is so full of wonder and how awesome is the One who created it all.

As the days flow into weeks and the calendar page is turned to another month I too often get caught up in the challenges of each day and sometimes find myself drifting away from God and all that He is.

My beliefs don’t change mind you, and I still have faith in Him, but honestly sometimes I find my prayer time becoming rote instead of real. Prayers begin to just get tossed out to Him as I go through my day instead of carving out time to just spend with Him, not asking or seeking, just adoring Him and listening for His voice.

Think about the earthly relationships that are important to you. I can guarantee the healthiest are with those you spend time with, communicate with and appreciate. These relationships aren’t all about you but instead are a two-way street, listening and caring about the other person more than about what you want for yourself.

And when time or circumstances prevent you from spending that time together you crave it.

Sometimes I forget that my relationship with God should be like this too.

When was the last time you craved time with God? Time to just sit with Him or walk with Him and soak up all that He is and the wonder all around you? Being quiet enough to shut out the world and the problems inside & out.

make time

Sometimes I wait too long and it becomes difficult to know what to say. I wonder if God still hears me or if I’ve waited too long between visits. I feel an uncomfortable distance and don’t know how to bridge the gap.

There are times I fear I’ve messed up too badly, disappointed Him or strayed too far from Him and He has distanced Himself from me too.

Never.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
    to all who call on Him in truth.

Psalm 145: 18

 

This doesn’t mean sometimes, or when He’s in a good mood. God is always near those who love Him but He also needs each of us to cultivate our relationship with Him and not take it for granted.

If you find yourself feeling a distance has grown between you and God I encourage you to go back to the basics. Remind yourself of the wonder of God all around you. Find the awe in each flower, the design of the clouds or how the raindrops fall. Think of how He created you – not how your body is not what it ought to be – only concentrate on the wonder of His creation.

Tap into your inner child and begin to thank Him for every little thing around you; even the fact that you can breathe.

As you thank Him, begin to add words of adoration. Don’t look in your bible, just speak from your heart. Tell Him how grateful you are for your life and how much you love Him. Don’t focus on your problems, or even your needs. Just focus on God.

It all seems too simple you say.

I’m beginning to think God never intended for it to be any other way.

Give it a try and let me know what you discover.

 

blessings & peace to you as you seek to know Him better…
Paula

 

 

Does the Doubter Get A Bad Wrap?

A week ago we celebrated the discovery of the empty tomb signaling the resurrection of our Lord. But as Paul Harvey would say, now let’s look at the rest of the story…

After hearing the women’s exciting news of Jesus’ empty tomb I imagine the disciples spent their day in a flurry of activity. Mary said she had seen Him but the others had not. As excited as they were there was still a measure of fear that those who hated Jesus might still seek them out and arrest them too. By evening 10 of the 11 remaining disciples were together again behind locked doors.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  John 20:19-23

Jesus was there in the midst of them! What a sweet time that must have been.

Thomas was missing that night. Yes, that Thomas. When they told him they saw Jesus Thomas replied:

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe.”     John 20:25b

We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples or what caused him to not believe them about Jesus. But this is where I think he gets a bad wrap. After all we know the whole story and it can be easy to judge Thomas when we weren’t standing there after losing one of our closest friends and Lord.

But how many times do we doubt God?

Sometimes I find myself in a place where I don’t feel like I have any control over a temptation. Whether it’s a doughnut staring me in the face or something I can’t live without at the store temptations surround us. And yet

 1 Corinthians 10:13 says:
“And God is faithful;
He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

It’s not uncommon to doubt that we can stand up against pressures to stay in a situation that God is calling us to move on from or walk away from a temptation we don’t think I can resist. That doubt can cause us to not trust in God’s promise that if we turn it over to Him we can stand up against temptation.

Do you ever find yourself in a situation you can’t control? Perhaps you don’t know how you’ll meet a deadline or have enough money left at the end of the month. We may doubt that something good can come from a troubling situation. God’s word also says:

Philippians 4:19 promises:
“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

God doesn’t say He will pick and choose what needs He will meet. He promises to meet all of them.

Doubting is part of our human nature. It takes faith and trust to set that aside and believe in the promises God makes to us. When we do we find a blessed peace in the midst of the puzzles life brings to us.

And it might make us think that Thomas got a bad wrap.

 

blessings & peace to you…
Paula