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

 

 

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That One “Thing”

The other morning this friend’s post greeted me on my Facebook feed:

What is the one thing you NEED to do today?

Forget the rest of your list for a moment.

Will you get that ONE thing done today?

My first instinct was to feel pressure. I was getting ready for work, didn’t have time to spare and I was pressured with wondering if my day included the most important “ONE” thing! How was I supposed to know what that “thing” was, let alone get it done before the day was done?

As I pondered this challenge more I wondered if perhaps the elusive “thing” might not be a concrete task to add to my list? What if it was an action prompted by the Holy Spirit that would bring glory to God regardless of my abilities?

I thought of Ephesians 2:10:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If God has already prepared the good works in advance for us, what do I have to fret about? I shouldn’t feel pressure, but a sense of gratefulness that God wants to use me to accomplish His good plans. By trusting in Him and asking the Holy Spirit to lead my thoughts and actions for the day, how can I go wrong?

driving

The other thought I had was of 1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

We are each given gifts that God desires and expects us to use each day.

Some days God tasks us with a challenge, asking us to reach out of our comfort zone. He may ask us to give money to a person or cause when we don’t think we can spare it. Perhaps it’s lending a hand to someone who acts like they have everything under control. Or maybe he needs us to speak to someone about God’s gift of salvation even if we’re uncomfortable with that.

Other days God may ask us to smile at someone who is having a difficult day, hold the door for someone, or speak softly when someone speaks sharply to us. Maybe we are to do a little something extra at home, or send a card to a friend, just because.

If you’re not sure what your gifts are, ask God to show you. You might also ask friends or family members to point out areas where you use gifts that you haven’t noticed yourself. Once you have identified your gifts ask God to show you ways to use them every day.

The reality of it is that we need to be aware. Each morning as we begin our day, part of our routine should be giving the day, the tasks, and the people we encounter in His hands. Throughout the day we should remind ourselves to seek how God could use us, not always being in a hurry to accomplish our agenda but to take the time to let the Holy Spirit lead us to someone who needs a touch from Him that God desires us to provide.

At the end of the day a brief visit with the Lord can help us identify where we were listening and where we could have done better – not to beat ourselves up but to become more in tune with the Holy Spirit and using our gifts.

So as we begin a new day, and a new month let’s ask God to show us each day what that “One Thing” is that He desires from us before we lay our heads on the pillow that night. Not only will we bless others but we will find the blessings we receive are pretty great as well.

Blessings and peace to you as you serve God today!
Paula

 

 

 

Growing In The Valleys

If you were hiking, would you choose a mountaintop or a valley?

In your walk through life would you choose one over the other?

When you’re on a mountaintop and the sky is clear it seems you can see forever. The world is laid out before you and you can make a plan for where you’d like to explore or what areas to stay away from. Sometimes on a mountaintop we say we are “on top of the world”. It can be exciting, glorious experience and we may be reluctant to come down.

You may have heard someone speak of a mountaintop experience in life where he or she had an exceptional time of fellowship and learning, feeling especially close to the Lord. They may say they received new insight into their lives and clarity they were lacking. Just like hiking on a mountaintop we can be reluctant to come away from a mountaintop experience and return to the reality of life.

Photo08241703

That life reality can sometimes bring a time in the valley. In contrast to being “on top of the world”, walking in the valley usually comes with a negative connotation. In the valley it might feel like we can’t see farther than a step or two ahead. It doesn’t seem we could get any lower, and looking up brings a reminder of the mountaintop that was so wonderful, now such a long ways away, far too far to climb.

I have been walking through a valley of sorts recently. It’s not the deepest valley I’ve been in but sometimes it feels that mountaintop is far away. The light can be difficult to find amidst the shadows and loneliness can easily set in. In the past I might have welcomed the darkness and allowed it to swallow me, but instead this time as I longed for the mountaintop I began to compare in a different way.

As I compared mountaintops to valleys I realized something important for me:
In nature there isn’t much that grows on a mountaintop.

While a few shrubs and wild grasses may grow on the mountaintop, things don’t generally flourish there naturally for long periods of time. The extreme climate and dry ground don’t nourish crops very well. The higher up you go on a mountain the less green you’ll see.

However, valleys are green and lush. The climate is more even and the ground holds more moisture to nourish crops. Valleys tend to be filled with colorful flowers and foliage. Seeds can be planted in valleys with confidence that growth will take place without a great deal of assistance.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”                            Luke 12:27-31

I realized God desires me to grow in this journey through the valley. I can choose to focus on the shadows or look and listen for areas where God wants to bring that growth. I can worry about what tomorrow may or may not bring or I can see the beauty around me and trust that tomorrow will bring more joy, even if it’s in the midst of pain or sorrow.

And as always happens when I’m seeking God instead of feeling sorry for myself He showed me once again how I don’t have to walk through the valley alone. He walks beside me whether or not I sense His presence. And there are many here on earth to walk with me as well.

Possibly the most important area of growth in the valley is remembering others walk in valleys too, many darker and deeper than the one where I’m walking. They need companions too. I can walk with some side-by-side and others through prayer. As we walk together we will be strengthened by the presence and prayers of each other.

Are you walking through a valley today? How can I pray for you in your time of growth?

Yes, mountaintops are spectacular and precious times in our lives but we should never neglect our time in the valleys of life. Rather we should embrace the time and welcome the growth God has for us.

Blessings and peace to you wherever you’re walking today!
Paula

Expecting Blessings

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you
and I know you by name.”

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” Exodus 33:17-18 NIV

Moses had a remarkable relationship with the Lord. From his birth God protected Moses from death, even when he messed up and ran away. God chose Moses for the extraordinary purpose of leading His people out of their slavery in Egypt to a land set aside for them to enjoy.

The task was not an easy one for as often happens when people get together there was negativity, complaining and whining over the long trip and lack of an abundance of food and water. The negative people seemed to infiltrate the ranks causing God to tell Moses they could still go to the Promised Land but that He would no longer go with them. (Exodus 33:1-6)

Moses wouldn’t accept this proclamation. He had grown so close to the Lord that Moses reminded Him that though stubborn and hard-headed these were God’s people and Moses couldn’t lead them without the presence of the Lord.

God relented and Moses pushed the envelope even further, asking God to show him His glory.

Would you dare request this of the Lord? Do you have such a closeness with the Lord that you know even if the answer was, “no” that you could ask whatever you wanted within God’s will and He would not be angered but instead pleased that you asked?

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”                                                                                                                          Exodus 33:19-20 NIV

God was so pleased by Moses’ desire to know Him better and draw closer to Him that the request was granted. But Moses needed to be put in a special place in order to see the glory of God. He had to be willing to do what God told him and be content with how God blessed him.

Treman Cleft In Rock
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”                              Exodus 33:1-23 NIV

No one had ever dreamt of being so close to God, let alone seeing Him. Mind you this was not an angel but the very presence of God Himself. Moses was tucked away in the cleft of a rock and protected by God so that he could receive this blessing.

Blessings from God come in all shapes and sizes, often not in the way we are expecting or hoping with our earthly hearts. However God can’t bless us if we’re not open to and even seeking blessings from Him in whatever way He chooses to give them. Moses may have been expecting to see God’s glory in an entirely different way but didn’t question God’s methods. Instead he relished in the glory of God and the blessing he received, looking forward to the future whatever it held, knowing God would be with him.

I have been praying over the past few months for a difficult situation that I was certain I knew the solution to. As I prayed and sought God for resolution I received an unexpected blessing far different from I planned. It changes my perspective and leaves me wondering with anticipation what the future holds. I feel in a small way I have been placed in a cleft of a rock, waiting to see God’s glory come to pass in this situation.

Is there a situation in your life where you are desiring a blessing from God but perhaps are afraid to ask for it? If you feel unworthy, remind yourself that you are God’s child and He is pleased by blessing us. He desires to give us good things.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:11 NIV

When we come to God with a humble spirit and a heart washed clean with confession and filled with adoration for Him we can be assured just as Moses was that our request for a blessing will be met.

Seek His blessings for your life today and then be looking for them, possibly in unexpected ways. You won’t be disappointed!

blessings and peace to you today!
Paula

 

A Servant’s Heart

Jesus washing feet

There’s an old hymn, Living for Jesus by Thomas O Chisholm that begins like this:

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

When I think of living for Jesus I also think of living the way Jesus did when He lived on earth, having a heart like His. As I begin to examine all Jesus did and said as He walked the earth I find that truly His heart was that of a servant. Although He is God Himself He lived to serve others and show then the love that runs deeper than human understanding.

I began to wonder, what does it mean to have the heart of a servant? A servant sets his or her needs and desires aside until those of the master are met. The only goal is to serve the master. The second verse of Living for Jesus reminds us of how the price Jesus paid as a servant here on earth should compel us to follow His example.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

We are called to be servants of God and set aside our goals and desires while we serve Him, and in turn serve others in His name.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider others better (more significant) than yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.   Philippians 2:3-4

Serving looks differently for each of us. For some it is meeting a financial need or providing a meal or ride. It may be helping with household chores or repairs, or perhaps lending a listening ear, a warm hug, or simply the presence of a friend. We are all called to pray for each other, lifting up needs and celebrating joys. (Romans 12:15)

 The third verse of Living For Jesus speaks to this very thing:

Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.

It goes against our human instincts to seek to serve our Master instead of serving ourselves, our wants and needs. Having the heart of a servant sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone. It compels us to listen to God and those around us instead of being quick to speak. We may also be called to reach out to someone different from us, but through our servanthood we give hope to others and hopefully point them to Jesus.

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

 

As often happens in the kingdom of God, when we are obedient to serving our Master and pleasing Him we find an interesting twist.

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

God is not a master who requires us to serve until we are weary and discouraged. He is so loving and generous to us that as we focus on serving Him and reaching others with His love we find our deepest desires are also fulfilled.

 

As we go through the week ahead may we focus on having the heart of a servant. Let’s look less at ourselves and more at those around us who could use a helping hand, listening ear or extra prayer. Let’s pray the prayer of commitment in the chorus of Living for Jesus, dedicating ourselves to Him.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

 

As we look back at the end of the week we’ll be amazed at the blessings that have come our way!

Blessings & peace to you this week!
Paula

 

Still Waiting…

Have you ever heard the phrase, “active waiting”? I would dare to suggest that it is a biblical principle.

Waiting is a part of our lives, but one that frankly most of us don’t enjoy. Our society is becoming increasingly instant and those of us living in it decreasingly patient. If our internet doesn’t load a page fast enough we throw a fit. When our cell phone doesn’t have coverage it is an inconvenience instead of an opportunity. Speaking of cell phones, how long do you stand in line at the grocery store before yours is out of your pocket and you are texting or checking social media? Yeah, me too.

Waiting is an expected companion to our daily routine. While we might not like it most of us have found ways to accommodate, or even embrace it.

summer 3

When it comes to waiting for answers, well that’s something different.

Do you remember waiting as a child for an answer from your parents about whether you could do something you longed to do? Or waiting for a birthday or Christmas to see if you would receive that special gift you’d been longing for? As a kid waiting can seem unbearable. I’m not sure it gets easier as adults.

Many have been waiting a long time for an answer to a special prayer. I know I have. Whether it’s direction for the future, longing for a child, the dream job, or healing from a hurt or illness those prayers are precious to us and we don’t understand why we have to wait. It can be easy to question God and at times put our lives on-hold while we wait.

I have found this can be a mistake. Whatever the reason we are being asked to wait, life goes on around us. God expects us to be a part of it and gives us some principles in scripture for what we should do in the meantime.

1. Look inward:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
NIV

I do not believe every unanswered prayer is left unanswered because of sin but I think we should always begin by examining our heart and life for places where sin may be keeping us from God’s will and His answer.

2. Reach outward:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:38
NIV

It can be so easy to become focused on our prayers and desires that we forget about those around us who also have prayers. God may want to use us as part of His answer to them. By looking outside of ourselves, giving of ourselves through God’s gifts to us we will not only receive a blessing of being part of someone’s answer, we may find God giving us part of our answer in the process.

3. Never give up hope:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
R
omans 12:12

God will not abandon us. He may take us through a process before He can answer our most fervent prayer. There may be lessons we need to learn, a mission we need to complete or our relationship with Him may need to deepen before He is able to bless us with the answer we are seeking.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

If you are still waiting for the answer to that special prayer I encourage you to think about how you can wait actively, and remember to continue fixing your eyes on Jesus, seeking Him and a deeper relationship with Him. You’ll find the time will pass with unexpected blessings for you and those around you.

 

blessings and peace to you as you wait today…
Paula

 

 

Reflections

morningHave you ever been in awe of a reflection? The beauty of what is before you is remarkable in itself, then multiplied as reflected in the water below. It can be breathtaking and held in your mind for a long time.

What about your own reflection? Sometimes we are surprised as we look at our reflections in the mirror, finding something we didn’t expect that causes us to adjust our appearance. A quick glance is all it takes to realize things aren’t quite right.

As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.
                          Proverbs 27:19 

The same can be said as we consider what our lives reflect. When people look at our actions and hear the words we speak are they seeing the reflection of the Lord’s love and mercy or instead the burdens of the day weighing us down or causing us to react in our human strength and wisdom?

As you go through your day and catch your reflection in a mirror or other surface take a moment to examine the reflection of your heart as well as your appearance. Sometimes a quick glance is all it takes to whisper a quick prayer, adjust your attitude and ensure you are reflecting the heart of God.

blessings and peace to you today!
Paula