So many people live in fear. Fear is placing your faith in the wrong thing. It’s not that you have a lack of faith, it’s that the faith is focused in the wrong place. Often times our fear is faith in the ‘what if’ situations which drives us to a point of panic. ‘What if I lose my job’. ‘What if I never have kids’. etc.
Why are we so afraid of God’s Plans?
1. God’s Interruptions are Often Inconvenient.So often we view what happens in life as inconvenient. We blame God for what is going on, but what we don’t realize is that what we call interruptions are often God’s invitations to something better. In Luke 1, Gabriel spoke to Mary. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! Luke 1:28-30. Talk about an interruption – in these verses Mary was excited to get married and God did a complete 180 and told her instead she was going to have a child. But, she was also told that favor was upon her and there was nothing to fear. What a great reminder for us too. When we are interrupted we have nothing to fear, God is with us, and His favor is on us.
2. God’s Purpose is often different than your plans.Trust Him that no matter what He is doing, it’s better than your plan. Can you even imagine what was going through Mary’s mind when she was told she was going to birth a son out of wedlock, especially since she was supposed to be getting married soon? She had to tell Joseph she was pregnant, even though she was a virgin – talk about a crazy conversation. But, God had better plans for her – think of what an interruption that was to find out, but reflect on how the world has changed since Jesus was born.
Colby and I know all about God interrupting us. If it were our way, we would have two kids by now, but clearly that is not God’s plan. I think back to when Melanie approached me in that airport because she saw the book I was reading about infertility. If we weren’t going through infertility I wouldn’t have been reading that book and would have never met Melanie. Oh how our life’s have changed so much since meeting her. What I thought was an interruption to our plan to have kids, has been an invitation to something better. It has been so much more than I could have asked or imagined. He is inviting us to a better story.
Maybe you lost a job and you don’t understand why, maybe your waiting on a baby after years of infertility, or maybe you broke up with that man who was supposed to be your husband. I don’t know what your interruption is, but despite the fact that you think it’s a curse, God is inviting you to something better. He does immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine. Recognize that the outcome is God’s responsibility, but obedience is yours. Is God asking you to take a step of faith while He has called you out upon the ocean? What is holding you back? Trust Him! He will bless you for your obedience.
By the title of the sermon, I’m sure it’s a topic we can all relate to. We know life is going to be hard because of the brokenness and sin in this world but we can’t just quit in the middle of our trials, we have to push and struggle through them. There are 3 ways we struggle:
We struggle with other people. We deal with conflict, competition, misunderstanding, disappointments, arguments, jealousy, rivalry, etc.
We struggle with ourselves – We deal with our own insecurities, fears, flaws, temptations, sins, and addictions.
We struggle with God - Our real struggle is with God. We doubt his wisdom and we think our plans are better than His.
God is not surprised by the struggles we face. In the middle of a trial, He doesn’t want us to run away from him, he would rather we argue with him. So what does that look like – How should we handle our struggles with God?
Tell God what you think is unfair and painful. All throughout scripture there are prayers of lament to God from people who struggled. God wants us to be honest with him too. Complaining about God is rebellion, but complaining to God is an act of worship.
Appeal to God’s nature When you complain, offer praise too. You might complain that you are still not a mom or dad, but also proclaim that God is bigger than infertility. You might complain that you are struggling to pay the bills, but also proclaim that God is your provider. Complain to Him, but then proclaim who He is.
Remind God of what He has said. Remind God of the promises He has given you. Just like when parents promise their kids something, the kids continue to ask their parents until they receive the promise. Be persistent in reminding God of His word and His promises to you.
Express total trust in God. Despite what you have been through or are going through, trust Him. Even when you don’t get what you want, continue to trust that He is a good God.
What are you tired of tolerating in your life? Tell God! Always complain in faith; trust that when you complain God is listening and going to do something about it. The way to win your fight with God is to give up all control and surrender what you have been holding on to. Trust that His plans for you are better than your own.
Living in the Miraculous is something I didn’t pay attention to nor really knew nothing about for many years. I always believed in miracles, but didn’t think much about them. Ever since joining our new church that has changed tremendously. Miracles have become commonplace. Shouldn’t they be though? God performed them all through the bible and we know He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so why don’t more people believe and pray for miracles? Shouldn’t miracles be part of our every day, normal life?
Colby and I are still waiting very confidently and expectantly for our miracle. We know it’s coming, we just don’t know when. We are the perfect candidates for a miracle because miracles can’t happen unless there is a problem. We have a big problem and that sets us up for a big miracle.
This sermon outlines how to live in the miraculous. These aren’t formulas – it’s not if you follow these 3 things, you will see more miracles, but instead they are general guidelines.
1. Open up to God’s Power-Don’t close yourself off to God. Open up to Him and His ways. Study His word and walk in a community with other believers who understand his divine power. He is a miraculous God – don’t miss out on it. Stop believing lies from the enemy – they will keep you from experiencing God’s power. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. Ephesians 4:18
2. Do Whatever He Tells You – Sometimes the Lord is going to call you to do something you don’t understand. But, our job is obedience, not performance. We will never experience His power until we become comfortable with His ways. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
3. Have faith in God - The more time you spend with someone the more confidence you have in them. Spending time with God is the same way, it will lead to more confidence in Him. Think of faith as confidence in Him. Faith isn’t focused on results, but on God. Even when He doesn’t do what we ask, He is still faithful. He is trustworthy despite how our prayers are answered. 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.
I’m sharing this today, because I don’t want others to miss out on what I did. Do we see a miracle every time we believe and ask for one? No. I found that out with Kai. Does that mean that we stop believing in God or the fact that He does miracles? That answer is also no. Even though you won’t always get what you ask for, open your heart and allow yourself to experience the miraculous.
A recent sermon by Robert Morris spoke to me for several reasons. Not only did he address the topic of healing which I have learned so much about over the past year, but he also recognized those women who have lost children and those who are desiring children, but haven’t yet conceived. I respect that Robert shared about his daughters miscarriage as well as acknowledged those who have lost. I believe that anyone who is currently experiencing infertility would find this sermon encouraging to listen to.
I have posted about Psalm 103 before, but want to share the first 3 verses again, Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases. The first benefit mentioned in Psalm 103 is forgiveness. The second benefit mentioned is health. We know that salvation and health are given the same way – God’s grace given through faith. Verse after verse in the Bible it tells us we can receive healing and forgiveness, so based on Psalm 103 how can we address the topic of illness?
1. Why are people sick? Jesus bore our penalty, power, and presence of sin and sickness on the cross. When He did this we were saved from the penalty of sin, we are still being saved from the power of sin, but it’s not until we are in heaven that we are saved from the presence of sin. Because of the evil in this world, sin is still present, and since it is present we are all still affected by it, whether it’s our own sin or the repercussions of others sin. Sickness is the same way. Jesus bore our sicknesses. But, because sickness is still present, sometimes we fall under power of sickness. A lie that so many people believe is that sickness is a punishment from God. God will never punish you for your sins, he already punished Jesus. Sickness and sin are present because of the fall of man and the presence of evil.
2. How are people healed? People are healed the same way they are forgiven – by God’s grace through faith. Healing is a gift from God just as forgiveness is.For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
3. What if?So what if I am not healed? What happens then? I struggled with this question after Kai passed away. But, at the end of the day, I’m not going to let the times that I or others don’t get healed stop me from believing that God heals. God is healer. That is not only what He does, but it is who He is. I believe God will, I believe God can, but even if He doesn’t I still believe in God. It’s the same way with our fertility. I believe God can heal us and make us parents, I believe He will heal us and make us parents, but even if He doesn’t make us parents, I still believe! I trust Him even if I don’t get what I want.
Trust God not only with your salvation, but your healing too. Trust Him with your life for how your story will glorify Him, even if it’s not how you would have written your story. Pursue Him more than you pursue the healing and know that no matter what happens Christ will be magnified in your body whether by life or death. For I fully expect and I hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20
Last week I shared a post about the 6 stages of grief. Today’s post is from the the next sermon and a follow up to the last post – all related to the stage of sorrow.
The stage of grief can apply to anyone: it might be death, but it could be any loss. Loss of a job, a dream, finances, relationship – the list really does go on and on. I wish I wasn’t in this stage, but this sermon really is beneficial for future stages of sorrow I will face as well. Being that I have never gone through something as tragic as this, it’s been a blessing to hear how to go through the process as well as what to expect. Of course the process is different for everyone, but my hope is that this is a blessing to someone else as well.
Lessons Learned About Grief
1 – Loss is unavoidable, but grief is a choice
Our lives and the world around us are constantly changing. With change comes loss. With loss comes pain. It’s how we deal with the pain that is a choice.
2 – Grief is healthy
Grief is a tool God created to help us get through. Grief is a painful emotion to deal with, but it is also the most helpful.
The worst thing we can do after or during a loss is repress or suppress – both which involve blocking out the painful loss. If we don’t let it out in healthy ways, we are going to act it out in unhealthy ways
3 - God grieves with us
Not only did God give us the ability to grieve, but he grieves with us.
“When Jesus saw Lazarus’ sister sobbing, and saw how all those with he were crying also, his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved… Then Jesus started crying. ‘See how much he loved Lazarus!’ they said.” John 11:33-36
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
4 – Grief is healed in community
God created us to be in relationships. He walked with the 12 disciples for a reason, don’t you think we should do the same? During times of loss allow other people to bless you.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Romans 12:15
5 – Grief takes time
Grief doesn’t last for just one day, it’s a season that we go through it. Grief helps us to not skip over the loss, but to get through the loss. We can’t get past the pain until we acknowledge it and accept it.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Eccles. 3:1,4
How Do We Move Forward?
1 – List the losses
List all the losses you have encountered. Whether it happened yesterday or 10 years ago it’s still healthy to go through the process.
Don’t let fear keep you from going through the grieving process.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matt. 5:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me Psalm 23:4
2 – Have the courage to lament
Lamenting is showing a passionate expression of grief to God
Don’t complain about God – complain to Him – He can handle it. Share with him your emotions.
65 of the 158 Psalms are Psalms of lament. If you don’t know what to read Psalms is a great place to start. Here are some Psalms of lament: 3-7,9,10,12-14,17,22,25-28,31,35,36,38,39,41-44,51-61,64,70,71,74,77,79,80,82,83, 85,86,88,90, 94,102,109, 137, 139-143,145
3 – Ask Jesus to heal your broken heart.
Jesus came to heal our broken hearts. Ask Him to heal yours.
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who honor him. For he understands how weak we are. Psalm 103:13-14
Jesus: “God has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…” Luke 4:18
Sermons. They always help me in the trials. I have listened to this one 6 times over the last week. Because it made headline news many people know Rick Warren lost his son last year. This sermon, How We’re Getting Through (starting at minute 10), was an introduction to what Rick described as the 6 stages of grief.
1 – Shock - When Your World Collapses. Something happens that turns your world upside down. Shock is a human emotion. God is never shocked. Nothing ever surprises Him.
2 – Sorrow – When Your Heart is Breaking. Grieving is a necessary part of the process when going through a hard time. Grieving is a Godly emotion and God grieves with us. We are not alone in this process. Jesus wept - John 11:35
3 – Struggle – When You Don’t Understand. This is the stage when we ask why. What we need to remember is explanations don’t help. Knowing why doesn’t lessen the pain, it doesn’t bring healing, and it won’t bring back any one we have lost.
4 – Surrender – How to Experience Peace. Stop asking why and start accepting and surrendering. This is the key to gaining peace.
5 – Sanctification – How God Turns Good Into Bad. When God sets you apart and makes changes in you. This is when we see God bring good out of the bad.
6 – Service – How to Use Your Pain for Good. Pain is never wasted.God takes your greatest pain and turns it into your life message. He turns our mess into a message and our test into a testimony.
With this being the introduction sermon to the 6 stages, Rick shared some wonderful words of wisdom about his journey and some encouraging verses.
1. Life doesn’t make sense, but we can have peace because we know God is with us and God loves us.
We can blame God, we can blame ourselves, but neither of those will be helpful.
It’s better to walk with God with none of our questions answered then walk without God with one of our questions answered.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you! When you pass through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; it will not consume you! Isaiah 43:2
I will never leave you and I will never abandon you. Hebrews 13:5
2. Everything on earth is broken, but we can have joy because we know God is good and He has a greater plan.
Sin broke everything. Nothing on earth works perfectly. We live in a very broken world. The weather is broken (tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes). Health is broken (sickness and death). Relationships are broken (divorce, affair, heartbreaks). The list goes on and on. It’s a broken world. So why is there sin and evil? God has given us the free choice to choose Him or not. We won’t experience true restoration until we are with Him in heaven. Could he eliminate all the brokenness in the world, right now? Of course, but that would include getting rid of us – we are sinners and broken too.
Not everything that happens is good. The promise in Romans 8:28 isn’t that bad won’t happen. The promise is that the bad that does happen, God will use it to turn it into good.
All things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
We can have joy even in our troubles because we know that these troubles produce endurance. And endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will not disappoint us, because God has poured his love to fill our hearts. Romans 5:3-5
3. Life is a battle, but we can have hope because we know there is more to the story.
God is in all the details. He is working every day to write our story.
Christians are able to grieve differently because we know the end of the story. We don’t know the path to getting to the end, but we know where we will be when we pass: heaven. We are able to grieve with hope.
We often suffer, but we’re never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again… because we know God raised the Lord back to life. And just as he raised Jesus, he will also raise us back to life, and will bring us into his presence together. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9,14
So we don’t focus on the troubles we see right now; instead we look forward to what we don’t see yet. For the troubles we see now are temporary, but the joys to come will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18
Based on how these stages were defined, I think I’m in the sorrow stage. I say that because my heart aches. So heavily.
I choose to believe that God will redeem this story. He will restore us all. He will heal us emotionally and spiritually. He will work out all things for our good. My hope is in Him, the author and perfecter of our story. Thank you to everyone for their prayers, please continue praying for my brother and sister-in-law, Shawn and Aki, as they go through these 6 stages of grief.
I keep thinking about this sermon I listened to back in the fall. The content was all about healing and miracles and if you keep listening after the sermon there are some amazing testimonies.
The power of Jesus’ healing is something that is overlooked in churches today. I believe the reason it doesn’t happen more is because people don’t believe in it. We are asking, believing, and trusting that we are already healed and that the Lord is going to bring us our miracle babies. I desire to encourage others to have that same confidence so I wanted to share some of the points from the sermon (starts around the 9th minute) in hopes that it encourages someone today.
3 Truths about Healing
1. God can heal. If He can do anything, then He can heal.”With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
2. God does heal. Not only can God heal, but He does heal. “I am the Lord, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23
3. What we believe about healing is important. If you don’t believe in healing, it’s not going to happen. “He did not do many miracles, because of their lack of faith.” Matthew 13:58
10 Lies People Believe About Healing
1. God will heal others but He won’t heal me.God does not show favoritism. Romans 2:11
2. I do not deserve to be healed. None of us deserved to be healed, but Jesus made us worthy when He died on the cross. No sin will keep you from healing. Your sickness may be from sin, but just because you are sick does not mean you are in sin. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases Psalm 103:2-3.
3. Other people need to be healed more than I do. God has the power and authority to heal ALL people. His power is not limited and He cares about each and every individual and their sicknesses.
4. I’ve prayed many times, but I haven’t been healed, so there’s no point getting prayed for again. Every time we pray something happens. Keep asking. Keep believing.
5. I have to have someone lay hands on me to be healed. It is biblical to lay hands on people, but this isn’t the only way. God is the healer, he will heal when and how he wants to. It might be when you are sleeping, when someone is laying hands on you, through a text message, while you are driving, you just never know!
6. I didn’t feel anything when I received prayer. Some people don’t feel anything when they are healed.
7. I wasn’t totally healed, so I’m not really healed. While a miracle happens instantly, healing might happen over time. The 10 lepers were healed as they went. God will finish the work He started in you. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
8. I’ve had this problem too long for it to be healed. Healing delayed is not healing denied. It is never too late to be healed.
9. My problem is too small to be healed. God cares about everything no matter how small or how big.
10. My problem or my condition is too big to be healed. Nothing is too big or difficult for God.
If you have been believing lies about the healing power of Jesus, repent. Ask for forgiveness and walk out in faith that He can and He will heal you! Remember, it’s our job to pray, but God’s job to heal.
Thankful sums up how we have felt on our journey to become parents. We thank Jesus every day for our babies that we will one day get to hold. We thank Him for the trials we have endured. We thank Him for the joy, strength, and peace He gives us daily. The list goes on and on. I love the topic of Tim Dilena’s recent sermon: gratitude. He makes the point that when we are praying for something and waiting, we should always be thankful, even before it’s answered. We shouldn’t wait until after.
Luke 17:11-17 tells the story of Jesus healing 10 men with Leprosy. Out of those 10 men, only one thanked God. In verse 16, the man threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. In verse 19, Jesus asks what happened to the other 9 men and why didn’t they respond in thankfulness? Jesus then declares, “Your faith has made you well”.
What a powerful story and what a great reminder of what thankfulness does. While the other 9 had just got up and left, the one samaritan stayed to thank God and then received more than he had asked for. All 9 men received the gift with an ungrateful spirit. Because of the one man’s grateful spirit, he grew in the understanding of God’s grace and learned that his faith played a role in His healing. This story gives us a picture that the other 9 missed out on additional blessings from God. I don’t know why they left after they were healed, but maybe they felt entitled or like they deserved the miracle.
The thankful man got something deeper that everyone else missed out. God goes deeper when we are thankful. Thankfulness takes us from where we are to where we need to be.
There are so many other examples of God multiplying gratitude.
In Matthew 15:36, when Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread, they had so much, that there were leftovers. Thankfulness multiples what you have and leaves you with leftovers.
In John 11:41, Jesus thanks God. The next verse, Lazarus was raised from the dead. Thankfulness here brings dead stuff to life.
Stop being angry for what God hasn’t done and start thanking Him. Instead of praying out of desperation and telling God what you want from Him, show gratitude.
Psalm 100:4 in the message says, Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. So much of our days are driven by passwords. Passwords to check your your bank account, your email, your airline miles, your applications at work, your alarm at home, etc….
Let’s start thinking of thankfulness as a password. It unlocks the key to what we are believing for. It brings answered prayer and it brings breakthrough. But, it’s so much more important than that. Even if the Lord never once did one more thing for us, we still have SO much to be thankful for. He sent His son to die on the cross, shouldn’t that be enough?
Transition from saying “I need” to “I thank”. Stop withholding your thanks you while waiting for something to happen. Thank you should happen before the miracle, not after the miracle.
I came across this sermon from 2010 on the Gateway website. It’s so relevant to celebrating Christmas and to our journey in believing for a miracle.
How do you picture a King arriving? When you think of royalty what do you imagine? The story of the birth of Jesus proves that God’s way of doing things are often much different from ours.
1 – The Place of Bethlehem. Why did God choose Bethlehem for the birth of his son? Because God likes to choose the smallest and most inconsequential places to birth miracles. Just like we came from a small place, so did Jesus. God takes the smallest thing and shows himself the strongest. God can take anything small and birth something very significant. No matter how small of the place you came from, God will use you for big things.
2 – The People of Bethlehem. Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was an unwed teenager. Can you just picture Joseph with a hard hat and some tools? Can you imagine Mary and Joseph’s conversation about them getting pregnant? A teenager and a carpenter trying to tell others about their baby on the way. The baby who was conceived through the Holy Spirit. Don’t you think they were mocked and made fun of? It was a scandalous act and for many, very hard to believe. God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
3 – The Problem of Bethlehem – Bethlehem was not a perfect place. The birth of Jesus was in a manger and although we have an image of what a manger looks like based on a nativity scene or a play we have watched, it wasn’t what we think of it to be. There was nothing glamorous about it. God doesn’t birth miracles out of perfect places, he births miracles out of problem places.
4 – The Promise of Bethlehem – Micah 5:4-5 says that His greatness will reach the end of the earth. He will be our peace. Peace isn’t the absence of problems. Peace is the presence of God in the midst of problems.
This is such a beautiful story filled with so much hope. This story of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day encourages us that when we feel weak, inadequate, insignificant, poor and undeserving, we’re in just the right place for the miracle of the Savior to be birthed in us.
In the midst of your current circumstances, how can you focus your heart and mind on the promise of God during this season? God wants to birth a miracle in you. God wants to birth a miracle in your Bethlehem.
Tim Dilena does it again. I really am addicted to every one of His sermons. I listened to this 3x in a row, and again the next day 2 more times….. and then a few more times since then! His sermon is taken from John 11, which is the story about Jesus raising Lazarus up from the dead. I have written on this same topic before when I posted about situations that feel like Dead Ends. What I loved from that story is the reminder that when we feel like we are in a dead end, it isn’t God’s denial.
The context of this story in John 11 is that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus to come and heal Lazarus, but Jesus waited before acting on their request.
Isn’t that how we sometimes feel? We ask something and we feel like it should be a situation where God should act RIGHT THEN, but instead He tells us to wait? It’s clear that God has his own calendar for us. His ways are better than ours. His timing is better than ours. But, if He loves us, then why would he want to delay? It’s confusing, right? To God, it makes sense. He has access to view the bigger picture. He has our best interest in mind.
God sees something larger than we can see.
At any point, God can bring us a baby. But, the beautiful thing is He waits until our situation gets to the worst possible scenario. In my opinion, being diagnosed with azoospermia is one of the worst fertility diagnosis received. Sure, I’m bias to our situation. We know it takes one sperm and one egg to make a baby, but what do you do when you receive a phone call and are told there are no sperm? There are so many things doctors can do when it comes to female infertility, but male factor is not the same. This doesn’t mean our situation is emotionally harder, because in my opinion, infertility is all as equally as hard, so please don’t take that statement out of context.
The point of saying that is, the Lord waits until we can’t do anything about our situation, because He wants us to come to Him. Sure, we can visit doctors, try medicine, try surgery, try procedures, but none of those will bring us a baby, only God will! He might use those avenues to bless us, but ultimately, He is the creator of life.
God loves us. And those who he loves, He delays. When we are at the very last string on the rope and we decide to let him have ALL control is when God is given glory. If the doctor fixed the situation or if we did, sure we could say “Praise God”, but no one else would be touched by our story. I truly believe in our story God has allowed it to deteriorate as bad as it could to get to show how powerful He really is. When we are pregnant, there will be NO other explanation besides Him. It wasn’t us timing intercourse, tracking ovulation or seeking medical help, because we stopped all of that. The Lord told me to stop trying to control things, that way when we find out we are pregnant, the only explanation is that it is Him! The same God who raised Lazarus from the dead is the same God today who will bring us our baby. All praise, all honor, and all glory be to Him!
We are leaving on Friday for a trip to California. I’m excited to be sharing a few guests posts and 2 giveaways! Hope everyone has a great weekend! Stay tuned!
Remember last week when I felt sad, but the Lord totally redeemed the situation and brought me so much joy? I came across this sermon and just as any sermon or scripture always does, it helped restore my hope and joy amidst the sadness.
If you have been reading or following our blog for a while, you know we are waiting and expecting our breakthrough soon. This sermon was all about the power of perseverance while waiting, which was just what I needed to hear.
We are humans and when we face a difficulty it’s so easy for us to want to throw in the towel. But, this sermon helped me remember some of the greatest breakthroughs come on the other side of persevering through those tough trials and circumstances.
There are certain harvests that we only reap when we persevere through tough times. When we persevere well, without giving up, we will reap the harvest in due time. Let us not become weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
The Pastor mentioned 3 keys to persevering well:
1 – Remind yourself of God’s character – As I’ve posted about before, fear is never from the Lord. Any time a thought of fear or doubt enters your mind, it is always from the enemy. We know that every time we take a step into our destiny and God’s will, it advances the kingdom of God. When God’s kingdom increases, the enemies must decrease, right? Except the enemy doesn’t like this. He will do everything in his power to make you question God, give you fear and doubts, and feed you lies.
Combined with fear, feelings of weariness can cause us to view God’s character through the lens’ of our circumstances. When we do this it encourages us to take our situation into our own hands. We throw ourselves a pity party and think ‘poor me’. We start to think God doesn’t love us or He doesn’t have good plans for us.
Instead of viewing God through our circumstances, what about if we viewed our circumstances through God’s character. So we are experiencing the same circumstances as the above scenario, but we view them from His perspective. When we do this it enables us to view everything from His eyes and reflect on His word and His promises. We are reminded that He is faithful and He works all things together for our good. This gives us an opportunity to look back and see how He has been faithful to us in all circumstances.
Most of the time if you feel like quitting it’s most likely because you have lost sight of God’s character. Remember He never forsakes us. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
2 – Embrace the process. God is most excited about the process of the breakthrough. The waiting journey that Colby and I have been on has been around 650 days. 650 days of waiting! The breakthrough, which will be the day we find out we are pregnant, is only one day. One day! Don’t you think that God is doing something in us while we are waiting that is way more important than the breakthrough we are waiting on? The character that we build while waiting will affect every day of our future, but the breakthrough is just one day. The process we are going through is much more beneficial than receiving the end result.
I hope this encourages you not to despise the process that is leading to your breakthrough. When you despise the process, you prolong it! Embrace what God is trying to teach you instead of ignoring it. Don’t be so excited for your breakthrough, that you forget about the character that is being built during the process. Think of the corruption that can happen if we receive God’s blessing without the character. I know I don’t want to be a mom, until I’m confident the Lord has instilled everything in me that prepares me for the role ahead. His timing is perfect and He never delays. He is just as excited for us to reach our breakthrough as we are, because His glory is tied up in our success.
Imagine digging a well. It would take a long time, right? But, the longer it takes and the deeper you cut, the more you will receive. Our lives and the journeys and trials we experience are the same way. The journey to our babies is just like digging a well and we will drink from this well for the rest of our life. It will benefit us not only as parents, but for years and years to come.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4
3 – We are not alone. God is with us every step of this journey. What the enemy means for evil, the Lord always turns into good. Genesis 50:20. When we go through a test, a testimony is always formed. The power of perseverance is that it creates a testimony in us and through us that everyone around us can see. This excites me so much. I can’t wait to experience our breakthrough to be able to share with everyone how good God is, how He is a God of miracles and how He is a God who keeps His promises. For Jehovah God is our Light and our Protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from those who walk along his paths. Psalm 84:11
Are you holding out for a promise that has been delayed? Are you in a situation that seems hopeless? Does God feel far? Has God called you to pursue something that is making you face a lot of resistance? Remind yourself of God’s character, embrace the process, and remember that you are not alone.
If you have time, go and listen. The actual sermon starts around the 42nd minute.
Today, Colby and I celebrate 3 years since we got engaged (and yes, we do celebrate every anniversary possible; monthiversaries, engagements, etc – feel free to roll your eyes all you want). I posted our engagement story last year with some pictures so if you are up for reading a sappy story, please do!! He is out of town today, so we don’t have any plans, but it’s always a fun day to remember and celebrate.
Now onto an awesome series LifeChurch.tv just recently finished up. They did a 4-part series about friends. This series was full of lots of truth and was very convicting for me. I hope some of the points below hit home for you too!
Craig drove home the main point with this: “Show me your friends and I will show you future”.
Isn’t that the truth? Aren’t we influenced by the people we hang out with? Think about your top 2 or 3 closest friends. Think about the qualities they have, because most likely yours are very similar to theirs.
If your friends go out and party every Friday night, you are probably doing the same. If they bash their husbands during girls night, then yep, you most likely are too. If they tell crude jokes, you most likely are laughing or participating. I realize this isn’t always the case. But, even if you aren’t doing those things, no one wants to be around someone who is a bad influence on you. Do not be fooled. “Bad companions ruin good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
What about those friends who encourage you on a bad day? Those who are devoted to spending time in the word or attending small group and church functions? Those who only speak life? If your top 2 or 3 friends are doing these things, then most likely won’t you want to as well? Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Proverbs 13:20
Craig brought up the topic of social media and how it has impacted friendships and relationships over the years. Isn’t that the truth? We have gone from phone calls to texting, emailing, or facebooking. It’s amazing to see how social media has caused friendships to deteriorate over the years. It actually makes me really sad to see that some people don’t ever want to answer their phone calls or return voicemails anymore. They would rather respond back via a text message.
I don’t know about you, but I want friends who walk life with me. I want them to walk through the trials (like now) and rejoice during the happy times. Most of us can say that going through a trial really makes us realize who are true friends are. This has definitely been the case for us.
You might be one friend away from changing your destiny. Who are your close friends? What can you do to be a better friend? Are your friends encouraging you? Are they influencing you to be a better person? Most likely who you hang out with predicts how your future will be.
Be a better friend. Call people. Share your weaknesses; they are the best way to connect with people. Be present. Spend time with your friends who are a good influence on you.
I encourage you to check out the series if you can. There is much more detailed info on how to love and be a light to those who aren’t encouraging you and how to step back from relationships that the Lord might be showing you need to come to an end.
This week I’m feeling the enemy’s presence. I’m a little worn out and emotionally exhausted, but the Lord reminded of this sermon. Despite my exhaustion, the Lord has continued to be so sweet and He has given me strength. We have a fun weekend ahead and are leaving for Tulsa today to meet my friends new sweet baby boy and spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. My sister-in-law got last minute tickets to Beth Moore, so we are going and I’m super pumped! Two conferences two weeks in a row! God is good.
Are you tired? Do you feel like your strength and hope need to be renewed? This isn’t just about being tired physically, although when we are tired physically, it affects us in other areas, but what about being tired emotionally, spiritually, and mentally? You might be tired of being single, tired of waiting for a job, tired of your marriage, tired of paying bills, tired of waiting for a baby and the list could go on and on.
As always, I loved Tim Dilena’s recent sermon on this topic. He reminded me that in John 4:6, Jesus was tired too. Jesus can relate to exactly how we feel.
Think about what you are waiting for. What about the waiting process makes you tired? It probably isn’t the thing you are waiting on, but instead it’s the length of how long you have to wait. If you have only been waiting a day, you probably are doing just fine, but if it’s been months or even years, you are probably exhausted. When exhaustion hits us it is easy to choose our own path. It seems easier to pursue the end result instead of being patient on the journey it takes to get us there.
There is purpose in the waiting. God’s road always leads us somewhere. He doesn’t take us on our journey to waste time or for there to be no purpose. His journeys always have purpose and they always produce character and fruit.
We know that we are supposed to stay on course with Him, but where does the hope and energy come from? What do we do when we are at the end of our rope and are exhausted? We need to remember that at our very best, we are still weaker than God’s weakest point. God is the one who gives us strength when we are weary. But, we have to ask for our strength to be renewed every day! It’s a daily commitment to look to Him for strength.So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
No matter how much you feel like you are stuck in a vicious cycle and the road seems long and you are ready to give up, just keep hoping. There is always hope in our situation when we put our trust in Him! Even if you are in tears today, joy comes in the morning! Psalm 30:5
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I had mentioned a few weeks ago that God was doing huge things. Well, He still is. The past two months have been a whirlwind with Him pouring out love to us. It all started with my sweet airport angel. Because of what He has done through her, my life has forever changed. He has been spoiling us non-stop with giving us glimpses of His promises for us. Everytime He does something I want to post about it. But, I know He is not done and because of that I’m going to hold off for when I get to write the full story. The one that He is so beautifully creating.
However, yesterday morning didn’t go as expected or planned. It was a hard morning. One of the harder ones CJ and I have experienced in a very long time.
But, even with that, He continued to spoil us. We found out that my Sister-in-law went into labor and had a sweet girl (we were all hoping it was going to be a girl, but they didn’t find out the sex beforehand). The Lord chose yesterday to bring life. To bring joy. A gentle reminder of His perfect timing.
It didn’t stop there. He continued to reveal Himself throughout the day; through friends, songs, and then a couple that He placed into our life last night. A couple who we had crossed paths with, but never spent time together. The couple who directs the program where we volunteer. But, instead of doing what they usually do, they stayed to volunteer with us. This was no coincidence. Somehow the journey of waiting to become parents came up and they decided to pray for us. The Lord knew we needed their friendship, their listening ears, and their prayers. More people laying their hands on us (and on my womb) and asking the Lord for complete healing. One more thing to add to the already ridiculously amazing and long list of things He has done lately. One more thing to build up our testimony to give Him glory.
He just continues to amaze me. He makes me want to shout and dance with joy. He is so sweet. He is so sovereign. He has good plans for us. He is writing a beautiful story and we can’t wait to reveal it to all.
And today, I re-listened (3X) to a sermon that I have probably listened to 10X. This sermon is NOTHING short of amazing. The short version is that when we ask the Lord to heal us and bring us many children, He hears our request and begins to do 10,000 things to make it happen. Even though we can’t see everything He is doing, He is at work every second of the day. In our case, we think He has already done about 9,000 things, but He wants to continue to spoil us while he finishes the last 1,000. We will continue to wait, and wait very expectantly.
Go check out the longer version of the sermon that I posted about last year, or better yet, go and listen. I promise this will be the best 32 minutes you spend all weekend.
This post is long overdue as this sermon was from Easter.
This story is about the death of Lazarus in John 11. Jesus speaks in verse 4 saying, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” This verse shows that God brings glory to himself through the worst news.
From verse 5 to verse 14, everyone believed Jesus was going to come help, but it turned out they all had to wait longer than they expected because for 2 days he did nothing.
Because of the delay, there were there people who felt “dead”. Dead in their doubts, dead in their discouragement, and dead in their delay.
1 – Thomas was Dead in Doubts
Thomas felt that nothing was going to turn out good. He had prayed a prayer, it didn’t happen, and he was overcome with doubts.
A person who is dead in doubts might be someone who questions why if God is good, bad things happen.
Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
2 – Mary was Dead in Discouragement
Mary stayed at home even though Jesus was coming. She felt stuck in life and didn’t want to leave her house.
A person who is dead in discouragement might be someone who never sees anything good that happens. They might be smiling on the outside, but are hurting on the inside. They are always depressed, feel they will never have a good marriage, always will fail as a parent or feel as though no one loves them.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. John 11:20
3) Martha was Dead in Delay
According to verse 21, Martha felt God took too long. Jesus should have come back earlier, but he didn’t.
A person who is dead in delay might be someone who feels they will never marry, have a baby, or receive healing from a medical issue.
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days… “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:17, 21
God’s delays are not God’s denials.
There are so many different ways we can feel like we are dying on the inside. Trapped. Delayed. Doubts. Thoughts. Depressed. Dysfunctional families. Calloused Heart. Fear. Lonely. Broken Marriages. Unemployment. But, when we seek God we get freedom from all of this.
Verse 22 says, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
So Even Now when something is dead, God can bring it back to life with His resurrection power. Even Now, when we feel dead in our delays, our doubts, our thoughts, our day to day life, God can bring us life! If God can defeat death, He can do anything, including resurrect us from dead ends.
Having an “Even Now” Faith believes that Even now all things are still possible with God – John 11:22
What dead ends are you facing? How have these dead ends affected you? Hold on to the truth that all things are possible with God. Even nowwhen we feel stuck in our delay and still don’t have a baby, we are reminded that God’s delays are not His denials!
We are in a period of waiting, still! I wrote a lot about waiting the 6 months when C.J. was living in Georgia, because at that time we were waiting on pursuing having children. Now that he is back, we are pursuing having a child, but still waiting for our blessing to come.
We don’t know how long this wait will be. We sure hope we won’t have to wait as long as Sarah and Abraham did. But, we are believing and praying big things!
I talk a lot about the Brooklyn Tabernacle sermons, and this one is from a pastor I had not heard from before, but it was on my favorite and most prevalent topic for us, waiting!
Todd’s sermon was a good reminder that when we are waiting on something and it doesn’t happen right away, it might feel like God is saying “no”, when He is really saying “not yet”.
In Acts 1:4 the disciples were in a waiting period in Jerusalem. On one occasion, while Jesus was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”
Jesus earlier had made a statement about going to preach the world to everyone. But, then in Acts 1:4, told the disciples to wait. The disciples must have been confused, were they supposed to go or were they supposed to wait? In the verses following the scripture, it says they decided to wait. The disciples must have understood that if they went ahead of God, they would be without God.
Isn’t that what we do? Grow impatient and try to do His job for Him. The longer we wait on something, our standards start to slip. We could be waiting for the dream job, but settle for something we won’t enjoy. Or we could be waiting for the man of our dreams, but then settle for someone, just because we want to get married. It can be so hard to figure out the will of God. Do we continue to pursue conceiving naturally or pursue fertility treatments? Do we switch doctors? Do we take prescription medication to help improve the chances or just stick with vitamins?
But, God has great things planned for us while we wait. When He does answers our prayers, I have no doubt we will realize some of the best things in our lives are the things we did not plan or pray for. God has already blessed us beyond what we ever could have asked for and He wants to bless us even more!
What are you waiting for? Are you willing to wait? The consequences are too great if you don’t and the rewards will be too great when you do.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21
Tim Dilena recently did a sermon on “What To Pray In Your Toughest Times”. He spoke about the story of Job. Job was a wealthy man who dealt with many trials. He lost his wealth, health and his 10 children. Despite his difficult situation, Job never cursed God. Job’s story helps us remember to trust God during trials and remain faithful while we wait for a solution. No matter how severe the pain is, we should never think that God does not listen or does not care. God wants us to learn beyond what we can presently see. We learn from Job’s story that it is possible to endure even the most terrible test and God is always there with us though at times it feels like He is silent.
In Job’s story, a lot was taken away. But, God is still God whether He is giving or taking away. It’s easy to praise when He provides, but can we praise when he removes as well? Shouldn’t we continue to praise Him despite how hard the trial is? I believe that God gives us the ability to get through the toughest seasons. He doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. I have an index card on my nightstand with the verse below that I have been reading every morning.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7 Every trial we face is a refining process. As an example, the only way to refine metal is to keep it in the heat. God does the same with us. When we are in the fire is when God molds us to who He wants us to become. It sometimes feels like it’s all at once and that everything is crashing down around us; our faith, our health, our marriage, our job. A clay pot sitting on a shelf is still a pot, but once it’s put into a fire, it become porcelain. It doesn’t change on the shelf, but in the fire. We don’t change by walking through life one day at a time with no trials. We change while we are in the trials.
So we know that going through the purpose of our trial is to refine us, but what we need to realize is that we won’t always know all the other answers to “why”. However, knowing why will not give us what we need. Instead of spending time figuring out “why” we should invest our time getting to know God more.
So what do you do and what do you pray during the toughest time of your life? Instead of turning away, seek Him. Seek to know Him. Read His word. Spend time talking to Him. Surround yourself in community. Find a church. There is more value in knowing Him deeper, than knowing the answer of “why” to every trial. Have faith and hope in what you are waiting for, because while you are praying for one thing, God is doing 10,000 to make it happen.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.- 2 Corinthians 12:9 “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
Control. Something I definitely struggle with. I’m sure CJ, my friends, family, coworkers and anyone who meets me could attest to that fact.
Craig recently did a sermon on the Altar Ego covering 4 great topics, but the one that hit me the most was “My Need For Control”.
There are two main things we try to control; people and circumstances. We feel as though we can control people. We try to micro manage, give silent treatment, manipulate, bribe, or even offer or withhold rewards. It could be with our spouse, our children, coworkers and even strangers. We also try to control circumstances. We want to look just right. We want to have the best house and yard. We want to control our schedules and our future, our kids and their future.
Just like we try to control our circumstances, Abraham and Sarah tried to control theirs. God had promised them a baby, but when He didn’t answer His promise immediately, Abraham and Sarah took control. They stepped over God’s promise, and made the decision that Abraham would sleep with Hagar, the maidservant, so they could have a baby.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Genesis 16:1-4
But, isn’t this a perfect example of what we do as well? How many times do we get weary of waiting on God, and instead of turning to Him, we make our own decisions? So what are you trying to control?
Craig mentioned three great questions to ask when we are trying to control something.
1- Is it worth my concern? So many of us are trying to control things that don’t matter that much. Ask yourself, Does it really matter? Will it matter a day or a month or even a year from now? Does it matter if the kitchen is left a mess? Or what about if the dishes aren’t clean? Or what about if your son goes to school without brushing his teeth? When you begin to recognize what doesn’t matter, you can focus on what does matter.
2 – Is it mine to control Sometimes it seems hard to find the balance between surrendering control vs. taking responsiblilty. It’s hard when we have a tough decision to make and struggle with understanding what God’s will is. So, if we know we can’t control all circumstances, especially the future, the only thing we are left to do is be responsible and make good decisions in the present situations. Examples:
We can’t change our spouse, but can pray for them, love them, support them. We can’t heal a loved one, but can pray for them, encourage them, offer medical advice and trust them to God. We can’t control the future, but can pray about it, seek wise counsel and make good decisions.
This verse is always a good reminder during times of stress or control of the future.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. James 4:13-14
3 – Is it for God alone?
What are you trying to control today that is not yours to control? Instead of being filled with anxiety, turn to the one who already knows! When we lay down what we think we want, God will give us what we ultimately need. When you try to control something you can’t, you are anxious. When you give it to God, you are overwhelmed with peace.
We know we can’t control everything in our situation, but we can make the most of it. We can make wise decisions about how we treat out bodies, so they would be made fertile. We can do our best to prepare for when we become parents. We can pray. But, in the midst of being responsible during our trial, ultimately we are leaving the control up to the One who already knows the plan!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. Phil 4:6-7
Another awesome sermon, by Steven Furtick, regarding the verses in Joshua 10. So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army,including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Joshua 10:7-14
So, why does this story matter?
1 -It demonstrates the magnitude of a defining moment.The context of the story takes place after the defeat of Ai. Five kings of Canaan joined forces to attack the city of Gibeon for making an alliance with Israel. Upon hearing of this move, Joshua and his men marched through the night from Gilgal to Gibeon where, with the Lord’s help, Israel waged war. In the midst of battle, Joshua prayed to God that the Sun would stand still until Israel could vanquish her enemy. It teaches us that God can turn any of our mistakes into a miracle.
2 – Symbolic for all the impossible things we are believing God for.What seems difficult to us isn’t even remotely difficult for God. There is no such word as ‘impossible’ for Him. He is the creator of all. He is able to make anything happen with the touch of a finger or a word from His mouth. When we feel the size of the need is to big, we need to realize it’s never too big for God. Joshua commanded 13 words and the sun stood still. That is all it took.
3 – It presents us with a paradigm with a whole new way to pray.Sun Stand Still prayers boldly believe God for the impossible. Often, we don’t pray boldly, but instead only ask God for little things that He is already doing (ie. God be with us today – when we know God is with us every second of the day). What if we prayed for healing? What if we prayed for financial restoration? Restored marriages? It seems as though what we pray reflects what we believe about God. And, if there is nothing we are believing God for that is intimidating to us, it’s probably an insult to God.
4 – It teaches us that asking and acting go hand in hand.Joshua had to fight the battle for himself, but the Lord helped him. If we are going to pray to make the Sun Stand Still, we better be willing to march all night, just as Joshua did. We can’t ask God for an A on our test, yet never have even opened a book or done homework. God isn’t just going to drop miracles out of the sky. We must have a persistence to pursue what we pray for.
I love that God spoke in past tense in verse 8 (I have given them). We serve a God who speaks about our battles in the past tense, because He already won them. He is victorious. He has already gone ahead and fought for us. He is the same God now as He was when He made the sun stand still. If He can do that, He is fully able to perform any other miracle. Our bold prayer is as we seek out the holistic approach to conceiving, that He blesses us abundantly with children.
So, what Sun Stand Still prayers are you praying for?
Tim Dilena, who obviously has been my favorite pastor to listen to lately, spoke about the verses in Proverbs 3:1-6.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you;bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
This is such a solid verse. One that I have known for years, but was refreshing to hear Tim speak about it.
In the verses in Proverbs Solomon gives us 3 straight paths to take:
1 – Trust in the Lord with all Your Heart- We know absolute truth exists because God always tells the truth. We can trust him because he is trustworthy. We should bring all things to God in prayer knowing He has good plans for us and already knows our heart desires. We might not understand everything God wants us to do, but we need to trust Him with what he leads us to do.
2 – Lean not on our own understanding – We should put all our weight and rest in Him. He knows what is best for us. He is a better judge of what we want than we are. We should be willing to listen to and be corrected by God’s word and wise counsel.
3 – Acknowledge Him in all your ways – We need to turn every area of life over to God. When we make Him a vital part of everything we do; then he will guide us because we will be working to accomplish His purposes.
And, what is the result when we do these 3 things?
God promises us that He will make our paths straight.
So how do we get to where God wants us to go as quick as possible? How do we avoid wrong directions? It took the Jews 40 years on the wilderness journey in what could have only taken 11 days had they sought God. How do we avoid a similar situation?
We do this by trusting, leaning, and acknowledging Him in everything! My prayer for this journey is that we can continue to seek him 100% with all areas of our lives as we look for direction for what God has in store for our family.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.- James 1:5
This recent sermon I listened to from Life Church is so perfect for what we are going through. It really applies to anyone who is facing the impossible. During our lifetime, we either just went through a hard time, are going through a hard time,or will soon be going through a hard time. I highly recommend this sermon to anyone who is currently going through a hard time.
This sermon is from a series discussing Child-like faith. So, what does it look like to have childlike faith? I was reminded a few days ago on Christmas when my sister in law had mentioned to me that my niece had been praying for a while that it would snow on Christmas. And yes, God answered that prayer and it snowed (in Dallas, TX) on Christmas. What if I had the Child-like faith and prayed sweet, bold prayers like that of my 3.5 year old niece?
Childlike Faith Believes the following:
1 – Our God Can- We overcome obstacles by having a childlike faith and believe God can do anything. Heal infertility. Reconcile marriages. Employ the unemployed. Create financial peace from debt. Save the unsaved.
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17
2 – Our God Will – Often, we believe God can, but don’t believe God will. We think God will do it for others, but not for ourselves.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47
3 – Even if God doesn’t, I still believe. Childlike faith is big enough to handle it when God says no.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
So, what impossible things are you asking God to do? Do you believe God can do anything you ask of Him and if not, what can you do to build your childlike faith? After all, our Faith shouldn’t be built on what God does, but who God is. So, even though we know God Can and believe He will, if He has other plans, we know He is still God and we still believe in Him!
When asking God for something, why does it sometimes seem as though He does not answer our prayer? How should we go through life when we at times we feel so distant from God? In a recent sermon I listened to, Paul Gotthardt spoke of 5 things we never hear about prayer referencing Psalm 22:1-6,23,24. In these verses, David was desperate for God to answer his prayer and he revealed to God his thoughts, his tears, and his broken heart.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man,scorned by everyone, despised by the people. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. Desperation is normal. In verses 1 – 2, David cries out to God asking why He had forsaken him. He was desperate, not because he doubted God could answer His prayers, but because he was unsure of God’s timing. The longer the time between when we ask God for something and when God answers, the more desperate we get and the more discouraged we become. We live in a society that wants everything now. And, it’s no different when we pray to God, we always want an answer immediately. In these verses, David begged God night and day, but God has purpose in His delays.God will answer when He is ready. If He hasn’t answered yet, it’s only because there is a reason behind it. There is example after example in the bible, of people who waited:
Sarah waited 90 years to have Isaac. Abraham waited 25 years from the time he received the promise of Isaac, until Isaac was born. Hannah was barren for many years and waited until she had Samuel. Joseph waited 13 years from when he was given a vision of ruling over the people, until it happened. Simeon and Anna waited their entire lives for consolation of Israel. Israel waited years for the Messiah.
Reflection is helpful.In verses 3 – 5, David reflects on God’s holiness. He recognizes that He is above all. He is preeminent. He is completely righteous. He honors God through his praises. Even though David didn’t understand what God was doing, He still praised Him. Once He looked back at all God had done, it gave David a new perspective on how good God was.When we reflect on God, we see how Good He is and it enables us to praise Him even during the trials.
Humility is essential. In verse 6, David refers to himself as a worm, alluding to the fact that compared to everyone and everything else, he is nothing. He humbles himself before God and continues to praise Him. When we don’t praise God and we turn to complaining instead it is usually rooted from a manifestation of pride. We complain because we value our will more than God’s will. We keep record of all the good things we have done and try to prove to God that we deserve what we ask for. We turn to desiring God to be the center of our world, instead us the center of His. We need to recognize His plan is always better. We have two choices: we can choose to be bitter or we choose to honor God.
Praise is never contingent.Throughout Psalm 22, David records the way he feels as he goes through the trials and his continued desperation for God to speak and act in his life. Verse 23 switches gears challenging people in to praise God and reflecting on all He has done. Up to this point, God still hadn’t answered David’s prayers, but he chooses to praise God. We need to chose to praise God for who He is, not for what He has done. What if we only received praised when we did something good? What if our spouse only told us they loved us when we made them dinner or did their laundry? We shouldn’t be loved for what we do, but for who we are. In the same manner, we need to value God for His character, not his actions.
Truth is overlooked.Often we get so caught up in our emotions, problems and perceptions that we blur our view of the truth. After David started the Psalm with asking God why He had forsaken Him, in verse 24 David mentions that God listened to his cry for help. So often, we can be so dramatic and caught up in our own events, that we forget the truth of our Savior and despite the fact that we are praying and feel as though God isn’t listening, He is!
So what does all this mean for us? Whenever we pray, we need to remember that God hears our prayers. He knows our every thought. When we grow desperate as we continue to wait and we feel as though God is so far away, we should look back over the character of God and praise Him for who He is. When God says wait, we should humble ourselves and focus on the truth, instead of overlooking it.
Could it be that God delays His answer to our prayer so that we will get over our own desires and realize He is enough? Our greatest need isn’t for our prayer to be answered, but our greatest need is to know Him more. He might have us continue to wait until we make Him our world again and realize our prayer isn’t our greatest need, He is.
God created the world out of nothing and as long as we know we are nothing, He can create something out of us – Martin Luther
I listened (4 times) to another awesome awesome awesome sermon. I say that about every one I listen to, I know. This is another one by Tim Dilana from Brooklyn Tabernacle. And, these posts don’t do them justice, you must go listen. So good!
Then King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and for the foot stool of our God, and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today.’ 1 Chronicles 28:2-7
These verses take place at the end of David’s life. David gathered all the decision makers together and humbled himself to share his story of collision between him and God. David shared with the leaders that he had intended and prepared to build a house, but God responded with “no”. The verse that follows after God responded “no” starts with “But God said”. God had different plans for David and told David that instead of him building the house it would be Solomon. So, David intended and prepared, but God led him down a different path. Isn’t no one of the hardest words to hear? How did David respond to this? In verse 4, David reports to the leaders that God chose Him to be King. He recognizes that He was the chosen one. He doesn’t focus on the closed door, but still recognizes that despite it wasn’t the answer he wanted, God is still good and still blessed him. Instead of complaining, David recounts the blessing of God.
Can we handle it when God tell us no? How will we react when God says no to us and it looks like He is saying yes to everyone around us? We see others having babies, others get promotions, others get nice new houses, yet He keeps shutting the door to our desires and requests.
This goes all the way back from the first fall of man – Adam and Eve. They were told they could eat from any tree of the garden, except one. The enemy took their attention off the millions of trees they could touch and focused on the one tree they couldn’t touch. The one thing God said no to, overtook the millions of other blessings that God said yes to. We forget what He has done for us, because we focus on the one thing He hasn’t done for us. When in reality, the only reason He says no is because He has better plans for us.
It’s clear that when we seek God wholeheartedly, He will close doors. But, as many times as He says no, it won’t even compare to the amount of times He tells us yes. We must have an attitude and perspective like David. When God closes doors, we need to praise Him. What if we asked “why me”? every time God blesses us, instead of only asking “why me”? every time He says no? We shouldn’t blame Him for the bad things, but instead give Him glory for the good things.
We do not know what lies ahead for us on our infertility journey, but looking back we know that for now, God has already said no. Of course, we hope and pray it’s just a timing issue, but while we wait, we won’t respond with anger, doubt, or “why us?”, but we will continue to praise Him. We will try to maintain having an attitude similar to David’s and recount all the blessings He has said yes too.
Lately, I can’t get enough of sermons from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. Sometimes I wish I could just sit in my room and listen all day. They are SO good and so far, every sermon I have listened to just rocks my world. The one I recently listened to, titled ‘Don’t Give Up’ from Jim Cymbala was a great encouragement not to give up when times get hard.
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. 1 Corinthians 4:16-18
The verse starts out by telling us not to ‘lose heart’. What does this mean? We do not ‘lose heart’ when we make the decision not to give in to fear or fatigue that leads us down the path of quitting. The trials we are going through right now are momentary, yet it is so easy to have such a limited perspective. It gets even harder when the devil tempts us with thoughts that make us feel like we aren’t good enough or what we are fighting for is not worth the fight. However, according to Paul, we need to keep on fighting the fight and focus on the eternal glory being achieved that outweighs the trial.
How do we remedy the negative thoughts that go through our minds? How do we stay positive and have enough energy to keep on fighting the fight as Paul did? We have to be renewed day by day.
It’s a daily commitment to look towards God for peace and strength. Not once a year, or weekly, but daily. When we look to Him, the author of our lives, He gives us strength. He renews us. He gives us strength. He lifts us up with wings like eagles.
We look to seek Him daily for we know that He has and will continue to give us the strength and wisdom to make it through each day. During this trial, God wants us to focus on the eternal, not the current trial. He rejoices with us when we turn to Him for strength and when we focus on the truth of His word and His promises to us.
I recently listened to a sermon on boldness, which I hope continues to transform our prayers and beliefs for a miracle. I loved the topic of boldness, because as previously mentioned in my last post, my friend Erin really taught me what it meant to declare scripture over our situation and ask God for big things.
I decided to look up bold in the dictionary and these were a few definitions that stood out
beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action;imaginative
not hesitating or fearful
necessitating courage and daring
There were four sermons in this series, but the second one on praying bold prayers was my favorite. The passage is from the Believers’ prayer in Acts.
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit…Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus,whom you anointed.They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now,Lord,consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.Acts 4:23-25,27-31 The Believers’ in this passage prayed boldly. They started off by praising God. They did not ask God to remove their problem, but to help them deal with it. They believed, which built in them a behavior of boldness. It takes boldness to press on through our fears and do what is right. The passage ends with the place being shaken and the word of God spoken boldly!
What you pray for reflects what you believe about God
That statement really hit me in the gut. What do I pray for? Do I pray big prayers, believing God will answer them? Or, just small ones having a lack of faith in His power?
Some people might not pray at all because they don’t believe prayers will be answered. Some people just pray for themselves, thinking God lives for them. Or, some people use prayer as a last resort as I’m sure everyone has heard this statement, “well I guess we have tried everything else, all we can do is pray now.”
What if we (including me) all prayed bold prayers? Prayers for restored marriages. Healing from infertility. Friends and family members to know Christ. Orphans to be loved and adopted. So many prayers we pray are little prayers. “Thank you for this day, please be with us.” Or, “Thank you for this day, please keep us safe.”
Join me in praying boldly! Don’t know how? Ask the holy spirit to give you courage for boldness. Stop praying for little things, pray for big things. Our big thing is complete healing over our bodies. We believe our God will answer, when we pray boldly.
In my post over Matthew, I said I was going to try to stay away of the “going through trials” themes, yet I keep coming across awesome books and sermons and they speak directly to my heart.
I recently listened to a 3 sermon series over Habakkuk. I’m going to try to sum it up all 3 sermons in this post.
The purpose of the book of Habakkuk was to show that God was still in control despite all the evil in the world. The book records the prophets’ dialogue with God concerning why God doesn’t seem fair during evil. Unlike most books of the bible that bring God’s word to people, Habakkuk brought people’s questions to God.
1 – Where are you God?
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:1-4
Habakkuk poured out to God in the first chapter and felt like God didn’t care. Not only that, but that God wasn’t doing much even though He was capable, and what He was currently doing didn’t seem fair.
God responds in verse 5:
“Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
I love The Message version of verse 5: “Look around at the godless nations. Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. Something’s about to take place and you’re going to find it hard to believe. God responded saying He would do amazing things.
2 – What do you do when you are in the trial?
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:1-3
I love the New Living Translation of verse 3 -
But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
The watchman and watchtower were used by the prophets to show an attitude of expectation. It presents an image of Habakkuk’s patience while waiting for God to respond. Habakkuk complained to God about the situation twice already (Habakkuk 1:1-4 and 1:12-17), but God’s answer was to be patient and responds with telling Habakkuk three main things:
Listen – …I will look to see what he will say to me…
Write - …Write down the revelation…
Wait - …Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay
3 – How do we get out of the trial?
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
Remember what God has done
God came from Teman, the Holy One from
MountParan. Selah His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. Habakkuk 3:3
His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble.The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed.His ways are eternal. Habakkuk 3:4-6
Accept what God is doing
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Habakkuk 3:16
Trust what God will do
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.Habakkuk 3:17-18
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19 Our Trial
Chapter 1 started out with Habakkuk crying out to the Lord as he did not understanding what was going on. In chapter two, Habakkuk declared he would listen and wait to hear God. Chapter 3 concludes with Habakkuk rejoicing. His worship went to a whole new level and his circumstances didn’t change, but he did. I feel like we have gone through the ‘crying out to the Lord’ stage. Are we still doing that? Yes, of course, but we have fully accepted where we are right now and trust and know that God is in complete control. We are praying and asking for healing, but at the same time we are listening, writing and waiting.
To trust God fully means to trust him even when we don’t understand why these events are occurring as they are.
God’s word promises that He will not delay! We are currently bracing ourselves for a shock. Yes, we believe it will happen. And, the only thing we will be able to explain to people is that is was God’s miracle. There will be no other explanation and people will find it hard to believe, but we know that God promises to us that He will do amazing things and we look forward to rejoicing with God, each other and those who have joined our journey with us.
I recently listened to a 4 sermon series from Austin Stone church. The series was about the sovereignty of God over suffering and evil based off of Genesis 37-39,50 and Joseph’s trials throughout those chapters. I highly recommend the series as all 4 sermons were really good and the recap below does not do the audio version justice. I somehow typed up some notes and lost them so instead of starting over and retyping the details, here are some main points that I was really encouraged by:
Suffering isn’t a sign that God has left you.
Often when things look like they are going the most wrong, God is doing the most good.
For every evil, God promises to be with you, hurt with you, and heal with you as you go through it.
God works all things for good, even in the suffering.
Everything has to happen how it happens for things to work out how God intends.
The God who wills evil to happen is the same God who promises to be with you during the suffering.
During suffering, you can choose to run to God or run away from God.
When you can’t understand what God is doing, look at what he has already done.
Psalm 40:1-4 – I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy put, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Waiting. That seems to be the common theme of how we feel lately. Waiting on God’s healing of our bodies. Waiting for it be January 2012 so C.J will be back in TX. Waiting to see what God has for us in the future. Waiting to find out when will become parents.
I listened to a sermon today called Waiting Room that I will write more about later, but as I was reading tonight I came across this passage of David’s wait. As David cried out to the Lord and waited patiently he saw four benefits.
God lifted him out of his despair
God set his feet on a rock
God gave him a firm place to stand
God put a new song of praise in his mouth
Often blessings cannot be received unless we go through the trial of waiting.
Psalm 40:7-10 – Then I said, “Here I am, I have come-it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O Lord. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
In the prior verses, there is a desire to do God’s will, serve and obey Him. David promises to speak of God’s faithfulness and salvation around him.
We have talked a lot about how to use this time wisely as we begin our long distance relationship and extend our waiting time even further. Our hope is to continue to cry out to God, sing His praises and speak of His faithfulness and salvation around us. And, after the waiting room door is closed, we hope to be rejoicing in all His blessings and continuing to share His good name.
The sermon this past weekend at Lifechurch was called Perspectives. We rushed home after church at Northwest bible because I had a feeling it would be good. And of course, it was!
The sermon was from the book of Philippians, which is a letter written by Paul to the church in Philipi. Paul wrote the joy filled letter while he was in Roman prision for 2 years preaching the gospel. Even in the middle of his significant trial, God blesses Paul with joy.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:1-21
Life is all about what our perspectives are on the situations we encounter. We can be late and stuck in traffic, but then you hear about someone who got in bad car wreck and all of a sudden the current situation doesn’t seem that bad.
What and Why
We all have a what and don’t understand the why
God always has a why behind the what.
I don’t have to understand the why to trust God in the what
We know God doesn’t waste a hurt. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He takes what the enemy meant for evil and if we trust Him, He will turn our trial into something that develops character and faith.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Two questions to ask when life is hard: 1 – Now what? What has happened to you?
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12
What has happened to you? Lost job, broken relationships, etc? Paul states what happened to him is to advance the gospel. Advance is translated “to move forward”. So what might seem really bad actually has a purpose to advance the gospel. Once we change our perspective we realize that God can turn what we experience as an obstacle as an opportunity for Him to show Himself. He can take setbacks and turn them into setups for Him to be glorified and for us to make a difference. Our prison can become our pulpit where we share what God is doing. If we change our perspective and look with spirtual eyes, we can see what God wants to do in the trial and through us.
As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Philippians 1:13
Who is the real prisoner in the story? When we take what is meant for evil and change our persepctive we can turn it around for what is good. The test you endure can become our testimony tomorrow. Our misery now can turn into our ministry later.
And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14
2 – So What? But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:18
What is most important?
So what matters? Nothing matters unless Christ is preached. We need to learn to say so what? Does this matter 1 years, 10 years or 100 years from now? We spill something on our favorite outfit, so what? We are running late and have to wait on a train on the road, so what? Our flight gets canceled and ruins our vacation plans, so what?
When you recognize what doesn’t matter, you can focus on what does matter.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
Our “what” and “why”?
Our “what” is infertility and now also, the news of C.J moving to GA for 6 months in the midst of the trial. We know that God has a “why” behind our “what” and right now I can say we definitely don’t understand the “why”, but we can trust God has a plan with our “what”.
Our “so what”?
Does this matter to us? Yes. Will we remember this in 10 years? Yes, I believe we will. In the perspective of things, we have so much to be grateful and no, when we compare our situation to others, it isn’t that big of a deal. This week I heard of two friends that lost parents. In perspective, is our situation nearly as bad as theirs? No. We know we have so much to be grateful for, our health and our marriage, whether we are together or doing long distance we are still so blessed. We do know that God knows our hearts and He knows that it does matter to us. But, what is most important is that Christ is preached through this obstacle and that we take this obstacle and make it into an opportunity to share the gospel with others.
Can You See Him During Difficult Times is a sermon I came across on the lifechurch.tv website. The scriptures is Mark 10:46-52. The pastor spoke about Bartimaeus and his trial as a blind man. Here are my notes:
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:46-52
5 Lessons from a Blind Beggar
Don’t wait for perfect conditions – Mark 10:46 – When we go through hard times, there is no wrong time to call out to Jesus for help. Bartimeaus was surrounded by a large crowd and although he didn’t have good conditions he sought out Jesus. His story teaches us that there is no wrong time to ask for help and we should never make an excuse or try to fix the problem on our own.
Concentrate on what you do have – Mark 10:47 – Focus on the strengths, not the weaknesses. Even though Bartimaeus couldn’t see Jesus with his physical eyes, he concentrated on what he did have – his hearing. He maximized the good in his life to experience Jesus. Don’t focus on what you don’t have, focus on what you do.
Don’t be swayed by public opinion - Mark 10:48 – Bartimaeus was rebuked by many and told to be quiet. But, he knew he needed a miracle. He overcame the crowd to get in contact with Jesus. If he hadn’t rebuked them he might have never received his sight again. During trials, we will come across Faith Suckers, Faith intimidatiors and Faith Mockers. We have to overcome those who will rebuke or laugh at us. Many thought Abraham and Sarah were crazy for waiting on a baby, but through there faith, God blessed them.
Jesus hears the cries of desperate people - Mark 10:49-51 – As Jesus was walking on the road, he heard the cry of one desperate blind beggar, Bartimaeus. He hears our every prayer and our desperate cries and when we believe, He answers our prayers. In vs 51, the blind man was willing to throw aside the cloak to follow Jesus which was very significant in this story. What is it that we are are willing to throw aside to follow Jesus? Pride, Anger, Control, Envy?
Follow Jesus when times turn good - Mark 10:52 – The most important thing for Bartimaeus wasn’t getting his eyesight back, but it was following Jesus. Even when we receive a miracle we need to continue to follow Jesus.
These 5 points are so applicable to our current trial. Immediately, we were on our knees desperate for Jesus. C.J reminded me that we have been blessed so much and that we have to focus on what we do have – God and each other, and not mourn the loss of what we don’t have. Through peoples’ remarks, we have already experienced and come across those who have had difference of opinion (“why can’t you just adopt?”). A frequent question I hear now is, “You have been married a year now, when are you having kids” and when I tell C.J the weekly comments, he reminds me that we are on God’s timing and not our own or others. We are so thankful that God hears our cries and has been showing us favor in small ways. We know he will never leave us or forsake us during this time. I will be the first to admit, when things are going good in life, it doesn’t seem as much of a necessity to be on our knees for Jesus, but I hope that I will never forget the feeling when the first phone call came of this bad news and how desperate we were. We are desperately praying that our story ends up like Bartimaeus and that we too receive healing.