2019-10-15….Tuesday….Commitment

2019-10-15….Tuesday….Commitment

The second step in being changed by God is commitment. When the angel asked to be let go, Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). Jacob was committed; he was persistent; he stayed with the situation until he worked it out. He was in a situation he didn’t like. It was frustrating and it was getting him down, but he was one hundred percent committed to staying with the situation until God turned it around for good.

Here is the lesson we learn from this: After God gets our attention with a problem, he does not solve it immediately. There are these words that we must work toward in our lives.  Words like faith, steadfast, endurance… Most people miss God’s best for their lives because they give up too soon; they cop out; they become discouraged. When God allows a problem in their lives, instead of hanging in there and saying, “God, I’m not going to let go of this until you bless me, until you turn it around, they give up and end up missing God’s best.

Often when people go for counseling They are asked, “Have you tried praying about the situation?”

They will reply, “Oh yes, I’ve prayed.”

“How many times?”

“Once.”

We are so conditioned to having instant everything—instant macaroni, instant access, instant success—that if we don’t have an instant answer to our one prayer, or an instant turnaround, we say, “Forget it, God.” Sometimes a couple struggling in their marriage are ready to give up just when success is around the corner. They are ready to cop out when the solution is almost there.

Even if we really want to change, we need to remember that we didn’t get into our present mess overnight. Our attitudes and actions and habits and fears and weaknesses and ways of responding to our wife or husband took years to develop, and sometimes God has to remove them layer by layer. Usually it takes a while for God to change you.

It also takes time for us to adapt to the new conditions and situations. Psychologists tell us that it requires six weeks of doing something every day before something becomes a habit in our lives. This is why many people never get into the Bible. We read the Bible for two or three days, miss it for a few days, then read it again for a few days. We never get past that six-week barrier, and as a result, we never feel comfortable with it. We must do it every day for at least six weeks before we start becoming comfortable with this good, new habit.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. There is hope. Hang in there. Be committed to getting God’s best for your life.

Commitment—Habit—whatever it is we must show our faithfulness.

2019-10-14….Monday….It’s a process

2019-10-14….Monday….It’s a process

Jacob was a somewhat shifty fellow. Even his name means “cheater” or “schemer” in Hebrew. But a life-changing experience transformed him into a new person, and he became Israel, the man after whom the entire nation of Israel was later named. After that experience Jacob was never the same again.

In this story we have a clear expression of the process God uses to help us become the kind of people we want to be. This process we will do a step at a time the next four days.  The message…..It is a truly encouraging message—a message that says we don’t have to stay in the rut we are in, that God will help us to change, to overcome that weakness or sore spot in our life. We just have to let him. So how do we let God do that?

Genesis 32 relates that while Jacob was alone one night, someone (an angel, according to Hosea 12:4) appeared and wrestled with him until daybreak.

When the man [the angel] saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak”

“You may be asking, what does a wrestling match with an angel several thousand years ago have to do with changing me today? There are some important insights in this incident that show clearly the four steps required for transformation. Crisis, commitment, confession, and cooperation.

Jacob had a long wrestling match with an angel, and the angel was struggling, but it was a no-win situation for them both. By daybreak the angel was getting tired of the struggle because he saw that he could not win. It was a situation beyond his control. The lesson we see in this is that when God wants to change us, he starts by getting our attention, by putting us in a frustrating situation that is completely beyond our control. We cannot win, and we just keep getting more “and more tired in the struggle. God uses experiences and problems and crises to get our attention. If we are experiencing a crisis right now, it is because God is getting ready to change us for the better. We never change until we get fed up with our current situation, until we get uncomfortable and discontented and start feeling miserable. When we become uncomfortable and miserable enough, we finally are motivated to let God do something in our lives.

We have put ourselves in a crisis somehow. Self inflicted, circumstances beyond our control… God does that in our lives: he makes us uncomfortable—if that’s what it takes—because he knows what is best and he wants us to grow. He will ALLOW (He didn’t cause) a crisis, problem, irritation, or frustration in our lives to get our attention. 

Finally there comes a time…that we will change.  That moment is when our fear of change is finally exceeded by the pain we are experiencing.  That moment starts a great process in our lives.  

Looking forward to a great week….

2019-10-13….Morning Coffee

2019-10-13….Morning Coffee

 We continue on in our series “Life’s battles today.”  As you have your morning coffee I want you to reflect upon yourself.  Think about this…If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Most of us are interested in change. Bestseller lists perennially include self-help books, and the New York Times even has specific categories for Hardcover Advice and Softcover Advice books. We attend seminars and read books and try diets and listen to tapes.

Moreover, God wants us to change. A life that is never willing to change is a great tragedy—a wasted life. Change is a necessary part of a growing life, and we need change in order to remain fresh and to keep progressing.

But often the new ideas we gain from books or seminars just don’t seem to last. Maybe we will be different for a while, but then discover that the new methods do not have a permanent effect. The main reason for this is that we work on the exterior, our outside behavior, instead of on the interior, our motives. Any lasting change must begin on the inside, and that is a work of God.

In the story of Jacob we can see the process God uses in helping us become the kind of person we have always wanted to be. The situation recorded in Genesis 32 was a turning point for Jacob and serves as a dramatic example of how God can change us.

Yes we have studied Jacob before.  We know him…he is an excellent character for our lesson today titled…Can I ever change?

Scripture:

We will be in Genesis 32:25-31

2nd Corinthians 12:7-10

Questions for you to reflect upon this morning

  1. There is a crisis…although I pray there is none in your life the probability of some aspect of life troubling you is real at the moment.  Identification is important. 
  2. How is your commitment meter?  Are you steadfast with your faith?  What do you do that bolsters your faith in a crisis?
  3. Confession….tough one eh?  Can God work with out it?  Why or why not?
  4. Do you want God’s blessing on your life?  We have to deny self in some aspect in order to commit to God.  Commit…Cooperate…synonyms
  5. Don’t run but stand.  Facing what ails you allows God to change your life.  

 

See you in class!!!

2019-10-12….Saturday….Standing

2019-10-12….Saturday….Standing

Sometimes just like to sit and think.  That quiet time where I can pray…look…reflect.  The decisions of the day are before more.  There is lots to do.  I have this little window that has a bench seat in my office. I reflect back on the days my daughter used to sit there and us talk for hours.  Outside this window I can see one light in the distance.  It is like a voice that calls me.  Amazing how one light in the midst of darkness can shine so bright.   I walked over to the window this morning to get a closer look and just stood there for a moment.  My mind raced back to our reflection this week that sometimes we just need to stand still.  

I know this may sound funny but most of us postpone a decision hoping that Jesus will get weary of waiting and the inner voice of Truth will get laryngitis. Thus, the summons of the crisis parables remains suspended in a state of anxiety, so long as we opt neither for nor against the new dimension of living open to us. Our indecision creates more problems than it solves. Indecision means we stop growing for an indeterminate length of time; we get stuck.  There is the resolve in me that redefines the “stand still” statement in life.  I teach, I believe that you have to be moving in order for God to work.  But I realized this morning that moving doesn’t mean the next project, goal, idea that life puts in front of you.  I realized that I think he just wants me to get better at who I am, what I am doing, get better at being me.  

Get better at being me…..now that will paralyze the brain.

With the paralysis of analysis, the human spirit begins to shrivel. The conscious awareness of our resistance to grace and the refusal to allow God’s love to make us who we really are brings a sense of oppression. Our lives become fragmented, inconsistent, lacking in harmony and out of sync. The worm turns. The felt security of staying in a familiar place vanishes. We are caught between a rock and hard place. How do we resolve this conundrum?  We get better at being us.  I hate it when someone says don’t you agree….but don’t you agree that we never work on just being better at who we are?

We don’t.

We cannot will ourselves to accept grace. There are no magic words, preset formulas, or esoteric rites of passage. Only Jesus Christ sets us free from indecision. The Scriptures offer no other basis for conversion than the personal magnetism of the Master. In prayer Jesus slows us down, teaches us to count how few days we have, and gifts us with wisdom. He reveals to us that we are so caught up in what is urgent that we have overlooked what is essential. He ends our indecision and liberates us from the oppression of false deadlines and myopic vision.  He tells us repeatedly He loves us, it is unconditional, yet it is us that places conditions on everything in our lives.

Read it again…….Sometimes just standing enables us with a moment in time.  Our spirit will put us in prayer and in  prayer Jesus slows us down, teaches us to count how few days we have, and gifts us with wisdom. He reveals to us that we are so caught up in what is urgent that we have overlooked what is essential. He ends our indecision and liberates us from the oppression of false deadlines demands that we put on ourselves….it is His Grace……

Grace tells us that we are accepted just as we are. We may not be the kind of people we want to be, we may be a long way from our goals, we may have more failures than achievements, we may not be wealthy or powerful or spiritual, we may not even be happy, but we are nonetheless accepted by God, held in his hands. Such is his promise to us in Jesus Christ, a promise we can trust.  Me I think most is a choice.  For today I am just going to enjoy my time.  Do the task that is in front me as if God gave it to me personally…actually he did I guess if wanted to go theological in discussion.  But for today I am going to look really hard at what I have.  Going to pause and make a few decisions in life that says I am going to be better at who I am.  This stand still concept on my brain.  It may have the most action of anything I have ever done.  As I close I have this thought that says “It may just be the room God needs in my life.”

2019-10-11….Friday…and Always

2019-10-11….Friday…and Always

Sometimes you just have to stand still…..

What should we do while we are waiting for the crisis to end? The same thing the sailors did: 

Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight” (Acts 27:29). Anchor yourself on the truths of God and pray for daylight.

What was the result aboard the ship? Morning came! When daylight came, the sailors didn’t recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach where they decided to run the ship aground. All 276 people jumped overboard and got safely to land (vv. 39–44).In the storms of your life God says, “I am with you.” Let his truth stabilize your life and give you the confidence you need in every crisis you face. Storms cannot hide God from you or you from God. You may be going through some difficult times right now, but God has a purpose for your life. There is a reason for it all, and you are going to make it safely to land!

Life is hard.

No matter who we are, we all experience difficulty. To be sure, the degree of life’s severity differs from person to person. In every season of our lives, in every place of our existence, there is tension and conflict. From the wrenching reality of losing loved ones to silly inconveniences like warm drinks getting cold and cold drinks getting warm, life is hard.

What’s more, when the difficulties of life show up we crave explanation. We cannot help but search for meaning in the face of tragedy and pain. This inclination is part of what makes us, us. When we can’t find answers we often come up with our own. And, if you’re like me, your answer is often not a good one. Consequently, our bad answers cause us to respond to pain in ways that can cause more pain to ourselves and other.  The title of the week was confident in crisis.  But today was titled always.  

I respond a text with the word always…not always do I respond “always” but when something I have done that has helped (usually a golf tip) I get a thank you and I respond “Always” which means I am implying that anytime you need something it is okay to text as I will “Always” try to help.  This word has a deeper meaning for me in life as there was a time I needed that word in my life and God showed me the sunlight at the end of the storm.  It was an amazing revelation and at the same time I experienced disappointment at the weakness of my faith.  A time of remembrance that I hope never leaves me.  I hope now and forever I “Always” remember the time I had weak faith.  

For if I remember then I will realize that the only “Always” I need in my life is the remembrance that God will never ever leave…forsake…..forever love me….with grace…..and most of all his mercy……forever and unto that day his will brings me home I pray for remembrance of his faithfulness to me the unfaithful.   The crises will be there as it is just life.

But God will Always be by my side.  He promised..

I love a good promise.  I Always will….

2019-10-10….Thursday….Anchors

2019-10-10….Thursday….Anchors

This scripture is new to me as I have never studied ever.  Read before yes but studied I have never.  The detail, context, meaning it holds for us…When in trouble start dropping anchors.  The first anchor in a crisis is the presence of God. In the midst of the storm Paul said, “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul” (Acts 27:23–24). From this we learn that storms can never hide us from God. We may not see him, but he sees us. We may think God is a million miles away, but he is with us and is watching us. God sent a personal representative, an angel, to tell Paul, “I am with you. I see you in the stormy Mediterranean Sea in that little ship.

God promises in the Bible,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake

you” (Heb. 13:5).

“Surely I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you

another Counselor to be with you forever”

(John 14:16).

Over and over the Bible says that wherever we are, God is right there with us. We never go through anything by ourselves, because God is always with us. No matter what situation you are going through right now, God is with you. He is the anchor that you can fully trust.

God’s Purpose

The second anchor in a crisis is found in Acts 27:24, where Paul quotes God’s angel: “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you “the lives of all who sail with you.” God told Paul, “I have a plan for your life. You are on board this ship because I have a purpose for your being on this ship. I have a purpose for your life that is greater than the temporary storm you are in.” The second anchor in a crisis is God’s purpose.

Every Christian ought to have a sense of destiny. No person is born by accident, regardless of the circumstances of one’s birth. You are not here on earth just to take up space; God has a specific purpose and plan for your life. Storms are simply temporary setbacks toward fulfilling that purpose. Absolutely nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey him. If you choose to reject his plan, he will allow you to do that, but the Scriptures teach that no outside person can change God’s plan for your life. God leaves that up to you. You can either accept it or you can reject it. No matter what happens on the outside, however, external forces cannot alter God’s purpose for your life as long as you say, “God, I want to do your will.”

God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now. The point is this: It is dangerous to focus on your problems more than on your purpose for living. If you do that, you will start drifting and discarding. You will start despairing if you keep your eyes on the problem rather than on God’s purpose for your life. Once you lose your goal, you will lose sight of the very meaning for which you exist, and you will become purposeless.

The third anchor that gives us confidence in a crisis is found in verse 25, where Paul says, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” ”

Sorry to be so long today but this is great stuff.  Especially the anchor of promise. The third anchor is God’s promise. God keeps his promises without fail. Storms cannot hide our faces from God, because God is always with us. Storms cannot change the purpose of God, because it is ultimate. Storms cannot destroy the child of God, because God’s promise is sure. Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming, and we think we are going under for the last time. God says this to you: You may lose the cargo; you may lose the tackle of the ship; you may lose the ship; you may even get wet—but you are going to make it because of the promise of God. As the old saying goes, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” So what do you do? 

Me….I just believe in the plan.

2019-10-09….Wednesday….Reaction

2019-10-09….Wednesday….Reaction

The amazing part of this story is Paul’s reaction. It is a 180-degree turnaround from the way the sailors responded to this crisis. The sailors were in despair; they said the situation was hopeless. They were discouraged and depressed and tossed everything overboard to try to keep the ship afloat.

But Paul provides a different model for us. He was calm and confident. He had courage in the crisis. Absolutely nothing fazed him.

The sailors’ reactions were the natural responses that we tend to have in a crisis, but they do not have to be our reactions. One test of our Christianity is how we handle a crisis. It is easier to live like a Christian when things are going great, when all our prayers are being answered, when we are in good health, when our income is rising. It is easy to be a Christian at times like that.

The test of our faith is when the problems come and we are tempted to despair, to drift, and to throw out the things that are really important in life. I love the following statement “Character is revealed in a crisis, not made in a crisis.” Character is made in the day-by-day, mundane, trivial things of life—the routine. Character is developed there, but it is revealed when we get into a shipwreck, into a situation that threatens to swallow us up.

What should we do when things look as if they are falling apart and the ship is going to crash and disintegrate? What should we do when we are battered by big problems? Look what the sailors did: “Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight” (v. 29). The safest thing to do when we get in a storm is to drop our anchors. Just stand still. Situations change, and the sands of time shift. But the Bible says that those who put their trust in God are immovable like Mount Zion (Ps. 125:1).

Often when people encounter a major problem, they want to change everything else in their lives at the same time, because the situation feels overwhelming and they can’t stand still. A person will lose his or her spouse by death or divorce, and the typical reaction is, “I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to sell everything and move to a whole new location and start over.” But that is exactly what they do not need—more change. What they need to do is put down some anchors and get some stability.

Why was Paul so confident? Because he was encouraged by three tremendous truths, three foundational beliefs of the Christian life, that serve as anchors of the soul. These three truths can anchor you on the rock of stability, so that when “the winds of crisis blow you back and forth, you will have confidence. These are truths that you can build your life on, that will stabilize you in the storm.  

Tomorrow lets do our anchors shall we?