Faith

In God’s Wisdom — Of Greater Consequence Than What We Do Today

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I have a tendency to focus on all the problems and opportunities in front of me. To plan and plot and scheme and strive. But I’m learning, God is more concerned with what is going on within me than anything going on around me.

God is more concerned with what's going on within me than anything going on around me. Click To Tweet

He’s much more concerned with my growth, in wisdom and character, than any role I fill or opportunity I accept. As a result, He rarely tells me what’s up ahead. Instead, He gently whispers guidance for today.

One summer, I found this particularly frustrating. I was wrestling with some career decisions, feeling as if I needed answers immediately. I wanted to follow God’s wisdom, to yield to His guidance, but He appeared to be silent. Feeling discouraged and unsettled, I met with a friend for coffee.

I shared with her all my concerns, all my options, and of course, all of my confusion.

“Well,” she said, “What’s God saying to you?”

I sighed. “Nothing. Other than character-growth stuff.”

She smiled. “Then that’s what He wants you to focus on.”

Later that afternoon, as I puttered around my house, tidying up (also known as allowing my thoughts to stew), realization hit. My personal growth would have far greater benefits, not just in terms of my faith and relationships with God and others, but also in relation to future success, than any momentary decision I could make.

We don’t need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength.

Scripture and experience tells me my view is faulty and distorted on my best day. But God’s wisdom is perfect and infinite. He knows everything I’ll face tomorrow and precisely what I’ll need, internally and externally, to overcome every challenge.

Foggy road with quote pulled from postIn His wisdom and infinite love, God was preparing me for what lay ahead. This understanding lifted my heart and stilled my swirling, chaotic thoughts. I didn’t need to have everything figured out. I simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, and lean into His strength.

We don't need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength. Click To Tweet

The rest would come, in His perfect timing. And it did. With each opportunity, and endeavor, God showed me precisely what steps to take, leading me in a direction I hadn’t known existed but proved far better than anything I could conceive on my own.

He’ll do the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! Are you in a period of waiting? Are you tempted to jump ahead, to make things work out according to your plans and wisdom? Do you trust that God truly does want to guide you toward His very best? How might focusing on that truth give you the courage to yield to Him–His timing and will? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

 

fear, surrender

Fear of Missing Out

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My schedule had ballooned, leaving me fighting for air. Though I managed to juggle all the demands and responsibilities bombarding me each day, I made numerous errors. I epitomized the phrase, “Jack of all trades but master of none.”

Or perhaps that’d be better phrased as “Doer of all but proficient in few.”

My joy, peace, and relationship with Christ was suffering. In my constant rush to tackle one task after the other, my prayer time had shifted from treasured and protected soul care to something I squeezed into my already rushed day, out of guilt and obligation rather than a desire to genuinely connect with my Savior.

Though I claimed God’s sovereignty over my present and future, my schedule and mistakes—my choices, my will—became my God.

If I did X, Y would happen. If I failed to do C, D would never occur. And if I stepped down from a certain role that, potentially, led to promotion, my life’s dreams would be irrevocably derailed.

In other words, when I evaluated the root of my busyness, it came down to this: Fear of missing out. Fear that if I said no to a particular opportunity, I was potentially robbing myself of something good that could lead to something even better.

My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God.My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God. Click To Tweet

Either I believed He was sovereign or I didn’t. And if I did, then I didn’t need to stress over the small stuff or my ever-changing circumstances. Instead, I’d rest in the One who walks beside me, stands behind me, goes before me, and holds me secure.

Either I believed He was supreme and worthy of all my praise, or I didn’t. If I did, then I’d recognize that everything I engage in or pursue on earth is but a shadow of what God has prepared for me. I’d remember how insufficient temporary pleasures were in filling my deepest needs and heart’s desire.

My schedule revealed my priorities—my true gods. But perhaps most convicting, my stress and fears revealed what I truly believed about God, His heart, and ability to care for me.

That realization empowered me to make changes. I analyzed my thought processes and the things that caused anxiety in light of truth, and I asked God to center me in reality.

Text pulled from postHere’s reality—God is in control. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says , speaking of God, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” (ESV).

Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins.Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing or disrupting God’s plans for you? How might focusing on obedience help you find peace in the uncertainties and abundance of opportunities assaulting you each day?

For those participating in our Becoming His Princess Bible study, if you’re on week four, which deals with overcoming fear, you can listen to the audio segment HERE. If you haven’t grabbed your free copy yet but would like to, you can do so HERE. You can watch the videos for sessions one and two HERE.

fear

Fearing Forward with Jesus

Heart pounding. Dry mouth. Hands shaking. Words fumbling. Anxiety at its finest. The first time I spoke in front of an audience about God was a total flop by earthly standards. I rushed  through as fast as possible so I didn’t have to stand up there alone for one more second. I had let fear take over and drive me into failure. Or so I thought.

I went home and cried.

Why did God call me to write, speak, and encourage others in His name if I couldn’t physically do it? Didn’t He know  I wasn’t capable of this? Didn’t He know I’m comfortable hiding right here in front of my computer?

He did know that, but He also knew I needed to learn an important lesson before moving forward. That none of this– the failures nor the wins– are about what I am capable of alone. It’s about Jesus working with me for my good and the good of others as we  step forward in faith.

After seeing their beloved Jesus die on a cross, I imagine His followers were confused and afraid, too. Maybe they even felt abandoned in the faith they were once so sure of. Jesus, knowing every one of their fears, showed Himself to His disciples to encourage their faith and to instruct them.

Some followers believed when they saw Jesus, others needed help believing so they could move forward in faith.

“And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:17-20 esv).Matt28-20Blog

When faced with fear, followers of Christ have a choice to make — will we doubt His presence? Or believe Jesus is truly with us in the struggle? What we choose determines if we can overcome our fears.

Many times I’ve doubted in my life. I’ve believed I was alone in parenting struggles, marriage lows, job crises, health scares — and most recently the first time I stood in front of an audience. Somehow I got the idea that God was here for the overall picture but not the day to day ugly. Wrong.

I poured over Matthew 28:17-20 thinking about how Jesus tells to go out boldly in his name. It struck me that before Jesus asks His disciples to go, He tells them all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. This is important, not just because it allows us to trust that we have a powerful God, but because of the words that follow.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” If Jesus is with us, that means His power is too.

As a language teacher I know words cannot be translated perfectly. I wanted to know exactly what that meant that “I am” would be “with” us “always”. So I looked up the original Greek to better understand these important words of our Savior.

Here’s the gist….

The word here for “I am” is “ego eimi” which is the same name Jesus refers to himself when He says “I am the way” in John 14:6. Interestingly, the Greek word for “with” in this passage is an active with. It’s a “with” that means Jesus is working in us, not just standing by watching as we labor solo . Lastly, “always” means each and every part of the total. Each moment that makes up our entire lives. Not just the pretty ones.

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Putting this all together, Jesus promises to work with us every time He calls us to step out of our comfort zones.

Knowing this breaks down my fear when I step out in faith. Believing Jesus is working behind the scenes every time I put myself out there in obedience grows my confidence and propels me forward.

We’re not alone, but when we feel as if we are, let’s remember Jesus’ promise. The great I Am will be working with us in every moment, always.

 

Read more from Andrea at www.afruitfulwoman.com

 

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Let’s talk about this! How is God asking you to step out in faith? Do you believe that He will work in that area with you? Tell Jesus your doubts and fears through prayer and ask him to strengthen you when you are unsure.

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Relationships

Beautiful, Messy Friendship

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I was that woman. The outgoing one who could talk to anyone, made friends easily and was comfortable being herself. I couldn’t relate to the fear so many women felt in stepping out to make a new friend. What was the big deal?

Then came the friendship that changed it all.

I thought we were on the same page regarding our relationship—good friends. She was also sure we were on the same page—best friends. I started to feel claustrophobic. Do you see the train wreck coming? Once I realized what was going on, I attempted to do the wise thing (NOT!) and avoid conflict by backing away slowly. No surprise—that didn’t work. Once we finally had the hard conversation, our relationship was beyond repairable. I felt absolutely awful for wounding her so deeply—I never intended to hurt her! Further, I bound myself up in regret for not handling the situation with more maturity.

Suddenly, I understood the apprehension to initiate friendship.

Feeling the pain of a relationship gone wrong, I could grasp the idea that maybe it was better to be alone than to open myself up to another emotional trauma. Who needs friends anyway?! But, we weren’t designed to live in isolation. God Himself lives in community—in constant communion with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Since He created us in His image, we’re also meant to live in relationship—with Him and others. (I realize there are many introverts who just cringed.) Remember in Genesis 2:18 when God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”? That’s why long stretches of time without meaningful contact with others feels so incredibly lonely—so wrong. We are supposed to live together—as marvelous, mundane, or messy as that may be.

Sadly, it wasn’t long after Creation before sin fractured the harmonious, beautiful relationships God intended. And, we’ve been doing a bang-up job of carrying on that tradition ever since—hence the fate of my friendship. Which leaves us at a crossroads—if it’s clear God doesn’t want us to be alone, but sin assures we’ll screw up our relationships, how are we supposed to proceed?

With God.

In His amazing ability to work everything for good, God used my unfortunate experience for growth. He helped me see that I’d been relying on my own wisdom and strength in friendship. Trusting that God wouldn’t give us an innate desire to be with others without also providing guidance, I dug into the Bible to discover what He said about friendship.

WL-blogProv17-17-BScripture offers advice about choosing friends (1 Cor. 15:33), the faithfulness of companions (Proverbs 17:17), establishing boundaries (Proverbs 25:17), and how we can help each other grow (Proverbs 27:17). But, God’s Word also allows us to emotionally experience stories of loyalty and compassion (Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan), as well as painful moments of betrayal, abandonment and rejection in friendship (David, Jesus, Paul).

Scripture reveals that you’re not alone if you’ve been blessed by a deep, abiding friendship. Praise God today for that precious gift! Nor are you alone if you’ve been betrayed or hurt and are fearful to expose your heart again. Marinate in the truth that God will never leave you or forsake you. He is your refuge and strength. Allow your heart to remember the hurts of your past just long enough to learn, grow and heal, but not so long that you begin to dwell in regret, anger, or fear. Then, soaked in divine wisdom and strength, move forward in faith…with God.

Let’s talk about it! How have friendships, whether good or bad, shaped who you are today?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

fear

The Most Dangerous Fear

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I made my kid throw a boot at a spider because I was afraid to go near it. I hate ferris wheels for fear I will fall out. And tornado sirens make me stop in my tracks. All of us are afraid of something. But I’m guessing if I asked you your biggest fear, you wouldn’t automatically respond, “People!” even though it’s the most dangerous fear there is. 

Deep down we are approval seekers. It’s the reason I check how many people like a post on social media, or why I change my outfit three times before going out.  We want to be liked, approved of, accepted. The question is, by whom?

The Bible clearly states we have two options, we can fear other people, or we can fear the Lord– meaning we can live for the approval of others or live for the Lord.

 Our choice determines if we live ensnared or set free.

Proverbs 29:25 warns that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”. That word “snare” in original Hebrew is “yaqosh or moqesh” which means a noose or hook to snare, catch, or trap animals.

Let me tell you, I have lived snared. I have let others opinions drag me down into negativity, tie me up in anxiety, and gag me in fear to put myself out there in faith. Being afraid I won’t measure up to this world’s standards has kept me stressed and overwhelmed instead of living like an empowered child of God. 

Fear of man keeps us focused on man’s unattainable agenda instead of God’s will. But what is it that God cares about? What does it look like to “fear the Lord?”

I found the answer in the Old Testament. After the Israelites had worshiped man made objects instead of the one true God, they needed a new direction.  

Moses told them, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 NIV) 

Fearing the Lord instead of man looks a lot like walking daily with God. Steering our actions to love God and others. Serving with strength and humility, and following God’s good ways instead of what we think is best. The last line is so important. For our own good. 

I used to be afraid to follow God because I didn’t know if I could trust him with my life plan. But God isn’t a mad parent telling their kid to follow, “Because I said so!” He calls us to live close to Him because He wants something good for our lives. Because He is a Father who loves His children. That makes me trust and want to follow Him.  

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So everyday I try to let go a little. I want to release myself from what I think I should be and hold onto what God says I already am. What we already are. Loved. Chosen. Called. Purposed. Empowered…all in Christ. 

We have nothing to prove. No agenda to meet. No earthly standards to live up to. We get to live free and bold knowing God is after our hearts, not our resume. 

When we start living on purpose with the Living God, Philippians 2:15-16 says you and I will “shine” like “stars” as we give the good news of Christ to others through our actions. To me, that’s a life worth living.

Let’s talk about this! How have you been stuck in the fear of man? How would living in, and for, God’s love set you free?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE.

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.