Let’s Stretch

Our heavenly Father knows that we need to stretch in order to grow spiritually. So when He speaks, I find that His messages challenge me. Since His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8 NASB), I find that most frequently His messages not only go beyond my natural thought processes, but they also exceed my natural abilities. They make me feel uncomfortable because I know there’s no way I can do what God is asking in my own power.
Do you recall when God called Jeremiah to be His spokesman, the young man protested that the job would be too much for him. “I can’t speak for you!” he protested. I’m too young (Jeremiah 1:6) He was afraid to accept God’s challenging assignment.

In Jeremiah 1:7-8 the Lord replied, and said “You must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. Don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and I’ll take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Jeremiah accepted God’s challenge, stepped out in obedience, and proclaimed the words God put in his mouth. He told the people of Judah exactly what would happen to them if they didn’t repent of their sins and turn back to God: The Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and carry them into captivity.

As a result of his message, the Jews beat Jeremiah and put him in prison, on several occasions. Although Jeremiah was timid, God gave him courage to face persecution, and was used as God’s messenger for more than forty years.
Accepting God’s challenge is often hard for me. It’s often tempting to do the opposite of what God asks simply because it would be easier. But doing the easier thing will never stretch you by forcing you to tap into your divine resources. God wants to help you to grow by allowing you to see what He can do when you admit you can’t.

Throughout the Bible we see many instances of people whom God called from unlikely places asking them to do things that were far beyond their abilities and what they felt equipped to do.

     1. Noah was asked to build an ark.
     2. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son.
     3. Esther was asked to plead the case for her people before the king.
     4. Mary was asked to become the mother of the Messiah.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul talks about his feelings of inadequacy and his experience with how God worked supernaturally through him. Each time he felt ill-equipped to take on the challenge that God was asking of him, God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

What is God asking you to do? Is it bigger than you, does it make you feel uncomfortable? Is He asking you to spend time with another woman and encourage growth in her life, is He asking you to evangelize, is He asking you to get up early and spend time in the Word, is He asking you to serve, whatever He’s asking you to do He’ll supply all that you need to accomplish it. Take some time today to stop and ask yourself what has God been asking me to do that requires complete dependence on Him. Then give your fears and inadequacy to the Lord and watch what he does.

Micah E.

Trust in the Lord

Opening the sliding door to the backyard, I immediately heard the thwap-thwap of the doggie door and the sound of excited paws on concrete. Like lightening, there she was, my dog Chloe rounding the corner at a high rate of speed; a wild look in her eyes and a big grin on her face. I was familiar with what came next; the crazy prancing, bouncing, backside wagging furiously. Happy to see me, yes, but there was something more important than just my company. You see, above all else she longed to be on the other side of that sliding glass door before it closed. Ah Chloe, so transparent. She was incapable of hiding her true thoughts and longings.

What she didn’t understand was that I was happy to grant her heart’s desire and invite her into the house; however, there was something we had to resolve first. Earlier, while conducting her standard guard duties on the perimeter fence line she chose the pond as her lookout post instead of her usual spot on the big rock. For unknown reasons she exchanged the superior vantage point of the big rock for the limited view of the low laying pond. Despite the fact that she was unable to understand why four wet feet hindered her access to the inside of the house, I knew just what to do to help her overcome this obstacle. So I instructed her to “sit” in the sun and wait. Now Chloe is a smart dog. She understood what I told her to do. The problem was she didn’t understand why I told her to do it. She didn’t realize the blessings that awaited her if she obeyed me. As you may have guessed, I no more than turned around and she was in the pond again. I called her name and with a sheepish attitude she returned to the appointed spot. “Sit…Stay!” We went over it again…and again. Well, long story short, she never made it into the house that day.

I thought about my walk with the Lord. All my thoughts, all my desires are bare before Him. He may plan to give me the desires of my heart, but sometimes there is work to do before I am ready to receive the fullness of what He is doing in my life. Through His Word I hear what He tells me to do, but sometimes I don’t understand why. When I fail to simply trust Him and obey His commands I miss out on what He planned for me in that situation. I need to remember Isaiah 55:8-9, His ways are higher than my ways. He desires what is best for me. He is a loving Father that knows what I need.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Also see Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 61:2

-Jacque B

Mirror Mirror

Once in a college class a girl got up to use the restroom. Upon returning she didn’t realize her dress was tucked in her pantyhose, and her whole backside was on display! I’m certain if she had looked in the mirror it would have revealed her dilemma and she would of corrected it. Have you ever had something in your teeth or perhaps your shirt inside out and didn’t notice? Like the story of “Sleeping Beauty”, the queen looks into the mirror and discovers she is not who she thought she was! The bible is like our mirror. When we read and study the Word of God it shows us who we are.

So why is it that while we are listening to a sermon we are thinking it is so good for someone else? Why is it so easy to see the mistakes or areas of weakness in someone else’s life? We freely and openly give our opinions of what others lack or should do, or why they are in their situation. Effortlessly we can point out their sin, yet not seeing our own. I’ve been guilty of this, have you? Let’s look into the mirror. Matthew 7:3-4 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your eye?” Charles Spurgeon states, “ Jesus is gentle, but He calls that man a hypocrite who fusses about small things in others and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person” Not looking into the Word will cause us to be blinded and not have a clear image of ourselves. Sadly, we become more tolerant with our own faults than others. Fault finding and criticizing no matter what our intentions, tends to drive wedges between us and others. Do you want others to avoid you?

The Word of God provides a mirror to our souls and by gazing into it, the shocking and sometimes very disturbing truth about ourselves is reflected. This is the 1st step to repentance and spiritual transformation.

James 1:22-24 “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and after looking at himself goes away and forgets what he looks at.”

We must not just listen, but repent, then obey the Word. Jesus calls us to love. Matthew 7:2 “ For the same way you judge others, you’ll be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured you” David Guzik states,” This is a powerful motivation for us to be generous with love, forgiveness, and goodness to others. If we want more of those things from God, we should give more of them to others.”

Zelda D

Slow Down

We live in a fast-paced world and it seems that simplifying our lives has never been more complicated! Doesn’t it seem like there is always something to do and not enough hours in your day to accomplish it? Are we able to answer these questions with a positive response? Do I have peace when functioning in my day-to-day activities? Do I feel rested when my alarm goes off in the morning? Can I make it through the day without wanting to take a nap?

I have found two reasons in the scriptures for the Sabbath. The first one is found in Genesis 2:2 where we’re told that God finished creation in six days and then He rested on the seventh day. God established a pattern of work and rest, which is a model for believers and it shows us that rest is appropriate and right. Why did God rest? He accomplished His objective. We too, must recognize a limit to our work… to stop, allow the body, mind, and spirit to recognize their limitations.

The second reason the Sabbath was given is often ignored. God said to Israel to remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15) They were to rest in order to reflect on God’s ability to work beyond the labors they had already completed.

At the heart of the Sabbath is the word rest. The Sabbath is intended for people, that they may learn to rest. It is intended to prevent burnout—to recover from too much pressure and catch up with yourself; to gather yourself together so you are able to handle the work you must do.

Jesus showed us the importance of rest when He sat wearily beside a well after a long walk (John 4:6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.) and when He slept in the back of a boat with His head on a pillow (Mark 4:38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”). He also rested when He and His disciples got away from the crowds (Mark 6:31,32 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.)

If the Lord rested from the work of creation and the work of His ministry, we need to rest from our work as well because our times of rest refresh us for our times of service. Schedule yourself some “slow down” time this week and get some rest.

Patti S.