Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Through the Difficulties

Don't you just love it when you are doing your devotions and God tells you something that you really needed to hear? That is what happened to me this morning, and I just knew that I had to share it on here. I hope it helps someone else the way it helped me.

Isaiah 43:2 says "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." We all face difficulties in our life, but their severity will be different. When our struggle is minor, it may just take a little work to get through it...like needing to swim across a swimming pool in order to get out. Isn't it an amazing thing to know that God promises that He will always be there, even if we don't feel like we need His help? Other times, it may feel like we are in a raging river and everything we do is a struggle. We may feel like we are drowning, but God promises that those "waves" won't sweep over us! We will make it across our "river"! Then there are those extremely difficult times, like walking through a fire. Fire refines and purifies. It is during these darkest and hardest times that God is getting rid of junk in our lives and is purifying us so that WHEN we make it out of the "fire", we are more like Him. Even in the midst of these times, God promises that we will not be hurt or destroyed. It may feel that way, but God's promises are true. We just need to trust in His promises and keep moving forward.

Did you notice that this verse always says when? WHEN you go through the water, WHEN you go through the river, WHEN you go through the fire. It's not IF we face a difficult situation, it's WHEN you face it. We have to face difficulties in order for God to teach us what He wants us to learn. The verse also points out that we have to go THROUGH the difficult times. It would be nice to just be able to avoid them somehow, but that would not allow us to experience God's presence and see how He works in and through us as a result of what we just went through.

God simply let me know this morning that I have to go through the difficult times that come along so that I can be purified and made more like Him. I realized how many times I have disappointed Him because I didn't handle the difficult situation the way He wanted me to; and therefore, I didn't learn what He was trying to teach me. He pointed out an ongoing situation that I continue to struggle in. It was an ouch moment for a little bit, but then I had to smile because I knew that He was pointing it out to me because He loves me. He wanted me to be aware of the fact that He wants and needs me to learn how to deal with this so I can be more like Him. I know I probably won't be successful immediately, but I have a whole new outlook and I am more optimistic that He will work ALL things out for His good if I am faithful in doing things HIS way instead of my own.

Obviously I don't know what every person who read this blog is going through. What I do know is this: God WILL be there WHEN you go through a difficult time. You WILL make it through the difficulties and you'll be stronger because of it! NOTHING can harm or destroy you when you rely on God's strength and wisdom to see you through. BELIEVE in His promises because they are always true! God wants to teach you something through these difficulties you face. WHEN you make it through, you will be more like Christ. Trust Him!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who Are You Trying to Please?

It amazes me how often God speaks so clearly to people, even though we may not always hear it. Sometimes we don't hear it because we aren't listening. Sometimes we don't hear it because we don't want to. Whenever I pick up the Bible to read, I try my best to listen to what God may be saying to me. That isn't always easy to do when my little boy seems to know exactly when I pick up my Bible to do devotions and somehow that means he's suppose to come into my room and start chatting away. LOL! Some days he doesn't like to hear "Please go back upstairs and play so that mommy can read her Bible and do devotions.", but he's learning that it's important for mommy to do that and he's usually good about going back upstairs to play for a few more minutes.

Yesterday in my devotions was one of those times that God spoke to me loud and clear. In I Thessalonians 2:4b, Paul says, "We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." Then again in verse 6a, he says: "We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else". I immediately thought of the fact that I had just sang on worship team the day before and I could almost hear God reminding me of that and asking "Who are you trying to please?"

I have been singing in front of people ever since I was a little girl. As I have gotten older, I have become aware of how easy it can be to love hearing the compliments I receive after I have sung. It's easy to think of how all eyes are on you as you are standing up in front of everyone. I have seen how some people focused too much on that attention and their ministry did not seem to be as effective. I realized it was because their focus was not where it should have been. I always try to keep in mind that I am not singing at the front of the church to get attention from people or to hear others tell me how nice I sing. I do my best to focus on one thing: I am singing for God, and God alone!

I then thought of how easy it can be to seek approval from people. We all want people to like us. We enjoy getting compliments from people. I'm not saying it is wrong to give or receive a compliment, but we shouldn't be doing something just to get those compliments. Whenever we do something, we should be doing it to the best of our ability. It's easy to see that would please people when we do this; but more importantly, it pleases God! In Colossians 3:23-24 it says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

So, now for the challenge. The next time you are doing something, stop and think "Who am I trying to please?" If the answer is anyone other than God, then try to get your focus back where it needs to be.