Tag Archive | understanding

God’s Best

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9

There are some really difficult situations and topics we deal with in this life. We sometimes find ourselves glossing over the truth because it is just too difficult. Rather than addressing the issue based on what God’s Word says about it, we say “Well, who can know the mind of God and what He really means?” And I completely agree; who can know the mind of God? His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are well beyond my full ability to comprehend.

But neither was God’s Word written for us to read and continually seek out others opinions without deciding for ourselves what we believe.  We are to read it and He will help us understand it when we seek Him and His knowledge, wisdom and understanding. He has given us His Word for a reason; to know Him and His ways better.

“’I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus replied. ‘I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.’” John 18:20-21

He has a best plan, path and direction for our lives. We often mess it up and while some of what we mess up is still good and not bad, it may not be the BEST He has for us. We can often decide what the best is for our children and others in our lives, but we just as often don’t think that same best is true for us. We want what we want, think what we think and do what we decide is okay. Who does it really hurt? What does it really matter?

We’ve all seen family and friends head a direction we know will get them in trouble. We wonder why they can’t see it as well. As you try with all your might to direct them a different way, they dismiss you, thinking your way is just one way and their way is just as valid. They think we don’t truly understand and so our advice is not relevant. I think this is how God sees us many times. He sees where our way is taking us and He does everything He can to tell us and show us the truth of where we are heading. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He tries to get us to see the goodness of His direction and the danger ahead while still allowing us the freedom of free will.

While we do have free will and God can redeem and restore, heal the brokenness of the most broken, and bring good from the worst of the worst; our choice can be to look to Him for His guidance and direction and choose to follow His ways, not our own.

Something to Consider…

Is there a section of Scripture or topic you struggle with believing is true? Something you’re not sure you agree with as written?

As you read God’s Word and come across Scripture that you have a difficult time agreeing with or understanding to be true, ask Him to show you how His Word is His best for you.

Tell Him About It

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

One of the hardest things to do is admit I was wrong. There are times I didn’t see it as wrong and there are others when I knew my action or reaction was hurtful, disrespectful or simply not the best thing to do. I replied out of anger or self-righteousness when I really had no compassion or understanding. I put my wants and desires first, even before God.

God’s Word says we all sin, we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. When we act like we don’t sin or think what we do doesn’t really matter, we deceive ourselves. Not only that, but by believing we don’t do anything wrong, we call God a liar.

You may think, “I’ve never called God a liar.”

Everything we say falls into three categories: it’s true, it’s a lie and we know it, or it’s a lie and we don’t know it. If we don’t believe God is telling the truth, then we call Him a liar.

1 John 1:10 says if we really think God is lying; no part of His Word has any place in our lives. We can’t pick and choose what we want to believe and dismiss the rest. God’s Word says we’ve ALL sinned, that includes you and me. God’s Word is either true or not and we shouldn’t live by a lie.

My daughters often ask questions about the Bible. They don’t understand what certain Scripture means in general or what it means for them. For a very long time, I felt the same way and still do on occasion. What I tell them is that I believe it’s all true and I ask God to show me how it’s true. I pray for His wisdom and understanding because in my own mind, I don’t and can’t really understand. Sometimes, I simply don’t want to understand because the truth can be really difficult to accept.

It’s hard to admit our sin, our shortcomings, our flat-out disobedience and selfish behavior. What if when we acknowledge what we’ve done, our family and friends get angry and leave us? It is possible. But hopefully, our family and friends love us for who we are and not what we do. Hopefully, they will forgive and love us all the more for being a person of honesty and integrity, wanting to make things right.

Regardless of what the people in our lives do, when we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins. He doesn’t leave us; He loves us. He doesn’t relive what we’ve done, holding it over our heads; He takes it away. He sent His Son, Jesus, to do just this. Through our faith in Him, our sins no longer exists. God sees us new.

Something to Consider…

God is for you, loves you, and is waiting for you to be honest with Him regarding every part of your life.

Is there is a situation, behavior or attitude that keeps you at a distance from God or others? Choose to tell Him about it. The truth is He already knows but by talking to Him about it, you choose to be open to what He has to say about it.

Confess it to God. Ask Him to help you understand how to handle the situation or change the behavior or attitude. He will forgive you and help you live out His right ways.

The Golden Rule

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My daughters and I were talking once about another child at school who was giving one of them a hard time. She wanted to be able to come back at this person and say something really mean just to show them what it was like. I completely understand this thinking. We think if we can make them understand or show them what it’s like to be in our shoes, they will stop. But really, what it shows is that we can be just as mean.

I mentioned the “Golden Rule” in our conversation and this was the reply: “Well, if this is how they are treating me, it must mean they want to be treated this way.” I think I laughed out loud! That is one way to view it; it’s wrong, but we probably think this more than we care to admit.

This verse does not put the responsibility on the other person to treat us right; it puts the onus on us to treat others right.

  • If we want to be loved, we need to love.
  • If we want compassion, we need to be compassionate.
  • If we want people to be kind, we need to show kindness.
  • If we want to be able to trust someone, we need to be trustworthy.
  • If we want people to help, we need to be willing to serve.
  • If we want _____________, we need to_____________. (You fill in the blanks.)

Which of these pieces comes first? Our willingness to love and listen, follow through and serve should always be first in our minds.

I have seen so many postings on Facebook to re-post the condemnation to bullies that they really don’t understand how they hurt others when they bully and if they only understood the other person’s situation, they would stop. I believe for the most part that they do understand the pain and hurt because they feel it from others as well. It’s what they’ve been taught and have learned.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:44-45a (NKJV)

So my prayer is this:

I pray for every bully who has ever been emotionally, physically, or mentally abused by a parent, relative or friend. I pray for every bully who has ever been told they would never amount to anything; that they are stupid or worthless. I pray for every bully who thought they finally had a breakthrough only to be told it wasn’t good enough; they are second-best, second-class. I pray for every bully who thinks the only way they can feel better is to know there is someone who feels worse. I pray that the love, kindness and compassion of Jesus would be made real in their life through a person who is willing to serve and show that their real value is found in Jesus. In His precious name, Amen.

“If we say we are His, we must follow the example of Christ.” 1 John 2:6 (CEV)

Jesus did not shake His finger at those who didn’t know and understand His ways. He reached out His hand in love and compassion to show them the love of His Father in heaven.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life: a spouse, co-worker, boss, in-law, or friend, who wears you down rather than builds you up?

While there is no guarantee they will change, I challenge you to pray for them and love them like Jesus. That, I can guarantee, will change you!

Life in Christ

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2 (NIV)

Life in Christ begins the moment we put our trust in Him. As we acknowledge our sin, those things we haven’t done that we should and those things we have done that we shouldn’t, we ask Him to help us change our ways and we choose to follow Him.

We have died to sin through His death and we live in Him through His Spirit. To live means to be alive; to dwell or abide in; and to fully experience life. While we are alive in this world, Christ lives in us and we are to abide in Christ. We remain with Him and Him with us. He will give us a new life as we continue to seek Him and His ways, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. He will never lead us back to our old ways and our life of sin. He will only lead us in His good and right ways that lead to life.

Some would say that it doesn’t really matter what we do as long as no one gets hurt. “God will forgive us anyway so what does it really matter? And besides, if God forgives me for all the things I continue to do, won’t that really demonstrate God’s grace all the more?”

Jesus, himself tells us to repent. To repent is to feel regret for our conduct and choose to change our ways. Our lives in Christ do not stop at the idea that God offers grace and forgiveness. We are to be living examples of how God’s grace and forgiveness work in our lives. Our desire is not just to live with Him in heaven when we die but to live in and experience His life while we are here in this world. We cannot knowingly live in sin and expect to experience the fullness of life in Christ.

As human beings who cannot completely understand God’s will or ways because they are so far beyond our ability to comprehend, we will do things we shouldn’t or not do things we should simply because we really don’t get it. But, when we do get it, do understand what is outside of His will for us and go there anyway, we willingly choose to remove ourselves from Him. We are choosing to not abide in Him and we miss out on the fullness of His love, joy and peace now. These come when we live in Him, not our sin.

Something to Consider…

God desires to be reconciled with you. He offers His grace and forgiveness through the death and life of His Son, Jesus. What is God calling you to turn from so that you can experience the fullness of life in Christ?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

God does not just remove something from our lives; He replaces it with something better.

Today, What Will You Choose?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’” Hebrews 3:12-15

This is one of my favorite passages. It is a great reminder that Today, this day,  I need to listen to God and be open to what He wants to say to me, do in me and do through me. When I give into sin, I have turned from God. Will I choose to be open to Him showing me the truth of my sin or will I harden my heart to Him?

There are many days when I feel like I struggle, running from one thing to another, not really sure of what I’ve accomplished or am trying to accomplish. I get tied up in my responsibilities and expectations and begin to turn inward thinking of what I want, don’t have and deserve. This includes respect from others, acknowledgement and appreciation for what I do, and time to just relax and chill out.

We all want to know that what we do matters and rest is necessary. But when these thoughts affect our attitudes and how we interact with others, a wall begins to be built. Or maybe better yet, a tower with each of us at the top. “I know better, understand more and work harder” become the thoughts of the day. “I deserve a break.”

The truth is regardless of the respect, acknowledgement and appreciation we receive from others, God knows what we do and He knows our heart condition at the time. People are not perfect; that includes you and me. If we choose to serve people with an expectation from them, we will be disappointed. But, if we choose to keep our hearts set on Jesus and serve God by serving others, we know His approval is all we need. He knows better and understands more than we ever can.

I have experienced the peace and rest of God in the most chaotic and emotionally trying times of my life. It did not come from chilling out, zoning out or ignoring His call. It is the peace that comes only from being in the center of His will, doing what His voice has called me to do. When we harden our hearts to His voice, no earthly rest can restore and renew our spirits the way His does.

Something to Consider…

It is very easy to get caught up in everything this world has to offer and the busyness of life and miss the small, still, quiet voice of God. Have you stopped to listen for His voice? Have you heard His voice but dismissed it, denied it or ignored it?

You cannot harden your heart to God and enter His rest. His rest comes when you let Him into your heart. He will not break through your wall or tear down your tower without your permission. But He will help you remove each brick you’ve put in place if you ask. This is His desire; for you to know His peace and rest.

Choose Today to stop and listen. Allow Him to soften your heart to His Word and Truth. Ask for and receive the peace and rest that only He can offer through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Wishful Thinking or Truly Resolved

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

I have not been one to follow through on my resolutions. Each year, I would make them and by February had fallen short and given up. So rather than fail, I simply chose not to make resolutions.

What I was really doing was making a wish list. So many nice-to-do’s but nothing that would last. You can’t take it with you so if it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient or troublesome, why bother?

And that is what resolutions are all about – doing the hard thing. If it was easy, we’d all be doing what we know we should. We’d be doing what is good for us and others not needing new resolutions.

To be resolved is to be convinced and satisfied that the purpose we pursue is true and worth the effort. We are bold, unshaken, constant, steady, and determined because we understand that what we do or don’t do really matters.

What can matter to the point that we are not only determined in our pursuit but problems cannot hinder or stop our efforts?

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

Jesus Christ and salvation through His death and resurrection. There is nothing that lasts longer or is more important than knowing Christ.

So how do we become resolved in knowing Christ?

As we seek God with all of our heart, we become open to His truth, will and way in every part of our life. Jesus is that Truth. We read His Word and spend time with Him in worship and prayer. God does not hide himself from us and when we earnestly seek Him, we find Him. And then we point others to Him.

What does this resolve look like in our lives?

We stand firm and let nothing move us: When we know the truth and reason about why we do what we do, we can speak and act with certainty and boldness not being moved when questions or doubts are raised. We are not easily excited or entangled in debates and we don’t let the troubles of life or complaints from people stop us or derail us in our work and efforts.

Why are we able to continue in our work?

We know our labor in the Lord is not in vain: Everything God calls us to do has a purpose. When we give ourselves fully to His work, we will point others to Him. We even find purpose in our failures, learning and growing from them.

Do you know God’s truth for your life, your eternal life? Do you know that truth with certainty or are you more wishful in your thinking? Are there inconveniences or problems that are keeping you from stepping into God’s purpose for your life?

Something to Consider…

In what way is God calling you to be resolved?

Do you need to know Jesus? Consider taking an Alpha class. Alpha is for anyone who has questions about God, the Bible, Jesus and the Christian faith.

Do you know Jesus but are easily moved by your emotions or questions raised by others? Consider joining a Bible study group such as Bible Study Fellowship. Studying God’s Word solidifies His truth. We are able to learn from each other and stay accountable.

Do you wonder if what you do really makes a difference? While we may not always see the results of our work, we can be certain that if we are seeking God and His will in all we do, He will use our work to accomplish His purpose.

The Gift of a Sacrifice

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

My daughter has asked me on more than one occasion, “How can God allow babies to die? What good can it bring?” Try explaining that one! I have a tendency to talk out my thoughts. So as I pondered this question, I relayed my own questions.

“Why do any of us die? At what age is it no longer a tragedy that someone dies? A 5 month old who hasn’t even really begun to live her life; a teenager who is just starting to come into her strengths and passions, excited to make her mark on this world; a young father who provides for his family and is a strong role model for his young boys; a mother who won’t see her daughter get married or hold her first grandchild; or the grandparent who has so much knowledge, insight and wisdom yet to share?”

Jesus was sent to this world to die. No, He didn’t die as a baby but that was His purpose. A baby sent to die. What good comes from a young man, only 33, dying at the height of His ministry? And not only dying, but dying for the very people who would sentence Him to death and nail Him to a cross. The very people, who after all these years continue to turn from His goodness, mock His righteousness and deny His deity.

Since the beginning, God has been covering our sin, giving us various ways to make right what we’ve done wrong. God is holy, His standards don’t change and yet we keep testing Him, pushing Him to lower His standards. Instead, He made one way for us to be right with Him.

Through faith in Jesus, we no longer need multiple coverings, sacrifices or offerings to recognize, acknowledge and turn from our selfish ways. We no longer go about our business until it’s time to fess up and make it right. We come to Him still broken sinners. He takes us in, accepts us, loves us and then makes us new.

Every life is precious regardless of age. Every life is but a moment in time. And while we have a purpose to serve during our lifetime, God can find purpose in death as well.

Something to Consider…

Death is not limited to the end of a life. The end of a marriage or career, a broken relationship or a poor diagnosis can all feel like life as come to a screeching stand still; stopped to exist as we know it. We don’t and often can’t understand what God is doing. We don’t see our lives the way He does. So the question comes down to, do we, can we, trust God even when we don’t understand?

Is there a situation in your life where you need to trust God completely because you can’t see how what you are going through can bring good? Choose to trust God so the peace that surpasses all understanding, His peace, can be yours today.

The Straight Path

Path“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6(ESV)

What are you passionate about? Have you always had the same passions? Are you doing the work and living the life you have always expected you would?

We are to trust in the Lord with our whole heart, our whole being. Life so often feels like it twists and turns and we are rarely on a straight path. Sometimes that’s our own doing. Sometimes it’s because we don’t see what God is doing.

Personally, I had to accept that God’s purpose and plan for me and my family included a 2,000 mile move to California (which, by the way, is one place I said I would never move) and then back again in order to move us only 20 miles from where we started. Why? We had something to learn and gain in the move and different paths to cross. We would not be where we are or who we are if not for that move.

When we don’t trust God during the twists and turns, we end up relying on our own understanding. Because we are not leaning on God’s understanding, we don’t see how in order to fulfill God’s will, His purpose for us, sometimes we need to change jobs, move across the country, pursue a different career, leave a group of friends, or step out of our comfort zone into an unknown territory. We can get fixated on our existing passion and desires rather than following God’s will for us to grow in His passion and purpose for us. We settle into what feels like a safe, easy and comfortable life. We think, “This is good, it must be God’s will for me.”

But then something changes. Sometimes the desires and passions God gives us fulfill a specific purpose for a specific time. As we seek God’s will in our lives, we begin to realize that sometimes we need to give up a certain dream or desire and step into a new calling.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

As we acknowledge the Lord, delighting in His truth and right ways, we let go of our ways. His desire becomes our desire. As we lean into His understanding, we trust His path will really get us where He wants us and somehow our hearts desire will still be fulfilled.

Something to Consider…

Does your life feel like it’s in the middle of a twist or has just taken an unexpected turn? Are you trying to figure out your next step? Consider the twists and turns your life has already taken. What relationships or situations would not have happened without an unexpected turn? Be willing to trust that God is bringing you to the next thing He has for you even though you can’t see it.

Is the old passion and desire safe, easy or comfortable? Does this new thing God is calling you into feel like a dangerous place where you have to trust Him with your whole heart, whole being because it’s way out of your comfort zone? As you look at your life today, decide to delight in the Lord first. Acknowledge Him and that He knows best. Give Him the desires of your heart, your passions and step out in faith following His straight path.