We all have habits that we need to get rid of. However, there is a particular habit that Jesus is more concerned about breaking than the one you are thinking of: it isthe desire to get your own way.
“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”
1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG
When we struggle, we may think it is because God doesn’t love us. In reality, it might be that He loves you so much that He will use the stressful opportunity at hand to break the habit of the-only-way-I-will-be-happy-is-when-I-get-my-way.
God has more for you than that and He calls it freedom.
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
2 Peter 1:2-3
All relationships have to be give and take in order to be healthy.
This includes your relationship with God.
Your “give” to God: to journey with Him and hold nothing back.
So what is your “take”?
Your “take” is to partake of God’s promises, dwell in His presence and walk in His power in every area of your life.
This taking is not a selfish act, it is a trusting one.
“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV
In California, we had a fireplace in our little living room that we would use to warm the house during the few cold, damp winter months. I loved the warmth but what I really loved was the ambiance that it created. I loved how it looked but had a terrible time keeping it going. My husband was fabulous at it. I would watch him carefully build it, pay attention to it, poke at it, feed it and adjust it until it was a blazing fire warming the whole house. There were days when he would get the fire started for me in the morning and then leave. I would gaze into the flames for a few minutes and then get engrossed in writing. I would forget about the fire until I realized it was only a smoldering pile of half-burnt wood. It gave me an appreciation of what “fanning the flame” means.
When God gives you a gift, it comes as a spark. A small light with great potential but will not grow unless it is fed, prodded, poked and paid attention to.
Jesus gives your gifts to you.
He expects you to fan it into a fire.
God gives you the gift but you grow it.
God knows that fear is the number one reason we don’t step out in faith and use the gifts He has given us, so He gives us something more powerful than fear: He gives us Himself.
His gives us His presence.
And with His presence comes:
Don’t focus on your fear, my friend.
Focus on the wonderful Spirit of God within you to help you fan the flame of what has been given to you.
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
Do you know that God loves you when you’re mad at Him?
Do you know that God is with you when your heart is heavy and you are overcome with sadness?
He doesn’t just delight in you when you are delightful.
He doesn’t just love you when you are loveable.
He loves you every moment of everyday, walks with you through the struggles, the heartaches and the darkness. He holds out His arms to you, invites you to rest on His lap and then gently sings a song over you.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG
Worry is not meant to be the center of your life.
Worry will keep you distracted and you will miss the small moments of joy that are sent by God to let you know He loves you.
His love for you is better than worry.
Love is a better way to make decisions than fear.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Put it in God’s capable hands.
Hand over what you are worrying about to Jesus right now.
Then allow a sense of God’s wholeness to fill your soul.
Then get busy loving the people He has placed in your life.
I want to encourage you today that no matter how dark the situation is, believe that God can do something in it anyway.
I want to challenge you to dare to trust Him in the desert – there is a promised land and you are on your way to it.
My prayer for you is that like Abraham you will decide to live today not based on what you can’t do but on what God can do through you.
God freely gives you His power to sustain you to walk, to love, to care and to be fully alive even when you may feel mostly dead inside.
“Abraham was first named ‘father’ and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.
When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.”
Romans 4:17-18 MSG
Long before Abraham saw the fruit of the promise, he believed God anyway. Though everything in his life seemed to indicate otherwise, he lived his life, every day, not looking at the impossibility of the promise but in the possibility of God.
I am sure that there were times that Abraham barely believed. I know that there were days that he was only holding on to a bare thread of hope…but he held on.
Hold on, my friend, you may only have a thread of hope, but in Christ, that thread is stronger than what you face and will hold against that which you fear.
Years ago on our way out of Disneyland our youngest son, Kyle, was intently looking at his new stuffed animal and got lost in the surging crowd. One moment he was there and next he wasn’t. I immediately stopped, told my husband and began the search. We went back to the last spot we saw him and began calling his name. Within a few minutes, we found him. Kyle was shaken up. Big tears welled up in his eyes and he said, “I couldn’t see you, I couldn’t find you.” I gave him a big hug and I heard Bobby say, “You did the right thing- you stopped right where you were. We will always find you, always come back and get you.” Kyle stuck close to me for a while after that and didn’t let go of my hand. I wanted my child close and I didn’t let go of his hand either.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10
Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost.
He came for the ones that got distracted, swallowed up by the crowd and blinded by those around them. For the ones who panic and don’t know who or where they are.
Jesus came to:
Seek and save.
Find and hold.
Reclaim and restore.
Many things can cause that terrible “I’m lost” feeling. It’s a scary feeling.
Stop wherever you are and let Jesus find you. He loves you and has crossed the boundary of heaven and earth to embrace you with His love. Let Him guide you through the crushing crowd of fears and failures. He can see more than you can, is stronger than you are and knows how to direct you out of it.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”
Philippians 2:14 MSG
You are here to be a light.
A glimpse of God living through you.
A glimpse of grace-living.
A breath of fresh love-laced air in the sin-stained world.
That is why you are here.
Don’t get so caught up in yourself or in the present circumstances that you miss your God-empowered purpose for today: SHINE.
My prayer for you is that you are so filled with the Light of Christ and that it spills out of you in every way possible, to every person you meet, in every moment of darkness or discouragement or overwhelming circumstance, in spite of the current crisis, through the present obstacle. May the Light of His Love be uncontainable and contagious through you today.