… and Having Faith!

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Let me begin by saying that this post gets a little more personal than I’d expected. May I say that when you’re intentional about hearing from the Holy Spirit, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to do or say something that you hadn’t anticipated. Later in this post, you will find that I was asked to share a few highlights of my story. I’ve shared my story before, I’ve even written a book about it, but I found it interesting that the Holy Spirit found it appropriate to share again as I talk about “Faith”?!

Over the past few weeks, we talked about “Experiencing Doubt.. but Choosing Joy…and now Having Faith?” So what does the word “faith” mean to you? We use that word ALL the time. We’ve even memorized and recited Hebrews 11:1 numerous times, but what does it REALLY mean to you?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The New Living Translation says it this way…

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:1-3

As I wrote this post, I had to answer that question for myself. In it’s simpliest form, the answer is, “Believing in God!” The Word really makes it plain, it’s impossible to have faith if you dont believe in God and without faith you can’t believe it God! Boy, is that a mouthful… but think about it. No matter what you need faith for, whatever it is, it can’t happen without God. We keep trying to make it complicated. It is what it is! Throughout the book of Hebrews, there are numerous examples of people who had faith; who believed that God would do exactly what He said.

Here’s just a few:

Abraham and Sarah – to give birth to a child in their 90’s

Joseph – to become 2nd in command of Egypt, after the pit and prison

Moses – to lead the children of Israel, after telling God “they are not going to listen to me.”

David – to face Goliath the giant, as a teenager, after tending the sheep and then he becomes king.

… and then there’s Candy, who had to believe God for a husband, when marriage was the farthest thing from her mind, for a child after 3 miscarriages, for her own business after a 32 year career with no real financial preparation for retirement, for her grown son to have a true relationship with Christ, who may already be on his Damascus Road, etc. etc. etc. As I think back, was my faith really that strong or did my belief in God sustain me? But I can definitely say that my faith is a whole lot stronger now as a result of my life experiences and all that I’ve learnt along the way. The path may have been bumpy, but the Lord has stayed with me every step of the way.

Although, I don’t believe that I’ve given you a recipe for having faith, I guess you just have to believe God for it… and regularly take a quiet moment to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying…

Experiencing Doubt… but Choosing Joy!

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Last week we talked about experiencing Doubt and I felt that it warranted a little more discussion. Doubt is such a natural response to a situation that we are uncertain of the outcome. When we are in a situation or circumstance where doubt is prevelant, it’s usually one that we did not foreseen, nor can we determine or change the outcome. Therefore, doubt can only be a temporary state of mind and our task is not to allow it to last too long.

Please allow me to give you a recent example… my husband was in a car accident a few weeks ago (Thank God he’s ok!) But now he is without a vehicle so we had to rent a car. Although he knows that God ALWAYS comes through for us, my husband was stressing about whether his car would be fixed, how long would it take, etc. etc. Ultimately, he had to be reminded that the end result really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. He will either get his car fixed or he’s get another vehicle. Now, please don’t misunderstand, things are a whole lot different when our situation involves a mental or physical challenge or illness. The mere thought of the outcome can be overwhelming. Invariably doubt will turn into stress and anxiety if we let me it, but that’s for another blog post.

But with God! …He does not see different levels or degrees of doubt. God says that no matter the situation, “[His] grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.  James puts it this way; “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:2-8 NLT

Joy is a choice! It’s up to us to decide that the “Joy of the Lord is our Strength”. This is not about feeling happy, it’s choosing to be content, not to doubt and have faith that the Lord is faithful. Realistically speaking this can be easier said than done at times, which is why I say again, doubt is not the absence of faith. It’s about our desire and commitment to overcome it. A friend sent me some notes from a message she’d heard recently from Pastor Tony Evans and he said (paraphased) that faith requires action. It’s like when you walk into a dark room with a motion sensor, your movement causes the light to come on. In the same manner, we must be in motion in order to activate our faith. There is no way to determine the potential outcome of our circumstances solely by what we see…. and or feel.

In the meantime, remember to take a quiet moment to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying …

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Experiencing Doubt…

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Recently, I have read that the more we try to suppress, repress and even rebuke our doubt, a feeling of uncertainty; and other uncomfortable feelings, the more stressed and anxious we become. I purposedly included the word “rebuke”, but before you disconnect, please hear me out. Many times, we find ourselves blaming the enemy and try to pray away what God wants us to experience. PRAYER IS EXTREMELY POWERFUL! It’s amazing when we enter into His presence and worship Him for who He is. There have been times that I have awoke so heavy that I could bearly get on my knees, but when I do, I experience His refreshing. But then, if I’m honest, it doesn’t take long for me to be weighted down again, wondering if (not when) my situation will be resolved.

We should talk to God about EVERYTHING. We might as well be honest, because He already knows how we are feeling. But, unfortunately, we will pray about those uncomfortable emotions or those difficult situations and when they don’t go away, right away, we become discouraged and disappointed and we feel that God has not heard us. The Good News is that He always hears us, the issue is how to we handle His silence….We do have choices.

The first thing that I strongly suggest that you do is go to His Word. Do you realize that the Bible talks about every conceivable emotion and or situation we could have? For those of us that are not bible scholars, you can always start in the Book of Psalm. David had numerous conversations with God about how he felt.

Let’s see what the Bible, says about doubt in the New Living Translation…

Unless the Lord had helped me,
    I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave.
18 I cried out, “I am slipping!”
    but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When doubts filled my mind,
    your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:17-19

In Matthew, Peter has enough faith to walk on the water, …

But when he saw the strong[a] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Matthew 14:30-32

Then later in Matthew, Jesus gets mad with a fig tree (you have to read the whole story) and …

The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”  Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”  
Matthew 21:20-22

These are just a few of the scriptures about doubt. Jesus knew that we would experience doubt, but He also gave us ways to overcome it. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus spoke to his disciples (us) in parables or stories, so that we would have an understanding of what would be some of the different situations we would encounter and what we should do to handle them. He wanted them (us) to be prepared and not be caught off guard. Jesus knew that there would be a constant battle between our soul (our mind) and our Spirit (His Spirit in us).

This is why it is crucial that we are intentional about listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying…

Faith versus Feelings

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It’s 6:30 am on Wednesday morning and I’m wondering what to share with you this week… but I’m on the verge of tears, because I’m in my feeling AGAIN! I’ve been in a real “interesting” place for the last few weeks, but I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself. So I decided to get up and get a cup of coffee. As I was standing in the kitchen, I heard the scripture, “The race is not given to the swift... ” So I went to by Bible App and found Ecclesiastes 9:11, which says this in the New Living Translation:

I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

Then the Holy Spirit said, “When you are being prepared for what you need, not necessarily for what you want, the battle between your faith and your feelings will begin!” and I started to chuckle, because the Holy Spirit is always listening!?

So let’s talk a little about where I’ve been for the last few weeks. I’m self-employed and business has been rather slow recently. It’s not unusual for my business to fluctuate, but it’s during these times that I tend to get a little restless (can any of you relate?). Unfortunately, when I get restless, I have a lot of time to get in my feelings. I go into that “what if” headspace and although I’m always bombarded by the Word of God… in time, my feelings will take me back into the hole of uncertainty and doubt. Why does the Lord have to constantly remind of His Faithfulness? Every time I’ve been in this place, He’s brought me out. We have been blessed beyond measure during this season. So why am I still fighting my feelings… so that I can strengthen my faith. OMG! I actually heard that as I was writing it.

King David said it this way…

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Psalms 42:5

You may want to take a moment to read all of Psalms 42 and 43. David uses this verse in both, but in somewhat different perspectives. But just know that…with each battle we face, our faith gets stronger and stronger!

So I guess I’ m just going to have to stop crying and keep working…

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Phiippians 1:6 NLT

Spiritual Vitality

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I have found that Spiritual Vitality starts with a real, long, DEEP breath. This is where spiritual rejuvenation and restoration begins. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a breath or the wind… He’s invisible, yet very powerful! Today we have an opportunity to breathe in the strength, power and calmness of His Spirit. So, may I suggest that you breathe in the Holy Spirit with every long, deep, calming breath you take, so that your soul can be revitalized daily.

Sometimes when we look and listen to social media, we could get the distinct impression that everything is ok now. Although, my exposure to social media is limited, there’s not a lot of information these days on COVID, political unrest or racial injustice, which was at the forefront of our minds and lives a year or so ago. But, for some reason, I don’t believe that everything or everyone are “ok”. However, I do believe that in our desire to go back to the way things were, we may have been lulled into a false sense of security.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of us may have hit our stride. We’ve have established our rhythm and we are well on your way. We have a new daily routine, but are we breathing? Or have we simply pushed pass our feelings and our fatigue? Have you even taken time to close your eyes and take a real, long, DEEP breath?

If not, may I suggest that we breathe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, with every long, deep, calming breath we take. God’s faithfulness to us, gives us hope, which is oxygen for our soul. Spiritual Vitality comes when we breathe and our soul will be revitalized, renewed and restored.  In John 14:26-27 KJV, it says…

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  I sense an atmosphere of quietness and calm, so that we can hear what the Holy Spirit is saying… 

Spiritual Vitality comes when you breathe…

I sense an atmosphere of quietness and calm, so that we can hear what the Holy Spirit is saying…..

Spiritual Fatigue

I pray that you were with us last week, when we talked about “Waiting is Hard”! Although, this week I thought that we would look at Jeremiah 29:11, one of my favorite scriptures, the Holy Spirit had other ideas. So, last week I was listening to a message and the preacher was talking about the children of Israel leaving Egypt (Exodus 14… coincidence? I don’t think so!) and he said that they could not stop walking across the Red Sea, even though they may have gotten tired and weary. Then he said the words, “Spiritual Fatigue” and thus my message for you today. One of the main reasons why “Waiting is so Hard”… is “spiritual fatigue”! We become physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired. We are just Tired! But, as I said last week, we simply can’t afford to stand still while we wait for what the Lord has for us, life is just moving too fast. Fortunately, when we take just one step, the Lord will show us the next one.

Now we need to get some preliminary things out of the way…

  • You may not know the Lord… well, for now, that’s not really ok, but He knows you! You will just have to trust me on that. We will talk more about that later.
  • You may know the Lord, but you are not very happy with Him right now. Well, that’s ok too, because He knows that already.
  • Either way, we need to have a conversation with the Lord and let Him know that although we’re tired, we’re going to take the next step … one foot in front of the other. Fairly simple, right?

No, not really… We will wake up tomorrow to a new day!… but we feel the same way.

So here’s some advice:

  1. Tomorrow when you wake up, try not to snooze and put your feet on the floor.
  2. Turn off the phone or at least silence it for one hour. Please do not scroll! … because everyone else in the world seem so happy????
  3. Find a quiet spot and open the curtains to your new day. Rain or shine, it’s gonna be a good day! By faith, you have to declare it, before you feel it.
  4. Open the window, if possible, we can definitely use some fresh air.
  5. Fix you a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath and now you are ready for your next step.

We’re Moving Forward by Faith… but it’s definitely not easy. Life may seem dark at times and we can’t see what’s in front of us, but with each step we take, the Lord will light up the next one.

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

I’m just not sure what we’re going to talk about next week, we will just have to wait to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying…

Waiting is Hard!

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Have you ever considered asking the Lord for patience? If so, I’d strongly suggest that you don’t… until you think it all the way through. No, I’m seriously! In order to have patience, you not only have to learn how to wait, but you have to learn to wait in anticipation and expectation. Think about it, usually when we ask the Lord for patience, we’ve asked Him to do something and now we have to wait. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope[for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:24-25 NLT

Waiting is not my most favorite thing to do (understatement!).  However, when we are certain that our situation is gonna change, but we just don’t know when, that’s called FAITH! Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. God is patiently waiting for just the right moment.  We must Trust His timing! He only wants the best for us..… and we should be EXCITED! 

About 6 years ago, I wrote a blog post entitiled, “Wait in Anticipation and Expectation, Not in Frustration“. I’m sure that you’ve never been frustrated while waiting on God, but I have. I had asked God for something and although ultimately, my situation was, and still is the result of a decision that I made, I have asked God to fix it. You may remember, the Apostle Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. I too was feeling annoyed because God has not removed my thorn, at least not in a way that I thought He would and there was nothing that I could do to change it. Just the other day, I was listening to a message that helped me to truly understand why I still have my thorn and for me to be OK with keeping it until God says otherwise… but that a story for another day.

Many times in the Bible, the word “patience” is used with waiting, endurance and perservance. In the Book of James, it says this, Dear brothers and sisters,[when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

The Apostle Paul, says it this way, We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT

So we should always take a quiet moment to listen to what the Holy Spirit in saying … And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a NLT

Many of us have found that the race ahead may be a long one, or not! But either way, we must wait for guidance and direction from the Holy Spirit and we have to keep moving forward by Faith. Life is moving too fast for us to stand still, while we wait. The Bible says, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

I know that at times, it’s a lot easier said, than done, but let’s keep waiting, God knows just the right time.

One of my favorite scriptures and maybe yours to is Jeremiah 29:11 KJV, which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Last September, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about that scripture and now I see it in a brand new perspective and I believe that you will too.

Next week, we will talk about “God’s Plan for Us has not Changed!”  

There’s No Going Back

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Many of us don’t realize the magnitude of our journey thus far… We’ve just left Egypt after over 400 years of slavery, with the wealth and riches of the country in hand. There were over 600 chariots of fierce warriors on our tail and a body of water, 205 miles wide ahead of us. God has given us the green light and we must move forward, there’s no going back! We look at the path ahead and Moses has to remind us that we’re in the midst of a miracle. Many times, we believe that once the Lord has made the pathway clear, that it’s going to be a cake walk, but in reality, I must say that God doesn’t usually work that way. Remember the story of Joseph… the pit, Potiphar’s house, prison and THEN the palace (Genesis 37-50). But the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph and he received favor in each situation. The Lord has been with us also, every step of the way and with that we should be encouraged.

We’ve made it safely to the other side and we briefly look back over our shoulder. The walls of water have fallen, God has drowned all of our enemies and there’s no going back! As we look back over the past 650 days, do we really want to go back to “what was”? For some, the answer is Yes! You’ve lost so much and you’re wondering that maybe life wasn’t that bad…my life was familiar, comfortable, “normal”. But, in actuality, we can’t go back to Egypt, our lives have changed too much in the last 2 years. We’ve on the other side and we must continue to move forward by Faith. Hebrews 11:1 NLT says that “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see”. Recently, I read that faith is not the absence of doubt, nor is courage the absence of fear, but both are our commitment to overcome them. We must release our “what was”, for in Isaiah 43:16-19, God says;

I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
    making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
    with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
    their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

18 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

The Lord is saying that we can’t even imagine how far we’ve come. We can forget all about crossing the Red Sea on dry land, because that nothing in comparison to what I have in store for you. He’s already begun to change our situation…can you see it? By faith, we must look way beyond where we’ve been and look ahead to something “new”. The word “new” is defined as “not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time”. Can we even fathom what that might look like? Are we ready for whatever God has in store for us? Are we fearful or waiting in anticipation? I have come to realize that in order to prepare for what’s ahead, it is so much more than having to send our children to school with a mask on or attending a major public event. Although these decisions are well within our control, I really believe that we should still seek the Lord’s guidance, for this is just the beginning.

Our destiny has been predetermined.… which means that we must wait and take a quiet moment to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying! 

Next week, Our topic will be “Waiting is Hard!”