This Might Take A While…

I’m terribly impatient. I’m especially impatient when I think something has to be done by a certain time or it’s over. But God, through all this, remains patient with me.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”

-Isaiah 55:9

Patience and Prayer

I’ve found, through life experience, that sometimes God will answer prayers a long time later. For example, when I was a freshmen, I had a crush on this one boy. I asked God if we could date, and he actually answered my prayer. A year later, we were together. Sometimes, he answers prayers in a different way. I prayed my entire childhood for a horse, and got a beautiful pony. And sometimes, sadly, he doesn’t necessarily not answer prayers, but says, “No, my child. I have something different in mind.” I asked for my parents to stay married over and over again, as a child. They still divorced. But I can be confident that his ways and thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:9), and his will is “good, pleasing, and perfect…” (Romans 12:2).

What About Healing?

I was contemplating earlier today about healing. I grew up in an abusive family. I’ve since forgiven, a bit, all who wounded me, but it’s so much harder letting go of the hurt caused me. I sure do love my family! And “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). However, either I’m not made perfect in God’s love, enough to complete pardon their sins, or I haven’t sought help from the Spirit to fully forgive them because sometimes I lie awake at night, upset with those who hurt me. Which made me think… Why are people in so different stages of life?

Different Places

I admit it: I was a mess growing up. I was constantly depressed. Sometimes, I wouldn’t get out of bed during the day except to eat and use the restroom. And I was too anxious to get what I needed. I often overlooked my needs because I was afraid of human judgement, and then had to deal with the anger and shame.

Yet, my sister had many friends. she laughed constantly, had several, healthy relationships, and was a very generous Christian.

My best friend was so kind, always smiling, and very studious. She was a devout Christian. It showed in her life, too.

Then there was me. I would be happy and kind one minute, and the next instantly angry, experiencing this mood swings because of, what I call, “emotional triggers.” This is when someone does something that reminds you of a painful moment in your past, triggering a negative emotion. I simply couldn’t cope. Not even spending hours in prayer or worshiping the Lord would heal me.

Was I Doing Something Wrong?

“‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.'” 

-2 Chronicles 7:14

This is a tough question… I don’t know. I surely struggled with pride. I had sins I wasn’t repentant of, but would that cause me to deprive me of healing? Nope! This is where good news comes in!

Healing In Christ

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.'”

-Isaiah 53:5 

This verse is pretty clear that healing is in Christ! We are no longer unable to avoid sins (I hope I said that right). “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can escape the burdens of life. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We have forgiveness for our sins and are no longer under condemnation. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). If we go to Jesus, we can receive forgiveness, which conquers shame, strength to fight temptation, rest from the burdens of striving to fulfill the law, and freedom from the wrath of God.

 

We Still Struggle

I understand we still struggle and suffer… with a lot of things (see my post about why there is suffering). I don’t have all the answers, but the Bible does, and the Holy Spirit helps us receive these answers and blessings.

A Call to Prayer

“…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

James 5:26

Remember this when you’re discouraged and hurting. God hears our prayers.

 

When You Had One Job

The Importance of Sheep

Shepherds had one main job: guard the sheep. Now, sheep were essential to society. They provided wool for clothes, meat for food, and blood for sacrifices. So the shepherds were completely dedicated to their jobs. They even lived in the fields with their sheep, fighting off wild animals and robbers. This was what their life consisted of, and the sheep were their utmost priority, until one day…

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.‘”

-Luke 2:15

A Shift in Focus

“‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”

-Luke 2:14

Angels came immediately to those shepherds, who were looked down upon by society for having a lowly job, and proclaimed the good news. What did they do? The shepherds all decided to get up immediately and seek Jesus. They left their sheep!

Did They Fail Their Job?

The men tending their sheep left right away for Bethlehem to find baby Jesus, their Savior. What was once their priority was put on the backburner in their life. What was the gain? Was it worth sacrificing their entire purpose?Did they fail their job? No, they did not. But rather, they left it, for a bit, to wholeheartedly seek God. That’s worth it. Why?

The Gain of God

No doubt, it’s impure to seek God’s hand, for blessings, rather than his face, in awe of who he is. But he does give us a gain and a reason to leave behind our priorities and idols: deep gladness, which is found in and made possible for Christ. Ask God for this gladness this Christmas season!

The Reason Why We Aren’t Perfect, Yet

“‘Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart'”

-Jeremiah 29:13

I’ll be completely honest about the fact I have only learned one reason why God leaves us in an imperfect state. He wants us to be dependent on him. This can actually be found in the AMP (amplified) version of Jeremiah 29:13. I recommend reading the amplified version of the Bible because it explains further what is being said.

God wants us to “seek [him]” with “a deep longing” and “require [him] as a vital necessity,” or need him, and “search for [him] with all [our] heart,” as said in Jeremiah 29:13.

A Good God…And Suffering?

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

-Jeremiah 29:11

God Has Good in Store for Us

God is a God of compassion and mercy. He, himself, is love (1 John 4:8). And, according to Jeremiah 29:11, he has good in store for us. So, why do bad things happen? One reason I have heard is because we sin. We stray from his “good, pleasing, and perfect” will (Romans 12:2) when we sin. This subject is definitely touchy because nobody knows all the answers. I know there is a reason God doesn’t reveal everything to us immediately. For one, he wants us to seek and find (Matthew 7:7). Another thing is, he does tell us he will explain mysteries if we call to him. ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know'” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Why is There Suffering?

  1. There is sin in the world (Romans 3:23)
  2. We stray from the will of God (Isaiah 53:6).
  3. We are disciplined, which may seem bad at the moment (Hebrews 12:6-12).
  4. If we don’t get our way, we may be disappointed or upset, thinking it’s punishment.
  5. God tests our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7).

The Good News

  1. “‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more'” (Isaiah 43:25).

2. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalms 32:8).

3. “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (Hebrews 12:6).

4. “‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go'” (Joshua 1:9).

5. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

A Lesson Taught By Animals

They Aren’t Useless

I’ve always been an animal lover. When I was younger, I’d go so far as to say it was my identity. I spent all my spare time playing with my pets and studying any animal, ranging from exotic to domesticated.

I had a really hard time socializing because of my anxiety, so most of my time was spent with, and revolved around, the animals in my life. Sure, call it unhealthy, even idolization! But I absolutely loved the companionship and friendship they offered me. Animals are good friends, most of the time. They’re fun to play with, and a worthy responsibility. Most importantly, they’re here as a symbol.

A Symbolic Life They Live

I’m a workaholic. And I struggle with depression, at times. I’m pretty bad about feeling useless when I’m not being productive or fruitful. Yet, in my research, I’ve learned something. Animals are symbolic of contentment. I learned this through the study of lions.

Lions

Because of the heat, lions, when they aren’t hunting, actually lie around a lot. They’re life revolves around resting and staying cool, and hunting to feed their family. They aren’t pacing, wondering what they should do next, or if they aren’t working hard enough. They just chill together in prides, when they aren’t taking care of the responsibility of finding and serving food, however. Now, dogs show us a bit different form of peace and a different lifestyle.

Dogs

I have two dogs: Gizmo and Oso. I’ll give a brief rundown of their lives before going into detail about how it relates to us.

Gizmo

Gizmo is my dog. He’s an over-sized Yorkie who barks a lot. He will even bark at nothing, sometimes. But he sure is faithful with his own job. Gizzy is often very happy. When he sees me, he wags his tail and “smiles” before spinning in circles. He is definitely grateful for the people in his life and soaks up (and offers) the love that goes around. Of course, his favorites past-times are eating and sleeping, and he has no problem keeping up with these hobbies, when he isn’t simply playing with Oso and enjoying his company.

Gizmo has good qualities. Let’s look at them. He knows his responsibility is to protect us, and he’s faithful about it (sometimes too faithful, unfortunately). He is grateful for and happy to see the people in his life, soaking in the love and offering some himself. He has no problem just relaxing with the bare necessities of life, like eating and sleeping. Lastly, Gizmo enjoys playing or having fun in the company of his friend (Oso).

Oso

Oso is the puppy. His all-time favorite thing is actually food. He goes over-the-top with begging, sadly, but he has a firm appreciation for the bare necessities (food, not sleep). He is incredibly hyper and filled with joy. He jumps around and is sure to greet every single person as he sees them, making us each feel special. But his favorite thing is playing with Gizmo. He will often tackle our poor yorkie and just prance all over the place like a deer.

Oso’s best quality, in my opinion, is that he leaves the barking to Gizmo. He knows it’s Gizmo’s job and takes a step back to, one, let Gizmo do it, and two, not bother us with more barking. He is absolutely grateful for the basics of life and appreciates it wholeheartedly, resulting in a joyful and considerate puppy who just wants to play.

Conclusion

Animals can easily show us what it means to lead a life of contentment. From hard-working ants to resting lions, they show us a balance in life. It’s okay to take a moment to breathe and relax, but responsibilities, such as putting food on the table and showing others love should definitely be priority. Other animals, such as dogs, show us what it means to be truly loyal, faithful, and joyful through their everyday actions. I hope you can look at animals through a new pair of lens, now, because nothing God does lacks worth or value.

Breaking Down Walls in Relationships

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”

-Genesis 2:18

We all have relationships. There’s our families and pets, peers and coworkers, friends and God. However, not everybody has a healthy relationship. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where I didn’t have healthy relationships. My father and brothers were abusive, my mom and sister were withdrawn, and I was harassed and bullied at school. But God, in his great mercy, has taught me about love being the foundation of healthy relationships. An antonym for love is often referred to as hate, but actually, the true opposite of love is pride because pride is self-focus. Unfortunately, even if you don’t realize it, you probably struggle with pride. Now, don’t feel like I’m accusing you and please, don’t get offended that I say this. It’s very important that pride is addressed because it’s what causes unhealthy and defective relationships.

Strife, Pride, and Wisdom

“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

-Proverbs 13:10

Let’s break this down, New Testament style. Why would we strive? Maybe you don’t strive for this anymore, but you probably did upon first becoming a Christian: we strive to become “good enough” for God. This is pride. But humility is demonstrated in being willing to take advice and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In accepting, completely, and being one hundred percent perfected in God’s love, we are able to overcome pride. However, the reason I know we all struggle with pride is because, if we were perfected in the love of God, there would be no fear or sadness, no struggling.

Pride in Action

When we argue, it’s a result of pride. We care too much about being wrong. When we don’t want to accept our flaws and are insecure, it’s also because of pride. Another thing that’s considered pride is impatience or irritation. These emotions occur when we think something someone does is too slow, or annoying. Who are we to judge others negatively? Christ died for them. Another aspect of pride would be, as just mentioned, judgement. We can put ourselves on a pedestal high enough to look down on someone or condemn them, but only Jesus has that right. “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12).

How to Improve Relationships

Pride puts up walls and barriers. It distances people. But to be humble is to “value others above yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3). It doesn’t mean not to love yourself. Self-care, and self-love, to an extent, is important. Matthew 22:39 tells us to love ourselves and our neighbors. To improve relationships is to die to yourself by surrendering your pride. How do we do this?

How to Surrender Our Pride

The first step to surrender our pride is to confess as many times as needed, that we are sinners, and Jesus is our savior. We have to admit, to get to heaven, anyways, that he is Lord. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This also helps defeat pride.

The next step in conquering pride is to praise God for who he is. God is holy. As a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), we are not sinners, but saints now, in Christ. It doesn’t change the fact we still sin, though. God and Jesus alone are righteous. We just get Jesus’ righteousness because he died for us as the final sacrifice. God sees us as righteous, even though we sin. Sometimes, it’s hard to admit we aren’t “good enough” to earn salvation. But it helps to ponder this truth and reflect on how much God must love us if he was willing to give us salvation through the death of his blameless son. Praise God for the fact he is who he is, even though we remain sinning saints.

Lastly, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Overcoming pride is a lifelong struggle that we can’t do alone. In what ways is pride affecting my relationships? Is my heart right? Is pride keeping me from coming to God with my whole heart? What can I do to change and repent? And finally, in what ways has God helped me already, and what areas do I need help in to improve my life and relationships? These are good questions to come before the Spirit with, but the last few are the most important. It’s always good to reflect on what God’s done for us so we don’t feel hopeless and flawed.

Feel Like There’s Something Missing?

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

-Luke 10:27

In the Beginning

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

-John 3:16

In the beginning, Adam and Eve committed the first sin by eating a fruit from the forbidden tree. We don’t actually know if it’s an apple, but we can assume. Now, the only way to atone for, or make up for, sin was through sacrifice because blood was an acceptable offering to God to cover the fact someone sinned against him. That is, this was the case until Jesus was put to death, a completely righteous and sinless being and the Son of God, as the final sacrifice.

Love Fulfills the Law

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

-Romans 13:10

I already talked about what love actually is. If anyone has questions, I recommend studying 1 Corinthians chapter 13 (The Love Chapter). If God had wanted us to fulfill or follow the law, but sent his son to redeem us, or free us from the law, what’s left? God wants us to love each other. Yet, I believe there truly is more to life and our relationship with God than simply loving ourselves, God, and people.

Christian Cliche

Ever heard the saying, “God wants your heart?” It’s true! He wants us to surrender to him our hearts so his spirit can work in us and make us who he wants us to be. I know lots of people, however, including myself, who are too ashamed or afraid to even be honest about where our hearts are at. To overcome this, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a revelation of God’s love. And if you struggle with feeling condemned, I think you should listen to Joyce Meyer sermons. She touches tons on feelings of inadequacy.

God already knows everything about us and sees all we do. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2)But the good thing is, we don’t need to be afraid! He plans to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11). Even better, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), meaning all who place their faith and abide in Jesus are free and safe from punishment and disapproval, which is the very definition of condemnation.

Feel Like There Still is More to Life?

This would definitely prove a touchy subject, but I believe there’s more to life than love. You love with your whole heart, or as best you can, anyways, and always try to turn to God and bring him glory, but you might still feel empty. I’ve always felt like my relationship with God was not where it should be, but I did very specific things as according to the Bible. I would work really hard to put others first by spending most of my money on others, helping people when I would rather do my own thing, and giving lots of hugs and smiles, all while trying my hardest to keep God involved through prayer and worship. Yet, it seemed like I wasn’t fully pleasing to him, or doing enough. I became pretty depressed because of the walls between God and myself.

Finally, I went to God in honest prayer and asked, through tears, “What do you really want from me God? I know you tell us to love, but our relationship isn’t what I’d hoped!” He replied, “Surrender your pride.” I’ve heard to “surrender [my] heart” plenty of times! But to be told to surrender my pride confused me and actually hurt my pride. Oftentimes, hidden or denied pride keeps us from seeking or loving God wholeheartedly, and can leave us feeling hopeless and empty, like our efforts aren’t enough. What’s coming between you and God? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you so you can be fulfilled by the Living Water.