Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Sane Estimate

Are you amazed, as I am, how God speaks to us the very words we need to hear at a given time in our lives? He spoke directly to me this morning via words in a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome centuries ago.

Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, 
but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities
by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.
(Romans 12:3, J. B. Phillips Translation)

I don’t usually have exaggerated ideas of myself or my importance. Instead, I feel inferior and inadequate much of the time. Those feelings cause me to shrink back from many things I could do and should do. Consequently, I’m asking God to give me a “sane estimate” of myself and my abilities, neither overestimating nor underestimating myself.

To accomplish that, He will lead me to the truths found in His Word. For example, “I can do all things [not in and of myself, of course] but through Christ, who gives me the strength I need.” (See Philippians 4:13.) Others have experienced the truth in those words, including the unidentified person who said, “If God brings you to it, He will see you through it.”


Therefore, I need to believe the truth about myself. As God gives me a sane estimate (His estimate!) of myself rather than a skewed one, I’ll live more confidently and make better choices. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Faith

Sanibel Island, Florida (November 2014)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Storms Rage

As I write this, I'm sitting alone in the basement of our house because everyone in this area has been strongly encouraged to seek shelter in a safe place since it's likely that a tornado will form. The rain is coming down so hard and fast that that it looks like a light gray curtain. The American flag in the front yard is flapping wildly. Possible hail is expected in some parts of the county and surrounding areas.

As I sit in the safest place in my house, I pray.
Father, be with everyone during this widespread storm that has wreaked havoc in several states and is now speeding across Georgia. Shelter us as You display Your mighty powers all around us.

We cannot prevent the storms from coming. We can do nothing to lessen their severity. We cannot change their path. Neither can we do anything about the storms of life when they-- with Your permission--arrive, some predicted (as this one is), some not. In all storms, we can only cry out to You for saving mercies and for an awareness of Your presence with us.

As I reflect on this, I recall a Bible story (found in Matthew 8:23-27) about a sudden storm that savagely battered the disciples as they rowed from one side of the lake to the other. Fearing they were going to die out there, they woke Jesus up (for He was fast asleep on the boat) and cried out, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

Jesus immediately commanded the storm to cease and the waves to stand still. Amazed by His great power to calm the wind and the waves, the disciples asked each other, “What kind of man is this that even the storms and the waves obey Him?”

I realize that regardless of the kind of "storm" that rages in our lives, we can take great comfort in knowing Jesus is as near to us as He was to the disciples and that He will surely help us if only we’ll ask Him to. Whether He stills the storm or allows us to suffer through it, He will be right there with us.

This was taken in another state a couple of months before I wrote the above post.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How Long???

So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?”
~Joshua 18:3, ESV

*****
Some phrases lodge in my brain and remain there for hours, days, or even years. That happened this morning as I was reading the Old Testament book of Joshua. The question above seemed to be directed to me and, thus, has lingered in my mind for hours and has prompted me to share it with you in case it’s a question you, too, need to answer.

Like God’s people in that ancient story, I’ve wasted many precious years “preparing” to do what God wants me to do. I tell myself, “One day I’ll be ready to take the big step and do great things for Him. I just need to learn a bit more and to opt out of some lesser commitments so that I will have time to obey Him.”

That's why I sensed God was asking me the same question Joshua asked. God has been extraordinarily patient with me, as He was with the Israelites, and has provided all that I could possibly need to do what He has asked me to do. Yet, I hang back, begging for more time to prepare in order to do my best for Him. I realize now that my fear has been holding me back, just as it held the Israelites back. That fear has another name, a much more serious one: unbelief. I have not fully believed that the One who assigned me a particular work will enable me to do it.

Today, I sense God is “putting it to me plain” by asking, “How much longer are you going to put off doing what I’ve asked you to do? How much longer are you going to come so close to full commitment to the work I’ve given you, yet fail to step out in faith and DO the work? How much longer are you going to let fear/unbelief rob you of the blessings I have in store for you?”


Father, forgive my lack of trust in You and my failure to carry out the work You’ve entrusted to me. I confess my sins of unbelief and disobedience and humbly ask You to forgive me and to help me to fully enter into the work and its subsequent blessings—beginning today. From this day forward, I will rely on this promise You made to Joshua when You assigned to him a daunting task: Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, ESV).


Thursday, March 16, 2017

One of St. Patrick's Prayers



May the strength of God pilot us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the Word of God direct us.

~Saint Patrick















Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unless the LORD...


Unless the LORD builds the house, 
those who build it labor 
in vain. 

Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake
 in vain.
                                                         Psalm 127:1, ESV



I have long known that verse but, sad to say, I have often ignored its wisdom. Thus, God has brought that verse to my mind again and again through the years and especially in the past few weeks. I sense He wants me to share this message with you, Dear Reader, in case you are also struggling with plans and projects that simply won't "come together."

As we go about our work, as we plan our work and work our plan, let's remind ourselves often of the truth in Psalm 127:1 and in these words (excerpted from Matthew Henry's Commentary on that verse):
"Let us always look to God's providence...
If God be not acknowledged, 
we have no reason to expect his blessings; 
and the best-laid plans fail, 
unless he crowns them with success..."

Father, forgive us for failing to acknowledge our need of You, for planning our work without first having sought Your will and Your ways. Help us learn to ask You what You want us to do, and then help us to do exactly what You say and to do it well.