Month: September 2019
When the Doors Are Closed
1 Corinthians 16:9
“There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.”
Full of promise and potential pain. Do we dare knock?
Knocking on the proverbial door again with a message burning in my soul, when the doors are closed, I can somehow begin to question my worth. My calling. 𝑴𝒚 . . .
Oh. There’s that word. 𝑴𝒚 oh 𝒎𝒚. Maybe those open or closed doors are not about my gratification as much as they about being faithful to follow God through any door, with joy.
In this life, we knock on doors as we seek to understand the LORD’s direction. And sometimes we really want some doors to open and they don’t.
As much as it hurts, a closed door is an answer. It is not the end. It is an answer to the next direction. But oh how my soul hurts at closure that I did not want. How about you?
Sometimes we can be so discouraged with that closed door that we do not see another one opening.
In the midst of what seems like rejection is a pivot—another direction to go in that is in the will of God. The best place to be. And there are such sweet reminders my heart desperately needs when I stand outside the door and knock, knock, knock:
• Be content with the provision from God. He has given exactly what He intended.
• God’s favor cannot be earned. It is freely given by an all-knowing God.
• I don’t want to strive for what is not mine.
• I don’t want to strive for favor, just obedience and faithfulness and trust the results to Him.
• God is good and places us exactly where we are, for His glory, not ours.
• The motivation for favor cannot be about us. Any door I walk through is for His glory. I am just a servant, knocking on doors to see where He leads.
• I don’t want to love the telling of the message more than the message and the One Who gave the message.
• May His words soak in deeply before I ever share them.
• We get to tell His story, yes, we get to tell. But may our delight be in Jesus above all else.
Don’t regret closed doors. It might be the mercy and grace of God to not give you what you want. The timing could be wrong or He might want to bless us in a greater way so His message can reach somewhere else. Where one door closes, another opens. Will we perceive it?
The Complexity of Simplicity
2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV)
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.”
Living simply is simply not simple.
That’s the conclusion I have come to as I have sought to apprehend simplicity. My church has been studying the book, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. And this past week I have been applying last week’s sermon on Simplicity. Every day, asking God to help me, little by little, to get rid of what I don’t need. “A bag a day” in about 10-15 minutes is about all the time I have, but little by little I am making a dent.
And why pursue simplicity? Because at the heart of our faith in God is the understanding that we are on a mission down here. Jesus paid our sin debt not so we would seek to be comfortable in a fallen world, but so we could live lives focused on knowing Him and making Him known. But this world can distract us so easily.
That’s where simplicity becomes complex. We make simplicity complicated because of our wants. We convince ourselves that our wants are needs and in our own deception, we are convinced that we need even more. That is the nature of the flesh—never fully satisfied.
Paul is encouraging us to boast in our simplicity while the world is encouraging us to boast in what we own and achieve. How can we be simple in a complex world? it is complicated.
If we are just setting out to be a minimalist, this can have a good effect on us, but the inward motivation of sacrifice is missing. A minimalist can still be a minimalist but still have his or her “wants” unchecked. Oh, to be satisfied with Jesus and not just things. Or statuses. Or positions. Or comfort.
In the world
Another stumbling block that makes it difficult to live a life of simplicity is the fact that we are in the world and influenced by its messages of materialism. But Jesus encourages us to be in the world and not of it. This is so very hard for us but Paul encourages us toward God’s grace, not toward earthly wisdom. Unless we are constantly looking to the compass of God’s word, we will be led down a confusing, complicated path. What does the Bible say is needful? Time with Jesus. Time in prayer. Time in God’s word. Time with others. Clothing. And our daily bread.
Wanting acceptance or approval from others can also affect our ability to live simply. My precious husband has been such an example in this area. While others would mock our vehicles that were approaching 300,000 miles and showing plenty of wear, he was just grateful for faithful transportation. While some of us in “said vehicle” would slide down to avoid being seen, he would honk and greet passersby—those who told him that I “deserved” a better car.
While we don’t drive “the green beast” anymore, our trusted Chevy Astro van of 12 years or so, it was not before that thing had been used up that we moved on to another used vehicle. The shame for driving a busted up vehicle is not remembered. And the contentedness for what we have now is enduring.
There is a degree of pain that can deter us from living simply. We have to let go. It might mean sacrifice, which feels so very hard at times, but the feeling that comes after is our reward. A weight lifted. An inner joy bubbling up because we could let go. Things have less of a hold on us.
Disappointment and life’s struggles can also inflict pain in our lives that make us want to hold onto what seems certain in this life. But things cannot comfort us like the One who is truly certain and needed—Jesus.
Ah. I have so very far to go, friends. How about you? There are so many other things that make simplicity complex. What makes it difficult for you to live a life of simplicity? When we lack the strength to choose simplicity, our God is well able to help us.
It might be a small step at first. It might mean getting rid of material things that cloud our vision. One bag at a time. Or removing things from our calendar that keep us too busy. Asking God what needs to be pruned. But one thing that matters most is simply getting into God’s presence. Let Him do the work on us. Time in His word. His word changes us when we study it and ask God to help us apply it in our lives. Bible Reading plans can go a long way in helping us to put “the big Rock” first in our lives.
When we feel condemned for our lack of simplicity or whatever area we struggle in, we have a Savior who died to set us free. It does not matter how many times in our walk with God that we think we have covered an area. Oh my, we have blind spots. Big ones. And God is so very patient with us to bring these topics up, again and again, to help to set us free. Free to live the abundant life of Christ. One step at a time.
Find Your Fearless—Overcoming the Past
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The past can shadow the present, snuffing out our joy. We can overcome pain from the past like heroes of old did. Could the women from biblical times speak to our fear today? It is possible to rise above the doubts that try to kill our courage. Listen in as Denise and Angela share from Angela’s new book, “Fearless: Ordinary Women of the Bible who Dared to do Extraordinary things“, and learn how to stand up to fear from our past.
Leave a comment to be entered to receive a copy of Angela‘s new book.
Overcoming Shame from a Bad Report
Shame RX: Seeing other’s gossip as an offense and a sin against God rather than being focused on our offense, we can let go of shame that doesn’t belong to us, after all.
Numbers 16:19, “Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.”
What others say about us can be hard to deal with. This morning, as I was reading in the book of Numbers, I saw how it only takes one to stir up others against us. Korah was spreading a bad report about Moses to elevate himself. He did not trust his leadership.
For a few chapters, ok, probably more like 40 years, the Israelites were talking about Moses and complaining about him. 40 years, people. Remember the scouts who scouted out the promised land? Yeah, them. Ten of the twelve scouts “spread a bad report about the land among the Israelites.” (Numbers 13:32). Their whining and disobedience is what cost the Israelites 40 years in the desert. HUGE consequence.
But look at Moses’ response when God said that He was going to punish the band that followed Korah:
“But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground, “O God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?” (Numbers 16:22)
Moses was so shamed and weary from the gossip and slander of the people that he cried out to God. God’s people were extremely difficult to lead. But he also had compassion on them. He knew that they were easily misled.
When others talk about us, we have an opportunity to defuse the shame by praying for our enemies. Instead of sinning by becoming embittered when others sin by gossiping about us, we can ask God for wisdom concerning how to deal with them and we can pray that they will have eyes to see and repent. And maybe seeing other’s gossip as an offense and a sin against God rather than being focused on our being offended, we can let go of shame that doesn’t belong to us, after all.
Shame Off You, friends!
Finding Strength in God’s Presence
2 Timothy 4:16-18 (NLT)
“The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”
Ever felt so very alone in the midst of a really hard season? Here’s Paul, a former murderer of God’s people, now conspicuously representing the same faith as those people before a secular judge. And those people He was identified with, defending the same faith? They all left him at that moment.
The presence of God is supernatural, able to comfort us more than any human ever could. Paul was strengthened by God’s presence and he knew that the LORD was with him and that He rescued him. But more than that, Paul did not look to the future fearfully. He knew the same God who was with him in the valleys and the mountains would be with him no matter what the future brings.
I identify with Paul in this passage. No one went with him when he was brought before the judge. I remember such a time when I was standing before a judge by myself. The feeling of being defenseless and defeated overwhelmed me. It did not seem like truth and justice would prevail. Where was God?
With me. With you. Emmanuel. God with us. He was with me when I lost and with me when I won. In all of it, He gave me power and strength. What about you? Do you feel alone in an area of your life? Isolated and unseen?
God wants us to abide in Him so we are never alone.
Being by ourselves when we are facing the really hard moments of life that makes us feel particularly vulnerable. There is something about the company of others that helps us feel stronger.
But the company of the God of this universe surpasses any human comfort. Our God is for us, in us and with us! Praying you feel His presence today.
Skipping the Envy and Rooting Others On
Numbers 11:29, “ But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them all!””
Ever felt like others might be jealous of you? Or maybe some are even jealous for you? Ah, the strivings of man.
I love Moses’ heart in this passage. His words are certainly in line with what God said about him in Numbers 12:3, “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.”
Joshua had reported about two men who were prophesying and Joshua told Moses to make them stop. Wow. Jealousy can blind us.
Sometimes we can envy others for their success or feel like they are in our “territory”. Or vice versa. Not a fun filling to be envied or to envy at all. In this verse above, Moses tells Joshua, son of Nun, not to be jealous for his sake. Some key truths we can remember when we are jealous of someone else’s portion or worried that they might want to work in “our space”:
✅ There’s enough for everyone to have a piece of the pie in God’s kingdom.
✅Jealousy is not from God. Don’t feed it or listen to it.
✅Have a Kingdom mentality – root for others and enjoy the gifts that God has given to them.
✅Our gifts are not about us. We don’t deserve the glory – God does.
✅Be grateful for your portion and don’t crave your neighbor’s blessings. They won’t fit you. God knows what you need and what is best.
Guys, when the green monster comes out, ain’t nobody happy. There is such joy to be found with contentment in God’s plan and portion for our lives.
May God cause us all to flourish in our callings in Him. Serve Him! He is worthy! And the greatest joy is found in fulfilling His purpose for our lives! Don’t envy someone else’s portion – just be grateful that we get to serve Him at all and marvel at what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of others.