Friday, October 7, 2011

Our Plans vs God's Plans

How many of us love to make plans? I know that I do. I enjoy having a plan for my day so that I can see some amount of progress as I have reached certain goals. I especially relied on plans when I was teaching. What about plans for my spouse or children? Do I have plans for them too? Indeed!

Plans Undone
What happens when life doesn't go as planned? Who is to blame? Do we blame anyone for things not going according to our plan? Do we blame ourselves? God? Satan?

Sarah the Planner
In Genesis, we learn about Sarah and Abraham. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Although they had been married for years it was still just the two of them. They even aged until Sarah was past child bearing years.

Sarah decided to take control and "help" God out in his plans. She offered her servant Hagar to Abraham, claiming that any child born would be hers. Hagar did have a son but sometime later, Sarah became pregnant. God had a plan for Sarah and Abraham but Sarah had grown impatient. God knew what he was doing. Sarah had to wait until she was 90 years old and Abraham was 100 years old before they could hold their own baby, Isaac. God was glorified in this miracle birth.

Turn Impatience to Patience

Waiting for God's timing can sometimes be difficult, particularly for individuals who like to plan, control and organize. We grow impatient and feel that we have been forgotten or ignored. When we find ourselves getting impatient, rather than rushing out to "give God a hand" the better approach is to read the Bible, continue to thank God for working on the situation and say some of the verses out loud so we can hear the promises of God. In doing this, we are focusing on God rather than on the "nothing is happening thoughts." This prevents us from giving Satan an opportunity to make us doubt that God is working everything out.

God's Plans are the Best

In Jeremiah 29:11-13
"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

When we give God the plans for our lives we will be blessed more than we would be if we did not surrender our control. He has it all worked out. We just have to trust in God's plans rather than our plans. Also we need to exercise a lot of patience!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Counting on God

"I'm counting on, I'm counting on God"

These are some of the words from the worship song, "Counting on God." I was going to write waiting on God, because I am waiting on God to provide but when I thought about it I felt that the words "Counting on God" actually reveal more of what I am feeling. To me, the words counting on indicate that I know that God will fulfill His promise to provide and care for me, my husband, my girls, my family and the rest of my extended family.

Don't you agree that if someone tells you that you can count on them that you immediately feel reassured that they will stand by you through thick and thin, ups and downs and everything in between. God promises us that we can count on Him is so many verses in the Bible.

After four years of being out of the work force, my husband, Kevin is now looking for work again. When he was first laid off, he spent one year looking for work and he had also considered starting a business or two. When it became clear that God has other things in mind, the opportunity for him to take a Masters presented itself. It was not something that we could have afforded at the time, however the government had a offered to pay for the 2 year program, in the hopes that some of these grads would begin start up companies and then the economy would benefit. The government did this because a number of high tech companies closed up or were bought out and the number of unemployed people had grown dramatically.

It took three years for Kevin to complete the program, so we funded his final year. Since graduating at the end of May, he has been looking for employment while getting some work done around the house.

At the same time, I have also been looking for work. My hours have been cut back 20% and so has my salary. In addition, I am ready for a change. Full time work is my interest, but in God's way of providing and caring, two part time writing opportunities have arisen. These will make up for my lost salary and both positions are work from home.

Connecting, networking, social media
and good old fashioned send out the resume have been the approaches Kevin and I have been using in our job searches. I have to admit, I still am of the old school where you see an ad and then you apply, but one of the part time positions I heard about was through a connection and was not advertised. (I am still waiting to see if this part time editing job is also part of God's plan for me.) Both part time writing jobs were advertised online and I applied online.

The new way of looking for work is the connecting, networking, social media approach. Books and speakers explain that many jobs are not advertised because the companies or organizations do not want to receive 100's of applications. Instead, they recommend that you study the companies or organizations that really interest you, send off an introductory letter and indicate that you will contact them by a certain time. Make the contact, then send your covering letter and resume and arrange to meet. This will put your name before them not just once, but three or four times. You will be remembered and the company or organization may discover that they want to hire you because of your skills, abilities and personality.

This information is in many books, but the one which I am currently reading that suggests the above approach is written by a Christian named Dan Miller. The book is: "48 Days to the Work You Love." It isn't a book that you just read from cover to cover, you must of course do the work if you want to find the work you love in 48 days. None of the tasks are daunting, they make sense and are for your benefit. Since I have only just started the book, I will be taking the next 48 days to read and work through it. Kevin is a few chapters ahead of me and he is already scheduling some coffee get togethers.

The next 48 days could be quite an adventure!

So is God providing? Yes, and I am still, "Counting on God!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Effective and Productive Qualities

2 Peter 1:5-8

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I have typed out the verses above and I have been reading through them daily because I truly want to have these qualities. How many people today are striving for these qualities? How many of us want to possess these positive, helpful traits?

When you read through various job postings they tend to list not only the qualifications or schooling, training and experience required for the job, but many list numerous qualities or abilities and personality traits.

Let's take a look at a few of the qualities which I have noticed in several job postings.

-investigative researcher
-clear and concise communicator
-detail oriented
-ability to work in a fast paced environment
-coordinate materials, meetings, etc.
-identify and recruit
-risk taker
-a team player
-a desire to learn
-show empathy and sincerity in a challenging situation
-able to meet deadlines.....

The lists go on and on depending upon the type of job one is seeking.

Wow! It makes you wonder who can measure up to all of the qualities and qualifications of today's employment standards? Is there really someone out there who possess everything an employer wants?

I have talked with people who have interviewed prospective employees. Their answer is always the same. No one meets all of the expectations and someone that looks good on paper may not have the right personality for the job. Instead, they hire individuals who are a close match, knowing that as they are working they will gain more of the qualities that were in the job description.

Similarly, God sets before us a standard in these verses in 2 Peter 1:5-8. In order for us to be effective and productive as followers of Jesus we really need to work on each and every quality in these verses.

Here's the list again.

Make every effort to add to your faith:
-brotherly kindness

With God's help, we can have these qualities. The people around us will see God in our words, our actions, our work, our personality and our life.

How will others see anything different about us if we act just like them? They won't. It is the difference in how we react that they will see. Particularly during the time of a crisis in our lives if we react with any and all of the qualities above, in increasing measure, God tells us we will be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Self- Controlled, Alert and Humble

1 Peter 5: 6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen

As I read these verses this morning I was struck by the words, "Be self-controlled and alert." Since I am not one to talk a lot I always felt that I was self-controlled, however the words do not specify to only be self-controlled just in what I say, they command me to be self-controlled in everything.

Sometimes when a comment is made to me, my emotions run rampant and I feel as though I am needing to protect or defend myself. Anger quickly follows my mixed emotions. If I am to be self-controlled then this means that when I begin to react negatively that I need to immediately surrender these emotions to God and continue to pray and talk to him each and every time I lose my self-control.

I need to use self-control in my words, my actions, my behaviour, my personality, my life....etc. The more I use self-control the more I will be alert.

Why do I need to be alert? The next verse tells me that when I am alert then I will be more prepared and equipped to recognize that Satan is on the prowl. If I allow my anger, my fears, or my worries to control my life, then I am giving in to the enemy.

Repeating verses from the Bible, or reading them out loud is one of the best ways to resist onslaughts from the enemy. Trusting God in the promises that He has made as I repeat the verses means that I am not falling into Satan's trap. Surrounding my daughters with prayer, my husband, myself, my friends and my extended family members also aids in resisting the enemy.

I pray that God continues to help me to do each of these.

Stay alert! Use self-control. Be humble.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making Things Happen

How many of us like to make things happen? Waiting is not even a consideration for those of us that like to shake things up and make things happen. Full steam ahead is our one and only speed. You know how it is, you have an idea, you are bound and bent that it is going to happen so....away you go and you make it so.

But what does God have to say about this type of behaviour? Did we even consult Him in this matter? What about the way everything turned out? Was it a success or a disaster? Who is to blame for the mess if we were the ones that created it?, typically we get mad at God for the disasters in our lives even when we are responsible for them. Who do we credit for the success? Us...of course, but really it should be God.

We are very impatient, especially in society today when we have everything available almost instantly. If we wait for an hour, we have had to wait too long. If we have to wait for a year, we have definitely waited too long. If we have to wait years we think that we might go crazy.

Yet, waiting is a large part of God's plan for our lives. Waiting on His timing for situations and circumstances to work out. Waiting for friends and family members to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Waiting to see the good in a disaster. Waiting....

Waiting on the Lord is what we are called to do in all circumstances.

Waiting does not promise understanding. Instead, waiting means that we are being obedient to God and that we are honouring Him by waiting for His timing.

Waiting is not unproductive. During our waiting time we can be in prayer and ask God to direct us in what He would have us do. Waiting is a time that we can spend reading our Bibles. Waiting can be our time of drawing closer to God.

Waiting can make things happen.

In 1 Kings Chapter 1 Adonijah, one of David's sons decided to take matters into his own hands and make himself king. The problem was he was not the one that God had chosen to be king after David. His younger brother Solomon was to be king. Since Adonijah decided to make things happen his declaration of kingship was very short lived and eventually lead to his death.

I pray that in our lives that we do not make the same mistake as Adonijah. Let's remember to keep connecting with God and His will for our lives. It means surrendering control but who better to be in charge of our lives than God himself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

By Grace

Ephesians 2: 4-9 NIV
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

By the focal point for discussion in these verses.

What is grace? The dictionary lists several definitions of grace. The meanings which apply best to the scripture above are: favour, good will, mercy, temporary relief from an obligation, God's unmerited mercy toward man, and a condition of one who enjoys God's special favour.

When God offers his grace to us he is offering his mercy, his favour, his good will, etc. He is well aware of our sinful nature for nothing we do is hidden from him. Grace isn't his reward to us for our good behaviour or for our good works or for our attitude. It is his gift to us, his exemption from eternal separation from him by believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day.

Grace is not earned it is freely given. Grace is not doled out to a select few, but is offered to all who believe in God's gift of Jesus. Grace is God's ultimate gift of love to us who are so unworthy and undeserving of his gift. Grace exemplifies God's love and is extended to us as a favour and mercy. Grace is a heart and head lesson which we need to learn so that we can offer God's grace to others.

Grace is undeserved forgiveness. A forgiveness which erases our sin. Since grace is an undeserved forgiveness it is essential for us to put grace into practice in our own lives and when we deal with others who have hurt us.

Is this offering of grace easy to do when we feel so wounded by someone? No, however by God's grace we can pray and ask him to help us extend his grace to this individual. Bit by bit, as we pray for our enemy God's grace pours out to us, and overflows unto our enemy. The intense emotions slowly begin to disappear as we focus more on God's grace and less on how hurt we have been.

If you do not believe me try it. Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. You will be amazed at the changes within yourself as you pray for the one who has hurt you. You will be offering grace.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wisdom and Enlightenment

Ephesians 1:17-19a (NIV)

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

I love Paul's prayer for the people in Ephesus, a prayer that we too can say for ourselves and others, especially for those who do not yet know God and His Son Jesus.

Let's face it we can all use wisdom and enlightenment. If we were to approach every aspect of our lives in prayer, asking God to give us wisdom and enlightenment in every aspect of our lives we probably would not find ourselves in some of our messy situations.

There are of course, many circumstances in life that are not our own doing, but just imagine how different our lives would be if we responded in praying for wisdom and enlightenment. God is working all things out for His good and for His glory. We will not always know why things have happened, only that they have happened and what should we do next?

The people around us, our family, our co-workers, our neighbours and others are watching and waiting to see how we react to whatever life has thrown at us. How do we respond? What do we do? What should be our absolute first reaction when we are experiencing a crisis?

Pray! Pray for wisdom and enlightenment. Pray for God's will to be done in our life. Ask others to pray for God to be glorified in all circumstances. Pray without ceasing....pray continually.

As we pray we also need to thank God for what He is about to do as a result of the crisis. Lives will be changed. Pray for hearts to be open to respond to His call on their heart. Pray for God to help you deal with this overpowering, gut wrenching, painful experience so that you can bring honour and glory to His name.

If you are at the point where you cannot even form a coherent thought...ask God to give you the words, even if you repeat, "Help me Lord," you are giving the situation to Him, for His will to be done so that you can accept all that is to occur.

Have I experienced a crisis or two in my life? Definately! Some of my own making, many that were not. I have learned over the years that the sooner I hand it over to God the sooner I can receive His blessings. How could I be blessed in a crisis? Calm, strength, forgiveness, love, ....are just a few examples of what I have experienced.

How low will you have to go before you surrender your will and your crisis to Him so that you can obtain wisdom and enlightenment?