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Friday, March 15, 2024

There Is One Thing I Can Change

In Lamentations 3:40 it says, “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the LORD.” (GNT)

When life feels like it’s falling apart, knowing what I can change—and what I can’t change—can make all the difference.

First, I can’t change my past. I can’t change my parents. I can’t change the gifts and talents God has or hasn’t given me. I can’t change a handicap I’ve been given. I can’t bring back a loved one who has died.

I might as well accept all of those things. I’ll start to find peace in the midst of troubles when I accept what I can’t change. Otherwise, I’ll make myself and the people I love miserable.

There’s much I can’t change, but there’s something important I can change: I can change me.

When Jeremiah’s world was falling apart, he wrote in Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the LORD” (GNT).

I need to consider what’s going on in my life that doesn’t line up with what God wants? Depending on how I react, crises can help me as I learn to focus my eyes on what matters: Jesus.

To reorder my life God’s way, will take some gut-level self-evaluation. I’ll need to do an inventory of every area of my life. I’ll need to take a look at my relationship with God, my spouse, my kids, my friends, and my co-workers. I’ll need to look at hurts and hang-ups that may be bringing me down. I have to assess what habits are leading me closer to Christ-likeness and which ones are pulling me away. I need to be honest about my flaws—not someone else’s—that got me where I am. Nothing can be off limits.

It won’t be easy. It can get messy. It’s always tough to turn from sin, even when it’s tearing me down.

But I won’t find healing without telling myself the truth about myself. Healing apart from repentance can’t last. When my world is falling apart, I’ll be tempted to bemoan every area of my life.

That’s a waste of time. I can’t change everythingbut, remember, I can change me.

And when my world is falling apart, that can mean everything.

In retrospect, I need to free up my time to have real conversations with people. While I can’t control a lot of things, I can control myself and how I choose to handle life. I could and need to find a trusted confidant who can ask me the hard questions about my priorities, relationships, and even my secret sins so that I can take proper inventory of my life. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Ready, Set—Wait

In Lamentations 3:25-26 it says, “The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us.” (GNT)

When life seems to be falling apart, the best and most “spiritual” response will surprise us: Get alone with God, and wait.

The Bible tells us in Lamentations 3:28, “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst” (MSG).

We don’t know how to “enter the silence.” We’re always anxious. We don’t like to wait on God because it stresses us out. We like to be in control.

What does it mean to wait on God? I sit down, close my mouth, and just listen. I may read my Bible. I may pray. But most of all, I’m quiet in front of God.

Anxiety comes when I’m not “waiting for hope to appear,” as Jeremiah tells us. God wants to talk to me. He wants to give me the hope I crave. But I’m way too busy to hear him.

If we want to listen to God and experience the hope he has for me, then I have to get alone with him. We must “enter the silence” and be ready to hear him.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (MSG).

Get honest with God, and my focus will shift from just seeing my problems—no matter how overwhelming they seem—to God’s grace.

Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us” (GNT). 

Before I go out and try to solve my problem on my own, let God save me. No matter what obstacle I’m facing, I’ve got to wait for his timing. He’ll time my next move perfectly.

Get still, and listen. Then, wait for hope to appear. 

Friday, March 8, 2024

How God Tests Me and Then Blesses Me

In Luke 16:11-13 it says, “If you cannot be trusted with this wicked wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? And if you cannot be trusted with what belongs to someone else, who will give you something that will be your own? You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (CEV)

Faithful people are generous, even when they don’t have anything to give.

Anybody can be generous when they have a surplus. You can be generous with your time when you’ve got a lot of extra time. You can be generous with your money when you’ve got a lot of extra money. You can be generous with your energy when you’ve got extra energy to spend. It’s when you don’t have enough time for yourself, you don’t have enough energy for yourself, you don’t have enough money for yourself, you don’t have enough talent for yourself that God says, “This is a test. I’m watching you to see if you are generous. Will you be faithful, and will you trust me?”

Here are five principles in which God will test us and then bless us:

1. God gives to generous people.

God wants you to be generous, because he wants you to be like him. And obeying him will bring his blessing.

2. Obeying God’s vision will bring God’s provision.

If you do what God tells you to do, then God will bring along the resources you need at the right time. What he’s given you the vision for he will give you the provision for.

3. When you do all that God tells you to do, he does what you can’t do.

God often asks you to do the impossible to stretch your faith. When you give what little you have, God multiples it and makes up for it.

4. When you have a need, you sow a seed.

Whatever you need in your life, sow that as a seed, and it will come back to you.

5. There’s always a delay between sowing and reaping.

There is a season between planting and harvesting. What’s going on in the delay? It’s a test of your faith.

So, will I be faithful to give when I have little? Will I keep on doing the right thing? Will I do what God wants me to do, no matter the cost? When I am faithful in this, I will be amazed at how God will provide.

I like to think that I am generous with time, money and my abilities. However, for the most part God has blessed me with abundance, so I don’t think much about shortages. As I consider this, shortages occur more often with my time. When this happens I get frustrated, feel like I’m not doing what I can or annoyed that I don’t want to use what I have. I need to reconsider my mindset when this happens. I need to be open handed and give what God has entrusted me with. There are a lot of people who need to be cared for and brought to God. Some of my part in this is to be there for people who are having financial behavior struggles and difficulties. God has given me talent, time and a desire to help those people. I need to ask God to help me get and be around those individuals and allow me to help and not just wait for them to show up. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

It’s Too Soon to Quit

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 it says, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (NLT)

There is a difference between faithful people and unfaithful people. Unfaithful people give up at the first sign of difficulty. Faithful people keep on keeping on. Faithful people are determined, diligent, and persistent. They don’t know how to quit! You know how a little acorn becomes an oak tree? An oak tree is just an acorn that has refused to give up.

I don’t have it all figured out, but one thing I know is: I am never a failure until I quit, and it is always too soon to quit. God uses tough times to test my persistence.

When I go through tough times, this verse is something to hold onto: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NLT).

God is more interested in what I’m becoming than what’s happening to me. He often allows trials, troubles, tribulations, and problems in life to teach me diligence, determination, and character. The problem I’m going through right now is a test of my faithfulness. Will I continue to serve God, even when life stinks?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

I shouldn’t let fatigue, pain, tough times or criticism force me off the job. Rather I need to renew my commitment to serving Christ. I can find purpose in what I'm going through. It can remind me of what Christ endured for me, keeps me from pride, causes me to look beyond this life, gives me the opportunity to prove my faith as an example to others and gives God the opportunity to demonstrate his power. I should look to see troubles as opportunities. Asking “why” is the wrong question, instead ask, "God, what's your purpose in this"? Nothing comes into my life by accident. God can bring good from every thing. The trials I encounter reveal my character, maturity, security, value and faith. God's purpose for my life will always be greater than my problems. I need to learn to trust him.