Monday, August 31, 2015

Developing Committed Connections

In review of Proverbs 18:24 it says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Bottom Line:
Some friends aren’t real helpful, but a true friend is closer than your own family.

What this means to me:
I can have a lot of friends, but they are not always helpful.  A true friend will stick closer and be more loyal than a brother.

Good relationships don’t happen by accident. They take cultivation, work, and a lot of time. That requires commitment!

This verse in Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (ESV).

I think this means that I can over socialize and never enter into deep relationships. I can be networking, contacting, socializing, and making acquaintances but never put in the right amount of time, energy and effort it takes to cultivate a deep, satisfying intimacy of a good friend.

While it’s not wrong to have a lot of acquaintances, I don’t need a lot of friends to make it in this world. However I do need a few good ones. I need to focus on quality, not quantity. This means that any acquaintances; lots of Facebook “friends”, aren’t necessarily going to be there when I need them. But the friends I am truly connected and committed to will.

Every important, close connection begins with a commitment. If I want to get beyond shallow, superficial relationships, I’ve got to be willing to stick with it.

In summary, I can have a lot of friends, but they are not always helpful.  A true friend will stick closer and be more committed than a brother or family member. This morning Father your word reminds me that it’s not just about having a multitude of friends on a superficial level, but rather having a few friends with deeper commitments to each other. I should concentrate on developing more committed relationships, so that I can connect on a deeper level. I need to go beyond the shallow and make a commitment and be willing to stick with it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Learning To Deal With Gossip

In review of Proverbs 11:13 it says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”

Bottom Line:
A gossip will betray a confidence, whereas someone trustworthy will keep a secret.

What this means to me:
A gossip is someone who can not be trusted with a secret or a confidence. A trustworthy person is one that can be trusted, you can put your confidence in them, they will keep your secret.

I think our culture tends to think of gossip as one of those “little” sins. But when God talks about gossip, I believe he puts it on the list with other things like sexual immorality and murder. Mainly because it is so destructive to relationships. Gossip can tear apart friendships, families, and churches.

Gossip is talking about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the solution nor a part of the problem. Honestly if and when I engage in this, what I’m doing is making myself feel more important at somebody else’s expense. Talking about their hurts and their problems make me feel like I’m morally superior or better. That’s the danger and the hurt of gossip.

I’m reminded of a story in the Old Testament about a family that struggled with gossip (Numbers 12:9-11.) Moses had a sister named Miriam who one day got caught up in murmuring and gossiping about Moses among the rest of the people. God called Moses and Miriam in and had a little talk. He spoke with Miriam and told her what she’d done wrong and right there on the spot gave her leprosy. He then invited Moses to pray for Miriam’s healing, the very person who gossiped against him.

When I get hurt by gossip and things that have been said around the office or a broken confidence in a relationship, God is telling me to: “Pray for the person who gossiped against me so that I can be released from the hurt.”

When I can keep confidences, it enables me to connect to others in productive, healthy, and genuine ways.

This verse in Proverbs 11:13 reminds me that, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (NIV).

Today I should consider if I’m the kind of person that can keep others confidences so they can trust me?

In summary, a person who gossips will betray a confidence, whereas someone who is trustworthy will keep a secret. This morning God I ask you to help me not be a person who can not be trusted with a secret or a confidence. Help me to have integrity and be a person that can be trusted, one that others can put their confidences in. I need to remember that I’m being a gossip when I talk about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the solution nor a part of the problem. I need to recognize why I may be doing this. Am I trying make myself feel more important at somebody else’s expense? If so I need to humble myself and practice Philippians 2:3-4. When I’m on the opposing end of gossip, I need to pray specifically for the person who gossiped against me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Learning To Use My Words Carefully

In review of Ephesians 4:29 it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Bottom Line:
What we say should not be abusive or harmful, rather we should say things that will build others up.

What this means to me:
I am to not let foul, abusive or harmful words come from myself. I should concentrate on saying things that be helpful for building others up, such that I can become a source of encouragement for them.

This passage reminds me that God wants me to use my words to build others up. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

Without thinking about it, my words can be just like a sledgehammer. I swing away without thinking, and all of a sudden all I have is a pile of relational rubble. If I thoughtlessly sling my words around and tear people down, my relationships are going to suffer.

I don’t always realize how powerful my mouth and words can be. I say things without thinking. And people remember them, just like certain things others have said to me in a careless way, are still remembered today. That’s how powerful words are. So when it comes to my mouth, I’ve got to think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

So how can I use my mouth more carefully so that I’m using it to build relationships and not to tear others down?

First, stop excusing. Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that.” Realize that what I say impacts everybody around me.

Talk less. I often get in trouble because I just don’t know when to shut up.

Listen more. If I listen more, I can better understand others needs.

Start building. Let my first thoughts be, “What does that person need? How can I use a word of encouragement to build him up? What can I say to make a difference in his life?”

What I say should not be abusive or harmful, rather I should be thinking and saying things that will build others up. Today, I ask you God to help me with my thoughts and speech patterns. I need to take a pause and think first before speaking. I need to consider how what I will say will be beneficial and not hurtful or harmful. I should concentrate on saying things that be helpful for building others up, such that I can become a source of encouragement for them. I will add Ephesians 4:29 to my list of verses that I am memorizing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Learning That The World Does Not Revolve Around Me

In review of Philippians 2:4 it says, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”

Bottom Line:
Care about others as much as you care about yourselves

What this means to me:
I am to care about others as much as I care about myself. Take an interest in them and what they are doing.

One of the 7 habits of highly effective people says to, “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.” The verse talks about this as well: “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4 TEV).

This is such a counterculture verse, as everything in our culture conditions us to think first of ourselves. We don’t think about other people naturally. That’s something we have to learn to do. We naturally think about our needs, our desires, our goals, and our ambitions. As a result we have lots of people disconnected because they’re only thinking of themselves and not anyone else’s needs.

TV commercials are filled with the same by-line: “You deserve it.” “Buy this shampoo! You deserve it.” “Buy this expensive car, because you deserve it!” With this exposure, we are taught that we are the supreme value in life.

There are two very basic truths about life.

First, contrary to popular belief, the world does not revolve around me. I am very special in God’s eyes, and was were created for a purpose, but the world does not revolve around me.

The second truth is this: God has promised that when I focus on meeting the needs of others, he will meet my needs. Why? Because he wants me to learn to be unselfish. He wants me to learn to be loving and generous like him. Part of being considerate of others needs is making allowances for their faults and not expecting them to be perfect (Colossians 3:13). I’m not perfect, so why should I demand it of anybody else?

Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love forgets mistakes” (TLB). When I’m trying to make a connection with someone, I don’t have to be blind to that person’s faults. I just choose to overlook them. Great friends are good forgetters. They don’t rub it in; they rub it out! They are more concerned with the other person’s needs.

In summary, I am to care about others as much as I care about myself. Take an interest in them and what they are doing. Father, it’s tough to refocus myself and to look beyond my own desires. I ask this morning to help change my heart so that I help others knowing that when I do, you will make sure I’m taken care of. I should look for ways to serve others today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Fear Will Do To Relationships

In review of 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.”

Bottom line:
God has not given us a spirit of fear, rather he fills us with power, love and self-control.

What this means to me:

God has given me the gift of his Spirit, and this Spirit doesn’t want me to be afraid of others, but be strong, show love and exhibit self-control.

If I want to connect with someone, I’ve got to be willing to take the first step. This often takes courage, because it’s fear that disconnects human beings. When I’m experiencing fear and anxiety, it’s difficult to get close to others. My tendency is to back off. I believe this is because I'm afraid of being rejected, manipulated, vulnerable, hurt, or used. Fears of which cause me to be disconnected in life.

This fear can be traced back to when Adam and Eve sinned and God came looking for Adam, Adam said, “I was afraid, and I hid.” Seems we have been doing this ever since. Being afraid, we hide our true selves. We don’t let people know what we’re really like, because if we do and they don’t like us, we face rejection.

Fear will do three bad things for relationships:

First, fear will make me defensive. When others point out my weaknesses, I often retaliate and defend myself.

Second, fear keeps me distant. I don’t let people get close. I withdraw. I hide my emotions.

Lastly, fear makes me demanding. The more insecure I am, the more I try to control things. I try to have the last word in a relationship. I try to dominate.

So where can I get the courage to take the first step to connect with someone and get into a deeper level of intimacy?

I get it from God’s Spirit already present in my life. The Bible says, “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them” (2 Timothy 1:7 TLB).

I’ll know when I’m filled with God’s Spirit, when I get more courageous in my relationships. I love and enjoy being with people. I’m not afraid of them, because God’s Spirit is in my life. The Bible says “God is love” and “Love casts out all fear.” The more of God I have in my life, the less fear I’m going to have in life.

So today, I need to proceed knowing that I have God’s Spirit in me who wants me to be have courage, be bold and reach out to others. I don’t want to be defensive, distant or controlling. Today I pray God for the courage to take the first step toward growth in this area today.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Learning To Accept God’s Grace

In review of Romans 6:23 it says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bottom Line:
Sin is paid with death, but God’s free gift is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

What this means to me:
The only real payment for a sinful life is death, but God offers a free gift of eternal life that comes through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (NLT, second edition). Grace is the gift that keeps on giving. As I get to know Jesus Christ and his grace and love, it gets better and better and better. It is available to me and extended throughout eternity. So the best is yet to come!

In Heaven I’ll be be reunited with loved ones who knew the Lord. I”l be rewarded for my faith. I’ll be assigned a position of work that I’ll absolutely love. I”ll be released from pain, depression, despair, shame, and guilt, and I’ll be rejoicing for eternity.

The only catch is that each one needs to personally accept it.

Not accepting the gift is a lot like going home and finding a gift on the table, but leaving it there for the next year, unopened. A gift is worthless unless I accept it. Likewise we all must accept God’s grace through his Son, Jesus Christ.

I think there are many who hold off on accepting the gift because of a fear of rejection. But there is one person who will never reject, and his name is Jesus Christ. He’s says to all of us, “Come home.”

The more anyone understands the grace of God, the more you fall in love with God and the more you want to draw closer to Jesus, because it’s almost impossible to not love somebody who loves you that much.

Sin is ultimately paid with death, but God offers a free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus. God, this morning I thank you for providing a way out the mess I created for myself. You erase all of my wrongs by my accepting your free gift of salvation as admit my shortcomings and believe in and acknowledge Christ as the Lord and leader of my life. I need to constantly remember the grace of God, and draw closer to him because of his unfailing love. I need to be ready to share my story with how God has changed my life and be ready to tell others what he has done for me and what he can do for them. It all starts with accepting God’s grace.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Four Things That Will Help Stop Worry In My Life

In review of 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Bottom Line:
God cares about you, so give your worries to him.

What this means to me:
I am to give all of my worries and anxiety to him, he cares deeply about me.

I’m thinking that it will take a lot more than willpower in order for me to stop worrying. I know this because I’ve already tried it. Still times come when I think “I shouldn’t worry about this,” and yet I do still worrying about it.

What I’m learning is that It’s going to take more than sheer willpower to stop worrying. Here are four things I can do:

First, continue getting to know God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:32, “People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things” (MSG). I have a heavenly Father who has promised to take care of me. I am God’s child, and his children get special privileges. When I worry, God says, “You’re my child. Why are you acting like an orphan?”

Second, I am to put God first in every area of my life. Matthew 6:31-33 says, “Don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing …. Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to” (TLB). Any time you take God out of the center of your life and put anything else there, no matter how good it is; you’re going to worry.

Thirdly, live one day at a time. The Bible says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mathew 6:34 NCV). Worrying about tomorrow, keeps me from enjoying today. I can end up missing today’s blessings. It is OK to plan for tomorrow, but I also need to live for today. Also, if I’m constantly worried about tomorrow, the future will seem overwhelming. God will give me the grace and strength I need when I get there. Right now, I only need enough power for today.

Lastly, trust God to care. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). How can I do that? One way is to memorize God’s promises. They’re like insurance policies for believers. When I know something’s covered, I don’t worry about it anymore. Another way is to pray. If I prayed as much as I worried, I’d have a lot less to worry about.

If I can follow these four steps, I have the ability to experience an incredible peace of mind as stated in Philippians 4:7a: “You will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand” (4:7a TLB).

In summary, God really cares about me, so I should give him my worries. Today Father, I admit that I often forget that you are with me. I often forget what you’re like. Would you please forgive me for that? I need to get to know you better. I need to get to know your Word and your promises better. Help me to put you first in every area of my life. Help me to live one day at a time. Help me to not worry about tomorrow but instead focus on what you’re doing in my life right now. I want to trust in your promise to take care of every one of my needs, whether it be financial, relational, physical, social, spiritual, or emotional. Help me to trust you more and worry less. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why I Shouldn’t Worry

In review of Matthew 6:25 it says,“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
 
Bottom Line:
Don’t worry about your life, what we eat, drink or wear. Life if more than just these things.

What this means to me:
I should never worry about my life; what I’ll eat, drink or wear. Life if more than just these things.

What I’m learning is that worry is essentially a control issue. Its me trying to control the uncontrollable. I can’t control the economy, so I tend to worry about it. I can’t control what happens to those around me, so we worry about them. I can’t control the future, so I worry about it. But in reality worry never solves anything! It’s stewing without doing.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides four reasons for me to not worry:

First, worry is unreasonable. Matthew 6:25 says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (NIV) In this, Jesus is indicating that if it’s not going to last, don’t worry about it. To worry about something you can change is stupid. To worry about something you can’t change is useless. Either way, it’s unreasonable to worry.

Secondly, worry is unnatural. Jesus gives us an illustration from nature in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” There’s only one thing in all of God’s creation that worries: human beings. We’re the only things God has created that don’t trust him, and God says this is unnatural.

Thirdly, worry is unhelpful. It doesn’t change anything. Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” When you worry about a problem, it doesn’t bring you one inch closer to the solution. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair — a lot of activity, energy, and motion, but no progress. Worry doesn’t change anything except you. It makes you miserable!

Lastly, worry is unnecessary. Matthew 6:30 says, “If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?” (TLB) If you trust in God, you don’t need to worry. Why? Because he has promised to take care of all your needs: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).

Does this include bills, relational conflicts, dreams, goals, ambitions, and health issues? Scripture tells me, God will meet all my needs in Christ.

So Don’t worry about it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Purposes Behind Persistent Prayers

In review of Ephesians 6:18 it says, Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."

Bottom Line:
With the Spirit's help, pray on every occasion, especially for others. Always keep alert and never give up as you pray.

What this means to me:
On every occasion, I am to use the power of the Spirit to help me pray for others. I am to keep alert, never giving up in my prayers for them.

Part of this verse in Ephesians 6:18 says, “..Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers..” (NLT, second edition).

Why should I keep praying when there seems to be no answer on the horizon? It seems there is purpose behind persistent prayers on my part. What I’m learning is that there are four reasons:

First, persistent prayer focuses my attention. When I pray a prayer request over and over, it’s not to remind God. He doesn’t need to be reminded! It’s to remind myself who the source of my answer and all of my needs is. If every prayer you ever prayed were instantly answered, two things would be true. First, prayer would become a weapon of destruction. And, I’d never think about God, because he would become a vending machine. If every time I prayed I instantly received results, all I’d think about is the blessing. God wants me to think about the Blesser.

Second, persistent prayer clarifies my request. A delayed answer gives me the time to clarify exactly what I want and to refine my prayers. When I pray persistently to my heavenly Father and I say something over and over again, it separates deep longings from mere whims. It says, “God, I really care about this.” It’s not that God doesn’t want to answer my prayers. He does. It’s just that he wants me to be certain that that’s what I really want.

Thirdly, persistent prayer tests my faith. James 1:3-4 says, “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” The only way I can grow to spiritual maturity is to have my faith tested. One of the ways God’s going to test my faith is by delaying some answers to my prayers.

Fourth, persistent prayer prepares my heart for the answer. When I make a request of God, God almost always wants to answer in a bigger and better way than I’ve prayed. Sometimes God denies my prayer requests because I’m thinking and asking too small. He wants to give me something bigger and better. But first, he has to prepare me for it. So God uses delays in answering prayer to help me grow, to help me get ready, to help prepare me for a bigger and better answer.

I should keep in mind that, “God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NCV).

In summary, I am to to use the power of the Spirit to help me pray for others at all times. I am to keep alert and to never give up in my prayers for them. God, this mornings verse gives me a much better understanding of what takes place when I pray for something over and over again. You have a purpose in delay, and most of it relates to you helping to grow and refocusing me personally. I’m reminded this morning that my persistence in prayer will help focus my attention, reminding me of who the source of the answer really is. It helps to clarify my request, giving me time to separate mere whims from true longings. It also helps to test and build my faith as I learn to wait through a delay. It could also be preparing my heart for perhaps something even bigger, which ultimately helps me to grow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Learning To Let God Take Control

In review of Romans 6:12-13 it says, “12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t let sin and the desires it creates control any part of your body. Instead give yourself to God and use your life to do what is right, bringing glory for God.

What this means to me:
I am to not let sin control the way I live. I should not give in to its sinful desires. I should not allow any part of my body to become an instrument that serves sin, instead I should devote myself to God. He has taken me from death to life, so I should use my body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Every day I’m being controlled by something. It may be by my ego or by the expectations of others. I can even be controlled by fear, guilt, resentment or bitterness. I may even be controlled by a habit.

Freedom comes when I choose what’s going to control me. When I choose Jesus Christ to be in control, mastered by the Master, I can master everything else. If God is not number one in my life, then something else is, and can control me to a negative degree. When I allow Christ to be in control of my life, he will always move me in the right direction.

Romans 6:12-13 says, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires …. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (NLT, second edition).

Here are some steps I’ve come across that will help me in this choice to let Christ have control:

Admit that I’ve been trying to play God.
Admit that I can’t change on my own.
Humbly ask God to help me change.
Be honest with someone else about the things that need to change in my life.
Give Jesus Christ total ownership of my life.

The key is to stop trying and instead to start trusting. God gives me the option to either depend on him or depend on myself. The end result is either freedom or frustration.

In summary, I shouldn’t let sin and the desires it creates control any part of my body. Instead I am to give myself to God and then use my life to do what is right, ultimately bringing glory to God. Today I can either take matters into my own hands or let you control them. I can’t have both. Your word and my experience with you tells me you can always be trusted, so why do I still try to control my life. God you give me the option to either depend on you or depend on myself. Things go so much better when I let you run things. I believe the key will be to stop trying and instead start practicing trust. Today I give it all to you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

God Is Working While I'm Waiting

In summary of Psalm 130:5 it says, “I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for he has promised.”


Bottom Line:
I expectantly wait and trust God to help, for he has promised.


What this means to me:
I am counting on the Lord with all my heart, I have put my hope in his Word and promises.


What I’m learning is that God wants me to wait patiently for him to answer my prayers. While I do, he is wanting me to wait expectantly showing faith. I’m trusting God to hear and to answer. When I can wait expectantly, I demonstrate to God that I believe in his promises and believe he’s going to keep his word.


There are a great number of times in which I feel bewildered. Bewildered about a situation: “I’m praying for it to get better, but it’s not getting any better.” Bewildered about me career: “Do I go up, down, change jobs?” Bewildered about a relationship. At time I even  feel powerless and hopeless, as if I can’t do anything to change my situation on my own.


When this happens I should look up and turn to prayer and believe his promises. He may choose not to answer it, but regardless God is a good, and he knows what’s best for me, even when I don’t understand it.


When God doesn’t answer my prayers, I need to remember a couple very important truths. First, God is in control, and I’m not. He knows better what I need than I do. There is no mountain too tall that he can’t move it. There is no problem so big that he can’t solve it. There is no sorrow so deep he cannot soothe it. God is in control, and he has a plan.


The second thing I need to remember is that, whether or not I ever receive an answer, God will honor my patience, if not in this world then in eternity.


Therefore “I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for he has promised” (Psalm 130:5 TLB).

In summary, God has promised, so I need to do my part, expectantly waiting and trusting in him. This morning I think you for being faithful and always doing what you promise. I need to realize that what you promise and what you know, is for my best and may not always line up with my thinking and my desires. Therefore, I need to learn to ask! There are so many large endeavors (moving, buying a house) that I just start to pursue on my own. I need to bring these to God early in my thought processes, then know and trust that God will lead me even though the answers may not come out right away. God will reward my patience and trust. I need to trust him, because, God has something in mind for me that is much better or grander than I can ever think of.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What God Wants While I Wait For An Answer

In review of Psalm 37:7 it says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”

Bottom Line:
Be still and rest in the Lord, waiting patiently for him to act. Don’t let it bother you when it appears that those who do sinful prosper.

What this means to me:
I am to be still and rest in the presence of Lord and wait patiently for him to act. I should not concern myself or worry about those who prosper or who succeed in their evil plans.

So what does God want me to do while I’m waiting on an answer to my prayer?

Psalm 37:7 indicates to, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” (NLT, second edition). God wants me to wait patiently for him to answer.

Personally I know I tend to endure waiting as long as I can grumble while I do it. But this verse indicates that God tells me to just, “Be still.”

Like a little 2-year-old, I get the spiritual wiggles while we’re waiting for God to answer a prayer. I get nervous and restless. I want to jump up and do something. But God says, “Wait patiently. Be still. Watch me act. Don’t get restless, don’t get nervous, and don’t try to take matters into your own hands.”

And this reminds me that I should also never make Abraham’s mistake in the Old Testament of trying to be the answer to my own prayer. God told Abraham that he was going to make him the father of a great nation. There were only two problems: Abraham was 99 years old, and he was childless. Abraham looked at his own body and said, “No way, Jose!” And he looked at his wife Sarah, who was infertile, and said, “Double no way! It ain’t gonna happen.”

So Abraham took matters into his own hands and had a baby with his wife’s maid, Hagar. Abraham said, “Here’s my answer to prayer! I’ve got a son at 99. His name is Ishmael.” However God said, “No, no. You missed the point. That’s not my answer to prayer. That’s your own answer to prayer. I’ve got a miracle boy who’s coming, and Sarah’s going to be the mom. You’re going to name him Isaac.” Isaac means “laughter.” When Sarah was told that she was going to be pregnant, the Bible says she laughed because she didn’t believe God.

But God had the last laugh. Isaac was born, and it started an intense rivalry between him and Ishmael that we’re still paying for today. The tense relationship between Jews and Arabs all began because Abraham tried to answer his own prayer request. Thus, whenever I try to answer my own prayer, I’m asking for trouble. Instead, I should wait patiently, and watch God act. In summary, I am to be still and wait patiently for him to answer. I am to trust in him and his timing. I shouldn’t worry about what’s happening with others. God, time and time again you have proven yourself and come through for me. And when you do it is always the right thing at the right time. I need to remember that I should bring things to you that I'm thinking about in prayer and not make rash or hurried decisions to meet a desire or perceived need. I need to wait patiently for you, no matter what I see happening around me with others. When waiting patiently, I can remind myself of your faithfulness and reflect on Abraham’s mistake of taking matters into his own hands.

Choosing to Accept God’s Grace

In review of Romans 6:23 it tells me that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lor...