Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Events... (Part 2)

Have you ever faced difficulties before? Does it seem like you can never get a break? Is life overwhelming you? Could it possibly be that some times when things go “wrong” that it’s in fact a sign that you are doing some thing “right?” When you choose to live for God, it doesn’t guarantee you a happy go lucky life with no problems. The opposite can be true at times. When difficulties knock on your door or overwhelming circumstances flood your home, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips to help you out…

The first area we need to check when taking action is…

1. Check your vision

Whose lense are you looking through at your circumstances?

I was told recently that I have cataracts over each of my eyes in the center of my line of focus. They cloud my vision and prevent me from seeing things as clearly as I should. My vision was impaired by circumstances beyond my control however I have a choice. I can focus on what I CAN’T do or celebrate what I CAN DO. The choice is up to me. We face choices everyday when it comes to our circumstances. The choice of what attitude we carry as a result of those circumstances is up to us.

Often times we can look at our circumstances through our own clouded eyes and miss the “big picture” of what God is doing. Our eyes can miss things like God’s inner workings behind the scenes of our lives. Whether we “see” it or not, God is at work on our behalf. He has our best interest at heart. Things do not go unnoticed to Him.

Next time you face a difficulty, try to pull yourself back from your situation and see things from God’s perspective. What is going on that is GOOD that the devil may be upset about? When we choose to see things this way, it changes our whole outlook. It helps us to know how to pray and gives us a reason to keep walking forward no matter what is thrown our way.

“Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:2 (MSG)

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is…

2. Check your thinking

Has your thinkin’ been stinkin’?

Our thinking can affect things. Negative thoughts breed worry, fear, insecurity, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Thinking positively is not living in denial of the truth… it’s believing God for the impossible! It’s grabbing on to faith, hope, and peace.

Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed by the worries of this life, we can begin to start having “stinkin’ thinkin’.” All of those negative thoughts can rise to the surface… all the “what if’s” of life can hit us hard and make us feel as though we are drowning. Instead of lowering your head in despair as you look at your insurmountable circumstances, lift up your head and focus on your amazing God. He is the God of impossibilities!

Mark 10:27 says…
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (NLT)

The next time you struggle with negative “stinkin’ thinkin,” you need to take captive of those thoughts and give them to Christ.

II Cor. 10:5 says...
“Take captive of every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(NIV)

Give those negative thoughts to God and allow Him to replace them with a concrete trust in Him. His overwhelming peace will consume you as a result. The trade is worth it! Focus on things above not on earthly things. Try to have an eternal perspective… ask yourself, “Does this really MATTER in the light of eternity?” This can help you evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to GO in your thinking.

The first area we need to check is our Vision, the second area we need to check is our thinking, and the third area we need to check is…

3. Check your heart

We can’t necessarily change what happens TO us, but we can determine what happens IN us as we respond to our circumstances. Whether we see Him, feel Him, or Hear Him, God is alive, well, and working in our lives. Knowing this fact and believing it affects the condition of our hearts when we face difficulties.

When troubles come many choose one of two routes… they either blame their problems on God and run AWAY from Him, or give their problems to God and run TO Him. Our hearts are affected by our decision. One choice brings bitterness, anger and resentment while the other brings peace, faith, and a confidence in God’s ability to provide. Guard your hearts from any dangerous parasites that may attach themselves to you in the midst of your struggles.

Matthew 12:34 says...
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

What is inside of us comes out whether we like it or not. Listening to our vocabulary and our conversation can be a good way to see what is hiding deep in our hearts. It is sometimes in the midst of our struggles that we have the opportunity to see our “ugliness” in all of its glory. Unguarded hearts can face many dangerous foes along the way. They sneak in undetected and seek to destroy us from the inside out. Beware of the poison of bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and pride… they will eat you alive. Guard your hearts!

Trust God… He has a plan and He is working it out for YOUR good.

Philippians 4:6-7 says...
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

What should we do when we face difficulties?

Trust our father

God is not surprised by what we are facing. Trust Him with the details of your life. Invite Him to join you on your journey. He is a great source of strength and encouragement. No matter what we face, He can turn anything bad that happens to us around for good. If we let Him, He will use our struggles to help minister to someone else along the way.

God has used many instances in my life to help others in their time of need. One such instance is close to my heart. My first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage after four months. It was difficult for us, but with God’s help we moved forward walking in God’s peace. One night later that year I was attending a ladies retreat and had a divine appointment. While in the restroom a young lady at the retreat miscarried. It was her third attempt at a child. Her heart was broken and I was there to hold her, pray for her, and encourage her. Because I gave my pain to God, He was able to use it to in turn help someone else.

The next time you are hurting, struggling, and feeling weighed down, remember this verse…

John 16:32-33 says...
“But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." (MSG)

When we choose to trust God and realize He has everything under control, we can rest in His peace no matter what comes our way.

What should we do when we face difficulties?

Tell our story

Find someone to share your struggles with… a circle of friends who can pray for you and with you. Just like before and after pictures… when we share our struggles and then our victories over those hurdles with others, it encourages them.

When we share our story with others of how God provided and we made it through, it helps them to know that they can make it too no matter what happens! Your life can become an inspiration for someone else.

Revelation talks about how we can defeat the devil… check it out.

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and BY THEIR TESTIMONY.” Revelation 12:11 (NLT)

Your “testimony” is your story of how God came through for you. Every time you share those instances, you are overcoming the devil and his attempts to win in your life.

The next time something goes “wrong” remember to look around to see what you may be doing that is “right.” God is working behind the scenes. Don’t give up so quickly. I can’t wait to hear all of the stories of His provision in your life. Let your life inspire someone else today!

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"A Series of Unfortunate Events..."

Have you ever faced difficulties before? Does it seem like you can never get a break? Is life overwhelming you? Maybe it’s time to change your thinking. God wants you to flip the lense and see things differently today. Could it be that some times when things go “wrong” that it’s in fact a sign that you are doing something “right?”

When you choose to live for God, it doesn’t guarantee you a happy go lucky life with no problems. The opposite can be true at times. The Bible says ... "In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world" (John 16:33). In case you have ever wondered, there is a real God and a real devil. God loves you and wants what is best for you. The devil hates you and wants to destroy your life.

Check out what the Bible has to say about the devil…

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 (NLT)

“...He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (NLT)

The devil is in hot pursuit and he has the wanted signs out. "They" are wanted dead or alive! His FOCUS is not on those that have walked away from God or are “living in their sin.” It’s those “reflections of God” all around him that he despises. The devil is out to capture their hearts and lives at any cost. The more of God we get inside of us, the more we begin to look like Him and reflect Him each day to those around us.

Sometimes the devil likes to stir up trouble to try to get us to walk away from God. He likes to throw pipe bombs of sorts into our daily routines to disrupt our peace. He is hoping that by his attempts, he may in some way cause us to turn our hearts far from God and eventually blame Him for all of our troubles. Instead of reacting and retreating when problems come, we need to get stubborn and start fighting back.

I’ve had a lot of unfortunate things happen to me in my lifetime, but I choose to see things differently. I’ve had technical difficulties lately… many things have broken down: vehicles, washers (2), water heaters, and lawn mowers (2) to name a few. I’ve had health problems, money problems, ant problems, and family issues. My life is not a perfect picture from the worlds view, but I am doing my best to live for God each day. From the outside it can look like I may be doing something wrong, but through God’s lense we can see something totally different.

There is a man in the Bible that faced HUGE obstacles as he endeavored to live for God. His name was Job. In fact there is a whole book written about all of his struggles and how he over came them. He lost everything… children, property, wealth, his good name, and even his health, but continued to trust God. God challenged the devil with Job’s obedience and faith. Take a look at his heart from the middle of his horrible circumstances…

Job 19:13-20 (NLT)
“My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth.”

One of the most important lessons to learn from the book of Job is that God is always good, and the devil is always bad. The devil always intends to destroy the lives of God's people, but God's desire is to bless and prosper His people, even to the end of restoring back to them what the enemy has stolen. Job was blessed in the end for staying true to God through it all.

Job 42:12-13, 16-17 (NLT)
“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters.”

“Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”

The next time something goes “wrong” remember to look around to see what you may be doing that is “right.” God may be up to something good in your life! Get stubborn today… don’t let the devil win in stealing your peace. God has amazing things in store for you! Hang on… it may be a bumpy ride.

Living to leave a legacy!