Posts Tagged spiritual growth

Be Careful What You Pray For

395603_544513075600432_819642870_nBe careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6-7

I prayed for God’s guidance in knowing my purpose. I was experiencing so much pain in my life I thought I could not be in God’s will. For years, I looked for some great mission statement or special career path to reassure me I was on the right track, but discovered my purpose was simply to: Do all the good I can, in all the ways I can, while I can. That’s it — nothing more or anything less. Of course my prayer was heard immediately, but God only spoke when I was ready to listen. He then answered in His own time and way.

I have learned through personal trials, that struggle and tribulation aid us in learning, growing, and glorifying God’s Name. And the more we endure and overcome, the more God can use us to accomplish His work. These words of Apostle Paul, taught in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, comfort me, “And he said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

It is the testing of our faith that pleases God (James 1:3) and unshakable faith comes from having our faith shaken.  Our part is simply TO ASK in prayer. Whether God answers, or we feel that God answers, is irrelevant. We must pray about everything, placing all matters into God’s hands, and resting in the assurance that the Lord will handle them.

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God will not move our mountains, but He will give us the strength to climb them.  We may have to go through valleys, but He will walk with us every step of the way. No matter what we are going through, we can count on God. If God said He will feed you – set the table and get ready to eat. I can witness with David, “I have been young and now am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor His seed begging for bread.” What I have seen in my lifetime has enabled me trust God for all I have not seen.  Our God never slumbers nor sleeps. Neither does God play games nor waste time. I may not know what’s ahead but I know that God has been better than good to me thus far, and I don’t believe He would bring me this far to leave me now.

Be careful what you pray for. You may never get what you ask for or think you want; and, what you get may not be what you expected, but one thing is certain — God will always give you what you need.

Consider this ageless (anonymous) poem: 

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

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Pray without ceasing. Make your requests known to God and receive God’s peace. If you are experiencing a Divine delay, it does not always mean a denial. It very likely means God is increasing your faith or patience and maybe there is even something greater for you than your requestPraise God for what you understand and praise God even more for what you don’t understand, because God understands everything. Walk in quiet confidence knowing no matter how things appear, “. . . in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

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THE HEALING WORD

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jeremiah 8:22 (NIV))

878051_first_aid_kitMy spirit was in pain. It ached from a long season of  loss, grief and change. Life no longer made sense to me. The world around me seemed to be crumbling. Myriads of thoughts consumed me, but I could not pen them to paper. This wanderlust was not new. In fact, I have been here many times before, only this time I seemed to have lost my way.

I thoughtlessly reopened many wounds of the past and had neither the desire nor power to address them. Prayer was no longer a priority. Quality time alone with God no longer seemed to matter. Studying God’s Word was not on my agenda.  Even the usually effective scriptural post-it notes, I plastered around the house seemed no more than clutter, until I found and read anew my favorite Proverb, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not to your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your path.”

I cried, “Lord I do trust you. I need you. Please help me.”  It was then I recalled the attitude of the Gospel singing artist, who in the midst of his darkest moments, determined his need for time away from active ministry, to simply sit in the pews and to allow God’s Word to heal him.  It finally dawned on me that I too needed this time away. I needed time for self-care. While I did not understand it before, as a Pastor and Preacher, God’s Word had become a tool to bless others while my spirit starved and became gravely ill from lack of care. I am so grateful that God can bring anything out of intensive care.

God doesn’t just give strength in our despairing moments—but uses every moment we despair to grow us spiritually. Our part is to acknowledge when we are hurt, confused, or wounded and apply God’s Word consistently to the places of pain. God’s Word is powerful–there is medicine in every word. It is a healing balm for wounded spirits. It is Divine “spittle” that opens blinded eyes. It is mesmerizing music that causes joyous singing in unlikely places. It can calm, soothe and keep you in perfect peace. But most of all, it heals all brokenness.

The Healing Word

Renewed and restored, I have no doubt that God was there all the time, waiting patiently for me to admit my need. I found healing for my hurt in these words hidden long ago in my heart,“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”(Psalm 118:17)

PRAYER:  Thank you Father, for the reminder that physicians need healing too. Touch, teach and abide with us. Lead us to the depths of your Word. Heal our hearts, mend our spirits and make us whole again. For Thy Son’s sake we pray. Amen

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Wilderness Experiences

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deuteronomy 8:2 (King James Version)

Wilderness ExperiencesEverything in our lives happens for a reason. Sometimes, without warning, we find ourselves in a dry place best described as a spiritual wilderness. It is not a physical location, but a spiritual space that at various times and seasons in our lives plagues us with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, abandonment, restlessness, fear, and many times, the temptation to give up. That is where I was when I discovered that these times are invitations to be alone with God and to see another side of Him. They are times to experience new strength, new peace, and spiritual growth.

For months, I found myself wandering and wondering in this barren place, hungering and thirsting for the presence of God. I was in search of what Alice Walker calls a “Healthy Soul.” I was seeking a place to rest in God and to allow Him to do through me what only God can do. I desperately needed this place of solitude and meditation where I could humbly say, “Father, I need you!”

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes, God beckons us to this “no frills” environment for what Bishop Walter Scott Thomas calls,“contextual remembering.” That is, to remember the context of our past deliverance – remembering how bad things were before, yet we were delivered. Wildernesses teach us the faithfulness of our God and while situations and circumstances may change, the presence, promises and power of God are changeless.

Where I’ve been has prepared me for my purpose and here’s what I know: Life’s journey is all about faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must trust God with all of our heart. We must trust God’s ways and God’s timing. And if we are obedient to His Will, we can rest assured that God will take care of us. No matter how things seem; all things will work together for the “good for the called according to His purpose.”

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The wilderness is not a burden, but a Blessing that “allows us to end all activity that wears us out and empowers us to be our best selves” before an audience of “One.” It is an humbling experience that reminds us without God, we have and are nothing, but with God, we have and are more than enough!

These months of spiritual retreat have taught me to trust God’s love even when I don’t understand His purpose. There will always be crooked and rough places in this life. Struggles and challenges will come, but in the wilderness or in places of plenty — God is always in control and is everything we need.

Take courage. We walk in the wilderness today and in the Promised Land tomorrow. — D.L. Moody

Prayer: Father, “for every mountain you have brought me over and for every trial you have seen me through — for this I give you praise.” In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

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