Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seeing God In The Waiting

Hummingbirds. I enjoy watching the frenzy of these busy little birds as they stop by for a quick visit just outside our dining room window. Photography is fun for me and my camera is usually not too far away--so this opportunity arose. 
I had been trying to capture one at my feeder--but wow--they are fast! Except for this one. She just sat there. No cares-no worries-just enjoying the view of my flower garden sitting on my primitive heart shaped weather vane. At that season of my life I was in a time of waiting. Waiting on God in a set of what seemed to be impossible circumstances that rocked my world. And click-this photo. And click-a snapshot from God Himself to this war torn woman who was trapped in a frenzy of worry, despair and woundedness. God showed me something that day. If this hurried hummingbird can sit on a little heart and drink in the beauty--so could I. I desperately needed soul rest and God used this feathered friend to give me a picture of how to get through a time of waiting on God. He taught me to slow down and drink in His presence and see the beauty that is unfolding. He taught me how to rest on the very heart of God for answers.

I love it when God connects His precious Word to the hot pavement of real life. Our Wednesday night Bible study is going through the book of 1 Peter and it is mind blowing to say the least. His words surround me like a warm blanket and I find that once again I am assured beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am born into Living Hope. (1 Peter 1:3)...and Living Hope isn't leaving me. That is a reality to be experienced not just simply a good idea. He is REAL and He wants you to really know that Living Hope never leaves.

Just this weekend I was among 300 of the most beautiful sisters at a Current 4 Women event in a little town next to ours. We opened the book of 1 Peter and dove into the most wonderful reality of Living Hope in the "now" of life. 

Are you finding that you are in a season of waiting--that you're in a dry dessert and there is no water in sight? Does it seems like God is pressing the pause button on your future or you are falling apart because of a situation you are facing and your prayers hit the ceiling? There is LIVING HOPE for the here and now. I want to share 3 things that I learned in the last 48 hours that spoke TRUTH into the time of waiting.

1. Remember God has never failed.

It's our own lack of trust in our Heavenly Father that leaves us to sit and spin. God is on His throne.God has never failed. Not once. Ever. Throughout the entire Bible God proves Himself to be faithful and Victorious in every situation. His promises have never been broken and each one He has kept throughout all time and history. He is FOR you--not against you. He is wanting to give you so much more than fixing the mess and moving on! It's time to make the great exchange of unbelief for believing that He truly works all thing out for our ultimate good. He wants to create in you a heart of worship and a mind that is clear in the midst of chaos. He wants you to learn to trust Him and to surrender the outcome. He wants you to see more of Him and less of your situation. His thoughts and desires for your life are so much higher than you can imagine. What is holding you back from believing that He has got this thing in control?

2. Remember your time of waiting is a time of growing.

His Word is sure-His timing is perfect--and He wants to do more with your time of waiting than you can even imagine. Dead hope is trying to do this thing called life on your own. By fixing your eyes on the AUTHOR, PERFECTER and FINISHER of your faith He shows you the big picture because HE wrote it. God is using this mess right now to produce in you...
The kind of faith that roots  into 
who you are as a daughter of the
Most High King.
This trial and suffering you are walking through is forming a genuine faith one day at a time. He is in the process of building you a new identity in Christ. He is giving you an opportunity to CHOOSE Living Hope rather than surrendering to the spin cycle the moment you are faced with the pain of your circumstances.

3. Remember God wants a heart that listens to Him alone.

I get really irritated sometimes when I see "coffee cup" promises and the inauthentic "health and wealth" versions of Christianity. You know the ones! It's a little trite phrase that is supposed to give me a vision that everything is going to be rainbows, sunshine and puppy dogs. Maybe you have been on the receiving end of a very well intentioned soul who slaps a promise on your wound which only deepens the pain. When trial hits home it is so easy to slap on a promise that was never intended to be our answer. We take in so much of the worlds theology when suffering strikes and our time of waiting seems endless. Most of the New Testament was written to people who were under intense suffering and unimaginable circumstances. The authors of the Gospels knew that joy and hope didn't come from a change of circumstances. Joy and Hope come being rooted in a PERSON. His name is Jesus. It isn't about perfect circumstances--it's about a heart that is being perfected in the circumstance by a Perfect God. 

Take time to listen. Listen closely. What is He wanting you to hear through all of this? Leave the empty the chatter of the world and the coffee cup mentality at the cross and take up His Word and begin to fix your eyes on what He is saying in your time of waiting. Listen closely because it is a quiet voice and you will find that His voice speaks joy, love, trust and hope. Your heart becomes steadfast as you wait for God to triumph in your circumstances. Let Jesus take hold of your heart and you will find that having more of God is more than sufficient through the trial. Take courage--your Creator is using this moment to fashion you into His perfect image. It is a painfully beautiful mess-But the outcome is priceless.

"He counts the number of the stars; 
He gives names to all of them.
Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite." 
Psalm 147:4-5

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Abundance: Getting Rid Of The Chaff

During harvest there are days around here it looks like an alien winter has arrived. Blowing bits of red fluffy chaff swirls around the barn, buildings and the house. The boys come in at night with it in their hair, ears, pockets...and socks. It's a part of farm life and it comes with this season of life.

and we have piles of it.

It's been my observation that other than a mosquito -there is nothing more useless than chaff. In order to bring in our harvest though-we have to deal with it. Like it or not. Chaff yields no benefit to the farming operation other than it just sits there in piles accumulating. It gets in way-makes the landscaping look bad and on occasion gets in your eyes and makes for a bad hair day.

..and so it is spiritually with us.

Our calendars and lives are loaded with chaff
and the evidence of a fruitful harvest is virtually non-existent.
We feel useless-pointless and fruitless
because we are slaves to the chaff and lose focus on the harvest.

We spend our minutes and use them to put out fires rather than pouring into others.

We take our days and and spend them
idly instead of intentionally.

We spend our lives on ourselves rather than
sacrificially living.

...and we have piles of it.

" For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10 

So let's take a look at the big picture! Here are 3 ways to walk toward abundant living and leave the chaff behind.

1. Ask God to show you what He has specifically called you to BE.

It's all about priorities and God knows the order that He wants your life to take. Ask Him to show you 2 primary callings that need attention. What are they? If today was your last day-what would sum up your life? What would be said about you? Would you be known for your compassionate, generous heart and kind words who took time to care about the little things?--or would people remember an angry, frazzled and stressed out mom who spent more time on Facebook than in The Book? What counts? 

I would encourage you to start at the very beginning. Is it your family that needs to experience seeing you as a Christ centered woman of God?

Are you married with kiddos? That is your calling!!! It starts at home.  That relationship is the highest representation of Christ and the Church. So many women search for fulfillment and meaning outside of the primary relationships that God has called us to. What good is having a huge ministry if your husband and kids get the left-overs of a wife and mommy that is frazzled? Living in the gray areas always costs something--it just depends on who gets to pay.

Single? God has given you the gift singleness so that your time can be focused on His purpose and plans. The mission field He has called you to needs your full attention. Is your light shining with your co-workers? Do they even know you are a Believer? Are you taking time to share Jesus with your friends? What good is climbing the corporate ladder or being the "employee of the month" if your light isn't shining brightly for Jesus.

2. Let go of everything that doesn't line up with that calling.
     Once you have narrowed down to the 2 primary callings that God has gifted you with it is time to check off the chaff in your calendar! Learning to say "No" to people and activities that put a drain on you is a freeing thing. What are the essentials in your life? Narrow the scope of your involvement in things--maybe choose ONE church position that is your passion rather than doing 3 things that stress you out. Your "no" leaves room for someone else to say "yes"! 

Involved in lots of outside church activities and children's events? Narrow it down. Try one sport per child per year...one outside activity that builds up your family and doesn't take away from your spiritual walk. I hear you groan and say that is is impossible to do. I hear you. I know. But if sports replaces church--and your activities draw you away from your family you can bet your bottom dollar that the enemy has fertile soil to sow seeds...and believe me-that harvest is painful. You have an enemy that is using your crammed calendar to wreak havoc and the harvest won't be seen until it is too late.

Social media? Get serious about getting rid of time wasting activities. Complaining of not having enough time with the family or being behind at work and yet spending hours surfing the net or staring at the TV is a bit ...well... ridiculously obvious. You are spending time watching others lives rather than living our own. ouch. Try a media fast for 1 week and see how your stress level decreases and your free time increases. Unplugging actually recharges you!

3.Radically consume Christ.

Time spent in the Word helps you sort the chaff out pretty quick. Scripture gives you vision,empowers you to fulfill your calling and is an outlet for every burden and care that weighs you down. Let's face it-if you clean up the calendar and discipline your time you will automatically have more time to spend in prayer, study and reflection. It cultivates a grateful heart and a produces eternal fruit. You can begin to see the difference between the chaff and real fruit and it becomes easier to say "no" to opportunities that can drag you away from joy and contentment.

As you learn to chase God with abandon the breath of the Holy Spirit blows the chaff away. Only God can set you free from the slavery to chaff in your heart, home and life. Somehow when God gets bigger in your life-you begin to see the chaff for what it really is. Jesus becomes real and you trade being a slave to chaff for being a daughter in Christ. All made possible by Grace Incarnate. Grace.

So, what is God talking to you about today? Can you hear God singing over you with His unmerited, daily sufficient Grace? Grace that knows about your slavery to chaff and has made provisions to replace it with abundant harvest. Grace that gives you the strength to let go and Grace that holds on to you while the Holy Spirit breathes life back into these weary and worn out places. GRACE!!! The offer of a harvest is free for the taking when our hands open. Sweet release. Sweet rest.

Father, help me to open my hands. Help me to realize that you will reward only what you have done through me and pardon that which I have done in my own strength. You know my chaff and that I am powerless to see it in myself. God show me where there is no fruit, where I need your Grace to set me free. Help me to let go of the things that rob me of your joy-of the things that plug my ears to the music of your living Spirit. Lord, let the breath of your Holy Spirit so invade my inner spaces so that the chaff is driven away by your sweet songs of deliverance. Your Word says love casts out all fear. Give me the confidence and assurance to boldly take the next step to freedom so I can extend grace to others-for my good and your glory. Amen.