Bloom Where You are Planted


 

What do I mean by that?  I mean, let’s not make excuses as to why we’re not flourishing in our service to God, or why we’re not obeying what He asks us to do.  But let’s give 100% of us to be a witness, through our lives, wherever God puts us and in whatever situation.  God allows each of us to have challenges, but they are not to be an excuse for us.

In Philippians 1:12-18, Paul is in prison, and instead of being angry or sulking, he sees the purpose that God had for it.  You could say, he bloomed!  In verse 12, he says that his imprisonment furthered the gospel.  In verse 13, he said that it even got him into the palace.  And in verses 14-18, other people were now more boldly preaching Christ without fear.

We have to avoid the mindsets of our culture—that it’s all about me, or how I feel, or that’s not fair.  Instead, when situations occur, ask, “What is God up to?”  No matter what we’re facing, whatever the injustice seems to us, we need to train ourselves (through humility) to pray, “Lord, to me this doesn’t make sense.  But I know you see the bigger picture, and I choose to trust YOU.”  Also, we need to watch our attitudes because others are watching us.  You see, we are seeing the physical side, but God has a heavenly side to all these events in our lives. 

There is another great example in Esther.  She had lost both of her parents, was taken away from her homeland, and then was married to an angry, arrogant, unsaved man.  This is a situation that none of us would choose of our own accord, but she bloomed where she was planted too!

In Esther 4:16, she laid her life on the line to obey God.  She did not choose to live in self-pity.  Because of her submission, many people were saved in that time. 

“You, too, are a tool in the hand of God, being applied to situations that may just feel like ‘everyday life’ to you but are actually backlit stages where the purposes of God are being put on display from your street address.  And he knows the audience that He’s playing to, whether it be members of your family, church friends, random acquaintances—whoever needs to see His power at work in a surrendered heart…like yours.”

God has a purpose for where you are right now.  He has a role for you in His plan, if you accept it and obey Him.  He does not depend on us though, because He’ll use another if we decide not to obey, but who wouldn’t want to be used by God? (I know I do!)

Keep in mind, things are not the way they’ll always be.  God will right all injustices—but we don’t need to worry about them.  And if we do our best to bloom for God, in whatever situation we’re in, at the end we can say like Paul did (and Esther could’ve) that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  All that He allows in our lives is part of His plan, to further His message.  Lord, help us to bloom for you!

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Trust


“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8

This verse is in the middle of the Bible.  It’s kind of interesting that it’s teaching us to put our trust in God. It’s such a simple, yet crucial and difficult thing to do.  Why?   Because everything else around us fails, so why wouldn’t God?  Yet, God never fails! He and His Word are the only sure things in this world we live in. While God’s plan and our plan and are usually different from each other, His plan is always right.

And that’s pretty hard for us sometimes.  We only see partly; we see what’s in front of us or what’s happening to us.  God knows the whole picture.  He just wants us to trust Him.  And we’ll find that the more we trust Him, the more grace He’ll give us to trust Him the next time.

As humans, we’ll fail each other.  I know I certainly do.  It’s an awful feeling to know you’ve let someone down.  It’s also a bad feeling when we get let down by someone else.  Once trust gets broken people tend to have a difficult time trusting the next time.  What a comfort to know God will never ever let us down!

Now we just have to believe Him and put our faith into action.  We need to believe and trust…and keep on trusting no matter what is going on around us, even if things seem hopeless.

Are You Listening?


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Recently I am learning the importance of listening.  As a teacher, I am constantly reminding my students to “listen up” or “pay close attention.”  There are times, however, when I am guilty of being the one who’s not listening.  Sometimes I make them stop before even hearing what they were going to say.

Proverbs 18:13 warns us that, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”  I need to be careful not to hush one of the children when I need to take the time to listen to them.  I need to be careful to not make a rash judgment about one of them.  Also, I need to be careful not to ignore what they are trying to say.  James admonishes, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”  It could be that they have noticed something I haven’t, or there may be something I have overlooked.  There may be a reasonable explanation for what just happened…but I need to listen.

As their “counselor,” I need to be ready to listen, especially before I speak.  “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

I think this is a reminder for us all.  We need to be listeners first.  Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt.

The New Year


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At the close of the year, it’s normal to reflect on the events of the past year–many times resulting in disappointment.  Goals are good and necessary to see things accomplished in our lives.  Those goals, however, can also mark our mistakes and flaws if we are focusing on ourselves and if we were doing things in our own strength.

This new year, determine to acknowledge God in all thy ways.  Consider His plan instead of your plan.  See how God is working through the events of your life, and He will direct your path.  His plan is not usually the plan we would choose for ourselves, but it will be the best plan for our lives if it is God ordained.

If we change our focus from self to God’s plan, we will have the direction we need in our lives and success.  This is the only success that matters.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5&6

God’s Grace


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God’s grace is so wonderful.  He gives us so much more than we deserve.  It’s pretty easy to realize this when we are blessed in a positive way; but what about in all the trials God allows in our lives?

God allows different people and circumstances to come into our lives to mold us and form us into the people He wants us to become.  We can choose to fight and fuss about those trials, or we can accept them as part of His plan for our life and let God do with us what He wills.

In Joseph’s case…wow!  He had a lot to overcome:  separation from family, betrayal, despair, unfulfilled hopes, etc.  But his focus was not on those things; it was on trusting God.  Genesis 41:51, “And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.”  Joseph leaned on God to get him through all those things, and then God made him forget them all!  We might think, “How is that even possible?!”  God.  It’s not through us but God.

Friend, whatever you’ve been through or are going through, God has a plan and a purpose for it.  He is molding you into the servant He wants you to become.  Allow Him to work.  His grace is sufficient.

Do You Ever Feel Alone?


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Sometimes, even when we’re around a lot of people, we may feel alone.  Sometimes we’re in a turning point in our lives and we may feel alone, or that we’re the only ones in that type of situation.  Matthew 28:20b says, “…and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

As our Savior, Jesus is ALWAYS with us, no matter what!  The end of that verse says “even unto the end of the world.”  That tells us that whatever we are facing, He’s there.  Hard choices we may have to make, He’s there.  As we face the world and need to stand up for Christ, He’s there.  Facing a move and feeling unsure and nervous, He’s there.  Undertaking a task you never imagined facing, He’s there.

God told Moses in Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”  That’s a comfort and encouragement for us.  Jesus’ presence is with us, whatever we face!  And it also says He’ll “give thee rest.”  That means in turmoil, stress, super busy days, times of conflict, terror-filled days…He will give us rest.  That means peace in our lives.

This is all as long as we turn to Him.  Search the Bible for verses to encourage yourself.  His Word will not disappoint.

Isaiah 41:13”For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  As a parent will stand next to a child to comfort and support, the Lord will help us.  So remember, we are not alone.  Though at times it really feels like it, and our mind tries to convince us of it, and circumstances look like it’s so, it’s not true.  We cannot trust our feelings, mind, and circumstances–we must Trust His Word.

Stay Focused!


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As the school year finishes, we see young people closing one chapter of their lives and beginning another.  It’s important to stay focused as not to get distracted or sidetracked.  Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”   The devil rejoices when we “almost” do what God wants for us because almost is not God’s will.  The world and life have so many distractions for young people—and really all people.  No wonder God tells us to focus on what is before us—to have our ways established in Him—to not deviate from what He has shown us to do—to get away from evil.  God is so loving and protective of His children.  Oh, that we would heed His guidelines for us.  So, get out there and graduate.  Go forth and boldly do what God has called you to do—but stay focused!

 

I Need to Obey


Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus               Recently reading in the book of Acts, it struck me how Paul never stopped talking about his conversion.  It really didn’t matter to whom he was speaking, he always seemed to tell about what had happened to him the day God spoke to him and changed his life.  To him the message never got old.

               I noticed that he didn’t add to what happened to him.  He just told the same thing over and over.  And God used it.  In some instances, many were saved.  Other times, people left undecided.  Yet other times, it angered people.  But Paul didn’t worry about people’s reaction to his message.  He was just faithful in giving it.

               Oh that I would be that faithful.  That I would be “his witness unto all men of what (thou) hast seen and heard” (Acts. 22:15).  God will give me the power to do it, but I need to be faithful in giving that witness.  Nothing fancy, just testifying of how God changed me from an unforgiven sinner to someone who has been saved by His grace.

               But I need to obey.

 

Praise the Lord!


REL951PraiseTheLordIn sports, we seem to try to lift up our teammates by praising what they’ve done right as an encouragement to them. We cheer for them  when they’ve done good and tell them it’s okay and to keep going when they’ve messed up.  When they see the mistakes they’ve made, it brings their spirits down and can get them in a slump.  That’s when we need to point out the good that they’ve done to get their focus right and usually their game will improve.

The same mentality can be applied to our lives. We don’t need praise about OUR good attributes and qualities, but we need to praise God for all He does for us.  Problems, health issues, and trials will come into our lives many different ways and at all different times (sometimes simultaneously)!  These things seem to choke us as they begin to encompass our thoughts and moments, but the key is to get our focus off of self and onto HIM.

Ephesians 5:19-20 exhorts us to use psalms and hymns to make melody in our hearts! And then we are to give God thanks for all things.  If we start naming the smallest blessings and details that God takes care of, we will soon find more to thank Him for than we have time to name!  Reading through Psalms is always a great encouragement in getting us to praise God.  And singing hymns, while really thinking about the words, can bring our hearts to thankfulness to God for who He is.

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed. Make it a point today to turn your focus on God.  “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness:  and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high”  (Psalm 7:17).

 

Thanksgiving Day


untitledThanksgiving…Today is a day that most people celebrate by enjoying the company of family members and eating large meals or perhaps watching football together and keeping family traditions.  But I wonder how many truly take the time to recall all the blessings that God has bestowed on them throughout the past year?

As I sit and begin to think on it, I am reminded of an aspect of God that truly blesses my soul.  God has promised His mercy toward those that fear Him (Psalm 103).  He doesn’t punish us for ALL our many sins if we fear Him.  This mercy goes from everlasting to everlasting if we fear Him.

Wow!  I am so undeserving!  I want God’s mercy; I need God’s mercy.  We all do.  The key is to fear Him.  Our lives should reflect that fear (reverence) by how we live each day.

I am thankful beyond measure that God is a God of mercy.  Though I fail, over and over again, I can come pleading before Him with a contrite heart, and He forgives me.  This is just one reason for me to give thanks.  Thank you, heavenly Father!