fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Recognizing God’s Will

Have you ever ran into someone who you recognize, but couldn’t remember their name or who they were? That’s happened to me a couple of times. Being the shy person that I am (yes, I’m shy), I normally wouldn’t say anything until I knew for sure who they were. But to help jolt the memory, I would usually have to clear my mind of everything I was thinking of so I can focus on that person. Sometimes all it really takes is hearing their voice and I can remember everything about them in an instant!

I believe that knowing the will of God is much the same process. When we’re at a loss with our lives, we pray for God to reveal his plan for us but often times don’t see God answering our prayer. Little do we realize that God has already revealed it to us, but we failed to “recognize” it much like we do a long-lost acquaintance.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2. In this verse, we are reminded to “renew our minds” so that we will be able to recognize the will of God for us when He places it in front of us. I don’t believe God plays mind games with us, particularly those seeking to live according to His will – and He wouldn’t hold out on faithful servants who ask in humble prayer. I believe that if God’s word says He imparts wisdom to those who ask, He does. So why don’t we see His will for us when we ask for discernment? Mainly it’s because we don’t recognize it and there may be different reasons why we don’t. For one, we may not agree with His plan for our life, so we choose not to see it and keep asking Him to show us what He already has! Or perhaps our minds are clouded with so many things that are preventing us to see God’s will. In my personal experience, I don’t recognize God’s will when I’m not paying attention. For me, paying attention would require me to be still and wait quietly – only then do I become aware of Him and His will for my life. More than often, God has revealed His plan for me through His word, through a friend, a church sermon and sometimes even through music! Sometimes I can feel God tugging at my heart to notice Him. And even then, I sometimes miss the obvious and find myself on bended knee asking for what He has already revealed. Crazy, isn’t it??

Know this, God has a plan for everyone, including you and me. Jeremiah 29:11, 12 “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.” He is a God of PURPOSE and everything He does is for His Glory. He is a God of divine order and not of confusion. Just look at our universe and how orderly it is! He makes no mistakes in planning out the happenings of each and every day. He orchestrates every aspect of our lives and when you think about it, that’s a very good thing. Personally, I’d rather he plans out my every minute of the day because I’ve been known to make a mess of things!

They say there are two things for sure: death and taxes, but I beg to differ. I say there are three, and the third surety is that God has a plan for everything that is under His creation. So rather than ask the Lord to reveal His will for you, ask Him to help you recognize the will and plan He has already set in place in your life. When He does, obedience must follow your humble request; you must be prepared to be obedient to follow the path He has willed for you; with discernment, He will provide you with the resources to live out His plan for your life. With Him in control, you will never go wrong!

May you continue to abide in God’s Grace, Linda.

(photograph courtesy of Marcene)

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October 9, 2011 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Back on Course

1Kings 18:20-34

42-15850153Picture the scene: Wicked King Ahab sends for the false prophets of Baal (a false god) and God’s prophet Elijah to Mount Carmel for a competition. The contenders were 450 prophets of Baal and the one prophet (Elijah) of the true God. The challenge was to see which god was greater. Elijah knows this contest is a joke and cries out to the people of Israel to stop hesitating between Baal and Yahweh (the God of Israel). By this time, Jezebel, the queen, had already killed off the other prophets of the true God; Elijah was the last one remaining. The people can’t make up their minds; they hadn’t totally rejected Yahweh, but they were trying to combine Him with the worship of Baal. Ugh!

So Elijah said to the 450 prophets to cut up an ox and place it on an alter to sacrifice and then ask Baal to put fire under it. Verses 26-29 are quite amusing. The 450 prophets call out to Baal from morning until noon. No fire. Elijah then tells them to call LOUDLY because Baal might be sleeping, is on a journey or preoccupied…hilarious! Finally, the prophets cut themselves up to the point of bleeding profusely and by the evening time, they give up. No fire. No Baal.

It’s Elijah’s turn. He puts the ox (cut up) on 12 stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel and made a gutter around the alter. He filled the gutter with water – in fact, he overflowed it with water; then Elijah prays “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel, today let it be known that I am your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again” (Vs 36-38). No sooner that Elijah was finished praying fire consumed the burnt offering, the wood and stones and even dried up the water! What sweet victory Elijah tasted as a prophet; it was his best victory ever!

Surprisingly, Elijah decides to run away to Beersheba. Why?? Apparently, Queen Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah that she was going to have him killed because of what he did at Mount Carmel and he got scared. Not only did Elijah get scared, but he also got discouraged. What made Elijah so discouraged? Brokenness is what Elijah felt; he felt broken by her threats – after all, she did kill off all the other prophets of the true God. He also felt broken by her unrepentant attitude – he expected her to surrender and acknowledge the greatness of Yahweh, but she didn’t. All of these were enough to send him running for his life.

I know what you’re thinking; I thought the same thing, too. How can Elijah allow Jezebel to discourage and shatter his faith in God after all that he accomplished through Him? How could Elijah forget the sweet victory (and so quickly)? The sad part is that we do the same. No sooner that God delivers us from challenges…no sooner that God leads us to victory, do we forget when we’re faced with another test of faith. I’m guilty of that charge, too. The enemy throws us off (the victorious) course by throwing stumbling stones in our path – discouragement, fear, confusion, etc… It’s so easy to be thrown off course, even after we just experienced God’s saving grace. However, God never tires out from bringing us out of trials, even if it’s self-inflicted discouragement. In fact, he willingly does so with love.

How did Elijah regain his confidence in the Lord? 1Kings 19:9-14 tells us that God went to the cave where Elijah was hiding and sought him. How loving and merciful on God’s part. “What are you doing here?” asked the Lord (as if). Then after Elijah told God why he was afraid, Elijah waited for His reply and instruction. A strong wind came and Elijah thought God was in the wind, but He wasn’t. Then there was an earthquake and Elijah thought he would hear from God during the earthquake, but he didn’t. Then Elijah witnessed fire and surely thought God would reveal Himself to him there, but He didn’t. Finally, the Lord’s revelation came to Elijah in a faint, whispering voice. The lesson here was that God was quietly doing His work all along.

When we’re waiting for an answer from God, are we still and quiet so that we can hear Him? Sometimes we feel God is not acting on our behalf because we’re not seeing the “winds, earthquakes and fire” – the obvious. But Almighty God is still working – He never stops working for our good. In time He will reveal Himself and it may be in a whispering voice. So when we find ourselves off the victorious course, be still and listen for His voice to help bring us back on course.  God Bless. (Linda A.)

August 25, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spiritual Compromise

MICAH 7:1-20

I speak for the Women with Purpose class at FBO (Orlando) when I say that the lesson this week on spiritual compromise was well needed, to say the least. Micah was distressed over the condition of his people.

 42-156502951Woe is me! For I am like the
        Fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers
         There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
         Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.
    2The godly person has perished from the land,
         And there is no upright person among men
         All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
         Each of them hunts the other with a net.
    3Concerning evil, both hands do it well
         The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,
         And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;
         So they weave it together.
 

 

We can relate to Micah’s description of a corrupt society because it mirrors that of today. We had the opportunity to read from three articles from Saturday’s newspaper; news of arrests due to drug possession, child pornography and illegal traffic violations were a few among many. Referring to his generation, Micah declared that no one upright can be found among the people (Micah 7:2); wickedness had spread throughout the society he knew and prophesied about.

     5Do not trust in a neighbor;
         Do not have confidence in a friend.
         From her who lies in your bosom
         Guard your lips.
    6For son treats father contemptuously,
         Daughter rises up against her mother,
         Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
         A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.

 Verses 5-6 reveal how this corruption affects the family unity. I quote Linda’s expression: “Loyalty is a characteristic of love. When loves fails, the loyalty disappears”. Lack of love for one another is what happened to the family structure in Micah’s day. People stopped caring and in time, it became routine to be a part of a sinful and immoral society. As Christians, we must not become complacent about living in a society similar to that in Micah’s day. Micah was a man of constant prayer. Despite the circumstances that surrounded him, he trusted God to hear him and respond with help. Micah was a lover of God; he trusted in His promises and knew that He would keep them. Micah was determined to wait on “the God of HIS salvation”. He knew the promise God made to Abraham and rested in the assurance that God would restore His people again. Micah did not conform to the conditions around him; rather, he maintained busy doing God’s work and waiting on Him.

    7But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
         I will wait for the God of my salvation
         My God will hear me.

 We may feel as if one person can’t make a difference when compared to the numerous others who choose sin over God; or perhaps we choose to work out our own salvation by not conforming to this world’s corruption (and letting God take care of the rest). But our voice can make a difference and we can become active in proclaiming God’ message to those hungering for truth! We can start right in our own household and declare what Joshua declared, “As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD” (Josh 24:15) Like Micah, we know that’s there only one source of salvation; God will remove rebellion and wickedness once and for all. Those of us who grieve over this world’s conditions find comfort in God’s grace and faithfulness.

 Families are encouraged to spend time together. Walls of separation are being built one brick at a time. Our youth is being bombarded by depraved messages in movies and music; the craze of cell phone texting and internet messaging; the pressure from their peers to engage in wrong-doing – brick by brick, the enemy builds. The stress of the economy has many family heads anxious over the loss of jobs; depression affects millions of people worldwide. Society promotes a fantasy world of immorality – causing the bonds of marriage to snap under pressure. Our families don’t have to succumb to these conditions. We declare again, “As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD” (Josh 24:15)”. We may live in a culture that is in opposition to our faith, but it doesn’t mean we have to conform to their belief systems. We have confidence in God!

     18Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
         And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
         He does not retain His anger forever,
         Because He delights in unchanging love.
    19He will again have compassion on us;
         He will tread our iniquities under foot
         Yes, You will cast all their sins
         Into the depths of the sea.
    20You will give truth to Jacob
         And unchanging love to Abraham,
         Which You swore to our forefathers
         From the days of old.

 The sisters in WWP are grateful to Linda P. for teaching class these next few weeks and for bringing out such thought-provoking messages in Scripture. We look forward to next week’s lesson. God Bless.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Place of Silence

I received an endearing email from my “spiritual soul” sister.   The message I received from Sue was in line with the passages in Isaiah I covered earlier, mainly that the people of Judah needed to find their strength in “quiet confidence” in God (Isa 30:15). This is an amazing testimony of one who was blessed to experience being in the presence of God. With Sue’s permission, I have published her message that she sent me so that others may also be encouraged and be moved to finding their “quietness”with God. 

Linda, I just have to share with you something that happened to me this morning. I needed some “be still time” myself (yes, I remind  even myself of that quite often …not just you! LOL) and I felt led to go to a prayer chapel that my friend showed me. It seems like lately I have felt so much like I am constantly going to God in prayer for things that we need and in prayer about all of the things that are troubling me right now both personally, for others, and for our Country.  So I just felt this overwhelming feeling of wanting to be alone with God for a while.

The Cathedral is absolutely beautiful and really the closest thing to the big cathedrals that I saw in Manhattan when we were there.  The chapel is located directly behind the huge sanctuary and you have to walk down the side of it to get to the chapel in the back.  The organist was playing beautiful music in the cathedral and no one else was around the church at all. At that moment in time I almost felt like all of that was there just for me alone.  As I walked in to the doors to the little chapel there is a sign that greeted me that says. “This is a place of silence. Please maintain silence at all times.”  So I sat down in the pew and did just that. I was silent.  Not just in my voice, but in my mind.  I didn’t feel like talking or thinking or feeling anything. And what was on that sign was my lesson for the day.

I didn’t do anything except just sit there in the quiet stillness of that beautiful place but before long an overwhelming sense of Gods presence came over me.  I knew that “I knew that I knew” that God was right there with me. There were three other people in the prayer chapel and they too just sat there in silence. I wondered if they felt what I was feeling.  It was as if the rest of the world while still out there was closed off from us.  We were on Holy Ground and we had been drawn there by a loving Father that wanted to just spend time with us.   And it was amazing that all of the desire to seek answers to the things I have been praying about was gone.  I didn’t feel that I had to say a word.  I felt like all that God wanted from me was my presence. And He was thrilled that I was there.  I could honestly feel His joy.  And the most wonderful part to me was that all that I wanted of Him was His presence. And being there gave me such joy too!

My thoughts turned to those of a loving parent who’s children have grown and gotten busy with their own lives.  It seems like they only call or stop by when they want or need something.  And I could almost feel how much that parent would love it if they just came by to spend some time with them without wanting a thing. How much joy it would bring if the children would come by just to be present to the parent and not seeking anything and needing any help.  I wanted to do that with my Heavenly Father this morning.  I felt like I was actually giving God something very special.  And the amazing part was that it was a gift of…..me!  I can not tell you how much joy came over me when I came to realize that God loves me so much that He really desires to spend time with me.  It is as if I have always known this in my head, but today it got through to my heart.  And as I gave Him that gift, He gave me the gift of His presence in a very real way right back to me.  He only wanted to be with me and not ask anything of me or need anything from me.  He literally lifted all my cares on to his shoulders without me saying a word.  I didn’t have to even ask. I didn’t even realize that He had done it. But I could feel that He understood every care and I have such a compete trust that He is taking care of it all and doesn’t need my help.  “Cast all of your cares upon me, for I care for you!”  What a blessing!  He actually took my cares without my having to even “cast” them His way.  What a simple lesson.  “This is a place of silence.  Please maintain silence at all times.”    I have such an awareness of God’s love for me that I know now that all I need to do is truly….”Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  Come into His presence.  I get it now in a deeper way then I have ever before.  He created us for His own pleasure.  We only have to open ourselves to being present to Him.  I want to learn how to do that every day all day long.  Surely it is not just something He wants from us every now and then?  There must be more to learn about this Linda. I just feel it.

Linda, I so wanted to share all of this with you.  I hope that it will encourage you.  I so want you to feel how much God really loves us in the same way that I felt it today. I feel that my lesson on being in God’s presence is not over yet.  There is more to it.  But in God’s time He will open my eyes and my heart to it.  I have a feeling I will return to that prayer chapel very soon.  I love you.  Sue

March 22, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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