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Psalm 16:11. God is Our GPS for Life

Recently, I was driving to the office and because I had a meeting, I needed to be there at a certain time and didn’t want to get caught in the rush hour traffic hang-ups so I was using the GPS app on my phone. WAZE is a great interactive app that allows you to put in where there are traffic problems and the app will route you around them. More than once this app has saved me from kids being late for school or me being late for a meeting. Not to mention that I oversee eight different counting in the northeast region of Florida, so I use this app frequently. However, on this day the app kept saying, “searching for network” across the top of the screen. Thankfully, I have a personal phone and a work phone by two different cell service providers and my personal phone had no problems finding the network.

Have you ever been trying to figure out the path you need to take in your life and you feel like your life app is out there “searching for network?” Do I need to take that new job? Do I need to purchase a piece of property? Do I need to move to that state? Do I need to go back to college? Do I need to participate in that investment? Do I need to hire that employee? Do I need to join this church? Do I need to be involved in that community service project? Do I need get involved in foster care or adoption?

Jesus holding out handThankfully, we don’t have to depend on an app to know the path we need to take. God is our GPS (God’s Path Search) when searching for our life’s path. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

We can take such questions to God and pray about them, search His word, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as they whisper across our heart, ask some mature trusted friend/family to pray about it with us and then look for how God prompts in our everyday life. It might be through a song on a radio or something the pastor says in his sermon this Sunday or even a statement from a coworker, family member or friend that speaks exactly to what we’re praying about as we try to make the decisions for our life path.  When we take these questions to God, He will show us the path of life. It’s a promise in His Word, so we can have confidence that He will show us.

Even when we travel the path that He wants us on, it doesn’t mean that everything is Disney style and “Happy ever after.” Sometimes those paths are difficult, uphill climbing with lots of loose tumbling rocks trying to make us slide down a slippery slope. God uses such paths to help us grow in our faith, learn to trust Him more and bring us ever closer to Him. However, no matter how much turbulence there is, if we are in His presence, we can find joy. Joy in knowing we’re doing what He wants us to do. Joy in knowing that as we’re taking that path, we’re bringing His presence with us. It doesn’t matter if friends or family believe in the path He’s leading you on or if they think you’re crazy and wonder how on earth He would choose you of all people for this path. The cost of the path doesn’t matter. The scariness doesn’t matter. Once you step out in faith and plant both feet firmly on the path, you’ll find His presence there waiting to walk the path with you and there is no better joy than knowing your walking life’s path with God…but not just joy…there is fullness of joy.

When we obediently walk with God, we proclaim to the world that we love Him more than the opinions of other, more than choosing the difficult way, more than taking the easy way. We show that world that we love Him most. As we do, we bring glory to Him. Enoch knew this. The Bible says, “He walked with God and was not: for God took him.”(Genesis 5:24). Enoch never died. He walked faithfully in obedience to God and was so close to Him, that God just one day took him to heaven. In Hebrews 11:5, Paul wrote that Enoch was “commended as having pleased God.”

No matter how difficult the path, when we know we are walking in obedience, we know we are on the safest path possible. In Psalm 23, the Bible says, “Yea though I will through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” In Proverbs 3:23, we read, “Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.” There is joy in knowing, He will keep our path safe and secure.

Friends who walk together find joy in sharing secrets and talking about their day to day lives and their plans for the future. Noah walked with God and God told him he was going to destroy the world. The people mocked him and made fun of him, but Noah’s family was the only ones saved. Abraham walked with God and learned God would make a great nation from Abraham’s decedents. Knowing and believing God’s promise allowed him to offer his only son whom God had said would be the son to make this great nation as a sacrifice when God tested him. As we spend time with God, walking in obedience with Him, He reveals himself to us. There is joy when we feel the presence of God.

God show us the path of life. As we obediently step out in faith and walk with Him on that path, we find joy in his presence. The last part of Psalm 16:11 says, “At your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” I can think of no greater joy or pleasure than standing before God at the end of this life to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” To know that regardless of the difficulties God found that I followed Him in faithful obedience for the path of life He chose for me then to spend all of eternity worshiping Him.

What about you? What difficult path is God asking of you? Go ahead and plant both feet firmly on that path. He’s holding out His hand to you, asking you to join him. Will you obey and find the path of unshakeable fullness of joy?

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Asking God for Wisdom

James 1 5-6

The majority of children, teens, and college students have started a new school year. My son is a senior in college and my daughter is a freshman learning to navigate her way in a new world. I am very thankful that they both chose to attend the same college and that their college is local. Even though it’s here in town, they both live in the dorms but come home on the weekends for mom’s cooking and to use the laundry room. Every school year at every age brings new challenges for every student. Some subjects are harder than others, but when a student also does not enjoy that subject, it is difficult to get them to excel in that class.

Since God created us, he knows our likes and dislikes. He knows the subjects our children do well in and the ones that give them the most trouble. James, the half-brother of Jesus (typically considered the author of the book of James in the New Testament), wrote “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who give to all generously and without criticizing, and I will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting.” (James 1:5-6). We, as parents, can pray for God to grant wisdom, knowledge, and understanding for our children. We can also teach our children to pray and ask God to give them these things.

Asking God for wisdom does not just apply to our children who are learning new things in school. It can also be for us as we are trying to understand a Biblical principle of which we can’t seem to quite grasp the full understanding. We can also ask God to help us as we try to learn a new task at work or when we need wisdom in making a major life decision, such as moving, taking a new job, or making a big purchase. No matter what we seem to lack wisdom in, God tells us to ask him for it. After all, God is the one who created the universe and set everything into motion. If anyone understand the things we have a hard time grasping, it’s God. All the scientific law may be named after the scientists that discovered them, but they did not create the those laws….God did when he created the world. So why not go to the One who knows it better than anyone else? He is the one who can open our minds and help us see something we didn’t see before or to clear out the confusing thoughts so that we can grasp what’s true.  He the one who can give us ears to hear as things are explained to us in a way that understanding breaks through.

James also tells us in this verse that God gives wisdom generously. Liberally. He is a big-hearted God and he stand by ready to grant us the wisdom we need. However, the key is to first recognize the need and then to ask God for it. The Greek word for “liberally” is haploos and it means “bountifully” (Strong’s Concordance). So when we ask, he does just measure it by teaspoon fulls. He dumps it on…as much as we need for the purpose we are asking.

God doesn’t just give us wisdom generously, but he also does it without criticizing. When I was in school, I was one of the shy kids and would have never raised my hand and asked a question because I didn’t want to look dumb to the other students in the class. I’m not shy like that anymore, but I am still glad that God does not criticize when I ask him for help to understand something. He doesn’t roll His eyes in exasperation. There is no long, drawn out sigh of frustration. Instead, He is the loving father who created us and already knows the limited capabilities of our minds. He’s like the parent who’s child is trying to learn to read and the parent picks the child up and sets her in his lap and helps her sound out each sound and put them together until she can read the word on her own. Then He celebrates with us when that “ah-ha” moment comes and we “get it.”

James also tells us that when we ask for wisdom, we will receive it. There is no “maybe” or “if God isn’t busy with something else” or “He’ll think about it and get back to us next week. No. When we ask for wisdom, God will give it. Because we know that God keeps his promises and He will do what He says He will do, we can ask in confidence, with faith. There is no need to doubt. Psalm 5:3 tells us that God hears our voice as we plead our case to Him and then we are to watch expectantly.

Whether your children need some wisdom as they tackle a new school year or you need some yourself, go ahead and ask God to give it you, then expect Him to give it to you. Teach your children to ask God for wisdom for themselves so that when they sit in class and have difficulty understanding, they can silently ask God for wisdom in that moment. He is a God who loves to give us good gifts.

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God Wants to do Something New In You

Do you ever let the things in your past keep you from the future God has planned for you? Perhaps your past is filled with hurt, betrayal, grief and loss. For some, the past is littered with mistakes, wrong turns, and failures. We all have those things that we want to keep secret from everyone else, yet when we feel God calling us to some task, Satan is right there rehashing that past in our minds and telling us that God could never use someone like you…someone like me. As a Christian, Satan has lost us as a soul to spend eternity in Hell with him, but if he can keep us an ineffective Christian, then we will not be about the work God wants us to do for Him and others may not come to faith in Christ. So instead we flounder around, living like we’re defeated instead of living the victorious life we have in Christ.

In Psalm 43:18-19, God says, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” My friend, you do not have to live with the weight of your past strapped to your back. Whatever is back there is done! Shake off the hurt and betrayal. Forgive those people as Christ forgave you. Take any grief or loss you have to Christ and allow His peace and love to flow over you. Any mistakes or failures you have, have already been forgiven by God.

But not only does God not want us to dwell on those things; He wants us to know that He is about to do something new….even now…right now, in this moment! Maybe that something new is the breakthrough you’ve been longing for so you can release the grief. Maybe that something new is calling you into a new ministry where He can take the experiences of your life and use them for His glory. What is it He is calling you to do for Him? He wants to do something new in you today. Will you surrender to His will? What might be holding you back?

Whatever God might be doing new in you today, he doesn’t just call you and then leave you on your own to figure it all out. God said he would make a way…even when there seems to be no way. Do you have a God-sized dream that seems way more than you could ever do on your own? When God gives a vision, He will certainly provide the way for the vision to become reality. All you have to do is be willing to surrender to what He’s asking you to do then prayerfully ask Him to lead you through all the steps to make it happen. In His timing, you will be at the right place, at the right time and you will be amazed at what God does. You see, if the dream God gives us is beyond our own capability, then God gets the glory when He accomplishes it.

The choice is yours. You can continue to live in the past and refuse to let go or you can live in the glorious power of God as you follow his leading in your life. If you find it hard or impossible to let go of the past, seek out some Biblical counseling from your pastor or trained professional. God does not want us to live in defeat. He wants to restore. He wants to make us new and He wants to do something new in you today!

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God Always Finishes What He Starts

Philippians 1 6Do you ever begin a project, but don’t complete it? Maybe it ended up being more expensive than you thought it would be. Or maybe it required you to invest more time than you have to give it. Maybe it was more difficult than what you saw on Pintrest. Maybe your project wasn’t turning out to look at good as the one you saw in the craft store. Maybe you thought it looked fun, but when you really got into it, it was actually work and no fun at all.

Maybe you have an on-going project and you pull it out when you have a little time and money to invest in it and then put it away again when the extra money is spent and there’s no more time to devote to it. You’ve been doing this for years and sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever finish it.

We’ve all been there! Maybe it’s a project like cleaning out cabinets or the garage. Maybe it’s cleaning out the children’s closet to pass on what is too small. Maybe it’s a hobby project or refinishing an antique piece of furniture that was passed down to you from a deceased loved one. Some projects are necessary and others maybe more for fun. But there are times when we get them started and never finish it. The current hype is coloring, which is supposed to reduce stress. I have one of those coloring books and it’s even has nice Bible verses on each page. But one page, has very tiny spaces to color and there are many spaces! I’ve worked on that one page off and on for months and it still isn’t finished.

What if God was like that? What if He pulled us out on a day he felt like working on us and then put us back and chose someone else because we were too much work or too difficult? Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We can have confidence, without a single doubt, that God is constantly at work in us. Through the work of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all believers, He convicts us of sin, helps us, shapes us, and molds us so that we are constantly being made to reflect a little more of Christ. As we spend time each day reading the Bible, praying, attending church services, singing worship songs, God is constantly doing an internal work in our lives as He draws us into a deeper relationship with Him. He is transforming us on the inside so that we reflect more of Him on the outside.

It was God’s grace that began the good work in you…and me. His good work began the moment you felt the Holy Spirit convicting you that you were lost in your sins and you took the step of faith, surrendered your life to Christ, and His grace made you a child of God. But just becoming a Christian isn’t enough for God. He wants to have an intimate and personal relationship with you and so he continues the work that began at your salvation to sculpt you into that masterpiece He created you to be. This “good work” is nothing you or I could do for ourselves. It was God that began it and he will keep on working on us…perfecting us. He perfects us by enlightening us with wisdom and understanding. He perfects us as he subdue us into surrendering to His perfect will. He perfects us has He breaks apart our hard, stony hearts and replaces it with a heart of flesh.

He doesn’t ever stop working on us. As long as we are alive, He is not finished with us yet. As Christians we struggle every day against temptations and sins and often it’s an epic fail. The old, worldly nature of sin and darkness is ever at war with our new self. So God continues to work in our imperfect hearts. He never gives up. He will continue growing us and shaping us until the “day of Christ Jesus.” So from the moment that you accept Christ as your Savior until the day you see Jesus face to face, God is at work in you. And you can have confidence that He will complete what He started!

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God Doesn’t Need Our Plan B

by Julie Bruce

PlanBpicture_0Have you ever felt that God has called you to a certain ministry or task and then when things don’t move as fast as you think they should, you step in and try to “help God out?” My friend, God doesn’t need our help! In the Bible, Abraham and Sarah’s account would be the most likely example to come to mind. God had promised Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. That his seed would outnumber the starts in the sky. They would outnumber the grains of sand. However, as time went by no child was born. Sarah chooses to step in and try to help God out with her plan B and tells Abraham to take her maidservant and to have a child by her (a custom of the day). Abraham does and a son is born. The results of this action have had repercussions throughout the centuries and even into our world today. Let’s look at what it cost Abraham and his family because they chose to help God out in fulfilling his promise to Abraham.

When we step in with Plan B, things can get messy. Because Abraham went along with Sarah’s plan,  Hagar became pregnant and Sarah gets jealous. The Bible says that Sarah “dealt harshly with her” so that Hagar ran away. An angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness and asked her where she was going. Hagar explained what had happened. The angel told her to return and submit to Sarah and promises Hagar that Ishmael would also become a great nation. Hagar returns, but we’ll see it just a moment that Abraham and Sarah’s decision to have their promised child through her would cost her greatly.

When we step in with Plan B, we end up with problems. When Abraham is 100 years old, the promised child is finally born. By this time Ishmael is a teenager. He also is old enough to understand that up to this point he was Abraham’s only child, but born to a servant. This new child was born to Abraham’s wife. He probably also was well aware that little Isaac was the promised child. Can you imagine the sibling rivalry that went on in Abraham’s home? So now he has jealousy between the mothers of his children and an older son very much jealous of the new child.

When we step in with Plan B, we end up with heartache and regret. On the day that Isaac was weaned, Abraham had a great feast to celebrate. Sarah caught Ishmael taunting little Isaac so she demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away. In Genesis 21:11, the Bible says, “And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.” After all, Ishmael was also his son, his first born son. But God wanted it to be clear which child would be the one that carried the promise and God told Abraham to do as Sarah had asked. However, God promised Abraham that this son would also be a great nation. So Abraham gave water and food to Hagar and Ishmael and sent them away, well aware he would probably never lay eyes on this son again.

Our plan B can have devastating effects on others. Hagar was an Egyptian servant. It wasn’t that Abraham dated her, fell in love, and married her. Instead, he listened to Sarah’s advice and went in to sleep with Hagar. As far as Hagar was concerned, she was not making her own choices, but because of the decisions others made she now has a son and they are being sent away. And what about Ishmael, who was also Abraham’s son? In one day, this first-born son loses everything. He loses his position and his inheritance. He loses his father. He loses his home. He loses his friends. He is sent away by his own father. When the food and water ran out, she and her son were in the desert and she knew they would die. She laid her son under a shrub and went a short distance away and sat down and wept. She couldn’t bare to watch the child die. However, God heard the voice of the boy and he called from Heaven to Hagar, asking her what was wrong. He then opened her eyes to a well and she was able to give him water to drink and God was with Ishmael and He fulfilled his promise to make him a great nation. Without God’s intervention, Hagar and Ishmael would have died in the desert. However, their Plan B, continues to have devastating effects.

Our plan B can have long-lasting effects. As a result of Abraham and Sarah trying to help God out, there has been constant discord between the descents of Ishmael and Isaac, even to today. Ishmael’s descendants are known today as the Arab peoples while Isaac’s descendants are the Jewish nation. All the middle-east are a result of Abraham and Sarah’s Plan B.

My friend, God does not need our plan B to make His plans happen and we only mess things up when we get in His way. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” So whatever God has called you to do, trust Him. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” So allow God to do His plans His way…for His glory. He really does not need our help to accomplish his plans. When He promises, He will deliver.

God is not a man who lies,
or a son of man who changes His mind.
Does He speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?
–Numbers 23:19