Archive | March 2013

Clearing the Clutter


Last week, I returned home after being gone for around two months. One of the first things that came to my attention was all the clutter that had exploded in the living room of our tiny apartment. We had kept throwing things on any available surface until there was no room left to put anything else and there was no hope of finding anything we needed. Finally, it became unbearable and I had to stop everything that was planned and spend time clearing the clutter and getting rid of things that were no longer needed.

So many times, it seems that many of us face this in our spiritual lives as well. We struggle to hold on to things that clutter up our lives and make it difficult to move forward into the things that God has for us. It can be painful to surrender some of that clutter that we think we can’t live without. Sometimes we think we don’t have the time to stop and remove the clutter. Most often we would be able to move much more efficiently if we would only stop and remove the clutter instead of fighting to continue walking forward with it weighing us down.

Two of the biggest areas of spiritual clutter that have been weighing me down are pride and judgments made about others.

Pride will cause us to make some very bad decisions in our lives. One area where pride shows up in my life is my constant need to justify my actions to others. I also have found myself saying yes and being committed to too many things because of pride. Then I have to humble myself and admit that I’m unable to keep all my obligations. Another way pride manifests itself in my life, is when I decide that I am my own provider and choose not to wait on God to take care of me. This has caused several financial issues.

Isaiah 2:11
11The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Pride is nearly impossible to let go of and I believe can only be accomplished by daily humbling ourselves before God. God will allow us to go through some of the most heart wrenching circumstances to work on our pride, until we learn to give it up on our own.

Judging others is another big one. Many times I’ve been reminded of words I have spoken carelessly about others when I feel I’m being judged by someone else. We can find ourselves being haunted by our careless words many times until we learn our lesson.

Luke 6:37
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

Just like in our physical life, if we learn to deal with the clutter as we go, we will have a much easier journey and fewer times where we are derailed and have to stop everything just to work on the clutter.

What types of physical clutter do you hold on to? Do you see a parallel between your physical and spiritual clutter? Please feel free to share so I know I’m not the only one and so we can encourage each other.

This entry was posted on March 27, 2013. 2 Comments

Preparation Time


Has God given you a vision of the future? Has God told you of things to come, but when you walk toward that future it seems to crumble right before your very eyes? I’ve often wondered if that’s how Joseph or David felt. Joseph was given the vision that his family would bow down to serve him and then he was thrown into the pit to die; it took him twelve years to see that vision come to pass. David was anointed as king and then spent the next twenty years avoiding death at the hands of King Saul.



God will give us a taste of the future that’s just for us to carry us through the preparation time. Like Joseph, I have been guilty of sharing the vision God gave me before it was time. Sometimes the vision God chooses to share with us is just for us to cherish for the moment. If we are not careful we can run ahead of God and try to accomplish what God has placed in our heart in our own strength. That is a recipe for disaster. What if David had rushed ahead of God and taken the throne by force? He had opportunities, but he chose to wait on God’s timing.


When we wait for God’s timing we remain protected and assured of the victory in the end, no matter what our circumstances tell us.

This portion of scripture remains one of my go to verses when I feel like things are not working out the way they should.

Romans 8:30-32 (ESV) 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be
against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Many times God has whispered, “Do you think anyone will stop what I have decided to do?” That carries me through when I feel like someone in authority is coming up against me and I need to fight. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time we are called to fight, but it needs to be when God is calling us to rise up, not when we choose. God will keep His promises to us, but it’s our job to do what is put before us and allow Him to prepare us to step into our greatness at the proper time.

What vision has God given you? Are you waiting on His timing?

This entry was posted on March 20, 2013. 2 Comments

Time to be


What does the phrase “take time to be” mean to you? How can we find the time to “be” and still get everything done that needs to be done? The last few years have been difficult for me. My family has struggled financially for many years, but in the last few years it has really become apparent that working harder and more is not the answer.

Most of my life has been spent making my plans and praying for God to bless them. Several years were spent working two or three jobs at a time and praying that we would finally be able to get out of debt. Then a few years ago, my health started to take a turn. Years of not eating or sleeping properly had taken its toll and maintaining the constant hectic pace that was my life became impossible. Finally, I had to ask God to supply my needs. Admitting my need for God was very difficult because as a child I had made an inner vow that I would not be dependent on anyone ever again. It was not apparent on a conscious level that I had made that vow and that made it impossible to understand the effect it was having on my life.

Looking back on my life now, I can see how God allowed me to come to the place where I had no other choice but to trust Him as my provider. All those prayers for provision and then the disappointment when it didn’t come through the way I thought it should. God was there all along; He just wasn’t giving me what I thought I needed.

Fast forward to the last two weeks and I am still learning the lesson that God is my provider. I’ve only been home a few days over the last few months. The pressure to constantly be productive and never waste a moment has overwhelmed me. It’s so hard to unplug from all the clutter in my brain and allow God to truly be in control of my daily life. There are so many goals and plans that I have for my life, but are they God’s plans?

Sometimes those things that aren’t planned are the best. My car has broken down twice in the last two weeks and we didn’t have the money to make the needed repairs. Many hours were spent asking God to fix my car and reminding Him of what I needed. After much pleading for God to change my circumstances, I realized that maybe He was trying to remind me to slow down once again. The opportunity to be pet sitting in an isolated location and be able to unplug and “be” had presented itself and I was too busy telling God what I needed to notice!

Humbled once again and now I can be grateful that God didn’t answer my prayer the way I had expected. This passage of scripture always gives me comfort in any situation.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

What is God telling you through your circumstance today?

This entry was posted on March 13, 2013. 2 Comments

Learning To Rely On God To Provide

    

We have all been told that we need to trust God to supply all our needs, but what does that mean? The journey towards trusting God with my finances has been a long, sometimes painful road and I’m not sure I’ve made it yet. There have been small victories along the way, but every time we hit a bump in the road and I don’t see how we can make it the doubts surround me like a tidal wave.

The first reaction is to search back in time and look at every penny I’ve spent and beat myself up over it. Things like spending that extra ten dollars at the grocery store last week or buying a pair of sneakers that my husband needed become instruments of torture. After I’ve finished beating up on myself then I turn to wondering what others are thinking of me. Do they think I am lazy or wasteful? At times, I find myself thinking about the money other people owe me or the fact that my husband doesn’t have a better paying job. If I’m not careful these thoughts can cause an avalanche that leaves me feeling cut-off and angry at God. How can I trust God when I’m angry with Him?

Since my husband and I declared bankruptcy back in 2009, we have struggled to get back on our feet financially. Many of you may know the story of our struggle to find work and avoid losing our apartment. Things have started to come together slowly, but we still find ourselves on the edge of disaster every day. We have fought the urge to apply for a credit card which we could use in case of an emergency, and are exercising our faith that God will provide for those as well. After the bankruptcy, I realized that I was placing my trust in myself rather than God every time I chose to use my credit card rather than wait for God to provide. It was just too easy to pull out that little piece of plastic rather than ask someone for help or better still ask God to help show us the way.

The last few years, God has taught me that sometimes He provides additional work for me, He may provide a gift through someone that I can choose to receive (without guilt), or He may give me an idea for making additional income or saving money by thinking outside the box. The key is that all provision comes from Him and not from me.

Here we are in the middle of another financial crisis and thankful that God has taught me to seek Him first instead of panicking and running around trying to find the answer by myself. I did spend a day panicking before I remembered what God has taught me, but that is a definite improvement from my recent past. For now, I am trusting God to open a door and asking Him for the wisdom to know that it’s the right one when I see it.

What has God been teaching you lately? Please share so that others may be encouraged or so I can pray for you.