Knowledge Isn’t Fulfilling On It’s Own (5/6)

 

This post is the 5th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here.

Once upon a time I earned a B- in a tough course on Biblical Literature. It was the lowest final grade I’d ever earned. I had studied- hard. I felt all the rush of competing with classmates who invited me to their study sessions even though they all knew what the heck a “prophetic” book was and I was still trying to pronounce “day-oot-or-no-me” properly.

A couple of years later, I was well on my way to adding a Bible minor to my degree.

There was a problem, though.

All my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual leadership positions, and my wisdom on pleasing everybody in the name of Jesus weren’t fulfilling. I was still empty.

Knowledge, even knowledge about God, wasn’t able to save me. Smarts on Scripture didn’t secure my soul. Understanding of sin couldn’t get me out of it.

I needed a different kind of knowing. I needed relating, trusting, relying, nearness. I needed the person of Christ. And I needed Him to save me.

When I entrusted all my bloated brain and shriveled heart to the One who knows it all, I found the only thing that’s really fulfilling: a relationship with the everlasting, almighty, perfect God.


For those of us who idolize knowledge, it’s hard to accept that information will never fulfill us on its own.

In the first post of this series, I proposed that knowing all about surgery didn’t qualify me to perform it. Knowing a surgeon wouldn’t qualify me either.

Knowledge isn’t meant to stay still. Knowledge needs to be in action to be fruitful.

This was the grievous error James so succinctly called out:

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” –James 1:22

Saving knowledge is knowledge of Christ responded to.

Sanctifying knowledge is knowledge of God learned from and acted on.

Growing knowledge is knowledge of the Spirit expanding through personal experience with the Spirit Himself.

Loving knowledge is knowledge of the love of God transforming the way we live and speak the truth.

The list goes on.

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Idolatry makes us greedy. Idolizing knowledge turns us into information-hoarders.

When we think we know a lot and are learning tons, we’re unlikely to test information against the Scriptures. We’re unlikely to control our tongues, blazing with fun facts as they are. What we are likely to do is “establish a righteousness” of our own, given that we need someplace to showcase all the knowledge we’ve collected. Hoarding our treasure troves of facts, what we gain we’ll only lose because knowledge serves no purpose on a shelf and out of use.

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Knowledge is just one in a long list of qualities we’re to increase in.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” –2 Peter 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

Even with knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be ineffective and unproductive. Knowledge alone doesn’t make us helpful to the Gospel. Information alone doesn’t fulfill what’s needed to make us fruitful in Christ.

The next verse goes on to warn that without these qualities- which are many more than just knowledge- we get nearsighted. So nearsighted we’re blinded.

Knowledge is often pictured as light- and just as with light, staring too intently at brilliance makes everything go dark.

Knowledge was never meant to fulfill us apart from Christ. When we try to let it fill us anyway- we end up bloated with emptiness.

We know the One who does fill us and fulfill us. We get to know Him personally. We are blessed to find all fullness in Him, loading us with and lighting up for us to see what we need to love, and serve, and glorify Him.

Let knowledge of Him alone lead to worship of Him alone! <Click to Tweet>


Are you getting to know God better? Does that help you worry less about feeling fulfilled?

Join me  (<–click here) to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
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Knowledge Isn’t Unchanging (2/6)

 

This post is the 2nd in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

For those who aren’t familiar, cursive is a style of penmanship with pretty curves and continuous lettering. I spent many days as an 8 year old carefully memorizing and mastering the script.

The teachers of the 1990s insisted cursive was the only writing allowed in high school and college. In my understanding, knowing cursive was currency for my ticket to success in the world.

Fear swelled up in me when my high school teachers began requiring us to type our work on the computer. My child-self never mastered Homerow or Touch Typing. I figured computers were for games and cursive was for life.

I called it wrong. Now I type at 55+ WPM using two fingers at a time. Kids who see my handwriting think I’m bilingual.

The knowledge I staked my hope on as a little girl changed gears and left me in the dust.

Knowledge’s changing nature and instability have thrown me for a loop in more profound ways, too. Years of resisting the Lord because I’d have to change my mind to accept His truth evidence that.


The vivid imagery of James 1:6 pictures a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

I feel for the wave.

Characterizing one who lacks wisdom and craves information but doubts what God says, the wave evidences what happens when we let the shifting nature of knowledge carry us through life.

At the mercy of the wind, untethered knowledge is always changing directions. Unanchored knowledge rises and falls as opinions, emotions, and other biases swell up inside it. Pursuing knowledge alone leaves us ever grasping after something that will always slip out of reach.

We can’t count on knowledge the way we count on God.

Knowledge isn’t unchanging, but God is.

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Once, when the disciples and Jesus were caught on the open sea in the midst of a storm, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. He has the authority and ability to do that.

Can we, in our shifting knowledge, even fathom what that takes? What does one have to know to still forces of nature? What kind of understanding can hold forces of nature in place to make a way for safe, stable passage?

God, in His infinite knowledge, can.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” –Mark 4:39

The rebuke is familiar to those of us living at the mercy of knowledge’s shifting, tumultuous seasons and limitations.

Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

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This is the knowledge that anchors our hope in Christ, who is unchanging.

Relying on knowledge as if it is God tosses us about. We are swayed by the next big idea. Our hopes are thrashed by the winds of change and unwanted possibility.

Relying on knowledge of God instead of knowledge as God secures us. <Click to Tweet>

We know the One who rules over the changing tides and routes the wind. He doesn’t shift and isn’t swayed. Let’s stake our hope in Him.


Do you idolize knowledge, despite its changing nature? 

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Knowledge Bloats (1/6)

This post is the 1st in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

“But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

1 Cor 8:1-3

I’m a freelance writer. I’ve written about topics like car parts and techniques for surgery. However, I’m no mechanic and would heartily refuse to assist if anyone handed me a scalpel.

You, likewise, know some lingo and plenty of trivia about certain topics. Maybe you’ve memorized sports statistics. Perhaps a loved one has told you about the day to day tasks they complete at work. Chances are, you aren’t qualified to be a famous athlete or even a sports commentator. Your loved one’s boss probably wouldn’t be pleased if you showed up instead one day.


Much of the knowledge we possess doesn’t lead us to anything actionable. Still, many of us are obsessed with learning all we can know.

Set up as an idol, we worship knowledge because of what we believe it gives us: control. Power. Security. Influence. Prestige. Ability. Option.

The trouble is knowledge, all by itself, puffs up. It’s hot air. Knowledge can look and sound impressive but have no substance. Even when tall and intimidating, it may be flimsy when it’s leaned on.

Often all knowledge for the sake of knowledge gives us is a headache. <Tweet this>

Want-to-know-it-alls like myself must be wary of making too much of knowledge alone. When we let knowledge puff us up, all we’re doing is trying to misuse it for our own glory. We want to be so smart that God and all His creation praise us and bend to our wills.

but-knowledge-puffs-up-while-love-builds-up

Grand as it might appear and authoritative as it may sound, knowledge:

  • Isn’t unchanging
  • Isn’t complete
  • Isn’t all-powerful
  • Isn’t fulfilling on its own
  • Isn’t everything

God, on the other hand, is all of these things and so much more.

God is self-existent and sufficient, He is also omniscient. He knows everything.

Knowledge, as we know it, has limits, boundaries, and frustrations. Yet our finite knowledge is something God uses for His good purposes. (Hint: God’s good purposes don’t involve us taking control or bloating our egos.)

God gives knowledge, withholds it, reveals it, explains it, multiplies it, and wields it for His glory.

According to God’s Word, knowledge paired with grace, love, peace, wisdom, goodness, and the like can glorify Him. Fitted in the frame of righteousness and powered by the zeal of the Spirit, knowledge can propel the sharing of the Gospel.

Knowledge revealing God’s glory is certainly more substantial, lasting, and righteous than knowledge puffing up our egos.

Does knowledge need to have less of a bloating effect and more of a godly effect in your life too?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Untangled in Love

I never thought I’d be one for mushy stuff. Anyone who’s heard my commentary during chick flicks knows I’m not a romantic.

But there’s this guy.

The one I moved seats to be near the first day of class. The one whose shenanigans had my head and finger wagging from the start. The one who asked me to date him after I spent hours telling him every reason not to love me. The one who led me to my Savior.

His eyes were fixed on Christ even as he took my hand in his. I thank the Lord he has little regard for any other sight.

During more than 6 years of knowing each other now, I’ve witnessed a faith-skill of his I pray the Lord helps me hone as my own.

He’s an expert disentangler.

Ironically, this only applies spiritually. When it comes to being entangled physically, he’s got a knack for being wound up in cords, having limbs stuck in furniture, nearly strangling himself with ties, and being unable to remove himself from places he climbs into (AKA…dryers.) Some evidence:

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Spiritually, though, my husband is quick and nimble to:

“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” –Hebrews 12:1

What I’ve noticed most in his way of staying free and ready to obey the Lord is an attention to who He is serving. 2 Timothy 2:26 warns of being enticed into entanglement in the enemy’s snare. The verse says our enemy captures us for the purpose of having us do his will.

We are never entangled in sin for the purpose of serving God.

So, when we are entangled, we’re serving the will of the enemy.  It might be through self-serving or through people-pleasing. We may be money-driven or fear-abiding. Whatever the case, when we’re entangled, we’re not fixed on the purposes of Christ.

This is one of the ways my husband’s “black and white” thinking helps.

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He isn’t easily entangled because His eyes are fixed on Christ intently. He notices when he is looking at someone else. He notices when what he’s doing isn’t serving the Lord.

And when he notices, he turns from the dark to the light. He shifts his eyes to Christ. He throws off whatever is bidding him to pay attention to or serve anything else. Whatever it is, it’s not worth missing out on beholding the Lord.

I’m blessed when he helps with my writing because I know he won’t fail to point out words that hinder instead of help the gospel. As I analyze, assess, and plan in life I am grateful to have by my side someone with foresight and discretion regarding the Lord’s will.

Among the most precious aspects of our marriage is my husband’s habit of getting my attention to direct me to Our Lord -who has his attention.

He hates to be entangled, and he hates to see me tied in knots too.

Praying this Valentine’s Day you and your loved ones can help each other disentangle to fix your eyes on the One who matters most.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

How to Discern the Voice of the Holy Spirit: 5 Truths from God’s Word

For a longer time than I’d like to admit, I avoided talking about the Holy Spirit because somehow the Spirit seemed weirder, wackier, and harder to explain than God the Father or Jesus Christ. One of the difficulties I’ve had is in accurately expressing how the Holy Spirit works.

Language is limited.

It’s hard to clarify in just a few words how having a “feeling” about something is different from the “feeling” of the Holy Spirit working.

Saying “The Spirit spoke to me” quickly gets us labeled. It sometimes confuses people who wonder if they’ve never heard the voice of God – though if they’ve trusted the Lord as their Savior, they have. The voice of the Spirit just isn’t like any other voice we know.

Our discernment is also limited.

Sometimes recognizing the Holy Spirit’s work is even more difficult than explaining it.

We wonder if our sense of peace is actually a deceitful optimism, and we struggle to trust any leading in our hearts when we know our hormones are out of whack. We look at our requests of the Lord from every angle, feel everything we can about every known solution, and then strain to see “which option” the Spirit is pointing to.

I’m honored to share 5 truths about recognizing the Holy Spirit’s voice over on Alyssa J Howard’s Blog: Living by the Light of the King.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Motivation for Long Days at Work

When I’m exhausted by the thought of putting one more second of time into producing something for someone else, to someone else’s standards, according to someone else’s timeline, I find encouragement in these verses.

I hope you do too.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

The boring parts of work don’t always leave us feeling fulfilled. The Lord calls us to un-glamorous, unexciting work.  Whether the bland parts of jobs, like shuffling through paperwork, or the blah parts of working through life like doing the dishes, quietly tending to our affairs is part of our testimony.

Work is an expression of creating and stewarding what the Lord has given us. It is part of sustaining and supporting the affairs that the Lord has made us responsible for. When we quietly mind our lives and care for what He’s given through work and ordinary tasks, we evidence how we value all the Lord has provided.

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Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

In your heart, your work can be unto the Lord. It needn’t be for your boss that you do your work honestly and to the best of your ability. Rather, reflect the character of the Lord. God made man, and He is sovereign over the systems we live in. That includes the workplace.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Even work that seems in no way related to the Gospel can be used by the Lord for His good purpose. Sticking stamps on a stack of envelopes might just be a part of the work of the Lord today –and His work is never in vain.

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Psalm 90:17

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

You don’t have to figure out how refilling the copier’s ink can be made into a spiritual act. Your life’s work, surrendered to God and completed to glorify Him, is up to God to use as He will. Keep in mind that the work of your hands is part of God’s plans. He will establish it, He will cause it to bear fruit. He is faithful to us even in the little things, just as He calls us to be.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

Doing work lazily or half-heartedly without concern for doing it well catches up to you. God knows your heart, your ambitions, your motivations, and your true efforts. Do quality work. It will be tested, it will be shown for what it is. Let it be through and through “our utmost for His glory.”

{Originally posted on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

When Your Manna Tastes Bland

Last year, I had my wisdom teeth removed *gag.* The surgery went well, but there were complications during my recovery. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I ate the same bland soft foods for about a month. Let me tell you: diversity of diet is a spiritual need.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But I’m not the only one who finds my heart getting heavy when God’s provision is the same old ordinary stuff day after day.

Recently set free from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were roaming the wilderness when they cried out to God for food. He graciously provided, dropping down manna from heaven.  Just bits of bread tasting like coriander and honey, the manna was spread across the transient camp daily for 40 years (Exodus 16.)

Though the idea of bread raining down from heaven is extraordinary, the Israelites quickly grew bored with God’s unfailing but monotonous meal choice.

They always had enough.

But the people had enough of just enough.

Bored, they complained against the Lord. The people got sick of manna. It was bland, it was wearisome, and really- how long can anyone live with the same old same old?

Like the Israelites, we are often grateful the Lord always provides. But sometimes we wish God’s provision was just a little more exciting.

Take note of God’s response to the Israelites when they felt much the same. He was faithful. That’s who He is.

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT.)

Throughout the wilderness routine, God surprised the Israelites with quail and likely livestock from their battle victories.

At the end of those forty years, those manna-fed people crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. They had homes of their own, freedom to live for His glory, and even gardens and pastures for raising all sorts of foods.

When entering the Promised Land, the Israelites also had forty years’ worth of reminders of His faithfulness. The ordinary, too-familiar taste of His extraordinary provision lingered on their lips.

What a sweet treat -one we’re blessed by too.

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The excitement we yearn for has less to do with our present life and more to do with daily taking in what He provides. When we’re willing to believe it, our joy is found because:

His promises are true every day.

His provision, even when it seems monotonous, sustains us.

God is who He is- and that’s exciting, even day by (regular old) day.

Remaining fresh and delighted in faith often blossoms through ordinary ways of witnessing His extraordinary faithfulness.

As you and I take our next big bites of ordinary, let’s chew on the bland in delighted faith. Our provision is from the perfect One. He’s providing us with tastes of His constant presence day by day, nourishing us to grow in Him along the way.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second! More info on an upcoming series with guest posting here.

The Milestone That Wasn’t

In Genesis 27, we read about a milestone that should have been, but wasn’t.

Imagine what Esau looked forward to the day his dying father told him to get ready to receive the blessing. Esau, Isaac’s older son, had been expecting to receive this blessing from his father for his whole life. It was an important milestone in an oldest sons’ life.

The blessing would signify his stature, outline his inheritance, and seal his glorious future before the Lord. While Esau was preparing for the big moment, his brother Jacob tricked Isaac and took the blessing, robbing Esau. The oldest son’s long awaited milestone never came to pass. 

The younger son likewise prepared for a milestone that didn’t come as expected. He fell in love with a woman named Rachel. For seven years he worked for her father in order to marry her. On his wedding day, Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah instead. His long-awaited wedding was a time of deceit and disappointment.

Can you imagine the milestones Job was awaiting when suddenly his life was plagued, torn apart, and brought to a place of misery? Or the disappoint of Ruth, as she got married, looking forward to years of love and many children, only to lose her husband and end up in a strange land caring for her mother in law in poverty?

Mary prepared herself for Godly marriage only to discover God’s plans actually involved being pregnant out of worldly wedlock.

Paul is a great example, too. He was a zealous Jew, well-known for his “great” work persecuting Christians. Surely he looked forward to a life of upstanding religious reputation and power. Then, he was struck blind on a road, transformed by Jesus Christ, and joined the ranks of the persecuted.

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The Bible holds no shortage of examples of people whose expected and desired “milestone moments” weren’t what they hoped for.

Who among us hasn’t also had grand plans and dreams that haven’t come true or weren’t what we expected? There are plenty of milestones we look forward to that never happen. Or, that occur, but are tainted by sin or are altogether not what we anticipated.

We struggle with dreams as Christians. Often we struggle because we put our hope, oh so humanly, in things, ideas, and plans instead of in the Lord. Surely He knows His plans for us, and His plans are for our good and His glory.

Disappointment comes when what we expected isn’t found or isn’t what we thought. But our strength is renewed when we look to our true hope –our Lord.

“Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. –Isaiah 40:27-31

Looking back at Biblical examples of expected milestones dashed to bits, we see how God lines the walk of faith with unmet milestones.

God had plans for each of the people mentioned- and His plans turned disappointment into God-appointments.

We have the same privilege of witnessing God working in our disappointments today.

{This post was originally published on My Faith Radio}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Taking Fear Personally

Someone lied to you and you found out. Someone rejected you flat out. Someone ignored you, someone hurt you, someone who was supposed to care for you didn’t.

We all have our someones.

If we’re honest, everyone we know is a someone; everyone gives us cause for suspicion.

I’m not paranoid- many of our fears boil down to a well-founded fact: people aren’t perfect. We have good reason to be afraid as long as people aren’t perfect. Reality reminds us every day.

People misjudge us. People have motives in conflict with our own. People make mistakes. People live outside of our control. People have choices. People are insufficient for us.

This world, likewise, is full of uncertainty and imperfection. Beautiful as it is, the world never works in exactly the way we’d like. It isn’t safe. Predictability is an illusion. Sinkholes open up under safe streets. Lightning strikes people in mild, safe regions.

Fear makes sense.

In Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, we see this firsthand.

Kelly doesn’t run from fear. She doesn’t ask us to scare ourselves out of feeling it or to grow numb to it.

This is personal for me.

Once upon a time, the unofficial topic of my studies was scaring myself silly about whether or not it was worth it to try to do any good in this world since everything’s broken anyway. I was new to faith and wanted to serve the Lord, but feared failing to honor Him.

An advisor asked me- “Do you believe the Lord can handle anything?” The question stuck.

Through clumsily embarking on a different career path than intended to grouchily moving away from everything I knew to painfully setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships, I found out the Lord could handle imperfect plans, circumstances, and relationships.

He could use the things that hurt me and disappointed me to His glory because His ways are higher (and much better!) than my ways.

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But fear fighting got more personal when I picked up the aptly titled book.

I began to read in words what the Lord has been piecing together in my heart: The Lord can also handle working through and in me.

God can display His power in my obvious weakness.

God can redeem for His good use my meager offerings, insecurities, and insufficiency.

God can rework my fear that imperfection is failure into an awed fear of His perfect work.

Yours’ too.

Fighting fear as God’s own children isn’t a matter of learning to lock our knocking knees or bite our quivering lips. There is no 5-step plan for us to fear failing at. We don’t have to undertake an intimidating process of becoming someone we’re not. Fear isn’t squelched when we muster up the guts to stare it down…but it loses its power over us when we fix our eyes on Him.

We let go of all we are not and see all that God is,” Kelly says. Her proposal is simple: “The Spirit says start. Start fearing God rather than fearing everyone is going to take you down.”*

Kelly knows fear, and she knows we can’t beat it by pretending we can. Instead, she reminds us who can and who has.

Our Savior.

Bravery is fearing God.

bravery-is-fearing-god-1

Bravery is believing Him about all of the implications of who He is. It’s humbling ourselves before Him because we know Him and we want to know Him more. It’s bringing what’s inside of and outside of our control to His throne, imperfection laid bare because His grace is enough.

Choosing to fear the Lord is choosing confidence because of Jesus. Trust because of Jesus. Awe because of Jesus. Hope because of Jesus.

All because the One who is over all is in us, with us, and working through us fearlessly.**

We can take our fears personally to the personal God. Right up close to Him we can fix our eyes on Him. When our fears come into perspective before His greatness, they end up looking much smaller.

Thank you, Lord, for welcoming us to your fearless faithfulness, thank you for being the only way, the truth, and the life for fear fighting, faithful living, and eternal hope. Help us not to seek or fear anything other than your “only.” You are sufficient, amazing, and perfect. What good news for us imperfect people.

*Pg49, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
**Ephesians 4:6; Galatians 2:20
Kelly shares regular encouragement on her blog, Purposeful Faith. Her first book, Fear Fighting, is available beginning January 3rd, 2017. She’s been an example to me and a kind friend for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful to share her book with you. The Lord has strengthened me through it and I hope He will you too!

{Please note this post is entered into Kelly’s contest. You can vote here for this or another post entered. You can also enter the contest yourself! This post is number 15 if you’d like to vote for it!}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”