Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

aspirations

The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Peace

Ironically, “peace” is a confusing concept Biblically.

Without any word study at all we observe that Christ at once claims He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34) and at the same time Christ claims He is our peace (Eph 2:14.)

The definition of peace clarifies, citing that peace is:

  • A sense of welfare
  • Being undisturbed
  • Wholeness

When Jesus works, donning a sword, He disturbs our wrong perspectives. He exposes the incomplete pieces of our lives as we try to piece it all together for ourselves.

Peace, on our terms, is all about effort. Striving to maintain welfare, fighting to be undisturbed, and clinging to pieces we want to fit together.

Peace, on our terms, is anything but peaceful.

That’s the kind of peace Jesus didn’t bring.

The kind He did?

When we turn to Jesus as our source of peace, He establishes us without the peace-depleting, stressful effort on our part.

Our welfare is secure as we find our refuge and strength in Him. In Christ, nothing can disturb the connection with God He guarantees. We are in progress, yet simultaneously complete because He is working in us and promises to bring us to completion ultimately.

With Jesus, there is no lack, disturbance, or threat we need fear. We can be at peace because of who He is and whose we are.

Christ’s peace is so much more peaceful than peace on our terms!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

My Mess, His Order

There are days life is a mess.

Like the morning I spilled three glasses of water, got hot chocolate all over my clothes, ripped my lunch bag and forgot my needed sweater.

The mess got to my heart next.

Within the hour I was at work in a special needs classroom. A student, twice my size, was spread out starfish style on the floor throwing a fit. My heart was flustered, unsure of how to help and what the student needed…

…… curious what the Lord did with my mess? And what He can do with yours?

Click here!

I’m privileged to be sharing over at Christine Duncan’s blog Precepts & Life Preservers. She’s a hoot and a holler-er for Christ! See for yourself 🙂

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

WordoftheWeek: (Pure) Joy

The NIV translation of James 1:2 says:

“Consider it pure joy,

my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

I love this verse. Abby shared it in her post this week about how loneliness can be a blessing. She describes a lonely season in her life and how, through it, she found joy in growing closer to the Lord.

An often cited verse, the contrast and command of this verse is striking. Joy and trial are tied together as a directive. When life is hard- consider it a joy. For Abby, this meant her struggle with loneliness was to be counted joyful.

It just seems so backwards, doesn’t it? Almost like Scripture says “deny and defy reality. Things stink. But you can be happy anyway.”

Fortunately, that’s not what God calls us to.

Notice the word “pure” in front of joy? It isn’t there in every translation. However, it’s inclusion in the NIV is probably because of what it notes about the particular type of joy we are called to in our trials.

The transliterated word is “chara.”

This type of joy is defined as:

“properly, the awareness (of God’s) gracefavor; joy (grace recognized).”

What we’re called to here is recognizing God’s grace in our trials. These Greek words for grace and joy are even cognates (cousins!) These words are bound together by the blood of Christ.

Joy in our trials isn’t about putting on a happy face for others’ sakes or forcing yourself to feel differently than you really do. Pure joy, chara, is about looking to Christ and recognizing His grace in even the worst of trials, the muck of sin, and the painful consequences of living in this fallen world. Joy is the natural perspective that comes with this recognition.

It doesn’t always bring a smile to a tear-soaked face. Joy rarely changes or ends the trial.

But joy can point you to the glimmer of light in the darkness, enabling you to fix your eyes on the truth.

Joy can make the choice to continue on count for something even while the weights are stacked heavily against you.

The joy of God’s grace is enough to bring us through those trials where you see His grace (sometimes where you see it most!)

Consider His grace. Recognize it. Joy will come!

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#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

The Faithful “If”

Photo from: www.spectrumhealth.ie

In Philippians 2, Paul explains what the “ifs” of faith can amount to. We read the words “if any” over and over again. Paul explains how the “ifs” we desire can add up to joy. Sometimes it helps to read Scripture backwards.

Those “ifs,” for instance, are based on the presuppositions that follow:

  • Have the same mindset as Christ
  • Look to the interest of others
  • Value others above yourself
  • Do nothing out of selfish conceit
  • Be united in one Spirit and Mind

Before listing these presuppositions, Paul says that these “make my joy complete” (Philippians 2:2.) Paul was not speaking merely of people doing things in faith to make him proud and happy.  He was explaining not just his joy, but the joy of those who read the Word and listen, resulting in a life that glorifies God.

These presuppositions set us up for the “anys” we long for in life. They fulfill the “if” of faith needed to move us from speculative belief into faith assured by the reality of Christ at work in you and me.

What are these “anys?”

  • If any comfort
  • If any encouragement
  • If any common sharing in the Spirit
  • If any compassion and tenderness
  • If any working out of our own salvation
  • If any of God working in us to fulfill His good purposes
  • If any shining like stars

IF we desire any of these in our lives then we need refer back to those presuppositions. And don’t we desire these?

In His grace He gives us every good and perfect gift. By His mercy we are saved without doubt after trusting Christ. But He doesn’t promise to break through our every barrier and buffer. The Lord doesn’t say that we will feel His presence and have His complete joy when we don’t walk with Him.

He certainly doesn’t promise to make us feel supported and cared for when we act for selfish reasons. In fact, Scripture says that “even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure” (James 4:3.)

So often when we wonder why He doesn’t seem near and or isn’t clearly working in our lives, we are also choosing not to live near to Him or open to His working in our lives. We live “fists closed,” as Ann Voskamp says.

On the days of exasperation and desperation that we cry out “Lord, give me anything” or “Lord, I’ll take anything!” these are the things we desire. These “if anys” are what our hearts long for as we seek to live lives that glorify Him and are filled up and overflowing with His presence.

But it’s also on those days that we tend to be willing to open our hands only to collect and hold possessively close. Our hands aren’t open to giving or to clasping palms with others in the body of Christ. Our minds aren’t open to the mind of Christ or the interests of others.

We live like one way, dead-end streets to “me-ville.” At the same time, we wonder why the love of Christ doesn’t roll on in. (tweet this!)

Longing for these “if anys” but missing the point, we change our hearts to say “if only.” If only Christ were here. If only I could feel His love. If only others showed me compassion. Then…then we could get to the pre-suppositions. But that’s not the order God created.

Start with “if any” and obey. Start with Christ first and others above myself.  Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8.) You won’t have to say “if only.”

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” –Philippians 2:1-5
This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.