In Jobs We Trust

{The ninth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Grateful to have Ashlee' Perry here today. A courageous writer and serious student of the Word, Ashlee humbly shares devotional posts and thought-provoking questions focused on Scriptural truth over at her blog, The Maze.

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No, I’m not talking about Steve Jobs here.

Our jobs are our primary source of income. With it, one is able to financially provide for the needs of one’s family, to buy necessities and pleasures of everyday life. Jobs are great, awesome, and the Bible specifically speaks and command us to work, because a laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:18) and if we don’t work, we won’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Working is a part of life, being commanded by God for us to do since the Creation and the Fall of mankind (Genesis 3: 17).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with work, but good things can also become our idols.

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Since May 2015, I have been in search for a full-time job. Although I love writing, and would one day hope to become a full-time writer, at this point in life, I know that isn’t possible. Every day for eight or nine hours, I alternate between job hunting and applying for jobs, which takes up most of the day, and exercising for breaks. With this day to day pattern, and with the constant reminders of the need of income looming around me, it’s hard not to obsess and idolize having a job.

When working becomes an idol, we begin to neglect the things God has stewarded us, placing that thing above God.

When you think of stewardship, most Christians think along the lines of money, but actually that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Stewardship goes far beyond giving money to a charity that you like, or volunteering for a weekend with underprivileged children. Biblical stewardship is our acknowledgment of the various gifts and talents that God has graciously given to us, and using them in such a way to give Him all the glory. With our jobs and time we spend with our jobs, how well are we being a steward?

When things are out of order, and when we have our priorities out of balance, work can become an idol.

We become neglectful of the things God has stewarded to us, to the extent that it becomes a detriment to us and those around us. God gives each of us certain talents and abilities, and when they’re used for things other than to glorify Him, our works become useless. In the words of Solomon, he states:

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

When God isn’t in the center of our business, our work, or our jobs, all those “good actions become completely futile. Stewardship without the presence of God is just good works.

Good Actions

By trusting in our jobs or talents over the One who gave us those skills, we’re in a sense demoting the power of God working in and through us. We’re creating for ourselves another “god” and placing it before the One True God. It’s easy to fall into this trap, whether it is with our jobs or personal life. We place our value and worth into those things, when actually, they can be swept away from us in any given moment. As Christians, our validity isn’t found in what we have or the job we possess. Our validity is found only in Christ.

Proverbs 16:3 gives strong words on what happens when our work is done to glorify God – our thoughts are established by Him. This isn’t saying that whatever we want, God will give it to us like a genie we make wishes to. I’m actually saying the opposite here – by submitting our will to God’s will, whatever He desires for us will be accomplished, for our good and for His glory. Our purpose isn’t defined by our job, title or position; it’s defined by our reverence and trust in God (Ecclesiastes 12: 13&14).

So, where does your trust lie?

Is your trust rested in the things that you possess and can obtain, namely your job, money, or resources, or does it rest in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross?

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

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

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

Earlier this week, Liz shared about stepping away from anxiety to trust more fully in the Lord. Take a closer look at that word “cast” in this beloved verse.

Here’s what it does not mean:

  • Gently set
  • Hand over carefully
  • Share between us
  • Pass off in turn

What “cast” is defined as:

Giving our anxieties to God doesn’t need to be a process of careful deliberation and slow surrender. Rather, as Scripture instructs, we do well to simply throw our anxieties upon Him. No agonizing required.

What happens when we throw things?

They are instantly out of our reach (assuming we have any aim at all!)

Thrown things are removed, they have no bearing.

When something is thrown to a catcher, we give up our hold on that thing completely. And, in the case of anxiety, its hold on us.

Heave your anxieties at God. Hurl them into His perfect grasp. It doesn’t matter where or when. You don’t need to be cautious about protecting your pride or keeping some part of control. God is not in danger not ashamed of your worries.

He’s got a place for anxiety. In His hands. Which is way better than in yours, weighing you down and keeping you from keeping up with His will.

Cast that anxiety, friends, as quickly as you can. Relief will come.

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

In Avoidance We Trust

{The eighth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Honored to welcome writer Elizabeth Giertz to the blog. A veteran turned army wife, Liz is a strong and courageous proclaimer of the Lord's goodness and truth. This post was originally featured on Liz’s blog and is shared in this series with her permission. Please join me in welcoming Liz and praying with her for those who serve to protect us and our freedom (and those who love them!)

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I laced up my boots and straightened my starched uniform every morning as I left for work before the sun rose above the horizon. I was a Soldier and a combat veteran.

Strong. Confident. Competent.

But I packed a MESSY secret deep in my cargo pockets.

I couldn’t shake the thought of a black sedan with government tags pulling up in front of my town house and dress uniform wearing Soldiers knocking on my door. My heart pounded and my stomach was tied in knots. For months on end, I did everything within my power to be anywhere but home during official notification hours.

If your spouse has been deployed in a combat zone, this scenario might sound familiar.

But for me, common fear crossed the line into unhealthy anxiety.

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By the grace of God, my husband came home from that deployment unscathed, but my experience uncovered an uncomfortable truth in my heart.

My faith had been tested and found insufficient. I lacked confidence that God would take care of me if something should happen to my husband. I was consumed by fear because my the roots of my faith were shallow.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

A lack of trust often presents itself as worry, fear, anxiety, discouragement, or a constant desire to fix things our own way.

I believed in God and knew that His son was sacrificed for my salvation, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Believing in God and trusting Him are not necessarily synonymous. To trust Him, we must know Him – like a Friend, Father, Protector, Sovereign Lord, and Redeemer. To establish a strong relationship with Him we must read His love letters and communicate with Him in prayer.

My faith had to be more than an entry on my dog tags.

To find peace in troubling times trust God.

Instead of being consumed by my earthly needs, I learned to seek God’s Kingdom and then trust Him to provide all that I require for righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

In place of fretting I began to pray and give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7) even for the smallest of blessings, acknowledging that all goodness comes from above.

Rather than agonizing over the possibility that I would suffer unspeakable pain, I trusted God would never leave nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter what happened, because He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

In lieu of allowing worry to consume me, I began to cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me more than I can imagine (1 Peter 5:7).

Friends, it works.

Since instituting these practices into my life, I have not experienced a single moment of all-consuming anxiety during any of my husband’s more recent deployments. In fact, I have learned to look forward to deployments as periods of significant spiritual growth, but that is another post altogether.

I replaced worry with trust.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose Word I praise,

In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

Psalm 56:9-11

Will you join me? Together, let’s commit to trusting God so that the enemy cannot steal one more second of the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

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

In Outcomes We Trust

{The seventh installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Glad to welcome Lois from Waxing Gibbous back to the blog today. A former journalist, Lois has a gift for telling stories while gathering facts- all leading up to the truth of Jesus Christ. So blessed to know her and share her words!

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Here’s the blunt truth. When Bethany introduced her “In ____ We Trust” series several weeks ago, I was intrigued and curious to see where she was going to go with the topic, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to apply to my daily life. I definitely have areas of spiritual struggle and plenty of room for improvement in many spots, but at the time, I was doing OK in the trust department.

Or so I thought.

In my world, one of the marks of a good blog post is when I finish reading and say to myself, “I never thought of it like that before.” With this series, that’s happened more than once.

Trusting in Google? Who would have thought? But yes, I do that. Trusting in medicine? For me, it’s more like trusting in health insurance, but yeah, check that box too. Acceptance? Let’s just skip that one, shall we? As I told Bethany in an email a few weeks back, with that post, she’s quit preaching and gone to meddling.

All kidding aside, even as I was finding much to relate to every week, I kept trying to articulate this one other thing that I often trust in besides God. Several weeks into the series, I still don’t have a catchy little title for it, but it has to do with happy endings and closure and desperately needing to know how things are going to turn out.

This is OK when it comes to reading the ends of books first (which I do, all the time) or checking the internet for spoilers when I’m taking a bathroom break during a movie (which I also do, sometimes).

In real life, though, it can be a serious problem.

There’s a certain way I feel—physically and emotionally—when I am waiting, in limbo or uncertain of an outcome. I’m more prone to irritability during those times. I’m readily anxious. My stomach sours and my sleep grows even more fitful than it normally is.

Then, when the question is answered, the wait ends or the outcome becomes evident—good or bad—calming waves of peace sweep over me. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. I just feel better.

Some of this is just part of being human, and some might be due to my personality.

But I think the lion’s share of this progression of feelings has to do with trusting in the outcome instead of the God of the outcome.

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Thankfully, I’m not powerless to stop it, and neither are you if you recognize this tendency in yourself.

There is a divine antidote that never fails to change my perspective and calm my anxious heart when I’m waiting for closure, and it is as familiar as it is life-changing.

Simply put, it involves praying the way Jesus prayed in the Garden the night before He was crucified. As you may recall, He asked God three times for another way, but He followed each request with that amazing statement of submission, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)

My husband and I learned the power of this prayer a couple of decades ago when we were struggling with infertility. We regularly told God of our desire for a child, but we always followed it with Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

I’m not going to lie—this is a difficult way to pray. But back then, it was the only concrete way I found to relinquish my dreams and desires to God. It helped me loosen my grip on my desire to have a biological child AND vocalize my trust that my sovereign heavenly Father truly did know what was best for me.

As it turned out, God’s will in this situation was NOT what I desired originally. We never did conceive; instead, we adopted our two daughters from China.

And that entire experience—including the wonderful eventual outcome—paved the way for an increasing reliance on this prayer in many other areas of my life. From unexpected job losses and homes that took way too long to sell to concerns about aging parents and difficult medical issues, it’s been the only sure way I know to replace my anxiety about an uncertain outcome with quiet trust in God.

Not my will, but yours be done.

I don’t always think to do this right off the bat. Sometimes it takes me days—even weeks—to get there. But when I finally remember and start meditating on this prayer, something amazing happens.

My heart relaxes. The sourness leaves my stomach. Honestly, I’m just nicer to be around.

I still hate waiting. I still read the ends of books first. But, more and more, I’m learning to place my hope and trust in the Author of the ending instead of the ending itself.

God is sovereign. He is good. He loves me and knows what I need. Praying this prayer helps me remember that.

Not my will, but yours be done.

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will 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: Daily Bread

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

Proverbs 30:8

Literally, the end of this verse reads something like” feed me with staple food conveniently.” That last part about “convenience” is descriptive of a daily allotment.

In essence, this Proverb says “every day, Lord, give me the basic portion I need.”

If only we were grateful to have only what He gives.

Instead of just our daily bread, we want the super-sized loaf. We’d also like a fridge to store it in so we know it will be good tomorrow. Preferably, we’d like butter and other spreads to make the daily bread more exciting too.

In our world of “more,” receiving just our daily bread looks meager.

But our ration, our measure, is prescribed. It’s preset by the Lord. He never fails to provide for what He has prepared in advance for us to need. Yes, indeed, the Lord selects the extent of our need and guarantees to meet it.

Each day, your daily bread is just what you need according to the Lord’s plan for you.

It might be:

  • The amount of money you need to pay the day’s bills
  • The food you need for the day
  • The loving relationship you need to be full for the day
  • The assigned work you need to use your time well
  • The quantity of rest you need to function this day
  • The 5 words in the verse that led you through the day honorably

This simple system negates our worries.

Do you need it today? You don’t need to control the obtaining of it.

The Lord knows; He planned the need perfectly. He’ll fill it likewise.

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

It Is(n’t) What It Is

Photo from: www.armstrongeconomics.com

The phrase has been floating around for years. It came to my attention as friends of mine from different circles and walks of life spoke the words. I noticed the phrase on television and the radio. Then I saw it on decorative signs in a couple of stores.

So I tried it on for awhile.

What I found was that “it is what it is” can be a euphemism or a platitude that keeps us from recognizing what “it” isn’t. There is nothing wrong with accepting reality –except that so often our sense of reality isn’t the same as the Lord’s.

The words “it is what it is” bear the sort of powerful finality and magnitude as God’s Words: I AM who I AM. They suggest to us that our circumstance are sovereign and all that is to be done in response is to obey. If only we responded to the Lord’s declaration of sovereignty with the obedience we give to this phrase.

When we speak that much loved phrase, we are often actually saying:

  • So deal with it
  • Suck it up
  • Forget changing anything
  • Not my responsibility
  • Too much work to alter this reality
  • There’s nothing to be done about this
  • If it is, that must be God’s will and I’m stuck

I struggle to find support for these attitudes -as enticing as they can be- in Scripture. And believe me, as one whose biggest pet-peeve is complaining about something you are unwilling to change, these words are tempting.

This phrase appears to relieve us of the need to stress out, to fight what we can’t beat, and to fret over what we don’t have control over. But so do these (much more powerful) words:

  1. IT IS…All The Lord’s
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1
  1. IT IS…Up to the Lord
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” –Daniel 2:20-22
  1. IT IS…In the Care of the Lord
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:27
  1. IT IS…Present Before the Lord
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6

…Not only is “it,” but so are you and I.

As we read these statements, we are reminded that what “it is” is His.

When we begin the phrase “it is,” there is more power in remembering that things can change.

That there is one in charge.

That He cares to hear our prayers and concerns.

That the war is won.

That when we need to live through difficult things, we need not live resigned- “it” can be well with our soul because He is I AM.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.