Ever Wanted A Life Map?

 

Today I have some time to write a bit in the midst of unpacking boxes. Sometimes we push oursleves beyond what our bodies can take, and we are forced to rest. So I thought I would write about a couple things on my heart today. It has been a good day to reflect.

A life map...don’t we all have times when we wish we had a map for our life? It would tell us where we are going and how we can get there.  We could even determine how long it might take for us to reach our destination. Why would we want a map, you ask? Because most of us want to know what is going on in our future, and what our life is going to look like. We can’t see where our life is going. But we have certainly seen where it has been and would like a few clues for what’s ahead. Kind of rough for us not to have one of those maps, isn’t it? The truth of the matter is, we don’t get to have a detailed map. We aren’t the captain of our souls. If we could see ahead, It might be something we can’t handle right now, but God will enable us to handle at some point in our future. It may be way to scary for us to see further down the road. Look at it this way…if it’s in your rear view mirror, you can know what your life looks like, but ahead is risky for us. We all have an average of 75 years or 27, 375 days. We are given points in life of: birth and ending with death. If we have found Jesus, then we have a wonderful life touch point to help direct us. It is how we live in between those points that counts the most. We know that. But we don’t often examine it. Each point in our life is very important to our life story and the person we become. Often times, the road we travel is preparing us for a new season; whether it be a long one or a short one. Unfortunately, we don’t have a life map to tell us how long it will be. We have to give Him the wheel of our lives to help direct us.

I don’t know about you, but when I come face to face with Jesus, I want Him to find me doing well; faithful and living my life with adventure and joy. It won’t be because of something I make happen, but because of what He has given me, and the His love FOR me. It will be about how willing I am to be obedient to what God has for me. Our move is a prime example in my life. The hardships are hard. If we had known about some of the hardships in our lives before hand, we may not have accepted the adventure period. However, when we do, He is faithful to bring us back to the road He has set before us. I want Him to find me more dependent on Him for direction in my life, as well as, obedient to His leading. What we would have missed out on if we had let our “moving again attitude” take over what God was going to graciously give us? Wow.

The question: How is God going to find me when the time comes? Does that question stir you up, or challenge you a little bit, as you think about what God is going to find in you when the time comes? Are you ready? Will He find you continually looking, searching, and maintaining an attitude of expectancy? Or, will he find you down in the dumps, feeling disappointed in your life? It could happen anytime, you know. We are seeing in the world around us that life can change in a moment.  A life of change is an engaged life, so stay engaged! Ask yourself, “How will He find me?”.  Ask it often, I do.

What are some of the keys to this kind of living? Here are a few:

  • Be of good personal character. Is it guided by the Holy Spirit, or your flesh?
  • Be diligent.
  • Be eager.
  • Be zealous.
  • Be found in peace.
  • Be determined.
  • Be in total trust of God’s plan
  • Be in a harmonious relationship with Jesus.
  • Be a life long learner.

If we want to have a good relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we need to be a consistent, ongoing learner. Ask God for wisdom about who and what you listen to. In these times, we can easily get side-swiped by some off-the-wall teaching, or someone taking the Word out of context. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your teacher.

Another area to consider that will have bearing on your relationship with God is grace. Get your Bible out and read Romans 5:15. Sometimes, we think that if we sinned this much, we get this much grace. But… that isn’t true because as sin increases, grace abounds! If you think about grace as a bath, for example, you would drown. Wow! Jesus wants us, and there is no sin, scandlous act, or darkness, that Jesus won’t give you an exit out of it. How would it be if you had all the grace that God can give you? It covers more than you have ever done. Now that is some good news!

The Captain – the name for my Mini because God is my Captain.

So don’t live in worry and doubt. You may not have a map of your life in front of you, but you certainly can know Who walks your road with you as you travel. He pulls up to the curb of your life, opens the door, and invites you in for the ride of your life! We will have some big curves on our road at times, which means we have to slow down to take those curves, but boy its great when we hit that straight-a-way! We can let the wind blow on our faces and feel the freedom that God gives us as He navigates us through. Remember as a child when you might have rode in the back of a pick-up truck? It was fun and you felt so free being back there. We feel that joy! We can lift our arms through the windows of our life and let the wind catch us and blow our hair straight back not caring what it looks like, and yes, let the laughter bubble over! Yes! We can celebrate that we have a God that cares about it all; everything.

GET. IN. THE. CAR.! Happy adventures!

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

Conversations in Prayer

Hello Friends! I hope this finds you all well, and that you are finding staying at home has been good among the challenges of it. Challenge means we are changing in some way. May God help you to do just that for His glory. Let’s take a few minutes together over some coffee or tea! Got it?? Let’s dig in!

Sometimes, we have to get our heart right in order to be able to help others. But it is also good for you to know that we ALL have those times, and it’s ok. I have especially been called to study prayer during these last few months. So my online study group has been looking at prayer. I thought I would share some thoughts on prayer with you here on the blog.

Our emphasis on prayer should not be about how eloquent we are, or that we can recite recitation scripture, but instead it should be the heart behind the prayer. There is no formula or right or wrong way to pray. BUT there are some things we need to consider BEFORE we pray. In the last few years, God has changed my approach to prayer, in that, I come to Him asking for forgiveness first. I know, some say Praise first. Nope. I come to Him asking for forgiveness. Why? Because the Holy Spirit it convicting me through out my life of areas that I need to change, come up higher in, orchange my thought life, attitudes, anger, critical spirit…whatever it is. God also tells me if I have issues with something or someone, I am to take care of that first and then come to prayer. Why? Because our prayers can be hindered by those very things. When I pray in my quiet time, I ask for forgiveness so my prayers aren’t hindered. I don’t have to do that every time I pray because I pray all the time, but I want a clean heart before God as I bring my requests and those of others, to God in my quiet time. Another point God makes is that we are not to think we are “heard for [our] much speaking.” We are not fill our prayer with lots of extra words, or repeating words. Simple words to God in prayer. It can be called fluffy prayers so we sound more spiritual. Not necessary. Enjoy being in God’s presence and hearing His quiet voice in your spirit. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue of only you talking to God. Listen for His whisper.

In prayer times we can, and we need to:

  • pause for reflection
  • think about what was said
  • ask what God may be speaking to us
  • listening to God’s Holy Spirit
  • worshiping Him in our own way
  • seeking to experience God’s presence.

Why not spend time opening your soul and spirit to listening to God, to experience His presence, and to hear what the Spirit says. Yes indeed… prayer is a dialogue. God wants to hear from you. However, it is also important for you to hear from Him. Be open and honest with Him. Honesty with God is so important to our growth. I had a dear friend that was a pastor’s wife. Wow! I learned a lot from her about prayer. That lady could pray about anything and it was like she had a hot line to heaven. As I have gotten older, I understand that she had established such a personal and deep relationship with God, that she lived it out, where she could ask God for anything, and she would get answers. I understand that relationship now. I remember thinking I wish I had that kind of prayer life. But she kept telling me it is all about relationship. Then, you trust Him with more and more. She prayed down to specifics of the homes they would move to when they would relocate. She would pray for a ride from town back home and I would “happen” to come along. She would get in the car and say that I had just answered God’s prayer for her. There was no happenstance with her.

THAT is what I want, and I want that for you. Trust Him with everything! Know that He loves you so much more than you know and nothing pleases Him more than to hear your voice, crying out, yelling out, whispering, or pleading with Him. Come before Him with a clean heart. Growing up I would sing this liturgy: “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit it from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.” I pray that each time I come to God in prayer.

Let me ask you a question I asked the study gals. What kind of father figure do you think about when you think about your Heavenly Father? Was your father figure growing up one that had no time for you? Detached? Overly strict? Loved you only when you were good or did good? Manipulative? You see, that matters how you see God. So your experience with God may come from a place of distrust. You may have to escavate your thoughts and heart to see how you are seeing God. Are you willing to give up everything to have relationship with Jesus? Weed out what is keeping you from an exciting time with Him in prayer? Let it be so in our hearts. The longer our acquaintance is with Him, the closer our fellowship is with Him. Our spiritual health depends on our pursuing the Lord and His presence. “He says, ‘Come to Me to stay with Me’.” (Andrew Murray)

We can make real messes at times in our lives when we try to control things instead of trusting God with it. Our pride can get in the way. Evaluate your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. 34:

Describe which phrases below would best describe how you view God’s goodness.

  • I always trust that God is good.
  • I believe that God is good when life is good.
  • I have a hard time trusting that God is good.
  • It’s easier to believe that God is good to other people than to me.
  • I say, “God is good”, but my thoughts and actions don’t always reflect that.

I have had some great opportunities to practice better thinking and approaches to circumstances, while learning more about myself. Such things as times when I have counted on something, desired something, dealt with frustration, and even a “I don’t want to hear that”, response. And then, I have to go back and apologize to a friend who was trying to be an encouragement to me, but instead my response was, “I really don’t want to hear that”. So what do I know? I know and have learned that I process things by talking about them. It helps me work through them, even if I’m mad. I do that with God in prayer. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of my attitude and I have to deal with that in myself, or with the person I may have been less than kind to. The Holy Spirit reminds me that God’s thoughts are NOT my thoughts. I have to leave it all in God’s lap…all of it. Then, I trust that He has taken care of me in the past and he will take care of me in the future. Jesus overcame the world so that I have peace and courage no matter what I may be going through. I have to rest in Him…abide in Him. STAY with Him. When I acted like I did above, I certainly wasn’t resting in Him. I acted more like a little kid trying to wrestle myself free of His will and the encouragement He was trying to give me through my friend. So…He dealt with me, and He set me on higher ground to boost my courage to face it all. He renewed my trust that He knows where I am to be and how it will play out.

Your view of God will change as you learn and let God chip off those areas that may be keeping you from God’s best for your life. What chips are you needing to have trimmed off? There is a great quote I heard the other day, “We have the privilege of trusting God.”  ~Joyce Meyer

Maybe sometimes as we think about prayer, we have this idea of God as our buddy, a friend, a feel good sense in our life, all makes sense kind of person, a giver, provider, and all of those feel good feelings toward God. But what happens as we grow in our life and other things happen that don’t make sense to us? It might be the loss of a child, someone you love getting this virus, or death from the virus, or an accident that leaves someone with serious life challenges, or things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would? Then who is God to you? Has He changed because of something that has happened in our life? He is a different God than before?

You see, we can lose sight of who God is, by what we think He is now after we have questioned God about these difficult occurrences in our life. We lose out on that closeness we could have because we are kind of stuck with who we think He is in difficult times. Maybe before you thought God fit in to your life really well and you even talked about what He has done in your life to others. But things happened, and you can’t quite fit Him into the same vision as God was before this happened. So in essence, we are trying to fit God into what He has or hasn’t done before. He was good before this happened. Now THIS, whatever it is, happened and you think differently about God. Before, He was all cool like that. He did for you what you expected, like the fun giver, the helper, provider…all of that. But all of a sudden, you aren’t thinking about Him like that anymore. So our relationship suffers because our prayer has suffered. We lose confidence and less prayer = less relationship.

 It is like when we take a trip, we use a map or maybe we use our phones, but we use those tools to help make our trip easier. So if that is the case, our map is the Bible, and our Compass is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we use our spiritual guidance through God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then we are assured that we can accurately reach our destination; the life that God has promised us. It may not look like you thought, but it IS God’s best for you. It will be the most important gift we receive.

Could this true of you? If so, then you might need to hit the prayer chair or prayer floor, and ask God to begin to show you who He is right now in your life and renew that “right spirit” with in you. BECAUSE…He IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means just because things happen, and the devil gets his digs in, that He is still the same powerful all-knowing God who gave up His Son, so that you could always have God just a prayer away. Ask today for God to direct your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Get your tools working for you. Look up, and then look at your map so God can show you the way. Stop and ask directions.

Until next time…

~JoAnn