Trust Issues

*I wholeheartedly needed this today, yesterday, and most likely tomorrow.*

“Trust doesn’t come easy. It wasn’t easy for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32 6-17) to publicly buy land already captured buy the enemy. But he trusted God. It wasn’t easy for David to believe that he would become King, even after he was anointed. But he trusted God (1 Samuel 16-31). It wasn’t easy for Moses to believe that he and his people would escape Egypt, even after God spoke to him from a burning bush.  But he trusted God (Exodus 3:1-4:20). It isn’t easy for us to believe that God can fulfill his “impossible” promises either, but we must trust Him. God, who worked in the lives of biblical heroes, will work in our lives, too, if we will let Him. God loves us and sees our situation. Whenever we doubt God’s wisdom or wonder if it is practical to obey Him, we can review what we already know about Him. Such thoughts and prayers will quiet our doubts and calm our fears. God uses his power to accomplish His purposes through His people. God doesn’t give you power to be all you want to be, but He gives you power to be all He wants you to be. The people of Israel had to learn that trusting God meant radically realigning their purposes and desires with His. God gave them “one heart” toward Him (Jeremiah 32:39). We must develop such singleness of heart and action to love God above anything else.”1

Can I be honest? I’m having some trust issues with God lately. I know in my heart He has everything in control (Job 12:10). I know He loves me, and works all things for my good (Romans 8:28). I know He has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) and I know it may not (probably not) always align with my plan (Isaiah 55:8-9). I know all this. But what I also know is that I have been praying for certain things for years. Things that are Scriptural. Things that would glorify Him. Things that could help so many others see Him as I see Him.
But just how do I see Him? You can’t fully trust someone until you truly know them. Does my lack of trust stem from not truly knowing my Father? Like I said earlier, I know a lot about God, but do I really know Him? Am I so caught up in myself and this world that I lose His perspective? I don’t know how to answer that. Who doesn’t need to spend more time with Him, getting to know Him better? The things I pray for are in accordance with His Word. If they aren’t from Him, then why do these desires weigh so heavily on my heart as if they are? (Psalm 20:4, Psalm 37:4) I pray consistently for His will. (Matthew 7:7, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14) And if they aren’t His will, then why am I still burdened by them? Why doesn’t He take them from me, as I’ve also pleaded? (Psalm 81:6-7, Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:6-7)

All that I am praying for is for His glory. (1 Chronicles 28:9, Proverbs 16:3, Colossians 3:23)
Am I so far from Him that I don’t deserve His blessings? (Deuteronomy 30:16, Psalm 1:1, Psalm 119:2, Proverbs 16:20, Matthew 5:6, Matthew 25:21)

Again, I don’t have an answer for that. Therefore I will continue to Trust Him, with all my heart. (Proverbs 3:5)
Psalm 62:5-8: "5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.7 My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”

I do trust Him; but I need His help in those times of doubt. (Mark 9:24)

1-Tindale Life Application Study Bible, NLT- Jeremiah 32:6-42 footnotes

Are you Living the Dollar Store Life?

I ran in a dollar store to pick up a few items for my daughter's scout troop meeting, my 7-year-old in tow.  I don't know if you have ever taken a child who has money in her pocket into the Dollar Tree before, but just let me tell you that it is an experience! 

The toy aisle was unavoidable.  It might as well have had bright, flashing neon arrows above it with the Pied Piper playing his tune within it.  My children have always been drawn by the lure of inexpensive play things that they could purchase for themselves.  I, however, despise that aisle.  All I could see was what lay ahead - broken toys, pieces that didn't quite go together correctly, land ultimately tears and disappointment.  I try to avoid bringing my children as much as possible to that tempting aisle of dismay.

And yet, how often do we choose the metaphorical dollar store toy?   Our world is full of these tempting opportunities to satisfy ourselves with the quick item that costs us the least amount of effort.  But the truth is, things that last - things of value - are rarely the things that cost us the least amount. 

Think about it, Satan offered Jesus the world, literally.  (Matthew 4:8-9) And in a sense, that is what Jesus came for.  Accepting the offer meant He didn't have to face the cross and the excruciating pain it would entail.  Not only physical pain, but the pain of separation as well.  And it was Satan's to give.  (2 Corinthians 4:4)  But Jesus declines.  Choosing the hard path, the one that led to His ultimate victory.  Jesus turned down the dollar store toy.

And like a good parent, God's desire is that we avoid those tempting, inexpensive choices as well.  The choice to tell a little white lie rather than face the consequences of our actions.  The choice to sacrifice time with our family in order to have a larger bank account than we truly need.  The choice to turn a blind eye to our neighbor in need rather than give of ourself to help him or her.  The choice to sleep in on Sunday morning because we are tired rather than join with our brothers and sisters to worship our Creator.  And so many more. 

And like dollar store toys, it is pleasurable...for a time.  Inevitably, though, what we thought was going to be an inexpensive joy becomes a lackluster, disappointing or even painful experience.  Trust that your Father knows what is best, (Jeremiah 29:11)  listen to His counsel, (Psalm 32:8) and let Him lead. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Focus On God

 The older I get the harder it is for me to stay focused. My mind is constantly sifting through the tasks on my plate. I have so much that I'm responsible for that many things end up being incomplete or done to a minimum standard. Do I have adult ADD? Or is it that I'm just too busy in life, possibly taken on too many responsibilities, where the tasks blur together and I lose focus and energy. There is no balance. My mind is an organized mess. [Even as I sit here writing this blog, I'm thinking about the cleaning I need to do, my bible study questions I haven't done yet and when am I going to finish the book I'm writing? Speaking of books, that one I just finished reading last night left me hanging and I can't wait for the sequel to come out. What am I going to make for dinner- no wait, I have my bible study tonight- so I don't have to make dinner- and back to the study questions I haven't finished.] See? Focus. (Then I picture Mr. Miyagi saying 'focus Daniel-son'). And I come back full circle: writing this blog.

I get so caught up in the things I'm doing, that I forget the reason behind why I'm supposedly doing them. Writing this blog, my book, the bible study, volunteering at the church... It doesn't mean anything if I'm not doing them for the right reason, with the right heart. It's not the amount of stuff you're doing, or even what you're doing, it's why you're doing it. If you lose your focus on why you're doing it, you might as well stop doing it. Its meaning is pointless then. And you're not only hindering yourself (stress, exhaustion, etc.) you're hindering His Kingdom and His Work. Even if your task that has you overwhelmed isn't inherently for God (or so you think) - the attitude and energy we put forth into it is. (1 Corinthians 16:14, Colossians 2:23-24)

If we're spending time dreading the workload, or planning on how we can do it better to impress someone (even trying to impress God) - we've lost focus. He never intended for us to be so busy that we forget Him; or push Him aside or even cease spending time with Him in our hectic day altogether. (Matthew 11:28-30, John 6:28-29) Martha lost focus when Jesus came to visit. She was so busy preparing and serving Him, she didn't take time to enjoy Him. (Luke 10:38-42) The Pharisees got so caught up in the rules and regulations of God, they missed seeing Jesus for Who and What He Is. (Matthew 23) We're the same today, really. We concentrate on our performance, rather than our audience of One. It's not all the stuff we do, or even how well we do it, it's the way in which we do it. It's our attitude and heart behind the actions that count. (Romans 2:6-10)

 "I don't care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don't harness it in and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you're never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants." (Zig Zigler) Focus on God- let Him be your target. When Christ is at the center of everything we do, then everything we do is for Christ.

Recognize the organized chaos when it begins, take a deep breath and say a quick prayer. (Philippians 3:13-14) Open your eyes back up and hone in on the moment. That's what God wants us to do. Stop and be with Him (Psalm 46:10). When you allow your mind to stop, and focus on Him, His Peace settles into you. And when you have His Peace, you can do anything. (Philippians 4:13)