but to simply wait


I’m sure you’ve heard that God doesn’t work by our time schedule, but by His.  We’ve been told this for years, ever since we can remember by parents, leaders, pastors, friends.  It’s true.  God works by His perfect, infallible timing.  He knows better than we do and He comes through every time.  There are countless testimonies and Bible verses affirming this.

But what about when you’re waiting?  Not when you’re panicking about if something will happen in time, but when God seems to be on hold; when it seems like He’s taking a break.  When the God-to-you line appears disconnected no matter how much praying you do.  What then?  You were so certain you’d see good results, but you don’t.  Actually, any results would be good, but there simply aren’t any.

It’s during these seasons of waiting that God teaches us.  God teaches us and strengthens our faith through trials, yes, but also through those times when nothing seems to be happening.  Will I still put my trust in Him when He seems to be gone?

When we get impatient waiting for God to act, it’s a good reminder to “be still and know that [he is] God.”  Too often we try to fix things ourselves or get impatient and try to speed up the results.  But everything will work perfectly in His timing for our betterment—even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

(Psalm 27:14)

In those times of waiting, we are commanded to simply wait for God.  Our job is to trust Him and He will be faithful.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?  Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:27 – 31)

God is there, whether we can see Him or not.  He will never leave us or forget about us.  If we trust Him, He will always be with us and will work all things together for us because we love Him.

Will you trust Him now, even as you’re waiting?

a glorious surrender


You know how close others seem to be to God? Well that’s what I want. I became a Christian when I was younger but was never really “close” to God…at least, I didn’t feel like it. So I tried doing more devotions, different ways of devotions, tried to change my attitude toward others, etc. But it never helped. I think it’s because I never experienced a change of heart and I never surrendered completely to God — not just my life or future plans, but my heart as well. At Acquire the Fire, they spoke of how people say “the prayer” and ask Jesus to come into their lives, and they go to church, etc. but still have not experienced glorious surrender to God. And that was me. Although I had physically done everything I needed to, I hadn’t done everything I needed to spiritually and emotionally. Something had been missing, and that was a change of heart. I never asked Jesus to give me the heart of a follower of Him. Another speaker at Acquire the Fire spoke about how when he became a Christian, he went into his room and destroyed everything that was not God-honoring. He spoke about how we cannot compromise our faith in any way for being normal, accepted. After all, how can we stand out if we’re listening to the same music as everyone else, and acting the same as everyone else, and speaking the same as everyone else?

 

because you are young [life]


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

We are called to live a life so as to be an example to other believers. But what does that mean, exactly? Actions, serving others and glorifying God in everything we do are all ways that we can show Christ in our lives.

A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.

(Proverbs 19:3)

Actions

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

(James 2:17)

 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

(Titus 1:16)

These two verses make it very clear that faith without works is not really faith at all. The second verse from Titus is speaking about unbelievers; if we do not act to show our faith in God, we are denying Christ and are not being God’s light to the world.

Serving

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

(Colossians 3:23 – 24)

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

(Luke 22:27)

Serving is an important aspect in the Christian lifestyle because it’s the ultimate showing of Christ’s love to others. God showed his love for us when he served us and, ultimately, when he sent his Son to die for us. We are called to witness to others by serving with humility.

Glorifying God

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

(1 Peter 4:11)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

(Ecclesiastes 9:10)

…so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 15:6)

Finally, and most importantly, glorifying God in everything we do is key to living an exemplary life. Glorifying God includes giving God the glory in our accomplishments, making choices that will point to him in everything we do, and making him the center of our lives. Putting him at the center of our lives allows everything else to fall into place.

However, this isn’t easy — putting God first. It’s a constant battle, a fight to push other things aside and let God into the middle. Even though it’s difficult, God will give us strength to do his will: glorifying him and showing Christ’s love to everyone.

it’s who I am


In the Christian environment that many of us experience, whether that is church, school, or work, we are encouraged to be imitators of Christ. On the other hand, the world tends to tell us two things: be perfect (fashion, etc.) and, more recently, to just “be yourself!” The world’s sense of being yourself and “standing out” include standing up for what’s right (which is great), not caring what about what anyone says about you (ignoring gossip mills — again, great), and wearing what fits your style, not anyone else’s (again…great).

So often, though, the world tells us to be different in things that don’t really matter. Media tells us that voicing our own opinions matters, that wearing what we want matters, that just…being ourselves is what matters. At a glance, this seems harmless. And if all you’re doing is wearing what you want to wear, that’s pretty harmless; there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you observe more closely what the world seems to tell everyone, you’ll realize that the world is really telling you to live for you. Wear what you want, do what you want, be who you want.

Many Christians have chosen to combine Christianity (imitators of Christ) with the world’s message of you being you (different, unique, etc.) and it looks totally okay. After all, Jesus didn’t blend in; he stood out. Jesus didn’t go with the flow. In fact, he went against the current and broke down social barriers. Which is great! God doesn’t call us to be one with the world; he actually tells us to be in the world, not of it.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

2 Corinthians 10:3

Nothing I’ve said so far is really wrong. Wearing the clothes you choose to wear, etc. is okay! There’s nothing sinful about that.

What I’m talking about is more along the lines of “this is me, everyone needs to get used to it. If they don’t like who I am, that’s their problem.”

This is not a Christian attitude. I’m talking about Christians who are rather opinionated and don’t mind letting others know. I have heard some say that it’s “just who I am.”

I know that we need to accept people for who they are, and I’m not saying that we should judge other people.

What I am saying is that being harsh in the name of Christ isn’t okay.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Titus 3:1 – 2

It’s one thing to stand up for what’s right, but it’s quite another to be inconsiderate of other’s feelings and be harsh with them. Let’s face it — no one is perfect, or ever will be. But we as Christians should strive to demonstrate the same loving-kindness that Jesus did in his ministry. Jesus never ran after the Pharisees yelling, “You bunch of sinners! Follow me or you’ll go to hell!” No. He instead showed the love of God to them (although he did sometimes use harsh words with them out of righteous anger at their pride, but again — he never cut them down as people but rather showed them where they were wrong kindly, in the hopes of gaining their repentance). Similarly with other people, he never sat there telling them what was wrong with them, or was inconsiderate of their feelings. He did quite the opposite, actually. He talked with people, got to know them. Showed them love.

God calls us to be loving:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

2 Peter 1:5 – 7

(Check out 1 Corinthians 13 to see what love is: patient, kind, etc.)

God calls us to be different for him; we need to be different with the intent of bringing glory to his Name. Being opinionated and harsh with others will not bring glory to him. If we truly desire to please him, we will allow the meek loving-kindness of God to shine through us, pointing to his presence in our lives. Ask God to use you and help you practice meekness and love in everything you do. He will!

happiness or joy?


Most of us would agree with this. Choose happiness. well, yeah. happiness is bien. God wants us to be happy, obviously. umm…maybe not.

My pastor raised an interesting point: what if God doesn’t want us to be happy…but joyful?

Happiness is external; joy is internal.

Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on choice.

Happiness is based on circumstance; joy is based on Christ.

– Pastor Gord (:

God doesn’t desire happiness for us because happiness is simply an emotion. It does not last, it can be stolen by the smallest things, and can quickly turn to sadness. Then you’re happy again…sad…then happy…you get the idea. If the Christian life was about being happy, many Christians would live unsatisfied lives. Imagine you were being persecuted harshly by the government, and a fellow Christian walked up to you, offered a big smile and said, “Be happy!!”, chances are you’d feel like punching them.

But if you are a Christian and are joyful, there is so much more! Joy overcomes the constant up-and-down of happy, sad, happy, sad emotions.

But joy alone is about as useful as happiness. Your joy needs to come from the Lord; otherwise it is of no worth.

Having the joy of the Lord is what separates us from the false joy of idols of other religions. From the temporary pleasure of watching Hollywood movies, Saturday night talk-shows. From music, sports…pretty much anything in this world (including shopping).

Bottom line: nothing and no one can give us joy except for the Father.

God’s joy will always bring you happiness, but happiness will not always bring joy — in fact, it very rarely will.

So what exactly is joy? Joy is a perspective that comes from knowing God is in control, no matter what.

I love 1 Peter 1:8 – 9:

…you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In Philippians 1:9 – 11, Paul writes,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.

Paul didn’t pray that they would be happy, he prayed that they would love each other more and more so that they might serve God better — which comes with joy.

Joy is not a quick-and-easy emotion like happiness. It takes time to cultivate a true joy in God, and there’s no way we can do it on our own. We need to recognize that God is joyful. If God is truly in us, we will allow His joy to shine through us for the world to see. Releasing your problems to the Lord takes the worry and negativity out of our lives and allows us to experience His joy more completely. Who can be joyful when a cloud is hanging over their head all the time? Most importantly, though: remain close to Jesus. Getting to know God will deepen your relationship with Him and help you learn more about Him. Ask Him to use you to shine His joy to everyone.

Joy is the evidence of God in your life.

double agents: the secret life of a Christian


More and more I’ve noticed how Christians act. One thing that has struck me is how Christians often live double lives.

What I mean by this is how Christians often tend to act one way at church at act another way at work or school.

When I became a Christian (when I was little!) I basically became a Christian because I wanted to go to Heaven, and I knew I had to accept Jesus into my heart in order to do so. I accepted Jesus into my heart twice (I didn’t think I was serious the first time). I struggled with doing devotions on a regular basis because I didn’t want to do them.

Despite my salvation in Jesus, I didn’t become a Christian until this year.

“Hold on. If you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart and made Him your Savior, you’re a Christian. So why weren’t you a Christian until several years after you asked Him into your heart?!”

When I became a Christian, I understood God’s end of it. I’m a sinner, so I can never go to Heaven ’cause it’s perfect and so is God. God sent His Son Jesus to Earth to die for us (John 3:16!) so that we can go to Heaven with Him when we die. In return we need to try to do what is right all the time and we learn what’s right through the Bible. When I became a Christian, I did it because it was the right thing to do. Still, I somehow never felt like a true Christian. I always knew something was missing.

But I now realize that being a Christian is so much more! It means literally giving your whole life to God. I have to not just be a good person, but I have to dedicate my whole life to God. And that goes beyond going to church and singing during worship, taking sermon notes and being involved in all the church functions.

That means getting rid of anything in my life that doesn’t give glory to God.

This means a serious self-check. All aspects of your life — music, friends, books, magazines, clothes, activities — need to be checked for Christ-compatibility. If it isn’t for God, weed it out.

I’m not saying that God is completely opposed to every secular piece of music out there. But I think that as Christians, we too often try to get by rather than to be unwilling to compromise. Our idea of doing what’s right it toeing the line instead of fleeing.

Romans 12:9 says,

Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.

*Note: anything that isn’t FOR God is AGAINST God; thus anything that isn’t completely for Him is evil because God is good.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.

That’s pretty much everything in your life.

Being a Christian isn’t just something you do on Sunday mornings with just your soul. It’s something that shows in every area of your life. Like an elder at my church said, “It’s easy for me to be a Christian on Sunday, in the presence of other believers; but what about the other six days of the week in the workplace or school?

One person’s testimony goes like this:

I was trying to get this kid [who wasn’t a Christian] on my basketball team to come out to church with me one Sunday morning or youth. He never wanted to go, but I kept bugging him. Finally he said to me, “Why would I want to come to church or youth? What’s so special about them? You’re no different than I am; if they’re so good, how come you’re the same as me?” This really hit home for me because I realized that even though I claimed to be a Christian and salt and light, I was really no different in my actions than anyone else at school.

If we are called to be salt and light but act the same as other non-Christians, how will they ever see the Light?

Jesus literally wants us to be different from others. At school, I don’t do anything that other kids do that goes against my faith in Jesus. My friends notice this. I’ve been called “innocent” and “perfect.” I know I’m the farthest from those but I’m happy that my friends notice a difference. I’ve chosen to take their observations as a compliment, because it shows I’m succeeding in being set apart for Christ.

If we can’t follow Jesus with everything in us, we will never be a true Christian. I had to realize this before I felt like a real Christian.

God doesn’t require just your soul, or just your heart, or just your mind, or just your Sundays, or just your Bible reading.

He requires all of you.