At the End of the Day…A Good Indicator

A good indicator that I’m trying to get through each day on my own strength, power, wisdom and might is when I arrive home completely spent.  It’s an exhaustion that a good night’s sleep won’t remedy.  In fact sleep often evades me because my mind is constantly on the go.   I feel like I can’t turn it off. 

Along with other changes in recent months, I am not able to listen to my IPod and partake of good solid Christian teaching as much as I used to.  I desperately miss that.  It fed my heart, mind and soul.  Somehow I need to build that back into my daily life. 

I think I’ve let the busyness and demands of life…work, home and responsibilities crowd God out…or assign Him to a small place that I will get to when I have the time.  Ouch!  Not good…not good at all.

Like any relationship…my relationship with God grows when I spend time with Him and listen to Him and share what’s going on with me.  Trust Him with what I’m going through.  Trust His counsel and be quick to obey. 

It’s the time spent in prayer…or opening the Bible and reading with my ear inclined towards God. 

You know that feeling when you are in love…and you hang on every word that comes out of your loved one’s mouth.  You can’t wait to hear what they will say next.  You treasure and value their advice because their wisdom is combined with love for you. 

I feel like that’s what I’m missing with God.  And I want it back…starting tonight.  I want to hold on to Jesus and not let go. 

9/19/07 At the End of the Day…Reining In of the Holy Spirit

Today I experienced the unmistakable reining in of the Holy Spirit.

After a few days of inconvenience caused by someone who erred…I was tempted to dwell upon it and perhaps drop a well timed clever put down for the audience at hand. Thankfully that good old conviction of the Holy Spirit stopped me short of being mean spirited and speaking in a gossipy rude manner. Thank you Jesus!

Being that I fully understand when Paul said that “nothing good dwells in me”…the temptation to speak rudely did not go away entirely.

But when driving this morning…as my mind started to dwell on the situation…God reined me. Not only about not speaking poorly about someone…but He convicted me for even choosing think along those lines. He challenged me, “Susan…before you so easily complain, have you thought about praying for this person? Praying for the situation to be resolved? Offered to help make it better? What they did was not done intentionally and it went from bad to worse. Susan you’ve been there, done that…and you want to put this person down…for what? Don’t you think they are already getting hassled and snippy comments coming there way? I’d bank on it.”

With the Holy Spirit’s help…the desire to complain stopped and I knew that I had chosen what God would have me to do.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Complaining…while perhaps even justified or understandable…is very destructive, for both the hearer and the speaker. It’s lazy and prideful.

There is nothing good that comes out of that type of complaining. There is room to address genuine issues. However that really needs to be done in a one on one basis and in a straightforward manner. That’s a healthy way to address situations. But it requires thought, patience and restraint when it may feel better initially to verbally or emotionally hit back after being hurt.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest or may not feel the best…at that time. But in the end…when I choose to do the right thing…I have peace with God and with people. I’m not left feeling guilty for saying the wrong thing and I’m not being kept up late at night wishing I could take back what I have done.

Today the Holy Spirit reined me in. My question is…does Jesus Christ reign in me? If not, why? What will it take for me to surrender to His power, guidance and direction in my life?

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:3-12

8/8/07 At the End of the Day…A Gentle Answer

God counsels us in His word that a gentle answer turns away wrath. It is with that knowledge that I pray that God will work in the circumstances that concern me today.

When worried or concerned about a situation…my usual response is to confront the persons involved. Sometime diplomatically…but probably more often than not…stepping on a few toes in the process.

When I’ve done that in the past…God has worked in the circumstances and hearts of me and others involved. But I always feel quite anxious right after I leave that message or sending that email in my attempt to confront and resolve the situation.

I’ve learned that my view and perspective is quite limited…myopic. I don’t see the full picture. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in the life of another person. I may be inaccurately reading their actions and misconstruing it to fit my own insecurities and past experience. That’s not a good or wise course of action. Thankfully I am a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet.

The wisest course of action is to take my hurt, confusion, anger and pain to God. Forgive and ask Him for wisdom. If indeed I have been wrongly treated…I can be sure that God is working in the heart of that person if they are a Christian. God doesn’t let me get away with much without confronting me and brining me to repentance when I’ve acted wrongly. Why would I assume he acts differently in the lives of other believers?

If perchance God gives them a pass…it may be an area in which God is working on my character…or bringing to surface something that is quite unlovely in me. God frequently likes to use “sandpaper people” to work out those rough areas in my character. I must be mindful…that for someone else I am their sandpaper person. When I realize that…it brings me up short when I would rather take the easy road and be critical and condemning.

It’s funny…but I don’t know exactly how to pray in this circumstance. I’m puzzled, confused and a whole lot more. But I am assured that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me at such times.

So tonight…I will choose to follow God’s sage advice and not respond as I once would have. Hum…I wonder…will I ever get out of God’s spiritual kindergarten this side of heaven?

At the End of the Day…A Holy “No”!

Just a few quick thoughts or observations at the end of the day…before I in obedience and wisdom…and even a little common sense…head off to bed.

Time…sometimes it seems like a gift…and sometimes like an enemy. It’s an area in which the enemy likes to attack us.

As Christians…sometimes our best answer is “No”. It can be the most holy and right answer…when it helps us to seek God, follow Him and obey. Yet…there are times…it’s hard to discern when it is right to say no.

Some needs and demands to our time, schedule, commitments and money are very worthy…but they may not always be God’s will for us. Thus…we require discernment. A knowledge that comes from a close walk with God…and a listening ear and an obedient heart towards our Lord.

Sometimes it’s a holy “yes”…when it’s offered in obedience to God…when everything in us wants to shout “no”.

In thinking about wisdom…wisdom comes from God. Wisdom that He will make available to those who seek Him and the wisdom that He offers. Only those that obeyed God’s will and plan…truly received and lived out the wisdom that God provided. It’s a gift from God…that is available as we implement it according to His will and follow His leading.

In Bible study tonight…as Pastor Joe Rispoli taught us from the book of Thessalonians…it was jammed packed with great stuff. But there was one thought that hit me hard. The reminder that God desires that we love Him…and not just His word. That we seek to know Him…and not just His word. It’s a part of Him…but if I just seek Bible knowledge…without knowing and loving my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus…then I’ve missed the target, the end game…the most important Person.

Lord…help me to love You…and know You more. Give me discernment so that I might hear You and obey You first and foremost. Seek wisdom and discernment…and have a listening ear and heart to obey the One that I love. Amen!

At the End of the Day…Obeying God in the Little Things

For one who is at times amazingly slow on the uptake…or painfully slow when it comes to learning lessons…I’m grateful that God continues to work with me. That He doesn’t give up. But instead He takes the time to pound home the message into this hard head of mine.

It seems as if one of the areas of frequent and successful attack from the enemy lately is with regards to time. Time…where I’m busy from the moment I get up bright and early…even before the dawn of the morn. To the moment my head hits to pillow much too late at night for one who rises early.

Six days a week…my alarm clock wakes me up just a little before 4 AM. Most days…I struggle with getting out of bed when I first hear the alarm. Due in part because I head off to bed, ever so late. That little sin doesn’t seem like much does it…in the scheme of things. When in fact…it’s quite impactful.

Not only with the obvious consequence of being tired all the time, but I find it hard to concentrate because I’m so tired. The time I do spend working on projects may take longer because I’m not able to give 100% …because I’m tired. I get distracted easily…led from one task to another simply because it catches my eye.

That’s the practical everyday consequences. More import than those is the consequence that impacts my relationship with God. By time I head off to bed…I find it hard to spend a lot of time in prayer or devote time to reading my Bible. That is why I think this time thing is an effective instrument of the enemy. He is quite crafty…and will do whatever he has to do to distract the Christian from what God has called them to do.

So even now…I will heed God’s to me…to obey Him and head off to bed. Albeit…a titch later than I intended. Nighty, night!

6/10/07 At the End of the Day…the Center of God’s Will

“God…I want to be at the center of Your will. Dead center…spot on. If this is not Your desire than I pray that You will close the door so hard that I can not mistake Your will. I pray that I will desire Your will for my life so much that I will hear only Your words and not my own desire. God…I would rather be on the road that You designed for me…a road not of my own choosing with you…than to be on the road I want to be on but without You.”

Those words were my prayer over the last few days and weeks as I applied for a new job and awaited word on the results. I found myself at absolute peace…and was comfortable with the thought of someone else getting the job instead of me. Yet…I desired a change and was hopeful that this would be what God has called me to.

But I knew…no matter what…if it wasn’t God’s will…I didn’t want it. I want Jesus walking with me daily…not me wandering off on some wild trek that looks appealing to my flesh.

So when I got the call and the offer I was at peace. Somewhat excited…but mostly at peace. It wasn’t something to boast or brag about…except to rejoice in God’s faithfulness to me through a difficult year.

I’m excited for a number of reasons…including the opportunity to learn a new area of the business. To continue to learn and grow. I also feel that God has a definite calling on me regarding this job. What exactly that call is…I don’t know…but He does and He will reveal it in His perfect timing. But I’m mindful that there is no greater risk of failure than now…right after I have had a success. I risk being prideful and believing that my success has to do with me and something that I did…instead of knowing that this was a work of God.

So it is with fear and trembling that I will step into this new role…cognizant that it is imperative that I walk in a manner that will bring praise, honor and glory to Christ Jesus. This group of people doesn’t know me…and it’s a place where I don’t have an established track record. I may have been employed for almost 23 years continually with the same company…bought out several times over…but these folks are new to me and I to them.

I give Jesus praise for the work He has done. I ask Him to help me to do excellent work and finish my current job strong. To leave with a good record as far as the work and people go.

I’ve learned a lot being in this place I didn’t want to be. It’s revealed things in me…both good and not so good. I’ve learned how important it is to have a good attitude…even in the midst of difficult times or when you daily have curve balls thrown at you. I’ve learned the importance of working diligently…no matter what my neighbor does. I’m accountable to God for me…not them. I’ve learned that stress will take it’s toll on my body…and that I need to take better care of my body, mind, soul and spirit. I’ve learned that while I may have a few health challenges…to be thankful that in the scheme of things…it’s minor and a condition that I can do something about it. I’ve learned to be thankful for having health insurance. In all my years of employment…I’ve gone to the doctor more this last year than the proceeding 22 years. I’ve learned that I’ve still got far to go. That it seems too hard and unachievable and that I’d better be on my knees in prayer seeking wisdom, guidance and strength.

I’ve been reminded about a core principal that I’ve had and known over the years…and that is to pray for my enemies. When I have someone difficult…that I don’t like or someone who has caused me a boat load of hurt…that there is only one remedy…and that is prayer. Not prayer that God will smite them…but instead to pray for them. Pray for their needs, cares, woes and concerns. To give over to God my hurt and bitterness over past hurts so that I might forgive. Do I walk a perfect walk…and struggle no more? Yeah right…uhhhh…not even. But I have improved and do work through this process quicker than before. Thank You Lord!

I’ve learned that I want to pursue God and follow hard after His lead in my life. I’ve learned that I need more sleep…thus an abrupt close to this article…as my body beckons that I arise and turn off the computer and head to bed…which I will do.

Good night to you all…wishing you evening grace as you follow in the wake of God’s will.

6/4/07 At the End of the Day…What a Difference a Year Makes

This year on June 1st, I found myself again at a crossroads…only this time…I’m filled with peace and a desire to follow hard after God and His will.

Last year…well that’s a different story. It had been months and months of uncertainty. Our company had been bought out and the team I was once a part of…most of the folks had job interviews and knew one way or the other if they had a job. Some received offers and others received a painful phone call that they would not be offered a job. They set their face forward and moved on into an uncertain future.

My exact fate was still uncertain. I had multiple interviews…and no answers. No thumbs up…or down. And then a phone call came and I was invited to travel far away for a big interview. I was hopeful. After all why in the world would they fly someone that far that they wouldn’t consider seriously for the job? The trip was your basic trip from you know where…but in the midst of it…God strengthened me, upheld me and enabled me to get through that day…and the many months to come.

As odd as it sounds…I never got an official word from those that interviewed me. The job remained open for months and months. Each time it posted…I reapplied. But it all came to naught.

During this time…I was emotionally torn up. I knew what I wanted…but I couldn’t see my way clear to make it happen. As I look back with the wisdom of hindsight…I can see clearly that God had closed that door. What God has closed…can never be opened. But I didn’t quite get that then.

I thought perhaps it was a test of perseverance…and God just wanted to make sure that I was going to trust Him…and believe Him…no matter what. That I wasn’t going to look at my circumstances but instead look to Him who would fight for me.

I guess that was indeed the test. But proving grounds were different that I could have ever imagined. I never got that which I had so desperately sought and desired. The question is…would I preserve in my faith and trust God in the midst of deep disappointment? Would I trust God…even as I asked why…even when answers were not forth coming? Trust God as He led me on a path I didn’t want to travel? Was I going to look to Him and not my circumstances to determine my love for God? Was I…did I? Uhhh…not exactly.

It was much different than I would have ever imagined. I was ready to persevere to get that which I wanted. But I wasn’t ready…it never crossed my mind that I would have to preserver in my faith as I got that which I did not desire.

It was an awful time…a time of great loss…a time that I made all the worse because I didn’t fully trust God. I didn’t trust the God who created the universe and everything in it by merely speaking His powerful Word. I didn’t fully believe…with a deep down personal faith…that God works all things together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I valued my hopes and dreams over and above His plan for my life.

To quote Elf…I was a cotton headed ninny muggings! Here, here…I’ll second that.

Despite my roller coaster…wobbly faith…my God was faithful. He showed me His tender mercies…and poured out His grace upon me. Before my path…he brought people…who would help make the unbearable, bearable. Those who would share a kindness or two even as I bore the emotional wounds from that of a friend. It’s those wounds that cut the deepest…and take the longest to heal. But God brought the salve of friendship to heal those wounds. Slowly but surely…those scars have mended. On occasion they are a bit tender still…and if I choose to dwell on them…they are still visible. But when I’m busy and set upon the work God has called me to do…they seem so very distant, small and even unimportant.

So as this June 1st rolled around and I found myself once again waiting to see if God is would open up a door on a new job opportunity…I was pleasantly surprised to feel an absolute peace.

My prayer is not…God get me out of here…or help me get that job. Instead…my prayer is God…please make Your will known to me. If this is not Your will…please I beg You make it ever so clear…so I don’t go down that wrong road. Shut that door…with a load bang that even a slower learner like me can’t mistake for a no. Please God…reveal Your will for me in this situation.

I am not anxious…and would feel a genuine peace if someone else got the job I applied for. In looking at the circumstances…it looks like God may be leading this way. But I don’t want to read something into it that’s not there.

I want to follow hard after God. I want to be dead center in the middle of His will for my life. Better that I be on a path not of my own choosing with God…and on my own path alone.

So here I wait to see what God is going to do. Is this just a test to see if I will choose wisely? Will I trust God this time around? Or will I seek to bring about what I want no matter what God wants?

It doesn’t matter if this is a test…or if God opening the door to move me in a different direction. It doesn’t matter…because all I want is His will…not my own.

I do pray that if another person gets this job…that I will be joyful for them.

When I look back and see why I experienced closed doors last year…I know why He closed them. I understand now…I get it. Yet I’m mindful that while God may use our wrong actions to bring about His predetermined plan…He will also hold each of us accountable for our choices and actions. Just as He did on the nations he allowed to come up against Israel. It didn’t negate their responsibility and consequences…even when God used it as part of His plan.

There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will. I wonder what this last year would have been like if God’s will had been my overriding desire and determined purpose?

If per chance God opens up this new avenue…I’m very aware that this is just a tool and a means that He will use for His purposes and plan. May I praise God…no matter what happens!