Living Light

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A Superhero’s Strength (PART II)

A Superhero’s Strength

(PART II)

Continued from previous post, How to Become a Superhero (PART I)

What does working in God’s strength mean?

In 2006, God called me to write. At the time, I didn’t like writing. I didn’t think I could write. I had nightmares of writing from the months of writing my masters thesis in graduate school and a corresponding chapter for a scientific book. (sounds exciting, hey?) It was probably one of my least favorite activities. So the fact that I felt compelled to write, I knew it wasn’t my idea, but God’s – especially because I’d be writing about a relationship with Him. After a painstaking week of making the decision to leave the familiar waters of my career behind and plunge into unknown depths, I committed to it. The next day, I sat down, prayed and started writing and … the words flowed. Every morning as I sat down at the computer I prayed – God help me, I can’t do this alone. He always did. I was and still am totally dependent on Him to put words on a page for others to read.

Once committed, God gave me the desire. I enjoy writing. It’s fulfilling and challenging. It’s surprisingly rewarding. It’s been an incredible experience of acting in and depending on God’s strength.

However, though God has shown His faithfulness in this venture every day for five years, I still get a little anxious each time. I am still completely dependent on Him because it has always been about His strength and not mine. However, though it’s “uncomfortable” and I feel “out of control” it’s glorious at the same time as I see His working in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The Role of Prayer

One of the most powerful ways of embracing God’s strength is through prayer. When we are in God’s will, what we pray will be done. John 15:7 Prayer of a believer who is seeking God’s will is extremely powerful.

In prayer we are reminded God is in control. It’s His power and not ours that makes a difference. In prayer, we humble ourselves to His will. We shift our confidence from us to God. We sync up our lives with His will. We are asking God to do the best for all effected by a situation. We are aligning our minds with truth. We look to God’s strength not ours. We admit our need for help and call upon God to help. Prayer stirs things up. It changes the situation. When we are in line with God’s will, our prayers are powerful.

Dealing with Difficult People

An example I’m sure many can relate to of working in God’s strength where prayer has proven powerful is dealing with difficult family members. Ones who have treated us or those we love poorly. Who have taken advantage. Who have abused the privileges of being part of a family.

On one occasion, as I was seeking God’s counsel with a family member, He told me to establish healthy boundaries but to love that person. (The boundaries would help me to love.) On our own truly loving someone like this can be a difficult task. The resentment, pain or anger may be too much to get past. We can try to fake love and care, but it’s not only hypocritical but a waste of time because our true feeling come out.

However being God’s will that we love him/her, He will provide what we need to truly love. I’ve seen Him do it time and time again. Our part is to be willing to walk in God’s will and submit to it and pray. (It’s easy for our pride to interfere with a willing heart to be humble and love.) With a willing heart, we pray for a heart to love that difficult person. Before each interaction with him/her, we pray for God to give us the right heart and mind. We ask other believers to pray for us.

Summing Up

When we are operating in God’s strength, instead of trusting ourselves to accomplish a project, grow a business, repair a relationship, provide for our family, or protect our family, we can look to God to do those things through us. His strength gives us the ability to do what we do with resolve, persistence and passion. We can approach each day with the attitude of doing what is in front of us, leaving the outcome is in His hands. We are obedient to Him, and leave the results up to Him. Not only does this provide a tremendous peace, but what He’ll do through you will surprise you.

One warning … be prepared to only receive what you need today. God will provide what we need, when we need it. Philippians 4:19. The problem is we want strength not just for today but the rest of the year. We want to feel superhuman. However, God gives what we need today. That daily provision keeps us dependent on Him and not ourselves so that we don’t make an idol of ourselves, or anything else. It is for our own protection and freedom. Matthew 6:34.

2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:13

If God has put a passion or purpose on your heart don’t give up. Don’t trust in you or your strength, trust in His. Pray and move forward and see how He brings it to pass. You were never meant to accomplish anything alone. Purposes created by God whether our vocation or to truly love another can only be accomplished by the union of you and Him. Yes, it can be uncomfortable living beyond yourself and yet it’s glorious at the same time because you constantly see God at work in and through your life. It creates an intimacy with God that is rich because of the level of dependency and connection you have to have to live and work in His strength.

What will your life story tell? What do you want it to tell? Let it be a powerful story because you trusted in God’s strength that took you to places beyond yourself.


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How to be a Superhero (PART I)

How to be a Superhero

(PART I)

Awhile ago I read the Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela and Hard Work by Roy Williams. I was compelled to read these books, though I didn’t know why.

As I was nearing the end of Hard Work, I knew why; the dedication these men showed for their passion. Regardless of obstacles or situations beyond their control, their resolve to their passion and their purpose was astounding. At that time, I needed that resolve – and God used those books to show me what that meant. But I couldn’t have that resolve without God’s strength.

As believers we are God’s workmanship created for certain purposes. Ephesians 2:10. However, when challenges arise putting us face to face with our vulnerabilities, fears, and weakness, we can have the tendency to pull back, become stagnant, or give up. We start to believe we don’t have what it takes like the resources, ability, wisdom, or energy.

Often for what God calls us to do, we don’t have what it takes of ourselves. However, as a believer we never face anything alone. God is working in and through us to accomplish the works He created us to do. Our part is to submit and do what He says. When we submit to God’s work in us by being obedient His word and leading, then we have His strength and are able to accomplish far beyond what we imagined, yes like a superhero.

Therefore for the challenge that lies in front of us, like a struggling marriage, health issues, demanding work, or problematic children, we don’t have to be concerned about our endurance, ability, or resources because God’s strength is working in and for us. When we realize what we’ve been given, we do what we normally wouldn’t do. We live gloriously beyond ourselves.

It’s fundamental to a life of a believer to learn to work in God’s strength. In order to accomplish the purposes that God created us for, we will have to act outside our comfort zone so we will need His strength.

There are many reasons for God wanting us to live beyond our own strength; here are three.

1. When we are acting in God’s strength, His power is reflected in our lives and He is glorified. Our very lives give Him praise, because what is accomplished is obviously done by Him and not us. As our lives reflect Him, He is shown to the world. Like Daniel in the lions’ den, it wasn’t about his strength to be able to close the lion’s mouth it was about God’s. And who got the glory? God.

2. Living beyond ourselves drives us to trust in God because we are totally dependent on Him. John 15:5 We were created to live in union with God, not separate. Trust is key to that union and being rightly related to God as He desires. Daniel had to trust in God. No one else could save him. He trusted, and God delivered. Talk about forming a tight bond. How Daniel’s trust must have grown from that experience.

3. Because of our reliance and need of God, we develop a deep intimacy and relationship with God grounded in love. When God delivered Daniel from that lion’s mouth, what that must have done for their relationship.

Because fulfilling our purposes will require us to trust in God’s strength, we can only be in God’s will if we are willing to act outside our comfort zone. That means we have to learn to work and trust in His strength and not our own. On the flip side, God only gives us strength for what is His will. If we are acting outside His will, we won’t have His strength. Therefore, it’s our job to seek His will for our individual lives and walk in it.

What does that mean practically?

To be continued …


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In God’s Strength, Not Ours

In God’s Strength, Not Ours

 

Some time ago, I read a secular book on writing and attended a Christian writers conference within weeks of each other. I’m going to share with you something that greatly impacted me at that time to remind us of who we are in God and what we have.

What struck me was that the advice from those at the conference and from the author of the secular book was basically the same. Everything about becoming a successful writer stemmed from you and your strength, not God. Why was there no difference? Aren’t Christians to be living in God’s strength, not man’s? Then why was the counsel the same?

Many Christians are living like mere men. God calls us to live in His strength and that shouldn’t look the same as the world’s ways, should it? I speak to myself as a reminder as much as anyone else. There is a better way to live, so why settle?

When you dive into the Bible, what you find is a description of a life with God that varies from what the world offers. Below are some elements of our lives when we are living in His strength:

  • We work in situations beyond our capabilities.
  • We are not limited to what we know; we are limited to what God knows, which has no limit.
  • God accomplishes a lot with a little.
  • God moves in the hearts and minds of others to accomplish His will in our lives.
  • God uses ordinary people to accomplish mighty works.
  • We work yet at the same time rest, because it is His power working through us.
  • We often work in areas or in ways that are specifically our weaknesses so we learn to trust Him.
  • We are prospered beyond our own capabilities.
  • We are asked to do something for which we aren’t prepared.
  • We don’t endlessly strive.
  • Our efforts don’t equal our returns – they equate to God’s work in us, which is much more.
  • There is no rat race in God’s Kingdom.
  • There is balance, rest and satisfaction.

I’m sure there are many more but these came to mind. Each scenario above creates an opportunity for the power of God, not man, to be displayed. God revealing Himself to the world through us is what our lives are about. And that means we will be living beyond our capabilities in many ways – it is uncomfortable and glorious all at the same time.

If you look at the characters in the Bible (Peter, Paul, Daniel, David, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the prophets) they had one or more of these aspects. Their lives showed the strength of God, not the power of man. Often times they got scared, doubted, questioned, but they pushed forward with God.

Makes you think . . . what does your life show? What will be the story of your life? What would it read if it was in the Bible? What does it tell the world about who and what you REALLY trust?

For the child of God, there is a new way of life. Often God puts us in situations beyond our abilities so we can learn to trust Him. Our trust isn’t in our talents, skills, or gifts, how many extra hours we work, or if we did all the necessary preparations. It’s in God’s ability, power, and strength, because we are here for His glory not ours. In Him, we do what we never could. That is our life.

Running the rat race like the rest of the world isn’t for us. Nowhere in the Bible do I find that to be the case. Look at the Israelites. God established their life full of celebrations and feasts. I have never seen a group of people rest so much and yet accomplish what they did. God provided for their physical needs. He defeated enemies far stronger. He guided them and instructed them in every facet of life. They were living a life that was impossible in their own strength and God was glorified. However, our lives also aren’t about sitting around – but following His lead and moving forward in His strength.

Striving, toiling, and living by the same rules as the world – what is the difference then? What is the abundant life that God brought to us in Christ? His life consumes ours and that means everything changes. Yes we work but it is in a different strength. It isn’t our work, but His in us.

I know it can be extremely uncomfortable living beyond yourself. You aren’t in control so at any moment it feels like things could turn for the worse. Because of this discomfort, we often give into the fear and hold back from moving forward into what God has laid on our hearts. Like Moses, we are full of buts and what ifs. Exodus 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13. It isn’t easy to live in His strength, to make that leap and let go of what we have always trusted in. It takes time. If it was easy we would all be there. But God is offering us a much better way to live. I’ve tasted it. If we feast on His pure Word and seek to do it His way, then He will show us the way and give us the faith to live as He ordained – in abundant life, in His presence. If this life is your desire, then step out and follow Him beyond your strengths into His. Pray to let go of the control and to have a peace about it – God is driving now.

Psalm 21:13 “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.”

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The Great I AM . . .

The Great I AM . . .

 

God is the Great I AM . . . everything. Exodus 3:14

The power of His name, I AM, hit me a couple of years ago and it still astounds me when I meditate on it each morning. As the source of everything that is good, God is everything we need. When we are in a relationship with Him and seeking His face and His truth then we lack nothing.

Psalm 34:10 “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

As God’s children, it is no longer about our strengths, abilities or resources, but about His. His truth, love, mercy, protection, provision, peace, rest, freedom, purity, beauty, comfort, wisdom, strength, and power become a part of our lives. We have access to incredible riches that the rest of the world doesn’t because we have Him and He is everything.

In Luke 5, the guys were out fishing without a bite. Jesus told them to go out and cast their nets one more time. They had been toiling day and night and caught nothing but at His word they let down the nets. They caught such a great number of fish that their nets started to break and their boat started to sink so they got another boat to help carry the multitude of fish. God’s Word has power in our lives. It accomplishes what man cannot. It does the impossible. But we have to listen, trust and act on it.

In this economy, many are pulling up empty nets. But when the Word of God penetrates our lives and we trust in His words and not the words of this world then what is impossible by the world’s means is possible for those who trust in God. His wisdom and ways defy the world’s.

God provides for every need. There isn’t an area of our lives that God doesn’t attend to. He is in the details because He loves us. The more you love someone the more you care about each little concern. He loves us beyond our comprehension thus He cares about everything. If we don’t believe He is in everything then we will limit out trust in Him and our lives will suffer for it.

God may use the world around us to test and refine us, but we lack nothing. If we trust in His Word He will provide and fill our nets in due time. But this promise is to those who seek Him. Many Christians have cultivated a relationship with the church and not God. They seek what the church offers and not God’s truth. They spend time at church, but not one-on-one in the Word cultivating an intimate relationship with God. As a result, their lives are full of hardship, suffering and lack like the world’s.

Everyone has hardship. But for God’s children it is completely different. We are always in the midst of God’s provision as He disciplines, tests and refines with the elements of this world. Tough circumstances teach us that we don’t lack and that we aren’t limited to the world. When you are in a tight situation then you see God’s deliverance that is beyond this world it is astounding. Without the trying circumstance, we can’t witness and learn about the power of His deliverance. But if we trust in worldly means then we will miss the lesson and often the blessing. We have what the world doesn’t because we have Him.

Trials come for a season. The ultimate purpose of any trial is to move us closer to God and His truth. Therefore, we aren’t meant to remain in those tough places, but move through them by growing and maturing in our relationship with God. However, if we lack a love of the truth and don’t seek its revelation in our lives then we will miss out on the abundance of His promises. We will live limited lives like the rest of the world.

God wants to show His power and glory to the world through His people. Tough times are the perfect opportunity.


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Living Free Because of Christ

Living Free Because of Christ

 

In Ginny Owens’ song Free, she sings we have been made free. Free in every way including free to dance without concern or worry because of God’s great love toward us. Yet, how many of us experience this light heartedness on a daily basis that moves us to dance before our Lord like King David? 2 Samuel 6:14 “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.”

Jesus Christ came to set us free. Isaiah 61:1 Not only did He bring freedom from the bondage of sin and its penalty of death, but also He brought it to every area of our lives. Freedom from troubles, afflictions and fears. Psalm 34:4, 17, 19  Freedom from worry, anxiety, and concern. Matthew 6:25-34  Freedom from proving, earning, and striving for internal wholeness. Colossians 2:10 And so on.

The freest people in the world are those who are completely surrendered to God. Sounds like a paradox, but I have found it true in my life. When we believe, trust and live by the ways of God we experience freedom for our souls. It is God’s design. We follow Him and we live free. All this world offers puts us in bondage in one way or another because it is counter to the ways of God. Only living in God’s truth do we experience true freedom. Most believe the opposite is true. That He binds us to rules and regulations. But this is not the God I have met.

Take a glimpse at what God does for us:

Changes our circumstances to help us
Moves the minds and hearts of others in our favor
Gives us purpose, value, meaning
Opens doors, closes doors
Heals us, blesses us
Renews our minds to what is true and real
Gives us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind
Fills us with His love to pour into others
Delivers us from poor decisions
Gives us mercy for our foolishness, gives us what we don’t deserve
Defends, protects, and delivers from the evil plans of others
Makes our paths smooth
Fights for us
Gives us insight, direction, counsel
Provides for our needs internal and external

As for His rules, they all boil down to love. True love doesn’t bind, but frees. Oppressive rules and regulations come from man’s ill attempt to speak and work on God’s behalf to control others.

There is nothing God won’t do to bring about good in our lives if we seek, ask and trust. Psalm 84:11 God is in control of everything, therefore there is no limit to what He can do for us in any given circumstance. Tremendous freedoms come when we aren’t limited to ourselves or others but have God on our side working for us.

The main hindrance to living free outside of lack of knowledge is trust. Trust is the result of continually seeking Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It is born out of an intimate relationship with Him; a relationship that requires time, attention and devotion to nurture. When I feel the weight of a chain wrapped around my ankle keeping me from dancing, I know it is because of lack of trust. God is on my side. What do I have to fear or be worried about? Is His love to small or His power to weak? The truth is in my mind but it has yet to fully become my truth, because when it is mine I am free.

My husband said trust is like a light shining into our souls that extinguishes fear. Trust and fear can’t coexist at any one time and fear is the core emotion that keeps most of us from dancing. Because we have lived for years in a reactive mindset of fear, it is easy for this habitual response to take over.  Though it may sneak in we no longer have to succumb to it.

Our response to its invasion? Abide in His truth. As we continue to fill our minds with His Word we will start to think and respond differently. For seven years, I have been intimately seeking God in His Word. He has dispelled many fears, worries, and afflictions. What lingers is a remnant of what once was. Though fears still creep in they are fewer in number and less powerful than they use to be. I have found the path to freedom to conqueror what remains – abiding in His presence in His Word.

For believers, fear is an illusion. The truth is we are in the palm of a mighty, powerful God who loves us beyond measure. He desires to show Himself strong to those who are loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:7 He desires for you and me to know Him as God in our lives. He wants to show Himself to us, but He wants us to seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind. When we seek our trust will grow, His promises will manifest in our lives, and we will dance with all our might because we are living free in the arms of a mighty loving God.

2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.


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Mountain Moving Prayer

Mountain Moving Prayer

 

Without God’s incessant guidance mankind creates destruction because of its own wicked and selfish heart. We see man’s insufficiency in government oppression, mismanagement leading to poverty, abundant financial debt, hideous animal and child abuse, and the widespread lies leading to spiritual death. When self is in control – mankind suffers.

As believers with the power of God on our side and the ability to call upon Him, we can be an influential force in the world for God’s purposes. In the stillness of prayer, we galvanize the strength of God. If we trust our own strength we are fighting a losing battle. Good will only come if we call upon and trust in God’s power and not man’s. Ezra 9:12

Many pray then go off and fight the battle in their own strength in the name of God. We are never to fight in our own strength. The act of prayer, which we are to do unceasingly, means we are acknowledging God’s strength, surrendering to His power, and letting Him direct our steps and guide our actions – not us.

God wants us to call upon Him for this forsaken world and He wants to show the world His power and might through His people – that is you and me. God wants our faith to drive us with conviction to His feet and in response He will restore, mend, and heal according to His will.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Where we need to start in our fervent prayers is for our own people, the true Church. To be effective outwardly we have to be healthy inwardly. We have been beaten up and weakened by a religious mindset, mega churches, works mentality, deception, shortage of truth, lack of abiding in God’s Word, being taught by man instead of the Spirit, and neglecting the ubiquitous call to be one with Him. We have become too complacent with spiritual and physical decrepit lives for ourselves and our brethren, when those lives are supposed to be abundant and glorifying to God.

Understanding the impact of interceding on each other’s behalf is exemplified in Moses. God, completely frustrated with Israel, planned to destroy them, but Moses interceded and God saved them. Psalm 106:23 Moses’ prayer turn the tides for a nation headed for destruction.

But what made Moses’ prayer so successful, and what will make ours?

1. Intimacy with God – Moses’ effectiveness resulted from the intimacy he cultivated with God. Like our earthly relationships, we develop intimacy with God by spending time with Him one-on-one, listening to and abiding in His words and not man’s interpretations, growing in knowledge, and cultivating trust. Moses knew God face to face. For our prayers to have power we have to pray in spirit and truth and that means we intimately know our Lord and our spirits in Him are healthy and thriving. Praying without abiding in the Word is a self-center focus and a one-way relationship. To get our focus on Him and to develop true intimacy, we need to abide in His personal revelation to us, Jesus Christ, the Word. John 1:14

2. Understanding God’s will – Moses knew God’s will to be glorified through Israel. Exodus 32:10-14. God’s will is not the same for all people. Some people He wanted to completely destroy like the pagan nations as the Israelites moved into the promise land Deuteronomy 31:3. Some He wanted to save like Nineveh Jonah 3:10. We have to seek God’s will in every area of our lives and the lives of others because He is sovereign and all knowing and not follow our wills which are limited and deceived. Walking daily with God, Moses understood His heart. We come to understand His will by daily abiding in His truth. When we pray His will we honor Him, not us. If we don’t seek His will, we aren’t listening to Him but advocating our own agenda, however good we think it may be. In being taught by the Spirit, we find that these stories about destroying the pagan nations is about letting the truth of God destroy our internal enemies; pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-rigteousness, etc. As for others, we are called to love all and treat others as we want to be treated. Love is what heals and renews and what is needed.

3. Trust in God’s mercy. From their experiences together, Moses developed a steadfast faith in the mercy of God. He knew what God was capable of, what they deserved, but knew He was a God of mercy. He didn’t rely on his own goodness to save these people. His hope was in God’s compassion alone.

Moses made a profound difference from his conversation with God so can we when our prayers are based on a similar relationship with our Father. We have access to the power of God so we can be victorious as a nation of His people. As we continue to seek after God’s heart so we can pray in spirit and truth, His power will heal us and be manifested in us infusing His goodness into the world.

Proverbs 15:8b But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much