Surprise!

Have you ever sat down and wondered why we continue to be surprised when God comes through for us?  I mean really, we shouldn’t be surprised, he’s our father.  Yet our human hearts are so twisted and hurt that we continue to lose faith that He will be there for us.

I work on campus and love my job.  It fits perfectly with my classes and the people I work with are a joy to be around.  I was recently told that I would not be able to work there this summer, due to the budget.  This completely  took my feet out from under me.  What would I do? How would I find a job that would accomodate my class schedule and give me weekends to go see family?

It may be obvious what the first thing I should have done is… I should have sat down and talked with my Heavenly Father.  Asked for his guidance, put my trust in Him, and taken comfort in His prescense.  As a human though, I of course did not do this.  I began crunching numbers, looking for summer jobs, and over all stressing out.  (By “crunching numbers” I mean completely ruining my mind because I’m awful at math.  The way I was doing it, I would basically live a whole month on one week of pay, because I’m dumb.  But that’s neither here nor there.)0ab5fe4a2e3933b85121f0c717d37ad8

Then one morning I woke up to do my morning devotional.  I was feeling bitter and hopeless.  And guess what? God was there.

Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.” Matthew 6:28

This verse may seem like it has nothing to do with my situation, but it’s about appriciating life.  It’s about God opening my eyes to the beauty of this earth, of my life, and pretty much slapping me upside the head. 

And that’s far from the end…  The next morning, I got up and decided to read one of the devotionals my Mom had sent me about a month ago.  She periodically sends me good devotionals from her magazines, and I just never got to this one.  Low and behold, it was about Matthew 6:25-34.  Once again, why was I surprised? God has used my Mom COUNTLESS times to get through my thick skull, I should be used to it now.  The title of this devotional was “Do I Really Need it?”  The answer is no.  I will be fine.  When this earth fails me, I have my Heavenly Father.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33

Surprise number 3:

I get a text from my boss about a week later…there’s a special project and I can work in the summer!  They got everything approved and I’m good to go.

All that stressing and worrying was for nothing.  If I had trusted in the Lord the whole time, it would have been an easier process.  Yet the Lord only puts us through trials we can handle.  I needed to be reminded to lean on Him.

Manly Man

For the first time in my life I’ve recently been out of school AND not working at the same time.  At first I was worried I’d be bored out of my mind, but it’s been rather nice.  I’ve gotten to spend some awesome quality time with my family.  Within this time my sister-in-law showed me a song she and my brother both liked.  They recently had the most precious little girl, and so are learning the whole new parent gig.  As we talked, we got to discussing the importance of Daddys.  Or of men in general. 

Our world is so centered on feminism and equality right now that I think sometimes we forget the importance of men.  Not even the importance, but the God given role they were meant to fulfill.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that women can do anything men can do. 

For instance, women can play sports just as well as men.  Everyone has their own thing, but really.  Sometimes women are even better.
Women can fix things just as well as men.  Give me  hammer and nails and I can do anything.  It might take me awhile and I might have to google whatever it is, but I can still do it.
Hunting.  This is considered manly, but I was raised with brothers and given a gun right along with the boys.

That was just a few examples…but did you notice anything those 3 things had in common?  Yes they were silly, but really.  They were worldly.  The things women can do just as well as men are all worldly.  I can keep up with the boys as well as anyone on this world, but spiritually? There are BIG differences.  God designed women and men to have special qualities that compliment each other.  We were made to have two completely different roles that mesh together as one. 

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58

I think this verse could be read for any Christian, but I like it especially for men.  God made men to be the rock of relationships.  They should be steadfast and immovable, always serving the Lord.  Not to say women can’t contribute, but men are meant to be the primary leader spiritually. 

So men, take your role seriously. 
And women, let your man be the man.

heartproblems

A friend sent this verse to me recently, and for some reason, it just really hit me.  I had read it in a devotional a few weeks back, but it didn’t make that big of an impact.  Isn’t that funny?  God will show you something, and when you don’t get the hint, he shows you again, and again, and still again.  Until we get the hint!  He’s a persistant guy. 

So anyways, this has just been really weighing on my heart and mind.  For starters, the first part of this verse says:

“Above ALL else”

It does NOT say, “after that cute boy” or “after that football game” or “after that party.” No, it says above ALL else.  We should be diligently guarding our hearts from this world.   If you are a Christian, this is as close as you are getting to Hell.  This is as close as the devil will EVER get to you.  So even though we have Christ to look forward too, we are in a battle right now.  You must protect your heart from all the evil of this world. 
So on that topic:

Guard-to keep safe from harm or danger; protect; watch over

This verse does not imply that we kind of sort of look out for our hearts.  It says straight up GUARD your heart.  As the definition says, you must keep it safe, protect it, and watch over it. 

And lastly, “for everything you do flows from it.”  This sounds extreme, huh?  Not just some things, but EVERYthing we do flows from our hearts.  It’s that basic moral compass, that little angel and devil on your shoulder.  It’s what is RIGHT and WRONG.  God gave us a heart for a reason.  So if your heart is filthy, everything you do will reflect that.  If you are focused on money, your heart will reflect that. 

The same goes for focusing your heart on guys.  This is a toughie in my opinion.  I feel that it is SO tough for girls to deal with this.  Let’s just pause for a minute and think of a world that every girl focuses her heart on God and chooses to only need Him and His love.  To be diligent in her faith and patient in His timing.  There would be SO much less hurt.  So much less heart break.  Because lets face it, the men of this world will hurt you.  It may be intentional, it may be unintentional.  But it will happen.  God is the ONLY man who can fulfill that void in your heart.  So instead of focusing your heart on men and earthly desires, try turning it straight on God and feel that blast of His Heavenly LOVE.

Shelf Paper

For the past two days, I have been laying down shelf paper in every cabinet and drawer in my parents new house.  It’s not a hard job, just a little tedious.  But through this time, I got to thinking.  Relationships are alot like shelf paper.  Before you start thinking that I’m crazy-just hear me out.

When laying down shelf paper, you have to wipe out the old first.  You have to get a wet rag and clean out all the crumbs and dust from the past owners.  Then you can lay down the new shelf paper and nail it down.  I feel like this is a parallel to any relationship, friendly or more than that.

When starting any relationship with a new person, you have to get to know them.  You have to acknowledge all the crumbs and dust of their past, maybe not knowing specifically what they are, but not caring because we should extend grace to others as Christ has to us.  Knowing this, we then wipe away all those insecurities and put the past in the trash.  You lay down the new shelf paper of your relationship, and nail it in.  Now you have a clean base to start out on.  The relationship will flourish with a strong base to grow on.  Like it says in Luke 6:48-

“It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.”

As humans, we tend to have this distorted view of perfection.  We forget that everyone else has a past, just like us.  We also tend to forget, that all sin is the same.  Myself included.  It’s hard not to judge the “bigness” of sin, but that’s not our job.  ALL sin hurts God.  No matter how big or small.  But does He sit in Heaven and judge us on it? That would be a big NO.  He still opens his arms wide and accepts us with a smile.

Keep this in mind for your present relationships as well.  Everyone needs to start out with a strong base.  If you didn’t, go back and work on that base of the relationship.  That trust and grace.  Everyone needs grace.  In my opinion at least.

 

Grace

Sometimes, God’s unconditional love really surprises me.  The fact that we can do ANYTHING, and God will still be there, waiting.  Not even mad, but with open arms.  No matter what we put ourselves through, God is always there, willing and waiting to take you into His arms and love on you.

At a Bible study group this past year, my friend made an analogy that I really liked.  Consider us as a little stray dog that is hungry, but scared.  The Lord will follow us, offering food, even after we run away.  Every time he gets close, we might take a few steps towards him, but we get scared and run off again.  No matter how many times we run, God always follows.  And when we are finally so tired and hungry that we can’t go on, God comes and picks us up, taking us in his arms.  He loves us unconditionally.  His love will nourish us and keep us going.

I think what we tend to forget as humans though, is that it really is unconditional.  When I think of my past, and the sins of my past, I feel that there is no possible way that I’m good enough for God.  I feel that I’m too dirty and unclean for him.  To feel this way though, is like a slap in the face to God.  When you think about it, I mean REALLY think about it, God gave us his son so we didn’t have to feel this way.  He WILLINGLY gave his son to be brutally tortured and killed, just so we could be loved and saved.

1st John 1:5 says “God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.”

So basically, if you’re pissed at God because you’ve been through some tough stuff, suck it up.  I say this to myself as well.  God is always good and every decision He makes is good.  He doesn’t make decisions to be cruel or mean.  I had trouble with this for a while, I wondered “why would God put me through this?”  And you know what? The troubles of this world have brought me so much closer to God.  I’ve learned to finally give it ALL to Him.  Because the goodness we will experience in eternity with God, will be worth EVERY bit of pain we experience in this fallen world.

So remember, God’s grace is sufficient.  He has forgiven all your sins, and mine, because he loves us.

Try out this song, it’s pretty sweet.

Beautiful Things

Ladies & Gentlemen

Worldly

Lady: a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken

Gentleman: a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man

These definitions of a lady and gentleman came off of dictionary.com.  They are the wordly view of what a lady and gentleman should behave as.  I agree with each definition whole heartedly.  There were more definitions that involved where you were born, and what class you were born into, but I believe those are irrelevant.  Being a TRUE lady and gentleman involve these traits, no matter your status.

Godly

I know this is a big chunk of verses, but it’s good.  God spells out the way to be a Lady of God.  Let me tell you, this is MUCH more attractive than a lady of the world.  Out of these 20 vereses, only 1 mentions outward beauty.

10 A wife of noble character   who can find?     She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband   has full confidence in her     and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm,     all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax     and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships,     bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still night;     she provides food for her family     and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it;     out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously;     her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,     and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff     and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor     and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;     for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed;     she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,     where he takes his seat among the elders   of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,     and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;     she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom,     and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household     and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;     her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things,     but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;     but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,     and let her works bring her praise   at the city gate.
Proverbs 31:10-31

Wow, way to spell it out.  There’s no excuse for us to study this and not apply it to ourselves.  It’s easier said than done, though.  I can read this chapter everyday, and still have doubts about it.  I’ll work hard at becoming a virtuous woman, but the doubts of the world are always there.  But you know what?  What you dish out, is what you get back, ladies.  If you want a Godly man, you must be a Godly woman.  God has to be the center of any relationship, so without him in your life first, any relationship with a man isn’t going to work.

There are three verses in this passage that mention the husband of this wife.  So basically, a Proverbs 31 man.

1. “11 Her husband   has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. ”
Guys, have some confidence in us.  Not even just wives, but friends, girl friends, mothers, what ever.  Everyone likes to be valued, ESPECIALLY women.

2. “23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.”
This section talks alot about how the woman should be hard working, but this verse shows that the man ain’t no slacker either!  To be respected by the elders and other men, he would have to be a hard worker and be involved in the town.  It brings to mind the phrase “Behind every good man, is a good woman.”  To be successful with his job and part in the town, it helps to have an encouraging, diligent woman.

3. “28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Dude, what a compliment.  “You SURPASS them all.”  Guys, praise your women.  Gentlemen know how to give a compliment.  Not just a shallow compliment either.  Try to be genuine about it.  Compliment her beautiful spirit, her personality, her humor.  A compliment goes a looooong way, trust me.

I know these 3 things are kind of focused towards men that are with a woman, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can be confident, respectful, and kind to ANY woman in your life.

Guys-watch the movie Courageous.  It’s really good.

fear

FEAR.

Everyone has it.  It’s impossible to not have fear.  What I think is more interesting is looking at it from another angle.  Just for fun, let’s repleace the word “fear” with worship.

“I fear man” … “I worship man”
“I fear what people think” … “I worship what people think”
“I fear the future” … “I worship the future”
“I fear the Lord” … “I worship the Lord”

Guys and gals, this is it.  What you fear, you worship.  We should be fearing ONE person.  You got it, God.  Our Heavenly Father.

“Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.”  Psalm 112:1

Do you know what happens when we fear anything else but the Lord?  Our enemy uses it against us.  He loves your fear.  He banks on it, actually.  Satan wants you to believe the lie that cripples faith, that God can’t be trusted.
This is when our eyes of faith come in.  It’s hard to do, and I’m slowly learning, but you have to keep your eyes on God.  When you constantly worship him and thank him for all He does, your keeping those eyes in focus.  But it’s so hard sometimes.  When life gets crazy and isn’t going the way we planed (haha) it’s hard to focus on God.  It’s hard not to blame him for the bad things instead of thanking him for the good things.  Faith is EASY in the good times.  Keeping it up in the bad times is what is hard.

So, stop fearing what is on this earth, or what is yet to come.  You need only fear one thing.  And that is God.