Category Archives: God’s Will

It’s Not What I Expected


Don’t you hate it when, let’s face it, it seems like you’ve done everything right, everything that should have been expected of you, yet nothing seems to be the way it should be, or it just seems to make things harder than it should be? It’s hard when you find yourself in those times when you think to yourself “It should be like this” or “how did this happen?” when you know it should be something different. After all, you put yourself out there, you took the steps and you did everything you could, you did the most your potential allowed you to do, doing the best you could do and still, it wasn’t enough.

You expect something different, you wanted something different, that there would be at least something given for that faith and that hope that you had. All you end up finding though is that you’re tired and restless, wishing it could have somehow found a way to be what you wanted it to be, knowing that it’s anything but. It just makes you so weary that a part of you is reluctant to try again, to just give it your all again. Why would you? After all, if you did everything that could have been done, why do you just feel like you’ve failed? Why didn’t it work out the way it should have?

The truth is you’re not the first person to feel this way, watching it seem to all be different than the way it should have been. Atop Mount Carmel Elijah did as was expected of him. He stood in the shadow of the prophets of Baal and Judah’s King, Ahab, and he gave testimony to the power and the glory of the living God of Israel. (1 Kings 18:20-39) Yet, as the word reached Jezebel her answer was fierce and merciless, the prophets of her god laid slain, and she demanded blood, sending her messenger to the Elijah that he might know that his life was now held cheap and without value. (1 Kings 19:1 and 2) It would send him into hiding, fleeing into the hills, even as he cried out to the Lord, “Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors”, (1 Kings 19:3-5) a deep sense of failure overtaking him even when he did everything that was asked of him, that was expected of him, knowing it wasn’t as it should have been.

More than likely our own stories, they aren’t as dramatic as the story of Elijah, but they have the same sort of effect on us. We wonder to ourselves what’s the point of trying when trying mean these feelings, when it means these troubles, when it just causes a whole different set of struggles. We ask ourselves what’s the point of putting it all out there if putting it all out there means that we have to face challenges like this, finding that the peace we wanted, it just hasn’t come and our hope is fleeting.

The truth is not everything in life is going to work out the way that we want it to. We can do everything the way it’s supposed to be done and, honestly, the results may surprise us and not in the best ways. It could be that, for as much as we put into it, the only thing that comes out of it is hardship and even some pain. Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the story. God still has a plan for your life. In His glorious hope He still has a grand and a great design for it, (Jeremiah 29:11) even as He makes us more than conquerors in the wondrous grace of our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, letting nothing separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-37)

Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting our preconceived notions behind us, and giving ourselves up to the idea that life isn’t going to be the way that we planned it to be and yet it can be more than we planned. It’s a matter of letting what has happened be just that and looking towards a new day as a new chance to run the race in front of us. (Philippians 3:13-14) Not everything has to be the way we expected it to be, even when we did everything we could to make it that way, for it to teach us something of value, and something of worth. According to God’s timing, the deeper lessons that it has to offer will be revealed to us even if we can’t see what they are at the time. It’s a matter of living your life knowing that there is more to it than any one set of circumstances or any one situation that you may face, and that, though it may not be all you wanted it to be, there is a chance for tomorrow to be different if you never stop believing in the wonders God’s hope and love for you and your life.

Be strong and live in faith, today is but one day in your life and it could just be that it is a lesson there to teach you what you are capable of, and the way you are able to put your own inhibitions and fears aside so you can do more and be more. Find peace in that and peace will come to you even as tomorrow brings the hope of a new opportunity for you in the wonders of God’s design and plan for your life. Let not your heart be troubled, for God is there to lead you, through Christ, in grace, love and mercy, healing the wounds of your past, and giving you the strength to meet your future in all He has equipped you and is equipping you to do.

Romans: Those in the flesh cannot please God

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 Where is your allegiance?  What team are you on?  You might say that you’re on God’s side, but would He say the same?  Are you living as someone who is fully committed to one master?  Or are you, like so many others, fooling yourself by saying you’re following Christ while in reality following every whim of your fleshly desires?

The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard.  It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world.  There are struggles and battles to be faced.  When those times come it’s often the test of where your real allegiances lie.  When you have the choice to be comfortable in your flesh or be uncomfortable for the Lord, which do you choose?  It’s so easy to pick the easy path, thinking that later on we’ll settle some sort of deal with God.  But the reality is that it’s impossible to please Him if we’re living only for ourselves.

Even Jesus was tempted in this regard.  The Word says He was tempted just as we are so He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), but He never gave in.  We’re much weaker than Him, so it’s easier for us to cave.  It’s much harder to choose the ways of God than it is the cushy ways of man.  But in the end it’s always worth it.

If you’re having a hard time in this area, don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own.  It’s not about what you do for God, it’s about giving your life over to Him in submission.  Stop trying to please Him by doing things and give Him what He really wants – you.  Jesus paid the price so that you can have a relationship with the Father.  You just have to trust Him instead of yourself.

Romans: Submission to God

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

 When we live for our own desires, we won’t let anything get in the way of what we want when we want it.  That includes God.  It’s impossible to choose worldly pleasure as a way of life and also submit to God.

The truth is, if life is lived for self, then God is an enemy because He calls us to lose ourselves for His sake.  We can’t hold on to everything we desire and still seek to please Him.  Let’s visit that thought again with a new emphasis.  We CAN’T hold onto the selfish desires of our heart and still follow God.  It’s not possible!

Yet, so many people try to do this.  So many Christians who have truly been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ still try to live according to their own wants and perceived needs.  The very thought of putting aside those desires to seek out what God wants is offensive.  Do you see how this makes one hostile toward God?  When you think God is trying to take your stuff away, you fight Him.  That’s not the way of the Christ follower.

Submission to God means seeking first what He wants.  The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.  The things we hold onto are nothing compared to what He has for us if we obey and let Him lead.  If you’re holding on, give this a try:  let go and ask what God wants for you.

Romans: Live According to the Spirit

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Is your mind set on things of the Spirit?  It’s pretty easy in today’s culture so saturated with entertainment and technology to fail to think about the right things.  Without even realizing it, we sometimes ignore God’s voice.

We live in a time when there is literally no excuse to ever be bored.  If you don’t like what you’re watching on TV, you likely have 500 other channels to choose from.  If that isn’t working for you, there are thousands of websites, many that claim to be “social” to keep you  occupied.  Magazines, smart phone apps and games, online gaming, the list is endless.  If we’re not careful we can be consumed by the things of the world.

But as Christians we’re not called to be consumed by this world.  We’re called to be set apart from it.  In the world but not of it, if you will.  The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do.  That doesn’t mean we never have fun or never set aside time for pure entertainment.  It just means we have a different worldview from which we operate.  We set our mind on the things of God and when we do that, the other stuff out there pales in comparison.

When Faith is a Mystery

Faith can be a mystery to us as we struggle with the deeper questions and the more daunting challenges that we can face. It’s not so much the question of its existence. After all, most who abide in it understand that “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Rather, it’s a question of the why and how, finding ourselves wondering what possible good could come out of this even as we try to hold fast to the hope that we need.

Sometimes we don’t easily or quickly find the answers we need. Sometimes it feels as if we push a little too hard, trying to get to where we want to be, to where we feel like we need to be. We battle with these ideas and these thoughts that we just can’t seem to escape telling us something needs to be different, trying so hard to convince ourselves that these things too shall pass, but not entirely sure when or even if they ever really will.

It’s in these times that we struggle, not necessarily with the existence of God, but in what grand scheme, what grand design He has for us. We just don’t necessarily know. We cling to the promises that He has made, the promise that He will never fail us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5) or that if we need answers that He will give them to us. (James 1:5) We pray with that sincere heart, searching for the purpose and the meaning we are in such desperate need of and it seems like it is far removed from our lives.

What we have to remember is that God, He never promised us that the road we are going to go down was going to be an easy one, nor does He promise us easy answers or quick fixes. Sometimes we are told that our Heavenly Father, He just wants us to be happy. The truth is He does, there is little question of that. The redeeming sacrifice of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the perfect example of that. Yet, He wants us to be happy for the right reasons and the right times, knowing that He has a time for all things. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) This is the way that He ensures that we are as He wills, never letting anything touch us that is more than we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Though the answers and the reasons may not be clearly apparent at first, this is why Christ, our blessed and good Shepherd, is there for us. He is there not just as the great and wondrous deliverance for our sins, but also to take upon Himself the yoke of our burdens, giving us the rest, hope and peace that we so need during the trials that we must face during this existence. (Matthew 11:28-29)

God’s path, and His design may not be the simplest or the easiest. It may, at times, even go beyond our ability to understand or comprehend as we travel it. That’s okay. Not all things are meant to be revealed right then or there, regardless of the challenges it may create. Sometimes, by knowing at that very moment it would even create a greater challenge to the spirit and to the soul that we just find ourselves unable to wrap our heads around, because not only did we not need to know right then, we just aren’t capable of knowing right then and there. Sometimes we need time to travel down that path to give us what we need to grow, to be, to find ourselves before the answers make any sort of sense to us.

Sometimes we need to let go of the how and the why and let ourselves be just transcend it. We need not to think of faith as a mystery but as a journey through the deeper places within ourselves, knowing that the trials we face and the adversities that are there are nothing more than markers on a road towards a greater end for our lives. We grow when we learn to let go, and we learn that though the moments may be hard, all of them weave together to create a greater picture that we are meant to see with time and space.

Let these moments pass through you, but don’t let their lessons pass by you as you search for meaning in them. In the end they will tell you of a grander, greater vision that God, in His infinite love has for you. You just have to let it.

Marking Success and Failure

How do we mark our lives? How do we note the successes of it? How do we mark the triumphs that come with it?

Last week we talked about the feelings of failure that we can have. We talked about those gnawing senses that something just isn’t right. It was a question of when you look around and you can’t help but feel yourself overwhelmed and even a bit overshadowed as this sense that something just isn’t as it should be comes to dominate over you, leaving you with this lingering feeling that you aren’t as you should be.

It’s a difficult challenge that we can face, one that can wreak a special sort of havoc on us. Yet sometimes it’s not a matter of how we understand success or failure. It’s a matter of how we understand life.

You see, for as much as we want it to be sometimes, life isn’t something that’s just black and white. Situations, circumstances, they don’t make it that simplistic. Yes, perhaps we want it to be. It would, in most cases, make everything a lot easier for us. There wouldn’t be the conflicts and the struggles that cause the deeper questions to arise within us. We would know who we are, what we were meant for. No one and nothing could take that from us, because we would see the path’s that are in front of us just so much clearer.

It’s why we need to understand that though God has plans for our lives, plans that He has set out since the moment of our conception, since the time of our birth, (Jeremiah 1:5) it’s never quite as simple or easy as we may like it to be. This isn’t because God is somehow confusing. Our Heavenly Father is anything but, making Himself apparent in all things if we choose to look and to see it. (Isaiah 40:21) The problem is we don’t necessarily live in a world that’s that cut and dry, in a world that is solely guided by His hand and His influence.

Perhaps this is why we are called His workmanship, created anew in Christ for the works that He has intended for us. (Ephesians 2:10) Note the fact that isn’t that it doesn’t tell us that we are completed. No, it tells us that we are a worked by the hand of the Master Craftsman Himself, molded and form, shaped for the things that He has intended for us and for our lives.

What needs to be remembered is that though God’s design for our lives is towards the divine, He sets out His plan for our life with a deep knowledge of this world and our nature. He understands that to the person who everything is given, nothing is really valued, and to those who are never challenged, nothing is ever enough. It isn’t a matter of testing us, it is a matter of teaching us all that we need to know, never giving us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) while showing us the path, showing us the road and the journey that we need to be on.

God uses this, whether it is our failure or our success, to guide us. They don’t define us, not even our greatest success or most tremendous of failures. They are intended to be nothing more than the deeper lessons that we can learn as we are directed towards the people we need to be. Even as one failure grips us, a success is waiting around the corner, and just as one success satisfies this need in us, chances are there are more failures still waiting for our lives. It’s because our Heavenly Father, He knows us. He knows that there are certain things we are only going to examine, that we are only going to question, and to actively seek the answers for, the answers He is waiting to give us (James 1:5) in these situations. Sometimes we need to be humbled to find where we need to be, while other times He elevates us because these triumphs are meant to show us a view that we need to have.

In all of this the question the Disciple needs to ask themselves is why? Why has this happened? It’s not a question to be taken lightly, or out of a sense of pity or arrogance. It’s a question that is meant to lead them towards the sense that they are supposed to make out of it, so they can find what God is trying to show them for their lives.

Once you see your successes and your failures as nothing more than markers on the road of life you can set about really living your life, moving through the journey that it’s intended to be to become the person that you need to. Each one step, it tells you, teaches you a little something about yourself as it shows you not who you are but directs you, in love, hope, faith and compassion, towards the person you need to be.

As we understand that we understand what is intended for us better than we ever did before dwelling on nothing more than the challenges, and the successes and failures of our lives.

That Feeling of Being a Failure

It’s hard, at times, not to feel a bit like a failure, isn’t it? Sometimes we know exactly where these feelings coming from, we tried something and it didn’t work or something in our lives just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot easier in those moments because we know what the problem is, and, even if we don’t necessarily know how to fix it, we can pinpoint it, we can put our finger on it and we can try to figure out how to make that change, even if we know it’s going to be slow going.

The real challenge is when we feel like that failure and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from. It’s when this darkness seems to just twist and turn around us, and we can’t quite manage to put our finger on what it is or why it’s there. It could be a combination any number of things and yet nothing at the same time, just this lingering feeling that something isn’t right, and you’re the one to blame.

Have you ever felt that way? Looking around, kind of questioning what’s wrong with your life as you know it’s something but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Slowly you start to feel overwhelmed and overshadowed until finally it becomes this inescapable feeling that dominates so many of your thoughts as you wonder what you’re even doing, trying to define your life, trying to figure it all out, but not entirely sure where to go or where to start.

In a sense there is no simple answer to this question, except life itself.

You see, by its very nature, life and living is an act of faith. It is an understanding that it is going to be wrought with challenges and adversity, with struggles and things that we just don’t seem to understand. Yet it is also a question of living for the moments of joy and peace, knowing that whatever darkness may surround us, they do come and they wrap around us in ways that bring to us a hope that we can feel devoid of in our lives at times. Perhaps we don’t even realize we are living in that faith, but, by living and breathing, by taking those steps forward we are seeking out the answers that we need to find our place.

The beauty of it though is that it is nothing that we have to go through alone. To live in faith is never to walk a solitary or lonely path. It is to have a constant companion with you, a confidant who doesn’t only know every unspoken place within you, but who doesn’t need for you to say it to see it. As our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, reminds us, even when we feel the most alone, we never are because God, our Heavenly Father, is there to carry us through the most difficult of chapters and the most trying of times. (John 16:32-33) In this love, and commitment to us, He never fails us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5)

Yes, there are perhaps going to be times in our lives when it feels like the world, when it feels like our world, is just nothing that we quite understand, and we feel like a failure in it, unable to necessarily do anything right. Yet that’s never just the end of the story for us. There is a plan for our lives, one that has been set out from the day in which we were conceive, appointed by the Great Architect and the Grand Designer of the Universe (Jeremiah 1:5), the Creator who has made all things small and large, who takes not only an active interest in your life, but whose hand guides it.

For whatever other struggles we may know, for whatever failures we may think have taken hold of our lives, that is nothing more than the beginning of the story, a story of self-discover and self-awareness that shows us our true worth and value beyond anything we ever quite knew. It just has to come with the understanding that though God answers all questions for us, giving to us freely of His knowledge, (James 1:5) not all answers we feel we need are the ones that we need right at that moment. It’s a matter of relying on His understanding, His timing, more than our own, knowing that it will come. (Habakkuk 2:3) Revealing itself in its own time, in His time, it comes when we need it most.

Failure, for however it might feel, for whatever challenges it may bring, or wherever it may come from, is nothing more than a path towards a greater end if we let it be. Yes, perhaps we don’t necessarily even know why we feel like a failure, but then, whatever those feelings are, or wherever they come from, they need not weaken you if you understand they are not meant to drag you down, but rather push you forward. The struggles that it brings, it is meant to teach us more about ourselves, about who we are and what we want, about the intrinsic value of success that could and would otherwise be lost on us.

We are defined by what we let define us. We can define ourselves by what truly matters if we look at each day of our lives as a deeper journey into our faith, and understand that these feelings, they are not defining feelings, but tools to help us build the path, to lay the brick work that will lead us down the road of our greatest possible success, a success that our Heavenly Father wants for us to have in our lives.

The High Priestly Prayer

John 17:1-26  

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.t 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,t that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Before the world was created, Jesus was.  Before time began, Jesus was.  And then, the Eternal One who holds all things in balance did something extraordinary – He stepped into time and took on human flesh.  He gave up all the glory of heaven so that we could know God.  He gave up many of His rights as God, but one thing He did not give up – His love for us.

While on this earth, Jesus loved His own just as He loved them in heaven.  In His last hours, He prayed a beautiful prayer, first for His close followers and then for you and me.  He knew He was betrayed, He knew He would die, and He knew that you and I would sin against Him.  But He prayed a high priestly prayer for our joy in Him, our unity in Him, our sanctification in Him.

Then Jesus gave us an idea of what salvation is all about.  He died that we might be where He is, that we may see His glory and therefore glorify the Father.  This was the plan before time began.  He’s always loved us, before we even existed.  And though we have sinned against Him, He chose to die in our place, taking our sins onto Himself, so that we can experience eternal life with Him.  Oh what love He has for us.

Faith as Love

If, as James tells us, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17) then it must be remembered by the disciple of Christ that faith, in its purest form, is an act of love. After all, “saved by faith, through grace, and not of our works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), what is our redemption and the sacrifices that give it its power but an act of love strengthening and preserving us even unto life everlasting?

Considered rightly, in accordance with the teachings of our blessed Savior that admonishes us to love one another to show our life given to Him (John 13:34-35), the two are intrinsically bound together. In this what it offers to us is an understanding that teaches us that without love there can be no faith.

In this relationship love is more than a feeling. It is act, a commitment, a sense of duty that only really and truly exists through actions, through thought and deed that strive towards the individual call to do more with the gifts that have been given to us by the blessings of our Creator. It is the hope that we offer in the lives of others, hearing the words of Christ, living by His example, each and every step of the way seeking to uplift and edify others according to their needs as we hear the call to service.

You see every one of us, we have something to offer. The God who fearfully and wonderfully created us did so that our lives could and would be in service, offering to us strengths, talents and abilities that are meant to be used. (Luke 12:48) The question then for the disciple, living amidst a world where there is so much need, is what will I do to meet it? If our faith lives within us then, in love, we must ask ourselves what will I do to ensure the betterment of others?

Perhaps, in a busy and hectic life, we think to ourselves that we just don’t have the time. After all there is so much that could be done that to worry about it, to try and take it on, would be overwhelming. Yet the truth is that hope and love, it begins one life at a time. We don’t need to take on the world. If each disciple took it upon themselves to take up one cause, to effect change in one life that is in need, working to truly help one person before moving on to the next, true and lasting change could be made to significantly help others. All it takes is a little sacrifice on our part.

Consider, for a moment, the life of Christ, the one whose example we, in our faith, are to live by. (1 Corinthians 11:1) There was never a time He took on more than He could handle. Most of time He healed one or two at a time, He worked on the individual spirits and souls, body and minds before that great, encompassing sacrifice that saved us all. For us it serves as a lesson that teaches us that no person is expected to do more than they can, but they are expected to live according to a love that heals, that strengthens, and that calls others through the love that they have.

Look around, consider the lives of those who surround you and the need that is there. Give of your time and yourself to those who are struggling and find themselves in desperation. Be the disciple that God knows you can be, the disciple that He calls you to be. Take the time each day to consider the world around you, to think of those in your life who are struggling and how you can help them. Look for causes, worthy causes, that you can donate to, volunteer with, and help those who live in a constant battle find some sort of sense in their life.

In faith, our lives can be given to love that the blessings we have been endowed with can bring happiness, joy and strength to others. This can be our testimony that shines forth from hearts and souls if we are so inclined to hear the calling of Christ. The only question then left to ask is what sort of disciple will you be and how will your life offer of the love that saved you?