Category Archives: Promises

Perspective Versus Perception

CatAndMirror111 Perception

Have you ever felt like you really had nothing to offer? Everyone around you seems to be rocking their world and you can’t even rock your way into a better job or any job, a better car, or a nicer place to live.

You say to yourself, “This is just my lot in life and I just have to learn to live with it. For many, to many, years this was my perspective on life.

I would tell myself there are the haves and the have-nots and that is just the way life is. I saw myself as unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Having an average appearance with straight brown hair, light brown eyes,  painfully shy and insecure, nope, nothing exceptional about me.

Living in a dysfunctional family, in a rented house, wearing outdated clothes from Sally’s Boutique and riding in an old beat up car. I wasn’t exactly a sought after individual by my peers. Oh I made a few friends and did fair in school but there were no extra curricular activities (ECAs) other than chorus for a year in Jr high (I think it was required?). So I found my own ECA’s. with others in my own league, the-down-and-outers league. (Not a reflection on the person of my friends, just my perception of where we all were in life at the time.) One thing I did like was dancing and was told I was pretty good at it by many. I had a brief glimmer of hope that I might become a professional choreographer, but alas, I was told later in my teen years that my legs were to short to be a professional dancer. Chalk it off as another flaw!

My perception through all of these experiences was that I didn’t have anything of value to offer therefore could expect little in the way of return or success. This brought about years of just settling for less than God’s best. And also became a good excuse for not trying to do better. Yup, that’s where it takes you!

You see our perception, how we see ourselves and our abilities, has a definite effect on our perspective, the outcome that we expect. And the outcome we expect will, more than likely be the outcome we get.

If we perceive ourselves as victims, we will expect to be a victimized by others so we don’t trust.

If I perceive ourselves as  failures we don’t expect to succeed therefore we don’t try.

If we perceive there is no way out of a relationship, a financial crisis, or a struggle with self control  in some area then we expect nothing will change and we give up, we lose hope.

a different perspective

In the Bible we see a perfect example of how perspective affects perception and visa-versa. God promised Abraham that He would give his offspring the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:7, 17:1-8 and again reminded Moses and the Israelites of His promise in Exodus 3:7-8.

But when the time came to prepare to enter the promised land the twelve members of the reconnaissance team, sent out by Moses to scope out the land, came back with conflicting recommendations. Oh, they all agreed it was, for sure, a land that “flowed with milk and honey” and they even brought back a sample of the beautiful fruit that was there. But ten of the twelve quickly followed up with, “However  (a fancier word for but), the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large…….we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” God said He would give them the land but they let fear take control and keep them from claiming the promise.

Yet two of the twelve were ready to take the giants on! These two, Joshua and Caleb, saw their God as much bigger than those they saw in the land, God said that He was going to give them the land and they believed He would do just that. Most will remember the name of the two, but who remembers the name of the other ten?

The difference in the two reports was not accuracy in what all twelve saw but in their perception of how they saw it in light of their own understanding. The two believing their God could and would keep His promise trusted Him with the difficulties they might face. The ten could only see defeat, forgetting God’s promises.

The good news is that our perspective in turn can also change our perception and a changed perception and perspective can change our life, our world! When we can look at Scripture and study it we begin to see how God sees us and that is a real game changer!

We see that God sees potential in us and we begin to believe things can change.

We understand “in the world we will have trouble” but also are promised that God has overcome the world and will be with us. If we believe we can have courage to change.

We begin to see in, hind-site, how God has been working behind the scenes in our lives and can believe His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us and we can know He will pick us up when we fall. (Hebrews 13:5-6)

We can even believe that we “can do all things through Christ who is our strength”, so we step out in faith and try. (Philippians 4:23)

If we perceive God is good, and He is, and we believe He keeps His promises, and He does, then we can have faith and believe that He will. For we know that God can do all things; no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2).

“For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

Yes, we remember the rejection and pain we have experienced at the hands of others or as a result of our own choices in life, but we can believe God loves us, forgives us and promises to restores us, and He does.

Steven Furtick writes in his book: Crash the Chatterbox – Hearing God’s Voice Above All the Others: “The Enemy can’t do a thing to diminish God’s promises – that ability is decidedly beyond the limits of his power. So instead he lures you into places where your perspective of God’s promises will be diminished.”

For Adam and Eve it was near a the tree of life, the very tree God had forbidden them to eat from.  (It’s never a good idea to get that close to forbidden fruit!) Genesis 3:1-7

For the ten spies it was a land of giants. (There are giants in every land.) (Numbers 13:31-33)

For  Elijah it was seclusion in a cave. (We can’t hide from God)(1 Kings 19:1-14)

Where has he been luring you? Has the Enemy taken you places in your own head or heart that are altering your perception of who God is and who you are in Him?

Are you close to forbidden fruit, fearing the giants, or hiding from God in seclusion?

Go to the quiet place and listen for God’s voice. Read His Word and search out His promises. Read about how much He loves you and longs to help you become all He has for you to be. Tell him about your fears, insecurities, anxieties.

He is waiting for you, even pursuing you. In all these things He is able to bring you into a better place, for your good and His glory!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under character study, faith stages, forgiveness, peace, Promises, self-examination, Weary encouragement hope

Looking For A Leader

Hard questions

Over the last year young and old of every race and every religion have been looking for a leader. This past years election cycle will probably go down in history as the most unusual election cycle in our nation.

The election is over now but as I think about all the different opinions I see that everyone is really looking for the same thing.

We are looking for a leader who is radically different.

A leader who will:

* stand up to the establishment

* Look out for the needs of the masses as well as the individual and provide for those needs.

* Put the needs of others ahead of their own comfort

* Give all people real hope and change for a better future

* Provide a resting place where people can feel safe and secure

* Provide justice and mercy, fairness and forgiveness

We all want a someone with a proven track record in all of the above. Someone whose plans, when followed, never failed.

Sounds impossible but that leader we are looking for has been right in front of us for over 2000 years. The most radical leader of all time, who has never been equaled – not even close. It is Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”                                                                                                                                                                 John 1:1

He is not an establishment figure

His message was and still is definitely one of hope and change

He never wavers in the truth and exposes the lies

He knows our every need and has the ability to meet every need and His resources are unlimited

His desire is to reach out to and meet the needs of every person of every race, gender and nation

He is always just and fair

He has a purpose and plan for every life and there are multitudes who have followed Him and give testimony to the details and outcomes of the plans in real-time for years.

His “super pack” was twelve men who spoke truth, His truth. They served and took care of others ahead of their own needs. They defended the weak, widowed and orphans. This super pack stood firm in their faith and in the truth even where there was personal insult and injury, standing up against the establishment for what was right and what was truth.

We have a new president-elect now who will soon take over to lead our country and we should be praying for him as he leads. Things are still somewhat unsettled and probably will continue to be even into the next election. It will always be that way with men!

But no matter what our political views are, with God we can always have that hope and change we long for. Christ is the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Christ alone can bring us the peace we need in this crazy world we live in if we will follow Him.

He is the only leader I  know with the perfect resume.

Why not follow the Leader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under accountability, assignment, character study, peace, Promises, Weary encouragement hope

“Education or Transformation?”

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transformation-1

 

Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.                                                                                                                Matthew 28:16-20

These are the instructions Jesus gave to the leadership of the early church after His resurrection and before His ascension back to the Father.They were to go, to make disciples, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey His commands. Jesus prefaced his command with a proclamation that “all authority” was His to give such a command and followed the command with a promise to be with them “to the very end of the age”.

This was and still is the primary work of the church!

However, I believe it is one of the greatest challenges facing the church today. We  invite, entertain, include, educate, baptize, teach them God’s commands and add them to the membership rolls.

Now all these things are important but it seems that in our haste to move new believers along we tend to jump over the “making disciples” part. And I believe one reason we do is because we aren’t sure how to disciple because we may not have been discipled ourselves. God has been convicting me in the area of making disciples but, honestly, I didn’t know how.

Unfortunately, we, “the Church”, in varying degrees, seems to have lost the focus on “making disciples” and in many of our churches we have become more of a social club, entertainment club, and/or an educational center where we can learn many things about what Scripture teaches and the principles we are to live by but fail to move God’s truth from our heads to our hearts, our hands, and our feet. We are not often challenged to put them into practice and can become comfortable with gaining information but not  walking in obedience to God’s commands and according to His principles. Therefore, we see little transformation in our lives. Some who have been Christians for years don’t know how to disciple because many have not yet been taught discipleship themselves, present company not excluded!

To many times I have been guilty of wanting to make it comfortable for new believers so I didn’t challenge them with the truths that sometimes are difficult to live by and in so doing have watered down the scriptures. After all they were saved, and were doing all the things they needed to do.  They were attending church, getting involved in a ministry in the church, tithing, and the list goes on, but there was no significant maturing of fruit in lives as a result of the doing. I realize now believers should do all those things but we also need to be challenged by the God’s word to be more Christlike in our daily activities.

We have programs to increase attendance, to grow the Sunday school and children’s programs and increase membership numbers. We post attendance and offering numbers (see my blog post) Are We Counting What Really Counts There are places on our annual reports for the number of those accepting Christ as Savior and those sanctified.

But how many disciples are we making who are in turn discipling others? Do we have effective training in our churches in discipleship or are we teaching new believers just enough to make them comfortable in their salvation so they can get into heaven but possibly with the smell of smoke on their coattails?

Having been involved in both Bible Studies and Sunday school classes where the teaching on Scripture was excellent and ideas for practical application were discussed yet often where there were few testimonies shared of how God’s truth had transformed lives or the lives of others. To often the story of our conversion, important as it is, is the only testimony we have, but that should only be the beginning. God’s continued changing grace through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit adds to our testimony and God’s power can be seen in our lives as we walk in humble obedience to the principles and commands in His word every day.

However, if what we learn is not applied to everyday life; if we don’t meditate on God’s truths and let them become the guiding force in our lives, we have education but without transformation. We grow in knowledge but lack understanding and do not mature in our faith and we miss out on His best for us. If we don’t interact with God and become  teachable; if we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking and understanding; if the truths of God are not seen in our lives how can it help others believe Jesus could transform their lives.

 

Are our small groups and Sunday school classes just providing information or seeing transformation as a result of spending time together in the Word?

If not, why not?

As we reach out to those who are lost and share the gospel and they respond by receiving Christ as their Savior do we continue to disciple them and help them to grow in their faith? Do we share scriptural truths and God’s commands and challenge them to live by them while sharing our testimony of the challenges where He has brought us victory? Do we share our own testimony of how God has transformed our lives and the lives of so many others?

Do we really disciple?

Are we making disciples?

Just what does it mean to “make disciples”?

Got Questions Ministries web site answers that question pretty well:

“A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way.”

(© Copyright 2002-2016 Got Questions Ministries)

Just how do we go about “making disciples”?

How do we measure how we are doing in this area of the Great Commission, “making disciples”?

In any educational institution there is always a book learning aspect so we know the basic principles we are working from and then a skills lab where we are shown a demonstration of how to apply the knowledge in order to connect what we learned from the book to practical application. Along the way there are test that include both aspects to evaluate proficiency in obtaining the desired outcomes for the skill and the course.

The Bible is our text book and Jesus is our instructor for the skills lab. He made it simple for us by demonstrating how it is done. All through life there are tests used to help us to grow and obtain God’s desired outcomes in us and in His church.

We simply follow the example Jesus set as he went out and chose 12 ordinary men and made disciples out of them, praying for them, spending time with them, speaking God’s truth to them,teaching them and challenging them to obey His commands and live by His principles. This is what should be happening in our Bible Studies, our Sunday School classes, our Small Groups. Praying, teaching, training and practicing the same principles that Jesus taught,  challenging and expecting those we are teaching to do the same. To follow our example as we follow Christ’s.

 

To make disciples we must pray for them, spend time with them, teach them from Scripture and by what the Father has given us to speak, practice what He taught and challenge them to do the same.

His disciples learned from him, watched him, saw how he taught them and followed his example. Believers in the early church followed the disciples example as they followed Christ’s and the church grew in strength and in faith and unity.

How do we measure? Not in tithes or attendance but in the strength and unity of our churches. In how we are able to reach the lost for Christ and make disciples who will go and do the same. And then we will see a steady increase in both tithe and attendance that will blow us away!

“I (Jesus) have set you and example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”                                                                                                                                        John 13:15-17

Is there someone willing to come along side of you to disciple you? Ask them!

Is there someone who needs you to come along side them to disciple them? Reach out to them!

Maybe your sensing a call to begin a discipleship ministry in your church? Start one!

You will be blessed if you do!!!

 

 

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Filed under accountability, character study, communication, Discipleship, faith stages, humility, Promises, responsibility, self-examination, Uncategorized

When The Path Is Unclear

 

cliff overhang

I generally don’t give much sway to my dreams however I woke one morning, not long ago, troubled by a dream in which I was walking on a path along a pleasant, sandy shoreline when gradually, the path began to narrow then suddenly it disappeared. As I looked around there was water as far as I could see on my right and in front of me it snuggled up close to the towering cliff on my left. My claustrophobia kicked in and  I began to feel very anxious.

I turned quickly to take the path back however it had become narrow as well and the cliff now was stretching out over the water.The path had also become rocky and difficult to navigate.

The obstacles in front of me seemed insurmountable and I feared going forward.  The narrow, rocky path going back was very difficult at  best.  My fear of water and heights kept me from going forward and my fear of the pain and difficulty I might experience on the path behind me kept me from going back. I felt trapped. Anxiety became all out panic and I woke with a start.

I was grateful to be awake and realize it was only a dream but later as I began my morning routine I still felt restless and even a little anxious. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head.

In preparation for my morning devotions my thoughts drifted back to the path in the dream. I suddenly realized how similar it was to the path I was on in my life lately. The anxiety and panic in the dream was similar to what I had been feeling all to often these days.

My husband and I had been sensing God’s call for us to relocate to Macon, Georgia to serve for a year at Hephzibah Children’s Home and to be part of a new church plant in Macon. We had worked at the children’s home for years but only for a couple of weeks each year. This time it would be for a year.

We had already begun preparations two years before because God impressed on us that a change was coming and we needed to get out of debt. We sold our home and found a rental house. We paid off our credit cards and did some major downsizing. We signed a lease for one year on the rental feeling we would have time to pray about what God had in mind for us. During that year God made it clear that we were to go to Macon. Though I wanted to go and was excited about the possibility of being part of these ministries the thought of being so far from family, especially our grandchildren, had kept me from making the commitment and taking those final steps of faith I needed to take.

The year was up, the lease was up and it was decision time! Taking the path forward would mean leaving our family and friends and most of our belongings 950 miles behind not knowing for sure what all would be waiting for us in Georgia or what would happen at the end of that year. But to stay would mean taking a painful path back of starting over from scratch.  I knew I would always wonder what could have happened if we had gone.

In the dream I had focused on the obstacles and fear kept me from going in either direction. I began to understand that I had to look past the obstacles and move forward, trusting God for whatever lie ahead. I also  realized that to refuse and turn back would be to live in fear of moving forward as well as to live in defeat. As I looked past what I saw as obstacles on the path it became clear. I had waited on God for direction, He had given me confirmation and now He had made it clear that I should take the next step in moving forward. God would give me a place to put my foot now and for the next step after that when I needed it. I needed only to stayed focused on Him.

We have been in Georgia for almost four months now and we certainly miss our family, but  are in contact with them regularly. God has blessed us to be able to go home for a visit already and we will also be able to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and return to finish our year commitment after the holidays. The blessings we receive as we serve the Children’s Home and the Church are more than we could have imagined.

None of the things I feared came to pass. We haven’t missed a thing we sold or left behind, except our kids of course! 🙂  And we are actually planning on down-sizing even more in the future when we return home.

Yes, there was so much more beyond the end of the path that was visible!

What path are you on?

What obstacle do you see that keep you from moving forward?

What struggle would you face by going back or not moving at all?

Look up my friend! Look up!

God is ready and waiting to clear the path for you to take that next important step that will put you in the center of His will.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”              Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, faith stages, Family, peace, Promises, self-examination

Overcome Or Overcomer?

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Oh, what a difference one letter in a word can make! And even when a word is spelled the same it can have a totally different meaning depending on the context in which it is written or spoken.

In the storms of this life there are times I feel overcome with anxiety, worry and fear and what I have learned, after many years of experience in this field, is that how I handle the situation will determine whether I let the negative emotions overtake me or overcome the negative to embrace the peace that is available to me in and through the “overcomer”, Christ Jesus.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specialises in things thought impossible

He does the things others cannot do. (original chorus written by Oscar C. Eliason)

Lean in on the one who is the Overcomer. His promise is to give you peace, even in the midst of the storm!

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