God provides for us what He requires from us

Ever feel like you’re in over your head? Golly, I’ve been there more than once in my life, with the majority of those times happening within the last 10 months. Without fail, most of the times when I feel overwhelmed is when I’m doing something I know God has told me to do.

Something I’ve learned following God all these years? He asks me to do things I can’t do, and He does it all the time. Talk to strangers. Do math. Run a business. I don’t know how to do any of that. But those are specific things He’s told me to do. Well, not the “do math” part, but it’s implied with the “run a business” part.

When God tells you to do something impossible, you’ve got two choices. Either you tell Him no, or you ask Him for help. Because, yes, God asks us to do impossible things, but He knows we can’t do the impossible. That’s why we have Him. And if we know nothing else about God, we know that God has always, always provided for us what He requires from us.

Happy Scottish sheep grazing on the green grass near Hadrian's Wall in Northern England

Happy Scottish sheep grazing on the green grass near Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England

Today’s verses are Genesis 22:6-8, 13-14.

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and Abraham was willing to do it. The writer of Hebrews states in chapter 11 that Abraham had faith that God would resurrect Isaac if need be, and he didn’t even hesitate. God told Abraham what He wanted, and Abraham went to do it. And God provided the sacrifice for him.

Over and over and over, throughout Scripture and even throughout the lives of Christ-followers in history, God has always provided. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s faith. Maybe it’s clothing or shelter or safety or status. Whatever a Christ-follower needs, he or she gets exactly when they need it. The trick is you probably don’t have it to start out with.

You have to be willing. Abraham was willing to give up his son because God asked him to, trusting that God knew what was best. And when God asks us to do something, we should be willing to obey even if what He’s asking doesn’t make sense right away.

God won’t contradict His Word, though. So be sure you always weigh what you think He’s telling you to do against Scripture. But once you determine the path He wants you on, get on it, whether you think you’re equipped for it or not.

So what’s keeping you in place today? Are you scared because you don’t know the future? Well, nobody does, so don’t let that stop you. God knows what’s coming, and He can be trusted. Do you lack money and finances? Do you lack independence? Do you lack courage? What about education or experience?

Don’t listen to the fear that’s holding you down. If your reason for telling God no is because you’re afraid, you’re listening to the wrong voice. God doesn’t operate through fear. And if He is asking you to do something for Him, He will provide you with everything you need to make it happen. Maybe you think it’s impossible. It probably is, but with God, all things are possible.

Give God a chance. Be willing to take that first step. God has always provided what He requires, and He won’t stop now.

Advertisements

Isn’t being bold the same as being obnoxious?

People don’t believe me when I tell them I’m shy. I’m introverted, yes, but that doesn’t automatically mean I’m shy. And in most circumstances when I’m around people, I’m only in places where I’m very comfortable. When I’m comfortable, I can come off like a total extrovert.

But that’s not who I really am. I’m the quiet one in the corner who likes to get my bearings before I jump into anything. I like to gauge a crowd, a room, a speaker before I answer a question or put up my hand for a comment. But even then, even after I’ve taken the time to get to a place where I’m not terrified, I still feel an urge to stay quiet. There’s always a voice in the back of my mind that tells me nobody needs to hear what I have to say and that if I walk up to someone to talk to them, I’ll just be interrupting. Or I’ll bother them.

But is that the way we’re supposed to live? Believing things like that about ourselves? Isn’t that humility? Or is it lies the enemy whispers to keep us silent when we really ought to speak up?

mountains-nature-sky-sunnyToday’s verse is 2 Corinthians 3:12.

Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

What does it mean to be bold? Is boldness synonymous with being obnoxious? That’s how I usually identify boldness. Being bold means you’re prideful or you’re full of yourself or you’re irritating.

But, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m pretty sure God isn’t okay with any of those character traits. So if God isn’t okay with any of that, how can we be bold if that’s what it means?

Easy answer, that’s not what it means. Being bold is being confident, and, sure, you can be confident in a wrong way. You can let your confidence become pride, or because you’re overly confident you can rub people the wrong way. But true boldness has very little to do with focusing on yourself.

What this verse is talking about is the boldness we have as Christ-followers. It’s probably referring specifically to how we can approach Christ with our troubles, that we can just go to Him whenever we need Him. That’s audacity. To approach the King of Heaven and ask a favor? Crazy talk. But I like to think that this verse is talking about more than just our prayer life.

Because of what Jesus did for us, we can be bold in everything we do. We don’t have to be timid and fearful. We don’t have to crumble whenever someone challenges us. We don’t have to hunker down and squeeze our eyes shut because someone disagrees with us. And, no, we don’t even have to stay quiet because we are shy.

We can live boldly because our confidence is in Jesus. Christ gave His life for us so that we could live abundantly. So what are we afraid of? Why are we hiding in the shadows? Sure, I dislike the spotlight, and I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. But when God has put me in a situation where I need to talk to people, the last thing I should be doing is sitting alone at a table scribbling notes.

I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m absolutely terrified to start up a conversation with someone I don’t know. Those are the lies Satan wants me to believe about myself, and it’s high time that I stopped listening to him.

What are you hiding from? What are you afraid to do, even though God’s told you to do it? Stop running. Stop believing the lies, and face those fears the enemy has planted in your heart. God has a plan for you, and it’s awesome. It’s time to get bold.

Sometimes fear can keep you content

Life is overwhelming. Everyone seems to be struggling to keep their head above the waves with all the stuff that keeps coming at them, and not all of it is bad. Some of it is good. Some of it may even be great, but that’s the way life is. We rarely get life in small doses.

I’ve been fighting discouragement in the last few weeks, questioning the wisdom of my choices and the direction I’m going. It’s funny because even when you start out genuinely questioning what God has told you to do, it doesn’t take long before fear sets in.

Fear can be healthy sometimes, but I believe that’s a specific type of fear. There are different kinds of fear, you know. Sort of like there are different kinds of love. The fear you feel in a life-threatening situation can make you stronger, faster, sharper than you would be without it. I’d say that’s beneficial. But the fear you feel when you start questioning what God has told you to do is the absolute opposite of a good thing, and it certainly doesn’t come from God.

In Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, Dune, there’s a famous statement about fear. He states: “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

While it’s true that fear can sometimes spur us to greater achievements, in most instances, fear dulls us and urges us to settle for less because we’re too afraid to keep pushing for the best. So how do you conquer the fear that will stunt your growth? How do you manage your fear when you face those questions that have no answer?

FearToday’s verses are Psalm 27:1-3.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

How do you conquer your fear? Remember Who’s on your side.

It’s easy to forget Who set you on this path when the troubles and struggles of life start piling up around you. They look so big, so overwhelming, so impossible to figure out, but in those moments when we’re so afraid that we’re going to fail, we need to stop and remember what we’re doing and Who we’re doing it for.

The Bible says that God is our light, our salvation, and our fortress. Think about that. God is our light. As long as we’re following Him, we won’t be lost in the darkness. God is our salvation. There’s no challenge or difficulty we can face that can have the victory over us because God is stronger than any trouble we can encounter. God is our fortress. No matter what weapons our enemy forges against us, nothing can touch us when we’re taking refuge in God’s presence.

So why are we afraid? Sure, it’s intimidating to face unanswerable questions. Yeah, it’s frightening to start down a path you can’t see the end of. But who sent you? Who are you doing it for? Why are you going?

The fear that comes in those moments doesn’t come from God. The fear that makes you doubt God’s goodness isn’t from Him. The fear that makes you doubt that He will take care of you and love you and forgive you no matter what isn’t from Him. It’s a lie.

If you’re following God, if you’re living your life for Christ, if you’re seeking Him first in every choice you make, God will be right by your side. Don’t forget that.

Don’t let our enemy convince you to be afraid of the uncertainties. That’s what he wants, because if he can keep you scared, he can keep you content. God calls us to be fearless, to face the challenges of life with His strength, which He offers us freely.

So what are you afraid of? If God is for you (He is, by the way), who could ever stop you?

God doesn’t call you to wear yourself out

I’m always busy, and I like it that way. But that means I burn out. Frequently. I try to head it off, but most of the time I have to crash and burn before anything changes.

For years, people have told me that I need to rest. But I’ve never really let myself do–well, because it doesn’t accomplish anything. At least, in my own mind, it’s a waste of time.

For me, what makes me feel rested is just being at home. Sleeping until I wake up, without an alarm. Having a real breakfast. And then spending the whole day just doing homey stuff. Cooking. Baking. Maybe watching a movie or two. Walking outside or playing in the snow–or just watching the snow fall with a cup of hot tea.

No word counts. No deadlines. No plans.

But when you have so much to do, so much to accomplish, so much to get done, it’s really really hard to take a real day off. Just because I’m not at my day job doesn’t mean I’m not working. At any given moment, I have five novels in progress, and the thought of taking a day off and not using the time to work on some personal project is horrifying.

So what if I need the rest? I only have a limited amount of time and energy, so I’d better be a good steward of what I have. And God will give me the strength and the energy and I need.

Won’t He?

Today’s verses are Matthew 11:28-29.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I do believe God gives us supernatural strength to finish the things He’s called us to do, but as with everything else in our lives, before we just assume He’ll do something for us, we need to check our hearts.

For me, I don’t think I’m always driven to be busy for Him. I’m driven to busy because I want to prove (to myself) that I have a purpose or that I’m useful. I think that’s my greatest fear is not being useful. But I think I’ve equated being busy with being useful for so long that when I’m not busy, I feel useless. And that’s not true.

This is why God gives us best friends: to talk sense into us when we’re being dumb.

Yes, it’s true that God calls us to work. He has great things He wants to do through us, but that’s up to Him. Not us. And just as He calls us to work, He also calls us to rest.

I fought it, but my best friend eventually convinced me to take a mental health day. Sure, I had to work overtime to get it, but I had plenty to do. And in other times, I would have used that extra day off this weekend to knock out 10,000 to 15,000 words on one of the four projects I have sitting around.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t write anything. For the whole day.

I woke up when the sun came up. I ate a lovely breakfast. I spent time with my parents. I cooked and baked. I Skyped with my best friend for two and a half hours. I watched a movie. And I went to bed when I got tired. And I didn’t allow myself to feel guilty that I didn’t get work done. I just enjoyed my day, and I woke up Saturday morning and felt–new.

How often do we push ourselves past the breaking point because we think it’s what God wants? I think I do it more than I would care to admit. But that’s not the life He’s called us to. A life following Christ isn’t easy, no, but it shouldn’t have the same burdens as a life lived without Him. That’s where we get it wrong.

The world tells us we have to be busy. We think we have to run around like crazy people so that everyone will know that we’re accomplishing something. But that’s a lie Satan uses to distract us and wear us down.

No, don’t be lazy, but don’t let the world set your schedule. Don’t let the world’s standards hold you to a timetable you’ll have to kill yourself to achieve. That’s not God’s path.

God’s road is narrow, yes, but there’s no weight He gives us that He won’t help us carry. So stop working yourself to death. Stop driving yourself into the ground. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to take a real day off. You need it. Everybody needs it.