2020 Goals

Putting your trust in God does not mean that you trust Him to make everything end up the way YOU think it should.

Putting your trust in God means that you trust Him to make everything end up the way HE knows it should.

Trust is actually believing that His ways are better and higher than anything we could ask or imagine (immeasurably more— as Ephesians 3:20 points out). Your goals for 2020 should point to Him. They should be ordained by Him. In viewing our life in terms of eternity, our “goals” only matter if they are in line with the ultimate goal. In the Lords Prayer, we are given an outline in which to pray. I come back to this often because it’s such a clear instruction from Jesus. Here it is:

This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13 NIV

This prayer starts with, “hallowed be your name.” This word “hallowed” means He should be honored and glorified. Secondly, Jesus instructs us to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done.” When I read this, it tells me that when we’re are talking with God, we start by focusing on the fact that He is number one. We need to ask Him for everything in our life to point to that fact.

How often, though, do we come to Him with requests?

This is not a bad thing. Philippians 4:6 tells us to make our requests known to God. He cares about what you care about and He wants to hear from you. Too often though, we are putting our requests in front of His purpose or neglecting His plan altogether.

My favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your path straight.” This has always been an encouraging verse to me. In so many seasons, including this very confusing one, it tells me that He is in control and worthy of my trust. It also says to “lean not on (my) own understanding” and that tells me that I’m not going to understand it. The lack of understanding may be a good thing. It may mean that it’s becoming more about Him and less about you.

Keep your eyes on the goal!!! The goal is for His Kingdom to come and His Will to be done. Everything that happens in our life should point to that goal.

The Character of God

The past few months have been challenging for my walk. The death of my son Levi has brought me into a season where God’s plan doesn’t make sense to me. My current feelings are not due to my comprehension of suffering. My confusion stems from thinking that I had a clear grasp of what God was doing, and it turns out that I did not (details of that story are for a future time).

Although I still do not have any idea what God is doing, I can stand on what is constant… the character of God.

I’m learning everyday about what it means to put your faith in God. This has been an ongoing education throughout my life, but it’s been at a doctorate level in the past year. I may not be an expert yet, but I can tell you what faith is not…Faith in God is not a wish-granting factory.

Yes, all things are possible with God, but not all things are planned by God.

Faith requires a complete dependence on the fact that God knows what He’s doing. It involves trusting that His plans are right even when they don’t match your plans.

I’ve always felt like I had BIG faith, but the truth is, your faith is measured in the valley. Your faith is measured when you are waiting. We know this from the story of Job. I’ve honestly always struggled with this story. The Bible says, in Job 42, that God gave Job twice as much as he had before. I always thought, “well that’s nice, but he’ll never forget what he lost. The pain will always be there.”

The truth is, I believe that the pain is there for a reason. Job was not meant to forget the times of suffering. If Job forgot the suffering, then how would the rest of us get to be encouraged by it. I like to think that when God was writing Job’s story, He was thinking about you and I. He was considering everyone who would go through a struggle. Now, we have an example to turn to when our faith is tested. (Also, I believe only a portion of Job’s abundance was found here on Earth — something to look forward to :))

Oswald Chambers described faith so well when he said,

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.

I know that right now it feels bad. Right now, I don’t understand. Right now, I’m dealing with a million emotions a day…

BUT right now, my God is setting the stage for something miraculous. My God is good and His character has been shown countless times. My eyes can’t see what’s unfolding now, but by looking at what He’s done in the past, I’m assured that the future is in good hands.

Job surely didn’t understand his circumstances when he was facing them, but his faith came from trusting in the One who was holding everything together. BIG faith is trusting in a BIG God despite how things appear.

Hebrews 13 talks about Him being the same yesterday, today and forever. The character of God doesn’t change either. He’s still working things for your good, even in the midst of it looking really bad.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT

Quick thought: Nothing is Wasted

“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”

John 6:12 NLT

Nothing in your life is wasted. Nothing you do, nothing you go through. Some things make absolutely zero sense to us. I’m in that season in life right now. But in John 6 when Jesus fed five thousand with 5 loaves and 2 fish, the story didn’t end when everyone was full. He gathered what was left and wasted nothing. I also know that in 1 Kings 19, when Elijah’s life was threatened, he fell into a deep depression. When he felt like he couldn’t go on any longer, the angel of the Lord came to him and said: “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” This lets me know that Elijah’s story wasn’t finished.

Whatever happens can be used for God’s glory. It’s not fun to hear. It sounds like a cliche and honestly speaking, it’s something I’m trying to work through myself. What I do know is that I can’t pick and choose what parts of the Bible I’m going to believe and what parts I’m not. If I believe that Jesus died on a cross and rose from that tomb 3 days later, then I have to believe that God has purpose even through the worst situations.

Peace

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 NLT

I’m writing this blogpost because I’ve been a little MIA. It’ll be a short one, but there will be so much more to come.

It’s been a pretty difficult season, but one of the things that has been overwhelmingly evident is God’s peace. In the past, I have feared hardship. Not for the obvious reasons, but because I didn’t know how I would react to these truly unimaginable situations. The truth is, I have experienced what all of these commonly quoted verses are referring to.

Even though this story is still being written, I have so much peace in the fact that He’s in control. There’s only so much that man can do. If I put my trust in humans, I have very little hope. In Him, there is hope. I have hope because He has experience in the miracle business. I have hope because His ways are far beyond what I could imagine (Isaiah 55:8). I have hope because when I seek his presence, I find that his hand is all over my situation. (Jeremiah 29:13).

I can’t describe this peace that I have, but I do know that God said He would give it. He hasn’t broken a promise or failed yet.

Nothing is too difficult

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Jeremiah 32:17

Remember the song “He’s got the whole world in His hands”? Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that the creator of the universe cares for the details of our life. If He can keep the Earth revolving around the sun, balance all the life on this planet, and engineer all the specifics of the humans body, then He can surely handle whatever situation that you are dealing with. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

Matthew 6:30

In Luke 12, it says that even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Whether the situation is big or small in your eyes, God finds it important and it’s safe in His hands.

What’s our role in all of this?

Give it to Him.

Trust and have faith that although His plans and His answers may be different from our own, He surely has it under control. He has it all planned out. Every detail. We can see how important details are to Him in the intricacies of the universe. The details of our lives and of His Kingdom are no different. They are very specific and bigger than our minds can comprehend.

The answer might not be what you were looking for, but it’s better. If you gave the situation to Him, it will be better because His ways are better.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

We’ve seen that when we try to put matters into our own hands, they don’t turn out for the best. In Genesis, God promised Abraham that he would have a child. Because it wasn’t happening in the timing he expected, the way he expected or understood, he decided to makes things happen the way he knew how. He had a child with a woman who wasn’t his wife. Although that child was still loved, God had an even bigger plan for Abraham and showed that His ways were better and His standards were different. He planned for a child between him and his wife Sarah even in her old age. Abraham is known the father of many nations.

He’s had this whole “big picture” thing on lock for a while now. He knows what He’s doing. He hasn’t failed yet and He’s not going to start. From the beginning of time there has been a purpose in every step taken. There’s no One better to take on your situation. Just give it to Him and let Him handle the rest.

A reason to be reasonable

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7 ESV

I had the opportunity to attend a church near St. Louis this past weekend and they were studying these verses. Although I’ve read it so many time before, I have often read this verse for encouragement in the midst of anxieties, but these verses are instructing us to be reasonable in our actions and responses. Paul gave a direction to the church to let your reasonableness be known to everyone. Some translations say to let your gentleness be known to everyone. So, casting your anxiety on Christ is a command we are given in order to keep our cool and display an agreeable temperament. Can we be gentle toward others if anxiety is overtaking us?

Instead of living in anxiousness, God calls us to pray. He doesn’t just simply say to pray; He says to come to Him with prayer and supplication (or as some translations say “petition”) Supplication means to beg or ask earnestly and humbly. A petition is a formal request. We are told to recognize our placement in regards to a great God. We need to be aware of the fact that anxiety can’t be overcome on our own, but through the One who created us.

We need to come to Him humbly and place it in His hands. Come to Him as a person would approach a king to present a request or a judge to petition a case. In needs to be in full humility and dependence on Him.

THEN, the peace will come that surpasses all understanding. The peace does not come with any of our strength; it’s bigger than our minds can comprehend. Your situation may not have changed much or at all, but you have a peace that others will not understand.

When you have peace that others don’t understand, you’ll display the reasonableness and gentleness that others will want. This is part of our testimony as Christians. We are set apart; not just with the morality of our actions, just also with the attitude that we exhibit.

It seems like a simple enough concept… until you’re hit with the daily stressors in the supermarket, on the road, at your job. People are watching closely at how you handle yourself. If you just look and act like everyone else, how will others see Jesus in you. We are instructed to be reasonable.

Choose to be changed

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

The old is gone, the new is here… but for how long? Too often we have an experience with God that leaves us changed, but after a few weeks in the real world, with real responsibilities, real problems and real temptations, we start to go back into to our superficial Christian ways.

God can change your heart, but the relationship needs to be maintained. You need to choose to be changed. Once the decision is made, the work needs to take place. There needs to be a deliberate effort to get up early, pause Netflix, or tap the Bible app instead of Instagram.

You are a new creation when you come to know Christ, but in order for you to mature and to receive all that He has for you, you must choose to walk in a new routine and a new mindset.

When the struggles become real, because they will, we can’t attack those problems with the same old strategies. We need the wisdom from our Heavenly Father, and the trust in His plan to overcome the confusion.

A relationship with Christ isn’t about feelings. Being involved in a week long conference or Christian concert are amazing perks, but those aren’t the actual life changing moments. We aren’t altered by the “feel good” experiences. The chains break and the mountains move when you choose to trust God and worship Him despite your circumstances. When the bills come in, when your job is stressing you out, when your marriage is on the rocks, when you have so much going on that you can’t think straight, when the depression sets in, when the temptations rise… those are the moments of shift. You’re on the brink of a breakthrough when it makes the most sense to give up.

Living a life pleasing of the Father, relying on Him when you don’t understand, delighting in Him in the midst of your deepest heartache… that’s the real relationship.

It’s not a feeling… it’s a choice.