Whether we are riding a horse, driving a car or trying to get through the school year, the same truth applies: where your eyes are sets the course of your path. If we spend a lot of time looking at what we ‘can’t do’ or the things that we would rather do or all the terrifying possibilities, we won’t accomplish all God would have us do. We need to fix our eyes on TRUTHS from the Word of God and trust Him to help us over the rough patches.
“Can’t” is a detour with a huge PIT. When our eyes focus on what we can’t do, we miss the path to what we can do. Can’t will keep us from a struggle but it will never strengthen us or accomplish our purpose. Can’t is a word we need to shorten to can. Focusing our eyes on what we can do will help us get where we need to be.
“Want to” is another powerful force; the human will is where most ‘want to’ comes from. God gave us free will. The greatest gift we can give to God is to surrender that will and echo the words of Jesus to our Father, “Not my will but thine.” When we accept the purposes of God as our own, great and mighty things come from our lives.
“Fear” is the last detour we’ll consider how to avoid. Fear goes by many names…sometimes it masquerades as ‘common sense;’ other times it hides in ‘comfort zones.’ F.E.A.R. is often just ‘false evidence appearing real.’ The bottom line of the matter comes straight from Scripture: anything not of faith is sin. Faith and fear don’t live on the same street.
Setting our eyes on the purposes of God will take us beyond our abilities, give us new desires and call us outside of our comfort zones. Let’s choose God’s purpose as our own. Refuse to focus on ‘can’t’ and ‘want’ and see what God will do!
Love is not in very good shape in our world, is it? Hateful, despicable words are common. This world has a filter of self-indulgence, self-defense and self-promotion. Sadly, it is a filter used by religious folks as much as political leaders. In contrast, the filter of love is the character of God. The silver lining of the gloomy condition of love in our world is that even a tiny light of true love will gleam with the Glory of God.
Unconditional love does not mean there are no conditions…it means that the love surpasses all conditions. That is very good news for all of us! Love is the character of God; true love received will transform us into His likeness. It will not excuse our filter of self promotion. It will change us and then we can be used to change the world. We live in a thirsty world–a world dying for the love described in Scripture.
A story captivated my heart this morning. A seven-year old child in the Philippines, abandoned by parents whose ability to love couldn’t stand the rigors of marriage and family, heard of the love of God in the Bible. At seven, this child was selling fish to have enough money to eat; she baby-sat for family to have enough money to go to school. At seven, she longed for love. To this lonely, isolated little girl, the Words of Jesus called…and thankfully, servants of Jesus showed this precious child what that love looked like. My heart was pierced. I know there are people longing for love all around me.
Do I live the love of God enough to bring its refreshing, life-giving supply to those who are dying of thirst around me?
We cannot give what we do not have; yet often that is what we try to do as Christians. We love the idea of the love of God. We even tell others that God loves them. We love with our self-filtered idea of love…indulging, defending and promoting our own ideas.
But love is the character of God…not the efforts of fallen humanity. Love that transforms; love that quenches thirst comes from above! It is the love of God that enters our lives and changes us that allows us to love in a transforming way. Human love manipulates and demands; it simply adds to the deadly sins killing our world.
The Word of God is intended to enter our ears and exit our feet. As it seeks to fill every corner of our being, every facet of our lives, our eyes become open to the places where love is not a reality for us.
The love of God longs to transform those hard spots. We cannot love well until it does. We have to be thirsty for the love of God to be real for us before we can take that love to another. Love is messy; it exposes things that don’t look like God in US. Until we let it do
its work in us, it cannot flow out of us. Love is the only answer to the deadly sins of our world…the sins that are just evidence of hearts longing for love: the drug addictions, the sexual immoralities, the lusts for power & control.
Are we thirsty enough for love that we will allow it into us? Do we trust God enough to let Him love us AND change us?
In the story of seven-year old Jasel, the writer described the thirst this way:
“…insatiable desire for the love spoken of in the Bible.”
Jesus is the living water. We are to be vessels of that water. He lived and loved the will of the Father which was to draw people into relationship with our heavenly Father. May our heart desire be to do the same. The world is dying for love.
Will you do the hard work of love? Will you let the Father love you so much He reveals the hard spots in your life that need to be surrendered? If you will, you become a vessel for the living water.
The Serenity Prayer has spoken to hearts for decades. The author is often listed as ‘Anonymous’ and frequently the second stanza is eliminated. The longing for peace transcends time and culture. Sometimes, though, the piece is attributed to certain theologians or martyrs of the Christian faith–which takes one a little closer to the truth of its history.
As it always does, well-researched history provides us a deep richness. There is even humor in the fact that the author is often listed as anonymous. I’m quite sure he wouldn’t care–for he knew where real serenity was found. Living that way produces greatness that can never be lost. Check out the fullness of his writing and then I’ll share the rest of the story:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
The author was Reinhold Neibuhr. an American theologian, pastor and social activist in the 1900s. One of the millions whom Neibuhr influenced was the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another Christian whose life & faith has strengthened millions.
Serenity is found, as Mr. Neibuhr says, when we trust God and surrender to His will. Living with trust & surrender produces eternal fruit…even if others don’t have a clue!
There is a silly picture that keeps popping up in my mind. I see a young fruit tree curling its toes (I mean, roots) and pushing with all its might. Its face is scrunched and holding its breath, the tree mutters, “COME ON, FRUIT! POP already. I’m trying as hard as I can.”
On either side of this striving little tree are giant trees, loaded with fruit. They are quiet, faces (make that leaves) turned upward seeking the Son (err, sun).
Can you relate? I sure can. That picture comes straight from the Holy Spirit for me. I am a doer…a toddler crying, “Me do it!” And my Guide, my Comforter says, “That is my work, not yours. Seek the Son.”
The Amplified version of Galatians 5:22-23a renders more clarity:
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…
Spiritual success never flows from striving but only from surrender. The fruit that I produce will have earthly impact, but only the work of the Spirit produces eternally good fruit. I don’t want to waste my time striving anymore. I want to soak in the sun and live with joy–that will produce the growth I long to see!
It is pride that pushes. Hope is found in humility. Seeing our need, seeking the One who meets all needs and joyful receiving Him produces victory. Putting our roots into the soil of God’s love while reaching up to the Light of His love is the key to beautiful fruit that blesses us and others.
What desire beats strong in your heart? What blocks that desire from being fulfilled? Ask the Spirit within…He knows and wants you to know as well. Press in deeply and watch Him work!
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God created each soul in a design perfect for their time and place in history. Let me say that another way: God loves the way He made you. You arefearfully and wonderfully made! The servant of God learns to appreciate the unique design of God–in himself and in others. There is no perfect human being; there is no pathway to perfection. As children of God, we are on a journey together and together, we reveal the beauty of God.
Moses is a wonderful role model for those of us growing as servants. The first lesson Moses learned was his inadequacy. Choosing his own plan and timing brought disastrous consequences. Serving God is holy ground! When Moses grasped that concept, he was undone. His inadequacy choked him, and he tried to excuse himself from service. God gently helped him understand his unique design–and the power available when he placed his strengths into the hand of God.
Exodus 3:2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Releasing the rod to the Lord produced a ‘snake’ that Moses feared, yet picked up again. Our strengths in the hand
of God may look unfamiliar; they may give us a bit of fear…but the servant picks them back up. Our strength in our hand brings death; our strength in the hand of God sets captives free!
When we learn to value our design–stop wishing we were like others–we learn to value others as well. Growing as a servant gives space to others to grow as well. C.S. Lewis put it this way in his masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters:
“[God] wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. [God] wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents–or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.”
How has God designed you? Do you like your design–He does! What can you place in the hands of God for Him to use?