Monday, August 20, 2012

Trusting God...Not a Single Transaction


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

I climbed the mountain of single motherhood to find a most unexpected prince at the peak. God offered me His very best when I least deserved it. Within three years of marriage, Scott and I added two more daughters to the "sorority" bringing the total to four.  It was easy to settle into the rhythm of His mercy and grace. 

By the time our daughters were 2, 3, 10 and 13 we had built a dream home, family and life. One phone call shattered the calm, easy timbre of my days.

"You're right, dear, I have cancer." The words pressed in on my heart like a 100 degree, 100% humidity day. They suffocated and terrified in a single stroke. I barely felt I'd survived life as a single mother to two, how could I possibly face it with four?

My small offering of faith was eye to eye with my biggest fear. Would I trust God and walk in faith or wilt under the weight of worry? Through prayer and an extra helping of God's mercy, my husband's health was completely restored over a twelve month period.

Have you trusted God...? Evangelists often phrase an invitation to initiate a relationship with God like this. They imply trust is a one time event. 

My inner wimp wants to tell you trusting God was a one-time event. We faced cancer. Trust prevailed. Story ended.

But life isn't like that is it?

I bet you, like me, have a trust issue tapping your shoulder this very morning. Whether your dollars are too small or your relationship tension too big, you likely awoke to trouble. But what if our trust issue is actually a trust opportunity?

What if we need to give ourselves the same advice we so flippantly offer others?

Go to Jesus. When life makes us stumble, let's fall into His arms. Let's stop asking how big is our problem and start asking how big is our God.

What looms large in view today? Do we dare to shift our perspective from the size of our problem to the vastness of our God?

__________________________________


Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Believing in Hope, Against all Hope

By Monique Zackery


Romans chapter 4 has been screaming at me lately [in a good way].

Abraham’s example of faith speaks volumes. This was a man who had been given a promise from God—the promise of a son and descendants so numerous they would outnumber the stars. But, literally, years passed by before he saw evidence of its fulfillment. 

I can clearly see how easy it would have been to lose faith as the weeks, months and years rolled by, without any sign of a child. Talk about a lesson in patience! Imagine the type of doubts that could have wandered around Abraham’s mind…

“This is impossible.”
“My wife’s womb is dead!”
“I’m nearly dead myself!”
“So many years have passed. God must have forgotten about me.”
“Maybe I’ve done something wrong and now the promise won’t come.”
“Maybe I never heard from God in the first place. Did I just think I heard His voice?”

All of these would have been natural thoughts, the types of doubts I’m sure we all have from time to time. What’s astonishing to me, however, is Abraham’s display of faith; his clear trust in God no matter how often the circumstances yelled, “It’s impossible!” Let’s go to the text, shall we?

Romans 4:18-22 says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him… Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old –and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’” (Emphasis mine)

Now that’s some faith!

Everything in his circumstances pointed Abraham to the fact that this promise was nearly impossible to fulfill. He stood against all hope. But he knew his God, and the character of his God. He knew that what is impossible with man is possible with Him.

Where to find this faith…
I have found myself wondering how in the world to get faith like that. The kind where I can believe in hope, “against all hope.”  I'm learning that believing God is a choice. But I’ve also realized that faith is a fruit of the Spirit [as is patience]. Faith is not a natural part of my flesh that I can just conjure up on my own. It's a gift from God. So when I stand against all hope, like I have lately--knowing that I have been sealed with the Spirit--I ask God to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit in me and bear the fruit of faith in me because I cannot do it on my own. 

Have you been waiting on a promise lately? 

One promise I’ve been trying to hold on to in faith is this simple proclamation from our Lord: “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).

There are hundreds of promises from God to us throughout scripture. Regardless of any obstacle standing against you, let us be "fully persuaded" that God can do what He says He can do. Keep a tight grip on those promises, even when you’re tempted to throw in the towel or take matters into your own hands. Go ahead and stand firm in your hope, even against all hope. Our God is still able. Keep trusting, my sister, keep trusting!

Sincerely,

Monique

___________________________
Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com

Monday, August 6, 2012

Trusting God In the Deserts of Life


By Carla Adair Hendricks *


Imagine with me... We're sitting in a quiet classroom with a dozen other strangers. We are sitting in a circle, reminiscent of our Kindergarten days long ago. The people in our circle represent different races, age groups and communities.

We all have one thing in common.

Finally, my turn to speak approaches. I inhale. I exhale. I recall my practiced introduction. I commence:

"My name is Carla, and I am a recovering control freak."

Would you accompany me to this support group? Could you use some therapy for your need to control your life? Or the life of others around you?

I've often wondered why I've led such an unpredictable adult life, when my childhood was so predictable. Why God has called my family to relocate multiple times, when I didn't move out of my childhood home until my first year of college. Why I often feel uncertain about the future. Why I can't seem to just "make things happen."

There are no easy answers to these questions.

There are no easy answers to your questions either.

At least not the answers we're looking for.

You see, while we wait for God to explain every bend, every valley, every detour, every retracing of the road we've previously traveled, He often remains silent.

Or so we think.

If we listen carefully to His still small voice, we can hear a sweet, but firm whisper from the Father. The same whisper I've heard as I've revisited the Psalms in my personal time with Jesus. I've clung to King David's words that repeat over and over again.

DELIVER     SAVE     SHIELD     REFUGE    TRUST

These words wash over me like a clear, refreshing spring. An oasis in the deserts of my life. A creek running through my heart's wilderness wanderings. An ocean of grace to drown my discontent, my disillusionment.

And I hear my God's voice through the rushing of mighty waters.

"TRUST ME, DAUGHTER."

Through financial uncertainty. Through interpersonal conflict. Through failures -- especially my own.
Through the challenges of ministry life.



I must lift my hands.

I must relinquish the right to control my own life.

And I must TRUST HIM.









* Carla Adair Hendricks has been a pastor's wife for eleven years. She has a heart for the Lord, her husband Anthony, her four amazing children, her church (www.mosaicchurch.net), orphans around the world and other PW's (Pastor's Wives). Her heart for PW's led her to found "A Pastor's Wives' Garden," a weekly blog dedicated to encourage the wives of ministers around the globe. An extra treat -- oftentimes, other women stumble into the Garden and find a little refreshing as well. To read more about Carla, click here.




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