Both Masterpiece and Work in Progress

But those whose hope is in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Is 40:31). 

From time to time, the Lord convicts me of things that I need to work on and change. And when I say “I” need to change, I actually mean that “He” has to change me. That definitely does not get me off the hook though. Although He could zap me into the perfect wife, mother, or friend, in His wisdom that is not how He works.

Easy lessons unfortunately are more quickly forgotten. Most things of great value come to us through struggle. They take self-discipline and persistence on our part, but He provides the power and strength to overcome and conquer.

It is so very true that we shouldn’t be quick to judge others because everyone has a struggle or burden. But blessed are those who have trust in the Lord because our ally is wise, loving, powerful, and will lead us on the most effective path to overcoming.

 

The Prayer That Never Fails

Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matt 6:10).

Because He is a gracious father, there are many wonderful guarantees (promises) in God’s word. He even answers all our prayers. Of course His answer is either “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.”

But there is one prayer that always has a resounding “YES.” It is taken right from His word—Your will be done.

This is not as easy as it sounds because it involves total trust—trust that God has in mind our best interest and the best interest of those for whom we are praying (really hard for a parent). It is a prayer that puts the focus on God, not on us asking Him for what we want and how we think things should play out.

Jesus, yet again, was the perfect model for us. Even at the time before the excruciating suffering that He knew would be coming, He said, “Not My will, but Yours.”

The result of His trust will continue to pay off throughout eternity. So can ours.

No Holding Back

Let’s throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb 12:1).

What holds us back from enthusiastically following God’s plan for us? In my own life it has ranged from “You don’t really mean me, God?” to “I am definitely not dong that!” From timidity to downright rebellion.

There are many other things in-between that hinder us like guilt, or bitterness, or not moving on from past mistakes, or harmful relationships.

The important thing to remember is that God would never give us a job to do without thoroughly equipping us to handle it. It is not timid-sinful-guilty-unprepared-unknowledgeable me, but rather the Creator who makes grace abound giving sufficiency in all things, and an abundance for His good work (2 Corin 9:8).

 

More than Conquerors

You are so valuable that the Creator of the universe and the ruler of darkness of this world battle for you every day!! Although it is spiritual, it is still very real. Just turn on the news and you’ll see it clearly displayed. The weapons are lies and deceit vs. faith and truth.

The most powerful weapon is the word of God—speaking it, absorbing it in our heart, living it. God’s own Son battled the enemy on the mountain, not by His Godly power, but by quoting scripture, the same ammunition that is at our disposal too. It can be used defensively when we’re attacked, or offensively to fortify our heart.

I have included scriptures at the end of this entry as the start of an arsenal to repeat and claim. They’re not magical, but they are powerful:

I can’t ______………..I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength(Phil 4:13).

My life is insignificant…… I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12). He has created me anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do all the good things He planned for me long ago (Eph 2:10).

God could never forgive my past… I am washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11).

I am afraid… When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

If only I was _______….I am God’s masterpiece(Eph 2:10).
Many of these were already paired by Pricilla Shirer and Nancy DeMoss, but the most meaningful are the ones we find ourselves, those that jump off the page at the exact time when we need them.

The Birth of Christ

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

The birth of a baby is a miracle. To the new mother, father, or anyone else present it can’t be described in any lesser terms.

Mary had to have an amazing trust in God. After Jesus’s birth and all the astonishing events surrounding that birth, the words to describe her state of mind convey peace. From the very beginning of conception, she never once questioned God. I know my conversations with Him would have been quite different.

We are fortunate to have great Old Testament models like Mary who spoke to God with faith-filled words and responded with unhesitating trust. “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.

Digging Deeper

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains (expounds, correctly interprets) the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The devotional that I read today from Oswald Chambers says, “If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can.”

My goodness! That would take a lifetime! But it should take a lifetime as we examine, restate, scrutinize, pore over, and live out God’s word.

Once we have tasted God’s word and know and accept it as true, the hardest part is over. We no longer have to question God and His love for us, just prayerfully work toward understanding and assimilating His word into our lives.

I am always thrilled when I am part of a discussion of scriptural principles. It helps all involved to better understand and express our beliefs, and to know God better.

Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. (Prov3:5)

 I mentioned before that sometimes I run ahead of God. His timing is perfect, and my anxiousness and lack of patience often gets me in trouble. But the other area in this verse—leaning on my own understanding—gets me into even deeper trouble.

My vision is finite. I cannot foresee the future, and even more crucial, I cannot see into the hearts and minds of others. What looks like anger, might actually be the way the person protects himself from hurt; what looks like selfishness, might be him ensuring the needs of his family. My understanding of a situation can be muddied by my preconceptions or my expectations. Sometimes I can’t explain my own motivation, let alone other’s.

This is just one area where relying on the Lord will not only affect our eternity, but it is a guiding principle for success in this world too.