CAN YOU TRUST IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF?


question-mark3aPROVERBS 3:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

Statements you hear in encouragement:
Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.                    If it is God’s will, He will make a way.                                                   You just have to learn how to believe in yourself.                              God has a plan for your life. You just have to keep pressing in until He reveals it to you.
So now what?

Do you place all of your trust in God and believe He will show you the path, or do you strike out on your own and hope it lines up with God’s plan? If you’re waiting for the plan to unfold, what do you do in the meantime? Do you live a life of self-deprecation, belittling every minor and major accomplishment that you achieve, or do you sit idly by, waiting for the next big move to be revealed? The obvious answer for most Christians is simple. Do what you feel led by the Holy Spirit to do and give God all of the glory for all of the positive outcomes.

But how do you react to the negative outcomes?

Everyone makes mistakes. Even those who trust in God. No human is infallible. The Bible is full of imperfect humans. They made mistakes. They learned their lessons well, continued on with their lives—some with dire consequences– and still placed their trust in God. Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jonah and King David come quickly to mind. All were great men (and women) of God, but got sidetracked and took their own course of action instead of following God’s plan for their lives. We really don’t know exactly what was going through their minds at their lowest point, except for what the Bible tells us. Self- doubt, self-loathing, and self-justification would all be expected. The Psalms of David probably give us the clearest glimpse into the psyche of a man at his lowest point from a first hand perspective. And yet, like Job, his trust in God remained steadfast. These stories are great reminders that God forgives us no matter how disobedient, or self-serving we may be at times. All of these individuals were either created, or chosen, by God for a particular task and it was abundantly clear to them what that task was.

Still, the question remains, how do we know what God’s plan for our life is, and how do we know if we’re on the right track?

Now we reach the conundrum. How do we trust in God to lead us on the right path, if we are unsure about what we believe? Or, more clearly put, if we don’t believe in ourselves, how can we trust what we believe to be truth, and subsequently, how can we trust in God if we do not trust our own judgment?
Simply saying, “The Bible says it, I believe it,” is almost irresponsible. And yet, that is what we are told to think. This leads to a whole gambit of doctrinal interpretations and to the charismatic leadership who waxes eloquent to promote their particular brand of theology, “guilting” followers into their ideology. What one ‘group’ says is accurate interpretation, another denies completely. How can we learn to trust God in all aspects of our lives, if we are constantly being told that we should not “lean on our own understanding?” In other words, don’t try to understand it, just trust it. You don’t need to think about God, you just need to believe and trust God. But how do you place your trust in someone you don’t know?

It has been said, in a variety of ways, that trusting in God is much like turning on a light in your house. You may not have an intricate knowledge of electricity, but when you flip the switch, you expect the light to come on. If the light doesn’t come on, most people don’t stand in the middle of the room crying out, “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?” They know that they have lost a connection somewhere. Most people will start to troubleshoot the problem immediately by changing the light bulb. If that doesn’t work, they may get a “how-to” manual and try to fix the problem themselves. They will learn, from the instructions, how to turn their room from darkness to light. The instruction manual was written by a master and they trust that master to give them the direction they need to make things right again. They read and follow the instructions, trusting the writer, using their own abilities, and restore the light. Why is this so much different than trusting God and believing in yourself?

God has given us a set of instructions in the Bible. Yes, we have to trust God. And we have to believe that God will do what He says He will do. The only way to build that trust is to read the instruction manual and practice living the directions. We also have to believe in ourselves. If we don’t trust ourselves, how can we trust anyone else, including God? God will give us the abilities, and the desire, to fulfil our purpose for Him. But you can’t learn from a mentor you’ve never met. You have to spend time with Him. The information in the manual will tell you who He is, what He is like, what He expects, and what the rewards are for working closely with Him. It is like reading someone’s personal diary, detailing his love and heartbreaks, his wonder and disappointments, intimate details of who he really is and how he thinks, and his instruction on how to best become more like him. He gave us a teacher in Jesus, and a tutor (so to speak) in the Holy Spirit. By reading the textbook, listening to the teacher, and calling on the tutor to help us understand the more difficult lessons, we can learn to trust God and believe in the abilities that God has given to us.

We can trust God AND believe (trust) in ourselves.

©  Simply Consider This, 2015.

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HOPE


wings“How are you?’
“Doin’ great.  Nobody’s told me any different so far.”

When I was younger, I thought I could do just about anything I set my mind to do.  I didn’t think I was invincible, but I thought the possibilities were endless.  More importantly, I wasn’t afraid to try new things.  I had to learn about my limitations the hard way–through experience–and no one could talk me out of trying.  Just because they couldn’t do it didn’t mean I couldn’t get it done.  If they said it was impossible, it became a challenge not an obstacle.  What happens to that “I can do this” attitude as we get older?
I am reminded of the movie, Finding Nemo, when Nemo’s father tells him, “You think you can do these things, but you can’t.”  How many times do we let everyone around us dictate what our capabilities are?
I had a high school guidance counselor tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would definitely never get into college. That statement just made me more determined to show him that he was wrong.  I did go to college and did finish a degree.  It took me twenty-five years but I got it done.  That may have been what his goal was in telling me that, but he wasn’t alone in his statement.  Throughout my early years I had several influential people telling me basically the same thing.  My mom was the best at it.  It really wasn’t her fault.  She couldn’t picture herself doing something, so how could I?  Then I had to go out and prove that I could do it just to show her that one of us could get it done.
But now I am older and I have learned my limitations.  It is easier for me to believe that there are things I can not do.  Of course, there are things I would not try to do at my age.  One thing I have always wanted to do was to run up to the side of a building, take two or three steps up the wall and execute a back flip, landing on my feet.  I may have to skip that one, but I still consider it from time to time.  Like Clint Eastwood’s line from Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
It all comes down to believing.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing will be impossible.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Now I know that these particular scriptures are so over quoted that they are nearly thread bare, but simply consider this:

To have hope you must believe in something.  Believing builds your faith.  If YOU believe, it is possible.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

Without hope it is impossible to believe.  Without believing it is impossible to have faith.  Without faith you have no hope and nothing to believe in.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

MILK AND HONEY


beecowOur journey today begins in the book of Exodus when God told Moses that He was going to free the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh. God said that He was going to take them to the promised land.  A land flowing with milk and honey.
God did not instruct Moses to tell Pharaoh to free His people because they were slaves and slavery was wrong.  God had heard the cries of His people due to their oppression, but this was not the prime objective.  He wanted the Israelites freed so they could worship Him. This was what Moses told Pharaoh over and over when he presented his case.  “This is what the Lord says, ‘Let my people go, so they may worship me’.”   God desired, and still desires, the worship of His people.  So, after Moses bugged Pharaoh (he used real bugs), and a few other plagues were inflicted on Egypt for not listening to God, Pharaoh let God’s people go.
After three months, they arrived at Sinai where God gave them the law, they rebelled and built an idol, were forgiven after punishment and proceeded to Kadesh, where they were supposed to go into the promised land, but got scared off by the “giants.”  So they wandered around another forty years until they were ready to receive the promise (very abridged version).
When they were entering the promised land, God told them to destroy all the people in the land, not to make any treaties with any of the inhabitants, and definitely do not inter-marry.  Of course they didn’t listen, and they had nothing but trouble from then on.  God knew that if they did not eradicate all the inhabitants, soon they would be adopting their ways, accepting their cultural differences, and worshiping their gods. This brings us to the milk and honey.
I have often wondered why God would tell them that the promised land  was flowing with milk and honey.  They had milk and honey in Egypt.  Why would that be such an enticement for an oppressed people?  Cows and goats give more milk when they are well fed and bees make honey from the plants that they pollinate.  It stands to reason that if the promised land was a lush vegetative haven that there would be an abundance of milk and honey. That would be a sharp contrast to the deserts of Egypt where they had been enslaved for 400 years.  But was there more to the “milk and honey” than just provision?  Lets take a brief look at milk and honey.
Honey is sweet.  It contains nutrients which can combat illnesses.  A spoonful of local honey a day can help with allergies and the comb  can help with digestive disorders.  You can cook with it, use the wax for all sorts of things, and even use honey on your skin for irritations, according to the old timers.  It is all natural and God given with no artificial preservatives.  But if you get too much it can have an adverse reaction on your digestive tract and is strongly advised against for babies.  Honey, like any good thing, has its limitations.  It may be sweet, but must be used in moderation.
Milk has made a lot of changes over the years.  In the days of Moses, a cow or goat would have been milked, then the liquid strained for any substances like unprocessed grass or seed remnants. As they let the raw milk set, the cream floated to the top and was usually skimmed off to make butter or whipping cream.  Pasteurization is now required for milk to be sold in the U.S., which is basically a heating process to kill any contaminates.  This is done now to purify the milk.  Then there is the homogenization.
Homogenization is the blending of the milk fat into the rest until it is virtually undetectable.  I remember going to the dairy and buying milk in a glass, gallon jug.  It was always a treat to be the first one to peel the paper top off the jug and lick the cream from it.  It stuck to the roof of your mouth and was what could only be described as sweet.  Now, everything is blended together so much that you can’t tell if there really is any cream left in the milk at all. We buy milk in plastic jugs in varying degrees of milk fat content which is pasteurized and homogenized and sometimes even in the skim variety which tastes, to me, like white, colored water.
Now that you have had a brief lesson in milk and honey, lets get back to Israel. God knew that if the people were to intermingle with the local populace, their worship would turn from Him to other gods.  The only way for the Israelites to remain spiritually pure and true to Him would be to get rid of all remnants of  other gods and their worshipers.  God did not really want genocide but he knew that after 400 years of being around the Egyptians, it would be very easy for them to fall into worshiping false gods.  The milk and honey of the land would lead them to the watered down religion and the false security of plenty, and soon they would be worshiping the provision and not the provider.  They had already proved that with the manna and quail in the desert.
Lets put this into perspective for today.  First, I am in no way advocating genocide for non Christians.  That would go against everything that Jesus taught and would be utterly absurd.  But lets look at the facts.  We, as Christians, are being told that we are to accept and embrace any kind of lifestyle, or belief, that agrees with, or goes against,  all that we hold as truth.  Our government is embracing military advisers who firmly believe that Christians are a threat to our national security and should be deemed traitors to our government. (See  “”http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/04/28/Pentagon-Consults-Extremist-Who-Calls-Christians-Monsters-and-Enemies-of-the-Constitution-to-Develop-Religious-Tolerance-Policy )

Our society would rather that Christians are silent.  We are to keep our faith to ourselves and do not try to share the Gospel.  We are to be homogenized into the mainstream and accept all that is happening in society.  Christians are never to be outspoken about their faith or moral values if they go against the public opinion which is propagandized by the liberal media.  We are not even to be seen, much less heard.  Isn’t the fact that there is a church on every block (no matter how empty) enough for us?  All of our Christian “holidays” have been stripped of their original meaning in the mainstream.  Of course, these were homogenized into pagan holidays back in the 4th century.  Christmas=winter solstice/ Easter=bunnies and eggs honoring the sun god and moon goddess on the day of Ishtar.
Wake up, Christians.  We are being integrated or exterminated.  We must either stand for God or fall with Satan.  The milk and honey of American prosperity has lulled too many to sleep and it is time to honor God with our hearts and lives, not just with our lips.  A little Radical, yes. Extremist, maybe. Unrealistic. Psychotic.  Paranoid.  I think not.
Matthew 24 read and heed.

SELF HELP


Everyone likes to compare their muscles to Jam...

God wants us to be the best we can be.  He has given us His word on it. In fact, it is through His word and the Holy Spirit that we can be what He wants us to be. And what He wants us to be is the best example to others that we possibly can, so that through our example, others will want to know more about Him.
There is a lot of pop-culture psychology out there.  We have had Montel, Oprah and Jerry, not to mention Dr. Phil.  We can fix just about anything about ourselves- from a bad relationship with a dysfunctional family, to bad health, upgrade in lifestyle, to making amends with a dead loved one– just by watching TV in the afternoon.  If that isn’t enough, we can stay up late and learn how, for a fee, to change our hair amount, muscle tone, attitude, income level and lifestyle.  We can take it off or put it on.  Make it better or shrink it. Add income or decrease our interest rates.  We can learn how to sleep better and find out why we feel like sleeping all the time.  In other words, if we turn on the TV day or night, we can solve all our problems for 4, no wait, only 3 easy payments of 39.95.
All of these things are out there promising a better life or to make you feel better about yourself.  There is nothing wrong with building your body or trying to increase your income.  But after it is all said and done, are you really any happier?
Our society has been training people for years to believe that they must think and believe what everyone else believes, or thinks, or does, in order to be accepted.  Self esteem has over ridden moral values.  Self service has replaced self sacrifice. We must do what feels good and be proud to be whom, or what we have become.  After all, we are the greatest people who ever walked upright and connected words into sentences.  We are amazing.  If we don’t believe that about ourselves, we can buy some program and learn how to believe it.
One thing missing in all of the pop-psychology hoop-lah is God. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in what we do as long as the pride we display does not give way to arrogance.
James 4:1-3:  “What causes quarrels among you?  Don’t you know they come from desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You Quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you do ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Throughout history this has been the case.  Man is always trying to be better, faster, stronger, mightier than the gods, and all they had to do was look to the Word to find what this will lead to.  “Let’s build a tower and be as great as God.”  That only led to confusion and chaos.
I’m not saying that no one should try to improve themselves.  We can all be better in some way or another. But let us remember our source and our strength lies in our creator.  If we try to do it all on our own then we are our own creator–along with whatever self-help source we use.  If we rely on God, Yehovah, Adonai, Elohim, to help us, then recognize and appreciate all he has given us and done for us, it will make the “problems” of hair loss and belly fat seem a little less important.  He already paid the price in one anguishing payment and we don’t even have to pay shipping and handling.

MAY I ASK WHO’S CALLING?


Telephone

Ever not sure of who you are speaking with on the phone?  When I call my daughter’s house, at times it is hard to know if I am speaking with my daughter or granddaughter because they “sound” so much alike – I must question them, okay, is this Stacie or Hannah?  Even though  I am the one who gave birth to Stacie, since she moved out of the house and started a family of her own, we don’t communicate or see each other every day. Knowing her as my daughter, completely…. but if I don’t talk to her every day, I can mistake her for my granddaughter. Why? Because the closeness of every day living, communication and personal interaction with her has changed.  We still love each other, but the intimacy of every day life we once knew is not there anymore.

The amazing thing is the closer you draw to a person, the more time spent, the more intimate you become, the easier it is to “instantly” know their voice.  For example, my husband calls. I instantly recognize his voice, after all, we have been married for over 25 years and very much in love, still. We share so much with each other, dreams, disappointments, good times, the not so good times, we’ve been through a lot together – know what we like and dislike – we even finish each other’s sentences or speak the same thing at the same time.

Why? Because of the time we have intimately shared together.  Same applies to our relationship with God.  The longer we’re acquainted, (more than just an occasional 2 hr, one day a week encounter), the more time we spend with Him, the closer we become and the easier it is to recognize His voice.

The more time we spend with Jesus has it’s definite benefits…we began to think like Him, understand Him, love Him more and more as every day passes. Then it becomes a necessary part our lives…like the air we breathe, we have to be with Him.

Ah, to be so intimate with the Savior…has your heart ever yearned to be with Him like an unconsoled lover? Just to hear Him breathe, listen to His heart beat, to know the sound of His voice.  To sit quietly and wait upon Him, to share your life with Him.  Do you know what God sounds like?  When was the last time you spent some serious alone time with Him? (crisis time doesn’t count)  When was the last time you craved (just got to have) to be with Him?  Craved Him, like a parched soul craves refreshing…oh, that we would become so desperate to be with Jesus that we would crave that intimacy…heavy the heart would be without the time spent together.

How can we know our Father when we don’t spend anytime with him?

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

THE PACHYDERM IN THE VESTIBULE


Elephant in the room, part deux.

. (Photo credit: Cody Simms)

 
He kind of snuck in when I wasn’t looking.
At first I didn’t even notice.
He was small, unassuming and quiet.
Most people ignored him when they came over
thinking he was ornamental.

 

But then he grew.
Fewer and fewer people came over
They were uncomfortable
with him in the room
I just worked around him as I passed by.

 

One day I had a hard time
getting out of my own house.
He seemed to block my way
So I went to the back door
And that seemed to work.

 

When he blocked
the entrance to the stairs
And I could no longer
get to my bed to sleep
I knew something had to be done.

 

I asked him to leave
but I could see that politeness
would not work.
I begged, then demanded and yet
he stood quietly in the vestibule.

 

Finally, in desperation,
I knocked down the wall
to the outside
When he saw the world outside
He went running to freedom.

 

The pachyderm is gone
But his memory lives on
I don’t miss him
He really messed up my house
Be watchful of the pachyderm
©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

 

ON MY DESK


Desk

On my desk lies several objects.

A pamphlet informing me of the changes made to my insurance benefits.  Two out of date losing lottery tickets.  A closed Bible.  A mechanical pencil with no lead.  A pair of glasses  which I rarely use.

Who is my protector and healer?  Who is my provider?  Who is my teacher, my peace, my guide?  Who gives me the ability to express myself?  Who helps me to see things clearly?

Maybe its time to make some changes.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.