Tackling Tough Questions…it is Tuesday!

thWelcome to our Tuesday discussion.  Today we will try to answer some of your tough questions.  We know that if one person voices their question and concerns, there are many more who have the same questions, but just don’t ask.

We thought this blog is the perfect place to answer them for everyone.

Questions:  How do you really get rid of doubt?

A few days ago I felt paralyzed with self-doubt about a big commitment I had made. After begging God to zap me with confidence, and then realizing it wasn’t going to happen, I asked Him to show me what made me feel so insecure and uncertain.

Immediately I remembered Gideon, a man who was called by God yet paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy. From reading his story in Judges 6, I knew Gideon overcame his doubts and fears by focusing on what God thought about him — instead of what he thought about himself.

But first he processed his doubts with God in a very honest way. Recent conflicts and defeats caused Gideon to doubt God’s presence and promises. When an angel of the Lord told him to go defeat the Midianites, Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest … and I am the least in my family.” (Judg. 6:15)

His perception of himself made him feel inadequate. Damaged emotions and insecurities from our past have a powerful influence over how we see ourselves today.

I knew it was time for me to get honest with God, too. I needed more than a quick fix. I needed to figure out what triggered my self-doubts and led me into such a horrible place of uncertainty.

I remembered how a conflict with a friend this week made me doubt I should even be in ministry. After all, self-doubt whispered, if I can’t maintain healthy relationships at all times in all areas, how can I help others?

I also received feedback on a project this week. One harsh criticism overshadowed several positive comments and consumed my focus. And, I had been comparing my abilities to others working on a project with me. Self-doubt convinced me I wasn’t as gifted as they were.

Conflict, criticism and comparison had sent me into the shadows of doubt.

What about you? When conflict arises at work or at home, do you ever assume it disqualifies you from other ministries or callings? Does criticism ever paralyze you from believing you can do certain things? Or, has comparison ever convinced you that someone else can do it (whatever “it” is) better than you?

It’s not a quick fix but a powerful process of naming our doubts, identifying what triggers them and then learning to rely on God’s power to lead us into a place of living confidently in the security of His promises.

The next time you start feeling insecure, ask God what triggered your doubts. Then process the trigger point through God’s perspective. Ask Him to show you lies you’re believing and truths to replace them. Then let Him change your thought process by focusing on His thoughts towards you instead of your thoughts about yourself. For instance:

• When doubt tells you that you can’t do something because it’s too hard, remember God says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

• When doubt tells you you’re not good enough, focus on the truth that God says you’re fearfully and wonderfully made; all of His works are wonderful and you are one of them (Psalm 139:14).

One thing I know for sure, Jesus wants you to live with a confident heart! Some days it will be about what He’s calling you to do but — even more than that — it will be about what He wants to do in you as you learn to completely depend on Him!

Leap of Faith

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Sometimes I want to know more.  I want to be able to make the right decisions for my life.  I don’t want to go outside of the will of God and find myself flailing about in the midst of consequences I actually bring upon myself.  I want more than anything to stay within the pathway He sets before me.  And while I want one thing, I have to accept the fact that what I want may not be the best choice for me or for others.  Ultimately, I want God’s best.  I take seriously the larger decisions in my life.  I think everything I do works together with God’s plan to build up His kingdom and grow me spiritually.  I have various folks in my life who influence my thinking, but sometimes they just add to my confusion.

For this world’s wisdom is foolishness with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their own craftiness.  And again, The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the wise and recognizes how futile they are.  1 Corinthians 3:19-20.

Futile.  We try to reason everything out and the more we reason, the more we seek another’s counsel, the less we know and the more muddled our thoughts become.  That is when I retreat.  I actually stop talking to people about my quandary, my crossroad.  I sit quietly before the Lord and ask Him for His wisdom.  I rest until I have a clear answer.  That can be daunting.  Sometimes the answer seems totally out of sync with anything I’ve been advised.  I don’t know about you, but most times God leads me to act, not on logic, but on faith.  The leap may be frightening.  I tend to argue with God in these times, just like Moses saying he couldn’t speak before Pharoah.  So God gives him Aaron to go along and help him.  Sometimes I think all the things God used to make Pharoah let Israel go, was to show Moses the power of God’s might.  I relate well to old Moses.  But that is because I take my eyes off God and put them on myself.  Moses was more concerned with his inadequacy than God’s adequacy.  Logic sees as far as one can see before the jump; faith sees God at the end of the jump.  From that vantage point, we catapult with courage, knowing He provides a safe landing.

In His Grip,

Mary

Tackling Tough Questions…

thWelcome to our Tuesday discussion.  Today we will try to answer some of your tough questions.  We know that if one person voices their question and concerns, there are many more who have the same questions, but just don’t ask.

We thought this blog is the perfect place to answer them for everyone.

Question:  Why do we pray if God is in control and He knows the outcome?

Great question!  I have been working on this one for a while now…and here we go!  If you would like to add anything to this, please feel free to leave a comment.

My prayer…I hope this helps you!

Christians know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and loving (even if we find all of that hard to experience). Jesus urged his disciples to trust God as a loving Father, and taught them to pray, asking God for daily sustenance, forgiveness and the ability to forgive others, and even for our daily food.

But if God already knows what we need and is in charge, why do we need to pray at all?

We long for connection

We want to talk with someone who loves us, about what concerns us.  Consider Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane in Luke 22:39-46 and his prayer for his followers in John 17. Jesus came before God to express his deep agony and to pray for the disciples, even though He already knew He would be led to the Cross.

I see prayer not so much as a grocery list of wants or a way to change God’s mind, but rather as a way to regain perspective in my relationship with God. Like Jesus, we pray to deepen our relationship with God. We pray to remind ourselves of our place of humility, to remind ourselves that God is God, and we are not. To submit myself to God in prayer changes me. I believe that God loves me enough to want to transform me into all that God created me to be, but I must cooperate in that transformation. Every time I pray, I cooperate just a little bit more.

We’re invited and commanded to pray

The invitation is real and the command is for our benefit. Trust-filled dependence on God leads to our asking for what we need.

In Matthew 6, Jesus points out that God is control; knowing this is true encourages faith, not anxiety and worry. We are not to presume on God’s automatic care, but rather to come in trusting dependence to ask for what we need. In the very next chapter, Matthew 7:7-11 tells us to ask, seek and knock, and closes with these lovely words: ‘If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Since God is a Spirit and we cannot see Him, perhaps our interactive prayer communication encourages our faith and develops intimacy and dependence. In our materialistic world, it is so easy to let God provide everything we need and then assume that it ‘just happened’ or that we did it ourselves. In asking we acknowledge our dependence.

We want to align with God’s will

In many life situations, we don’t know God’s will until we pray. (See Phil 2:12-13.) We want to be in line with God’s will, and prayer is not so much about changing God’s mind as it is to bring ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.  I no longer pray to try to change God’s mind, to influence or persuade God to do what I want done. I name and lift my problems and concerns to God (and try to let them go, too!) and I ask God’s deep presence in each of these situations — problems, people and so on. Then, I try to trust.

It’s okay to keep asking…

As we align with God’s will, it’s okay to keep calling out to God on behalf of others and ourselves. In fact, it’s more than okay: God expects us to. In Isaiah 43, God speaks comfortingly to Israel in their time of trial, exile, and need, promising deliverance and salvation, but he adds: Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel  (Isaiah 43:22).

We of the twenty-first century are so like the people in Isaiah’s time, we want God to care for us and meet our every need, without ‘wearying ourselves’ to praise Him, to walk in intimate dependence and to pour out our hearts to him for others as well as for our own needs. We are ‘too busy’ to pray (or too tired), yet Jesus modeled a lifestyle of prayerful dependence, fellowship and intercession.

The God who is ‘in control’ asks us to ask!

If you have anything to add…please do!

A Devotional…

thRead Judges Chapter 2-3

// Scripture:  Judges 2:17

Yet Israel did not listen to the Judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods.  How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

// Observation:

Throughout this period of history, Israel went through several cycles

1)  Rebelling against God

2)  Being over run by enemy nations

3)  Being delivered by God

4)  Remaining loyal to God under the Judge

5)  Again forgetting God when the Judge died

We tend to follow this same cycle.  Remain loyal to God as long as we are near those who are devoted to Him.  But when we are on our own, the pressure to be drawn away from God increases.

Determine to be faithful to God despite the difficult situations you encounter.  Recognize the importance of maintaining contact with other believers.

// Application:

Have you experience this in your own walk?

What did you do to draw back to God’s presence?

We would love for you to share…it could help many who are going through this right now.

// Prayer:

Lord, I pray for each woman who may be going through this very thing right now.  I pray that she will recognize it in her and I pray You will give her the strength to get back in fellowship, but more importantly close to You again.  Draw her near Father and help her to feel You right now.  Wrap Your Loving arms around her and heal any pain she maybe feeling.  I pray other believers will see her struggles and surround her in love…a kind of Love that only You can provide.  Lord open all our eyes to see people who are falling away and need a nudge and some love.  We want to reach out.  In Jesus Precious and Holy Name I pray. Amen.