Believe What He Says: Faith in the Midst of Chaos

Photo 59769079 / Explosion © | Dreamstime.com

I know. I’m late. Life blew up at the end of April, and the fallout has buried me. On the plus side, God is teaching me about faith. Here’s what I’m learning.

1. You either believe what God says—or not. 

God either has sovereignty or not. My faith (or lack of it) will be reflected in my behavior.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12

I either have God’s favor—or not. My faith (or lack of it) will be reflected in my behavior.

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5

 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

God either loves me—or He does not. My faith (or lack of it) will be reflected in my behavior.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

God has sovereignty. God favors you. God loves you.

If He has sovereignty, nothing happens by coincidence. God has allowed it. 

If God has allowed it, He will bring good from it. He allows only those things which accomplish His purposes in your life. Why? Because He loves you and gives you favor.

2. Time with God matters.

Time with God is never wasted. Flesh and the enemy will tell you that you don’t have time for this. The truth? You can’t afford NOT to take time for Him. Make the effort and He will meet you there.

And then, He’ll meet you everywhere else your day takes you. 

Bob Sorge’s The Secrets of the Secret Place focuses on this very topic. 

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

3. Say “Thank You” before your answer comes.

Do your homework by making sure your prayer lines up with God’s word and His will. Once you’ve identified God’s will and come into agreement with His word, you can pray with boldness and thank Him for the coming answer. 

Or are you praying in a gray area? (For me, healing is a gray area. Sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no.) 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Romans 8:6 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” God is sovereign. He shows me favor. And He loves me. I can trust Him. If I trust Him, my mind, governed by the Holy Spirit, will reflect His life and peace.

Not worry. Not anxiety. Not fear.

Life and peace. His.

If my mind is not marked by life and peace, I need to adjust. Worship, prayer, Scripture, and time with Him, all help. Here are some worship songs that helped my husband and me through our chaos.

“Praise Before My Breakthrough” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

“Believe for It” by CeCe Winans

“The Blessing” by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, and Elevation Worship

Hold fast to your faith. Believe what He says. 

P. S. News! I guest-blogged for my critique partner Sally Maheny this month. Here’s the link. Enjoy!

A Tale of Two Choices: Faith or Sight

Illustration 86487206 © Ctitze | Dreamstime.com

The leather thongs bit his flesh. Lot stole a quick look from his one good eye, the other swollen shut from a soldier’s fist. His girls huddled near their mother, tears streaking through dust cast by the frenzied ride. Warriors strutted past, stroking the cheeks of his daughters. They smirked at him, laughing as his lips bled from the anger he bit back.

Five royal tents poked their heads above those of the common soldier. Servants scurried and the smell of roasted meat brought a rush of saliva to his parched mouth. The guard handed him a gourd of warm water. It sloshed against his bound hands as a piece of old bread landed at his feet. He offered the gourd to his wife first and she sucked greedily, water dribbling down her embroidered robe. His heart hurt at the sight of blood on her sandals. 

The move to town had been one of convenience. Closer to the market and that silly circle of friends she kept. Lot sighed. Hadn’t seen this coming. Caught in the crossfire of opposing armies, they had been swept away. Plunder. Spoils for the victor. He thought of Uncle Abram and, not for the first time, wished he’d stayed far away from Sodom.

In the fictional story above, I imagined what it may have been like for Lot to be captured as part of Sodom’s plunder when he was caught between two warring armies. You can find the biblical account in Genesis 14. It need never happened.

Lot had accompanied Abram, his uncle, when God first called Abram to Canaan. Both men owned numerous flocks and herds and eventually parted ways so each had adequate grazing and water. Though Abram was the elder, he allowed Lot to take his pick of the land. 

Let’s examine Lot’s choice, “Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. (Genesis 13:10-11)

Lot chose what looked good.

Lot chose what made sense.

Lot chose what looked easy.

Yet Sodom loomed nearby.

Why did Abram let Lot choose first? God had Abram’s back, and Abram knew it. It didn’t matter where he went, whether there was lots of water or little, God had promised to provide for him. Giving up first pick was easy. Abram walked by faith. 

While the land Lot chose promised richness, nearby Sodom promised something else. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” We read nothing about Lot’s relationship with God, nor do we read that Lot sought God’s guidance. Lot walked by sight. He leaned on his own understanding, and it cost him dearly.

It will cost us dearly too, because our understanding comes with defects. Only God’s wisdom proves true. He knows what the future holds. We can only guess. 

Always check with God first, because how you decide determines where you abide. Don’t let Sodom seduce you.

Activities:

1. See who can come up with the longest list of biblical paradoxes: Ex. The first will be last and the last will be first. Have a prize for the winner. What does this show us about depending on common sense?

2. Watch the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana Jones takes a step of faith and finds solid ground under his feet. How does walking by faith compare to this scene?

3. Have volunteers share times when they leaned on their own understanding and times when they walked by faith. How did the results differ?

P. S. I have decided to post blogs monthly rather than weekly in order to have more time for writing. To receive current posts as well as updates, please subscribe. Thank you!

Practice Your Faith

ID 130410720 © Andrii Zorii | Dreamstime.com

Have you given much thought to practicing your faith? I mean—the practice part. 

As kids, we practiced a lot of stuff. Piano, soccer, multiplication tables. 

But faith? Not so much. 

Oh, we attended church each week, but that’s not the same thing. What if we practiced our faith the way we practiced our favorite extra-curricular activities? Remember the repetition, the drills, the recitals and scrimmages. We developed our skills and put them into play. 

So, what would that look like for faith? 

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him [God] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Believe that He exists: What grounds your faith? Why do you believe in God? Does Scripture drive your faith? Personal experience? The complexity of creation? Beauty? Love? Share around the dinner table what you believe and why. 

Drill over and over again: How do you practice your faith? First, examine what causes you to question or doubt God. Meditate on or memorize verses that speak to that issue. If your struggle centers on finances, search for verses on God’s provision. If the issue is fear, tailor your verses for God’s presence and His goodness. Read them every day until they become part of your spiritual DNA. Memorize your favorite. This is one for the dinner table too. Once you learn everyone’s individual struggles, you can pray more specifically. Plus, you can practice your memory verses together. Have a prize for those who memorize their verses!

Game Time: How does your faith reveal itself in action? Every time that question that challenges your faith arises, your belief and your doubt clash. God provides the shield of faith as part of the armor in Ephesians 6. Shields can be used defensively and offensively. When questions appear to contradict the existence of God, His power, or His faithfulness, raise your shield. Not only will it withstand the blow, but it will also push the enemy back a step or two. 

Here are some creative ways to aid your practice:

1) Younger children can design a shield to use as a visual. Google has lots of templates. Write their memory verse on the back.

2) Older kids can create their own visual according to their bent: art, dance, music, even fashion or jewelry. 

3) Find worship songs that mention battles or shields. 

How will you practice your faith this week? 

Faith or Fear? You Choose

ID 47983560 © Nenitorx | Dreamstime.com

Faith or Fear? Two opposites compete for space. Remember when we could go to a store and shop? Numerous choices stretched before us. Seersucker. Denim. Silk. We chose what to wear.

Likewise, we make choices spiritually regarding what we wear. Social media and the news offer fear. Concern over the economy and disease. The new normal of shelter in place brings other cares: school at home, lack of contact with extended family and lots of contact with immediate family, and how one day merges into the next with little or no change. Fear is an option the world (and the enemy) offers.

God has other wardrobe choices in mind for His children. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:1, 27).” Let’s look more closely at these verses.

1) Do not let: It’s a choice, you know. Whether to entertain fear—or not. Too often, when fear knocks, we open the door and invite him in for coffee. Before we know it, he’s joined us for dinner and has invited himself to stay overnight. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid [fear], but gives us power, love and self-discipline [or sound judgment] (2 Timothy 1:7).” “Do not let your hearts be troubled (John 14:1).” You must take action.

2) Trust: Remember God’s track record. How has He been faithful before? Remember God’s Word. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is your shield, your fortress, your strong tower, your strength and your song. Remember His faithfulness to others. Be encouraged by their stories. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).” Remember.

3) Receive His peace: You can’t manufacture your own peace. It’s a God-thing. He gives. You must receive it and rest in it. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).” For what can you thank Him right now?

4) Do not be afraid: Fear is not of God. Faith is. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (1 John 4:15-16).” I don’t mean to sound harsh, but too often we don’t test our thoughts. I challenge you to examine your mindset and see where you’ve landed. Are you relying on His love?

Faith and fear. They can’t co-exist. One displaces the other. Test your thoughts. Fearful or faithful? Anxious or peaceful? Stressful or God-confident?

You choose.

P.S. If you’re having trouble trusting God in the midst of this craziness, I encourage you to soak in His Word. Here are some verses that I hope will strengthen you.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name”. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Green Eggs and the Great I Am

Green Eggs and the Great I Am

I love the book Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Sam I am pesters a poor unsuspecting fellow to try green eggs and ham. Sam hammers the guy with question after question, “Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?”

So I have some questions for you.

If God grew silent and your prayers went unanswered, could you, would you still pray?

If God removed the sense of His presence, could you, would you still worship?

If verses stopped jumping off the page, could you, would you still read God’s word?

If everyone around you talked about God like He spoke audibly, every day, but you don’t hear a thing, could you, would you still listen?

If everyone around you received a prophetic word, and you didn’t, could you, would you still trust that God has a plan for you?

If everyone around you spoke in tongues, and you didn’t, could you, would you still believe your value equals theirs? That you’re not a second-class spiritual citizen?

Could you, would you stand on faith, the word of God, and nothing more?

Could you? Would you?

For the Great I Am, I could. I would.

And many times, I do. You can too.

Workout of the Week: Green Eggs and the Great I Am

Memory Verse: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11 NIV

Meditation Passage: Psalm 23

Just Do It: Stand firm in your faith.