Friday, September 28, 2012

Tiredness. Bleh.

The past couple days, I've felt tired. Not a physical tiredness, but a spiritual one. It was like a big, annoying, energy-sucking cloud kept hovering over my head. Or someone pulled the plug from my connection to God. Or something began interfering with my spiritual radio..I don't know. But I felt drained and confused, like my spiritual vision was blurred. I can't tell you exactly what it was, but I imagine a lot of you guys out there feel the same way at times.

So whenever you feel drained, confused, weary or depressed; whether it's spiritually, physically, emotionally, or whatever; try checking out these verses. They destroyed whatever fatigue or evil spirit that was bringing me down, and they can do the same for you. 


Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


New International Version (NIV)

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.


Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

English Standard Version (ESV)

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.


Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

6 A voice was saying, “Cry out!”
Another said, “What should I cry out?”
“All humanity is grass,
and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flowers fade
when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.”


English Standard Version (ESV)

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. ...



New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.



New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Have a great day, and God bless. :]

Friday, September 21, 2012

Brokenness


I know most people tend think brokenness is a bad thing. It isn't. In fact, it could be one of the best things to happen to you. That is, if you have Christ.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
"For when I am weak, I am strong." If you read last week's post, titled Strength; you'll probably recognize that verse. (Seriously, the verse applies on so many levels.) In the passage above, Paul is basically saying that despite all his accomplishments, all he's been through, all the people he's been used to save and all he's done; he will brag about nothing except his own weakness.

To get the full impact of this, remember Paul is probably one of the most powerful and influencial Christians to walk the earth. If we catagorized all Believers, past, future, and present; Paul would probably be labeled under something like "Spiritual Giants."
Now, despite all this, Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians that he will boast only about his weaknesses. No bragging to other Christians about all the work he's done for Christ, no going on and on about how much he's suffered, no putting others down because they haven't worked as hard, no constantly reminding others of all the things God's revealed to him, etc.
Although Paul does describe some of the things we went through earlier in the letter, he does this solely out of defense of himself and his ministry, specifically from false teachers who've actively been trying to trash his reputation.

So, what exactly does all this have to do with feeling broken?

Try "everything."

We shouldn't try to hide our weaknesses from ourselves or act like we have it all together, when we obviously don't. It's okay to feel upset, angry, sad, lonely, pain, disappointment, lust, bitterness, etc. It's not okay to let those feelings or emotions influence your actions, thoughts, or decisions. But we're all going to experience those feelings sometime. The difference is whether we're open and let God handle it, or if we try to cover it up and overcome the issues ourselves.

Like I said in last week's post, we should rely on God for our strength. That also means we should be able to boast in our own weaknesses. I am a broken person. I struggule with sin and they're some times when emotions like depression or anxiety try to take hold of me. But Christ gives me strength to shrug off those things and press on forward down the path he has for me. And in realization of this, I'm becoming much more content and relaxed about who I am in Christ and just about life and God in general. When you're true to yourself, and have faith in the right Person, God opens doors and breaks down barriers in ways only he can. Paul was saying that he boasts in his weaknesses, because it's when he is weak that he is strong. It's the same when feeling broken. At your weakest point, you're actually your strongest; because you're relying more heavily on God and on Him to carry you through, instead of trying to power it out on your own. Boasting on your failures and mistakes reminds yourself that you're not perfect, that you don't always have it all together, and that you need God's help. That's the position you need to be in, if you really want to experience God in your life.

So be honest with yourself, and with God. You're either perfect or broken; there's no in-between. You can fake perfection, driving yourself insane trying to prove you're fine; or you can boast in your weakness, and make it known that it's in Christ alone your strength is found.

Have a great day and God bless!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Strength


People have different ideas on the meaning of the word "strength."
One of the most off-base definitions I've heard; is that true strength means keeping your head held high, your emotions down, keeping to yourself, and carrying on; without anyone's help or guidance.

In all honesty; that's about as far from the truth as you can get.
I say that, because you can't do it all by yourself. You can't always keep your head high. You can't always bottle up your emotions. You can't always keep calm and carry on. And you definitely can't always keep to yourself.

You need help.

We all do. And there's only one place we can truly get it. Yes, friends and family are definitely a huge support. But, being only human, they'll fail us time to time as well. (and vice versa)
What I'm talking about, is real help.


2 Corinthians 12:10:
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
True strength is found in weakness.Why? Because when we're on our knees, in total humility, acknowledging our brokenness and weakness; that's when God fills us with his strength.
When we try to fight on our own; we fail for the most part. But when you stop all your efforts and trying, and finally ask God for his help in your life; that, my friend, is when things change.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Our strength shouldn't come from ourselves. It should come from God, and from God alone. We need to stop putting all our confidence in ourselves, and start looking to the Cross, where all our dreams, hopes, and faith should be found.
We need to stop pretending we have it all together, and stop fooling ourselves into thinking we're good on our own.
Let's just trust in the One who loves you with the greatest love imaginable; and rely on Him, and on His Strength. (John 15:13)
It will open your eyes to a whole new world.

Have a great day and God bless!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Faith in the Right Thing


It's common knowledge that faith is a gift, something essential to serve our awesome God. But what if I told you that your faith can be abused? Or what if I said that your faith could be your own downfall?
Confused?
Let me explain a bit.

Okay, so let me start off by saying faith is an amazing thing. It's a gift that God gives each and everyone one of us, so that we might use it to seek and please Him. Hebrews 11:6 plainly tells us that without faith, it's impossible to please God.
So it's easy to see why our faith is essential. But, just like anything of this world; faith can be misused. To help illustrate this, I'll share one of my experiences. 

Well at the time, we had just moved to a new city, and were looking at new churches and such. We eventually found a decent seeming one, and attended the service. It was pretty good, and their youth group met on Sunday nights, so a week or two later; I went.  
I got there during worship, (fashionable late xP) and it was way louder than I was expecting. I mean, you could hear the rumble of the bass and the beat of the drums from outside the building. It really added to the awesomeness factor. 
The service soon started, and their youth pastor was amazing. He was practically on fire from the second he started preaching. He was bouncing around, getting excited, just preaching the message God gave him and having a great time doing so. They also had live worship(probably figured that out by now) their own building, and food.(and candy)  I also met this awesome dude named Alex who showed me around. 
The one thing it lacked though, is that it never really felt like a church home. (at least to me.) I'm used to the smaller groups, the ones with like less than twenty people, where you goof off, get to connect with new people, learn about God, play weird games, etc. The service here had at least 70+ teens, was fast moving, exhilarating, and I could really feel the Spirit's presence in that place. But it still didn't really feel like a potential church home.
Despite that, I came the next week, and the week after, thinking that the whole homeyness factor might fix itself as I went more. But nothing changed. I stopped going for a week or two, but during this time I got it into my skull that God wanted me at that church, and if I just went; He'd work everything out. ("everything" meaning me meeting new Christ-loving friends, finding my place in ministry, finally finding a church home, etc)
Sounds like a solid, bible-based plan, right?
Not exactly.
Sunday rolled around, and sometime before 6, I found myself standing at the entrance to the youth building. I didn't know what to expect, I just new I expected something.  
I left disappointed. Nothing really happened. The message was great, and I did talk with a couple people, but didn't connect with anyone; and the place still didn't feel like a home. I felt as if I wasted my time. 

See, the problem was, that God never told me to go. I had thought up everything, about me going and God working everything out, and just assumed it was right. I acted as if the words themselves had come right out Jesus' mouth, only to realize the hard way that they didn't.
I think many of us make the same mistake. Something pops into our minds, we think it sounds good and Christ-like, and decide that's what God wants for us. We pour all our faith into the idea that God will accomplish what we want, think, or even see as most efficient; just because it sounds biblical, or spiritual.

But God doesn't work that way.

God chooses what He sees is best, then reveals the plan to us. As Amos 3:7 (NIV) says,
"Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." (commas added by me, the Grammar Nazi in training. xP)  
update: took out the commas. Turns out they aren't needed. (Grammar fail. xD) Also, I was informed that the term "Nazi" could greatly offend some readers. I apologize if the way I used it upset anyone, or made anyone uncomfortable. I'll try to be more careful with my goofing-off in the future. 

Notice how the verse says 
"the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan, to His servants, the prophets," 
Not, 
"Surely, the Sovereign Lord does nothing without waiting for His precious Children to decide what they would like to do, and then automaticaly makes it happen."

I'm not saying God doesn't love us, or that He's a control freak that doesn't trust us with our own lives. None of those statements are true. What I'm saying, is God is God; and He has a specific plan for each and everyone one of us. 
We, the Believers, have to make sure that we put our faith in that plan, and not in our own intuition or our understanding of what God wants. Because in all honesty, we fail. If you'd like proof, just scroll up and read over my story again. But God knows exactly what He's doing, and has crafted a beautiful and perfect plan, including each and every moment of our God-given lives. It's up to us to trust that, and put our faith in Him and His plan alone.

I know a lot of us don't intentionally try to pour our faith into our own ideas like that; it's usually an honest mistake. We're imperfect people, and mess up sometimes. However, that doesn't give us the right to make all the mistakes we want. We have to be careful and alert. It's extremely easy to mix up God's will with your own, and can be nearly as hard to separate them. That's why we have the bible and prayer. Our understanding of God and His will for us should come from two sources.
These would be:

  1. God Himself, from spending time with Him.
  2. His Word, Aka the bible.

No religious magazine, preacher, blog, church, doctrine, theology, angel or person has any authority over God's will; no matter how much they may help us or how good they sound. (that includes ourselves) 
The only one who has the final word on that, is God Himself. And while God may keep the specific details away from us, (like He did with Abraham in Genesis 12:1) He will always, always, always, tell us what we need to know.

Okay, back to the main topic. 

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, we need to make sure that our faith is truly in God and His plan. It's so easy to make up some biblically-sound fantasy, and expect God to follow through with it. Like, for example; I could wake up one morning and decide God wants me to be a missionary. I tell all my friends, and supporting it with Matthew 28:19. ("Go make disciples of the nations..") 
But did God actually tell me He wanted me to become a missionary? No, I decided I wanted to work in the mission field, and concluded that it must be what God has for me. Do you see the error? I didn't even stop to see what God Himself had to say about it! Yet, I go through my whole life training to become a missionary, only to become utterly disappointed when I realize it isn't what God has for me.

Don't make that mistake, guys. Pray and ask God what He has planned first, and build upon that. Sometimes He'll show us before we can even ask, and other times we'll spend days praying before He answers. But He is there. He does love you. He has plans and a future for you, (Jeremiah 29:11) and He wants you to experience them. But, that'll only happen if we put our faith in Him alone, follow His lead, act according to His plan, and wait for His voice.

Have a great day and God bless! And happy Friday!!