Stuck in the Mud

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By: Tanya Stayton

What do I mean? I’m so glad you asked. Do you ever feel like are on a roller coaster going up and down and round and round and the only thing you want to do is to “GET OFF”!  Or maybe you feel like you are in the middle of a storm with Hurricane force winds and flooding rains and destruction everywhere and wondering “HOW DID I GET HERE”? Many times we are our own worst enemy. As I sat here this morning watching all the destruction done by Hurricane Irma my mind went back to the “Mandatory Evacuation Plan Issued”. So many people have been injured, some have died, some have lost everything, and some are walking away devastated and yet there was a plan of “Escape” and some chose to stay for the storm.

Many times do we choose this in our own lives?  Do we make foolish decisions by choosing to stay in the storm God has never chosen for us to stay in.  In the storm He is our way of escape. Many times He puts things and people in front of us pointing to the way of escape and yet we choose to “STAY in the STORM”.  We choose to ignore the evacuation plan.  In our pride and in our foolishness sometimes we make devastating decisions that affect our life and the lives of those around us.  God’s intention is not to bring harm to us or our families. He wants to give us a good future.

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”.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

He wants us to walk in joy.  He wants us in peace and to know He is the one who brings the calm.

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)
In our foolishness we choose the wrong thing many times.  We choose to stay in the hurricane.  Because of foolish choices we put other people’s lives at risk. People put their lives on the line trying to rescue us from the flood waters that we chose to stay in until we can’t get out.  Many people have lost their lives trying to help people that refused to help themselves.  When you think about it, does that really make sense?  Is that really fair to the ones around you? So many times we are so wrapped up in what we want we  that we don’t see that our decisions are affecting those around us and we are in turn becoming an abuser to those we love not meaning to.

The hurricane is a force of nature and yet it attacked nature. That’s what happens to us. Sometimes we attack those people that we love.  We put them in harm’s way all because of our pride and our need to be in control. Instead of choosing peace we choose the storm.  We choose to stay in hurricane force winds, hurricane-force rains and keep those we love right in the middle of it all and then when the devastation hits because of our poor choices not only are we devastated but those that we love and cherish our devastated .  It is not God’s will for us to choose to stay in the storm.  God does not have to devastate your life to teach you anything. The Lord said for us to choose life or choose death.  When we choose to stay in the storm we choose death. When we choose his plan of escape we choose life. God is so good to us and He loves us so much.

As  parents, lets really think for a minute would you ask your children to stay in a storm knowing that there was a plan of escape and knowing that this was not your will for them?  Would you not try to get through to them that this is a bad choice?  God is so good to us and loves us so much it is not his will that our life and the ones we love around us be devastate.  Many people have a lot of rebuilding to do and that’s very significant when we look at our life.  When we choose the storm, abuse,  alcoholism, drug addiction,  prostitution, etc. we choose devastation and at some point in time in our life we will have to rebuild and many times it will be without the ones we love because we chose the storm.

We cannot change our past we cannot change yesterday but we can change today, we can change our future. You don’t have to live in the storm. You don’t have to allow your life to be devastated and you don’t have to ride out the hurricane. Hurricane Emma has left a lot of destruction, what will your storm do? Are the winds building?  Are the rains bearing down harder? Are the flood waters rising ? Is destruction happening all around you?  If so it might be time to listen for the Mandatory Evacuation!  What will your choice be?

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Just Stand!!! 

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By: Tina Coble

The three most common words it seems I hear among Christians in times of crisis are: “Lord, do something!” It is totally against our nature as human beings to stand still and do nothing when we face troubles. In fact, waiting patiently for God to act has been the most difficult thing during my Christian walk.  I have had to stand on  faith in God and then trust He will come through. I have been challenged with this in our business, friendship, etc. . I was and am at a point that all I can do is fall on my face and have faith that God will work it all out for good. I am a person who will do anything to fix things, stand to fight in the storm, or take action to make peace. But in this season, all I have left to hold onto is that God will work it out. All I need to do is stand.  I know in my spirit I have done all I can do in my power and the next step is to trust in the Lord.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

God asks us to stand still and see … what a wonderful promise. However, it is a promise that comes to the obedient. It is good to know that God will never forsake his own. When we follow his leading, He will deliver us from our problems and our situations. He invites us to trust him.  In the same way God told the Israelites that there was nothing they could do but to stand back and see the salvation of the Lord.

So I ask you today, if you have done all you can do, then stand. Even if you see everything moving in the wrong direction or someone you love dearly is in deep pain. God asks us to have faith in him, because He can do so much greater things than we can.

Cast Down but Not Destroyed

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Hannah Schelling

Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9)

Going through a season of hurt and confusion is never easy to understand. It is never easy to see the brighter side, or what good might come out of something so difficult. It’s never easy to practice a strong faith in a sea of worry and fear. We can easily fall short of our prayer time with the Lord. How many of you can honestly say, that in a time of darkness you tend to fall short of your faith in the Lord’s good works? It’s not a proud confession of mine, but it is true and today I want to tell you how God has been showing me it is time to rise up from the things that hold us back from growing in Christ.

As I think about my season of hurt, confusion, worry, stress, and honestly just constant fear of the unknown. I wonder how I am going to actually be okay one day after all of this, and how long until I am okay again? How long will God put me through this season before I can be content, and at peace with my life. There is no rest in a constant war with my heart and my mind. Day after day I ask myself what the right choice is, how do I know for sure if I am doing what God is asking me to do?  And in the middle of it all, I am losing myself a little. I am losing sight of who I am, and who God made me to be. I am losing sight of my purpose through him, and it becomes easier at night to just go to sleep instead of taking time to cry out to him. Because really, that’s all I want is for the worry, stress, and anxiety to all disappear.  Yet, it has become easier for me to leave my Bible sitting on my nightstand instead of picking it up and digging in.

This is when it hit me.  Continuing to respond in this way  was causing me to lose faith. I found myself  in the same spot that I started in. God’s word sitting five feet away from me and yet I abandon it.  I had lost sight of the direction He was trying to give me because I simply stopped picking up His Word.  I had asked God, “when will this be over”, “please God just show me the way”  but I was not taking the first step in opening the pages of His Word.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

We can’t expect God to snap his fingers at our first and only request. That’s not how He works. He wants to use us. He picks, pulls apart, and puts together our life just the way He wants, but we have to be willing to let him. How can we ever seek out and live his specific purpose for our life, if we are not willing to move. It’s hard and it’s scary. It’s waking up in fear because you know what God has told you to do, and even though you are paralyzed by your own thoughts and emotions. It’s fear, because you want to be used, you want to be a woman of faith and courage, but you just can’t seem to step out of the boat. When we are lost and blinded by all of the things we are afraid to lose, we will never be able to receive the greater things God has waiting for us.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind 

(2 Timothy 1:7)

I don’t want to be stuck anymore, and I don’t want to settle for less than what God has prepared for me. There is more to me than constantly worrying, and fearing the things I cannot see.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:7-8)

We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, that we will always be delivered to death for Jesus’s sake but in that the LIFE of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh. Jesus says,” Death works in us, but life in you.” Death on the cross was not meant for eternity, resurrection from the grave was meant for eternity. That life that rose up in Jesus after being crucified on the cross, will also rise up in us.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

(2 Corinthians 4:18)

How powerful is that? My fears, and my worries should not hold me captive; they should not keep me from the wondrous works of my Savior. My Savior has made me to be faithful, courageous, and hopeful in the future that He has for me. He tells us that our outward man is perishing, but the inward man is renewed day by day. Struggle by struggle, we are season by season being molded into the woman/man he has created us to be.

When  I am cast down by the fears in my life, I want to lean on Christ more than my pillows and blankets that only temporarily comfort me in my sorrow. I want to stay closer to him in times of trouble, more than talking to friends and asking for advice I want to hear God’s voice. I don’t want to drift away. I want for myself and all of you to be the best version of who He made us to be in ALL seasons of our lives. Not just the seasons in which I have the most confidence and the most faith. These seasons, the ones that paralyze us from moving forward are the ones that mold us. These seasons of self doubt, stress, and overwhelming thoughts about what might go wrong are the very seasons that I want to be confident in. My Lord, will not allow us to be cast down and destroyed. He allows us to be afraid, to cry, and to be confused, so that we may find ourselves in him. In him we will always be made new, our shape is only just beginning to be formed.