“The good news is this: your feelings aren’t your God. Your God is your God.” Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
This is the Desert of Paran in southern Israel. It’s the same visual the Israelites had as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land.
What do you see? Rocks, rocks and more rocks, right? How about quite literally tons of opportunities to see your God work?
In Isaiah 44:8, God Himself calls Himself a rock. Guess where the first time the word for rock was ever used? Yup, you guessed it. It was during the Israelites hike through the desert. Moses was told to hit a rock and water would come gushing out.
Israel had been walking in a very barren piece of real estate, seeing rock after rock after rock when they became thirsty.
Instead of continuing to enjoy their journey with their Provider, the God who just wiped out the world’s super power using many of nature’s tools (hail, bugs, etc.), they focused on their feelings of thirst and complained about God’s lack of provision.
Jesus has taken me on a very arduous journey where all I could think about was getting through it, rather than enjoying it. I’ve been counting down the days when it would be over!
The Spirit showed me that my focus has been in the wrong place – on the rocks as obstacles to get over or around rather than as opportunities to see my God provide the strength and ability necessary to cross this desert. He called me into it. He has gotten me this far. Relax and enjoy your God, Chris. He will get me through it.
How about you, where is your focus today – on the rocks or what your God can do through those rocks?
Let your praise increase as you experience your God do what only God can do; thus, increase your Jesus story that others need to hear.
It is not ok to fail, but it’s not the end of the world either.
Have you ever, when asked to do something new or at least something you are not good at, come up with an excuse or given yourself an out going into that activity so in case you failed you don’t feel bad?
In other words, you go into the activity already saying it is okay to fail. And through your readymade excuse, you’re trying to soften the blow so that if failure does occur you’ve given yourself a reasonable explanation why it is okay you failed.
These readymade excuses are what the Bible calls “arguments”, the reasons or justifications for what we do that go against the truth of what Jesus is trying to grow into our lives.
Keep this in mind, though, failure hurts you, no matter the reason for it or the outs we give ourselves. All sin destroys our lives. All our bad choices led us away from Jesus, The source of life, joy and peace.
So, if Jesus wants to change an area of our life to make us more like Him, our excuses only give us one fallback position – our repeated bad choice. Thus, we lose.
Now, having said that, we don’t need to fear failure. Failure is not the end of the world because Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, will finish the job.
Live with no excuses or fear. Let us show our love for Jesus through trusting Him enough to start out in faith, not excuses, and to keep getting up if we fail, by faith.
Our lives will be transformed, something the world desperately need to see.
First things first, one thing at a time.
We all have errands to run. Appointments to attend. Chores to get done. Daily life gets us all. These daily tasks, though, can either be weeds of distraction or fruit-bearing plants.
Good farmers plant Jesus seeds (Spirit given truths) that produce healthy fruit-bearing plants of Christ-like character. But, we can let those appointments, chores, or errands choke out these seeds from getting the water and sun they need to grow. We do this by making our daily lives about getting them done rather than about doing them with Jesus.
As good soldiers, we are told to focus on pleasing Jesus, our Commander-In-Chief (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Each chore can be done out of a love response for Jesus. Each errand and appointment can bring us around people who need to hear about Jesus through us.
We can’t get around our daily time grinders. We CAN, however, learn the following principle: first things first, one thing at a time.
Focus on one errand, one appointment, or one chore at a time. Enjoying being with Jesus in the midst of that one errand, NOT stressing over getting the entire list done.
Next, repurpose that one appointment. See it as an opportunity to walk and talk with Jesus whereby being ready to share Jesus with others when He opens the door.
We all have chores to get done. We decide whether or not they will produce Christ-like character. Hence, decide to be a good soldier. Focus on pleasing Jesus with every item on that list, one item at a time.
Hiding hurts help.
Jesus and I are having some frank conversations in the midst of a current storm. I’m not whining or complaining. I’m simply focusing on Him to fix it. You know what He’s fixing? Me, not the storm.
Paul was on a ship that was literally falling apart at sea (Acts 27). The crew was doing everything they could to keep it, the ship, together. The word used to keep the ship together is the same word in Hebrews 4:16 for help.
When we feel like our lives are falling apart, we are to approach Jesus with confidence for help. The word confidence means to speak freely and hold nothing back. In other words, be frank with Him. Don’t put on an outer face of strength with Him. A stiff upper lip only gets bitten by your teeth!
We are to be totally honest with Him. But are we being honest with ourselves? If we want Jesus to fix it, we must be willing to tell Him about what we are truly thinking and feeling at any given moment.
Thus, focusing on Jesus doesn’t mean telling and retelling Him about the storm. It means acknowledging what’s going inside you in the midst of that storm.
You see, changing your life is the issue, not the storm. Storms simply expose what’s going on inside us – our thoughts, our fears, our defense mechanisms, our rationalizations and justifications, our weaknesses (2 Cor. 10:3-5) – all of which must be renewed with the truth that sets us free from all the negatives brought on by the storm.
Focus on Jesus by talking with Him about where you are really at, not about the storm. He will fix it, alright. You.
Turn your complaining into thanking.
The Lord has been teaching me to focus and fix it. Allow me to explain. I have a bad habit of wasting time beating myself up when I make a mistake or focusing on the challenges that I’m currently facing.
In either case, where is my focus? Myself. Yet, am I not the problem? Yes. Thus, both are a waste of time as I am not focusing to the One who can fix it – Jesus.
Israel had the same problem. They had seen (Egyptian army annihilated), heard (the cries of death at Passover), smelled (rotten cattle and bloody water), touched (the plunder of Egypt) and tasted (bread from heaven and water from a rock) their God save them time and time again on their way home.
Now, they were hungry. Their response? They complained! (Numbers 11). Instead of giving thanks for a new opportunity to see their God fix it, they quit on Him.
Instead of complaining about my hardships, I should spend time thanking God for how He will fix it…again!
And so should you. Stay focused on the One who can fix it – Jesus, when fresh challenges come. Spend time thanking Him for what He has done in the past as you focus on Him to fix or get you through in the present to again thank Him in the future.
Peace comes as you give thanks before the answer arrives as it keeps you focused on the One who can fix it.