Trusting God Will Work Your Situation for Good

blessedContinued from here.

At the end of the day, we either trust God, or we don’t. We either believe Him, or we don’t. The Enemy will attempt to complicate the issue and provide you with numerous excuses for disobeying God, but the decision really is simple: If you love God, you will do what He says to do. If you are unwilling to do what God says to do, whether the issue is a big one or a small one, it’s reflective of a lack of love for Him.

God promises that He will work out our circumstances for good if we love Him and do what He tells us to do. So, we don’t need to worry about what is going to happen. When we are alarmed by our circumstances, we need to resolve to seek God’s will and do it, trusting Him to work it all out for good in the end. We might go through a season of pain, but the joy is coming.

My biggest struggle during the season that led to losing my job was ensuring that I was “hearing” God correctly and following His will. I did not want to make big sacrifices, only to learn later that I was way off base and walking out of His will. I repeatedly prayed for God to redirect me if I was not doing what He wanted me to do. He gave me repeated reassurances in a variety of ways, including leading me to Bible verses that showed me that my position aligned with His priorities in His Word.

If you are truly trying to do God’s will but are doing something “wrong,” God is perfectly capable of redirecting you. That was Paul’s story—he thought he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians, so Jesus redirected him in a huge way. I have seen God work in the opposite extreme as well. A friend thought she knew that God was telling her to do something that seemed ludicrous and kept praying for confirmation. God gave her confirmation through a loudspeaker at a grocery store, of all things. I was there and can testify that this did, in fact, happen.

God knows what is in your heart, and He will direct your steps if you are willing to follow where He leads you. You don’t need to be afraid to take a stand for God. He is faithful, and He will repay you double for all that you have lost:

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.” ~ Is. 61:7

[Graphic: Cartoon of  Grace holding her hands in prayer over the word, “#Blessed.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Remaining Faithful in Small Things

yes_sirContinued from here.

If you are not faithful in small challenges, you will find it very difficult to be faithful in large ones. In Jesus’ parable of the bags of gold, he said,

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” ~ Matt. 25:21

However, the master in the parable rebuked the servant who had not been faithful in a small thing, saying:

So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.’” ~ Matt. 25:28-29

Taking a big stand that could cost your job is challenging, even when you know you are doing the right thing. What equipped me to stand my ground was having been faithful in smaller areas. For example, God placed on my heart a couple of years ago that I needed to respect governmental authority by obeying the speed limit. I grew up in large city where posted speed limit signs are blatantly disregarded, and people who only drive 5 miles over the speed limit are mocked and loathed by other drivers. I did not want to obey the speed limit, particularly considering I am unlikely to suffer any consequence for “mild speeding,” but God’s message was firm.

My decision to obey the speed limit is not popular. Other drivers dramatically pass me regularly. My teenager thinks I am being absolutely ridiculous, and even my husband mocks me for “driving like an old grandma.” Some friends are amused while others insist on driving because my “slow driving” is an annoyance. However, I love God more than I want other drivers, my friends, or even my own family to approve of my choices. If I was unwilling to be faithful in this small thing, how much more difficult would it have been for me to be faithful in big thing that cost me my job?

If you want to be faithful in big ways for God, start small. If you will not say no to the rated R-movie because you fear your friends’ disapproval, you are not going to have the resolve to say no when much more is at stake. Small steps in faithfulness lead to giant leaps later.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed in fatigues. standing in a military tank, and saluting while saying, “Yes sir.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Do You Believe that God Will Come Through?

Continued from here.

The situation that led to my being fired last week did not arise overnight. I knew for a few weeks that my position might end in my being fired, so I had weeks of angst over standing firm in my resolve. This tested my faith – Did I really believe that God would come through in this situation?

To help me stand firm in my faith, I used the five-step method from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, which I shared about here. In addition, I followed TerKeurst’s advice about resolving to seek the LORD and following whatever He called me to do. She based this teaching on this verse:

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” ~ 2 Chron. 20:3 (emphasis added)

TerKeurst focused on the words alarmed and resolved. Jehoshaphat was alarmed that an army much stronger than his own was coming just as I was alarmed that I was standing up against management, which is much stronger than I am. However, rather than freak out, get drunk, hide, accuse God of abandoning him, or any of the other “normal” reactions that people have to adversity, Jehoshaphat resolved to ask God what to do. I reminded myself of this teaching several times during this stressful experience, resolving to ask God what to do and praying for Him to make His will very clear. The fact that God sent me a year’s worth of “supernatural severance” the very next day reassures me that I did, in fact, “hear” God clearly re: standing my ground, even though it cost me my job.

When I was tempted to dread returning to work after the weekend before I was fired, God reminded me of this passage of Scripture:

Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary …” ~ Is. 8:12-14a

God did become my sanctuary during this challenging season. Not for one moment did He leave me alone in my circumstances. He carried me through them, empowered me to do what was right, and continued affirming that I was walking in His will by immediately restoring the monetary value of what had been taken for remaining faithful to Him, even at great cost.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Courtesy Amazon.]

Do You Love God More Than Anything Else?

Continued from here.

As I stated in my last blog entry, I never once considered backing down from doing what is right, even though it ultimately cost me my job. While this was not easy for me to do, it truly was a simple decision because I love God more than I love anything else, even my family’s health insurance, financial security, and my professional reputation. If I must choose between God and these other things, which also matter to me, God wins.

It’s hard for me to say whether I would have made the same decision a few years ago. While I respected and admired God, I did not actually begin loving God until March 2013, when I started spending the first hour of my day with Him. Loving God changes everything. I might be willing to endure some challenges for people I respect and admire, but when push comes to shove, it’s only those I love who I would be willing to make major sacrifices for.

When you are faced with a big decision like I was, the Enemy will try to muddy the waters by taking what should be simple and making it complicated: “Don’t you care about your family’s well-being? Look at what you are costing your family – it’s not all about you. What about your responsibility to them? Look how hard you have worked to build up your professional reputation. Are you really going to throw it all away over this one issue? Nobody else is taking this stand, so why are you? If they are willing to do it, then why aren’t you? Do you think you are better than they are? Why not just walk away quietly? Simply quit, and then nobody ever has to know…”

God’s truth is always simple … not easy, but simple. Either I love Him more, or I don’t. If I love Him, I will stand up for what is right, even when it comes at great cost. As Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God , if we have an obedience problem, we have a love problem. The more you love God, the easier it becomes to obey Him, even when obedience comes at great cost.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God . Courtesy Amazon.]

How Much are You Willing to Sacrifice for God?

this_is_not_happeningHow much are you willing to sacrifice for God? Let’s say your employer tells you to do something that you believe is unethical and unlawful. Would you do it? Would you be willing to lose your job over standing up for what is right? If your employer told you that you have two options—do the unethical/unlawful activity or be terminated for cause, would you back down?

Don’t answer too quickly. Think about the degree of the cost you would be willing to pay for doing what is right. What if you were told that your family’s health insurance would be canceled at midnight if you were fired? Think about the long-term ramifications of being fired for cause, which run so much deeper than the immediate loss of income. For the rest of your life, you would have to explain in job interviews why you were no longer employed by that company. All of these challenges could be avoided by simply doing something you know is wrong. Would you do it?

This is no longer a theoretical question for me. My employer of over 8.5 years fired me on Friday for “insubordination” because of my refusal to do something that I believe is unethical and unlawful. I was given the opportunity to back down from my position, but I didn’t – never even considered doing so. I’m not saying it was easy (it wasn’t), but it really was that simple: I refused to be coerced into doing something that I believe is unethical and unlawful, even when threatened with immediate termination. And I was, in fact, terminated for it.

This week, I’ll be blogging about doing what God says to do, even when it comes with a heavy cost. It’s easy to follow God when He is raining blessings down on our lives. It’s a completely different story when obeying Him comes at a heavy price. However, Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey him, and if we don’t, we won’t.

As someone in the trenches, I can tell you that God is faithful. The day after I was fired, I learned that my grandmother’s estate, which had been in probate for over two years, had finally been settled and that I will be receiving my share of the inheritance this week. The amount of the check is exactly one year’s net pay plus 10% to cover the tithe. God is faithful and rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace spinning in a vortex: “This is not happening.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

How to Make Time for God

you_upContinued from here.

Are you ready to commit to spending quality time with God daily? If so, you need to set aside a block of time daily (preferably the same time every day) that is sacred and trumps everything else in your life, no matter what. For me, this is the first hour of my day.

Once you decide the block of time you are setting aside for God, you need to rearrange your schedule with the understanding that NOTHING is important enough to supplant that time with God. That block of time is the one chunk of your day that is 100% immovable, no matter what.

When I was going through this process, I realized that it would require me to awaken an hour earlier. I needed to drive my son to school at 8:00 a.m., which was not changeable, so to carve out an hour for God first thing in the morning, my morning had to start an hour earlier.

Getting 8 hours of sleep is a high priority for me. (I do not function well physically on less sleep.) To make this happen, I needed to go to bed an hour earlier every night. That meant I needed to remove an hour of something from my pre-bedtime routine, which, in my case, was some beloved televisions shows. I won’t lie to you – this was difficult for me to do. I very much looked forward to watching these shows as they aired as part of my process of unwinding before bedtime. While it might not sound like it, this was a sacrifice for me, but I made it because I chose to prioritize God over my “me time.” And you know what? This no longer feels like a sacrifice to me. What I gained through falling in love with God far surpasses what I gave up.

When I made the life decision to spend the first hour of my day with God, I thought I did not have time. After all, I was a full-time mother with a part-time job, driving my special needs child to athletic events, leading a Bible study, and taking care of my husband. Today, I have a full-time job, am in school full-time, lead a Bible study, write this blog, and still take care of my family, and I get it all done without exhausting myself. How? Only God knows because He has equipped me to do so in this very busy season of life. I keep asking Him whether something needs to go, but His answer has been consistently “no.” Instead, He has supernaturally empowered me to do more than I ever dreamed possible in a week because I prioritize my relationship with Him. I give Him the firstfruits of my day, and He empowers productivity that seems impossible with the other 23 hours.

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself! Make a life commitment to prioritize time with God, and watch move mountains in your life in response.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace peeking through the window and asking, “You up?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Loving God Equals Time With God

cant_wait_to_see_youContinued from here.

My blog entry yesterday might have offended some people, but I am simply being honest. My honesty comes from a place of having been there myself. I knew a lot about God, and I knew the Bible very well. I went to church on Sundays, led Bible studies, and had the knowledge of the Christian faith to address most questions that people have about God. However, I did not love God.

Now, if someone had confronted me with this truth, I would have been deeply offended. However, truth is truth. Obeying God was hard to do because I did not love Him. Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. To quote Henry Blackaby from his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, if you have an obedience problem with God, then you have a love problem. I had a big obedience problem, which was a huge red flag pointing to my love problem.

Now for the good news – Love is a choice, and you can choose to begin loving God right away. That love is spelled T-I-M-E. Do as I did in March 2013 and make a life decision to spend an hour every day with God no matter what. As you do, your love for Him will grow because it is not possible to spend extended time with someone who loves you completely and not respond to that love. Once you do this, you’ll be asking yourself why you waited so long. You will realize that you have been missing out on the best part of your Salvation – the relationship with the Father that Jesus died to give you now … not at some future date when you die and go to heaven but right now in this lifetime.

Just a quick aside – While my personal preference is to begin my day with God, a dear friend who is a “night owl” assures me that a deep love relationship with God can be cultivated in the evenings. She views her time with God as special time before He tucks her into bed at night. So, don’t let time-of-day logistics interfere with your commitment to spend quality time with your Creator on a daily basis. Make the commitment, and you will experience a love relationship with God that you never dreamed possible.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling amid the words, “Can’t wait to see you.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]