Do you love me?

Do you know how you can combat your fears, insecurities, your anxiety, or low self-esteem?

The world says, go out and conquer your fears by facing them. Lift yourself up so insecurity and low self-esteem disappear. Ease your anxiety with self help books! Though these worldly solutions can help you, they do not last. They are not filled with the Spirit of God and they do not point to Jesus, the only One who can heal, lift up, love, give peace, and give security.

Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, had such a fear of man. He was bold, but his boldness still rested on himself, his emotions, and depended on circumstances and others. When Jesus called Peter out to walk on the water, Peter was courageous as he looked at Jesus, but his eyes strayed and the waves created fear and he began to sink. When Jesus told His followers that He would have to die, Peter relied on his emotions and own thinking and told Jesus it would not happen, could not happen! Jesus rebuked him for not thinking of Christ and His glory first. And, when Jesus was arrested, 3 times, Peter was asked if he was a follower of Christ. Out of fear, insecurity, he denied Christ 3 times.

Yet, Christ corrects Peter’s focus in a beautiful moment. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asked Peter, three times, “Do you love me?”. Peter replies, three times, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” However, Jesus knows Peter’s heart and character. He knows Peter will struggle with identity and fear of man all his life. In fact, just after this interaction with Jesus, Peter immediately looks at John and compares himself to him. Still, I take heart in the fact that though Peter struggles with fear of man, Jesus chose him to be the rock of the church!

What really struck me this morning, is the practical application of this passage. When we are distracted and fear man or circumstances, when we feel insecure or anxious, we can have the same conversation Peter had with Jesus. Hear Him speak to you, tenderly, yet challenging you, “Do you love me?” And answer Him, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” Hear Him commission you to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep, and follow Him!

Reflecting Him

We all reflect Christ in different ways. He made us with unique gifts and traits. Of course, in our lives, we will reflect Christ in a variety of ways, if we are truly seeking Him, yet we will never do it fully or perfectly this side of heaven.

 

I tend to want to do it all. I want to reflect every trait of God, I want to be holy, just. I want to be wise and encouraging, a good steward. I want to preach well, write well, be merciful, pray well. But, that is not how God made me. I am a unique reflection of His character and He doesn’t call me to reflect it all.

This morning, He reminded me that I see others, I see people, just as Hagar called God the one who sees me. And He would rather I focus on reflecting that unique aspect of Him than strive to do them all or compete with the ways other reflect Him. So, how do you uniquely reflect Christ?

Inconvenience

We all face so many things that inconvenience our day. From the traffic jam on the freeway to the lack of milk in your fridge. These small things can change a good day into a bad one, can change a positive attitude into a pessimisttic one.

Yet, God uses those inconvenient moments. In fact, I think He places inconvenient moments in our day to open a door or test our heart. Yesterday, I found myself inconvenienced and because of that, I was at the right place at the right time to help someone. This reminded me that God works ALL things for good.

 

I want to have a changed attitude about the small inconveniences of my day. I want to look for what God is doing in them rather than feel enslaved by them. I want to choose praise in response to them rather than allow myself to be beaten down by them!

Looking at Literature: Bilbo Baggins

I like to think we are all a bit like hobbits in the U.S.: comfortable, well-fed, well-housed, with a certain amount of manners, kindness, hospitality, and living in relative peace.

We live in comfort and are unaware of what is beyond our home. Like Bilbo finds himself at the beginning of the Hobbit, we can find ourselves annoyed by anything that interrupts our quiet comfortable life.

However, I believe, the moment any of us open our heart to God and begin to follow Jesus, our life has become a grand adventure, to which, remaining comfortable is impossible.

For Bilbo, opening up his door, inviting Gandalf in, changes his life. For us, accepting Jesus, surrendering ourselves, changes our life.

Like Bilbo, we may be hesitant to step out the door, out of our home, our safety, our comfort zone. We might sleep in or even sleep through God’s great plan for us. Except, God doesn’t let us miss out on His will and continues to challenge us, believe in us, and equip us.

Gandalf assumes Bilbo is accepting adventure and because he assumes, or, I think,believes in him, Bilbo finds himself swept up, running out of his comfortable home, not able to “remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed up…. running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the path.”

Similarly, God believes in each of us and is drawing us out of our comfort zones and onto paths unknown. If we won’t go freely, He may just sweep us out the door without a second thought, and like Bilbo, we will find ourselves on a great adventure.

The Promise and Power

Acts 1:4-8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus has risen and has appeared to His disciples. He has commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. Before Jesus ascends to heaven. He tells them to wait. He also tells them that it is not for them to know times or seasons the Father has fixed. If they wait, they will receive power from the Holy Spirit and be witnesses to the ends of the earth.

This encourages me greatly in my waiting, especially in a season of preparation or transition. We may know God’s commands and want to take action, but God makes us wait. He places us in a time of rest, stillness, of what feels like a time of nothingness. You can’t see anything happening, you don’t know what to do, where to go, and God hasn’t spoken clearly to you.

I can’t help but wonder if He is making you wait for the same reason He made the disciples wait. That after a time, you will receive more power. Right when the Father chooses, He will shoot you like an arrow towards the bulls eye.

Only He knows the times and seasons, but, isn’t it worth it if the waiting means receiving power from the Spirit and witnessing to the ends of the earth? Hang in there. Stand firm. I believe this uncomfortable season you face, I face, is preparing you for the promise of the Father.

Raise a Hallelujah

Acts 16:25-34 Paul and Silas pray and sing hymns

Fortunately I have not experienced prison and I do not pretend to even begin to understand and relate to Paul and Silas’s situation in this passage of scripture.

Yet, as I prayed this morning, God brought this scripture to my mind, not the exact book, chapter, and verse reference, but He brought to my mind His followers singing while in prison and then the earth shaking. This lead me to Acts and the story of Paul and Silas.

You see, sometimes we can feel like we are in a prison: stuck, disconnected, confused, stifled, and well, uncomfortable. We can’t see a way out of this place or season. That is why this true story holds such a powerful message for us as believers. Paul and Silas do not try to figure out a way to escape. Instead, they “pray and sing hymns to God”.

They are not working in any way, they do not know what is happening outside the prison, and they can not go anywhere. In a sense, they are left with nothing to do, but sit there and wait. Yet, they use that space to do something that shakes the earth, opens the prison doors, and ultimately saves the jailer!

A very wise and wonderful woman of God told me recently, that our circumstances may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but our response within those circumstances can change the spiritual realms.

So, if you are like me, feeling stuck, disconnected, you are not sure how to move forward, or you simply can’t move at all- sing and pray. Sing and pray for however long it takes to shake the earth and open the prison doors!

God’s Best

It is so hard to let go of what I consider to be the best for me, what I perceive as perfect. Yet, God’s best is different than our best. God’s best encompasses so much more than our best. What we might want for ourselves because we see it as perfect or the best there could be typically is a selfish desire. The perfect job or perfect girlfriend or boyfriend, the perfect home- we can’t see past our own selfish desires without God’s help and even with His help our eyes fail to see beyond what is seen.

However, God’s perfect, God’s best, is not only for our good, but for the good of others, for the redemption of this world, and for His glory. Rather than accepting what may be good for me, but could be bad for others, I want to hold out for what is best for us all and for His glory.

Maybe you do not think that applies to your dating life or your job choice, but isn’t that decreasing the size of God? Why wouldn’t it apply to those things as well? If God’s word tells us to do all for Christ, that there is a season for everything, that He has prepared good works for us in advance, then why wouldn’t He also have the best for us in all other areas?

I, for one, do not want what I think is best for me if it is not God’s best for me. Sure, it might be good, but if I wait and choose God’s best, then perhaps, I will find life, joy, more of Him, battles might be won, lives might be saved, people encouraged. When I grow impatient and reach for my best, I am missing out and causing others to miss out on God’s perfect plan.