And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
I've been listening to a song by Steffany Gretzinger from Bethel Music called "Letting go." I listened to her testimony on the process she went through in writing this song and it blessed, encouraged and just plain ministered to me. She spoke about letting go of fear in her life and that got my attention. Fear has been my middle name for pretty much all of my life thus far. I vaguely remember once, one of my music teachers saying that fear was crippling me. And she was right! Fear has been controlling my life ... me, a Christian, a child of God! I know what His Word says: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Here's the problem: I knew it but wasn't applying it. I guess this is what the bible means when it speaks about being a "doer" of the Word and not a "hearer" or in this case "a reader" only. It's so easy to hear things, to read things and to even agree with them, but what about applying them to our lives?
And so, as I spent my time in God's presence with this song, I found myself literally with my hands releasing all the things that I had been holding onto, even fear, the fear of failure, the fear of people's opinions of me as well as sins and struggles in my life. It was easy to pray and ask God to remove these things and deliver me from them but I had to do something as important also ... LET THEM GO; release them and allow God to take them. So, instead of just telling God about them and asking for His help, my part was to actually LET THEM GO!!!
Letting go is about trust. It goes beyond faith. I heard someone recently talking about the difference between faith and trust. I realize faith is believing God is able and that He will do it. And this is pleasing to Him: But without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6a). But trust is surrender; it's surrendering your will, your desire, your way for the problem to be solved and saying: "God I know You can and I know You will but I trust that what You will do and '"how" You will do it is going to be the best way for me. Lord I take myself, my will, my way, my desire out of the equation and trust that You will take care of me. Your love will cover and protect me through this. Even if hurt comes, even if pain comes, it's ALL GOOD because all things work together for my good because You love me. God You will hold me while I let it go and You won't let me fall, or fail, or be destroyed. Lord I'm safe in You while I go through this process, through this season. I'm going to make it.
YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT !!!
Someone once said that "in order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure." We have all been afraid of failure at one point in time or another. Unfortunately, this fear has kept many of us from accomplishing great things. When you think about it, fear is the opposite of faith. So, when we choose fear what we are saying is that "I can't, I'm not good enough, I'll never make it." In reality, many times we are saying what others may be saying about us. And sadly, not everyone has the ability to, or even chooses to see the potential in us. Faith, on the other hand, says, "I will try; if I fail the first, second or third time, I will pick myself up and try again until I make it.' Sometimes we need to ignore the negative voices that only focus on our faults and failures and focus instead on the positive ones that speak life into us, that speak success over us. We need to listen to those who look beyond our faults and shortcomings and see our potential. And, even when those positive voices don't seem to exist we need to always remember that there is a very real God in heaven who created us and who gave us the potential and the ability that we have. No one and nothing can take away the good He has put in us . . . unless we allow them to. And, because God has created us with all of this potential, this should motivate us to strive for excellence and ultimately success.
Don't let anyone or anything strip you of your desire to succeed. Don't let negative words or actions push you towards failure. Understand that it is God's desire for you to succeed. And if the One who created you wants you to succeed, if you allow Him, He is certainly well able to help you reach your goals and to attain your fullest potential.
The following thoughts are, I admit, lengthy. However, as I sat down to write, the ideas, thoughts flowed and flowed and flowed. I pray that as you take the time to read them, they will encourage and inspire you in some way...
Be careful to guard your dreams or visions. Be careful to guard what God has said to you. Know who in your life God is going to use to help realize that dream(s). Know who in your life is naturally a part of the fulfillment of that dream and those whom you may erroneously use to help fulfill that dream.
Abraham received a Word from God that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4). Here was the problem: his wife, Sarah, was barren. How could God give such a word to a man whose wife was barren? How could God give such a word to a couple who was so old and past child-bearing age? Yet, God gave Abraham this promise. He promised that he would be a "biological" father. And Abraham "believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).
Sometimes God will give us a word or a promise that does not seem to line up with our ability to fulfill that word or promise. Yet, if we choose to believe God, if we choose to believe His word to us 1) that will please God (i.e. our faith) and 2) He will bring it to pass. When God gives you an impossible word which you can't do, just know that He can and will do it. It's not about your ability but His ability. What's impossible with man is possible with God. And when He gives you an impossible word that only He can fulfill it means HE gets the glory not you!
But, here is the problem we may start to reason things out in our mind and start focusing on fact instead of faith. The fact is "I can't" or even "I don' have the ability." In Abraham's case, his wife could not have children, she was barren. She was also past child-bearing age. She was too old, her body could not physically handle bearing and giving birth to a baby. All of a sudden "fact" starts to outweigh "faith". In fact, it doesn't actually outweigh "faith" because Abraham still believed God would make him a father of many nations. But "how" God would fulfill His words becomes the issue. God surely can't use Sarah, a barren wife, so there must be another way. It is here, unfortunately, that man's interference steps in. Here, with all good intentions, man tries to bring God's word to pass.
It is interesting that Sarah is the one who offers the suggestion that her handmaid, Hagar, be used to bear this child on her behalf. This act was in fact legal by man's standards but it was a violation of God's law. So, they were now leaning on man's opinion of what was right - man's law vs. God's law. Their faith here was therefore compromised.
How many times do we too become "compromised" in our faith. We believe God will fulfill His word but we don't trust Him enough with the "how". So, we step in with our human understanding and intelligence and wisdom and try to bring God's word to pass our way - a way that makes sense to our human mind and that may even appear wise. Here's the problem: man's wisdom is not God's wisdom. Man's wisdom is 'earthly, sensual, devilish' (James 3:15). God's wisdom is 'pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy' (James 3:17). When we step in and try to bring God's word to pass we can make things worse, not better, and may even have to live with long-term regrets and consequences. If God gives a word, vision, dream or promise, trust Him to bring every detail of it to pass!!!
Now, let's get back to Sarah. It is interesting that Sarah is the one who offers her handmaid to her husband. Could it be that she loved her husband enough that she takes herself out of the picture and puts someone else in just so that he could be all God said he would? Abraham himself may not have made the suggestion out of love and respect for his wife. Yet, from the time the suggestion was made, they both jumped at the opportunity. They never consulted God; they probably just felt it their duty to "do their part." After all 'God helps those who help themselves.' However, there was only One who could bring it to pass and that was God. You see, God is not going to ask or expect us to violate His Law to fulfill His will. If what you feel the need to do violates God's law, even with the best of intentions, IT IS WRONG! God will not expect you to compromise, for example, your marriage vows and relationship to bring something "good" to pass. He does not expect you to start leaning on the "world's " laws and views to get something done. Inevitably, it will backfire on you. You either please God all the way or you don't please Him at all!
Paul says in Galatians 3:3: 'Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' Earlier in verse 2 he says: 'Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?' You see, Abraham and Sarah started in faith but when the reality of their limitations hit them they chose to rely on the "flesh" to bring God's promise to pass. Many times we do the same. God gives a word and we believe it. But when we start looking at our limitations, coupled with the possibility that He seems to be taking too long to bring this word to pass, we see it as a sign for us to step in and "help God out." Faith and patience go hand in hand. God will bring His word to pass BUT in His timing. God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, Isaac, many years after He had given him the promise. They had to wait and trust Him. Our impatience can sometimes cause us to rush ahead of God and we can end up making a mess of things. However, it may not be able to actually cancel out God's word. It may just cause unnecessary problems and challenges for us and even future generations like the Jews and Muslims today.
When Abraham and Sarah violated God's marriage law by bringing a second "wife" into the picture - legal by the world's standards but NOT by God's - this precipitated unnecessary challenges. One, Hagar was a slave and did not have rights and was therefore put into a position without any consideration for her personal desires and needs. Sarah had to make herself look good and Hagar was going to help her do it! This was a common and legal practice in their day, that a woman's handmaid could bear children on her behalf. But it was not God's way. Things went well at first but then started to go downhill. When Hagar realized she could do what her mistress could not, 'her mistress became despised in her eyes.' (Genesis 16:4) Sarah in turn felt the need and was given permission to deal with her and she 'dealt harshly with her (v. 6). Sometimes, those we turn to for help, because they are not in God's plan for the fulfillment of His word to us, can end up becoming a "thorn in the flesh." Pride could step in once they realize they can do what we can't and their attitude towards us can change. Jealousy and envy on our part also steps in and the whole thing becomes a huge mess. If you are in a position of leadership, this person may start to disrespect and usurp your authority and if you're not careful they may undermine you and render you ineffective in the eyes of others. If pride is present in the person's heart, an Absalom spirit may also step in and your position of authority may be challenged. Be careful with who is around you. Some will be there for good, some for evil. Learn to trust God to bring His word, vision, dream to pass. Wait patiently on Him. Where you can't, God can. The answer is not always "someone else" with more ability but God who is well able to enable you to do what He has called you to do and that you can't do on your own. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' (Philippians 4:13)
During worship last Sunday morning, we were singing a song entitled: 'This is my desire.' Maybe you are familiar with it. But I think that it was the chorus that got my attention. Now, this is a song that I have been singing for years. It's a beautiful song of surrender to God. However, on this particular Sunday morning some of the words really started getting my attention. The chorus goes like this:
Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake
Lord have Your way in me.
For some reason as I sang the song, I really started paying attention and I realized that I really wasn't giving God my all. It was so easy to sing the song but was I really surrendering totally to God? So, as soon as I got the opportunity, I jotted down some thoughts so that I would not forget them. My thoughts went something like this: If even your spouse is more important to you than your love for God then you have not given God your whole self, your all. Reach the point where you are willing to give up your spouse, that person or thing that means so much to you, where you're willing to give them up for God.
Now, I'm not talking about divorce or the destruction of relationships in your life or even giving up your dreams or goals or vision. I guess I'm simply saying that none of these people or things should ever be more important to you than God. And if it reaches the point where, God forbid, He removes any of these from your life, you should be able to say: 'God I still love You. God I still trust You. God I'll still serve You.'
I'm reminded of a movie that I absolutely love called 'Facing the Giants.' In this movie, the wife of the main character, a high school football coach, was struggling to get pregnant. She had gone to the hospital a number of times, it seemed, to take a pregnancy test but each time the results were negative. Finally, prompted by a friend to go to the hospital again because she had been feeling ill for some time, she went and had another pregnancy test done. Yes, the results came back negative again. As she got back to her vehicle outside, and with tears streaming down her face, she told God basically that she still loved Him and would still serve Him in spite of the results. Lo and behold it turned out that her results had gotten mixed up with someone else's and she was indeed pregnant! To me, not for God's sake but for her own, she had to finally surrender her deep desire for a child to God and acknowledge that even if she would not receive the desire of her heart, that desire would not be greater that her desire for God. It was only when she finally reached this point that she received the desire of her heart.
If life doesn't work out quite the way you had hoped or planned or dreamed; if you never have children of your own; if you never achieve a particular goal; if you never get the home, or even job you want; if you never have the kind of marriage you've dreamed of; if you never even get married - if everything does not work out the way you had hoped, dreamed or imagined, you should still be able, from your heart, to say: God I'll still love You; God I'll still serve You; God I'll still worship and honour You with all my heart. That I think is total surrender to God, when you don't allow anything or anyone to dictate your service to Him, your love for Him, your commitment to Him. You give Him everything, even if it requires a sacrifice or sacrifices, even if it means giving up what's important to you so that He can give you HIS BEST for you ...
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.