Stepping Out In Faith

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“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Have you ever been exhausted waiting for God to answer your prayers? Or have you ever prayed for something so much bigger than you—that only a God-intervention makes it happen?

Last week, I started praying for something that on the surface seems insurmountable. I am stepping out in faith like never before.  This is a prayer request a couple years in the making.  My faith bubbled up in me as I put my request through the filter of God’s word.  I was not asking with wrong motives, in fact, I felt the Lord would be glorified. I have been reading through the book of Deuteronomy and have been overwhelmed at the mighty hand of God that moves dramatically throughout the pages of His Word. The Bible say’s that as Moses neared the end of his life, he reminded the people of Israel about the mighty hand of God.

Because the Lord loves you … the Lord has brought you out [of Egypt] with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 7:8, NKJV).

After Moses died, the Israelites stood on the banks of the overflowing Jordan, ready to cross into the Promised Land. It looked insurmountable. The water was swift and deep. But God told Joshua to instruct the priests to go and “stand in the Jordan” (Joshua 3:8). As they approached the rushing torrent, nothing happened.

But when they touched the water’s edge with their feet, God worked a miracle and stopped the river. The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until a million or more Hebrews had crossed into the Promised Land. When they stepped out on the other bank, the water resumed flowing.

After studying the scriptures I started realizing, that I have a tendency to put human limitations on my prayer requests.  Now I am not naive enough to believe that God is going to give me everything I ask for simply because I ask for it. He is too wise and too loving for that. He knows much more about my situation than I do, and many times will override my prayers because He knows He has a better plan. I decided if I was going to go out on a faith limb, I was going to go all the way out. I called several of my prayer partners and asked them to pray for the impossible with me.

Jesus said, “The things that are impossible for people to do are possible for God to do.” Luke 18:27

Is it impossible for God?  Our Heavenly Father made everything we see, and everything we can’t, with a word. He breathed life into this world, He designed and created it all. There are no limitations to His power. He can (and does!)

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Oh, how this must grieve the heart of my Heavenly Father when I limit His power. He knows how much more He wants to do in my life if only I’ll invite Him.

Let’s start to be bold with our prayers.  I want my prayers and faith to go beyond human power. I want to bring everything to my Heavenly Father, every care, every need. Not with a demanding heart, but with one with positive expectation.

I don’t need to worry about how God decides to answer. How wonderful it is that we can trust our Heavenly Father with ALL our requests.  Knowing with all certainty that He and only He knows how to answer my prayers.

I don’t know how the Lord will answer my leap of faith, I have peace knowing He knows the hearts involved.  I pray the Holy Spirit will go before me, preparing the way.  I’m tired of playing it safe. It’s time to cast off my fears, remove the limitations I’ve placed on God, and invite Him into every situation I face — especially those that seem hopeless. It’s then I’ll see God’s power, not mine.

God will get the glory when we press forward in prayer and faith. We refuse to give up or give in and God will honor it with answered prayer in His perfect timing.

God Is Good

 

god_is_good_all-white-800x800Two days ago, my desktop computer died.  I immediately, started praying, since I have little to no income, I knew this was going to be a task.  The next day, out of the blue a young man I am familiar with asked me if I needed a computer.  He explained that he is getting married and they do not need two.  He said he knew I wrote a blog and this way, I will always have a back-up.  Back-up! I explained how mine died yesterday, He was excited and delivered the new (less than a year old) computer that day!  What a huge blessing!  Thank you, David!  Thank you, God!

Whatever you’re facing today, I pray that you will remember that God is good ALL THE TIME. There is no in-between. He is always working for our good. His goodness surrounds us like a shield. He always has a good plan for us. He is abounding in grace towards us and He is committed to finishing all the good things that He has started in us. So may the words of our mouth boldly declare today and every day that God is Good,

Learning To Accept God’s Love

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Do you ever struggle with unanswered prayers?

Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor.

I have had such a deep longing within my heart that I’ve desperately wanted to see come to pass. For the last several years I have waited for the Lord to answer my prayer. I wait patiently on my good days and tell myself “It’s just not God’s timing yet”  But, on my bad days I feel afraid and hurt and unworthy.

I began to wonder why I struggled with unanswered prayer so much and why I always felt defeated.  You see, I never realized the correlation between how I view God and my prayer life before; Let me explain.

I was raised in an angry, abusive home where I was sexually abused. The only role models I had were quick tempered mean alcoholics.  Needless to say,  I grew up scared of men. My life was filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.  I found myself thinking I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

So years later, after I became a believer, the concept of a kind, loving heavenly Father was a completely foreign concept to me. The words my pastor spoke sounded wonderful, like a fairy tale, but deep down I couldn’t escape the sense of God’s judgement and anger.  Even when I read my Bible, I seemed to focus on the legalism aspect of scripture. And every time I failed, messed up or fell short, I felt myself the target of God’s anger. I came to almost expect unanswered prayer, because I believed I did not deserve to be blessed.

This began a cycle of falling short all the time and making unwise choices.  Never realizing the connection between my childhood and my skewed perception of God.  The years of an unloving atmosphere filled with anger and fear had warped my brain, therefore, unconsciously blocking the truth of who God really was.

It wasn’t until after my second abusive marriage, I began to recognize that I had become comfortable with accepting less than what the Lord desired for me.  This was bolstered by the declaration from my ex-husband that the Lord had told him to divorce me and had in fact, taken me out of our marriage for his ministry.  That are marriage was never ordained by God.?  I guess in some way, this belief somehow absolved him of all the hurt he had caused me. Since I had been long ago programmed to believe that everything was my fault, I bought into his lie.  This had devastating effects on my heart and feelings of worth. I felt so much shame for my divorce and thought, “here I go again disappointing God, once again falling short, I had failed as a wife.”  I did not even sign my divorce papers when I was served, because I feared God’s wrath.

I remember sharing with my counselor that I desperately wanted to please God.  I shared how I knew God was mad at me, because I had failed again.  That I knew I did not deserve a happily ever after, like most Christians.  My counselor took my hand and said “Cheryl, God is not angry with you, He loves you, He cares for you and He understands your past and wants desperately to heal you. Slowly thru my brokenness and pain, and on my knees seeking God, that the truth started soaking in.  I think this was the first time I realized that maybe, it was true, God was not angry with me and in fact loved me.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalm 145:8

This verse which says God is slow to anger, that He offers forgiveness when I confess my failures and that He does not hold my shortcomings against me, began transforming not only my brain, but my heart. And if that were not awesome enough, the fact that God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness toward us..” As I meditated on this verse I began to believe God’s truth, the massive wall that had protected my heart as a child and continued into adulthood, slowly began to come down.

The unanswered prayer that was weighing on my heart for so long, was lifted.  I began to see that the Lord is my Daddy, the Dad I never had.  I realized as I love my children unconditionally and want what is best for them, so does my Heavenly Father.  My prayers began to change, I started trusting that I could trust Him with my deepest hurts and needs.  He knows my heart and the heart of the person I was praying for.  He and only He knows how this prayer should be answered. I began to truly have a peace that passes all understanding.  Knowing if this door closes, He has something better for me.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. in all your ways acknowledge Him,  and He will make your paths straight Psalm 3:5-6

He is our gracious heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, patiently bearing with us, teaching and guiding us as we grow and mature in Christ. He is not mad at me, and He is not mad at you. God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Sometimes our past experiences shape us in ways we don’t fully understand. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God reshapes us, transforming our hearts and minds as only He can. Though it often takes time, God’s truth can work its way deeply into our hearts and completely break down walls built of lies. And oh, how He loves to bring those walls down!  I learned I am worthy, worthy of love and am a beloved child of God.  Amen

So, the sentence at the beginning; Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor. Is far from the truth, The Lord either answers are prayers with a yes, or a no and No is because we have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what’s best for them even if He has to say no to something they want right now. Or He is teaching you to trust in His timing, to wait on Him, If you’ve asked God for answers but find yourself waiting longer than you planned, take a moment now to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don’t give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond and remember that the Lord is good to those who seek Him.   The question is: Do we really believe that He is good? If we did, wouldn’t that be cause to celebrate, whether He says yes or no?

Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” Max Lucado

Consuming Fire

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We should worship God with reverence because He is a consuming fire!  Hmmm.

Ever wonder what that means? Is it His Holiness? Does this warn of judgment? Is this an expression of his purity? Yes, YES, YES! You see, God is Holy and pure and righteous. Our imperfections, flaws, failures, and sins stand out glaringly in comparison to His perfection. Yet rather than destroying us with His Holy fire. He can make us new and clean and so much more than what we once were. So not only can we draw near to Him because of Jesus, we can stay near Him as we live Jesus’ life in our world (see Hebrews 13). That, my friend, is reverential worship at its finest!

If you have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ I plead with you to do so today before it is too late.

He is the only way to eternal life. Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of your sins, He did this out of His love for you so that you can spend eternity in heaven with Him by simply accepting the free gift of salvation that He is offering, (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 5:24, John 3:16, Romans 10:9-13, Romans 3:25).

Prayer for salvation:

“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord.  Come into my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”

 

God’s Word, Our Playbook

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All my life, I have loved sports, I love playing it and watching it on T.V.  I loved being active and enjoyed spending time with my teammates.  I grew up playing softball and if I must say myself, I was pretty good.  Why?  Because I loved the game, I practiced it, I studied it, I was dedicated to being the best I could be. I learned to take criticism and direction from my coach, we learned what position we would play and what was expected of us.  We studied our opponents and what we needed to do to overcome them.

I guess that is why I always thought of God’s Word (Bible) as my playbook for life.  Have you ever thought about that?

I like to think of our lives as believers, being like a football player.  When a football player is looking to be recruited his two priorities are; to be on a winning team and playing for a good coach.  He is looking for one that will motivate and inspire.  First off, he needs to learn the team’s playbook, because this will become the most important part of his life. This book contains a set of codes and directions for each play, so that they all know exactly what to do when the quarterback calls the play, where their positions will be, and if executed right, how to make a successful play.  Therefore having a winning season.

God has given us a playbook, His scriptures.  God’s playbook will teach us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.  He has given us everything we need! It gives us the confidence to not only know our opponent, but how to defeat him with an expectation of success and victory.   Just as the football player looks to his “coach” for direction and inspiration, so should we look to our Heavenly Father.  He gave us the instruction and lovingly inspires each play.  He knows exactly what position suits us best and how to use the gifts he’s developing in us.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3 5-6

God has not given us His word to just reflect on, we are called to know His word.  We are to live by His word.  Just as with a football players playbook, God’s word should be our number one priority!  But you will never know God’s playbook, much less what to do with it, until you know the One who wrote it.  So, study Him, know Him and talk to Him daily, moment by moment.

 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11 18,19 

I want to encourage you to make it a habit to read your playbook (the Bible).  Think of the Holy Spirit as our “quarterback” the ultimate play caller.   He has the perfect vantage point and will whisper His thoughts (plays) into your head, giving us the perfect play for that specific moment.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left Isaiah 30:21

Allow God to take the Scriptures we have studied and bring them forth out of our memory, and remind us of what we need to do in each situation. Make it a habit of calling upon the Lord for everything you do and know with confidence He will faithfully provide it. Time is short, don’t wait until 4th down before you ask Him!

The best part is; With God’s playbook we know we will end with a winning season….As Greg Laurie say’s “I know how it ends and it ends real good”  Praise the Lord..We are Victorious in Christ!  Doesn’t that make you want to join this winning team!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 24-27

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Father, thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for the perfect play when I call upon You.  I seek Your will for my life this day Lord.  Show me what You want me to know as I read Your Word, and as I meditate upon Your Word.  Continue to lead me in all aspects of my life so I may glorify Your Son.  In Jesus’ precious name, amen…

God Bless, Cheryl Downum

What We Think About God

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What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. –A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.

This is the opening sentence in Tozer’s  The Knowledge of the Holy. It’s also one of the most important, profound sentences that I have ever read.  I find myself needing to read and re-read it in order to grasp it. Tozer is telling us a great truth that everything we believe, everything we do, every sin with which we struggle, every attempt to understand who we are and what it means to be a Christian is rooted in our thoughts about God.

Your view of God affects everything you think, feel and do. Think about it, it affects your prayer life and is the key influencer of all of your thoughts and actions.  Once I was able to see what God was really like, my heart changed, I began to have a deeper walk with Him, able to trust more and in turn began to change my heart.

What about you? Are the things you think about God true to who He is? Don’t answer too quickly.   We MUST remember this, whatever you know about God is so minute compared to what there is to know of Him; He is INFINITE.

What do you think about God?  Food for thought.

I want to encourage you TODAY to seek Him out in a new way and allow Him to change the most important thing about you.  Amen