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Entries in God is Faithful (2)

Thursday
Oct052017

Getting Needs Met ... or Not

Dianne Barker has a knack for pinpointing issues we all struggle with, and the biblical truth that helps. In this Perspective UPGRADE, she examines a question we may ask in the middle of stressful circumstances.

     

"Overwhelmed, I cried out to the Lord," Dianne said. 'What about my needs?'”

I (Dawn) believe the Lord understands our struggle. Humanly, Jesus had physical needs during His time on earth, and He looked to scriptures for strength. That's exactly where we need to go.

Dianne continues . . .

I went into marriage expecting my wonderful husband to meet all my needs and make me sublimely happy.

Our first few years were pretty much carefree. When I left a successful journalism career to be a stay-at-home mom, I had no regrets. Making a nest for my husband and our two young children brought me great joy. Meeting their needs had highest priority, although I carved out some time to continue writing.

Life has a way of piling stress upon stress.

As our children grew, we enjoyed the normal progression of family life: music lessons and recitals ... Little League and Scouts ... choral concerts and competitions.

We enjoyed our hectic life and managed the good stress.

Then heartbreaking stress caught up with us as our aging parents declined in health. I gladly poured out my life caring for them.

Increasing, daily challenges drained my time and energy, taking an emotional toll, and weariness sent me to the Lord.

“What about my needs? Doesn’t anybody care about my needs?”

He surprised me with an answer.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

I’d always viewed that familiar promise as assurance he would meet my physical, financial, and spiritual needs. A gentle voice in my spirit said, “I will supply your emotional needs. That frees you to meet the needs of your family.”

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

The Lord continued encouraging my heart with these words: “…as your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

My circumstances didn’t change, only my perspective.

When you’re weary and feeling your needs aren’t getting met, consider having a conversation with yourself.

  • God placed me here—in this family, in these circumstances—on purpose. He thought I had something to contribute. He surely has a lot of confidence to entrust me with such a complicated assignment.
  • I feel inadequate, but I’ll never be stronger than I am right now because God is my strength. And he won’t be stronger tomorrow.
  • The One who engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16) is fully able to supply all my needs. Knowing that, I needn’t depend on anyone else for this impossible provision.

Many years have passed since the Lord interrupted my pity party with an amazing promise. He met my needs and renewed my strength day by day, enabling me to pour out my life with joy, serving my precious family.

Circumstances are temporary. Our parents are in heaven and our children have left the nest. I look back on those challenging times with gratitude for the faithfulness of God.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

I’ve never regretted the decision to trust him to supply my needs. He’s surpassed my expectations. 

Who are you depending on to meet your needs?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned. This post is adapted from I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay.

Tuesday
Mar072017

4 Ways to Turn Intentions into God-honoring Action

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson encourages action! Intentions are great, but they don't change the world.

"You can't build a reputation," Henry Ford said, "on what you are going to do."

That's not just true of a reputation; it's also true of anything important to us.

Whether it's in ministry, writing, a professional career, marriage, parenting, finances—whatever—intentions are only a starting point, not a means to build anything lasting or worthwhile.

Don't get me wrong. Plans and intentions are wonderful. They're necessary for success. But plans are, in and of themselves, fruitless. We have to move beyond intentions to action. 

Words are important, but ultimately, our lives are measured by what we do, not what we say.

So how do we turn our good intentions into actions that please the Lord?

I would suggest FOUR STEPS.

1. Examine Your Intentions

Good intentions aren't always good. Sometimes good intentions can be used to justify sin.

I laughed at a cartoon of a burglar before a judge. He told the judge, "Yes, I robbed the bank, but I had the best of intentions."

We see this justification of intentions in the life of Paul as he, thinking himself righteous, persecuted the church (Acts 23:1; 26:11-12). We also see misused intentions in the life of King Herod. He thought he was doing the Jews a favor—he had good political intentions—but he ended up imprisoning Peter (Acts 12:1-4). As Christians, we must examine our intentions before we move ahead.

Be sure your foundation for intentions is solid and biblical.

2. Count the Cost.

Jesus counseled His followers to "count the cost" before moving forward in a big project (Luke 14:28-30). On the surface, it appears He advocates careful decision-making.

But His counsel goes beyond our decisions to our discipleship. Masses of people followed the Lord for many reasons: free food, the miraculous healings and other miracles. But Jesus knew their hearts.

His counsel about counting the cost is part of a larger passage (14:26-33) that laid out what it meant to be His follower. While eternal life is free, discipleship "costs" us something.

It means recognizing He is Lord, and transfering the ownership of our lives and all we have to Him.

This changes the concept of our "intentions," doesn't it? "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

Surrender every good intention to the Lord and His plans.

3. Fight the Flesh

I recently read an article that addressed humans' "internal guidance system," claiming we have "two brains: primitive and intellectual." The primitive brain or guidance system, the author suggested, was not evolved and it worked against our intellectual brain. So, accordingly, we know what to do, but our actions don't always synchronize with our intentions, because sometimes we are controlled by the primitive brain.

I smiled, suddenly "hearing" Paul's words in Romans 7:19: "For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do."

Rather than a "primitive brain" and an evolved "intellectual brain," I think we are really battling sinful flesh. It is the sinful nature we inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12; 7:14-24; Psalm 51:5). With deceitful hearts, we struggle with the "deeds of the flesh" (Jeremiah 17:9; Galatians 5:19-21).

There are consequences to our sinfulness. One of the consequences is, the flesh can really sidetrack us in our best intentions!

Through God's grace and walking in the Spirit, we can overcome the flesh (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:11; Galatians 5:16; Romans 13:14; Psalm 119:11).

We can starve out it's influences in our lives (1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Colossians 3:5; Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:6).

Fight the flesh to give your good intentions a fighting chance!

4. Check Your Obedience.

Many times we are sincere about our intentions, but we don't follow through.

At the Bema Seat of Christ, it will be our obedience that stands strong in the face of judgment—our good works after salvation, not our intentions (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

I have often heard this passage preached:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21)

We can have lots good intentions as Christians, but if we are not obedient disciples, committed to honoring God with righteous thoughts and behavior, we will not be seen as one who has borne fruit for the Kingdom. We will, in fact, suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).

One of the deceiving things about intentions is they can tempt us to rest in a false sense of confidence and security. Sometimes we think because we have already "decided" to do something, we're moving forward.

Deciding is not doing.

In the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-31a), Jesus taught about intentions versus obedience. When a father asked his first son to work in the vineyard, he refused, but later thought better and obeyed. When he asked the same question of the second son, the son said, "Sure, I'll go"—but he didn't follow through. He didn't obey.

The first son did the will of his father because he acted in response to the Father's will.

Many of us have heard clear instructions from our heavenly Father—perhaps during a time of prayer or Bible study, at church or in another gathering. Our hearts were moved. We may have intended to obey, but have we?

Determine to follow through on wise, biblical intentions... obey the Lord!

Good intentions, like New Year's resolutions, are only as good as the results.

In summary:

  1. Be sure your foundation for intentions is solid and biblical.
  2. Surrender every good intention to the Lord and His plans.
  3. Fight the flesh to give your good intentions a fighting chance.
  4. Determine to follow through on wise, biblical intentions ... obey the Lord!

We will not be perfect in our follow-through. We are still sinners. But sinners saved by God's transforming grace have the empowering Spirit to help us fight our battles and obey the Father.

The blessing to my heart is a wonderful truth: Our heavenly Father is "the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"  (Exodus 34:6). When I am not faithful to my Lord, He is still faithful to me (Romans 3:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23).

God sees the believer's heart and know every intention; and He is a compassionate and faithful Father. 

What are some good intentions you have that you have yet to act upon? Would any of these points help you follow through?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.