The Nasty C Word

Maria Looking UpChange is inevitable. Sometimes it’s exciting, like when one embarks on a new career or welcomes home an infant. Other times, well … Today my dear friend and fellow Living by Grace Hostess, Maria Morgan, encourages us to grab hold of God as we follow Him toward where ever He leads, change and all.

3 Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Change

The days are getting longer. The breeze has lost its chill. Change is in the air. I love the transition from winter to spring. The promise of new growth and warmer temperatures encourages me to embrace a new season.

But all change isn’t as easy to welcome. Some changes bring pain, while others create fear. So how can I prepare myself for the change that is sure to come? God’s Word gives me real insight.Bible

I’m challenged by the Israelites. As they stood poised on the banks of the Jordan River, ready to enter the Promised Land, they had to make some decisions. No doubt they were ready to leave the wilderness far behind – but there was work to be done in this new land if they were to possess it. Hard work and plenty of unknowns.

How did they respond? What did they do to overcome their uneasiness about the new land they were about to enter?

1 – They trusted God.

Joshua encouraged the people with a promise from God. As soon as the priests stepped into the Jordan River, the waters would part and the people would be able to cross the river on dry ground. Instead of questioning God, the people chose to take Him at His word. (Joshua 3:13)

2 – They moved forward one step at a time.

Because the people chose faith over fear, they were able to concentrate on the task that lay ahead of them that day: “And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.” (Joshua 3:17; KJV)

They didn’t have to worry about what they would face the next day. They chose to do what God expected them to do that day.

3 – They chose to remember God’s goodness.

God instructed the people to set up a memorial of 12 stones taken from the middle of the Jordan River, as a reminder of how He had provided a miraculous path for them to cross into the Promised Land. The people obeyed. The memorial served as a reminder to future generations of God’s strength and goodness. (Joshua 4:20-24)

The next time you’re faced with change, you have the opportunity to respond like the Israelites did: trust God, move forward one step at a time, and remember God’s goodness.

What step will you take today to address your uneasiness with change?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the clear direction You give in Your Word. Help me to trust You in the face of change, and to be willing to move forward step by step. Give me the grace to remember Your goodness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She’s passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. She lives in Georgia with her husband and daughter. Visit her on the web and download a free copy of her eBook God Speaking @ www.mariaimorgan.com.

I love grace–God’s continual, unmerited favor. I love the truth of 2 Corinthian 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” We all face fears, weaknesses–emotions, events, and encounters that threaten to hold us back. But God is bigger than all of these. He is victorious, and through Him, we can be victorious as well. Victorious over fear, discouragement, stagnation, whatever.

Let’s talk about this. Are you facing a time of change? If so, what are some tangible things you can do *today* to draw near to God?

Share your thoughts and stories in the comments before or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

 

 

 

When God Says Wait

A while back we talked about times when God says no and trusting in His love even then. This trust rests in our knowledge of His character:

God is good

Good is love

God is faithful, powerful, and sovereign

God is always with us

It’s largely about a change of focus. Will we focus on the closed door or on God and His unchanging nature?

But what about when God says wait? Sometimes I think that is harder than a thousand closed doors! It goes against our “do” nature and pricks at our insecurities. What if we surrender our all, keep walking, and God doesn’t pull through?

Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve wandered into the perpetual waiting room, and it’s easy to assume the not-yets mean no. It’s much harder to keep walking when the road continues to climb, the finish line shrouded from view.

Our faith is tested most, I believe, during times of waiting. The longer the wait, the more faith we’ll need.

For those of you waiting … for a job, an opportunity, a loved one to come to Christ, whatever, stop and meditate on the following passage. Take time to recall the history of each life mentioned and how long they waited.

Psalm 105 (I’ve pulled out the verses that impacted me most, but you can read the entire passage here.):

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts. 
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

When you can’t see the future, spend time recalling the past. Remember God’s goodness, His faithfulness. Most importantly, draw near, focusing on His strength working in you.

He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.

He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion you will inherit.”

12 When they were but few in number, 
    few indeed, and strangers in it, 

(You can read the full account of each event mentioned by clicking on the following sentences.) God’s promise to Abraham came when he and his wife were old and barren. God’s promise came to Jacob when he was fleeing the wrath of his brother, Esau. Joseph received his divine promise when he was a young man, hated by his brothers. Shortly after he was thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, and falsely imprisoned. And then there was Moses, a man trained and educated as a prince, later hiding out in Midian ….
13 they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.
14 He allowed no one to oppress them;
for their sake he rebuked kings:
15 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”

16 He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
    Joseph, sold as a slave.

To the observer, this would have seen like a step backward. How could these men be chosen people? A great nation? Was this how God treated His own? Why would He allow this famine and Joseph to be sold into slavery? We’re blessed to have the entire account, so we know the answer to all the whys … but Joseph and his father Jacob didn’t. They had to trust and cling tight to what they knew to be true.
18 They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
19 till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the Lord proved him true.
20 The king sent and released him,
the ruler of peoples set him free.
21 He made him master of his household,
ruler over all he possessed,
23 Then Israel entered Egypt;

Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.

While in Egypt, the Israelites were oppressed and enslaved. What happened to God’s promise? I wonder how many gave up hope, how many turned away …. 
26 He sent Moses his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.

Israel’s redemption didn’t come quickly nor easily. It took centuries for God’s promise to be fulfilled. Centuries of trusting or fretting, surrendering or rebelling, focusing on God and His promises or the obstacles marring their way.
37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold,
and from among their tribes no one faltered.

Let’s talk about this!

Are you waiting on God for something? Does it feel like you’ve been waiting for ever? Perhaps so long that you’ve begun to wonder if you’re heading in the wrong direction? Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about perseverance and how we can do that during “the waiting period.”

Heart Murmurs

Today’s post comes from a dear friend and constant encourager, Eileen Rife. Eileen is the author of the Born for India trilogy. She and her husband conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. Eileen’s fourth novel, Second Chance, will be released in February, 2012. Today she talks about heart murmurs and moving from the mundane to the momentous.

Heart Murmurs by Eileen Rife

I remember hearing the words, “heart murmur,” from our daughter’s pediatrician when she was a young child. An immediate alarm sounded in my head, quickly followed by the doctor’s reassurance. “These types of murmurs are typically benign and something the child grows out of. We’ll keep a watch on it.”

True to his words, my daughter did grow out of it. The physical heart murmur, that is. But there was another type of heart murmur birthed in her by God that continues to grow to this day.

A spiritual heart murmur.

In my journey through Exodus of late, I learned more about this type of heart murmur in chapter 35. The children of Israel have just witnessed a reflection of God’s glory through their leader. Moses met with God and the people knew it. They saw it in his countenance, his words, his actions. All of which prepared them for the task before them–building the tabernacle.

Over and over again in this chapter, the writer notes that “everyone whose heart stirred him” contributed to the construction project. Fine brooches, earrings, bracelets, articles of gold, and colorful material and animals’ skins. The peoples’ hearts were so stirred to give, to be a part of something greater than themselves, that they brought much more than was needed. Moses finally had to tell them to stop giving. The New American Standard translation says that Moses “restrained” them from bringing any more gifts.

How is it that a people, stiffnecked and stubborn, as we often see on their journey through the wilderness, are in fine form during this massive undertaking?

I would suggest that the heart murmur created when Moses came off Mount Sinai in meeting with God moved them from the mundane to the momentous. They now had the unique opportunity to be a part of fulfilling a piece of God’s great story.

In reality, they were a part of it all along, but due to their grumbling failed to see it.

So I ask myself: When was the last time my heart was stirred to be a part of something great for God? To be so caught up in a piece of His story that I forgot about myself and put my hand to the task He has given?

Could it be possible that the greatness lies not in the project or results, but in my heart attitude?

The front lines of success are not necessarily places of greatness for God. Often, and I suspect more often than not, greatness blossoms by the bedside of a shut-in. At the sink washing dishes. On the floor playing with a toddler. In the words delivered to a grumpy spouse.

In the mundane, quietly putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing.

And all the while, with a heart murmur, rejoicing to be a part of God’s great story.

**Remember, if you loved this post and want to see it in my top three of 2011, FB share it, “like” it, tweet it, or leave a comment.

Restored Hearts:

One brother’s dark secret. Another brother’s scorn. Newlyweds Gavin and Maggie Munsfield return to care for the sick and wounded at The Oasis Compound in Chennai, India, which is still suffering from the recent tsunami. Gavin’s brother, Tim, a successful landscape architect, joins them for the clean-up and rebuilding of the Compound. But Tim harbors a dark past that threatens to destroy his relationship with his brother…and a promising new love. Will family ties be strong enough to bind two wounded hearts, once the secret is revealed? Effectively captures the dilemma of a Christian man coming to grips with the conflict between his sexual attraction struggle and his genuine trust and faith in God. -Dr. Bill Consiglio, Homosexual No More. Lovingly and expertly done. Full of hope. I’ll forever see people through different eyes. -Elisabeth Hewitt Bantz, Secrets of the Heart series. Book Two in the Born for India series. Don’t miss Book One: Journey to Judah.