Saturday, July 22, 2017

More on accessing God's strength
Graphic from Saved Sister
I'm still struggling and tired. Still thinking about what I studied the last time.  Specifically Piper's A.P.T.A.T. The question that comes to my mind is what promises from the Word do I need to be speaking aloud and trusting about?

So this morning I want to spend some time coming up with verses.  Mostly, it is my job that has me exhausted. I'm going to list what about my job has me exhausted so I can find verses that apply to these issues. Oh Father, please guide me through this process so that I can learn how to do what I hear people call "standing on your Word".  Lord, please help me be able to do what Paul wrote to Timothy about and rightly handle your Word.

Here's my list of work issues:
  • Finding shift coverage
  • Frequent onslaught of numerous, coming at you,competing issues that I need to address
  • Due to B, I strain to remain focused and get everything done
  • Due to B, it would be easy to miss what is truly important and thereby mess up 
  • Navigating potentially company problem issues and minimizing the risk
  • Presenting ourselves to licensing auditors as the good people we are and making sure that they see that
  • The need to establish positive, productive, relationships with difficult people
  • Extensive paperwork that is extremely detail oriented and must be well thought out
  • Being effective at coming up with ways to train and mentor leaders and make a difference

Now, how do I apply the Word to these?

I feel like what I need to do is:
1. Come up with some verses
2. Work out my thought process behind those verses.
3. Come up with truth statements for these verses.
Then I can read (and eventually have memorized) aloud those verses and some truth statements that correspond to those verses. I can do this throughout the day.  This way I don't have to become drained and tired and overwhelmed.

It's so much, I just can't do it on my own. I am not smart enough.  In life and work there is always so much going on that I just only see a fraction of.  Yet my actions need to be in line with the entire situation (even that part I don't know). What I need is God's  direction, God's ability, and God's favor.

God's Direction
1. Verses
Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 32:5-10 (NIV)
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them. 
 You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you. 
 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Psalm 119:104-105 (NIV)
I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

2. Thought process regarding these verses
God promises that He will lead me.  If I stay in His word and seek to follow His ways, I will reap the benefits of His wisdom provided in His Word.  If I mess up and go off His path, I can acknowledge my sin & repent and He'll forgive me (1 John 1:9, Psalm 32:5). I don't have to get all stressed and exhausted, I have his counsel and leading available to me.  I'm not all on my own in this trying to figure out what to do.  He promises to direct me.

3. Truth statements based on these verses
  • No situation is too much for me. 
  • I can count on God's guidance and direction. 
  • I am not alone in this, He is with me and will lead me. 
  • As I obey God's Word and follow His direction, I will reap the benefits. 
  • When I mess up and fail to follow God's Word, I can acknowledge my sin and choose to turn away from it.  God will forgive me and His blessings will become mine again.
God's Ability

1. Verses
Deuteronomy 8; especially verse 18 (NIV)
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Philippians 4:10-13; especially verse 13 (NKJV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:15-19; especially verse 19 (NIV)
God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NET)
 My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 

Matthew 7:7-12; especially verse 7 (NIV)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

2. Thought process regarding these verses
My job, and sometimes life, is just too much for me.  I am not smart enough, do not have enough ability.  I need God's ability  The Word says that I need to ask and He will give me what I need. He puts me in my life and job and wants me to be successful. There is also a theme regarding me needing to give and then I will receive back as I give.

3. Truth statements based on these verses 
  • God gives me the ability to do what I  need to do. 
  • I can count on God's strength and ability. 
  • I have everything I need to do that which is before me to do.
  •  Whatever I have need of, God will supply.  
  • As I give and help others, God will help me.    

God's Favor
1. Verses
Genesis 39; especially verse 21 (NIV)
 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

Proverbs 3:1-4 (NET)
My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments, 
 for they will provide a long and full life,
and they will add well-being to you.
Do not let truth and mercy leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and good understanding,
in the sight of God and people.

Psalm 23; especially verse 6 (NET)
Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days,
and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life.

Psalm 90; especially verse 17 (NET)
May our sovereign God extend his favor to us!
Make our endeavors successful!
Yes, make them successful! 

Psalm 5; especially verse 12 (NET)
Certainly you reward the godly, Lord.
Like a shield you protect them in your good favor. 

2. Thought process regarding these verses
When God puts His favor on someone, they will be successful no matter what happens to them.  Joseph is a perfect example of this.  Following God's Word and commandments will give us favor with Him and the people around us. God will have his goodness and mercy follow me.  He will protect me with His favor.

3. Truth statements
  • God's favor is on me. 
  • As I seek to obey God I will act wisely and win the favor of those around me. 
  • Goodness and mercy are following me where ever I go. 
  • God's favor protects me.   
  • People see the best in me due to God's favor. 

Oh Father, thank You for Your Word.  Please empower me to be obedient to You and Your Word.  Enable me to be a true help to others.  Enlarge within me a giver's heart. Help me rest daily in the direction, ability,  and favor that You give me.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Glorious inner strength
Photo from Psychology Today
I was delighted when I realized this next passage: Ephesians 3:14-19. This has long been one of my favorite prayers; one that I've specifically prayed over my oldest son Devon for years. Today I pray that God would show me what He wants for me today in this portion of His Word.

I'm especially partial to the way this reads in The Message paraphrase:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Today I'm extra drawn to the words about glorious inner strength because I'm tired. About a month ago I went back to work for a company that I've worked for before. This time around the company has huge staffing problems. I'm called constantly and am in the position of constantly finding coverage, sometimes ending up coming in myself and working. I'm on salary so I'm not paid any more for coming in, and I still have all the regular work load expectations. As long as I'm at this job, I want to do a good job and glorify the Lord by my work performance. As of yet, no other work doors have opened up for me; so I take that as an indication that God must want me where I am at for now. I'm exhausted and struggling with discouragement. Today I fully recognize how much I need His strength.

I appreciate Jon Bloom's thoughts on these verses:

"This was not only Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians; it’s God’s desire for us today. He wants us to have more strength, enlarged capacities, to know Christ’s love and enjoy more of his fullness. Because more of God’s fullness means greater love for him. And greater love for him means more delight in him. And the greater our delight in him, the easier his yoke and the less burdensome his commandments become (Matthew 11:30; 1 John 5:3), for God has enlarged our heart (Psalm 119:32).

This concept of enlarging our capacity is what draws me here.  God is is the One of supreme strength (Isaiah 40:12-31, Jeremiah 32:17-22, Acts 17:26-27, Psalm 136:11-12).  He has given me His Holy Spirit who lives within me.  The Holy Spirit within me can be a source of strength. Richard Patterson discourses about Believers living their lives dependent on God's power:

"in his epistle to the Philippians Paul declares that it is not in his power that he lives out his life and ministry, but solely in the Lord’s strength: “I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13). As Comfort points out, “This powerful presence enabled Paul to go through bad times and good. Paul no longer relied on his own strength but on the strength of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who lived in him and worked through him (see Gal 2:20; Col 1:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:8-10; 4:7-12).” 

Today I'm thinking about how do I access or experience God's strength?  I sure need it!  I feel exhausted so much of the time. John Piper had some practical thoughts on the answer to this question. He wrote about using the following sequence: A.P.T.A.T.

A. Admit - Admit we can't do anything on our own
P. Pray- Ask God for help
T. Trust-trust God that He will help. Piper talks a lot about memorizing scriptures about God's provision and choosing to believe they are true. I appreciate these points of Piper's regarding "Trusting":
             "When Peter says, “Whoever serves, [let him serve] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11), we do this not only by praying for that supply, but by trusting in the promise of the supply in specific situations. Paul says that God supplies the Spirit to you “by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). That is, we hear a promise and we believe it for a particular need, and the Holy Spirit comes to help us through that believed promise."
A. Act-Go to work with a good will and a high heart, expecting to be helped as you asked to be.
T. Thank-Thank God for His help, provision and blessings in your life

Oh Father, help me follow this sequence in my life.  Help me stay in Your word and know and count on Your promises.  Help me hold steadfast and rely on You throughout the challenges of my life.  Empower me to live a life filled with words of thanksgiving and a grateful attitude.  Please, strengthen me with Your strength.