At this time of year, most of us are in the mode of making New Year’s Resolutions. All these plans are driven by our desires to succeed. What if I told you there is a place you can go to get all the answers on how you should plan your life and the path you should go to be successful? There are many seminars and conferences on this very topic and we gladly pay the fees and travel long distances to attend, hoping to find answers. We will be inconvenienced to pursue the wisdom man has to offer, yet we come up with excuses on why we cannot spend time in the word of God-the place that has the answers.
Psalm 119:105 says Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. We live in a dark world, filled with opinions contrary to the word of God. These opinions if followed will take us on the wrong path to further darkness and cause our feet to slip. We must be careful not to allow the world’s system to dictate our steps. When we use the wrong “lamp” to guide us, it only leads to confusion and a dead end. The word of God, however, is a light and leads us in the right direction. This word, if heeded, will save our soul (James 1:21-22) and provide understanding (Psalm 119:130). Many of us would avoid a lot of missteps if we spent more time in our word to understand what God is saying and then allowing the word to direct us. The notion of not having enough time to read the word of God is a fallacy. We make time for what we value. As we approach a new year, I encourage you to prioritize studying and applying God’s word. It’s a decision that will yield an eternal reward-and that my friend, is true success!
In my mind, I was rehearsing the scenario that took place the previous day. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. This individual offended me and I was allowing the offense to consume me. Before I could go deeper into thought about the situation; the Holy Spirit got my attention with this question, “Why are you acting like you don’t know what to do?” At that moment, I knew He was reminding me that instead of getting worked up about the situation my initial response should be prayer. I paused and quickly shifted gear and began to pray about the situation. My heart went from feeling anxious and unsettled to being filled with the peace of God.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
In Genesis 16, Hagar ran away after being mistreated by her master Sarai. Out in the desert, the desolate place, the angel of the Lord visits her. This visitation encouraged Hagar and in Genesis 16:13, she responds by saying, “I have now seen the one who sees me.”
God is the God who sees. This seeing is not referring to Him sitting in heaven and just staring at us. It is not passive, it’s a seeing filled with action. We spend our time trying to get others to see us and forget that we are already seen by the true and living God. He not only sees, but He responds.
He sees when we pray in private and He rewards us. (Mathew 6:6)
He sees the weeping we do at night but turns our situation around and gives us joy in the morning! (Psalm 30:5).
He sees when the enemy is coming in like a flood in our life, but He responds by lifting up a standard against the enemy. (Isaiah 59:19)
He sees how we sow in tears, but he causes us to reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)
He sees us hiding like Gideon was because we don’t know who we really are in Him. He sees that the enemy has bullied us long enough and pushed us into hiding. Fear has robbed us of our purpose. He sees that we focus on our weaknesses and have made that our identity. He sees where we are, but He also sees who He made us to be and He calls us by our right name!
When all is well, it’s easy for me to take my gaze off of the one who sees me; it’s easy to set my sight on other things. Often, it’s my afflictions and desperation that causes me to see the one who sees me. There is something about having my back against the wall that makes me look to God. The dark causes me to search for the light.
As we come to the end of another year, perhaps you have not seen the fulfillment of what God spoke to you. We put our own timeline on when the word should come to pass and when it doesn’t happen when we expect it to; we become discouraged. Our impatience makes us feel forgotten by God and we shed tears while asking, “Do you see me, God?” God absolutely sees you, and in His perfect timing, He will respond!
As of late, God has been challenging me through others on my incorrect and even limited understanding of certain scriptures. It has been uncomfortable but good! We need tension for growth to take place. As believers, we don’t know it all and there are always opportunities for growth. It takes humility to sit and listen and allow the Lord to use others to challenge us to consider a different perspective from what we hold to be true or to add to what we already know. It’s unfortunate when we always want to be the teacher and not the student. We assume we know it all and are not open to being challenged. Acts 18:24-28 tells of Apollos and him being willing to learn from Aquila and Priscilla. Apollos loved the Lord. He was a very intelligent and well-spoken man. He taught the truth he knew with fervency, but he had a limited understanding because he knew only the baptism of John. Acts 18: 26 says, “when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Apollos accepted the invitation to learn more. What humility! Great growth came because of his humility and God used him to continue preaching the gospel with an even greater understanding. What an example for us as believers to follow.
It is necessary to offer a word of caution on our willingness to allow others to teach us. We must always pray and ask the Lord to help us discern if what is being taught is true before we receive it! There are many that teach error and the tradition of men. What they share satisfies itching ears and appeals to our flesh and it is easy for us to abandon what we know to be the truth and pursue a watered-down gospel. Allow the spirit of truth that lives in you to help you discern what teachings to receive. I close with the words of Philippians 1:9, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.”
Being saved is not about always getting it right but more about what you do after you get it wrong. Until I breathe my last breath, I will have moments where I fall short. This statement is not a nod of approval for sin but more of a realization that I am continuously being perfected and I daily need the grace of God. Last night I got in a pretty heated discussion with my husband who is also a believer. We were both determined to get our point across and win the argument. Things quickly escalated, and we allowed our anger to get the best of us. Then silence. Within a few minutes after our discussion, conviction set it. We yielded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and apologies were said and my husband led us in a prayer of repentance. We went to bed forgiven and filled with peace. The narrative could have been a lot different if we continued in our anger. It takes humility to come back and apologize after you mess up. It pleases our heavenly Father when we have a humble heart and will repent after we sinned and not to be dug in and prideful. God knows we are not perfect, but He delights when we submit to being perfected by yielding to the convictions of the Holy Spirit after we mess up. I think about the story of David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11. When confronted about his sin by the prophet Nathan, David did not push past it or make excuses. Instead, He responded in humility and prayed the words in Psalm 51, a beautiful prayer of repentance.
Do you struggle with acknowledging your sin after you mess up? Do you try to push past it and pretend like it never happened? God is not looking to cut us off because we mess up; He is filled with mercy. However, we do the cutting ourselves when we refuse to acknowledge our sin. God resists a proud heart but lavishes his grace on the one who is clad with humility.
A farmer knows that it takes time for a seed to grow after he has planted it. He doesn’t plant a seed and run out the next morning expecting to see a harvest, that would be absurd! The seed has to be watered and tended to, but the farmer knows that if he gives the seed proper care, harvest time will come.
Creation testifies that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Each season is necessary and serves a distinct purpose. We know of this truth but somehow it is hard to live it out because we become impatient! We don’t enjoy waiting for the seed to grow. If we could write the narrative, it would always be harvest time! But sorry to tell you, folks, that’s just not the way it works.
When the seed is first put in the ground, it develops roots; it is anchored. But without roots, there will be no fruit! The deeper the root, the sweeter the fruit. However, we must remember that roots don’t grow overnight, it takes time. What seed has God given you? Be patient. Pray to be rooted and strengthened in the faith (Colossians 2:7). Just because you can’t see what is going on beneath the surface doesn’t mean there is inactivity. God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I need to get to the place of saying, even if I can’t see it I still believe God is at work and a harvest will come from my seed! When I understand this principle, I rejoice in the season of obscurity, the season of silence, the season of being buried beneath the soil, and the “not yet” season. Ask the Lord to help you discern the season you are in and to learn the lessons He is trying to teach you. Having the correct perspective helps me to rejoice because I understand that I am being developed and if I am patient, harvest time will come!