How many of us desire what we do not have? We want a bigger house, a better husband, a different school year, a more satisfying job, a better family situation… then, life would be good.
There are things that I want. I desire them. Badly. Yet, the time isn’t right. Nothing’s changed. I am at a standstill.
I believe, one of life’s greatest hurts is mental fantasies, unrealized. We create storylines about how things should be. Yet, the more they are not the way we think they should be, the more hope deferred we feel.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Prov. 13:12)
Our sickness causes us to act out with schemes to help ourselves feel better… We get jealous of others. We demand people do things our way. We take things into our own hands. We bang our head against the wall out of frustration. We retaliate.
“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them…” (James 4:2)
But, what if we stopped — to pray God’s way?
James 4:2-3 continues on……”Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3)
What if God was our greatest motive? Our love for Him, our greatest pursuit? Our hope, His way of showing up? Our belief, who He says He is — Provider, Shepherd, Keeper of our Soul, Comforter, Redeemer. Our steadfast belief, He is greater than any fear or worry we face.
God will show up; it just may not look exactly as we think. Are we willing to surrender our thoughts of how things should be for His best plan?
Prayer: God, let me desire you more than anything else on this earth (see: Psalm 73:25) All other things will fall into place as I trust you. You have a good plan and you are worthy of all my trust and faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Why? Why do we toss out that rote prayer line to complete our prayer time, without even giving thought to it? Is it just how we do things or does it actually mean something?
To give you some background, for a long time I prayed like a beggar.
God…please answer my prayer and fix things. God… please hear me. God, I can’t do this any longer. Won’t you please fix it?
Then, I’d use an “in Jesus’ name,” like a bow to wrap up all my complaining, agonizing, and posturing. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Jesus approaches prayer differently than I do. I’m struck by the time he addressed the blind man. Of course, this stumbling man wanted to see, but Jesus still asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Here, I notice Jesus wanted to hear the blind man’s “specific” request. Jesus pushed deeper than surface level words into the deep requests of the heart. He pushed past the nebulous words into the real.
Friend, today I believe God asks you, “What’s your real request? Child, what do you want me to do for you?”
What is your answer? No, not that one. Your real one.
Mine is: that I would trust God when no one sees. That I would really believe His words in those super-hard, I-hate-life moments.
There is extreme power in asking Jesus for that thing you really want/need “in the Name of Jesus.”
Ever wondered why? When we use this phrase, we should expect God WILL:
Glorify the Father
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jo. 14:13
Complete our joy.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Jo. 16:24
The degree to which I can dwell on the Father being glorified, through my prayers, is the degree to which I experience joy.
The irony is – I often don’t even have to see my prayer swiftly answered to get this joy. If I can trust that, behind the scenes, God is pulling the best glory-falling strings, I can rest in His timing. On the contrary, if I believe my prayers serve no purpose, are too big, are wasteful or are worthless and I only focus on my natural eye, I’ll miss His supernatural purpose behind the scenes. I must “keep the faith.”
Why? God’s working ways are much higher than our praying ways. There is always a grand purpose. Our prayers are being answered. And God hears. Loud and clear.
What prayer do you need to recommit to believing in? How might you imagine the Father’s glory building because of that very prayer?
Prayer: God, thank you that you hear my every prayer. You know my every desire. You are well acquainted with all my needs. Help me, Lord, to know my true wants. Help me to go deeper than surface-level pleas, so that I can see true and meaningful life change that brings joy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
I’d never walk up to you and say it, but underneath my smiling and warm veneer, my heart often says…
Me first. I’m not sure I can trust you enough to give to you.
Me first. I want to make sure I am provided for.
Me first. I need to get my words understood before I understand yours.
Me first. I must hold my money tightly to make sure there is enough.
Me first. It is better to keep distance from you, so you don’t irritate me.
Me first. I need to be seen/recognized/loved first, before you are.
Me first. If you serve me, then I can serve you with peace about doing so.
Me first. If I feel good about me, then I can feel good about you.
Me. Me. Me.
My mouth would never say it, but overwhelmingly and often, my heart does. This is a massive problem.
“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7
What is your heart speaking that your mouth would never admit?
Where are you putting yourself first instead of last?
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt. 20:16
Where are you making it about your interests, not theirs?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Phil. 2:3
Where do you figure because others act this way, you can too?
“When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Cor. 10:12
Often, we think it’s in going first, getting first, and securing our place first that our life becomes full. What a lie. The enemy was the first liar. He put himself first, before God, and now suffers the consequences: eternity-long discontentment. Me-first mentalities never bring ultimate fulfillment. They may abate an insecurity for a moment, but to the detriment of overflowing soul-contentment.
Contentment is only found when our heart is content in God. And joy is found only God’s way, not via our hyper-dense, over-packed mega-highway to self-glory, achievement and fulfillment. On this road, we only get stuck. In miles and miles of congestion that leaves us breathing in choke-inducing fumes, not peace.
What me-first mentality might God be calling you to surrender today?
I drive up to a stop sign and hate that the car in front of me lingers an extra ten seconds. I go to grab some food at Chipotle and find myself annoyed at the gap in the line being caused by that texter. I go to the grocery store and size up the length of the lines to get out quickly.
I hate waiting.
What are you waiting for? A marriage to finally work its way to peace? A time when you can finally quit your job and work toward your dream? A child who will come back home and change his or her ways? A prayer that you so desperately want answered? A future that you no longer need to worry about? A solution to the problem that you just can’t piece together?
Waiting can feel like agony. It can also feel like injustice. Or torture. Or frustration because you don’t know why your good God isn’t pulling through.
May I tell you something? He is pulling through.
Waiting is not about destroying hope, but renewing you.
“How?” you say.
The 5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing
Waiting addresses your heart-issues.
What you can’t see through times of abundance becomes the red hot potato in your hands during waiting. Here, you can see the burning anger, irritation, bitterness or frustration at God and others. Waiting points a finger to the places God is ready to bring restoration through a heart of confession.
Waiting creates a deeper dependence on God.
When I really need my husband’s help to hang a picture or to get something done, I hang near him. I want him to see me and be reminded of what it is I asked him to do. We do the same with God. We hang closer to Him when we really need him.
Waiting reworks our vision.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a lesser gift from God. Years ago, I thought it was a silver convertible that was going to be my joy. I prayed for it, desired it and got it. That day was glorious. A couple of months later, it was just another car on the road. I realized I longed for a lesser gift, when what I really wanted was joy. In a wait our vision often adjusts, and rather than asking for a lesser thing, what comes to light is our need for a greater thing.
Waiting sends us out in ministry.
You are not alone in your wait. Thousands of other women and men sit in the same shoes with the same hope, deferred. Waiting helps us to get our eyes off of our demands and to see the dejection of others. As we reach out to them, see the needs and address them, the weight we placed on ourselves lightens. The desire to help and love them increases. Peace swoops in like a dover of hope.
Waiting prepares your heart today for the abundance coming tomorrow.
It’s in the waiting that God does his preparing for the gifts, goodness and greatness he will bring tomorrow. As we wait, impurities fall, so we’re ready to walk into His best with purity. Waiting prepares us to become holy vessels.
We can be like tires, after a lot of mileage, we run down. We loose our traction to God’s Word. We slip and slide into worldliness. We can feel it happening, we sense the tug, we know we are a little out of control, the problem is, sometimes, we are not so sure what to do about it.
I feel it in my life. I’ve had a series of frustrating situations: the babysitter backed our car into the mailbox, my feelings got hurt by a friend, and my prayer life with God landed in the doldrums.
Fortunately, I’m beginning to get eyes to see, if I don’t change something at the first sign of a slide, I’ll land in a ditch of faith. I don’t want this. Neither do you, I bet.
And, what about you? Are you, like me, slipping and sliding today?
– Letting arguments or distance with another dictate your worth.
– Finding yourself alone, tired and doubtful in your house.
– Resting on your own abilities to accomplish things, and not God’s.
– Endlessly worrying about your “situation” and having a hard time giving it to God.
– Recounting all that went wrong and not knowing how to get your mind off it.
– Returning to the sense that you are not really cared for by God.
– Battling your own will to avoid the temptation before you.
– Forgetting your quiet time or prayer time with God.
No matter where you stand, even if you feel completely on fire for the Lord, our goal is to boost your traction. So you cling on to the King of Kings, grip his paths, and stay on them.
The first step along this path is to:
Offer Forgiveness: Even if you need to forgive the same person 50 times. God endorses this behavior. He tells us to forgive 77 times – times 7 (Mt. 18:22).
Ask God: Will you help me to receive your Words and believe your words in a way where they relieve my heart?
Proclaim Godliness: Speak the truth (out loud). Speak it over yourself. Now, don’t fear, while you might feel dumb, you don’t look dumb to God, you look quite wise, actually, for getting your little self back on his path.
Speak this:I am beloved; I am God’s child and nothing can ever change that.
I am chosen; Father God never turns his back on those he wants.
I am helped; in everything I do, God will help me.
I am equipped; the Lord gives me what I need to accomplish his will.
I am restored; Jesus didn’t come to earth to leave mankind broken and he won’t leave me this way either.
I am forgiven; what was done on the cross is as permanent as marker –
there is no erasing its power.
I am renewed; I am being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.
I am not perfect; I am growing and moving from glory to glory.
I am strong. In Christ Jesus, I have all I need to walk into this life;
his grace is more than enough.
I am able. There is nothing that God can’t help me do;
there is no mountain I can’t move, through prayer.
I am destined. I am destined to the fullness of heaven and
no scheme of the enemy can take that from me.
I am alive. This is my one life to go all out for God – and I will.
I am talented. God has given me works to do in advance,
not so I can doubt them, but so I can unleash them.
I am in love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are my affection. Through them, I spread love.
I am called. I will go as God calls me to go.
I will lay it all down to follow my King, Master and Prince of Peace.
I am daughter; I am cared for in the kindest ways.
I am covered; God’s faithfulness will bring me through.
I am safe; God’s protection never breaks.
I am whole in Christ Jesus and if he is for me – no one can be against.
Believing and speaking these words restores tread and traction in our heart. We reattach to the vine and abide in his love, so much so, our mind realizes, we are not operating in this world but in HIS world. Getting to this place, to the place of spiritual eyes, is what brings us back to a heart that is on fire for God. It is what makes us go out in the world and pass the torch to another person. Rest here.
I am delighted to welcome Marlinda Ireland to Women’s Ministry Monday. Marlinda’s words inspire my heart not to fret the timing but to trust the maker. This is just what I needed to hear. Welcome Marlinda!
Have you prayed and prayed for open doors of opportunity, but heaven is silent?
Are you tempted to act on some long-held desire?
Yet, deep down you know that the timing isn’t right. Perhaps God has not yet brought the necessary pieces of your purpose together and you’re feeling, well, stuck!
Now, it feels as if your life is behind schedule.
Let’s face it, waiting for answers from the God can be frustrating and discouraging. If we’re really honest, waiting can even make a strong woman weak. Having patience with God is especially hard in our microwave millennium. We’re often judged by how quickly we reach the proverbial brass ring. If you’re not married with two children, making a six-figure income, living in a five-bedroom house and enjoying all the finer things in life by age thirty-five, you’re labeled as someone who’s behind schedule.
In reality, most of us are judging our insides by other people’s outsides.
Pressure to conform to unwritten timelines set by society is intense. However, comparing yourself to others only leads to jealousy, envy, competition and discouragement. I have to admit that this was how I felt, not too long ago.
David and I married while I was still in college. However, because of our financial needs as newlyweds, I was unable to continue my education. So, the dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college was put on hold. Two years later I became pregnant with our first child, our lovely Danielle, and the dream was delayed again. Time passed and we had another beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Then, David transitioned from consulting engineering into full-time Christian ministry. So, I became the proverbial pastor’s wife. That was my title! Poof! Before I knew it, my dream was so behind schedule that catching up seemed impossible! Please don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for our flourishing family and ministry. But, secretly, other parts of my soul were dying on the vine.
I also felt God calling me to participate in missionary journeys to other countries. When David was away on such trips, well-meaning friends frequently asked me, “Why don’t you travel, too?” At that time, the question made me feel like I was doing something wrong…that I was not being a strong, assertive woman. So, in desperation, I cried out for wisdom. One day, God spoke to my heart, “Marlinda, personal goals and ministry opportunities will always be around for you to nurture. However, your children will not.”
Boom, it was crystal clear that our children were indeed my number one priority in that season. As David traveled, I was to hold down the fort. God was not releasing me to even leave our children with friends or family.
Still, at that time, I didn’t fully understand the principle of divine delay—how He uses them to prep us for the future. So, it was a struggle to feel content in His timing for my life. Then, just as the girls were finishing up high school and I was about to give up on these desires, opportunities for their fulfillment came into view. I felt moved to apply and was accepted into a graduate program that made allowances for people who had many years of ministry experience and several years of college. They even waived my tuition. Then, invitations to speak in the U.S. and overseas started flowing into my office. God’s blessings and timing were perfect.
The Bible declares, “God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible). Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Lazarus all experienced divine delays.
Can you trust that God has established
a unique timeline for you, too?
Our lives are similar to fruit bearing trees.
Different kinds of fruit ripen and mature in different seasons. Similarly, we each have a special timetable wherein we blossom and ripen into the plans of God. The rate in which this happens is not always determined by our own efforts or schedules—it’s also based on God’s divine timing. So, perhaps, you’re not really behind schedule. Perhaps, you’re in a divine delay!
Whatever the concern, rest assured that God’s in full control!
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Marlinda is a wife, a mom, Bible teacher, and a “creative.” She is the co-founder, an associate pastor and the women’s ministry director at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey.
Through all of the challenges and joys that go along with her many life-roles, the Father has etched on her soul the meaning of full-blown-surrender. It’s out of this internal imprint that she does life, loves the broken and encourages the chosen.
I am delighted to welcome Sheree DeCouto from Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA to Women’s Ministry Monday. Sheree’s words encourage my heart – even our best dreams, can still be difficult.
Thank you, Sheree.
Post by: Sheree DeCouto
Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the “happily ever after” ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I’ve learned that palace life doesn’t always turn out to be what I expected.
Whether it be a relationship, job or ministry… our happily ever after scenarios often lets us down.
I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full-time job in women’s ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Finally, someone had recognized the call of God on my life and given me a chance to make my dreams of becoming a published author and sought-after speaker come true.
Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.
Lately, I’ve been studying the ultimate dreamer Joseph, and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously, he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But, I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, who was Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. It was a lofty position for sure. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?
If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. It was a place where he gained valuable leadership experience learned the importance of integrity. When I consider his time at Photiphar’s palace as simply a step toward God’s ultimate calling on his life I am encouraged re-think my own palace experience.
All of us yearn for the happy ending but few of us experience joy during in the journey toward it. I’ve found hope by remembering these three truths:
1. It’s not our final destination: All of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.
2. Tests are part of it: Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will be full of challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)
3. Our reaction in the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of joy. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end Joseph considered God’s will more valuable than his own desire for success.
What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own desire for success. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.
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Sheree serves on staff as the Women’s Ministry Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, spiritual coach for leaders, event coordinator, writer, and mentor–and that’s just what she does for her day job! She is also a wife, the mother of three sons, and a mother-in-law to her first daughter-in-love. Her passion is to bring the “real” factor to everything she does. Whether she’s speaking to a large audience, writing, or mentoring, her goal is to be transparent about the struggles she faces so that others feel free to do the same.
When there is nothing left to do in a day, and my mind has nowhere left to go, right or wrong, Facebook and I get friendly. It’s the mindless scroll that numbs a mind. It’s the old faces that remind me of days yesterday. It’s a knowledge that somehow everyone is okay. It is just seeing and being. Yet, this time, God wasn’t content to let me sit. He wanted to show me some little things; little things ready to teach me big things.
First, an old friend caught my attention…
My beautiful friend‘s husband made her a special contraption for “little arm” so she could blow dry her hair without issue. Hmmm…powerful. Her husband helped her to do what was difficult for her to do.
God, let me see what you want me to see…
My thumb got arthritical again. I scrolled, then I hit this video (Life).
It was daddy, super-daddy, I’ll call him – he made a super-duper, over-the-hips harness holder for his son, who I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had never walked a day in his life. The pure joy written all over his face made that clear. He was all things laughs, exuberance and pleasure. It was his moment on daddy’s toes. Not black and white, but shades of alive.
I want my moment on daddy’s toes.
Where he rescues me. Where he helps me to move in ways I never considered. Where he blesses me beyond measure. This is life. This is what pixels and images of years passing all add up to.
That boy’s face explained it – it is the elation that you are loved.
God, teach me, right here and now, teach me…
In his unfathomable love, God does not see our lackings, but he sees the makings of incredible about to explode.
We don’t have to see it – to believe it. He’s a good, good, daddy.
Where we feel incapable, he is capable. Where we feel down, he is ready to lift. Where we say, I can’t, he says, “You will – just wait.”
We just believe and then we, fly into his purposes…
Will I give him a chance? Will you?
What if my friend didn’t accept the gift or the gesture? What if that boy pushed away the over-the-hip harness holder? What would have happened?
How often do you – or do I – miss the insane workings of God because we get prideful and believe we can do it on our own?
God, don’t let us miss it anymore.
I am faulted. I need you.
I feel incapable. Show me.
I am handicapped in so many regards. Reconstruct me.
I want to fly.
I believe in God’s power to love me like family. I believe in his power to make a miracle out of my control issues. I believe in his power to banish shame. I believe in his artistic genius to make a gizmo so wild it will soar me right up to – alive.
It will save me, right as I wait on daddy’s toes.And like that boy, I will dance. I will smile, laugh, giggle and wonder – attached to daddy – loaded up with all the gadgets of his goodness.
I will. You will.
Where do you feel broken? Faulted? Injured? Less than?
Know this: Daddy is building a doohicky. Accept it. Put it on. Believe in it. Trust it to work. Smile. Let go. Feel his love. It is the answer.
God, indeed, takes our limitations and makes them into proclamations of his goodness…when we let him.
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I know, I know, this is going to sound weird. I am infatuated with the whole idea of airplane take-offs. Always have been.
I feel the rumblings of something new, the speed towards adventure and the call towards something greater.
I love it.
Usually, as the plane rises, I know I am about ready to head to somewhere better. The stress is off; I have no control over the speed, the timing and the path – it is all in the captain’s hands. It is a trusting kind of thing; I know he will do his job.
I wonder though, why day-by-day I don’t rise with this same sort of
eager expectation towards life?
What really makes it any different?
I could wake excited. Knowing God will send me.
I could look expectantly. Believing God will lead me.
I could anticipate. Seeing life from the heights new opportunities.
I could be willing. Letting in feelings of purpose and passion, all the while – nodding yes.
All vision of my end destination belongs to him. All the controls are in his hands.
Why not let go?
We need no plans, except to be with him. He steers, we fly. He leads, we end up at the good works he has already designed for us.
If we have expectancy,
we won’t be prone to live complacency.
We see new journeys.
New pressures that he alone manages.
And right in the center of it all is our chosen seat. The one that allows us to enjoy the heights of his glory, the sprawling colors of his ownership and the gentle covering of his clouds.
So we go. We let go. We move. We explore. We adventure.
Tomorrow, let the morning alarm goes off. But, take a new look at your new day. Let expectations rise and – fly.
Will you join us? Sure, there may be turbulence,
but rest assured there will be magnificence too.
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Christmas is here, but so is family tensions.
Christmas is here, but so are dysfunctional relationships.
Christmas is here, but so are old habits.
Christmas is here, but gone are people we love.
Christmas is here, but baggage of old still exists.
Christmas is here, but fears surface.
God says, “I see all that, and I can handle all that.”
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is. 41:10
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim. 1:7
Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
What looks unscalable, God boosts you over.
What seems unbearable, God brings you through unbelievably.
What can’t be managed, God says let down your guard and I will guard you.
Will you throw your cares upon God’s shoulders? He is the only one that can hold the weight of them without breaking his back.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
sustain transitive verb sus·tain \sə-ˈstān\
: to hold up the weight of (something)
As you cast it over, God gets under its crushing weight (just like he did at the cross).
The weight is no longer on you, so when you walk, talk, eat or digest other’s insults, you don’t fall. You are preserved, whole and entire.
Press in and God will press his being through you.
Cast your cares and he will care for you.
Be strong and trust – God is about ready to rescue you!