Far More Praise

Our mindset is an important factor in whether or not we experience far more life. When our minds are filled with negative thoughts and emotions, we cannot embrace all that God has for us. In previous posts we have talked about the important of thankfulness (if you missed them, the search bar can help you find them). This post will focus on praise.

Sometimes it seems like thankfulness and praise are interchangeable, especially in regard to God. But there is an important distinction. At Dictionary.com, “thankful” is defined as “feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative” while “praise” is “to express approval or admiration of; commend; extol.” Our thankfulness is often focused on what God does that benefits us; praise also acknowledges who He is, His character.

There is so much about God that we can admire! The Bible, especially the book of Psalms, is full of instructions to praise God and examples of how to do it. God knows we are forgetful and need regular reminders of His character and involvement; praise provides that!

Praise the Eternal. I will thank Him with all my heart in the presence of the right-standing and with the assembly. The works of the Eternal are many and wondrous! They are examined by all who delight in them. His work is marked with beauty and majesty; His justice has no end. His wonders are reminders that the Eternal is gracious and compassionate to all. (Psalm 111:1-4, VOICE)

Eternal Father, You are worthy of all my praise. There is no one like You in all of creation. I thank You with all of my heart, holding nothing back. I praise you because Your works are many and wondrous! I delight in the beauty of the stars, the power of the ocean, the majesty of the mountains — and You created them all with a word! I praise Your knowledge and power, which are beyond my comprehension. I praise You for allowing all people, even those who deny Your existence, to enjoy Your works because of Your graciousness and compassion. I praise you for providing these clear testimonies of Your power and creativity.

He provides food to those who revere Him. He will always remember His covenant. He has shown the mighty strength of His works to His people by giving the land of foreign nations to them. (Psalm 111:5-6, VOICE)

I praise You for knowing my needs and willingly meeting them. I praise You for always keeping Your promises; You alone are completely honest and trustworthy. I praise Your strength. No people are too strong for You, no matter how large their population or how strong their military. I praise You for showing Your character to the whole world by caring for Your people.

All His accomplishments are truth and justice; all His instructions are certain. His precepts will continue year in and year out, performed by His people with honesty and truth. (Psalm 111:7-8, VOICE)

I praise You for your truth and justice. Unlike me, You are perfect in these because You know all and have control over all. Nothing surprises or threatens You. You make no mistakes; all you do is right and just. I praise You for giving clear instructions in your Word; You do not make me guess what is pleasing to You and what You expect of me. I praise You for being constant rather than wavering in Your opinion (like me!) and for enabling me to reflect your honesty and truth.

He has redeemed His people, guaranteeing His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. (Psalm 111:9, VOICE)

I praise You for buying me back from the sin that separated us. I praise You for sending Jesus to pay the price for my sin so I could become Your daughter. I praise You for promising that our relationship will continue forever and nothing can take it away. You are far more holy and awe-inspiring than my feeble mind can comprehend.

Reverence for the Eternal is the first step toward wisdom.
All those who worship Him have a good understanding.
His praise will echo through eternity! (Psalm 111:10, VOICE)

I praise You for showing me the path to Your wisdom and allowing me to walk it. I praise You for offering me far more life. I look forward to praising you for all eternity, especially when I see you face-to-face and realize how blind I have been to Your character and praiseworthiness! Until then, I praise you the best I can through Jesus’ name. Amen.

Expressing praise brings far more life because it sets our focus on our Dad. When the clouds of sin and struggle cause us to lose sight of Him, praise lets the sun shine through. Praise brings light and truth to areas of our heart and mind that were struggling in darkness, doubt, and false beliefs about God and our position before Him. Praise resets our view to an eternal perspective. It reminds us of how we have encountered God in the past and how He has promised we will encounter Him in the future. Praise keeps us connected to God, which is where we find far more life!

Sisters,
How do you see thankfulness and praise as being similar? Different?
What do you admire about God? (If you need ideas, read a few Psalms.)
How have you seen Him at work in your life?
Do you praise God daily? If not, embrace far more life by making that a habit. See how it changes your perspective to recognize and admire Him each day.
-Shari


Overflowing

I love this prayer for far more life that Paul raised to God on behalf of the Christians in Philippi. It is so rich!

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. (Philippians 1:9, NLT)

What does overflowing love look like in our lives?

  • Imagine God’s love filling you to the brim and naturally flowing out of you NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. When you encounter a difficulty your first words are genuine praise to God for giving you the opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. That is overflowing love.
  • Imagine your understanding and experience of God’s love enveloping those around you. When someone mistreats you, God’s love enables you to sincerely forgive and bless them on the spot. This is overflowing love.
  • Imagine having an eternal perspective on the challenges of this life. When you receive bad news, your immediate response is to thank God for giving you all you need in this life and for your future with Him in heaven. This response is overflowing love.

We overflow with God’s love when we immerse ourselves in Him. Some of us find this easy and dive headfirst into God’s love, drinking in as much as possible and reveling in it. We are quickly filled to overflowing. But others are hesitant and cautious. They may slowly tiptoe into the depths of God’s love, stopping to test the water before each step. It takes time for them to truly believe God’s love is safe because human love has been hurtful. Regardless of the path, we are filled once we are immersed. And when we are filled with God’s love, it naturally flows out of us and touches those we touch. It is part of us. Far more life overflows with God’s love.

Being immersed opens the door for the second half of Paul’s prayer: growth in knowledge and understanding. As we study God’s Word, we learn more than historical facts; we gain insights about His character and plan. This knowledge increases our understanding of what God has instructed and why. Increased understanding deepens our appreciation and love for God. We see Him as a Person and desire to know Him better. His Word is not a novel we read once from cover to cover. It is a love letter that grows more precious with each reading (Psalm 119:97-104). We come to view God’s Word as a guidebook filled with principles, practicalities, and warnings that enrich our life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The more we experience the benefit of following God’s Word, the more we seek it out. Far more life is pursuing deeper knowledge and understanding of God.

I love Paul’s heart for these dear saints, revealed in the next part of his prayer:

For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. (Philippians 1:10, NLT)

A deeper knowledge and understanding of God changes us! It opens our eyes to the difference between our limited insight and that of God, the Creator of the universe who knows everything. It frees us to pursue what really matters: a love relationship with God and people. Without this, we can get caught up in pursuing things that ultimately don’t matter — influence, popularity, security, escape, pleasure — and miss experiencing far more life in Christ. When our hearts are transformed by Christ and our minds are renewed by His truth, we want to pursue what matters to God. Our desires change to line up with His desires. Far more life eagerly pursues God and His purposes.

Notice that living a pure and blameless life comes AFTER we are overflowing in love, have gained knowledge, and understand what really matters. Too many Christians think that striving to live a pure and blameless life will lead to a changed heart and renewed mind. (The popular phrase, “Fake it ’til you make it,” supports this mindset.) Even if their external actions look good, they are not living far more life. God takes the opposite approach: get to know Him, embrace what He says matters, and THEN you will have the power to live in genuine righteousness. We find far more life in the places where our heart, mind, and actions are in alignment with God. We are refreshed and energized as we obey Him. And this encourages us to bring more areas of life into alignment with Him.

Paul concludes his prayer with a challenge:

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:11, NLT)

The fruit of our salvation is a righteous character that produces good works. Gardeners know that fruit is the desired outcome, the result. It is what we get excited about. Fruit is evident to all who look at the plant or tree. The fruit of righteousness — the power to overcome sin and act rightly — is available to everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

It would be nice if we changed from fruitless (sinful) to righteous (completely sinless) at the moment of our salvation, but that is not God’s plan for us. Yet Paul’s encouragement is that we ALWAYS be filled with righteousness. His prayer is that we are always filled to overflowing with God’s love so we are eager to do good to and for others. Every day. As we mature spiritually. No matter our circumstances. This is how we bring the most glory and praise to God. This is where we experience far more life.

Sisters,
What helps you to continue going to God to be filled up?
How would you summarize what really matters to God?
What is the quality and quantity of fruit in your life? What is hindering its growth? How will you overcome that hindrance?
Pray these verses for yourself and overflow with far more life this week!
-Shari

Far More Good News

I have been contemplating the question, “What do our lives look like when we are passionately pursuing Christ?” I’ve been wondering about the commonalities among people living this way. During one of my God Times, this passage caught my attention:

Live as citizens who reflect the Good News about Christ…don’t let your opponents intimidate you in any way…God has given you the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him.  (Philippians 1:27, 28a, 29, GW)

It seems the Philippians were passionately pursuing God. Three things stood out to me about Paul’s instruction: reflect the Good News; don’t let opponents intimidate; and it’s a privilege to suffer. Let’s explore them.

First, like the Christians in Philippi, we are surrounded by bad news. We constantly hear of problems, tragedies, evil, and dissatisfaction. I am tempted to withdraw from media to avoid the negativity it promotes. But the bad news around us creates a perfect backdrop for the good news of Christ! The message of Christ offers the safety people are seeking. Far more life shares the Good News of peace and hope in Christ.

When we experience far more life, we naturally want to tell others about it. We want them to know Christ and discover the richness of a relationship with Him, too. We hear the bad news that burdens them and want to offset it with the Good News that changes everything. Sometimes we have the opportunity to speak, other times we do not. Either way, I appreciate the heart Paul had for the Thessalonians:

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (I Thessalonians 2:8, NIV)

Far more life is sharing life with others. There is something special about relationships that are centered on following God. There is a depth of connection that forms as we walk through life together. I have belonged to small groups and ministry teams that sacrificially supported each other through hard times, genuinely loved each other through trials and misunderstandings, and joyfully celebrated together when God blessed a member or granted our prayers. Many defining moments of my life have been shared with these dear people! We live far more life together.

Second, we face opponents who want to intimidate us. A Christian worldview is not popular, in fact it is often denounced and ridiculed. We are wise to carefully choose what we say and when we say it. But we don’t have to be intimidated about believing and living out the Good News of Christ. Far more life is boldly accepting and living out God’s love.

When I think of loving boldly in the presence of intimidating opponents, I appreciate the example of Guido in the movie Life is Beautiful. Despite being in a Nazi concentration camp, he goes to great lengths to keep his young son physically and emotionally sheltered from the reality they are facing. He also finds a way to communicate to his beloved wife that he is still alive. Guido successfully lives within the restrictions placed on him by the Nazis but is not intimidated by them. He lives out his love with boldness. No external situation he faces can extinguish it. The same is true of God’s love within His children. Far more life stands strong against opponents.

This leads us to the third statement: God has given us the privilege of suffering for Christ. Privilege of suffering? We think of privilege as an easy life, removed from difficulty. But God has a different perspective:

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God (1 Peter 2:20b, NIV)

Why is suffering for doing good commendable before God?

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  (I Peter 4:14, 16, NIV)

God’s children are not understood by this world. That leads to insults and suffering. God is proud of His children who endure that suffering graciously because they understand the Good News of Christ and the spiritual dynamics of this world. He is pleased when we keep doing what He says is good despite being misunderstood and oppressed. What was true of the first century Christians and is true of many Christ-followers around the world today:

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:33-34, NIV)

Far more life takes suffering in stride and remains focused on eternal glory. It remembers this world is not our true home and this life is just a moment in eternity. Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of men and women who lived out that reality. After a long list of examples, the writer concludes: “the world was not worthy of them” (verse 38). Those men and women put their faith in God and the Good News of Christ above all else. They lived far more life and they suffered at the hands of those who could not comprehend it. We are not alone. We are not the first. We are probably not suffering the worst. But we can live far more life in our suffering.

So, what do our lives look like when we are passionately pursuing Christ? Far more life!

Sisters,
How do you reflect the Good News of Christ?
How do you share your life with others?
Does opposition intimidate you? Or make you bold?
How have you experienced the privilege of suffering for Christ?
Embrace far more life as you passionately pursue Christ this week!
-Shari

Far More Passion

When we started this blog journey, I promised we would discover our passion. I expected to discuss spiritual gifts and the satisfaction we find serving God and blessing others using the traits He wired into us. But that is not where the path has led.

As each week’s post comes together, a new perspective on passion is taking shape in my heart and mind. Using our gifts may be a way to express our passion, but recognizing the source of our passion is the key to sustaining far more life. If we want far more life moments, our passion needs to be fed. But what is the source? Fortunately it is revealed in Scripture:

But God was very, very kind. He loved us very, very much. We were dead because of the wrong things we had done. He has made us alive with Christ. You have been saved by his love and kindness. (Ephesians 2:4-5, WE)

…I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, GW)

God’s love is our source of passion! It is the foundation on which far more life is built. As our understanding grows our passion is sparked. We discover far more life is only found in God. And it is not something we keep inside, it shines for all to see. Far more life is not really about us; it is about Him.

If you discovered the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you be passionate about sharing it with everyone suffering from that dreadful disease? If a doctor introduced you to that cure, wouldn’t you tell everyone about him or her as well? Of course you would! Sin is like spiritual cancer, and you have discovered the cure: perfect love! More importantly, you have a relationship with God who is Perfect Love!

Curing cancer — of the physical or spiritual variety — does not just prevent you from dying. It also offers you life. And once you have been rescued from death, you want to experience and share far more life with everyone who crosses your path! You are passionate about the cure and the One who cures. Living out this verse becomes your desire:

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

To our sinful nature, this verse can sound like a heavy burden to carry, one more expectation placed on us. But when we read it with a heart that is full of God’s love, it resonates with us and motivates us to respond. Living for Jesus in all we say and do is far more life! It expresses exactly what we want to do as a new creation in Him. It satisfies us and fulfills us because it is what we were designed to do. It is not a burden or an expectation. It is our response to receiving His love.

We can tackle any task with passion when we remember Who we are doing it for and why He deserves our best. When we understand and remember His love for us, we are motivated to love Him back. We are wise to adopt the instruction given to slaves just a few verses later:

Whatever you do, do it from the heart…you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, CSV)

When I grow weary in the middle of task, this verse encourages me to keep going. I ask myself, “If I was doing this for Jesus, would I be satisfied to stop now?” Usually the answer is no. I want to give Jesus my best. So I can cheerfully keep going — whether I am serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, or showing mercy — when I picture Jesus on the receiving end. I may not be passionate about the particular task, but I can be passionate about loving Jesus and being a vessel of His love to the people around me.

Let’s be honest: there are some things that we naturally enjoy more than others. It is okay to prefer babysitting a friend’s children over holding her hand through a medical procedure. It is okay to prefer giving money to hire a job done more than leading a work crew doing the task. It is okay to prefer writing one person an encouraging note over leading a large group Bible study. There is a variety of needs around us, so God has given us a variety of gifts and skills to meet them. Thankfully if we look around we can usually see a place to serve God and others that we will enjoy. But the fact remains: whether we are doing something we enjoy or something we don’t, we can always do it to the best of our ability with a passion for God. We can always choose far more life.

Sisters,
What reminds you of the vastness of God’s love for you?
Does that make you passionate for God today?
If your passion is weak right now, will you invest in better understanding God’s love for you?
Adopt the mindset that you are working for Jesus this week. What changes do you notice in your feelings, thoughts, and actions?
Enjoy far more life growing your passion this week!
-Shari

Far More Moments

But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. (I Timothy 6:6, AMP)

This verse has always intrigued me. The premise is simple but the implications are profound: godliness and contentment are far more life! In context, this verse follows instructions for slaves to honor their masters — whether their actions are honorable or not — and is part of a warning against the lure of false teachers. If anyone is tempted to feel far more life is unavailable, I think it would be a slave bound to a wicked master! But far more life springs from what happens inside our hearts. So godliness and contentment are within the grasp of every child of God, no matter what their circumstances!

Godliness is responding as God would if He was in our place. Anyone who has accepted Jesus — and as a result has the Holy Spirit living inside — is capable of godliness. We have moments of godliness, but no human has mastered it. We all have areas where Satan’s lies and our own experiences in this fallen world trick us into choosing sin. As we recognize our moments of ungodliness, we have opportunity to obey this Biblical instruction:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)

The key to growing in godliness is examining and changing our beliefs. As we compare what we hear and experience in this world to the principles in God’s word, we will find differences. Some beliefs are deeply buried — created by our interpretations of life at a very young age — and define our view of ourselves and God. As we renew our mind by adopting God’s truth, our relationship with and understanding of Him deepens. This naturally leads to more moments where we respond in godliness. More moments of far more life.

As the Amplified Bible explains, contentment is inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God. Contentment is: knowing God is in control (Psalm 93:1); understanding His love for us (I John 3:1); and believing He is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Contentment frees us from fear and worry because we know God is for us (Romans 8:31) and will provide all we need (Philippians 4:19). Contentment is a direct reflection of our beliefs about God. The Apostle Paul writes:

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).

If we are not content, we are wise to examine our beliefs about God. He will give us strength to do this.

Every day is a collection of moments where we respond with godliness and contentment or sinfulness and discontentment. The moments of godliness and contentment are moments of far more life. A segment of King David’s life gives us a clear example of this.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem…From the roof he saw a woman bathing…and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-4, NIV)

In this passage, David is not content. He shirks his duty to command his troops and choses an ungodly pursuit of Bathsheba. Knowing she is pregnant, David continues to sin, ultimately killing her husband. When confronted, David repents of his sin (2 Samuel 12:13), but there are consequences; God declares the child will become sick and die. During the illness, David begs God to spare this son, but once the child dies David returns to normal life. His servants are confused by the sudden change, but David explains:

He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23, NIV)

In that moment, David chose far more life. He could have chosen bitterness toward God but he chose contentment, even in his grief. This enabled him to choose God-honoring actions; he comforted his wife (2 Samuel 12:24) and lead his army in battle (2 Samuel 12:29).

The Bible shares more moments — some far more life, some sinful — that weave the story of David’s life. Even though David was not perfect, Acts 13:22 describes him as a man after God’s own heart. A man of godliness and contentment. Our lives are also a collection of moments where we choose godliness and contentment and moments where we do not.

I used to be afraid my moments of ungodliness and discontent would cause God to pull away from me. It was such a relief to understand my relationship with Him is secure (Romans 8:1; I John 5:13). Now I can pursue godliness and contentment out of gratitude and love. The foundation of far more life will continue for eternity.

By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is. (I Timothy 6:19, GW)

What we experience on this earth is just a small part of life. The bigger part extends into eternity with God in heaven. Each time we choose godliness and contentment we choose far more life. It is a source of great gain on this earth and for eternity.

Sisters,
Are you living in godliness? Contentment?
What beliefs hinder you from exercising godliness? Contentment?
How does the weaving of your life look?

Enjoy far more life in the moments of your day!
-Shari


Waiting Well

Wait. This is a word most of us dislike hearing. We want what we want when we want it. We may be tempted to think that having our wants met will make us satisfied with life. But in reality, waiting well for God’s perfect plan and timing is far more life.

These verses remind us of the benefits of waiting for God, why it is good to wait for Him.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20, NIV)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3a, NIV)

For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy; he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the Lord is a just God; all who wait for him in faith will be blessed. (Isaiah 30:18, NET)

God blesses us when we wait for Him. He helps us. He protects us. He meets our needs. He brings us happiness and fulfillment. He treats us compassionately. He delivers justice. But sometimes we think He is slow to bless. It seems like He doesn’t hear our requests. We become impatient waiting for His answer or action. Biblical writers had the same struggle.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3, NIV)

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15, NIV)

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7, NIV)

We can rest assured that God always hears His children. He will always answer in His perfect timing. But His timing is not always our timing. We cannot choose whether or not we wait. We can only choose how we wait. A friend has explained patience to her young children as “waiting well.” I like the honest simplicity of that phrase. Choosing to wait well is choosing far more life.

Waiting well focuses on God rather than ourselves. It starts in the heart. Consider these Biblical descriptions of waiting well:

My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me. (Proverbs 25:15, TLB)

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14, NIV)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5, NIV)

Lord, we are living the way your laws command us to live. We are waiting for you to act. We want your honor and fame to be known. (Isaiah 26:8, NIRV)

Sometimes we are waiting for answers. Sometimes we are waiting for things to happen or for things to end. We get frustrated at not knowing when our waiting will end. (Have you ever begged God, “I’ll wait patiently to find out WHAT you will do if I just know WHEN you will answer.” I have. But He — wisely — didn’t believe me.) Waiting well remembers that God knows everything: what is best for us; what we need; when we need it. Do we believe this? Do we trust Him enough to wait well?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

He has a plan for us, a plan that brings good at the right time. When we don’t trust Him, we impatiently fight for control of the steering wheel. Waiting well is trusting God to be the driver in our lives. Didn’t He create us? Didn’t He already meet our biggest need through Jesus’ death and resurrection? Remembering God has already secured our eternal destination helps us trust Him with the details of our earthly journey. We can embrace far more life — waiting well beside Him — in each hill and valley we encounter. He is trustworthy.

Our expectations also keep us from waiting well. We can be like children impatient for Christmas morning to arrive; the closer it gets, the harder it is to wait well. Children anticipate the joy and excitement of discovering what is beneath the wrapping paper. They are certain what is coming is better than what they have now. We, too, convince ourselves what we have now is not as good as what is coming. We can miss far more life today by anticipating far more life will be better in the future. Waiting well looks to the future — especially our future in heaven — eagerly and expectantly while fully embracing today. Whether today brings answers or more waiting, whether it is filled with sorrow or joy, it is always an opportunity to live far more life. God has planned each day for us and as the perfect next step on our journey with Him. He is with us, giving us all we need for today. In fact, His Word instructs us:

…Make the most of every moment and every encounter. (Colossians 4:5b, VOICE)

Waiting well requires us to be engaged in today as we anticipate the future He has for us. He is working around us. He is working inside of us. Enjoying today while waiting well for tomorrow is far more life.

Sisters,
Are you generally patient or impatient?
What are you tempted to trust in besides God? Yourself? Others?
In what areas are you fighting for control of the steering wheel, not trusting God’s plans for you?
How does impatience for the future rob you of far more life today?
Praise God for this day and commit to walking in far more life with Him!
-Shari

Safe or Good?

“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” …

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The more I meditate on this exchange, the richer it grows. In this story, Aslan represents Jesus Christ and Susan is a child preparing to meet him. She wonders what all of us would wonder when meeting an unrestrained lion: is he going to use his strength and power to hurt me? What a vivid comparison to our concerns about God’s role in our lives!

We want God to be safe, meaning we want Him to be tame, predictable, and under our control. But this is not who God is. God reminded Job of this after listening to Job’s lament about the difficult circumstances he faced:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?…Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?…Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?…Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?…Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?…Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?…Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? (Job 38:4a, 8, 12, 22, 35; 39:19, 27; 40:9)

If you want to read more of this exchange, look up Job chapters 38 through 42. God’s power and knowledge is very humbling! But even this excerpt makes it clear: God is not subject to our desires and preferences. He is the Creator. He is in control. Embracing His role as King and our role as His subject is far more life.

Although God determines His own actions, Scripture assures us repeatedly that He is good.

Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8a, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8a, NIV)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever. (Psalm 100:5, 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1, NIV)

You are good, and what you do is good (Psalm 119:68, NIV)

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Psalm 145:9, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. (Nahum 1:7a, NIV)

No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:18b, NIV

But the fruit of the Spirit is…goodness. (Galatians 5:22, NIV)

…you have tasted that the Lord is good. (I Peter 2:3, NIV)

Because of God’s goodness, we can trust Him to treat His children lovingly. The Bible is full of accounts that prove this over and over. One of my favorites is the account of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7. God had a special job for Gideon and told him about it. Gideon was slow to believe it was really God speaking — he asked for several reassurances — and God patiently provided each one. God told him step-by-step what would happen, and it all came true. God led Gideon and his army to a great military victory, even though they were greatly outnumbered. But God, in His goodness, looked at their hearts and provided just what they needed to trust and follow His instruction.

In my own life I have seen God’s goodness through His protection. Once he protected me from physical injury when my car was struck by lightning. Another time he protected me from a financial hardship by selling our house shortly before a major mechanical failure took place. He didn’t speak to me in the way He spoke to Gideon, but I believe His goodness was at work in those situations and many others I have faced.

So why, despite evidence, do we continue to doubt God? I think one reason is because we cannot see the whole picture. From our limited human perspective, we cannot see what might have happened without God acting in goodness on our behalf. We can only see what does happen, and sometimes it does not appear good to us. And we have an enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want us to see God clearly. He tempts us to focus on the hard and bad things God allows us to suffer. When we fall for that focus we forget to thank God for protecting us from worse situations (John 17:15). And for being with us through the hard times (Hebrews 13:5) and providing all that we need (Philippians 4:19).

We live far more life in the moments we release our idea of God conforming to our definition of safe and instead embrace the truth that He, in His goodness, provides all the safety we need. As we let Him be God, we are free to notice and enjoy His provision along our journey. We will encounter valleys along the way, but His goodness — and the opportunity for far more life — is always with us.

Sisters,
How are you tempted to make God be “safe”?
What evidence have you seen of His goodness in your life?
Pray for His perspective in the difficulties you face so you can see His provision this week.
Thank Him for being with you and providing all you need.
-Shari