To Keep On Praying (When You Feel Like It Doesn’t Matter)

Ever feel abandoned by God? You pray and you seek and you cry out. You do your best to stay in the center of God’s will. You pray His will and trust his Word. You abandon yourself completely to Him and trust Him absolutely to come through. And then He doesn’t.

At this point, some abandon faith, get bitter and angry at God. Rage and/or depression. Why bother, why trust – God, if he exists, is going to do what he’s going to do.

Others, like me, continue to trust God’s goodness, believe he will work his sovereign will for his purposes, even our good. Still, why pray. Why cry out to him. It won’t matter anyway.

David surely went through similar circumstances. He cries out, “My God , my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” (Psalm 22:1).

But though David is disappointed, he trusts God. Amazingly, he doesn’t just trust God’s purpose, nor does he just trust God to work out that purpose. Though he feels abandoned by God, though it feels like God doesn’t hear or answer him, he still asks God to help, to answer his prayer and cry (Psalm 22:19-21). May we all continue to do the same.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Mat 7:7, NLT).


Real With God, Reality Of God

I love how David is so real with God. I also love how God is so real to him.
David can be real with God in letting Him know he feels abandoned, ignored, and in anguish. He doesn’t feel the need to pretend everything is good or to couch what he means. He doesn’t need to cover over his feelings with positive confessions of faith.

At the same time, though he feels abandoned and ignored in his present state, he knows God is there, he knows God hears him, he knows the reality of God’s presence.

“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me.” (13:5,6 NLT)

May we all be as real and raw with God while recognizing the reality of his love and goodness no matter what our circumstances.

Making This Truly A Joyful Season

Sometimes (maybe a lot more than I care ot admit) I don’t respond well to others or circumstances. Instead of experieincing and exuding the joys of those who delight in the law of the Lord, I express irritation, annoyance, and (gasp!) outright anger – over the smallest things.

Especially as we enter what we traditionally consider a season for thanksgiving and joy, I don’t want stress and aggravation to be what characterizes me.

So what can we learn about keeping joy from the words of David in Psalm 1?

Joy is influenced in part by what we allow to influence us.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with the scoffers.” (Psalm 1:1, NLT)

Have you ever noticed after watching certain TV shows or interacting with certain people you are much more prone to “fly off the handle” and/or become irritated? I’m not anti-TV or movies or media, but I’ve noticed my temper shortening the more media I consume or the more grumbling and complaints I allow myself to take in.

“But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law.” (Psalm 1:2, NLT)

Conversely, as I purposefully take the time to read, reflect, and turn over in my heart and mind the words I read in Scripture, I find my heart softening to the promptings of the Spirit and in my interactions with others. This is especially true as I start to apply myself to the word that God brings alive to me.

One example of this for me is the post on The Eyes Have It a few days ago. There have been many instances where the Spirit has prompted me to look up and see those around me and, as I have, God has softened my heart.

In the midst of this season, let’s take time to cultivate joy so we can bring joy to those around us.

When Trouble Comes

God wants us to enter into relationship with Him. He loves us and wants us to experience the fullness of His love. We are created for Him.
But choosing Him in a fallen world, in a culture hostile to Him – adversity is bound to come, and we must expect it.

Growing stronger as a follower of Jesus requires preparation for the trials and hardships that will inevitably come. Sometimes this comes in the form of external circumstances (things “mysteriously” breaking down or “out of the blue” miscommunications). More likely, though, will be hostility and hardships as a direct result of us choosing to follow Jesus rather than the ways of the world.

Surely, this is what the early believers faced. So Paul and Silas strengthed the believers, specifically by preparing them for trials. And while Luke didn’t give details, here are some things they might have gone through.

We can be strengthened by the hope placed before us. Just as Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him (Heb 12:2), we too can go through whatever comes our way by keeping the hope of great joy before us. Our end is not this life. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). There are treasures that are eternal (Mat 6:20) and beyond comparison to the temporal pleasures here in this life.

We can be strengthed by the promises God gave. Jesus did say in this world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Then there’s what David said in Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” And this in the midst of lies and slander spoken against him.

We can also be strengthed through God’s character. The one who looks after the birds of the air and grass of the field will surely care for his highest creation (Mat 6:26-31). He also says in the Psalms that He is a shield about us (Psalms 3:3) among many other things.

Trials will come and we can be strengthened to face them. What are ways you have been strengthened in your faith?

Ordinary Grace, Extraordinary Love

It’s so easy to take God’s goodness for granted. The rain, the sun, the blue skies, the color, and the beauty all around us. His provision, work, joy, and laughter. Food, drink, and friendship.
Perhaps not all experience all of these things all of the time, nevertheless, God never leaves himself without a witness of his goodness and love in our everyday life.

It now has been one year of blogging daily here at Devotional Thoughts and one thing I’m grateful for is you who have visited, read, and commented on this blog. You are part of the evidence God has left for me to see of his goodness.

For the next year I’ll be cutting down on the number of posts, probably 2-3 times a week. I look forward to continue sharing and hearing your thoughts.

For now, what are some of the ways God has left a witness of His goodness in your life?

The Eyes Have It

Paul looked straight at the man… and saw something, faith to be healed.

How much do we miss seeing because our eyes are down?

I don’t know if it’s a local Hawaii thing, a self-esteem thing, or a vertically challenged thing, I’ve never really been one to naturally maintain eye contact as I speak with others.

Today, there’s the additional distraction of those glowing pocket devices that give me yet another reason not to look at others, to see them, to see who they are, and even to see into their heart.

I want to learn from Paul and grow in seeing those right around me. As we look from a heart of love, what opportunities will we see for God’s love to flow through us?

Zealous For God

You can be zealous to honor God and still get it wrong. Paul certainly did. It wasn’t selfish motivations, a fear of the loss of personal power, position, or finances (as it seemed to be for many other religious leaders) that drove Paul to persecute the church, but rather, he was zealous for God’s honor, zealous to protect God’s people from the deception of Jesus of Nazareth.

Until he found himself on the ground, blinded by the light, and coming face to face with Jesus.

Zeal can be good. But we need to see Jesus in the midst of it. In the process, it might be good to give some grace and not be quite so critical of others or accusatory of their intentions or motives.

Be Faithful To What God Called You To

Read Acts 15:36-41

After working so well together and seeing God grow an strengthen the church in their time together Paul and Barnabas came to a place of sharp disagreement. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark and Paul wanted nothing to do with him. Both were adamant in their positions and neither gave an inch.

In the end, Barnabas strengthened Mark, Paul strengthened churches. Was one better than the other? Paul certainly got most of the press (Barnabas was never again mentioned in Acts). And it certainly looked he had a greater impact on the Church and accomplished far more for the Kingdom.

But is it possible they both just did their part for the sake of the Kingdom? From the very beginning Barnabas was called to encourage (his name means Son of Encouragement). He encouraged the believers with his generosity. He encouraged and brought Paul himself into the church when no one wanted to have anything to do with him. He further gave Paul an opportunity to minister that actually launched Paul into his calling. And so when the opportunity came to build another young believer up, Barnabas did what he always did.

And while Barnabas was never mentioned again, John Mark wrote one of the four gospels and became a helper himself to Paul in his ministry.

All because one man was faithful to what God called him to.

Faithful Where You Are

Cornelius feared God but didn’t know much about Him. He did, however, act on what he knew. He gave to the poor and prayed. He obeyed what the angel of the Lord said.

Peter obviously didn’t know God completely either (hence the need for the vision – repeated three times no less!), but he too obeyed what he was given.

We are all at different places in our understanding and relationship with God. Be faithful where you are at with what you’ve been given. Rather than judging others who don’t quite “get it,” be willing to come alongside others. Be teachable yourself.

God is growing and strengthening His Body and He’s working in us and through us to do it. Be faithful where you are.

Lessons From Job – On Friendship

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV). I have had a few, those who would listen and simply be there. Such was not the case with  the friends of Job. When things go wrong, when he’s suffering physically and emotionally, his friends assume the worst. You must have some secret sin. You can fool us but you can’t fool God.

Amazingly, bad theology led to bad friendships. Who would have thought such a thing? And yet Job experienced this first hand. Good theology matters, not just for us but for those around us. Thankfully, we don’t need to have it all right now in order to have good friendships. But we should continue to grow, continue to get to know God more.

Ironically, it’s often through our imperfect relationships that this happens. If we’re willing to humble ourselves and learn.

How do your views of God affect your friendships. How have your friendships affected your views on God.