When It Feels Like God’s Not Doing Anything

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

When It Feels Like God’s
Not Doing Anything

One of my favorite ways to study Scripture is to consider the mindset of those in each Bible story. (Perhaps this is why I love the Old Testament so much.) What was Noah’s wife thinking when they were seventy-five years in to building the ark and there was still no water? What was going through Sarah’s mind when not just once, but twice, Abraham made her join a king’s harem? 

What doubts about God did Joseph struggle with after the cupbearer forgot about him in prison? Did Moses feel rejected by God as he fled into the wilderness after killing the Egyptian? What was Daniel thinking as he and his friends were being marched as prisoners to Babylon? What about his mother? Was she killed? 

It puts a different spin on things to think of these Bible characters as real people we’d probably have over for dinner, had they been born in our era. Because that’s what they were—real people, with real struggles, real doubts, real fears and issues and hopes and dreams and thoughts. 

And just like we struggle to believe God is working in our lives, I have no doubt they did too. We can simply turn the page to see the outcome of their story, but some of our favorite Bible heroes waited years to see God’s active hand in their lives. 

Yet God Was Still Working

Actually, Hebrews 11:39 says all of them are still waiting, seeing only glimpses of God’s promise in their day. Yet many (especially those listed in Hebrews 11) are commended for their faith. They didn’t lose heart; they believed God. But the question is, can we say the same for ourselves?

When circumstances turn sour or take too long, it’s easy to think God’s forgotten us or would rather not deal with our issues. But to think He isn’t doing anything—to think God doesn’t care—is simply not true. He is still just as much in the details and the outcome of our lives as He was in Bible times. 

The stories we read in Scripture aren’t just there for our entertainment, but to remind us that He is still working. God is still active and powerful and sovereign and providentially aligning all the details, even when it doesn’t feel like it. 

Consider David:

It’s no secret that David struggled with doubts of God’s care and concern. In Psalm 13:1 we see David crying out to God, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” He was anointed as the next king of Israel, yet was chased in the wilderness for years on end by Saul who longed to see him dead. Yeah, if I were David, I would have wondered too.

Yet God was working in David’s life, solidifying his faith and preparing him to be king. And what’s more, God was indeed doing something! Just look at the Psalms we have because of David’s time in the wilderness. While David hid in caves, seeking for encouragement through song, God was writing His Word! 

Read the rest here.

Waiting Looks Like Worship

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Waiting Looks Like Worship

Lost in a sea of dirty dishes, the aftermath of a dinner mostly liked by my children, I heard the familiar ding of my phone with a text, a welcome distraction from the casserole dish I was scrubbing. Expecting it to be a reminder for my son’s next baseball practice, I was delighted when instead I saw the name of a college student I had been a high school youth leader for.

“What does it mean to trust the Lord?” she asked. “I mean, what does that really look like?” I smiled, remembering all too well the ending months of my college career, unattached, and unsure what life held for me after graduation. Waiting for God to give direction, I had those thoughts as well.

But the funny thing is, I’m still having those thoughts. Only now the question marks aren’t “Who I’m going to marry?” or “Where am I going to live?” Those answers have come. Now I’m waiting on God to heal in ways I never saw coming. Waiting on God to move in the lives of my unsaved friends. Waiting on God to bring revival. Waiting on God to provide. Waiting on God to direct. Waiting on God to open or close the doors of a future ministry.

And I’m still asking, “What does it mean to trust the Lord?” I mean, what does that really look like?

We’re All Waiting for Something

In the years since college, I’ve realized waiting is just a part of life. But more importantly, it’s part of the Christian life. Hebrews 11 says the saints who have gone before us—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others—though counted as faithful, are still waiting. They’re waiting for the promise of God, the kingdom of heaven, “the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

They were waiting for the coming of Christ, while we are waiting for the return of Christ. For “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). One day we’ll be free of our sinful bodies. One day there will be no more pain and suffering. One day Christ Himself will wipe away the last of our tears (Rev. 21:4).

But in the meantime we wait, because it’s in the waiting that faith grows. It’s in the waiting that we learn to trust, to wait with patience and perseverance and not give up on the God who doesn’t give up on us. Romans 5:4 says, “endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” In other words, waiting makes space for hope to grow. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

The Battle Is in the Waiting

Oh, but it’s a battle, isn’t it, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in the long enduring wait for healing or reconciliation or direction? Amid waves of uncertainty, waiting just might be the hardest thing we ever do. 

Read the rest here.

Prizing Prayer’s Privilege

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Prizing Prayer’s Privilege

I recently finished an unhurried, two-year exploration of Psalm 119. It was not my intention to hang out in those pages for so long. I initially came to it looking for a good Scripture memory assignment for our family. I knew Psalm 119 contained verses about Scripture memory and Bible reading, and I thought it would be great for us to learn those verses together, in context.

Other than that, my thoughts on Psalm 119 were this: It’s long. It’s repetitive. It speaks in generalities and seems to say the same things over and over.

But the Word of God is active and alive. Once our family memorized the first sixteen verses by singing them together (one of my favorite memorization tools!), I realized that Psalm 119 was so much more than repetitious and the means to an end of Bible-reading discipline. This was a private conversation I was overhearing. The Psalmist (most scholars feel that the writer was David) was engaged with God in secret prayer, and I was listening in. I wanted to milk each word for the beauty it held.

Simple Prayer

Have you ever been in earshot of someone whose public praying drew you into communion with God, too? The way they approach Him, speaking statements of faith that are shaped by the Scriptures, and even the things they thank Him for and ask Him for demonstrate that this person is on speaking terms with God. I have. It’s just one more beautiful way that God uses the Body to build up the faith of His people. I leave church reflecting on the prayer of a fellow saint as much as I do the sermon.

This experience is similar to what I discovered in Psalm 119. I see a man who knows how to be forthright about who he is without being self-righteous. He speaks of his great weakness, frailty, and life troubles without indulging in self-pity. He tells, without fear of disapproval, of his joys and sufferings. He lays every card on the table in complete honesty before God. He persistently asks for mercy for what should be the fear of every one of us—not to be left to himself. This man was keenly aware of the deceptive ways of his own heart.

I came to understand Psalm 119 as relentless, not repetitive. It is enduring and passionate in affirmations, resolutions, and simple requests to be delivered from the evil without and the evil within. The Psalmist wastes no words:

  • “I am yours; save me” (v. 94).
  • “Let your hand me ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts” (v. 173).
  • “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!” (v. 154).
  • “Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law” (v. 153).
  • “When will you comfort me?” (v. 82).
  • “How long must your servant endure” (v. 84).

This is prayer that nourishes faith and hope and strengthens the soul. This is prayer that changes how we process life. The Psalmist has a vivid sense of how God’s good purposes work out, and he experiences hope and comfort alongside the painful realities of his life. Dozens of times he rejoices, delights, gives thanks, and sings praises. His pain drives him outward, hoping in God, rather than inward to despondency toward his circumstances.

When We Don’t Want to Pray

At times, our minds are empty, our hearts are cold, and we do not want to pray. Our Bibles become routine, and we see nothing new there. The Psalmist also spoke about this in verse 18: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” He knew the temptation to become duty-driven only in prayer, as well as hooked on worldly distractions (v. 37). He recognizes that he is susceptible to focusing on the wrong things.

Read the rest here.

Always Let Your Bible Be Your Guide

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Always Let Your Bible
Be Your Guide

It’s not wise to allow movies to inform our theology. I grew up with the Jiminy Cricket quote: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” In the children’s movie Pinocchio, Disney’s dapper cricket danced and sang, encouraging the wooden puppet—along with the magical Blue Fairy—to follow his conscience as a moral compass for life. “Take the straight and narrow path,” Jiminy sang, “and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Was Jiminy right?

Culturally, the conscience is thought to help with decisions, and the conscience is considered to be rooted in good morals and virtuous character. Yet in colleges today, morals and ethics students debate what good “morality” looks like, and practical applications are open to interpretation.

A guiding conscience, in some situations, is more like a “be true to yourself” mantra than a moral compass for choosing what is proper, moral, or right.

Following True North

When hiking, if our compass is only one degree off course, we likely won’t arrive at our destination. A good, functional compass won’t be skewed; it will point “true north.”

The Christian’s moral compass points “true north” to the Truth of the Bible. God’s Word is the foundation for the believer’s moral and ethical behavior, and consequences are serious when our moral compass is not correctly aligned with God’s Word.

The Westminster Confession says, “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” God has freed us from submission to “doctrines and commandments of men” that are contrary to Scripture, that go beyond His commands or conflict with His wisdom principles for living.

God’s Word must reign supreme in our conscience! Our moral compass must be captive to biblical truth, not the whims of culture or even the fluctuating leanings of our hearts. As Andy Naselli wrote, “That voice in your head is not necessarily God’s voice. Sometimes your conscience may be theologically incorrect.”

In the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first ones to follow their own conscience, but their moral compass was not aligned with God’s words—His clear command (Gen. 2:17; 3:3, 6). The result was disastrous! Deceived, their human conscience allowed them to make a faulty, rebellious choice.

Read the rest here.

5 Holiness Myths

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

5 Holiness Myths

What comes to mind when you think of a holy person? Some of us see the beauty of holiness lived out on a regular basis in our churches and homes. But others fail to see the appeal of a holy life lived out, either because they haven’t seen it in practice or because less-appealing counterfeits have filled their horizon. Sometimes it’s helpful to articulate what holiness is not in order to gain a clearer understanding of what it is and why we want it. Here are five false views that you may have encountered.

1. Holiness is an honorary status.

Some speak of saints as if they were some sort of extra-dedicated class of Christian, a select few who have earned a special status. But the Bible does not make this distinction. Paul calls all Christians saints (1 Cor. 1:2). He tells the Corinthians that they have been “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified.” This is our position before God. We are sanctified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” at the moment of salvation (1 Cor. 6:11).

Because we are saints in Christ, we are to “put off your old self” and “put on the new self” (Eph. 4:20–24). In other words, our practice should match our position. This growth in holy practice is what the theologians call “progressive sanctification.”

There are not two tiers of Christians. All Christians are saints, and all of us are becoming holy in practice.

2. Spirit-empowered holiness feels easy.

The idea that sanctification requires effort may seem unspiritual to some, but the Bible is full of athletic metaphors that encourage us to do just that. Paul told Timothy, “train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7), and the author of Hebrews tells us to “strive for . . . the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

Spiritual disciplines are essential for growth. As we study God’s Word and pray, our will and desires change to become more like Christ. As we daily resist sin and make God-honoring choices, we are working our spiritual muscles and making progress in the right direction.

Read the rest here.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

Here is another excellent article from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8).

This mandate in Scripture has shaped my passion for seeking justice in our broken world. The clarity of these words leaves us with no doubt as to how God wants us to spend our time on earth.

Act justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God. I’ve always focused my primary attention on the acting justly and loving mercy portions of this command. These two seem challenging enough. It’s often overwhelming to navigate how to live out justice and mercy to the world around me.

There are millions of people worldwide experiencing injustice. How can I, a stay-at-home mom, give justice to the oppressed? It’s also so easy to feel personally entitled to mercy and yet deny giving it to others. How do I extend forgiveness to others when my flesh is not ready to release the offense? My own weakness renders me incapable of obedience.

As I’ve wrestled with the weightiness of how to act justly and love mercy, I’ve realized that it’s only possible to obey these commands in light of the gospel when we walk humbly with our God.

Humility is dependence on God. Walking in humility displays our reliance on His strength in our weakness to obey. Our obedience to God’s good commands must come from a place of humility as we rely on Him to accomplish it.

Humility in Acting Justly

Because of sin, we live in an unjust world. We are transgressors of God’s law and the consequence for our rebellion is death. But God sent His Son to live the life we could not live and die the death we should have died. God poured out His just wrath on His Son instead of on us. This great grace should humble us.

As image-bearers of the God of justice (Isa. 30:18) and recipients of our just status in Christ (Rom. 5:1), we reflect His heart to the world when we seek justice for all people.

Seeking justice can be overwhelming, considering the effects of sin in our world:

  • 150 million children are vulnerable in our world today due to fatherlessness and poverty.
  • 45 million image-bearers are living in modern-day slavery.
  • 65 million refugees are currently seeking refuge after fleeing their homes due to war, famine, and persecution.
  • Every year, over 50 million babies are murdered in their mothers’ wombs.

I look at those numbers, and then I look at me. I don’t see any way for me to make a difference. This is what my enemy wants me to think. He wants me to keep my focus on me and my strength so that I’ll believe that I can’t do anything to help. And if I were depending on myself to accomplish justice for the vulnerable, that would be true.

Read the rest here.

Depressed and Thankful: 6 Ways to Find Joy

How can we possibly be thankful when we are depressed? And how can we be joyful when there is so much in our world to be depressed about these days? This kind of depression is different from clinical depression, which is a constant sense of hopelessness and despair, and it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities. I don’t think it matters what type of depression we have, it still makes life difficult. Today’s post about how to hold on to our joy during times of depression is from Revive Our Hearts. I pray it blesses all of us.

Depressed and Thankful:
6 Ways to Find Joy

By Stacy Reaoch

It was only about a year into our marriage when I had my first bout with mild depression. And it didn’t make sense to me. I finally was married to the man of my dreams. I had landed my first teaching job. We had started a new life together and were making new friends. But for whatever reason, my heart was downcast. Life felt overwhelming, like I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and stay in bed for the day.

The constant sadness in my heart finally led me to go to a doctor to share how I’d been feeling. Instead of quickly writing a prescription, my physician wisely talked through the major life changes I had experienced in the last twelve months—college graduation, moving away from family, marriage, my first real job—and assured me that my roller-coaster emotions were normal in light of all I had experienced in one year.

Eventually, I came out of that gray fogginess, but over the years of my adult life there have been other times where I’ve started to slide into the pit of despair. A melancholy side to my personality makes me prone to see the glass as half empty. I realize that for many individuals, medication is truly necessary. But the weapon that has made the most difference in my life in fighting depression, and something we can all benefit from, is gratitude.

Worship Grows in Gratitude

In Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s excellent book Choosing Gratitude, she makes the point that we are either whining or worshiping. Our natural, sinful state makes us prone to see what we lack, what we don’t have, and what’s gone wrong in our lives.

Complaining is often my default response. Just the other day I noticed how even though I’d had a relatively good day, as soon as my husband walked in the door after work, I talked about the kids’ after-school squabble, our little guy’s potty-training accident, and “did I forget to mention the freezer isn’t working right?”

Often the things that pour off our tongues to others can be complaints of things not going our way or how we’ve been mistreated by others. We live in a rights-oriented culture, and if we don’t get what we think is rightfully ours, we storm off in anger or despair. Often, we slip on the sins of entitlement and discontentment down the slope to anxiety and depression. We can become surrounded by dark thoughts and unmet expectations that weigh down our hearts and put a cloud over our minds.

Read the rest here.