Tag Archives: trusting God

Getting God’s Attention

From my earliest childhood, I remember hearing the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel from I Kings 18. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Elijah was the sole prophet of God in the land, and the people were following false gods. He called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a public duel on top of the mountain. They each prepared a sacrifice and would pray to their god to see whose was real. The god who was real would answer by fire and burn the sacrifice up. As the prophets of Baal tried for hours to get their god’s attention, Elijah mocked them.

I always thought very poorly of those prophets and even laughed at the way Elijah mocked them. But now I wonder if we are any different than they were. We may serve the God who won that duel, but we have resorted to their tactics to get His attention. We seem to believe that there is something you and I can do to earn His favor or to get an answer to prayer. We pray loudly, we stomp, we circle, we make promises and even put ourselves in danger to test God to get Him to answer. But God isn’t looking for that from us.

What He’s looking for is found in verse 37 in Elijah’s prayer. He said, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself” (GNB). The prayers God responds to are ones that bring Him glory and allow Him to do the work. Religion is all about working to get a god’s attention and favor to do something for us, but Christianity is about letting God draw us to Him. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what He does. He hears each one of our prayers according to 1 John 5:14, and He sees our intentions. You don’t have to do anything crazy to get His attention. He loves you and is constantly drawing you closer to Him.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Place Of Provision

I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Elijah in I Kings 17. After he prophesied there would be a drought, God said, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve commanded the ravens to feed you.” It wasn’t long though before the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God told him to go to a certain city and live there. He told him that he had instructed a widow woman to feed him.

My question has always been, “Why did God allow the brook to dry up?” After all, he went to the place of God’s provision. Why did he have to leave that place? He was where he was supposed to be. Then I looked at the story from the other side. Think about the widow. She knew she was about to run out of flour and oil. She knew there was nothing more she could do. She knew that when her flour ran out, she and her son would die. Knowing that, I can imagine her calling out to God in desperation for help. I can hear her crying each night wondering when God would answer her prayers.

Then, one day, God speaks to her. He said, “I’m going to send a prophet to you. Prepare him a meal and you will get your answer.” As each day passed, she looked for the prophet. Each day that passed without his arrival the flour and oil went down. Finally she was down to her last bit of flour and oil. Death was around the corner. She had quit looking for the prophet and was looking for sticks to burn in order to prepare her last meal. As she was scouring the ground for firewood, a voice came from behind her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug?” She barely looked up and nodded. As she headed to the well, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?”

I’m sure her eyes lit up and she whipped around. “Could this be the prophet,” she thought. Only one way to find out. “I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die,” she said. Any stranger would have let her eat her last meal, but the prophet would still ask for it. She had to make sure so she could be obedient if it was him. Elijah told her not to worry. He said, “Make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go and make a meal from what’s left.” The oil and flour didn’t empty until the drought was over.

We rarely know why God moves us from a place of provision or causes the brook of blessings to dry up. In this case, I believe it was to answer the widow’s prayer. God needed Elijah to move so he cut off his source. For the widow, she had to wait until she was down to her last meal. She was then asked to give it up in order to be blessed. Both had to trust God. Both had to be obedient or both would have died. God asked both to give up what they had for the other. What has God asked you to give up? It may be all you have, but it will be the gateway to miracles. Where is God trying to move you to? You may not understand now, but your obedience will lead you to another place of provision. Obedience is always required before the blessing.

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Controlling The Outcome

We’ve all been in a situation where we were outnumbered, outgunned and facing nsurmountable odds. It’s stressful to be in that place. Questions fill your mind causing you to doubt and to wonder if you’re in God’s will or not. Your fight or flight mechanism begins to kick in and it likes the flight option. In those moments, we have to be guided by our faith and not our fear. Moments like these are designed to build our faith and to grow our trust in God. If we run, we not only give into fear, but we lose an opportunity to grow our faith. God allows us to be in situations like this because He’s looking to grow our relationship. These pressure situations should cause our roots to go down deeper into Him.

In 2 Chronicles 14, Asa became king of Judah. After a long line of kings who disobeyed God, he changed course. He tore down the pagan altars his predecessors had built and turned the people toward God. There was peace during much of his reign, but it didn’t last. An Ethiopian came out against him with a million man army compared to his of just over half a million. He was thrust into one of those, “God, what’s going on? Aren’t I doing everything right” moments. He was outnumbered and outgunned, but his faith remained strong. He went out to meet the Ethiopian army head on knowing God was able to bring victory, and was willing to stand firm and fight even if God didn’t show up.

In verse 11 he prayed, “O LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and the weak; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in and rely on You” (AMP). Not only did he show up for the battle, he placed the outcome in God’s hands instead of his. There is an underlying peace in the turmoil when we give up our control of the outcome. It doesn’t make sense to let go, and often it goes against everything in us, but either God is going to step in or He’s not. Is your faith prepared either way? Even if he doesn’t deliver you or cause things to go “your way”, will you still trust Him? That’s the point we all must come to in faith. If we trust God is in control of the outcome, then we must determine ahead of time that whatever happens should deepen our faith not destroy it.

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Start Planting

One of my favorite quotes says, “I don’t measure my day by the harvest I bring in. I measure it by the Seeds I plant. For in planting seeds, I’m assuring a future harvest.” There are so many applications for this quote, but the common question it begs is, “What am I doing today to make sure I have enough tomorrow?” We all love it when we reap the rewards for things we’ve done in the past, but we can’t measure our successes by that. We must always be doing something that is going to make sure we have another harvest, but too many of us hesitate because we’re waiting for everything to be just right before we act.

The problem with planting is that there are no immediate results for your work. We live in a world where we are conditioned to instant gratification, but many times the things you plant are hidden beneath the surface germinating where you can’t see. However, the longer you wait to start planting, the further away the harvest will be. Conditions will never be just right to plant for the future, but don’t let that stop you from doing what God has called you to do. Fear will lead to hesitation, and hesitation will lead to procrastination. After you procrastinate, you begin to make excuses as to why you can’t do it.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything” (GNT). Today’s the day to quit your excuses, to stop your hesitation and to put fear behind you. The longer you procrastinate, the less impact you’re going to have. When you step out in faith and do what God has called you to do, you’re trusting Him to bless it. When you wait for perfect conditions, you take faith out of the equation. Whatever it is that’s on your heart to do, find one thing you can do today to begin planting the seeds. Those seeds, no matter how few, will always produce a greater harvest than the ones that never get planted. Stop procrastinating and start planting.

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Having Enough

Every year, Americans spend over $80 billion on lottery tickets. It’s hard not to spend money on a ticket when lottery prizes are upwards of $300 million. However, nearly 45% of lottery winners go broke within 3-5 years. The problem is that we are trying to get wealth without earning it. When that happens, we don’t have an understanding of money, thinking it is an endless supply. You can search for “The lottery ruined my life” to see the countless stories of people who are worse off after having won the lottery than before. I also think there’s a heart problem here for most people. Who are you trusting to care for your needs? God or the lottery?

Each of us have prayed The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times. In it we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s interesting that Jesus taught us to ask for daily bread, but we are always seeking more bread. When the Israelites were in the desert, God told them to gather just enough manna for one day. If they gathered more than a day’s worth, it rotted and became full of maggots. God has always been about making sure we have enough. He’s not against us getting rich or trying to make more money, but He is concerned with our motives. Are we trying to replace Him as the source for our lives?

In Proverbs 30:8-9, there is a great prayer by Agur. He prayed, “Empty out of my heart everything that is false— every lie, and every crooked thing. And give me neither undue poverty nor undue wealth— but rather, feed my soul with the measure of prosperity that pleases you. May my satisfaction be found in you. Don’t let me be so rich that I don’t need you or so poor that I have to resort to dishonesty just to make ends meet. Then my life will never detract from bringing glory to your name” (TPT). We need to find our satisfaction in Jesus, understanding that He gives us our daily bread. Jesus said that when we seek His Kingdom first, all these other things would be added to us. Is He enough in your life? Are you satisfied with Him? Or are you trying to replace the need for Him?

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Seeking God’s Approval

Too many times I’ve been a victim of paralysis through analysis. I feel God prompt me to do something, then immediately the voices come in. What if this isn’t God? What are they go to think of you? One of our greatest needs as humans is the need for acceptance. We want to fit in and we want to belong. Doing what God asks sometimes will cause us to do something that will seemingly put that acceptance at risk. It’s in those moments we have to ask ourselves, “Whose approval are you after? Whose approval means more?” Asking myself those questions is the only way I can combat the paralysis that comes from the other questions about what people will think of me.

Noah was a person who had to deal with this. God told him to build a boat because it was going to flood. It’s believed that rain was a foreign concept at that time and a boat was too. God gave him the instructions on how to build it and let him get to it. He didn’t worry about what other people thought. Instead, the Bible says that he did all god commanded him to do. Because of an obedience that regarded God’s request as more important than any of his friend’s opinion, God saved his family and established a new covenant with him.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that” (MSG). Each of us must make the decision to trust God whenever He speaks to us. It’s rarely easy to do, and the fear of losing acceptance will always be there to create a tension in the situation. Finding a way to push through that tension is critical to obeying God. Even when it seems counterintuitive, awkward or crazy, you can’t let it disable you. Lives and eternity are often at stake. You can break through the paralysis through analysis trap by deciding to trust God and seeking His approval above all else.

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Sudden Storms

I love the story of Jesus in Mark 4. He had been teaching all day sharing spiritual insights through parables with crowds of people. When He was finished, He told the disciples to get in a boat and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After they had been going a ways, a sudden storm blew in and threatened to sink the boat. In the midst of the chaos and fear, someone realized they needed Jesus and He wasn’t on deck. Verse 38 says, “But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion” (TPT). In the middle of the storm, Jesus was able to rest because He trusted God.

Most of us aren’t that way. When things are going downhill quickly and everything we hold dear is being threatened to sink, we struggle to rest. Sleep eludes us as our minds think of everything bad that can happen and what we will do if everything heads south. Yet, in this story, we find that Jesus is able to rest. I believe that the rest He was given is a rest that belongs to us. We have to learn that our perception of things is not His reality. Where we look up at the storm in fear, He speaks to it in faith. When we let fear dictate our emotions and steal our rest, we lack the faith to trust His providence for our lives.

Psalm 116:7 says, “Now I can say to myself and to all, ‘Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.’” If you’re uncomfortable speaking to your storms, then speak to yourself. Worry robs us of the strength and rest that God wants us to have. Just because you’re surrounded by turmoil, it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. God gives His children rest and peace, but many times, we have to take hold of it and tell ourselves to take it. Sudden storms that pop up are not a surprise to God. If you will simply trust in Him, He will guide you safely to shore.

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