Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The cure for discouragement

Well, Satan must be mad that I've made a commitment to draw closer to God with less tv and no "guy talk" over the next month. (See previous posts for more info on that) It's been pretty crazy for the past few days. Here's the low down: I was in a car accident on Saturday. It wasn't my fault and no one was hurt but my car is pretty much totalled. I still need to get it checked out to know for sure but it's pretty bad. The people who hit me are trying to blame me and even though there is absolutely NO WAY it was my fault, the police weren't called and we don't have a whole lot of proof of what happened. (Hey, cut me some slack. I was alone and scared and didn't know what to do.) There were issues first of all because they wouldn't give me their insurance info initially. (They said I didn't need it because it was my fault...which it wasn't. Have I mention that?) Then when I finally called the police later that evening, he told me my best bet was to go and find them (which was also an issue since they didn't give me any contact info. Thankfully they live at the apartment complex across the street), and get their info and take it up with their insurance company. So, by a miracle of God, I was able to find them and get their information. I called the insurance company the next day only to have them tell me that those people had cancelled their insurance and were, therefore, uninsured at the time of the accident. Great. So now it's small claims court time. I've never had to deal with this before and it's pretty scary for me. I have no idea how to go about this. SOO....this is stressful at the moment.
I also found out bad news about my taxes. It's way too complicated to explain but I'm going to be paying a whole lot more than I should be. Then just throw in the fact that I am still up in the air about what I'm doing next year. (Moving back to Missouri or staying in all depends on the job situation) I've been filling out applications and sending out resumes like crazy. Plus my landlord just told me I can't get a dog. Yes, this does make me sad. So it may not sound like much but I've gotten bad news of some kind every day since Saturday. It was becoming a little heavy for me. It seemed like everyone around me just wanted to add to the stress a little.
All day yesterday, I had the song "I look to You" by Selah stuck in my head. It seemed random since I hadn't heard it in a while. When I got home from work, I received yet another piece of bad news and proceeded to have a tiny breakdown. Not the worst one I've ever had but there were definitely tears. My roommate did everything she could to cheer me up, including pretty flowers, a hilarious card, and Dr. Pepper. I felt a little better by the end of the night but still didn't know what to do about all the different situations. Right before bed, I opened my Bible. The marker was at Numbers 20. I read about all the bad things that were happening to Israel. They were, first of all, wandering in the desert. They were without water. The people of Edom wouldn't let them pass through their land. Aaron died. And king Arad of Canaan fought against them in the first verse of chapter 21. He even took some of them prisoners. Now, God helped them to defeat these Canaanites but according to 21:4, the people became very discouraged. They were having to go the long way around the land of Edom and with everything else they were dealing with, it just seemed too hard. Their discouragement caused them to speak against God and Moses. It caused them to be unthankful. This made God angry and he sent firey serpents to bite them and many Israelites died.
Moses handled things way differently than I would have...he prayed for the people and God made a way of salvation. Moses was to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole and if the people but looked on the serpent they would live. This, as most are aware of, is a picture of Christ. The point here, as I heard explained once, is that the people got their eyes off of God and were instead looking at all their horrible circumstances. Everything was going wrong but they were still to keep their focus on God. He had proven time and again that He could handle anything. He hadn't left them. He knew about all of these things.
Lets bring it to today... We often get discouraged because of the circumstances of life. Jobs don't work out how we thought they would. Money is scarce. Health is failing. Relationships don't come when we think they should. People pass away..... We get in car wrecks. We have to pay taxes. We can't get a puppy. Life is just hard sometimes. In my case it's a bunch of issues that I can't really fix or I'm going to have a really difficult time fixing. The key to not letting them overwhelm me is looking to the One who is in control of it all.

"As I lay me down
Heaven hear me now
I'm lost without a cause
After giving it my all

Winter storms have come
And darkened my sun
After all that I've been through
Who on earth can I turn to?

I look to You, I look to You
After all my strength is gone
In You I can be strong.
I look to You, I look to You
And when melodies are gone
In You I hear a song
I look to You

About to lose my breath
There's no more fighting left
Sinking to rise no more
Searching for that open door

And every road that I've taken
lead to my regret
And I don't know if I'm gonna make it
Nothing to do but lift my head

I look to You, I look to You
After all my strength is gone
In You I can be strong
I look to You, I look to You
And when melodies are gone
In You I hear a song
I look to You...

And my levees are broken
My walls have come tumbling down on me
The rain is falling
Defeat is calling
I need You to set me free
Take me far away from the battle
I need You to shine on me....

I look to You..."
(Now, this song, I realized later was originally a Whitney Houston song. I'm not a fan of hers so this is the version I prefer.)

Conclusion: In Numbers 21:10 it says that Israel "set forward". That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna look to the Lord to help me handle all these issues and problems and then I'm gonna move forward and do what I need to do. There is no time for moping about in self pity. God is in control. I must look to Him. This is my new motto... "Look to Him." It's so much more than cliche. Taking our problems and heavy hearts to God is a stress reliever and discouragement lessener. (If that's really a word :))

Friday, February 24, 2012

How long til you believe?

My Bible reading for today was in Numbers 14. It's right after Moses had sent the 12 spies into the land of Canaan and 10 came back with an "evil report" and 2 came back saying "We can do this! God is on our side!" The people of Isael chose to listen to the 10 who were fearful and doubting. They lifted up their voice and cried. They murmured against Moses and Aaron. They started to wish that they had just stayed slaves in Egypt. Moses and Aaron tried to show them that the Lord was on their side and he could be trusted to take them into the promised land but the people wouldn't listen (14:10). Finally, God says to Moses in verse 11- "How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?" This verse stuck out to me. It was like it was written with my name in it... "How long will Jenny provoke me? and how long will it be ere she believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed her."
How many times has God come through for me? Too many to count. Many I don't even realize, I'm sure. How many times has he shown Himself mighty? How many times has He done something truely amazing and miraculous? How many times has He provided right on time?....and yet how many times have I taken matters into my own hands? Or, more often, worried myself literally sick over an issue and wondering if God was going to provide? Whether it be for a job, or whether or not I'll meet a guy, or where money will come from. Worry, while natural and easy to do, is essentially doubting God which makes it a sin. This isn't really news to me. No great new revelation. I've known that worry was a sin for a long time. But I still do it. Why is it so hard for me to trust God? "With all the many miracles, why don't you think it's possible?..." as a popular southern gospel song puts it.
Well in the case of the Israelites, I suppose it was just that they forgot about all the things God had done in the past. Perhaps (and this is just speculation) they forgot about them because they weren't thankful for them. Someone can correct me if I'm totally off base here but it seems to me if they were really thankful for all the ways God had caused them to stand in awe by providing for them in miraculous ways or protected them from their towering enemies etc...they would not so easily forget. Just a thought. Maybe they were just too used to it and therefore not appreciative enough to remember it.
I'm not harping on them at all either. That's me all the way. I'm so prone to forget what God has done for me. I've heard of people keeping a blessing journal. I tried this once and it was really helpful. Like many things in my life, I got lazy and was undisciplined and didn't keep up with it. (I really really can't stand that about myself.) Anyways... I think I will try to start one again. That way when I start to worry that God won't come through for me, I can go back and remember all the times He has.
Secondly (and lastly...I know this has been a long post), I have heard it said that if we don't know God it is because we don't know Him well enough. How do we get to know someone well enough to really trust them? By spending time with them. I doubt God's ability because I don't know it well enough. I don't spend enough time in prayer and Bible reading....that's what so many problems boil down to isn't it? I'm really thankful for verse 18 which says "The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression..." The verse goes on to say that God doesn't excuse sin. But He is so good in that He does forgive it when it's acknowledged. If you have not been believing God, confess it and be forgiven. Spend time with Him so that He can prove to you that He is so trustworthy. That's my plan.
So I would encourage anyone else struggling to believe that God is able to_________ (fill in the blank) should make a list of all the things God has done. From the every day little blessings and proof of Himself to the miraculous things that show off His power. Then spend time with Him. Maybe it would be good to do a study on the character of God or on the miracles of God.

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time." --Oswald Chambers

"God gave the bold command To cross the Jordan and take the land
Not to worry about the giants they would face
But when the spies returned To tell the others what they had learned
They said, “For us to win, there’s just no way.”
Still two of them trusted God, Caleb and Joshua
They said, “Children, don’t believe what you have heard.
We know we’re out manned by far, They’re much bigger than we are.
But let’s not forget just Who it is we serve.”

With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.

Like when we were about to die, Manna fell from the sky.
Then water came from a dry old dusty rock.
And back when Pharaoh was closing in, God closed the sea again
But not before we all had safely crossed.
So here you are my friend
You face a battle you cannot win
You tell yourself, “There's just no need to try”
Consider how good God’s been
He’s been faithful time and again,
You must believe and here’s the reason why...

With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles."

By Rodney Griffin, Greater Vision

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring Cleaning

"Where am I today? I wish that I knew.
Cuz looking around, there's no sign of you.
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead..."

Over the past couple of years, my focus has shifted...a lot. I'm not exactly sure where it started. I'm sure that's because it wasn't "one jump or one leap. Just quiet steps away..." from the Lord. It seems I am the most undisciplined, unfocused person I know. I'm so easily distracted. And every time I say "I'm gonna do better!" with great enthusiasm.... I end up right back where I was before...complacent. Well, through a series of conversations, my roommate and I decided we both needed to refocus our lives. We surmised: "It might be easier to be content with our lives if we stop focusing on what our lives could be or how we wish they would be and focus on the lives He's given us." (Makes sense right...Yeah...I'm a little slow sometimes.)
SO! To do this, I need to clean some things out of my life. I need to eliminate distractions. So heres the plan: For one month I will-
1. Not watch any romance movies....this is a big deal for me.
2. Not allow myself to dwell on the good looks of guys....I have major issues with developing these ridiculous crushes on actors. I know! I'm a child, right!?
3. I will saturate myself with Christian music....yes...even after Bible college, I still struggle with music.
4. Read my Bible every day. Sounds simple but I struggle with it. So before any tv or computer, I must have read my Bible for the day.
5. Put more effort into my job. I am a nanny at this point in my life. It is often hard for me to find motivation to do much with my kids. I have a hard time seeing the purpose in my job. BUT! God has a reason for me being there and I need to give it my all. So I am going to plan activities and really spend time nurturing and loving and teaching these two little cuties.
6. Do the little things....Like keeping on top of laundry and cleaning my house and my car. I will not just come home from work and fall on the couch and watch tv.
7. Exercise. I sincerely want to lose weight and get in shape. I've been doing Billy Blank's bootcamp pretty much every night...he kills me. But it's fun and I feel better about myself.

Anyways...there are more things that I plan to do and not do but that is the jist of it. I just want to focus on the things that are important and stop waiting around for my life to begin...This IS my life! I need to stop worrying about the future and start living this life that God's given me. I don't want to waste what time I've been given. If I ever get married...GREAT! But if not, I will trust that God has a plan and reason and I will do my best to be content. If I never have my perfect, dream job as a Christian school teacher...God still knows what He's doing and I will not spend my time moping around and being lazy. I will work with a passion and seek Him to find the purpose in my life, not a job.
So these are just my thoughts and sort of an update. Let the purging and cleansing begin. One of my other goals is to blog more since I am going to be watching a lot less tv. So I will try my hardest to keep you updated. :)