Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Turning Fear and Anxiety into Trust

I have been studying Learning to Pray by Billy Graham in my devotion time each day. The chapter that I'm in presently is 'Emotions that defeat us'. When he started talking about worry and fear, it started really hitting home. This is an area that I really struggle with. I know the promises that God has for me in the Bible yet I do not live them out. With that in mind and wishing to share my heart with you, what follows is an exerpt from my journal today:

Bible Study:
In speaking about emotions that defeat us, Billy Graham says that when our lives are "overrun by fear, we can easily become paralyzed. We also fail to trust God when we allow worry and fear to dominate us." This is one of the biggest things for me. Fear and doubt. Why?

Proverbs 22:3 "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." Have I done my part? If so, am I willing to allow God to protect and guide me?

Dangers can come from things seen and things unseen. 1 Peter 5:8 says to "be self-controlled and alert, you enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

When fear and worry are present, God's peace is absent. I must learn to trust God's promises. They are throughout the Bible. What do I fear the most? Believe it or not, I think I fear the lack of God's provision. How stupid of me. God has always come through, yet I fear … hmm, I fear that I will make a decision that is outside of His will that He will not provide for and I will jeopardize our finances.

Another area is direction in Kay's and my life. I am the spiritual leader yet I feel so inadequate.

Billy Graham speaks of Psalm 118:6 "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" I don't fear man but instead it looks like I fear myself! Can I rephrase this verse to read "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can I do to me"?

Fear and faith work against each other because they are mutually exclusive. Could it be that I cannot live in faith because I've never really had too? Or have I and yet I didn't recognize it as living in faith?

Steps to change:
1. Turn my anxiety and fear over to God
a. Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
b. 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
2. Stand on God's promises
a. Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.""
b. Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
c. John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
3. Pray diligently
a. The end result of inviting God to live THROUGH me is found in Philippians 4:6 - 7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Dear God in heaven, creator of the heavens and the earth. King of kings and Lord of lords, you know everything and you know my heart, God. I love you so and want to be the absolute best servant that I can be for you. Yet, doubt in myself is holding me back from living in faith. I am grasping on to what is tangible and not reaching out to you like I should. If Peter did the same, he would have never taken a step outside of the boat.

God, my Father, give me the faith of Peter. Give me the courage to step out. God, you have called me to lead my family. We have so much to do here on earth. The fields are abundantly white for harvest and you have given us the tools that we need to harvest the crop… Our farm, our work with the church body, Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse, Wycliffe Associates. Oh my… Lord God, please guide us… guide me as the spiritual leader. Help me to trust in you more daily. May I have a hunger for your word that passes all understanding. God I don't want to be anxious about anything but I want to present all my requests to you that I may have the peace that you are so willing to provide. God, guide me today. Amen.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prayer - As Vital as Food and Air

I am studying prayer in my Bible study and it is incredibly enlightening to me. I am learning that it is not an 'accessory' to a victorious Christian life but as absolutely vital as food and air. If that is the case, why do most Christ Followers treat it like a map folded in the glove box?

What follows is some of what I wrote in my devotions today. I am posting it here because, well truthfully I feel that God is leading me to do so. I pray that it will be enlightening to you as you also seek God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit.

Just an ok kind of day. Governing board meeting and the like. Left my wallet @ home so it was a day without meals until I got home. My mind just kind of existed and I didn't have any formidable conversation with God. And I feel it too… my spirit's fuel tank is running on low. All I wanted to do when I came home was to sleep.

Bible Study:
Studying about the 'process of prayer'. It starts with a 'broken and contrite heart' (Psalms 51:17). God will only hear my prayers and will only be open to my conversation with Him if I am of the right mind. This is why confession is towards the front of any prayer. ACTS A-adoration, C-confession, T-thanksgiving, S-supplication. This is not a magic formula but it is vital to approach a perfect God.
Romans 12:2 'Do not conform any longer 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.' The 'renewing of my mind' involves prayer.

Billy Graham says "It is apparent that prayer, when prioritized in the Christian life, is the difference between thriving Christians and struggling Christians. If you find yourself struggling, take a close look at your prayer life. In doing so, you'll rediscover the key to growing stronger in your faith." Wow, yesterday was perfect example of a 'struggling Christian' kind of day… blah, no direction, and it affected every part of my day! Prayer should be as necessary to me as breathing and eating… an necessary and vital part of my life.

God, my Lord and my Savior, you reign supreme. Nothing occurs without your knowledge. It all becomes confusing to us when we see things happen because you have allowed mankind to have free will. We question 'why' when we see suffering yet you provided free will to allow us to love you. Forgive me, Lord when I let my free will just allow me to coast through the day without acknowledging you and asking you for direction and guidance. Forgive me for not just communing with you throughout the day. You want to guide me and yet I treat you like a road map left in the glove box. God, please forgive me. God, I come to you with a heart and mind that yearns to be led by you. Holy Spirit, please take my hand and guide me today.

God, I have been feeling overwhelmed this week. You gave us such a wonderful time of rest and reflection last weekend in North Carolina and Tuesday hit me like a brick wall and it has been that way all week. Each day drained me a little more and now it is now Friday and God, I am tired… out of fuel. I know that it is because I have not been pulling up to your 'fuel pump' to be refreshed and refilled via prayer. Forgive me, God.

So many things are on my mind regarding the farm and how to make things happen. The fencing for the hogs and the sheep fold, walling in the shelter to create a lambing shelter, a barn, a way to pay for it all. God, if it weighs me down, it is obviously because I am not giving these concerns to you. God, I am sorry and ask for forgiveness. Help me to learn to become a victorious Christian through prayer. Not for my glory but for yours.

Thank you, God for loving us so that you gave your one and only Son for us. Thank you… Amen.