As I mentioned in this post here God is so good to me. But sometimes I don’t want it and oftentimes it is hard.
I have been attending Emmanuel Chapel here in South Fork which has been an incredible blessing to me. I have learned and been challenged and encouraged more in 1 month than I did in 3 years at our church in Arizona. Pastor Dave here at Emmanuel is an incredibly gifted speaker.
This past Sunday he continued his sunday school class on “crying out”. He has been teaching the importance and necessity of crying out to God during our times of need. He began talking about Peter walking on the water and that the moment he saw the boisterous wind and was overcome by fear and TOOK HIS EYES OFF JESUS he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-32). Pastor Dave gently reminded us that whenever God has spoken something to our heart and commanded us to do something, He will not leave us high and dry and allow us to sink, but He will GIVE US THE GRACE TO DO IT. Paul pleaded with God 3 times to take away his affliction and Jesus kindly replied:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have been begging God to change our circumstances. I want Adam to work a job that allows him to spend time home with us and allows us to live in a stable home and not always be on the go. And there are some personal areas in my life and our marriage that I have been begging God to change. There are 2 reasons why what I have pictured to be good answers to my prayers have not been occurring.
One reason is as Pastor Dave has been teaching recently… God has me in this trial period to refine me. Using the analogy of gold being refined by fire… the intensity of the heat and the length of the time the gold has to be in the fire all depends on how much dross is in that piece of gold (1 Peter 1:6-7). God is refining me. He loves me so much He does not want me to remain in this state but He wants me to grow with Him. Just as a vinedresser prunes the vines (John 15:1-2) and gold is refined by fire so the dross is removed, God is working in my circumstances to remove years of habitual sin and sinful patterns in my life so I may be refined and more greatly reflect His image. This is His plan and His purpose for these circumstances.
The second reason that I believe to be true in my particular situation is summed up in this verse:
“If Ihold iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Psalm 66:18
Sin in our lives can affect our prayers. When we are willingly sinning and refuse to repent and then attempt to come before the most holy God in prayer, He is very specific that He will not hear us. He requires greater of us. He requires holiness. And with His requirements come a promise that He will help us get there:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I sin every single day. In fact I have been in such a pattern on a daily basis that I can chart it out in a cause and effect chart map : ) My sin consists of selfishness, anger, impatience, bitterness, unforgiveness and discontentment. I know when it is occurring and out of disobedience (another sin I can add to the list) I make the choice to willingly walk in my sin instead of asking God for His grace and strength to “change my attitude” (which I ask Amelia to do at least 20 times every day)… God asks me to do the same.
It is time to make a change. It is time to start living in the freedom God provided for me at calvary (Romans 6:22). It is time to start depending on His strength and grace and forgiveness instead of working with the Devil towards destruction. Some practical ideas I am going to start implementing is praying in the morning during my quiet time specifically for God to strengthen the voice of His Spirit inside me to know when these sin issues begin creeping up and to have wisdom and strength to turn immediately to Him in prayer to walk righteously past the sin. I obviously cannot battle this on my own… that has been clear in the last weeks and months that I have failed on a daily basis. And this is why I love our God. Our God is so amazing because He is so personal. He is not some distant deity that requires perfection and lashes out in anger when we are far from it. He wants to walk alongside me and HELP ME get to the place of righteousness that He wants me to be. He will never “leave me or forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:6) and He is “faithful and just to forgive me of my sins” (1 John 1:9). I love our God.
This is something God has spoken to my heart and I pray that I will not take my eyes off Him and look to the boisterous wind but rather that I would fix my eyes on Him and trust Him to provide through His grace that is sufficient for me.