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10.03.2017

Focus [Enough Study]

DEFINITION:


"
the center of interest or activity"


For the final topic of this study I decided "focus" was an important item in finding God as enough in our lives. When we aren't focused we tend to get distracted and don't become as efficient at the task at hand. As a graphic designer for a small agency, a lot of projects come in that often need to be tackled within a time-crunch. Being the only designer on the team leaves no time for any slacking or distractions. Design, like many things, requires time and focus. When too many notifications or emails keep flying in it tends to make me stressed and unproductive. It distracts me from my design "mode" and makes my head spin with the constant interruptions drawing me away from the project at hand. Sometimes I need to close out my email and everything bogging me down and just get into a focus mode.



Often times we need to do this spiritually as well. It's healthy to have time to focus on God and spend time with Him without the world's constant degrading interferences. This world can so easily entrap us into it's ways of thinking and we can find ourselves quickly falling into doubt, discouragement and longing after temporary desires that will leave us craving for more. Sometimes it's a constant battle to remain focused and steadfast in our perspective. This world constantly infiltrates into our lives day-in and day-out and it's difficult to remain fixated on God.

How many times I have caught myself going down an all too familiar road where my desires lead me astray and I wonder why I feel so discouraged and unsatisfied. Things that I thought would satisfy me left me feeling rejected, alone and forsaken. Things that I thought would bring me happiness quickly dissipated, leaving me with a broken heart. Things that I thought would fill the emptiness just don't seem to fill the void that I thought they once would.

When our focus is misaligned, our way of life is impacted. If we are constantly focused on what we don't have or what's not going right with our life we will be wallowing in discouragement and disappointment. We will always be searching for more, but never feel truly satisfied even if we attain what we've been seeking after. If our focus is solely seeking after earthly desires we will be investing our time into things that are temporal. We will be brought down by things that only bring glimpses of happiness, not long-lasting contentment.

Over the past few months I've been struggling with finding satisfaction in my circumstances. It's been a constant battle that I felt like I could never achieve. I felt as if I was in a rut and I would never overcome the lessons God was trying to teach me to find satisfaction solely in Him. I honestly am still struggling, and continually learning to grow, but I've learned that focus plays a big part in finding satisfaction in God. If we let our focus "control switch" get set to "me" instead of "God" we will be headed down a road toward destruction. Believe me, focusing on God sometimes seems much more challenging rather than trying to solve our issues on our own, but it will bring long-lasting reward in the end. It's so easy to get caught up in the now, but if we choose to do the hard thing and trust God with our deepest desires and struggles we will be rewarded. It's tempting to desire to have a happy and easy life, but without our struggles we wouldn't have opportunities to grow closer to God on a more intimate level. We wouldn't have the privilege to use our temporary lives here to store up treasure in heaven.


Romans 8:18


I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.


Spiritual focus involves a mindset concentrated on God. I have found that through prayer and spending time alone with God, without distractions, can lead to a more successful focus in my life. Setting time aside before I go to bed allows me to spend intimate time with God where there are no distractions and the rest of the world is asleep. It is a time where I can open up with God and pour my heart out to Him with the worries and stresses of the day and offer up thanks to Him for all He has done, although I'm sure I don't always thank Him enough. Focus involves spending time, not only in prayer, but also in the Bible. The Bible is God's words written just for us. He wrote them to help us in this life and allow us to gain a better understanding of His character. When we get to know God's character better, we can trust in Him more knowing He truly is working for our best and wouldn't allow any circumstances in our life to hurt or harm us. He is with us through it all and we're never meant to carry the weight of our burdens alone. He's right there with us working through it. 

While spending time in prayer and reading God's Word is essential to getting focused spiritually, it also involves a mindset that seeks to find an eternal perspective in our everyday circumstances. Satan is skilled at tempting us in this area. He knows the very areas we struggle in and uses them to tear us down. Recently I was basing my mood on what wasn't occurring in my life and dwelling in what God was holding back from me, instead of finding a different perspective to my circumstances. I was allowing Satan to infiltrate my mind with doubt instead of soaking up God's truth. I don't want Satan to win the battle of making me fall for his deceptions. I don't want to be pulled into his negativity and get so caught up in all that seems wrong with my life that I can't live out my life to the fullest extent that God has planned for me. I don't want to miss opportunities that God drops into my daily life by being so distracted and feeling discouraged with things I wish were different. Satan likes to place disturbances in our way to keep us from following after God and getting us caught up in the wrong mindset. He's great at that. It's a constant battle to control our thoughts and not become entrapped into negative thinking, but when we feel like we are getting pulled into Satan's deceptions we can pray and ask God to help us get a clear eternal perspective.

I'm sure we all have things that we wish were different with our lives. Things we wished we could change. Plans we desired would be fulfilled. Dreams we wished would come true. No life is perfect. Nobody's life goes exactly how they planned. I know at least mine hasn't. At times it is discouraging feeling like my life feels messed up while everyone else's life appears to be pretty and perfect. I feel like I'm always stuck in the same rut day after day. I feel like my life will never amount to anything worthwhile. I long for hope. I long for a joy that remains and doesn't quickly lead to an all-too familiar disappointment. I long to hold onto something that never changes. I long to find purpose for this small life of mine; and I believe it all starts with focus.

It begins with a focus of why we're here. What our purpose is. This is not our home. We're here temporarily and our struggles, trials and pain that we're enduring is temporary as well. It's how we react and how our faith is strengthened through those hard times that will determine our reward. Taking a step back and realizing the pain will one day cease, but what we've done for God, how we reacted during the darkest of days and our obedience to God will remain forever. We have an eternal hope that will never be diminished. We have a love that only God offers us, and it will never grow cold or dwindle over time. His love remains steadfast and remains even when we can't find the love to accept ourselves. He chose us before time began. He loves us despite our sin and shortcomings. If the God of the universe loves us that much and accepts us, we shouldn't be craving for scraps of love from others. We can find our satisfaction in Him knowing that He loves us, accepts us, created us exactly how we were meant to be and will always remain by our side. When we can find our satisfaction in Him and let the desires we cling onto so deeply be released into His control we will find a peace in knowing He's taking care of it. He's carrying the weight, not because He demands to be in control, but because He doesn't want us to hurt ourselves with the burdens we bear when we carry them on our own.

Focus is one of the most difficult things to conquer in a world that so easily entraps us into doubtful thinking. This world discourages any sign of hope. People here let us down. Things fail us and break. As Christians we have something that this world doesn't. We have a life outside of this world, and with that blessing, we have hope. Not a hope that can die, but live on forever in a perfect timeless home. We can have hope knowing that the deepest of heartaches will all be mended and rewarded on that glorious day. The time is coming and it awaits us. Nothing here can ever withhold God's immense love for us. No struggle is too great that He's not in control of. He sees it all and nothing we go through doesn't pass through His hands first.

The life we lead can sometimes seem quite small, but when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture we can remind ourselves that our great and all-powerful God is working through our lives. He has a plan that far exceeds our greatest desires. He has an extraordinary purpose for our lives that was intricately thought out, with detailed intentions and He will fulfill it when we are willing to place our trust to follow Him even when it doesn't make sense. I truly believe an eternal focus is where we can tap into finding that God truly is enough and we can let go of the binding shackles of worry, stress and discouragement that so easily entangle us. He's provided us with all we need, and if we have accepted Him as our Savior, He's promised us a future of hope and reward. Even if we don't experience it here on this earth, we will see it was all worth it in eternity one day!


I Peter 1: 6-7


In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

9.11.2017

Unavailable

Have you ever felt alone? Not just lonesome, but you were physically and emotionally alone. Empty. Forsaken and forgotten? There was nobody who was there for you. You felt like there was no one who could help solve the issues on your heart.

Have you ever felt this way with God? Like he was unavailable. Like you were getting that automated voicemail where your calls felt like they were being left and placed in an overflowing surplus of messages, either waiting to be opened or left to be deleted. Sometimes it feels like God is so far away and we missed the "Sorry we're closed" announcement.

Sometimes the moments of silence and waiting can feel like they drag on endlessly and we wonder "How long?" It feels like we can't take another moment of silence and we question God's purpose for the circumstances we are enduring.

Although at times I truly do question what God's up to and if He's really there, I have this promise that He always hears us. Sometimes the greatest faith is believing that God is working amidst the piercing silence that overtakes His quiet whisper that He has indeed never left us. I have grown to find that even when the silence lingers longer than ever, that there will be and end. I have hope that God is using this time of resounding quietness to draw me closer to Him. When others are unavailable it leads me to one Someone that I know I can always run to. Someone who always welcomes and accepts me. Someone who I can reveal myself with and not feel ashamed or misunderstood. God is always available. He's never "Gone for the weekend" or giving us the cold shoulder. He's always wanting our best and He's always attentive to our pleas for help. He's always working through our circumstances, no matter how big or small.

Others will let us down. They won't always be there for us. It's a fact of life, but God will never leave our side and He will pull us through in due time. It may not be easy. It might feel like the silence and the waiting is tearing us apart, but it's strengthening us when we look to God for help. We may not be able to do it on our own, but with God's continual help and perseverance we know we can get through it together.

9.06.2017

Free Devotional Magazine Giveaway



I wanted to do something special on my blog and give away one free copy of my newly released magazine study "Armored Against the Enemy." It is a 33 page, 7 day study, focusing on the armor of God and how we can use it to defeat the enemy. Each day focuses on one of the seven pieces of armor and includes application and Scriptural references for encouragement.

Giveaway Details:


Magazine Details:

– 5″ x 8″ saddle stitched binding
– 33 pages
– Glossy print in full color

View Regular Priced Item Details >>


Active Dates: 9/7/2017-9/18/2017

Click the button below to enter your name and email to win the magazine. I will select a name at random and will reach out to the winner directly notifying them that they have won the magazine and also to request their address for mailing purposes.

 

9.03.2017

Satisfaction [Enough Study]

DEFINITION:


"
the fulfillment of a desire"


As mentioned in the definition above satisfaction is finding fulfillment in something or someone. Often times we allow our satisfaction to be met in various things. Material possessions. People. Success. Thoughts. The list could go on. Satisfaction is something that can make us feel good, but it can quickly dissipate when we focus our attention in the wrong areas.




Although we may feel satisfied with our current circumstances, it doesn't mean that we are effectively finding true satisfaction. True satisfaction comes from God. It is when we can look at our circumstances, no matter how dark or unclear, and know that God is working. It is when we go through the worst of days and remember that our mistakes and failures don't define us. It is when it seems all the world rejects you but you can find peace in knowing you'll always be accepted by your Creator.

Sometimes the world gets such a hold of me and drags me down a road of doubt and deception. It causes me to harbor on negativity and all the things that are going wrong in my life. It is here that I need to stop and refocus. It's easy to get caught up in all the things I dislike about my life, but it's well worth the extra effort when I take the time to focus on all that God has blessed me with.

What I have found most helpful in finding satisfaction in God is remembering His character. He never will fail or forsake us. He will always provide just what we need in the perfect timing. He is working even when we can't see it. We're never forgotten or put on hold. He loves us no matter how bad we've messed up. We may be flawed, but God loves us and always accepts us in. We're never rejected or cast aside. We're never too messed up or too broken to be used by Him. Remembering these truths has helped me when this world couldn't satisfy the unmet desires on my heart. When I felt cast aside by the world, I was accepted by God. Knowing that the God of the universe remained by my side and welcomed me back even during the times when I failed and doubted allowed my satisfaction in Him to strengthen. When those closest to me failed to understand or listen I could rely on God and rest assured He would always care and listen no matter how long I rambled on.


JEREMIAH 29:11-13


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


I can't count the number of times I've allowed myself to be deceived into thinking that the things of this world will bring me satisfaction. I've often thought "If I had this, then I would be happy" or "When I reach this point in my life, then things will be perfect." I've quickly realized that no point in my life will ever be perfect by my means, but my life is always perfect when I'm following God's will. I've grown weary when things didn't go my way and didn't work in the timing I expected, but God's been teaching me that even through the waiting and unfulfilled desires, He is all I need. If I can't find satisfaction in Him, then why should He bless me with more? If I can't be thankful and content with what I have now, then I will be searching for contentment in things that won't satisfy my heart. I first have to find contentment with what I have and find my satisfaction in God so that I won't be basing my happiness in the wrong areas. The desires this world offers are fleeting, but when I take a step back and remember why we are here it helps put things into perspective. I'm not here to be happy or have a fun life. I'm here to be an example, live for God, grow in my relationship with Him and lead others to Him with the talents and opportunities God has given me.


Psalm 16:11


You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.


Satisfaction in God can be found when we can remain content that no matter what others think or say about us it will not change how God sees us. We have security and confidence that God will remain with us even when our circumstances and people's opinions of us change daily. Others may unexpectedly reject us but the Lord never changes. He will love you no matter what. I don't know too many things in this life that remain the same over time, but knowing I'm accepted, loved, cherished, valuable and wanted by God gives me reassurance that no matter how others treat me or what lies ahead God will be there.

I thought the song "Satisfied" by Jordan Feliz went along well with the topic of satisfaction. I hope you enjoy it. Click here to take a listen.

8.12.2017

Submission [Enough Study]

DEFINITION:


"The action of yielding to a superior force or accepting the will of another person."


Submission is a humbling experience in which we let go of our pride, selfishness and our control over our circumstances. It's difficult to place our precious plans, needs, wants and desires into the hands of someone else. It's hard letting go and remaining calm when the struggles we're experiencing are in the hands of a God we can't hear or see. It truly does distinguish how strong our faith is when we can submit our life to God on the hardest of days.




I have so many plans I wish would occur in my life. Things I want to accomplish. The person I hope to become. Ways I want to grow and strengthen. People I want to inspire. Changes I wish I could make in the world. Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. The dreams and desires we have for our lives don't always occur. We have plans, but God has better ones. Sometimes I grow discouraged with where my life is at and I wish my life had more meaning. I look at the tiny life I lead and wish I could be doing greater and better things. I've come to realize that I often overlook the small things. God is using even the smallest of details to be used as something great. He's molding and shaping our hearts right now for what is to come. Whether it be later in this life on earth, or for our eternal home.

Submission might feel like you're giving up the dreams you have and giving them over to God to take control of. It might feel like you're missing out or being let down of what you desire. God never lets us down. It's impossible for Him to fail us. You're never missing out when God's in control of your life. He's brought special circumstances into your life for a reason. They may sometimes feel like burdens, but they are opportunities. Use what you have, no matter how small, and take advantage of what God's given you. It may not be what you wanted, or expected, but He's placing it in your lap for a reason.

Submission gets hard when we have to give up the life we had planned out. Submission is emptying ourselves of our wants and desires and letting them go so God can work through them. Submission is not knowing what God's plans are, but trusting He knows what's best. Submission is respecting God enough to know that He is for you and is using whatever happens for a perfect purpose. Submission is letting the worries and wants of your heart to be set free and no longer letting them only be your burden to bear.


Isaiah 55:8-9


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


In our afflictions we are either submitting to our circumstances or we're submitting to God. We can't submit to both. For me it's usually a constant battle between the two. One minute I'm submitting to God and the next I feel myself quickly putting up a wall of resistance to take control. When we're submitting to our circumstances we are letting Satan win. We are letting our doubts and desires overtake God's truth. We are questioning God's goodness and wisdom. Submitting to God displays that we have faith that God will work through our situations, and no matter what the outcome, it is for a perfect purpose that we may not understand. Submitting to God is giving Him the steering wheel and taking the back seat.


Remember what is true of God. He promises to provide exactly what we need. He doesn't promise a happy life. He didn't promise that we'd have a clear direction and that He would provide direct answers to all our prayers. Instead, we try to take control of our lives and work things out on our own. We act like God isn't enough for us. Don't live in such a way that if something is taken from your life it would cause you to question God's goodness and hinder your drive to continue on. Don't let the very things God has blessed you with become more prominent than Him and overtake the special place He has for them in your life. Everything in our life may not feel like it's working out, but it doesn't have to work out yet because this is not the end. A perfect life isn't the key to our purpose here. An easy life isn't the goal. It's using our life to fulfill God's purpose, love others and glorify Him.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


We don't have to protect our life from everything. We'll never have a life untouched by pain or heartache. Choose to build things with your life for a greater purpose. Even if it costs you in this life, you have a greater future when you submit them over to God. Submission to God is telling Him that He has you no matter what happens. You'll keep trusting even when it doesn't make sense. You believe in His goodness even when all the signs are screaming at you to doubt and question His presence. Although submission often brings more suffering than we intended, our worst day with God on our side is more fulfilling than even the greatest satisfaction or success that we could ever experience here on this earth.

7.29.2017

Enough Study | Developing Patience

Have you ever felt like every day was a struggle. You've grown weary in performing the day to day tasks and you wish there was more to you everyday life? Do you find it difficult to keep an eternal perspective when the world and all it's pleasures, expectations and stresses are thrown at you daily? Have you placed other desires in place of God and relied on them for your happiness? Do you allow your worth to be determined by something you will lose?



While I'm constantly learning and growing, over the past few months God has been working on my heart to find satisfaction in Him when my life is in disarray. Life gets hard and things don't go as we planned. It's hard to rely on God when we can't see what lies ahead. It's hard to trust Him when we can't see what He's doing. In this study I hope to share what I've been struggling through over the past months and also what I'm continually learning day by day. In this study I hope to share ways in which you can look at your life full of stress, worries, unknown futures and unmet desires and find peace and contentment knowing that God is enough. Below I'll share the first part of the study - developing patience.

 

Developing Patience

 

 
DEFINITION:

"The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without complaining"

IN HEBREW:

The word patience in the Hebrew is “qavah” which means “to wait for, to look for, to hope, or to expect.”

 
IN GREEK:

In the Greek, it is used most often as “hypomenō” which means “to remain, to abide, to persevere, endure, or to bear bravely and calmly.”


In today's society we have found the word "patience" becoming almost nonexistent. We want instant and immediate. With technology we have easy access to things on our time schedule and we don't have to wait for an answer. Patience has become a hard characteristic to find with today's society. When we have to wait in traffic for more than a few minutes we get agitated and angry. When the cashier takes longer than expected we complain. When the internet doesn't work we become easily annoyed. While patience is one of those characteristics I easily write off as unattainable, I quickly forget that it is a fruit of the Spirit that we as Christians should be continually seeking and growing in.

I've always been one to struggle with remaining patient during the long silent lulls in my life. It always seems like God grows more quiet than ever during these times. When I need Him most is when I feel like He's giving me the cold shoulder. I begin to question His goodness. It is during these times that I question how His plans for my life can be of any worth. I wonder "How long?" I begin to wonder if the things I've been praying for and desperately seeking Him about will ever be fulfilled.

Looking at my life in comparison to other's lives has often left me feeling discouraged with God's reasoning for where my life had ended up. I questioned why others so easily attained the very things I was desiring and seeking God about and I was left with an empty heart. I had faith that God could perform and provide the things my heart desired, but He was working at a colossal pace. Why did God provide and bless others with the things I've been waiting and trusting Him with for years? I began to question God's justice and how this was meant for good. I continually still struggle with finding a better perspective in this area.

Through the waiting and silent times of my life God has often felt farther than ever. The silence brought me to a place of feeling crushed and forgotten. I just wanted to feel Him near, but sometimes He didn't make His presence known. Maybe because He knew that I already knew He had never left my side and He didn't need to prove Himself because He promised to always be there.


Lamentations 3:25-26


The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.


I have grown to realize that the quiet times of my life that God felt farther than ever - the times when my heart yearned for an answer to my prayers, were the times that gave me a deeper reliance on God than ever before. When the nagging desires of my heart weren't being fulfilled or they felt like they were growing stronger than my need for God, those were the times I needed to seek Him for strength. Although it wasn't easy to overcome, I found God giving me strength to get through everyday. He provided a way when it didn't seem possible. Even though it wasn't the way I wanted it.

Patience is embracing your circumstances and accepting them without questioning or complaining. Patience is looking at your circumstances and finding hope knowing that God is working. Patience is when you've done all you can do, and just being still. You don't have to have the control or worry. You don't have to carry the weight of the pressure. You don't have to have it all planned out. You can just be still. Be still and let God work. For me, being still is often the hardest thing for me to overcome. If something is wrong or not how I want it I try to do everything within my power to fix it. I struggle with just sitting by and waiting for things to work out in God's timing. I want to rush and get it worked out. God has a different perspective though. He tells us to "Be still and know that I am God." I sketched this verse on my chalkboard to help as a reminder, but I really began to take a deeper look at it's meaning recently. I've heard the verse many times before, but upon reading it I've come to better understand it's meaning.

Although it seems like common sense, I was able to find a deeper meaning to the verse that helped me through the impatient times in my life. When I've done all I know to do and I feel like I want to fix my problems, I can just be still. I don't have to worry. I don't have to continually think through my problems. I don't have to harbor on it. I don't have to question or doubt. I don't have to run it through my mind a million times. I can rest because I know who God is. God promises to never fail or forsake us. He promises to provide exactly what we need. He promises to protect us. He is in control of all things. He is busy at work even when all we hear is silence. He is the Creator of all things. So we don't have to become anxious or take things into our own hands because we can remember how great our God is. He's got this. So you don't have to carry the burden. You can just be still and rest knowing He's in control.


Psalm 37:7


Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
 

Although God promises us that He will always be with us and He will never fail us, He doesn't say that He will answer our prayers immediately and with a fast turnaround time. When we are taught to wait for an answer it teaches us endurance and perseverance. If things came easily we wouldn't have the opportunity to be strengthened in our character and relationship with God. We wouldn't be learning dependence on God for our heart's deepest desires.

How many times have I grown weary with God and wondered what He was doing. I questioned why He wasn't changing my circumstances and how much longer I had to wait. Instead I failed to realize what I could be learning and gaining from what I was experiencing right then. What is God trying to teach you right now that maybe you've been failing to realize when you're so caught up in what you wish you had? Often times our circumstances don't need to change. We do. Our hearts need to be broken in order for us to change our perspective.