Irrevocable

Running girl            Have you ever questioned God’s call on your life?

            Maybe you felt a tug to teach Sunday school, help out with the youth or sing in the choir. Before you ever got involved, you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the Lord asked you to do it. But lately, because of some bumps in the road, you’re not so sure anymore, and you’re running in the opposite direction.

            I’m guilty of wearing my running shoes, what about you?

            In 2005, I felt a strong calling from God to minister to women. An unusual directive in light of the fact I’d always worked in a man’s world, first as a television sportscaster, then later in a job at an airport.  That’s one of the reasons I knew this pull to women’s ministry was from the Lord. He infused me with a love for women and I wanted to help them in any way I could.

            So for about eight years, first leading the ladies at the church, then through the Pearls of Promise ministry outside the church, I had a desire to teach women how to overcome the dysfunction in their past or current lives. I had grown up in a difficult childhood and it was my heart to share how the love and strength of Christ helped me to overcome and how it can provide women freedom from the past.

            But after a busy and fruitful ministry season in 2013, there was a personnel shakeup in Pearls of Promise. After that, things slowed down to a halt and several friends told me not to worry; God wanted me to rest to prepare me for what was ahead. I wondered if that was really it.

            I questioned my call. How could this happen? Did God change his mind? Did he remove his blessing?

            Then my husband lost his job, so I began to believe I needed to go back to work in the marketplace and put the ministry aside. The key phrase here is I began to believe. This is not what the Lord intended.

            So I ran after full-time work and God began to show me I was running in the wrong direction.  After a command to stop and spend time at his feet in his Word, one of the first verses that popped off the page was Romans 11:29: “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

            The Webster Dictionary definition for irrevocable is: “not possible to revoke.” The definition of “revoke” is to” to officially cancel the power or effect of.”

            So putting it together, It is impossible to cancel the power or effect of God’s call.

            Early in the morning, snuggled in my blanket, my father was lovingly telling me my call to minister to women had not changed. The call I received in 2005 was the same in 2014. Running away to a full-time job was not the answer. Running back to the loving arms of God was. The call to reach women through the Pearls of Promise ministry was impossible to cancel and God made that clear to me. I needed to trust him with our finances and that he’d provide for the ministry. 

            Praise the Lord for his clear direction and the power of his call.

            Are you discouraged about where you are serving? Are you running the opposite direction of God’s call on your life because it’s gotten too tough and sometimes unfair?

            Remember, his calling on your life is irrevocable. If you are musician, there’s a reason you hear the voice of God through the notes you play.  If you love to sing, it’s not a fluke that worship music sends chills down your spine when you participate in song. If you teach, then watching someone understand a new concept probably thrills you. It’s in your DNA, designed by God.

            The difficulties you are facing may be God’s way of forcing you to re-center. The Lord may want to teach you a new, improved way to facilitate the call he’s placed on your life. That’s what has happened to me and I’m so happy I didn’t make a terrible mistake by giving up on the dream of reaching women for Christ.

            So don’t run away from the God’s call on your life. The Lord may package it in different ways throughout your years but no matter what, it’s what your father in heaven wants you to do. 

            Don’t get discouraged.

            Just like your call, the love of God is also irrevocable and many times through his loving guidance, the Lord will put you back on track when you’re headed the wrong way.

            It’s time to put the running shoes away.

Closed Doors

 Closed door 2            Have you ever prayed for God’s clear direction and asked Him to close the doors if you weren’t supposed to walk through them?

            I am searching for a job for the first time in over ten years and asked the Lord to only open the door to the position I am supposed to take and close all others.

            What I realized is you have to be ready for the consequences of that prayer. It stings when the door slams, uh… I mean… gently closes in your face. It’s humbling when God says no.

            I sometimes get down when there’s no response to a resume or rejection comes.

            Is that how you react when God closes a door in your life?

            My husband responds to my long face with a reminder, “Didn’t you pray for God to close the doors if it’s not what He wants for you?”

            I find myself with a case of “yeah buts” when he says that.  “Yeah, but I thought working at the race track would be really cool.” “Yeah, but I am so qualified for that job.” “Yeah, but they don’t know what I can do!”

            I prayed the same door closing prayer when my son, Kyle, began his job search.  We prayed for God’s clear direction and that Kyle would get a job where the Lord wanted him to work.  He had lots of interest from impressive companies but only received one job offer.  That’s crystal clear.

            When we ask God to close doors, we must trust Him and believe He shuts the doors for a reason and that 

            He has a better plan

            He has a better place or

            He has a different person for you.

            We can’t take the rejection personally because God is in control. Instead, we should praise the Lord for closing the doors. He’s only doing what we asked.

            Proverbs 3:5-6 is a staple passage we should all store in our mind pantry. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

            I want God to be in control of my life, don’t you? It’s not just about a job. I don’t want to walk through any door He has not opened. Only He knows what is best for us and what’s on the other side of that door. When we don’t pray for God to go before us, we enter at our own risk.

Kitty Jump by Tina Hunt

Tina hunt photoOur devotion today was provided by guest blogger, Tina Hunt, one of our Pearls of Promise devotional contributors.  Tina is a writer and speaker from Ohio. She is also a theologian with a Masters of Divinity. To find out more about Tina, you can go to her website at: about.me/tina_hunt.  You can also follow her on Twitter @tinamhunt.

cat jumpingThis morning a cat was sleeping at the base of one our maple trees in the front yard. She was snuggled into the roots with her back to the wind. I watched out my kitchen window while I washed some dishes. She occasionally looked up into the tree, clearly keeping an eye on something hidden up in the limbs.

As I watched, she stood, cautiously circled the tree, and then headed for our front porch. I walked from the kitchen to the living room picture window to see what she was up to. I peeked around the curtain and we were face to face. She froze. So did I. Then I began asking her what she was up to.

She quickly tired of my questions and headed back to the tree. I went back to the kitchen to watch. She looked up into the tree. Then she put her paws up the trunk and gave a big kitty stretch. Then she jumped, landing half-way up the trunk to the first crotch. I thought she might give up at that point—it was still quite a distance to the first limb. But no, she worked and pulled, pulled and climbed until she was not only to the lowest limb but moving on up higher.

I waited to see what would happen next. She was only up in the tree for a few minutes before she decided she needed to come down. She quickly moved to the lower limb, but stopped to contemplate her next move. It was too great a distance to jump. I wondered if I needed to offer assistance, but decided to watch the feral cat instead.

The brave climber made her first move, inching down the tree front paws first. This quickly proved to be the wrong choice as the weight behind her overpowered her frontward climb. Her backend swung around and she looked like she might fall. To my surprise, what looked like a disaster in the making turned into what seemed like a strategic movement. Her back legs completed the swing while her front paws released from the tree and in a blink she was hanging to the tree and descending the same way she had climbed it.

It was a move that would have rivaled a gymnast’s release on the uneven bars. I was in awe. I stood at my window and applauded as the kitty ran out of my yard.

Now if you are a return reader, you have already begun to wonder what spiritual implications I might draw from a cat in a tree. Have you seen any yet? What Bible reference pushed its way to the forefront of your mind?

Are you thinking about the persistence of the widow and the judge? Did your thoughts flow to doing what comes naturally? Or was it more about finishing strong?

Those are all good, but the thought that niggled its way into my heart was the oft repeated “don’t fear” that weaves its way through both the Old and New Testaments, and finds prominence several times in the Christmas story.

I was so sure if Kitty saw me as I peeked around the curtain she would skitter away instantly. But it didn’t happen. There was no fear in her eyes at all as I gazed into them. Then to watch her determined effort to both get up into and down from the tree, left a deep-seated impression on my heart.

I am facing the daunting task of finding a new job. Without going into the entire list of things that makes this so difficult and discouraging, just trust me when I say  if I were the cat and job hunting was jumping into the tree, I would be much more tempted to just walk away.

But I’m not wired that way. Walking away isn’t in my nature. So I’m looking at the tree like the cat. It’s a leap for sure, not without risk, but well worth the effort.

Nothing in scripture tells me to leap into the tree. But all of scripture resounds with “do not be afraid.” So here we go…one, two…..threeeeeeeee!

Crossroads

 

crossroadWhether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

            Have you ever been at a crossroad in your life, not knowing which way to turn?  Oftentimes God allows us to go there because he wants us in a place of total reliance on Him. Should I take this job? Should I continue in this ministry? Should I attend this school or that? There are many intersections we face over the years that can affect us long-term. The path can often seem unclear.  It reminds me of the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz trying to give Dorothy directions to Oz.  Do you remember that dialogue?

Dorothy: Now which way do we go? 

Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.

Who said that? [Toto barks at scarecrow]

Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.

[points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.

That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?

[points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.

            Yes, sometimes we feel like the scarecrow.  It’s confusing!  But confusion is not of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.  I’m a firm believer that God gives us clear direction if we ask Him and lay our potential decisions at His altar. I am currently finishing up a book, applying for jobs and desiring to continue in ministry if that is the Lord’s will. I am confident the Lord will whisper in my ear, This is the way; walk in it.  However, I also believe I have to do the work so that God has some options to choose from for my life.  

            The Apostle Paul knows firsthand about God’s holy direction at crossroads. Paul had a plan for his journeys but at one point, he was warned not to preach the word in the province of Asia. Instead he was given a vision to go help the people in Macedonia.  He was at a crossroad and the Lord whispered which direction to go in his ear and he changed his direction.  Paul had some experience in being detoured by God!

            If you are at a crossroad right now, just remember the word “cross” in crossroad.  Take your decision to the cross.  Know that the Lord is with you and if you ask Him, he will guide you to your destination. This is the way, walk in it.

 

Trusting God to Be Your Guide by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

            pathI know O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

            Our retreat theme this past weekend was “It’s a Jungle Out There: Trusting God to Be Your Guide” and we quickly began to live out the theme. The week of the event we lost a speaker, our Christian humorist fell ill and our Prayer Coordinator and small group discussion leader came down with a nasty respiratory infection and could not participate in the retreat. It changed up the retreat timing and we had to find replacement leaders. As we scurried to make adjustments, all we could do was trust that God was guiding the retreat in the direction He desired it to go.

            I love a plan and an agenda but acting as the retreat MC, at one point, I almost told the participants to just tear up their agenda because God had replaced it with a different plan. He loves to do that to me and is teaching me that I am definitely NOT in control. At the Jungle Retreat, God made His way to the front of the line to direct our steps.

            As it turned out, The Lord knew what was needed at this retreat.  While those we lost were all missed, it was about loosening up the schedule for more discussion and bonding time. The extra minutes also translated into additional prayer time and windows for reflection on all the messages presented during our 24 hour refuge. I am thankful our grip on the retreat schedule was not so tight that we couldn’t let go. By releasing the agenda to Him, God was able to heal and work in the lives of many women. Praise God!

            What about you? Do you have a difficult time changing directions from your own personal plan for your life? Or do you give your plans over to God for editing? Isaiah 58:11 says, The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

            We have to trust that God’s plan for our lives is a whole lot better than anything we could ever dream up. I don’t want my life to look like a dried up piece of land because I insisted on my way.  I want my life to be watered by God and be that beautiful, lush green garden bearing fruit that will last.

            My life belongs to The Lord and He is my guide.  Will I keep writing out plans and agendas?  Yes, but never in permanent ink.

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