Faith as Fuel

Faith as Fuel

Let’s say you are working in a job that you can’t stand, or have duties/responsibilities that feel more like drudgery than blessing. Some of us have sick elderly parents to tend, or needy friends who constantly take and never give. You don’t feel that the paycheck of your 9-5 job is worth the stress you take home at the end of every shift. What do you do? To which thing or person do you go? What do you tell yourself? For me, it’s Netflix.

First, we should call it what it is. Ok so it’s not turning to the bottle or the needle. I’m not a traditional addict, but instead have chosen a much more “acceptable” way of dealing. I binge watch TV shows. It just wastes time and takes me into another world where problems are solved in 30 minutes. It’s not that bad right? Except that it is just another way of numbing the pain of an underwhelmed soul. There’s no public shame associated with distracting yourself from something you wish would change. Therefore it remains an untouched subject in my heart.

Second, remember that God blesses us in unexpected ways, places, and opportunities. Like I mentioned in my last post, I was enormously depressed because my first job out of college was “beneath my dignity” as a new graduate. Even so, I received many comforts and assurances from God that summer, through my coworkers and managers. (Not to mention a paycheck that got the job done) Then a few months later my favorite aunt invited me to live with her in Maui and work for her company. A job. In Hawaii. With a boss who is invested in my wellbeing. And all the people said AMEN.

What if I had gone straight into a brand new job after college and missed this opportunity? To be sure there are plenty of what-ifs, but this is a big one for me. God’s will for me in this season was the protection and love of family at this time. What might be just around the bend for you?

Third, consult the Lord. He has a plan and a future for you. Can I say it again? He’s on your side. If there’s a chance to make a change, jump for it. Some seasons are inescapable though, no matter how much you pray and try to change it. When we are hurting in this way the last thing we want to hear is an ignorant but well meant “It’s a blessing in disguise”. Let’s skip over those clichés and go straight to the truth.

  1. Pray for strengthened faith

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’” (James 2:17-18 NLT)

We believe in God’s sovereignty and that his purposes get worked out in his time and specific ways. So consider this trial an opportunity to tending our garden in a special way. (James 1:2-4) When we keep working in the face of trials, our faith is proven and strengthened. Faith is the trust that God will do what he promised. Use your faith as fuel to keep on going and god will direct your path.

  1. Pray for patience

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Read this verse over a few times. Do you notice anything interesting? It says that the Lord is patient toward you, not the other way around. He’s not up on his heavenly throne chatting with the Seraphim going, “Yeah, Molly is really getting impatient with this new plan I’m working on for her. I better finish up quickly so she can get on with it!” Ha! On the contrary, who am I to believe my plans and timing as better than the Lord’s? Let’s not forget either – our ultimate purpose is to love God and love each other. THAT is the calling with multiple expressions. So in this season, if I am stuck with no way out, I can still fulfill my purpose while I wait for something better.

Now all that truth sounds really good and all, but let’s be honest. It’s easier said than done. Just because I believe in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean I like it all the time. The hard part for me is sucking it up and accepting the fact that I am not the master of my own life. Galatians 2:20 says “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. This is something that each person who follows Jesus must work on accepting but thankfully we don’t have to do it alone.

What do you think? Journal your thoughts as the spirit leads on the verses mentioned above:

  • James 1:2-4
  • James 2:17-18
  • 2 Peter 3:9
  • Galatians 2:20

Thanks for reading this month’s series on Work and Purpose, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to share how the Spirit moved you on the Tea & Testimony facebook page . As a thank you I have created free printables. Print and hang these words of truth where you will see them the most.

The Flawed Theology of Meaningful Work

The Flawed Theology of Meaningful Work

We all naturally want to do work that is meaningful. But what if your work isn’t? Some people have amazing jobs where it seems that the thing that they do for money is also the thing that makes their soul sing. That is awesome and enviable…and sadly not the reality for 99% of the world. If you’re like me, your job leaves you more stressed than satisfied at the end of the week, and you find yourself wishing it could be different. You have an overwhelming sense of dread that you will never be able to find what you are “meant” to do, and face the possibility of dying having only worked for something you don’t care about.

However it would be a mistake to equate your soul’s purpose with personal fulfillment you get from your job. Many people don’t take the time to reflect on what they functionally believe versus what they say they believe. As long as I am living I am liable to take God’s words and twist them into something incorrect. I discovered that I created my own god when I began to operate under the assumption that all my experiences and talents were only created for one job. I was getting depressed because I thought that if miss that one calling I am much wasted as a person. After graduating from college with my B.A. there were no jobs to be found in Santa Barbara. I was forced to take the only thing I could: a receptionist position at a company that fixed copy machines. This was deeply disturbing to me. “Is this why I just went $80,000 into debt?” I thought, “My time is so much more valuable than this.”

Pausing right here, I see a few things in my past self. First, the enormous sense of entitlement and pride of which I need to repent, but also the fact that I’m focusing on that mirage of “the perfect job” rather than seeing God’s purpose for me right then and there. My manager was a devout Christian and ran his office like one. He was always inviting me to his church and praising the Lord right there in the office. (Which I’m sure was more than a little uncomfortable to all who worked there.) I had some really deep conversations about God with my cubicle mate, and of course there was the fact that I had found a job at all in that climate. God was providing for me in droves but I would go home pouting because I thought there was only one dream job available to me and I had failed in procuring it.

When your functional belief is not the same as your actual beliefs, you end up with flawed theology on your hands. Flawed theology is dangerous because we base our thoughts motivations and actions on our personal theologies. If your theology is incorrect you are putting words in God’s mouth. And that has never ended well, just ask Satan!

Watch “One calling Multiple expressions” by Annie Downs. Aside from being one of my very favorite authors, she talks about how our vocations are expressed in so many unique ways throughout our lives. She says “You are not too old to find your calling, and you are not too young that you have not already experienced multiple expressions of it”. I have watched this particular talk probably more than 5 times since I discovered it a few years ago, and trust me friends, when I say it is full of gems. I can’t recommend that you take a few minutes to watch it yourself. And so we find that a shift in perspective is needed.

What do you think? Take some time to journal as the Spirit leads and hear how God is directing your thoughts on this topic

Work & Purpose

Work & Purpose

If you’re like me, your job feels oppressive and pointless – like a necessary evil to get to payday. I think back to my childhood days when that’s how it felt anytime my parents asked me to do something. “Chores are torture!” I would tell my dad. It must have made him think, “Girl, just you wait and see!” I spend 40+ hours per week moping at my desk and working half-heartedly because I don’t care about the work I’m doing.

We live in an individualistic society where we are focusing ourselves more than ever before. Everything is supposed to fulfill you, make you happy, feel good, or else we naturally want to avoid it. In his book Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller talks about this social “disease” of individualism which has caused our sense of community to die in popular culture. Today it’s easier than ever to not have to leave the house and go outside. People don’t rely on each other. Next door neighbors have never even met. It’s common to hear someone say in a jokey way, “I wanted to go out, but didn’t want to put on pants”. It’s funny on the surface, but deeply disturbing when we realize that these “harmless” ways of life are only symptoms of underlying sin. Put simply, when we only want to do what feels good to us and avoid work and responsibilities we are walking by our natural reasoning which the Bible says leads to death.

In contrast, we walk by the Spirit when we consider God’s will and purpose for ourselves to be better. Did you know that God assigned Adam his work before the fall, not after? I was surprised to find that in God’s eyes work is not a punishment, but a special privilege. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15 NLT). God had just finished creating the whole world from nothing. The Garden of Eden was beautiful but not complete until he gave it into Adam’s care and protection.

We have our own little gardens of Eden to tend and fortunately for me, gardening know-how is not required! It’s our choice whether we water and prune wisdom and fruit of the spirit. When we choose to operate outside of God’s will and purpose for ourselves, we suffer the consequences. Our wisdom withers away and the fruit of the spirit rots on the vine when we do not watch and carefully tend our little plots. But when we work hard at growing our characters within God’s will, we see results. Assurance, blessing, and hope in Jesus are only a few examples of the abundance of God’s garden. These are eternal things which never perish. Jesus tells us that we must labor for the “food” which endures, which can only come from him (John 6:27 ESV). How will we grow our virtues if we only spend time concerned about perishable things?

What do you think? Don’t take my word for it -Spend some time in the word and journal as the Spirit leads on these verses in their specific context:

  • Genesis 2:15
  • John 6:27

 

 

Renew me, Lord [Printable Devotion Calendar]

Renew me, Lord [Printable Devotion Calendar]

Jesus said:

“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

It sometimes takes me a little too long to realize that I am living life from a place of spiritual dryness. By the time it occurs to me that I’ve gone too many days without prayer I’m usually a tangle of nerves and stress.

Thankfully, we aren’t meant to live like that. My favorite thing about the new year is that it is a wonderful fresh start. This January I want to remember the refreshment and revival the Lord brings to us. That’s why I created a simple printable calendar for January 2016. Each day has a short verse that I think cover all the different aspects of the renewal that Jesus offers.

Please feel free to download and share. I’m personally going to hang a copy above my computer as a constant reminder that with Him, there is never any excuse to remain dry.

Download Devotional Calendar

2

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;[a] it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[b] to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am theLord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,[c] and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,“Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV

Reading the Bible: 5 Tips for Beginners

Reading the Bible: 5 Tips for Beginners

We all know the importance of scripture and how reading it should be a habit in our lives. Maybe you’ve tried several times and given up because you plain didn’t know where to begin! Even for seasoned bible readers sometimes draw a blank on where to go. Opening the Bible can be overwhelming if we don’t have a plan or know what we’re looking for. Here are 5 different strategies that helped me overcome the intimidation

  1. P R A Y. I can’t stress that enough. Remember that daily Bible reading is great – it’s highly recommended. But don’t lose sight of the fact that the purpose of bible reading is relationship with God. Only through prayer can you truly cultivate and maintain a connection with Him. Reading his Word is an important supplement to the relationship, but we don’t read just for the sake of checking a box off a list (that would actually turn this endeavor into something sinful because we would be essentially trying to “work” for our salvation. I’ll write more on that soon!)
  2. Find a good reading plan: There are seriously thousands, (dare I say millions) of reading plans out there: Here, here, here, here, here, and here – to name a few! They focus on topics like forgiveness or relationships, or on whole portions of the Bible like New Testament, or Psalms. Choose a plan that sounds applicable to your life at the moment.  Most good study Bibles will already have a suggested reading plan in the index. For daily use, I have the One Year Bible by Tyndale [1]. If a mobile app is more your style, download YouVersion. You can highlight passages, make notes, find your friends, and create inspirational images out of verses like the one above.
  3. Pick a book, any book! 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. This means any portion of the Word, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, will be beneficial to your walk with God. I have this annoying natural mindset of “all or nothing” which causes me to feel incomplete or unproductive if I do not read every single word from cover to cover. I have to constantly remind myself that through Jesus, God has already given us every tool we need to grow in Him and be holy. You may feel a push to read one certain book that looks interesting. Go for it! He’s not going to revoke my blessing just because I’m struggling to read through the book of Numbers. Which brings me to…
  4. Don’t worry if you can’t get into it right now. This took me a long time to come to terms with. So I’m elbows-deep into Leviticus and getting more confused by the minute. I’m not used to the context, making it hard to relate and even worse, I’m getting bored. Not everything must make sense to you immediately. The holy spirit is the one who gives you understanding and knowledge, a little at a time, and exactly the right amount for you. If you feel like you’re getting nowhere in one particular part, take a break and focus on another part of the Bible.
  5. Engage with it. Your Bible is not a library book so don’t be afraid to mark it up. Every time I read a passage that resounds in my heart, I underline it in pencil. The really big verses I want to remember get highlighted. You can get all kinds of fancy bible markers but any regular colored pencils or ball point pens will do (just don’t push too hard!) I personally love journaling. When I read something I want to remember, I will copy it out in my journal, line for line. I think about what it says about God, myself, the world, and how I can practically apply what I’m learning.

Daily bible reading should be as normal a habit as breathing air or eating bread, and I’m totally guilty of skipping it all too often. It’s not intended to be used sparingly like cake *nonchalantly wipes icing from mouth* Listen to what God says about the need for consistent study of the scripture:

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8.

I hope this helps! If you’re still unsure how to get started, feel free to drop me a line, or if you know an older Christian in your life, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. That’s what the Body of Christ is all about.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Until next time, Molly

TAB 1


Notes:

[1] God Sightings One Year Bible – Here’s the exact one I have. They also have more up to date ones in NIV or NLT, and a companion guide to go with it, if you like to have the extra help in deciphering meanings and applications.