Tag Archives: Faith

In A Little While

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“In a little while.” These four important words can change our perspective on waiting.

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Jesus said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me” (John 16:16)

In the verse above, Jesus was referring to his death and then His resurrection three days later. The disciples were saddened about Jesus’ impending death. But they didn’t understand the language Jesus used to explain that after He died they would see him again. To clarify, Jesus used the metaphor of a woman about to give birth. She experiences severe labor pains, and the hour has come for the baby to enter the world. “…you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy” (John 1:20, nrsv).  After the birth of her baby, the mother no longer dwells on the pain because of the joy of finally seeing her new baby.

I cried at my grandmother’s bedside the night she took her final breath.  It was Mother’s Day 1986. When the doctors discovered she was full of cancer it was too late for treatment. She was sent home to live out her final days. Twelve days later she went home to Jesus.  While caressing her soft but lifeless hand in mind, my heart was conflicted. I was relieved that her suffering from an aggressive form of cancer was over, but at the same time, my heart ached. I wasn’t ready to let her go. Her unexpected illness and sudden death seemed surreal. She and I had always been close.

As a teen, I occasionally spent my Saturday afternoons visiting her. She always baked a fresh loaf of bread and brewed our favorite flavor of tea. We spent the afternoon talking about the things on our hearts, how school was going for me, my friends, college plans, spiritual things, stories about my grandparent’s early days, and family history.  As we sipped hot tea from her best china tea cups and enjoyed the warm bread, Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, the Carpenters, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac played in the background. My grandmother had a sense of humor, too. And it always floated to the surface of her stories sending us into long spells of deep belly laughs with tears rolling down our cheeks.

Not only did her passing away leave a huge hole in my heart, but I was troubled over God’s timing. I wondered, Didn’t God know that I still needed her?  Nine months earlier, my husband (at the time) had left for work one morning and never come back. Heartbroken from his rejection, I couldn’t see past the hurt. However, in hindsight, it was my grandmother whom I believe God used to help discern my situation. My husband had literally abandoned me and broke our marriage covenant. 

For the next nine months, my grandmother was like Jesus with skin on. Living four hours away, she wrote letters every week professing her unconditional love and support, as well as Scripture verses to encourage and strengthen my faith.  More than anything, she wrote about God’s compassion towards those abandoned, rejected and crushed in spirit.

Like it did for the disciples, John 16:16 brings hope to Christian’s today. Twenty–nine years have passed since my grandmother went to be with Jesus. His words “in a little while” still apply and continue to bring hope. With the passing of the years, sadness has been replaced with joyful anticipation.  Faith says to wait on God because “in a little while” I’ll not only see my grandmother, but Jesus as well.

Who or What is Your “In A Little While?”

Are you waiting for your spouse to return home from deployment? When he or she left your heart ached, but take comfort in Jesus’ words “in a little while.” In a little while, you’ll rejoice at his or her homecoming. Are you praying while waiting on a situation to be resolved? Remember, there is an invisible hand working behind the scenes and “in a little while” He will make straight what is crooked. Trust Him to do what’s best. Do you feel agitated, pray, and “ in a little while” God will provide the calm. In cases in which you don’t understand something, pray and maintain obedience and “in a little while” God will bring clarity to the situation. As the days of deployment drag on and you feel discouraged–draw close to–and put your faith in the Lord, (James 4:8) and “in a little while” He will be the “lifter of your head” (Psalm 3:3). Those four words are significant. They were for the disciples when Jesus spoke them. When there’s a longing of the heart involved, “in a little while” becomes alive with new meaning and fresh hope.

Blessings,

Lisa

If you would like to order a signed-copy of my new book, “Faith Steps for Military Families” send me an email at info@lisanixonphillips.com. Ordering through me, the book is just $10.00 and $2.69 for shipping.

Also, come visit me on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies, and also on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

 

 

Vain Building

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Who's the Builder of Your Home?

Who’s the Builder of Your Home?

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. Psalm 127:1

Are you building in vain? King Solomon knew a thing or two about vain building. He knew the importance of creating a home with God as its foundation. His own father, King David, was a far better ruler than he was a parent. He deliberately planted the seed of sin that triggered a string of horrific consequences for himself as well as for his family members when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. From there it only grew worse. Constant trouble came upon King David’s household creating a crevasse of deep disunity.  Disunity in King David’s home led to what we call today a dysfunctional family.

Solomon’s message is clear: Families make a house a home, but vain building means that God is not part of every aspect of the building of the home. Its efforts are futile. A family without God can never experience the spiritual bond God brings to relationships.1 In Psalm 127, Solomon compares a home to a city. A city without God will be at risk of crumbling due to evil and corruption on the inside,2  even if those who guard the city are awake; it will still fall.  Likewise, a home without God is at great risk of imploding due to unchecked sin, pride, and disunity. This is because a home where God doesn’t dwell is a home void of His blessing. And without the Lord’s blessing, our toil is meaningless. In addition, it will have no eternal value. Therefore, be encouraged by Solomon’s wisdom of this psalm. Wisdom is attained when we find God’s perspective.

God Created Families

God designed us to be in families and He designed our homes to be under His Lordship. This means that the outcome of our toils is dependent on whether or not we have His blessings. If we go about this life with no regard for God, then it is reasonable that we also can’t expect Him to bless our homes. In truth, we are dependent on our heavenly Father for all aspects of life within our homes: for our health, our personalities and skills He created that determine our vocation, and how those skills contribute to our families, the wisdom we attain, and the outcome of our undertakings. The God who created our families is the same Power and Authority that controls every aspect of our existence. We are dependent on God for the very breaths we take and for the health and strength of our bodies.  If we invite God to be in the life of our homes and we allow Him to manipulate and orchestrate what goes on within it, then even if evil or harm touches our efforts, it will not be permanently consumed, but carefully preserved in heaven. When we have God’s blessing upon our home, His dividends far exceed earth’s temporary wages.

Blessings to You,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Psalm 127:1, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Ibid.

Respond With Resolve Not Resolutions

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Resolve

What do you resolve to do this year?

For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:36 nrsv

Do you get excited about the start of a brand new year? I do.  For me, a new year is like the blank page of a new journal. All that white space just waiting to be filled in with the outcomes of the new year’s executed goals. Indeed, we wonder what the new year will bring, however, there’s a tendency to over implement. I’m guilty of doing that in the past. But part of goal-reaching also involves something else–resilience and real resolve. Resilience includes taking the three parts of our humanness–the physical, emotional and the spiritual aspects and applying them to our goals. Resilience is also about planning for the “what-if” scenarios of life. And it also involves how well we bounce back after a major setback or a downturn of circumstances. But, we can protect ourselves from getting overwhelmed with our personal agendas by first seeking what the Lord would have us do.

Resilience and Resolve Mean Perseverance

If we take our faith walk seriously, we prayerfully ask the Lord to guide our steps in this new year. As a Christ-follower, what is important to God should be important to us. And since we know God desires obedience, doing His will should be our over-arching goal. This is where the importance of resilience comes in. For example, the people God chose to carry out His will were people just like you and me. They struggled to overcome failures, obstacles, and discouragement. However, in the end they kept their resolve and resilience in order to follow through with God’s agenda. When God calls He also equips. Biblical examples include Esther, Moses, and Gideon. Esther left her own home to go live within the king’s palace. She represented her people, exposed a traitor, and confronted the king to put an end to an evil plot, putting her own life at risk.  Moses chose to be a slave instead of living a life of privilege, and Gideon, despite his fears, trusted God. Each of these people possessed quiet perseverance created by a resilient faith.

Resilience and Resolve Require Love and Obedience

Taking the path of resilience and resolve is a far better for accomplishing God’s will then merely new yea’s resolutions alone. The secret is in keeping close to the Vine, (Christ). By closely abiding in Jesus, He’ll provide our resolve and resilience to carry out His agenda as well as keeping our life in balance. In those times when we feel weak or when our resilience or resolve is waning, go to the Lord in prayer. Out of love for Jesus comes obedience so continue to do the will of God even when you don’t feel like it. Love is not just lovely words; it is commitment and conduct.1 Jesus says in John 14:21, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father…” (nrsv).

 In this new year, consider what the Lord wants you to do that will require resolve and resilience. And if you make prayer a significant part of your life, He’ll help you to stay focused and balanced. Through prayer, God’s Spirit softens and molds our heart. Like other worthwhile endeavors, you may not always feel spiritual, but because the Lord desires obedience, follow through anyway, as this leads to blessings. “By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 nrsv).

Blessings to you in the new year,

Lisa

Thanks for stopping by! You can also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

Notes:

1Bible Note for John 14:21, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

 

He is Who He Says He Is

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Do You Say He is Who He Says He Is?

Do You Say He is Who He Says He Is?

Exodus 3:14 says: “God says to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’”  Simply stated, He [God] is who He says He is. We live in a time period in which society embraces relative thinking. Basically, that means if someone doesn’t believe in an idea, concept, premise, or in someone, or something, then it doesn’t exist. They may even go so far as to say, “Well, it may be true for you, but it isn’t for me.”

 As Christians we must never forget that when we celebrate Christmas, we are saying to the world that not only is Christ our Savior and God’s Son, but that God also exists.  We acknowledge that we are also celebrating the God who made human beings, the world, and heaven. But wait! There’s more! God’s Word also says that He put eternity in our hearts–meaning that we sense that life goes on beyond this present existence.1 We find that truth in Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”

Even though there will always be people who will take the modern “relative” viewpoint–that God doesn’t exist, it doesn’t change the position God has. He is who He says He is. And He will always remain that way. God is permanent. God is sovereign–an absolute.  And He is holy. “…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).

 Jesus is our Lord and Savior whether He is recognized as such or not. But what God is concerned about is whether or not we are placing Him as the Lord over our lives. The key point here is that if we fail to give Him first place in our hearts, the circumstances of our lives and in our homes, we are in jeopardy of missing out on the blessings He desires to bestow upon us.

Blessings to you this Christmas season,

Lisa

 Notes:

1 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 3:11, English Standard Version Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).

Psalm 134 – Give Thanks to the Lord

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Have you blessed God yet?

How many ways have you blessed God yet?

Psalm 134 is much like a psalm of thanksgiving. Written by King David, it is three short verses with a powerful call for the ancient Israelites to bless the Lord. Singing this psalm at the temple in Jerusalem was an acknowledgement for all that God had done for them. But what does blessing the Lord mean? First, the word “blessed” (barukh) is related to the Hebrew word for “knee” (berekh), as is the word for “blessing,” (b`rakha), thus implying an association between humbling ourselves, (i.e., kneeling before God in recognition of His blessedness) and receiving personal blessing from Him. Simply, to bless the Lord is to acknowledge God’s goodness He has bestowed on us, as well as His exalted status. In short, blessing the Lord is thanking Him for being the great Overseer of our lives. Psalm 103 is just one psalm among many that praise God for His greatness. I encourage you to read it as a part of today’s devotional. It is a good example of “why” we should bless God:

  • His forgiveness of sin (v.3)
  • His healing (v.3)
  • His Kindness (v.4)
  • His provision (v.5)
  • His justice (v.6)
  • His mercy and grace (v.8)
  • His patience (v.8)
  • His compassion (v.13)
  • His steadfast love (v.17)

This psalm highlights God’s magnificent acts and His inconceivable nature. Our list of praises ought to include His provision of good health (v.3). Even though He may not choose to heal every disease, every healing does come from God. He is on the side of the helpless and extends justice for those oppressed. The Psalms of Ascent are God’s record of all His miraculous feats of preserving the ancient Israelites from their enemies, as well as sin’s destructive nature. He is for us as well. We are precious to God. We are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). God is all-powerful, yet He is also patient, compassionate, and kind. This makes Him a perfect father. He knows we are mere mortals; our lives are like grass “they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passé over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (vv.15-16). Yet, for those who revere and obey Him, His love never ends. His nature and His ways can’t be compared with any other god. And His blessing remains upon those who are steadfast and vigilant in their faith.

If your faith journey is difficult right now, read Psalm 103. David’s list will encourage your heart and revitalize your appreciation of Him. It will also give you a fresh awareness of His presence in your life. We are fragile children, but God’s care is mighty and eternal. He never takes His eye off of you.

As Christians, we are called to bless the Lord. When we examine all He has done for us, we perceive and appreciate what God is really like. Today, consider your life. Is it a reflection of His blessings?

 Blessings to you,

Lisa

I can also be found on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter at Twitter.com/lisanixonphilli. To order my book, Faith Steps for Military Families click on the book’s cover above.

Does Your Military Lifestyle Soar Like An Eagle or Cluck Like the Prairie Chicken?

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Does your military life soar like the eagle or cluck like a Prairie Chicken?

Does your military life soar like the eagle or cluck like a Prairie Chicken?

In Chuck Swindoll’s book, Living On The Ragged Edge, is a Native American folklore story that bears a resemblance to something we often see in real life. It is a story about a Native American boy who came upon an eagle’s egg that became separated from its nest. Unable to find the eagle’s nest, the boy decided to put the egg in the nest of a prairie chicken. The hen didn’t seem to notice there was an additional egg in her nest. Later, the eaglet hatched along with the rest of the prairie chicks. But a sad reality soon emerged.

 “All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seed and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled and flew in a brief thrashing of wings and a flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.

 Many years passed. The eaglet became an old eagle. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong wings. “What a beautiful bird!” said the eagle to his neighbor. “What is it? “That is an eagle–chief of birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”

 So the eagle never gave it a second thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.”

(From Living On The Ragged Edge by Charles Swindoll).

Prairie Chicken or Eagle

When I read this, I felt sorry for the eagle. He was a great and mighty bird, but he didn’t even know it and even sadder is the fact he spent his whole life not living out the greatness that God placed within him. The eagle’s story is a good reminder that we, as God’s children, and as military spouses can find ourselves adopting the prairie chicken lifestyle. It is easy to imitate the world–covet what civilians have, desire the same things, behave the same way, and like the eagle, not realize that you, as the spouse, have been called to a special purpose–and to be a strong symbol to our country. Don’t be like the eagle, barely giving it any thought that God has a purpose for you in your role as a military wife.

As military spouses, we can become complacent in our faith and settle for so much less than what God intended. Complacency is a state of idleness that prevents growth from taking place.  How can we become the military spouse God wants us to become by living a prairie chicken lifestyle? You are married to a military man who is part of the greatest fighting force in the world. When your spouse is away on a training mission or even a short underway period, resist the urge to pull away or shrink back, believing you have little to contribute.  You were uniquely skilled for a supporting role in his ability to carry-out assignments with honor and integrity. Discover what God gifted you with and invest it back into our armed forces.

 Seek Those Things That Are Above

In traveling around promoting my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, I’ve heard stories of military wives who, inadvertently, sabotaged their own military marriages by fixing their eyes and heart on the negative aspects of the military lifestyle. Sure, you live under a different set of circumstances and those circumstances can get difficult. Whether you know it or not, you have a direct affect, however subtle, on your husband’s (wife’s) ability to carry out his or her responsibilities. How you live out the military lifestyle either adds or takes away from our overall standing as a military superpower. As difficult as this may seem, following Jesus and taking on His lifestyle is the most rewarding and satisfying lifestyle on earth. Think about the eagle. Just like the eagle that soars high above the earth, we are to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is…not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2-3).  Are there things you need to do away with that resemble the prairie chicken mindset so you can live the life of the eagle?

Blessings,

Lisa

Care to comment? Please do! I would love to hear from you. You can also connect with me at http://www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

Would you like to order a signed copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families? Email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com. Books are $13.00/ea and this includes shipping.

King Solomon’s Wisdom for Discontentment

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Are you discontent? Discover Solomon's Cure.

Are you discontent? Discover Solomon’s answer to discontentment.

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11

In my previous post, we looked at discontentment from the standpoint of Eve’s mistake. The serpent (Satan) was successful at getting her to doubt God. She ignored all that God had provided in the garden and instead focused on what she lacked. This triggered a forever battle with discontentment in all of mankind. We fall into the same kind of trouble when we center our heart on the few things we don’t have rather than on the many blessings God has given us. If we allow a nagging discontentment to linger, a state of restlessness will hijack our contentment. King Solomon learned this vital lesson.

 The book of Ecclesiastes is likely King Solomon’s last words of reflection on the meaning of life and his search to derive satisfaction from it. He discovered that a life void of a relationship with God led to a discontented state of being. Solomon learned this truth the hard way–through bitter experiences. Whatever contentment gained from worldly opportunities and successes are merely temporary. When we leave the Lord out of our quest for contentment, it results in a lost search. Frustration and inner turmoil will continue like a cut that festers until we seek a cure. And since God created us with eternity in mind, our souls long for something more–something that satisfies. Security, satisfaction, and contentment are found in pursuing a relationship with the Lord.

 Are you feeling restless about another PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and the upcoming move? Burned out with the moving process? Dissatisfied at leaving your job? Dry and Disillusioned about the future? Is there a nagging sense of discontentment about where you are occupationally or physically in the military life? Or are you agitated and impatient concerning your current circumstances, but can’t put your finger on what will improve it? Consider using this discontentment to draw close to the Lord for the answers, contentment, and direction you need. If you have a concordance, look up Scripture verses that pertain to discontentment.  And pray. Prayer is the channel for connecting to the heart of God. His desire is satisfy your soul’s search for contentment in Him.

 The Cure

Like Solomon discovered, the cure for discontentment is to center on God. If you’re serious about getting through the impasse, ask Christ to teach you how to be content and patient in your current situation. The apostle Paul found contentment by a willingness to obey Christ and by doing what Christ asked of him, for this brought joy to his heart knowing it pleased Him, rather than insisting on what he felt was due him.  And also, realize that life is ultimately better with God.1 He provides the wisdom, direction, and knowledge for our searching hearts. Consider the truth of Chuck Swindoll’s words:

God never intended anyone to sail his own boat, without help, through the uncharted waters of life or ministry.

True satisfaction and enjoyment is ours when we build our lives around God’s guidelines for living. We must not build our lives on perishable pursuits, but on the solid foundation of God.2   Then, even if we lose it all, we still have God, who is all we really need anyway.3

Blessings,

Lisa

If you would like to order a signed copy of Lisa’s book, Faith Steps for Military Families,

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 8:12,13, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 2:16, Life Application Bible

3 Ibid.

 

Eve’s Mistake – Discontentment

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Heed Eve's Mistake

Are you content in the military lifestyle?

“…I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” Psalm 131: 2

Most of us are familiar with the Genesis account of Eve taking the fruit from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden and eating of it. But have you considered why she was tempted by the serpent in the first place? She was discontent. The clever serpent (Satan) was successful in getting Eve to question God’s goodness after he posed the question, “Did God [really] say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’? (Genesis 3:1).  He planted the idea in Eve’s mind that God was tightfisted, not wanting to allow Adam and Eve to partake in His knowledge of good and evil. She reasoned, if she couldn’t have anything from that one tree, how could she be happy or content? The crafty serpent managed to get Eve to take her eyes off of God and refocus on what she didn’t have. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve defied God and received understanding of good and evil–with disastrous consequences.

In the military lifestyle, perplexing circumstances are a norm. Some of these difficult circumstances will test your level of contentment. Like Eve, you may sense a nagging dissatisfaction with your life.

Lingering discontentment causes us to look at the lives of others and secretly covet what they have. Discontentment turns our focus from all that God has provided for us to what we lack. This lack, whether tangible or intangible, becomes our “I’ve got to have it”3 mentality. Basic human nature hasn’t changed since Eve. She was convinced that having the knowledge of good and evil was harmless. 4 However, we must also consider that perhaps what we don’t have is best for us. Consider Eve’s mistake. The serpent told Eve that she could become like God by taking matters into her own hands and deciding for herself what was best for her. She believed that by having the knowledge of God she would be content. What it boils down to is that the serpent convinced Eve she could become her own god. Her shortsighted plan backfired. In the end, it saddened and displeased God.

Humility Leads to Contentment

Jonathan Edwards said this about humility:

A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.1

Only God knows what’s best for us. Like Eve, some of the things we want are not good for us. When we defy God’s authority and decide for ourselves what we believe are good and right for us, we are making the same mistake Eve did. If what we desire is a worthy goal, but we leave God out of our plans, we are putting ourselves above God. Sadly, this is exactly where Satan wants us to be.

Until God changes our current situation, we are to work at being content in the here and now. We must rest in the secure knowledge that He will be the Keeper of our hearts. This means taking our desires and plans to the Lord for Him to determine what is best for us – trusting Him with the outcome. It also means putting on humility. Humility declares that God knows what’s best. Humility acknowledges God is in control. Humility also means that for the things we don’t understand, we leave in His hands. It is in this framework that our humility leads to contentment.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Lisa Nixon Phillips. Faith Steps for Military Families–Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent ( New York, NY:, Morgan James Publishing, 2014) 126.

2 Ibid. 131.

3 Profile of Eve, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

4 Bible Note for Genesis 3:6, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

 

 

Ask God First

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Who do you go to first in making a decision?

Who do you go to first in making a decision?

 

Who do you go to when you need help with making an important decision? Do you ask God first? Or do you usually talk to your spouse, family, friends, even coworkers first? Or do you seek out your pastor as a last resort if you’re still unclear of what to do? Jeremiah 33:3 says:

 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (NRSV).

 Don’t Rely on Guesswork

Jeremiah was a prophet–God’s spokesman to Judah. God tasked him with confronting the people of Judah about their sin. The basic message God ask Jeremiah to do was, “repent and turn to God.” As Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria struggled for world dominance, Judah found itself in the middle of this triangle.1 Even though Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years declaring God’s messages of doom, nobody listened. And Judah was eventually destroyed and the people were carried off to Babylon. They failed to heed to Jeremiah’s warnings.

God spoke to Jeremiah many times over many years, but Jeremiah’s job was to determine what God wanted him to do each day.2 It is the same with us. We have God’s Word and it is filled with His messages to us. When we have to make an important decision, like which orders should I take (if there’s a choice), should I reenlist or take that civilian job opportunity, buy that house my husband and I really love, or wait? And even should I ask my girlfriend to marry me?

 Rely on the Lord

Instead of going to our friends, coworkers, or family with our dilemma, we are to go to God first. That’s what Jeremiah did and he was found to be faithful. We can ask, “God, what do You want me to do?” Then explain your situation. He already knows what is best and He is faithful to answer.

King Jehoshaphat also went to God first. His kingdom was on the verge of being invaded. The armies of the Moabites and the Ammonites were coming against Jehoshaphat for battle. Deeply distraught, he alerted his people to seek God’s help. In not knowing what to do, Jehoshaphat sought God first. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”3

 (2 Chronicles 20:12). God heard this king’s humble prayer and God destroyed their enemies.

Call to Action

Instead of fretting about a pending decision, seek the Lord through His Word and in prayer. It’s entirely possible that after going to Him first, He may use others to direct your steps. Ask Him what your next step may be. He may not give you the entire picture, but He will give you your next step. Take that step of faith, trusting Him for the rest. Don’t make the mistake and decide your course of action first, then ask God for His blessing. Just ask, “Lord, what is it that You want me to do? This is the best course of action because His plans already have His blessings. Like King Jehoshaphat, when we follow God’s plan, we’ll have victory.

 Blessings,

Lisa

 

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Jeremiah 1.2,2, The Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publisher, Inc. 1989).

2 Ibid.

3 Lisa Nixon Phillips, Faith Steps for Military Families–Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent   (New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2014), 19.

Military Family: Unity is Key to Spiritual Readiness – Part 2

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Are we wearing the garment of unity in our military homes?

 

It [unity] is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.

Psalm 133:3

In my previous article, we learned about the metaphors and their meanings in Psalm 133:1-2 and their importance for our military families–namely, how unity spreads, unifies, and builds resolve–that necessary grit to overcome the challenges of the military lifestyle.

Today, we’ll unpack the meaning of verse 3. David, our psalmist, doesn’t want us to miss the all-important takeaway. This is the golden nugget of the entire psalm. Verse 3 says, “It [unity] is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.” There is an interesting geography lesson that makes this psalm more meaningful.

David is describing two mountains: Mount Hermon and Mount Zion. Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in northern Israel. It stands approximately 9,000 feet tall and creates the morning dew. Mt. Zion, located in Jerusalem, is a mere 2400 feet tall. Yet, the dew manufactured over Mt. Hermon falls on both, even though these two mountains are 145 miles apart.

 Additionally, these two mountains can also represent the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Recall in the Bible that after King Saul died, Israel split into two kingdoms. The tribes of Israel struggled with conflict and ultimately their disunity split the nation in half. Their struggle went as far back as the patriarch Jacob–each tribe going after its own objectives and separating from the rest. Here’s our golden nugget: It was David’s desired that like the dew that fell over the two mountains, he longed for unity to fall on both kingdoms, so the Lord could bless both. Thus, Psalms 133 provides us with three great illustrations for our families.

 1). Unity spreads, unites, and multiplies – Like the oil that ran down Aaron’s head, beard, and collar, unity that is present in our homes is contagious. It has the power to influence other members of our homes. It multiplies by spreading to successive generations.

2). Unity brings blessings – Like the dew that falls on both mountains, blessings can fall on our families and our children’s families, and

3). Mt. Hermon symbolizes God – Like Mt. Hermon that manufactures the dew, likewise, God is the maker and sender of the blessings of unity.

Psalm 133 is a vivid portrait of God’s desire that His children live in unity. And when we do, He blesses us. He doesn’t want our homes divided by disunity, each member seeking its own agenda and self-seeking ways apart from the others. His desire was that like the oil that ran down from the head, to the beard and to the collar of the robe, sanctifying and unifying his spirit to Jesus’ spirit, so today Christians are one body, unified by one Spirit.

Spiritual unity then, is one aspect of the Holy Spirit and when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are then able to put the garment of unity on. I think it’s possible that King David learned a few lessons about unity, albeit the hard way with poor parenting, but this only made his appreciation and desire for unity all the greater.

 Psalm 133 was David’s hope that his kingdom people would love God and seek after a spirit of unity–to bring two separate kingdoms together under one Headship to be the recipients of God’s blessings. This same spirit of unity is what brings the hearts of your family together today, establishing the spiritual energy of your home to persevere constant fluctuations common to our unique lifestyle. Ephesians 4:3 is our walking papers. We are to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (nrsv). In doing so, God blesses us with harmonious relationships.

Blessings,

Lisa

Lisa Nixon Phillips is a retired military wife who believes that faith and prayer make a lasting difference in the lives of military families. She combines her warm and gentle approach with her passion to mentor military wives and mothers of today. She enjoys leading women’s Bible studies and helping women grow in their faith. Lisa simply enjoys being a source of spiritual encouragement pointing them to Jesus and His Word. She hopes her experiences as a former military wife will inspire them to seek God while living out a difficult lifestyle. She is currently pursuing her credentials to be a Christian Life Coach with an emphasis on military families through the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Lisa writes, speaks, and blogs on themes that address the military lifestyle at www.LisaNixonPhillips.com. Lisa’s book, Faith Steps for Military Families releases May 1, 2014. To connect with Lisa on Facebook, go to www.Facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/lisanixonphilli