Trusting God                                                       

Choose Like the Two
Do you ever test your child's personality?  Occasionally I do.  We were in the grocery store and I asked my five-year-old if she wanted to bless her big sister by choosing some orange tic-tac's (her favorite) to give to her.  The answer was a disappointing no.  I have to admit, what she chose broke my heart a little.  It wasn't but a few seconds later that she asked for something for herself.  I had to use this as a teaching moment so I told her if she wasn't willing to be generous to her sister that I couldn't see extending generosity to her at that moment.  She was crushed and tried to undo the prior wrong to get what she wanted, but, the answer was still no and the consequence stood.

Life is full of choices. 

Joshua and Caleb were two of twelve men God sent into Canaan to check out the land God was giving to the Israelites (read Numbers 13 for the story).  And by giving it to them, I mean it was as good as done and the fat lady had already sung.  It was in the bag; the land was already theirs.  To them, I imagine it would have been like being given a five-star hotel to live in with all the suites and amenities anyone could ask for.  There was no opposition because God was with them; they just had to go get it! 
Joshua and Caleb chose to believe God.  The other ten chose not to believe God.  We, too, always have this choice.  The ten were hung up on the details.  They were living by the rules of the world and focused on the fact that the people of the land were bigger and the Israelites looked like grasshoppers to them.  Like the ten leaders, we can be scared by the magnitude of the task life is presenting and focus on the earthly details or we can believe God will make good on His promise.  What we can learn from the ten is to not create your own opposition or let someone create it for you.

Sadly, the consequence for their unbelief, spreading their fear throughout the people, and choosing not to move forward was their generation did not wallow in the joy of the land that would generously fulfill all their earthly needs.  Since they didn't believe God, they wandered in the desert for forty years.  The desert!   The hot, dry, sandy, waterless desert!  What a disappointing turn of events! However, the desert was only a temporary consequence and not forever landing spot.  God's will is always accomplished and because of that the next generation was willing to move on God's promise and did acquire the land.  On a side note, Joshua and Caleb were also able to move into the Promised Land with the next generation because they believed, isn't God good?

Even when it seems scary to you and naysayers are telling you no, then you are faced with a choice.  Will you choose like the two or like the ten?  We know what we should not do is create or listen to opposition and focus on the confusing details.  Rather, we know we should focus on God who has already called us into a better place with Him. 

You may be faced with the choice of belief and unbelief today and it may happen again many times in your life time.  What will you choose?

By Andrea Simmons
Numbers 13:30-31
"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.'  But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.'”
Stepping Out

General William Booth was once asked to reveal the secret of his success. After some hesitation, tears came to his eyes and he said, “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I have, men with greater opportunities, but from the day that I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus could do with them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was. “It was this which led Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, the questioner, to remark, “I learned from William Booth that the greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” (Encyclopedia of Illustrations #12616).

Nehemiah was surrendered to God and did great things for the history of Jerusalem and by extension the world.  From the time this child of the exiled and cupbearer to the King of Persia learned of the dire situation of Jerusalem, his home land, and took action, it had been three or four months.  During this time there is evidence that he was praying to God and planning because God had put a need on his heart.  Nehemiah 2:12a, "Then I arose at the night, I and a few men with me.  And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem."    Nehemiah was surrendered to what God was leading him to do, even though he didn't know what the immediate future would hold for him. 

He was surrendered.
We do not know what God has in store for us; we may only be privy to our moments in prayer and what need God may be laying on our hearts.  When we read Nehemiah 2 we can see the word "then" a lot.   This is a clue to me that after each event, another event occurred and another and antoher and God ordained them all.  Just like Nehemiah was obedient in his surrender to the LORD and God provided for him each step of the way, He will do the same for us, who are obedient in surrender.

In verse 20 of Nehemiah 2a it says, "Then I replied to them, 'The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will rise and build…'"  Don't you just love the confidence in Nehemiah when speaking to his accusers?  He's stickin' it to 'em!  He is not shaken by this trial but fully confident in God's ability to get the job done.  He fears God, not man.  If God calls us to it, He'll see us through it.

We can also be confident in what God wants to do through us.  Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  He knows what's going on behind the scenes and we are safely secure in Him and do not need to fear stepping out in the faith that obedience and surrender brings.

Jeremiah 29:11, "'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." All throughout scripture God is taking care of those who stay tight with Him.  Our accuser can do nothing to us that can separate us from Him.  Now, we may have trouble and trials, this is certain, but the bottom line is God will always be with us.  He created you to be exactly who you are and has a plan specifically for you.  You may not always know the answers, but God is holding those answers for you so you can trust Him.

Today is a good day to come to Him in prayer, laying your plans down, to see what He may have for you.  Fully surrender as this is a measure of your greatness in Him, just like General William Booth said.  His plan for you is higher than any plan you can think up for yourself, because He who is great has truly great plans!

By Andrea Simmons
Nehemiah 2:12a
 "Then I arose at the night, I and a few men with me.  And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem."
He's Talking & We're Listening
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

There have been people in my life that have taught me forgiving does not always have to equate with trusting. Sometimes, it does mean trust is reinstated, which is good because without trust there is no relationship. Trust is key.

When you generally do not believe what someone tells you then it is safe to say that you do not trust them, either. In order for us to trust someone, we must believe what they say with their lips and their life. The same is true for God. If we do not fully believe what God tells us through scripture then we will not be able to fully trust Him in our life. If we do not trust God, then we have a serious faith issue.

God speaks to us is through His word. I have learned that one way to know if God is speaking to you is He will repeat what it is He wants you to grasp. So, the fact that Proverbs 3:5-6 has come up to me five (yes, count them!) five times in a matter of ten days, I am certain this is much more than a coincidence and God is in fact telling me to live out these verses.

These verses start out by telling us to "Trust in the LORD with all your heart." In order for us to do that we have to believe that He is God and what He says is true. Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him," (emphasis mine). Faith, or believing God even when we do not see Him (Hebrews 11:1), is what distinguishes us from those who are unbelievers.

Being a believer means trusting God. But, when, why, how, and with what do we trust God? James 1:2-4, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." This verse tells us that we will have many trials in life; we trust Him through those. We trust Him with our family. We trust Him with our finances. We trust Him with all of our circumstances.  We trust Him with ourselves. We trust Him because He does not lie (Numbers 23:19), He works good things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), He keeps His promises (1 Kings 8:56), He uses us for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10), He gives us peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), and once we start trusting Him, trust in Him grows (Psalm 100:5).

Do you ever wonder what faith looks like in your daily life? It looks like living out the verses of Proverbs 3:5-6; it's where the rubber meets the road. If we have faith it will be seen in our obedience and belief in these commands (and many others). Once we trust God with everything then there is evidence within ourselves of faith, which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).

As God has shown me these verses five times in ten days, I am going to continue to read, ponder, study, and memorize them. I am going to obey and trust God with everything I can possibly think of.  Would you join me? I would love it if you contacted me and left a message if you're in! Please let me know how these verses have changed you!

By Andrea Simmons

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

He's Got You
I went scuba diving once. Well, the truth is, I almost went scuba diving. That’s a really fun idea to a land locked Kansas girl! I took the prep class and made all the right mental notes. I got the wet suit on and someone fitted an oxygen tank on my back. I have to admit the whole breathing only through my mouth part was a little challenging for me. And then, we walked right into ocean. Fun things!

However, when we got our class and instructors into water over our heads, I kept floating. Up I’d go over and over again. I tried the exhaling my breath technique to keep myself down, but right back up to the top I went. After fighting with this a little while and the instructor writing instruction and question notes to me on a little underwater board, I eventually got scared and gave up. Yep, I left the water and everyone else went on to see secret ocean treasures without me. I was a little disappointed in myself, but it is what it is.

During the class they kept reiterating the dangers of not paying attention to what you were doing. It was only slightly unnerving. I was perfectly aware that my only hope for surviving the depths (I was not naturally made to dwell in) could overwhelm me and could possibly cost me my life if anything went wrong. I had to focus on the right things and hope that the support of the equipment checked out to me didn’t malfunction and did its job of keeping me alive and supplied with oxygen. The wet suit provided thermal insulation and abrasion resistance. All of this equipment’s purpose was to keep me safe where I would otherwise be devastatingly harmed.

This is what Jesus is to us. We couldn’t possibly withstand the threats of this world and the evil one without the surrounding protection of our Lord and Savior.

I am so thankful for Him!

The latter part of Nehemiah 8 speaks about the Israelites coming back to obey God’s word. In their obedience to ancient laws they built booths to live in for the week of The Feast of Tabernacles. These booths represent the forty years the Israelites lived in the desert. With great purpose, God commanded them to live in booths or tents while traveling in the wilderness.

These small shelters were protection from the heat and other weather related elements. It symbolized God’s protection over them spiritually as well as physically. In these booths they did not have the support of the things a ‘normal’ home would have had. Their only support was God Himself.  Living in these booths for a week, they were to remember how God provided food (manna from Heaven) and water (from a rock Moses struck) and the direction they walked (God led them by a flame during the night and a cloud during the day).

The booths they made in remembrance of the forty years included branches form olive trees, whereas olives provide oil, which was used for anointing. These booths were made for God’s anointed to live in. He provided for every need of His anointed. This included the need of protection. Nothing can be done to hurt one of God’s children without God’s consent. Even then, God sets boundaries on what can be done.

What is your need today? Consider that God promised in His word that He will take care of you through your own desert times in life.  God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He will do. Whatever it is that is haunting you today, take it to the Lord in prayer and petition. Let Him meet you where you are at. He loves you so much that He made sure hundreds of years before you knew your need to provide a way to tell you that He’s got you.
Nehemiah 8:14-15
"They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: 'Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters' as it is written."
Love Boggle
Before my husband and I got married I was searching for answers. Is he the one? Can divorced Christian women get married again? Would my daughter be ok? Worry flooded my thoughts and pressed hard on my heart. Even though we were engaged and Chuck was the best person I'd ever met, I was scared and unsure. What if he wasn’t who he seemed to be?

One night while at my parent’s house, Chuck was playing a Boggle game we'd bought earlier in the day with all of my nieces and nephews and my daughter, Claire. I was just watching and had the idea to close my eyes and pray this, "God, if you love me and you love Chuck and you want us to get married then the next time Chuck twists that game closed let the word 'love' be in it." Did I mention that I was very scared to take this next step in my life- and with good reason? Before he even got the game fully locked into place I saw it! It was right there- the word 'love' just like I asked God!

Yeah, crazy!

I jumped off the couch, grabbed the game and started yelling and pointing at it, "This is a message from God, this is a message from God," over and over. I was probably a little loud. My family stood around looking at me as if I completely lost it. It was the coincidental scene where people are still and staring while the sound of the kitchen faucet runs fast.

I took a picture of it to remember the occasion, but what was better than that was the hot glue gun! I ran and got it and glued that thing shut so well it would take a hammer to open it up. Now, it could be kept forever- because you just don't undo messages from God! That is why this game is sitting on my living room shelf, right in front of our wedding picture. God gives us what we need and I needed this word from Him.

How much more does He know what all of His children need, even the ones who haven't accepted Him. God's word tells us that He loved us so much He sent His one and only son to be born to a virgin, Mary, die on the cross for our sins, and conquer death by rising on the third day and ascending into heaven forty days later. Wow, could we say anything more impactful in all of human history? John 3:16 tells us, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." This is our hope! We didn't do anything to deserve His love and provision, yet he provided a solution to our need. Our need is to come back to our creator and know who He is and who we are so we can become complete and He will be glorified.

Proverbs 3:5 & 6 says, "Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Chuck and I have been very happily married for coming on six years now. I almost missed out on something good. But, because I embraced God's word I made a good choice. (Everything in my past is forgiven and forgotten. I know full well what it means to live under the umbrella of God’s grace and mercy.)

He makes all our paths straight (even the hard ones) through His divine love and provision, so I encourage you to pray and get into His word. "Dear God, thank you for loving me exactly the way I am and meeting me where I am. Thank you especially for giving me what I need. Show me the love you have for me and help me to accept your provision for my life and make my paths straight according to your will. Be glorified in all I do. Amen."
Proverbs 3:5 - 6
"Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Hedge of Protection
My husband, Chuck, and daughter, Claire, went on a missions trip to Haiti. This trip provided the roughest accommodations that Chuck had experienced on a missions trip because they slept in tents on sand and the village had very little first world comforts. One of the things they saw were bush-like barriers in the village that grew poisonous thorns. They weren't that tall but thick and deadly. People and animals alike respected those hedges- ain't nobody passing through them!

In the book of Job God asks Satan if he had considered his servant Job.  Satan then asked, "Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?" Job 1:10.

So often we do not think of what this hedge of protection looks like. In the Old Testament they used thick bushes, much like the ones in Haiti, to keep predators out and the sheep in. They had to use hedges like this because wood was not as available as it is today and stone walls flat-out took too long to build.

I pray every morning and sometimes during the day for God to 'protect my family from the evil one' because I desperately want that hedge of protection from Him. I do not want to be left unprotected and open to being devoured by Satan (1 Peter 5:8.)  I want the security and protection of God while fighting the harassment we go through on planet earth. And, let me tell you, today is one of the harassing kind of days...

Ephesians 6:10-20, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."

It is ok to seek a hedge of protection from God. He has given us Ephesians 6:10-20 to remind us of this. The emphasized words from the above verses are truth, righteousness, gospel, salvation, word of God, and prayer and supplication. These are all things God has provided for us especially when we seek a relationship with Him daily. These are the pieces of armor that combat the predator; we need these things!

Thank you, LORD, for your word that leads us to You! Please protect us from the evil one and thank you for Your hedge of protection around us. We love to to know that in the middle of everything You have provided for us and keep us safe. Lead us daily into a deeper relationship with You and not to cower to the fear of evil but stand firm in the knowledge that You have us completely. You are a good and amazing God; praises to your name!

Job 1:10
 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?"
Waiting on a Call
Sometimes I pray and wait and pray and wait and pray for God to show me what it is He wants me to do. What’s my next step? What decision should I make? I’m either needing or awaiting a change and I know it has to be God led.

However, I know full well that there are times in our lives of specific direction God has called us to and then there are times that seem, well, less directed. What is for sure is every day we seek Him first, obey His commands, love others, do our best work, and take care of those with need. This is true. But, in all of that we can still wonder, is there something more I was created to do?

What is that one big shining thing I was created to do and serve the Lord with?

Moses was created with a purpose. He was one Hebrew baby that survived the king’s ordinance to kill all the Hebrew baby boys. His mom saw that he was special and hid him in a basket in the river where the princess found him. He ended up growing in a royal Egyptian palace and yet still kept a love for his Hebrew heritage. In all of this, God positioned him.

Later his life seemed to take a detour. He killed an Egyptian that was beating a fellow Hebrew. Word got out and Moses decided it was time to get out of Dodge. For forty years he built a life far from home. It probably seemed the way life was going for him was going to stay that way forever. Until one day God called Moses to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Hebrews go from his slavery over them. All of a sudden, we realize why this Hebrew baby was saved and grew up in the palace. So one day he could return to exile God’s people out of slavery and oppression.

God called him.

I bet those forty years away from home didn’t lead Moses to believe he was usable. Moses felt inadequate for the need God placed before him and the reason he gave for it was his speech. Yep. He stuttered. Isn’t that how we often respond when we are presented with a need we could take action in? We only see our inabilities...

Moses wasn’t seeking a big job. Yet, God chose him. God had orchestrated the events of Moses’ life for him to be the one to do this pre-known and specific job. The good news is that Moses did obey and the Hebrews were set free by God’s provision. (Then there were amazing miracles to follow!)

We cannot excuse ourselves from God’s calling when He presents us with a need because of what we think are inadequacies. He is not looking for someone with the best speech, talent, or abilities. He wants a willing heart.

We are created with a purpose and for a reason, first and foremost is to be in a relationship with Him and obey Him. It will always go well with us when we obey. It produces a rich and full life!

Moses had to obey even in his fear, and he found that God took care of everything else. So we can know this, God will take care of everything in our obedience, too. We need only to obey. Zechariah 4:6 tells us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.”  Not by our might.  Not by our power.  But, by God's Spirit we can do what we are called to do.

Trust in the LORD, He will lead you in His perfect timing and plan for your life. In the meantime, remember to live daily for Him. Our ‘in between’ times are not for nothing. They are active with preparation for the next step. In my personal experience, I love these times of growth and love.

Where do you find yourself? Are you in a time of waiting for a call of purpose or are you already there? Where ever you are, use this time wisely and fill it with bible study, prayer, and relationship with Jesus. God will be glorified.

by Andrea Simmons
Zechariah 4:6
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.”