The Way I Used To Be

 

Life changesThere are lots of things about my life that are way different than they used to be. When I think back to the courtship of my wife 23 years ago things are different now. Our love for one another is much deeper and mature. It is fun to think back to how we once were early on in our dating relationship and early marriage. Relationships grow deeper and expand at a deeper level.

If I think back to my early relationship with the Lord, it was very vibrant and full of energy. I was young and excited to follow the Lord. When the “new” wore off, I found myself doing stupid things that hurt His heart. I wandered away from Him and went my own way for a season. He never left me. He showed great patience with me as I tried to figure some things out. I guess I had to learn on my own that when the sign says, “dead end” – it really is. I was warned about many dead-end decisions, but I tried them out anyway. He still was waiting patiently.

In the letter to church at Ephesus, He calls them out for forgetting their first love. Check this out…

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5 CSB)

I have returned to my journey with Him over the past several years. He has spoken volumes into my life through the steady study of His Word. I’m still steady and growing in my love for Him. I’m still trying to walk in obedience of Him daily. I want to live like He lived. I want to love like He loves. I want to push through the times of hardship and suffering. I want my life to reflect a faithful, consistent follower of Jesus.  I want to love Him more today than yesterday. I want to love Him deeper that yesterday. I want my relationship with the Lord to grow and grow with the roots of my relationship planted deeply in His Word.

I want to keep returning to the love I had for Him early on before being “tainted” by what the world offers. I want to be faithful to Him, He has been so faithful to me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Blessing & Prosperity

Gratitude Word CloudThese two words fit together like a hand and a glove.  I like both words. Blessing on one hand, is a gift or favor from God. Prosperity is a successful, thriving condition – especially regarding finances (dictionary.com). I have never been one who promotes a “prosperity gospel” – meaning if you follow the Lord, you will be wealthy and all will be well with you. I believe that if I follow the Lord fully that troubles and trials will still come. They will often come with a vengeance because the enemy doesn’t like my allegiance to the Lord.

The Psalmist speaks a bit about the prosperity and blessing from God. Check this out…

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
    blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    round your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
    for the man who fears the Lord. (Psalm 128:1-4 NIV)

I do believe that God honors those who fear Him. I believe He will make our paths straight when we trust in Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6) I don’t believe that the Lord will remove the hardships and times of struggle just because I follow Him. He has walked with me through hardship and struggle and because of His Presence, my perspective is changed significantly.

I am blessed because of The Lord’s Presence in me. I am thankful and I’m praying daily for a grateful heart to Him for His blessing. I’m not naïve that there will not be tough times. I believe that I have help from Him and that changes everything. I know where my hope lies. I know that this life is not the end game. I know that He loves me. I am blessed with an amazing family and I walk in respect and reverence before the Lord. I am blessed with a job that serves others and compensates me well for my service. I am blessed and I certainly want to be a blessing to others. I want others to know the “peace that passes all understanding” that I’ve found in my walk with Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Praying For Peace

 

Pretty girl praying.Elderly man prayingI see peace as a “state mutual harmony, and a state of serenity and tranquility”. This is a word that means different things to a lot of different people. I love having peace in my life, buy sometimes peace is not quiet or boring. Sometimes “mutual harmony” is a bit loud and even a struggle. I used to connect peace with quiet and I still do sometimes. Peace is much deeper than silence. Peace is a matter of my spiritual heart condition. When my heart is at peace, I am trusting the Lord with whatever is getting me anxious.

David was evidently heading to the Temple when He wrote this Psalm. David is a warrior and has fought many bloody battles and has seen much bloodshed. In the midst of this assent to worship he is asking the people to join him in prayer. Check this out…

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.’
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122:6-9 NIV)

I need to be a prayer warrior for peace. I can pray for peace for my family, my community, my state, my country & the world. Praying for peace and seeking to be peaceful are two different things. I believe that the Lord loves peace. I believe He restores my soul and nourishes my heart during peace. During times of struggle and angst, He does some of His best work building me. I feel like I’ve grown more in times of suffering and struggle for sure than in times of peace. During struggle and hardship, I found myself clinging to Him – holding on as tight as possible. I learned through struggle and suffering that He doesn’t leave me. He is always there. At times during the struggle, it felt as if He had left, but He had not. My feelings are fickle and I’ve learned that when the Lord says He is with me, then I can count on that. It may not “feel” like He is with me; but He sure is!

I love the greeting that Paul ends his second letter to the church as Thessalonica with. Check this out…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (1 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

 

Desperate Need

 

Beauty girl cryI have been afraid before. I do know what it is like to feel desperate. I also know what it’s like to be in desperate need. I must say that I’ve never missed a meal or had to go any length of time at all without food. I’ve never been without a home. I have truly been blessed many times over for many years. I still know what desperation feels like. There have been events happen in my life that I had very little or no control over. I know what it’s like to be desperate for the Lord to intervene and help.

Asaph, was the worship leader for David, I think. He is a musician so we know he’s probably certainly somewhat emotional. He writes with passion and purpose. I can feel in his writing a close and deep relationship with God. He approaches the Lord at a time of desperation. Check this out…

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
    for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:8-9 NIV)

Desperate needs can give us intense focus.

Desperate needs can give us incredibly humble hearts.

Desperate needs can drive us to fall at the feet of the Lord asking for His help.

I don’t like feeling desperate need. I’ve grown in my journey to know that the Lord is not desperate. He is not surprised by my situation or circumstances. He will help me. He will use my desperate need to reveal more of His heart and His purpose for my life. My desperate need is often a deep teachable moment for me and those close to me. He doesn’t waste moments of struggle, hardship or desperation – I learn much about God’s heart in the depths of desperate need. I was reminded of this promise that Paul writes to the Philippian church:

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Profound Blessing

 

The Power of Sharing Billboard Message Donate Give Help OthersThere have been times upon receipt of a blessing that I’ve been speechless. I have not always liked being the recipient of a gift as much as being the giver. Somewhere along the way I learned to be grateful upon receiving a blessing from someone. If I don’t learn to receive the blessing, it can rob the other person of the joy of giving.

Moses is pouring out blessing on the 12 family leaders of Israel. He speaks to them one family at a time and he names their family leader. Check this out…

13 About Joseph he said:

‘May the Lord bless his land

    with the precious dew from heaven above

    and with the deep waters that lie below;

14 with the best the sun brings forth

    and the finest the moon can yield;

15 with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains

    and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills;

16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness

    and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush.

Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,

    on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (Deuteronomy 33:13-16 NIV)

I loved this blessing upon Joseph because the issues with Joseph’s suffering and hardship were well known. Joseph ended up saving his family after enduring the separation and suffering in slavery and prison. What a cool blessing on Joseph and his legacy.

My favorite part of this blessing was when Moses referenced “the favor of Him who dwelt in the burning bush.” That was a huge turning point in Moses’ legacy. After hearing the Lord speak from the burning bush that wasn’t consumed, Moses was never the same again.

I believe in praying for the favor of God. I believe in praying for the blessing of God. I also believe that the Lord can use me to be “His favor or His blessing” upon others. I’ve learned that it is very rewarding to be the hands and feet of the Lord pouring out His blessing and His favor upon another person. It’s humbling to receive the favor of God, and it’s also humbling to be used by God to pour out His favor on others. God profoundly blesses me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Oppression

 

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborThis word carries with it “unjust, prolonged cruel treatment or control”. This is a situation that exists in some culture where a brutal leader treats his or her people unjustly. When I read stories of oppression like in World War II in the prison camps, I can’t wrap my head around those situations. I’ve never experienced oppression in big doses.

The Israelites were facing some serious oppression because a new “sheriff” (aka new Pharaoh) is in town and he takes a way different position toward the Israelites in the land of Goshen – a suburb of Egypt’s main city.

8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.’

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Ramses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1:8-14 NIV)

During the days of this oppression, the people of God had to cling to the promise of God to help them and protect them. Sometimes the situation gets darkest before the dawn. Things are getting rough for the people of Israel, and they are going to get worse, but God is not leaving or forsaking them. Sometimes in these situations, the Lord is building up and preparing me for what is next. The Lord never wastes an opportunity to help me grow – it is usually through some hardship or trial that He does His best work.

Oppression can lead to depression unless following the Lord is my number one obsession.

Pressing On!

Dwayne