More Than You Can Bear

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:12-13a, NIV)

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t show you all of His will for you? There have been so many times in my life that I wished God would just tell me His whole plan for me! However, in my experience, He typically gives only one or two steps at a time. When I have the faith and courage to take the step He’s shown me, God reveals the next step, and then the next, and so on. One step at a time He leads us along the path He’s laid out for us–but He only shows us the next step.

In John 16, Jesus told His disciples they couldn’t handle knowing God’s full plan. If they’d known the full details about Jesus’ death, resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the persecution they would suffer as followers of Jesus, they probably would’ve abandoned ship right then and there. I don’t think any of us could’ve walked the path the disciples walked if we’d seen where the path was leading. And I’m not convinced we would walk the path laid out for us if we could see all the twists, turns, bumps, roadblocks, and dangers ahead.

Maybe one reason why God only shows us a step at a time is that revealing His full plan to us would be more than we could bear.

Thankfully, He doesn’t have to give us the full download all at once. Instead, He gave us Himself, His Holy Spirit, who guides us one step at a time into the truth and will of God. May the Lord forgive me when I get frustrated because I can’t see more than a step on the path ahead! My prayer for this week is that we will trust God and take whatever step He’s called us to, even though we can’t see what lies beyond it.


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Chosen and Filled

Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God…” (Exodus 31:1-3a, NIV)

In Exodus 31, God is giving Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle, the place where the presence of God would dwell among His people. He chose Bezalel, filled him with the Holy Spirit, and gifted him with Spirit-empowered gifts of art and craftsmanship to oversee the work.

Chosen. Is that a word that describes you? How would it make you feel if you knew that God knew you even before you were born? What if we swap out the names in Exodus 31:1-3? Fill in your name like I did below:

Then the LORD said, “See I have chosen Andy son of Tim, the son of Bob, of the Fuqua family, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God.”

How would it make you feel if God Himself spoke those words about you? Loved. Infinitely valuable. Beautiful. Confident. Courageous. Humble. Called. Planned. Special. These are words that come to my mind. God knew you even before He created you. He knew every decision you would make (including the decision to follow Jesus). God chose you, called you, justified you, and has a plan for your future glorification (see Romans 8:28-30). He has given Himself to you, the Holy Spirit to enable you to fulfill your calling, to glorify Christ in your life. If you’ve been chosen, you’ve also been filled.

Living daily by the power of the Holy Spirit begins with understanding who you are as one chosen by the Most High. Let both the joy of the privilege and the weight of the responsibility rest on your soul for a moment. My prayer for this week is that we will walk with both confidence and humility as those who are chosen and filled.


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It is in Vain

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
(Psalm 127:1–2, ESV)

I get up fairly early to spend with the Lord each day (I actually have a standing appointment with God on my calendar, but I’m a geek and that’s another blog). This morning I was thinking about the busy week ahead, all the things on my list to do. And I thought, Maybe this morning instead of reading the Psalms with God I’ll get a jumpstart on sermon prep for the week. God knows how much I have to do this week and He’ll understand.

As I was thinking this, the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I decided to spend my time with God, but not in Psalms. I would generate a reading plan about the Holy Spirit and start reading through those passages as my “devotional” time. Even while I was trying to make a deal with the Holy Spirit, I realized that if this was my plan I would end up spending my entire “devotional” time researching reading plans, rather than meeting with God in His Word. Plus, researching Holy Spirit reading plans is one of the tasks on my to do list for the week.

I felt pretty strongly that God wanted me to keep my meeting with Him in the Psalms, and the Psalm for today is Psalm 127. I read through the Psalm a few times (it’s only five verses) and was listening to what God might be saying. I got hung up on verse 2 and the way different English Bibles translate it in different ways, so I read it in Hebrew and was thinking about the various translation options when all of a sudden the Holy Spirit turned a light bulb on in my head.

Here I had been trying to convince myself to skip my meeting with God so that I could rise up early and work ahead on my week. But unless the LORD builds the house, the builders work in vain, and unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen work in vain… And God couldn’t have spoken any more clearly to me: “It is in vain that you rise up early (v. 2). Unless the LORD shepherds the church, the pastor works in vain! Getting up early to work won’t work unless God is the One working. So if I’m going to get up early, I might as well enjoy a cup of coffee with my Lord and let Him empower my work later.

As God so patiently spent time with me and brought that to my attention, I couldn’t help but laugh. There was no condemnation in His conviction, and I could feel His smile when  I finally got what He was saying to me this morning. My prayer for you this week is that you’ll remember to spend time with God in the midst of the busy-ness of life.


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In My Distress

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” (Psalm 120:1, NIV)

How is your prayer life? Mine has gone through many seasons alternating between fervent, regular, intimate prayer and periods of dryness where I feel like God doesn’t answer or I just plain don’t pray. One thing’s for sure, though, when I’m in a rough patch in life, my prayer habits tend to improve. Funny how distress often causes us to remember God! O that we would call on the Lord when times are good, and not just when trouble heads our way!

This hasn’t always been the pattern in my life. A few years ago, when Asher was a baby, he was pretty sick and had to go to the ER. Even though I was a pastor who counseled people to call on the Lord in times of trouble, it didn’t occur to me to apply that counsel to my own life. We got to the hospital, checked in, and were waiting for the doctor. Corinne asked me if I would pray for Asher, and I immediately recognized the Holy Spirit speaking through my bride: Are you going to ask for My help or try to muscle through this on your own?

The truth that God walks through our distress with us, giving us the strength to endure, fell from my head to my heart. I had learned it, but I didn’t know it–does that make sense? It took a little distress in my life for God to teach me that lesson.

One of my favorite things about God is that He answers us when we call on Him. He walks through life with us. He helps us when we’re weak and calms us when we’re afraid. He celebrates with us when things go well, and encourages us when they don’t. My prayer for this week is that you will call on the Lord and He will answer you, whether you’re in distress or delight.


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Blessed Are Those Who Fear the Lord

If you’ve been reading through the Psalms with me in 2018, you’ll know that our Psalm for today is Psalm 113. However, given that I recently used Psalm 113 as the text of a sermon, I thought I would share a prayer from Psalm 112 this week. I initially prayed Psalm 112 for my boys, but you can pray this Psalm for anyone. Pull up Psalm 112 in your Bible and follow along as you read. If you write your own prayer, please share it with me (andy@lakevc.org)!


Prayer from Psalm 112

Hallelujah!

May my brothers and sisters who are LakeView Church (and those who read these, but are not part of the LakeView family) fear You, Lord, and delight in Your commands, and be blessed. May their children walk in faith and grow to be people who transform their neighborhoods through the blessing You have poured out on them.

May You richly provide for them, and may their homes be full of the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus. Lord, give them a taste of their eternal inheritance this week. Even when they struggle with the darkness, may Your light shine through them. As they are gracious, compassionate, and righteous, fill them with hope to endure the night, knowing Your dawn is coming.

Stir up their hearts to be generous and seek justice, knowing that good will come to them as they freely give to those in need.

May they never be shaken! Let them leave a legacy of faith that will be remembered forever. When bad news attacks, may their hearts be secure and steadfast as they trust You–they will have no fear. Give them victory over the trials of life.

As they freely give, let them freely receive. Bless them with the enduring righteousness of Christ, and bestow honor upon them as children of God. May their family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors hold them in high esteem and see God in them. May their reputation as honorable men and women be known throughout the community.

Let the wicked see Your blessing lavished on my brothers and sisters, and let them scratch their heads in wonder. Use the honor and strength and righteousness You provide to draw the unbeliever in. Those who reject Your goodness will waste away and pursue dead ends with their lives. But those who seek You will find You.

Hallelujah!


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