I knew I was in trouble when I found myself looking at the back of the package, mentally calculating how many calories I would consume if I ended up eating the entire bag of Puffcorn. The total was at least enough to keep me from finishing it off (or maybe it was the gut ache I was starting to get). They shouldn’t be allowed to make food like this, it is so hard to stop. Pair it with a Diet Pepsi and I’m not sure life could get much better. Plus it’s cheap. Like a bag of happiness for only $2 – what a deal!
But then the thought came: If only I craved God as much as I craved this food. This may sound silly, but oh how it cut my heart. Ladies, have you had a similar thought? “If only I craved God as much as I crave ____________.” Fill in the blank with whatever you desire: a man, your favorite TV series, pumpkin spice anything, money, wine, beauty, a baby, comfort, attention or chocolate.
We spend our lives running after what our flesh craves. We throw our money, time and efforts at these things. And why not? Many of them come cheap and easy! Like Puffcorn on a shelf at the store for $2 a bag. We can just turn on the TV, buy more clothes, hit the coffee shop, pop a bottle, or go through the Drive-Thru. Happy and satisfied...until… tomorrow. Then we find ourselves back in line, making more purchases, or searching for new thrills.
I don’t want to live that way! And the Bible tells me I shouldn’t. As a Christian, I have been set free from the bondage of sin. It no longer has a hold on me, so I don’t have to cater to the demands of my flesh. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Roman 6:12, 14. Thinking of Puffcorn having dominion over me sounds silly, but when I give in to this type of temptation that is exactly what I am allowing. That is awful.
My heart’s desire is to crave God more than anything else. I want to yearn for him above all temporary pleasures. I want Psalm 42:1-2 to describe me, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” I want God alone to have dominion over my attentions and affections.
So how do we make this happen? I think Psalm 34:8 is fitting, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” The answer is to consume more of God so we can comprehend more of his goodness. When we understand more about our amazing God, our faith increases and our hope is established in him. We take refuge in him like the Psalm says and not worldly pleasures.
Then we can say, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103. The result is an increased desire for more! This is a good craving, a holy craving. One you are encouraged to indulge in daily and eternally. So turn away from whatever it is your flesh is screaming for and set your heart on pursuing more of God. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9.
Ladies, train yourselves to crave God. Pray for a hunger for the spiritual. The cure is double - when we have more of God, our souls are satisfied and the cravings of the flesh are stilled. This is what they call a win-win and it’s forever. So taste and see that the Lord is good today, open up his Word and find your satisfaction.
I was miserable and sick, tired and weary. Desperate for encouragement and mercy. I knew what I needed to do, exactly what I tell everyone to do when they are feeling this way. Go to the Lord and read his Word. I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel like it. But I grabbed my Bible anyway, hoping for something to sooth the dismal feelings rising within me.
I opened to a place I had marked from reading in the past. It was Isaiah. What great words of comfort did my God have for me this day? Here is some of what I read:
“Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets.” Isaiah 5:25
Yes, thank you, Lord. That is exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment. Along with the “woes” pronounced in the verses previous to this one and warnings against alcohol consumption. So very refreshing and enlightening.
Come on, God! Is that what you are giving me in my time of distress, seriously? I wanted to cry (okay, so maybe I did a little). I wanted to lodge a complaint that this Christian thing should be easier. God is supposed to be there for me when I need him. He is supposed to make me feel better. He is supposed to help me.
The truth of my self-centered mentality smacked me in the face. I may have thought I was reaching out for God but I was only looking for myself in the pages of his book. Treating God and his Word like a gumball dispenser: I was hoping for red but got green and was upset. No instant comfort was granted to me.
I had to remind myself of some very important facts. First, the Bible is about God and not Jesicah Lehman. The same can be said for my own life - I walk it, but he authored it for himself (Psalm 139:16). I then made myself mentally list what I knew of God: he is good, he is loving, he is sovereign, he is just, he is present and he is strong. And he loves me and will keep me forever. I know this, not because of what I read that day (though it is still God’s Word and valuable truth); I know this because I have read it thousands of times, over and over in his Word before this moment ever came to be. That is what sustains me, his Word in me already.
So even if the scripture I read at that moment did not seem to comfort me, I still held to God. I reminded myself of the truths of who he is and who I am because of him. Did I feel better after all of that? Not really. But my feelings are not what matter. I am sure of who my God is and I fully trust him in every way. Even if what he gives me for the day is sickness and scripture that does not console.
Ladies, always go to God and his Word. What you read may not tickle your heart strings. You may read about corpses in the streets, but there is always blessing in reading God’s Word. The comfort you find may not be instant but for those who are his, it will certainly be eternal.
A common struggle for women is the feeling of being all alone. Is this you? Whether we are physically isolated or in the middle of a crowd this feeling can overcome us and bring a sense of desperation. I want to encourage you today, but first understand this: You are not alone. Don’t believe it for a second. It is a lie and it comes from the Deceiver. He is trying to pull your attention away from your Savior. Don’t you let it happen. You are not alone.
Believing this lie negates what God tells us in his Word. You cannot believe both. You can’t declare that you are a Christian and then also complain that you are all alone in life. Those two cannot exist together, they are mutually exclusive.
This is one area I can talk about with an authority that comes through experience. Read my blog here to learn my story. It took me a few years of pain to realize God was all I needed and that he had not abandoned me. He has since put me into a physical family of believers which has been a huge blessing. But first, I had to learn to understand the full sufficiency of God in my life. That is what I want you to realize today. God is with you and he is enough.
In the Bible, the verses that reference God being present pile sky high. Even a simple online search comes up with over 1,100 verses on God’s presence. Here are just a few. Matthew 28:20 Jesus tells us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5 quotes the book of Joshua in God’s declaration of, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Speaking of Joshua, from that book we get the awesome words, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (1:9).
The promise of God’s presence in the Bible is a central message. We see it in the tabernacle and temple of the Israelites as God dwelt in the midst of his people. God’s presence provided security and direction for his people. It also brought courage for battles against massive enemy nations. In the New Testament we see God’s physical presence in the very flesh of Jesus Christ. Then in the Holy Spirit that he sends after his ascension. The Spirit brought boldness to the apostles as they proclaimed the good news to the world. We have one and the same Spirit within us today.
Can you ever be separated from your Savior? Psalm 139:7 asks that same question, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Verses 9-10 give the answer, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” There is no amount of time, distance, or any situation that can separate you from God or his love (see Romans 8).
(I should clarify…if you are not a born again believer in Jesus, then never mind. You are utterly alone and should feel desperate. I hope you feel the darkness that is pressing upon you. Sorry, you will get no lovey-dovey talk from me to encourage you today. You have no union with God Almighty. That is reserved for his family members. I do hope the desperation causes you to shout out for his salvation and brings a desire for reconciliation. Then there is true hope for you!)
Will you feel lonely? Yes, but don’t trust your feelings. As is clear from scripture, we are never left alone or forgotten by God, he is ever present. God will use loneliness in your life to draw you to himself. He will allow you to be disappointed by everyone around you until you realize he is your only source of fulfillment. God will strip away every person, if need be, until you stare him in the face and say, “Yes, God, you are enough for me.”
If you are feeling alone today, see what you are experiencing as a blessing. Know that God is bringing you closer to himself. Others can help and fellowship is must, but your relationship with God is primary. You need to understand this and live it out. Practice the presence of God in your life, talk with him and hold onto the truth of his Word. You are not alone, for God is with you and he is enough.
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b. “Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. These are the two verses I have ringing in my head this week. It has been a week full of prayer needs and I am feeling the weight of this awesome gift God has given us.
With the knowledge that we have around the clock, immediate access to God (because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross), why would we ever want to stop? Christians have the ear of the Almighty and he tells us that our prayers have great power. Great power because he is a great God! He tells us in Matthew 7:7 to, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Do we need more convincing? If so read, Philippians 4:6, John 15:7, Mark 11:24, Colossians 4:2, Romans 8:26, Luke 11:9, Ephesians 6:18, and the list goes on and on.
This is a simple message today. I just want to encourage you to pray and to pray now. Don’t wait for a less busy time, don’t wait until you think of the right words, don’t wait until “later”. Only un-important things are put off, talking to the Alpha and Omega is of utmost importance. So prove it in your life. Pray for Houston, pray your neighbor with cancer, pray for the busy mom you know who is struggling. Pray for whoever God places on your mind. Thinking of someone right now? Yep, pray for them.
If you receive a request for prayer, pray right away. Don’t chance forgetting. Make it a habit in your family and train up your children to turn to God first for all needs. Make it a lifestyle as much as eating or talking together. Talk to God first.
Let the conversation between your Father and you flourish and be continual. After all, that’s one reason it’s called a relationship. Ladies, pray now.