Standing Strong Through the Storm OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS*

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*The text below is taken from Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The Bible has much to say about open doors but many times – even as Christians – we seem to face obstacles on our path and in our ministry. Blocked doors can be VERY frustrating. Yet God often uses closed doors to advance His cause.

 Bible teachers like Max Lucado remind us that God closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display His power to the elderly one. He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator. He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

And even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.

It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.

A prayer is circulating on the Internet that expresses it this way:

  • He asked for strength that he might achieve, he was made weak that he might endure;
  • He asked for health to do larger things, he was given infirmity that he might do better things;
  • He asked for power that he might impress men, he was given weakness that he might seek God;
  • He asked for wealth that he might be free from care, he was given poverty that he might be wiser than carefree.
  • He asked for all things that he might enjoy life, he was given life that he might enjoy all things;
  • He received nothing he asked for. He received more than he ever hoped for.

His prayer was answered!

Blessed man!

The shortest distance between a closed and open door is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.

RESPONSE:

Today I will accept that my blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. Quite the opposite. I’ll see it as proof that He does.

PRAYER:

Thank You Lord that You know best and have even better plans for me and my service for You. Help me wait patiently for You to open the right door at the right time!

 

Freeing the Mind of Negative Thoughts

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Even though I am a die-hard optimist, I had a rude awakening about the power of positive thinking – as a committed Christian, my positive thoughts don’t hold any inherent supernatural power to force God’s will into existence.

My positive thoughts, affirmations and visualization aren’t a substitute for discerning God’s will.  Nor can my positive thoughts and visualisation substitute the “hard work” of patient trusting and faith that declares “Thy will be done.”

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  God, not my positive thoughts, is the Almighty and only real power in the Universe.  Yet many of us have seen and heard testimonials of the benefits and outcomes of positive thinking.

Jesus implores us to “Ask believing to receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

Asking and believing imply the expectation of a positive outcome.  Belief requires holding positive thoughts in faith.  Our faith influences the outcome of our prayers.

Paul admonishes the believers in the Church at Rome to “be transformed by the renewing of their minds,” to not think and act like non-believers who are influenced by the things in this world.  Our thoughts coming from our renewed minds influence our behaviour. (Romans 12:2)

Disappointing outcome of positive thinking

Following the teachings of the Bible and influenced by an endless list of spirituality teachers, I recently spent quite some time and effort convincing myself, through positive thinking and visualization, that a new career opportunity was mine.  I saw a series of coincidental events as further proof that I was headed in the right direction and that I could expect to get the job offer.  Many people were praying with me and for me.  Many people made positive affirmations and said that they could clearly see me in that new role.  So did I.  When the job offer did not materialize, I was disappointed.  What the heck went wrong?

On reflection, I realized that I had spent an inordinate amount of time convincing myself – fighting against recurring negative thoughts and doubts that I wouldn’t get the job offer. Negative thoughts stirred up feelings of fear and anxiety, which I tried to eliminate by using positive thinking to predict a positive outcome.  The positive thoughts not only calmed my fear and anxiety, but made me falsely believe that I correctly discerned God’s will.  That’s wishful thinking!

Nothing is wrong with replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts that are based on the teachings of the Bible.  Our thoughts do determine our attitude and influence outcomes of things that are generally within our control.

The big lesson I learned from this experience is that affirming a positive thought, or visualizing a desired outcome is not to be mistaken for the voice of God or the revelation of His will.

Faith to receive God’s best

Faith in the uncompromising love and goodness of God is at the core of the declaration “Thy will be done.”  The believing that Jesus implores us to do when we ask in prayer is about having faith that His answer will always be for our highest good.  Rather than fearing an outcome that I don’t want, I have resolved that I will ask in faith for what I desire but leave myself open to receive God’s highest and best.

In my struggle to rid my mind of negative thoughts, I have learned that residual fear can co-exist with faith.  This is where the struggle between intention and action occurs.  Paul tells his fellow Christians in Rome that he knows in faith what he is to do, but he is prevented by his fear of letting go and trusting God completely to help him do what he ought to do. (Romans 7:24).  The truth is that even in the face of fear it is possible to step out in faith to do what I ought to do.  This is courage.  Courage comes from trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, who is also my Comforter and support in times of struggle with fear which can weaken my will to surrender to God’s will.

3 steps to increase faith

In my ongoing journey to live a life free from fear and anxiety, it is possible to root out negative thoughts, which is essential if I am to get to the place of increased faith and unbridled trust in God’s infinite goodness and love.

Three steps that I take every time I have a negative, fear-filled, anxious thought are–

  1. I have a conversation with myself –
    • Is the thought factual?
    • Is the thought supporting me?
    • What’s the worst and best that could happen?
  2. I surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, by aligning body (physical reactions), soul (ego, emotions) and spirit (thoughts)
    • Stop struggling to know the outcome
    • Breathe deeply and relax in silence
    • Pray – ask God to prevail, to be present, to powerfully control my emotions and give me more faith
  3. I affirm the Word of God, speak positively and courageously, even if I feel scared –
    • “God has a good plan for my life” – Jeremiah 29:11
    • “All things are working together for good.” – Romans 8:28
    • “Every thought that God has not planted in my mind and heart will be uprooted.” – Matthew 15:13

Expanding faith

Finally, the Bible teaches us that faith is counted as righteousness. Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness, which put him in a right, loving, guiding relationship with God. (Romans 4:3) 

I am reassured that by Christ’s death, God sees me as having Christ’s righteousness.  I can run to Him as my loving “Abba Father” when I feel afraid and my faith is weak (Galatians 4:6).  God doesn’t hold my lack of faith against me, as long as I ask for more of it.  I know for sure that I am being transformed as I grow in faith.  Growth and transformation take time.  Negative thoughts will die, as I nourish my mind with the Word of God.  That’s how my faith will expand as I leave myself open to accept God’s faithfulness and goodness in the answers to my prayers.

Christ in me, the hope of glory!  That’s why glory matters.

@Glorymatters

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com 

3 Lessons from Learning to Listen to God

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Feeling vulnerable, confused and anxious come with the territory of personal uncertainty, particularly in relation to life’s big questions – Who should I marry?  Should I take this job?  Where should I live?  Why am I here?  What’s my life’s purpose?   

We only find the answers when we find our truth.  Our truth is what’s right for us in our particular situation.

While the good advice of others cannot always be discounted, it is really up to each person to find their own truth.

Finding one’s truth can be very tricky.  This is because no one but you really knows what impassions you or what your life’s purpose really is.  Intuitionthe ability to know without conscious reasoning – for most of us, is generally the source of our truth.  Whenever I have come to a crossroads in my life’s journey, I have had to rely on my intuition to take the next step.  Admittedly, this is not easy, but I have learned a few lessons, which I share below –

Lesson #1 – Claim your own power

It takes faith to own your truth, which only you intuitively know.  Intuitively knowing doesn’t always come easily to most of us as we’ve been taught and conditioned to rely on our intellect, logic and reasoning to solve our problems and find the right answers tough questions.  It’s very easy to buy into the good advice of others, without really knowing that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for us. To follow someone else’s dream is to surrender your own power and deprive yourself of the pleasure and fulfilment of your life’s mission.

As a Christian, I consider intuition to be the quiet voice of God speaking specifically to me and my situation.  In fact the apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth speaks about the capacity of the Christian mind to discern and understand spiritual truths.  When we personalize these truths, we gain personal insight and direction.

What I know now is that following my intuition is the best way to claim my power and find true fulfillment in life. 

In my experience, silent meditation opens the mental space for inspiration and the voice of intuition to be heard.  Positive affirmations and mantras support alignment of purpose and intention.  The inner knowing that comes from intuition empowers me to take action in the face of risk and uncertainty.  This requires faith and surrendering the outcome.

On the face of it, it seems ironic to say that claiming one’s power requires faith and the ability to surrender. This is because we often equate power with control.  Faith and surrender require that we relinquish the power to control outcomes.  My experience has taught me that there is power in faith and in surrendering the outcome.

Lesson #2 – The power of faith

Whenever I tried to control the outcome of situations beyond my control, I realized how powerless I made myself become.  I ended up being sick with worry and the effects of anxiety attacks over things like other people’s decision to hire me, extreme weather conditions, election results, etc.

What I know now is that the only power I really have is faith.  

Faith is the courage to say “Thy will be done.” For me, faith lets me know that regardless of the outcome, I’ll be okay.  I’ve come to understand that the Universe is God’s orchestra and that understanding the interplay of events with the benefit of hindsight has reaffirmed my mantra that “All things are working together for good.”

Lesson #3 – The power of surrendering

Having faith for a specific outcome can be very limiting.  In fact, I have been fortunate to learn this lesson the easy way.  The hard way would have been to get what I thought I really wanted only to find out later that I had missed out on enriching opportunities.  With the benefits of initial disappointment and hindsight, I have come to understand that very often, what seems to be the best really isn’t.  Several declined applications to advanced degree programs, made me feel crushed and caused me to question my faith.  Taking a partly paid leave of absence from a job in which I saw no future, opened the door to a scholarship to study abroad for 2 years, a promotion on my return and I eventually had the opportunity to migrate to a country where there was greater scope for professional growth and expansion.

What I know now is that if all things are working together for good, then I leave myself open to limitless possibilities.  

I don’t have to have all the answers, but I do have to know my truth.  Guided by my intuition, if I am clear on my life’s purpose, affirm my intention and have faith, I know that the final outcome will lead me to my highest good.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory…That’s why glory matters!

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

Canada Day

Canada Day is a national holiday, not a feast of the Church; and yet it is right that we Christians offer prayer and thanksgiving today, because all the good things which we enjoy as Canadians have their origin as gifts of God. The resources of our land and the oceans which border it, our diversity as Canadian people, the heritage of Confederation and our nation’s continuing efforts to ensure peace and justice for all its citizens — all these things call the Church to remember and celebrate the God who gave them. At the same time, we as the people of the Church must accept an immense responsibility as citizens of Canada. We believe that divine grace seeks to fulfill what divine power has created. We are the servants of this saving purpose of God: we do not leave the concerns of Canadian society behind us when we enter our churches; we enter our churches in order to gain fresh strength for the work of making God’s justice, compassion, and wisdom ever more present in the life of our nation. On Canada Day, our task is to dedicate ourselves to the mission of bringing all our country’s resources — natural and human — within the circle of God’s redemptive love in Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, whose wisdom and whose love are over all, accept the prayers we offer for our nation. Give integrity to its citizens and wisdom to those in authority, that harmony and justice may be secured in obedience to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Taken from Daily Devotional Anglican Meditation.

 

 

Part 3 : Overcoming obstacles – The limitless potential of the child of God

This is the third in a series of blog posts on The Limitless Potential of the Child of God. In Part 2  I wrote about finding your purpose.   In this, the third and final part of the series, I speak about overcoming obstacles to the fulfilment of your purpose.

A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE ON FAILURE & SHORTCOMINGS

From my own life experience, there have been times when I have failed tests, made mistakes in my job and I have “fallen short of the glory of God.”  Nonetheless, I can safely say that whatever pain I may have experienced is miniscule in comparison to the spiritual growth, the material prosperity and the new, relevant skills and talents that I have either gained or developed in each situation.  All of this consistently paves th way for me to achieve consecutively higher levels of spiritual consciousness and to live more abundantly.  God has never and will never put me in a situation to make me feel like a failure of feel that I am anything other than who he created me to be.  Everything that happens to me heightens my awareness of God’s purpose for my life and propels me to achieve my highest good.  Paul states that “He (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6)  So this clearly means that there is always room for improvement and the need for more lessons to be learned, and it also means that there is no limit to my God-given potential.

I want to encourage you to grow in the awareness that every life experience – success or failure, adversity or prosperity – is worth having as long as we can understand that through it we are being propelled to a higher level of spiritual awareness and achievement.  Nothing can be more precious than the knowledge of Christ and the limitless power which is available to those of us who abide in Him.  This truth led Paul to affirm that “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8).

MAKING IT HAPPEN

Do not be daunted by apparent failure.  Take what you have learnt from each experience and move on to bigger and better things.  Abandon right now any doubt or disbelief in yourself.  Reject every suspicion that you will always have doubts or that you have limited abilities that prevent you from fulfilling God’s purpose for you here on earth.  You are one with God and endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit.  You are never separate from God.  In Him, you live, move and have your being (Acts 17:28).  Through God’s grace and power, you have access to His limitless supply of power, prosperity and success that God wills for you to have.  As Peter puts it, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3).

Erase every negative thought of lack and limitation and integrate Paul’s words in your thoughts and speech “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  This means that you can do all that God assigns you to do, not what you want to do that is not in God’s will.  So the statement that there is no limit to your God-given potential, is based on your understanding of God’s specific will and purpose for your life.

DILIGENCE

It is essential for us to realize that we have a duty to put our faith into action through diligent effort.  The diligent application of our talents, skills and abilities results in glory being given to God, and His blessings of spiritual and material prosperity.  In Proverbs 13:4,  we are told that ” He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”  Diligent and ambitious thoughts and actions lead to prosperity.  Again in Proverbs 21: 5, we are told that “The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness,…”  We must apply as much diligent effort to the pursuit of material things as we do to gaining spiritual understanding and building up our faith as “But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” (Hebrews 11:6).

It is a fact that those who work hard, achieve success, earn the respect of man and bring glory to God.

“Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings;…”  (Proverbs 22:29)

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

Leave a comment.  Visit my website www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Part 1: The limitless potential of the child of God

I am burdened that far too many Christians believe that they are limited.  I firmly believe that there is no limit to our God given potential.  The Child of God is a miracle – an expression of God’s supernatural transforming power, embodying miracles waiting to happen – as God continues to manifest his His power and blessings in you and through you.

Limitation is a carnal concept.  When people tell you that you don’t have the ability to achieve and succeed, it is because they are relating to what they see with their natural eyes.  They are describing your abilities and limitations in relation to human limitations, which are very often observed in this physical world.

OUR DIVINE NATURE

Let us affirm that there is no limit to our God-given potential.  We feel limited when we do not see ourselves as being endowed with the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Spirit of God.  Remember that we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  I am not saying that we are little gods, or ‘Holy Spirit jr.’  But we, being made in the image and likeness of God, are made to reflect His glory.  We can therefore understand spiritual truths, we can know God’s perfect will for our lives and we can achieve material prosperity and love other people, regardless of what may have happened to us in this world.

In the parable of the vine and the branches (John 15: 5-11), Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself speaks of dwelling in the believer’s life, enabling him/her to bring forth the fruit of spiritual understanding and material blessings provided that the believer is embedded / has a personal relationship with God.  Remember, that “in God, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST

“We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).  The mind of Christ is characterised by the ability to mediate and understand the truths of God.  We are told in Psalm 1:2 that the mind of the righteous person delights in meditating on the law of the Lord – that is, all of the truths of God written in the Bible, including the ability of mankind to receive abundantly and limitlessly both spiritually and materially.  Also, remember the spiritually minded person takes a spiritual perspective on past life events (Deuteronomy 32: 7); understands the purpose of chastisement (Deuteronomy 8:5), attributes prosperity to the goodness of God (1 Samuel 12:24) and learns deep lessons from observing God’s creation (Matthew 6: 28 – 29).

With the mind of Christ, we can know what God’s perfect will for our lives is.  We can look back on our past, we can understand what is happening in the present and see God’s clear direction and understand what our purpose on this earth is.  On this basis, I firmly believe that if we have the mind of Christ, we are inspired by God to ask for the things that are in agreement with God’s perfect will for us.  We can visualize in faith whatever we desire to become, without any thought of human limitation and receive it in reality – God willing!  That said, God will enable us and therefore there is no limit to our God-given potential.

In Part 2, I will speak about finding our purpose and using our God-given potential to achieve it.

Leave a comment.  Visit my website www.camilleisaacsmorell.com