God is With You

Posted: December 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 God is With You

20 Days of Believing God (Day 11)

God is with us.

Not far away. Not unconcerned. Not uncaring.

God is with us.

He’s not just the God of 2,000 years ago. He’s not just the God of the future. He’s the God of the here and now.

He’s present with you. Right now. In this moment. Jesus is with…you.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

God became human and lived with us.

Jesus lives with you. Today. You don’t need to ask for His presence. He’s already present with you. Right now.

He is with YOU.

Are you afraid?

He is with YOU.

Are you in pain?

He is with YOU.

Are you discouraged?

He is with YOU.

Are you worried?

He is with YOU.

Is your marriage in trouble?

He is with YOU.

Are you lonely?

He is with YOU.

Not just with other people.

Jesus is with YOU.


How Not to Wait on God

Posted: December 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

20 Days of Believing God (Day 9)

You have a need. You feel confident God will meet it. But nothing happens.

So you wait. And wait…and wait. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.

After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.

We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, a year to sell a house or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to heal your marriage. Or waiting to get pregnant. Or waiting for a spouse.

Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.

So let’s look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried all of them so you don’t have to…

1. Get angry. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good or worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly. Anger soon turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.

2. Get discouraged. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems like things can’t get worse, sure enough, they do. Circumstances can seem so overwhelming that we lose hope. We can’t even imagine things turning around.

3. Feel sorry for ourselves. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. We think, “I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me.”

4. Manipulate our circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can comes of it.

5. Lower our expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations. I just wouldn’t expect God to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on.

So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?

Tune in tomorrow…


What Does God Want?

Posted: December 10th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 What Does God Want?

20 Days of Believing God (Day 6)

Last weekend, my right eye was watery and bloodshot. Then I felt a mild sore throat coming on. Then some congestion. And by Tuesday night, my eye was fine, but my throat was not. Mildly sore had become severely sore. I didn’t get much sleep that night and didn’t get much work done yesterday. Including a post for day 5 of our 20 Days of Believing God.

After a trip to my doctor, I’m already starting to feel better, but not getting a post done for your yesterday is probably a good reminder…

We can make all the plans we want, but we’re just not in control…and our plans are rarely, if ever, the point.

We can get frustrated when things don’t go our way, but maybe when they don’t, they’re actually going exactly as God intended. Maybe being sick when you feel like you can least afford it is God’s way of saying, “I’m not dependent on your work to meet your needs. I’ve already got this!” Or maybe, “Why don’t you slow down for a moment so you’ll hear My voice?”

I’m not saying God is going around making us sick, but I sure do believe He can use our sickness or failure or confusion to get through to us…if we’re open to Him.

So what’s not going right in your world today?

Did you oversleep and miss a meeting?

Open an email and discover you’re late on a payment?

Did your baby poop or throw up on you…right after getting both of you dressed?

Was it an argument with your spouse before you even had your first cup of coffee?

What’s confusing you or frustrating you today?

Whatever it is you’ve already faced, are facing now or will face later today…remember that the One who made you and loves you is never taken by surprise by your frustrating day, your messed up plans or the vomit stain on your shoulder.

So if God isn’t making all our plans succeed or making everyday go smoothly for us…let’s remember what’s really going on.

Let’s not lose sight of the simple fact that God wants you. Not your plans. Not your work. Not your promises to do better.

He wants YOU.

He desires you. He longs for you. He watches and waits for you. He enjoys the time you spend with Him. He loves it when you talk to Him while you drive or go for a walk. He delights in you. He enjoys you.

He didn’t make anyone else just like you. He wanted a unique relationship with YOU.

And He wants you to love Him and know Him. He likes it when you seek Him. He enjoys it when you believe Him…not your out-of-control circumstances.

And He invites you to experience Him and His rest today. Right now. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

That’s a wonderful invitation, isn’t it?

But let’s not miss our part, because if we do, I’m afraid we never get to experience what He’s promising.

We must come to Him and take His yoke upon us. When we do, He promises rest, He promises to teach us and He promises to give us a light burden.

To experience all He has for us, we must say “no” to all the distractions, so we can say “yes” to time with Him. Time alone with Him in His word is what allows us to learn to think like Him, to see life like He does, to know Him better so we can trust Him more.

And then what a privilege to also take our heavy burdens and give them to Him. Our financial worries. Our health issues. Our broken relationships.

“Here, Jesus, I’ve been carrying these for too long. I really don’t think I can take another step with them.”

I will never suggest this easy. If you’re like me, you give your burdens to Jesus, but take them back when you don’t see Him doing anything with them. We can know He’ll do something with them…it just won’t look like what we would have done OR when! And we need to be okay with that, because what we get in return are peace and a light burden.

So what’s ONE thing you can do right now to intentionally come to Jesus and give Him your heavy burdens? If you have an accountability partner, talk about it together.

And I’ll see you tomorrow. I think. That’s the plan anyway.


What’s Shaking You Today?

Posted: December 8th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

20 Days of Believing God (Day 4)

Do you ever latch onto a thought, run with it, play it over and over in your mind…and work yourself into a fit of worry? Or do you ever have a vague sense of anxiety, but you’re not sure why? You just know something feels off. You’re worried about something, but can’t even pinpoint what it is at the moment?

I do that. More than I’d care to admit.

In Isaiah 7, there are a couple enemy armies that are about to march against Jerusalem. When the people get word, it says they “were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.”

I snapped a picture looking out our front door during a thunderstorm one day. Do you ever feel like that? Shaken by some bad news, like a tree shaken by the wind?

dscn07481 300x225 Whats Shaking You Today?

I do. It happens when I allow an anxious thought, generated by my circumstances, to run loose in my mind. It doesn’t take long for my thoughts and emotions to feel whipped around like those trees in the picture.

God sees what’s happening, so He tells Isaiah to go to, Ahaz, the king, and say:

“Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood…”

Don’t you love that? The two enemy kings are nothing more than smoldering stubs of firewood to God. And if that’s what they are to Him, then that’s what they are to Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem.

God goes on to acknowledge these two kings have in fact plotted to capture Jerusalem, but then says:

“It will not take place, it will not happen.”

What hard, difficult, painful or confusing circumstances are you facing today? Have you allowed them to shake you?

I’m not suggesting we won’t face truly hard times. A job loss. Serious medical issues. Divorce. Rebellious children. Alcoholic parents. But remember, God sees. He knows what you’re facing. And as hard as your circumstances may be, they don’t have to shake you.

To God, your circumstances are a couple of smoldering pieces of firewood. He’s not shaken by them.

Don’t allow your thoughts, which fuel your emotions, to run loose. Remember what God said to Ahaz:

“It will not take place, it will not happen.”

Nothing will take place or happen to you that God does not allow. So you don’t need to worry about your circumstances spiraling out of control and becoming something you can’t handle.

Make the choice to believe God…not your circumstances, not what you see or feel.


What Do You Do When You Feel Like Quitting?

Posted: December 1st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Before I get to the post, I want to let you know about my new video course, “How to Understand Your Spouse and Transform Your Marriage.” It’s on sale until the end of the week. I want to ask you to imagine what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning, not only excited about family and presents, but knowing your marriage is better than it’s ever been and you’ve never been so in love with one another. I’ve put this course together to help you understand one another in a way that leads to seeing your marriage transformed in a short amount of time. Click here to check it out. Now on to the post…

Do you ever get to the point where you’ve had enough? I mean really had enough. Like you’ve given it your best shot, but it just didn’t work out?

Maybe you feel that way about your marriage. Or a relationship with one of your kids. Or someone you’ve been dating. Or the business you started.

And do you ever feel like you’ve given it your all, but God didn’t come through the way you thought He would? You did all you knew to do…worked hard, prayed even harder, walked by faith and anticipated God’s blessings.

And then you waited patiently. And you waited. And waited.

And you’re still waiting.

And have you ever looked around at others and wondered why things seem to be going so well for them? Why is God blessing them, but not you? They don’t seem to be smarter or more talented than you. They don’t even trust God the way you do.

And yet, they seem to be enjoying the success that keeps alluding you.

Now what?

What do you do when the doubt creeps in, the anxiety takes over and you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options? What do you do when quitting feels like your only choice?

I’ll be honest…I can relate to those feelings. And there are no easy answers to those questions.

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah is recounting an awful time in his life. Click here to read the entire chapter. Here are verses 19 to 27:

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline

The chapter hinges on verse 21 which begins with that little three-letter word, “yet.”

Things are awful…yet.

You don’t know how you’re going to make it…yet.

You’ve never been this discouraged…yet.

You see no way things can get better…yet.

Yet you can still dare to hope. Why?

Because you remember His love never ends. His mercies never cease. His faithfulness is great. He is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.

God sees you. Right now. In this very moment of fear and worry and anxiety. In this moment of disappointment and despair. He knows what you’re feeling. He understands your heartache.

He hasn’t forgotten you. He knows what He’s doing. The pain and confusion won’t be wasted.

Later in the chapter, Jeremiah says:

54 The water rose over my head,
and I cried out, “This is the end!”

(Can you relate?)

55 But I called on your name, Lord,
from deep within the pit.
56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!”
57 Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.”

If it feels like the water is rising over your head and you’re deep within the pit…call out to Him again. Do it now. He’s listening.

I know it’s hard, but don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep going. Keep crying out to Him.

And then listen as He whispers to you, “Do not fear.”


How Bad is it Really?

Posted: July 4th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

How would you feel if you learned there was a meteor ten miles wide on a collision course with earth and scientists were predicting an almost 100% chance of a direct hit in three days that would essentially end life as we know it?

Or how would you feel if you worked for months and months on a political campaign and after the votes were counted, the candidate you worked so hard for lost?

Or how would you feel if when you went to work each day there was a group of people who did nothing but criticize and insult you and tell you your ideas were bad and your plans had no chance of success?

I can tell you how I’d feel. Scared. Discouraged. Anxious. Worried. Hopeless.

Now what if the calculations were wrong and the meteor was never on a collision course? What if you turned off the television before all the votes were counted and your candidate actually won? What if your idea was good and your plans were solid and you knew your competitor sent those people?

Here’s the problem…even if something isn’t true, if you believe it is, you will still be plagued by negative emotions. Reality may be very different than what you believe, but if you don’t know it, then you’re stuck believing a lie. The truth changes everything though.

Imagine the joy of learning the meteor is millions of miles away, your candidate won and your idea is so good you’re getting a promotion and a raise.

This morning, I read a passage in Ezekiel about false prophets. Here’s one of the verses that stuck out to me:

You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins. (Ezekiel 13:22)

Then I read a passage in John 8 where Jesus is speaking of Satan:

He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

And then I was reminded of the account in Nehemiah where they are working hard to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Israel’s enemies are relentless in trying to discourage them from continuing the work. But Nehemiah says:

“There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.” They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination. (Nehemiah 6:8-9)

And finally, I thought about this verse:

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

So all of this got me thinking. What if things aren’t as bad as we think? Yeah, I know the world is a messed up, broken place, but what if there are many more people in the world who are working for what’s good and right than we think?

Could it be that a very small minority of well-placed people in influential positions could cause mass fear and discouragement? If you don’t think so, listen to a politician or just turn on the news.

I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but then again, maybe I do.

Conspiracy: an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. A combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose.

Our enemy is evil and he’s a liar who works to discourage God’s people. If he can get us to believe we’re defeated…then we will be.

What if it’s time to start a movement of people who will choose to believe the truth and pray for truth to be revealed?

Would you be interested in being a part of it?

Let me know.

By the way, the wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt in 52 days.


Aggravated With God

Posted: May 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

38999995 s 300x198 Aggravated With God

It’s been over a year since Israel left Egypt. They’ve camped at Mt. Sinai, received the law and now they’re on the move. They know when to move and when to stay because God leads them through the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The cloud or the fire are always visible.

God also provides food for them every morning. The manna appears on the ground with the dew. They gather what they need, grind it up and bake it like flat cakes.

Wouldn’t you think these people would be in awe? Wouldn’t you think they’d be blown away after seeing all the plagues God sent in Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea and how He’s been leading and providing for them in the desert? Wouldn’t you think?

Well, they’re not in awe. Or blown away. In fact, they’ve had enough already. And they’ve started complaining.

I’d like to ask them what in the world they were thinking when they started complaining, but I don’t need to. I can just ask me. I’m them. I totally get where they’re coming from.

In Numbers 11, they’re complaining about their hardships, so God sends a fire into the outskirts of the camp. They scream for Moses to help and after he prays, the fire stops. But some of them die.

Then some of the foreigners traveling with Israel start reminiscing about the good old days in Egypt when they had all the delicious food they wanted. Well this gets some of the Israelites stirred up again and they start complaining again.

Moses can hear the people complaining, so then he gets in on it. Here’s the account in Numbers 11:10-15…

10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? 13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

Can you relate? I can.

Moses didn’t ask for this. He didn’t want to be God’s spokesman to Pharaoh. He didn’t want to lead all these people. He didn’t ask for this trouble.

And yet, here he is. Right in the middle of a big old mess trying to lead a couple million complainers through a desert.

I counted them. He asks God seven questions. Are any of them familiar to you? They sure are to me.

Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly?”

What did I do to deserve…?”

Did I…?”

Did I…?”

Why did You tell me…?”

How can I…?

Where am I supposed to…?”

Moses isn’t a little frustrated. He’s aggravated. Very aggravated. I get it. I would be too. To be honest, I’m aggravated about far less than that right now. And I’ve got some of those same questions for God.

What about you?

Are you aggravated with your circumstances and with God?

Maybe you’re wondering why God is treating you the way He is. Or what you did to deserve the situation you’re in. You’re wondering why God told you to do the things He did and why things are falling down around you. And now you’re trying to figure out how to fix the problem God has gotten you into. So you’re looking around for help or answers you need and can’t find any.

I’m right in there with you if you’re going through a hard season. And you and I are in good company. Moses struggled too.

More thoughts tomorrow…

By the way, if one of your aggravations is your marriage, then let me encourage you to check out my FREE video by clicking here.


Freak Out or Faith?

Posted: April 14th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 Freak Out or Faith?

How do you respond in a crisis? I don’t mean your first reaction. No one does well when the phone rings at 2:00 a.m. I’m talking about your second reaction. After you’ve had a little time to process.

Do you panic? Feel overwhelmed? Worry? Get anxious? Are you filled with fear? Or dread?

Or maybe you respond well. You pray, assess the situation and take action. Instead of fear, you respond with faith. You might feel powerless, but that drives you to pray.

How do you respond?

In Luke 8:22-56, there are a number of people who are facing a crisis of one kind or another. Some are in fear of their lives. Some are facing serious health issues. And it’s fascinating to see how they respond and then how Jesus responds to them. Click here to read the passage.

The first group of people we see are the disciples. They’re out on the lake in a boat when a fierce storm hits. The boat was filling with water and they were in real danger. How do they respond to the crisis?

They freak out by waking Jesus up and shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Jesus calms the storm and then asks, “Where is your faith?”

When they arrive at the other side of the lake, a demon-possessed man approaches Jesus just as He’s getting out of the boat. This guy was homeless, naked and had lived alone in the cemetery for a long time. The demons have a crisis on their hands. The Son of the Most High God has just shown up. How do they respond?

They freak out, too. They beg Jesus not to send them to the bottomless pit, but to instead allow them to go into a herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission and they enter the pigs. The herd then rushes over a steep cliff into the lake and drowns.

The people of that region hear what has happened and rush out to Jesus. When they see the man who’d been demon-possessed sitting there, fully clothed and in his right mind, they face a crisis. Something powerful and mysterious has just occurred and they don’t understand it. How do they respond?

They freak out, of course. They’re afraid of Jesus and beg Him to leave. The one person who isn’t freaked out is the guy who’s been made well. He begs to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home to his family and tell them all God has done for him.

Jesus gets back in the boat and heads to the other side of the lake again. When He arrives crowds press around Him, including a guy named Jairus who’s 12-year-old daughter is dying. How does he respond to his crisis?

He believes Jesus can heal her begs Him to come with him. Jesus agrees to go with him, but then gets sidetracked by a woman in crisis. She’s been bleeding for twelve years without relief. Nothing she has tried has cured her. How does she respond?

She believes that if she can just touch the cloak Jesus is wearing, she’ll be healed. And she is. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

While Jesus is speaking with her, word comes to Jairus that his daughter has died. But Jesus says to him, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

When Jesus arrives at his home, He tells the mourners to stop weeping because the little girl is only asleep. They all know she’s really dead and so they respond by laughing at Jesus. Of course, Jesus gets the last laugh when He brings her back to life.

Let’s recap…

The disciples face a crisis and freak out. Jesus asks them where there faith is.

The demons face a crisis and freak out because they know who Jesus really is. He exercises His authority over them and drives them out of the man, who is then healed and sane again.

The people of that region face a crisis and freak out in fear and beg Jesus to leave, which He does.

The man who was now free of the demons demonstrates faith by begging to go with Jesus.

The woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years faces a crisis and exercises her faith and experiences healing. She goes in peace.

Jairus faces a crisis when he realizes his daughter is dying. He has faith in Jesus and begs Him to come heal her, which He does.

The mourners face a crisis by laughing at Jesus. The gospel of Mark tells us Jesus made them leave the house before he raised the little girl to life. Could they have witnessed the miracle themselves if only they’d had faith like Jairus?

What’s your crisis today?

Is it financial? Health-related? A troubled marriage or relationship with a child? An issue at work? Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the state of the world.

You and I really have two choices. We can focus on the circumstances we’re in and freak out OR we can focus on Jesus, exercise faith in Him and experience His joy and peace.

I don’t know what Jesus will do in response to your faith. I wish I could tell you the crisis will be immediately resolved. That probably won’t happen. And I wish I could tell you it will be easy to focus on Jesus and trust Him. It won’t be.

Keeping your eyes on Jesus and trusting Him will require diligence. Your circumstances will cry out for your undivided attention. Whatever situation you’re in will feel more real than Jesus does.

But don’t give up. Make the choice to see your circumstances through the eyes of Jesus. Know beyond any doubt there’s nothing too hard for Him. Bring Jesus into the midst of your fears, worries and weaknesses. He sees. He understands. And He’s at work right now.


Worrying About Money

Posted: February 28th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Do you? Worry about money, I mean.

I’ll confess that I do. I really try not to, but it’s an ongoing battle. It’s become harder recently since I was laid off in November. I got a month of severance pay and received my last paycheck on December 31st.

A few days ago, I was reading in Mark 12 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. He said, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

Part of loving God is loving Him with our minds.

This morning, I read Exodus 34:14, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”

Ponder that for a minute. His name is Jealous and He is jealous. About what? His relationship with you and me.

As I was praying, I watched as two birds landed on a light pole outside the window of my hotel. They kept looking up to the sky. It reminded me of Matthew 6…

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Several things hit me from that passage:

1. We can’t love and serve God and money. We have to choose.

2. I’m to be like the birds outside my window who weren’t worried about anything. They weren’t planting or harvesting. They didn’t even seem to mind the freezing drizzle.

3. Material needs “dominate the thoughts of unbelievers…”

So let me see if I can tie all this together…

The greatest commandment is to love God, which includes loving Him with my thoughts. He is jealous for me. He doesn’t want me to have any other gods before Him. I have to choose between loving and serving God or loving and serving money. And money and material needs dominate the thoughts of those who don’t know God.

So if my thoughts are dominated by thoughts about money, how can I also be loving God with my mind? Practically speaking, it’s like I’m denying He even exists when I worry. Why? Because He promises if I’ll seek first His Kingdom and live as He desires, He’ll meet my material needs.

How about you? Do you worry about money? Or about something else?

God is jealous for the attention you and I give to these other gods who can never satisfy us anyway. When we choose to take our focus off money and put it on Him, it’s one way that we can express our love for Him.

On the other hand, when we choose to worry, it’s like believing God cares more about birds and flowers than about us.


Prayer for a Breakthrough

Posted: January 30th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I don’t want to suffer. I know you don’t either.

We want good health for ourselves and those we love. We want to always have enough money to pay the bills with some left over. We want our relationships, especially with family members, to bring us joy and satisfaction. We want to be successful in our work. And we want our neighborhood, our city, our country and our world to be a safe place to live. And when we pray about something, we want God to answer. Sooner than later.

Does that pretty well capture what we want?

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to walk by faith. I don’t. A few days ago, I wrote a post on this site about seeking and trusting God. And really, that’s what this blog has been about for the past seven years. But if I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t really want to be in a position to have to trust God.

I want all of my needs met today, not tomorrow. I don’t even want to know how things will work out in the future, because that implies they’re not worked out today. And that makes me uncomfortable. And I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I know you don’t either.

That’s just not reality though. It’s not the way life works. It’s not the way God works.

James 1:2-4 says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James is cluing us in to how life really works. And it’s contrary to the way we want it to work. It’s contrary to the way the world system tells us it should work. It’s even contrary to the way some Christians tell us life should work. We’re told that if we just have enough faith then we’ll have all the money we want and we’ll be healed of every sickness.

That’s not true though. My good friend died from colon cancer last year. He had great faith.

James doesn’t say “if” troubles come our way, he says “when” they do, we’re to consider it an opportunity for great joy. Yeah, I wish it didn’t work that way either, but it does.

We’re to consider troubles to be joy because we know that when our faith is tested, our endurance grows. When our endurance is fully developed, we enter into a new dimension of relationship with God where we discover He’s all we need, that in Him, we lack nothing.

When we pray for “breakthroughs”, I think what we’re really praying for is a quick way out of our troubles. At least that’s what I’m doing. It sounds something like this: “Oh God, please help me! I need a breakthrough today!” We want an end to the suffering today, don’t we? Have you ever prayed for a breakthrough to come in six months? Me either.

Maybe the better prayer is not for a breakthrough, but a go-through: “Oh God, give me the wisdom and strength to go through these troubles. Increase my faith. Help my endurance grow. Help me see I need You more than I need comfortable and pleasant circumstances.”