Stay Focused

Bear in mind then, that Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

― Bruce Lee

The two words set my nerve on edge: Below Expectations. I am working a short-term job which requires me to maintain validity. They judge this by randomly inserting tests in with actual work to make sure that I am responding in a consistent manner. For the last week I had been “Exceeding Expectations” and making incentive pay for my hard work. In one shift I had dropped to the danger zone, and I had no idea why because I cannot see what I have done wrong and my supervisor is not allowed to tell me. They can only offer suggestions. If I drop too low, I can be dropped from the job and possibly not invited to further job offers. I reminded God that He had provided this job and I needed wisdom to be able to continue.

 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

Jeremiah was the verse for Monday and reminded me that not even a computer system or validity questions were too hard for God. I continued working, but the two words “Below Expectations” were always just to the left, mocking me. I clocked out early with a headache.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

I had to confess that I was wavering in my faith a little, especially since the two words would not go away, no matter how carefully I worked. I had lost my confidence. I prayed again and kept working.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

I could see no purpose in this mental torture, but I kept on working. There was still no change in the two words. I clocked out a little early, weary of the mental strain of trying to meet some hidden goal.

 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

The next night I picked back up with those two words still lit up in orange: Below Expectations. I began to work and occasionally the system would show me that I had answered correctly, but the words refused to change. Then, I noticed that the system had not notified me of a chat message from my supervisor. It was a word of encouragement. I responded that I appreciated it.

 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4

A little while later I received a phone call from the supervisor. He said that he had no idea why the system kept showing “Below Expectations.” From His perspective, I was doing excellent work. He could see everything I had done from His side of the system, while all I could see were the two words “Below Expectations.” His encouragement got me back on track and a day later I was back on “Exceeds Expectations.”

In life, sometimes all we ever see about us are evidence that we don’t meet up to the world’s standards. The truth is it’s not the world’s standards we have to meet; it is God’s standards. He knew we could never meet them, so He sent His only Son to bridge the gap for us. The enemy uses comparison and discouragement to try and distract us from doing what God has called us to do. God doesn’t require perfection, only a willing heart. He’s not looking for someone who talks a good talk; He is looking for someone who holds fast to Him.

So, when the world tries to distract you by throwing comparisons in your face, remember to stay focused on God and hold fast.

Stand Your Ground

“You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Last summer I was walking out to my car at lunch when I suddenly found my face within inches of the gravel parking lot. I couldn’t figure out why I was walking one minute and sprawled on the ground the next. Luckily, my large purse caught the worst of it, but one knee and shin took a beating. Afterwards I realized the culprit was a pair of sandals, overstretched and in need of replacing. They had rolled out from under my feet, tripping me and sending me to the ground.

The moral of the story is I should have thrown out the shoes at the end of the last summer. I knew they sometimes would wobble beneath my feet, but they were comfortable and I hate shoe shopping. The truth was they were not solid; they were not trustworthy. As humans, we tend to put our trust in things that are not always worthy of such trust, but there is one thing we can depend upon: The Word of the Lord.

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

The Word of God is a spring of living water. Several years ago, I came across a commentary on a scripture talking about how the people had chosen a broken cistern over a spring of water. A cistern is man-made and can only hold rain water, and broken cistern would leak, so it wasn’t very reliable. A spring, on the other hand, is constantly bubbling up water. When we tap into God’s living springs, we will never be thirsty again unless we forget to take a drink. It is always available to us.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58

We can stand steadfast and unmovable when we are standing on the Word of God. It is a sure foundation.  When we make decisions based on God’s Truth, we can stand with confidence. God calls each of us to different assignments, and we have to act on our individual calling. When we do that, the labor will not be in vain. However, our good deeds and intentions are wrong if they are out of God’s will for us, so keep in the lane God assigned you to and He will use it.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

We can trust God, but trust means letting go. It’s not easy, but He will not force us. He will pursue us, though. There is a lot of peace found in letting go and letting God take the helm. He knows the way and He knows what’s coming.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

When we are unsure of the next step, we can always get wisdom from the source. God’s Word is full of wisdom, and He will give it to us if we just ask.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Best of all, His Word is eternal. Everything else in this world is subject to change, but His Word stands forever. So, we know that we can stand our ground as long as we are standing on His Word.

So, throw away those shoes and anything else that is not trustworthy. Then, when you’ve done all else, just stand (Ephesians 6:13).

Hope is Confident

I was aggravated this morning because I couldn’t seem to get everything together to write my blog post last night or this morning before my dental appointment. I wanted it all taken care of so that I wouldn’t have to think about it when I got home. The dental appointment ran late, so it was past time for lunch when I finally left, and I still had to stop by the vet’s office for cat food. I was working my way into a pity party on the drive home because the dentist had suggested a crown to go over the filling. I was just getting caught up from last year, and I had several other debts still to pay. Would I ever get ahead?

Before I broke into tears, I decided to distract myself by thinking about what I could do, which was plan out my blog and my hope notebook project. I had somehow chosen the same verse twice for the notebook, so I was one short for my 40 days. I got an idea for the 40th day as I was driving along, and in the process I remembered that God was my hope, so I could be confident that He could handle whatever comes. All of the events of last night and this morning led me to the truth God wanted me to know: He is enough.

Day 29

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Lamentations 3:24

Day 30

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

1 Peter 1:3-6

Day 31

The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Psalms 147:11

Day 32

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

Jeremiah 17:7

Day 33

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:6

Day 34

For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

Psalms 9:18

Day 35

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

As I reviewed the verses from this week, I saw God planting seeds of hope all along the way. Today was kind of like a pop quiz to see if I had learned my lessons this week. In the midst of the temptation to whine, the scriptures came back to remind me that hope is confident because it comes from a God who cannot fail. While the road will not always be easy on this journey called life, we always have a good traveling companion in the Holy Spirit and the destination is worth the struggle.

When you are tempted to wallow in pity, take a moment to list the things you have to be thankful for and it will improve your mood exponentially.  Then give that list of problems to God and ask Him to show you what to do. Sometimes that might be to just “wait upon the Lord” and sometimes it might require something on your part, but if you stay in His will, it will all work out to His Glory.

Now I’m going to go slurp some tea until feeling returns to my lip and work on my hope notebook. Today’s verse is especially timely and I am excited about the finale next week. Stay tuned to #MyHopeNotebook and remember that as long as we have God, we have a hope that give us confidence.