Monday, November 30, 2009
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
We have every Spiritual Blessing in Christ:
• We have been chosen in Him
• He has made us Holy and blameless in His sight
• We have been adopted as His sons
• We are His pleasure and part of His will
• We have been given Redemption through His blood
• Which includes Forgivness of Sins
• We have the incomparable riches of God’s Grace
• We have His Wisdom and understanding lavished on us
• He has made known His will to us
• We are under Him
• He has worked out everything
• We are included with Christ
• Marked with a seal; the Holy Spirit!
• We are His inheritance.
Do we grasp what is ours in Christ?
Do we see that each of these statements are past tense. It has already happened. It was ours before we even knowingly became His. The Christian life is the process of becoming what you already are in Christ.
Lets look at the difference between the polliwog and a child. A polliwog is born as a shapeless mass with a tail. After a while it sprouts some legs. Eventually it takes the form of a frog or a toad. But when a human baby is born it comes with all the necessary parts--they just need to grow. The same thing is true of a Christian. When you were born into the family of God, you were not a spiritual polliwog. You were complete. You have all the parts of a Christian; you simply need to grow.
When God saves a person, that work is total and complete. He stands perfect before God. The rest of his life is just a matter of growing so his practice will match his position. Christian maturity is like a baby learning to use all the parts they were given at birth.
Instead of seeking more favor with God or trying to be more “perfect” for heaven, we should thank God, who has " qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. " (Col. 1:12). We are already perfected for heaven. Nothing we do will make God love us more than He already does.
When we know what we have in Christ as it clearly states in Ephesians 1:3-14, that ought to change the way we live. People will not have a desire to live righteously unless they understand who they are. The mature Christian understands his privileges, possessions, and resources so he can live consistently with who he is in Christ.
Do you know what you have?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
He knows me well. He knows how I fret. He knows that I run scenarios around in my head till I can't stand my self. But somehow I still slept last night. I think for some reason He just needed to wake me up to remind me that He is God. That in all the insanity that surrounds me, His peace is all encompassing.
As I laid there this morning knowing it was Him that woke me, I went to him directly in prayer, seeking to know what it is He wanted me to know, or what I may need to do to clear the way between us. I waited.
I prayed for my family, my friends, my church, and then it came to me.
Philippians 4. That's all.
Thankful that I had no major sin I needed to confess, I thanked Him and said I would read it in the morning when I got up. He didn't much like that and kept me awake until 5am. Why I just don't listen is beyond me. I could have gotten back to sleep, but no I tossed and turned and finally when my beloveds alarm went off I sat up, finally grabbed my bible and read Phil 4.
He said, No in the Message. Which meant I had to go downstairs to get it. I did.
And I read:
Phil 4: 6-9 (from the Message) 6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
I smiled; told Him I knew all that. Then I got ready for work.
After dropping my little guy off at school, I started praying and may I tell you that I have never felt the spirit in prayer like I did today. Tears ran down my eyes for no other reason then that I was in total communion with Him. The power and peace that filled me as I prayed over this day and what was to come. I prayed using Phil 4:6-9. When I came to the end of praying, I felt so filled. So loved, so confident in Him.
Thank you God for waking me, for your persistent heart in seeking mine. For all that you fed my spirit.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The following has been adapted for this blog:
Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life."
This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live Coram Deo is to live one's entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.
To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His all seeing gaze.
To be aware of the presence of God is also to be strongly aware of His sovereignty. When we recognize that if God is God, then we will indeed know that He is sovereign. Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, offered in a spirit of adoration and thankfulness.
To live all of life Coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and worth in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life that is constantly decaying. It is marked by inconsistency, disunity, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.
Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in consistency. Which means we are the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, and by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the teaching of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.
Coram Deo . . . before the face of God. That's the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles."
May I challenge you to live Coram Deo today and each day. To recognize that you are already before the face of God when you rise in the morning. A friend of mine jokingly stated: “The Holy Spirit doesn’t kick in till after my coffee” (I know she was joking).
My dear friends we are always in the presence of the Almighty God, God Most High. And if we are His, we don’t get to wait till after our morning coffee to submit our lives to the Holy Spirit. To live Coram Deo is to live “knowingly” before His face at all times.
Are you aware of Him at all times?
Do you work like He's there?
Do you love like He's there?
Do you resolve conflict like He's there?
Do you give like He's there?
Coram Deo, living face to face with God.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
There I said it. Sitting still when I see a problem I could fix is one of the hardest things I do. My current profession requires that I be a fixer. In this arena of my life, my God given talent is well used and well appreciated. I am often commended for my “big picture” visionary skills. These skills have been useful in my ability to find problems, to diagnosis problems and to eventually fix the problems. That is all well and good in the work world. Even there sitting with the problem can frustrate me because I know I can figure it out.
In relationships or with people, fixing may not be so welcomed. This talent God has given me in the professional realm can be a curse in the relational realm. I still possess the talent. It can still be used for good, but there are times I am finding that I cannot rush in and fix things. As I learned from a dear friend this past week end there are times I just need to “sit with it”. I’m not good with “sitting” with anything. I want the problem solved, and I’m just as thrilled to work on it all night if I have to for it to be solved. I will let it whirl in my head until the wee hours of the morning. Running it through different scenarios until I find the one that fits just right and BAM I have it. I have the perfect answer for the imperfect problem.
I have been chewing on this new phrase “sit with it”. Lifting it up to God; how do I do this thing called “sit with it” you wired me God to fix things, you gave me this big picture kind of brain and gifted me to be a visionary. Show me how to sit with it.
• Psalm 46:10
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
• Zechariah 2:13
Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
• Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
• Exodus 14:14
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
In His word He tells us to be still, to sit with whatever calamity you are in, and He will fight for me.
He will be exalted as the one who fixes things ( not me).
He has roused Himself (my favorite visual) from His dwelling so to take care of the matter, I can picture Him shifting His weight, hearing the fire blazing wheels of His chariot throne pop and spark as He stands, with His right hand outstretched ready to speak into existence the true fix, the only fix that will be perfect.
Be still and wait for Him. He is never slow to respond, He is responding I need only to wait for His move, and to see if He asks me to join Him.
And it’s ok if I end up feeling empty, that I didn’t get to fix anything. As I sit with it, I need only to lean into Him with the wait. To lie at His feet, pour out my heart; even tell Him how I see it. He may just chuckle, but He’s big enough to hear my version as to how I would fix it, and still proceed with His own.
I may be able to resolve problems at the work place, but when it comes to relational problems, sometimes He asks me to wait, sit with it, to be still and know that He is God, not me, never me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"Thy Will be Done"
Matthew 6: 7-13 from the Message;
7-13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Can I pray like that? We often think of this model of prayer as rote and and old church liturgy. As those words came spilling out of my mouth I realized what I was saying. His will, not mine, not the one whom I was praying over, but His. And what if His will hurts? Will the pruning shears He brings cut so deep I can't bare the site once He's done.
Last night as I humbled myself before Him in prayer I asked Him once again; Your will be done, not mine. Never mine. I know my God is Sovereign, I cling to the truth that nothing happens in our lives that doesn't first flow through His fingers. And as God in His wisdom pointed to Job and said to Satan... do you see my man Job there... so too we must realize that God would NEVER allow something in our lives as a body or as an individual that He would not turn for His good, just as he did in the life of Job.
Thy will be done is a tough pill to swallow. It's taste can be bitter as it hits the sides of our throats as we allow it to go down. But just like much needed medicine in time of an infection, we must humble our spirits, lift our heads to God almighty, open our mouths and say: "Thy will be done" Do what's best for your kingdom, for your people.
Will you join me?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
2We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith works, love labors, hope patiently endures.
Working out our faith. Putting our faith into action. The definition of Work is; exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil. This is giving us the picture that you can't have faith without some sort of effort or action backing it up. Faith alone just doesn't work. Our faith will produce fruit, or works. When your faith is junk... what it produces will be of no value to Christ. Is what pours out of our lives something that one would remember before God and thank Him for?
Laboring in love As any mother who has given birth knows, being in labor is an act of love.The definition of labor; productive activity, physical or mental work, esp. of a hard or fatiguing kind. Love is hard, it's not some mushy feeling you have for another person. It is an act of the will (at times) to love another person. People disappoint us, they let us down, they can hurt us. Choosing to love in spite of all this can be very laborious. What does our love for others look like? Are we willing to do the tough stuff love requires of us? Is our love something others would give praise to God for?
Enduring Hope, to endure means; the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; To hope, to hold on for dear life to what is good, pure and lovely. When all around you is screaming to let go.
Are we willing to endure to the breaking point for our Hope in Him? Would there be someone who could say of you that your Hope is enduing and they thank God for it?
These are three nice words aren't they. Faith, Hope Love, usually they give you a warm fuzzy feeling. But when broken down we need to realize these are action words, not fuzzy words.
Are you working out your Faith?
Are you willing to Labor in your Love for others?
Is your Hope one that will Endure?
And would your fellow sojourner Praise God for those things in you?
Friday, September 18, 2009
1 I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
I love reading His word and letting just a word or two fall on me. In Louie Giglio's book "I am not, but I know I AM" He does a 'one word at a time ' study of a verse. Pulling it apart studying each word. And though I don't do that exactly, I do use his theory behind it, that we miss out on so much of what God wants to say to us when we don't meditate on the word. When we hurry to read just so we can say we read. When I read the word I ask God for 'a word',along with granting me His wisdom, His insight, and usually He will point out two or three words and I let them sink in.
Over the last couple of days I've heard some Christians using the words "your being deceived" and then they add their well crafted arguments. First I know that I am grounded in Christ Jesus and in His saving knowledge, His unconditional love, His gift of Grace and His unmerited Mercy. I am confident in Him.
Should I listen to anyone's "well crafted arguments"
IF we are in HIS word and His word is in US, (thank you Dr. Haber for preaching that on Sunday, it's the second time I've stole it). it shouldn't take long to be able to apply truth to any argument. It's when we don't know truth, His truth that we can be deceived.
We need to be arming ourselves, the word is called "the sword of the spirit" for a good reason. It takes a double edged sword to pierce our hardened, have to be right, bad attitude hearts. And I know, I've been there. I've had me a hard cold heart and an attitude that scared the best away. It took Jesus poring Himself out in the shape of ' the word' to cut through my well crafted arguments. Like Paul in the book of Romans I could give you good reason why I should be able to have my hard heart. My pedigree of hurt, humiliation and brokenness is much longer then most.
BUT GOD... oh amen, but God.
When we apply God to any of our well crafted arguments, we will find they are nothing in light of the cross.
Oh yes we will still have conflict, and those conflicts need to be aired right away. Not letting them fester and become something they were never meant to be. Apply Christ and His love and His mercy and oh what a difference we will see. And all those well crafted arguments will fall away.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I am to Fix my thoughts. Now that's a wide open field! I don't know about you but my mind is a constant highway. Most days congested with thoughts too numerous to process. I look eagerly for the exit ramp so I can take one or two thoughts to a road less traveled and spend time on just them. I need the quiet of a back road to meander down to look deeply at my thoughts and apply truth to them. Cover them with love so I can gently pick out the pain. And once I do that; I can then start placing them over the light of truth, honor, righteousness, and purity. Do they measure up against such things? If they don't am I willing to leave those thoughts right there on the back road and venture back on to the high way. Forgetting what I left behind and moving on to find thoughts that are excellent and worthy of praise!
I know for my self when I fill my thought highway with God's word, when I meditate on that and let it cut through the junk in my head to produce truth I end up in a much better place. The highway becomes less congested, and the back road trips are needed less. Because I'm taking them captive and apply truth long before a pile up on the high way ever happens.
Then the God of Peace will be with you... yes yes yes! I will fix my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable for no other reason then to receive HIS peace. What a swap!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Whatever happens. That's a wide open field, this whatever.
*So if I loose my job, I'm to rejoice in the Lord.
*If my son goes back to using heroin, I'm to rejoice in the Lord.
*If something awful were to happen to my precious little boy, I'm to rejoice in the Lord.
*If my house burns to the ground, I'm to rejoice in the Lord.
This is hard, this whatever is getting personal. It's infringing on my idea of what I think God should be protecting. All my loved ones, all my stuff. So if whatever happens, does that mean He's not?
That's the gut reaction of the world. If bad happens; then there is no God or they don't want to know the God that could let it happen. If something good happens; they might give him the credit. Phil 3:1 says "whatever" good, bad, ugly, painful, devastating, exciting, lovely. It covers a mass of things. Over which I am to rejoice in the Lord!
This is where the rubber hits the road on our faith doesn't it. The very end of that verse tells us why Paul is reminding us of this. To safe guard that faith as the rubber hits the road. Because when the "whatever" hits the fan of your life, if your are not reminding yourself by being in the word, and by letting the word be in YOU, how will you ever be able to rejoice in Him when the "whatever" is bad, and will you give Him the glory when it's good.
So I remind myself and you... "Whatever happens... rejoice in the LORD!"
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Forgiveness has two essential components, a choice and a follow through. When we choose to forgive we let go of our hurt, anger and desire for revenge and release the offender from the consequences of the way their actions affected us. Forgiveness is not denial of the pain and loss; it’s not pretending that it never happened. It requires tremendous courage and honesty. It is a choice to see the offender apart from the pain and anger. We are freed to start over and risk further relationship. By clinging to unforgiveness, we committee ourselves to carrying the pain of the past into the future. We rob ourselves of the freedom God intends to give us.
A Choice and a follow through. Many times I know I have chosen to forgive someone. I make a solid concrete decision to forgive, but I also know there has been no follow through. I haven't truly released the person from the pain they have caused me.
In my last post I spoke of a situation where I had to hold onto the truth, because the person whom I was dealing with who was emptying themselves on me, did so with some very ugly hurtful words. As I sat there taking it all in, trying to process truth from lies I had to make a conscience choice right there in the midst of it all to forgive what was happening, and now I am struggling with step two. The follow through. We can get real good at saying over and over in our minds, "I forgive her, I forgive him" It's the next part that we must call on the Holy Spirit for the power to do. To release them of the pain they have caused. and to see them apart from it. When I do that, when I look beyond the verbal assault, I see a deeply wounded soul and I hurt for them, more then I hurt for myself.
Now that is Love in it's truest sense. Seeing the other as more import than ourselves. Romans 12: 3 & 10 both speak to these telling us (vs3) Not to think of ourselves more highly then we ought and (vs10) Honor one another above yourselves. Putting an others pain and hurt before our own can be a difficult thing. While I'm licking my wounds, if I can only envision that they too have wounds, wounds I may know nothing about. I can then separate my pain from the person and apply a love and forgiveness that Christ calls us to.
I'm looking forward to the last chapter of the book, "A Life that makes a Difference; Faith" this book has cut deep, and it has healed much. I pray you pick it up and let it speak to your heart.
Monday, September 7, 2009
God how I thank you for your word, I am so grateful that it has cut into my very being, deep into the marrow of my bone and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was YOU that walked me thought today. I love you God, I love you.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I'm growing to love the new Living Translations. It puts the word in 'right out there' terms. Do you see what I mean, "you can't take credit for this". (vs 8) There is nothing we can do to ever earn enough grace to purchase our own salvation. We come into this world with a negative credit balance. And there is only one person that can get us out of that kind debt. Our debt of sin was paid for by the Son of God on a cross over two thousand years ago.
Salvation also isn't a "reward system".(vs 9) It had to be purchased some how, and no matter how good we try to be, we can never be good enough. Can you imagen if it was. Talk about a reality show. It would be worse then the Show Survivor! If it was all about who did the most good, we'd have to find a "good" way to beat each other trying to out do the next guy so we could get the best seat in Heaven. There might be alot of good being done, but can you see the ego's flying!
The only thing we can "boast" in is Christ. (vs 9) Not our accomplishments here. And I know I can come up with a list. I've done some good things:
I've helped my share of people
I've extended forgiveness
I've lent money that I knew I'd never get back
I've lead a few people to Christ
I support a little boy in Peru.
I could go on, we could all go on with our lists of good. That good will NEVER purchase our debt of sin. Once we give our life over to Christ, accept His debt reducing plan, (and it's a one payment plan), we can then be created anew in Him, and out of that and that alone can we do "the good He has planned for us". (vs 10) Again, it's not about our lists, but His. He has a list of all the good He wants us to do.
He gets the credit for our salvation for it was Him who died once and for all. And He gets the credit for the good we accomplish. I choose to boast in Christ. For what good is coming out of my life is all about Him!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love" The NIV Study bible states: Faith is not mere intellectual assent but a living trust in God's Grace that expresses itself in acts of love.
I think that sums it up, it's about acts of love. This word love translated in the Greek is agape. Brotherly love. Does that describe us? Does it describe me. Am I acting my faith out in acts of love.
I was having a conversation with a dear friend the other night about religion verse relationship or faith. And we discussed this very thing. It is NOT about wearing certain clothes to church, or acting in a pious manner that matters. It matters not if I spend my entire Sunday at a church service. Do you think that your unchurched neighbor cares if your skirt is below your knees or that you wore one on Sunday for that matter. Or that you never watch TV or listen to the radio unless it's a godly program. None of that exterior stuff matters, what would matter to your neighbor is if you shovel out their walkway this winter, or bring over a plate of cookies just because. Maybe invite them over for dinner. Faith working it's self out in acts of love. How about that family that sits in the same row as you in church. What kinds of acts of love can you bless them with. A bag or two of groceries to a needy family, a bit of compassion to a newly divorced man or woman. Understanding instead of criticism, a cup of cool waters not heaping coals. Faith working it's self out in acts of love. Gods love for us is so deep, so wide, so consuming. If it's in you it should be spilling out of you. Is it? Is it in you? If it is, is it spilling out in acts of love. And if it's not... not in, I'd love to tell you how it can be. If you believe it is, but it's not spilling out in acts of love, again I'd love to tell how it can be.
I love it when God gives me a deep morsel of truth for me to gnaw on.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I always thought those 50 yards dashes were a flaw. Why couldn't I run a mile, 5 miles, 26 miles (ugh) As Christians, our salvation experience is only good for 50 yard dashes. Training is what it takes to run a 26 mile marathon. No 30 minutes on a tread mill (ok, I can really only do 15 before I feel the need to quit) will ever get me to the place where I can run one. If all your doing is going to church on Sunday and not "training" everyday, in the word, at His feet, in prayer the race He wants to call you to can never be run.
About 4 years ago, God pointed out that I had a race to run. Galatians 2: 2b reminded me today that I don't want to run in vain or run the wrong race. Gal 2 "I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing" Running in and of itself does nothing for me. Running with purpose or for a purpose does. I'm a big "give me a reason" kinda gal. And God gives me plenty of reasons in his word to Run for Him. I may still run a few 50 yard dashes now and again, (some of them have a purpose). But I am in this to run with endurance the Race he has mapped out for me. Will you join me? Run the race, train beside me, there's definitely room at His feet for both of us.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I wait quietly before God,
for their victory comes from you.
2 He alone is their rock and their salvation,
their fortress where they will never be shaken.
3 So many enemies against them—
all of them trying to kill them.
To them they are just a broken-down wall
or a tottering fence.
4 They plan to topple them from their high position.
They delight in telling lies about them.
They praise them to anothers face
but curse them in their hearts.
5 Let all that they are wait quietly before God,
for their hope is in him.
6 He alone is their rock and their salvation,
their fortress where they will not be shaken.
7 Their victory and honor come from God alone.
He is their refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach them.
8 O my dear family, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is your refuge.
Making a Psalm personal in my prayer of petition before God gives me the peace of knowing we Have a personal God who reaches down in his grace and mercy to protect, to hide and to lift up those He loves.
I love the Psalms, they are so full of rich emotion both in Praise to our God and in utter desperation for God to save us from ourselves and our enemies. I urge you to
Dig deep into His word and pray it over your life. Find His Peace that will come in praying His word back to Him. He delights in His children when they do.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We can confess with our mouths that Jesus is our Savior. "I've walked the aisle, I raise my hand, I said the prayer" But have we had that transforming moment, when we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has raised me/you from the dead.
Mine came literally years later. I asked Jesus into my heart as a young girl of 8. But it wasn't until I was in my late 30's that I knew. I knew He loved me. I knew He came to set me free, that He came to take my shame, my guilt, my heavy burden. All the confession of sin over the years had somehow become a heavy bag I drug around. I confessed it, but I never left it at the cross. I just stuffed it into the sack and carried it back down the hill.
I can remember that day like it was yesterday, in my kitchen, kneeling on the floor with my head bent as sobs of grief were exchanged for sobs of joy. As God in His tenderness lifted my head as His breath of Grace settled over me. Since that moment I have known I was free in Christ. That my cloak of shame was replaced with His cloak of Righteousness. That the bag of guilt I carried around, was removed from my hands and thrown behind the cross where I could never reach it again. The fear of my past was exchange for a new story in Christ, one where I can use my past to Glorify Him, by reaching out to someone else who struggles as I did. And because of that moment where God's grace became real to me, I can point others to Him like never before.
I am so thankful for that moment.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"God's love for us is infinitely greater than my love for my child. It is unfathomable. Right now, wherever you are, whatever your doing, whatever your feeling, God is looking at you, passionately concerned about you. You have his undivided attention. Your past choices, the condition of you heart, the degree of your brokenness are no longer obstacles to relationships with him. Every moment in the presence of God is an opportunity to have our eternal destiny shaped by what happens from this moment forward rather by anything in our past. His grace is always greater than our ability to mess things up. The slightest exertion of his power or anger over sin would consume us. With exquisite tenderness he reaches out his hand to save us and to touch our lives in a way that will heal us and make us whole.
The kingdom of God may be enhanced and even built in some small part on powerful words and actions but what will absolutely turn this world upside down- not by some irony but by design - is one word spoken in kindness, one tender touch offered in love, one cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus, one life, perhaps your life, made all over again by the gentleness of God"
As I think on what God has done in my own life through His gentleness, how after a time running away from Him, He gently and lovingly wooed me back to Himself. He used His word, most definitely in the shape of bible studies that cut right to my very heart. A heart that I was protecting, the sword of the spirit made it bleed, but in so doing brought about a healing that only God could have brought. His love also came in the form of humans. His love poured out on me through countless friends. Dear sweet sisters and brothers who loved me right where I was at. No finger pointing, no accusations, just love.
God is calling me to do likewise. To love as He would love. To see my sister or brother who is hurting and fill there cup with cool waters, to offer kindnesses and a tenderness that may turn their hearts to a God who will love them more then I ever could. I want to love like that. Do you?
Monday, August 17, 2009
The Corinthian 'Christians' tended to rely on human weapons for the Christian battle. Instead of the belt of truth, they fought with manipulation. Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fought with the image of their success. Instead of there feet shod with readiness(the gospel), they fought with smooth words. Instead of the shield of faith, they fought with the perception of power. Instead of the helmet of salvation, they fought with false authority. Instead of the sword of the Spirit, they fought with human schemes and alliances. They had traded truth for a lie. Replaced the gospel message with a word that was not from God at all.
How many times do we try to do this thing we call life in our own strength? And how many times do we use all our worldly wiles to get life on our terms before God? Do we hit our knees before we hit the phone? Are we in the word longing for the sword of the spirit to cut out what is sin and attitudes of self? Or are we lining up our friends who will tell us what we want to hear.
Take every thought captive. EVERY is an all consuming word. And if we were taking EVERY thought captive before the throne of God, we would have no time for gossip, backbiting, manipulation, self promotion. I don't think I do this; taking every thought captive. Only if we are walking closely with our LORD could we ever begin to do this. Are we willing?
"God help me to take every thought captive, as I walk through this life I want to use your weapons, not mine own."
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Can I say WOW! This spoke right to my heart as I read it this morning. My church family has been struggling. We are being tested with trouble, there is no doubt in my spirit about this. And not only trouble but we are also financially poor. Verse one could clearly read "Churches in Middleboro". Who says the bible is not relevant today? I'd like to have a talk with them!
What I want to focus on is the last sentence; "But they are also filled with abundant joy" Not just 'joy' But ABUNDANT JOY! Overflowing, spilling out in generosity, joy. Last week I saw JOY in the family as the Pastor confronted some hard issues. Then Joy as 3 men were baptized that afternoon. I'm praying on these two verses that God would bring ABUNDANT JOY to the church in Middleboro. Joy that is overflowing, spilling out in generosity. Because it would fix both problems we are having, the "troubles and the poor in finances". God is so amazing and His word is relevant today!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
"6 But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7 His presence was a joy"
What an amazing statement, God encourages us when we are discouraged. And he does it by sending someone our way. Titus' visit brought joy to Paul as he heard the report from the people of Corinth. Paul's letter had been harsh and difficult for them to hear, they had to be rebuked for the mess they were causing. The letter brought repentance, but it also brought a bit of discouragement as they looked at their lives and realized just how sinful they had become. Titus had been sent to them and now comes back to Paul with a glowing report how they were turning their lives back to God.
God in his tender mercy brought Paul, Titus who encouraged him and filled him with joy.
I've had several times in my life when someone has come my way who has lifted my spirits. Who has given me encouragement. Sometimes it's been a dear friend, one of my children and sometimes it's just the sweet smile of one of my grandchildren. To think that this comes from God himself, that my LORD longs to send me encouragement when I am discouraged now give me a new perspective. I will trade my narrow view of this journey for His any day when He reveals precious nuggets like this to my soul.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Our discussion about said thorn took a wrong turn. My afternoon of "not so many words" ended and the flood gates opened and the water was a bit mucky. The conversation ended when I ended it with a hang up of the cell phone (and there were no, goodbye, see ya when I get home honey bear) I just closed the phone. It rang and I picked it up and said " I have nothing left to say" Too bad I hadn't kept that theme from earlier in the day. (Remember I said I seemed to run out of words).
I went to the gym and worked out much harder then the last time I was there (and yes I'm suffering for that one). As I headed home, God ever so graciously planned a radio program on a local station that I listen to every once in awhile, as I started to listen I heard the local preacher ask "do you have anyone you need to ask forgiveness from. Don't delay", the segment ended. God is just so good at hitting us right between the eyes when we need it.
When I walked through the door, there was my beloved standing there in the kitchen with one of my favorite drinks in his hand. (he is just so good at the grace thing) I looked at those warm brown eyes and said... I'm sorry I did that, can you forgive me. And he kissed me, handed me my favorite drink and said "of course I do".
The Thorn will always be there, I pray for less painful experiences with it, I've even prayed it would be removed. But I'm thankful for the Thorn and the lessons I learn from it when it tears at my flesh. Last night God taught me that I need to ask for forgiveness with out delay. No brooding, no pouting, no stomping my feet. With out delay. And He blessed me with a husband who forgives and loves. And says of course I forgive you. God thank you for the Thorn.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This morning as I was reading II Corinthians 6 there it was again. in vs 16b:
“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people." Which is Paul quoting Ezekiel 37:27
For in the very beginning this was God's desire as He created the Garden of Eden and placed Adam and Eve there. He created man so He could walk among them. (man rebels and the garden is closed) Then His Glory was present as Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, again He walked among his people. (man rebels and the law is handed down) Again as He planned out the temple and His Spirit rested over the Ark of the Covenant, He was among His people. (man rebels and the Chariot of the Lord leaves the temple) Jesus, God in the flesh was born and walked among us for 33 years. (man doesn't even recognize him) He is crucified, buried and risen not only from the dead, but rises to Glory and sends His Holy Spirit so once again He can walk among us (in us). And as Ezekiel 48:35 declares He will Dwell with us In the New City, the New Jerusalem. (Jehovah Shammah)
God, dwelling among us, walking with us. Over and over again in His word He proclaims His love for us proclaiming that He LONGS TO DWELL WITH US.
Are we letting Him? Do we want Him like He wants us?
Monday, August 10, 2009
My eyes filled with tears for what God was doing right there in the sanctuary of so many hearts Sunday morning, my heart as well.
The afternoon followed with a church picnic at Sampson's Pond where my beloved was baptized. Again my eyes filled with tears as he confessed Jesus with his mouth, and desired to take the next step of obedience on his faith journey. As I neared the point of full sobbing, in utter joy, the Pastor had to literally shove my poor husband under the water (he's a big man and Pastor, well not so big) it became a bit comical and my tears became a hearty laugh.
How I praise God for men who's hearts are tender toward him. (Three big men were baptized yesterday. all who's hearts have been changed).
II Corinthians 5: 17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come!" The New started for 4 men yesterday, The Pastor took on a new JOY, and started his first day as our "New Pastor" and three men (my beloved being one of them) started a New chapter in their faith journey. Loving this Day After!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I have never been a big fan of veils. I tend to think they blur ones vision. I wore one when I married the first time, it was the tradition still in 1981. I found it difficult to see my soon to be husband and the people whom I had invited to share this day, yet glad to have my dad at my side to lead me. Knowing me I would have tripped and fallen with out his aid. Now as I stated it was my first marriage, which means at some point it came to an end. Sometimes I wonder had I not wore that veil would I have seen more clearly? I don't know, there were still those rose colored glasses under the veil anyway. I didn't wear one when I re-married in 2001. I wanted to see my beloved's face as I walked up the isle, I wanted nothing between us as our eyes met. Veils...
I understand the need for Moses to cover His face with a veil. God's personal Glory had shone so bright, Moses intimate time with God Most High had a radiant effect on his person. That Radiance had it not been veiled would have killed the Israelites had he not taken care to cover his face. The Glory effect was fleeting, and after a short while Moses lifted his veil and it was gone.
You and I as ones who have turned to Christ and are filled with His Spirit can live unveiled. Christ desires that His glory be radiated from our beings. That our transformed lives not be covered, but that we walk and live in such away, that others will know that we have spent time in His presence. That when our eyes meet that one whom God has placed in our path that they see Him in our unveiled face.
I love the part of verse 18 that says: "transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory" Moses carried God's full glory on his face, then it went it way. Unlike Moses, our transformation is a process, and the glory of God in our being is (or should be) ever increasing.
Are we spending time with the very lover of our souls? Is His radiance ever increasing in our life. Are we turning to the Lord? We need to allow Him to transform our lives so His Glory can ever increase in us. Unveiled, ever increasing Glory.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
If I am in Christ, I hope I at least have that new born smell. New in the spirit, new in his call on my heart. That my breathe is that of the milk of the word. If my walk is seasoned in Him, that I am in His word new every day I pray I give off the scent of fresh cut grass. That evidence of his life in me refreshes those around me. Or maybe your not a believer, or your in a place in your walk, where you have chosen your own way, turned from God or your heart has turned hard and cold. This my dear friend is where your life is a stench in the nostrils of the Most High.
Just as Lazarus in John 11 was dead, wrapped in his death clothes, dead in the tomb four days, surely he had a putrid stench about him. But when Jesus called him out of the tomb, even though the fear of his bad smell was spoke of before he was called out, it is never mentioned. It is Jesus that gives us the fragrance, it is Him calling us out of darkness and trading our horrific stench for the scent of new life, a fragrance that refreshes, and one day as it deepens I pray it becomes sweet and savory like chocolate... Now that will draw many to you, and ultimately to Him.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
" Whenever we encounter His love and goodness, we need to choose to stay connected to it - taking the time to contemplate its meaning, hold it in our hearts, allow ourselves to feel something about it, and remember it...perhaps by describing it in a journal.
Love can't be compelled by the will of another person or created by self-discipline. C. S. Lewis described the human heart as a garden, with love as its fairest flower and 'the will' as a tool to cultivate it. You are the gardener. But can you as a gardener make love grow? "Without life springing from the earth, without rain, light, and heat descending from the sky, he could do nothing... And unless His grace comes down, like the rain and sunshine, we shall use this tool (our will) to very little purpose" The capacity to love is a gift of God and it is best cultivated by the action of His love upon us."
No matter how much we may try to love out of self, it is weak at best, and in vain. Our well of love will forever be on empty if we love only because "we must". Gal 5;22& 23 says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. The first fruit has to be love, and it's a love that can only come from the Holy Spirit. With out love, God's gift of love in our hearts, our well will always be dry. His love is eternal, it is fuller then anything we have ever tasted or felt. Only when we let the roots of our being sink deep into the riches of His love, allow the rays of the Sonshine to warm our cold heart, and allow His rain to wash over us, can we ever have a love that grows and overflows and pours out of our spirit onto others. Let His love wash over you!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
John 15: 1&2 “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”
Gardeners prune their prized roses in the spring, just as they are beginning to grow. (gardening.about.com):
Why Prune Roses
- Encourage new growth and bloom
- Remove dead wood
- Improve air circulation
- Shape the plant
The pruning process can be a very painful time in the life of a Christian. It can mean lose, pain, being cut off from people and things in our life that we once thought good and held dear. I’m sure with that said you’re saying…”No thanks” I like my life just the way it is . But what about the New Growth God wants to bring in your life? That gift he’s got buried in your spirit that can’t be uncovered until you allow the pruning. And the road you’ve been on that is leading you nowhere, could it be God needs to remove that because has something for you that you never dreamed possible? How about that sin that has you tripped up and tied down, breaking free of that and breathing in the air of the Holy Spirit would be a great exchange. Don’t we desire to reflect the very image or shape of Christ? We can never look like Christ in our spirit without the pruning.