The Lord is Gracious

There are times in our lives when God out of his justice and love needs to discipline us.  he sees in us, in our flesh the things that need to die.  Attitudes, feeling, thoughts that need to come under His submission.  God takes us through this disciplinary process to carve out our heart for Him and His purpose.  During this time of discipline, out of Hi love of us He still desires to be gracious to us.  He desires to show us unmerited favor.   God knows that to have us closer to Him more of our flesh has to be carved out to make our heart reflect Him.

Isaiah 30:18 says, “Yet, the lord longs to be gracious to you, He rises to show you compassion.   For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him.”  He sees us in our current state and desires for us to continually come closer and closer to Him.  He speaks to us and shows us the areas that we need to surrender to Him, areas that need to be carved out of our heart(unforgiveness, pride).  Then He patiently waits for us to respond.  Longing to be gracious to us and rise in compassion.

Trust Fall

Every day we encounter hundreds of opportunities to trust.  We trust when we sit down that the chair will hold us.  We trust that when we turn the faucet on that clean water will come out.  These are the “little” things in life that we trust to happen.  We trust that our spouse, friend, boss, co-worker are trustworthy and honest with us. We know that as we live life we will encounter days when trust is broken.  God is the one that we can always trust.  He is always faithful no matter what.  His Word is true and sure.  Isaiah 30:15 says “in returning and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in trusting confidence shall be your strength.”

I Am Flourishing

There are moments when all of us believe and feel like we are flourishing in our life.  We can look at different areas of our life; our marriage, family, work, etc. and “feel” like we are flourishing.  There are other times and moments that we may feel like these areas of life are a dead decaying wasteland.  As Christ followers we do not live by our feelings.  We live with an attitude according to God’s Word.  This is not an easy task when floods of emotions and feeling come reigning down on our heart and mind. God says that His peace that passes all our understanding will guard our heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  We have to turn our face and heart toward Him.  As we are looking full into His face his peace washes over us and guards our heart and mind from these thoughts.

flourishing

 

Psalm 52:8 says, ” I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.” God’s presence is where we flourish.  his presence is where we thrive and grow.  The olive tree produces flowery blooms as well as its fruit, the olive.  When an olive tree is flourishing it is producing both.  This comparison in Psalm 52 show us that if we remain in God’s presence we will produce flowery spiritual blooms and fruit.  When we constantly remember to turn our face to Him, His peace overwhelms and we live in His presence.  He is not looking for perfection but persistence.  This constant attention on Him causes our heart and mind to focus on His unfailing love.  We can trust that no matter what happens in life His love never fails.  The gives us a place to flourish.

We think we flourish when the things in or life look right.  We think when relationships, kids, finances, career are all feeling right we are flourishing.  We just need to turn our heart and mind on God and His unfailing love.  This keeps us in His presence.  Then we flourish like an olive tree in the house of God!

 

What I Know For Sure

There are not many things in life that are “a sure thing”.  There are people in our life that we can trust and have proven to be reliable.  So you may say, well, my spouse, or this friend is a sure thing.  I am not here to say they are not trustworthy, or that you cannot count on them. In life there is only one that is always forever true and sure.  Hebrews 6:13-20 tells us of God’s promise to Abraham.  When people make promises they will say, “I swear to God”.  In verse 13 it tells us that God swore by himself since there was no one higher than Him.  God promised Abraham that He would for sure bless Abraham and that Abraham would have may descendants.

We are reading this with an advantage.  We already know the outcome and that God did in fact keep His promise.  Abraham on the other hand was an old man along with his wife Sara.  Abraham had no human reason to believe that what God said would happen.  He had the promise of God!  It is impossible fr God to lie. God made an oath to Abraham that He would do what He said.  Throughout Abraham and Sara’s life there were times of doubt.  Out of this doubt they took situations and made decisions out of fear instead of trust in God.  God’s promise was ALWAYS sure.

I began thinking of the things I know for sure as a daughter of The King.  I know:

God loves me

God will never leave me

God is faithful

God keeps His promises

God forgives me

God’s grace covers me

God’s mercy is new every morning

We can trust in the unchanging faithfulness of God’s promises.   We are anchored to God through what Jesus did on the cross.  Jesus is our hope and our hope is our anchor.  We make promises everyday.  Likewise, promises are made to us.  some are kept and some are broken.  In this world of broken promises there is one where certainty of promises are sure.  The one is God.  We can count on Him at all times and in all ways.  We have to determine to wait patiently to receive the promise, because God will come through on His promise.  That is what I know for sure!

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Remember When

I think back to the Chris Farley days on SNL. Chris would do a sketch and ask remember when and repeat it and ask if several different insignificant moments were remembered. If we are honest at all, we would admit we forget the things we would like to remember and remember  things we would like to forget. We tend to dwell on and camp out in memories of what we consider “great” times. Sometimes we live there and never move on with our life. In Joshua chapter four there is story that gives us God’s plan for remembrance. The Israelites crossed the Jordan and when they had all crossed over safely they took stones from the river and built a monument.  This monument was a testimony to God’s guidance, provision, and love.

In our lives we experience seasons, just like in nature. Our life and world are ever changing and it can be challenging to manage these changes.  One thing that remains unchanged is God.  As we  live through theses seasons we have moments of great joy and sorrow.  As we watch our kids, parents, friends, and  family grow older it brings a mixture of emotions.  God created us to be able to remember and be able to recollect moments of life.  This ability is a wonderful gift from God.  we can look back in our life and remember how God healed, provided, protected, encouraged, and spoke to us.  Like with anything else it can also be a hindrance to us.  We can dwell on the negative instead of the positive. We can constantly wish that we were still in that time in our life and miss what God is doing in the present.

God’s plan is that we remember and give Him praise for what He has done.  Then we continue to follow Him today.  Don’t be so caught up in what God did then that you miss what God is doing today.  Thank Him, build a monument of thanksgiving and praise, and then move on.  Don’t allow the monument to keep you where you are. The Israelites didn’t stay on the bank of the river when they crossed over.  They moved on and possessed the land.

Determine today to praise God for what He has done and then move on to posses the land He has given you today!

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Stand In The River

In Joshua 3 the Israelites were camping at theJordan River before they crossed over. They were three days and the officers gave instructions to the people.  They told the people when they saw the Levitical Priests carrying the ark of the covenant move from your positions and follow it.  You will know where to go.  Joshua told the Israelites to consecrate themselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things.  Joshua told the priests when you reach the edge of the river go and stand in the river.   God gave clear instructions to His people where to go and what to do.

God is speaking every day.  Anyone who will open their ears to hear con hear what He is saying.  We have to choose to hear.  We cannot be consumed with life and hear God.  We have to allow Him to consume us.  So many things in life take our energy, emotion, time and thought.  Choose today to allow God to take all of your effort and striving.  Strive and spend your energy on Him.  Then you can stand and watch Him go amazing things in your life, family, church, city  and work place.  We have to consecrate ourselves and be ready to move from our position and follow God when He moves.

God is wanting to use us to change this world for His glory.  He wants us to stand in the river and hold back the waters.  The priests stood in the Jordan River and God used them to hold back the waters so the Israelites could cross over.  Are you ready for God to use you to hold back the waters so those around you can cross over to their destiny in God?

He cannot use us when we are caught up in ourselves, our needs, our responsibilities, or our accomplishments.   May we decide today to simply be caught up in God and what He is doing.  Lord we pray that you would use us to hold back the water so others can cross over.

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Designed for Victory

Jesus sacrifice on the cross brought us forgiveness of sins.  He redeemed us to God.  We can have a relationship with God.  We can pray, worship, read the Bible and He reveals himself to us.  I don’t know how God does it, I just KNOW He does.  When I am struggling emotionally I begin to turn my focus on God and worship Him.  The things around me didn’t change, but being in His presence helped me to focus my thoughts on God.  I am allowing Him to work and move in my heart.  I am then filled with peace instead of anxiety.

After the birth of our second daughter I experienced this peace that passes all understanding.  I had a miscarriage four months before I found out I was pregnant with Alyssa.  My hormone levels were not at the levels that they needed to be.  This brought feelings of depression, anxiety, and worry.  During pregnancy these feelings subsided as my hormones were at proper levels, but came back with a vengeance after I gave birth. These feelings were so strong they totally invaded my life.  I felt as though I was in a dark pit trying so hard in my own strength to climb out.  I would try my best to climb out but would quickly slip and fall feeling like I just fell deeper.  This emotional turmoil was in part due to post partum depression.  I also realized that is was a spiritual battle.  I needed to seek medical attention as well as dig in like never before to scripture.

2 Corinthians 10:4 says the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  That is the Word of God that can demolish these strongholds.  I began to write scripture on 3 x 5 cards and place them by the kitchen sink, by bedroom and bathroom.  I prayed the Word over my life every day.

During this time of intense emotional turmoil as I memorized scripture and prayed it over my life God began to work in a miraculous way.  He pulled me out of me emotional despair.  The path that God led me to dive into scripture during this time has stayed with me.  I studied scripture before, but God walked with me through this journey to show me His grace, mercy and strength.  He also, gave me such a hunger and love for studying His Word.   He revealed Himself to me in such a way it is hard for me to express in words.  His word is the source of my life.

I know I am designed by God for His purpose.  Satan’s plan in the Garden to deceive, steal and kill is still very real today, but Jesus paid the price.  Jesus died on the cross for my sin, shame and pain.  His blood covers my life and sets me free.  Even though there is enmity between Satan and woman we can arise in God confidence knowing He designed us for victory.

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Once Upon A Time

 

We all love once upon a time, or in the beginning stories. They are especially great when they end with happily ever after. The best in the beginning story is found in Genesis. It is the story of creation. Each day God recounts what He created with His word. On day six, it is recorded that God created man in His own image. He then caused man to fall in a deep sleep and created woman. They, man and woman, lived in the Garden of Eden with no sin, shame or pain. This was God’s plan. At some point in this wonderful life the woman became deceived. In her deception she ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then offered it to Adam. This deception that led to sin caused separation from God. This act of sin made them realize their nakedness. See they were enjoying the freedom of communion with God, acceptance, love, and self worth. Now they realized their nakedness and tried to cover themselves. Shame and insecurity entered the realm of human feelings.

God’s plan was for us to live in confidence, joy, peace, and a life without sin. Basically a perfect or euphoric life. When sin entered the life of Adam and Eve it changed everything. N longer was communion with God a way of life. Adam and Eve freely walked and lived in the garden without shame. There was total and complete joy. It is hard to imagine a life without conflict and struggle. It existed in the Garden of Eden. After sin entered Adam and Eve’s life things changed dramatically. This affected humankind throughout history.
Man no longer had access to God and communion with Him. In Genesis three we see that enmity will be between Satan and the woman. She will have great increase in pain in childbearing, her desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her. Enmity is hate that grown with time. So Satan’s hate grows stronger against the woman as time goes on. As I think about this I am aware that Satan’s hate has grown very strong against us. See this is not just an Eve thing. Satan has enmity against me and you. He seeks and desires to kill every positive thought, every joy, peace, good relationship. Anything good in your life. The gift of giving birth will now come with much pain. Women will strive for position, but will not attain it for her husband will rule over her. In other words, her struggle will be to be someone, to gain a position, to figure out who she is. In this pursuit she will come up empty.

I have good news ladies! Jesus changed all of that for us. He opened the door to joy, peace, confidence and a personal relationship with God. No longer is there separation between God and us. We are in communion with Him. Satan’s plan is to kill and destroy, but by the blood of Christ He is defeated. We have a Savior who walks and talks with us through anything, including child bearing. Yes, there is still pain but Jesus gives strength and mercy to endure the pain. In our sinful nature we desire position and recognition over others but by the blood of Christ our position and identity are found in Him. We can let go of the struggle and give it to God. Through Jesus we can live the “Garden of Eden” life.

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