Wednesday, February 29, 2012
“What 3 words best describe God’s love for you?”
No cheating! Once you read mine you won’t ever come up with your own. I know you…because that is exactly how I would be. Ha-ha! Please…just humor me. Type them to me as a comment. It will make my day! Really! It will!!! (It doesn’t take much.)
My three words are enough, unfathomable, and funny. (Of course, I can’t just leave it at that. You know me better than that by now! I have to explain my answers.) I will say, it was very hard for me to leave it at just three. How often do I say that I am amazed by God? I had to fight off the urge to put in four and hope no one notice. But, I imagine I am dealing with some intelligent people who can count just a bit higher than that. ;)
So let’s start right off with answer number one about God’s love. Enough. God’s love is enough. In that, if I never feel love from ‘man’ the way I desire or think I need…that is okay. God’s love will satisfy me. It will meet my every need and want. It will be sufficient for what I crave. When I doubt if I am loved by the people I am surrounded by, I will hold onto the complete love of God. It is enough for me.
If I can live this every day, I will require much less from people. It is impossible for them to meet my unspoken standards for loving me anyway. This releases the weight of that responsibility from my husband. My children. My parents. My siblings. My church. My friends. They were not designed to be my main source of love…so they will disappoint if that is my expectation.
Sometimes it is a daily reminding that is needed. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes I forget within minutes because I am too busy focusing on the lack of love here. The sooner I can grasp that God’s love is always enough…the more content my days will be!
Unfathomable. God’s love is unfathomable. We know that God loves us more than we can ever think or imagine. If you have children as I do, your agape love for them is probably as close as our brains can understand. We love our children without condition. Meaning, when they sin, or do something that is against the will of God…we still love them. We will discipline as needed (of course depending on their age)…to hopefully help them learn their lesson. God does the same with us…only there is no age limit.
Proverbs is full of discipline for me. A wise man does ________…and then it almost always lists what my most natural reaction is. Ugh! It is almost funny at times. Ya know..like a kick in the stomach funny. I will say though…that sometimes when I read through Proverbs that I read years ago…I have defeated many. I have adapted God’s natural reaction…and covered over the sinful one with the grace of God. How awesome it is to know that I am capable of learning from my mistakes. =)
I don’t think God’s love is difficult to understand. Just impossible to imagine. We must read about the ways of Jesus when He walked this earth. Sometimes you may feel disconnected from how it used to be in Bible days…and how life is now. The same God that sent His Son to live on the earth…also sent His Son to live in us. It is the same heart of God. We can not fathom that…but we should never stop trying.
Funny. God’s love is funny! I don’t know if you agree or not…but sometimes God’s perfect expression of love to me…makes me laugh! (And these are my words…you were supposed to come up with your own remember?) ;)
Some days I’m feel as though I am being suffocated by circumstance and God sends my littlest man over to head butt me (literally). His little smile makes me laugh out loud. That face could brighten any day! Don’t you think?
(My littlest man Levi…he is saying ‘Cheese’!)
Some days I am disappointed by lack of love from ‘man’…and God sends a random, written text or message from an unexpected person. Simple words…”I am praying for you” make all the difference.
Some days I wake up grouchy. And some days I stay that way until I decide to praise God and dance in my kitchen with my kids. It is effective in cheering me up 100% of the time. NEVER has it failed! I get angry at myself some days for waiting sooo long to turn the music on. No matter where they are in the house or what they are doing, all my kids always come running to join me. (They will grow up to be just like me. Ha-ha!)
(My daughter Ariel dancing with her cousin Eviana. They put on dresses and skirts just to look more beautiful while dancing for our King. And Titus…he is just watching them whirl around them. That is normal for him. Lol!)
Some days I walk around feeling sad and ineffective in my ministries…and then God reminds me who I am. He sends me a note of encouragement on my blog, or in my email, or on facebook. (The written word! We all know I am in love with it because you can read it over and over when you need a little boost!)
Or, sometimes He gives me a revelation for a dear friend who is struggling. A revelation simple and yet so powerful that it makes me laugh and cry all at the same time. (It is not a learned skill to laugh and cry simultaneously…it is natural baby! I wonder if God is doing the same when He sees me finally understand His revealed truth to me. You know…those light bulb moments in life. I like to imagine that He laughs and cries with excitement for me as well!)
I can’t help but laugh at how intelligent, and goofy, and random, and silly, and honest, and perfect God’s expression of love for me is. I LOVE that He is funny…and I love that I am like Him in that way. Always expressing His love to others however He leads. I want them to know my funny Father too! It is such a joy to be loved wholly by someone who wholly ‘gets’ me. Ha-ha! Go ahead…ask my husband…I am a complex person! ;)
Friday, February 24, 2012
Salvation is complete generosity. Remember…if you got what you deserved you would spend eternity in torment. Forever death and never-ending, inescapable suffering. It is His unfathomable, supernatural generosity that allows eternal salvation through the simplest cry, “God forgive me and save me from my sins!”
You don’t have to take my word for it…here is the Word of God. Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Salvation is not a hard word to grasp hold of. It is not a word reserved for the ‘religious’. It is for the common man/woman. It is for you and I. Simply put…it is God saving us from what we truly deserve. Don’t make it out to be difficult to understand or receive. But also don’t forget the sacrifice it took. Don’t underestimate the power of it. It is simple. But it is also not anything we can recreate on our own. There is only one way to salvation. And that is through Jesus Christ!
He doesn’t make us grovel for it. He doesn’t watch us squirm in our uncomfortable shame after we cry out. He doesn’t make us work for it. It is a gift. I know you know how to receive gift. Christmas wasn’t all that long ago…
Extend arm. Grasp gift. Give thanks. Open…and enjoy! Salvation is just like that. No strings attached! I promise.
You may be thinking…but I see Christians ‘working’ for the church all the time, and some of those people seem miserable. Right you are. Sadly, for some they do it because they feel like they can earn salvation by doing good things. “Works don’t make the Christian, they mark the Christian.” That means you can’t receive salvation through any amount of good deeds that you do. You also can not earn ‘better’ salvation because of how awful you used to be. Meaning…you don’t work harder if you used to be a criminal.
We are new creations in Christ. All of us. When we ask Christ to reside within us…those old things pass away. They become dead to us. They will try to come back as often as the enemy chooses…but we have the right and the power to tell him that there is no place in us any longer for those sinful, natural desires. (Ex. anger, gossip, foul language, lust) They must leave at the mention of the name of Jesus. Try it! There is POWER in that name!
Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Once you are saved…you will WANT to do good deeds. Your motive…should be only to please God. Because you stand in the amazement of His unconditional love, you will do good in His Name. People will see Christ through your actions. And you may be all the Christ that they see!
Oooo, that last line reminds me. I have a prayer request. There is a man who I am praying will attend church with his family. I will say no names, and we all know that God will answer because HE knows. God wrote a song for me to sing over the past few weeks. And last Sunday He revealed who it is for. When I see this man enter our doors…I will be obedient and sing the song God wrote for he and his wife. I am sooooo excited!! I can’t wait for God to work in his life and change his eternal Home. Pray with me won’t you? Pray that he will come soon! I feel like I am busting at the seems with joy for him to listen to the Voice that has been calling him Home. And when this all happens, I will write to you and let you know the outcome. Promise! =D
Thursday, February 23, 2012
It was Sunday afternoon. It was an interesting Sunday morning. Not bad interesting. Not odd interesting. Just unexpected, interesting. God interesting! I got fired up. Renewed some passion for God’s giftings in me. Fell more in love with my Savior and got blessed by Him.
I don’t know about you, but Sunday afternoons are a day of rest for us (if at all possible). My youngest son usually passes out on the way home from church. That Sunday was no different. But because of the extreme cold and wind when I opened my van door…he quickly got jolted back to being awake. We ate a quick simple lunch, thank you Crunch Berries ;), and all in the family laid down to rest.
I awakened to find myself wanting to go over the 4 pages of notes I written that morning during the sermon. (I told you it was God interesting!) I knew that those notes would result in a blog post…so I opened my computer up in preparation. What I got…was distraction. Three of my four children suddenly decided that my bed was a wrestling mat. I then had a choice. Get angry and send them away so that I could write about my God interesting day. Or enjoy my blessed distractions and work through it.
I love it when I make the right choice. =) I can be distracted by many things. Right now I am thinking of how it hurts to type anything with my left ring finger. Did I tell you that story? Ugh…for the sake of feeling the anger stir up again…I will keep it simple. I fractured my finger while chasing our great dane ‘puppy’. If you heard the story previously…you will notice that I am again referring to him as “our” dog instead of “my husband’s” dog. Ha-ha! I visited our local emergency room early one morning to get my wedding band and engagement ring cut off because my finger was so swollen from my fall. =(
I am thinking now of how I got distracted while writing this post. I originally started it on that Sunday I was referring to. That was now a week and half ago. Seems a bit ironic doesn’t it? I got distracted while writing a post about become distracted. Annoying actually! Anyway…I will press on!
The enemy is good at distracting us. He wants to make us as ineffective as possible. So he fills our days with nonsense. How many times have you yourself thought…”I can’t sit and do my devotions…(Fill blank here)” with whatever nonsense you talk yourself into. For me…it is noise, dishes, laundry, church, children, food, sleep, sickness, bills, clutter…um, my stuff is in the bedroom and I am already sitting in the living room. Honestly. I have days that that is just how awful I am. Each of the above are distractions. Excuses.
Let me make myself clear. I am not telling you to go on strike from all of the above mentioned excuses. (If that were the case…I would’ve led that band wagon years ago. Ha-ha!) I am telling you to take notice. The enemy is sly. He has us guilting ourselves into finishing just one more thing before we make time for God. When our head finally hits the pillow we realize that one more thing led to the rest of our wasted day. And now…you lay with a choice. Meet with God, or promise that tomorrow will be different. I so understand!
Why do we let this nonsense stuff rule some days? I think it is because we forget what God saved us from. We don’t view it as an intense saving from an excruciatingly awful sentence. We know it…but we don’t always live like we do. If we really lived it…we would not be able to see someone lost, hurting and broken, and allow them to stay that way. We would jump at the chance to witness to these people headed for eternal suffering.
Witness. Does that word intimidate you? It does me. Kind of like preach. I can talk to someone. I can talk to a group. But witnessing…preaching…those are not for a meek mannered person. Ha! I totally believed those lies for years too! Oh he is sly…but as I have said before; this enemy we war against…he is not the brightest crayon in the box is he? He doesn’t know who I am in Christ. He doesn’t realize he is the one who should fear ME! (Oh…those words make me anxious. A good anxious. That is how I know they hold power. They make me excited. Happy. Smile. They make my heart race just a little bit faster. I can almost see him shudder when he reads those words!)
Witnessing is really just striking up a conversation with a divine purpose. Telling the person/people you are talking to a God moment in your life that forever changed you. Making it seem as though you aren’t even witnessing. Ha-ha! Just talking about who you have become in Christ…and maybe some roads it took you to get there. From your obedience it is up to God. He will work on the hearts of those you reach out to. Maybe not immediately. But when they can handle it and are ready. He will.
The enemy though…we know he will be whispering lies to you.
“It isn’t your job to save them all.”
“That person will reject you.”
“He/she is too intimidating for you.”
“Many have tried and failed…leave the hard ones to someone else.”
Liar! Each one is a lie. If I remembered daily what my earned future should be…I would live differently. I would speak often and with urgency. I would try to help change the eternal sentence of those that I encounter. I would be more concerned with their lives than mine. Rejection would not intimidate me. I would fear God more than man!
This is my prayer. To be reminded of this. I will pray for you as well. Whoever you are. If you want me to pray by name…send me a message. Call me. Text me. Get a hold of me however you can. I will pray for you because a focused Christian is a powerful one!
Friday, February 3, 2012
When asked the question in the title above…how would you respond? In my answer…I would say both!
Knowing that the Spirit of God lives IN me is such an incredible comfort! When I don’t even know where to begin to know how to pray, the Spirit will go to the Father on my behalf. (Don’t take my word for it. Read Romans 8:26-29 and see for yourself.) What a comfort it is to know that the Spirit always has my back. He is my Defender. My Protector. What a comfort it is to know that He will whisper instructions to me through any situation or circumstance I might find myself in.
The challenge…is knowing that that same Spirit saw what I did to get myself into those situations. Ugh! What a challenge it is to know that we are dealing with a true gentleman. I don’t know about you…but when I think of a gentleman according to 'human' terms...I don’t tend to see a Mighty Warrior. When I feel like I am being attacked and beat down from all angles, I don’t want a stuffy man in a 3-piece suit coming to my rescue? I want a man suited up in armor, prepared for a battle!
Our Mighty Warrior isn’t one to second guess. He is 100% up for the challenge. But that same Mighty Warrior is a gentleman. He will not fight for us when we are doing it in our own strength, not bothering to ask or sometimes even refusing help. What a challenge it is to allow the Spirit to pray and work when our fists are clenched tight and waiting to strike. Or when our mouths and minds are already forming the hurtful words we will sling back to our offenders.
God is not ever a disappointment when it comes to battling for His children! If you are disappointed that He didn't come to your rescue when you were fighting, take a minute to stop and think. Did you ever ask for His help? Did you ever seek His council or advice? Did you surround yourself with His people? Did you pray without ceasing?
What a challenge it is to know He knows each thought. Hears each word. Sees each action of our every day. How embarrassing we are to ourselves and our profession of faith. Don’t beat yourself up though…
What a comfort it is to KNOW that His grace is sufficient for me and all that I am. God is good…ALL the time! And I am getting closer and closer to Him each day I spend intimate time at His feet. How about you? When do you have an intimate conversation with Him? Conversation… as in two sides. You speak to Him…and He speaks to you. If you don’t spend time getting to know His heart…how could you possibly understand His love?
Make time today. Set a time to sit and be with Him daily. It will benefit you way more than it inconveniences you. If you are trying to fight in your strength, He will wait. Seems like it would be beneficial to ask Him to join in right in the beginning, huh? ;)
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
So… I was doing my devotions today and it was about judgment verses grace. The chapter of this lesson is called “Surprised by Grace.” Max Lucado says this to start off the lesson…”I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment, but I’m still stunned by His grace…When we get to Heaven, we’ll be surprised at some of the folks we see. And some of them will be surprised when they see us.”
Ouch! Do you think people will be surprised to see you in heaven? I pray that people expect to see me there…but wow…surprised? Are they the people that I cast judgment on without knowing the whole truth? Are they people that judged me without knowing my whole truth? Or are they people that lived the truth and didn’t always see it in my actions?
Any which way…ouch! Why does judgment come so easily and grace…not so much at times? I think a lump just hit the pit of my stomach. This is a revelation for me today!
Judgment! It comes so naturally. It comes without concentrated thought at times. Judgment! It is accepted into most conversations. It helps create clicks among groups. It encourages division. It is a tool that the enemy sneaks into our hearts at a young age…and before we realize it…we struggle with a judgmental spirit. Until when? A revelation like this one rocks us to the core. I’m not talking about my words…but instead about the simple truth of God!
Grace…that takes work. Grace means putting what comes naturally aside. Grace means seeing people covered by the blood of Christ. Grace takes intense thought. Grace means controlling that mouth. Grace takes restraint. Restraint of actions, words, thoughts.
Grace was never promised to flow easily through us. But, it does come easily to us. God’s grace is immediate. God can take the sinner hanging, ready to die on the cross…and cover him with the same blood we have been saved by for years. And that man’s very next breath can be right smack in the middle of God’s glory! God doesn’t have conditions on his willingness to cover our sins. Do you? (I know sometimes I subconsciously do.) If we expect grace just like we expect forgiveness…we must be willing to extend it!
As I always say…these recorded thoughts are never meant to make you feel ashamed of how you’ve been treating others. They are to make you aware. And these words speak as much to my heart as they do yours. Each time God reveals the ways of the enemy…we have opportunity to defeat them. Do you feel as though you can be a bit judgmental? Defeat it! Pray about it! Ask God to help you overcome it!
Spend time with your Father so you learn to look and act more like Him! Converse with Him so that His thoughts, His ways become more naturally yours. Talk to Him so that you say and do the things that He feels in His heart.
I love the quote…”Live your life in such a way that if someone were to say something bad about you, no one would believe it!”
So, how do we get there? Through prayer. Through the willingness to see others differently. Through intense study on our natural, sinful behavior. Through accountability. Through regular quiet time with God. Through a conscious effort to not judge. And by remembering that grace covers us so easily…and we need to show it just as effortlessly. Soon enough your ‘natural’ will change. What used to be the normal for you…will be defeated! In Jesus name you will have victory over this thing that dares to oppose you.
We are new creations in Christ. Let’s look like it! Let’s live in such a way that people expect to see us in Heaven. And if we don’t ‘expect’ to see them there…let’s love them enough to find out for sure. Don’t judge before you know the truth. Notice I didn’t say don’t judge before you ‘think’ you know the truth. I have plenty of thoughts that are not from God…and should be dismissed as so.
Commit to be an example worthy of imitation. To your friends. To your children. To your parents. To your spouse. To your loved ones. To your church. To strangers. Let them all see something in you that they long to be more like. Not through the eyes of envy. But through the eyes of Christ in you! A new creation! =)