Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God is in control.

Just a reminder.

Awesome song.



PSALM 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Humble prayer of one who is aware of how painfully inadequate she truly is.

"...he uses you on a Tuesday, knowing you are going to blow it on a Wednesday." -Susie Larson.

Thank you, God, for the way you forgive me even before I mess up, and choose to use me in spite of myself. There are days I know I don't deserve your blessings and favor, and yet you consistently allow me to be a part of what you are up to anyway. You are so good to me, Lord. You know the depths of my heart and you love me the same. You are an amazing God. I love you and I choose to continue to pour my life out to you out of my love for you Lord. I'm sorry for the days I get off track, and I thank you for the ways you woe me back to you. I take great comfort in knowing that even though I am perfectly inconsistent most days, you stay the same and your love never changes. You love me even on my off days. You are a good God. Teach me to be confident and consistent, Lord, that you might be glorified through my life. Amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Waiting on the Lord.

"When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not, you sit still and trust the engineer to get you through."
-Corrie Ten Boom





"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)


"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
(Romans 8:28)


I'm going in, Lord. I'm trusting you to get me out. Standing on your promises today Lord, and waiting on your timing. You make all things work together for my good when I am called according to your purpose. Clinging to your promises today, and trusting you to be the God who loves me and wants what is best for me, even when I don't see the happy ending yet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One desire...

That God would reign in my life. Everything else takes a back seat. May nothing become more important to me than this. Desperate for His touch today. Offering up my life as a sacrifice today, because without Him I am lost. Truly, this is the song of my heart today...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

....

"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31)

Yes please.

Not giving up now.



"The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him." Nahum 1:7 (AMP)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Feeling downcast.

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
(Psalm 43:5)

Question:
Why would my soul be downcast?

Answer:
I need to put my hope in God, and not myself. I need to praise my Savior and my God. In the Savior's name I will hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. I must check all my unbelieving doubts and fears and leave them at the feet of my God. I must stop and pray out my praises, remembering that my life is not about me but about the one who made me, having faith that God is in the business of making all things new for those who know him and love him.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Does God really love us? I mean, really really?

Have you ever wondered if God loved you? If we make up a pros and cons list for why he should or should not love us, I'm sure we could come up with a very long list. God has no list. He has never been quiet about His love for you. He has been very forthcoming in scripture about how He feels towards you. Here are some of His answers to the question: "Does God love us?"


“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” —Jeremiah 31:3

Everlasting love...no end, no beginning. Not dependent on how great you are, or how well you stack up against anyone else. He loves you for ever and ever and ever. The kind of love He has for you is a divine love that you, being a human, cannot comprehend. It's greater, it's deeper, it's wider, it's more intense, and it NEVER FAILS. He loves you on your good day. He loves you on your "can't find a clean pair of pants that fit day".


"God is love…" —1 John 4:16

It's not just this thing he DOES because he feels sorry for you. He IS love. God is love. God never changes. Therefore, God's is love all-the-time. There can never be a time when He does not love, because who he IS is love. Told you you couldn't comprehend it. ;) It's okay, I can't either. Just know (and trust) this...there is NEVER a time EVER that God is not loving you...ever.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

God has a BIG picture of how things will work together for the good, and you are part that BIG picture. ("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28) He wants to keep you from harm. He offers you hope and a future that is far beyond what you can imagine, if you just trust Him with your life. He loves you and He has GREAT things in store for you, here, and in Heaven.


"God created us in His image - and you as a person are important to God.Indeed the very hairs of your head are numbered." —Luke 12:7

He's just wild about you, okay? He created you and knit you together, and decided on the perfect number of hairs for your cute little head. You are no accident. He planned you and put you here on this earth at just the right time. He's nuts about you. YOU have a special place in His heart that only you can fill.


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

To make sure that you could always be with Him forever and ever, He died on the cross for your sins, making it possible for you (as a sinner) to be in Heaven (a perfect place free from sin). He paid the ultimate sacrifice that YOU could be with HIM in eternity. That is the kind of love He pours out on you. This kind of love is the kind that says, "let me just lay down my life so that you can come be with me forever" and then actually does it!


YOU ARE LOVED! There's your proof.

You don't have to wonder anymore. :)


Go out and live as someone who has a purpose; as someone who was not put here by accident, as someone who is loved, adored, accepted, and treasured every single day. God says you are His Beloved and NOTHING can change that.
So, take a deep breath and embrace His love for you today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whittling away until you fit into the Mold that only you can fill.

I get to meet with a couple of High School girls once a week for a mini Bible study thing. I'm really proud of them and I wanted to share something one of them contributed in our discussion today (in a paraphrase).

We were discussing how God has a special place in His heart specifically for us. I used the idea of the puzzle heart and how each of us is a piece to the puzzle that makes the heart complete...that God has a special love for each of us that is unique only to us.

One of the girls chimed in and said, (my paraphrase here) "Ya know...I think of it like this...We are like a block of wood, and God is knocking off pieces of the wood slowly, smoothing off the rough edges, until one day we are exactly who we need to be to come be with Him. When He has completed His work in us we fit perfectly into that space that he created just for us, and then we get to come be with Him."


Don't you love that? I LOVED that, and I just had to share.

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
-Phillippians 1:6

"Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand."
-Isaiah 64:8



It matters if we listen to God or not.


"For those who heed the gentle voice and who do what He says, more clarity will be given. More insight and inspiration will be entrusted to them. Imagine, God's voice becoming clearer to you; more distinctive; more profound. What a priceless gift He has offered us here.

But there's a downside to this promise. Those who get so busy with life that they miss what He says, will lose their sense of spiritual receptivity. Those who coddle their fears more than they cling to the promises of God, will not hear God's voice when He calls them to a more spacious and free place. Can you think of a more devastating loss than to lose the sense of God's voice in your ear?

It matters if we listen or if we don't."

To read the rest of her blog post, click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It is well with my soul.

Singing with Chris Rice tonight.

Comfort for people who feel like they are going crazy.

On a day like this, I need the Lord to help me.



Welcome to my breath of fresh air on a "day like today".
When you are having "one of those days", read these verses and take a deep breath between each one, and make the verses your prayer, along with me.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
~2 Timothy 1:7

-deep breath-
Lord, give me your spirit of power, love and self-discipline today.

"The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--"
~Isaiah 11:2

-deep breath-
Lord, give me your spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and a healthy fear of you today.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,"
~Ephesians 1:18

-deep breath-
Lord, enlighten my eyes in order that I may know the hope that you have called me to, and the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
~John 14:27

-deep breath-
Lord, give me your peace today. Thank you that you do not give as this crazy world gives. Put my heart at peace, Lord.

"He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate."
~Isaiah 28:6
-deep breath-
Lord, I need your spirit of justice today, I need your strength to turn this day around. Show me where you are at work today, and calm my anxious spirit, so I can be a blessing to those around me today. Hear my cry today. Cover the angst I feel with love, peace, patience, and strength. I lean on you for the things I cannot possess on my own, asking that you do a supernatural work as I seek you and praise you with what I have. Give me eyes to see the good that is around me today. Lift this overwhelming feeling that I know does not come from you. My hope is in you Lord.
Amen.




If you are someone who deals with depression, you know that this is a tool to keep coming back to. For a person who battles depression, it hits harder some days than others. The hard days can really throw you for a loop. God does not define you by your bad days or your good days. He loves you every single day.

Hope this helps someone today. For more entries on depression, from my point of view, click on the "Depression" tab on the right or click here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another strange dream I had.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

I woke up the other day with a very vivid dream still fresh on my mind...

MY DREAM.

I was in a mansion, with high ceilings and beautiful furniture. There were tons of people roaming and hanging out throughout the entire house. It felt like an open house, sort of. Everyone was excited and having a great time.

As I was going up the winding staircase I saw an alligator crawling into a room. Immediately I knew that I had made the arrangements to have this alligator delivered to this house. I was nervous. I went into the room and saw that it went under the bed. I looked around. Everyone acted like they didn't see it go in there, so I stood in the room trying to think of how I could get the thing out. I was racking my brain trying to decide how I was going to apologize to the person who owned the house. I felt a huge sense of guilt. I was stuck. On the one hand, asking him to forgive me for something so ridiculous would be embarrassing. On the other hand, I knew there was no way I could get this alligator out of the house by myself, so I was going to have to say something.

As I approached the owner to tell him what I had done, a large truck pulled up to the curb outside of the house. A few strong men came out of the truck and got the alligator out of the house with no trouble at all, like they were used to doing this sort of thing. We were just one more stop on their route or stops. I was shocked. I watched as the owner of the house turned to a young person and made it clear that HE was the one who orchestrated the plan for the alligator being in the house and he would have to leave the house. Everyone seemed relieved to have that person leave the house, because in the owner's explanation we all learned that this person was actually plotting all along to ruin the party by bringing in these alligators.

In the dream, I knew it was true. I felt a huge sense of relief in knowing that the burden I was carrying was not mine to carry. It was not my fault and with that, I could go on having a great time with everyone in the house.

Then I woke up.

The problem, as I see it.
Strange, right? Random, stupid dream right? :) Or is it? I've been thinking a lot about sin lately... the consequences of sin, and how being tempted is part of being human...that kind of stuff. Sometimes we let our guard down and in our weakness we entertain a bad thought, or allow ourselves to sin. We carry the shame and the guilt from doing what we know is wrong. We determine we are defined by our sin, and we operate out of the mentality that we are no good and should be ashamed of ourselves. We make future compromises because we feel we are "less than" and we deserve to be "less than". We take on any blame for our actions. Over time it is hard for us to tell where Satan ends and we begin. We don't recognize who we are anymore. It's hard for us to know where to even start if we were going to ask for forgiveness. There's so much wrong.

Here's what I am thinking.
At any time the process can be halted, and corrected, and you can be made new. Take the blame off of yourself for a second. God is all-knowing. He sees your world and the spiritual realms that you can't see. He offers grace and forgiveness when you ask for it. He's aware of where you have fallen short of His glory. He knows where Satan brought you down, and He doesn't want you to stay stuck there. Your identity is NOT wrapped up in your sin. Your identity is found in how God sees you. He gently woes you back because He loves you and wants you back, and because He knows it is in your best interest. When you come to God, asking for forgiveness He immediately offers you forgiveness and then directs the attention away from you. "Satan, you're not welcome here. You must leave." FREEDOM! You can let down your baggage. There is no condemnation in Christ. He loves you and is in the business of protecting you and bringing you to a new way of living when you ask for it. He makes all things new.

Live your life worthy of your calling.
God has more for you. Stop taking blame for the alligator in the house. Has anyone ever tried to hold you to you to your past, and not let it go? You are NOT only as great as your worst sin. That is what Satan wants you to believe. Seek God, be made new, and enjoy the party. He has BIG things in store for you when you are willing to lay down your burdens at His feet. He loves you and you can trust Him with your everything. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lessons from the kids in the choir: Sing along even when you don't know the words.



I work with fifth and sixth graders at my church. There are many reasons why I LOVE this age group. They're a lot of fun for me. By fifth grade kids understand that life is hard at times, but they have not been bogged down with just how depressing life REALLY can be yet, and most kids are still very impressionable at this age.

I wrote previously about the kiddos from our church who sang and helped lead worship on Palm Sunday. There are so many things we can learn from kids. Today I want to tackle one more I learned while listening and watching them. Here it is: sometimes we go through a season when the things we are singing don't make complete sense to us, but we sing anyway.

When you go through a SERIOUSLY hard spot in your life the last thing you want to do is belt out a chorus that suggests that God is good and is in control. Sometimes you get to church and you just want to hide your face and cry in a corner. Satan will try to tell you, "Stop going to church! You don't need all that stuff!" Satan always has your worst interests in mind. "Stay at home and RELAX and you'll feel so much better," He lies to you.

If God suggests something it is ALWAYS in your best interest! Anything that contradicts His word is NOT from Him...and if it is NOT from HIM, then it is from....right...Satan...the one who leads your life into a state of utter chaos and destruction. Here's what the Bible says about going to church.

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." -Hebrews 10:25
Do not give up going...like many other people are doing. The Day (capital D) is the day of Jesus' second coming. The Day (capital D) is approaching. NOW is your time. Don't wait until next week because you are too tired, too ornery, too ugly in the only shirt you have to wear, having a really bad hair day because God made it rain and rain makes your hair frizzy and He knows that-- so really it's His fault you aren't going to church. No, none of that nonsense. If you don't have clean underwear you just go commando. If you are tired, you go and rest your eyes when you need to. If you are invited to an amazing hoppin shindig on Saturday night that lasts until 3:00 AM, you choose to leave early. Plan it in. Make it priority. Just like when you take out your trash once a week so it doesn't pile up and make weird smells, attracting maggots and what not, you take out your emotional trash and get renewed once a week at least at church. When you choose to go to church, the things you learn there will NOT be learned in vain. You WILL use that wisdom down the road. Don't take my word for it. The Bible says this:

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." -Isaiah 55:10-11


Listen. CHURCH is one of the places you get your spiritual nourishment, (SO VITAL) but you can do that on your own at home. Church is more than that, though. It is also the place you connect with other believers. Satan wants you isolated and alone. He can attack you so much harder when you are alone. You are so much weaker when you are alone.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." -Ecclesiastes 4:12
Bond with believers and see how you are strengthened when you join together and acknowledge how God is at work. Make a connection with someone who is going through something similar to you, or who has already been through what you are going through, and be encouraged. You are not alone, and what you go through is NOT new. No matter what you are facing...whatever trial you are in the middle of....someone can relate to you and help you find God in your situation. Satan wants nothing more than to get you hovering in a corner, scared and ashamed, thinking that you are HORRIBLE and not worthy of love. God wants you to live in freedom.

Okay, so back to the kids at my church. "Hallelujah" they sang. It's a big word. The kids were in kindergarten-fourth grade. I know that some of them had no idea what they were singing...not because our children's pastor did not tell them, but because their sweet little minds cannot understand the true power of the words they were singing. It's okay though. No one expects them to understand every word, or even to get every word right. Sing from your heart sweet little ones, and trust that God is going to reveal what those words mean to you in due time.

If you are feeling like you are in a spiritual rut, it's okay. Keep coming to church. If you feel like you don't understand what everyone is talking about, it's okay. Keep coming. Someday the message will be seasoned by your life experiences and it will hit you differently. You'll be surprised how the words bring new meaning and you'll be blessed. Not feeling blessed? Keep coming. Trust that God is going to speak to you and that He will bless the time you put into seeking Him.

Just like the sweet children who swayed joyfully back and forth while belting out the songs just for the pure joy of making music for the Lord, we can come and enjoy the service unashamed and open to what God wants to say to us. I was blessed because as I watched the children I knew they would remember those words forever and someday it would make sense. SOMEDAY, those kids are going to go through a life experience that is going to rattle their cage a little bit and one of these songs will come to their mind. They memorized the words so they could easily pull them out when they needed them. One day it will all come together and they will stand strong in their faith, holding on to the TRUTH that God wants to speak over them, they will be blessed, and God "will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it".

Every parent knows that they have to keep instilling the same values into their children if they are going to really "get it" later. You don't just say, "brush your teeth" once and hope they brush their teeth the rest of their lives. You tell them EVERY single day, over and over and over again, until FINALLY, one day they choose to do it on their own. God is your Heavenly Father. He knows what you need, and He has your best interests in mind. Take a deep breath feel His love for you as you let that one sink in. Ahhhhhh...

Thank you Lord. That you know EXACTLY what we need and that you have supplied us with a Bible to turn to for answers, and you have designed the idea of a church body to be there for us when we need spiritual nourishment and emotional encouragement. You are a wise God who loves us, and we thank you for that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Poll results: Who introduced you to the idea of salvation in Christ?

18 answers.
Answers reflect who comes to my site.

Mom or Dad: 7 (38%)
Neighbor: 0 (0%)
VBS Teacher: 1 (5%)
Pastor: 4 (22%)
Youth worker: 1 (5%)
I read a tract: 0 (0%)
Friend: 3 (16%)
Other: 2 (11%)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Comfort for those who are struggling to overcome the lure of sin

1 Corinthians 10:13

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

2 Corinthians 12:10

"That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Philippians 2:13

"working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him."

2 Timothy 4:17

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength."

Hebrews 2:18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 1:2-5

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:12-15

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The difference between salvation and sanctification, as I understand it.

I wanted to make a really cool (or what I thought would be cool) illustration, and I just couldn't muster it up...so here's my second best option for making the point I want to make.... (great set-up, I know)...

YOU-GOD

YOU-SIN-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-JUSTIFICATION FOR SIN-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-JUSTIFICATION FOR SIN-REALLY UGLY THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOURSELF DOING-GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-JUSTIFICATION FOR SIN-REALLY UGLY THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOURSELF DOING-GUILT AND SHAME- GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-JUSTIFICATION FOR SIN-REALLY UGLY THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOURSELF DOING-GUILT AND SHAME- HURT, PAIN, DISAPPOINTMENT- GOD

YOU-SIN-SIN TO COVER UP PAST SIN-NEW SIN-DEEPER SIN-JUSTIFICATION FOR SIN-REALLY UGLY THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOURSELF DOING-GUILT AND SHAME- HURT, PAIN, DISAPPOINTMENT- GOD

YOU-FORGIVENESS-CLEAN SLATE-HOPE FOR THE FUTURE-GOD

YOU-GOD


THE BAD NEWS ABOUT SIN FOR THE UNBELIEVER.
The bad news is that your sin separates you from God and all the blessings he has for you. The road that leads us to indulge in our sinful nature is the road that leads to death. Period. If you are human, you are a sinner. There is no way around that, and the sin that separates you from God is the one that keeps you from getting into Heaven. Heaven is perfect, so sin can't exist there, so YOU can't be there...unless, of course, someone perfect pays the price, and offers themselves as a sacrifice for you.

THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT SALVATION.
Salvation is the process of being saved. If you pray the prayer asking for forgiveness, acknowledging that God is who He says He is and that He died on the cross for your sins, asking God to take away your sin, then YOU are saved by the power of Christ that is in you. Salvation really is that simple. It really is just a moment of declaration that God is THE God of your life, and accepting that He calls you to be with Him. With salvation, there is immediate freedom in knowing that our sins are forgiven. The cleansing of our souls is rejuvenating and energizing. Awesome, one time experience.

WHAT IS SANCTIFICATION?
Sanctification is something different. Sanctification is a process. Where Salvation is a solitary act that wipes away all of the sin from our past and becomes the bridge that gets you into Heaven when you die, sanctification is a process that continues on for the rest of your life here on earth until you are in Heaven.

Unfortunately, we are still human, and we are still drawn to worldly things. We let our guard down. We forget what God told us was important. The old boyfriend comes back around and puts temptation in front of us again and we fall into a trap of sin we never intended to fall into. We're not perfect, but with God in our hearts, we can be made perfect. Sanctification is the process of being made more and more into the likeness of God until the day we are made perfect in Heaven. God wants you to be close to Him, so He will continue nudging you and drawing you closer to Him. His spirit convicts you when you go off course, and you can ALWAYS come back at ANY time, ask for forgiveness, and get a clean slate again.

THE BAD NEWS ABOUT SIN FOR THE PERSON WHO IS STRIVING TO LIVE FOR GOD.
If you decide to let things come between you and God, (sin) you will find yourself feeling off. Where is that hope I once had?? All sins start with a wrong thought left unchecked. If you ignore that still, small voice telling you to bolt in the other direction, entertaining thoughts of how fun, satisfying, or liberating indulging your sinful nature would be, you are setting yourself up for making a bad choice. Every sin has a consequence. We still have to deal with the consequences of sin here on earth, whether we choose to acknowledge that we are sinning or not. If we allow sin to creep into our life, little by little Satan gets a stronghold over us until we don't know how to get back to where we were. We feel lost. God's will won't seem clear anymore. It will be very hard to discern where God is at work in your life and around you. You'll start to doubt God because you won't be able to see Him. If someone asks you where God is at work it will seem foggy. Your prayers will seem strained, at best. You'll miss out on the blessings that come with obedience to God. Satan is a thief and a liar.
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:9-10
Satan's attacks on you are inevitable. Satan is the thief that steels your joy, and zest for life. Don't fall into his trap.

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING, AND WANT TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT ACCORDING TO GOD.
When you catch yourself coming off the path that leads you closer to God, stop yourself, ask for forgiveness and get yourself distracted with what God has for you. Make a choice to run from the appeal of the sin that presents itself in a pretty package. Find an accountability partner...someone you trust who will hold you to the standard God asks of you. Check out the post after this one if you feel you are weak in standing up to the lure of sin in your life. It's verse after verse of what God has to say about how you can avoid sin in your life. You have the power of God on your side. You can be more than a conqueror when you seek God, and tap into the power He provides.

In the words of Susie Larson, "Be strong and last long! God is the one who will keep you strong to the end."

God bless.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lessons from the kids in the choir: Know who you are following.

A few weeks back, our church decided to have the children bless us by leading the music for a couple of songs. They were super cute, as was expected. Their parents dressed them in their cutest little dresses and button down shirts. They were excited. It was Palm Sunday, and they knew exactly what to do with their little branches.

My husband and I chuckled as one of the kids tried to go straight when the line of children was supposed to turn. All the other kids happily followed right behind the wayward child, figuring he knew what he was doing. One of the leaders saw the problem and tried to redirect him, but by then the whole line was going off course. My husband and I thought it was hilarious. Kids are always so much cuter when you are not the one responsible for them, aren't they? :) Somehow the leader managed to turn them all back around and get them going in the right direction until they ended up on the stage.

We sometimes act like those adorable children, don't we? We get all dressed up and get into line, figuring the people ahead of us know what they are doing. He looks like he knows what he's doing, so I will just follow him....only to find out that the guy we were following only LOOKED like he knew what he was doing.

Who do you follow? You are following someone, whether you like it or not. Your thoughts are not original. Mine aren't either. I'm not trying to call you out. I am just saying, "there is nothing new under the sun." The stuff that you come up with that you thought was extraordinary...chances are good that you didn't come up with it. You just forgot where you got it from. :) You probably heard something somewhere and it sounded right to you, and it is just finally sinking in now.


Be careful who you follow. Know what the Bible says. Do you know what the Bible says about following other people who look like they know what they are doing? The Bible actually says A LOT about this issue, which lets me know that it IS a struggle for humans. Why else would God choose to hit on this topic over and over and over again? Allow me to share a handful of verses with you that speak on the concept of knowing what the Bible says and measuring what you hear from the people around you against what the TRUTH (the Bible) says.

VERSES FROM THE BIBLE...
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." (Matthew 7:15)


"The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (But he was lying to him.) (1 King 13:18)

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:16)

"and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people." (Matthew 24:11)


"
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible." (Matthew 24:24)

"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them." (Romans 16:17)


A STORY FROM THE BIBLE... Numbers 13:1-14:45 tells of a story in the Bible of a time when God told Moses to send 12 spies to the land that God had promised them... Canaan. After spying for forty days, the spies were to bring back food from the land and report on what they saw.

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.) (verses 17-20)


The spies came back from their excursion and went to Moses and Aaron and everyone else and showed them the fruit. The spies said, "We went where you told us to go. There were rivers of milk and honey and here's some fruit we found. But the people who live there are strong and the cities are surrounded by walls. Our enemies are all over the place in that land."

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (verse 30)


But the other spies spoke evil words. "No way!" they said. "They're stronger than us. That land eats people. And we saw people there that were so tall that we were like grasshoppers to them."


All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:2-4)


Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in front of everyone.


Joshua and Caleb tore up their clothes and said,


“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14: 7-9)


But the people wanted to kill Joshua and Caleb with rocks.


God's analysis, and the outcome from all of this...Only Caleb and Joshua got to go to the land where there are rivers of milk and honey. The kids will get there, too.
(God's grace in action)

So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. (verses 28-30)


And all the spies who lied about the land got a plague and died after 40 years of wandering in the land they said they would rather stay in.


WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS STORY...

When God speaks, we ought to listen. It is not uncommon to let your fears and anxieties take over until you are no longer acting out of your faith anymore. To cower back to your old ways of bondage and live a life in disappointment and shame is "normal." The crowd chose to agree with the majority who said, "this is TOO hard for us! Let's just go back to what we know."
God had GREAT things in store for them, if they just would have trusted him!

What amazing things do we forfeit when we choose to grab hold of what we think we want rather than stepping out in faith to see what God has for us that is better? You won't know until you step out in faith! Do not get side-tracked, bogged down, and caught up in your own selfish desires and insecurities. God has more for you than that. When you step out in faith, you step away from the thing that was holding you captive and say, "GOD, you are BIGGER than this thing!" Blessings are just around the corner. Hold on tight. It's about to get exciting! :)

THREE QUESTIONS:

1. Who are you following?

2. Who are you leading?

3. Does answering those two questions provoke a nudge of conviction in you?

If your answer to number 3 is yes, please pray and seek where God is at work in your heart and in your life.


"A thousand people wait on the other side of your obedience." -Susie Larson

Dear God,
I want so much to be on the receiving end of your blessings. I want to be strong in my faith. I want to be the kind of person who reports back to the crowd, "WE can DO THIS! God said we can; therefore, WE CAN. Period." I'm sorry, Lord, for the times I have shrunk back and allowed others to bring my faith down because of their lack of faith. Help me to see the truth around me. Give me holy discernment, that allows me to know when the things I am hearing are not from you. I will take you at your word, Lord, and trust you to be who you say you are, and I will choose to trust that you can do what you say you will do. I'm all yours Lord. Make my life a testimony of your strength, power and victory. Amen.

By your love, others will know you serve a God who loves them.


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
-John 13:34-35


This verse kept coming to my mind today. As a child I think I read this verse thinking, "because I am a believer I must make an effort to love everyone around me". That wasn't a bad thought. The truth was, I did not possess a lot of love for everyone as a child, because I was very egocentric (thinking the world revolved around my every little desire)...a common characteristic trait for young children, it seems. :) Sometimes we do what we know God wants us to do, even though we have not FELT it yet. I will choose to show love to people, because that is what God wants, even though there is part of me that would really just rather punch their face in. :) (I'm being overly dramatic here, for fun, but you get my point)

Now, it's different. I'm not perfect, by any means, but some of the things that God calls me to seem easier now that I have been doing them for so long. Loving people is not a chore. It's not this thing I have to really work hard to muster. I can't help but love people around me. I see their pain, and I identify on some level, and I cannot help but have compassion for them. It got me thinking.

God calls us to do things...out of love. Sometimes we feel like doing those things (like David, in the Bible) and sometimes we would rather crawl in a hole or run the other direction (like Jonah in the Bible) but we can be assured that IF we obediently follow God's prompting for us that He will bless it. God wants to use his people to love on his other people. He cares about the hurting. As we act out of the love HE has given us, we are creating an atmosphere around us where, "people will know that we are God's disciples".

I used to think "well, even a non-believer loves someone, so how is THIS any different?" This is not a matter of just being "civil". This is a matter of stepping out in faith, and trusting that God is going to be glorified when we take radical steps to love those around us. Respecting others is a thing we are forced to do, by the law. If I infringe on your rights, I am in trouble. Even a non-believer must adhere to the law. There are consequences when we don't. LOVING others with God's love is different. It is this thing you do when your heart breaks for someone who is hurting, and even though you may never get anything back, you reach out and pull them up from where they are. This might mean setting aside my personal agenda, seeing others with the expectation that God has GREAT things in store for them, and helping them to get to a point where they can see that too.

Where is God's nudge for you today, and in your future? Where does your heart break? If He is calling you to move forward in love, DO IT! Tear up your list of excuses not to and move ahead, praying as you tackle the thing He is calling you to do. You will be blessed in the process and people will know that you are God's disciples. To God be the glory, for the love we learn to possess for others as we reach out and serve with a humble heart.

"Developing radical faith really happens one obedient step at a time." -Susie Larson