Archive for August, 2013

FEELING FORGOTTEN IN THE FIRE

When asking God to make you who He wants you to be, it is tempting to say, “Be careful what you ask for.” But that might suggest that you should reconsider or think twice before saying that prayer. That is absolutely NOT what I want to say. When you are ready to surrender your life to Christ, and truly allow Him to be The Lord of your life, do it. Don’t stop. Don’t hesitate. Don’t let Satan fill your head with lies, and your heart with fears. By all means, give yourself over to your loving God. BUT…be prepared.

Taking this leap of surrender will not mean hopping from one mountain-top high to another. It isn’t possible to physically climb from one mountain peak to another without going through a valley. And it isn’t spiritually possible either. The moment you turn to your Heavenly Father, and say “I’m yours Lord, do with me as You will. Use me for Your glory. I want to serve You,” you have landed on a mountain top. You are going to want to do nothing more than spread out the picnic blanket and sit down with your Lord to enjoy the view. But you can’t just sit and soak. You must prepare for battle. You see, the moment you surrendered to Jesus, red flags went up all over the enemy camp. Satan jumped to attention and ordered his demons to seek and destroy. But do not be afraid! God is with you!!!

While you are basking in the presence of the Son and filled with His Holy Spirit, you will do battle. Do not let your armor slip. Stay in the Word. Pray without ceasing. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus. There is no greater thing than to know that you are doing the will of the Father in your life. That He is directing you, calling you, to His service, and you are understanding, obeying, and witnessing His hand working in your life, and through you in the lives of others.

As you learn to humbly be used by God, you will begin to recognize when Satan is attacking you, and you will begin to learn how to fight and defeat him. This is so important. It is a time when your faith is made stronger. Your relationship with God becomes more and more important to you, until it is soon your first priority. You are able to truly understand the Psalmist when he said that yearns for The Lord as a deer pants after water. You will hunger and thirst for time spent reading God’s Word, and for time in prayer communing with Him. You will realize that you really do NEED Jesus living in you, and you can’t live without Him. It is like an addiction, but of the best possible kind.

At some point you will notice that you have begun to descend into the valley. You may feel more and more disconnected from God. You will need to rely on your faith during these times. That faith that God worked to strengthen while you were on the mountain top is going to be so very important. You will need to believe that the Holy Spirit of Jesus continues to be with you, even though you can’t feel Him. Believe it. Do not give in to the lie that He has left you. He has promised to always be with you, and He will never break His promise.

While you were on the mountain top, you learned to recognize spiritual attack. While in the valley, you will learn to recognize something else, the refinement. The time when you are not under attack, but you might think you are because it hurts. This is the time when something big is going on. The battle is huge and it feels as though you are being sucked through a bottomless pit of quicksand. No, it doesn’t feel like a battle. That would end quickly. It is more like a war that goes on and on.

There is no way I, or anyone else, can tell you what battle, or war, this will be. It may be disease, or some sort of loss. It may be more of an internal battle. The most important thing you can do is to continue in the Word, and continue in prayer. Seek God with all your heart, and trust that only He, in His infinite wisdom, and perfect love, knows what is best for you. You may not see it at first, but God will eventually reveal to you that this is the refining. God is purifying you. Rejoice!!! He has not forgotten you, though it may feel like He has. HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN, OR ABANDONED YOU…HE IS CHANGING YOU! He heard your prayer of surrender, and He is accepting your offering, your sacrifice. Do not give up during this time. It will not last forever. God will again bring you out of the valley to the mountain high. When He does, you will be a more effective servant of the King.

Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) – “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 49:14-16 (NCV) – But Jerusalem said, “The Lord has left me; The Lord has forgotten me.” The Lord answers, “Can a woman forget the baby she nurses? Can she feel no kindness for the child to which she gave birth? Even if she could forget her children, I will not forget you. See, I have written your name on my hand. Jerusalem, I always think about your walls.”

Even in the refining, when God feels so distant, He does not forget you. In fact, your name is written on His hand, and that very hand is busy forming and shaping you for God’s glory. It will be painful, but it will be worth it in the end.
Praise The Lord!

ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING…& THAT DOESN’T SAY ENOUGH!!!

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created….

Snow. I know. It doesn’t say snow in Genesis. But if you believe God created the earth and the sky and everything in them, then you believe God created snow. Snow conjures up all kinds of images and emotions from people. Whether you love it or hate it depends on your personality. Some sit and wonder at the beauty of a new blanket of snow, while others hunker down indoors and try to forget it is outdoors!

What is snow? My official scientific answer is that it is cold, white, wet, and bright. I believe I was told in school that each snow flake is different. Like a human fingerprint, there are no two snowflakes alike. I wonder who decided to take the time to study enough snowflakes to come to that conclusion?

This morning a fellow blogger (http://www.christyfitzwater.com/), shared a link on her post. Since she only shared it, and did not write about it, I feel at liberty to share it as well. I will do that in a moment.

Hydrologists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland use a Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscope to study snow flake crystals for water content. They use liquid nitrogen to freeze the crystals to temperatures that cause me pain at the thought. Once in this frozen state, they can study them for long periods of time without worry of them melting away. They have published a number of intensely magnified images of snow crystals on this link: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/03/microscopic-images-of-snow-crystals/

God is mind-blowing!!!! Consider all the snow that falls all over the world in an entire year, and all the snow flakes it takes to make up all of those blankets and piles of snow! And our God creates each flake with detail that cannot be seen by the naked eye, in fact, can’t even be seen with a normal microscope. He designs each flake with awe-inspiring detail! Did you see the hexagons? And the perfectly straight lines?

While my spirit is flooded with emotion for God that cannot be expressed, I have to admit my human, always busy, mom-brain briefly thought, “How does He have the time to do that?” What a silly girl I am! Because He is GOD! Infinite! All-Knowing! All-Powerful! Omniscient! GOD! We tend to lose the sense of awe and wonder at who HE really is. HE IS GOD!! He created the universe and everything in it, and He has the time to intricately design each and every snowflake, and still take care of the entire world. His mind can handle it! Mine can barely handle what happens in a day, let alone a week. Yet He knows every thought, every pain, every fear, every spoken word, every action, every everything of every person through the history of the entire earth, past, present and future…and He still has time to design snowflakes! And if the capacity of the mind of God is this great, and the care He has to make the unseen snowflake worth looking at, the snowflake that melts on your fingertip in seconds, what is the capacity of His thoughts towards you? You, who are created in His own image. What kind of detail has He designed into your life? And who are we that GODGOD, would pay attention to us? GOD sent His Son to die for me. THAT IS SO HUGE!!!!! GOD! I wish I could write His name as big as He is. There is just no way for us to comprehend how big He is, how powerful He is, How capable He is…and certainly how enormous is His love for us.

A snowflake has left me with awe that my words are completely inadequate to describe. It is no wonder that no one can see God and live! And no wonder we will need new bodies and minds that will be able to tolerate being in His presence in Heaven!!!  I look to the skies and say, “Come Lord Jesus, come!!!!”

May GOD remind each of us who He is every time we see the snow, and may He receive all the glory and honor He is due!!!! Amen!

Do I Disappoint God?

I’m not often disappointed by people. Well, not to the point of frustration anyway. I have learned over the years that just as I need the grace and understanding of others, they need it from me as well. Once in a while, though, I have higher expectations for someone than I should. And when that happens, so does disappointment. Then when disappointment happens, frustration, anger, bitterness, resentment also tend to rear their ugly heads. This is exactly what happened to me this week…and on more than one occasion, with more than one person! I was setting myself up for a fall, and worse, I set them up for a fall!

When it was all said and done, I had some confessing to do. And it took me a bit to figure out how to talk to God about it all. I was hurt because of the actions of the people who disappointed me, so there was that to deal with. But I knew that I didn’t handle it as well as I should have either. So here I was with a wall between me and God. I hate that feeling! There can’t possibly be anything worse than feeling that distance between you and God, and not knowing how, or where, to begin getting back to Him. It took a lot of work, but eventually I was able to start praying about everything. As I prayed about the disappointment that I felt, I thought, “I must disappoint You all the time.” But how can God be disappointed?

Where does disappointment come from? High hopes. We expect more of people than it is fair to expect. We expect perfection from imperfect people, and then don’t offer grace and understanding when they don’t live up to our expectations. We expect them to be something they are not…infallible.

When I thought of how often God must be disappointed in me, He corrected me. God is never disappointed in me! He doesn’t set up high hopes and delude Himself into believing that I am more than I am. He knows exactly who I am, what I am capable of, and what I am not capable of. He knows I am not perfect. Not only is He not taken aback, surprised, or disappointed when I fail Him, He knew it was going to happen before I did it. God knew what He was getting when He called me to Him in the first place. So it is impossible for me to disappoint God! But there is more.

God knew exactly how I was going to react to those who disappointed me this week. He wasn’t disappointed in me. That doesn’t mean He liked it. But He loves me. He offered me grace and understanding…and forgiveness. But the thing is, the forgiveness was mine before I sinned! Hebrews 10:10 (NCV) – “And because of this, we are made holy through the sacrifice Christ made in his body once and for all time.” Once and for all time. Long ago I accepted the free gift of salvation through Christ. When that happened, my sins were forgiven…past, present, and yes, future! God is not disappointed in me because He knows me; because He understands me; and because, through the blood of Jesus, He has already forgiven me for what I will do! This is not an excuse to go do as I please. Instead it is a blessed reassurance of His unconditional love for me. And my praise and thanksgiving seem so inadequate in comparison. What do I have to give in return but myself. It is all I have to give, and I give it freely to my God who loves me.

Blessed Assurance by Frances J. Crosby, 1873

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Prove Your Faith

James 1:12 (NCV) – When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever. God promised this to all those who love Him.

Proving your faith does not mean never sinning. And sinning does not mean losing salvation. Proving your faith means always returning to Christ…to seek His forgiveness, to seek restoration to Him, to repent and turn away from your failure. Your faith is proved when you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on determined to obey and glorify God better from that point on.

May God lift you today as you seek to prove your faith, while waiting for His glorious promise of life forever with Him!

I Don’t Get It! How Can God Use ME??

The Israelites never cease to amaze me.  They were the chosen people of God Almighty.  He spoke directly to them, and performed one incredible miracle after another to, through, for them.  He demonstrated His power time and again, and showered them with blessings.  God Himself gave them the best land, a land filled with milk and honey.  He defeated their enemies on countless occasions.  He was actually present with them in a tangible form (in a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, and on the seat of the ark of the covenant).  Yet, over and over and over again, they rejected Him.  They refused to obey God’s commands.  They worshiped false gods.  How in the world could they turn from the presence of the God who communicated directly to them, whom they could see was alive and well and all-powerful, to worshiping a chunk of metal or rock?  I don’t get it!

Still God used them to bless the entire earth!  He used this group of ungrateful, back-stabbing, faithless people to send the Messiah, the Savior for all, to this sinful world.

While I ponder this miracle, I see a reflection…an image that looks all too much like the Israelites…me.  My life is a mess.  Oh, I don’t mean that my marriage is on the rocks and my children are all out carousing and getting in trouble.  I mean I’m a sinner!  I am selfish.  I have a quick temper.  I am impatient.  I can be judgmental.  I falsely accuse.  I fight my attitude all the time.  The list goes on.  Yet somehow, in an amazing miraculous way, God has chosen me as a vessel.  He shares His messages through me, the pen in His hand.  I don’t get it!

I am so grateful that “God does not see the same way people see.  People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).  Thank God He knows my heart!  Thank God he knows the depth of my desire to serve Him!  Thank God He understands that I am a sinner, saved by His grace!

Unfortunately, people don’t know my heart.  They see the outside.  They see the mistakes I make.  They see the sinful me.  And I am certain that it is far too easy to believe that I cannot possible be used by God, after all, look how frustrated and impatient she is with her children when they are goofing off in church, or messing around in the store.  Look at how she lost her temper with that teacher when something happened to her child at school.  They can’t imagine how God can use me.  They don’t get it.

But God is using me.  I don’t deserve to be used of God!  I know that all too well.  But I want to obey Him, more than anything.  And so I keep struggling through everyday life, making mistakes, committing sins and seeking forgiveness…and remaining open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I know that I need to look different.  My witness, and God’s message, are tarnished by my sinfulness.  I must seek to serve Him, and obey Him in every area of my life, not just my calling.  Titus 3:1-2 (NCV) – “Remind the believers to yield to the authority of rulers and government leaders, to obey them, to be ready to do good, to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people.”

I am so thankful that God knows my imperfections, and that His work is not complete in me…it won’t be until the day Christ returns.  I can’t expect perfection from myself, or anyone else, for that reason alone.

If you believe God can’t use you because of your sin, you are wrong.  Remember that all things are possible with God.  Just ask Him to use you, be open to His leading, and be obedient to His call.  Being used by God is not up to you, or your abilities.  It is up to God and His abilities.  You, my friend, are an open slate!  Rejoice in that!!!

If you are obeying God’s call, as I am, and think your sins shout “hypocrisy” from the highest mountain, don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Do work on it!  The Bible tells us in many places the kind of behavior we should exhibit as followers of Christ.  We must work to look and behave differently.  We will fail.  Get used to it.  But, by the grace of God, our failures will be less and less.  Do not lose hope because the Spirit will help us…we just need to listen, and obey.

If you are a person standing at the foot of the mountain and hearing the cry of “hypocrisy,” be discerning.  Remember how God used the Israelites (and so many other flawed and sinful people in the Bible).  Listen to the message.  Weigh it against the Word of God and pray for God to reveal His truths to you.  Remember that the message, the lesson, whatever it is that is coming to you through another person, perfect and holy or not, comes from the Holy Spirit, not the person.  Look past their failures, and look to what God wants you to know.

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.  How marvelous!  How wonderful!  And my song shall ever be:  How marvelous!  How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”

Use Your Noggin!

As I am reading through Paul’s epistles to the early churches, one of the themes I see over and over again is the warning against false teaching.  Often it is in reference to the increase of false teachings as the end times approach, but it is a general warning for all times as well.

After my first son was born, I went through a lengthy period of time where I battled postpartum depression.  I was awake many, many hours during the night with a premature baby who needed to be fed regularly, but did not wake easily.  As my husband snored beside me, I would turn on a Christian television station.  God used the programs on that station to lift me, and remind me of His constant presence with me.  Yet I was bothered by the extreme flashiness of the shows and the people on them.  The jewelry they wore looked large enough to tip people off their feet.  The rings alone certainly had to weigh enough to make lifting their hands in praise to God a literal work-out!  The furniture was covered with gold.  It was a virtual paradise!  Perhaps they were broadcasting straight from heaven itself!  They obviously had plenty of money, but still they would plead for more to support their ministry and their missions.  I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?????  Sell your jewelry and your fancy furniture!  Use something more practical and you won’t need to beg for so much assistance…is our money even going towards a ministry and mission?  Or is it going to line your pockets and create a life of ease for you?  Where is your heart?

In 1 Timothy 6:3-10 (NCV) Paul warns Timothy to watch for those who teach things that are against what Christ taught and use them to become rich.  “Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God.  This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words.  This brings jealousy, fighting, speaking against others, evil mistrust, and constant quarrels from those who have evil minds and have lost the truth.  They think that serving God is a way to get rich.  Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.  We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.  But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that.  Those who want to become rich bring temptation to themselves and are caught in a trap.  They want many foolish and harmful things that ruin and destroy people.  The love of money causes all kinds of evil.  Some people have left the faith because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow.”

God taught me this lesson long ago.  While He used that “Christian” television station to comfort me, there was always a question about their true faith, and their motives.  I am grateful that God allowed me to discern the falseness in their teachings.  It is vital, especially today as we see the time of Christ’s return upon the horizon, that we cling to our Bibles and seek the wisdom and discernment of the Father when it comes to the teachings we are exposed to.

I listen to Christian radio a lot during the school year when I drive from school to school, some more than an hour away.  I am always cautious of what I am hearing.  I weigh it against what I know of God’s Word, and what He has taught me through the Spirit.  If I hear something that is suspect, I take the time to check it out.  I look in the Bible for verses that support what was being taught, and I pray.  When I hear consistent false teachings from a radio pastor, I turn them off!!  And I don’t go back!  I do not want to open myself up to teachings that would lead me astray.  I must guard myself with the “belt of truth,” the “shield of faith,” and “the sword of the Spirit!”  I expect you to weigh my words in the same way.

Be careful, too, of the specifics of the false teachings.  Is it a particular Bible verse that is taken out of context, but still teaches truths that align with the teachings of Christ?  Then perhaps it is a simple matter of the teacher misunderstanding the leading of the Holy Spirit.  These times happen to us all because no one understands fully the entire truth of the Scriptures.  We learn as we go, and as the Spirit reveals those truths to us.  Are the false teachings occurring consistently?  If this person teaches falsely on a regular basis, it is time to shut them off.  They are not led by the Spirit, and so the teachings are not of God.  How serious are the infractions?  Recently I learned of a prominent teacher who has declared that Jesus quit being the Son of God when He took on our sins.  This is huge!!!!  That would mean that He was not God, that the Trinity became a duo, that Jesus, as God, ceased to exist!  Uh-uh!  No way!  I don’t care how many other good teachings this person gives.  This is major, and I will not open myself up for more.  Finally, what are the motives of the teacher?  Is there evidence to show that their heart is to follow God’s leading and not a personal desire for fame or fortune?  Be careful!  Use the noggin God gave you, with a healthy dose of His wisdom and discernment, and the Bible and Holy Spirit as fact-checkers.  God doesn’t want you to be led astray.  If you seek Him, He will guide you on the right paths.

One additional note for those who are, or have been led to believe that becoming a Christian will automatically bring you into a life of wealth and abundance.  You are being deceived!  This is a false teaching!  God never promised wealth and abundance in return for your belief in Him!  He promised forgiveness of sins, salvation from eternal damnation in hell, and eternal life with Him in His glorious presence.  If you look back at the passage from Timothy that I copied above, you will see that Paul says the richness we have in serving God is being satisfied with what we have.  If we have food and clothing, and are satisfied, then we are rich.  Choose to believe in and serve God for HIS promise of eternal life, not for a man-made deception of earthly wealth that will decay, and be left behind when we leave here.

May God bless you, and guide you to His truths today!

Allah is NOT God

A quote of a quote today. Hal Lindsey, as quoted by Dr. David Jeremiah in “What in the World is Going On?”
“The doctrine of Satan is that all religions are equally valid, that all paths lead to God, that God is impersonal, unknowable, and it is therefore irrelevant to Him what we call Him or how we worship Him. If Allah and God are one and the same, then wouldn’t the worship of the Hindu chief gods, Vishnu and Shiva, also be the worship of Allah and God, only by a different name? Pretty soon, everybody is God…Which is the same as saying that nobody is.”

Powerful truth! And so scary how many people are falling for these lies! Satan is the great deceiver, and we must be on guard against his slimy manipulations!!!! Keep “the belt of truth tied around your waist!” (Ephesians 6:14)

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