Posts tagged ‘faith’

WHAT TO DO WHEN GOD’S CALLING SEEMS TO FALL APART

Have you ever been hit upside the head by God?  Have you had that moment of absolute clarity when you know, without a doubt, that God has called you to do something?  In obedience, you step out in faith and begin this new journey He has mapped out for you.  Then suddenly you hit a brick wall…or perhaps the brick wall hits you.  Trouble has come from somewhere, in some way, shape or form.

You begin to doubt.  Oh, the questions that fill your mind.  Have I sinned and fallen out of favor with God?  Is He no longer able to use me?  Was I wrong?  Did I misunderstand?  Maybe He didn’t call me to this at all.  Maybe it was all just my imagination.  Maybe I’m going about it all wrong.  Maybe….  Your heart sinks.  There is a sickness in the pit of your stomach.  You probably even think of how foolish you must have looked to all those family and friends you excitedly told about what God was doing in your life and what He had called you to.  How embarrassing!  You sheepishly hide this new “revelation” that you were wrong, and hope no one ever asks you about it.  What are the chances they will forget it and you will never have to speak of it again?

Moses must have felt the same way, don’t you think?  In Exodus 3 God met Moses alone in the wilderness, and spoke to him through a burning bush, of all things!  The two of them shared this amazing, personal moment in which God revealed to Moses, of all people, His real name (YHVH, pronounced in English Yehova or Yahweh).  Moses-  the Hebrew rejected by his people because he was raised in the house of the Egyptian pharaoh.  The man raised in the Pharaoh’s home, yet rejected by the Egyptians because he was, in fact, Hebrew.  The man who, in his zeal to be associated with his people, and with impulsive anger, killed an Egyptian man for beating a Hebrew.  The man who escaped to the wilderness to become a lonely shepherd.  To this same man, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob intimately revealed His true name, and called Moses to be savior and leader of the Hebrew people.

Moses couldn’t believe it either.  He was a humble man and doubted God could use him for anything worthwhile.  Even if he did as God said, what made Him think that the people would listen to him?  They knew him, and he was not a respectable source of information from anyone, let alone God.  God gave Moses three miraculous signs to do the convincing for him.  Moses still questioned God’s choice of messengers.  “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent.’” (Ex. 3:10).  And God put His foot down.  “Who has made man’s mouth?”  He asked.

In the end, of course, we know that Moses went.  He spoke the words God gave him to his brother Aaron, and Aaron spoke them to the Hebrew people and eventually to the Pharaoh.  The people were convinced that God had sent him and agreed to follow.

Pharaoh, on the other hand, would have none of it.  Rather than giving in to the demands of this Hebrew God, YHVH, of whom he had never heard, and who had no territorial rights in Egypt, he refused.  Not only did the Pharaoh refuse to let the Hebrews go on this 3-day pilgrimage to worship YHVH, he decided that their work was too easy.  He would no longer allow straw for the making of bricks to be provided to the Israelites.  They were required to spread out and gather what stubble they could find, and then use that to make the same number of bricks they had done before.  When they were unable to keep up with this quota, they were beaten.

Naturally, the people blamed Moses!  And BAM!  Moses was hit by the brick wall of doubt.  What had he done wrong?  Had he misunderstood?  He must have acted impulsively, and now look at the trouble he got this entire nation of people into!

 

But Moses did the right thing in the face of doubt.  He prayed.  Humbly before God, he said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”  (Ex. 5:22-23).

Even though God had warned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened, and he would refuse to let His people go, Moses expected immediate results.  He didn’t understand that God had so much more to do there first.  The Israelites and the Egyptians needed to be shown the power of YHVH.  In those ancient times, gods were believed to be territorial.  God needed to show His power over the Egyptian gods so that Egypt would let His people go, and so that the Israelites would let the Egyptian gods go and willingly follow and serve Him alone.

God’s reply to Moses assured him of his calling, and that God was indeed in control of this situation.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.  For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’”  (Ex. 6:1).

Suppose Moses had given in to his doubts…or perhaps I should say Satan’s doubts.  Who do you suppose put those doubts in his mind?  Who do you suppose puts the doubts in your mind?  Who has the most to gain when we question what God has called us to do, and quit?  You better believe it!!!  When you hit those bumps in the road of your calling, stomp them down flat again.

Remind yourself of the certainty you felt when you first received that calling, and above all, pray!  Pray for protection from Satan’s deceptions, and attacks.  Pray for the faith to continue.  Pray for the wisdom to see and understand what God is doing.  Remember it was God who allowed the bumps in Moses’ path.  He did it for a reason, and the bumps in your path likely have some reason, too.  There is so much more going on behind the scenes that you are not aware of.  Work in your heart; work in the hearts of others.  God is in control.  Rest assured that when He calls you to something, He is faithful and just, and will complete it.

*Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version.

If you have been blessed by this article, please take a moment to thank God for what He is speaking to you.

It is Finished…making Jesus a Liar

John 19:30 – “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

What was finished?  Certainly Jesus’ life here on earth, His life as a man.  Was that all?  No.  It is deeper than that.  What did Jesus come to earth in human form to do? He came to be the once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world.  He came as the sacrificial lamb to replace all other lambs and sacrifices previously required by God in the Torah (the Law of Moses) that were intended to be payment for sin.  Once Jesus died on the cross, His single purpose for being here was fulfilled…it was finished.  His sacrifice was over, and there was no need for anyone to sacrifice in anyway again in order to gain salvation from their sins.  Let me say that again because it is vital to faith and salvation.  Here it is, are you ready?  Paying attention?  Look!  Understand!  This is the salvation of the LORD!

THE moment Jesus died on the cross was THE VERY MOMENT that sacrifices on our part, in an effort to cover our own sins and save ourselves by our good works (that is, after all, what sacrifices are) STOPPED.  S.  T.  O.  P.  P.  E.  D.  Stopped.  Ended.  Fine`.  Kaput.  It was finished. 

To continue to sacrifice as a penalty for sin; to pay penance, for example, is to deny the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It is to call Him a liar.  He said it was finished, but we do not trust what He said.  We do not believe Him.  If we do not believe what He said, that His death was the be-all-and-end-all of mankind’s sacrificial attempts to earn salvation, THEN WE DO NOT RECEIVE HIS SALVATION!  Because we demonstrate that we do not believe that He, Jesus, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that NO ONE comes to the Father except THROUGH Jesus.  Jesus, the conduit…as the final sacrifice…the only sacrifice that provides the way to salvation and eternity with Him in glory.  To deny the finality and exclusivity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is to deny His salvation through faith alone.

It is not just that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  That He was born of a virgin and was both fully God and fully man.  That He was completely sinless.  That He died on the cross and rose again from the dead.  We MUST accept that His sacrifice was the final payment for our debt.  To continue to pay penance, in whatever form that takes in our lives, is to say that Jesus’ death, His sacrifice, was not good enough.  For we must, obviously, make it better…complete it for Him…do what He, the Son of God, could not do…make a sacrifice of our own to finish what Jesus said was already finished. 

To not accept the sacrifice of Jesus is to mix pagan religious beliefs of ancient times with the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.  It is to say that OUR works, mixed with OUR faith, is what will truly save us.  This is NOT Biblical.  It is contrary to the absolute truth of God’s Word, which says, For it is by grace (extended from God the Father through Jesus the Son at the time of Jesus’ sacrifice, providing the only legitimate path to salvation, the only path accepted by God)…for it is by GRACE that we are save, NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.  Not one of us will get to Heaven and stand before the judgement seat and proudly proclaim how we did it our own way…and be given access to the Kingdom.  Anyone who stands before Jesus with that as their ticket will be told, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  It is faith, and faith alone that will save you.  Not a mix of faith and works.  Not a mix of faith and personal sacrifices for our sins…because in doing so, you have denied that Jesus is enough, that He paid it all.  And in the end, you have not had faith at all, for you have not fully trusted Jesus alone for your salvation…you have trusted Him only as far as your own works would take you.

Please.  Today.  I plead with you as the return of Jesus draws near, accept the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.  Repent from the sin of rejecting His plan of salvation and replacing it with your own.  Seek His forgiveness and rest in the promise that He has then saved you and you will enter into His rest.

Eternity, Hanging in the Balance

A few days ago I was listening to Christian radio.  I don’t remember who I was listening to.  I don’t even remember if it was commentary between songs, or if it was a sermon!  It has been a busy week!  But.  I do remember one thing that was very clear.  The Holy Spirit’s voice.  Something on that radio station was said about the Israelites not being allowed to cross into Canaan, and God waited for the next generation to come along before taking them in.  The Holy Spirit spoke to me at that moment, very clearly.  “This could happen now.”  My heart sunk!  He gave me these words, and He gave me this meaning:  the rapture could be postponed in the same manner, and rewarded to the next generation.  What I didn’t know was why.  So I prayed.  And I went back to my favorite Old Testament book, Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy 1:19-46 Moses recounts how the Israelites came to the Jordan River, and the border of Canaan, the land God had promised to give to them since the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers hundreds of years earlier.  The time had finally come.  And after many tremendous demonstrations of God’s faithfulness, power and might, they saw the moment at hand.  The time they and their fathers and grandfathers had waited for.  But they lacked the faith to believe God was mighty enough to hand the land and it’s inhabitants over to them in victory.  They forgot about how God had controlled nature itself when he submitted the Egyptians to the 10 plagues.  They forgot about the time God parted the Red Sea and gave them dry land to cross on, and then washed the enemy away in the same waters.  They didn’t understand the immeasurable love of the God who provided food for them day and night, and water when they needed it, and who stayed with them in a physical, visible presence of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  They lacked the faith to trust in this God, His goodness and His promises.  And because they didn’t trust Him, after all they had been through with Him, He denied them His reward.  God did not go back on His promise, but He did postpone it for a generation who would honor Him with their faithfulness.

If you follow Christian teachings, it is not hard to find talk somewhere about the possible time of the Rapture?  Is it time?  Will Jesus return soon to take the Church to be with Him?  Events of the times point more and more to that promise.  And many have felt the assurance of the Holy Spirit that the time is near.  Of course no one can say for certain, and no one can name a date and time, but many believe that time to be soon.  The Rapture is the reward for the Church.  But it can be postponed for the next generation.  I believe that is what the Holy Spirit was speaking to me this week.  What would be the reasoning?

Our faith.  We have seen the goodness of God in our lives and in His creation.  Certainly we know His goodness, His mercy, His grace and His love when we look at the cross of Christ.  Yet, when we consider the Rapture, and the time leading up to it, do we fear?  Do we lack the faith and trust to believe in God’s goodness and His perfect plan and timing?  Do we cling to this world trying to hide from Him that we don’t want Jesus to return?  Would we rather go on with life as we know it, or knew it, than to upset the apple cart and begin anew, even if it is in glory with our Savior?  Do we see the persecution of our brethren around the world and fear that God is not in control and powerful enough to protect us?  Have we not drawn near enough to God through the reading of His Word, and through time spent in prayer to know without a doubt His love and His power and His might?  Do we not trust His mercy and His truth and His promise to return for us, to rescue us out of this world of sin and evil, and take us to our reward?  We do want Jesus to come back, right?

I do!  The more I watch the news, the more I long for His return.  The more I read and hear blasphemies against my God, the more I long for an end and the righteousness of Christ to come.  The more I see this world turn boldly to sin and away from holiness, the more I look to the skies to see my Savior return.  If you are not ready, GET READY!  If you say you trust God, then TRUST HIM!  If you can’t, ask Him to give you the faith you need.  Let now be the time!  Let our hearts long for Jesus!  Let us believe in God’s goodness, promises, and perfect timing!  MARANATHA!!  COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS!!!!  AMEN & AMEN

FLAT BROKE & IN THE RED!!! Pt. 2

In part 1 of this post I talked about living in the red; the debt of a sinful life. Jesus paid our debt with his own life and filled out accounts to overflowing with His own righteousness. The only stipulation being that we accept His sacrifice as a free gift, recognizing that there is no way we would ever be able to pay our debt on our own, so Jesus’ gift is the only way.

In this continuation, I would like to talk about the connection that faith has in accepting the gift of salvation from Jesus, both during and after. At the point that a person accepts salvation from Jesus, there is faith. It is the faith that must be present in order for a person to believe in, and accept, the God whom they cannot see. Faith to recognize He is real, living, and active in the world, and in their lives. Faith that God has always been, is now, and will forever be.

One can believe that God is real, that Jesus is His Son and that He died to pay our sinful debt, and yet still not have faith. It is more of a head knowledge than a belief of the heart. So what is the difference between belief and faith? Obedience. There are a number of things I believe to be true in this world. Many of them are subject to debate, and I could, in fact, be convinced to change my mind. I may act on my beliefs, or I may not. My behavior is not crucial to my beliefs.

My faith in Jesus, on the other hand, does require action on my part. Faith requires a demonstration of proof; something that shows God, and the world, that I have taken my belief to the next level. I want to prove that I have hinged my life on my faith. I am not only willing to do things, say things, behave in certain ways because of my faith; I am willing to change the way I live my life so that all areas match up with my faith in God. I am willing to surrender my own will to the will of God and seek to obey His commands and instructions. Obedience is the evidence of faith.

It was by faith that Abraham was accredited with righteousness, before Jesus died on the cross. It was his obedience to God that demonstrated his faith, proved it before God. Hebrews 11 chronicles the great faith of so many of the Old Testament heroes. Each one, “By faith…” they did something. They obeyed. If they had not obeyed, they would not have demonstrated a faith that was worth committing to, but a belief that could change with the wind.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac….” Hebrews 11:17.
“By faith Isaac blessed….” Hebrews 11:20.
“By faith they [the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea….” Hebrews 11:29.
“By faith the harlot Rahab…received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (NKJV)

Saved by grace. Through faith. Faith which then demonstrates itself in obedience. Let me be clear that it is not the act of our faith that saves us…only by God’s grace. But it is the act of faith that brings us to His grace and the demonstration of our faith, through obedience, that we accept His grace and salvation by answering His call to come to Him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. He calls to us. Do we obey and open the door, or disobey and reject Him?

If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who died for you; to pay the penalty for your sins, which you cannot do on your own, do you also have faith? Do you have the faith to live in obedience to God, let Him change your life? Are you ready to take the next step and commit yourself fully to demonstrating your faith through your obedience to God? Do you believe it, or do you live it?  If you aren’t living it, do you need to reevaluate and determine whether your faith is real, and make the decision, once and for all, to commit yourself fully to God?

Pete and Repeat….

Pete and Repeat were out in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

Pete.

Pete and Repeat were out in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

Pete.

Pete and Repeat were….

Get the picture? 🙂 That could go on forever!!! And if you have the right children saying it, it will!!!

Do our prayers sometimes look like Pete and Repeat? I know mine do. I start praying for something, or several somethings, and every day I pray the same thing. Over and over. Day after day. Is this what I think pray without ceasing means (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? Mmm. Don’t think so.

So why do I pray the same thing over and over? Do I think that God hasn’t heard me? Maybe. Has He forgotten that I need His attention in a certain area? I wonder. Or maybe I think that if I pray over and over my persistence will win Him over, He will see things my way, and answer the way I want Him to. Could be. Honestly, I don’t have an answer to these questions. It may be a combination of all of them. Either way, I’m pretty sure this is not what God wants.

When I ask my boys to do their chores over and over again, I am considered a nag. I don’t want to be a nag to God. If I have a close relationship of faith and trust with God, I don’t think I will see a need to nag Him about my prayer requests. I’m pretty sure that is not the kind of loving communication He wants from me either.

In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus says this: “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask them.”

Should we stop praying or asking? Oh no! Remember all the verses where we are told to ask, seek, and knock. But! God does already know our needs before we ask. And He does desire that we talk to Him about them in prayer. Ask Him. But then what does He want from us? Faith and trust. Thank Him for hearing your prayer, and for answering in His timing, according to His will. Does that mean you should stop praying for that one thing? I don’t think so. But I do think once we have placed a request in His hands, we need to leave it there. He has it. He isn’t going to lose our requests, and He isn’t going to forget them. So let us then trust Him and thank Him for His faithfulness. This is not an easy thing to do, but then leaps of faith never are. Who better to trust to be faithful, though, than our mighty God?

Fasting: Intimacy with God

Recently my Sunday School class has begun a study on fasting.  It is based on a book, and led by the author on a dvd.  We listen and discuss.  I missed the first 2 sessions, and was finally able to attend the 3rd one last week.  I have to say that I left feeling really uncomfortable with what the man said.  Some of it really rang true of the Doctrine of Prosperity.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is the teaching that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy and as soon as you give your life to Him, and give your money to His ministry, you will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.  It is a false doctrine that is not true to what the Bible teaches.  Jesus himself warned that those who followed Him would face trials and persecution.  He also warned that it is very difficult for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God…because with wealth, the temptation is so great to rely on self, rather than God, which is not the way to salvation (Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life).  The apostle Paul stressed that when we are weakest, God’s strength shines through.  How then does it seem right to say that God wants us to be wealthy (and take the risk of being pulled away from Him), and healthy all the time (allowing us to live by our own strength, and not the strength of God).  And happy?  There is a difference between being happy (superficially, based on current circumstances) and filled with the joy of the Lord (the hope that we have in His presence at all times).

Back to fasting.  The author of the series said some things that sounded right.  But he also said some things that made me cringe.  He encouraged fasting as a way to breakthroughs in your prayers.  To sum up, when we fast, God takes extra notice and bam!  Miracles and answered prayers!  The breakthrough in your financing that you have been praying for.  The healing, the deliverance from drugs, or homosexuality, or other sins.  I believe that God stirred His Spirit within me for a reason.  Do you pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding before you enter a place where His Word will be taught?  It is so important to seek His leading, even while we are being led by others.  False teaching abounds, even when that is not the intention, and we must be on guard at all times.  Seek the guidance of the Spirit, our Counselor, so that we won’t be led astray.  1 John 4:1 tells us we are to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

I left Sunday School last week determined to do just that.  I went to the back of my Bible and wrote down every verse that mentioned fast, fasting, fasted, and I began to read those verses and the ones surrounding it.  I spent time praying and studying what the Bible says about fasting.  The following is what I learned.  At the end of this post, I will include the Bible references that I learned from so that you can test the spirits also.

What fasting is:

Fasting is a sacrifice on our part with the intention of drawing near to God.  It comes from a repentant heart that seeks to be in the presence of God with an intimacy that removes all other distractions.  It is an offering of oneself in a way that is pure and complete.  During this time of fasting, we are held up in our weakness by the power of God.  We experience His strength in a way that we can’t when our focus is divided.  In the act of fasting, we bring honor and glory to God.  Fasting is purely relational.  Because it is just between us and God, it is intimate in its very nature.  It is a longing to be near Him, to adore Him, to be completely fulfilled and satisfied by Him.  It is the opportunity to give Him our undivided attention, to pour out our souls to Him.  When we are so closely connected to our Father, then we are so much more able to hear Him speak to us, and see His hand at work around us.  We benefit in this time of nearness by knowing Him more deeply.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights after being baptized and before being tempted by Satan.  He didn’t fast for a miraculous breakthrough.  He fasted to draw near to His Father and glean strength from Him.

Prayer in times of fasting are linked in Isaiah 58 and Acts 10 to the obedience of the person praying…obedience specifically related to helping the poor, the needy, the destitute, the oppressed.  God says that He hears and answers the prayers of those who give to those in need.  Then they will experience light in the darkness, healing, God’s guidance and protection, satisfaction of the soul, strengthening of your bones, and God’s provision.

The one time fasting is specifically linked with a miracle/answered prayer is when Jesus said that a particular demon responds only to prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21).  This would be a very specific situation that I believe the Holy Spirit would direct and inspire to the result that the demon would be exorcised and God would be glorified.

Fasting is not to be a method of manipulation, an attempt to get God to answer your prayers in the way that you want Him to.  Before you shoot me down, consider what the Israelites were doing in Isaiah 58.  They fasted and prayed every 5th and 7th month during their 70 years of captivity.  But God did not listen to them.  Why?  They were fasting for themselves.  Mourning what they had lost.  Praying for what they wanted back.  But what they didn’t get was that fasting was about God…repenting, drawing near to Him, seeking His will, and living in obedience to Him by meeting the needs of the poor, and observing the Sabbath…to worship God.  How does our fasting tend to look?  Is it our heart’s desire to be nearer to God and seek His will?  Or do we say, “Hey!  Look at me!  See what I am doing here?  I am fasting!  I am making the supreme sacrifice so that You will hear me.  Now please answer my prayer!  I need a financial breakthrough…I need my relative to give up alcohol…I need my child to turn from immorality or homosexuality…I need so and so to be healed….”  I am not saying we cannot, or should not pray for healing while fasting.  But we must be aware of our motives, the attitude of our heart.  Is it pure?  What is our intention?  Are we praying and fasting for our will?  Or the will of God and for His glory?

Prayer, with faith the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains, can bring healing, when it is the will of God.  Fasting, with the right attitude of the heart, and obedience in giving, will glorify God first and foremost, will deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him, and will seek His will above all.  Fasting is not about getting our way, it is about worship – profound, intimate worship.

Scripture references:  Joel 1:1-15 (vs 14), Zechariah 7:1-14 (vs5), Nehemiah 1:1-11 (vs 4), Daniel 9:1-19 (vs 3-4), Psalm 35:11-14, Psalm 109:1-31 (vs 24), Isaiah 58:1-14, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 4:1-2, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 2:37, Luke 18:9-14, Acts 10:24-33 (vs 30).

What is Holding You Back?

It has come to my attention (thank You, God) that it is time to share my testimony with you.  But not necessarily my salvation testimony.  I don’t have a dramatic salvation story…I was only 4 when I invited Christ into my life, after all.

Like all Christians, I had my ups and downs trying to figure out what this Christian life was all about.  One thing I always had, though, was someone who was a true faith warrior.  It wasn’t always the same person.  Sometimes there were more than one.  But these were the people who always gave God the glory.  Always held strong to their faith.  Were deep in the Word, and anchored by prayer.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Christian like them.  I wanted that relationship with Jesus that filled every part of my life.  I wanted to be in love with Jesus…but for some reason I just could never seem to get there.  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I went to church.  I always served God in some capacity through my church.  Nothing seemed to work.  So what was holding me back?

Two things.  The first was the belief that God could not use me.  I’ve heard people use this argument when they have led a rather sordid life.  They have skeletons in their closet that would scare ghosts.  Not me.  For the most part, I was a pretty good kid growing up.  The kind of trouble I got into was fighting with my brother, and talking back to my mom.  No drugs.  No alcohol.  No illicit sex.  Even as an adult, I was tame.  I married, had children, and settled down to make the good Christian home.  We took the boys to church on Sunday.  Went to Sunday School and made sure they did, too.  I taught in Vacation Bible School every year.  Still, I didn’t believe God could use me.  Why?  Because I knew my heart.  I knew the thoughts that ran through my mind.  The judgments I made of others.  I knew how frustrated and angry I got with my boys when they misbehaved.  I knew the bitterness I held in my heart for some.  All the little secrets held inside me that no one else could see…but God.  God could see them.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not holy.  I’m pathetic.  There is no way God can use me.  I’m a living, breathing example of a hypocrite.

The second thing holding me back from that love relationship with Jesus was fear.  Oh yes!  Fear.  I was scared to death of what He would do in my life.  And maybe not even that as much as how He would do whatever He wanted to do.  What trial would He ask me to bear?  What pain would I suffer?  What, or even who, would He ask me to give up?  I guess I was afraid of the process of learning to love Jesus, more than the end result.

Still, I watched the faith warriors in my life, and longed for that same relationship.  That longing just became greater and greater over the years.  It never waned.  Always at the back of my heart was the call to draw closer to Jesus.  I know now, of course, that He was calling me.  Never giving up.  Because even though I couldn’t love Him completely, He loved me more completely than anyone else ever could.  A few short years ago God’s pull finally overcame my push.  And I realized that the only way I was going to have that relationship with Jesus was to completely surrender to him.  I had to believe that Almighty God could actually do something with my life that would bring glory to Him.  And I had to give over to Him all of me, and all those people and things that meant so much to me, and trust Him to do whatever He knew to be the best.  I had to lay it all on the line.  And I did that.  One day as I sat in a room alone, with the door locked shut, I cried out to God.  “I want that relationship with you, God.  The one that so-and-so has.  Please, take me and make me Yours.  Do with me as You please.  Just use me, please.”

Then came the change.  It wasn’t instantaneous.  But it has been steady.  I have found a deep desire to learn more and more about the God I serve.  I am drawn to read His Word like I am to eating sweets.  I crave the Bible, and find myself looking for opportunities to read it, even outside of my devotion time.  I have the same craving for my prayer time.  You might say I have a sweet tooth for Jesus.  And I finally have that I’m-in-love-with-Jesus kind of relationship with Him that I have longed for since I was four!  It has been a long time coming!

What about my fear and belief that God can use me?  The fear God has taken care of with His peace that passes all understanding.  Now and then I will hesitate, or even find myself gripped by fear, but I have learned to recognize that as Satan trying to pull me away from God.  The Bible tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear.  So praying and praising will quickly dispel that trouble.

As for God not being able to use me, well, that is another story.  And it is one that you are reading right now.  Since my cry out to God, I have learned that He has given me the gift of prophecy.  And I am learning how He wants me to use it to lift up, encourage, and edify His people.  This blog is a direct result of His calling to me, and a demonstration of how God is using me.  Am I any more perfect or holy than I was before?  No.  Just ask my boys:-)  I still lose my temper.  I still wrestle to keep my thoughts controlled.  I still say and do things I shouldn’t.  And I’m sure there are still people who could look at my life and call me a hypocrite.  But I’m trying.  And I continually give myself over to God, asking Him to change me and make me the person He wants me to be.  God is using me in spite of myself.  I guess that is what makes this relationship so humbling.  God knows me better than I know myself, and yet He still loves me, wants a relationship with me, and wants to use me for His honor and glory.

The thing I want most in this world is what I hope to hear in the next.  I want desperately to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Someone out there is reading this blog post and longs for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Someone is wrestling with the same fear that I did, and believing the lies that Satan is telling them.  I want you to believe that God can use you!  Heed His call in your life.  Cry out to Him!  He is waiting, longing to ease your fear, give you peace, and shower you with Himself.  And He will use you.  I don’t care who you are, what you have done, or what sins you still wrestle with.  God is God, for Pete’s sake!  Of course He can use you!  Nothing is impossible for Him, including you.

My prayer for you today is the courage and faith to surrender to God, and then all the blessings that come with being in love with your Lord and Savior.

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

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It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightest weapons. ~ William Gurnall

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