Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life Lesson

"'You shall be My people,
And I will be your God.'"
Jeremiah 30:22 NASV

Do you, in your walk, ever go through an 'identity crisis'? Knowing what you should know but all of a sudden, you are realizing that you're acting like you haven't even accepted Christ's unconditional love for you? Honestly, that is where I was yesterday and I truly don't know how or why I got there. But with help of a wise friend, I am at least at peace with myself--for the moment.

You see, I was embarrassed that I was where I was yesterday. Even though my friend was kind, I was embarrassed that they saw that part of me. I was embarrassed because I was afraid that I would be judged, not only by them, but by my Heavenly Father-- that I wasn't truly a child of God. That, even though I know in my heart that I am not perfect, that I was exposing to them to that very fact. That there was more rain going on inside me than outside.

Then my Heavenly Father gave me this verse this morning. Knowing that I needed reassurance of our relationship. What a awesome Father we have! He cares enough for me, a simple daughter with a big desire to become the 'perfect' daughter He deserves. And the realization came that, to my Father, I am already 'perfect' enough for Him. Because, as you already know, none of us in ourselves is perfect. We will never be perfect. But our God knows that and loves us anyway. To Him, in order to have a relationship with Him, He doesn't require perfection. He only requires an opening, willing heart to serve Him to the best of our ability.

So, why am I sharing all of this with you? So that to encourage you when you are in this similar situation, I hope that you remember. I hope that you remember that you are covered with your Father's grace, so perfection is not required. I hope that you remember that it is so very important to be honest with your feeling and share them with Him. And last, but not least, please remember that it is so very important to surround yourself with wise Godly friends that are grounded in the Lord--and listen to them when they speak.

Our life walk is full of rocks and rainbows, thorns and wildflowers, crocodile tears and beaming smiles of joy. And through it all, your Heavenly Father is walking beside you holding your hand. This moment is beautiful isn't?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Faithfulness in Good Times & Bad

"His wife said, 'Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!'

He told her, 'You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?'

Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing against God."
Job 2:9-10 (The Message)

With all this sadness that is happening in the world lately, do you wonder, like some, how can a God that is so loving, allow this to happen? The answer is simple—nobody knows yet. Anybody who claims to know is only offering a best guess. When I get to Heaven that is one of the first questions I will ask God.

I wonder all the time about this because I see so many victims of suffering, grief and abuse. Just watch the news, read your local newspaper, listen to the radio. Some even say that it is because these people have "sinned". That they are getting their just rewards. But who are we to make that judgment? Only our Heavenly Father can make such a judgment.

Why did God let His own Son, Jesus, to suffer enormous physical, emotional and spiritual pain, even including death on the cross? It wasn't because of any sin Jesus committed, but was to pay for the sins of the world. God also allowed the Apostle Paul to be shipwrecked a couple times, stoned almost to death a few times, to go hungry sometimes, and to die in prison. God allowed an innocent Job to suffer horrible skin diseases, almost to his death, and suffer the death of his children, livestock and the loss of all his barns, which represented all his wealth.

We see every day how sin in people's lives brings all sorts of suffering, not only to them, but also to the innocent people around them. Just because sin often brings suffering, it would be foolish for us to assume that all suffering is the result of sin because of the examples of Jesus, Paul, Job and others in the Bible who suffered horribly in spite of being innocent.

I can only encourage you to accept not knowing why; trust that there must be some reason why God allows it and even predicts that it will get worse and worse until He comes back to earth Himself to bring everlasting peace.

What is the best thing you can do? Pray. Pray for the Lord's love, peace and wisdom to fill these people of Japan and anywhere else that there is turmoil. This may sound harsh, but you know that old saying, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." Well, sometimes, it takes the worst of times to bring people that would otherwise be too busy or too proud or too self sufficient, to their knees, crying out to a Heavenly Father that has been longing to have them come running into His loving arms, calling "Abba, Abba."

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Honesty Circle

“O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
Psalm 42:9 NLT

Can you relate to David's cry to His God? A cry that came from the depths of his soul. A cry that could very well be yours. Or do you feel--like so many of us--that it is wrong to be so brutefully honest with your Father? That we are not to tell Him when we feel that He has forgotten us. That we are scared or confused or feel abandoned.

David, a man after God's own heart, felt these feeling. And he loved and trusted his Heavenly Father enough to be truthful with Him. God knows we have these feelings. He understands. He wants to hear them. It's through experiencing those feeling, telling Him about them and seeing His response--this is what builds trust in your relationship.

God never said that your walk with Him would always be full of roses and butterflies. What He did promise is that He would always be with you--that you would never be alone. All He wants is honesty. Honesty with the good feelings and the bad. As long as you are respectful with the bad, you are OK.

As you may have experienced, it is through these testing times that your relationship with your Heavenly Father grows the strongest. Just don't try to fake Him out by saying everything is OK when it isn't and don't guilt yourself into telling yourself that you can't be honest with your feelings to Him because He will punish you more. Your Heavenly Father is NOT that kind of father.

So, please, be honest. Tell your Heavenly Father everything that you are feeling--don't you realize He knows it anyway? If He knows every hair on your head and was there when you were knitted in your mother's womb--believe me--He knows.

Go ahead, trust Him. Tell Him. And then, also very important--stop and listen. Truly listen for the comfort, wisdom and answers that He will share with your spirit to share with you. They will come. And praise Him for them. Now the circle is complete.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are You Limiting God?

"When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried.
Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands.

Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.”

Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.” 2 Kings 13:14-19 NLT

Elisha the prophet was about to die. The king of Israel came to him in need. The Arameans had taken cities from Israel. Elisha tells the king that the Lord would give him victory and restore the cities to Israel. Then he told the king as an act of faith, to strike the ground, symbolic of the victory the Lord would give him. The king strikes the ground three times. Pretty good right? Wrong. The prophet is angry with the king's lack of trust in God.

I wonder how many times we act like the the king. We say we believe in Jesus, but we set limits on His power. Jesus was amazed at the people's lack of faith in one of the cities He was in. Scripture says He could only heal a few people. We put limits on God. We doubt, fear, pursue common sense, and other things. We limit our receiving and experiencing all that God wants to bless us with.

What limits are you putting on Christ? Let me give you some pastoral advice; "Knock it off!" He is the one that can do immeasurably more than we can ever hope or imagine.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dear Christian Worker

"There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus...Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” 1 Kings 19:9-15, 18 NLT

Dear Christian, Have you ever felt like Elijah? You have faithfully served the Lord. You have spent your life for His kingdom. Yet at the end of the day you ask yourself; "Has it been worth it?" "What have I accomplished?" You are ready to hang it up, throw in the towel.

You are hiding in a cave waiting to die. Then the voice of God speaks to you. Not in the business of your life but in the still desperation. You hear Him ask you twice; "What are you doing here?" You are honest and respond; "Lord I don't know. What am I doing here? I have faced challenges and opposition for you. I am faithfully serving you. And for what? It just doesn't seem to matter." Then the Spirit of God whispers to you; "Go back the way you came. Just like the 7,000 that didn't worship the false God Baal, I have preserved a remnant. Go back."

Dear ones, don't let the discouragements of life and the opposition of Satan cause you to throw in the towel. The end is coming. There will be a final judgment. Souls will be ushered into the presence of God or banished into eternal hell. But until that time, God is reaching out to them. His will is that none perish. He uses you and I to share the Good News.

Don't give up. Stand firm. Go back.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Over Trained?

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Tim 4:8

In the above passage Paul exhorts Timothy to train to be godly. In others words, imitate Christ, be devoted to Christ, follow Christ. In Timothy's ancient culture, just like today, staying physically fit was popular for some. Even the ancients had gyms.

Training to be godly is good. But I think that in our culture it presents a problem. We live in a very self focused culture. We have so many Christian resources. Books, study guides, radio, television, Internet, seminars, conferences, retreats, and other programs abound. We train to kick addictions, be better stewards, better parents, better spouses, and on and on. Even our worship can be very self centered. training in godliness becomes about "me."

The problem is, that much of our training in godliness is very self centered and self focused. That's really not godliness. Jesus was self sacrificing, not self centred. Many of us are like the boxer that is always in training, but never steps into the ring. We are over trained and over fed. We roll out of the worship service, give a spiritual burp, and go our own ways.

Training in godliness must not stop short by being so self focused. Jesus said to "GO" into all the world and make Christ followers. There are billions of people in the world that do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. If we really believe in heaven and hell, we must do something!

Jesus gave us the Great Commission to Go, and the Great Commandment to LOVE. They go hand in hand.

What are you training for?