Thursday, June 25, 2015

I love to tell the story


I sit here at the keyboard hoping for something meaningful to say. I know that I only have your attention for a brief moment and I want to make the most of our time together. Day after day, I look for things to write about. Something new. Something catchy. Something to draw you in, give you courage, and inspire you.

And I have nothing…

Perhaps because the most amazing things have already been said…

God Almighty created light from nothing. With nothing but the sound of His voice and 3 little words, He crated light. He created the sky, the land, water, sea creatures, plants, the sun moon and stars, and animals in the same way. He spoke and they were created.

God formed man. He didn’t speak humanity into existence. He formed man from the dust. With His holy hands, he formed man exactly as he wanted. Once his body was formed, God breathed life into him. God gave him a spirit….God’s spirit. God didn’t want man to be alone, so he caused him to fall into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs, and from that created woman.

Adam and Eve, the first man and woman sinned. They disobeyed God. This separated their spirit from God’s and all of humankind has since been born with a sin-nature. That sin-nature, the desire for things that are not of God, keeps our spirit separated from His.

God set all sorts of rules and laws and sacrificial rights in place to give people a chance to be one with Him again, but people couldn’t follow all the rules because of their desire for things that are not of God. So, God sent the ultimate sacrifice.

God sent Jesus to earth as a baby. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He lived a completely sinless life. He was crucified; killed to pay the penalty for the sin of all people for all time. On the third day, He rose again, defeating death for all who trust in Him.

The same God who spoke and created light, knit you together in your mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows every single thing you’ve done and every thought you’ve had. He knows every detail of every day of your life.  He knows your struggles, your fears, and your sin. He knows why you do what you do. He wants that “split” between your spirit and His to be fixed. He wants a relationship with you. That takes us back to Jesus and His sacrifice.

Jesus died so that you and I and everyone else can have a chance to have a relationship with God. God can’t be where sin is. We all sin. The penalty for sin is death and separation from God. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. If anyone chooses to believe that Jesus is who He says He is (God’s son, who Died for our sins and arose on the 3rd day, defeating death) and choose to stop living for themselves and what they want and start living for Jesus and what Jesus wants, they will be “saved”.

“Saved”…from eternity in hell separated from God

There is so much more that I can barely put into words.  When Jesus saved me, He changed who I am. The things I thought I couldn’t live without don’t interest me anymore.  When I trust Jesus with my life, I have peace in the middle of circumstances that should make me fall to pieces. I have joy in circumstances where I should be falling apart. I have hope when things seem hopeless. When I lay my head down on my pillow at night, I have peace. Since I have followed Christ, the things that I desire are different. Scripture says that God makes us new. I am a wonderful example of this.

This is only the tip of the ice burg. There is so much in God’s word that will leave you breathless. God is big…HUGE and all powerful. He can command the universe and He cares very much about where you will spend eternity. That’s enough for today.

 Pray with me?
Father God, let me never fail to be amazed at by Your Word. Let me never tire of the story of how You came to save me. Let me never forget how much you love me and how worthy you are of my worship.

Monday, June 22, 2015

S.O.A.P. Bible Study Method

Earlier this year, I re-introduced the S.O.A.P. Bible Study method. Since then I've been using it myself off and on. I'm still trying to read through the Bible, but there are times when certain things stick with me and seem to need a bit of working through. Other times, I use it to record new insight in my journal.  I tend to let my mind wander and the S.O.A.P. method helps me focus in on something specific. When I first started using the S.O.A.P. method, I only used it on one verse at a time. Recently, I've been using it on larger sections of scripture.  For example....
(S) Exodus 5, specifically verse 9
Impose heavier work on the men. Then they will be occupied with it and not pay attention to deceptive words.
(O) God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to ask that the Israelites be allowed to go into the wilderness to make sacrifices to God. Pharaoh said "no" and inflicted heavier labor on them so that, in his words, they would not pay attention to what Moses and Aaron were asking of them (to go make sacrifices to God)
(A) Satan uses this same tactic with us today. It is easy to become so over-burdened with responsibilities and "things to do" that  we (I) literally forget to spend time with God. On these days, I fall into bed at night and realize "Oh my goodness! I haven't even prayed today!" If a heavier workload could make the Israelites forget their freedom, it is no wonder that business and a heavy workload distracts me from my time with God. As I've said before, I firmly believe that Satan knows that time spent praying and in God's Word is our best defense against his schemes. It is no wonder it is so easy to get "too" busy. Just like the Israelites were slaves to Egypt, we are slaves to sin; and just like Pharaoh increased their burden, Satan draws us deeper and deeper into sin until our sin is so burdensome that we only feel the weight of sin instead of longing for freedom.
(P) Father God, help me stop and make time for You. Help me to see those things in my life that keep me pre-occupied and distracted, and help me to let go of them. Help me to remember the importance of my relationship with You and the need for time with You  each day. Help me to remember that letting even one day pass without consciously deliberately seeking your face allows Satan to gain a foothold in my life. Create in my heart a hunger and a thirst for your Word Lord and don't allow me to be so burdened with the chains of bondage that I no longer long for freedom that You offer.
On a side note, I HIGHLY recommend keeping a journal for your prayers and Scripture reading. There are many reasons for keeping a journal, but that's a post for another day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In the Battle - Ephesians 6:12


Maybe you’re a people pleaser. Maybe you struggle with wanting to be “good enough”...and knowing that you are never going to be.  Maybe you have a secret (or not so secret) addiction or struggle with guilt over things you can’t “fix”. Maybe your past haunts you, or your future scares you. Maybe you are struggling in your marriage or you aren’t the parent you’d hoped you’d be. Maybe there are people in your life who just push your buttons and drive you crazy. Maybe you are filled with rage,  selfishness, pride, vanity, bitterness, or unforgiveness.

No matter what they LOOK like, all these things we struggle with come from the same source. Scripture says this….

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

THIS is the battle.

If you have not professed Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, the battle is for your soul. Satan has done, is doing, and will continue to do everything within his power to keep you from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  

If you are a Christian, Satan has no claim to your soul. His focus is to make you miserable, to steal your joy, to tarnish your witness and quiet your testimony.

THIS is the battle. I fight it every day, and, whether you realize it or not,  so do you.  Do you sense when Satan is attacking you and call him out, or do you allow him to steal your joy, compromise your witness, and create dissention between you and the people in your life?

Earlier this week something I submitted was chosen to be used on an online devotional site. Not only that, but I was asked to write another devotion for the month of August. I was over the top excited! In the middle of telling a friend about this, my children called. The older one wanted to go to the pool. The younger didn’t want to go. One was yelling. The other was crying. Neither would listen to reason. Both were having a complete meltdown…over the POOL of all things. Before I even hung up the phone, I thought, “How can you tell complete strangers how to follow after God when you can’t even teach your kids how to?” As if reading my thoughts, my friend said, “You know that was Satan, right? I mean, your kids  never call freaking out like that.”

Do you see the battle? Do you see this battle in your own life? The scenarios are different. Still, there is a basic Satan / God battle going on every day. Do you see it?

Go back to my situation…with the kids and the fighting and the pool.

Instead of punishing them for being total brats, I explained that Satan used them. It was an awesome opportunity for me to help them see how Satan works in their lives and for them to recognize what it FEELS like when he attacks.

Over the next few days, I challenge you to pay attention. Call Satan out when he attacks. Shine light on his schemes to wreck your relationships and steal your joy.

We are In the Battle against Satan, not at war with one another.

Pray with me?
Father God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for reminding me that my battle is not against the people in my life, but against Satan. Help me to recognize Satan’s attacks and to call him out. Your Word tells me to resist the Devil and he must flee. I claim that promise Lord. Help me also to see YOUR hand at work in my life. Help me to look for ways each day to share your love with the people you have put in my path.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Submission and Respect

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. In generations past, the husband "ruled the roost”. Wives were expected to submit to their husbands with no questions asked. Maybe we are just living on the other end of the pendulum swing, but it appears that the opposite is now true. Now women demand that their husbands "toe the line". Neither extreme is God's plan for marriage. Both are destructive. Both extremes hurt the people in the relationship.

God's plan for marriage is beautiful and fulfills both man's and woman's deepest needs. 

Here it is from Ephesians 5:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.[i]

32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.  

So why don't we follow God's plan?

I believe it all boils down to trust. 

Wives who do not trust their husbands to love them like Christ loved the church constantly put their husband's love to the test.  A wife can test her husband by constantly wanting him to provide "more"...bigger house, newer car, more clothes, nicer vacation, etc. A wife who mistakes gifts for love might constantly use holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and such as opportunities for her husband to “prove” how much he loves her. A wife might constantly make her husband choose between time with her and time doing other things. She might test his loyalty by constantly challenging him to choose something she wants to do over something he already has planned. Notice that I intentionally use the word constantly. These are things that characterize a relationship, not things that happen once in a while.

Husbands who do not trust their wives to respect them demand respect. Men are not normally as manipulative as women. They usually demand respect in obvious ways. A husband might constantly remind the wife of how smart, strong, productive, etc. he is...or he might constantly remind her of how stupid, weak, and lazy she is. A husband who constantly feels the need to proclaim his superiority has need for respect and can sometimes act very much like a bully on a playground.  

 So then, how shall we live?

Wouldn't it be nice to be in a relationship where you are safe and secure, knowing that your spouse appreciates and cherishes who you are, wants the best for you, and sees the best in you? Wouldn't it be nice to be in a relationship with someone who appreciates the unique way God created you, including your temperament, personality, and emotions? (Granted, we all have a sinful nature that continually needs to be dealt with, and I am not in any way insinuating that sinful behavior should be accepted or overlooked.) I believe that is how God designed marriage…men get what they need (respect) and women get what they need (nurturing and being cared for). God designed marriage so that men can be men and women can be women.

I've learned that things work a lot better in my marriage when I choose to follow God's design. When we both follow God's design, things are great. I have also seen that God fills in the gaps when we fail.
It's a process, a journey, a constant battle to not become a statistic, but God shows us the blueprint for a good marriage. Respect your husband. Love your wife. Trust God and follow HIM wholeheartedly. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A lesson from Moses' wife

Call it my obsessive nature or whatever you want; when something gets stuck in my head, I can't let go. Exodus 4:24-26 is one of those "things". 

 On the trip, at an overnight campsite, it happened that the Lord confronted him and sought to put him to death.  So Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw it at Moses’ feet. Then she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision

If you aren't familiar with Exodus, I need to let you know that this passage is like a weird disjointed "oh and by the way" kinda thing. Previously, the Lord tells Moses how things are going to go down when he goes before Pharaoh. Immediately following, Aaron and Moses are reunited. My initial thoughts are really no more than "Where did THAT come from?" I mean, what on earth did Moses do that God was suddenly trying to kill him and WHY isn’t it recorded?


So I did a little research…


I was surprised to find a LOT of commentary on this strangely placed passage. The majority of commentaries say that Zipporah (Moses' wife) didn't like the practice of circumcising baby boys when they are 8 days old. Her "people" have the custom of circumcising at puberty as a passage to manhood or prior to marriage. It seems that she went along with circumcising the older son, but not the younger. According to everything I read, Moses tried to "keep the peace at home" and postponed the younger son's circumcision...and went against God's direct command to circumcise his son at the time dictated by God. This angered God. Some commentaries say that Moses got sick. Others say that the word used here is the same as the word used when God wrestled with Jacob. Either way, Moses' life was in danger. He was helpless to rectify the situation.  Zipporah circumcises the boy but she does not refrain from letting Moses know that she is none too happy about the whole thing.

There is the whole lesson here for Christians on the danger of marrying a non-believer (but that is a post for another day). The message I want to drive home today goes something like this...

God chose Moses to lead His people. Moses loved and followed God, but his wife followed other gods. She pitched a fit when it came time to circumcise the younger son, so Moses chooses to pacify her and postpone son's circumcision....thus cutting himself off from the nation of Israel (and God). So, God being God, gives Moses a lesson in obedience. In true "Lord of All Creation" style, God gives the unsubmissive wife the responsibility of making things right. In the end, she obeys God, saves Moses, know the rest of the story.

How does this apply to you and your marriage? Do you help or hinder your husband when it comes to following God’s commands?

I believe that God gave me a great responsibility when He gave me the preacher. I have known men whose ministries/lives/careers were richer, fuller and more fruitful because of their wife's support... and I have witnessed wives completely destroy their husbands. Therefore, I am excited to have this very vivid example of what can happen when a wife demands her husband choose between making her happy and making God happy....

and I am certain that it applies to ALL wives and not just pastor-wives.

Pray with me?

Father God, thank you for all the ways I am different from my husband, and for all the ways he is different from me. I believe that you created us exactly as you intended and that we are meant to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Help me to be a godly wife. Help me to always point my family to you. Give me the courage to be submissive to my husband’s leadership, trusting always that You are guiding him. Fill my heart so that I can give him the love, encouragement, and respect he needs to succeed. Help me to be the wife you created me to be.


Monday, June 8, 2015

The Answer to Your Restless Soul

There is a restless longing for “something” born deep within us. Jenner is not the first, nor will he be the last, to go to extremes in his search for something to quiet the restlessness of the soul. I've done it. So have you.  Some turn to alcohol; some choose drugs. For some, sex seems to quiet the longing for that elusive “something.” Some look to money and social status to make them feel secure. Some turn to plastic surgery, thinking that a nip here and a tuck there will make the restlessness go away and others feel like everything will be “okay” if they have a new marriage, a new job, a new location. And…some feel like everything will be “okay” if they have a new identity, even a new body.
So this is not a post about Jenner. It is a post about all of us, for we all know the restlessness of the soul. What is that restlessness?
It is something deep within us that says “there is something better just out of your reach”.
It is a lie that has been around since the Garden of Eden, when Satan told Eve, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  Sounds good, yes? And Satan was telling the truth. She did not fall dead immediately. She did know good and evil. What Satan did NOT tell her was “but that won’t make things better for you; Your soul will die. You will know evil. You will suffer. You will be restless because you will be separated from God.”   Sin looks wonderful until you are so deep into it that you can no longer breathe.

Satan lied in the Garden of Eden and he still lies today. His lies work so well that he has had no need to change them in all that time. He still twists the truth. He still whispers to your heart, “There is something better just out of your reach.”  That “something” he offers is death wrapped in a beautiful package. Just ask the person caught in an affair, the drug addict, the prostitute, the alcoholic. I doubt they would have chosen to believe the lie Satan lured them with if they could have seen where it would ultimately take them.
I know that peace is found in Christ. All of scripture points to this, but I also know it to be true from my own experience.  I searched for “something” for years and every “something” I reached for only left me emptier and longing for more. That is, until I met Christ.
What do you long for?
What comes to mind when you think, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”?
Have you gone to Christ with the longing restlessness in your heart?
Christ alone quieted the restlessness in my soul. I can’t explain how. All I can say is that He will do the same for you.
Pray with me? 
Father God, You know the things I long for. You know the restlessness in my soul. Cover me with your love. Draw me close to you. Quiet the aching in my heart for “more”. Satisfy my thirst. Reveal yourself to me in real and tangible ways. Let me know that you are a very real and present force in my life.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How far will God go?

How far will God go to accomplish His will?

I wonder if it is even possible for me to really understand the lengths that God will go to in order to bring Glory to Himself or to make His name known.
Take Exodus for example; specifically the chapters that tell the story of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. (You can read all about it here) I am... perplexed by the extremes God went to in order to accomplish His goal. I always thought that His goal was to free the Israelites.
Here's the way I have always thought of the story...
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God loved them and heard their cries and sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to "Let my people go". Pharaoh said "no". God sent the plagues. When God sent the last plague (killing all the first born males), Pharaoh gave in and finally told the Israelites to leave Once they were gone, Pharaoh sent his army to bring the Israelites back to Egypt. The Lord parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked across the dry seabed. Once the Israelites were safe, the Lord let the sea cover the Egyptians who had followed them. The Israelites are free, God is glorified. The End.
This is what I missed all the other times I read the story...
"The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out My hand against Egypt, and bring out the Israelites from among them.” Exodus 7:5
Here is how you will know that I am Yahweh. Exodus 7:17
This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. Exodus 8:22b
Then you will know there is no one like Me in all the earth. Exodus 9:14
I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth. Exodus 9:16
“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may do these miraculous signs of Mine among them,and so that you may tell your son and grandson how severely I dealt with the Egyptians and performed miraculous signs among them, and you will know that I am Yahweh.” Exodus 10:1-2
The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”  Exodus 11:9
"I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will pursue them. Then I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” Exodus 14:4
"I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh, all his army, and his chariots and horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:17-18
I am no theologian, but here's what I know about God. He could have freed the Israelites without the Plagues. He could have made Pharaoh let them go immediately. Yet He chose to drag things out with the plagues. He chose to drown Pharaoh’s army, chariots, and horses in the Red Sea. Why?
So that everyone would know that HE is Yahweh.
It’s easy to freak out and wonder “Why is God letting this happen” when life is challenging. I remind myself that there is no limit to what God will do to make Himself known, to Bring Glory to Himself, and to insure that we tell others about Him. Keeping this in mind gives me courage and  helps me to look for ways to share what God is doing in the midst of all that life throws my way. I hope it will do the same for you.

Monday, June 1, 2015

God won't give you more than you can bear

"I know that God will not give me more than I can bear."

This sentence grieves my heart. I've written about it before and probably will again, simply because it is so often misused... and because the misuse upsets me so.  Someone quoted it in a ladies group I visited not long ago, and it has been on my mind since then. Might as well go on and get my thoughts in print so I can let it go.

The scripture that is referenced is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says...

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

Well meaning, God fearing, Christ believing people twist this to apply "God's not going to give us more than we can handle" to all sorts of situations.

It breaks my heart to hear someone say, "God won't give you more than you can bear" because...well, what happens when He does? What happens when He does not save the child? What happens when He doesn't restore the marriage? What happens when He does not heal the spouse? What happens when it IS too much to bear?

There are 2 blessings that we absolutely miss out on by misusing this promise.

First, we miss the promise it gives...God will ALWAYS provide a way out of temptation. We are not helpless to Satan's tempting. There will never be a time when temptation is so great that the ONLY option you have is to sin. This Scripture promises a way out when faced with temptation. But that is a post in and of itself and will have to wait for another day.

Secondly, we miss the fact that we NEED Christ. When things are too much to bear, I run to My heavenly Father and crawl into His lap and sob. When I am terrified, I hide behind my heavenly Father. When I was told that I was having a miscarriage, when I was diagnosed with cancer, when there were more bills than money, when friends betrayed us, when my Nan died and I didn't know how to comfort my mom, when I was diagnosed with cancer again...when life was too much to bear, I ran to my Father. He carried me when I couldn't go on. He supported me when I collapsed. He comforted me when I grieved. He picked me up, dusted me off, wiped my tears, held me, soothed me, and comforted my soul. And, when life is too much to bear in the future, I will run to Him, and He will hold me.

I need Christ for Salvation and I need God's grace... but that's not all I need.  Sometimes life really IS too hard. Some circumstances and situations really ARE too much for me to bear. Sometimes I feel like I am going to crumble into a million pieces. Sometimes I feel like I am going to be crushed under the weight of the world. Sometimes my heart hurts so much that I think I might never recover. In these times I NEED God.

Why, oh why, would the God who has gone to such great lengths to make Himself known to us orchestrate our lives in such a way so that we never have need to run to Him for comfort, direction or any other sort of help?

I found this when I was looking for something that says "God wont give you more than you can bear"....

That pretty much sums it up.