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Archive for the tag “Believe”

Our Lifeline

Faith is the hinge to God’s promises. Without it, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).Without faith we will not see the miraculous happen. Without faith, we won’t see God’s hand at work; we won’t experience all God has for us. There will be no hope because faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is one of my highest spiritual gifts on the gifts assessments tool. I don’t know if that means I have more faith than most or that I just take God at His word with greater frequency than most. I do believe God is who He says He is. I do believe God will do what He says He will do. At times, I need to be reminded. My faith starts to diminish and it needs a boost. I got that this week. I didn’t see anything happen that I have been praying for, but I read a book on Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala that put some air under my wings.

In the last chapter of the book, Jim mentioned that the battle of the Christian life is not only to believe but to keep on believing. It’s a struggle in this day and age to keep believing when society tells us otherwise. Society is a fickle thing. It changes constantly. What was fashionable yesterday may not be fashionable today. But God’s Word is a constant thing. You can stand on it with assurance that what God said is the Truth because God does not lie. Lies do not come from God but from the enemy of God – Satan – it’s Satan’s native tongue.

According to Jim, Satan’s target is to break down our faith – we are the righteous who live by faith. If Satan can cut that life line, then he has us right where he wants us. When we believe the Satan’s lies over the promises of God, we have committed the original sin. It’s what drove Adam and Eve out of fellowship with God. They believe Satan’s lie that they would not die when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan didn’t know everything, but he knew enough to drive a wedge between God and man. The wedge was doubt.

Faith is about the future. It’s the things we hope for and the things we do not yet see. The future is about God’s promises to us. It’s something we cannot prove, but we know it will come to pass just because God says so. Jim mentioned that the greatest tragedy of our lives is not the things that have happened to us, but “it’s the missed opportunities to see God help them, due to their unbelief.”

Joshua is a powerful example of a man with incredible faith. He was one of twelve who scouted out the Promised Land. He believed the Israelites could take the land because God said it was there’s already. God promised it. However, ten of the spies led the majority to believe the land was too hard to capture because the occupants of the land were too big and too strong. Everything the ten said about the land was true. However, they didn’t take into fact that God said it was a done deal already. They didn’t believe God. These same people went through the Dead Sea on dry land. They witnessed the miracles to get them to the edge of the Promised Land. And yet, they still didn’t believe God.

How many times do we also come to the edge of a promise when Satan whispers in our ears – it can’t be done? How many times do we believe the lies instead of the promise and the Promise Giver? I am reminded of the story of the man with the demon-possessed son who came to Jesus to ask if Jesus could drive this spirit out of his son. Jesus took exception to the phrase “if you can” and said everything is possible for one who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

What seems impossible to us is nothing in comparison to all that God can do. It says in the very first line of the Bible – In the beginning God created… if we do not believe these first five words then we do not believe in a big God. We have brought Him down to our size and He can do nothing for us. It’s impossible for a small god to take care of our big problems. But if you believe those first words, then everything changes. We don’t have to rely upon society to dictate what we believe. We can stand on the promises of God. We can have a greater faith because before time began, God is the Creator God. Everything we see today is because of that first line… In the beginning God created. Then He breathed and the story began.

We are a part of the story. We are God’s workmanship and He completes all that He starts. Count on it. Stop the unbelief and believe God’s Word over Satan’s lies. Have discernment over what you hear – test it against God’s Word, does it hold up or fall apart? Faith is our lifeline especially in these trying times. Keep it fresh… keep it strong. And remember that God’s love is central to His character. Look to the cross for the evidence of that love for you. It’s there that all things come together and promises are fulfilled. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Victory has been won in every regard. Believe it.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

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Rain and Frogs

After hearing the messages from last week’s Code Orange Revival from Elevation Church, I want to reflect a bit on what I heard. As I sit here at my table this early morning, I hear the rain coming down. Levi Lesko said that rain was a symbol of God’s blessing. Rain is a precious commodity especially in a dry season. Elijah prayed for a drought because of the sinful condition of the nation of Israel. And God sent a drought for three and half years. At the end of the drought, Elijah sent for the people to gather at Mount Carmel to see the One true God. The message is found in 1 Kings 18:20-46.

The people watched as Elijah dug a trench around the altar that he repaired. The people were told to fill four large jars with water. Where did they get the water? Did they go to the sea to get it? Or did they use what they had brought with them? Whether they had to use what they had or they had to go a distance to find water, it cost them something to see a miracle happen. Elijah poured out the water jars on the altar and then asked the people to fill them a second time; then a third time. The water was running over the altar and into the trench. Elijah prayed and fire fell down on the altar and licked up every drop of that precious commodity.

The story didn’t end there. Drought was still on the land. Before there was a cloud formed, Elijah told the King Ahab to “go, eat and drink for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” Elijah went to the top of the mountain and prayed. Seven times he asked his servant to go and see if there was anything on the horizon. The seventh time the servant reported a small cloud rose from the sea. And with that small cloud, a blessing of rain came.

Elijah was persistent in praying. He continued in his efforts until a small cloud formed. He heard the sound of rain before the cloud appeared; actually before he started to pray. He knew that God would hear his prayer and knew that God would answer his prayer; he just didn’t know how long it would take. He kept praying until he received the answer. Persistence and belief go hand in hand to receive those answered prayers.

John Gray said that the sound of heaven brings things together for miracles to happen. God’s voice spoke creation into existence. Particles come together to form the earth and everything in it. God spoke and light separated darkness. The sound from heaven begins the process. Sometimes we just don’t hear the sound; sometimes we are too busy to hear the voice of God speak. But sometimes God sends a burning bush to get our attention.

Christine Caine spoke about the frog plague found in Exodus 8:1-14. God sent plagues on the land of Egypt in order to release Israel from the bondage of slavery. Moses was his instrument that He used to bring about these miracles. Dharius Daniels mentioned that the people cried out to God; God spoke to Moses. But the people didn’t know God was working on the problem. The people may have thought God didn’t hear their prayers cause nothing seemed to change. They were still in slavery, yet God was working on Moses. Moses had a few doubts about his ability to handle this God-sized task. We are never adequate for God-sized tasks; but God is, and He asks the most unlikely people to do the job so that He gets the glory.

So the frogs came and the people of Egypt had frogs everywhere – in their houses, in their kitchens, in their bedrooms and even in their beds. Yuck! Can you imagine? Pharaoh summons Moses to pray to remove the frogs. Moses told him to set the time of the removal. Pharaoh said tomorrow. God could have removed them immediately, but Pharaoh chose another night with the problem. When the prayer was answered, the people were left with the consequences of the plague. The people had to remove the dead frogs from their houses. The stench filled the air.

The plague of frogs is a bit like our sins. Sin is a stench to God. The only way we can remove the stench is to seek forgiveness from God. But we have to do it today, not tomorrow. Sin is removed immediately upon forgiveness, but we have to deal with the consequences of our sins. Whatever is causing our distress, our sin or someone else’s; when we cry out to God, He will hear our cries. An answer is coming but sometimes it may take a while to see the results. God may be dealing with another Moses to answer our prayers. In the meantime, God is working on our hearts.

Persistence and belief in our gracious Father brings about a change in our hearts not a circumstance, but ultimately God will answer according to His time and in His way. God will send the rain, and the dry season will end. Wait for it. Persist and believe!

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:22-23 (NLT)

Wiped Away

The end of the seven-year cycle passed with a whimper. God has used this seven-year pattern throughout much of modern history to raise nations up or bring them down. He has used it to wipe away debt. Over the previous seven-year cycles, debt has been wiped out by dramatic swings of the stock market. When the last few weeks were showing the same signs of a likely crash, I thought God was going to do it again. But the time has passed and to my knowledge, nothing has happened. Did God forget about this timetable thing? Didn’t He know we were anticipating something to occur? It’s almost a disappointment. Until I come to my senses and realize this is something we don’t want to see happen!

It just shows us: God’s ways are not our ways; God’s time is not our time. It also occurs to me; there is something always going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to. There is an ongoing war, which is unseen to our naked eye. It is a spiritual war; which if seen, would cause us to faint dead away. God has a plan we do not see. We are not privy to His thoughts. We can seek His guidance and ask for wisdom. God gives us His Spirit to communicate His desires to us. We have to be paying attention to His promptings.

I was listening to the evening news last night when I heard this comment by the anchor: the fires raging in California are wiping away houses and whole towns. California has seen disastrous fires over the last few months. Fires are destroying millions of acres of forests, homes and towns. Flooding is also going on in part of the western states. Both are extreme natural occurrences. They are historic in measure. What in the world is going on?

Nothing catches God by surprise. He doesn’t pace in His throne room looking for an answer to the world’s problems. He already knows the circumstances. Our job in the meantime is to believe in His Sovereignty and in His goodness. Fire burns away the perishable things, but leaves the imperishable. Floods leave behind a new landscape. We are to believe God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. We are to trust in Him and live according to His perfect will and pleasure. Through the Holy Spirit, we are given eyes that see and ears that hear. We are given a greater understanding into God’s perfect plan by His Holy Word.

Beth Moore spoke on Saturday about being audacious. She said we are built for fire. It’s the passion that burns in our bones. The fire of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but fuels us. In the last days, we will be given greater audacity to have more “guts for God’s glory.” We are not given a spirit of fear. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit! In future events, Beth mentioned fear will go viral. We cannot be swept into the wildfire of fear. And we cannot be lulled into complacency. We need to be awake to the world around us. What is unseen can be made known to those who are aware. God says He will pour out His Spirit on His sons and daughters in these last days. The Holy Spirit is our guide and our teacher.

Whatever suffering we must endure here is nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Jesus is worth the sacrifice we must endure. Jesus asks us to count the cost of following Him. Do we have what it takes when everything is wiped away? Can we say with certainty, Jesus is everything to me? In God’s economy, up is down. In humility, we seek the all-knowing God who does not leave us in times of trouble. We will have trouble in the days ahead, but we are given a greater hope in the future. God is who He says He is. And He delivers on His promises!

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:22-25 (NLT)

Foundational Truths

My Sundays are usually pretty quiet ones. I have my quiet time in the morning, followed by one of the gatherings of my local body of believers (called “church” round these parts), and then I will listen to North Point Online (Andy Stanley’s teachings or one of the other pastors). Then hopefully I will listen to God as I reflect on what I have heard. Sometimes I don’t listen very well. Or I don’t take the opportunity to reflect; I get busy doing other things. Then the word (as the Word says) is snatched away. I don’t remember what was taught; I forget the message by the time I hit the front doors or turn off the TV. I don’t reflect on the message and how it should affect my life. The word evaporates like water on a hot day.

This past Sunday, I did a better job at listening – maybe it was because I was ready for a fresh word – a fresh perspective. You see, I need a miracle. I need God to show up big. I am praying for a fresh revelation of Him. I have determined that I can ask my heavenly Father for anything. My pastor reminded me through his message about this one truth: God loves me (and you). It’s unconditional. I read on Saturday morning during my quiet time, that I am chosen by God before the foundation of the world. I was chosen to be His daughter (this was not revelation to me – but sometimes I need to be reminded). We all are chosen as His children. Some of us have responded to the invitation from Jesus to join the family of God by receiving the gift of salvation. But not only receiving the gift, but acknowledging Jesus’ work and our shortcomings (sins) and seeking the forgiveness from the Father through Jesus, who is our bridge between God and us.

I have a child’s perspective of the parent/child love relationship. I don’t have the bond of a mother/child love since I do not have children. The child side is different from the mother side (or father side). The parent always has a greater love for the child than the child has for the parent. Sometimes, I don’t think I truly understand the depths of God’s love since I haven’t experienced the deeper love of parenthood. I know in theory, but struggle with the concept in reality. To get past this problem, I have to believe based on the truth of God’s word. There is a depth of love that is wider, deeper and greater than any chasm that can be crossed by human efforts. There is a depth of love that was crossed over by divine nature through Jesus. He became the bridge over the chasm. God sent Him for us. Jesus chose to come for us.

I can imagine the conversation in Heaven before the first spoken word to form the heavens and the earth. They must have decided that it was still worth setting the world on its foundation. God knew the ways of man before man took the first breath. Right then – He chose each and every one of us to be here at this time and place. Nothing is by accident. My breath is taken away each and every time I contemplate the vastness of what was done even when God knew it all from the beginning. He still chose to do the things He did in the beginning. And then, God said it all was very good. Why would He do such a thing when He knew it all from the beginning? Because of Love.

The second truth spoken on Sunday was: God is in control. Nothing is a surprise to God. There is nothing that comes to us – blessings or trials – that first doesn’t come through Him. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional this morning that “as believers, we’re assured that no adversity comes our way unless He can use it for our benefit and His good purpose.” The one thing we faced in our lives that was impossible was becoming His child. Sin broke the relationship with God when man (and woman) first sinned. But this wasn’t impossible either, for God made a way where there was no way. Because of that truth, everything we face is possible with God. The miracle has already happened. I am here – you are here, because of Jesus. The relationship with God has been restored when we become His. Because of Jesus, we can ask our Heavenly Father for what we need. He knows the best for you and me. We must trust Him to answer as He sees fit. And know that when we receive the answer, it is for our good regardless of what the answer may be. His love wins every time.

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:6, 18-19 (NLT)

Freaking Out!

It started Friday morning. I guess you could call it a bit of a “freaking out” moment (or two or ten). I am in a desperate place, and the only thing that can save the day is Jesus. I have been pretty self-sufficient most of my life. I have always had a good job, a place to live, plenty of food to eat and love from my family. But is that all what God wants for me? Is it all about my happiness; my well-being? Or does God have a different agenda? Sure, I am blessed to be in the place that I reside – spiritually speaking as well as physically speaking. However, on Friday I was freaking out because I was looking at my current circumstances with an economic picture that isn’t too bright – right now. I don’t know how to resolve my needs – everything I have decided to do has really come to a dead-end.

That afternoon, I took the exit ramp off the freeway to go to the grocery store where I encountered a hand painted sign at the stop light that read “Trust God.” Never seen the sign before, it was just there right where I needed to see it. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder. My anxiousness left me, until Saturday. Saturday I was mowing my lawn when the lawnmower broke. The anxiety returned – how am I going to fix my mower? My hot water heater too is acting up. How am I going to get a new heater? Anxious moments again filled my heart. My circumstances cause my peace to vanish, and my anxiety to return.

I have been fretting – I don’t worry, fretting sounds better – how all of my problems are going to be resolved? When is the deliverance coming? I have come to the end of my own resources, and God is telling me to trust Him. I get it. I do. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. But I am still anxious about the timing. Is God going to delay the answer so that I can learn a new lesson (or an old lesson that I have yet to grasp)? I know God is not punishing me, but is there another reason that I am not hearing from Him? Has an answer been sent that I missed along the way? Is there sin left unchecked? These are the things that circulate in my mind when I am fretting. Is there any truth to what is circulating?

These are irritations to my little life in my comfortable bubble. James MacDonald was teaching this past weekend in a Southeast Asian country that is closed to the Gospel. He reminded me in his teaching that God has a different agenda than what we see in human terms. His agenda is not about our comfort; it’s not about our happiness. Pastor MacDonald said it’s not even about justice or even God’s love shown to the people of the world. It’s greater than all of that. God’s agenda is really about God’s glory, and the exaltation of His Son Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. Pastor MacDonald gave the point, that “when we take care of what’s on God’s heart then He’ll take care of what’s on ours.” Point served and received.

When I am stressing about my future, I am seeing it through my own eyes. There’s more to my circumstance than I can see with my physical eyes. Psalm 118:17 says “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” My troubles are not for me to wallow in but to give God the glory in. I may not see how things will work out right now, but God’s Word says it’s all good – He’s got this (my interpretation of Romans 8:28). Stay tuned to see how God fixes my mess! And seriously, is my mess really that important in the grand scheme of life and death? Nope, I will live through the trial regardless of what the outcome will be.

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Luke 12:29-32 (The Message)

Lean in

My dear Child,

Oh how I love you! I want you to understand the depths of my love for you. I want you to grasp that my love is deeper than any ocean; wider than the expanse of the sky; my love for you cannot and will not change. I loved you before you were born. I loved you back then when you were doing that thing that has you so feeling so ashamed. I love you right now when you don’t feel worthy of it. I will love you no matter what you do or what you say. I want you to understand to the depths of your being that my love for you is unfailing. My love for you propelled me to the cross to take on your sin and shame. I bared the pain and sorrow of the cross so that you wouldn’t have to. There was no other expression that could demonstrate the depth of my love than to die for you. I forgive you for everything that you have done or will do in the future. Believe in me to take those sins and shame from you. Get your heart right with me so that you can experience my depth of love.

Open your heart and let my love heal you. When your heart aches, mine does too. When I see a tear, I shed one too. When I see the joy in your face, I am welling up with joy as well. I want you to know I am with you. I have never left your side. I feel your heart beating next to mine. I know you probably don’t feel me next to you, but I am here. You do not walk alone. I want you to feel my presence today. Seek my face and you will find me. I want to reside in your heart permanently. I want you to experience my joy and peace. Don’t be afraid any longer.

Let me heal those hurts and let me into those dark places. I will heal you and make you whole. I will go with you when the waters are too deep. I will be with you in the dark valleys. I will take care of you when the darkness closes in. Do not be afraid. I have not given you a spirit of fear but of faith. Believe in me. Believe I can do all things. Tell me what burdens your heart today. Talk to me. I am right here listening. Let me into that place that is hurting right now. Reach out to me. Set your heart toward me. Open your ears to hear.

Remember the joy you once experienced. Remember the times when miracles happened. Remember the times when you were rescued. That was me helping you. Think about the times you felt my presence. The memories are there; just remember. Remember those moments of your greatest victories. Remember the times when prayers were answered. Remember the times when you didn’t know how you were going to get out of the mess, and yet you got through it because I was there with you. Remember that all things will come together for your good, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. Be still with me for just a little while. I promise when you look for me, I will be found. I am willing, and I am able to do immeasurably more.

My Father wants a relationship with you. He sent me for you. I am your salvation and your hope today. I am faithful and trustworthy – not only for your salvation but for your deliverance. Know that I am for you. I have not turned away from you. What you are experiencing today will not keep you from the place I have appointed for you. I know there are obstacles in front of you, and I am prepared to go with you through them. I want to walk with you. Rejoice now for the things that I am doing that you cannot see at this time. Keep pressing into me as I work it out for your good and my Father’s glory. Stay the course. Keep your faith in me and do not lose heart. I have overcome so that you will have the victory! Remember my love for you will not fail you. Stay close and feel my presence next to you today.

Your friend forever,

Jesus

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God’s Gift

Christmas is here. Wow – how did it come so fast? Are you prepared? In Galatians we are told in 4:4 that when the time had fully come Jesus was born. God gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for. He gave us His Son in human flesh so that we could come to know the Father. Revelation of Jesus changes the way we view our image of God. I must admit I have a rather small view of God sometimes. I don’t normally worry, but there are times when worry creeps up on me. In that case I am not trusting God. I must not believe God can handle my problems. In truth, I have a heart problem. The thing about our hearts is that we follow the thing that has our hearts. I have recently heard several sermons on the matter of worship. We are made to worship something. Worship is a response to revelation. Worship is the overflow of our hearts. The Christmas story is full of responding to the message with worship.

Mary responded to the angel in humility (Luke 1:38). She responded to Elizabeth with a song of praise, rejoicing and glorifying God (Luke 1:46-47).

Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, heard Mary’s voice and responded in a loud voice of praise for the one who was carrying her Lord (Luke 1:42). The baby John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44).

The shepherds who were given the announcement of Jesus’ birth went to see Jesus and returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).

Simeon who had been waiting on God’s promise to be fulfilled, took Jesus in his arms and praised God for the salvation of Israel and the light for the Gentiles had been kept true to the promise (Luke 2:28).

The wise men traveled great distances to find Jesus. They were overjoyed to find the exact location of Jesus and bowed down to worship Him (Matthew 2:11). They brought their best for Him and presented their treasures to Him.

God gave us such a wonderful gift in Jesus. What could we possible give Him in return? What does He want for His birthday gift? I can only imagine it would be our praise and worship of Him. It would be our heart full of joy and gratitude for the wonderful things we have seen and heard. After all, what else could we possibly give to the One who created everything? All our works are nothing in comparison to what He has already done. Nothing has been accomplished that magnifies God’s glory like the life of Jesus. But is worship enough for God? Shouldn’t we be doing something for Him too? I think it all begins with the proper respect for a glorious God who loved us enough to send His one and only Son to save us from our sins (John 3:16). When we get the right perspective, everything flows from that response to what God has revealed to us.

Pastor Jimmy Carroll (Journey Church) said about worship “the greater our perception of God, the greater our worship.” We cannot in our own natural response worship God the way we should. It is a supernatural response. He is the source of our worship. Louie Giglio (Passion City) said that the cross is the epicenter of worship. When we get the perspective that Jesus came to die for our sins – to bear our cross – then we will understand true worship comes at the point of the cross. When our hearts fully understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could have eternal life with the Father, we will finally be able to worship God. God’s gift of Jesus should be received with great joy – our hearts leap within us for our salvation has come!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

The Blue Dot

Has your mind ever been blown about the creativity of God? Have you witnessed something so marvelous that it can only be from God? I get those moments every now and then. When I contemplate how my body works, I am just blown away by the complexity and the creativity of it all. There is no way under my limited abilities to comprehend that I can come from any other way but by the way of a miracle of God. From the millions of sperm that swam in the ocean of my mother’s womb, one little sperm found the one place in the egg that can be fertilized and grew to become me. From a tiny heartbeat that began in the womb, God gave me life. I was actually God’s secret until He decided to let my Mom know about me. He decided everything about me before I was formed. He had me in mind from the very beginning. You too! We are all just the miraculous creation from God!

Then when I contemplate life in general, how did we end up here on this earth? I was flipping channels one Sunday night many months ago; I came across the science program Cosmos. I am not that much into science, but I stopped to listen to what the speaker was saying. There was a picture on the screen of the earth in all its glory from space. The speaker was saying that the space craft that was launched a few years ago was exiting our galaxy turned the camera to get a last glimpse of earth. The picture was a mass of dots of light across the screen. However, there was one blue dot in the mass of white dots. Earth is the blue dot. When I contemplate that we are living on that one blue dot in the mass of white dots, how can that be? How can we have just one place in the entire universe that supports our lives? It’s impossible to think of the vastness that is not inhabitable. Yet, God made this place possible! He had us in mind when He designed creation. It’s just one of His miracles so that we could recognize His glory!

When I contemplate my life and its complexities, I am quick to believe in a small God. The things that go on in my little world are too big for my small god. I have the wrong view. I need a picture of the blue dot to remind me nothing is impossible for God. God spoke and it came to be. The Spirit moved upon the waters – the heavens were separated. Darkness was separated by His spoken word of light. God speaks and creates something out of nothing! The blue dot from His vantage point amazes me. How does the God of the universe, who created all that we see, look down on this little dot and find me here in my little space on this little dot? How do we stay in this orbit, hurling around a sun without being flung into the nothingness of space? Only through God’s presence!

I sit here in amazement considering these things. My perspective is all wrong. My view of God is way too small. The word says that He knows the very hairs on my head. The Word says that He loves me and you with a depth that we cannot imagine. He put all this into place so that we could glorify Him. The One who created everything wants us to glorify Him. How in the world can we do anything that would bring Him glory? It’s impossible in our own effort. But with Him, everything is possible. When my viewpoint gets hindered by my smallness, I need to consider God’s bigness. The blue dot is enough to remind me that there is more than I see in my every day world. God’s perspective is much bigger. Once we get the right perspective, nothing can stop us from glorifying God!

For this perspective, I am very thankful today!

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. Genesis 1:31-2:1

Rules or Follow

Rules. I tried my best to follow them, but I usually failed. “Don’t do that. Don’t say that.” You have to do this because that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. You have to be a good girl in order to get to heaven. I was never really bent toward being good. I failed to live up to the standards set by my parents and by God. I just couldn’t do it. But then I found out no one else could either. My parents made mistakes. My sisters made mistakes. My friends made mistakes. So if everyone makes mistakes, who can live up to the standards of all the rules? No one.

When I started reading the Bible, I noticed Jesus didn’t say anything about following the rules. He said to follow Him. He asked the disciples one by one to follow Him. Yes, when we follow Him, we will actually follow the rules because He would never lead us into something that went against what God says. God placed rules or laws for us to follow so that we would know when we sinned – when we went against what God says. The law was not abolished when Jesus came; He came to fulfill them. He broke the rules by communing with sinners. He went against what the religious men said to do. Religion was made by man; but a relationship was made by Jesus. For many years, I didn’t understand that Jesus wanted a relationship. I thought it was always about the rules.

No, I couldn’t follow the rules. But I can follow one who breaks the rules in order to have a relationship. Jesus said to follow Him. I started that by reading what He said and read about His actions. The Holy Spirit seals us with the promise that we are His and teaches us how to follow Jesus. It’s by grace that we are given the presence of His Spirit. Yes, I believe I can follow this person who gives grace and mercy. I can have a relationship with the one who died for my sins. I can love the one who loved me first. I can be mindful of His laws because I have His presence within me. He teaches me as we walk the path – the Way. This is the way to eternal life with Jesus. One step at a time. Will I do it perfectly? No. But when I get off the path, I know His presence will gently remind me where I need to be. He will instruct me on how to return.

Is it really that easy? Yes and no. Yes, it’s just a simple command to follow Him. The hard part is laying down my own selfish desires – the “my way.” The hard part is to give up the things that keep me from hearing His voice – the things that distract me from His will; things that keep me from His best. It’s easy to follow when my heart is right and my focus is right. But the distractions, the other voices keep pulling me from the path. I am like Peter who starts out of the boat with the right focus, but somewhere along the way, I get distracted by the storms. Jesus never leaves us to drown though. He is always just one call away. Lord, save me! And He always does. No matter what. That’s because of the relationship with Jesus.

It’s not about religion. It’s about Jesus, my Shepherd. I am just a dumb sheep, who tends to wander. But I have a Good Shepherd that will not leave me in a place where the wolves are waiting. He searches for me because sometimes I don’t even know that I am off the path. Religion says that we search for God. But God says “I searched for you and found you and did not leave you where you were. I claimed you as my own.” That’s the God I follow. Jesus says to follow Him. Yes, I will follow Him to my eternal life with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This I confess and believe with all my heart. Jesus is Lord of all – King of kings; Lord of lords. For there is no other.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:16-18

No Matter What

While I was reading last week’s post before I posted it, I thought about something that I need to continue the thought. I mentioned that the dash matters for our eternal life. Do we actually get that fact? What counts is how we live our lives and how much it will affect our eternity. Francis Chan has a video on YouTube showing a long rope with a red tip (Google FC rope video). The red tip is actually the life we live on earth. The rest of the rope is eternity. We concern ourselves with the here and now – the red tip portion. However, we should be concerned about the longer eternity portion. We all will have an eternity somewhere. We actually get to choose where we’ll go, but the choice has to be made here. We can choose to believe Jesus is the way to eternal life or we can choose to reject Jesus; there really isn’t another option.

I have heard the comment how can a loving God send someone to eternal hell (which is the separation from His presence). Louie GIglio said maybe the question should be how could anyone reject the love of God? It’s our choice to choose our destiny. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) – only through Him will we have eternal life with Him forever. Yes, it’s a pretty narrow way. However, the way is open to everyone. Jesus died for the world – no discrimination on race, color, nation, etc. Jesus said though that few will find the way (Matthew 7:13-14). God’s love is so wide, long, high and deep (Ephesians 3:18) that He sent His only Son to give us the eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus was sacrificed for us. God doesn’t want us to choose to be separated from Him for eternity. But if we have nothing to do with Him here, why would we want to be with Him for eternity? We get to start the relationship here, not there! What a privilege to have a relationship with the Almighty God of heaven and earth right here and right now.

The red tip is so short and the rest of the rope so long. Let’s not concern ourselves with the things that do not matter. Eternity will be here before we know it. There’s too much at stake. We have the opportunity to get to know Jesus here and now. We are given His word to read and to gain understanding. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand, but that’s why we are given the Holy Spirit to help us. The Spirit is given to all who call upon Jesus as Lord; who believe He is the Son of God and died for our sins. He redeemed us to be His children. He purchased us so that we would not have to be punished in eternal hell for our sins. He paid the debt that was owed. No matter what we did, He still loved us enough to die for us – even while we were still so far from Him. Now that’s a loving God who wants no one to perish! Religion says we have to seek God; but the relationship with God starts with Him coming down to us in the form of Jesus. None of us who have the desire to know God unless God sought us first. This is the difference in religion versus relationship.

The dash really does matter; it’s here that we consider our eternity. Jesus is the way to eternal life. Choose life. Once the destiny is determined, the life lived here on earth gets infinitely better – maybe not in circumstances, but in the hope and assurance that we serve an awesome God who never leaves us or forsakes us – no matter what! Storms in life will still come, but God will walk through them with us. His peace is given. His hope is secure. Our lives are secure in Him. There is nothing better than having that peace and security in His loving embrace – no matter what!

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:18-24 (The Message)

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