I continue to be impressed and amazed at how cohesive and complete Scripture is. God's Word was written to touch our lives in every way possible. I love how He does that!!Four Accounts, One Savior
"Four different Gospel accounts and one conclusion—Jesus is sufficient. Intellectually, according to Matthew, the Christmas story is rooted in history. Morally, according to Mark, the Christmas story requires our repentance. Emotionally, according to Luke, the Christmas story invites our worship. And relationally, according to John, the Christmas story restores our relationship with God."
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Often, we will answer that question by the people around us. I’m a wife, I’m a mother, a husband or father. I’m a daughter, a sister, a son, a brother, a friend. We answer by our jobs – I’m a teacher, a doctor, a homemaker, or any other occupation. Some identify by the things that have happened to them in their past – I’m a victim, a survivor, etc.
When we turn our lives over to God, He changes who we are. He gives us new identities simply because He loves us and He wants to mold us to His plans.
You may have heard the song by Matthew West which starts with the words, "Hello my name is Regret". The enemy loves to whisper words into our lives – lies that too often we believe. And those lies hold us back and prevent us from experiencing life God’s way. Those lies can be defeated by truth. Truth is found in the song’s chorus. "Hello, my name is child of the one true God."
We are children of God. I am a child of God. Take a look at John 1:12-13.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
When we believe and turn our hearts to Him, we are given new life; we are born again. This is not a physical birth, it is a spiritual birth. We are born of God and at that moment of rebirth we are given the right to call ourselves Children of God.
In many ways, I think it is a lot like, well, like being a child. I think sometimes we grow up too much and we forget what it was like to be a child. And we don’t consider that this is how God sees us – as a much beloved child of His.
Have you ever walked through the preschool area after church as parents are coming to pick up their children? It is a scene of organized, mass chaos as children run out with big grins, eager to show off a picture they colored or a lesson they learned. You’ll see parents scooping up their child with a hug and words of encouragement. This is how God wants us, His children to run to Him.
Or have you ever attended a middle school or high school choir concert? They are great examples of jubilant worship full of youthful enthusiasm. This is how God wants us, His children, to shout joyfully to Him.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 100:1
Another lesson we can learn from the children around us is to be an imitator. One of my favorite childhood memories involves riding in the pick-up with my Dad. He would wave to people he knew as he drove by. Daddy did this funny little three-finger wave thing. I remember watching him and then practicing the move myself over and over. I so wanted to wave like my Daddy did. Matter of fact, I very much wanted to be just like him.
As beloved children of God, we should want to be like God our Father.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2.We are imitators of God as we walk in love. We have the wonderful example of Christ to follow. The Bible is filled with lessons that point us towards how to be like Him. We have the examples of those who have gone before us. As we learn what it means to live as a child of God, we are able to be examples to others. I know that there are women at my church that I look up to and whom I try to emulate because their Christian walk is so strong and I want to be like them. It is one reason that small groups are important. We may all be at different places in our walk and we have much to teach one another.
Children also have a desire to grow up. Six year olds look forward to being ten year olds. Teenagers tend to think they are grown already. Children realize that they have the potential to be more than they are. A child can totally throw themselves into something. Whether it is sports, music, books, when they find something they are interested in they can become very caught up in it.
There is a huge lesson here. God’s grace accepts us as we are, with all our sins and imperfections. But God wants us to change. He wants us to desire to be different. God has a plan for each of us and He wants us to be all in on that. It can be scary, especially when God’s plan seems so much different from your own. But once you become a child of God’s, He wants you to grow and He wants to use you. Whatever your life situation, whatever your age, whatever your ability, God will make you much more than you are. Sometimes this means letting go of the familiar and grabbing on to something new!
Do you know how to make a child happy? Give them a wooden spoon and a metal pot. Or a large, empty box. My husband gave the children next door a cardboard stop sign on a stick. Those kids have spent hours amusing themselves (and us) playing Stop.
I’ve heard it said that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. (This is also true for women and girls.) As we get older, seems like we want things to be flashier, or bigger, or more expensive. So we buy smart phones and high-end gadgets, and God says consider the birds and consider the lilies.
Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable ou are than the birds!...Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. Luke 12:24, 27.We try to find happiness with new cars, new house, new people, and God says learn to be content whatever your circumstances.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13.
And finally being a child of God is to be protected and loved. There is a flight of stairs between the parking lot and one entrance of my church. I’ve watched many children run to the top of those stairs, stop, and stick one hand up in the air. To a small child those steps can seem big. They know they need help and they know that if they just reach out, then someone bigger will help them down. They don’t give this a lot of thought, the child just knows that help is close by and much needed.
God is there for His children also. Do you know one of the most often repeated phrases in the Bible? “Do not fear.” Over three hundred times, God tells His people don’t be afraid. Not necessarily as a command, but as a loving reminder that He is bigger than whatever we are facing and if we will only reach out to Him like a child, then He will grab hold of our hand and help us.
To be a child of God is to be joyful, to be an imitator, to have a desire to grow, to appreciate the simple, and to be loved. To be a child of God is to know that, even when life gets scary, God the Father is always with us and He will never leave.
He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Interesting definition because those two things aren't always the same. Which is one of the things that Jesus talked about a lot. Doing lots of religious things does not mean a person is God-fearing. Going to church every Sunday does not make one a Christian. I fear that too many people practice this sort of piety.
The piety that is a true reverence for God changes lives. And it makes us smarter. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10)
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Thursday, August 1, 2013
0h, give ear, Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!
And God does shine forth! He brings light to the darkness - exposing our weaknesses and using us anyway.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Isaac saw a need and took it to God in prayer. God heard. God answered Isaac's prayer, and something happened. God is good and I am sure there was much rejoicing in Isaac's camp when Rebekah discovered she was pregnant.
There is an interesting detail about this prayer and answer. Rebekah was barren so Isaac prayed. Isaac knew that God had promised many descendants. He trusted that God would provide children. So he prayed.
And he prayed for twenty years. Twenty years with no children passed before the birth of Esau and Jacob. Can you imagine the heartbreak as each year went by?
It can be difficult to keep praying when it seems like God is not listening. Sometimes it can seem like God is saying No when actually He is saying Wait - Have Faith - Trust Me - Keep Praying - I'm Listening.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Built a fire tonight. I love doing that. A crackling wood fire on a cold night it just nice.
And I am always impressed that I can make fire! It makes me feel like a strong, capable woman. Arrrgh! Look what I can do! Fire!
Watching a fire slowly burn down in also reminds me of the simple blessings God gives. The ones we overlook. I have a roof over my head, shelter on a cold night, a well-constructed fireplace, a stack of wood to burn, and matches.
I have food in the fridge, a dog to warn me of possible intruders in the driveway, and a warm cat in my lap. I have internet access, books to read, and friends who have covered my family with prayer this week.
I have a God who loves me, a Savior who died for me, and a Bible to read. I am blessed. I am grateful. It is well with my soul.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Selfish, and self-centered, I built a wall around myself
So I could be alone.
Alone with my shame,
Alone with my guilt,
Alone with the consequences of my sins,
Alone and isolated within darkness.
Lord, I lived a life that knew no peace, no joy, no hope.
I dwelt in a prison of my own making
And could find no way out.
God, I don’t have the words to fully express
My gratitude for what you have done.
You held the key that set me free.
My sins have been forgiven
Shame and guilt have faded away
I’ve been given a second chance at life
And an awesome gift of peace and comfort.
My heart is filled with joy
I’ve been healed, and I no longer am alone.
Lord, I now live a life that is led by you.
A God-centered life
Filled with light and hope.
A life lived within your embrace.
My refuge, my guide.
My shelter, my hope.
My Father, Redeemer
I give you my life, my faith, and my trust.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Main text was 2 Corinthian 9: 6-15. Third week of celebrating Outlive with a focus on Give.
Give! Be Generous! Five reasons why we should be generous people.
1. Giving taps into the law of the harvest. Whoever plants much will harvest much. We will reap what we sow.
2. God loves a cheerful giver. Motivation is important. We are to give with love, joy, and gladness.
3. God opens up heaven when you give. God blesses those who give. This often gets misinterpreted. It is important to remember that most of God's blessings are non-monetary. God blessed us with joy, peace, character, and other external spiritual gifts. By giving we are laying up treasure in heaven. (And that is where it really counts!)
4. Giving helps other people. By giving we meet their needs. Our giving can be an answer to their prayers.
5. Giving is our thanks to God. God has given us an indescribable gift in His Son. We say thanks by giving to others.
So...Go - Grow - Give!!
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Give me the faith to remember you hold all things, even on the darkest days.
Give me courage to make the hard decisions when they need to be made.
Give me a heart of mercy so hard decisions are made with love.
Fill me with peace, shielding my mind from doubts, knowing that with you the future is secure.
Lord, You are my rock, my refuge, and my shelter in the storm.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
This was my first attempt. It isn't bad, but it doesn't really seem like a psalm to me.
I lived with sadness
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Really - Think about it - Am I willing?
The big question - Am I willing to totally trust God?
Even though I don't know exactly what will happen.
God knows - This I do believe wholeheartedly.
I don't know and this frustrates me.
I want to have everything laid out, neatly arranged into daily to-do lists.
I want to know the full schedule weeks in advance.
But God doesn't work that way.
God gives me what I need to have when I need to have it.
Not weeks in advance, but moment by moment.
It leaves me with a choice.
I can give in to my frustration and refuse to fully trust God
Because He's not living by my rules and my expectations.
Or I can trust.
Knowing which choice is the right one is easy.
It's not about me.
Living the choice is up to me.
Am I willing to live a life totally defined by trust in God?
Friday, February 1, 2013
God is good.
God’s love is constant and never changing.
Romans 8:38-39 says, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God's love is part of my daily life - their is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can change that.
I have learned that when we find ourselves going through dark days, it does not mean that God’s love has changed or that God has disappeared and abandoned us.
In August 2011, I was, quite unexpectedly, diagnosed with appendix cancer. A CT scan also revealed two large masses in my lower abdomen and back. Suddenly, I was faced with major surgery followed by an extended recovery. A little voice spoke up in the back of my head asking, “So, is God still good?” I had cancer. It may have spread. The masses could be malignant. So the question I was forced to consider: “Is God still good?”
For me, the answer was yes.
If the surgery removed all traces of cancer, if the masses turned out to be benign, and if my recovery went smooth, then God is good. He is the one who guides the surgeon’s hands. He is the God who can provide physical healing. He has a plan for my life and there is still more for me to do.
But I realized that the opposite was also true. If the surgery resulted in the finding of more cancer, if I had to have further treatments or surgeries, if I died, then God is good. He is the God who redeemed me. He forgave me, cleaned me up, and gave me a new life with a new purpose. He is the one who has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams over the past few years. He will continue to be my rock and my refuge. Yes, God is good.
I told literally everyone I knew what I was facing. I asked them all to pray for me, to pray for the doctors, and to pray for my family. I learned that there is incredible strength to be found in the knowledge that others are lifting you up to God in prayer. I went into surgery on September 28, 2011 with this attitude.
Whatever happens God is good.
Whatever happens His Will be done.
Four hours and three surgeons later I was wheeled out of surgery 14 pounds lighter and cancer free. God is good! I am still recovering from the experience. I still marvel at the miracle of it all. I felt such peace as I faced an unknown situation. That peace was a gift from God and I am so very thankful for that. And I praise God for the healing he has blessed me with. I am looking forward to growing more in God’s Word as I continue to live out His purpose in my life. He’s not finished with me yet!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
This is what grabbed me...
So if you are thinking of doing something radical, slow down and take some time to ponder it. If you tend toward impulsive behavior, step back. God is not in a hurry.
If, however, you are not impulsive but the slow and steady type, this challenge is for you. If you are reading this article, you most likely are involved with ministry of some kind. Have you taken the time to make sure that’s what you are really supposed to be doing, or are you just going through the motions because it is the secure, safe thing to do?
If you love what you are doing, find great fulfillment in it, and are using your gifts, you are most likely exactly where you should be. Rejoice in that and renew the calling you first had.
But if you are feeling a bit restless and have lost your passion, perhaps God is trying to get your attention to lead you in another direction. Take time to listen. If he begins to nudge you in those times of listening, begin testing the idea. Present it to those who love you and know you best to get their opinions. If wise people affirm you, begin to find out what your options are. And even if it’s scary, take the first step in obedience. Because being where you are called to be is the most secure place in the universe.
I haven't lost my passion, but I do feel a bit restless. I've been in that spot where I knew, totally knew, that I was being exactly what God wanted me to be. And now - that has changed - and I'm no longer sure.
So I've taken a step in obedience and I'm doing some things which I believe God is using to prepare me for ___???___. I don't know what the ??? is going to be. So I'm stepping in blind faith, putting time, money and energy into something. I'm waiting to see what He will do with it all.