Saturday, July 29, 2017

Finishing with Joy

It's been a really busy few months in our lives, and there have been ups and downs as with every change. About a week ago, this verse really spoke to me.

Acts 20:24 - "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear onto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify of the gospel of the grace of God."

It's my desire to finish my ministry and life on earth with joy, and this verse tells me how this can happen.

There are two things I must not do.

I can't let the things of this earth move me away from Christ and what I know about Him.
I can't count my life too important to myself.

Troubles can cause us to be tempted to question God. We begin to move away from thoughts of Him and what He can do, and we focus on ourselves. Life becomes all about "me."

A self-centered, anxious focus does not bring joy.

A focus on who Christ is and His sovereignty in our circumstances brings freedom and joy.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

God is Good

Sometimes I cringe at these words. Is it because I don't think God is good? No

I cringe because it is too often used when things in life look good in our own estimation.

When the test results are good, when the house sells, when the job comes through, when the cancer is gone. I could definitely go on.

But the reality is that God doesn't change. Being good is part of Who He Is.

I could have had a 3rd child in Mother's day pictures this year, but God is still good.

My youngest son could have walked this year, but instead, he rode on a carousel for the first time. God is still good.

We could have bought a house 9 years ago and been living there all these years never moving and having anything change, but since God is good, and that did not happen, we know that what did happen was best.

We make choices, but God is in control of all things, as we trust Him, acknowledge Him, and follow Him and His Word in life.

Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work for our ultimate good - this means the good that glorifies God.

I appreciate some of my dad's posts on Facebook, because he ends his post with God is Good no matter how hard a day he mentioned having. It's true. God is good on our worst and best days. It is just easier to remember when things go how we desire them to go.

I think of the song written to music by Jonathan Hamilton 4 years ago before his passing - "God is always good - Only good."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Active Relationship

Reading Psalm 100 last night, something stood out to me. It's a very active passage.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord
Serve the Lord - gladly
Come before Him with singing
Know Him
Enter thankfully every part of your time with the Lord: be thankful to Him and bless His name.

He is good
His mercy is everlasting
His truth endures to all generations

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ye Shall be Quiet

Fear is a terrible thing. The fear of evil is the result of living as a simple one, a scorner, or a fool. (see Proverbs 1)
"But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from all fear of evil."

The fear of the Lord is the opposite of the fear of evil.

The fear of the Lord is discussed often in the Bible. It is many things, but it boils down to our awareness of His presence. (Jim Berg) It is easy to think of it as a fear of his presence, but the reality is that knowing His presence can keep is in line and also comfort us. With the fear of the Lord, there is no fear of evil.

The simple, scorners, and fools do not fear the Lord.

If we fear the Lord - we will be quiet from all fear of evil.

We see something similar in the familiar Psalm 23 passage.

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." The Psalmist had an awareness of God's presence - He feared the Lord. He could fear no evil.

It's so easy to fear evil. It's so easy to fall into the anxiety of what bad things could happen. This is the fear of evil.

That same verse in Psalm 23 goes on to say that the rod and staff comfort him. The shepherd has the tools to take care of His sheep. An awareness of God's presence and of His attributes is the Fear of the Lord, and this can keep us from all fear of evil. Anxiety does not need to have a place in our lives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Fear-Faith Cycle

If we look back, the fear-faith cycle has been around since that first sin.

The first sin began with a doubt inplanted by Satan: "Hath God said?"

More fear followed with the realization of their sinfulness, and from then on it would continue through today.

The story of the miracle of Peter walking on water, demonstrates the fear-faith cycle very well.

Matthew 14-

It had been a big day for the disciples and Jesus. They had fed 5,000 + people with two fish and five loaves of bread! They picked up twelve full baskets of food after that were left. One would think the faith of the disciples would be pretty strong at this point. Maybe it was, but just like us, our faith can be sky high in one moment and sinking to the bottom of the sea at the next.

After this busy day, Jesus desired time to pray, so He sent the disciples to go ahead of him in the boat. We don't know what Jesus prayed to His Father about. Maybe they were talking about how to make the disciples grow in their faith. God is in charge of the winds and weather, after all. In the midst of the storm that the disciples encountered, Jesus came to them. Their first response was fear as I'm sure most of ours would be if we saw someone walking on water, but they did know Jesus, so maybe it should not have been so unexpected. They had just seen him feed 5,000 + people the day before!

Jesus tells them to be courageous and not to fear. Peter's response is interesting to me. He addresses Him as "Lord," yet he still asks for a sign that it truly is Jesus. Peter knew in his heart that it was Jesus, but He was afraid it wasn't, but then Peter jumps out of the boat. That takes a lot of faith! But then, even as he was walking on water, he becomes afraid when he sees how the wind is making the water so tumultuous. Losing faith in the Lord in that moment, and in the next, he calls out to the Lord to save Him, and Jesus immediately saves him, responding with the well-known statement - ye of little faith, why did you doubt?

Why did he doubt? He had just seen Jesus feed 5,000 + people with 2 loaves of bread and 5  fish! Then he saw Jesus walk on the water. Then he walked on the water himself!

The fear-faith cycle is illogical. If we could just remember our faith and in whom we have faith, we would not need to fear, but we don't do it. It's a sin that easily besets me and many others. Ask Christ today to help you in your unbelief, try to remember the works that Jesus has done, so that you can stop the cycle.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Wide Way and the Narrow - My Hope is Jesus

I feel compelled to write about something that is the most important thing in the world.

The older I get, and the more I go through, the more I have a desire for heaven. I don't have a death wish, but I look forward to the return of Christ and of His renewing this Earth with a new one.

As I look around though, I know that there are many people who will not be joining me in the air or in heaven if death comes first.

The gate is wide that leads to destruction, because so many people are going the path of least resistance. They headed down the path that has is wide, with room for many, and many will walk this path and end up in hell.

The narrow path can fit many people, but the way is often difficult. A narrow path means rubbing shoulders with others on the path, it might be out of your comfort zone, but the end is eternal life. The path is narrow because there are few that find it even though it is the desire of the Jesus that all come to that path. He says that it is not His will that any perish but that all come to repentance.

There are many who claim to know Jesus because of a prayer they prayed, but it's not their prayer that saves, it's the acceptance of what Jesus already did that saves. There are many in this category who look back at that prayer and do what they want. Some will even leave the church, but they will still look at that moment and claim heaven. All throughout the Bible that is not what we see of those who truly know Jesus. Those who know Him will continue in the faith. They will put aside evil and hold onto that which is good. They will not love the world or the things in the world. They will not be loved by the world. The world hates those who truly are living for Jesus. And after all of this, it's not what we do. It's what He did, but because of what He did, Christians should not want to look like those who are not Christians.

There are many who reject Christ and God and anything to do with Christianity. They don't claim Jesus. They want nothing to do with Him. I do not expect these people to love me or Christianity. I expect the worst from them, because even their most moral action brings them no closer to heaven. And many do not mind this, because they do not believe heaven is real. I don't say this to put them down. I say this with sadness, because they have no hope. A Christian's only hope is Jesus. Someone without hope in the hereafter - have only this life. It is a miserable thing to only have this earth - to only have 80-100 years max and after that - nothing.

My hope is Jesus. My hope cannot be in man or in this earth or on my earthly goods. My hope cannot be in my husband, my children, my job. My hope can only be Jesus. When the Jesus takes away His church in the rapture, and so many people are left here on earth. My faith will be sight, and some will see that my faith was real. Many will be deceived. Now is the time to believe before there is no more time. In this world today with possible terrorist attacks happening around the country, there is no room for arrogance. There is no room for hope in your country or your leaders or yourself. Your hope must be in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection or you will be miserable here on earth as well as in eternity.

The great thing about being a true Christian is that it's nothing you have to do. He finished it. He even said, "It is finished" making it very clear to us that the work was done. There would never need to be another animal sacrifice to cover sins in the temple, for the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin once for all. No more would a priest be the only one to go into the Holy of Holies, for the curtain was torn in two as Jesus died. We have direct access to the Father in Jesus name. Only trust what He did on the cross, asking forgiveness for your sin, and you will have hope for this world and that which is to come.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

He Will Restore - Joel 2:25

There are times in each of our lives that may seem wasted. They may be times of sadness or sickness. Perhaps they are times when something prevents us from serving as we would desire. All of these circumstances can leave us feeling disheartened, discouraged, angry, or bitter.

Recently, my husband ran into a verse during his studies that he had never seen before: Joel 2:25, "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you."

During this time in the Bible, there was a great locust plague. It was a terrible time when the locust destroyed everything. God allowed the plague, but in Joel 2:25 He left His people with a promise. The promise is restoration of the years that were eaten up by the locusts.

Sometimes it feels like trials eat up our years. They give us wrinkles and facilitate weight gain. Trials are difficult times and you may feel like you are wasting. The reality is that God will give it back. We see how God gave back to Job after his many trials, but it is important to remember that the restoration God gives us could be after this life. It might be here on earth, but we know assuredly that the restoration will come in eternity.

The army of trials that God allows to be among you and your family could be anything, but no matter what it is, there is restoration of years with God. It's hard to understand how He will do it, but He promises it, and this promise can help us to get through the times when we may feel like we are wasting our time. To God it is never a waste.