Sunday, December 17, 2017

More Than Salvation

John 10:9-10, "I am the door: by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

The offering of Christ in this passage is so much more than salvation. Salvation is just the beginning. We enter in to His fold and are saved, but then after we have trusted Him for salvation, we have something else.

We have freedom in Christ. We can go in and out and find pasture. As a member of Christ's flock, we are able to stay in the warmth of the fold or go out and feed on the pastures that He has provided for us. In both places, we are protected as we are under the watchful care of the Shepherd.

In contrast to the door of Christ, we see the thief in verse 10. The thief's sole purpose is not freedom. It is death. Christ reminds us, however, that He is come that we might have life and an abundant one at that.

Our salvation and freedom in Christ offers us an abundant life spiritually both in this life and in the next.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Goodness of God and Even More.

It's so easy to fall into a trap as a Christian.

We start to believe that we deserve the goodness of God. If we believe this lie of our own flesh, then we will be often disappointed.

We won't be disappointed because we don't see God's goodness, but we will be disappointed if we expect every circumstance to go exactly the way we want it to go.

God is good, and in every circumstance He is good no matter if it is how we would have it or not.

His mercy is what allows us His goodness. Even as a Christian we don't deserve anything. We get to be a Christian because of Christ's grace in salvation by giving us something good that we don't deserve and His mercy in not giving us what we do.

In life circumstances, as we pray, we have to remember these truths. Expect His goodness, but pray for mercy that God would not allow the bad to happen. Revel in His grace that he gives to get us through circumstances and in the grace that gives us the good.

The attributes of God are tied together more tightly than I think we all realize. They are not simply separate traits, but they are intertwined to give us the Perfect and All-knowing God who loved us and sent His Son to die, so that we did not have to die - the ultimate sacrifice.

Daily we can see this sacrifice of mercy as we ask for it, and we can see His grace even when His mercy does not bring what we hope. We can see his goodness knowing that He sees the big picture. He sees the end and ultimate purpose which may have nothing to do with us or this earthly life.

I'm reminded of a message my husband recently preached about God's purposes in life. God allowed Mary and Joseph to live in an area far away from where Jesus was prophesied to be born, yet He had a plan, and had the taxation/census take place at just the right time.

No matter where we are at the moment, God will ultimately put us where He wants us, even if it takes a 70 mile trip across the dessert - something I can't imagine while pregnant, but Mary was carrying the Son of God. It's wonderful to know though, that we are just as important to God as that Son as everything God did from the moment He created us was to push us in the direction of redemption and ultimately glorifying Him in heaven someday.

God is good. He is merciful and gracious. He is all of these things even though we don't deserve it.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rainbow Babies

I've had a lot of friends and acquaintances use the term "Rainbow baby" for a child born after the loss of a child or after a child is born with special needs.

I can't bring myself to use the term. I feel this way for more than one reason.

The reason for the term, as I understand it, is that this new child is a blessing after a difficulty - similar to the rainbow of God's promise after the flood.

My problem with the term is that the trial we went through in losing a child or having a child with special needs is not a punishment or a curse. Hard - yes. Impossible to smile through at times - yes, but the promise of God existed even in that time. The rainbow was not bright, but the presence of God was there even then.

My baby that is due in April would be considered a "Rainbow baby" on two fronts. He/she follows a miscarriage and a sibling born with special needs. I just don't feel right about my next child being considered "special" in this light simply because he/she followed difficulties. I personally want to focus on who this child is not on who they are not. It will be a blessing to have a healthy baby if that is God's plan, but that child is special as a creation of God.

I'm not offended if others use the term for their children, but I would appreciate others not use the term for our new baby. We are praying he/she will be healthy, and God is in control of that.

This is the first some of my readers have heard of this. Our new baby will be born, Lord willing, on April 16th via c-section. We appreciate your prayers!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Life's Disappointments

Have you ever wondered why some Christians go through a lot of trials, and others seem to have things handed to them?

Perhaps you won't let your mind go there. I have to say it's a dangerous place.

It's hard to understand how God does this justly, but we know He is just.

I think there are a few things that go into this discussion.

One thought is that some people may appear to have no troubles, but the reality is that they do have hard times and trials, and perhaps they handle them quietly because they are quiet trials. Struggles with depression and mental illness are issues that are often kept quiet, and no one might know about these struggles.

The other thought is that some people really do not go through as much as others. This is where it's hard to understand. Why are some hit with death, cancer, more death, job struggles, etc and others just seem to have blessing after blessing. They aren't just trying to look cute when they post "Blessed" as a comment. They really seem to be blessed.

Does that make the ones with the excessive sadness and trials not blessed?

Psalm 1 answers some of our questions about being "Blessed."

Blessed is the one who walks with the right people and doesn't take part in their sins - Blessed is the one who follows God's word. Blessed here is happiness. Our blessedness is bound in the way we follow His word.

Does that mean that if we have trials we are not following the Lord? No, we can be happy and in trials even though it's difficult.

Normally the term "Blessed" is used to say that you've been given so much. For those who seem to truly have it all may willingly throw this term around with ease, because to them not having trials means a Blessing. But what about the trials. Are they a blessing?

As Christians, I Peter tells us not to be surprised at trials that will try us. In the same book it states that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold.

How to we put all of this together? There are godly people who have a lot of trials, and there are those who don't seem to have any. Is God unfair in this? Does He think some people need more trials?

God's hope is that at Christ's appearing, our trials will be found to the praise, honor, and glory of God. In James we see that the trial of our faith brings about patience.

I don't know what this means for the ones who seem to have it easy. We are all in the same place. We are all sinners. None of us deserve good. We all need to ask for God's mercy.

I think the conclusion we all need to come to is that God does not favor one individual over another. He offered each of us the same salvation, and each of us have this if we accept it. What more can we really ask for from God? We should be content with the knowledge that someday we will be in heaven with no pain and trial. God extends even more to us though. He allows us to pray to him at any time, and He gives us grace in trials. Many times He offers mercy in trials keeping them away from us, but it's nothing we deserve.

In heaven, perhaps those who have endured more trials and have come through them with praise, honor, and glory at his return will receive a blessing far better than anything others may experience on earth not having trials. The hope we have though in Christ is said in Hebrews to be the anchor of the soul - sure and steadfast.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Freedom in Truth

Something that I've learned as a student, teacher, mom, and Christian- living on earth is that the truth is never popular - at least not with those who are not following the truth.

No one wants to hear that they are wrong or that they have the wrong answer. No one loves to hear that what they are doing is sin. 

It's our sinful nature to reject the truth.

The one thing that the Bible says will make us free - we reject it. 

John 8:32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This was a promise from Christ to the Jews who believed in Him and continued in His Word. 

The truth of who Jesus is and what His plan is for our lives is not popular. Those who don't know Him believe they are most free if they don't put any restrictions on themselves. Even some Christians fall into this believing that most of the Christian life is a gray area when the reality is that they are simply becoming more like the world.

It might feel like freedom in the moment, but Jesus promises that His truth will make us free. 

This life might not feel like freedom. Perhaps you deal with difficult situations daily with your family, job, or your own health, but it's important to keep our eyes on the truth of the Word of God for it brings true freedom.

It's difficult at times to accept that we may not experience freedom from pain and discouragement until we reach heaven, but we can experience freedom in our own hearts and minds as we turn our thoughts to Him and his grace and mercy on us.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." John 14:6

As we know Jesus - the truth - more- we will have direction and wisdom and abundant life. At salvation we gain all three, and as with all other aspects of the Christian life we must continue to grow in them.

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