October 24, 2009
I’ve been doing some praying about this blog and what the Lord has for it. I wanted to know if it was his desire for me to continue as is or if I was to change things. For some time now I’ve felt like change was coming to my life and to the blog. This morning God directed my thoughts to Ecclesiastes 3; this scripture is an appropriate end for this blog and the beginning of something new.
While I am sad to leave this blog and move to the new one I’ve created, I’m also very excited to see what God will do. I will continue to write as God inspires me but it’s time to lay this chapter to rest and begin anew. The new blog is at http://www.christyminnick.blogspot.com/ and I have named it “For Such a Time as This.”
I close this chapter of my life with these words:
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to uproot.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance…
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4, 11a
I leave this blog as a memorial to my beloved daughter so that her story may never be forgotten. I want the world to know that my loving God did a mighty work in Danni and all the lives that she touched.
Glory to God Forever. Amen!
October 24, 2009
October 15, 2009
Wow! Did we have a great time at bible study this week! My mom has been with us since the first of October so she got to sit in with us as a special treat to us. The Lord really opened his word to us beginning with Genesis 22. Here God was testing Abraham to see if he would be obedient even to the point of sacrificing his son. God wanted to know who was more important to Abraham, God or his favored, promised son. He wanted to see if Abraham feared him.
Abraham was obedient and faithful to his God and at the last minute God sent an angel to stop his hand as Abraham was going to follow through with the Lord’s instructions. Because of Abraham’s faithfulness in putting God in his rightful place, God pronounced promises and blessings to him and future generations. We discussed how Abraham knew God was testing him and that he most likely wouldn’t have to kill Isaac his son as verses 5 & 8 gave us clues to his thinking process but he was prepared to do so.
As we moved on to the next scripture, John 10, we could see how the Holy Spirit was progressing things. Jesus spoke of his sheep and they are those who know him and know his voice. We didn’t see any doubt in the word about that; if you are a sheep of the shepherd then you will know him and hear his voice and follow him and he will give you eternal life (verses 1-9 & 28). Abraham heard God and followed him.
Jesus continues in John 10:9-16 speaking to the people about the way into the sheep pen of safety, he is the “gate” and the only way. He lovingly reveals his heart to the people showing them who he is, “the Good Shepherd”. He is the only one who can be relied upon; people who have been “hired” will run when trouble presents itself but the Good Shepherd will always be there.
God doesn’t want us to rely on those in authority over us because people will always let us down when we put our faith and trust in them instead of Jesus. We should never elevate anyone; God won’t tolerate someone in his spot. He is a jealous God and when we put someone in his place such as a spouse, our president, our pastor, or even our own self it is idolatry. God will bring idols down and he will cause them to fail us as he reveals their hearts to us.
Jeremiah 17:5-10 beautifully illustrates these points as God says, “…Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” This scripture goes on to contrast what this person looks like compared to the one who puts their trust in the Lord in verses 6-8. When we focus on ourselves or others as our source of strength we lose sight of God and become dry and it was interesting to us that we also miss prosperity when it comes to us. But if we are focused on God and put our hope and trust in him we flourish and don’t have any worries in time of drought. This speaks of many different kinds of circumstances that will surround us.
God tells us in verses 9-10 that he knows our hearts and that they are filled with deceitfulness this is why must trust only in him. He must be in the place of our worship and focus. I was challenged to ask God who it was that was sitting on the throne of my heart. It must be Jesus because he will not accept any less.
I know this is long but stay with me because it is so important to survival of these last days that you hear what the Lord is saying next. Verses 11-18 of Jeremiah 17 are describing our times in which we live as Jeremiah is praying to God; he worships him and he knows where his strength, healing and salvation come from. Jeremiah also knows that it will take God to get him through what he sees coming to the people.
Now the scripture seems to turn in Jeremiah 17:19-27 and God speaks to Jeremiah about the Sabbath and keeping it holy. Why is this here? Keep your finger her and turn to Hebrews 4:1-11 and you will see that we are to enter into the Sabbath rest of God by believing and knowing that God has already finished his work from the creation of the world (vs.3)
(Read Numbers 13 & 14 to understand better why God says that they will “never enter rest” in verse 3. It was because they would not believe and in doing so where disobedient just as we are when we do not believe.)
Back to Hebrews 4 in verse 6 it states this “It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience”, in other words they didn’t receive the gospel by believing it and the writer of Hebrews calls that disobedience.
Unbelief is disobedience as well as worry and fear is disobedience. If we allow these things to rule in our hearts we are saying that God can’t handle things and that we need to take over for him. We will never enter into the Sabbath rest which is knowing that God is in control and that all things are already accomplished by God until we trust him fully.
Hebrews 4: 10-11 tell us that when we enter into the rest of God we also rest from our work as God did from his and that the only thing we need to expend effort to do is to enter into the rest of God!
Now, go back to Jeremiah 17:19-27 and notice how many times the Lord tells the people not to “carry the load”. What is he saying to us? Lay it down, enter into the Sabbath rest and then you will go through the “gate” (Jesus) and have peace no matter what is going on around you. Also notice what happens if we don’t obey the Sabbath in verse 27. YIKES that’s not what I want! I want to enter into the place of safety and fortress during trouble times.
How do we enter in and be obedient? Part of the answer is the control of our thoughts as Philippians 4 instructs us to do and the other part is to believe and receive what Christ died to give us.
By learning to be content in every circumstance we enter into the Sabbath rest by trusting that God will supply for our every need. We trust that God has completed the work in this earth and his people, his sheep, and we believe which resists unbelief, fear and worry (which is just a byproduct of fear). We take our thoughts and focus them on good things as Philippians 4:8-9 instruct us, which by the way are all descriptive words of Jesus! Check it out!
In conclusion, if we put our trust in man we are cursed but if we put our trust in God we are blessed. We know him and hear his voice and we follow him keeping our focus on him and as we do, we believe and enter into the Sabbath rest of trusting in him. As a result fear and all its cronies are driven far from us!
People this is the only way we will survive what is to come! Sabbath rest is key and without it we are cursed and in disobedience to God. Sabbath is not some rule or regulation that God has put on us to be mean; it is not that we cannot mow the grass on Sunday or whatever ridiculous rule that may be imposed upon us by religion; it is the way of escape when the enemy rears his ugly head in our direction through uncontrollable circumstance!
Sabbath rest is every second of every minute of every day and Jesus died so that we could have it but we must remember that our strength is through him (Philippians 4:13). Lay the load down through prayer and petition with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and enter in to peace and rest (Philippians 4:7)that is a fortress like we have never known!
October 12, 2009
God is so gracious and merciful to us. He is so patient and kind. Day after day we sin, sin and sin again denying him and thumbing our noses at his power by taking for granted his attributes.
Deuteronomy 29 was very interesting to me this morning, here God is renewing his covenant with the people of Israel , (in whom we are included through Christ), through Moses who is the mouthpiece of God at this moment in time.
As I was reading verse 4, I marveled at the thought that it is God who did not enable the people to understand, see or hear what God had done and had been doing. They were living from day to day going about their business completely oblivious to what God was accomplishing and they had even seen his great power in their deliverance from the Egyptians. If God doesn’t want you to understand, you won’t…he controls it all.
The picture begins to unfold as we see in verses 10-11 all the people including the “aliens” or foreigners standing among them before God and Moses so that God can confirm this uncomprehending, ragtag bunch of people as his people.
Have you ever noticed that God always takes into the fold of his arms everyone that society rejects? Verse 13 says that God wanted to “confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you ….” I'm glad the non-jewish people there were claimed as his people as well, God doesn't leave anyone out and he doesn't play favorites.
God keeps his promises and the desire of his heart is and has always been to be our God, keep his promises to us and have relationship with us. Our God is a faithful God. Verse 14 goes on to say… “I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only to you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.” That would be us as well! If you want to know the details of the covenant that God made with us just read Deuteronomy 28.
If we do things God’s way we will bring blessings to ourselves but if we do things our way we will bring curses upon ourselves. Deuteronomy 29 continues on by saying what “bitter poison” idolatry is to us. It is following other things instead of God and it is a dead end that leads to more emptiness. Nothing can satisfy like God, he fills your whole being with peace and deep joy.
When we hear the word of God verse 19 says the person who hears invokes a blessing on himself, man, that’s some powerful stuff. So many times I don’t really think that the word of God is anymore than just words on a page and yet here we see it is so much more.
There is a warning that God is bringing to the people about the blessings and the promises in the last half of verse 19 and it is how God’s people have a tendency to think … things are going good, I’m being blessed, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” God’s my friend, we think to ourselves, and he loves me so he will let me get away with continuing in my own way of doing things. Yeah, this or that behavior isn’t exactly what the bible says to do, but those scriptures don’t apply to me. There is a whole host of lies we allow to invade us when we want to continue worshipping our idols.
Yes, God does love us and he is our friend that’s why discipline comes to his disciples. As this scripture continues we see the disaster that is brought upon the people and how angry God becomes with this kind of attitude. God will not tolerate anything between him and his people, he is a jealous God and he wants the path between us to be clear. God wants you all to himself and he will not share, nor should he because he is our creator God.
The very last verse of Deuteronomy 29 tells us that God reveals these things to us for a purpose and that purpose is this: “…that we may follow all the words of this Law.” This is so that we may please God for our own good so that blessings can flow to us through the promises of God that he so wants to lavish upon us but God demands that our hearts be free from anything that would hinder our relationship with him.
What is the law that God is asking us to follow? Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus is making it easy and clear for us by his last statement in verse 40. He is saying that if we follow these two commandments or laws the rest of them will fall into place, these are the “bottom line” laws.
As I thought about my life, I found myself asking God to show me the idols in my way. I wondered how much I really do love God. Do I love him like Jesus said to love him? Do I love my fellow man like Jesus said to love him?
God, help me to be free from anything that hinders me from entering into the restored relationship Jesus died to give me. Clean out the dusty, dirty rooms of my heart clogged with things that don’t fill and satisfy me like you do. Help me to love you and others as you have commanded me. I come into agreement with your powerful, precious Holy Spirit and your Word. Amen.
September 28, 2009
I wanted to share some thoughts from our bible study last week. There were some great discoveries that we made that blessed, encouraged and challenged us. We began in Colossians 1 were there were three places in which it spoke about hope, verses 5, 23, and 27. The root of this word in the Greek was not as we expected. We went to the Strong’s concordance and all three of these “hope” words shared the same number, (1680 if you would be interested to know), meaning joyful and confident expectation.
Confident expectation, wow that doesn’t sound like we are wishing for something as I normally think of the meaning of the word hope. We then reread these verses exchanging the word “hope” for “confident expectation”, check it out for yourself it’s very powerful and it leaves little room for doubt.
I love 15-19; these verses are so full and rich. The words the author uses clearly depict Christ who is in total control and who is filled with the fullness of God for the very purpose of reconciliation. Folks, that’s why he came in the first place! Of course he loves you, no matter what, as we say in our family!
Verses 21-22 are power packed as it speaks of the condition of our minds at the time Christ died for us. So many people are deceived into thinking that they have to have their act together to come to Christ but he died for us when we were his enemy and bogged down in our evil behavior. We couldn’t even begin to be good enough for God to accept us. We had to have a Savior, a bridge if you will, to be accepted by God.
Romans 8:1-17 showed us how we are to live with the Spirit of God leading the way as we continued with our study. Christ actually was the offering for our sin and his blood made it possible for us to be reconciled to God (vs. 3-4). The purpose of the law or the 10 commandments was to show us the condition of our hearts, no one can live the 10 commandments perfectly unless the Spirit of God is in full control and he does it for us. Here again verses 5-8 speaks of our minds and how our thinking relates to the condition of our spirit.
When Christ came into my life I became a new creature, I now have a new spirit in me and a new way of thinking and behaving and the same is true of you if you have received Jesus as your Savior but the problem comes when we don’t believe what the word says about us. Because of the past, we have a hard time believing what God says it true about us, we return to the old ways of thinking instead of the new way we have been given. Paul is telling us who we really are in Christ under the inspiration of the Spirit of God and we must believe it. If we can believe the bible for our salvation then we can also believe what the bible says about us.
All this believing is also called faith, Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is… “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Ahh, there is the word “hope” again and this word in the Strong’s Concordance is number 1679 and it means “to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence,” doesn’t sound like doubt or wishing is a part of this “hope” either but rather something that is sure and something that will be completed.
From here we moved to Mark 11:12-33, Jesus curses a fig tree and even though it isn’t the season for figs (vs. 13) the tree withers from the root. We are to be ready in season and out of season, this is what is expected of us and there will be no excuses (2 Timothy 4:1-4). Jesus makes that clear to us through his demonstration. We have received the gift of faith in Christ Jesus now go and preach it!
Mark 11: 22-25 reiterates having faith and believing especially where prayer is concerned. It is interesting to also note that forgiveness is mentioned here in conjunction with prayer. We discussed how people often view forgiveness as for the person who has wronged us, but this verse states quite the contrary. Verse 25 states, “And when you stand praying, if you find anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Who does this verse say forgiveness is really for? For you, the one who has been wronged in order that you can BE forgiven YOUR sins by the Father.
Why would I want to risk not being forgiven by my Father in heaven because someone has wronged me? It makes more sense to forgive the person and receive forgiveness from the Father and let him deal with the wrong, God is the only one who can make it right anyway! What this scripture tells us is that when we don’t forgive it will affect not only our prayers but also our relationship with God.
Jesus goes on in this portion of scripture to assert his authority and defuse the religious leader’s authority. He reveals their hearts to the crowd and puts them in their place. Jesus is the one in total control never forget that and his light shines on us revealing our hearts as well!
Matthew 11: 1-15 was the last scripture that we read and what stood out to me was verse 14. Jesus plainly told the crowd who John the Baptist was by saying this… “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”
What a mouthful…. “and if you are willing to accept it” what more can I say other than the one who follows Christ must be willing to accept what he says through his word to be true. It is either all true or none of it is true. There is no gray area with God, no compromise.
September 24, 2009
Wow this has been a crazy week for us! Monday morning we got the news that Jessi and Atlee’s dad had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. I went to school to pick up the kids and we headed for Fort Wayne. It was a familiar route because it was the one we took many times last year. When we got to the hospital all the sights, smells and sounds triggered a thousand memories.
Atlee commented that there were a lot of memories there as well. We headed up to the sixth floor on the elevator and saw a nurse that had taken care of Danni. She didn’t know who we were but I remembered her kindness. I went into the room first to check his condition before I brought in the kids. He was doing ok but his face was broken on the left side and he had lacerations all over from the road.
I went to get the kids and they came in and saw their dad. There was a few light moments as he joked with them and after a few minutes Jessi turned toward the door and said, “I think it’s time to go.” I watched her standing with her back to me in the doorway and something didn’t seem right, her shoulders were slumped over. I went to her to see if she was okay and her knees gave out and I caught her in my arms.
I lowered her to the floor and sat behind her as she leaned back into me. At that time she was very peaceful and seemed to be resting. It took a few minutes before she came around and she joked about having to move in with the fainting goats down the street. I think she was still kind of out of it but she was up on her feet and seemed to be alright.
Later as I thought about what had happened to her I realized that this was a picture of salvation. Her brokenness had worked its way to the surface and she fell back into my arms. This is what happens to us when in our brokenness we let go of everything and fall back into the loving arms of our Savior. He allows things to come into our lives not to punish us but so that we realize our brokenness and our need for him and finally let go and trust his strong arms to hold us. In this there is complete peace and we can rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Please pray for the kid’s dad that he will be restored inwardly and outwardly and pray for my children that they would be comforted and have great peace as their dad goes through surgery later this week or early next week.
2009 has been a blessed year for our family so far and I would like to share with you some of those many blessings. The pictures above say it all.
We took a wonderful trip to Florida in January and had a great time of bonding and fun (center pic).
My dad came to visit us and we had lots of good God talks while he was here. Mom is coming October 1-15 for her visit so we are excited about that. They do a tag team visit because they work together at their job and someone has to be there to hold down the fort. ( lower left pic, if you haven't already guessed).
The other pictures of flowers are to show how God has blessed me personally by giving me wonderful smelling flowers all summer long. (middle left pic) and the petunias at the top of the collage grew by themselves out of the crack between the sidewalk and front step. It was interesting to me that Danni liked to nap here occasionally and I have a picture of her doing so. I feel the need to mention that I have never had white petunias, I always buy brightly colored ones. This was a special gift to me that meant nothing to the rest of the world but meant a lot to me.
In October, Matt and I will also celebrate 4 wonderful years of marriage...(those pictures are yet to be made:})
I thank you, Jesus, for all the many blessings that you have poured out on us up till now and I know that there are many more in store for us as we continue to walk in your ways. I want to acknowledge your hand that took ours and helped our family through such a dark time. You are an awesome, faithful God and I love you very, very much. May you be praised forever more. Amen
September 17, 2009
God is stirring so much in my heart this morning about courage, faith and believing. Joshua is a favorite book of mine from the Bible. It was a huge help to me as I went through the struggles of this last year.
Today I was in chapters 13 and 14. Chapter 13 is all about the land that was yet to be taken by the Israelites, they were to possess the land that God had given them for an inheritance but they had work to do. God had instructed them to drive out the nations that lived there so that they could claim what was theirs.
Man, I love Caleb’s heart in chapter 14; I want to be like that now until the day I die! Listen to what he says in verses 7-8, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.”
There were two things I saw about Caleb’s heart here:
1. Caleb reported based on how he was convicted not according to what he saw. He had faith in God and his capabilities. Caleb knew his God and he knew his ways. He had seen his power displayed many times before and he believed that God would help him take the land.
2. Caleb followed his God wholeheartedly. He didn’t waver a bit.
In the King James Version it says that Caleb followed “wholly.” I looked up this word in the Strong’s concordance and the literal meaning of the root of this word is to fill, be full, to be full, fullness, abundance (participle) to be full, be accomplished, be ended to consecrate, fill the hand, to be filled, be armed, be satisfied, to be accomplished, be ended, to satisfy, to fulfill, accomplish, complete, to confirm, to be filled.
Wow, what a mouthful! This was Caleb’s attitude toward what God had promised them as a nation and he held to these convictions. He was 40 and in Joshua 14:10 he says now he is 85, so because the Israelites didn’t believe God and they feared they were forced to wander the desert for more than 40 years until every last one of that generation died and their children were given the land (read Numbers 14 and Deut. 1:19-46), but Caleb is still serving and believing God with everything within him.
What a punishment for the people at that time, they had already wandered in the desert for 40 years and now because they would not believe and they feared they were given another 40 plus years to just wander and then die. This is what unbelief and fear do in our lives. This is a stern warning to us today. If we can believe that Christ died for our sins and that in our belief we are saved, then why can’t we believe him for other things that he has promised?
What has God spoken to you? I am challenged today and I challenge you to be like Caleb and believe with all that is in you, God said it and it is so! It is unfortunate but true that Caleb and the people's children had to suffer because of the unbelief of the adults in the group. How does our unbelief affect not only us but those around us?
I don’t know about you but it seems to me that it is much easier to believe God than to work so hard under the taskmaster of unbelief. I don’t want to waste my life wandering in a no-man’s land never seeing what God has promised and I don’t want to die there either!
God has a grand plan and I believe I am part of it as are all of you who have believed in him and many of you who have yet to believe in him and I want to see it all! I want to live all that God has planned for me and I don’t want to miss a thing! How about you? ……..Then be brave and BELIEVE!
September 10, 2009
This week in our study we read from Daniel 5, John 17: 1-19, Acts 2 and Mark 11: 1-11. In Daniel 5 we saw the authority of God being displayed over an evil king of Babylon. Daniel is rewarded by the king for pronouncing judgment on him by reading the writing on the wall. God is in full control and he is righteous; allowing pride to rule over respect and humility where God is concerned is a deadly decision. We decided that we would rather humble ourselves as opposed to God humbling us.
John 17: 1-19 shows the heart of Jesus as he prays for himself, his disciples and other believers. In verse 3 Jesus puts life into perspective by saying, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” This is a powerful statement to show us the essence of eternal life that being to KNOW HIM! This is all that matters, if we know him, all of life falls into place. To know him must be our greatest urgency and priority in life.
Another interesting verse occurs in last half of John 17: 12, Jesus speaks of the one “doomed to destruction”. This was an interesting observation to us as it is not a generally accepted thought in the Christian society that there are those among us who are doomed to destruction. Judas was hand- picked by God for the very task of betraying Jesus. Judas was a devout disciple; he hung out with Jesus every day. He saw the miracles and he heard Jesus teach right from his own lips and yet here he is “doomed to destruction.” We talked about the fact that if there is no darkness we cannot perceive the light. God allowed darkness so that his light shines ever brighter and he receives all the glory.
Verse 15 may be a bit disturbing as well to those who believe in a “rapture” of the church. Here Jesus himself prays for his disciples (those who believe and adhere to the teaching of Jesus) that they NOT be taken out of the world but that they be protected from the evil one. I think that whether we are “raptured” or whether we go through tribulation doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we have eternal life as Jesus stated in John 17: 3, that we KNOW HIM and are prepared for his return. In our fast paced society we want everything to be easy and we want it now. Could there be a similarity between the “rapture” doctrine and the way we live? This is a question for the Holy Spirit.
Acts chapter 2 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible; I love it because the power of the Holy Spirit is on display! We discussed the reason for this display and came up with several reasons. The power was displayed to:
1. Prove to the people who had followed Jesus and the world that he was who he said he was. (Verse 36)
2. The power is shown to convict the hearts of the unbelievers and reveal their sin to them in order that they should repent and be saved! (Verse 38)
3. As all these people were speaking in the different native tongues of all the nationalities in Jerusalem at that time it was a sign that the salvation that Jesus died to bring us and baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone. (Verse 39)
It was a revelation to me to come to the understanding that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is to help people believe and receive salvation. It doesn’t matter what the manifestation is be it healing, deliverance, speaking in tongues, or a million other ways God may choose, the whole point is to show people that God is real and he is who he says he is! The display of the Spirit’s power in my life was made clear to me and others around me as I walked with Danni through her time of cancer. This same power made itself known in Danni as well. I said many, many times as people asked me how I was doing it that it wasn’t me but the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me and in Danni! This is the truth and I experienced it! I give God the Glory and believe in him!
Mark 11:1-11 is the triumphal entry of Jesus. The people proclaimed prophetically with shouts of “Hosanna in the Highest” that Jesus came to save us. The whole study this week related to the coming of Christ and our readiness. Jesus will come triumphant again only this time in a spectacular display of power and majesty! Will you be ready? Will I be ready? Do we really know him?
Ask him to come into your heart today, confess your sins to him…he knows all about them anyway he sees everything, and believe in him. Ask him for the Holy Spirit to baptize you and fill you and get to know him, don’t put it off we have no guarantee of our next breath. Today is the day of Salvation. Now is the time.
September 3, 2009
I confess that recently I’ve been having some trouble writing, it doesn’t seem to come from my heart and I struggle to finish an article without picking it to pieces and changing it over and over. It seems like when I took a step of faith to put the blog together in book form to have it published, that discouragement came in and took over almost grinding me to a complete halt in all my writing efforts which is one of the things that I am passionate about.
As I read Mark chapter 3, I was puzzled as to what the Lord was trying to say to me so I went about some daily chores to let the word sink in and give it time as I was meditating on it. I decided to listen to the radio and a pastor was speaking about discouragement and it made me think about the issues I’ve been having with writing. This pastor spoke about how discouragement came to the people who were trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah.
They were trying to do something for God and faced opposition, frustration, exhaustion and discouragement. Then it hit me, here was Jesus in Mark 3 trying to be about the work that the Father had given him to do and he faces stubborn hearts which made him angry and deeply distressed him. (Mark 3:5) and the Pharisees wanted to kill him (Mark 3:6). Through all of this Jesus responded by heading for the lake to find renewing for himself and the disciples. I think he recognized that it was time to withdraw and regroup.
The enemy was working hard against his efforts, he sent demons and scores of diseased people to crowd around Jesus trying to wear him down and stress him out and what does he do but go to the mountains to continue the work the Father had called him to (Mark 3:13). The enemy is relentless crowding them again and again even so much that the word says at one point they couldn’t even eat (Mark 3:20).
When the enemy sees that this plan of action isn’t ruffling Jesus at all he sends in the big guns. His own family thinks he’s nuts and comes to collect him. What does Jesus do? He doesn’t even acknowledge the enemy’s attempts but keeps plugging away (Mark 3:21, 31-34). Satan is like a fly that buzzes constantly through the people around Jesus trying to bring him down and discourage him. He is provoking Jesus and even goes so far as to incite the teachers of the Law against him to say he has demons!
I envision him calm and cool as a cucumber as he looks at his accusers and asserts his authority warning them that they are about to cross the unforgiveable line. I can just imagine the look on his face and the faces of his accusers as he exposes their foolishness to the people (Mark 3:23-30). Jesus doesn’t let the enemy hold him back and neither should I! With his help, I can do whatever he asks of me in any situation and so can you!
What have I learned about watching Jesus deal with opposition, frustration, exhaustion and discouragement? I should withdraw to a peaceful place in God until I have gained strength, keep plugging away at what God has given me to do, and don’t even acknowledge the attempts made by the enemy to discourage me. I should also stand on the firm foundation of who I am in Christ.
This is a tall order but nothing is impossible with God at my side or at your side! With God’s help all things are possible! I am greatly encouraged today and I will persevere in God as Jesus did. Again I am reminded of Danni’s words as she lay in her hospital bed unable to get up… “Trust God and never give up!”
August 28, 2009
Before bible study I had decided to try my hand at fish on the grill, it was a disaster. When I was done I had a huge pile of half cooked fish and the rest of it was stuck to the grill. Fortunately my family was gracious to me and enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches instead.
This is like what happens in life when I try to do things on my own. I make a huge mess of things. I was so frustrated and I got down on myself. I was thankful for our time of study which pulled me back on track and revealed that my thoughts had not been of the best things like Phil. 4:8 – 9 says.
This week as we read our first scriptures from 1 John 1-2, God began to do a work in my heart. We read about light and darkness and the love of the world. I was convicted when I realized that a lot of my thoughts center on worldly things. I made an adjustment in my thinking (repented) about the will of God verses my will. I saw it as all or nothing, in order for his will to be done my will has to completely die. I love how the Holy Spirit comes with his sweet conviction to keep us on target. He is reliable and I can trust him.
In reading Ephesians Chapter 3, I saw something I’ve never seen before; the prayer that Paul is offering on behalf of the people is so powerful. Verse 12 in particular revolutionized the way I will pray from now on. I can come with confidence and freedom to the very throne of God with every thought. As we were reading, John 10: 7-9 came to mind and I realized that I must pass through the “Gate” to get to the throne room. Because of Jesus, the “Gate,” I can have direct access to the Father’s attention.
It was amazing to me as I thought about this path to the Father in my prayer time. I felt very close to God and I had confidence in my prayers rather than just putting them out there somewhere. I had focus and joy filled me. I know without a doubt that the Father heard me. This isn’t some magic prayer formula but it did help me to visualize my position in Christ as I prayed.
As we went on I was so encouraged by Judges 6 and the story of Gideon. I can relate to him. He just wanted to be sure that God was with him and he was doing God’s will. In my own life, I have the same desires. I’m not interested in just being out there doing my own thing. I used to be very independent and I made a total wreck of my life.
Through my recent experiences with my daughter I’ve found that my heart has been changed to one that waits on the Lord in everything. In my experience, I’ve seen that if I wait on him instead of running ahead and doing my own thing he works situations out for me.
This doesn’t mean that I do nothing, I just do what he tells me and I don’t sweat the rest. Most times I think God works in spite of me. My goal is to be totally surrendered to him and be content in all aspects of life and this is all the work of the Spirit in me not because I can do it on my own.
I don’t always get it perfect as the first paragraph or so of this blog clearly points out. Finally, Philippians 4:4-9 sums up how I am to live life, rejoicing, praising, being thankful, prayerful and allowing only good things to consume my thoughts which definitely take constant power from the Spirit. I am not capable of this kind of living without Jesus.
So many days, I sit here and wait upon him hanging on every word. Or, I go about my day doing things around the house or working in my office always with a listening ear to the Father. I just want to do things to please him. He has brought my heart to this point. Sometimes I don’t realize he has been speaking to me until later when I have a “duh” moment, but the Holy Spirit is faithful and he wants me to “get it,” to understand and hear.
Jesus wants to give all his disciples understanding and he wants our eyes and ears focused on him constantly. We must remain in him at all times, this is how I have been challenged this week and I hope you have been too. God Bless
August 20, 2009
As I was walking through the park today, I was praying to the Lord asking him what it was he wanted me to do about a certain situation I’m facing. The Lord’s answer to me was that he wanted me simply to believe him, believe that he could handle the situation and that he could provide. The scripture Matthew 6:24-35 came to mind as God gently reminded me that he knows what my needs are and that I am valuable to him.
When scripture is tucked away in your heart God has the ability to bring it to your remembrance at any time for his use and our benefit. What a powerful tool that cannot be taken away from us. I said to the Lord, “Well, if I’m not supposed to worry about all that, then what am I supposed to think about?” This was a dumb question but God was merciful to my pea brain and Philippians 4:8 rose in my heart. And I heard, “think about me!” Duh! Of course, thoughts of Jesus would be the perfect place for my mind during the day and Philippians 4:8 describes him to a tee.
I posed more questions to the Lord, “How do I believe? Am I doing it right? What does it look like to believe?” A picture came to my mind and I watched God reach out his hand to me, slowly I lifted my hand and cautiously placed my hand in his. “This is what believing me looks like,” he said to me, “you’ve done it many times, just put your hand in mine when you begin to doubt or fear tries to take over your thoughts and I will help you.”
What an awesome answer to my questions! I’m simple and I work best with pictures so that’s what God often uses to help me understand. He’s so kind and gentle. I wanted to share this today because I know that I am not the only one who struggles with believing God. Yet, this is vital to our walk with him. We must believe and have faith or the word says we won’t be pleasing to him.
Thank you for your kindness to me today, Lord, and for helping me to understand your ways and your heart in a deeper way. I give you praise, may this word help someone today. Amen
August 18, 2009
As I thought about the comment from the last blog and my answer to the question posed about another site two other scriptures came to mind.
In John 14:26, Jesus says "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you." In his passage from John 14:15-26, Jesus is reassuring us that we can rely on the Holy Spirit.
Also, 1 John 2:27 says, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him."
The Holy Spirit is real and he is faithful to teach us all things. We can and should rely upon him for every issue of life. He won't lead us astray. We can trust him to make things clear. I wonder what his opinion would be? Interesting thought, I think I'll ask him! :}
August 17, 2009
Whew! We’ve had a busy weekend with the kids doing last minute family fun things and getting them ready for school. Thursday was wonderful as usual, we sat out on the patio and enjoyed the beautiful weather as we broke the bread of the word together.
We began with Deuteronomy 6 reading about how God expects us to love him and teach our children to love him. God encouraged the people to write the scriptures everywhere even to tie symbols of them on our foreheads and hands. God wanted the people to think about his word constantly from the time they got up to the time they went to bed and even as they lay in their beds.
God told the people that he would provide for every need but that the people needed to be obedient to his laws. Everything must be done God’s way, there is no gray area where he’s concerned and no compromise. I’m thinking about the way he provided for us during our time last year with Danni, we constantly went to him on everything. He was and still is the framework of our lives. Everything revolves around God and his purposes.
When my focus strays a bit to the right or the left he is there to say, “Just look at me.” It is almost like I’m walking a tightrope over a vast expanse and if I look down I lose my balance. This is the way we should live our lives, without him we perish and die. Deuteronomy 6:5 shows us what God should be everything to us.
James 5 talks about the dangers of hoarding wealth in the last days, we don’t realize the times we are living in and the importance of being able to hear the Spirit speaking to us. Wealth cannot be relied upon. Money is fleeting and a cruel task master if you let it be. This is a time to be following the Lord with patience as James 5:7 says, standing firm in what we believe.
It is a time to examine what it is we believe and know why we believe those things. It is a time to be praying and living by faith and not by what we see. Jesus is coming quickly, we must be prepared and alert!
Nothing is out of God’s control, everything happens for his plan and purpose and our good if we love him. Luke 2 was all about the predestination of the life of Jesus. Everything about Jesus’ life was predetermined by his Father for the purpose of the redemption of God’s people. Everything about the lives of Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna was also woven together for God’s purposes in his intricate plan.
Why do we think that our lives won’t be the same? If there are those of you that think that God doesn’t care about the little things of life, just look around. Look at the detail in nature and then say that God doesn’t care about the little things. Every detail is planned and right on schedule.
Ephesians 1& 2 pounds predestination, nothing is by accident! These scriptures are power packed and worth reading several times. I especially like chapter 2 verses 8 & 9, it makes it very clear that we had little to do with our salvation but that it was all about God and his choices not ours.
It throws a beacon of light into our very thoughts and heart motives; NOTHING WE DO GETS US SAVED. WE ARE SAVED BECAUSE GOD WANTS US TO BE! This is a process that comes from God through us not from us pushing works out of us. Even the works we are to do are predestined for us (see Eph.2:10)! For everything God calls us to do, he will provide everything we need. No worries!
The last part of Ephesians 2 shows us how we have become one with the Jewish people by the power of Christ’s blood being built together as one house for God to dwell in. Even Luke chapter 2 verse 32 echoes these words as Simeon prophesies over Jesus as an infant that he would be “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” God has a plan and a purpose; our job is to believe and trust in him and he will take care of all the details.
I recently had a picture in my mind of me climbing a ladder, one rung at a time and God was behind me encouraging me to keep going up and up. At one point I began to get tired and he said to me, “ Lean back into me,” and as I did he held onto the ladder around me giving me rest.
God has our back, he is in control but we must be sensitive to his Spirit and be obedient and fully committed to doing things his way. These are precarious times in which we are living and we know from the word that things will become progressively harder. He’s teaching me to lean on him, trust in him, and believe him when directs my heart. I believe this is something he wants to do in all of his children’s lives, so if he calls to you today, make time for him…your life will depend on it.
August 8 2009
This week the study began in James 1 and it was appropriate that it began with words of encouragement not to doubt and but to persevere under trial. We learned that God doesn’t tempt us but he will use the enemy to test us even as he did Job.
In verse 21 it is clear that we “… must humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Could it be that when we doubt and don’t believe that it is our pride getting in the way? We discussed the fact that either ALL the word is real and it works or we might as well scrap the whole thing. I remember facing this question in my own life when the mountain of brain cancer was before us. We must humble ourselves and believe.
Verse 22 gives a warning that we must not be ones who just hear the word and go on with life, no, the word is there that we should be obedient to it in its entirety! You can’t pick and choose because this is a form of doubt which this chapter says will make you double-minded and unstable in all you do. Either you believe or you do not believe… no gray.
Then we moved on to Matthew 7 which instructed us not to judge others, have persistence when in prayer, and believe. It’s easy to give up too soon but God wants our full attention and he will wait until we get serious with him. Verse 12 is put with this prayer section for a reason; how we treat other people is important to God and our prayer/answered prayer process.
We learned that “…narrow is the road …and only a few find it,” I have recently heard of a mamby pamby “gospel” that says there are other ways to eternal life and that God wouldn’t let so many people go to hell. This is trash from the pit of hell. Jesus says in John 14:6 (NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me…” This is clear! Don’t be deceived! God doesn’t want anyone to perish but he is holy and righteous and things must be done HIS WAY! JESUS!
This led perfectly into the next few verses about how to tell a false prophet by his fruit. We need to be very aware especially in these days. Don’t just take what someone says to you as gospel! You have direct access to the throne of God, USE IT! Think for yourself and take everything to God for confirmation. Use the word as a ruler and if what’s being said doesn’t match up, chuck it! It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop letting all the voices of the world and the cunning adversary tell us how we should believe or that we can’t believe. The Word of God is the moral absolute and without it we will compromise our souls.
Listen, if we don’t know the “Rock” and we haven’t built the house of our lives upon him, we will never make it through the storms of life. This is what Matthew 7:24-27 is all about. We must be building our relationship with him little by little every day! You may not think that the word is doing anything in your life until you are faced with insurmountable circumstances…then you will see what God’s word has done! Persevere, keep reading and studying and praying and asking and believing because this is for a time in the future when you will need everything that you have learned so …LEARN WELL…you’re spirit and others may depend on it.
I know this is a long one but hang in there; it’s worth your time. Next we went to Romans 2:17-28; who are the Jews became the question of the hour. Paul addresses the “better than thou” attitudes of the people and shows them through this passage that the people who called themselves Jews were Jews by race but not by heart and that the whoever believed and had the flesh taken away from their hearts by believing in Jesus were the true Jews.
Paul is also clear to point out that it is by the Spirit that all this comes in a person’s life not by the do’s and don’ts of religion. So through all this we discovered that if we have received Jesus as Savior and he has changed our hearts then we are the Jews, God’s chosen people.
We then went to Romans 9 to discover who the Israelites are and who Abraham’s children are. Verses 6 -26 would have been bold words at the time and really they still are today. Paul sheds light on who’s who pulling all people together to God giving the explanation that it is because God is God and he is in control that he can do what he wants and thank God he does! Again this has nothing to do with race but it is all about the heart.
All this gave us a new perspective on reading the bible, you have to know who you are in Christ and that none of it comes because you wanted it or because you do such great things but because of the work of the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ which we gained through HIS death and resurrection and NO OTHER WAY!
We then read Ephesians 1: 4-13 to find out the truth about who we are and the assurance of the salvation which we have obtained through believing in Christ. These are not empty boastful words that I speak but scripture, it is the truth about who we are in Christ and it’s time for us to believe it and walk in it.
Last but not least we returned to Romans 8, read the entire chapter if you want…its all good but we started in 18 and read to 27. This talked about our groaning world and bodies that long to loose from the bonds of decay. It also brought “hope” into clear view. Verse 24 clearly states that because of the hope we have and (vs. 23) because of what Christ did on the cross we WERE saved. (Hey, I’m just quoting the word; God said it I believe it no doubting involved.) The word “were” indicates that it has already been accomplished. (Go back to Romans 9 1-5 and you’ll see what is ours and who it came by).
We discussed that if it is raining you can’t say I hope it will rain. That is no hope at all because it’s already raining! (End of verse 24) I like the way verse 25 is put in the Complete Jewish Bible version, it really brings it into focus, it says, “but if we continue hoping for something we don’t see, then we still wait eagerly for it, with perseverance.”
When I planted my watermelon seeds I believed they would grow but I didn’t see the growth so I waited eagerly for them to pop through the ground. This is the same kind of expectancy we wait with (only WAY MORE INTENSE) for the return of our Messiah and the fullness of all he will bring. Hallelujah!
Hope this helps, have a great rest of the week!
July 31, 2009
Greetings Believers! Here are some nuggets we gleaned from the bible study for daily life in Him. I pray that God will speak something to you as he did to us.
We began week 6 in 2 Timothy Chapter 2, there were many different things that were mentioned in this chapter to teach us all about living out what we say we believe. God was giving instructions though Paul to Timothy concerning many different situations that may come up in his time of ministry.
Verse two is important as Paul is telling Timothy to entrust his teachings to reliable men who can also teach others…Paul knew that one man can’t do it all and that there must be a sharing of the responsibility. He reminds Timothy that he is to behave as a soldier, athlete and/or farmer in regards to pleasing God and living by his principles. (Vs.4-7).
Paul was enduring hardship in chains in order that the elect would obtain salvation. (vs10) Am I willing to endure hardship for that purpose as well?
The saying in verse 13 especially caught my eye that no matter what God is faithful (this is my paraphrase)! How true!
We also must be people who correctly handle the word of truth (vs. 15) and the only way to be able to do that is to study the word of truth! I would like to challenge you as we were to think about what your plan of action would be if tribulation came upon the church today and we couldn’t do “church as usual”. Do you know the word well enough to handle it correctly? It is a sharp two-edged sword and it can cut others and ourselves deeply. It is also a powerful tool to protect and encourage you during hard times.
Verses 14, 16, and 19 talk about getting into “stupid” arguments over words. I think Paul is saying, “time to grow up church!” Verses24-26 shows how servants of the Lord are to conduct themselves when confronted with an argument of opposition in order that... “God will grant them (those who oppose) repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,” (NIV vs.25) People are watching us (believers) to see if we are who we say we are and if what we say we believe is real.
Another interesting side point is that we can’t even repent unless God grants it to us.
God then led us to Exodus 19, here again God is giving his man of the hour, Moses, instruction. Moses suffers for the people going up and down the mountain and entering into places others fear to tread so that they may be spared. God is Holy and we are to fear him with awe and respect. Things are to be done as he commands.
Sometimes I think the general consensus among believers is that we have the grace of God and therefore we don’t have to live exactly as the bible instructs us to. Can’t we have a little fun? I had an experience this week that I’d like to share. I took my kids school shopping and on the way they wanted to listen to secular music. Some songs came on the radio that I remembered from my youth and I said to my kids that they were good songs…until I actually heard the lyrics…YIKES!
Later that evening we were watching a show about a particular bounty hunter dude who shall remain nameless who says Jesus this and Jesus that and with his next breath says things quite the contrary. Now I am in no way judging this man because we all have things that God is working out of our lives, however, what this experience did do was to show me how my little compromises and having a little “fun” could ruin my testimony in the eyes of others. This reminds me of 2 Timothy 2 that we had read previously.
Bottom line is that God gives us instructions within his word about his holiness and how we are to live for a reason that being to live in such a way as to bring glory and honor to God. By the way, if you are reading this you must either have a test coming or there are some areas that God is speaking to you about and you know them as I did.
Don’t be like the people in Exodus 20:18-21 who didn’t want to go near to God on their own and just wanted to hear what God had to say through Moses. Listen to the encouragement of Moses in verse 20, “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
And verse 21 says… “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” It is sad in a way that the people chose not to draw near to God on their own but it is an encouragement to see that in the midst of the darkest thickest blackness God is there.
If you are wondering what I did about the music thing, here’s what happened…the Lord granted me repentance and I went to my children and repented before them for my compromise. They were loving and gracious with me as always and instantly forgave me. It was a wonderful teaching moment for all of us on the subject of compromise.
Please hear me, I don’t think secular music is bad but I am personally convicted that for my life it does no good. If I am going to have a song stuck in my head I want it to be full of praise for Jesus!
July 24, 2009
Wow, this week was awesome! Here’s the list…James3: 13-18, James 4:1-10, Psalms 37, Jeremiah 12, Judges 3, Matthew 25: 1-13, and Daniel 10.
James 3: 13-18 – Two kinds of Wisdom. Where are we getting our wisdom? Under what spirit’s influence are we living our lives? The bible is very clear about the two sources being either good or evil and they are easy to recognize.
James 4: 1-10 – These first few verses give a clear picture of someone who is living life from evil wisdom and the last few give us the way to godly wisdom. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Vs.6) Here we learned that we are to be humble before the Lord and this theme carried on throughout the evening. I’d also like to note that in verse 9, God wants us to get serious!
Psalm 37 gave us further examples of wisdom and instruction about living like God wants us to live. Chapter 37 was packed with promises and advise about the wicked. It seems like some people can live like the devil and have everything go their way. But Psalm 37 makes it clear what will happen to the wicked…they won’t get away with their wickedness and God will make sure of that.
There were many action words in this psalm and there are things we need to do on our part some of these words are…Trust verse 3, delight (4), commit (5), be still (7), refrain (8), turn (21), and wait (34). There were wonderful promises associated with these action words, check it out.
Jeremiah 12 fit beautifully with Psalm 37 as Jeremiah is frustrated about the wicked always getting their way. He complains to God about this even going so far as to tell God to butcher them like sheep! (vs.3) He vents his anger to God and God responds in verses 9 to the end of the chapter by saying…(my paraphrase) look, Jeremiah, if these little things distract you and make you mad what will you do when life really gets tough!?
God goes on to explain to Jeremiah just how he will deal with the wicked, first from among his own people and then from other nations. God ends with compassion for the wicked saying in verses 15-17 that he will restore anyone who does things his way but if they want to continue with their own ways they will be destroyed.
Judges 3 shows the crazy cycle that we all get on when idols get in the way of our relationship with God.
1. The people worshipped idols therein being disobedient to God (literally having an affair in his eyes).
2. God would send a nation to take them into captivity and slavery.
3. The people would cry out to God.
4. God would send someone to deliver them.
Not just in Judges can you see this cycle but it goes on and on throughout the bible and also in our own lives. In our society, we are enslaved to such things as payments, fatty bodies, food, money, credit card companies, trends, drugs, alcohol and the list goes on. We become slaves to the very things we worship just as the Israelites did.
Matthew 25: 1-13 reminded us to be ready and watching on every occasion for Jesus to return. I wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared when Jesus came, that would be very foolish. We touched on the fact that verse 5 says that all ten virgins were asleep. The virgins represent the church as we are the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7-8, 21: 1-4)
Some were ready in a moments notice and some were not but even the ones who were ready were sleeping at the time. No one will have this thing down perfect but when the trumpet sounds it is too late to get serious about your faith in God.
Finally in Daniel 10, Daniel receives a revelation about future events from a man, but not just any man. This scripture shows us our frailty in the presence of God. Daniel becomes weak and falls on his face before the presence of God.
It is only as the man (Jesus) speaks to him that he gains strength enough to stand but even then Daniel says in verse 17 that he can’t even speak and is barely breathing. Again the man speaks to Daniel and as the words “peace, be strong now, be strong” are spoken he regains enough energy to speak.
We talked about how this is also a perfect representation of Ephesians 6:12 from last week. Without God we are nothing and cannot fight in the spiritual realm, even this man needed help!
We are to use the wisdom God gives us, to live godly lives pleasing to our Savior. It’s time to let the things of this world go that so easily ensnare us and run the race marked out for us from the beginning of time. It is a warning to every member of the Body of Christ to know him and be watching and ready for his return.
It is a cry from the heart of God to those who don’t know him to humble themselves before him and come to know him! In these end days, there is no more time for games! It’s time for every believer to live the life we’ve been called to and stop making excuses. This was a very sobering study for us but very necessary. I’m glad for the discipline of God that tells me of his love for me.
July 18, 2009
This week our study was from Jeremiah 33: 1-11, Genesis 12:1-9, Genesis 2: 2-3, John 14: 1-14, Ephesians 6:10-18, Matthew 4: 1-11, and Proverbs 3.
There were several things that the Lord was teaching us this week and as promised here are the highlights. Once again we were in awe how the Holy Spirit organized his word to bring us a message.
We began with Jeremiah 33: 1-11 these scriptures refer to the restoring of God’s people. He wants to restore us, heal us and bless us but he will deal with sin. The verse that came out the most was verse 3 in which God says to his people “…Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
This fit beautifully with the Genesis 12:1-9 in which Abram is called by God to go by faith to a land God will show him. A blessing is also given to Abram and he obeys. Genesis 2:2-3 was about God resting from his creating. If God rested then surely we ought to rest as well. The rest of chapter two is about how God created man and woman…he formed us from the dust! He knows us inside and out.
John 14 pulled things together because here Jesus comforts his disciples telling about where he is going. He even goes so far as to tell them that they know the way to where he is going (vs. 4) and this sparks a question. Good ole Thomas is brave enough to ask in verse 5 which gives Jesus the open door “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” is Jesus’ answer. As his disciples call unto Jesus for an answer he reveals to them “great and unsearchable things.”
They are as Abram leaving all they knew following Jesus and he lovingly restores them to life through himself. Beautiful. Here is how the Old Testament promises God made come to life and this continues every day through each one of his people who follow him. Jesus continues to speak the truth to them by revealing to them who he is and who they are and the broad scope of what God will do through them!
1. Call to God and he will tell you things you don’t know; God wants to restore his people.
2. God blesses Abram and calls to him to go by faith to a place God will show him.
3. If God rested we can too. God formed us, he knows us intimately. God is in control.
4. Jesus is the way that we should go! God calls us and then by his sovereign hand leads and restores us but the only way is through Jesus.
5. If we know Jesus then we know the Father and He wants to do great things through those who know and follow him.
Then at this point the conversation seemed to switch gears to temptation and how to handle things that are thrown at us by the Adversary. Ephesians 6: 10-18 clearly shows us that we don’t battle against people so there is no need to take offense against anyone but that our battle is against “…rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (vs. 12)
There is a very real spiritual demention to life. We tend to live on the physical level but most of where the battle of life takes place is on the spiritual level. We talked about the armor that God has given us and how it protects us from the enemy.
It was interesting to us that in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was LED into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted. The question arose, “Does the Holy Spirit lead us to a place to be tempted?” Is this why Jesus teaches us to pray not to be led into temptation but to be delivered from evil in Matthew 6:9? Jesus does not resist the temptation on his own but says “It is written,” using the word of God (the sword of the Spirit from Ephesians 6).
If Jesus had to use the armor and weapons of God for spiritual warfare why do we think we can just handle things on our own? No wonder we get beat up and fail when temptation comes our way! Finally, we talked about wisdom, knowledge and understanding and how when we have these three we can easily see the underlying battle and quickly go to the Lord for help.
Proverbs 3 speaks of the value of all three of these qualities and how they help us in our every day battle to live in such a way that brings us life, prosperity and peace. It shows us how much we need God and his ways to make through this perilous journey.
God wants to restore us and bless us but sin has to go and Jesus is the way! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord and he is always in control. If you find yourself in a place of temptation remember how Jesus responded and swing the sword of the Spirit cutting down to the truth of the matter. The word of God is powerful and it is our defense! Quickly turn to Jesus because he is the way!
July 10, 2009
Week 3 of the bible study produced these results…the scriptures we read were:
Mark 11, Romans 12, Joshua 9 and Leviticus 10: 1-11. We had scriptures coming from every corner of the bible and yet once again they all fit together beautifully.
Mark 11 was where we began and the things that stood out to us in this chapter were:
Jesus tells his disciples to get a colt and without question they obey and find things just as Jesus said. Jesus comes into Jerusalem as the people, whether they understand the full meaning of what they are saying or not, acknowledge that Christ is the Savior. Then the gears seem to switch as Jesus curses the fig tree because it doesn’t have any fruit and then cleans the temple clock so to speak.
As Jesus goes out of the city past the same fig tree that has now withered, his disciples are amazed and it’s almost like Jesus says forget about the tree have faith in God this is just an illustration to teach you about believing and praying for something in faith. Faith and obedience runs throughout these scriptures. Trust in God!
We had a laugh over how Jesus handled the chief priests, teachers and elders in Matthew 11:27-33. They come to him thinking they have the authority and Jesus lets them know who is really in control! I love it! But we do the same thing when we come to God and say, “God! Why are you doing this?” Implying without thinking the question, by what authority do you do this to me? And the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t have to answer any of our questions, He is God.
In Romans 12, we were reminded of how we should act toward other people even if they wrong us. We learned that no one is above another and that we all have a part in God’s plan. Forgiveness is important if we want to be forgiven by the Father and revenge is God’s territory to deal with.
So to add to the thread, we have lessons in trust, faith, obedience, humbleness, and forgiveness. Sounds like we we’re off to a good start!
Joshua 9 is the story of how the Israelites got deceived by the Gibeonites because verse 14 says “… (The men of Israel) did not inquire of the Lord.” Long story short the Israelites made a treaty with these people and caused a lot of trouble for themselves down the road all because they didn’t ask the Lord what they were to do.
From here I think it’s safe to add to the ribbon of wisdom that we should continually ask the Lord about situations that arise especially where we think deception may be in operation in order to save us a lot of grief.
Leviticus 10:1-11 is an interesting story about two of Aarons sons who didn’t do things God’s way and were fried by him! Their father Aaron and his other two sons watched as God dealt with their disrespect and sloppy disobedience. Moses reminded Aaron that God’s judgments were righteous and that he should not mourn his sons who had been fried by the Lord’s presence.
Interesting enough in verse 7 Moses warns Aaron that he shouldn’t leave the Tent of Meeting because he would die because the Lord’s anointing oil was on him and after some other instruction he told Aaron that he must teach all the Israelites all that he had just learned.
To bring all this together we learned about trust, faith, obedience, humbleness, and forgiveness. We learned that no matter how we are treated we must leave that in God’s hand. We also learned to ask God what to do in situations where we feel that there may be deception involved before we make decisions.
And last but not least…God is Holy and he and his ways will be respected and obeyed and that experiences we’ve had with God must be taught to others in the faith. I’m sure that there was a lot more in the depths of the scriptures we studied but this is what the Holy Spirit revealed to us at the time and I have a feeling that there is more to come!
I love how God is leading us into very foundational things and putting them deep within us to build upon.
July 5, 2009
It’s been a long weekend since we had our bible study but here are the scriptures the Lord led us to and what the Lord was saying to his Body. Ephesians 4:1-16, John 5: 16-47, Matthew 13 1:23, and Galatians 6:2
To recap last week’s bible study we learned that evangelism is simply speaking to others at the appointed time what God has done in our lives. God gives the “breath” or life and he is in control.
Ephesians 4 1-16: We are all one in the Body of Christ and God holds the body together (vs.6). We each have different gifts in dealing with people and we must work together to be the most efficient. It’s time to mature and not be children anymore in the things we believe. Speak truth to one another in love and remember again that God is in control.
This scripture spoke to us of who we are and the gifts God has given to each one of us for the purpose of building others up in the Lord to strengthen the Body. It was the overview of what God was speaking.
John 5:16-47 were words spoken from Jesus concerning the work that he was doing. We found it very interesting that in verses 19 and 30 Jesus tells the people that he can do nothing by himself but that it is the Father working through him. If Jesus can do nothing by himself then surely we ought to have the same attitude but often we think we can just handle things on our own.
The Father was in complete control even of the Son. The Father and the Son both give life and raise the dead. There are two kinds of dead people. Verse 24 says (NIV), “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
The first kind of dead are those who are walking around who have not heard the word and believed in Christ. They are dead men walking. They have not crossed over from death to life. You must be one who is not in the grave to hear and believe. Jesus goes on to tell the people that “… the time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” (Vs.25 NIV)
Jesus is speaking to the people right then about himself but as we will see some heard (or understood) what he was saying and some didn’t. Jesus goes on to tell the people that he is the one who judges who will receive and have life and who won’t. That sure blows the “God box” doesn’t it?
Jesus continues his teaching about the other kind of dead in verse 28 and he says “…for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and COME OUT!” (Emphasis mine). WOO HOO! This is my personal favorite kind because Danni will be coming with them!! HALLELUIA!!
So, in order to hear up to this point what God was and is saying is simply this…we who are “alive to Christ” have gifts and a job to do to encourage those who are in Christ and speak the gospel to those who are with us as “dead men walking”. It is God who is control and does the work and he decides who, what, when and where. We just need to have an understanding of the challenge we are faced with and a willing and obedient heart.
The Holy Spirit went on to teach us in Matthew 13: 1-23 about the different ways that people receive or don’t receive the gospel and why.
In verses 3 & 4, a farmer is sowing seed and some of it falls on the path and gets eaten by birds. Jesus explains in verse 19 that these are people who hear but don’t understand the word and Satan comes and steals it from them.
Verse 5 & 6 says that the seed falls on rocky places where there isn’t much soil but it springs up only to be scorched by the sun because the soil is shallow and the plants don’t have any roots. Verse 20 sheds light on the deeper meaning of this verse speaking about the person who receives the word with joy but because the seed doesn’t take root his enthusiasm for God lasts only a short time.
Verse 7 talks of the seed that has fallen into thorns and is choked out; the meaning of this comes in verse 22. These are people that the worries of life and their wealth stop them from growing in their knowledge and understanding of the word.
The last is who we all want to be (vs. 8) the good soil multiplying a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown into it. The answer comes in verse 23, “… is the man who hears the word and understands it.” This man is promised a bumper crop! It is a done deal! These are laws and principles of the Kingdom of God.
There are promising and warning words that Jesus speaks to his disciples in verse 12, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Here again Jesus is asserting his control as he is the “judge” of these things as we learned in John 5. As a side note, further down in Matthew 13 is the story of the mustard seed and I encourage you to take some time and think about this parable and verse 12 together.
Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 in this passage citing people who close their ears, eyes and hearts not wanting to hear or see what God wants to speak to them. Doing this causes their hearts to become calloused over time so that they can barely see, hear or understand God’s words to them. One more time Jesus conveys his control over the matter telling the disciples that these things were being revealed to them but not to others. (Vs.17).
I can see how God is building from the last bible study to now and I greatly anticipate hearing his voice again next week. I want to acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit who is guiding us as I have no virtue within myself and I thank him for his great grace that he so freely gives to us, the Body of Christ.
God is not one to play favorites and the same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus, John, Peter, Paul, and the list goes on is the same Holy Spirit in you and me teaching and training us for what is to come. I am humbled to sit and learn more about him from him.
July 1, 2009
We have recently crossed the 6 month bridge from Danni's day of healing.
I just want to say thank you to Mona who sent me her loving words.
Your kindness to me brought tears to my eyes and God's love to my heart. Thank you for your obedience to him, your words came with his perfect timing.
God's blessings to your and yours,
June 26, 2009
We had a wonderful time at our first bible study last night and we will continue to have it every Thursday at 6:30 pm. All are welcome. The following are some highlights from last nights study.
John 3:1-8, John 20:21-22, Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalms 42 and 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.
These were all scriptures that the Lord had spoken to us individually during the day and when we came together it was beautiful to see how the Lord had fit them all together.
John 3:1-8: Jesus wants us to be converted or born again in the spirit; spirit gives birth to spirit. It is the spirit of a man that needs to change and it is God's spirit that does this miraculous work. If we try to change ourselves in our flesh we will only "give birth" to more fleshly ways.
John 20:21-22: Jesus breathes on his disciples after his Resurrection and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit living within us that changes us and equips us to be sent out to others.
Genesis 2:7: Man is formed but does not come to life until God breathes into him. The Holy Spirit is life to us and we are dead men walking without his presence in our lives.
Ezekiel 37:1-14: God directs Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones to come to life and they assemble themselves but are not living until God directs Ezekiel to prophesy again for the men to be breathed into by God's Spirit. God says in verse 14 that he will "put his spirit in them and they will live..."
It is God that gives us every breath and every breath is his! Without him we can do nothing. He gives us life and he puts us into a position as his children filled with his life to speak to others in need of his spirit so they too can "come to life".
Psalm 42: Here David is panting and thirsting for the living God, the God who gives life and he is being pursued and taunted by the enemy, "Where is your God?" (Vs.3 and 9, 10). The enemy wants to put condemnation upon David but David speaks truth to his soul commanding it to put its hope in God and praise him.
As the deep parts of David cry out to the deep parts of God, spirit to spirit he is refreshed by the waterfalls, waves and breakers of God's love coming upon him. The Spirit of God is the place we need to go to get refreshed and revived. We can be safe from the enemy there.
2 Corinthians 3:1-6: Living under the law kills our spirit because there is no way we can live up to every command but here again the Spirit gives life. God makes us competent to minister to others the new covenant of Christ's blood and when we witness to others our most powerful tool is not that we have all the verses in the bible memorized but our personal testimony, our personal experience with God that no one can argue with or take it away from us.
Revelation 12:11 says "They overcame him (the dragon) by the blood of the Lamb (the new covenant) and by the word of their testimony;.." Our testimony is the only thing we have experienced and therefore the only thing we can bear witness too. But that is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes forth from us when we share our experiences with others!
Always keeping in mind that God is in control and he "sets up" the witnessing situations...we don't have to go looking for them and we can trust him to do so. All we need to be is willing and obedient.
It always has been all about God and it will continue to be all about God!
June 18, 2009
Have you ever noticed how cold the world around us seems to be getting? It seems as though there is very little love in the world, like it’s in short supply. Reading Matthew 24 is like reading the news paper, verse 12 is the verse I woke up thinking about today and it says, “Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (NIV). It was also very interesting to me to read this verse from my Complete Jewish Bible which says, “And many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah (God’s written word).”
Each day seems like an ever increasing battle to fight the chill that wants to paralyze our hearts. Many days we don’t even realize the slow effects of it. The further we get from the word of God the colder we become. The love and word of God are like a cozy fire that melts the icy affects of the circumstances around us.
Our family loves camp fires; we love to sit around a warm fire and share stories and laugh and roast marshmallows. The warmth of the fire seems to bond us together. It is interesting to me the influence that the red-orange glow has on us but even that doesn’t last forever. My husband and son are usually the ones who keep the fire nice and toasty.
It’s almost like they were instinctively made for the job, they know just when to take the poker and stir the fire or when it’s time to add another log or two. If they neglect it, the fire goes out. Our walk with God is much the same. He knows when to take the poker and stir our hearts and he is very good at making the fire hotter!
Although God is skilled at stirring the faith fire that is within us Jude 1:20-21 (NIV) indicates that we have a part in the growth and development of our spirit. It says, “But you, dear friends, build yourself up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
In reading this verse I asked the Lord, “How do I keep myself in your love?” and I heard the word abide (from KJV) and instantly thought about John chapter 15:1-13. What does it mean to “abide”? The Greek word used in this scripture is “Meno” meaning…
to remain, abide
in reference to place
to sojourn, tarry
not to depart
to continue to be present
to be held, kept, continually
in reference to time
to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure
of persons, to survive, live
in reference to state or condition
to remain as one, not to become another or different
to wait for, await one
So, now I saw what I must do but how? How do these instructions make it from words written on a page into real life? Into my life? How do you live life going to work or doing the things that life requires and yet never leave the Lord’s presence?
Jude 1 gives us a clue to this question. Who is it that is the golden thread throughout the New Testament? He does his work from the background, intricately working behind the scenes to accomplish the will of God through man. He is the Holy Spirit. He is the one who keeps us on track and fellowships with us every minute of every day.
There are many verses that reveal his invaluable part in our lives such as: John 14:26, Acts 1:8, Acts 9:31, Acts 10:38, Romans 5:5, Romans 14:17, Romans 15:13 and so on.
All throughout the New Testament his name and workings in the human heart are testified to and we won’t get far without his presence in our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reveals to us that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us but how does he get there? Luke 11:13 gives us this answer directly from the mouth of our Lord… “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So, if we ask God, we will receive from God the Holy Spirit and he will cause us to remain or abide in God which we so desperately need to stoke the fire of God’s love in our hearts to keep us burning brightly for his glory until the end!
Thank you, God, for your provision for all who call upon your name and receive salvation from your son Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you teach us all things, keep us abiding in the vine and keep the fire of God’s love burning warmly in our hearts. Thank you, Jesus for bringing us salvation through the shedding of your blood on the cross and for baptizing us with the Holy Spirit so that we can endure to the end. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!
June 15, 2009
Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10…it seems that every time I go to read the Word lately that is where I am. What is it about Acts 10 that the Lord is trying to get through my head to my heart? This morning I was reading it in my Complete Jewish Bible version trying to get some insight and I came upon a verse that spoke loudly to me.
First, let me give you some background as to what Acts 10 is about. A Roman army officer named Cornelius who was a God fearing man and who was generous to the poor is in prayer one day and he is visited by an angel. The angel tells Cornelius that his prayers and gifts to the poor have come before God as an offering.
The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter who is staying by the sea at the home of a friend. So Cornelius sends some guys to get Peter and bring him back to his house and in the meantime Peter has a vision. In the vision, he sees a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of animals that good Jewish boys definitely do not eat and Peter is told to kill and eat the animals.
Peter says to God in verse 14, “No sir! Absolutely Not! I have never eaten food that was unclean or treif.” (Treif is literally “torn” since meat torn by wild animals is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws, treif means by extension “non-kosher”)(CJBV Glossary of Terms section)
Anyway, just about the time Peter is completely puzzled about what this vision means the men whom Cornelius has sent arrive where Peter is staying and God tells him it’s okay to go with them.
The fellows stay as Peter’s guests for the night and in the morning they and some other followers of Christ head for Cornelius’ house. When they arrive Peter is greeted and here we are to my point…thanks for hanging in there with me…
Peter says in verse 27-28 “As he talked with him, Kefa (Peter) went inside and found many people gathered. He said to them, “You are well aware that for a man who is a Jew to have close association with someone who belongs to another people, or to come and visit him, is something that just isn’t done.
But God has shown me not to call any person common or unclean….” God was breaking down division walls between the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) in the mind of Peter. Those last few words struck my heart.
God is challenging me to look at every individual in a different light, in a way that he views us. So many times, I think that we as followers of Jesus don’t get what he was all about. We find ourselves in a position much like Peter, in that, we don’t associate with “THOSE” kind of people whomever they may be.
As I’m writing, I’m thinking about a lady who was tending a cash register at a store in which I was in line to purchase something recently. There were several men of a certain nationality standing in the line with me and the cashier was of another nationality and after the men purchased their items and left she said to me something about “THOSE people.”
I was floored and it seemed strange to me that she would say something like that being of a certain nationality that other nationalities say “THOSE people” about. Are you totally confused or do you get my point?
I am sure at one point or another in the cashier’s life she had been discriminated against and yet she stood and did the same to another nationality that her nationality was prejudice against. I hope I haven’t confused anyone…maybe this will help, God’s word always has a way of making things clear.
Genesis 1:26-28 “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in or image, in the likeness of ourselves ;…( vs. 27) So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them…. (vs 28)God blessed them: God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it….”
So God created us all in his image and we all came as a result of God blessing us. We all have fears and reservations we have been taught about each other through our grandparents and parents and their parents and it goes on and on, but I am confident that the prejudices and traditions I have acquired through my family and my own experiences concerning other nationalities must be eliminated from my heart because we are all created in God’s image.
God wanted Peter not to look at anyone and say they were common or unclean, this was a stretch for him I’m sure but I’m glad that he trusted God and overcame his fears and the traditions of his people so that we (the Gentiles) might know Jesus, the Messiah, the Way to Salvation.
Now, because we are all learning how to live this new life Christ has given us there is no need for condemnation but there is a need for repentance. Father, I acknowledge and I repent for walking in fear where people of different customs and nationalities other than my own are concerned.
Break down the walls and traditions of my people that are in my heart, let your perfect love come and cast out all my fears. Help me to begin to see what you see in people, help me to see your image and treat every life as precious and uncommon. Give me the ability to discern the hearts of people and treat them as you would. Let your peace rule and reign in my heart by faith. In Jesus name, Amen.