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 28, 2009
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!”