Being Loved Back to Life

Recently, my son and his wife went to a local animal shelter looking for a new addition to their family. They noticed a white and gray cat around nine months old. No one seemed to want him because he had trouble seeing out of his right eye. Once treated, he spent a long time in a glass box with the only contact being the workers. He broke their hearts, so for the asking price of five dollars, they purchased him. Our newest addition is now Owen.  Welcome to our family. You have landed in a safe place with a family that will love you back to life.

As they sent pictures and videos, I remembered a time when I too was damaged and felt unwanted. A time when I had lost all faith in people and to trust anyone was out of the question. It was during this time I kept hearing a voice from my past. This voice was asking me to place my life into His hands again. Could I trust someone with my very life? Was I capable of that type of trust? This person came looking for me and was relentless in His pursuit. He purchased me with his own life, healed my wounds and loved me back to life.  This man’s name is Jesus Christ. He took a once unwanted, damaged, bruised and wounded girl and forever changed her life!

You know, Jesus is looking for you too. If you’re bruised and battered, and life seems hopeless whisper His name. There is much power in the name of Jesus! Tell Him you want to trust Him and let Him love you back to life too.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  ~ Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)

Don’t Let Stones Cry Out in Your Place

Beautiful StonesMy Pastor recently preached a message from Luke 19:29-40 titled, “If a Donkey Can Do It You Can Too”. The message I thought was awesome, but what struck me was the last few verses he read that morning.

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:37-40

These verses hit me so hard.  The question burning inside was, “When are you going to stop letting the stones cry out in your place?” At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what that question meant. The more I prayed and sought God’s guidance during that service the more that it became obvious. See, for months I have been letting different things stop me from sharing Christ with others. I had even stopped sharing Him through this blog. When it came to God and His love for me I found myself withdrawn and quiet.  Not that I was ashamed of Him, but I was less eager to share him.

I made a vow to never let the stones cry out in my place ever again.  God has done too many miracles in my life for me to continue to remain quiet.  I will praise Him until my last dying breathe.

Are you allowing the stones to cry out in your place? If so, seek His guidance and ask Him to help you praise Him even in the midst of your troubles and trials.  He will be faithful in your request because He is so worthy of our praise!

Prayer

Lord,
Please forgive us for letting the troubles of this world hinder and stop us from praising You. Forgive us for not sharing You more with the world around us.  We praise You for being faithful to us even when we’re not faithful to You.  May we continue to praise You regardless of our circumstances.  In Your precious name. Amen.

Acting Out in Hurtful Times

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
 
I remember a time when I let my feelings get hurt and I acted out in silence. I’m sure you know what I mean by acted out in silence. My thoughts were to treat that person the way I felt I was being treated. I wouldn’t tell them they hurt my feelings I would only act like I felt they were acting. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:31 – And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise? Yeah, I failed at that! But during my early morning quiet time with God, He began to work on my heart.
 
God revealed to me that it wasn’t about my feelings getting hurt, but how I acted in the midst of being hurt. It was about if I was still honoring Him during this time. I know right? That stung. Because at the time I wanted to stay mad, stay hurt and act like a victim. It’s our nature. But that’s what we must resist against.

My actions were not Christ-like at all. What God was showing me was that I could be Christ-like during the most hurtful times of my life. It’s my choice how I respond to those who hurt me. Will I act out in anger or retract and ask God to help me to be more like Him?
 
I want to honor God in every relationship that He has placed in my life. To do that I must be aware of my own actions and allow Him to chisel me into His likeness. Even if that’s painful at the time.
 
I’m reminded of a quote by Oswald Chambers in his book The Love of God. He stated that “the fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them.”
 
If you’re like I was, I pray that you will allow God to work in your heart also.  Let Him help you to see that the healing starts when you choose to reveal His love to the one who was hurtful.  Pray and ask God to come into your situation and help you honor Him during this time.

Questions of Why?

Ever wonder why we go through trials and temptations?  Lately, I’ve asked that very same question.  I couldn’t understand why everything had to be so hard.  Some days it feels like there’s just no relief from Satan’s fiery.  Needless to say, it’s left me frustrated with not an answer in sight. So I thought.

My question led me to Luke 4:1-13. In this chapter, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days. There Satan tempted Him with everything possible. He seems to be relentless in His attacks on Jesus.  So my question was again why?  Christ left His home in Glory to put on the clothes of an earthly man.  He was trying to be obedient to His Father and do His will.  So why was Satan coming against Him so hard?  He wanted Jesus to give up.  He wanted Him to decide that this road that God had Him on was just too hard.  In the end, he wanted Jesus to turn His back on God and forget the real reason why He came.

I noticed several things that might help us during these times of trials and temptations.  I noticed that Satan came against Jesus when He was at His most vulnerable state. Remember, He had been fasting for forty days. Which meant that He was weak physically and probably mentally. But He wasn’t weak spiritually because He had been fasting AND praying. So although He was weak He continued to keep His focus on God.

As I continued to read this passage I realized it was much bigger than just that moment of time.   Verse 14 states that Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. Do you see what I’m seeing? After going through the trial and all the temptations He returned in the power of the Spirit.   He was able to return in the power of the Spirit because He stood firm against the attacks. He stood firm by using the Word of God as His weapon.  We can learn a lot from Jesus on how He handled Satan that day.  The only way we can battle Satan with the Word is if we know the Word!  The only way to know the Word is to be in it consistently.

After thinking and meditating on this passage I felt that there was something bigger to this story.  Then I began to see the BIG picture and my heart began to cry from the beauty of it.  Jesus had to go through this time in order to prepare Him for His true calling on this earth.  If you notice, His ministry started after this wilderness experience. It was after this experience, Christ made His biggest impact for the Kingdom of God. If Christ had given up during this time He would have missed His calling, which was to save our lives!

I don’t know what you on the other side of this screen are going through.  Your heart may be broken into a million pieces or you may be struggling with a temptation that you can’t seem to shake no matter how hard you try.  But can I encourage you today not to quit? Don’t give up! You already know the healer and the One that can make a way out of those temptations.  So stay focused even through the hard and the messiness of these trials. There is something bigger than you coming! The impact that you will make for the Kingdom of God is so much bigger than what you can see in this moment. Stay grounded in God’s Word and stand firm because your victory is near!

 

When Simple Becomes Eye Opening

I love doing word studies as part of digging deeper into God’s Word. Sometimes it’s the simplest of words that God uses to open my eyes.  Lately, I’ve been caught up on the word “ransom”. Guys, this used to be a word that I always read in the scriptures but never gave much thought. Until now! I have no idea why the word seemed to leap off the page at me when I was studying. But I’m so glad it did. Because now it sheds a whole new light on what God really did for me.
 
We can see the word ransom in Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. The definition of the word “ransom” is a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity, to deliver especially from sin or its penalty, to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price.
 
So with that being said whom do we pay a ransom to? The person who stole someone or something from you correct? Bringing this word into Scripture context who is God paying a ransom to and why? This goes back to Genesis chapter 3. Where the serpent deceived Adam and Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge. That day Satan stole God’s children. The ransom he wanted was a very high price to pay. He didn’t want just any ransom. He wanted God’s only begotten Son. Satan wanted to hurt God for good this time. The ransom had to be paid or all God’s children would be doomed for all eternity.
 
Then, of course, the word “redeem” comes into play. That word means: to buy back, to free from what distresses or harms, to free from consequences of sin, to repair, to restore. This definition really got me choked up.  No, all this is not totally new to me either but when you put it all into perspective I get excited!
 
So, a ransom had to be made so that God’s children could be redeemed. The ransom was paid through the life of God’s only Son. He sent His Son to pay the ultimate price for man’s sin. His only begotten Son was subjected to the most severe torture thought possible. Not only was He beaten but He also was put to death by crucifixion. I bet Satan and all the demons of hell rejoiced to see our Savior dying that day on the cross. It seemed that Satan Had won. Jesus was finally dead. But what Satan didn’t know and had not planned for, was that third day! Little did he know that death could never hold God’s Son. For on that third day Christ arose! On that third day, sin was defeated! On that third day, the chains of sin were loosed. On that third day, my victory was won! Guys, any of you who know me know what’s taking place right now as I write these words! Yes, tears are streaming down my face for I am forever changed because of these two words and what they mean. God paid the ultimate price so we could live with Him for all eternality. Also so that we could live in this world and not be shackled by chains of sin. I know that sometimes it’s our choice to be shackled by sin but that’s another story for another post. But Christ died so that we wouldn’t have to be.
 
If you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, you can read and pray a simple prayer to ask Christ into your life. Trust me it will be the best discussion you will ever make.
 
If you are struggling to be free from the chains that bind you, cry out to your Savior. Ask Him for strength and courage to finally break free. Remember, He’s already paid the price, now it’s up to you to receive it and be free.

Promises Through the Struggle

So, last week was rough. How was yours? I find it strange how one minute you feel strong and the next it’s as if your feet have been knocked out from in under you. At least that’s how I felt. In the midst of the hard though, came God’s assurance as I read from Isaiah 41. Verse 10 kept echoing in my mind: “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” There are a lot of promises packed into that verse and last week I depended on every single one of them! As I meditated on this verse last week I began to unpack them slowly over the course of the week.

The first part is “fear not, for I am with you.” This also seemed like a command to fear not.  He’s commanded me to not fear. It’s not an open-ended command though. None of His commandments are. He’s telling me that I shouldn’t fear because He is with me! I don’t have to struggle with this situation on my own. I don’t have to fight alone for He is with me. This part by itself was so very comforting to me.

The second part is “be not dismayed, for I am your God.” If I’m honest I get dismayed from time to time and this was one of those times. This is another command, “be not dismayed.” Again, not open-ended command though. Why should I not be? He gives me the answer, “Because I am your God.” I then started thinking about Who He has been in my life and that encouraged me.

The third part is “I will strengthen you.” Last week I also read Isaiah 58:11- And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong…” I believe that He will strengthen not only my faith but He will strengthen me physically. We all know that when we go through a trial it tends to make us tired and exhausted. I believe that He will strengthen us in every means possible in order for us to endure the trial.

The fourth part is “I will help you.” Man, did I depend on this part last week! I trusted that He would help because there was nothing else left for me to do. No one could fix the problem only Him. Sometimes that’s the whole point of the trial. God works His biggest miracles when there’s nothing left for us to do but to trust. God shows us who He is when we are in those types of circumstance either by God, Satan or by our own doings. He doesn’t leave us to try to endure this life on our own. He’s always willing to help us and if we ask He will move mountains for us!

And the last part is “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” To me, this part was the promise that held the other parts together. This was a promise that God would allow me to be victorious through this struggle. It assured me once again that He would be faithful to me.

So, although last week was a spiritual battle, God gave me everything that I needed to fight the battle. God remained with me. He continued to be my God, He strengthened me, He helped me, and He upheld me with His righteous right hand. Yes, God continued to be faithful to me. He kept His promises once again.

If you are struggling this week, I hope you recall this verse and let God speak to you through the struggle. You don’t have to fight the battle alone. For He is a faithful God and He has a plan for you to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Place your trust in the One True God that can stand in the battle with you. Let Him uphold you with His victorious right hand.

Finding Peace in Any Circumstance

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9

A verse that has been a great help in our house lately is Philippians 4:8. We have it wrote on our bathroom mirror. It’s a reminder not to think on things that we don’t know to be factual in any given circumstance. It’s helped us to stay focused on what’s true and positive.

In coming across this verse one day I continued to read on to verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” I noticed a lot of instructions in these two verses.

First, in verse 8 Paul tells us how to renew our minds. He tells us to think on things that are just, pure, lovely, and things that are of good report. Then in verse 9, Paul tells us how to have peace by continuing to do what we have learned, received, heard and seen in his writings and in his life.

I love that God didn’t leave us to stumble around in this life alone without help from His Holy Spirit. He also left us specific instructions on how to live holy before Him.

So when the situations in your life seem impossible, remember these two verses. Keep doing what you’ve learned, received, heard, and seen through God’s Word. I promise it will get you through every time!

Grasping the Love of Christ

“If we grasp the full love of Christ we won’t grab at other things to fill us”.  I remember reading this in a book by Lysa Terkeurst entitled Uninvited.

Lysa’s quote reminded me of a time in my life when all I did was long for love. I searched constantly for someone that could fill the longings for love and acceptance that I felt I had lacked since childhood. I so desperately needed someone that could heal the wounds in my life. The wounds that seemed so deep that they felt as if they were oozing the life right out of me. Little did I know the One that could do all of that was there with me the whole time.

I had excepted Christ as my personal Savior when I young, but I now know it wasn’t enough to just be saved. I needed to grasp His love for me in order for Him to fully change my life. In doing so, Christ filled all of those longings and desires. Those deep wounds started to heal because for the first time in my life I started to realize and notice His love for me. My constant pursuit for love and acceptance had come to an end. Finally, I could rest from the exhaustion of the search.

The only way to know Christ intimately is through His Word and through prayer. Without these two things, we will never learn of His character. Without these things, we will never draw close to Him and know His love for us.

I’m so thankful for that day so many years ago, that He gave me another chance to fall in love with Him all over again! My life will never be the same.

…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Learning to Praise Without Request

Our Pastor asked a question a few months ago during one of his sermons that stuck with me and forever changed me. His question was, “When was the last time that you offered praise to God without asking Him for one single thing?” As I sat and pondered on that question I realized that it had been a long time since I had thanked Him without asking for something.

In trying to do better in this area, I decided to spend a whole day and do nothing but praise God. I wouldn’t ask anything all day I’d just thank Him and give Him praise. Just let me say that’s harder than you would think. I never realized that I had a habit of automatically asking for things when I prayed! So I decided to spend a few days a week just praising God. I wanted to break the habit of constantly asking for things without being thankful first. This has changed my life dramatically.

I have gotten into the habit of writing out my prayers each day. I highlight them in my prayer journal when they have been answered. This is just a way to keep me accountable and to remind me of God’s goodness too. I had created a template from a post that I had seen on Pinterest in which I start my day and my prayer off by praising God first. I’ve been amazed at how this has changed my mood and my well being especially on the days that have been difficult.

One morning I decided to write out verses in my prayer journal that talked about praise. The search for these verses led me to 2 Chronicles 20. In this chapter, a great multitude was coming against Jehoshaphat and his men. He became afraid and sought the Lord ask Him what they should do.  In verse 12 he states that they were powerless against this army and that they didn’t know what to do, but their eyes were on God. Then in verses 21 and 22 is where I things got real for me regarding praise!

“And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those
who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they
went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his
steadfast love endures forever.” And when they began to sing and
praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab,
and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.”

Did you notice what happened? And when they began to sing and praise – the Lord then rescued them!  What battles in our lives could we have victory over if we just began to praise Him more?

Praising God is just a small portion of what I learned from this chapter that day.  But taking the time to praise God without requesting anything from Him has kept me focused on Him and His goodness to me.

So let’s learn to praise Him more and let’s watch as we see victories being won in our lives!

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.  ~ Psalm 7:17

From Panic to Praise

Have you ever been busy and out of nowhere panic begins to set in? This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was rushing around cleaning the house.

As I was mopping the floors, I noticed baseboards that were dirty, blinds that were so dusty you could write your name on them, and candle wax that was still on the table and floor where it had been spilled the previous week. In anger and quite a bit of panic, I said out loud, “I wished for just one season I could have it all together!” The thought hit me a few moments later that if I had it all together I probably would think that I didn’t need God as much. So instead of fussing, I thanked Him for not allowing me to have it “all together”. Because I honestly don’t know what I would do without Him!

I looked around again and noticed that yes the baseboards were dirty, and yes the wax was still there, and yes the blinds have dust on them but this time I thanked Him. Because instead of exhausting myself with all those things, I had used my time with what mattered the most. Spending time in His presence more, spending time laughing and playing with my grandbabies, and spending quality time doing life with my husband. So I came to the conclusion that those things will get done in time, but today I chose to praise Him instead of panicking over things left undone.

This reminded me of the passage in Luke 10 where Martha was so busy serving and she asked the Lord if he didn’t care that her sister left her to serve alone. But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

There’s nothing more satan enjoys than to make us look at things in our lives out of perspective. If he can do that then we have allowed ourselves to take our eyes off the One that matters the most.
Lord, I thank You for turning my panic into praise! Help us to realize that it’s about spending time in Your presence and letting You teaching us how to prioritize our life. Again, I praise You for opening my eyes to the things that are of more value in this season of my life.