Have you ever felt that you were just so insignificant in the big picture of the fast universe that it’s difficult to believe that God even knows who you are? I think we all have, (yes, even you! Whether you admit it or not!) I do quite often and the Lord reminds me every time that He loves me enough to die for me. What amazing grace!
I mean think about it. In all the history of the world and all the people who have been born onto it, how can little “me” mean anything to the creator of such a world? But he does! And not just a little bit, the Bible tells us in Luke 12:
I was raised by two parents both of whom had preachers for fathers. My mom’s dad was a Freewill Baptist hellfire and brimstone preacher. I remember him pounding the pulpit begging sinners to come forward to receive Jesus and become born again. He was only like that at the pulpit. He was very kind and loving. He died when I was only 12, but I have very fond memories of loving him very much (I named my son’s middle name after him). My dad’s dad was very very old when I was old enough to have memories of him and he had retired from preaching by then, so I only have knowledge of his preaching from my brother and sister who are older than I am as well as my parents, but I know his denomination (holiness pentecostal) was very legalistic. They teach that you can fall from God’s graces very easily.
As a result, I had a “Wizard of Oz type of fear” of God. Remember when Dorothy and friends went to the wizard and they shook in their shoes and the tinman was rattling in fear, the scarecrow was falling all over the place and the lion ran out scared to bits? That was my fear of God at an early age.
Since I never felt I could match up to these expectations, I resisted my salvation till I was 17 when God really called me hard through a series of events not related to my family’s teachings. I remember very well the night I told my mom and dad that I’d been saved. As preacher’s kids, both of them should have been thrilled that their child had “come home”, right? Wrong…In fact, when I told my mom and dad that I’d gotten saved they sighed and looked at each other frowning. My dad (who was very stern and had a problem with his temper –thats another post altogether) told me that I could never ever lie, could never sass him ever again, and gave me this long list of things I could never ever do again.
Is it any surprise then that I had a Wizard of Oz fear of God??
Fast Forward to my 20’s. I’m so glad the Lord taught me about His grace and mercy and how only unbelievers should expect to encounter God that way and then on the day of judgment.
He is a holy God Who deserves great reverence for sure, but He is Father to those who believe and receive Christ. To us He WANTS us to come to the throne boldly. He wants to teach of us His love. He is our Abba (daddy) 💓
Charles Stanley tells us, “If God is love, then why does He command us to fear Him? The fear of the Lord isn’t about being afraid of God; it’s about revering Him above all else. When we do that, we position ourselves to receive all the benefits that come with putting God first in our lives”
“What does it mean to fear the Lord? Should we be terrified of Him, or does it mean something else?
If we are lost and living in sin, we have a good reason to be afraid of God because we are not right with Him and are destined for judgment and condemnation. But if we are His redeemed people, there is no reason to be terrified of Him. However, we have every reason to show Him reverence and honor Him.”
“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(there’s a good explanation about this passage here)
Satan thought he had Jesus defeated when he watched Him die on the cross, but 3 days later, Jesus demonstrated to the world that He is the one who crushed Satan when He rose from the dead defeating death and Satan once and for all. Satan is crushed but he is still deadly. Until that day he is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10), he still is roaming the world like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).
So what can we do? Let’s read what Louie Giglio has to say in this week’s devotional:
This week here in the US, we’ve had another mass school shooting 🙁 This time in Parkland, Florida. The tragedy as awful and terrible as it was, is also dividing Christian against Christian in this blogger’s viewpoint. I have over 700 friends on Facebook and well over half are Christians. Half of those are posting things promoting the need (insistance actually) for gun control. The other half are staunchly opposed to gun control insisting that if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns and thus there will be no way to protect themselves and their families as well as concerns for too much government control.
In addition, for me, there is a huge concern that our response to this is a tool for dividing the body of Christ. It’s good to have strong beliefs and to know why you believe what you believe, but in the midst of that, it’s imperative that we as believers disagree agreeably. To have discussions is a good thing, but when you start feeling irate towards other believers for not viewing an issue the same way you do and expressing that anger at them is a HUGE problem for any believer. The rest of the world is watching us and when they see us tearing into each other, they ask themselves why they should give our faith any consideration. It’s a very bad testimony and shines a very bad light on our Savior, Jesus Christ. This must grieve Him terribly 🙁 The death
It’s Valentine’s Day week. The day most of the world seems to celebrate love. But the GREATEST love took place over two thousand years ago on a hill called Golgatha. Also known as Calvary. God Who Himself IS love took the form of a human born to a virgin and grew up as the only sinless human ever. His name was and is Jesus. Why was it the greatest love ever? Remember the fall in the garden of Eden? Where Adam and Eve were deceived by satan and ate the fruit God forbid them to eat? There had been no sin and no knowledge of what sin was until then. But with the fall came the worse consequence of all to mankind. Separation from God. If you’ve read the book of Genesis you’ll remember that after God created Adam, He used to walk in the garden with Adam in the cool of the evening. Can you imagine??? This is the same God who lit up Moses’ face so brightly from
This time of year many Christian women tend to choose a “word of the year” they feel the Lord has spoken to them to focus on. This year the word the Lord has given me is, “Shepherd”. I think mainly because my earthly father was very harsh and could be quite hateful at times, so I’ve struggled with my view of my heavenly Father. He has been whispering to me how He is my daddy (Abba, Father). He is my shepherd who leads me, guides me, and protects me; and not only that, but He wants me to completely relax in His presence. My earthly father could be loving at times, but due to the times he was harsh, I found myself always on guard. Ready to be lashed out at. My heavenly Father doesn’t want that for me. He wants me to be relaxed in His presence, and at peace. He wants me to see Him as my refuge and my safe harbor in the storm.
Welcome to 2018! A new year with new possibilities. I hope that you, like me, are determined to move forward in your faith and put everything that’s happened to you behind you (as much as possible at any rate) follow the apostle Paul’s example in Philippians chapter 3:13b-15:
It takes a lot of faith to leave our pain and struggles behind us and look to the future. Looking to the future means we have faith that there are better things in that future. Even better, that there is some ONE in the future to guide us through it and to receive us there. I read a devotional this past week in my YouVersion devotional by Ryan Stevenson that speaks to this and I wanted to share it with you, my readers:
Living by Faith
The Christian life is all about FAITH. Hebrews 11 says, “faith is being sure of what we hope for, and knowing something is real even if we do not see it.” I love this verse because it always brings me comfort when I am in the midst of a season where I’m finding it difficult to hold on. When God has called us to do something, we must believe and act on it. I believe that God delights in those who will follow the call He’s placed in the heart, and risk the comfort of everyday life for the Kingdom’s sake.
The easiest thing for us to do is doubt. As an emotionally driven people, we often find ourselves in peaks and valleys, caught between hope and despair. It seems as if the journey of life is a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows. It seems that even when we want to move forward with confidence, our flesh continuously wants to resort to the comfort of what we can see, feel, and physically grasp. This can be extremely frustrating because we want to see results and the fruits of our labor quickly.
Are you in a season right now where you feel like nothing exciting is happening for you? Are you feeling alone, hopeless, or discouraged? I have been there and know the feeling! Let me offer you the hope that keeps me going. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “I know the plans that I have for you…plans to prosper you…to give you a future and a hope.” If you are feeling discouraged today and are having a hard time believing, just know that God is closer to you than you know.
He is using this season right now to stretch, bend, purify, and refine you into a warrior for the Kingdom. Like grapes that get crushed and pressed and eventually turn into beautiful wine, so our character and faith after the Lord puts us through His refining process. This may require some crushing, pressing, filtering out the junk, and even sitting for a while to mature, but in due season, it’s our time to be released! God has a plan for you, and it’s probably just around the corner! BELIEVE IT!
“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”– James 2:17 ESV
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. .. (read the whole passage HERE)” –Hebrews 11:1-40 ESV
As I’ve been reflecting on how the Lord used my mother’s pneumonia to get her to the ER where they did an MRI on her chest and stomach and found the gangrenous gall bladder that could have killed her had it not been caught when it did, I decided to look for a devotion for Mindful Monday that focused on how sometimes the Lord uses unexpected things to bless us. Things that we may never in the world expect to ever be a blessing, like my mom’s pneumonia. Yet as we are in the Christmas season, I also wanted something to share about the birth of Christ. I came upon this devotion that seems to combine the two so nicely, I knew it was a God thing to share with you, my readers 🙂 I hope you can glean good things from this! This can be seen originally at CBN.com.
Favored and Blessed
by Kay Camenisch – When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said “Hail favored one. The LORD is with you!” (Luke 1:28, NASB). Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, told her, “Blessed among women are you” (Luke 1:42b, NASB). When God declares it so, we can hardly disagree, but I sometimes wonder about Mary’s blessing. Unarguably, being Mother to the Son of God is a tremendous honor and blessing. However, Mary did not live a charmed life.
We aren’t told much about her, but Mary’s response to Gabriel would lead us to believe that she had outstanding character and was devout. She was certainly not one that neighbors would expect to need to rush her wedding date. Her blessing led to her reputation being tarnished, to shame for herself and her family.
But her problems didn’t end there. Circumstances then forced Mary to take a long journey on a donkey over rough terrain – right at the time her baby was due. Since there was no room for her, she had to give birth in a filthy barn, laying her first child, her tiny newborn son, in a feeding bin. Do you think Mary felt blessed?
As if giving birth in a stable was not enough—though totally innocent—Joseph and Mary then had to sneak their baby away in the night. They were forced to flee to another country to save Jesus’ life.
Jesus would have been a delight to parent, but I sometimes wonder if His siblings became jealous, thus creating family tensions. Even though Jesus was without sin, as a twelve-year-old He still gave His mother quite a scare when He stayed at the temple and was lost for three days. I’m sure that did not feel like a blessing.
However, it probably deepened Mary’s appreciation for each day she had with her son. Later, her anguish would be unbearable as Jesus was reviled, falsely accused, shamed, beaten, and crucified. Favored? Blessed? Mary was helpless as she watched her firstborn son unjustly persecuted and brutally killed.
And yet, Mary was favored and blessed among women. She was chosen by God to bring the Savior into the world. However, in spite of such a singular honor, at times her life did not seem blessed. Mary endured significant suffering because she birthed the Son of God. Her blessing was the source of suffering.
As I look at Mary’s “blessed” life, I realize that when I’ve asked for God’s blessing, I’ve looked for personal gain. I’ve hoped for financial increase, recognition, comfort, or advantage. All such desires focused on my personal benefits. I didn’t consider that God grants favor and blessings for His goals, not mine—and they often come with hardship.
Can we expect blessings without suffering? Is there even one biblical hero that didn’t suffer? Hardship is inevitable. Why do we dream of a life without suffering? Jesus said we would be persecuted. It is through affliction that we grow in the knowledge and character of Christ.
Instead of seeking personal blessing and a life of ease, we need to focus on the second part of Gabriel’s message to Mary, “the Lord is with you.” In fact, if we join God in what He’s doing, rather than seeking what we want, we will be favored. When we encounter suffering with the blessing, we can draw from His strength and provision.
We also need to be aware of our own favor and blessing. If we know Jesus, He lives in us. Therefore, like Mary, we have been chosen by God to carry the life of His Son to the world. Because Jesus lives within us, indeed, like Mary, we are favored and blessed.
Also, just as with Mary, God is with us. He will give us grace for each day. It won’t always be easy, but He promised that He’ll never leave us or forsake us.
We can know that whatever trials we face will be used for good if we love God and are called according to His purposes. Our suffering will not be for naught. (Mary’s suffering was great, but think of the good that came from it!)
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can rejoice, even in the midst of a struggle, because we are favored and blessed.
Are you like so many other believers in this world who are feeling downhearted with all that’s going on in the world today? All that you and/or your family is going through?
We know that in the END we win, if we belong to Christ and that gives us great comfort, but what do we do in the here and now when things seem to be attacking at every turn?
Lately the Lord has been giving me one word: Abide.
Sometimes we just are not in control of what happens to us. We pray and we try to learn to trust and as we pray it through and try to roll it off our backs, we sometimes feel like there’s SOMETHING we should be doing to fix things. Well, sometimes that may be true, but often it may just be that the Lord is using the PROCESS of what’s happening in our lives to teach us; to build something in us that makes us the people He wants us to be for eternity.
This life isn’t all there is! I like to think of it as a training ground for eternity. Eternity isn’t just floating around on a white fluffy cloud playing a harp. We will be working, playing, rejoicing…there will be plenty to do! Did you know that the Bible tells us that we will judge angels? We will judge the nations alongside Christ! There’s a lot to do there! We will still be who we are now, just glorified versions of ourselves! We will be trusting in Christ and our Father, we will know patience and hope and love in a more deep, richer, more profound way than we know here in this fallen world. That isn’t just a robe we put on when we cross to the other side…we start learning those virtues right here! I have learned over the years with all that’s happened with my family that sorrow and trials are never wasted. The Lord uses them to teach us and mold us into the sons and daughters of the King!
At times, I think the Lord wants us to just… “Be still and know that (He) is God”:
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”” -Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
What does just being still look like? I think it’s one word: Abide.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” – John 15:7 (NKJV)
Sometimes we have to stop racing around and striving and driving ourselves crazy and learn to BE STILL…and ABIDE. We just continue to run the race…not in a competetive way to beat this person or that person, but to be keeping our eyes on the prize so we don’t become distracted. Like a race horse with blinders on…he doesn’t seem to worry about where he’ll end up. He can only see straight ahead of him and his only concern is to keep going straight ahead knowing he will receive a reward at the end of the race. He can only see straight ahead, he doesn’t look at the other horses to his left or his right. It isn’t a race to beat the other horses to him. He just obeys his rider and looks straight ahead and pushes on.
So my words for today…well GOD’s words to me today to share with you are
“ABIDE” and “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE”
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:12-14
Won’t you abide with Him…with me? 🙂
May you have a blessed, productive, yet STILL week 🙂
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, andafter you have done everything, to stand.Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:10-17
Its been a really busy weekend for me, so this week I’m just going to share some videos and scripture that’s on my heart and hope that it encourages you and helps you to remember that when you’ve prayed your hardest, done all you can in your own strength, we need to “just stand” and trust the Lord to take over. If you’re in that place too, this is for you… God bless!
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33
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