Sunday, February 22, 2015

No Pain; No Gain???

Oh my head is full as is my heart. I am recovering from my time at church in a good way. 

If you have ever felt the touch of the Holy Spirit, you know what I mean. I have been slightly heavy hearted by many things. I see pain around me, I see sin, I see the decay of creation, and all of it saddens me. I think on the reality that with life comes pain in many versions. I see both believers and non-believers all suffering in the same ways.

Truth is, no one is immune. There is no guarantee that we will forego the suffering of this world because we have received eternal life in Christ Jesus. What sort of ministry could we offer the suffering world, if we never experience it. But we have the assurance of knowing that God will be with us, and that according to scripture what the enemy intended to harm or destroy us, God can use it to mature us and reveal His glory in and through us.

Honestly, my greatest times of maturity and seasoning has come amidst struggle, strife and suffering. Trials become like an olive press that squeezes out the best in us all. Studies show that in times of difficulty, people are kinder, reach out to one another and tend to be the best of themselves.

As I think over this very real fact, I am staring at the reality of my oldest daughter leaving to head off to college in the fall. I constantly am aware of my longing for her to embrace my God as her own God. I long for her to know Him as I do, I want her to desire Him as I do and I ache for her to be matured by Him. I long for her to cling to His word, seek His counsel and embrace His precepts. I want her to have the relationship I have with Him and then some. Then I think on all that I have gone through, and the pain I have experienced that brought me to this place. I stupidly longed for her not to go through any of the pain. Can she know Him as I do without the suffering? Do I long for her to know Him enough to desire that she suffer in order to know Him deeply? That is a message that will never gain in popularity. But isn't it grounded in truth?  The suffering of this world cannot compare to the all surpassing glory of knowing HIM!

There is a way that seems right to humanity, but it truly leads to destruction. However, many must find this out themselves. There is truth that can be learned by study, and by trusting those who teach us, but unfortunately many of the lessons I learn and keep as my own are those that I learned by my mistakes. Mistakes, consequences of our mistakes, and loss of opportunities can be a high price to pay, but if it leads us right into the arms of the wonderful savior, then it is all worth it.

Again, there is a way that SEEMS right to man, but it leads to destruction. Then God's way is what is best. It is not a list of do's and don'ts, but it is a way to live life in victory. A way that will lead to restoration, rejuvenation, revival, renewal and healing. 

I long for my children to embrace His ways by faith, but I live with the knowledge listed above. There is a way that SEEMS right to man, but there is a way that IS right. It is faith in Jesus Christ as our righteousness. 

We will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. We do not have a righteousness of our own by keeping the law, but one that is in Christ because it is the gift from God and we get it through faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection, to fellowship with His suffering and to be conformed to His death. Not that I have attained this goal, but I forget what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. (Jer. 29:13, Phil. 3:9, 10, 13) Remembering that God counted Abraham as righteous because he believed.  

Yes, much of the last paragraph is a combination of my memory verses for the year so far. I am working on truly memorizing the word, and it is really becoming a part of me. The Word is become alive and active through me.

Although I have studied the Word for years and even tried to memorize for years, this year I have been able to actually find a way to memorize that is working for me. Thanks to the Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015, I have found a way that works for me. Because it is only one verse that I pick to memorize, and I have two weeks to learn it, I have finally been able to do it. Like eating an elephant; one bite at a time.

Waiting with Eager Expectation

I am having one of those days where weeping of sadness is mixed with tears of joy.

Being a part of the body of Jesus Christ is both painful and one of sheer joy. I feel so mixed up today. I feel as if I get a glimpse of God's truth and it tears me in two. I feel excited yet dreadful. I feel sad but happy. What a weird place I am in.

In our Sunday School class today, we were in Romans 8 and we covered a verse that holds a great history for me. The verse is Romans 8:19

Many years ago, I was walking with a family member through a long battle with her addiction to drugs. She had voiced her longing to attend a Beth Moore conference. She and I had been participating in a Beth Moore study at the time. I asked her to join me in Birmingham AL to attend a conference with Living Proof Ministries where Beth Moore would be speaking. She kept telling me she would go although her mother assured me she had no intention of joining me. I made all the arrangements and even the day before, her mother told me she would not attend, but the daughter continued to reassure me she wanted to go. I remember driving an hour from my house in obedience to God's direction to find she was not at home. I began to call and drive around the town looking to see if I could locate her before I left without her.  I was making every effort to be sure of her decision.

God had been speaking the Romans 8:19 verse to me for several weeks leading up to the event. He told me to wait in eager expectation! That was the key. Eagerly awaiting to see what He was going to do. It is the ONLY thing that got me to press through the next few hours.

I arrived at her home to find she had left her husband and children to join her drug dealer. I sat in the driveway and wrote her a letter.  I am still not certain what all it said, but it was written with a very broken heart.

I decided to go on to the conference alone.  It rained hard the rest of the way there.  I think my eyes did too. What I didn't know as I was praying the entire way to Birmingham, is that the car that was in front of me contained the young woman I was suppose to be picking up. She saw me, and God used it to deal with her.

I arrived late to the conference because I had spent several hours making sure I had not missed her. I had a hard time every where I turned that day, from finding a place to park, a place to sit, you name it. But I arrived at the conference center, made my way to an available seat and to my delight, was seated just to the right of the stage at stage level. Once I was in my seat, Beth Moore turned toward my direction and said " I want you to know that God knows what you've been through to get here today." Honestly, that was all I went there for that weekend. God had acknowledged me through that one statement. I have attended various conferences but to date none have ministered to me quite like that. Did Beth know me or my struggle? No, but the God she and I serve, did. Did she even see me when she made that statement? Probably not, but the God that she and I serve did.

So today when I heard the verse again fresh, those memories began to flood my soul. When I hear it, I am reminded to wait eagerly for Him. I am to expect Him to show up, to work and move in my life. Praise God, He loves me! He sees me! He knows me and knows when I am hurting or struggling. Oh I need Him so dearly in my life.

Beth Moore Conferences
Beth Moore blog

I would like to be able to report that the lady has turned her life around, but as with any addict, it is a daily struggle to get free.  She has had periods of times where she walked in victory, but as I write this, she is out in the world being swallowed up by her own desires. I still long for the day that she will be free of it but for now, I wait eagerly expecting what God will do in a life of one surrender to Him.  (That person to be revealed as a daughter of God)

Until that day...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Valuable is the Bible to Me?

I was completing a day of study in 2 Thessalonians, and I came across a story about William Tyndale. I began to imagine the cost and price he paid in order to make an English translation available to all of us who speak the English language. It cost him his reputation, livelihood, his homeland, and eventually his life.  His desire and passion for us to have the ability to read the words of God in our native language cost him everything. My thoughts ran to gratitude and thankfulness and then thoughts of how treasured this particular book ought to be to each of us. Have we really counted the cost and valued it?  Have I?????

Do we really treasure it, read it, meditate on it, seek it for its wisdom, and recognize the number of times in history it was not available. Would it matter to each of us if it no longer were available in our language.  If only an elect few could read it and tell us what they thought it was saying, or even tell us falsely what they wanted it to say.

People like Tyndale who took the original language and translated into English, Martin Luther, who translated the original into the German language, and John Wycliffe who translate the Latin Vulgate into English prior to Tyndale; who despite the establishment, hungered to offer up the authentic word of God to us so that we could remove all "go betweens" and have direct access to our Creator's words. He could become personal to each of us. It removed the layer of corruption and abuse of power over the masses. It also helped to thwart the use of "so called religion" in order to dictate behavior and make the masses of people behave.

  • Have you ever wondered how long those in power throughout history have used God for their own power grabs and gain?

Only when we have authentic desire for Jesus, when we are fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit, when we are completely obedient to God's word, motivated and spurred on by His sacrifice; will we truly have personal biblical reform. Too often we seek the morals of Christianity for the sake of behavioral modification both in ourselves and even in others like our children, neighbors, or those in our authority or sphere.However, it is so much more than that. We stop so far short if we only seek to modify or control behavior. It is about relationship and connection to Almighty God. In seeking God in prayer, in daily life, reading the word etc., we learn about who He is and what He can do. We also learn about who we are, why we are here and what we are able to do both apart from Him and through Him. We are able to determine what we are measured against, by and to. If by the measures of the word, we come up short, we are not condemned if we are already in Christ, but it shows us how much we need to remain in Him and Him in us. The measurement of coming up short shows us that we are still not fully surrendered to Him. It is an indicator of where we are in proximity to God.

As we walk daily in obedience to the word, we are made right not by the act of obedience in the law but rather by faith - trusting and believing God's word by obeying it. Following the word as the actual voice of God, obeying it and using that voice of the word to live in us. When God uses us as His instrument, we are made right, holy and sanctified (set apart to good works and special use) by His use.  According to Philippians 3:9 we are found in Him not having a righteousness of our own from obeying the law but one that is through faith in Christ - the righteousness from God based on faith.

The word of God is the light of God. It is the revealer of truth. It is a depth I personally still cannot fathom as each passage reflects new insight and meaning from one year to the next. It is truly alive and active. It brings life as it is read and meditated upon.

Pursue it and it will never turn out to be a useless task. It brings life into our very soul. It is the breath of God breathing life into our dry bones. It is living water to our thirsty mouths and bread of life that nourishes our stomachs with truth. It provides the sustenance we need for true life.

Receive Jesus' gift of eternal life, pursue God by the Holy Spirit, read His word as if it could be ripped from your availability tomorrow, love His word, obey His word by faith.

  • The word is Jesus. 
  • In Genesis, God spoke all things into existence by using the Word. 
  • In John, the Word was in the beginning, the Word was with God and was God, and the Word became flesh and lived among us. 
  • Jesus said that He was the way, TRUTH and life. 
  • The Word is TRUTH. 
  • Therefore Jesus is the Word made flesh.  
  • In Psalms, God sent the word to heal us. 
  • In Revelation, part of the way we overcome our enemy is by the WORD of our testimony. The word of our testimony is the word being alive and active in our lives.

Would you think on the price that was paid for you to have the word of God so easily available to you and determine today to pursue it as the treasure that it is? Consider the VALUE!