Wednesday, September 23, 2015

God is Good, All the Time

This week has been one that has been challenging for many in my local body of believers.  We have watched in shock as a precious family in our body experienced a terrible loss. This young couple is mourning the loss of their almost two year old son.

My heart is broken for them, but I am also aware at how I cannot fathom the heartbreak they feel. Those of us who have never experienced that sort of loss cannot begin to even imagine how they will go on. We cannot grasp the sustaining power of God in that moment until we are there.  God draws near to the broken hearted not those that are looking at the broken hearted. He comforts those who mourn. But when we are trying to imagine it for another with empathy, we are not able because that is not our reality but theirs. He is sufficient in our circumstances, not in our imagination.

As these thoughts kept going through my mind, I kept rehearsing all that I know to be true about God. I woke this morning to thoughts of how the enemy is ruthless and will use this as an opportunity to attack them. We need to remember he is ruthless, and he will use this as an opportunity to challenge their faith and belief in God. This is where the body of believers need to cover them in prayer. We need to hold up our belief of God, how big He is, how faithful He is and how good He is.  Not that we go to them and say these things, but rather that we pray for them, we believe God for them and allow our faith to be a shield that covers them as they process their pain in the presence of God.

When we experience times of trial, trouble, difficulty and heartbreaking hardship or great loss, that is the time the enemy will come to us to pose questions to us like "What kind of God allows this", "If God really loved you would He...", "God is not faithful or trustworthy" and the list goes on and on.
This is when we need to remember God is trustworthy, faithful, loving...  but we do not always understand His ways. When we cannot comprehend the whys, we have to trust God.

The enemy of our soul wants to separate us from God. He wants to do this to hurt the heart of God and in separating us, we are unprotected and ripe for the enemy to steal from us, kill and destroy us.

When Satan tempts us to doubt God, let's resist him. Let's submit instead to God, let's cling to Him and rest in knowing that He is bigger than our pain. He is our healer. He is our comforter.  He is the only One that can get us through it.

Heavenly Father, 
You are good. Watch over, comfort and protect this dear family. Guard them from the fiery arrows of the evil one. Surround them with your love. Place them underneath Your wings. Draw them in to You.  Lord, give them peace that passes our understanding in the midst of this horrible storm and protect their marriage and family relationships. 

I ask these things in Jesus Name.  Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Armor of God

Currently I am working through the Armor of God study with Priscilla Shirer.  I highly recommend it.  The movie War Room that is doing very well at the box office, is such a great complement to this study. Priscilla is also the leading actress in the movie. If you have the time, I suggest you check it out also.

The movie focuses on our need to do our fighting in prayer. The study talks about the armor we need as a Christian warrior.

The thing that I found most surprising in the study is the 7th piece of armor being prayer.  I had never put it together with the rest of the armor. I have read those verses in Ephesians 6 many times. And for whatever reason, I had not put it together.  But it is right there in black and white.

The first week we spent time studying about how to size up the real enemy. It reminded me that people are not the enemy. How often we war against one another. Even in our own homes, churches, towns and even within our own country. This week talked about how the war is fought in heavenly places and that we do battle in prayer. It was a reminder that we have an enemy that is trying to steal, kill and destroy us. It also talked about how he studies us for areas where he can attack us. He attacks us in our areas where we may be weak or hurting, but he also comes at us in areas of strength and places where we have the greatest influence.

The second week we looked at the belt of truth. Priscilla pointed out that the truth is simply God's opinion on any matter.  That is by far the best way for me to look at that.  As I seek the word of God
and study it, I just need to remember that I am seeking it to determine God's perspectives, standards and expectations. Once I seek it, I need to obey it, which leads me to the next week.

The third week is the breastplate of righteousness. As we study the word of God, we initially discover that we are lost, separated from God, and an enemy of God because of sin. Based on our confession  that "Jesus is Lord' and belief that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved. This belief, according to God's word, says that He counts that as our righteousness. Therefore, I am right with God because of Christ. I am not righteous because of my doing, but it is based on the one to whom I belong. Priscilla points out that Jesus' perfect righteousness is counted to me. Based on that account, I am now free to practice what I already have. She puts it this way, "Perfect makes practice." I have to exercise my righteousness. Because I am right with God, based on His grace through my faith, I am now reconciled with God which leads me to the follow week.

The fourth week talks about the shoes of peace. In this week, I was really challenged to consider that true peace is best displayed in "backdrop of chaos and commotion." Although we wish this were not the case, I think we all can admit that it is in the difficulties of life we tend to turn to God.  In the good times, we typically imply that we've got it, and we just don't have need of God... Maybe not consciously but subconsciously we sure do.  Funny thing is, we are always in need of Him, we are just not always convinced of it during the times of plenty and blessings.  It is when we are at the end of our ropes that we realize we needed Him all along.

We are to take the good news to the world that they do not have to be far away from God, but they can be brought near through Jesus Christ. This good news is watered down to the lost world when we are not walking in peace in our own lives.  We have to live with integrity and live out the gospel in order for the hearer to be convinced to even begin to listen to us. Without us living in peace, what exactly are we trying to share with the world? Hypocrisy is such a deterrent to the gospel. In this week of the study, she talks about our need to cultivate and activate peace. She says we do this by gratitude and trusting God. In our study group, one of the ladies noted that when we spend time recounting our reasons to be grateful it encourages us to trust God all the more.  That is such a great reminder to approach prayer with gratitude. As in Psalms 100:4, it tells us to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Take time to recount your blessings and focus on God, it will make you look at your list of requests in an entirely different way. And watch your peace grow.

I am currently working on week five.  It is about the shield of faith.  The main thing that is standing out to me so far is that faith is our belief in action based on our confidence. I will let you know if there is more to share on this topic as I progress.

The controversy and debate ask, "since we are right with God already, why not just live however we want to and sin?

I think we miss the point of this gift from God when this is the question we pose. If we really believe Him, we will obey His commands, we will believe He wants what is best for us. Even the restrictive rules that seem to take away our freedom, are truly for our protection. So when we surrender to the idea that He does want what is BEST for us and follow Him and His opinion of what is best, it is truly in surrender where true freedom comes into the picture.  It is like being able to breathe again. We can rest when we fully trust, lean into and surrender to God.

Our Father

After watching a post by Max Lucado regarding the most important part of prayer, I was touched and moved, even inspired.  He was talking about the start of our prayer where we say "Our Father".  He is our Father, our daddy!  Jesus said Abba when He prayed the Lord's Prayer.  Look at the reference from BibleHub/Strong's Concordance: Abbá – "Father," also used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e. in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; "daddy," "papa."  Also see the following video that is such an inspiration: Whose Your Daddy by Priscilla Shirer. (Thanks Donna for the reminder)

This is what captured my attention.  I have been focusing on and praising God as creator, healer, redeemer and many other things, but today I was captured by the fact that He is my Father. I have a Father in heaven with whom I can be in an affectionate, dependent relationship.

It struck me the more I pondered this that He wants this intimate parent-child relationship with me. He created me, and He has a design and plan for me life.  With that in mind, I began thinking "why would I ever resist Him?" He desires to be in a close, dependent relationship with ME!  He knows what I need because He designed me, and He knows the plan for me. He doesn't want to harm me. He can also see in the heavenly realm that I cannot see. So His leading, His instructions and His plans are the best for me.

So if there is a war in the heavenly realm, and I participate negatively or positively based on my cooperation/obedience with God; why wouldn't I want to cooperate in my own victory. There is a spiritual realm that is effected by what we do here on earth. God, just like an earthly parent, wants to direct my path, but I have to allow it.  I have to choose to cooperate. When I surrender to His direction in my life, He can protect me from the evil plan and trap the enemy has for me. The enemy has landmines laid out in each of our lives, But our heavenly Father can help us navigate them and be victorious.

Why do we resist Him?  I believe it is because we start listening and believing the lies from the enemy instead of believing, listening and following our Abba, Father- Our heavenly Daddy!

I hope this encourages you all today.

Hope you have a blessed weekend.