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He Makes All Things NEW

He Makes All Things New

Ever wonder why we go through what we go through?  After our son died,  I was left with a lot of questions, “Why?” “How could this even happen?”  When bad things happen in our lives, we can question if God is a good God then how could he allow something like this to happen?

I’ll never forget when someone gave me a little story book called, “Water bugs and dragonflies.”  I wondered, ‘why would someone give me a children’s book after our son just died?”  As the story goes, there was a family of water bugs.  Every so often the water bugs would venture off up the stalks of grass, above the surface of water to never return or be seen again.

When it was time for the water bug, narrating the story, turn to leave, he discovered when he went to the surface, something amazing happened.  He gained wings!  In his excitement he realized, ‘wait, I have to go back to tell my family!’  Then he realized he couldn’t because of his wings, and in his transformation, no one would recognize him anyway.  He would have to wait until the rest of his family went through their transformation to see them again.

Something New will be Born

Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. Isa. 66:9 NIV

He Makes All Things New

When life hurts and we think God’s promises have failed us, one person in the Bible reminds me that God never leaves us and uses everything we go through for his greater purpose.  Job was a man of great wealth, blameless, upright, feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).  He had a big family, a big house, lots of cattle, and servants.  Everything Job touched was blessed.

Then Satan comes along and wants to test Job, put him through trials, to see if he would still praise God and stay faithful.  God granted Satan access to Job to be allowed to test job in ways that were beyond imaginable, knowing whatever Satan did, Job would never turn away from Him (Job 1:8-12)

Satan’s first set of attacks on Jobs targeted his family (killing all his children) and cattle (all were taken and stolen from his property).  Imagine losing all your children and cattle all at once.  The depth of despair and loss must have been heavy and great.  Despite this Job still cried out to God and said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;  blessed be the name of the LORD” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).  

Satan’s second set of attacks, targeted Job’s health leaving him with sores all over his body (Job 2:7).  Job’s wife even said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  But he said to her, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive  evil?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  

In other words, life encompasses good and bad.  Are we to only embrace the good parts of life and not the bad parts?

Jobs’ his life had been good up until this point, just because bad things were happening now, does that mean God wasn’t good?

When Job’s three friends heard of his suffering and turmoil, they came to support and mourn with him.  For seven days they sat in silence, wept with him and comforted him (Job 2:11-13).  After those seven days, Job starts opening up about his heartache and hardship to his friends, questioning, ‘why was he even born?’ or ‘why must he go through all this suffering?’ 

Then his three friends chime in and given their own opinion and reason for Job’s suffering.  If Job was the target of all this suffering, he must have done something in his life to deserve all this.  Job’s circumstances must be a result of not being right before God and he needed to repent of any sin to make his suffering go away (Job 4).

“As I have seen, the who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).  His friends believed somehow God was judging Job’s character and he was now reaping the consequences.  It is true there is a law of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7 and 2 Corinthians 9:6, whatever effort we put into things we sow what we reap.

To turn that around and apply this concept to God implying he punishes and condemns us for our past mistakes is not the truth.  God is a loving forgiving God.

'We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are' (Romans 3:22 NLT).Click To Tweet

Yes it is true God allows certain circumstances to happen in our lives, but that does not mean God is evil and wants us to suffer.  There is nothing we can do, that would make God Not LOVE us.  We can be forgiven no matter what we’ve done, how lost we are or how far away from God we are.  His love is for everyone and anyone has the choice to be saved and forgiven.

The part of Job’s story I love the most, is how he remained faithful and praised God despite is horrible circumstances.  I love what Job says,

'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted' (Job 42:1)Click To Tweet

In the end, God restored Job’s fortunes and blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

Our past does not define our future. #quote Pastor Rick Warren

Job may have endured a lot, but he persevered because:

  1. He praised God even in his darkest moments
  2. He didn’t listen to naysayers (his friends)
  3. He held onto the goodness of God and trusted what God had for him was greater

God may allow us to endure hardships, but will use them to refine us and rid of us anything getting in the way of His greater purpose.  Job never turned his back on God and allowed his story to be all for God’s glory.  God can do all things and no amount of evil can ever stop God’s purpose and plan of what He’s already done for us.

No trial, no heartache, no struggle is ever wasted. Just as a woman goes through the pain of labor, God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives without something new to be born.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelations 21:5).

I love how God can turn the most tragic circumstances into His greatest plans ever.  Just like the water bugs, God makes all things new.  

Have you ever had a trial or hardship in your life that God used for his greater purpose?

How has God made things new in your life?

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In Him,

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Have You Ever Felt Like An Imposter?

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  Genesis 4:25 NIV

Come out, come out wherever you are.  Remember the game of hide and seek you used to play as a kid?  The seeker would count to 100 and say, ‘ready or not here I come.’  The object of the game was to find the best hiding place, turn out the lights and not be found by the seeker.  If the seeker found you then you became it having to go find those in hiding.  If you couldn’t be found then the seeker would say…..

“Come out, come out wherever you are.”

Have you ever felt like an Imposter?

Like you were playing a game of hide and seek only it wasn’t a game, it was your reality?  At one point in our lives we all hide from something, whether its to cover up gray hair (to appear younger than we are) or a pesky blemish on our face.  We all try to cover up our imperfections.

There have been so many times in my life where everything from the outside appears like its straight out of story tale when in reality I’ve been so desperately hurting on the inside.  From a distance it looks like I have everything all together but really feel like any moment the life I’ve built is going to crumble and fall apart.  I feel like one of those imposters who doesn’t expose their mess in front of others but instead keeps it hidden so no one will know.

At any moment someone is going to discover I don’t have it all together, nor do I have it all figured out.  Can you relate?

Why do we hide?

I think the very nature of our genetic makeup predisposes us to hide.  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God gave them one command, Do not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” Genesis 2:17.  Well, we know how that all went down.  Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they became ashamed of what they did and hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees in the garden when they heard God walking in the garden (Gen. 3:8).

The next part amazes me, God then calls out to them and asks them a question which he already knew the answer to–“Where are you?”  Genesis 4:9.  God was the one who created Adam and Eve, giving them life, did they really think they could hide from God?  God is God and knows all things.  There is no where we can hide that he doesn’t see us.  There is nothing we can keep hidden from Him that he doesn’t already know.  

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 23:23-24 NIV

It’ s so amazing time and time again we think we are safer or better off if we hide instead coming into the presence of God in the first place.  We try so hard to hide behind fake facades, perfectly manicured lives, masks of whom we think others will accept.  And yet we are so weary from trying to keep up with an image that doesn’t even matter.

In my professional life I wear a mask for a living to help maintain the sterility of the room I’m working in.  If one person enters the room without having the proper attire or their mask up to cover their face, there is a breech in the sterility of the room.  There are days I’m thankful I get to hide behind my mask so people don’t know whether I’m smiling or having a bad day.  Just as these masks protect the sterility of the room, our imposter masks protect us from others getting close to us and seeing the real version of ourselves.

These personas we hide behind aren’t really who we are at all.  The imposter masks may help protect our fake image but in the long run only end up falling apart.

The masks we wear don't make it better, they enable us to live as imposters in Fakeville.Click To Tweet

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Ephesians 4:25 NIV

It’s scary right?  Exposing yourself to others, letting them know your flaws, your deficits, your imperfections?  What if you let others in and they discover who you really are and they don’t accept you?

These are valid concerns and fears.  We must surround ourselves with people whom we trust.  Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment of who you should share your struggles with, whom you can trust.

Where are you?  

When God called to Adam and Eve to come out of hiding, Adam told God he hid because he was naked.  God then responded, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Who told you?

Who told you, you must be ashamed?  

Who……. told………… you?

'But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.' Ephesians 5:13 NIVClick To Tweet

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

Our struggles, our burdens, our trials are not meant to go through alone.  The enemy wants us to feel shame so he can isolate us and keep us hidden in the dark with our troubles.  He wants to whisper lies for us to believe we’re better off hiding.  When we bring our struggles into the light the enemy has no power over us and sets us free from the darkness to be able to live in the light of our flaws, deficits and imperfections they way God created us.   God never meant for us to hide behind our flaws but for them to be apart of who we are.

Have Can I Pray For You?

God does his best work in the light.  If you are going through a tough season or trial have you asked someone to pray for you?  Have you told a trusted individual?  Let another person come alongside you and walk with you in your struggle.
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How Do I PRAY?

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of it’s meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for tefillah is tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So How Do We PRAY?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help. Praise Repent Ask YieldClick To Tweet

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first, sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God, opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way, allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us.

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig ZiglarClick To Tweet

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

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My Hiding Place

Do you have a hiding place?  A place you like to retreat to?  To get some peace and quiet? To be able to decompress?  Process things?  Or just get away?

I have a hiding place that doesn’t seem like much of a hiding place.  It’s a place I always seem to come back to and find hard to stay away from.  It doesn’t seem like much of a retreat and yet I always come back to it.  Busyness.

Why do I keep coming to this place?  I constantly struggle with making my no, be no and my yes be yes.  I struggle with the balance of just because I can doesn’t mean I should.  I struggle with my heart being pulled in a million different places and where I should prioritize being present.  I constantly allow myself to be reeled back into this place time and time again.  The only thing I accomplish in the end is the feeling of not being able to accomplish the task well, weariness and guilty for spending valuable time away from the ones I love.

Why do I do this?

It’s who I am.  According to my Enneagram personality test, I’m a reformer by nature and have a desire to change the world.  I’m also a helper, who likes to help others at the expense of neglecting the needs of myself or my family.  Busyness also keeps me from dealing with the core issue of who I am–my perfectionism.  If I had a conversation with you, worked on a project, or been allotted a task I’m going to analyze how I could have improved the situation relentlessly in my head over and over.  It becomes tiring and quite defeating not living up to these always changing expectations.

When is it ever good enough?

At some point I just need to be okay with how things are, and accept it's enough.Click To Tweet

So how can I prevent getting into the tangled web of busyness?

Before I say yes to anything, I need to consult with God and my husband FIRST.  Because really when I say yes to something I’m really saying no to my family.  I need to spend time in prayer asking God, is this how I can make the most impact right now?  Is this how I should be spending the time you have given me?

My story reminds me of the Mary and Martha.  Whenever a guest comes to visit your home, there are so many preparations and tasks needed to be done before their arrival, especially if Jesus is your guest!  Jesus came to their home.  While Martha was distracted by all the preparations for their guest, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he had to say.  Martha became annoyed at Mary and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  (Luke 10:40).  

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. (Luke 10:41-42).

I’ve asked myself would I have responded like Mary or Martha?  I want to say I would have sat at Jesus’s feet listening to every word He had to say, blocking out any distraction focusing on what was most important at that moment–Jesus.  But being the reformer, helper I am, I know I would have been distracted like Martha, missing the very point of Jesus’s visit–to be with Him.

Over the years It has become easier the more time I spend with God, discerning his voice over what I need to do and not do.  But if I’m not careful can fall into the trap of busyness once again missing the very essence of God’s desire for me–His purpose.

My value and worth aren’t comprised of how much I accomplish, but in who God says I am and His purpose for me.  There will always be another task to accomplish, but if I lose focus of God’s purpose for me then all is lost.  The biggest obstacle I can be aware of is if life starts to get chaotic, then probably I let my balance off of being more performance driven than purpose driven.

I will never regret when I make a choice in Jesus name in the direction of God’s purpose for me.  I will never say I wish I performed more tasks.  I will never say I wish I had more time to do more.  I will always regret not spending enough time where my time is needed most with my family or I didn’t get the rest I needed.

Do you struggle with busyness or distractions?

I want to be attentive to what God desires for me and not distracted by where the world wants to take me.  God’s purpose will eternally satisfy more than any highly successful performance ever will.

Where is your hiding place?

Who do you relate most to Mary or Martha?

Prayer-  Lord help me please guard my time, protect the time our family has together.  Help me find rest in you and not my hiding place.  Help my no be no and yes be yes and not feel bad about it!  Help me be present, not go before you and be released from the burden of how I can always do things better.  I love you Lord, trust in who you are, you’re promises and love.  Thank you for keeping me balanced and grounded.  I love you, God, in Jesus name, Amen.

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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

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Getting Out of the Grave

 

Have you ever gone fishing in hopes to catch the big one?  Our family has done our fair share of fishing, coming from Alaska.  In Alaska, the king salmon is one prize fish that everyone tries to catch.  The king salmon only run at a certain time, once a year so there is a mad rush to catch the big one before they are gone.  People are so crazy about catching king salmon, there are even fish derbies to determine who caught the biggest fish–which can weigh up to 100 pounds!  People spend years trying to catch the big one and still never catch a king salmon.  However, when a person catches a king salmon there is no going back, they are hooked.

No doubt fishing in Alaska is one of the most amazing experiences a person will ever have–there is a joy and art to it.  However, fishing for the big king salmon makes me think how we go out to lure and hook the big fish, but eventually the desire to catch the big one, lures and hooks us if we’re not careful.

Have you been there before–caught in the trap of chasing more?

I am painfully aware and convicted of how many times in life I’ve been a victim of chasing my own desires to find fulfillment and satisfaction–only to be left weary, disappointed and depleted.

In life there becomes a healthy balance of chasing our own desires versus God’s desires to find some sort of satisfaction and fulfillment.   Sometimes we can get caught up in chasing our dreams for the big one, whatever that may be–a bigger house, better job, nicer car or more money.  Then somehow, someway we get stuck in a place where we don’t want to be, missing out on all of God’s greatest blessings along the way.

Trying to catch the big one makes me think of the Israelites.  

Graves of Craving Numbers 11:4-34

Moses, the leader of the Israelites, had been leading them through the desert for about 40 years to take them to The Promised Land.  In this time of wandering, God was teaching them how to rely and depend on Him for all their needs.  God had provided the Israelites with shelter, water and a bread-like substance called manna.  After while the Israelites became dissatisfied with God’s provisions.  They were tired of wandering around the hot desert and eating the same old thing every day.  They whined and complained and desired something more.  They asked Moses if they could have some meat.  The Lord honored their request and sent quail, not just for one day but for a whole month!

There was so much quail meat, that each Israelite had an equivalent to 10 homers which is 100 bushels or a little over 22 barrels of meat.  Their indulgence and engorgement infuriated God.

“While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy” Numbers 11:33-34.

In our lives, there is a fine line between being content with what we have and being greedy.  In the case of the Israelites, their greediness for more left them unsatisfied and became the death of them.  In fact, their greediness dug their own grave.

God used the Israelites greediness as an example for generations to come.  The place of their overindulgence was located in the desert and named Kibroth-Hattaavah, which means graves of craving, desire and/or greed.  Their greed and burning desire actually dug their own graves.  It’s not wrong to crave worldly things but our cravings become a sin when our worldly desires become greater than God.

 

“Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death never satisfied” (Habakkuk 2:5 NIV).Click To Tweet

Satan would like nothing more than for us to believe, overindulging in our desires will bring us fulfillment and satisfaction—when in reality our self-fulfillment will only lead to emptiness and temporary satisfaction.  There will always be another desire to fulfill.

When is enough ever enough?

When we reside in what God desires, we will never desire more of what the world wants and be eternally satisfied.Click To Tweet

How do we stay out of the Grave of Craving?

  1. Trusting in Him.  Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.”   Trusting in the Lord for His provision keeps us straight on our paths, so Satan can’t lure us away.  Keep taking those steps of faith, God will always lead you in the right direction and firmly secure your feet on the straight path.
  2. Being content.  Philippians 4:11-13 NIV, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Being content with God’s provision and trusting it is enough, will provide us with more than we ever need.
  3. Prayer and Thanksgiving.  Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Allowing God’s desires to be our desires.  Psalm 37:4 NASB, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”  When we allow God’s desires to be our desires we will always be eternally satisfied.
  5. Staying alert and aware.  1 Peter 5:8 NIV, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Keeping our eyes and focus on God will keep us out of the grave.
Satan will always try to use our cravings and desires against us to fulfill his evil plan.Click To Tweet
When our cravings and burning desires are greater than God, they will always be the death of us.Click To Tweet

Our steps of faith will keep us out of the grave.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  He didn’t die on the cross and stay in the grave, he resurrected from the grave so that we could live an eternal life with Him be filled with His abundant blessings.  We aren’t meant to live in the grave but be resurrected with Jesus to live a life with eternal fulfillment and satisfaction.

God can handle our circumstances and turn them into something so much better and greater.  Getting out of the grave of our circumstances will be hard, but I promise you, dear friend, God will hold your hand and never let go.

Have you been a victim to Satan’s sneaky tactics and not even know it?

Have you ever been stuck in the grave with your circumstances?

How has God led you out of the grave?

We were never meant to live in the grave with our circumstances but in the Victory of Jesus!  You were made to be victorious!  God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His Word is alive and active in our lives!  Please let me know if you have any questions!  You are loved!  

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Where Do I Fit In?

As many of you know this summer our family embarked on a journey of traveling and new beginnings.  We trekked across Alaska, Canada, and many National Parks in our RV, until we arrived in our new home in Colorado.  Every place we move arises a lot of unknowns.  Where will we live?  Where will the kids go to school?  Which school is best for them?  Where will I work?  Who will be our friends?  What church will we attend?  What activities will we be involved in?  And mostly, will I fit in?

With each new move, I question will we have nice neighbors?  Will others be accepting of us?  Will I fit into this new life?  Do I really have to make a new life all over again?  Moving every 3-4 years in the military is just enough time to establish roots, which makes leaving so much harder.  I would never trade the amazing adventures our family has had traveling to our next assignment but would do anything to keep the friends and relationships we had, move with us.

As I get my footing in our new house, our new area we live, I can’t really just knock on someone’s door and ask ‘Will you be my friend?’  These things take time.  Moving really makes me lean and depend on God more for His provision of everything.  This new life reminds me of the parable of the new cloth and old garment.

Matthew 9:16  NKJV “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment;  for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.”

Luke 5:36 NKJV “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one;  otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.”

In this parable, Jesus is questioned about His actions regarding fasting.  Jesus is trying to explain the dangers of patching an old garment with a new patch of cloth.  That would be ridiculous to patch a new cloth on an old garment because when a person washes the old garment, the new patch of cloth would shrink and make the tear worse.  Jesus was challenging those questioning Him to understand, we don’t just cover up the old with the new.  He was offering a whole new meaning and message–we become new when our freedom, identity, and truth, comes from God Himself, not from following a bunch of rules.  Jesus was the new message, a fulfillment of God’s law.

Jesus was offering a whole ‘new cloth,’ one that didn’t cover up the old with the new.  In this new life I’m living I can’t try to fit my old life into my new one.  It would tear and not match up.  I can’t travel around with my life in a box and expect everything to match up wherever I go.  I have to be gentle with myself and allow for God’s timing and plan to fall into place, not my own agenda.  I am so thankful for Jesus’ message, I don’t have to try to fit in and be something I’m not.

When my freedom, identity, and truth are in Christ, I will Fit in wherever I go. Click To Tweet

FREEDOM

Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

IDENTITY

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

TRUTH

John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
Maybe you’re a single mom trying to fit in a married couple world.  Or maybe you’re a part-time working mom trying to fit in the stay-at-home mom world.  Maybe you struggle with temptations or sins and don’t know how to walk away and believe it’s better to keep them hidden to fit in.  Maybe you struggle with an eating disorder trying to fit into the world that says you have to be skinny to be accepted.  Maybe you struggle with addictions and don’t know how to fit in a world filled with pain.  Maybe you have stronghold reigning in your life that doesn’t allow you to fit in at all.
Where do you find your F.I.T?
Do you struggle with where you FIT in?

 

If I waited to find my acceptance and approval in the world, I may never Fit in.  Starting over can be difficult but when my F.I.T is found in Jesus, I will always FIT in wherever I go!  I don’t have to worry or fear the unknown when my F.I.T is in Jesus.  He fulfills my greater purpose, I don’t have to be something I’m not.

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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Maranatha: He is Coming

Did you know the first ever marathon ran in history was by a Greek soldier?   He ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.  He ran an approximate 26 miles to deliver the good news of their victory.

Who knew that one man’s race for victory over 1,500 years ago, was setting the stage for the race many would run known as a marathon. I can’t even imagine running 26 miles after fighting in a battle, probably not having that much food or water and running in sandals (I don’t think they had running shoes back then)! My body would feel tired, hungry and exhausted if I didn’t get enough food, water or sleep.  This motivated Greek soldier didn’t exactly train for those 26 miles, he just ran!

Well anyone who has ran a marathon knows going out to run 26 miles the first day isn’t the best way to run this long race. There needs to be a gradual increase of miles over weeks and months. Rest periods need to be incorporated as well as adequate nutrition, hydration and sleep to be able to perform well enough to cross the finish line.

Running races can be compared to the race we run in life.

How do you run this race of life?  As a sprint or a marathon?

Do you live life like a sprint, trying to rush through life getting many things done in the little time you have? Or do you take the marathon approach–taking time to equip your self so your prepared for what lies ahead?  I for one have tried to live life both ways and found sprinting through life doesn’t get me anywhere faster except more weary and depleted. When I try to speed through life taking short cuts, I end up missing all of God’s blessings He intended for me along the way.   I usually have to backtrack my steps in order to get back to where I originally started.  I realized speeding through the process never got me anywhere anyway.

In my stubbornness and disobedience God has showed me…..

Taking the marathon approach to life may be harder and longer but the reward is so worth it in the end.

So how can we make it to the end when there are days where life feels so heavy and defeated like we are climbing up a steep mountain going nowhere?

Or where can we find our strength on the days we feel as though we can’t take another step or carry any more burdens weighing heavy on our hearts?

Everyone’s race of life looks different.  Maybe you or a loved one is battling cancer.  Maybe you have gone through a failed marriage.  Maybe you have a prodigal son or daughter, praying they will return home one day.  Maybe you are a widow.  Maybe you are struggling financially trying to make ends meet.  Maybe you lost your job.  Maybe you have an estranged or strained relationship hoping it will be restored.  Maybe you battle addictions or are enslaved to your circumstances.  Maybe you have gone through a terrible loss.

These trials and struggles we face can be so heavy and burdensome.

Whatever race you are running, know God is with you and He never leaves you.

When there are days we are weary and burdened and the finish line seems so far away– rest in what God is able to do for us.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

How will we ever be able to run this race and persevere to the end if we don’t allow God to carry our burdens or seek Him to find rest? 

God can carry our burdens for us much better than we can do on our own.  This race we run, is not for nothing.  The pain we go through is not to be wasted.  God cares about the struggles we endure and go through.  We can always turn to Him and seek Him for our every need.

”…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Carrying our heavy burdens on our own makes persevering to the end so much harder.

How do you run this race of life?  With God holding your hand or trying to run on your own?

Whatever race we run when we seek God, we will always persevere when we allow him to have our struggles.  We will always persevere when we stand in his presence and allow his truth to be alive in our lives.  We will always persevere when we hold onto His promises that “now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).

In the marathon race we run, there will be days we are weary and need his strength—then God reminds me, Maranatha “Our Lord is Coming.”

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” Revelations 22:7

No matter what happens in this life we can rejoice because our Lord is coming.  Until then we will keep running this marathon until Maranatha, the day our Lord will come!  I promise you the reward is greater than anything we could ever imagine.  The enemy would like nothing more than to defeat and destroy us.  He can never change what God has already done for us.

Keep running the good race, the Lord is with you!

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This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “If God is good, then why does He allow Bad things to Happen in this world?”

This is a very loaded question and will take more than this one blog post to answer.  The truth is we live in a broken world, that dates back to Adam and Eve the very day they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree.  But God is a loving God who created us and desires a relationship with us.   Yes, looking at our world we live in, it is corrupt, there is evil and devastation.  However, God allowed us to have free will and make our own choices.  God doesn’t make us do bad things, we choose to.

God’s love is a holy love. One that forgives and selflessly gives eternally forevermore. One that never leaves us.   There is never an end or amount of God’s love. But sometimes God’s love doesn’t feel very loving does it? Let me explain.

Six years ago my husband and I endured the biggest tragedy parents could ever go through—the loss of our son. He was born with an undetected kidney disease that was incompatible with life. He lived only two short weeks on this earth before he went to heaven. When he died I couldn’t believe God didn’t heal our son.

We prayed so hard for him to be healed, didn’t God hear our prayers? If God loved us then why didn’t He heal our son?

As time went by, I went before God with this very question and His response was “I did heal your son just not in the way you asked me to. He indeed is healed and living a life that is free from disease, pain or sorrow, he is no longer suffering.” Wow, God was right, He answered every single one of my prayers just not in the way I imagined.

Our life may have been filled with grief and pain, but there is not pain that God doesn’t already know.

God’s love is a sacrifice.

Our tragedy made me see more than ever, God’s love is a sacrifice, one that He sacrificed for us through his one and only son. The pain of our son’s death gave me a glimpse of the pain God went through when Jesus died. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who am I to say I want this part of God’s love but not that part?  At the cross Jesus didn’t surrender half of His life for us, He surrendered all of it.  His love isn’t something I get to pick and choose the parts I do or don’t like. To know God’s holy love, to know the suffering of Jesus, is to know all parts of God’s love.

At the Cross, I lay it at your feet.

Every sacrifice requires 100% surrender. Our surrender is an offering to God.  The Hebrew word for offering (hiqrib) means “to present, bring near, offer.” How perfect is God’s plan, that He made an altar (the cross) for our burdens to be laid down as an offering, to bring us closer to Him?  The life we once lived before our son, died along with him.  The only chance we had to have a life filled with joy again, was to lay down our pain and grief at the feet of Jesus and allow God to crucify them at the cross.

I am crucified with thee.

At the cross, our surrendered burdens are crucified.  They were never meant to be carried beyond the cross.  Every act of obedience, every act of faith no matter how big or small, becomes a living sacrifice to God.   Our surrender allows God to become more in our lives, not our burdens (John 3:30).

God knows what it takes to produce the greatest blessings ever in Him, not anything this world could ever provide for us.   He knows what we need to rid ourselves of anything getting in the way of Him.  Through fasting, prayer, walking away from worldly riches, making sacrifices for God’s greater good, our love becomes a living sacrifice. We become an example to the world what makes us rich and loved isn’t by what we put in our wallets, closets or garages but what God puts into our hearts.

“For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). Our sacrifices allow God to produce His greater work with in us.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

This is where I die.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Every resurrection needs a surrendered offering, a sacrifice/death, and a burial.  This is how God’s holy love works to resurrect our circumstances and make us new in Him!  God’s holy love is the ultimate love.  He holds nothing back.

God’s holy love doesn’t mean we will be without tragedy or heartache.

At the cross lives a holy love, one that suffers, knows our pain and carries our burdens.

At the cross is where Jesus meets us in our pain and shows there is nothing we go through that he hasn’t already been through.   No one knows our pain and suffering better than Jesus. His love is the ultimate sacrifice.

There will always be another storm in our life but know we can always trust in God’s promises, His goodness, and love.  When our feelings get the best of us here are some great reminders.

In God’s love, we can find freedom from our burdens by resting in the truths of God’s love.

God’s love is always good and pure.
God’s love is always faithful.
God’s love is eternal and never runs out.
God’s love is perfect and always prevails.
God’s love is a relationship.
God’s love is where we can find rest.
God’s love is a sacrifice and is forgiving.
God’s love comforts us.
God’s love, loves unconditionally.
God’s love is extravagant and abundant.
God’s love paid our debt for sin.
God’s love gives selflessly.
God’s love never fails and conquers all.
God’s love heals, restores and renews.
Nothing is bigger or greater than God’s love.

Have you experienced and accepted God’s holy love?

How has God’s holy love restored and renewed you?

Jesus is my healer.  His holy love makes us complete!  I pray God’s holy love will abundantly fill our hearts and homes this week.  You are loved!

Did you enjoy this blogpost? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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The definition of the Hebrew word for offering was obtained from www.biblestudytools.com

A modified version of this post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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