Tuesday, September 20, 2011

After my ranting. . .

So, I'm over my ranting about being changed. . . Now, I want to flip sides and say that while we ARE to be changed. . . We still screw up. . .Even the old and new testament heroes did. . . God is pretty patient. . .more forgiving than we know. . .and loves us beyond our comprehension!

Philippians 1:6 says, ". . .being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (NIV)
Now that's awesome. . .I'm not done yet! I think the key to my "rant" the other night is when we "pretend" that our sin is OK b/c we are saved, and we have no desire to change. I have to check my heart often and ask, "Am I allowing God to finish His good work or am I still in my toddler stage throwing fits because it's not all about me?" There is a big difference in pushing towards the mark, stumbling, but getting up and continuing AND running the race backwards or refusing to run. Be encouraged. . .He's not finished with you yet, and that means there is probably more change on the horizon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Church. . .It got me thinking!

The word seems to evoke many emotions among people. Why? Because it's made of people. You have to understand that going into it. But, God created us to be relational. It seems the entire Bible leans towards community. Abraham didn't see all the promises of God made to Him, but He knew it wasn't really about Him, but rather a group of people. Yes, God is relational. Personal to us. But, because He is relational, He has created us to be relational, vertically and horizontally. All that to say this. . .church should always inspire you to learn and ask more questions. It should be encouraging but should also inspire you to run the race, to fight the good fight, to move closer in your relationship with the Lord tomorrow than you are today. So, in reality, it shouldn't always make you happy. It shouldn't be "feel good". Change doesn't always feel good. And, if we are in a relationship with Him, we should be forever changing. So, the following "devotional" or thought for today stems from what we have been talking about in church. Or, maybe it's just what I needed to be reminded of.
I hope you have it. I hope you have asked Jesus to Lord over your life. I hope you have accepted His gift. It's free. It's life-changing. . .

OR it should be.

Why is it that when we are saved we sometimes think, "Well, that's enough. I've got my ticket, but I'm gonna live life like I want it." So, we ask Christ to live in our hearts, but not to change us. . . not to cause us to strive for better. So, I will continue to live with my boy/girlfriend, or I won't lie too much just when it might be in someone's best interest, or it's OK to cheat as long as it doesn't hurt someone, or I will still run around with the same people doing the same thing without showing them the change, or I'm only stealing from Uncle Sam. . .so I won't report my side earnings. What is that? When I read the Bible and about those in the New Testament, I see lives TRANSFORMED. . .CHANGED. . .Saul even got a new name (Paul), but what if Saul said, Jesus is great. I'm saved, but I'm just gonna kill a few more Christians (just the ones that are a bad testimony). WHAT? We would be appalled. But for some reason the same change doesn't apply to our lives. We don't wanna be bothered. It's a "personal" relationship. I live how I want. So glad Jesus did not adopt that mentality. It is about Him and serving others for Him. The following scripture is what made me go on this rant tonight. Reviewing the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. . .a chapter talking about the faith of Abraham, Sarah, Moses. . .and on and on. But, I like this part (referring to those Old Testament Heros) from Hebrews 11:33-37
"who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated. . ."

Wow! They did awesome things through the power of God. But guess what? Things didn't always go smoothly. Some were put in prison, tortured, mocked, stoned, sawn in two. Do these sound like believers in Yaweh who were like "Well, I'm a Hebrew. I've been circumcised. That's enough. I'm in"? NO!!!!! I'm sure there were those who acted like that, but they were not mentioned. They aren't the ones we are given as models of faith. Things are going to good and things are going to go bad. That is life. The question is what am I doing while I am living, good or bad? Isaiah 54:17 says that we are more than conquerors and that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Peter, Paul, Stephen, James. . .they knew this. And once they were changed, they were changed. It was evident. 2 Peter 1:12 says (Peter speaking) that I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them.

I need to be reminded to LIVE the change that's within me. When the Holy Spirit dwells within you, you have to change. Continual sin and the Holy Spirit don't coincide. I often wonder if I lived after the resurrection of Christ would I be one of them that was unashamed and unafraid. Or, would I dare to continue living selfishly while those around me died for there faith?

Just a little food for thought. . .

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just Thinking. . .

I love when sermons, ideas, lessons, books, people make me think deeper about God! Even if I'm not sure what has been said is true, it makes me think more, dig more, become more curious. I'm currently reading a Christian historical fiction book. Now, it's fiction for a reason, so I'm not claiming that everything in the book is the truth to stand on. However, it has a little paragraph in it that I LOVE and thought was so true, even for today. This passage is from a book by Bodie and Brock Thoene, "Fourth Dawn", pg. 49. The book talks a lot about Jewish names for planets, star constellations, etc. in Jesus time. Now, I am no expert in that area and so I haven't verified the information. But again, it's the idea that made me think, and I hope it does the same for you! This passage is based on what the "watchers of the stars" noticed as the conception of Christ drew nearer.

"On clear nights Zachariah climbed onto the roof and gazed into the heavens and saw the certain sign of Messiah as Mars, the star called "The Adam" in Hebrew, moved nearer and nearer to the constellation of The Virgin (Virgo). The branch lifted high in her right hand, the shock of wheat in the other, the constellation of The Virgin told a story to anyone with eyes to see and a mind to ask the questions." (HERE is the part I love) "As the eternal plan quietly unfolded on earth, the heavens proclaimed the glory of God! Great wonders were transpiring above the nations. Yet except for a handful of men, no one on earth took note of the signs of the times."

Does that sound like today? Signs all around, but no one cares to notice. I do believe that God put ALL things around us to point to him. Not to be worshipped (as I think evolution has encouraged us to do with the creation), but to point us to the Creator! I just wish I knew how to study it! This book has made me want to know more about Hebrew and my Jewish heritage. It just seems so difficult to get started. Maybe you can help me. . .

Wouldn't it be great for the world to see what occurred in the heavenlies on the night of Jesus birth? His conception? It was no little event in the history of God's plan. The universe had to be proclaiming His name!

I hope you're thinking! I can't seem to stop wondering!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Devotion Day: Powerful

Feel powerless. . .

Your child falls and breaks their arm, and you can't take away the pain

Your country is attacked and thousands of innocent people lose their lives, and you can't fight back

Your best friends divorce, and you can't bring them back together

Your family chooses a different faith, a different path, and you can't make them believe in Truth

A child is molested-you know it-the system fails him/her, and you can't protect them

A tornado sweeps through and destroys all you have, and you can't turn back time & bring it back

But there is one who holds power. . .His name is the Christ, Jesus, Yeshua, fully God, fully man

Mark 5:25-34 NASB

"A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse-- after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."

We have access to this power. . .it's called prayer. No, God is not a genie in a bottle, but He has given us the Holy Spirit. . .do we access it like we could? Do we "feel" the power that He gives? When we experience situations like listed above, we often grieve, agonize, worry. . .Why?
Because we can't fix them. Often, we have to live with it. But how do we live with it? By laying them down at the foot of the cross. By constantly lifting the people and the situation to our Lord. No, we don't have the power to change. . .but I serve a God who raises people from the dead, heals the sick, and even more amazing, can take away the sins of the earth. Everything else seems like child's play compared to the removal of sin.

Tap into the power. His power can forgive your sins. His power can move mountains. I just have to let Him work through me OR get out of His way!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mercy for Monday

So, this bit of mercy was delivered to me through a testimony of a dear friend. . .a woman who was my worship mentor at camp. I was blessed to see her a few weeks ago, and my heart needed that! She has been battling cancer for years. I hadn't seen her without her hair (when I was with her at camp in the past, she hadn't cut her hair. It was long and gorgeous), and she was radiant! Still smiling, still the same God-centered woman! I asked her how she was feeling, and she says (the way only she could). . .paraphrased, "I don't ask myself that. I can't. The Word says that in Him we live and move and have our being. So how I am is not the concern, I am in Him and I live and move in Him." Praise God! What a teacher in her actions! Love that woman! So, for this week, I hope that you will meditate on the following scripture and be reminded that it is in Him that you live and move and have your being!
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being. . ."

Acts 17:28 (KJV)