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Archive for January, 2013

 

God knew that we would need a little help in our journey here on earth. The disciples were so blessed to be in the physical presence of Jesus and soak up all of His teachings directly from His mouth. We, on the other hand, have to rely on the written words in the Bible… and God sent us a helper – the Holy Spirit.

 

In John 14:16-17, Jesus introduces the concept of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

 

A few verses later (25-31a), Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.  You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.  I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;  but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.”

I’m so glad that we aren’t alone for our days walking this sod. I’m overjoyed that God left a part of Himself to dwell among His people until we can part this world and join Him in heaven!

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Not only does God love us – He wants a real relationship with us. Any good relationship takes an investment – time. He wants to spend time with us and we should desire to spend time with Him!

 

My husband and I are fortunate that we come from families with long-lived marriages. We have examples to look upon during the hard times in our own relationship. My in-laws have been married for 39 years and my parents for 38 years. My parents are now “empty nesters” with both myself and my sister married and living our own lives. When I look at their marriage, I see two people as much in love now as they must have been when they were high school sweethearts. Want to know what their “secret” is? TIME. They have always made time for themselves as a couple. My parents have been dating for 40 years – yep, they still date. They also take time every day to talk about what’s going on in their individual lives, their hopes and dreams. The time that they devote to their relationship keeps their love alive.

 

Much like the early days in a romantic relationship, most of us start our walk with God being so hungry for time with Him that we spend hours delving into His Word and  conversing with Him (praying). As time goes on, many of us find ourselves comfortable in our relationship – complacent to go through the motions knowing that God loves us and that we have the assurance of salvation. I can only imagine how sad that makes Him!

 

God’s own Son, Jesus, found time to seek out quiet places and time with His Father.  If Jesus needed time with God, then certainly we do as well. Want to keep your relationship with God fresh and growing? Go on a “God Date.” Don’t know where to start reading? The book of Luke is packed full of Jesus’ teachings. Don’t know what to say? Jesus gave a great example of prayer in Matthew 6. Most of us know this as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

 

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Yesterday, we explored that God loves us from the moment he begins to knit us together in our mother’s womb. Today, we will talk about how deep His love for us really is.

 

God loves us and He loves to shower us with His blessings! He loves us so much that His blessings were designed and poured out for us even before we believe in Him! God did these things long before you or I walked this earth. Let me share with you two sections of the Bible that speak specifically to this.

 

Ephesians 1:3-8a (NASB) says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace  which He lavished on us.”

 

Ephesians 2:4-10 (NASB) says But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

 

I believe that these two sections of the Bible can be summed up by the following quote: “No one has ever done more to show you that you were unloved than God has done to show you that you are loved.”  ~ Beth Moore, Breaking Free

 

An excerpt from the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stewart Townsend:

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure – that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.

 

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Have you ever made something with your own hands? Have you ever been able to take something from the beginning of the idea to completion and felt the joy when you looked at it and realized how amazing it is? I do some sewing and I make baby blankets for our friends that have babies. I can remember the excitement of looking down upon my very first quilt when it was ready to be gifted. I’m still a beginner at this sewing gig, but I think I do pretty well – even if I have a tendency to tell my friends “don’t forget: it’s made with love – not perfection!”

 

If we feel this kind of joy and excitement at something we make – how much more do you think God feels when He is forming us inside of our mother’s womb? I think David captured it best in the book of Psalm:

 

Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
You formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank You, High God—You’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
You know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before You,
the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Even though we aren’t perfect – we are all sinners – we are crafted by the Father’s hands. We are made from a place of pure love. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

 

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In 2012, I went through several months where I didn’t “feel” God’s presence.  Perhaps you have experienced periods in your walk like that; where you simply had to accept on faith His promise that His presence never leaves us. “What’s more, I will be with you, and I will protect you wherever you go…I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you everything I have promised.” Gen 28:15.

(Similar promises: Joshua 1:5, Heb. 13:5).  Psalm 139:7-12, assures us that God’s presence is with us always.  While my head acknowledges that truth, the evidence of His presence is not always apparent.  There are times when God may purposely allow us to experience His presence in a changed or unexpected manner.  My friend suggested that these weeks where I didn’t see the evidence of His presence was a period where God trusted me with His silence. However, there were visible glimpses of His presence in the beauty of creation around me; in the laughter of a child; in the blessings I witnessed poured out into the lives of others.

 

Similarly, the hand print of His presence was there when I felt no fear with less than positive medical news—I could trust that God was in control.  Matt. 14:25-32 reminded me that in the midst of the storm, Jesus calmed the waves.  The storm was not over, but Jesus Christ told the disciples to “take courage…don’t be afraid.” My storm was not gone, it is still continuing, but Jesus is always willing to calm my heart, reminding me of His presence.

 

I am learning that I can enjoy God’s presence even when life is not enjoyable.  The power of that lesson is that I am free!  Accepting that His presence in my life is an absolute fact means I am free to go on to enjoyment that flows from the Fruit of His Love—Gal 5:22.

 

Oh, Lord God, this month we have been learning how to experience freedom in You.  Thank you, Lord Jesus that Your presence is constant—You never leave us and have promised to never forsake us.  Lord, I draw courage from those promises and assurances even when I don’t see Your Hand or feel Your presence.  Embolden me to with the confidence those promises offer so that I go out and reflect Your Glory.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

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I have resolved myself to the fact that this world holds its share of peacemakers and peacetakers, but there is only one Peacegiver. This leaves me with an apparent choice: seek out the Peace-giver or settle myself into the worries brought on by the peacetakers. And, while the choice seems simple, it seems as if the peacetakers have a powerful grasp on my mind, and I question whether I have the strength to break their grasp.

 

What exactly do I mean by “peacetaker”? A peacetaker to me is someone or something that robs me of my joy and draws me to a place of fret and anxiety. It can be a friend, neighbor, or colleague whose words or demands cause me to analyze my behavior or performance. It can be a financial circumstance or pressing illness, perhaps not even fully realized, that can fill me with fear. It can even be a dreaded task, confrontation, or conversation that carry me into worry mode. In reality, it is not the peacetakers that I should hold responsible. While I would love to cast blame, it is my response to their activity or presence in my life which determines their effect.

 

So, I seek out the Peacegiver, because today and this year, and in the years ahead, I want to experience His peace. I don’t want to be robbed in this life of the joy and peace He intends for me to embrace. His Word leads me to Isaiah 26:3, where I read that He “will keep the mind that is dependent on [Him] in perfect peace, for it is trusting in [Him].” That is the peace I am after….perfect peace, and it is apparent that my part in receiving it entails TRUST. It is as if God is extending His peace out to me in the very palm of His hand, and all He asks from me is to reach forth and seize it….to trust Him that His gift is truly what He promises it to be.

 

And, when I fast forward to the New Testament, He infuses me with more of these promises of peace. In John 14:27, Jesus clearly states, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” The words of my Savior refresh my soul, and when I read them I see a comfort and love for me that nothing in this world can ever offer. What an amazing promise of peace!

 

The Apostle Paul in both Colossians and Philippians offers transparent truths with regards to peace. “Let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts,” I read in Colossians 3:15. Once again, I recognize that with His peace I have a role, a role that involves TRUST and a visible exchange of MY control for HIS control. Then, in Philippians 4, I am reminded to lift my worries to the Peacegiver in prayer: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

The choice seems obvious. He is beckoning me to come to Him, to trust Him, to bring my worries to His throne and lay them at His feet, exchanging His peace for the worldly fears and anxieties which plague my daily life. The peacetakers will come and go in your life and in mine, but when we lift these peacetakers to the throne of grace, the Peacegiver is there….always ready and always willing. I can almost hear Him asking, “Are you coming?”

 

 

 

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