Monday, January 25, 2016

have no fear God is near

'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10

This verse is everywhere lately.  I read this verse several times recently. I even copied it into my prayer journal.  It says some very important things to me.  I have seen this verse several times since then.  I have seen it in books, on facebook, in bible studies, spoke these very words in a Christmas monologue for the Christmas service, and heard others use this verse in very adverse circumstances.  This verse is becoming very important to me.  Why?  This verse is a promise to me.
God knows me very well.  He knows I am an anxious person and I tend to fret and worry. He knows I hate not knowing what will happen and I get concerned about things I have no control over. He knows I get myself worked up.  He knows I am weak and need help.  God knows I cannot do anything without Him.  He knows that I know this as well.  He knows I realize how truly weak and unable I often feel.  I cannot be strong without Him.
God had Isaiah write down this verse so He could tell me and others like me just how much he can do.  He sent this word through the ages just to tell me I do not need to be anxious and worry.  I do not need to be strong on my own. I do not need to try to handle everything because He is going to be strong for me. He is going to be my help. He is going to uphold me by His righteous right hand.  I do not need to fear at all.  God Almighty is holding on to me and holding me up.  He has His hand on me.  Have you ever tried to hold someone up?  It takes a hands on approach.  It takes closeness and attention.  You have to pay attention to that person and wrap your hands and arms around them. That is God, he is paying attention to me and has wrapped my in His arms.  He is holding on.  He doesn’t let go.  He sees what is coming and he knows the obstacles. He knows what will happen and what we need.  God sent this verse for me apparently because I need to know He has me in His hands.  He knows 2016 may hold some tough times. He is already preparing me for what is ahead. He is reminding me that even though I may not be able to handle my frustrations, hurts, disappointments and trials, I can put my trust in Him. I can trust Him to strengthen me, help me and hold me. His righteous right hand is always there. Help me, Lord, to put aside fear and worry and replace it with trust in You.

we have a choice to make

Last week, I was asked a question, “Why would an all-loving God send anyone to hell?’  Then, a couple of days later, my son also asked me why God sends people to hell. I had  to give an answer.  How do you explain this to a 9 year old?  So I started with who God is, at least in the best way I can explain it.

It really comes down to understanding a few things about God and His nature.
God is love. We know that. In the bible it says “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8.  God is also just and righteous.
Psalm 7:11 God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day.
Psalm 71:19 For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

God is not just a big ball of love.  He is a multi-faceted God. He is gracious, merciful, just, righteous, creative, all-knowing, all-powerful, expansive, peaceful, wrathful, and the list can go on. If you read the Bible at all, you will be able to find many descriptions of him: Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, Salvation, Righteousness, Father, Holy, etc.
This tells me that God is not just defined as love.

Because God is righteous, sin cannot enter or stand before Him. Many stories in the Old Testament are there to demonstrate that sin was unacceptable to a Holy God. Revelations 21:27 states  “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
1 John 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

The fact that sin and unrighteousness is contrary to God is the very reason He sent Jesus to be the redeemer of our souls. Jesus came so we can be cleansed of our sin and be able to know God.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Sin separates us and takes us from God. God created us to be loved and love Him in return. He created humans as pure and clean. There was no sin in the very beginning. God would come and commune and talk with Adam and Eve in the garden.  Once sin entered the picture, that bond was broken. That communion was broken. Jesus gives us a way to enter back into the communion rGod intended in the first place. God intended us to be able to relate to Him, commune with Him and be with Him. He did not want sin here, but he gave humans a free will and a free choice to choose Him.

I explained to my son that God is not willing for anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). I explained that God does not want anyone to go to hell. That is not what he intended. However, because of sin we are condemned to Hell since sin cannot enter into heaven.  Sin cannot stand or enter into the holy presence of God. Unrighteousness cannot stand before a Righteous God. God gave us a choice to choose because of His love for us. He wants us to choose Him. He sent His Son Jesus in the ultimate sacrifice of love to redeem us from our sins. He wants us to choose Him.  I told me son that basically, we make a choice for heaven or hell.  We choose for ourselves.  God set forth to save us but he does not force us.  He gave us a way of escape and a way to return to Him and enjoy His presence for eternity, but when we refuse Christ, we actually choose to send our souls to eternal damnation in hell. We choose hell when we reject Christ.
My son in his 9 year old wisdom said, “Oh, so people do it to themselves, that must make God sad.”
Yes, it does.  I know God is going to judge every soul.  Every human soul will stand before God and He will look for that one important thing, Did we accept Jesus and His sacrifice?  Did we understand that His love called us back to Him and offered a way to walk in the true purpose for which we were intended?  Those who did not choose Jesus have ultimately tied His hands.  He must judge and condemn.  There is no way of escape at that point.  He isn’t going to change His rules or change the law. His Word is set and His law is eternal.  We make a choice on this earth that determines our eternal destination. My 9 year old gets it. So many adults on this earth try to deny it, reason it out, explain it away and even change it.  The truth is still there and there is no escaping eternity.  I think that is why Joshua said “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.
Choose you today whom you will serve for it will determine your choice of eternity in heaven or hell.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

my strength is not enough

Where does my strength come from?  Where does your strength come from?  I know without a doubt that my strength comes from God. His strength is perfect. I have no strength without Him. I cannot breathe, live or move without Him. My strength is not enough.
First of all, I am only a creation. He is my creator.  I have no life without Him taking the time to create me. I know I only exist because He saw fit to allow me to live.
Second of all, each day is a day I get to choose to live with Him or to choose to live without Him.
I choose to live with Him.  I choose to live in the reality that God is real. I cannot do anything without Him anyway.  This life is hard to live sometimes. Life in this world is not made to always be easy.  Most of us struggle, work, have chores, disappointments, heartaches etc. We also have joys, love, excitement, and fun. The hard parts and the good parts are all so much better when we make sure God is the focus, when we rely on Him.

When I have to face those hard things in life, it is still hard, but I can rely on God Almighty to carry me through.
Psalms 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
Exodus 15:13 You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.

When we seek God, He is faithful and He is there. He strengthens us and will uphold us. He will bring us through every situation.
I Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.

He is looking to strengthen those who need him. He is not wanting us to fail. He is not willing for us to perish. He is wanting to help us, lead us, cover us and save us.  He wants to be our strength.
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His....

Sometimes I try so hard to be strong on my own.  I always fail and feel so weak.  I cannot stand on my own strength.  I am but a human.  As a mom, I want to be strong.  As a wife, I want to be strong. As a woman, I want to be strong.  I cannot be.  I fail.
When I call on God for strength, I am amazed at how much I can do, endure, and survive. I realize I needed Him all along.  When I sat with my son as he went through surgery, he was afraid. He wanted strength from me. I had none.  I cried for strength from God, and He gave me strength to pass along to my son.  When his sutures tore open and he was in pain I could not take away, I cried for strength for both of us.  God came through with strength, comfort and wisdom.
I know God carries me through those times.
Psalms 18:1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.

God is my shield and strength. He is my help. I know I can find strength when I lean on Him.  I cannot make it through this life without God's strength. I need Him.  I am also learning that I need to trust in His strength.  I can trust His strength to carry me, and cover me.  I am learning that I can trust God to love me through my circumstances. I can trust Him through the tough times and to help me enjoy and hang on to the good times. He reminds me and shows me how good He is and brings His blessings to my life.
Isaiah 41:10
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

I am so thankful I can find strength in God. I am so thankful I know Him and He knows me. I am thankful for His promises to uphold me and keep me. I am grateful that he relieves my anxieties and reminds me that he is my help.  I can come to him anytime, anywhere and He is faithful to be there.
I am so glad I do not have to rely on my own strength to face life.  I am so glad God is always there.
I have strength only because God gives me strength.  I can be strong because He is holding me.
I can go on, when it seems I shouldn't only because of Him.

Here is a link to a wonderful song by Steven Curtis Chapman
His Strength is Perfect
Click Here for Link

Sunday, January 3, 2016

just a vapor

This is the beginning of a new year. It is amazing that we are now in 2016. Time keeps moving whether we want it to or not.  This past week, we traveled to visit some dear friends. On the way, we were detained for about three hours due to a terrible accident that had occurred ahead of us.  My husband quickly pointed out that if we had not left the house late, we may have been involved in that accident ahead.  We were thankful we were not involved. I was also saddened to know someone had lost their life just a couple of miles ahead. I always struggle emotionally when I see or hear about car accidents. That is how I lost my mother. I know that terror of receiving a call and hearing the heart wrenching news.  I empathize with those families because of my experience. While we were visiting our friends, we visited Kennesaw Battlefield. It was interesting to walk through the museum and see pictures and names of those who had fought for what they believed in. They young men who died in battle and the leaders during the civil war left behind a legacy for the United States. I began to think about those young men and how we were learning about them, their names and their deaths over two hundred years later. That is amazing to me.  We were able to show our children this place and what it meant to our country. We were also able to show them how these young men had sacrificed their lives. These young men that were too young, in my opinion, to die. I guess as I write this, I am thinking about how life is short and comes and goes quickly.  I realize I am aging much more quickly than I ever imagined.  I look at my children and realize that they are growing quickly.  My beautiful daughter is now taller than me and is becoming a young lady.  Her interests are changing quickly.  My little boy is no longer my little baby. He is a strong, healthy, busy boy.  I am realizing my time with them in my home is becoming short.
In James 4:14 it says, "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."
Life is but a vapor. It comes and goes quickly.  But what do you do with it.  I was reading an article today about a man who realized his time spent had been wasted with drinking and took a break from drinking. He wrote the article about how the two years spent without drinking had changed his life.  He talked about how he wanted to leave behind something important when he died, not just great conversations with friends. He wanted to create something that would live on after him. He had begun writing and creating what he hopes will be a legacy to leave past his time on earth.

One thing, I am realizing is that life is short. It comes and goes quicker than I ever imagined. I remember thinking that I would be "SO OLD" when it was the year 2000.  Here it is already 2016. I hope I leave behind something that lives on past me.  I want to leave behind something that counts. I read the following blog about how we should and can really pray that the things in our life should count.

The author talks about asking God to "Make it count."  So many times, we get so caught up in our problems, our concerns and our issues, that we forget to just ask God to do His will and make it count for His glory.  I want the healing and the blessings. I ask for what I want, but what I really need to ask, is that His will be done and that He use whatever it is to bring glory to His name. I want it to count.  I want my life to count for something.  I want my life to count as a light of Christ's love to this world and to me.  I want it to count and be spoken of as a life that spoke of the goodness of God. I am praying that this year God will be more evident in my thoughts and actions.  I pray that I am completely surrendered to His will.  I pray that His will be done in my life and that He makes it count for His kingdom.  I don't want to build my kingdom.  I don't want to just build for my own comfort and desires. I want to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. I want to be the answer to a prayer, I want to be used to meet a need for someone else. I want to be the one who encourages another or helps when no one sees hope. Not for my glory, but because God sees that I am willing to be his hands, his feet, his voice. I want to be ready and willing to be His when He needs me. I don't want to pass from this life just doing whatever, I want to pass from this life having left a legacy of love and life from the Savior.  Time is short, I have but this one life to live.  I have a purpose to live for God and for His glory.  May God place His purpose on my life and use me according to the plans He has made.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
His plans are perfect for us.  We need to trust His love for us and that he will not harm. He gives hope and a future; a future not just on this earth, but for eternity.  Lord, help me to trust you with my future, my life, and with all the plans, not just for eternity, but for the everyday.  Help me come to you first and find you before I go out into the day.  Help me, Lord, to trust you to make my path straight. Help me submit all my ways to you.

Proverbs 3:6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.