Tuesday, May 30, 2017

no snakes in my presence

God sometimes sends us warnings through dreams. I believe God gave me one of those dreams last night. Anyone who knows me knows I am deathly afraid of snakes.  This dream was about a poisonous snake curled up among roots in the side of a river bank. In the dream I was looking at the snake and even held it to look at its face. I commented in the dream that it was dangerous, then it was back in the river bank. I personally would never ever touch a snake,  much less spend time around one! When I awoke, I was a bit disturbed and recognized God was sending a warning. As I prayed, I felt God reminding me that we cannot slowly allow anything into our lives that will draw us away from him into a place that we are comfortable with the presence of our enemy, even participatimg in the very sinful nature from which we were redeemed. We must be careful what we allow in our presence, into our lives, as the effects can be dangerous to our soul.

We are called to be children of God and when His spirit dwells in us, we must ever be on watch for the deception that comes to destroy our spiritual relationship  with God.

“Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,
Deuteronomy 11:16 NKJV

From early on, God has warned of deception in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Paul wrote about deceptive preaching. He warned Christians not to follow another gospel that doesn't preach Jesus Christ.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
II Corinthians 11:3‭-‬4 NKJV

Jesus spoke about being aware and that many would be deceived in the last days.

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He, ’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.
Luke 21:8 NKJV

Deception can come in many ways that are slight and small. You may not even realize or recognize the deceptive nature that has come into your presence. It may come in through being busy even in good deeds. Paul warned about this because, when we are weary, it opens the door for hurt, bitterness, and strife to enter.

But as  for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
II Thessalonians 3:13 NKJV

We need to be doers of the word, not just hearing it and reading it. We must live it. It must be permeated throughout every fiber of our being, our actions, our deeds, and our thoughts. It must be our passion, driving force and our guide. Do not allow yourself to go without the Word of God leading you, otherwise, you will be deceived.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 NKJV

We must also recognize, the enemy of our soul is seeking to destroy us and what better way than through sly deception. If he can rock us to sleep, lull us into a fog of deception, he wins. We are not working for the Lord, or living for the Lord. He knows if he can slip in a little deception, he can destroy homes, churches, and Christian lives. We must be in touch with the spirit of the Lord so we can recognize those small deceptive things that try to slip in.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I Peter 5:8 NKJV

Deception may lead us to believe our ten minutes of quick prayer is enough or that one verse of the day is enough of His word. Deception may sneak in and convince us we don't need to attend that Bible study or every Sunday service. Deception may tell us that the pastor doesn't really care or that we aren't really loved. Deception can convince us we do not need to help that person next to us or reach out to a hurting soul. Deception may even try to convince you that you are worthless and cannot be used. Deception may be through what we read, watch and listen to. Deception may introduce doubt about who God really is. Deception comes in many forms, but God will keep us from deception when we are made aware by His Word and His spirit. It reminds me of the children's song, "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, Oh, be careful little ears what you hear." We must ever be watchful of what we allow into our minds and hearts.

We must ever be aware of deception and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. God has warned me of something that may be attempting deception. God has reminded me to look to Him. I must allow His spirit that dwells in me to speak and guide my heart so deception will not have his way with me or my family.
Remember to seek God first, as He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. The enemy may attempt to deceive, but when we are in a deep place with God, every day,  deception will not have a chance to enter. May we finish this course with victory and not be found ashamed in failing to recognize deception. May we stand awake and aware so sin and deception cannot find a way into our presence. May God's presence rather be so strong, that the deceiver cannot come near or slip in. Heed the warnings God sends our way. May we never become comfortable in the presence of deception and sin.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A kiss on the forehead

I kissed that sweet forehead and I sat comforting my child at bedtime. Frustration overwhelmed as tears welled up in those beautiful eyes. I wrapped my arms around that precious child and did my best to convince them that hard times make us stronger. I spoke about how we can choose to trust God and let those rough times bring us growth and strength but, we can't  give in and quit. I told them that this is not the time to quit, but the time to really push forward and shine anyway. As a mother, I really just want to take away the pain, make everything wonderful and easy for my child. I really want to be able to fix it all with a kiss on the forehead. I realize that, as a mom, I cannot really fix everything for my children. They have to go through tough things, they have to learn and develop skills that will help them endure, seek God for themselves, and find strength when they need it most.  This part of being a parent is hard. Sometimes, all we can do is kiss their forehead, just watch them fall asleep in tears, and pray a little harder that night.

As, I went on to bed, I did pray a little longer for this child. I poured out my brokenheart for my child. I felt helpless for them, but I know God can help, so I prayed.  I begin to think about how  God also has the perspective of a parent. I wondered about how God feels watching His children go through hardships and struggles.

I have heard many people question His love in the midst of struggles. Where is our loving God? I have seen others go through the fire and seem to endure with what seemed the deepest strength I have ever seen. How does God feel when we, His children, struggle?

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I Peter 5:7 NKJV

Turning to scripture, I find that God wants to help us with our struggles. He said to cast all our care, anxiety,  fear and worry on Him, because He cares for us.
I find in Matthew chapter 6  a whole passage about not worrying.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25‭-‬34 NKJV

I think we can find many instances of Jesus going out of His way to meet needs, minister to hurting souls, and demonstrate deep love and compassion  throughout the four Gospels.  I think God demonstrates that He cares about us when we  hurt. He wants to comfort and soothe, just like I do for my kids. The big difference is, as God, He can do a whole lot more than I can. He can fix the problems, when I can't.  He can heal a brokenheart, when I can't.

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
Psalms 147:3 NKJV

He can get us through the struggles. I believe He is reaching and speaking, trying to tell us that He can help us. But we often, try to fix it ourselves, hold on to problems, and basically, don't really put our trust in His ability  and love to help us. We may, figuratively, cry ourselves to sleep thinking God isn't really going to help. All along He is telling us how much He loves us and how much He can do for us.

He is waiting, hoping, and wanting to carry us through the struggle, wipe away the tears, and replace the hurt with His love, peace, and joy. He wants to be the good Father we need. I find such comfort in knowing how much He really does care about us. He really does care about our concerns and struggles. He is good and wants nothing but good for His children. We need to trust that aspect of God. He is a good Father. He will do good for us. He will be there to comfort and get us through.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NKJV

We can lay everything at His feet and leave it for Him. Peace is ours in return. The very next verse gives us something else to do instead of worry and being anxious.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are  noble, whatever things are  just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are  lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there  is any virtue and if there  is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Instead of worry, think on the good things. He can replace the struggles with good reports. Our testimony is born in these moments of adversity and struggle. We come through with a good report of how God was there in the tough times. He does really care. He wants to show us how much He really cares through our struggles. Trust Him to get you through. He will kiss our foreheads, whisper how much He loves us, and work on the problem for us. How wonderful to know the Good Father is right there in the middle of my storm.