Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lately, It's About Trusting

Lately, it seems I keep writing about giving your cares to God and trusting Him. It just comes up over and over again in my life so I really don’t have a choice.

I feel as though I am at a place in my life where my faith is being stretched further than it ever has before.
It’s like my husband and I are on the edge of a cliff, hoping stones soon appear, so we clearly know where to put our next step down, so we can get to the other side. But right now, we aren’t seeing anything to help us get to the other side.

In one of the scenes from the movie Indiana Jones, he was on a cliff and had to step out before the stones appeared and then the stones showed up one by one.
That first step can be a terrifying leap of faith.

This last week I’ve been looking back and remembering all of my spiritual markers. I have to say God has never failed us. Sometimes it seemed like He was about too…we could feel air beneath our feet and then…His hand appeared.
Throughout the Bible you can find stories where God showed up and then the person left a memorial so they would see it and remember what God had done and so could future generations.

For example in Joshua 4:19-24
19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[a] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

I don’t put stones out all over the place, but I usually write it down or talk about what He has done. I have found when facing things, and battling worrying…I pray, read the Word to see His way and how He deals with other circumstances in the past. Then I look at my life and it adds to my faith.
But, God is a big God. He is not in a little God in a box. Or one I can control in my mind. What He did in the last incident or spiritual marker, He may not do in this one. I may see His hand work differently. He may be leading me in a new direction, or doing a new thing in my life.

That’s where faith comes in. Where I have to trust whatever He allows to happen in the situation.
In the devotion I read today, it said, “God does not differentiate between problems we should handle on our own and God-sized needs. He asks us to turn them all over to Him. One of our greatest errors is to assume we can deal with something ourselves, only to discover that we really can’t. God sees you as His frail child, burdened with a load that surpasses yours strength. He stands prepared to take your load and to carry it for you. Will you let Him?” Quoted out of the Experiencing God Day-By-Day Devotional and Journal by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby.

1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. NIV
As I stand at the edge of the cliff, eyes closed, holding my husband’s hand, and cast all my anxiety to God…I have to believe…we step…right into God's hand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

As a Child

While having coffee with a friend one morning, she told me some things about her cute little grand-daughter.

One thing… her grand-daughter likes to dance around and just enjoy herself.
We started talking about how free kids are and how Jesus tells us to come to Him with the faith of a child.

I mentioned how one afternoon I came downstairs to the sound of my daughter’s squeals of delight. She had stepped outside on the patio and was jumping on her trampoline. It had started to rain and she was delighting in the feel of the raindrops on her face.
I hoped she never stops delighting in the feel of the rain against her face or dancing in a puddle.
Childlike things...

Childlike faith…
It can be harder and harder to just enjoy simple moments with the pressures and responsibilities of life. It can be harder and harder to trust when things in life slip you a curve.

How do you keep a childlike faith after watching a dream you’ve prayed about for years slip from your hands?
Or someone you love slip from life?

Or when a certain bad situation, whether it is health, finances, relational or whatever, keeps happening again and again?

How?
There’s one thing my daughter does and I’ve noticed lots of other kids do to. She will bring me something to fix and then as I’m fixing it, she try to take it back to do it herself. Or she will follow me around, even though I’ve said I’ll have it done in just a minute, and ask me over and over again about the same issue, instead of waiting for me to finish what I’m doing.

Even though I will admit I’m pretty good at acting just like that, I don’t think that is what childlike faith is supposed to look like.
There is something I’ve noticed too about my daughter. When something is going on in her life, or she has a question, or a need, she comes running right to me or her dad. She has faith that we will protect her, provide for her, and love her. Now, have we always come through in the way she wanted us too? Uh…that is a definite NO!

But yet, she continues to trust us and come to us. She continues to open her eyes every morning with a love for her parents. She daily wants to spend time with us and talk with us.
That I think is the key.

No matter what is going on in life, we push it all aside and believe. Believe in who GOD really is, not the circumstances that surround us. The more we learn about God’s character through His word, and how He loves us so much, the more we will want to draw near to Him like a child to their parent.
One of my husband’s friend’s past away this week after battling cancer for twenty years. The one thing his wife told me about his life that stands out in my mind is he never lost faith. Cancer kept coming back and attacking his body, but he never lost faith in God.

This man knew. He knew God and didn’t let circumstances try to tell Him who God was. Instead, he believed in the true character of God and how much He loved him.
Childlike faith, I don’t think is a sign of immaturity, but rather a sign of maturity.

When you come up against a mountain that you have to climb…go to Him, take His hand, and start walking. Your Heavenly Father is always with you no matter what. In the midst of the storms, He is there. In the pain of the moments, He is there. In the middle of chaos, He is there.

 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dandelion Seeds


Dandelion seeds…a child’s delight…I remember how fun it was to pick up one of these and after making a wish, blowing on it until it looks like…
Then I’d pick up another one and spend many enjoyable moments delighting in blowing and watching the seeds fly through the air.

Now as a gardener, I groan when I see a dandelion seed knowing full and well the weed can only ruin the look of a beautiful yard. Each time one of these seeds is sent flying in the air there is a chance when it lands it will ruin someone’s hard work or just cause a field of thistles.
I was reading the story of Jacob and how he fell in love with Rachel. He made a deal with Rachel’s dad to work seven years to be able to marry her. The morning after their wedding night he woke up to discover the dad had deceived him and he had married her older sister, Leah. Jacob soon discovered it was the custom that the oldest had to be married before the youngest.  

It’s like, uh thanks Laban (Rachel’s dad) for speaking up and letting Jacob know.

Jacob loved Rachel and made another deal (why he trusted Laban after that I don’t know except the fact that Jacob was good at deceiving people himself) to work another seven years for Rachel, but Jacob had to do the customary wedding week with Leah before he could have Rachel. So Jacob complied and did the week with Leah and then…he married the one he loved… Rachel.
Laban’s deceit blew seeds of angst into his daughter’s relationships and their children.

Poor Leah, was an unloved woman, who God blessed with sons. Each time she had a son, poor woman would think to herself, Now my husband will love me. One time she sold her son’s mandrakes (plant) so she could have a night with her husband.
Sends shivers up my spine at how desperate that sounds.

Now Rachel was barren and had to observe the man she loved have children with another woman. That had to be so incredibly hard, too. Then finally, the time came when Rachel had a child of her own.
Joseph. Now Joseph was well loved by his dad.
Joseph had his faults, one of the big one’s was he bragged…a LOT.

His dad made him a special coat and sent Joseph out to check on his brothers. His half brothers were pretty jealous of their younger bragging brother.
One day they sold him and told their dad he got killed by a wild animal.

One seed of deceit caused many weeds to grow in people’s lives.
Sometimes it’s just one action that can cause so much pain to those around us. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the pain we cause in other’s lives.

In and throughout the weeds growing in this family, was the touch of the gardener’s hand.
Unloved Leah had many sons which was really important for a woman back then.

Barren Rachel was able to have a son and her husband continued to love her.
Sold… Joseph was brought down a path which led him into a position of authority, in which he was able to bring his family to a place where they had food during a time of famine.

Out of the lineage of Jacob came Jesus the only begotten Son of God.
He took the death of His Son Jesus and turned it into eternal life for His creation.

God the master gardener is still able to bring beauty in the midst of the weeds caused by the seeds of our own sins, or the seeds of another person that may touch our lives.
Years ago, I was ready to tear out a dried up rose bush, entangled in thorns. After pulling the weeds out from around the bush, I was amazed to find a solitary rose.

My prayer would be that God would open our eyes, while we are in the middle of entangled messes, to see the work of His hand.

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bring It To Me

“How on earth am I going to do this?”

“What am I going to do now?”

“Should I do this? Or should I do that?”

“This is impossible.”

“There’s nothing I can do.”

Ever asked those questions or made those statements? I have. At those times life can be tiring, stressful, or frustrating.

One afternoon Jesus, was trying to get some alone time for the disciples after they’d had some incredible experiences doing things in Jesus name.

Instead, the crowds followed them and so Jesus taught the crowd. When it became later in the afternoon the disciples suggested to Jesus that He send the crowd on their way to go and get their dinner.

Jesus told them to feed them.

“Uh…what? That would cost us lots of money. We can’t afford that.”

Jesus told them to bring whatever food they could find, to him. They found three fish and a loaf of bread. If I had been there, and I brought the food to Him, my words for people to read throughout history would’ve been something like, “Jesus, this is all we can find. And it’s late…they should probably go because how are we going to feed them?”

And when He blessed the food and handed me the basket to pass out food to the people, I would probably had been telling them, this is it, this is all we got. And apologizing to the people I hadn’t reached yet, that they probably wouldn’t have any food.

When the time came where everyone had food to eat and there was leftovers I would’ve freaked out. “Did you see what He just did? Did you see that? Wow…can you believe it?”

“That was incredible, Jesus, wow!”

I guess you can say I would’ve had a lack of faith and not understood truly who Jesus was, but when I read this the other day…I realized I do that over and over again.

I will see God work in an amazing way. He will do something in my life that astonishes me. And then another situation comes up and I’m right there at His throne going, okay…here we go again…I need some help here.

And though He’s never failed to come through, I’m so amazed at the time He does. It still amazes me to see how He works in people’s lives. I doubt I’ll ever get over it. How can a person get over how God works?

If you were standing there in front of a crowd with over 5,000 and Jesus told you to feed them, wouldn’t you feel a bit intimidated and interested as to how Jesus was going to do it?

I would be.

But, in that amazement I have to say, I’ve learned things fall into place when I do what the disciples did that day. They brought what they had to Jesus.

“Bring it to me,” He said.

And they did.

Jesus did what only Jesus can do.

He still wants us to bring our stuff to him. The Bible says, “Cast our cares upon Him,” and “…bring all our anxious thought to Him.”

So, when I ask those questions or say those things, I know there is one thing I just gotta do…Bring it to Jesus and let Him do what only He can do with what I have.

So whatever you’re carrying…Bring it to Him and see what He will do with all of your resources.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Keys


Keys…

Pretty much everyone has a set of keys. Attached to your key ring, you may have a key for your house, work, and car.

So what do we do without them? Have you ever lost your keys? I used to be notorious for losing my keys. Now I’m notorious for misplacing them…difference is…I find them now.

It can be so frustrating when it’s time to leave and for one reason or another, my keys aren’t where I normally put them. I can’t leave until I find them. How do I start my car? It’s even more frustrating when I discover I’ve already put them in my pocket or my purse and I’ve been searching for them.

It was close to Christmas, last year, and I stepped outside to say goodbye to my friend and her daughters. My daughter thought we were leaving so she locked the door behind us and shut it. We were locked out. No problem. My husband had hid a spare key.  

So I thought…he had hid it shortly after he had been in a car accident. His memory wasn’t doing so well and he could not remember where he hid that key. My daughter and I searched and searched, but to no avail. I had some Rubbermaid bins filled with coats still out in the garage. And since we were freezing we were able to put some on. It became a stressful situation since I had company coming over for dinner and needed the time to get ready.

I used my neighbor’s phone a few times and was able to get a hold of the owner. Since he would be a couple of hours I went and sat at my friends for a while. I got to enjoy her company and my daughter got an extended play date.

When the owner came he tried all the keys he had for our place. None of them worked. We had the locks changed just a few months before and he didn’t have the new key. So…he set up my daughter in his car with a junk food picnic, along with a few fruits to appease me and we waited for the locksmith.

Finally, after the locksmith came we were able to get back into our place. I hid a spare key in case it ever happened again and rushed to get ready for our guest.

I still remember how it felt to stand outside of my home, in the cold, without my coat, purse, phone, or my car keys. I had no way to feed my daughter if she got hungry and no bathroom. I also remember how it felt to not be able to do things I wanted and needed to do that afternoon. It was frustrating and disheartening.

We were so fortunate to have so many reach out a helping hand to us. And be able to get back into our house.

This last week, the pastor of our church spent twenty four hours walking in the shoes of a homeless person. He was guided by someone in our church, who used to live on the streets for years, until he started stopping at our church on Sundays for a cup of coffee. When he met Jesus, his life was changed forever.

While they were sitting down at a park downtown, they talked to a man who had lost his wife and two best friends in an accident. Shortly after that, he had a stroke. After that, his company downsized. After that he lost his cars, his house…he is now surviving on the streets.

The thing that struck me the most in this conversation was when he said, “It hit me when I stood outside my house and didn’t have any keys.” He had no keys to a house, car, or work.

If only briefly, I had a glimpse at that helpless, lost feeling, but I had helping hands and was back in my house by the end of the day.

He is not and neither are many others.

There is a misnomer about the type of help available for people in this situation.  It is there, but very limited and not always easy. I find it frustrating when the government is donating 650,000 to 1,000,000 million dollars for an old building now deemed a landmark to be renovated when so many people are struggling.

Our Pastor talked about the parable, told by Jesus, of the Good Samaritan who helped a man who had been robbed and left to die on the side of the road. In the parable Jesus explains that the man lying on the side of the road is our neighbor. And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It’s the second greatest commandment.

Maybe you have no idea what to do. But it’s important to know not all the people begging for money are looking for enough to get their next fix. There are people out there like that; there are also those who like to live on the road. But we are in a time when people are desperate, losing their house, and some have nowhere to go at night to lay their heads. If they sleep in the parks they get a ticket and possibly brought to jail. I mean where on earth, does the city expect a poor person, to get the money to pay for the ticket? Can’t they find another way to deal with it?

If you don’t want to give money to them, you can give money to an organization that is helping the homeless.

You can give bottled water, a gift card for a nearby restaurant, a cup of coffee or a blanket. Right now our church is putting together boxes so we can feed the homeless on Sunday afternoons and give them some things to help them.

If you don’t want to do any of those things, here is a very powerful suggestions right from the Bible says, 2 Chronicles 7:14
…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

May we pray to start healing our land? It is not hopeless. God is really good at restoration and redemption.

May God bless the people of this country and bless those who are struggling.

 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And Hezekiah Prospered

2 Chronicles 31:20 – 21 NIV
20 "This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD, his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered."

The devotional I read today was about King Hezekiah. As soon as Hezekiah stepped in to reign as King, he began the process of leading the people back to God and His ways. God blessed him and he prospered.

Later in his reign when another king came up against him, and said things against the Lord, Hezekiah prayed and God fought the battle for him. He had victory while his enemy fell back in disgrace.

The story makes me wonder where Hezekiah’s faith came from since he was raised in an unbelieving household. His dad rebelled against the Lord. I also wonder how hard it was for him to watch the devastation that happened in his community because the people’s hearts had turned from God. He lived in tumultuous times, kind of like we are living in now.

When we read the paper, listen to the news, it can be filled with violence, acts of rebellion and people pushing their immoral ways. It can be hard to hear about children suffering, senseless deaths, and diseases.

I heard a story on the radio about a young girl who liked to listen to that particular radio station because it helped her while she watched her mother lay on a hospital bed on life support.

I lifted a prayer and thought, there is so much suffering, it’s all so much.

Times are hard for many people.

Hezekiah saw his people in captivity and led them to God.

Even though life can seem overwhelming and like there isn’t an answer to everyone’s problems.

There is.

Just like Hezekiah did things God’s way and led his people to Him. We can too. It can start with lifting a prayer, reaching out a helping hand, taking the time to talk to someone.

While I was thinking about how his actions not only blessed his own life, but it changed others lives too. It makes me stop and think about how my actions can affect others. And so can yours.

I always hold on to this biblical truth, God is the same today as yesterday. He can bring prosperity to our faithful actions for Him even today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Walking In The Power



The Bourne Legacy movie came out this summer and, of course, my husband and I were right there with the rest of them to watch it. True to past movies, it was an exciting, sit on the edge of your seat movie.

On the drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. One thing that stood out to me, (I’m going to try to write this without giving away the movie for those who still haven’t seen it and plan on seeing it.) was the main character had a procedure done that would give him certain strengths. He had to deal with his body’s transition, and after a certain amount of days, he woke up, and with no questions asked, popped out of bed and got down to business. He had stuff he had to do and he did it.

In the process of reviewing the movie in my mind, a thought drifted through, that just as Jesus was right there with the disciples, leading, teaching, providing, touching lives, doing miracles, so is the Holy Spirit here with us now.

The disciples could see Jesus, externally. We can’t see the Holy Spirit because He in us. But the Holy Spirit is here with us just as personally as Jesus was with the disciples.

I thought, wow, what a word picture for me. The character had something ingested and it changed him. He believed it would work for his life and he walked in it.

When we come to believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes residence in us and changes us. But do we walk in the power that the Holy Spirit gives us to walk in? Do we truly receive everything He has for us?

When up against a trial…is His wisdom sought?

When hurt…is His comfort drawn?

When financial trouble comes…is His provision trusted?

When having to love the unlovable…is His love shown?

When having to forgive…is His forgiveness given?

The Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit.

I ask myself, do I really walk in all the Holy Spirit has for me? Do you take time to ask yourself that question?

John 14:15 – 21 NIV

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
You can click on the link below for Michael W Smith's song "Breathe"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YAy8HtB_pY