Sunday, May 17, 2020

Last Resort

          Today's blog is about where we turn in crisis, to whom we turn to, and when we turn for help.  If you're like me, I usually find what I'm looking for in the last place I look.  Why do we search and search in life, before asking for help?  Our arrogant pride tells us, we can do life on our own terms, our way, independently, and without guidance.  God says, "“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" in Matthew 11:28.   God knows and hopes for that moment in our lives, when we realize we can't do this life alone.  He knows life is troublesome, overwhelming, unfair, heartbreaking, and full of questions.  John 16:33  "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
         God's message of hope, forgiveness and redemption is meant for all people groups, races, genders, and ages.  Most people don't respond immediately to His call, but postpone their accepted response for different reasons.  "Some may think God won’t mind waiting till their busy lives quiet down so they can spare Him some time. Others are too proud to acknowledge God. Some live comfortably by virtue of their own efforts, and they don’t feel any need to turn to God. Some simply love their sin. And others are so convinced they are earning their salvation by good works they have not yet turned to God in faith."
        "From before creation, God knew whom He would call: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” Ephesians 1:4–5. God knows just the right time to call a sinner to repentance and salvation. Many can hear the outward call of God, for the seed of God’s Word is cast all over, but not all the seed lands on “good soil” where it can take root and produce a harvest, Matthew 13:1–23. In addition to hearing the outward call, individuals must hear the inward call of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who convicts us of our sin and enables us to put faith in Christ." []
        God knows our hearts, and He knows who will respond to His call and when.  He is more patient and faithful to fulfill his purposes than we can ever imagine.  That is why we must never give up on praying for someone's salvation.  It is not about our work and timing, but God is the only one with the power to save.  Even though He uses us for his kingdom, God gets the glory.  Ephesians 2:8-10  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  

3 Dangers of Pride [notionofhope]

1] Separates You From God--Pride is always the root cause of sin. Sinning separates us from God. We become so consumed with our desires and our ego that we have no room for God in our lives.
2] Destroys Your Destiny--we can only fulfill that destiny with God, who makes our paths straight.
3] Pride Comes Before A Fall-- Pride will make everything about you worse. Your work ethic, your personality, your relationship with God and with others.  In almost every area of life, it can cause you to fall.

         As for myself and on a lighter note, I have a funny story to share about my dad, being a last resort to call.  When I was dating, one afternoon my boyfriend and I decided to go mudding in his new Dodge 4x4 truck with his best friend and his truck.  I love to go mudding!  We got to have fun for about 30 minutes before getting stuck.  Our friend's truck was fine but ours wasn't.  Well, the other truck couldn't get us out.  Wrecker #1 got stuck, as well as, Wrecker #2.  So, about 11:30pm, we called my dad for help because my curfew was  My dad had a white Dodge Ram truck with jumbo tires at the time but my boyfriend didn't want to ask for help.  My dad has always thought it was funny that he was the last to call, but he did get the truck out the next day.  Pride can make things worse than they have to be, but gratitude steps in when a helping hand is extended without boasting.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Who's The Boss?

         Today's blog is about who's the boss of you and your life.  When I say 'Who's The Boss', I'm not talking about the 80's tv show starring Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano.  That show did demonstrate how dysfunctional our lives can become without a definite leader and no direction from a godly perspective.

         God is in control and sovereign over everything in our lives and this world.  We need to follow His lead, because He is all powerful, all knowing, outside of time, and the creator of everything.  Our human perspective is faulty, limited, corrupted, and deceiving.  "God has the power and knowledge to prevent anything He chooses to prevent, so anything that does happen must, at the very least, be “allowed” by God.   The fact that sin exists at all proves that not all things that occur are the direct actions of God, who is holy. The reality of human volition (and human accountability) sets the maximum boundary for God’s sovereign control over the universe, which is to say there is a point at which God chooses to allow things that He does not directly cause." []

       Psalm 147:5-6  "Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.  The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground."

       Psalm 90:2  "Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."

       "God has the ability to do anything, to take action and intervene in any situation, but He often chooses to act indirectly or to allow certain things for reasons of His own. His will is furthered in any case. God’s “sovereignty” means that He is absolute in authority and unrestricted in His supremacy. Everything that happens is, at the very least, the result of God’s permissive will.  This holds true even if certain specific things are not what He would prefer. The right of God to allow mankind’s free choices is just as necessary for true sovereignty as His ability to enact His will, wherever and however He chooses." []

        Sovereign grace is a benefit to both believers and non-believers that combines God's sovereignty with His graciousness.  Matthew 5:44-45  "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."  " Even the atheist enjoys the effects of God’s sovereign grace through God’s beautiful creation and His provision of the resources necessary for food, clothing, and housing. God doesn’t owe these things to us, but He sovereignly provides them to exhibit His grace."

        So, knowing God is in control, but gives us a free-will to choose to accept His free gift of salvation, what should our response be?   Ephesians 1:3  “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”   Although salvation is 'free' to all people in this world, it does mean acknowledging our sins of pride, envy, doubt, greed, lust, vile thoughts, and more.

      As for myself, I accept God's authority over me now more than in my youth.  Satan tells me the lie that if God allows something, then he is okay with it.  That's not true, but he may use it as a lesson for my good.  A hard concept for me to accept is that 'God is the creator and I am his creation that he can do anything with to fulfill his purposes'.   Storms have come that have affected me, but haven't destroyed me.  Life is not fair, but the purposes of the hurt and happiness are beyond my realm of thoughts.  In the song, 'Good, Good Father', the lyrics say 'You are perfect in all of your ways' but it certainly doesn't feel that way at times.  We must realize our lives are not defined by feelings, but by God's love and grace. My security lies in being united with Christ and the fact that He is in control, not I, gives me peace, comfort, and joy.

God’s wisdom will never lead us astray but always encourages and leads us toward life and wholeness.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Suffering..What's It For?

       What does suffering mean to you?  Is suffering a form of your loss, pain, hurt or denial of something?  As we go through this COVD-19 pandemic, some of us may see it as a source of suffering.  The verse about denying ourselves and taking up our cross to follow Jesus through this storm is very relevant now.  Luke 9:2325 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"   
      The quarantine lockdown life has magnified some truths in my own life.  Galatians 2:20  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  "We die to our own way of doing things. We consider our will, our rights, our passions, and our goals to be crucified on the cross with Him. Our right to direct our own lives is dead to us."   Just as the government is guiding us to a safer, new normal,so has Christ called us to follow His lead to a better life now and for eternity.
       "Paul suffered more than most for Jesus’ sake. He said this to the Christians at Phillipi: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him" (Philippians 1:29). The word granted here means "shown favor, given freely as a gift." Paul does not present suffering as a curse, but as a benefit.   Suffering in some form is always going to be a part of being a true follower of Christ. Jesus said the path that leads to life is difficult (Matthew 7:14). Our hardship is also a way of identifying with His suffering in a small way." []
       As for myself, my greatest suffering comes from within as I battle for control over a heart that must die to my own will and surrender to Christ’s lordship.  Romans 7:15-25 says it clearly, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."
         As you may be longing for the pre-quarantine days, I hope this time of rest, boundaries, fear, and loneliness has taught you some new things and brought you closer in your walk with God.  As much as I feel like I am suffering more now in my older years and I am jealous for my independent years of youth, this time of dependency on others and Jesus has taught me so much.  Thankfully, our timeline is not ours to define because God is so very patient to teach us what we need to know about Him and his ways.  "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
        We all have some assumptions about suffering, so I want to share 4 of them from Nancy Guthrie's bibe study session on Job in "Wisdom of God" and the rebuttal to each:

1] If I am godly, I won't have to suffer
We cant say if were good enough we wont suffer, Jesus did--who was sinless and perfect.

2]My suffering is about me and the here and now
God intends your suffering to be a magnificent demonstration of his glory.
Job's suffering was meant to develop trust in the God he loves

3] Our suffering is the result of God punishing us for our sin
Never, all the punishment you deserve was taken by Jesus
Suffering's endurance comes by knowing its purposeful, never random and out of love
It makes you fruitful

4] What I need most from God is relief from my suffering and answers to my question
He's the creator and I'm the creation that he can do whatever with
See gods glory at center of everything
Thank God for all we've been given and not deserved
In a fair world, There'd be no room for grace n mercy

May you always consider, however you are suffering, as being counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name of Jesus Christ