Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In Between



David. What pops into your mind when you think of him? Often we think of him as the shepherd boy who went up against Goliath, or the king of Judah who was called a man after God's own heart, or the writer who wrote around half the book of Psalms. But in this post I want to talk about two other times in his life.


Put yourself in David's shoes. You're out in the fields with the sheep, watching them for your father, probably playing the lyre. You most likely heard about Samuel coming, about your family being invited to the sacrifice. But you remain in the fields, tending the sheep.Then someone your father sent runs up, summoning you. You go to your father and see the judge, Samuel. You've heard stories about him. He anoints you with oil and you feel the presence of the Spirit of the Lord in you. Samuel anoints you to be the future king of Judah.

Samuel leaves and you go back to the fields, back to tending the sheep. What now? Nothing really changes for you, at least for now, except for God's Spirit in you, You find yourself waiting, but you put that time to use. You tend the sheep, write Psalms, and play the lyre.

Fast forward several years. You've fought against Goliath, played the lyre in King Saul's presence, become a great warrior, but now Saul is trying to kill you. You are on the run for your life. This lasts for not days, not months, but years. You've probably asked yourself, or God, many times: Why is this happening? You were anointed to become king one day, but it doesn't seem like that's happening any time soon. Yet, deep in your heart, you know that what God has predestined, will take place in His timing.


Two times in David's life when he was in a "in between season". I think we all feel like we've had those times, when we've finished the last chapter and waiting to move onto the next. But its not just an "in between season", it's a time of waiting - and preparing.

Those seasons where we feel like the next season will never come, when we are tired of waiting... those times are so important! Those seasons are not to be wasted. Those are seasons of preparation for the next season. But we can still glorify God no matter what season of life we're in. We can serve and praise Him right where we are.

What God has predestined, will occur according to His plan and timing. Waiting for what lies next in your life may seem endless... but maybe that's not what God has planned for you anyways. Often we like to get ahead of God and start making out our life plans. I'll go to this college, I'll major in this, I'll get this job, I'll get married at this age, I'll have kids at this age... But life rarely goes as planned. I'm not saying it's wrong to think about your future, on the contrary, I like thinking about what my future holds sometimes too! But we still need to trust Him with what happens, and trust in His perfect timing.


~~~

Let's talk....

What has God been teaching you recently? What season of life do you find yourself in?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Constant One




You are the very reason I feel joy inside

You call me Your daughter and will never cast me aside

God, Your faithful love endures forever,

It has no end, not now not ever

You are the constant One I can cling to

You’ve been with me in it all, all I’ve been through

You are my hope and refuge,

And the gift You offer is huge

A free gift of love, an eternity with You

Through all time You remain true

You created the earth, You created it all

To You, my knees will fall

I want to genuinely worship You,

Worship You with a heart that’s pure and true

I don’t want empty words to come forth, out of my mouth,

But a song from my soul to the One who is north, west, east, and south

You are the very air I breath,

 In You I’ll always believe

Praise Your great name,

May the whole world tell of Your fame

~~~~~

God is constant. His love is faithful. He is so amazing... how can we not praise Him?


Psalm 104:1, " My soul, praise Yahweh! Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with majesty and splendor."

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Names of God



Names. In the Bible, names held significance. They didn't just name their child a name that was pretty, they named them something that meant something. It was the same thing with places. Actually Jessica over at Apples of Gold recently posted about that (you can read her post here). But I'm not going to talk about the names of places. I'm going to talk about the names of God.

My youth group has been doing a study called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. There's a study guide - or devotional - that comes with it that we do on our own. Yesterday I read Day 1 in Chapter 4 and it was about knowing God. It talked about how as we get to know God more and more He reveals His names to us.

For instance, we may know God is loving. But when we experience His love it has a deeper, more personal meaning. There are so many names of God. When Moses asked God who he was to say sent him God didn't say one name.

Exodus 3:14, "God replied to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.'"

"I AM WHO I AM". That sentence holds authority, a sense of forever, and holds promise. God didn't tell the Israelites one of His names. He chose to reveal those names to them as time went on. It's one thing to know God is Comforter. It's another to experience that. For God to reveal those names, the truths about Himself, is to know Him personally and to know Him better as time goes on.
You could know that God is Provider, but that doesn't mean much to you personally until you experience that.

That's one way we come to know God. As  we walk through this life, God will continue to reveal Himself to us, to reveal His names. His names aren't just words, the names are attributes, truths, and hold promise.

Personally, one of the things about God I've experienced is that He is hope. I won't share the specifics, but I will say that He has shown His hope to me time after time. When all other hope seems lost, He shows up. I've shared this verse many times but it's one of my favorite verses. Psalm 42:5, "Why am I so depressed? Why is this turmoil in me? Put your hope in God for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God."

Psalm 32:7, "You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance." I've also come to know God as my hiding place. With Him, surrounded by His love, I'm safe. There I can show my brokenness, I can surrender, and I can trust Him.


Having a relationship with God isn't a one time thing, not one prayer. It's a daily thing. It's like any other relationship in your life - it takes work and time. It's a continuing relationship. It grows and you build it together. As you get to know other aspects of God's character, as He reveals His names to you personally, that relationship you have with Him grows deeper and stronger.


~


What names has God revealed to you through experiences in your life? How have you come to know God more personally?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Delays (A Short Story)





“Great. Now we’re going to be late.” Ellie sighed after hearing over the airports speakers that their flight was going to have a slight delay. Already close to two o’clock in the morning, she was ready to be at her parents’ house to celebrate Thanksgiving.

“It’ll be alright, honey.” Will, her husband, said.

“Mommy, I’m sleepy.” Their four year old daughter, Josie, tugged on her mom’s sleeve.

“I know, sweetheart.” Ellie sat back down in one of the chairs and pulled Josie up onto the chair beside her. Josie curled up against her and soon fell asleep.

Will sat down beside Ellie, next to their other sleeping child, Henry. Weary, Ellie laid her head on Will’s shoulder. This wasn’t how she had pictured spending her Thanksgiving. Originally they were going to leave yesterday, but Will had an emergency at work – heart surgery – and they had to delay their plans.

Even though she was exhausted, having been up since seven the previous morning, she couldn’t fall asleep as easily as her children could.

“Would you like me to get you some hot chocolate?” Will asked. Surprisingly there was a little coffee shop opened.

“Sure. Thanks.” Ellie smiled.

“Be back in a few.” Placing a light kiss on her forehead, he walked towards the shop. Thankfully most people were sleeping, so the airport lacked the usual hustle and bustle it usually had.

Ellie continued smiling as she looked at her sleeping children, so peaceful. She brushed Henry’s brown locks out of his eyes.

Will returned, two cups in hand. He handed the hot chocolate to her, keeping what was probably coffee for himself.

“You know, this kind of reminds me of the time we first met.” He said, settling into the seat beside her.

Ellie grinned, “Oh does it now?”

Henry stirred beside Will, rubbing his eyes sleepily. “How did you meet Mommy, Daddy?” He asked.

Will turned his attention to the half-awake six year old. “We met in an airport, one similar to this one. We were both traveling on the day before Christmas Eve when our flight got delayed. We ended up sitting next to each other, waiting. We talked for a while. Early the next morning our flight was finally ready and we had seats right next to each other. Your mother here had a connecting flight, so she wasn’t going to the same place as me.”

“Well what happened then?” Henry asked, curious as always.

Ellie picked up the story. “What we didn’t know at the time was that we lived in the same city. We ended up going to the same church together and started to get to know each other. Eventually we started dating and got married.”

Henry nodded thoughtfully before going back to sleep against his dad.

“We don’t seem to have the best record with airports, now do we?” Ellie stated, taking another sip of her hot chocolate.

“On the contrary,” Will answered with a grin, “I think we have a great one.”

~~~

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hope in the Darkness



Hope. It's something we all long for. We want hope. Hope helps us get through the days. We have all had times where we feel hopeful. Yet times come when we feel hopeless, like all hope is gone.

I guess at times we feel like Job. Job 17:15, "Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?"

When do we lose hope? How come hopelessness creeps upon us?

Depression. Sadness. Grief. Anger. Bitterness. Fear. Loss.

Those are just a few things that you may be going through right now. Maybe you feel hopeless. Maybe you even know that there is hope in Jesus, yet you still struggle to have hope. You're not alone.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 42. This is what it says in verse five and eleven, "Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God."

The Psalmist starts out this verse asking why he feels depressed, why there is turmoil in him. We've all been there. We like to ask God why. We like to question. But then the Psalmist writes, "Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God." 

Wow. He tells others to put their hope in God, for he still praises God. Despite the fact that he feels depressed, despite the fact he feels turmoil within, he still praises God. 

Psalm 71:14 sounds similar to that.  "But I will hope continually and will praise You more and more." Hope in Him and praise Him. 

I get it, though, it's hard. Hope doesn't always come easily. I have no idea what you're going through right now... maybe the loss of a friend, depression, a loved one moved away, and maybe you just feel utterly hopeless. Hold on, friend. Hold on. There's an acronym for hope I like...

H. old 
O. n
P. ain
E. nds

Hold on, pain ends. God's light can pierce through the darkness you're in right now. His love can find a way through anything. 

When I'm talk about hope in this post, I'm talking about hope from Jesus. When we put our hope in things or people those things or people will let us down eventually. But Jesus will never let you  down.

Jeremiah 14:22 puts that into words more clearly, "Can any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the skies alone give showers? Are You not the Lord our God? We therefore put our hope in You, for You have done all these things."

Put your hope in Jesus. I know it's hard. I'm not promising that you will always feel hopeful, but deep down in your soul you can have hope. True hope is found in Jesus Christ. 

Lamentations 3:20-22 says, "I continually remember them and have become depressed. Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end."


When hopelessness creeps up on you, open God's Word, see what He has to say. Let Him speak to you in the quiet of night, speak to you through His holy Word. Don't try to do it on your own. Please, go to God with whatever you're going through. You're not alone. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It All Comes Down to This



The core of the gospel. What is weaved throughout scripture. What we're called to show others.

Love.

I think we often gloss over the fact that God loves us and that we're called to love others. It's not that we mean to, its just that we hear it so much we're grow accustomed to it. Passive to the fact. But God's love for us is amazing, it's great, it's faithful, it's everlasting. We should never lose our awe of God and of His love. Let's dive back into what it means to love, and to be loved by God.


We're called to love. Why?

1 John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us."

So for us to know how to love others, to know why, we need to look at His love.


Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you."

That's God talking about His people. The ones who abandoned Him, who forgot Him, who served and worshiped other gods, who tried to be like other nations. God said He loved them, and that He would continue to love them.

God loves us the same way. And it's not like we're any better than the Israelites either. I think one reason we often lose our wonder of His love for us is because we forget that we don't deserve it.

But that's what makes His love so amazing!

The fact that we don't deserve His grace, mercy, and love makes it that much more incredible that He loves us.

We are all sinners. We all need forgiveness. We all need Jesus. Like I said, it's not like we're better than the Israelites were. We forget about God, we abandon Him in pursuit of worthless things, we serve ourselves and make other things our idols, we strive to be like the world around us. And He loves us still!

1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us."

Jesus has never asked us to do something He isn't willing to do. He has asked us to love, and He loves us. But love isn't just a word or emotion... love is an action. It's a ongoing, continuing thing. He showed us His love by dying on a cross for our sins. We hear about the crucifixion, but I don't think we often realize how much Jesus went through for us.

Jesus was mocked and spat upon. He was whipped. In those days people would die from the whipping alone. Flesh was literally ripped from His body, exposing organs. On His head was placed a crown on thorns, beaten into His head. A robe was placed on Him, mocking Him further. He was to carry the cross to where He would be crucified but He couldn't carry it the whole way so someone from the crowd had to carry it for His. His wrists and feet were nailed into the cross and the cross was raised up. Death by crucifixion was one of the worst - if not the worst - way to die. You hang there for hours (sometimes days), pushing yourself up with your legs, trying to get another breath of air.
Eventually you die of exhaustion and asphyxiation.

Words cannot express the horror of it. But Jesus went through that for you, for me. He went through that for our sins. He, being the perfect sacrifice, died that death for us.

Why did I tell you all of that? Because we will never begin to grasp His love until we realize how much He went through for us, because of His love.


What am I trying to say in this post? I'm trying to say how much God loves you. He loves you so very much! That's the gospel. That's what it all comes down to. His love. God is love. Because He loves us we are to love others! Simple truths, hard to live out.

~

Well I'm back! Four weeks later I'm back. I didn't really think I was going to take a break this long but that's what happened and I'm okay with that. It was nice to have a break. But I'm glad to be back.

What has been going on in your life recently? What's God been showing you? What's one of your favorite verses about love? How, in your life, can you put love into action?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Updates



Two weeks ago I shared a piece of my heart through this blog. Last Tuesday my family and I came home. Since we arrived home it seems we've been on the go 24/7.
My family is blessed, however. Our house is undamaged. We had a tree go down into our neighbors' yard, inches away from their house, and portions of our fence fell down, but compared to what others have been through our damage was minimum. We were blessed.
Others haven't been so fortunate though. Many in my city - and in my own neighborhood - have had their houses flooded, or trees go into their houses.

In my city trees have fallen, debris is pretty much everywhere, fences down, tornadoes have been through in some places, and etc.. But despite what has happened it’s evident that God has been at work. Hurricane Florence changed to a Cat. 1 before hitting land and considering the damage it cause from that, thankfully it didn’t stay a Cat. 4. There have been many instances where the damage could have been worse, praise God that He has intervened many times. My heart aches for those who have had loved ones die or those who have had their houses destroyed or badly damaged, but I know that God can use this for good.

I've already seen God move in many ways, and I've seen people come together through this. This past Saturday our church had a church work day (we sent out teams to different houses to help) and more than fifty people showed up. While I'm not going to share everything that God has been doing recently in my city I will say that He's been moving.

However, times of discouragement do arise. We get worn out and tired, the road ahead seems long. But God can give us strength and He can encourage our hearts.

These verses from Isaiah 61 have been encouraging to me...

(verse 1) "The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;"

(verse 2) "...to comfort those who mourn..."

(verse 4) "They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations."

(verse 10) "I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God..."


I’m looking forward to see how we continue come together in these circumstances and how God will continue to work. These situations aren’t ideal, but life rarely is and I’m sure God has a reason for what has happened.
That said, I'm going to take a blogging break... at least for now. Knowing me, it could just be a week or two, however it could be longer. I'm not sure yet.


A video my church shared - showing damage from the hurricane and people helping - had the song Beautiful Things by Gungor playing. It's a lovely song talking about how God can make beautiful
things from anything. You can click on the video below to listen to it or click here.




~

What about you? What's been going in your life? Were you effected by Hurricane Florence? What's something that God has done in your life recently? What's a Bible verse that has encouraged you lately?


Psalm 9:10, “Those who know Your Name trust in You because You have not not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

God is Still in Control


I have been reminded today, yet again, that God is in control.

All of us have something in our lives that we can't control. Today is the anniversary of 9/11... a horrible evil. Maybe you were impacted by 9/11 and today you're reminded of the pain. For some of you, you're dealing with a loss of a close friend or family member. Maybe you're really struggling inside. Maybe you feel burdened for a friend. Maybe you or one of your parents lost their job and you're struggling to make ends meet. For me, Hurricane Florence is heading towards where I live. My family is among those who have chosen to evacuate.
We can't control any of those situations.

I had another post ready for today, but instead I want to share with you something from my heart.

I wouldn't exactly say I'm a control freak, but I do like to know what's going to happen. However, in the world we live today uncertainty is often a constant companion. I'm not sure what's going to happen next. In my case, the hurricane could cause devastation in a city that I love. God may choose to intervene, but even if He doesn't I know that He can use this situation for good.

God can use anything for good. No matter what happens He can use it for good.

On January 8, 1956, five missionaries in Ecuador - Jim Elliot,  Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian - were killed. They just wanted to reach people for Jesus. Yes, that was tragic, but God used it for good. Many of the people they tried to reach out to later became believers - including some who killed them.

That is just one example of how God can use something for His good.

To be honest, if everything was in our control our world would be in chaos (more chaos than it's in now) so thank God that He's the One in control.

I just mentioned that God can use anything for His good... but that doesn't mean it will necessarily be the way we want it. We can picture the perfect way God can use a situation for His glory but when we do that we're putting Him in a box. Our God has no boundaries, no limitations and His way is better than ours. Maybe things don't go the way we want them to go... but God can still use it for His glory.

When we try to take control of what we can't control, the only thing we'll succeed in is worrying. And worrying gets no one anywhere. As I type that I have to confess that I am concerned for those who will be impacted by Hurricane Florence, but at the same time I'm trying to give it to God.

We shouldn't undermine the circumstances, but we need to trust Him with the results.

While I was riding in our car today I read my Bible. I've been reading through the book of Jeremiah recently and a couple of passages stuck out to me.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, "The wise man must not boast in his wisdom; the strong man must not boast in his strength; the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth. But the one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me— that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration."

Our strength is weak, our wisdom is foolish, our wealth can be meaningless... But God is strong, He is wise, and He has everything we need.

Jeremiah 10:12-13, "He made the earth by His power, established the world by His wisdom, and spread out the heavens by His understanding. When He thunders, the waters in the heavens are in turmoil, and He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings the wind from His storehouses."

God has created everything, therefore He has control over everything.

But sometimes we think about everything that's wrong in the world and we get frustrated at God, wondering why He doesn't intervene. But God doesn't think like us, He doesn't do things according to what we think is right.

As Isaiah 55:8-9 puts it, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.'
This is the Lord’s declaration. 'For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"

God knows what's best, He knows what's going to happen. I hate worrying, I hate the feeling of it and I know it gets me nowhere. I'm struggling right now not to worry about the hurricane, however worrying won't help anything.

Prayer is great. I think I've prayed more in the past 24 hours than I have in one day in a while. I think we often take prayer for granted - I know that I do. But we are talking to God, King of the World, Creator of the Universe and He hears every word we utter. That's mind blowing. I've been praying about random things, like I always do, I've been praying for safety and protection for those who need it, I've been praying for God to use this for His glory, and I've been praying for Him to help me accept His will no matter what.

I'm not sure what's going to happen. This hurricane could dissolve out at sea, it could become a lower category by time it hits land ... but no matter what happens God is still in control. And He can use anything for His glory.

I've shared some of what's been on my heart today, about what's been going on in my life and I don't know what's been going on in your life.  No matter what's going on in your life, I want to encourage you to turn to Jesus. I'm not saying He will make everything go great in your life, I'm not saying He will totally change your circumstances. What I'm saying is that He knows best and He can use whatever you're going through for His honor and glory.

Just remember, God is in control.



What have you been going through recently? What's God been showing you? Is there a chance you'll be impacted by Hurricane Florence? Did you have a loss in 9/11? What is a scripture that is of comfort to you in times of trouble?


Psalm 46:1-3, "God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

God Remains True


God, I feel worn and weary

Discouraged I may be,

But God I pray that You’d encourage me

Chaos may be all around me

But I pray that You’d surround me

I may feel like the darkness is closing in,

Like we’re all to lost to sin

But if I feel like the battle is lost,

I just need to look at the cross

You won the ultimate victory

And You can give rest to the weary

In the storm You’re the refuge I cling to

In a world of lies and deceit You remain true

I may want to give up sometimes,

But You pick me up time after time

Thank You, Lord

~~~~~

God remains true. Our world may lie and its full of deceit, but He is truth and He will always remain true. 
No matter what you're going through today, I want to encourage you to look to Him.


John 14:6, "Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

More Highlights from Isaiah...



Last week I wrote a post of a "few" highlights from the book of Isaiah. I only made it half way through the book!
Here are a few more highlights - or a few things that God taught me through the book of Isaiah or things that stuck out to me.

-----

I love Isaiah 40. It's such a beautiful passage packed full of lessons to learn and it shares about how great God is! If you have time to read the whole chapter I highly recommend looking it up.

Verse 18 says, "With whom will you compare God? What likeness will you set up for comparison with Him?"
Verse 25-26 says, "To whom will you compare Me, or who is My equal?" asks the Holy One. Look up and see! He brings out the stars by number; He calls all of them by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing."

Our God is so great. He knows every star by name! Stars are countless let He knows each by name! Who can we compare God with? No one. God is beyond measure and comprehension.

Verse 28-31 says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint."

Wow! Doesn't that passage just make you want to jump up and shout?  God is everlasting, He is Creator of everything, He never sleeps and He doesn't get tired, there is NO limit to His understanding.
Trust in Him. Let Him renew your strength, let Him be your strength.

-

Isaiah 43:1-2, "Now this is what the Lord says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.""

If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you are a child of God. He has called you by name and you are His. Our identity is in Him! We've been redeemed.

Verse 4, "Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and I love you."

God loves you. He loves me. God loves everyone. You are precious in the sight of the King of kings. Your worth is not in anything you do... its in the love He has for you. But isn't that comforting to know?

-

Isaiah 52:2-3, "Stand up, shake the dust off yourself! Take your seat, Jerusalem. Remove the bonds from your neck, captive Daughter Zion." For this is what the Lord says: "You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without silver.""

If you are a follower of Jesus then you've been redeemed by Jesus' blood. But sometimes we don't realize it. If our chains have been broken why do we wear them? If our transgressions have been forgiven why do we sit in the filth of our sins? We need to stand up and shake the dust off ourselves! We've been redeemed by His blood!

-

Isaiah 54:10, ""Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken," says your compassionate Lord."

No matter what God's love never changes. His covenant will not be shaken. Cling to that hope. Cling to Jesus.

-

Isaiah 64:3, "When You did awesome works that we did not expect, You who came down, and the mountains quaked at your presence."

God is so powerful!




Whew... there are so many things to learn from the book of Isaiah! I had trouble "narrowing" it down.

So what's God been doing in your life recently? What's He been teaching you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Highlights from Isaiah...


I finished the book of Isaiah a week or so ago so I wanted to share a few highlights from it... there's so much in the book of Isaiah to learn, I'll try to narrow it down to just a few things that God taught me. :D

-----

Something I notice throughout the book of Isaiah, and it's in other books of the Bible as well, is that sometimes a chapter or section will end with "for the Lord has spoken" or "This is the declaration of the Lord of Armies". (Is. 1:2, 3:15, 14:23, 17:3, 22:25, and so on). To me it's as if it's showing that His Word is final. God's Word is final. God's Word never changes. God's Word remains forever.

Isaiah 40:8 says, "The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever."

Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."

Psalm 33:4, "For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is trustworthy."

Isaiah 14:27 says, "The Lord of Armies Himself has planned it; therefore, who can stand in its way? It is His hand that is outstretched, so who can turn it back?"

-

Isaiah 1:7-8 says, "Your land is desolate, your cities burned down; foreigners devour your fields right in front of you - a desolation, like a place demolished by foreigners. Daughter Zion is abandoned like a shelter in a vineyard, like a shack in a cucumber field, like a besieged city."

Sounds like a pretty depressing picture, right? Let me skip ahead to Isaiah chapter 61.

Isaiah 61:4, "They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." 

Isn't that comforting? I love how you can see where they were, and where they will be.
In our world today we see darkness, destruction, and chaos... but one day Jesus is going to come back again and He will renew and restore.

-

Isaiah chapter six is pretty well known for verse eight:

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: 
Who should I send?
Who will go for us?

I said:
Here I am. Send me."

Wow. Isaiah stood in the presence of God and when God asked who will go for us Isaiah said, "Here I am. Send me." At the time I'm sure he didn't know how much he would suffer for His Name, but I'm willing to guess he did know the cost.
How do we respond to God's calling?

Let me back up a few verses to Isaiah 6:5, "Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies. 
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: 
Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for." 

Isaiah saw the glory of God. He saw it and recognized that he was a sinner. But his lips were touched with a glowing coal and his sins were atoned for. 
When we see the glory of God we see how sinful we are compared to His glory. But God has forgiven us, our iniquity has been removed and our sins atoned for.  

-

Isaiah 17:10 says, "For you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and you have failed to remember the rock of your strength;"

When we forget about what God has done for us, when we forget Who He is, we are taking our eyes off of Him and onto other things. We need to focus on Him and remember.

Isaiah 26:13, "but we remember Your name alone."

-

Isaiah 31:6, "Return to the one the Israelites have greatly rebelled against."

The Israelites had a tendency to turn to idols and away from God... but here Isaiah tells them to return to Him.
Isaiah 44:22, "I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."





Hah, remember how in the beginning of this post I said I'll try to narrow it down to a few? I think those were a little over a few.... ;). And I barely made it halfway through the book! I may share some more next week. 

So what is one of your favorite verses from the book of Isaiah? What's God been teaching you through His Word recently? What's a lesson from Isaiah God has taught you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Jesus, More than Words



His love is so amazing.
Even a second of His love is more than anyone could ever love you in a lifetime.
His love is so beautiful that I cannot describe it.
He is more than words.

His grace overflows.
All the waters combined couldn’t amount to His grace.
His grace is breath-taking.
He is more than words.

His mercy is plentiful.
His mercy is beyond measure.
His mercy is majestic.
He is more than words.

His glory shines.
All of His glory cannot be captured in a single moment.
His glory is everywhere.
He is more than words.

Jesus. He is more than I or any other person could ever describe. I can only say a few things to the beginning of who He is.
He is more than words.

~~~~

That’s a poem I wrote a while back... Jesus is indescribable. I can’t even begin to find words that describe Him.


Psalm 24:1-2, "The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers."

Psalm 86:15, "But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Contradicting World



We live in a world of contradictions.
Think about it. Our world says one thing and then goes and says another.


The world says you're beautiful, then tells you how to lose weight and look beautiful.

The world says be yourself, then tells you how to live.

The world promotes being real, while putting on a fake mask.

The world says that life matters yet millions of babies have been aborted.

The world says you can make your own choices, but scorns Christianity.


But think about it even more. How often do we contradict ourselves?


We tell people to open up and share what they're going through, but we hide it all inside.

We say that we're a follower of Jesus, then we go do something contrary to God's Word.

We say that our words have impact, but throw them out carelessly.

We tell people to pray and read the Bible, but Monday through Saturday we don't do those two things.


How does any of that make sense? I'm not going to go into all of that, instead I want to emphasize another point.
God never contradicts Himself. His Word is never contradicting. 

I find that thought very comforting.

Our world is contradicting, but God never contradicts Himself.

Our world is ever changing, but Jesus is the same forever.

Our world is full of lies and deceit, but Jesus is truth.


I find those truths very comforting.

Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

John 14:6, "Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."


This post isn't as long as most, but I want to encourage you with this fact: Jesus is the same forever. He will never change. He will never say a lie and always speaks truth. His Word is never contradicting. In our chaotic world, cling to Him.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Beauty in Jesus



While writing this, I'm sitting on my bed, still not quite sure what to write. I'm prewriting this post, trying to write it before I leave in two days.

I've always tried to show myself as I really am on this blog, be real in my writing. And right now I'm just going to try to let the words flow.

~

This summer has felt weird to me. I guess you could say it's been a bit of a roller coaster - except it's going in circles, not moving ahead. I'm not exactly sure why this summer has felt this way. I mean it's been a pretty great summer (of course its flown by - though that's what I say all the time) but it's just felt different than past years. I think I'm in a time of waiting right now. I gotta confess something: I hate waiting. I've heard - and even said - that there's beauty in waiting. And that's true, it's just that while waiting it's harder to see the beauty.

Now I'm going to bring in good ole dictionary.com. One of the definitions for wait is, "to be available or in readiness". To wait is being available and ready. A question I have to ask myself while waiting right now is this: am I making myself available and ready for what God has in store for me next? Now, let me get one thing straight, it's only by Jesus that we're ready for what God has planned for us, but we need to make ourselves available for Him to work through us. It's like if you were trying to teach a kid math (don't ask me to teach math though, I'd probably make the kid hate math forever), you can't teach the child if the child isn't willing to learn. You can't take a dog on a walk if it doesn't get up and move. We need to be available for Him to work in and through us, we need to be willing to learn from Him and willing to get moving. 

One of my favorite scriptures (I've probably shared it on here a couple of times) is Psalm 27:14, it says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord." I love that. It repeats the phrase "Wait for the Lord" and between it it says "be strong and courageous".
We've gotten the wrong idea of strong and courageous in our world today. We've twisted it and think that a strong person doesn't show emotion, is ready for anything and everything, locks up everything inside and doesn't let anyone in, and is basically our idea of perfect. That's so not it. A strong person doesn't necessarily have to be strong. The strongest people I admire aren't strong because of their own doing, but because of Jesus Christ in them. A strong person is willing to admit their weakness.
Courage is similar. True courage isn't being brave and fearless 24/7 (because come on, who is?), it's continuing on despite  of being afraid.
So where does courage and strength fit in with waiting on the Lord? While waiting on Jesus we need to continue to rely on Him, to continue on despite the fact that we may not always feel like it.

I don't know about you, but personally I don't normally like waiting because I have no idea how long I'm going to have to wait for. I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, and where I'm doing it. Waiting doesn't fit into that ideal lifestyle. But waiting is apart of life, and it's apart of our walk with Jesus too.
So where is the beauty in waiting? I'm not even completely sure if it's in the waiting. I think a lot of the time we want to find beauty in the waiting, beauty in the ashes, beauty in the broken, beauty in the sorrow, beauty in the pain. Those are pleasing sentences, but do they really mean anything? Now, while I do think that beauty can be found in those things sometimes then I believe that true beauty is found in Jesus Christ.

We seek beauty in our ugly, messed up world. We seek peace in a world of chaos. We seek joy because this world brings sorrow. We seek contentment in a world of dissatisfaction. We seek love in a unloving world. We seek light in a dark world. We seek redemption in a unforgiving world. We seek healing because of our broken world.  But when did we forget to seek Jesus?
We want saving, healing, peace, joy, contentment, love, light, redemption, and more yet we forget that those things are found in Jesus.
Peace and joy have always been two things I've struggled with. I've prayed for those things, I've sought out those two things. But what I really need to do is seek Jesus. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with praying for joy, peace, ect.... what I am saying is that we shouldn't get so caught up in those things that we forget to seek Jesus.

We may not always find beauty in waiting, so let's instead find beauty in Jesus. Waiting is still  not my favorite thing to do, but in periods of waiting I need to just keep my focus on Jesus.


There's a song I love by Natalie Grant called More Than Anything. Click here to listen to it. It has a beautiful message that goes along with what I just mentioned.


I hope that somewhere in those scattered thoughts were a comprehensible message.
Just remember this: you aren't always going to find beauty in waiting, so instead find beauty in Jesus. Remember to seek Him.




So what are your thoughts? What are your favorite scriptures about waiting? Do you find beauty in waiting? What do you do when waiting on Jesus?

I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

But You are Strong



I am insecure. I doubt. I'm afraid. I'm broken. I'm weak.

I was talking to my mom the other day about my insecurity and doubt and she told me several things. One, it's okay to doubt, be insecure, and be weak. Two, I didn't like to be weak.

Let me go into those things...

She explained that it's okay for me to doubt sometimes, or be insecure, or not always do everything perfect... Because its in our weakness that God works mightily.
And she told me that I didn't like to be weak. Trust me, I know I'm not perfect, but I guess maybe I got the wrong idea of things. When Jesus is with us He doesn't just take away all our doubts, insecurities, weaknesses, and fears... He works through them.

There's a verse in 2 Corinthians that I've heard several times but haven't really ever thought about until my mom shared it with me the other day...

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.  So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Wow. God's power is perfected in our weakness. He doesn't make our lives perfect, He doesn't make us fearless or anything... He works through us despite of our flaws. We need Him.

There was another Bible verse she shared with me...

 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, "No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, The Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are meaningless. So no one should boast in human leaders, for everything is yours— whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come—everything is yours, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."

Let me try to summarize what that means. Our human reasoning, compared to God's wisdom, is foolish. We can think we're so smart and know so much but honestly? Our wisdom is foolish in His eyes. We need to humble ourselves before Jesus... we on our own aren't wise and we're weak. We have to accept those facts so that Jesus can do amazing things through us.

We don't need to be completely secure, have no doubts, be fearless, or strong. What we need is Jesus. His power is perfected in our weakness - I can't say that enough! We are inefficient, but He is sufficient for us. We can never be enough, we will mess up time after time - but His grace is sufficient.
It's okay if we're insecure, doubtful, afraid, or weak. News flash, everyone is at times. But it's in those moments where God works the greatest.

I wrote the poem below after I talked with my mom about all of this... it was originally written as song lyrics, but since I have no music I'll type it out as a poem...

But You Are Strong

I have doubt and fear.
Insecurity and weakness lingers near.
I may feel broken today,
But that’s okay.

Because in weakness Your power is perfected.
This pain may be unexpected.
But it’s in my weakness that Your power resides.
It’s Your Spirit Who guides.
It’s in my weakest place,
That I’m flooded with Your grace.
It’s for You I long.
I may be weak, but You are strong.

I may be inefficient,
But Your grace is sufficient.
I may be broken and weak,
But in that time it’s You I seek.

It’s not for me, it’s all for You.
I’m just here for You to work through.
Let my whole story be,
For Your glory.
You are right and I am wrong.
I may be weak, but You are strong.


~~~~~

I don't know what you're going through right now, but I just want to say that God is sufficient. It's okay to be doubtful at times, afraid, or insecure. We're just empty, broken vessels for Him to work through. It's all for His glory, not our own.
I guess I always thought that insecurity and doubt were seasons that we go through in our walk with Jesus sometimes, but overcome. That's not always the case. Insecurity, doubt, and fear may chase me down all my life.... but that's okay. Because it's in those times where Jesus works through me the most. It's in my weakness that He gets the most glory. 

To be honest I'm still learning all the lessons I just wrote down in this blog post, but that's okay. We always have more to learn and a lot of the time certain lessons have to be repeated over and over for us to finally begin to grasp.

So just remember this.... It's okay if you struggle sometimes, or if you're weak and imperfect. I'm weak and imperfect too. In those times then allow God to work through you, it's in weakness where His power is perfected.

Psalm 57:5, "God, be exalted above the heavens; let Your glory be over the whole earth."


~~~~~

Side note: This Saturday I'm leaving to go on a mission trip and the week after I'm going on another trip so the next two Tuesday's I'll  be posting a prewritten post if I can. Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Things that I learned...

Last week I went with my youth group to a youth camp called Global. I learned a lot of things and wanted a share of few of those things with you...





      Each day after lunch we would have something called track time. We would split off into different groups to discuss a certain subject. We got to choose which one we wanted to do. On Tuesday then at first I wanted to go to the prayer track time, but as I began to think about it I felt like God was pushing me to go to the evangelism track time. So I did.

The person leading the track, Allie, told us to try to ask five questions to as many people as we could in three minutes. So we did. After we gathered back around she asked how many of us asked a question about God, church, or religion. None of us raised our hand. Then she asked how many asked what their favorite color was. All of us raised our hand. The point is is that sharing the gospel can start with a simple question, if only we’re bold enough to do it. We don’t like to talk about evangelism much because it can make us feel guilty for not doing it. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t share the gospel as much as I should, but I want to start trying.

We make evangelism sound like it’s in its own category. We make it sound very hard and complicated. It is hard. But not impossible. We can talk about Jesus to anyone and it can come up through a simple question. We just have to step out in faith to do it. And we need to be praying every step of the way.



      At Global we’re surrounded by fellow believers and are constantly immersed in God’s Word. That tends to make us more passionate about God there. But that doesn’t need to fade away. God isn’t limited to one mountain or one church. He can’t be contained. As one of the speakers said, God doesn’t want re-commitment, He wants surrender. We can recommit ourselves to Him every Sunday or once a year at a camp, but if we aren’t surrendering to Him it’s not going to mean anything.




      I loved my time at Global. I learned a lot of things. But I don’t want my relationship with God to be limited to one place or one time. We could come to church every Sunday, but if we’re not living for Him Monday through Saturday then what’s the point? Something that one of the speakers said stuck with me. He said that we can’t park on yesterday’s miracles. We can’t go to Global once a year and just milk it for all it’s worth for months, not doing anything else for Jesus. We can’t say that we shared the gospel two months ago and keep living off of that. Those things can be great and we should remember those times. But we can’t live in yesterday because if we do we’ll miss what God’s doing today.



      During one of the worship times the band played a song called O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship. I've always loved the song and during the chorus I really got to thinking.

This is how the chorus goes...
"O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ"

     And during it it occurred to me that not everyone knows that. Not everyone knows that God is waiting for them with His arms wide open. They don't know that forgiveness was bought with Jesus' blood. They don't know that they can come to Jesus. Of course I know that there are people out there that don't know about Jesus or believe in Him... but during that song it really hit me.

     My neighbors, friends, people I pass by on the street - they may not know that. That's why it's so important that we share the gospel.

      Look, I don't know where you are right now in your life. I don't know the heart - only God does. But if you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior then I encourage you to come to Jesus, His arms are open wide. Maybe you are a follower of Jesus but haven't fully surrendered to Him, then I encourage you to surrender your all to Him. It's hard and it's a lesson I'm still learning, but I encourage you to do so. Or maybe you have surrendered to Him but aren't quite sure what to do next, I encourage you to tell people about Him and live for Him daily.



So those were a few things that I learned at Global.

What about you? What has God been teaching you recently? Have you ever heard of Global Youth Camp?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Man Named Mr. Edward (A Short Story)

On this blog I've pretty much stuck to posting the same kind of thing: Things that God's been teaching me. While I'm still going to do that then today I'm posting something a little different. A few days ago I wrote this short story and I wanted to share it with y'all.
Without further ado...




       The boy peeked out of the window.

      “Let me see!” His eight year old sister exclaimed, scrambling up on the couch to see out to window. “Is he still there?”

      The boy nodded at his twin before looking back out the window. The two had conducted a survey. There was an old man who lived across the street and every day, without fail, he sat on his front porch in a rickety white rocking chair. He didn’t do anything but drink lemonade – except in the winter he sat out there with a steaming mug of coffee. The man was a mystery to the twins because he just looked around. But there wasn’t anything on their street to see except for a handful of houses.

      The man puzzled them.

. . .


The elderly man with bushy white eyebrows was fully aware of the brother and sister across the street. He’d seen them watching him on many occasions. They’d hidden in the big tree in their yard, looked from their window, spied with binoculars, and peeked over from behind their backyard.
He took another sip from his mason jar filled with lemonade, amused by the two. Today they were perched in the tree in their front yard, no doubt thinking they were well hidden.

The children amused him.

. . .

“Oh no!” The boy said, watching as their ball accidentally rolled into the man’s yard.

“Well we have to go and get it. By we I mean you.” His loving sister pushed him in the direction of the man’s house.

“I’m only going if you go with me.” The boy announced.

“Fine.” Taking her brother’s hand into her own she looked both ways before crossing the street. The boy retrieved the ball and the twins were about to leave when the old man spoke.
“Hey you two, want some lemonade?”

The siblings had been told by their parents to never take candy from strangers but this was different. One, this was lemonade; two, this man – though they’d never spoken to him face to face – didn’t seem like a stranger.  So they walked up the stairs onto his white front porch.

The man with white eyebrows and a thick white mustache reminded the two of their grandpa, before he passed away a year ago. Up close now, they could see the twinkle in his eye and his kind smile.

“Now, you two can have a seat while I go inside to get two more cups of lemonade.” The man instructed before heading inside.

The brother and sister did as they were told, sitting down on the two other rocking chairs. The porch had a cover over it, shading them from the summer sun. There were three white rocking chairs total, and a little table between two of them. The porch’s white paint was peeling, but it only added more character to it.

The man returned, as promised, with two mason jars full of ice cold lemonade. He handed them each a glass before sitting back in his rocking chair.

“Thank you, Mister.” The boy chimed in.

“Yes, thank you!” His sister echoed.

The man smiled in response, picking up his own mason jar of lemonade. “And what are your names?”

“I’m Tom.” The boy introduced before pointing to his twin. “That’s Alice.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Tom and Alice. My name is Edward.”

“I like that name!” Alice exclaimed with all the energy of an eight year old. “Hi Mr. Edward!”

“And hello to you, Alice.”

“May I ask you a question?” Alice inquired.

“Of course you may!”

“Why do you sit out here all the time doing nothing?” Alice asked thoughtfully.

Mr. Edward’s lip twitched but he held back the smile, seeing how serious she was. “Well I am doing something.” He answered. “I watch, observe, and think. Most of all I pray.”

“Pray?” Tom questioned.

“Yes.” Mr. Edward nodded. “I pray. I pray to God through His Son Jesus.”

“What do you pray about?” Alice asked, her mind brimming with new questions for this interesting man.

“I pray about a lot of things. I pray for the church, for America, for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I pray for the world.” Mr. Edward paused before adding. “I even pray for the two of you.”

The siblings exchanged glances before looking anxiously back at the man.“Really?!?” Tom exclaimed, his mind blown by the fact that this man, practically a stranger, prayed for him.

“Yes indeed.” Mr. Edward replied.

That day a friendship was born, as was a tradition.  Once a week, every Sunday evening, the three would sit on his front porch. Sometimes they would sit in silence, each content to their own thoughts, sometimes the siblings would chatter on about the latest thing they did, sometimes Mr. Edward would teach them about God, and other times they would pray together.

It was a lovely thing while it lasted. But as the years went on eventually the siblings went off to college.


. . .

After the two graduated college they came home. But they discovered that their loving neighbor, Mr. Edward, had passed away two weeks before. But he left them something – a box.

“Well go ahead and open it.” Alice instructed her brother.

“Alright, alright.” He said, opening the box. Inside sat three mason jars with a  letter addressed to them at top.

Alice opened the letter and read it out loud.

Dear Tom and Alice,
Words cannot express how deeply I’ve cherished the times we’d had together. I’ve come to think of you two as my own grandchildren. I’m getting up in years and I can’t be sure which day will be my last. But I hope the two of you can put these mason jars to use. I’ve watched you both grow into godly young adults and I couldn’t be prouder.
Your loving neighbor and friend,
Mr. Edward

By the end of the letter Alice was in tears, recalling fondly those precious memories.

The two would, indeed, always cherish those memories they made with the old man across the street.

. . .

Years later when Tom was married and had a son and daughter of his own he brought them to the front porch. The trio sat down, each with a mason jar filled with lemonade in hand. It was a lovely Sunday evening.

“Aren't Aunt Alice and Uncle Peter coming next week?” His son asked.

“Yes, they are.” Tom answered, looking forward to his sister’s and brother-in-law’s visit.

“Daddy? Can you tell us a story?” His seven year old daughter asked.

Tom smiled. “Let me tell you a story about a  man named Edward…”



THE END

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Price to be Paid



        She stood accused, condemned, and ashamed. She had already been declared guilty and would face the death sentence. The worst part of it all is that she deserved it. She had done wrong time and time again. She deserved the punishment she faced. She wore filthy rags as clothes and felt as dirty inside as her clothes were on the outside. She hung her head in shame as the crowd mocked her.

Just when all hope seemed lost a voice echoed through the crowd. “How much?” The powerful voice said. She opened her eyes to see a Man dressed like royalty approach. The people parted to make way for Him to come through. “How much to redeem her?”

The person who condemned her thought it through. “A life for a life. No amount of gold or silver will redeem her. Her crimes are too much to be paid for anything less than blood. Only another person’s life can be the ransom.”

The crowd silently waited for the Man’s response.

The girl didn’t want to even dare to hope. She met His eyes and was overwhelmed by the grace, compassion, and love she saw. No one had ever looked at her in such a way. She didn’t see any spite in His eyes. But mercy overflowed.

“I offer my life in return for hers.” The Man replied quietly.

Everyone was shocked to silence. The girl’s eyes pooled with tears as she looked at the Man who just offered to die for her. He didn’t look at her with once ounce of regret in His eyes. Again she felt overwhelmed by the grace, love, and compassion.

She felt as her chains were unlocked and she stumbled into the crowd. The Man was placed in chains… chains that she deserved, not Him. She watched as He was beaten and mocked - that was what she deserved. She walked behind the crowd as they followed the Man surrounded by guards, leading to where He would die.

When she saw a cross she wanted to vomit and cry out about the outrage and injustice the Man was being dealt. But He offered to take her place.

She ran ahead of the crowd to where the Man walked slowly, dragging the heavy chains behind Him.
“Why?” She asked. “Why did you offer to take my place? Why are you willing to die for me?”
The Man gave a sad smile. “Daughter, I love you as my own. It is because of the love I have, and My Father has for you, that I’m about to die in your place. You’ve been redeemed. Live in the freedom I have given you.”

She stopped walking as they nailed His wrists and hands to the cross. She screamed out in horror as the blood trickled down and His face reflected His agony. The cross was lifted up as He was stretched across it. She wanted to close her eyes to the inhuman act but couldn’t seem to.

Darkness fell over the land. She waited when she heard the Man say, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Forgive? How could He forgive them? Why did He offer that love and freedom to her? How could He forgive her, who didn’t deserve any forgiveness.

“It is finished!” The Man cried out in a powerful voice. All at once she saw His chest stop moving. The Man was dead.

In despair the girl walked away. She wandered around for days, remaining in her rags and filth. How could she be free? How could she, after all she had done wrong, be free? She had sinned for so long and had been so dirty… how could she be forgiven and cleansed now? At last her strength wore too thin and she collapsed upon a pile of dust.

The sound of a person walking awakened her. She opened her eyes slowly and sat up, hardly believing what was in front of her. The Man stood, wearing pure white, love radiant through His eyes, in front of her.

“Stand up, Beloved. Why do you sit among the dust and filth? I have redeemed you, set you free. Live in the freedom and love I offer. You’ve been forgiven of your past mistakes so dwell on them no longer.” He said lovingly, holding out a hand.

The girl accepted His help up and she stood up in awe. “How are you alive? I watched as the breath left your body.”

“Ah but I am innocent. My Father raised Me from the dead.” The Man answered.

“I am not worth it. I wasn’t worth You dying for. I don’t deserve love or grace.” The girl looked away, ashamed.”

“Beloved, I set you free. Your worth is in My love.” He said. “Now come, let Me introduce you to the love I offer.”

He held out His hand and without hesitation she accepted.


~~~~~~~~~~~~


That's a fictional story I wrote. But it's based on what Jesus did for us and holds truths to remember.

I stood, accused and condemned, facing my punishment that I deserved. I deserve eternal separation from God. But then His love and grace came pouring through. Jesus died on a cross two thousand years ago so that we could be set free.

Sometimes I hear people saying that we are worth it. That we were worth Jesus dying for. But that’s not it. The most amazing thing about Jesus dying for us is that we DON'T deserve it. Our worth isn’t in us, but in Him. Our worth is in the love He offers.

Isaiah 52:1-3, “Wake up, wake up; put on your strength, Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the Holy City! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer enter you. Stand up, shake the dust off yourself! Take your seat, Jerusalem. Remove the bonds from your neck, captive Daughter Zion.” For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without silver.” 

Sometimes we sit in our sin, in our shame and filth. Why do we sit among the chains that Jesus already broke? We are to stand up and shake the dust off of ourselves and start living in the freedom He gives.

Psalm 49:7-8, 15, “Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God— since the price of redeeming him is too costly…. But God will redeem my life.”

Nothing we can do for ourselves can redeem or save us. All the good works in the world, no matter how many times you go to church or read your Bible – all of it means nothing if we don’t have faith in God and accept Jesus into our hearts.

Isaiah 35:10, “And the redeemed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy.”

1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.”

Job 19:25, “But I know that my Redeemer lives.”

Christ offers a free gift of love to each of us… we just have to accept it. He paid the price that had to be paid. He gave Himself for us. And then He rose again and He’s alive today.

Let’s live in the freedom and love He offers!

~~~~~

Happy Fourth of July week!

P.S.: Sorry I missed posting last week! I had some trouble with my computer. Also, I'm going to Global Youth Camp with my youth group next week so I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to post or not. Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Have we become passive?



Have we become passive about Jesus and the gospel?

First off, what does this word mean? Well here is the definition according to dictionary.com .....

Passive:
~ not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling.
~ not participating readily or actively; inactive
~ not involving visible reaction or active participation

I don't know about you but I definitely don't want to be passive about Jesus. I want to love and live for Him wholeheartedly. I want to care and be actively involved in furthering His kingdom.

But to be honest, recently I've felt almost distant from God. I still love Him and want to live for Him... I just kind of feel like I'm not going anywhere. I'm not really growing, not really struggling. Just.... waiting. I don't know about you but the whole "waiting" thing has never been my favorite. But when we find ourselves in situations like trials, waiting, or anything really instead of asking "Why is this happening?" we should ask "What do You want me to learn from this?".
Easier said than done. I've heard people say there is beauty in waiting - and I agree. But when you're actually waiting on the Lord it's harder to see the beauty.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 27:13-14, "I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord."

Wait for the Lord. Again, easier said than done. What are we supposed to do when we find ourselves in situations like these? Trust Him in faith and obey Him. It's harder, I know, but keep trying to live for Him. Spend time in His Word and in prayer - seeking Him. And we can't do this on our own... we need to trust in Him, He's the one who enables us.

Psalm 105:4, "Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always."

What's the opposite of passive? Well one of my sisters said overreacting... maybe that's true. But in my mind I picture caring, loving, compassionate, active.
I don't want to be passive. I want to love, care, be active in my walk with Jesus, and have compassion. Maybe God has called me to wait at the moment, maybe He has something to teach me I haven't learned yet. Nevertheless I still need live for Him and obey Him.

I keep using the word "live". The opposite of that word is quite obvious: die. Life and death. When we were apart from Jesus we were dead in our sins, but He gives us life. So we should live our lives for Him and for His glory. After all... isn't this all His anyways?

Let's live for Him, not being passive, but being loving.


~~~~~

What do you think God is trying to teach you right now?
What season do you find yourself in?
How do you find beauty in waiting?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

They Forgot. He remembered.



Several weeks ago I posted about remembering... remembering Who God is and what He has done. I wrote that Israel forgot what God had done (Psalm 78:11). I'm still reading through the Psalms and I see a recurring theme about Israel: they forget Who God is and what He has done. But the other day I noticed something else.

Psalm 106:44-45, "When He heard their cry, He took note of their distress, remembered His covenant with them, and relented according to the riches of His faithful love."

 The Israelite's forgot. But God remembered.

When it comes to the Israelite's there's always a Bible verse that comes to mind.
2 Timothy 2:13. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."
God, even though the Israelite's were unfaithful at times (as are we), He remains faithful.
Something I see repeated a lot in the Psalms is that is says God's faithful love. God will always be faithful, God is love. He has faithful love for us.

Psalm 26:3, "For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth."

God remembered His covenant, the one He made with Abraham, and time after time He extended mercy to Israel.
God knows everything. He doesn't forget things, He remembers. You see this throughout all of scripture.

Genesis 19:29, "So it was, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, He remembered Abraham and brought Lot out of the middle of the upheaval when He demolished the cities where Lot had lived."

Exodus 2:24, "So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

Psalm 98:3, "He has remembered His love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory."

God knew that the Israelite's would forget, and He told them to remember.
Deuteronomy 7:18, "Be sure to remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and all Egypt."
He told them to remember what He has done. Because He can still do those things today.

God remembers and keeps His promises. He doesn't forget us. He knows what you're going through right now, He knows everything about you. He doesn't forget us. He remembers.


Psalm 105:8-10, "He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations— the covenant He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob as a decree and to Israel as an everlasting covenant."

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sunshine Blogger - A Tag



I have never really done many tags but when I got tagged by Mallory over at Sweet Tean  for this  so I decided to go for it. 

So here are a couple of rules...

1.) Thank the blogger who tagged you. (Thanks Mallory!)

2.) Answer the questions given. (11 maximum)

3.) Nominate new 11 other bloggers and give them 11 questions. 

4.) List the rules and put the Sunshine Blogger logo in the post. 


And here are the questions and my answers!......


1. Do you have a garden?

Not anymore. My family and I used to have a decent sized one but after we moved we never got one again... though two of my sisters like to plant flowers :).

2. What's your favorite restaurant?

Oh how can I choose? My favorite fast food restaurant would have to be Chick-Fil-A but otherwise maybe Red Robin or Longhorn.

3. What is something you learned within the past month (May)?

Mhm.... Well, something I was reminded of is that we're not always going to have seasons of growth in our faith, sometimes we just have to wait on the Lord.

4. Who is your favorite author?

Again, how can I choose? (I can be pretty indecisive). Well my favorite author if I want to read Christian historical fiction would be  Lynn Austin. Ally Carter is a favorite when it comes to (mostly) YA fiction. 

5. What made you decide to start blogging?

I've always loved to write and I thought that blogging would be  a great opportunity to write and bring honor and glory to God's names.

6. Are you a city girl or a country girl (or both)?

Probably both. I like the outdoors and my family and I used to live more in the country but I also like cities so....

7. When is your birthday?

May 19th... so yeah, I just had a birthday pass.

8. Do you enjoy tubing?

Yep!

9. What’s your favorite board game (or just game in general)?

Again, back to the favorites.... uh..... I like Apples to Apples (that's not a board game though), I also like Ticket to Ride, and Life. And a card game called Nine Hole.

10. What is one of your strong points?

Am I allowed to skip one? Anyways... I guess I'm willing to be a friend to people. It doesn't sound like a big deal and maybe it isn't, but sometimes people just need a friend to be there and I want to be that person.

11. Have you ever moved?

Yes. I've moved twice in my life so far. 


Now on to whom I tag. 
Well, I'm not sure who's been tagged and who hasn't so if you'd like to do this tag then consider yourself tagged!

If you decide to do it here are some questions...

1. What is your favorite holiday?

2. Do you have any pets?

3. Do you like to write? (if so what do you like to write?...)

4. Do you like road trips? (if so what's your favorite part of them?...)

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?

6. Would you rather it always be above seventy degrees or below sixty?

7. What is your favorite part of the day and why? (Morning, afternoon, evening, night)

8.  Who's your favorite song artist?

9. Would you rather be lost in a endless meadow of flowers or endless woods? And why?

10. What do you like to do in your free time?

11. Sunglasses or hats?

~~~~~

Well that concludes this post! Thanks for stopping by :).

Have you ever done this tag? What are some of your own answers to these questions? 
If you choose to do this tag let me know in the comments!