All Eyes on Him.

Genesis 12: 1-3  “Now the Lord  had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

I’m at a crossroads.  The life that I had is gone through divorce.  I’m left raising my kids 50% of the time on my own.  I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom.  I thought I loved the life I had, but looking back I wasn’t content. I wrestled with impatience, jealousy in my marriage, comparing myself to others, competition, anger, being overwhelmed, feeling unloved & unworthy, feeling shame and guilt when I would miss it with my husband and kids.

Still, I view marriage and family life as a place to work out all those ugly things about us, with people who have pledged to stay in covenant with us, or who love us unconditionally.  So even though I was struggling, I was still growing and loved my marriage and family.

Sometimes I believe that God is whispering about my marriage, “Do you think I can fix this?” and I reluctantly say yes.  In those moments I believe that I won’t be released from my ex-husband until he marries again.  Other times I don’t believe it can be fixed and that I have biblical grounds to move on.  I’ve dated men since my divorce.  I will say, it takes up a ton of emotional energy.  To find someone that you love, are attracted to AND desires to follow Christ the same way seems impossible.

Today before reading Gen. 12:1-3  I was doing a study by John Bevere called Driven by Eternity.  The question in the study was “What is keeping you from serving God fully?”  This feeling of dread creeps over my head and heart as I consider that the thing that is keeping me from fully serving God right now is me wanting God to either heal my old marriage or give me a new one.  I want a restored family. I want a teammate.  Yet I know my prayer should be “Not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42  I laid my head on the table and wept, this is going to be hard God.  I can’t imagine, don’t want and dread the thought of a life without a husband.

Then I open the Word and I have highlighted Gen. 12:1-3.  God called Abram to leave almost everything he knew; his country, his extended family and the comfort and provision of his father’s house.  He was going to start again.  He was to follow God to where He told him to go.  If He did those things God was going to bless Him beyond what he could imagine!

Abram had to decide to stay where he was, in the comfort of what he KNEW or to have faith in God through the UNKNOWN.  God promised Him wonderful things but he’d have to trust Him to get the blessings. He already knew what He had. He was surrounded by family, He was under his father’s house, provision and protection.  He had to have faith that what God said was true.

What I’ve experienced in relationships thus far is yes, pleasure, fun, the birth of children, security, love, warmth, validation etc.  But I have also experienced pain, rejection, disappointment, broken-heartedness, frustration, limit etc.  But I’ve KNOWN relationship and I KNOW I get at least some of what my heart desires.  I am living under the lie of the fear of being alone with no one to share my most intimate moments with.  YET…God. The truth is, I am NEVER alone, Heb. 13:5.  The truth is I am whole, Col. 2:10.  The truth is I am victorious 1 Cor. 15:57.  The truth is He has good plans for me, Jer. 29:11.

I have to fight to keep my eyes on Jesus, like Peter in Matthew 14:22-32.  In a storm Jesus walks on water to the boat where the disciples are.  The disciples think it’s a ghost!  Jesus tells them it is Him and Peter asks Him to prove it by telling him to walk on water too.  Jesus tells Peter to join Him.  He starts to walk out, but then, when he takes His eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink, this is what I do.  I’m alone with Jesus, in His presence and truly believe that I need nothing else to make my life happy and whole.  Then I take a look around me at happy couples and families that have what I used to have and I begin to sink.  My prayer; “Please Jesus, when I start to look away from your beautiful eyes, will you please call me back to you with your gorgeous voice and remind me of the promises that you have for me!? I’m sinking!!! I can’t see the victorious future you have for me, all I can see are these storms around me and a forecasted future of loneliness and chaos that waits to attack me at every turn! Help me keep my eyes on you! Amen”

Not many have felt the exhilaration of walking on water.  The total security in being with the Savior who is able to keep you safe in a storm.  And Abraham!  In Genesis 13:14 God tells him to look  all around him and says that He will give it all to him and his future generations!  He promised to give this man who thought he would be without children to give him more children than the sands of the Earth or the stars in the sky!  In Genesis 15:1 God tells Abraham that He is his shield and his great reward. In Genesis 24:1 it says that God blessed him in all things.    In both cases the men were blessed because of their faith.  They didn’t allow fear to stop them from following what God had told them to do.  They didn’t walk their walk perfectly, but they followed after God in faith, and each were blessed.

Here is a scene from the movie “The Shack” that I feel illustrates how easy it is to take our eyes off Jesus, what happens when we do, and then how Jesus rescues us when we place our faith in Him.  May we keep our eyes on the loving eyes of Jesus and trust in His marvelous plans for our lives.

 

He is Our Strong Tower

I need to keep this picture in front of me, God as a mighty King.  This world makes me feel like a weak failure a lot of the time.  He is a mighty fortress, a strong tower, the righteous run into Him and they are safe.

Job 9:4-10 New International Version (NIV)

His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.
Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
He moves mountains without their knowing it
and overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place
and makes its pillars tremble.
He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;
he seals off the light of the stars.
He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear[a] and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.

Psalm 24:78

“Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

 

 

 

Our Cross is the Key to the Gate.

keyI’ve been reading a book by John Bevere called “Driven by Eternity.”  It’s challenging me to take a good look at who I am in Christ.  When we become Christians we are crucified in Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh  I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Lately I’ve asked myself if I have ever truly given my life to God? My life has been full of choices that I have made for myself, that weren’t always the choices God wanted me to make.

Wanting to be a “living sacrifice” and follow the narrow path.  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14 I was being careful to do well in my day.  Being kind, showing love, looking for open doors to talk to people.  On my break I went to the store to get candy for one of my classes and I saw a woman walking to her car. She had cropped pants on and I could see she had large red marks on her legs. I prayed for her healing.  Then I felt a prompting to actually pray for her. I haven’t felt a prompt like this in a long time. At least I haven’t paid attention to it.

I immediately felt fearful. I ended up walking past the lady and into the store. Thoughts filled my head.  Am I sold out to Him if I won’t listen to Him?  Am I a living sacrifice if I don’t put aside my fear and pride and do what He says?  More urgent thoughts filled my mind.  Will I follow the narrow path to Him? Will I be one of the few that find it?

My next thought, to make myself feel better was, it’s enough to keep myself on the narrow path, now I’m responsible to put others on it too? Then I realized, though it is a process to change the things about you that need to change, by now, I should have mastered control over myself, if I had been truly dead to myself and living for Him! I’ve been following him for over 30 years!  I’ve allowed the enemy to get me so focused on my own drama and so busy striving to get my flesh under control that I have neglected bringing new people into the kingdom.

I’ve told myself that it’s not my gift to evangelize.  I’m not saying that I don’t bless people or try to help support my Christian friends.  But when it comes to approaching a stranger, I feel like I’m imposing, I fear rejection.  I’m still alive to me.

Being yourself is the theme of the day.  YOLO right?  Wrong.  YLF….You Live Forever.  The question is where will you live?  Heaven or Hell?  Jesus said “If any man follow after me he must deny himself daily, take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 10:38 It’s not about finding ourselves.  It’s not about being who we feel we are.  It’s not about us.  It’s about Him. Pleasing Him, obeying Him, loving Him, spending time with Him, becoming more like Him.

“But understand this, in the end people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.” I Timothy 3:2  I think we’re in the end folks.  This world shouts “me! me! me!”  The very thought of denying who you are to be like someone else, goes against popular culture.

Paul said, “Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Cor. 9:27” When you become a Christian, you become a soldier in active duty.  You don’t follow your own plan, you are to live and die under the commands of your commanding officer.  You are no longer fighting your personal battle, you are fighting His war!  If you don’t follow orders, people perish.

Whereas what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” You do not know what will happen tomorrow. James 4:14 If I say I am a Christian I believe in the Word, because the Word is Christ.  It means I must not only believe in the Word, but I must obey and act on the Word.  If I believe that this life is just a vapor and that I need to stay on the narrow path in order to spend eternity in Heaven, I will follow the commands He gives me.  It’s called dying to self for a reason, it hurts, it’s painful.  His grace is here for us to enable us to do whatever He calls us to do. It also covers us when we fail.  

As I deeply consider the changes I need to make I will think on this; “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 It’s not all for nothing, we are guaranteed a prize. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who will say to all who follow Him, “well done!”

Gossip Girl.

Shhhh-1Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

If anyone deserves to complain, it’s Job, right?  He lost his family, his wealth and his health.  Isn’t it only fair that he complain?  Doesn’t he deserve to vent!? Well, no. Not according to the Word.

Here’s just a few things that the Word says about our words:

Proverbs 11:17 “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.” Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” 

Also, when we gossip and complain we are in fear, not faith.

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

He is a rewarder.  When I’m hurt or offended I want to find someone to confide in. I want someone to validate me.  I feel I’m in danger here, because as I acknowledge what I’m doing, I know that I’m going to be held accountable to change it.  When I go to others and complain about my situation I am declaring that God is not in control.  That God is not capable of taking care of me.

I highlighted Job 6:24 because it spoke to a need that I have, to stop talking about the problems and to start listening.  I need God to teach me.  I need God to reveal to me where I’m at fault, where I’ve gone wrong.

We are called to seek wise counsel.  Psalm 19:20 says “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” But we should also consider God to be the best person to share our issues, questions, hurts and problems with. After all, He is God.  He cares for us.  He is good.  He is LOVE!  If we truly believe that, why do we go to Him last?! Why do I take my cares to humans who fail?  God will give me people that can speak wisdom to me and it is good to share relationship with others and have others bear our burdens with us.   But my prayer today is Job’s prayer (Job 6:24) “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.”