Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When God is Just Showing Off...

So I'm gonna turn the page here for a day and share a neat story that happened just yesterday. It has to do with a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer...yes you read right....a stand mixer. I have to admit over the past week there have been a lot of times where I have been having a bit of a pity party over myself due to the fact that my birthday is around the corner, not to mention all the fun holiday activities coming up over the next few months and with us in a financial crisis right now, we are having to give up a lot of "extras" which is making the upcoming season feel a bit daunting, having to accept that I will have to give up a lot of things I really want. Well, I have approached my birthday with a bit of melancholy thrown in knowing that we really don't have a lot of money to do a lot, nor would we have money for Tim to get me anything. I know it sounds selfish but hey I'm human and who doesn't want to be spoiled on their birthday when it comes down to it :).
Well, little did I know that God has had something up his sleeve all along only to show that he really does care about the little things in life that matter to us...and wants to bring us joy and happiness....even on our birthdays. I guess when you think of it, what "father" wouldn't want that for their daughter.
Well, in light of that, Tim with his wonderful gift-giving heart arranged to pull money together from my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law and ventured out last night to get me something that I've been wanting for over a decade....you guessed it....a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, especially since now I'm thinking about getting into cake decorating.
Well, on his way out last night, he prayed that God would show His love and favor and help Tim find the best deal possible on a mixer so that he wouldn't have to shell out a lot of money himself because he knew how apprehensive I was about Tim spending any money on me right now. And lo and behold, God came through big-time. Tim went to 3 stores to find the best deal and at the 3rd store, there it was....a Kitchen Aide mixer for half the price Tim originally found it for...and he only had to shell $30 out of pocket himself with the money the others had given him to buy it for me...and most of you know how expensive those things are. We can't even afford something like this and God made a way anyways. Tim came home beaming and couldn't wait to tell me the story of a direct answer to his prayers...nor obviously could he wait to give me my gift on my birthday since I now already have it. So yes, I have my birthday gift that I've always wanted, and with no stress about the cost....God is sooo good...he really does care about the little gifts that bring us joy too...especially when He gets the glory for it...and He gets to watch His children's beaming faces when they open it. Now that is a testimony of the love of our Father.

And thank you my sweet husband, my awesome sis-in-law, my amazing mother-in-law, and of course God for blessing me with one of the best birthday presents ever. I can't wait to bake my first thing with it!! And just in time for the holiday season!! woohoo!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh How He Loves

The song below really sums up what God is showing me in every aspect of my life these days. I've always said I knew God loved me but this past week I've realized that I never really understood completely what that looked like in my day-to-day life. He isn't out to punish me or call me on every thing I do wrong as I've thought for a very long time. I've realized now that His love doesn't work that way!
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.
Punishment would make me fear him, not love him. So why would he want to punish me? He is love for goodness and His perfect love will drive out fear, not cause it.

On the contrary, the story of the prodigal son paints a perfect picture of God's heart toward us. Before the son even finished his sentence to his father when he returned to him, his father was already celebrating his return, not even wanting an opology but just happy to have his son. He knew what his son did but still just wanted the relationship and to show his love for him and nothing else.

Being "good", calling on God's name, confessing sin, or even worshipping Him will never make Him love me more than He already does, and sinning or doing the wrong thing will never make Him love me less. His love is perfect, matchless, and unchangeable...it is enough for me! And the only thing I am to "do" is receive it, live in it, and let Him do what He does best, loves!! And I can never do anything to earn it because it is already fully accomplished through His son Jesus. Jesus paid my price for me...so that I can live freely in God's love every minute of every day...no matter what I do or don't do! It is done! and I am undone by the awe of Him and His love for me!

How many of you have ever been undone by the truth of God's love for you? Or have you not really wanted to receive His love because you were scared of what it looked like? Ask the Lord to reveal what is holding you back from receiving His love the way He wants us to. Usually it's fear, shame, or a lie about God's character, or what His love even looks like...or a lie about how He sees you. His love is perfect and brings freedom, not fear or shame! The words to this song say it all!! May God's love become truth to you today...and every day.

Oh How He Loves:

He is jealous for me

Love's like a hurricane,

I am a tree Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.


Oh, how He loves us so

Oh, how He loves us

How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking

So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss

and my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don't have time to maintain these regrets

when I think about the way

That he loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves He loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A New Perspective on Scripture

I just had to put a little 'aha' moment on here that I had a few days back. It might be kind of a "duh" thing for some of you but I think many of us in our Christian walk have been in a trap of reading scripture with the wrong intent or thinking that it is there for us to see our sin and our shortcomings and to give us all the do's and don't's of life...only to make us miss what God is trying to reveal through it.
I have been reading a book that my husband recommended to me which is awesome and in it, the whole point of the book is to reveal the character of Jesus and also the unchangeable, unfathomable love of God toward us and how to get out of the trap of trying to earn his love. It portrays Jesus in a way that I haven't even seen before and it's been beautiful.
Well, as I've been reading through the passages the past few days, I have started focusing in on how God's word is revealing who He is, not who I need to be, because praise God through Christ I already am victorious, Amen?!? The Bible is all about our relationship with Him!! Nothing else! We are merely required to receive nothing less than His love for us and to have to do nothing more than accept that it has been accomplished through Jesus Christ. It is not a book that is supposed to give us a bunch of do's and don't's of life. It is a book to help us know our Abba, our Father, our Creator of Heaven and earth and to learn why we are meant to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. After all the whole reason He created us is for His enjoyment. He wants a relationship with us. And it is only through that relationship is when the doing starts. Yes, obedience brings blessing, but when we obey with the wrong motive, it does not reap the reward God intends. We are not to try to earn His love one more second, just receive, and then the "doing" will outflow from that...and I believe that is when God is going to do immeasurable more than we can ask or seek.
So as I read through scripture now, I will be zero-ing in on the character of God through it and underlining, writing down anything that describes my Abba, my First Love so that I can once and for all get to know Him the way He wants me to.
This is not a new lesson to some I know, nor is it to me, but I think if we implement it, it will change everything we stand for, hope for, and dream for in our walk with Christ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Calling Out to the Deep

I'm gonna be even more personal today. I don't want to sound like what I am going through right now is something that I am alone in and that no one can relate to. Because I know this is a very wide-spread issue with many right now. I've heard it first hand from many. It is the issue of God's provision thru our finances. It's been a doozy for me lately and my sweet and long-suffering husband has been having to take the brunt of it from me which I hope he knows that I am so very sorry about. That is something I never want to add to his shoulders. But we are persevering and knowing that God has a purpose in all of this, even if right now we aren't feeling a lot of relief from this financial strife.
All that to say, I have been continuing my reading each day and have had to pause and stay with a few passages over the weekend that put me a day behind, which I'm just taking as God keeping me at His pace with me and not me trying to stick with a rigid schedule. No rules! Just relationship! I'm doing this simply to hear from God, listen to His instruction, and develop my relationship with Him. And I encourage those who are reading along with me to go at the pace God wants you to go. That is where you know it is a heart-driven journey with Him.
In Proverbs 1:32, it says "...whoever listens to Me will dwell secure and will be at ease; without dread of disaster."
I had a rough day Sunday fearing our finances again, knowing we had more bills than money in the bank. I didn't even know if we'd be able to buy groceries this week. It's a bit of a tense subject for Tim and I right now. But after talking it through on Sunday, we just decided to stop trying to figure it all out since it was bringing more strife, and to still our hearts, pray, and ask God to direct us through this. Questions I always am asking are, do I need to go back to work? Do we need to do more in cutting down on bills where we can, even if it's a little? What next, Lord? It's just hard to know what the right answers are in those moments when fear and doubt set in and have you confused. And I pretty much every morning wake up with this very think on my mind and the enemy tries to throw me off before my day even starts by bringing worrysome thoughts to me. But I'm learning how to combat it thank goodness. And I honestly don't have clear answers at this moment even about what our next step is, but I have to trust that God knows the end from the beginning and that since He is not worried, that I shouldn't be worried either. The Lord is still here, and very much speaking to me about waiting on Him and trusting Him, and I believe if anything that He is saying, "Stop trying to fix it all. I've got it under control."
Here are some verses that stuck out to me the last few days that confirm this is what He is saying:

Psalm 4:8 - In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 5:3 - In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare a prayer for You and watch and wait for You to speak.

I love that our pastor preached on Luke 5 Sunday, which happens to be in my Bible reading today. Jesus shows up to who will be his first disciples soon after, and teaches them on their boat, He then asks them go out into the deep to catch their fish. They had been fishing all night and had caught nothing but had stayed in the more shallow end. So they did what He said and went out deeper, and soon after their nets were breaking from the overflow of fish that they were catching. It was then that they were humbled and felt very underserving to the point of repentance. But Jesus said that soon they wll be fishers of men. How many of us feel underserving of what God does for us, only for Him to turn around and use us to bless someone else. What amazes me in this story is, that after Jesus told them what he told them, they laid down everything they just caught and followed Him. Would we do that if he asked us to?

I'll be honest. I've been asking God what the "deep" means for Tim and I over trusting Him in our finances. What is it that we can do to show we trust Him to provide for us, even if it means discomfort to do so? The groveling certainly isn't doing us any good. I believe that our faithfessness is definitely one of the main things that is keeping God from showing Himself in the way He wants to. But at the same time, I also believe that even in our toughest circumstances that He allows, that is when He will accomplish His bigger purpose, and that is having more of us for Himself, than us giving ourselves to the things of this world (money, material things, etc). The disciples gave up everything they knew as "normal" to follow Him. And I see that happening in my own home and it hurts, but I think it will serve a much higher, eternal purpose than paying my next bill. Do we even want God to be our all in all? Tough questions but we will all have to answer Him one day. Are we in or are we not?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Days 3 & 4...cont.

I spent some more time reading through these scriptures again last night and I have to say, God always comes thru when you wait on Him. He is so faithful! Here's the crazy part! The part the really grabbed me was when I read through the geneology of Christ at the end of Luke 3. Most people probably skim thru it and think it's not that exciting. But what amazes me is that He was willing to come into this world related to so many imperfect people...Rahab the prostitute is in his bloodline for goodness sakes.
I actually got a very cool refresher on Jesus and His humility and willingness to be made human (though remained sinless of course) when I read thru the geneology of all His ancestors. He came from a bloodline of very imperfect people. He chose to become like us so that we can become like Him and be made perfect. How incredible is that!! Who can match that??? No one!
And the last Word from God that came to me through all of this is that I can rest in knowing that because I am one with Christ, I have already been made perfect thru Him. I may not act perfect, or make perfect choices all the time, or think perfect thoughts, because I still live in an imperfect world in an imperfect body, but I know that I have an eternal destiny to live a perfect life with Jesus Christ when He comes back some day. Now that is something worth celebrating!

Thank you Jesus for becoming like us so that we can become like you! Show us how we can give others this hope that you have so willingly and sacrificially given to us! Thank you that you want all of us so we can become like all of you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 3 & 4

Well, after reading thru Luke 3 & 4, I'm still pondering it and am really having writer's block right now.
Jesus' birth and childhood, parents losing him in the temple, then finding him, Simeon's prophesy fulfilled, and then some....a lot of stories within a story in these passages. Then John the Baptist preaches, baptizes Jesus, and so on. So much to take in, it's hard to sort through it sometimes. I need to go back and read through this again some more. Still waiting for an"aha" moment but so far nothing yet. These days will happen and that's ok. A lot on my mind the last few days so that could be some of it. Just need to be still some more and soak in what God is revealing.
To be continued....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 2...Belief!!

Believe Him, Believe Him, believe Him!

That is pretty much the sum of what God revealed to me thru Luke 1 today. What an exciting chapter of hope that He keeps His promises and He WILL DO what He says He will do! But He also revealed to me what can happen when we choose not to believe what He says.
Zechariah was approached by an angel of the Lord about the impending birth of his son, John (a.k.a John the Baptist). When the angel told him that his barren and aged wife, Elizabeth, would have a son, he questioned the angel and doubted. So the angel made him mute until his son was born and the prophesy was fulfilled. When John was born and Zechariah believed, he was able to speak again. But he couldn't share the good news as long as he doubted. How many of us have a tough time sharing something exciting that we feel God has told us because there is still something in us that is doubting. That is a direct consequence of our own unbelief.

Then enters Mary, an great example of one who believes God and His word right away. She was approached very similarly when she was told that the prophesy of Jesus about to be accomplished and that she would be the one to bear him. We've heard this story many, many times. Yet, I still am amazed and can only imagine the fear and trembling she experienced at that moment. But she didn't doubt the truth and she showed her belief immediately following her news. And she was immediately blessed.
I love this passage from the Amplified Bible of what the angel said to Mary and then how she immediately responded. And this is my verse of the day...Luke 1:37. Something I can stand chewing on for a while.

Luke 1:37 (Amp)"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment."

Then Mary's response astounded me:

Luke 1:38 (NIV) "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Wow! Have we ever responded to God so humbly and willingly when He gives us a task that seems so beyond our ability? It's not about our ability but His ability to use us despite ourselves, and our willingness to let Him enter in fully.
Then we go on to read about her running to Elizabeth to tell her the good news and how the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth, John leaping in her belly, etc. God blessed their belief and faith in Him. Then came "Mary's song" (Luke 1:46-55)-....a beautful account of her love for God and His promises. I can stand to meditate on that for a while. And praise God that He gave Zechariah the grace of returning his ability to speak again once he did believe which gave him the chance to declare God's faithfulness and love for all generations in Luke 1:67-79...and a son who was monumental for God's Kingdom. His grace is just as sufficient for us too.

This is hitting hard with me. I know I'm not believing everything God says to me. My actions show it, my thoughts show it. What blessings are being withheld because of unbelief? Or how am I grieving God because of it? Can we believe like Mary did? This is not to condemn but to just bring awareness that God wants to do more with us than we allow Him to.

I'm gonna end with this quote that I got off my husband's blog. Not sure if it applies directly to this but it can be in relation to it. Just has stuck with me since I read it yesterday.

God is more interested in winning all of me than in my winning all the world for him.