After praying this morning for clarification on some things going on in my life, I opened God’s Word, for guidance. I do not do this because I am looking for a sign, but rather because God’s Word is my “baseline of truth” to quote our church’s Youth Pastor, Jason Easter. There is not a place in His Word that I can go where God cannot teach me something.
This verse was part of our Sunday School lesson recently and it came to mind as I was praying for guidance.
“ALL scripture is God-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As a friend in class said, it doesn’t say that SOME of the Bible was inspired by God, but ALL of it. From cover to cover. The “Word of Truth,” is a gift from God that can help us in ANY circumstance that life throws at us.
So, imagine my surprise when I come to Isaiah 56:9-12. There I am, reading about the wickedness of man, and thinking, “Why couldn’t I get something cool about soaring on wings of eagles or God telling me to rest in Him?” LOL.
So, as I was reading I looked at this verse from my rose-colored glasses or from the perception of my innocence and everyone else's sin. All I could see was that the people of Israel were making bad choices…. again. "Seriously? Are they ever going to get it together?"
When I got to verse 11, the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks and I had to read It over again.
Isaiah 36:11 “They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way; they seek their own gain.”
How often do we think about how God needs to change the hearts of those around us but forget that though we are saved, we still dwell in the world where the motto is, "I didn't do anything wrong." We tend to see everyone else's flaws rather than taking a good look at our own. Suddenly I could see the obvious truth. I had been thinking that I was somehow better than the watchmen of Israel. But in all actuality, I am them. Not literally of course, but I am a chosen Child of God; human and flawed. Sometimes, I still want what I don’t have, lack the truth of my own sins, want my own way, and am selfish.
So, as He opened my eyes to the truth, I could see that I needed to stop praying for God to fix other people and for Him to continue His work in me. There will never be a time when I don't need to grow and learn. I am no better or more innocent than anybody else. My sins nailed Jesus to the Cross just like those of my worst enemy, and I still need to be forgiven and repent. So rather than asking Him to "fix" my problem by changing someone else, I need to ask Him to “fix” me. When we come to Him recognizing our own failures and constant need for His help, He will use our malleable hearts for our good and the advancement of The Gospel.
So my prayer today is, “Thank you Lord for the truth of your Word and that you opened my eyes to see it with clarity. God, what do you want to change in me? How can I be better for you? Show me the way to be more like Jesus and please forgive me for forgetting how far fallen I was when you pulled me in.”
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs:26:12
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge practice the very same things.” Romans 2:1-2
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
Just how far are we willing to take this whole "faith" thing?
Are we only willing to go as far as the doors of our local church or are we ready to cross oceans if He calls us?
Until He asks us to give up our wealth? Or are we willing to give everything we have?
Just as long as it doesn't affect our safety? Or did we forget that He gave His life?
Right up til He asks me to change myself? Or would I let Him mold me into a new creation?
Only in good times? Only in need? Or is He my go-to in any and every circumstance?
Just until He won't fix my circumstance? Or am I willing to go through any hardship for His Glory?
Only until people start to make fun? Or will I keep my eyes focused on Jesus and His purpose for me while not caring if I am the butt of a joke?
Just until I lose friends? Or am I willing to go alone wherever He leads?
Just until the persecution gets to be too much? Or will I find joy in suffering for Jesus because that is confirmation that I am following His plan for me?
Only as far as my He will let me go without requiring sacrifice?
Until I'm asked to give up my worldly comforts? Or would I still follow Him if I lived in a box on the street?
Just as long as I keep my life? Or would I freely give my last breath in obedience to His requests?
My life is not about me. It's not about me being successful or rich, comfortable or happy. It's about furthering the Gospel of Christ, so that God gets the glory and more people come to Him. Am I doing everything possible, giving up as much time as He asks to speak His truth? Or do I live based on what I want and what I think is important and what I don't want to give up? Am I taking up my Cross every day to live a life of service to Him and others? Am I loving others even when it means swallowing my pride and asking for forgiveness? Am I forgiving my worst enemy for the sake of righteousness with my Savior? Am I sacrificing my own needs and wants to be as close to Him as I possibly can?
It's hard to live in a world where every advertisement that we see says that we deserve the best and that we should do what feels good in the moment, but those are lies that the enemy tells us to try and keep us sinning and not being obedient to God. Christians are called to be different from the world. We were made to stand out, not to blend in. If we claim Jesus as our Savior, then we must be willing to make sacrifices for Him. He WILL call us to give up things that stand in the way of our relationship with Him. Jesus gave His own life so that we can have a relationship with the Father, and He did it knowing full well that we have nothing but dirty rags to offer in return. What greater example of self-sacrifice and love could there ever be?
What is it that the Lord is asking you to give up? Is He calling you to do something that scares you? What is He asking of you today? He won't force his will upon you. He gives us free will to choose whether to be obedient. Will we give all that we have and all that we are for the good of the Gospel or will we continue to blend in with the rest of the world?
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
I am a hot mess. I am a high anxiety, tightly wound, overly emotional female that has a crying fit at least once a week. Sometimes it is about things that are a big deal, but other times I might find myself crying and eating a candy bar because I forgot to check the mailbox. I complain and worry, I sin and am sometimes selfish, I don't always say the right words, and I am afraid of things that normal people don't even think twice about. I have very little patience, and I don't function well in disorganization. But if there is one thing that I have learned with certainty, it is that God will take the most unlikely, unqualified, broken mess of a human being and give them a task that is only possible through Him.
I am not a writer. I am not eloquent in how I speak and can barely stay on one topic for longer than a few minutes. My grammar is not always correct and I can't ever figure out where to use a colon versus a semicolon. Not once in my entire life did I think, "Hmmm, I would be a good writer." But my plans didn't take into account His power and purpose.
Let's be real here. God doesn't need us. He is all powerful and can make the entire world bow down in worship anytime He wants. But He doesn't, because He wants us to choose Him of our own free will. He wants to change the hearts of sinners and transform us into vessels that tell the world about Jesus with passion. All He wants from us is a willing heart. He wants us to be ready and willing to do His Work, not begrudgingly or out of guilt, but simply because we want everyone around us to know that this awesome God loves us. He wants us to excitedly tell people about this God who became flesh and took on our punishment, giving His very life so that we can know Him. He wants us to have a fire within us for Him and a boldness that can only be explained by His hands. So, He pours His Holy Spirit into us and over time this causes an eagerness to blossom. This eagerness, He then uses to speak into the lives of people around us and testify about His goodness.
It's easy to let the enemy make us think that there is nothing we can do to grow the Kingdom of God, but I promise that God has the desire and the ability to work in us and through us for mighty things. He has a purpose for you and if you are willing to give in to His calling for you, one day you will look back and stare in awe at His goodness and grace. What is He calling you to do that makes you want to run the other way in fear? Pray for Him to give you the courage to follow Him wherever He leads.
If there is ever a day
that I'm not around
Let your hope
in Him be found.
Not in the world
or temporal things
Like I-phones, cars
or diamond rings.
Remember the promises
I held so dear
from God's Holy Word
and it will be clear.
It's okay to cry
and it's normal to mourn
but don't let it keep you
from being reborn.
He is drawing you near
and knocks on the door
just let Him come in
and be lost no more.
He will always guide you
when you seek His face
just always put him first
and time you will not waste
He is not done
with His plan for you
you must not give up
there is sharing to do.
When you think of me
think of Heaven's gates
I'll be dancing with my Savior
and touching His sweet face.
I look forward to the day
that we meet again
there will be a celebration
and it will never end.
Everyone believes in things that they cannot see... why not God?
FAITH - (BASED ON THE MERRIAM WEBSTER DEFINITION)
FAITH - (BASED ON THE HOLY BIBLE)
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 NIV
We cannot see the air, but we can feel the wind on our faces. We cannot see the oxygen that we breathe and yet we realize that it keeps us alive. Just by looking at a frying pan, I do not whether it is hot or cold, but I have zero doubt that it is one or the other. As a child when I fell out of a tree, I didn't wonder why I hit the ground, because I could feel the proof of gravity. There is no way to see sound, smell, or taste and yet they surround me every day. I cannot physically show you the love that I have for my children or the fear of ever losing them, but I am can feel my happiness in their presence and the terror that fills me when I worry about them.
So then, if we have faith that these things exist because we can FEEL proof of their presence, then why is it so hard to believe in a Divine Creator when we can see the proof of His handiwork all around us?
Even though I cannot see His power, I am a witness to His might by the very ground that I walk on and the beating of my heart. I cannot see His outstretched hands when I turn to Him in prayer, and yet I can feel His presence when He carries me through trials that without Him would've broken me. I cannot see the nails in His hands or the spear in His side and yet I feel overwhelming sadness at the need for His death and the joy when I remember that He rose again. I cannot see His unending love but I can feel His pleasure when I seek Him and my own shame when I do not.
I cannot show You that my soul has been saved, but I can tell you that a life without Him will only lead to death and sadness. and that the worst words that we could ever hear would be, "Depart from me, I never knew you."
Help me to trust
when I cannot see
that you have my back
and a purpose for me.
No matter the trials
no matter the cost,
you always find me
when I feel lost.
I need your peace
I seek your face,
your love it reaches
beyond this place.
You always help me
in my hour of need
your presence means comfort,
and so I plead,
for you to reach out
and draw me back in
close to your heart
and forgive my sin.
Now my soul has rest
and I shall not fall
I praise you now
my all in all.
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Every time that I read these verses I cant help but to feel my heart skip a beat. I feel excitement at the thought of what is to come. Do I feel fear? Yes, sometimes I am scared of the suffering and persecution that will come, but more than anything I feel hope and a purpose. I feel comfort that I am not alone, that He walks with me everywhere I go, and has claimed my soul as His.
When Paul wrote these verses, he was in prison facing execution. He had been in prison before, but he knew that he wasn't getting out of this one. This was the end of his earthly life, and for someone writing his last words, I don't sense fear or dread from him. I see someone who was fully immersed in God's purpose for him. He didn't regret putting his faith in Jesus on the Damascus Road, and he certainly didn't hesitate to state the truth now, even though it was his bold proclamation of faith in Jesus that led him to this place. He showed confidence that he had done what he was called to do and excitement that he would soon be with Jesus.
Do you feel that sort of excitement when you think or talk about Jesus? Do you yearn to be in His presence and know the peace that passes all understanding?
I missed out on this for so long, when I was living for the moment and with no hope for tomorrow. But when He took my hand and drew me to Himself, I knew I would never be the same. Once you experience His true presence, there is no going back. There is only praise and love. Does that mean I am perfect, no of course not. Does that mean that when bad things happen I don't freak out? Not at all, I freak out every single time something goes haywire. But I know that it is only my human nature reacting to worldly fears and temporary hurt. And though I start out worried and anxious, Jesus soon reminds me that I shouldn't be surprised. His Word promises that bad things will happen, but He also promises that any suffering that I endure here is only temporary. My eternity is written in a book that signifies life, and the ink is the very blood that He poured out on the cross for me. So while I might have hardship here, my hope and joy will continue to stand in the One who defeated death, and one day He will welcome me into His Kingdom, place a crown of righteousness on my head, and there will be celebration that I am finally home.
Do you want to know this kind of joy? Do you want to know how to live a life filled with trials and tribulations and yet walk with your head held high and your eyes focused on your Savior? Jesus is the way. There will never be another option. He offers peace, hope and joy to those that put their faith in Him. All we must do is say yes. Yes to knowing that He is God's Son, believing that He died to save us and was raised again, and yes to putting our trust in him going forward. Say yes to Him today!
Do you ever feel like there is a battle going on inside of you? Like you are being pulled in so many different directions and one day you might just rip apart from all of the pulling? I feel like that today. I have received direction from my Heavenly Father, and even though to others looking in from the outside, it seems irresponsible and illogical, I know that I do not answer to them. I know that He wants His power to be evident. Things that I could not accomplish myself can be accomplished through Him, but yet my stupid sin nature won't leave me alone. The enemy tries to take over and says, "This is not the best option. This is not going to work. This is impossible." But my God, who has filled my heart with wonder and my soul with hope says, "You are mine. No, you cannot accomplish this on your own, but you can accomplish all things through me. I have the power, you follow me. Not the other way around." And so I fight. I fight against the world that says He can't, I fight against the enemy in my head trying to distract and worry me. I fight against myself and the nature of the sin that lives within me.
Some days are easy, I can see the future clearly and He gives peace that passes understanding and my path is set. Other days are more difficult and I feel doubt creeping in, but I can feel Jesus in front of me and behind me beckoning me forward to follow Him no matter the cost, and I remember that my salvation doesn't have anything to do with logic, it defies worldly logic.
His Word says that those who believe without seeing are blessed, and that He will never fail me. So, if I can believe so strongly that Jesus is my Savior who rose from the dead and has saved me from eternal damnation, then I must also believe that His ways are best. Therefore, my "choices" must follow where He leads.
And so I battle.