Dear Child

Dear Child

I love you!
Don’t ever forget:
I love you.

Nothing you do
(or don’t do)
Can change that.
I love you.

You will make poor choices.
You will mess up.
And, yes, you will sin.
Through it all,
I will love you.

You will (and have) hurt me,
By accident and on purpose.
Still, I love you.

Every decision you make will have consequences.
Good. Bad.
Relationships will be affected.
For good or bad.
I love you.

Sin. Shame. Denial.
Pride. Hardness.
Walls go up.
From the other side,
I will love you.

You may try to hide it,
But I know you.
The bad will boil inside
Until you either
Harden your heart
Or ask forgiveness.
Ask forgiveness.
Regardless of which you choose,
I love you.

I would give my life to save you.
My greatest wish is to see you walk with God.
Forever.
I love you that much.

But…

God loves you more!

I carried you for 9 months.
I love you.
But…
God created you.
God loves you more.

I raised you.
I love you.
But…
God made you who you are.
God loves you more.

You mess up.
Unintentionally.
Intentionally.
And, yes, you sin.
You hurt God.
You break His heart.
Still, God loves you.

You may try to hide your sin.
From me.
From others.
From God.
Even from yourself.
But He sees it.
In spite of what He sees,
God loves you.

Sin. Shame. Denial.
Pride. Hardness.
Walls go up.

From the other side,
God loves you.

I would give my life for you.
He would sacrifice
His only Son for you.
(I wouldn’t. But He did.)
God loves you.

He waits patiently
When you spit in His face,
And God loves you anyway.

I long for you to love God.
Open your eyes.
See God.
God loves you.

Do not harden your heart.
Confess.
Repent.
Accept.
Renew.
Live.

I love you,
But…

GOD LOVES YOU MORE.

GOD NOD

A God Nod is that moment when we realize God is giving us confirmation for a question, project, or plan we have been considering.

I was recently trying to make a particularly difficult decision. After praying for several days, I wrote a list of pros and cons. Then, I began to ask myself deeper questions about motivation, desire, and self. Deciding to take a short break, I walked to the mailbox and discovered an item that seemed to confirm the project. I received what I call a God Nod.

How do we know when we are receiving a genuine God Nod?

  • First, and most importantly, it does NOT contradict God’s written word. God will NEVER tell us it is okay to do something He has already declared wrong.
  • Second, we have prayed about it. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what someone wants if we don’t ask them. Enlist others to pray about it with us.
  • Third, we have analyzed the situation. Do we know the earthly wisdom and the biblical advice on the subject? Seek advice from others.
  • Fourth, we have made a list of the things we think are confirmation AND the things that look like caution or stop signs. When we compare the lists, does it still look like confirmation?
  • Finally, how do we feel about it? While decisions should not be made on an emotional basis alone, emotion can be an indicator of the desires of our heart or the prompting of the Spirit. Analyze those feelings.

After we’ve looked at God’s Word, the facts, the apparent confirmation, any caution or stop signs, and analyzed any emotional reaction, we should be able to see when God is giving His approval. We can accept the God Nod and move forward with confidence!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

– James 1:5

 

 

[Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™]

Active Patience

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow–that is patience. ∼Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes our journey with God is hard. Sometimes it seems as though we’ve struggled forever only to look around and discover we’ve barely moved. We need to look up ahead and focus on our future hope, and look beside us at the One who is there to help us. Then, we will be able to take the next step. And the next. And the next. Until we find ourselves at our destination.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
∼2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t keep them. That does not mean I don’t need to make changes. I am not perfect. Although I have not set official New Year’s resolutions for several years, I am always setting goals for myself. Maybe this year I should turn those goals into resolutions and invite you to join me. Our goals (a.k.a. New Year’s Resolutions) for 2017 will look something like this:

  • I resolve to thank God often for making me a new creation through Jesus.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    Christ came so that we could become new and improved.
  • I resolve to put off my old ways and to put on my new self—to act like the new creation I am.
    (Ephesians 4:22-24)
    This is not something that is forced upon us. We must resolve to put off our old selves and to put on a new self created in the likeness of God’s righteousness and holiness—the new and improved self. We must choose—resolve—to become new. This is the most important resolution we will ever make. I might want to lose weight, but until I choose to do it the weight won’t come off. I have to resolve to do it.
  • I resolve to embrace the new heart and new spirit God gave me.
    (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
    Our new God-given heart and spirit will help us to desire, recognize, and follow His Spirit. Just as a personal trainer helps me stay focused on my fitness goals, the Spirit of God within us will help us keep our resolution to put on a new self.
  • I resolve to follow God’s new command to love others.
    (John 13:34-35)
    Under this new covenant the commandments are thrown into a hat and stirred around; then, God puts in his hand and draws out a single word to summarize their essence—LOVE. We are commanded to have a deeper level of love in our lives as new creations. A love that will cause people to recognize the influence of Christ.
  • I resolve to keep my eyes focused on the new heaven and new earth where Righteousness Himself dwells.
    (2 Peter 3:13)
    Whenever we become frustrated or feel hope slipping away, we are to turn our eyes to eternity and refocus on what will be—a new heaven and a new earth where Righteousness lives.
  • I resolve to seek daily renewal in knowledge so that my life may reflect my Creator, in strength so that I may soar even during difficult times, and in mind so that I may discern God’s will.
    (2 Corinthians 4:16)
    Just as silver will tarnish if it is not polished every day, our newness can become dulled by life if we do not renew ourselves daily. This daily renewal can take several forms. First, our knowledge of the Creator is being continually renewed as we study and meditate on His word. (Colossians 3:9-10) And this knowledge reflects to others the image of the Creator. We need to daily grow in our knowledge of God in order to accurately reflect His image. Second, when we are waiting on (serving) the Lord, our strength for each day will also be renewed. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Finally, another area where we experience renewal is our minds. (Romans 12:2) As we put off our old selves and put on the new, we are transformed—our minds are renewed. We can think clearly—looking at God’s will with new eyes.
  • I resolve to testify to what God has done by singing the new song He placed in my heart.
    (Psalm 40:2-3)
    When we leave our old selves behind, we have a lot to sing about! You had better believe that if I reach my fitness goals, I will be singing the praises of my trainer. How much more should we sing the praises of Him who helps us become new creations? When we sing praises to God, others will see what He has done—our new song is a witness or testimony to God. God gives us a reason to sing. We need to sing our new song so others can see Him.

These resolutions are great, but they are only attainable because of Jesus. Something new has a price tag attached. The price of our newness was the blood of Christ. We prefer new over used in every other area of our lives. Why settle for anything less than the newness purchased as a gift by Christ? Why not join me in reaching for these 2017 New Year’s Resolutions?

 

Father,
Thank you for making us new creations through Jesus. Help us, Lord, in our resolve to put on our new selves—to act like the new creations you have made us. Thank you for the new heart and spirit you have placed within us. Father, when life wears us down, help us focus our eyes on the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where Your Righteousness lives. Renew us in knowledge as we daily meditate upon your word so that our lives reflect Your image. During difficult times, renew our strength so that we may soar above our circumstances. Renew our minds each day to recognize You and Your will. And, Lord, as we go through our days, may we each love others deeply, and may we each sing our new songs so that others will see You. Lord, thank You for making us new in Christ Jesus.
Amen.

The Gift

You know what I’m talking about. The gift you spent days looking for. When you found it you knew it was just right. You made your purchase and took it home. You got just the right paper and wrapped it up, put a ribbon on it, and placed it under the tree. You spent the remaining days until Christmas anticipating the excited reaction when it was unwrapped.

The day arrived. You placed your perfectly chosen and perfectly wrapped gift into the hands of your loved one. With eyes glowing they ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the box. With a look of disappointment, they pulled out your perfect gift. They thanked you politely and set it aside. Then, with excitement shining in their eyes, they reached for the box.

The perfect gift. They shoved it aside to play with the box.

I wonder if this is what God sees at Christmas. He has carefully prepared and presented His Gift–His Son. He’s placed Him within our reach, and we carelessly shove Him aside. We reach for the meaningless things of this world.

As Christmas approaches I challenge each one of us to hold on tightly to the gift itself. To remember, appreciate, and thank the Giver. To remember that all those trappings of the season–all those boxes under the tree–are worth nothing compared to that carefully chosen Gift. JESUS.

Tell Your Story.
Praise God.

There are parts of my story (like the what I share here) that I tell frequently because I’ve met many women who struggle with the same issues.

Over the past several weeks we met individuals who shared their God stories. As we did, I was struck by the similarities. In each case

→Someone had an encounter with Jesus causing a change in their circumstances, forgiveness of their sins, or hope for the future.

→They went (or were commanded to go) home. Their immediate concern was the people who knew them and would be able to see the change in their life. And, as with Legion telling his story among the ten cities, they even shared beyond their hometown.

→They told (and sometimes were specifically told to tell) what God had done for them. They were transparent enough to allow others to see where they were without Jesus and the difference He had made. They intentionally shared their stories. (If you need help with your story refer back to “How to Tell Your Story” by Cindy Stevens or my post, “Storytelling Rules” .)

→The result of telling their stories was amazement, questions about Jesus, praise to God, and more changed lives.

As our Tell Your Story series comes to a close, we’d love to hear from you.

•What impacted you the most from this series?
•Have you had an opportunity to share your story (formally or informally) with someone else?
•Has your story ever caused others to ask questions about Jesus, praise God, lead them to change, or offer them hope?

Unless you take up your story and give God credit for what He did for you and how He forgave you, the people you meet may never have the opportunity to be amazed by what God did, meet Him for themselves, or praise Him. Share your story!

First post in series: Tell Your Story.
Previous post in series: “I’m not going anywhere” -jesus

Go Home. Tell Your Story.

What would you do if Jesus saved you but wouldn’t let you travel with him or study at his feet?

Legion’s Encounter with Jesus

A legion was a Roman army unit containing several thousand soldiers. Legion had earn his nickname because he was possessed by so many demons that when Jesus sent them into a herd of pigs, the entire herd (about 2,000 pigs) rushed toward a lake and drowned. (Mark 5:1-20)

When the story of this miracle reached the surrounding area, people went to see for themselves if it was true. When they discovered a perfectly normal Legion sitting and talking with Jesus, “they were afraid” (Mark 5:15) and “began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” (Mark 5:17) But Legion “begged to go with him.” (Mark 5:18)

The Command

As interesting as Legion’s story is, I am intrigued by what Jesus told him to do and how the people reacted when he did as he was told.

Jesus told Legion, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19) After healing Legion—saving him—Jesus instructed him to return to where he lived before demon possession had caused him to live among the tombs AND to tell his family, former friends, and acquaintances—everyone back home—what Jesus had done for him and the mercy shown to him.

Obedience

Legion didn’t just return home to tell his story, he “began to tell in the Decapolis [the Ten Cities] how much Jesus had done for him.” (Mark 5:20)

Legion didn’t spend all his days studying about Jesus. All he knew was that Jesus had saved him. He didn’t just return home and sit in his living room sharing his story with those who happened to visit or attend Sunday worship services. He traveled the area surrounding his hometown and told whoever would listen what Jesus had done for him and about the saving mercy He had shown.

Jesus did not let Legion travel with Him, but He did give Legion something to do–go home and tell his story. He was to share what God had done. It can be much easier to study God’s Word than it is to share our stories, but telling others what God has done for us will help them see Him.

It can be much easier to study God’s Word than it is to share our stories, but telling others what God has done for us will help them see Him.

Amazed

Here’s the fascinating part: “And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:20) This man’s obedience in going and telling his story caused the people to be amazed. Our obedience to tell our stories has the potential to cause people to be amazed by God.

The Greek word used here for amazed is thaumázō.  It means to “…wonder at, be amazed… astonished out of one’s senses; awestruck… to regard with amazement, and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter.”[i]

By sharing his story Legion caused the people to be so struck with wonder that they couldn’t think straight. Amazed by the change in this man’s life, they began to speculate about the cause—about Jesus. Our stories can cause people to begin to think about Jesus.

Tell Your Story

Regardless of who God is asking us to go to, in order to accomplish the task, we must take that first step. We must go and tell our story—to cause people to sit up and take notice of the amazing change in our lives so they will wonder about Jesus.

Being transparent enough to tell our stories is difficult. We don’t want people to know our weaknesses, do we? But it is seeing God’s mercy through those weaknesses that will cause those around us amazement. Our stories are what cause people to wonder about Jesus. Like Legion, we need to go and tell others our stories, so they will notice God in us and be amazed by Him.

(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. Trisha’s Story is here.)

Think about:

  • What has God done for you that would cause others to wonder about Jesus?
  • Where—to whom—should you personally go?
  • How can you share your story with that person or persons?
  • Do you spend so much time learning at the feet of Jesus that you do not tell others your story?

 

First post in series: Tell Your Story
Previous post in series: Who Touched Me?
Next post in series: Because of What You Say

 


[i]HELPS <http://biblesuite.com/greek/2296.htm>