Bragging on the wonderous works of my God

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Beauty from Ashes

Don’t you wish that we could go through life and have it all together?  No mistakes, everything perfect?  Oh, yes…then we could walk around proud of ourselves and our accomplishments. We could hold our head high and in judgment of others who couldn’t do the same.

There’s a problem with that scenario.  It fills us with pride. God hates pride (Prov 8:13) We can do nothing without Christ. (John 15:5)  Nothing.

But what about our mistakes? Our blatant fall into sin?  Do you realize that Satan, our mortal enemy, has come to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10) our lives?  So he’s tempted you into sinning over and over and over. You find yourself in the same pit.

Is God shocked? No. The wonderful thing about God is that He can take the most messed up life, redeem it and transform it into something beautiful.

He has redeemed my life. Oh, I have some epic failures that I am not proud of at all. I could walk around in shame.  That is exactly what Satan wants us to do.  He wants to cripple us.  If you are wounded and disabled, you are no threat to him. But, if you allow God to take that failure and make you a walking testimony of forgiveness and love beyond measure, you are then a threat to Satan. He will try to discredit you. He will try to knock you down. He won’t quit.

BUT…

My strength comes from the Lord. (Ps. 121:2). 

…My strength is made perfect in weakness…. (II Cor 12:9)

…for when I am weak, then I am strong… (II Cor 2:10)

Because I am weak, I am made strong in Christ. I don’t avoid things in my life because I am strong, it is because I know my weaknesses.

From man’s perspective, “on paper”…my life is an epic “fail.”  But, the wonderful part of being a child of God is that I don’t have to life my life from man’s flawed perspective.

Jesus Christ has restored my dignity. He has given me beauty from ashes.  (Is. 61:3)

He can do the same for you.

 

 

Focus

I just love the way God put so many scenarios in Scripture for us to be able to go by.

Do you have issues with fear?  So did many of the patriarchs and the disciples.

Do you have sin in your life that is unforgiveable?  Hardly. Did you check out King David’s life? (2 Samuel 11) He is called “a man after God’s own heart” yet he committed adultery with a married woman, got the woman pregnant and then had her husband moved to the front of the battle and killed. So he takes Bathsheba to be his wife.  The Lord is very displeased and the baby died 7 days after birth.

Do you have “open mouth, insert foot” syndrome?  So did the apostle Peter…until the Lord changed him.

Peter is a great example to me. He was brash but Jesus made him bold in the Spirit. He did great things for God.

Matthew 14:22-32 (NIV), tells the story of Jesus walking on water.  The part of the story I want us to notice is Peter.

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. 23 After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. (don’t you think that if Jesus felt it necessary to go pray alone to the Father, that we should, too?)   Later that night, He was there alone, 24and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. (can’t you just see it???  Jesus strolling on the water like it’s no big deal…well, because to the Creator of the universe, it’s not a big deal) 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

   29“Come,” he said.

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”

When he saw the wind…

He took his eyes off the Lord Jesus and began to sink.

I found myself doing that yesterday.  I kept focusing on being off anti-depressants for the 2nd day and I kept focusing on me. I have been dependent on anti-depressants for 12 years. I was scared. I took my focus off Jesus and began to focus inside. You do realize what happens when we do that, right?  We implode.

Our pain, fears, problems and itty bitty quirks are no match for a mighty God.  He is big enough to handle it. Give Him all of your issues, let Him deal with them. Focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Stay focused.  It is the only way to survive.

Change

This morning, I got up an hour earlier than normal (according to my body).  According to my clock, it was an hour later. It will take me the rest of the week to re-shift the time I’ve been used to for the past 6 months.

You know what I don’t get?  Why does mankind feel like he needs to “fix” what God has already created?  The summertime extends daylight hours without our assistance.  God took care of that by Himself.  He really doesn’t need our help.

Whenever mankind attempts to “better” what God created, it is disastrous. We don’t need genetically engineered crops.  They are making people sick and causing all sorts of health issues.  We don’t need cloned animals.

If we took care of the land the way God designed it, we wouldn’t have super bugs.  The conventional farmers who plant the same crops day in and day out, year after year, have issues with a super infestation for that particular crop.  It also depletes the soil of vital nutrients. (source:  “Fresh”; www.freshthemovie.com)

Rotate crops in and out for 6 years, give the land a rest for the 7th. God knows what He’s talking about.  He created it and even had it written down in His book for us to go by.  Imagine that!

The women who are constantly going for plastic surgeries and botox because of the unreal body types on magazines in the grocery store checkout lines.  The sad part of that is those pictures are airbrushed.  NOBODY looks that perfect.  God created each one of us unique.  We are not made up of entirely outer “beauty.”

I Sam 16:7 (NIV) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

If what is in our heart is the only thing that matters to almighty God, why should we worry and fret over the exterior?  I’m not saying not to take a shower or put on make up if you want to perk up your droopy eyes.  We shouldn’t obsess to the point that we are having surgeons play God with our face and body.   If we eat whole, healthy, natural foods and avoid the processed stuff, we will be healthy.  As long as I walk on planet earth, I want to be healthy.  I know once I get into Heaven, I will have a perfect, glorified body. I can guarantee you there we will not be worried about who has the longest, shiniest hair.  We will all be focused on Christ.  He is all that matters anyway.

My sister recently went on a missions trip to the Philippines. She said there were billboards all over advertising “American Eyes” compliments of the nearest plastic surgeon.  How sad!

Satan has pulled us into his web of lies and people are falling hard for that one.  “Your nose is too big.”  “Your legs are too short.”  “Your eyes should be blue.”  Really???  Compared to who? 

Jesus snapped that short when one of the disciples was comparing himself to another in John 21:22 “Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”   Ouch.

Focus on Christ. Take care of your body. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit, if you have accepted Him as Savior.

The apostle Paul was alive when the Olympics first began.  He took care of his physical body so he could continue the work he was commissioned to do.

I Cor. 9:24-27 (NET) “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

All that God created is good. How many times during the creation account in Genesis does it say, “And God saw that it was good?”  7 times.  Seven is the number of perfection/completion.   And there you have it.

We’ve made a mess of things as it is.  Scientists/Frankensteins need to leave what God created alone.

Redemption

I was reminded of a song by Nicole C. Mullin this past week, “I know my Redeemer lives.”  The very same day, I was reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman’s, “My Redeemer is faithful and true.”

“Redeemer” is not a term used today by Americans so why is this so great?

Our first introduction to “Redeemer” in Scripture is in the book of Ruth, via “kinsman redeemer.”

According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical theology, a “kinsman redeemer” is:

Male relative who, according to various laws found in the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act for a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need of vindication.

It continues with more details on the Old Testament but I wanted to point this out.  He puts it so much more eloquently that I could ever dream.

Although the doctrine of redemption from sin is taught extensively in the New Testament, it is not connected closely with the Old Testament concept of kinsman-redeemer. Christ can, however, be regarded as an example of a kinsman-redeemer since He identified Himself with us and redeemed us because of our need. Hebrews 2:11 states that “Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Jesus is not only our Redeemer from sin, but as Hebrews 2:16-18 and 4:14-16 point out, He is a kinsman to us and understands our struggles. Thus He is able to help us in our times of need. (Stephen J. Brame)

Jesus was fully God and fully man all at the same time. He suffered hunger, sleepiness, pain and anguish. He laughed and He cried.  His heart was fully devoted to each one He came in contact with while He was here on this earth to show His unfailing, everlasting and deep love.  It is a love that no one can fathom.  It is a love that fills the deepest void in our lives.

Nothing on this earth can compare to what Jesus offers us.  Though invisible to us now, we will see Him face to face and know Him just as we are fully known.

He laid down His life willingly to save us from eternal separation from God because of sin. He left His throne where myriads of angels adored Him and saw Him in His glory to come to earth.  He was born in a barn. I  know what you’re thinking, “No…manger!”  But who uses that term today?  He was born in a place where the animals were sheltered with hay and water.  It was literally a barn. He was raised as a Jewish carpenter’s son.  He worked hard and lived in submission to His earthly parents. He was humble.  He showed us what humility and obedience were all about.

How many times have you been to work and were asked to do something that you felt was “beneath” you?  Jesus did as He was told until it was time for His ministry.  The last 3 1/2 years of His life were the most powerful, life-changing events ever recorded in History.  Yet, people want to deny His Deity.

If Jesus were just any other man, why are people so afraid of His message?  Why are they pushing Him out of schools and you cannot invoke His name in prayer?

Because He lives.   He ever lives to intercede for us.  He is our Redeemer and the demons tremble at His name.

Broken

I remember reading Patsy Clairmont’s title of a book she wrote, “God Uses Cracked Pots” and smiling.  Indeed He does.

My life has been anything but perfect. From financial screw-ups to depression, food addiction and celebrity idolatry, I’ve run the gamut of blunders and created some of my own mayhem. But God’s grace got me through it all.

I like to peruse the comments on our local newspaper’s website.  Some of them get pretty nasty toward one another, especially if anything in the arena of religion gets brought up.  You wouldn’t think it would be that way in the “Bible belt” but it does.  I read one comment from someone who said they couldn’t believe in a God who was manipulative and conniving and allowed all of that (murder, adultery, etc) to go on.  It kind of stunned me and I couldn’t think of a response at that moment.

But I began to think about it and chew on it a while. What would I say to something like that?

I thank God for all of the people’s lives He chose to share with us in Scripture.  We got a “birds-eye” view of their lives and screw ups yet God chose to forgive them and use them anyway for His honor and glory. Who would want a Bible full of perfect people??  We couldn’t live up to that if we tried. We can relate to almost every one of those in some form or fashion and still we see the grace and mercy of God.

Joseph was a favorite child. What did that get him?  Jealous brothers who sold him into slavery then lied to their father about what happened to him.  God used that to save His people from starvation.  Joseph ended up being the grand vizier or prime minister, if you will, of Egypt.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got tempted into adultery and then murder.  God was gracious and didn’t take the throne away from him and still used him mightily.  He and Bathsheba went on to have Solomon, the wisest king that ever lived.

We are born into a fallen world. This world, temporarily, is Satan’s dominion. We were given a free will. God knows how we are going to use that before we even do. He has placed us where we are in this time and location for a purpose.  If we were at the hands of a “master puppeteer” who was manipulative and conniving, who would be able to stand? Wouldn’t He then just kill us off if we screwed up?

No.

We don’t see the bigger picture like God does. I am glad He is sovereign and knows what is best for us.  If we allow Him to, he can use us broken people.  People who think they know it all, don’t want God. They don’t  think they need Him.  What they believe is the biggest lie Satan ever told.

I serve a gracious, merciful, loving, kind, just God. He is ever powerful and He is everywhere. He is everything I will ever need.

I heard this analogy once and I love it.  A baby is all nice and warm and comfy in the womb. It’s dark. It’s toasty.  Then they are born into the light, cold, noisy world.  The 9 months they live in that womb is temporary. They are being prepared for the real world, the one we live in now.

We are in the “womb,” so to speak.  Our life on this planet is short and temporary. What we see, hear, smell, taste and touch is not going to last. When we die, that’s when real life begins. The Bible teaches “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  Those who are believers in Christ, will spend eternity with Him in love, no pain, no sorrow, no brokenness, no sin. All perfect.  Those without Christ will spend in eternal darkness in a place prepared for Satan and his angels away from God in pain, in sorrow…forever and ever and ever and ever.

His message is simple: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Saved from what? Saved from sin and eternal separation from God.

What choice are you going to make?

 

One of Those Moments

This morning while driving to work, I was listening to some music and a song took me back to almost a year ago when my Daddy lay dying in Hospice. The week was so vivid and long and I will never forget it. 

But the exact moment that the song took me to was the time when Daddy died.  Me, my sister and my Mom were all curled up in chairs sleeping beside his bed.  We had gotten him into a private room down a quiet hall so he could rest peacefully and comfortably with a ceiling fan moving the air above him as he struggled to breathe.

I don’t remember falling asleep. I just remember being woken up with Mom telling me, “Sheila, he’s gone.”  The first thought in my head and out my mouth was that there were angels in that room while we were sleeping. They escorted him home to be with the Lord.

At that thought, I burst into tears.  I miss my Daddy.  Of course, I find myself thinking about him often.  I just hate it when it is on the way to work and I walk in with red eyes and a rudolph nose. I work with a bunch of guys and they don’t know what to do when a woman’s crying.

I know that I’ll have those occasional moments when it brings me to tears missing him. It just makes me hurt for my Mom.  They made it to their 50th wedding anniversary and he passed away a couple of weeks later. 

But that’s the great thing about knowing Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.  Death is only a “see you later” part of life. I’ll see my my Daddy again.  🙂

January Blues

January 1, 2012 – – Well, we’ve reached 2012.  Some would call it a milestone. I just feel like it’s another day.  Yesterday, while I showered and got dressed, I felt the Spirit speaking to me.  I had always wondered what my “fruit” was and yesterday, He told me.  Through teaching my step-daughter about Jesus, she is now actively involved in church and her youngest, Dekoda, was telling my step-son’s girlfriend, Kaitlyn, about Jesus.  How awesome is that?

I was soooo relieved yesterday to hear Beth Moore talk about her “wild man” husband, Keith.  She told us he goes to church when HE wants to.  She couldn’t make him do anything.  But it didn’t stop her from going, of course.

So, I felt like I had been sitting around here wallowing in self-pity for a year, waiting on Hallmark Man to make up his mind.

So, still struggling with the submission thing, I was praying in my heart about church.  I sensed the Spirit telling me to confront Hallmark Man head-on about it.  So, after wrestling with that for a bit, I finally asked him, “Ok. I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to be honest with me.”  He just stared blankly at me.  “Do you want to go to church or do you really just not care?”  I was hoping he would say he didn’t care and I could go back to MY church family.  I didn’t get that answer.  “I want to go to church.  I just haven’t found one I like.”  Well, Lord…now what??  He can’t find one he likes sitting on his butt on Sunday mornings playing video games.  

I can’t just up and leave him(did that for a year) if he wants to go (but I don’t see an effort here).  Why should I be the one to come up with the ideas???  Isn’t HE supposed to be the spiritual leader of the household??  I am the one to submit.  Yet, I am feeling guilty about not being in church.  I miss seeing the same faces on Sunday morning and Sunday night.  Wednesday night always made me uncomfortable.  I don’t know why churches insist on having small table groups and “everybody pray” (awkward) or come to the altar and pray if you feel led (even more awkward silence).  I know typically Wednesday nights are smaller crowds—not even a crowd–should say “group.”   Wednesday nights are hard to get to church. That is when I am usually the most tired.  Half the work week is over and I am ready to sleep.  What is it with Baptists and Wednesday nights???

Ok. I am rambling here but that’s how I feel.  Needed to get that out there.

I know I am losing weight still but feels like it is taking forever.  My leg is better.  I think squatting down to feed the little miniature dachshund behind us has actually strengthened it.

My size 22 black jeans are baggy.  I am thinking about trying on some 20’s at Wal-Mart this weekend—IF I can find any.  I looked before and couldn’t.  I may be stuck with the 22s for a bit longer.  Maybe I can go to the thrift store and find some decent pants to get me through. I hate to pay full price for pants I’ll shrink out of.

You know, maybe I should write in this journal in the mornings. I have more on my mind then.  By the time the evening comes, my mind is toast and I am fighting with my attention to the TV for it.

Next month is going to be hard on Mom.  Their wedding anniversary and the anniversary of his death will be here.  Can’t believe it’s almost been a year since he’s been gone. I miss him, but I know not like Mom does.  She’s all alone.  She needs a dog.  I don’t know what I would do without mine. She is so much company.  I get the attention from her that I don’t get from my husband.  I know he gets jealous of her but she does things that I like to do and he won’t.  Some days I get lonely and I don’t like more than 2 days off.  I can’t stand not having something to do.  I know…I’m weird.

 

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