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Monthly Archives: September 2014

God is Bigger Than Your Pain

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”~Jeremiah 29:11.

Have you ever been disappointed by God’s response to your problem or circumstances? If the answer is no, well, this post may not encourage you. If the answer is yes, then keep reading.

God and I have a long history together. Much of our history was deepened during seasons of intense grief and suffering. No worries, I have no plans of rehashing my entire life story. I will share with you one that may encourage you to cling to the words of Jeremiah 29:11.

My dad is a pastor, my mum was my Sunday school teacher. I grew up watching sick people recover by the power of prayer. I saw miracles. They were normal in our home and our church. There were times of supernatural provision and things that could never be explained away by luck or chance. We saw and were taught to expect God to do amazing things!

I did not see the behind the scenes with my parents, meaning they never showed us any disappointment in God’s answers. My dad to this day does not complain.

I had no grid for how to handle when God’s answers did not look like my prayers. The answer “God knows best” doesn’t make sense to a child or someone grieving or without a long history with God.

The amazing part about the Bible is that we read of people expressing their pain, grief, and disappointment: “Why did my son die? Lord, if I could only have a child. God have you forgotten me? Jesus, if you had been here my brother would not have died. Lord, my soul is weary and worn. If it’s your will Father, let this cup pass from me.”

Over the seasons of tremendous loss, I found peace in worship and the Psalms. David expressed his emotions to God unashamedly. I honor David. Probably why my book is a collection of Psalms, and verses to God. Some written in seasons of agony.

I tell you these things because in this world we will face trouble. Jesus told us we would. The day I buried my mum was the worst day of my life, well one of them. I knew God healed. She was not healed here on earth. I write this post for her as her birthday is upcoming.

I was disappointed she died when I had seen God heal so many other people. I wasn’t angry with God. I was disappointed. Some family members stated to be disappointed meant I had a lack of faith in God’s wisdom and will. To a 25 year old who’s just buried her best friend, I’m certain those are the wrong words. 🙂

My mum told me the week before she died that she was going home. She stared out the window of her hospital room, looking into the distance, and repeated those words. I told her she’d be fine. I had complete confidence in God’s ability to heal. And she was doing better. She looked me square in the eye and said, “I’ve done all He put me here to do. I’m going home.

Her funeral gathered people from all over the USA. It was so large we had to have in the high school auditorium. This woman who taught Sunday school in a small town had impacted so many people’s lives. She loved like Jesus. She acted like Jesus. She lived like Jesus. And everywhere we went she was loving people. They never forget her. Some gave their lives to Jesus once she was gone. I simply hoped God let her glimpse or know how many people she impacted for Him, for His Kingdom. Knowing her was something challenging to explain. She was unforgettable. She enlarged heaven even in her death.

So, my encouragement to you is this: when God’s answer does not seem to match your prayers know God isn’t angry with you for being hurt, or disappointed. You can cry out to Him, and He will bring tremendous comfort. He will do such a work in your heart. He will provide for you in ways you’ve never imagined. He’s so good. He loves you. He has a plan and it’s good!

Truths:

God works all things together for eventual good. It doesn’t always feel good and may not be our definition of good.

The evil one comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the fullest!

God’s love and comfort are more powerful than our pain.

God redeemed mankind and can redeem impossible situations. If the answer is no, we can still find joy and comfort in Him.

God does heal! I’ve seen many more people healed in the years since she’s past. Healer is His name. So we don’t stop believing God is who He says He is. Every human being will leave this earth at some time. God knows when. This flesh is not immortal. We only have eternal life in Christ, in eternity.

Jesus defeated our worst enemies on the cross. These momentary afflictions are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us!!!

That last truth has gotten me through some pretty challenging seasons. If you suffer loss or disappointment, you will grieve. It’s normal and does not mean you have no faith. I hope and pray you are blessed beyond measure! My prayer is we run to God instead of away from Him when we are hurt, grieving, or disappointed. You are so deeply loved.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Radical LOVE!

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(Image credit Instapray)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,”-Jesus.

Jesus never asks us to do something He will not empower us to do. He gave us the secret to loving like Him in John 15:5. He told us to abide in Him. If His Spirit is in us, we can love! God is love. These are some thoughts I’ve been pondering about love in God’s Body (followers of Jesus).

In fellowship and covenant (committed love)…

Who will you die to self for?

Who are you willing to continually sacrifice for?

Who are you willing to carry when they cannot carry themselves?

Who are you willing to support even if it’s not convenient for you?

Who are you willing to pray for until they get breakthrough?

Who are you willing to join your life to so they are blessed beyond measure because of the gifts God placed in you?

Who are you willing to continually love, even if they do not love you?

God invites us to enter into covenant with other believers. It’s not about saying I love you…it’s about living I love you. Loving when it’s hard. Loving in winter, spring, summer, and fall. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. It’s not a love that is in word only. It’s a love that causes us to throw off our selfishness, pride, apathy, complacency, and passivity. Are we committed to this kind of love for one another? This kind of love lets the world know we belong to Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible on the friends who carried their friend to Jesus. This is the radical love that God is calling every believer to…Christ’s agape love.

The Help of Friends – Luke 5:17-20

One day Jesus was teaching the people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there too. They had come from every town in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. The Lord (God) was giving Jesus the power to heal people. There was a man that was paralyzed (crippled). Some men carried him on a mat. The men tried to bring him and put him down before Jesus. But there were so many people that the men could not find a way to Jesus. So the men went up on the roof and lowered the crippled man down through a hole in the ceiling. They lowered the mat {into the room} so that the crippled man was lying before Jesus. Jesus saw that these men believed. Jesus said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (ERV)

I went through a very hard season and I can say I spent most of it relying heavily on Jesus. I can say I am thankful for the people who loved me in the beginning, middle, and end of the storm. The people who didn’t make it about them, but enabled me to just get to Jesus. I am human just like everyone else, in dire need of Jesus. I need comfort just like everyone else in loss and pain. If you encounter one person who loves you unconditionally and is willing to sacrifice for you, you are richer than most of the people in the world.

Many people have associates. Many people have buddies. Many people have people willing to take from them. Many people have someone to hang out with and participate in activities. Not very many people have friends willing to risk their very lives to save them.

We don’t need more self-centered Christians. We need more willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful to love, especially when you aren’t loved in return. Yet love will always be the greatest commandment and the true marking of a disciple of Jesus.

What if every believer lived a life a love?

No person would feel disconnected, unsupported, alone, or unloved. Yet, this is not the reality. We have people in church every weekend who feel absolutely unloved and uncared for. We don’t need to play Christian games or say, “I love you,” if we don’t. We do need to ask God to fill us so we have something to offer others. We need to live the Gospel, not just know the Gospel. It’s our mission. It’s our purpose on earth-Love God, love people.

May we love, and love well…it’s a process and it’s a journey…yet it’s what we are called to in Christ. And it’s possible through Christ who gives us His strength. Those who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). I pray earnestly that I can live what I know of Jesus, let Him live through me. So imperfect, yet so dependent on Him for everything.

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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Becoming

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Image credit (Passion of the Christ Film).

Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,~Ephesians 5:1-2.

Becoming…the Christian walk is about becoming like the One who gave His life for ours. I do not hear many messages about becoming like Christ anymore. My pastor teaches on it and this past Sunday talked about this narrow path that leads us to being transformed into the image of God’s Son.

Becoming is rooted in abiding. After salvation (believing, repenting of sin, asking for forgiveness, and choosing to say yes to following Jesus), there’s a process called sanctification. The Holy Spirit works in us so we are transformed into the image of God. Those who abide in Him, will have abundant fruit (John 15:5). Apart from relationship with God, we cannot live like Jesus. Grace, God’s abounding grace, empowers us to do the impossible-live and love like Jesus.

Why is becoming so important?

Well, because we represent God in the earth. Some people will never set foot in a church. They will interact with you. If you are following Jesus, you are His Ambassador (sent ones-representative) on earth. He calls His followers to be salt and light. If we don’t imitate Christ in every area of influence and relationship, where’s the light shining in the darkness?

I’ve met way too many people who refuse to go to church because they’ve had horrible experiences with Christians. It’s sad because God is so good.

I have a few friends who are atheist. They grew up Catholic or Protestant, yet they saw people claiming to love and represent God abusing grace, acting exactly like the world, and had some painful experiences. All of which led them to believe God must not be real if His followers are so unrighteous and unloving.

I had one friend who fell down the steps while visiting a church. She stopped the pastor to ask for help. She couldn’t get up and he was the only one who came by. He told her he was late for a staff meeting and left her there.

Jesus said the world will know we belong to Him by our love for one another.

I’ve been in church my entire life. My dad is a pastor. We were taught loving people regardless of who they are or what they believe was and is a priority.

I’ve heard other Christians question my kindness towards them. Why are you doing this? Did God tell you to do this? Well, yes in His Word when He said love others as I have loved you.

How does God love me?

He forgives.
He gives.
He’s merciful and kind.
He’s generous.
He’s encouraging.
He’s thoughtful.
He gives good gifts!
He points me in the direction of truth and holiness.
He supports my dreams.
He cares about every detail of my life.
He’s patient.
He’s compassionate.
He gives more of Himself than I could imagine possible.
He mourns with me.
He laughs with me.
He rejoices over me.
He sees the best in me when I’m at my worst.
Jesus prays and intercedes for me.
The Holy Spirit empowers me.
He protects me.
He provides for me.
He shares His wisdom and knowledge.
He listens.
He speaks.
He comforts.
He celebrates.
He leads.
He’s good!

If I am to imitate Him, then I treat people the way God treats me. I do as He does.

Becoming requires a dying to self and selfishness. It’s not easy, yet it’s possible via the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s so important. We are the only interactions some people will have with God. We are not responsible to save the world. We are responsible to let God live and love through us. Jesus invited people to follow Him, not just pray a prayer. Following Jesus is about imitating Him.

We can draw people to God by shining bright, or we can push them away by our lack of love.

God is LOVE!

Father please forgive us for the times we’ve chosen our own path apart from You. May we overflow with Your love. Teach us to stay connected to the true Vine, You. May we be the brightest lights, reflecting and representing You in the earth. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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