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The Promised Gift (Holy Spirit University (HSU) Series Part I)

...the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you,~Jesus (John 14:26). 
Jesus promised the disciples a gift, a gift that would abide with those who place their ultimate faith in Him. 

Holy Spirit is an incredible gift, a gift that sustains, equips, empowers, loves, comforts, intercedes, blesses, gives spiritual gifts, imparts wisdom, and helps believers in incredble ways. 

Holy Spirit University (HSU) series is about doing life with the blessed Holy Spirit. I can not overstate the importance of Holy Spirit. 

Holy Spirit is not a wind or dove or fire-though symbolized this way in scripture. Holy Spirit has emotions, a will, a mind, insight, a voice (Holy Spirit speaks and teaches), and is perfect in every way.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit is vital to living a victorious life. 

Let’s read some scripture together: 

While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Of which,” He said, “you have heard Me speak. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”-Acts 1:4-8. 
Jesus spoke of this gift from God that would empower and equip the disciples. The Holy Spirit would give them holy boldness to be His witnesses. 

What on earth does Holy Spirit do? 

Part of the role of Holy Spirit is to empower us to do what Jesus did. 

Jesus did not say, “I am going to give you this gift that will help you do nothing. Please sit and do nothing until I return or you die. Also please stay the same way I found you.” 

The Holy Spirit within is a power house. This promised gift was to love, bring comfort, to teach, to be a seal on believers that they belong to God, to give power, holy boldness, counsel, give strength, reveal the righteous nature of God, sustain, impart spiritual gifts, provide wisdom, and so much more. 

Ready or not, here comes Holy Spirit!

The disciples walked with Jesus. I am certain there was attachment. He told them it was better that He go to the Father than remain with them. The Spirit of God would come and dwell with believers and inside of Spirit baptized believers. They would have this power house within them.

God fulfilled His word at Pentacost (Acts 2:1-13):

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit]. And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately].

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout and God-fearing men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, a crowd gathered, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing those in the upper room speaking in his own language or dialect. They were completely astonished, saying, “Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears in our own language or native dialect? Among us there are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, and people of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia [Minor], Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and the visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we all hear them speaking in our [native] tongues about the mighty works of God!” And they were beside themselves with amazement and were greatly perplexed, saying one to another, “What could this mean?” But others were laughing and joking and ridiculing them, saying, “They are full of sweet wine and are drunk!”
Many went on to share the Gospel of Jesus with exceptional boldness and clarity. This power house filled those in the upper room and changed their lives forever. 

The gift that produces victory!

It is impossible to live a victorious life without Holy Spirit. 

…you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)~Romans 8:9.

…the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words,~Romans 8:26. 

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,~Romans 8:13-14. 

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,~Ephesians 1:13. 

Without the Holy Spirit our flesh or soul (human mind, will, emotions) will dictate our lives. The mind of the flesh wars against God, it cannot please God. Without the Holy Spirit, according to Romans 8:9, we do not belong to God.  We need this gift and to honor the blessing of the Holy Spirit. 

As we contunue on this study of Holy Spirit I pray we grow to have deeper intimacy with God. I pray we grow to know more about Holy Spirit and cultivate greater friendship with Him. 

Love, 

Erin Lamb 

 
 

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Draw Near to God in Trials (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 8)

  
Image created by Wordswag, used with permission. 

I have been thinking of you. I have been thinking of the world. If you turn on the news it is quite easy to become unsettled, fearful, or to experience great sorrow. 

I asked the Lord what to share and His response was, “Share a message of hope. My children need hope.” 

What message could possibly be shared to lighten the load of mother’s losing their children, children losing their parents, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, viruses, and the sorrow that is repeated on the news? What about hope in the midst of our own challenges?

Last week I sat in a funeral watching my friend, his children, and our mutual friends grieve a great loss. What do I say to two young children who lost their mother? What do I say to my friend who I know loved his wife deeply. We had so many conversations about the healing power of God. What could I say through his tears and my own? I wept for a very long time. My heart ached deeply. Yet life had to go on right? I spent the night before the funeral trying to clear up other issues. I could not even grieve. 

Those around me did not feel or know the pain. It was not their pain. Some did not even acknowledge I had any grief. God, however, did. He did what He does best. He stepped in as a best friend, and brought His unfailing comfort. 

Last week and the past month have   presented some deep challenges and awesome truimphs. Such is life, right? I found hope, love, help, joy, and comfort in the place I know best, the heart and arms of God. 

So, in thinking of what message I could share of hope, I can only think of one thing-God is our sure hope. I only know of one message that can bring hope to a hurting world. The message is Jesus. Hope has a name and it is Jesus. There is no greater name and no greater love or power than the love and power of God. 

If we are to place our trust in anyone or anything, let it be God. 

Some things we are delivered through…

There are so many things in life we are called to walk through. There is no, “Beam me up Scotty,” and we are transported to a place away from trials. God promises to walk with us  through every single challenge; I know no better friend or comforter. 

The Bible tells us there will be tests, trials, and tribulations as a result of the fall of humanity and persecution for living a godly life. The Bible says the godly WILL face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). 

God did not leave us without hope. He gave the world His Son, His Spirit, His Presence, His promises, angelic help, and His Word. He also gave believers every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). 

Let’s take a look at His word. I love Psalm 23. Here is an excerpt. 

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with meYour rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me,~Psalm 23:4. 

As stated, there are challenging situations we are called to walk through with God. God does not always deliver us from evil. He sometimes delivers us through evil. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. He was not consumed. 

We see the uncompromising, supernatural strength and power of God in challenging seasons if we lean on Him. We may be weak or challenged; His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 

In a world that says there is no hope, God says: 

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows],~John 10:10 (AMP).

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.],~John 16:33 (AMP).

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation],~Isaiah 26:3. 

These verses give us keys to living in victory. 

  • Focus on God.
  • Trust God.
  • Take refuge in God.
  • Set the mind on God.
  • Be courageous, confident, filled with joy.
  • Fear no evil (from Psalm 23).

Abiding in God and deep friendship/connection with Him brings peace in the midst of trials, challenges, and storms. He is the Source of peace, agape love, joy, and hope. 

What are we hoping for, expecting from God? 

  1. God to keep His word! He cannot lie. If God said it, you can expect it to come to pass (1 Thess 5:24, Deut 7:9).
  2. God to work all things together for the eventual good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). 
  3. God to hear our prayers. The answer may not come exactly the way we think, yet God answers our prayers that align with His will (Matt 21:22, Job 22:27, 1 John 5:14-15). 
  4. God to bring comfort and deliverance (2 Cor 1:4, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 50:15). 
  5. God to empower us to destroy the works of the devil (Acts 1:8). If we have the Holy Spirit, we are already empowered! 
  6. God to help us overcome because He has overcome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith,~1 John 5:4. 
  7. God to turn our sorrow into JOY, our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). 
  8. God to avenge the wrongs (Romans 12:19). 
  9. God to reward those who stand strong until the end and every person according to what they have done (Romans 2:6, Revelation 22:12). 
  10. Jesus to return and reign on the earth (Matthew 24:29-31). 

No matter what we face, we have a sure hope in God. I will share this last story and end in prayer for you. 

Part of Operation God is Love ministry is praying for the sick at the free clinic. Last Tuesday, I was on the schedule to go. My heart was already heavy from a loss and some relational issues going on in my circle. I had not slept well in days. Yet, I went and gave thanks. 

One of the first ladies prayed for was going  through some of the same things that I was either dealing with or had walked through in my life. I wept with her. Almost every time I start to feel a tinge of discouragement, God sends along someone going through the same things I have walked through in life. 

This woman left with tremendous hope. Her situation was far more dire than mine, yet to have someone to hold her while she cried and to mourn with her brought some healing. She stated she was over Christian counselors who offered scripture yet had no real experience with victory over pain. 

Your (our) challenge is not wasted. God wastes nothing. We can walk out of the fire and stand boldly with someone in their fire. We can be an instrument of hope for someone else.

Our friendship with God is also deepened in trials if we draw near to Him. God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). 

May you and I draw near to God in every season. 

Papa God, I ask for every hurting soul to be bathed in Your comfort tonight. I speak peace over torment, pain, chaos, any strife, worry, or relational troubles. I speak life over every dead situation that You want to live. I speak comfort to every place that hurts. May each of us find hope in You alone. You do not fail! In Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin ❤

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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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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Finding JOY in Waiting!

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Photo credit (cruzine)

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him,~Isaiah 64:4 (NIV).

those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,~Isaiah 40:31.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD,~Psalm 27:14.

I would love to be able to say I’m a truly patient person. This is not true at all! My natural personality is concerned with efficiency. God and I have had some rough moments because of my impatience. I couldn’t wait to finish high school. Then I was eager to finish college and find a job. Life was continually about fast forwarding. Fast forwarding past my mom’s battle with cancer…fast forwarding through working three jobs and having a double major in engineering…fast forwarding past every hurt, pain, trauma, near death experience…the cry of my heart was, “God I will be happy when this is over! I will have joy when the storms pass.”

Let me tell you, God didn’t remove the trials, traumas, pain, or all suffering. Some prayers were immediately answered, others were repeated, and others took years to see any fruit. He has and is teaching me that He is my JOY in all seasons of life.

The Questions:

1. What do you do when you’re in the waiting room of promise?

2. What do you do when your life doesn’t match your prayers?

3. What do you do when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired?

4. How do you handle watching others receive what you’ve been praying and longing for?

The Responses:

These are simply my reflections from life and the people God had wait in the Bible (almost everyone)! God does great things in seasons of waiting, much of which we don’t see.

1. Seek God in seasons of waiting.
We need to continually seek God, yet many people pull away from God when they don’t get what they want. Relationship with God is the highest priority. If it’s not, we will replace Him with the thing we are praying for. God never longs to take a back seat to anyone or anything! As we spend time with Him, we are prepared for what’s to come and our heart condition is revealed.

What God is doing in us far outweighs anything He can do for us.

2. Ask, Seek, Knock.
Sometimes our lives don’t match our prayers because what we are asking for would destroy us. Sometimes our motives are wrong. Sometimes our motives are good, but the timing is not. Sometimes we are murmuring and complaining. Sometimes we are speaking word curses and death over ourselves-“I will never be free. This won’t happen for me!”

Though it’s painful, it’s a time to Ask God, Seek God, and Knock on the door of heaven. Ask God to reveal our hearts and His heart. Why do we want what we want? The Bible says God withholds nothing good from us. It’s not always our definition of good, it’s His.

Sometimes the answer is on the way, yet it’s delayed. See the book of Daniel. The angel was delayed. There was spiritual battling around Daniel’s request. Understand if God has a huge blessing in store for you, the enemy (though a defeated foe) has a plan to delay, distract, discourage, or harass.

3. Receive Comfort from the Holy Spirit.
He is called the Comforter. God is perfect in bringing comfort, help, and healing. I went through a season where in two years 5 family members died, two family friends, and I was in a car accident that totaled my car. Around my accident time (last year), three aunts died within three weeks. It was horrible and overwhelming. I needed God desperately; He was there for me. God will bring comfort, even if the comfort is needed because we are operating in unbelief about His provision. He cares more than we can imagine.

4. Celebrate Others Getting What You Want.
What God does for one, He’s willing to do for another. This is not easy. I have walked through this test many times. However, if you’re jealous, envious, or covet what others have, you’re not ready for God’s blessing. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s about loving God first, loving others (this includes being happy for their blessings), and growing into Christ likeness. God loves to give good gifts to His children. He does not want us destroyed by the gifts He gives. If it will pollute our hearts or cause us to be more sinful, He’s willing to withhold.

God is Patient:

God is not as obsessed with time as we are. He’s not the Burger King God. There’s not always a fast food breakthrough. He’s after relationship with us. Relationship is cultivated over time.

Where Can I Find JOY?:

In God’s Presence. God is pure joy. Being with Him changes perspective.

In God’s Word. God keeps His word and promises. He cannot lie. Recite His word, meditate on the promises of God.

In Your History With God. What has God already done? What trials have already been overcome? How has God provided and taken care of you in the past?

In Serving Others. Anytime we are self centered it robs us of joy! Get out there and help someone else. Support someone else’s dream, offer to baby sit for new parents, volunteer to help/serve those less fortunate. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus and blessing Him, the better off we will be! Serving the poor, broken, and hurting is a sure way to increase gratitude and joy.

Give thanks. Tell God thanks for who He is and what He’s already done. It is not enjoyable to be in relationship with people who only care about you because of what you do for them. Love God. Thank Him!

Lastly I will say, though we may forget, God does not forget His promises to us. He’s perfect in every way. If we move ahead of Him, we get Ishmael instead of Isaac.

God knows the plans He has for you dear friends, plans to prosper you, give you hope, and a blessed future (Jeremiah 29:11). I need this reminder, hope it encouraged you!

You’re loved and prayed for!

Erin

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Finding JOY in Suffering

Hebrews 12:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Joy and suffering don’t seem to fit together. They evoke different reactions. If you ask people if they’d like to sign up for a lifetime of joy, most would say yes. If you offered suffering, many would run in the other direction.

I will be forthright with you. I hate suffering. I endure, I don’t delight in suffering. Jesus for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. I’m guessing, but I don’t believe He was laughing, singing, and having a party on the cross. The Bible tells us He was in pain.

Our sin was a heavy burden, a tremendous weight. His body was tired, worn out, beaten, bruised, and His flesh torn off His body. He heard the mockers. He saw those He came for and loved yelling, “Crucify Him!” People He walked with, taught, and served, abandoned Him in His hour of need.

The movies don’t do the crucifixion justice, we couldn’t stomach the true image of what sin cost Jesus. It cost Him not only physically, but relationally.

The only disciple present when He took His last breath was John. Where were the others?

Jesus suffered greatly.

If that were the end of the story, it’d just be sad.

That’s not the end of the story!

Jesus rose with all power in His hands. One mans sin cost the world greatly. The Son of God paid greatly to set things right. The gain far surpassed the suffering.

I’m in no way stating sickness, death, loss, tradgedy, and horrific events are to be celebrated. No way. None of the experiences I’ve had with sickness, loss, betrayal, burying loved ones, traumas, accidents….evoked celebration.

Here’s what I have learned.

1. God never abandons us during seasons of suffering. Never does He leave or forsake. He’s close to the broken hearted!

2. God’s comfort surpasses understanding.

The day we buried my mum, I felt a peace I can’t explain. I held my dad’s hand and felt concern for his heart. He’d loved the same woman for most of his life. He knew her longer than I had been alive. God gave me grace and peace. Losing a parent is awful. I lost my best friend. Yet, Jesus stepped right in to fill voids on my heart and life. I’m not a big crier, yet this season produced so many tears. Tears I know God bottled. During many days and nights of sorrow, God was there.

3. You develop empathy for others who are suffering or struggling.

4. You learn to lean on God in deeper ways.

5. God promises to bring good things out of bad situations. It’s not always immediate. Some things take years to heal (trust me I know). Yet the healing power of Jesus far exceeds our pain.

6. God gives us grace to get through and soar above the storms.

I’ve annoyed many people in life by maintaining joy in some pretty horrific situations. I’ve been called Pollyanna, fake, phony…I’ve learned that God works things for good. So, I don’t have to remain depressed or oppressed. I know from experience what it’s like to wallow in sorrow. I prefer the opposite, continual seeking of God’s face. I can draw from the well of His joy.

Jesus rose! I too can rise. So can you!

7. God will keep in perfect peace those who’s minds are stayed on Him.

It’s one of my favorite verses. I know when I feel overwhelmed, if I can get to a place of focusing on Jesus there’s a peace that comes. He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning.

Father, in seasons of intense suffering or pain, help us to see You. You are our comfort, peace, joy, hope, and love. You don’t delight in our suffering; I pray we see You want the best for us. I ask for abounding blessings, in Jesus mighty name.

 
 

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The Friendship of Jesus!

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Photo Credit: Passion of the Christ Movie (Pintrest)

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,~John 15:13.

Sometimes we rely too heavily on people. It can be family, friends, coworkers, or people in church. The truth is unless our lives are being fueled first by God, we are in trouble. People will fail you, some will leave you, hurt you, and some disappoint you. I’ve found God will strategically put us in places where He is the only One we can trust, rely on, confide in, find comfort, hope, love, and support from. He’s not punishing us; He’s transforming us (if we let Him).

Those seasons are challenging and every one is not authored by God. He can and will use anything for our good. Losing loved ones to death is not the topic of this post. God brings comfort to all who mourn and has great compassion on His children. People are meant to comfort one another. However, people were never intended to replace God in our lives or become our primary source.

Help I need somebody!:

Our flesh cries out for the security blanket of another person during trying and challenging times. People also displace God in good times. If we run to God, we will find the following:

1. Only God has an unlimited supply of what we need: love, support, wisdom, healing, joy, comfort…He never grows tired or weary. People do.

2. God is jealous to be first in our lives, even before our families. Anyone or anything we love more than Him, spend more time with than Him, care more about or care more about their approval, etc…is our idol. At the end of our lives we will stand before Him alone. Our idols (including ourselves) will always disappoint.

3. God wants to teach us. Hard times are learning times and character building times if we dive deep into His Presence. They are seasons of preparation, purging, cleansing, growing, and for those grieving-finding comfort in God.

4. Everything happens in seasons. Trouble doesn’t last always! It won’t always be winter. And normally God places people in your life who are in the opposite season so you can learn and serve. Those who are experiencing great joy can encourage those in hard times and mourn with those who mourn. Those in hard times can learn to celebrate with those who are celebrating and find hope.

5. It’s not about us, it’s about God. It seems harsh, but it’s true. While God cares about every single detail of our lives, His primary agenda is to love us. Part of that love is molding us into the likeness of His Son (not by our self efforts-by the power of His Spirit). He’s eager for the world to be changed by His power working through us. Our lives are not our own, but were purchased with the blood of Jesus. We were born with a divine purpose.

6. We will find that God is good and better than any person we’ve ever met! He’s the source, everything and everyone else are resources. He heals, makes us whole, ministers to deep levels of pain, comforts, encourages, and transforms us from the inside out.

7. God knows how to have a good time! He’s not boring. Oh boy does He know how to fill a place with goodness. He laughs. He sings. He deposits joy!!! He knows how to party. We don’t find that out until we decide as Moses did to stop and turn to the burning bush. We often miss God because we are so busy looking for someone or something to give us what we need.

8. God wants us to be powerful, not pitiful. I’ve found that God doesn’t like pity parties. Not because He’s rude or uncaring or lacking compassion. It’s because He knows how powerful He is, and His Spirit in us is the same One who raised Jesus from the dead. Nothing is too hard for God. Unbelief is a damaging and blessing blocking sin, for without faith it’s impossible to please God. Pity parties are self focused. God wants us to be God focused. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could live defeated. He conquered death! He speaks sweetly to us: LIVE! He doesn’t scream at us, “Get it together already, stop whining!” He does lovingly point us to the truth of who He is. He’s patient and compassionate. He longs for us to view life through His eyes and live empowered lives.

Whether you have an abundance of people supporting you/encouraging you, or no human being at all; know God is for you. God is cheering for you! Jesus is praying for you! He’s the One to cling to. He’s all you need. You plus God is a winning team. Come to Jesus. It’s all for Him, about Him, and being held together by Him. By no other name can anyone be saved. And how He loves you so!

May we seek first God and His Kingdom. He’s worthy!
May we let Him flow through us to be a tremendous blessing to every person we meet.
We are called, chosen, loved, accepted, empowered, and set apart for His glory!

Love,

Erin

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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