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

Encountering God in the Midst of Tragedy, Disappointment, & Pain

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Photo Credit: Time Warp Wife (Pinterest)

“Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. “ Psalm 36:3-11.

We live in a sinful world. It is a world not immune to tragedy. It is a world that if studied for long periods of time can bring great grief, pain, and hurt. If that is where the story ended, we could cry and live depressed lives. Life will hurt. Disappointments will come. No person is immune from the potential of disaster or a tragedy striking. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

I would not be able to write this post if I had not walked through my own personal tragedies with God. The unexpected phone call. The friends who have betrayed me. The loved one who didn’t get healed. The loss of something held dear. Or even an accident that changes life forever. I’ve been there. For seven years I felt I lived there. Year after year it seemed someone was dying or a part of my life was dying. I spent most of my teens and early twenties trying to survive. My life is still not immune from trials, hardships, or pain. This year alone I’ve lost three aunts, was in a car accident that totaled my car, and have had some overwhelming disappointments.

Looking back:

I recall the day my mum died. I prayed like my life depended on it that she would live. We lived at the hospital, and I knew God healed. I had seen it with my own eyes. I went to work the day she died. I worked a full day. They told me to come home instead of go to the hospital. I knew something went wrong. I arrived home and felt like the bottom of my chest ripped open. One of my best friends was gone. Where was God in the midst of my pain? He was was holding a fragile 20 something together. I had just graduated college and life was changing forever. God flooded my heart with worship. During those moments and even after her death, I did not have anyone to hold me. Everyone had their own grief; I had God.

People have called me independent, but I’ve learned to lean on God. I know what it’s like to try to lean on people who cannot help you and some don’t want to. They don’t like their own pain, let alone yours. I knew and know there is no better source than Jesus. In moments of suffering with God, I can confidently say, “God is able!”

What God showed me through grief:


He’s bigger than any disappointment or pain and God’s ways are higher.
My mum told God she wanted to go home. She had her own personal relationship with God. Her life belonged to Him. She was tired of being sick. Her life had already touched so many for Jesus. We all have an appointed time to die. This life is but a whisper. I was hurting, sad, and thought of all the ways God could have done things differently. Looking back, the more I surrendered my pain to God, the more comfort He provided.

God doesn’t watch our pain, He enters into our pain. He doesn’t watch His children suffer and provide comfort from a distance. He stands right in the middle of the fire with us. We hurt, God hurts.

God is good and can handle our doubts of His goodness. It’s impossible, at least in my thoughts, to go through a tragedy, betrayal, or trauma and not have the thought pop up, “If God is so good, why did He allow this to happen?” I think of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Lazarus died and Jesus stayed where He was. Jesus waited until Lazarus was good and dead before showing up to resurrect him. It was for the glory of God. In our situations God can use anything for His glory. I am not saying God causes the pain and suffering. I am saying He can use it.

Suffering builds compassion. I truly believe compassion is a much needed trait. And not the pat the person on the head ministry. I mean the ability to enter into someone else’s pain like it is your own. Jesus entered into people’s pain. He had compassion on the sick & healed them.

Cry it out, scream it out, let it out. God is not afraid or offended by our emotions. Some pain or grief is quickly healed. Some grief or pain lingers for years. And some grief and pain seems to go on with us for a lifetime. We will never forget the people we’ve lost. We may never forget how we felt the day the bad news came or the trauma occurred. I can say, though we may not forget, God heals memories. He brings comfort to them. He is the Healer.

God’s plan is good even when it doesn’t feel good. God has our best interests at heart. It does not always seem that way. Some things we will not understand until heaven when we see Him face to face.

There is always hope in Jesus. It’s easy to get jaded by life and say, “If God didn’t do this, then He won’t do that.” Disappointment is a horrible thing to be our foundation for what God can or will do. He can do anything. Just because He does not answer the way you or I would like, does not mean He is limited in any way. God is God. He is all powerful.

As someone who’s walking through this sinful world with you, I say these words of encouragement; there’s no better friend, Healer, or Savior than Jesus. God loves you! No matter how bad it hurts, He will never leave or forsake you!! This I can promise. May you invite Him into the pain. He will give you beauty for ashes and joy for your mourning. I’m practicing what I teach as I continue to invite God into my own pain, hurts, and disappointments. God bless you. You’re in my prayers.

It’s a Hard Knock Life or Is It?

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I love Jeremiah 29:11 as seen in the photo above. We’ve been talking about suffering. Depending on where we are focused, on the evil in the world or on God, determines whether it’s a hard knock life or an adventure with God. Let me unpack this statement.

If I were a person who had an easy life, you could dismiss me and move on. I have not had the luxury of an easy life. It’s been filled with challenges just like your life. I know what it’s like to be abandoned, rejected, persecuted for my faith, to watch someone I love die a slow and painful death to cancer, to experience my own health issues, and I’ve cheated death numerous times including a car accident that left me trapped in my car under water. I understand pain; physical, emotional, and mental pain. The problem with pain is that if that’s where we stop, it’s not the full story.

Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. He came so that we could be free! It does not mean a life free of problems, challenges, heartache, or pain. It does mean we have a Healer, Comforter, Advocate, and someone who suffered beyond what we could bear or would even dare to bear. Many of us would bypass the cross for the pain of it was beyond our ability to handle. We have someone who will never leave or forsake us (Duet 31:6). We have someone who bottles our tears (Psalm 56:8). We have someone who is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

So I ask, “What is the purpose of this life?” If it’s to be comfortable, then we will never be fully happy. If it’s to win the approval of people, that’s another unsure thing. If it’s to be rich and wealthy, money can not go with us. If it’s to have all the pleasure we can consume, then we end up addicts and slaves to what feels good.

I believe the purpose of life to be the following:

1. To know God. Knowing God trumps all the world can offer. He’s simply the best, better than all the rest.  Knowing Him is more valuable than anything this world has to offer. For this life is but a whisper in comparison to eternity. We will reign with Him forever and ever!

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness,~Jeremiah 31:3.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you,~Jesus. John 14:2.

Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,~2 Corinthians 4:14-18.

We have a greater life coming. A life with no sickness, no sorrow, no death, no fatigue, no evil, no sin, and we will be reunited with loved ones who died before us loving Christ. Jesus paid for a better ending! An ending that is unfathomable. He also paid for a better today. We have a friend for our time here on earth; to learn about Him, to be with Him, to become more like Him. He still heals, comforts, and provides in this life. He gave us the Holy Spirit so we have a Helper. He did not leave us powerless or without help.

2. To Make Him Known. We are His ambassadors of love in the world. We are not here just taking up space until Jesus returns. We are called to live a life that helps others, blesses others, and demonstrates God’s love to the world. When the purpose of life is to make Him known, the journey is more enjoyable. Anything we go through can be a testimony of God’s greatness for another. I am truly inspired by people who overcame tremendous obstacles and continued to trust God. It causes me to trust Him even more. You may be someone’s inspiration. You may lead others to Jesus with your story! You are here for a reason.

Lastly, I will say if you have pain in your body, I am praying for healing.  If you have pain in your emotions or mind, I am praying you are healed. By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). We don’t ignore pain, dismiss pain, or pretend we don’t have pain. We take all pain to the Healer. Often we cry or mourn. We lean on Jesus. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory, ~Isaiah 61;3.

God has prepared something great for you. It may not seem like it right now, but the best is yet to come! Hold fast to hope. This life is 100 years at the most, eternity is forever (no end). God is working things together for a blessed future for you and not just in eternity-here and now as well! You are deeply loved.

 

Does God Delight In Your Suffering?-The Perfect Father

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give, Jesus said to the disciples. Matt 10:8.

As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one, Luke 4:40.

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick, Matt 14:14

Imagine a father who wants to teach his child to love him so he injects his child with diseases, surrounds the child with other kids who beat him up, tells him often how awful he is and needs to get it together,  floods his tree house and destroys what he loves when he doesn’t obey, and then says, “I did that so you could learn to be strong, a better person, and learn to love me.” You’d have that parent arrested. If you are under the train of thought that God enjoys watching you suffer, I hope this post opens your eyes to one of the most beautiful parts of His heart, compassion. Some of us were taught that God delights in our suffering or causes our suffering. If He was an earthy parent, He would have been in prison by now. He’s been blamed for natural disasters (acts of God they call them), putting sickness on people, and causing traumas in their lives. We call it God’s way of teaching us a lesson, refining our character, teaching us to be holy, and to fear Him. Well, if you read all of the Bible there are quite a few passages that contradict that train of thought.

1. Jesus came and healed the sick, delivered the demonized, fed the hungry & poor, raised the dead, brought justice, and told the disciples to do the same things they saw Him doing. If God wanted us to be sick to teach us to be holy, then it wouldn’t make sense that all throughout scripture God is healing people and telling us to heal the sick.

2. God often says, “Come Me and I will carry your burdens (Psalm 68:19) and I will give you rest.” If He was the One giving us burdens to teach us to be more like Him, why would He ask us to give Him our burdens? It doesn’t make sense. You don’t give someone something and then ask for it back.

3. There was no suffering in the garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned. They lived in paradise, in perfect communion with God. God called the condition of the world very good. See Genesis verses below.

God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good, Genesis 1: 29-31.

There is no mention of suffering until Genesis 3 when sin entered the picture. Suffering is the result of sin in the world. There were no natural disasters in the garden. No hurricanes, droughts, or earthquakes.

4.There will be no suffering in heaven. As there will be no sin in heaven.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away, Rev 21:4.

5. If God wanted to destroy the world, why did He send Jesus to save the world? Why would He commission us to share His love with those who don’t know Him? Why would He wish for none to perish, but all to come to know Him?

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him, John 3:17.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.

I hope some of that background info at least lifted some of the thoughts that God is out to get you or anyone else in the world. Also it’s difficult to receive love from someone we believe wants to hurt us. Sin hurts us. Living in a sinful world hurts us. Living apart from God hurts us. Making poor choices hurts us. I believe that the reason we are told to delight in suffering in the Bible is because God has a solution for the problem (sin). He will also reward those who endure hardships for the gospel and His children for living committed to Him in this broken world. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted, Matt 5:4. God will use what was intended for evil to bless us, and He gives great rewards.

I also believe because of Adam and Eve’s sin and we are born not loving God, many people come to know Him in times of tragedy. Not that God causes those tragedies, but I’ve seen in my own life that He’s taken the opportunity to step in and say, “You are hurting, let Me help you. I love you. I will comfort you. I will be your friend. I will heal you.

We can easily blame God for the bad things the happen and miss the fact that evil exists because of the devil and sin. The devil hides behind the scenes telling people, “God did this. Why didn’t God stop this from happening to you? If God really loved you this never would have happened.” or “God is trying to make you holy through this cancer, loss, tragedy.” All those things lead us to believe that God is cruel, unkind, and unloving. It doesn’t draw us to God’s heart, it often pushes us away.

Jesus suffered for us, for our sins. And if we suffer for following Him, He promises a great reward. I believe it’s one of the reasons why Apostle Paul wanted to fellowship in suffering with Christ. When someone has suffered for you, you are more than willing to partake in their suffering. There is a blessing God places on people who suffer for His name. However, if you are sick in your body, your mind, your spirit, your finances, you’ve lost a child, parent, relationship, fill in the blank, God wants you to know that He does not delight in your suffering. It brings no glory to God to see us in pain or without. There’s a difference between suffering because you’re preaching the gospel, and suffering because of someone else’s sin or the results of sin in this world. If that were so (God delighted in your pain), He would not have sent Jesus to heal, deliver, restore, or the Holy Spirit to comfort. God bless you friends. Whatever your pain, God sees. God knows. God cares. You are deeply loved.

Love,

Erin

Perfect Love

Perfect Love
By Erin Lamb

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. God is good to all. He has compassion on all that He has made. ~paraphrase of Psalm 145:8-10.

God is good, and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. ~Psalm 100:5

Have you ever felt unloved? Have you ever felt as though God was trying to punish you through bad things happening?

Well, I recall having conversations with God where I asked why I didn’t feel His love. I recall going to Him in times of tragedy looking for what I needed to learn from it instead of crawling up into His love as a safe place.

Over the years I’ve found that His love is perfect. The times when I did not feel His love were the times where I expected it to flow perfectly from those who claimed to be His children, times when I was lead by emotions, and times of intense trials and tribulations.

The truth is that God is love. Faith says, “Even when I don’t feel loved, I believe that God is love.” Faith says, “Though I do not always understand His ways, I can trust His heart.” Faith says, “His word is truth whether my emotions line up or not.” It boils down to this one word, “Faith.”

Investigating the questions:

If God’s Spirit is in His children, why do they behave in un-loving ways?

People are human and therefore come with flaws. We will not find perfect love in another human being. We may find people who make us feel loved from time to time, but they will never be able to replace God or fill our need for His love. I truly believe God allows us sometimes to be disappointed by people so we will see only He is perfect. Only He loves perfectly. When we elevate people above Him or even on the same level as God, we will always be disappointed. He wants our pure devotion to be to Him. Only He completes the human heart.

If God loves me, why do so many bad things happen to me and in the world?

I dare not try to answer this fully. I can say that some of the bad things that happen are simply a result of living in a fallen world. Some of the bad things happen because Jesus said in the world we would have tribulation, but to take heart as He overcame the world. Some bad things happen due to the fact this isn’t heaven. Some bad things happen because of our sin or the sins of others. Some bad things happen due to a lack of prayer. Some bad things happen as a result of our bad choices and decisions.

When life is hard, run to Him. Only He has all the answers. Only He knows all and sees all. I’ve found He does not answer all my questions, but He always responds with love. I’ve learned He is faithful to tell me what I need to know. I’ve learned He is more interested in drawing me close to His heart than beating me down with harsh circumstances. I’ve learned He’s the best friend I’ve ever had. And while my heart still bows in respect, honor, and admiration for Him, I still trust that His eyes are flooded with love and through Jesus I can go boldly to His throne.

Whatever you face and however you feel, my prayer is that you know that God loves you! You may be hurting right now, but He longs to comfort, heal, and shower you with love. He is the safest person you can go to! He is overflowing with compassion. He is overflowing with love. He is the only One who understands you perfectly, loves you perfectly, and can do more for you than anyone can! It’s God. It will always be Him standing with arms wide open ready to be there for you.

Closing prayer:

“Abba shower us with hope, healing, and Your agape love. Remove any barriers to receiving Your perfect love. You love us! May we believe it, feel it, and experience it every day!”