What’s it Gonna Cost (Following Jesus)

20140218-110827.jpg

The Bible says a wise person counts the cost (Luke 14:28-32). What does it cost to follow Jesus? It will cost you everything. God wants your heart, your time, your talents, your mind, your relationships, your pure devotion. It’s not about beating ourselves into submission to His will. It’s about falling in love with the One who loved us first and allowing that love to catapult us into reckless abandon.

All of this life, for the believer, centers around God.

Walking with Jesus might cost you relationships or friendships. The Bible is very clear about not being unequally yoked (spiritually incompatible in marriage) or hanging with people who are pulling you away from God.

Walking with Jesus might cost you time, energy…to serve those around you. Will we do it even if they don’t appreciate it? Will we do it when it’s inconvenient or painful for us? Will we do it out of love, to put someone else first? Will we do it when no one sees and there’s zero credit given to us? Will we serve those who have hurt, abused, neglected, or betrayed us?

Walking with Jesus will lead you to purity…denying fleshly desires to pursue holiness.

Walking with Jesus will cost you popularity. Not everyone loved Jesus. And if everyone loves what we have to say, we might not be preaching the Gospel. The disciples and Jesus were fiercely persecuted for their faith.

Walking with Jesus will cause you to be misunderstood. There are people who will be offended, hurt, angered, and feel rejected by your love for Jesus.

Walking with Jesus even in Christian community can be lonely. You will often have to rely heavily on the Holy Spirit because He never grows weary or tired. He never sleeps or slumbers. He is the source, everything and everyone else a resource.

Walking with Jesus may cost you your dreams. What if what God has for you is better than what you’ve dreamed up or thought of? What if God’s answer doesn’t match your prayers? God does exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask or imagine. His will is perfect, even when we don’t understand it.

Walking with Jesus will cost you your pride…to give, forgive, sacrifice, and take the role of a servant.

Walking with Jesus will cost you comfort. He never promised a life without trouble. Life hurts at times. Sometimes it’s excruciatingly painful and disappointing. He did promise to never leave or forsake us. He did promise to work things for good. Even if it doesn’t happen here and now. We will see Him face to face in all His glory. No pain. No sorrow! Just joy!!!!

It’s gonna cost us everything to truly follow Jesus! I can say this with great confidence, He’s worth it ALL! I’ve found no greater love, friend, encourager, or Savior!

I have days where I need to hear Him say, “You and I will be together forever in paradise.” And I long for heaven with an intensity I can’t explain. There have been days, nights, and sometimes weeks of just grieving with God. So I can say with great confidence…no matter what you face or how bad it hurts…GOD is fighting for you, praying for you, and nothing you suffer will be wasted if you place everything in His hands. No matter what you lose, He’s willing to offer you all of Himself. It won’t remove all pain from loss, but it will infuse you with strength to continue on.

Give it all friends! Jesus is the greatest reward and how He loves us so!!!

Love in Christ,

Erin

You are loved. You’re in my heart and prayers.

It’s a Hard Knock Life or Is It?

A_pWyDYCMAAOO7i.jpg large

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.

 

Where’s God When Bad Things Happen (Part II)

165366617539301605_UhkZH628_c

More Than Conquerors Romans 8:28, 31b-39

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Can God stop all the bad things from happening in the world? The answer is God is Sovereign and can do what He pleases. He does not, however, force people to live holy. It’s unfortunate and good as well. How can I say it’s good? Glad you asked.God promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Right now in this present world it does not always look good or feel good. From an outside perspective Jesus’ suffering and going to the cross seems cruel. It does not seem very loving of the Father to put His only Son in harm’s way, until you see the final picture. The crucifixion of Jesus leads many sons and daughters, who would be lost forever, into right relationship with Him. He gave His very best, and raised Jesus up to heavenly places. He gave Jesus the name above all names. Something amazing came from one man’s suffering. One man’s obedience, leads many to eternal life.

I don’t always understand in the moment why God allows certain things to happen. I don’t believe He causes the evil in the world, but He does not stop all the evil in the world. He is the One to turn to in times of suffering, not the One to avoid. God knows the depths of suffering. Jesus suffered and there’s no better person to cling to in all seasons of life. Our personal suffering may lead many to Christ. Though uncomfortable, it’s great if heaven is enlarged by our life story.

Closing Thoughts:

God will use everything for our eventual good. I can say that as someone who has suffered. When I turned the pain over to God, He gave me something better in return. He gave more of Himself. He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). He heals and restores. He comforts. He becomes a trusted a friend. When we choose Him in the midst of suffering instead of bitterness, hatred, and turning away from Him, we find beauty in the ashes. If I recounted all the tragedies of my life, you’d think I was insane for following God. What people don’t see is that God takes the ugly and makes it beautiful. He uses the bad for a greater purpose of good. He is just and fair. It doesn’t seem good in the midst of trials, but these afflictions are working out a greater glory for us (2 Corinthians 4:17). They are also giving us a testimony and building compassion in our hearts for others. A person who’s suffered, will normally reach out to another suffering person.

Father I pray healing over every person who is hurting. I ask for healed emotions, healed diseases, and freedom unlike anything they have experienced. Bless them richly, in Jesus name. Amen.

512988213774876569_eH0rX209_c

Where’s God When Bad Things Happen? (Part I)

89790586290556962_XkymDNRu_c

For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens, Job 28:24.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything, 1 John 3:19-20.

And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account, Hebrews 4:13.

Have you ever asked the question, “Where is God when bad things happen?” If you have ever suffered, watched someone you love suffer, or seen suffering on the news you probably have asked that question.

When bad things happen, God is there. God knows all. God is everywhere. It does not make sense to our minds, but God knows all, sees all, and can be with all. You may ask, “Why doesn’t God prevent all the bad things that happen, if He can foresee them?” I hope to offer some insight from my own walk with God. I hope this blesses you. I hope this post helps unravel some of the question.

Evil exits in the world because of sin. Humans can choose to sin. God gave Adam a command.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17.

God gave Adam the ability to choose to disobey Him. Adam disobeyed the command. We can read about the impact of disobeying God in Genesis 3. Sin, evil, sickness, and death entered the world.

I’ve heard people state God is in control. It is true nothing happens outside His realm of knowledge, and He can do what He pleases. God, however, gave humans the ability to defy Him. We can sin. He does not force us to do life His way.

Since God won’t force us to do what’s right, and sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, we live with the consequences of living in a sinful world. People can choose to reject God, reject His will, perpetrate evil, and hurt themselves or others.The impact of living in a sinful world is sickness, death, suffering, evil, and a host of negative things.

Before you become depressed, let’s look some solutions.

Jesus:

The Father sent His Son to solve the problem of sin. Jesus paid the penalty for sin and gave us access to the Father. Any person who chooses to follow Christ has been given a new life, freedom from being enslaved to sin, and a promise of life with God after death. You can read more about what is given in a relationship with Jesus on my Bible study/devotional blog, http://morena242.wordpress.com. Not only does Jesus save us, the Holy Spirit comforts, heals, restores, and helps.

Prayer:

God responds to those who seek Him. Jesus tells us to pray and taught the disciples how to pray.

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT).

I believe there are many tragedies that are prevented because someone was praying or someone prayed. I believe we would see far more evil in the world if no one ever prayed (asked God for help).

What if you are following Jesus, praying, and bad things still seem to happen? Welcome to the world not yet perfected by God’s Kingdom. What is God doing when bad things happen? Here is my idea. I believe He’s shouting in the ear of the abuser or person inflicting pain, “Stop…you don’t have to do this.” That person may not listen, they may reject God’s voice, or have no desire for God. God does not delight in suffering, sin, or pain. We will talk more next post about how God turns bad things into blessings.

Father, I pray for every person who reads this post to have a deeper revelation of Your heart. May they know You do not delight in pain, suffering, or bad things happening to people. Heal, restore, and bring hope for restoration. May they feel You near today and every day. In Jesus name, Amen. Love, Erin.

278660295665147316_xF66zXqe_c

God Suffered (He Knows How You Feel)

You are never alone. God is with you. Tumblr Image.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed, Isaiah 53:2-5.

Those verses are used to describe Jesus. Our Jesus who lived a sinless life was persecuted, despised, abused, rejected, and betrayed by one of His own Judas. Judas sold Jesus out for some silver. Do you ever stop to think that God knows how you feel? More than you can express in words, God sees and knows how you feel. Not only did Jesus suffer, He was tempted. See verses below.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin, ~Hebrews 4:15.

The Bible tells us Jesus was not physically appealing. He would not have made it into our People’s Most Beautiful issue. Have you allowed the world to make you feel less than desirable due to media images? True beauty is found in a person’s heart. If the world says you are not beautiful, it said the same of Jesus. You are beautiful because God defines beauty and worth.

The Bible tells us that Jesus suffered. He not only suffered on the day of His crucifixion. He suffered by being rejected by His own people. He was hated without cause. When people found out He could heal the sick they followed Him, He had to escape to be alone with the Father. The disciples frequently doubted Him, fell asleep on Him on the most important night of His life, the night before the cross. He was falsely accused. Peter denied Him three times. Jesus did not enjoy the joys of having His own family. He had to leave His earthly parents and friends at the age of 33. Jesus knows the depths of pain and suffering. On the cross He felt the pain for all sin. That is a pain we can’t begin to fathom. Our God suffered for us.

So, whatever you face this week dear friends know that God understands. There is nothing we face that God is not familiar with or can’t empathize with. He is the God who knows the depths of suffering.

May God bless you with peace, comfort, love, and joy this week. Praying for you!

Love,

Erin

You And I Are One (Poem)

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart

Many times we believe that God is watching the things that happen to us and it does not deeply impact His heart. I was going through a challenging time and God spoke to my heart, “You and I are one.” When you abide in Christ and He in you, He not only sees what you see. He feels what you feel. What hurts you, touches His heart.  Even for humans when we see someone we love hurting, it impacts us in a way. For we are connected to them through love and relationship. God loves us more than we can love anyone.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me, ~John 15:4.

To abide means to dwell, to remain, or reside. This verse is speaking of the fruits of God’s Spirit, but if you take a plant say a vine and you chop off a portion of it or injure it, it will affect the rest of the plant. If you are in Christ then the things that happen to you touch Him as well. He’s not watching your life from a distance. He is in your life living it with you. We are also told in scripture that the Holy Spirit lives in believers.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,~ 1 Corinthians 6:19.

Even if you aren’t in fellowship with God, He loves you. He cares for you, and He longs for you to know the depths of His love.

You and I Are One written by Erin Lamb, all rights reserved.

I am there on the nights sorrow comes to rattle your soul.

I am not distant,

but it is I who holds your heart close.

With every tear you shed,

I whisper to your spirit to hold on.

Hold on for a new day is coming.

Hold on for the sun will rise again.

Hold on for I will turn your mourning into dancing.

You will have joy again.

The tears you’ve cried,

I’ve bottled every one.

If only you could see,

what hurts your heart, hurts Me.

I do not delight in your suffering,

nor do I glory in your pain.

My heart wells up with compassion,

and I want to hold you close to Me.

You and I are one.

Your heart is an extension of My heart.

I put My heart on display for the world to see how wonderful are the things that I create.

I created you for Me.

I created you to be loved by Me.

Oh, My child can’t you see,

I’ve given you the very best of Me.

I never want you to forget all the promises wrapped up in my Son.

I gave Him for you,

so there will one day be no more sorrow,

and no more pain.

There will be a day where you will see Me face to face.

What a delight that will be,

for you to look into the eyes of Love,

and see what I’ve always wanted you to see.

Pure, unconditional love.

A love that was here before you.

A love that breathed life into you.

A love that died and was resurrected for you.

A love that is here for you.

You and I are one.

I would do it all again

just to give you the chance to be My friend.

My heart longs for you.

My heart aches for you to see

that what matters to you,

matters to Me.

You are loved.

You are cared for.

You will always find comfort in Me.

Come rest in a love that will fill you, heal you, restore you, and change you into the person I created you to be.

I love you now,

and I will love you for all of eternity.

 

Encountering the Perfect Father in a Dark World

“I have told you these things so that in Me you would have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world,” ~Jesus. John 16:33.

Written by Erin Lamb, all rights reserved.

The photo above was taken the day my friend David died. David was the type of person you wanted to know. David was the first person to show up when someone needed help, and he was willing to sacrifice his life for others. He radiated God’s love. He loved, served, and helped so many. He gave his life working on the restoration of Haiti. He was murdered this February while serving orphans in Haiti. In the midst of building an orphanage He was robbed and shot. His death tore my heart in many places.  I wept and wept. Why do I share this with you? We live in a world that is filled with pain, suffering, wrongful death, sickness, disease, hatred, abuse, abandonment, and sorrow. In the midst of it all you may wonder how someone can say that God is good. How can we say God is love? If He is so good and loving, then why is our world filled with so much darkness.

It all started with one man, Adam. God made man in His image. He placed man on earth and said, “This is your dominion, rule and reign,” Genesis 1. Adam had everything he needed. God gave him beautiful landscape, all the food he could eat, a lovely wife, and complete communion with Him. He also gave Adam the ability to choose for himself what he wanted to do. Fast forward. Eve is deceived by the crafty serpent and Adam sinned. This is where death, destruction, sickness, and darkness entered our world, Genesis 3. Not only that, Adam surrendered authority and dominion to the devil. If you believe in God, you must believe in the devil. Evil exists and he propagates it. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, John 10:10. He hates people. He hates love. He loves it when people blame God for his activities. He sows hatred, division, strife, death, and evil in our world.

Did God leave us helpless? Absolutely not. Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and died on a cross to restore us to right relationship with God and take back the authority Adam gave to evil. Jesus fixed the problem, we don’t always see the evidence of His work. He took back authority and dominion for those who believe in Him. Jesus provides hope and healing for those who lean on Him, and He cheated our worst enemy, death. Those who believe in Him will inherit everlasting life, John 3: 16. He handed over the authority He took back to every believer. He paid for it all. Jesus is the solution.

So, why doesn’t God rid the world of all evil? Loaded question. I will give you my understanding, but recommend you ask Him yourself. I believe that love involves freedom. God gives us the freedom to choose Him. If He was the only option, then there would be no choice. I believe God is already victorious and though our world looks dark, He continues to work through His children to bring peace, love, joy, healing, and heaven to earth. I believe and know He will make all the wrongs right. I believe that if we trust God we will see that the end of the story is better than any of the suffering we have witnessed. I believe that God is good and though He is blamed for evil, nothing in His nature is evil. I have seen Him turn tragedy into triumph, victims into victors, and the worst of situations into something beautiful. We (humans) still have the ability to choose evil. God won’t force us to love. So, when you fill a planet with people who can choose evil, there will be evil.

How do I deal? Good question. Prayer is powerful. Since God gave people dominion on this planet, He moves when we pray and ask for help. I hate to admit it but until heaven, there will be evil in the world. I’ve found no greater solution than prayer. I pray. You pray. We pray, and we ask God for help.

Final thoughts. I’m not a person typing to you who hasn’t suffered. One day maybe I will share my story in its entirety. I know what it’s like to endure physical and great emotional pain. I have had more than one near death experience. I have seen God do amazing things because someone prayed. I have seen Him heal the sick, bring life to dead situations, and so much more….You are loved my friends. No matter what you have faced in life or will face, God LOVES you! He is your best advocate. Praying you are blessed this week, beyond measure.