A story I want to share with everyone because it has transformed my life, and because as much as I want to share it I want to remember it for myself.
Let me paint a picture for those who were not there.
I am in a softly lit room, in Antigua Guatemala, an amazing message was just shared although right now I do not remember what it was even about. IGNITE class 11 has been invited to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the leaders have gone around laying hands on each of them praying for them.
Then one of the leaders tells us there is an open time of worship and prayer about to happen. Kristin one of my field time overseers is sitting next to me already, Brittany an RA comes to sit beside me both ask if they can pray for me. As Brittany begins praying for me I thought "how kind of them to make me feel included." Suddenly the words pop into my head "You know you're welcome here right?" it was the LORD. "You need to stop believing that you're not welcome here Manon."
I don't even remember the prayers of Brittany and Kristin, but my eyes became teary, as I thought about the significance of these words spoken to my heart. I had started to withdraw as class 11 had been there believing I was the one who now had to be strong for every one. I had started to believe I couldn't ask for prayers or time to talk things out. This was not just in IGNITE that I have had these feelings, but also at church, and camp, and my own family, back home. this was not by any means the fault of anyone but myself, the devil had catered to my pride, and I believed I had some kind of image to uphold.
However as I cut off fellowship I stopped walking in the light, sharing my weaknesses, confessing my sins, and as that happened my relationship with God became more and more distant, not being able to talk out my guilt, and confess my sins I was walking in darkness. I slowly felt the separation from God that would have been so easily removed if only I had shared with others my struggles and sins. Because of that I had started to believe I could not come to God.
So when God said "you're welcome here."
God did not only mean in that moment You're welcome here in this pfm family, you're welcome in the family of the church, but most deeply affecting me, was as He spoke those words, it also meant "You are welcome in my presence, to worship me and enjoy sweet fellowship."
the Prayer ends, and I ask if I can in return pray for them. I thank God for each one, and neither of them yet realizes the impact that one small act of prayer had just done in my heart as they obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I finished praying Brittany leaves Kristin begins worshiping with the music, lifting my eyes I immediately thought of my team mates, I found Emily and prayed for her, then seeing each of the others being prayed over I return to my spot, and I worshiped, I was free. Every wall I had let be in the way was removed by the words "You're welcome here."
These are some scriptures that have been on my mind today.
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
" 1 John 1:6-9
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
" 1 Peter 6:6-11
Monday, October 3, 2016
from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility
count others more significant
What to say about this verse, how does it relate today. I like to think it doesn't apply to me, I am not trying to compete with anyone, am I?
However I do often find myself trying to be right, and I find I don't like to be wrong. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not in itself, but maybe the motive is. All though I am not trying to compete with anyone specific, I find myself trying to maintain this image of correctness. Why? It only frustrates me more because in reality I want to be perfect. It frustrates me because I obviously am not, I see that and I hate when others see it too. I am grateful for those around me though, because they do not hate me for it. That has begun a process of letting go the need to look perfect, but it still gets to me at times.
“Count others more significant than yourselves.”
This also hits me, I don't look down on others. I count others as my equals, that is all that is required of us now a days. To treat others as equals will make you highly respected in America or most other places in the world. God however is looking deeper. To treat another as an equal is good, but it is not the kind of love that God pours into us. When Jesus died on the cross he esteemed our lives more significant than His own. When He washed the disciples feet He showed that place as their Master did not make service an inappropriate thing for one Who is Highly esteemed.
The Law said love God with all that you are and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said a new command I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, by this others shall know you are my disciples, by your love one for another.
Jesus has called us to a deeper love. And I may get brownie points from men for loving others as myself, as my equals, but not with God. He asks more. How can I live with a sacrificial love. How can I practically show love to others and treat them as more significant than myself?
All the while I think about this, yes practical acts of love are good, but I am not satisfied with that.
God wants a heart change rather than a habit change. It is twofold.
And the truth is my heart is not right in this area.
Yes I think it is going to be a twofold thing.
Count others as more significant than myself instead of just equals from the heart, and act upon it.
I will pray and ask God to change my mind and heart on this, and also be intentional in looking for ways to lift others up today, to count them more significant then myself.
Monday, September 19, 2016
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him,“Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
I tell you,
which are many,
are forgiven—for she loved much.
But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
this is a long piece of scripture to try and IBS there is so much in it. The emphasis however is verse 47. and there I shall direct most of my attention, while keeping in mind the whole story.
I love this story, my heart is moved as I think of the love this women had for Jesus. She came with a heart to serve and bless Jesus. I do not by any means think she came with the intent to do a good work and earn His favor. I think she came already knowing she had been forgiven. The parable Jesus told indicates what her heart had already been through. How did she know Jesus could or would forgive her? What had happened to her previously that day, week, month, year, or years to make her believe that she had been forgiven by this Jesus? What kind of sins had she committed? Here it only labels her sinner. The type of sin didn't matter. Even as with each of us the type of sin does not matter, the fact remains we are each a sinner.
Had she during her prayer time heard God speak to her heart saying that through His servant and son Jesus she would be forgiven. We don't know what led up to this outpouring of love events wise. However any of us who have experienced the forgiveness of God knows what transpired in her heart that day as she came to worship and give thanks to the new Lord of her life. How deep her love must have been to walk right into a room full of men who would gladly stone her. Who despised and looked down on her. How fierce her love must have been, she knew that in the midst of these scorners was the One Who loved her, and whom she loved deeply. It made her forgetful of what surrounded her, forgetful of the shame and set her free to love without restraint.
When we walk close to Jesus and love Him we will be surrounded by those who hate and look down on us, because of our past, or our association with Him.
What kind of love was it that drove her there? It was not her own. Here we see a truth displayed clearly.
The type of sin does not matter.
The amount of sin doesn't matter.
We all have a debt we are helpless and unable to pay.
We all have a Help to pay it.
Jesus is our Help.
Jesus has the power to forgive sins.
If we understand the depth of our sin even if we never did the “big sins” we would understand the Depth of His love.
If we understand the depth of His love we will not be able to resist coming closer to Him even if that means coming into a room of scoffers.
Even if it means coming into a place of being despised.
It means that no matter where Jesus is we will follow, because “Your steadfast love is better than life” Psalm 63:3. Because we cannot bear being away from Him.
Do you love like that? Jesus said “They shall know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.”
Last night I heard it said that the love of the LORD makes His bride fierce. Do we have a fierce unrelenting love? Do I have a fierce unrelenting love, that will drive me to places I know I will be despised by others? One that does not care because I need to be near my Savior, to show Him the love and gratitude I have for Him? One that says “my soul clings to you;”? Psalm 63:8. The answer is some days yes, and other days I forget that I am forgiven, forget that in His eyes I am no longer only a women a sinner. I am His “delight” Psalm 18:19
Live in an understanding of God's love for me.
Today if I remember my past forgiven sins, I will not neglect to remember that God has forgiven me, by quoting aloud or in my heart Lamentations 3:21-23. If I keep struggling to let it go, I will ask a trusted friend for prayer and talk it out with them.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
“And he said to all,
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.”
Lately I have noticed a lack of surrender in my own life, more so than ever yesterday. Why yesterday?
I was browsing Facebook when I came across a long post by one of my IGNITE classmates, it was an IBS. I don't remember all of it. It's sadly quite easy for me to read something and forget it. What I do remember was the application was one of a heart surrendered to God.
The funny thing is that it didn't make me feel depressed or condemned or guilty even.
It made me feel encouraged and hopeful. It gave me another feeling...
Desire for growth in my own heart. Desire to be closer to God than I am right now. And I knew quickly why that wasn't happening. It's because I have not been fully surrendered.
I have not been denying myself. All too often I have given into fears or whatever seems more comfortable than what is right. All the while hurting others and myself along the way. All the while becoming more distant from Christ. I know I haven't written an IBS (Inductive Bible study with and application) in a while and to be honest it wasn't because I had no time, although I do have very little. It's because doing this kind of study means revealing where I miss the mark, which in of itself is not so much the problem, that happens anyways everyday, but each IBS must have an application. When I write an application I can do one of two things:
1 write an application that is easy to fulfill,
2 write an application I feel God asking of me but is often difficult.
I don't like doing number 1 because then I just wasted a bunch of time doing something that doesn't really bring me closer to God, it just means I took cheap escape to make others think I'm doing my spiritual homework.
Number 2 is hard to do, but I like the fruit of it, still I in my weakness put off doing it because it's hard.
The fact remains that I have a desire to be closer to God. To grow.
I am saved, nothing will change that.
Satan cannot steal your salvation, but he can take you out of the game and put you on the bench. He can make you an ineffective and unfruitful christian.
What I was confronted with yesterday, is that I can do one of two things. I can remain where I am in a state that is slowly becoming more distant from God, or I can grow closer to Him.
However I cannot grow closer to Him without surrendering all, without denying myself.
As He said thousands of years ago.
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.”
I have this desire, the reason I came here to begin with, to know God deeper. There is but one way to do that. I have already started down the road of surrender in my prayers.
Surrender totally to His will and walk it out in obedience.
An area of my life that is constantly hard to surrender in is being open with others, but more so is seeking help when I feel overwhelmed. I like to live in denial of my weakness, and dislike others knowing that I am not doing ok. When I am struggling tonight and tomorrow, I will go to one of my sisters in Christ and ask for help or prayer.
Monday, July 25, 2016
2 Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.”
In order to explain what this verse means to me I must give a little background. Paul is talking about how the glory of the new covenant surpasses the glory of the old. And as the old covenant has been ended so has it's glory. Paul calls it the ministry of death, and of condemnation, as the law only had power to convict us of sin and our utter helplessness to earn salvation.
I'd like to say I never live with this veil over my eyes, of thinking that if I can live by some set of rules I can be all right with God, but I do. The thing is then I never feel like I'm all right with God, because I can never measure up to the standard. That is why this verse impacts me. When I live with that veil it is because I am looking to my own efforts. I am looking at a law that I cannot fulfill. That I can never fulfill. However when I look to Christ I find He is the fulfillment of the law.
Where the law is there is death and Condemnation. Where the voice of God is there is hope. I can say from experience that when I talk during quiet time I walk away without any answers and feeling a sadness and slavery of anxiety. When I listen and let God speak I am convicted but I am also forgiven as I relent and let God peel back the layers of my heart. I am reminded that though I am helpless to save myself, that God is my help. I am reminded that He understands my shortcomings, my failings, my pain, and my utter brokenness, and it does not phase Him one bit.
Dependence is all He wants from me. That's it, not striving, not keeping a perfect outward appearance, not making everyone believe that I'm a great person. Just walking in the light and admitting what I really am, a sinner and a failure, that has been called His own. To be able to walk in honesty of who you really are, that is freedom. To know that it is okay to fail and fall sometimes, that God does not disown you. To be allowed to make mistakes as you learn to walk beside Him. That is freedom.
To know that it is only by His strength you may walk well, only by His Spirit living in you. To stop having to rely on your own abilities, and begin relying on God for all you need.
The Spirit speaks of Christ, and Christ died on the cross, and rose again. Why? because I am a sinner, and yet He still loved me. He has called me His own, and He leads me.
“My sin runs deep,
Your grace is more,
where grace is found,
is where you are,
and where you are,
Lord I am Free!
Holiness is Christ in me.”
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom...
Live in the Spirit and not my own abilities.
Tomorrow I will make a time to purposefully listen to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to reveal what He wants to do in my heart.
Monday, July 11, 2016
“Let all bitterness
be put away from you,
along with all malice.
Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another;
as God in Christ forgave you.”
As I read verse 31 I see a clear link, these are not just a bunch of bad things all thrown together in a list. I have seen it enough in my own life to know this, far too often and sadly recently. I will say I am pretty irritable, and most often it is because I have held onto some small hurt instead of talking to the person who caused it. I let myself get bitter toward them. I somehow forgot the grace that God showed me. The problem is that bitterness eats at your insides like acid, it never stays inside. Before I know it I am “venting” about how someone else hurt me.
This is called slander, and it happens when we stop looking at how God views us, and how He views those that hurt us. Think gossip is harmless. There is nothing satan loves more than to keep God's kids separated from each other. And gossip is one of his best tools for doing that. Because not only does it separate God's kids, it causes them to destroy one another. It is satan managing to put the opposing army's uniform on your army's men and women. It's blinding. The word malice is not something I understood until a dear friend was talking to me about it one day, she said malice is when you intend to do harm to another. Bitterness towards a brother or sister in Christ is when you have started viewing them as an enemy. Gossip is when you cause someone else to view them that way. If that's not malicious I don't know what is. Never say something about another that is negative even if it is true, you need to go to them with it. Never listen to someone else say something negative about another, because the moment you do it's like your heart has been ripped in two. Even though you have trusted both the gossiper and the one being gossiped about you suddenly don't know who to trust anymore. And there it is, suddenly you're not all in the same military any more. There are two sides and you have to choose one to be loyal to. Satan has just created a battle within your own camp, and the real enemy's military is standing back watching us tare each other apart and laughing. So what do we do?
Bitterness is like a pimple sometimes you have to pop it and get the gook out for it to heal. Sometimes you have to go to the other person and talk with them and get out all the gook before the relationship can be healed. In christian circles we like to call this Matthew 18 ing someone. Or abiding by Matthew 18. What does Matthew 18 say. Verses 15 says this
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Very simple you go to them and talk it out.
However some pimples just heal and go away on their own.
In some cases of bitterness, you could be hurt without reason. In other words you need to let it go. Someone once taught me the acronym q-tip. Quit taking it personally. There have definitely been times where I have been given constructive criticism, but I took it only as criticism. People may say things that seem like they are meant as a personal attack, but sometimes are only meant as instruction or a form of endearment and love. You know when I most often have been hurt by someone who never meant to hurt me? When I was taking myself to seriously. And that has even been the case recently. I cannot help but feel convicted and grieved over my inner self a lot. I see so much that is messed up and hope others don't. Then I realize we're all messed up and I need to give them the same grace I desire, heck, that I need. Just because I hide does not mean others don't see it. Like I said bitterness is like acid, it never stay inside, gossip is only one of it's ugly heads. If you don't gossip you become irritable. Every time I'm irritable it's because I'm either stressed about something that I am insecure about, or upset by something someone did to me. But enough about me. Surely if by taking myself too seriously and staring at my own hurt is how I become bitter the best way to keep from being bitter is to look at Christ and His love. I got the privilage of seeing a man use his gifting from God today, working with 50 pounds of clay. If God is the potter he doesn't see a blob of mud He sees what it will be when He is finished with it.
Too often when I look at my brothers and sisters I see the mud, and when I look at them apart from God I will think they are a piece of crud that will never change, what is the point of investing my time and feelings in them only to be hurt? However if I allow myself to see them in the hands of the potter there is nothing more that I want to do than be involved. Apart from the potter the clay can do nothing, it will only sit there and remain the same or worse become hard and dry. However in the hand of the potter, it will be made into a beautiful vessel that God can use to accomplish his purposes.
“Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another;
as God in Christ forgave you.”
Eyes that have looked into the heart of God cannot have a bitter heart.
If I had stood at Calvary I imagine what I might have seen had Christ laid His eyes on me.
I was the one who put him there,
my selfish heart of sin had followed the pleasures of this world,
not caring for the consequence.
But the heart of Christ knew the payment I would not be able to pay.
So while He was hated and scorned for my sin,
his eyes fell with love on me.
As the weight of all I'd done sank in from the punishment I see,
my heart melts and whispers God I give my life to thee.
Looking into the eyes of ultimate love should melt our hearts to pour out love on those who have even put us to death with their own selfish actions. Otherwise we probably never believed we were really the sinner that we are.
Replace bitterness with love.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
“And we know
that all things work together
to them that love God,
who are the called
according to his purpose.”
This week seems overwhelming. Two schools, three English classes three kids clubs, one bus ministry, an entire center to keep up, and various other things to do. Sure I'm not doing it alone, praise the Lord I'm not the one managing the care of the center, that is too much for any one person. I have my whole team around me. Still it seems overwhelming. There is constantly things falling apart around me, a leak in the wall of my room is a constant reminder that things are not always ideal. My family has it's own struggles that I can only catch bits and pieces of.
This verse is the fridge magnet, book mark, wall hanging, in every bible promise book, A-typical christian verse. I may be in a bit of a funk because I'm tired and feeling like I have accomplished far less than I wanted today, but my heart has become dull in understanding this verse. Yes I don't feel like everything is working for good. Right about now I feel like everything is working to show all my faults, failings and inabilities. To show how much less I am than everyone else.
And maybe that is what God wants in a way, to remind me that I am not supposed to be carrying all of this on my back. That I am not the key and sole piece needed for this ministry. To let me fall on my face when I try to do it alone so that I can find out I was never the one doing it in the first place. Feeling overwhelmed is simply the symptom of being in the mindset that I'm the one in charge and responsible for everything going smoothly.
Today I need to know that I'm not the one who is in control.
That's what all this comes down to, the struggle for control. You know the verse that says “Be still and know that I am God.” Can be better translated “take your hands off, and know that I am God.” In other words stop trying to manipulate every situation.
It all comes down to trust, when I ask someone for help I have to trust them to do what I ask. However if I'm constantly hovering over their shoulder watching their every move than I surely am not letting them help, and I'm frustrating them with my own anxiety.
I can do the same with God sometimes and imagine I am the one managing my own life and think of God as my staff. Now I recoil to think that I would ever assume such a position, yet my anxiety and actions prove that is what I'm doing.
Here's the good news about all of this, as much as I overlook the meaning of this verse most days I don't have to today.
This verse says that those who love God, God will work everything together for good to them. That immediately confronts and challenges my heart. Why? Because I know love is not just a feeling, it is an action. What is love? I've heard it said love is putting another's needs before your own. Love in this case is obedience. God desires obedience through faith. Not through our own striving, but through belief in the finished work of Christ, and as we believe in all He did we cannot help but be changed by it. For “the commands of the Lord are not burdensome to those who love him.”
“And to them that are the called according to his purpose.” The called, who are the called? The called is every person. The gospel of Christ is to every person and God calls every person to repent and be saved through Christ. What can I derive from this verse? God is working everything to the salvation of souls. How does that affect me? Everything I am going through has meaning, there is no wasted tears, no wasted pain, no wasted sorrow, no wasted grief.
God is sanctifying me through each situation, or using it to bring me or another person closer to Him.
What does this mean? This means I don't need to be anxious about anything. Even if what I deem to be the very worst thing that could happen happens I can know that in God's eyes it is the best. I have a finite view, He an infinite. When everything seems to be falling apart it's actually falling into place, even though I can't see how.
I confessed to God that I had been trying to do things in my own strength, and asked for him to be my strength instead. Each day this week until Sunday I will make a point to recognize my need before God for his help, strength, and trust him to provide the words and discernment for each situation I am worried about arising.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places,
4 even as he chose us
in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be
holy and blameless before him.
5 he predestined us for adoption
as sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the beloved.”
As I look at this set of verses I feel as though I am looking more at a psalm than a new testament epistle, and I smile. I smile because of that little word beloved. I smile because He has chosen, not I have chosen, but He. I smile because it is according to the purpose of His will. I smile because I'm not perfect, because I am so incredibly broken, and yet He loves me. I smile because by God making His own Son a curse He has made available every spiritual blessing.
As I look at that word I wonder whom it is that is being referred to as beloved? Is he saying the church or Christ? Or both?
At first glance I would think Paul was referring to the church as the beloved. Now I must say quite the opposite Paul refers to Jesus as The Beloved.
I think Christ because the word “in” that is used in these last few verses often is referring to Christ. “Blessed us in Christ... Chose us in Him” “Blessed us in the beloved.”
The Beloved of the church and the Beloved of the Father. That word has such depth to it for me. I keep thinking of the song of Solomon, where that word is used so often. I think about the deep love between a married couple. I have not experienced such love as that, yet the longer I walk with God the more He opens my heart to knowing His love for me. The more He has grown my capacity to love my sisters in Christ, and the lost.
It is convicting in a way, Paul calling Christ the Beloved. I have known Jesus as my beloved, but how often do I sit before Him and be with Him? How often do I simply cherish Him? I know He cherishes me as beloved, and calls me beloved, waits on me and listens to my struggles. Patiently deals with my sin, and leads me into true life with Him. Yet so often I simply come to Him with a list of things that have been on my mind, with my anxieties and my troubles, like speaking through a phone never allowing myself to listen to His voice, like never looking into His face. I do not mean to say that bringing my troubles to Him is wrong, by all means we should go to God with our struggles. 1St peter 5:7 says “casting all your cares on him for he cares for you.” What I mean to say is this, God will hear those prayers, but prayer is not about us getting what we want, and sometimes I think I treat it that way. However Prayer is about spending time with God. God does not need me, but I feel a great sense of sadness in treating someone I claim to love that way. I feel sad because of the Great love with which He has loved me. I feel I am missing the best part of my time if I ask God to help the circumstance, but do not allow time for Him to show me His heart. And that I am doing an injustice to Him when I know He truly wants to spend time with me. Yes He wants to hear my anxieties but not only that, He wants all of my heart. Paul was a man who cherished Christ as the Beloved. Am I?
I will make a time this week to spend alone with God and worship Him.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
“22 Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, 'O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?
23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.'
1 But the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of this land.'
2 God Spoke to Moses and said to him, 'I am the LORD,
3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.
4 I also Established my covenant with them to give them the land of Caanan, the land in which they lived as sojourners.
5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.
6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of Judgment.
7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
Let me give some background to this story, Moses and Aaron had just requested Pharaoh that the Hebrews would be given leave to go three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to God.
And to that Pharaoh responded in anger calling them lazy, saying that the work must be to easy for them if they had extra time to think about worshiping God in the wilderness. So he made their labor harder by giving them no straw to make brick. That left them with mud, and they were still expected to finish they sam amount of bricks each day.
After that the taskmasters beat the Hebrew foremen because they were not making their quota. the foremen evidently did not know what had transpired between Pharaoh, Moses, and Aaron, because after being beaten they asked the taskmaster why such unfair expectations had been placed on them, and why they were being beaten for it. After being told why the people began a pattern that would cover much of Moses' life. The people came complaining to Moses and blamed him for the evil done to them, because (in their words) Moses had “made us stink in sight of Pharaoh and his servants.”
Here is where we come upon Moses and our text. How does Moses deal with a tough and painful situations. He turned to God. I wonder how often it is that I do that, at least how often I do it right away. Because to be honest in Moses' situation I would have tried to defend myself to those people, I would have probably blown up, or gone off to be alone and pout. However that is not what Moses did. Moses didn't wait, he was not concerned with what those around him thought but with what God had to say.
Next Moses was honest. Is it good to blame God for doing evil that someone else has done? I think not, but I also think that God knows we are human, and I think there is a sort of respect in bringing our anger to people or God even if it in of itself is a wrong attitude. I think it's good because it is giving God the chance to deal with it. I think it is also a way of trying to continue the relationship instead of cutting it off.
It was a mistake to place the blame of another man's evil on God though, and it is so easy for me as a human with a finite mind to draw the conclusion that God is unjust and unfair, when in reality I am simply unable to see the whole picture as God sees it.
“Why did you ever send me? For since I came...” Maybe now the anger is being turned inward by Moses. When something goes wrong in ministry first my heart wants to blame someone else or maybe even God for what happened, then the anger is turned inward and I feel it is all my fault. When in reality I have done just as God has asked me, but because of painful circumstances I feel I have made a mess of everything and cry out “why did you ever send me?” Yet God told Moses back in Ex 4:21 That He would harden Pharaoh's heart so that he would not let the people of Israel go. If Moses had remembered that maybe he would have been less discouraged. God told me He would bring me out of the desert into the promise land, He told me I would have to continue to be broken over and over again, and maybe that is what I had forgotten, that to get to the promise after passing the Jordan I have to fight battles to claim the land God gave me. The good news is as God says it is time to enter the promise land I can know He will give me the victory in those battles.
“You have not delivered your people at all,”
Moses was looking at the immediate and often I do that too. God you said you would do x y and z, but I cannot see any proof of it. However looking at the immediate robs us of a hopeful heart. For no one hopes for what he already has or what he can see.
God had a greater plan, He could have delivered the people right away but He didn't and the reason was because what would follow Pharaoh's hard heart were the very miracles to prove that it was no accident that Israel was freed from Egypt. It was to build their faith, and the children's faith, and their children's children's faith. I think of the death of Lazarus, and how his sister while he was alive but sick was looking for the immediate relief of healing. Yet Jesus purposely waited until it was what most would think too late. However by it many people came to believe in Him.
Many times we want immediate deliverance from pain yet in waiting God will do something even more amazing to grow our faith though it takes longer.
As Moses pours out his heart before God, does God stay silent?
No and in verse one of chapter six we see some words that so often turn a scary tale into a fairy tale.
“But the LORD.” We were dead dead in sin, but God. I had no hope, but God. I thought that I would never go to the IGNITE, but God. I thought I would never be able to confront anyone, but God.
As soon as God steps into our lives everything changes.
He tells Moses again, that Israel will be free, and the very Pharaoh that has treated them so wrongly will practically throw them out.
Then God does something truly amazing He tells Moses how Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him as God almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. This is an important passage, there are debates as to whether this means that this would be the first time God had been called by this name or not but that is not important. The meaning is clear, deep, and it is refreshing like a cold mountain lake. The name Jehovah is one of action, He is saying I am, I am revealing myself to you. I am what you need, and you will know the meaning of my name by experience. In verse 4 He says I AM a fulfiller of my promises, I AM the one who hears your cries, I am the one who remembers. In verse 6 I am the one who delivers and redeems you. In verse 7 I am your God. But something else wonderful happens in verse 7 as He reveals His identity, He gives Israel their own identity. He calls them His own.
And to think through Moses turning to God in time of trouble even though His heart was all wrong we can see such beauty. It makes me think Pressure reveals what's inside. In Moses it revealed a dependance on God, and weakness. In God it revealed Strength, and goodness.
Turn to God first.
Tomorrow morning in my devotions I will lift up the burdens on my heart to God.
“Even as He chose us
before the foundation of the world,
that we should be
holy and blameless
He chose us in Him. Tonight at chapel we talked about psalm 139. This may seem irrelevant and hopefully it's not but I feel there is a connection. I don't know about how you may feel, but one thing I know, if I were picking players for a team, I would overlook myself. I may try hard but often I don't work well with others, I rub people the wrong way, and don't take initiative when I need to.
Tonight as we talked about pslam 139, our speaker made this point about God's creation. Our God is an extravagant God. Not in that He is frilly, or posh, or proud, but in that He is a maker beautiful things and spares no expense. Everything God put His hand to He made incredibly beautiful.
Again I say He chose us. I don't really know why, but I do know it's not because of anything I can offer Him.
I think perhaps it's because despite all the brokenness in me Jesus can see the masterpiece underneath. Not that I am something special, but that He wants to make me something special. He loves us as His children, and as a creator His creation. God is far beyond me, and His thoughts are not my thoughts. However I can't help but think that if we are God's masterpiece He has put some of His own self into His art.
I remember when I first started drawing a bit, I made a drawing as a possible decoration for our church's new youth building. The youth pastor said something about how they had a guy who could make it more appealing to the youth. I was a little upset by that. Not a lot, but a bit. Was it because of pride? Maybe, but I still remember the specific reason it bothered me. I had made that drawing from my heart, to communicate a specific message, and in so doing I had put a little of myself into it. To change that piece would corrupt the message of my heart.
It says in Genesis 1:26 that God said “let us make man in our image.” Perhaps this is a bit of why sin is so marring and disgusting. God made us to reflect Himself, not with the same attributes of being almighty, or all knowing, or even all present, but with His characteristics. Loving, kind, just, patient etc.
Sin is like taking a sharpy and scribbling over the Mona Lisa.
God made this beautiful expression of Himself, and our sin destroyed it. The good news is my artist is not dead.
If something happens to a painting of mine, I can do one of two things. Try to restore the painting to what it was originally, or else I might cover it in white canvas primer and make a new masterpiece out of it. Both are wonderful ways of showing what God does with us, when we first come to Him He pours His blood out on us and makes us white as snow, then He begins painting a new masterpiece out of our lives.
Sometimes we wander from God and certain areas of our heart become damaged, we stop being loving, we become irritable. As we walk through this world we develop water spots, maybe smoke stains and soot cover what were once rich colorful portraits of grace. This may have happened because we did not put on our armor for protection each day as we are commanded in Ephesians 6. Perhaps it is because we chose to dwell in a house that caught on fire. In other words spending large amounts of time with non believers and getting caught up in their lifestyle.
When this happens we can be thankful that our God is a restorer.
He cleans away our blemishes once again, cleans up the canvas and fills in where the colors have become dull and lifeless. He makes us holy and blameless, and He has chosen us to stand before Him in this way. All this He planned before any of us took a breath, before He had formed the very earth's foundations by the breath of His mouth. He planned for us to be created beautiful, would watch us fall, and then in the greatest act of love die in our place, to present us holy and blameless. Wow.
“In love” is actually the beginning of a new sentence though it does flow well with the previous verse it is speaking to how God predestined us. He predestined us to be children of God, by what Jesus did. However the best part is at the end where it says “according to the good pleasure of His will.” Not the good pleasure of my will, or my friends will. How grateful I am that God initiated this relationship, because I know that He really wants to be in my life. How sad it is that I can take that so lightly, or struggle to believe it on some days. I have been struggling to wake up early in the morning as I aught to for my quiet time lately. That gives me a bad start, and it makes it hard for me to believe I can stand before Him holy and blameless. I already find so many reasons for fault and blame on my part every day. Yet because of what Jesus has done, I can come before Him as a child of His, without blame, clean and set apart for His work.
Take quiet time more seriously.
If I have trouble waking up early some days this week I will try to find a little time to be apart from everyone and spend time with God.
Monday, May 30, 2016
“No one can come to me
unless the Father who sent me draws him.
And I will raise him up on the last day.”
One of my favorite books is probably the gospel of John. The I am statements when I was first getting to know my savior and trust Him are what I love about it. Our theme this month is God seeking us, and I read this verse at a time when I felt I was seeking God, but in reality God was drawing me. One of my favorite verses just a few verses previous to this one.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
This verse was an incredible comfort to me, as I realized that not only did I desire God, but God desired me. IBS is usually something I do for my own growth first and foremost. However I know that it will not only be read by me. I want to encourage whoever it is that reads these, because this is the reason I came here in the first place. If you feel like you cannot be with God, know that is a lie. If you think that God can't love you, it is the enemy deceiving you. If you are seeking God, know that He is also seeking you. I want you to know that if you come to Jesus to repent of your sins He will not cast you out.
Why is it so important to me that others understand this? Because in believing the lie that God doesn't want me, I have been robbed of so much joy. I have felt incredible fear. I have been unable to face the day. I have gone into spirals of deep depression. I am passionate about God's passion for people, because of His great love for me. And I don't ever want people to be stuck in the lie that I have been. I truly believe that this truth will change you from the inside out.
This truth, what truth is that? That though your sins may be great, your pain deep, and you feel like you cannot be free of your own evil desire. Your drug addiction, depression, alcoholism whatever it may be. Jesus died for that, and He rose again to save you from the consequence of hell, to restore you to having a relationship with Him. He rose again from the dead proving that He is God, and that He does have power to save you from your sins. If you believe on Him and repent of your sins, His Holy Spirit will come and live in you, so that you will be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. Self control, you no longer have to bow to evil desires, and self destructive behaviors in your life, Jesus gives you freedom. He makes you new.
The gospel, is That Jesus died on a cross and rose again so that we could have a right relationship with God again. Why don't we already have right relationship with Him? Sin. What is sin? Sin is simply disobedience to God, Others have likened it to missing the mark, or missing your destiny if you will. God made us in His image when we sin, that image of Him is distorted, because He is righteous. Not only that, but we were made for relationship with Him, so when we sinned we became separated from Him. God is just, justice and love actually go hand in hand. If a person stole your money and an officer did nothing to stop them, that would be unjust, and you would feel very unloved. So God must punish sin. Someone had to take the punishment for our sins, but rather than putting us to death God would rather allow His own Son die for us. In dying on that Cross all the punishment that should have been poured out on me, and that I rightly deserved was poured out on Christ instead. And since He was holy there was no way He could have been dying for His own sins.
He said “It is finished” on the cross and He meant it.
Because of Him I don't have to do anything to earn my way into knowing God. He just loves me already and wants me. This is not a license to go out and sin either. Why would I want to sin anyways? Sin is what brought me to a place where I did not have a healthy relationships with God or others. Brought me into a state of feeling worthless and out of control, of depression.
The truth is God wants me, and He wants you, and He has done everything to make a way for that relationship to happen. In the end it is our choice to accept it or not accept it. All the while He is whispering to you, drawing you, if you hear His voice, don't believe the lie that He doesn't want you. His words say otherwise, and His actions proves their worth.
“And I will raise him up on the last day.”
I believe this is speaking to Heaven, when the old earth is crashing to pieces, God will be keeping us safe and bringing us into His kingdom.
All this to say that this is what this verse means to me, and this is why I am here, I am here Because God has sought and is seeking me. He has a passion for me and others. He does not need to me to be a witness to His great love. In fact I think He could tell people far better without me. He brought me here because He wanted to do a work in me more than through me. I trust that. And as He does that work in me it is impossible for it not to end up affecting others.
Press into His love more.
Within this next week I want to find a time alone to worship Him, and simply be in His presence.