Tag Archive | provision

Why Do I…

W“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Sometimes, I imagine conversations with others. I’m not sure if it’s a writer thing, an introvert thing or just a strange habit, but it happens.

I’ve been struggling with the “why” of what I do. Everyone has reasons for what they do. Reasons that to them, make what they do worth doing.

There are a lot of really good things that I can be doing, but each day I need to choose certain good things over others. It helps when I see the end result of my work or receive feedback and appreciation for what I’ve done. There are also times I just need to do the good thing because it’s the right thing in the moment.

So I imagined someone specific asking me why I blog. This is what I said:

I believe God has laid it on my heart to share with others what He’s sharing with me. He teaches me about Himself every day. He shows me things about myself as well. Ultimately it’s all about my relationship with Him. And He has given me an opportunity and desire to share those things with others.

God knows us and loves us and He wants us know and love Him as well. He has really good things for us.

For example, there was this time when my dog was just a few years old. He was a bit temperamental and we were working with Him to help Him learn to trust us. One day, I just stopped and said to Him, “Why don’t you just listen to me? I give you everything you need. You have food to eat and a warm place to sleep. I play with you and take you for walks. I am happy to just be with you. I don’t want to have to put you in your kennel because you’re not doing what I tell you to do. Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

And I stopped and heard God ask me, “Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

He has provided everything I need. He enjoys me simply because I am me. There is joy in our time together. He doesn’t look to give me consequences, but sometimes He has to. He just wants to love me. And that love requires a response.

And that’s why I write:  God loves me. And in order to experience His love, I need to be in a relationship with Him. That’s how we each experience His love – in relationship with Him. Which means we need to acknowledge Him, look to Him and trust Him.

I hope what I write encourages others to do that, to turn to Him and trust Him. I hope others don’t just know they are loved but experience His love in real ways every day.

I didn’t really consider His response in my imaginary conversation, but I realized it was again, a message worth sharing.

God loves you and wants you to know Him.

Something to Consider…

How has God shown His love for you?

Today, how will you respond to His love for you?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a

The God of Second Chances

Cave and sunset in the desert mountains“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.” Exodus 33:7

God had made a covenant with Israel and before the last period was put in place, they had broken it. God’s desire was, and still is to dwell among His people, but because of their sin, their breaking of the covenant they had agreed to, they were separated from God.

Exodus 33:7-11 almost seems to imply that only Moses went to the tent of the meeting to inquire of God. The people would watch and worship as the pillar of cloud, God’s presence would stay at the entrance of the tent after Moses entered. But verse 7 says: “Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of the meeting…”

Did anyone else go? Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they take advantage of the opportunity to meet with God personally?

Moses had repented for Israel and it appears they liked it that way. It kept them at a distance from God, maybe what they saw as a safe distance, but a distance none-the-less.

In order to approach God now, we need to acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness personally. We have to face the truth of their own hearts. Was this an option at that time? Was anyone bold enough to ask?

Confessing with a true desire to change is hard enough. This along with asking for forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we do – ever! We have to take an honest look at ourselves, assess the situation and our actions, and admit what we did was wrong with no justification, excusing or blaming.

When we ask someone to forgive us there is always the possibility they won’t. We may want our relationship with them restored, but they may not and that’s a hard truth to accept. So rather than risk it, we keep a distance and our relationships are never quite what they could be.

But what you need to know is God is not like people. When we come to Him admitting our mistakes, weaknesses and outright rebellion, asking Him to have mercy and forgive, He does. When our hearts are right with Him and we are sincere in our desire to have a relationship with Him, He does not withhold His love.

He actually gave it before you even asked.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Through the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, you have the ability to come to God, fully forgiven, unconditionally loved and free to live His way. You don’t need to go to another person to speak to God on your behalf. You have Jesus: mediator, atoning sacrifice, the Righteous One, God Himself giving you full access to the throne room of God.

What concerns weigh on your heart this Christmas? What problems seem too big, too impossible to overcome? What desire do you long to see fulfilled in your lifetime? What guilt or shame to you simply not want to carry anymore?

You are not alone.

God is waiting.

He is available.

He loves you and wants to enter His presence through a relationship with Jesus. Will you take a chance and consider the possibility that not only is God holy, requiring a separation from sin, but that He is loving, faithful and compassionate in His provision of the one and only sacrifice for sin ever needed.

Jesus is the one and only way to God. It is by grace through faith that you can come to God and it’s because of His kindness that you can open your hear, lay your sin at His feet and trust Him to love you fully.

“Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting…”

Will you choose to take a chance and meet with God today, the God of second chances?

Something to Consider…

Has some distance grown between you and God? He is right where He has always been willing and waiting for you to return. What do you need to face, deal with or acknowledge so you can draw close to Him once again?

If you’ve never inquired of God, will you consider the possibility that God really does want to meet with you? He wants you to know the fullness of His love for you and that comes through a relationship with Him. Come to God, asking Him to help you with all of your questions, doubts and uncertainties. He will help you get your heart set right so your relationship with Him can be all it should be.

 

 

Three Nails

Three Nails“Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’” Luke 23:32-35 (NLT)

My oldest daughter lives a few hours away so whenever she comes home, we pray for her safe travels. Her car had been parked at a gas station when, as she was getting ready to come home, she realized she had a flat tire. With her fiancé’s help, they were able to remove the tire, put on the spare and drive to the repair shop. After waiting a few hours, they were told the nail was too close to the edge and thus the tire was unable to be repaired. She was going to have to buy a new tire. Not the news a college student wants to hear. She purchased the tire and they were soon on their way.

The next day we were able to meet up with family members for lunch. We had a wonderful time only to come home to another flat tire. Her car had been parked in our driveway all day and yet, there it was, a different tire flat as a pancake. Her dad was able to help her get the tire off, put on the spare, and bring the tire to the repair shop. This time it was able to be repaired. Knowing her financial situation, we willingly paid for the repair. Her dad was able to replace the tire and she was on her way once again, this time to see friends.

A few days later, we were out shopping and running errands. When we returned home, guess what we found. Unbelievably, another flat tire. A third nail in a third tire. Her car had been parked in the street in front of our house. Since it was not completely flat, we tried filling it only to notice the pressure dropped as soon as we turned off the pump. Again, her dad was able to help get the tire off and the spare on, but because of the time, we couldn’t take it to the repair shop until the next day. We worked out how she would get around in the meantime. Again, the tire couldn’t be repaired. A little more money, a little more time, a little more frustration.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

When we found the third flat, she said she felt like she was being punished. Did she do something to bring about this fate?

I admit, it seems like more than a coincidence that she would have three nails in three different tires in five days. What are the odds? And if she’s not being punished, what would be the point of this situation?

Maybe a better question is, what did God want her to know about Him through this situation?

As we talked, she admitted she felt like she had no control, was helpless, angry, and frustrated. We then talked about how God is always in control, is our help and is never frustrated by our circumstances. So why did this happen? How would this help her trust Him more and draw her closer to Him, rather than push her away?

She realized that she had always been parked, never on the road and she always had help. She was also always able to keep moving. These hindrances didn’t stop her from what she needed to do.

The next day, as we were driving home, I asked her another question. “What did these three nails cost you?”

She said money and time and peace. It was inconvenient and stressful.

Then I asked her, “What did three nails cost Jesus?”

Her answer: His life.

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30 (NIV)

Jesus Christ took the three nails so we could how much God loves us. Jesus Christ took three nails because only He could accomplish this purpose. He took the three nails so we could be completely reconciled to God and live with Him in peace forever. These three nails were not a hindrance to God’s plan; they were the plan.

How might God want to use the difficulties and hindrances in your life to draw you closer to Him so you could know His love more deeply?

What difficulties are you willing to endure so the love of God can be made known to others?

Lord God, as I see the troubles of this world, experience the difficulties of life and struggle through my own frustrations and desires. Help me remember that it’s nothing compared to what you endured for me. The problems we face are real, they are hard and painful. They wear on us and try us in ways we didn’t expect or ask for. But in You we have hope. In you, we know there is more. You are our ever-present help in trouble. You are our refuge and strength, our shield and strong tower, our joy and salvation. Thank you for your protection, your help and your strength to keep moving. In Your precious and most holy name, Jesus. Amen.

The Tree of Life

Lone Maple Tree“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9

I’ve been thinking too much lately about what is missing from my life. I’ve been wondering what God has been doing, what He wants me doing and what results will come from any of it.

I have many great friends; better friends than I ever thought possible. They hear me say things like this and laugh…in a kind way. As we were driving and talking about all my concerns, we came across two signs. We couldn’t miss them. They were huge billboards, bright yellow with black lettering. “I love you anyway.” “Jesus.”

Regardless of the answers, regardless of my questions, regardless of me getting it all right, Jesus loves me anyway.

All too often, what is missing becomes the focus; not the abundance of what already is.

In the beginning, God placed two trees in the garden: 1) the tree of life and 2) the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Look what He has to say about these trees.

“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 2:16-17

In the beginning, there was one rule, one command: you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He even gave the reason: for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

God allowed people to eat from the tree of life. He told them not to eat from the tree that would lead to death.  Sounds like a pretty good deal!

Even though God warned Adam and Eve, they rebelled. They did what they wanted focusing on what was missing; something they believed was being withheld. They allowed themselves to be wooed away from the truth, the warning and the blessing.

They lost the right to eat from the tree of life.

They had life! They chose death. And because of this choice, we receive death as well. If they had understood the full consequence of their actions, would they have rejected the fruit, accepted the truth and remained in the garden?

“(Jesus said) Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

But here is the good news. In Jesus Christ, we regain the right to eat from the tree of life! Jesus removes the barriers to the garden, to paradise, and to God.

God has made a way once again for us to have life! But once again, we are the ones who have to make the choice. We can choose our own way of doing things settling for death. Or we can accept God’s way, Jesus, and receive life everlasting!

We can focus on what seems to be missing and wonder about what we don’t know. Or we can remember what God has already done and know with certainty we already have life in Christ.

Something to Consider…

Where is your focus, on your abundance or on your lack?

In what ways do you reach out and grab for yourself what you believe is missing? Do you want to do it your own way not believing or understanding the truth of what you may lose when you do?

Do you trust God’s willingness to provide all that you need? Why or why not? If not, what would need to happen or what would you need to know in order for you to trust Him?

Jesus has come so you can have abundant life; life to the full! (John 10:10)

Growing Pains

Light Streaming Through the Crown of a Tree

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.” Ephesians 4:15 (The Message)

When my children were younger, I was constantly measuring their growth: height, weight, and abilities. Can she crawl, sit or walk? Does she respond to her name? Does she stack the blocks or just consider them a no-calorie snack? If their mental attributes along with their physical attributes don’t change, they aren’t growing in a complete manner.

Growth can be a challenge. All growth is the result of action and we must be diligent and intentional about the type of actions we take. Even a baby doesn’t just grow. If they are not receiving enough food, they won’t grow physically or mentally and if deprived of food for a long enough period will die.

Spiritual growth is the same. I’ve known a few people who really wanted to grow or at least thought they did. What it seems they may have wanted more was to continue doing what they had always done, but somehow manage to have peace and feel good about it. But nothing that grows stays the same. There will be changes. To ignore or deny the truth of what is needed for growth will only bring about death. The truth of Jesus is the source of eternal life.

Spiritual growth begins with knowing the truth about Jesus. You hear about Him, ask questions, learn some more and eventually have enough information to make a decision about what the truth of Jesus means to you and for you. If you are not seeking to know the truth, if you are not asking questions of people who know the truth, you will not grow in your understanding of who Jesus really is and you will have no reason to move forward in a relationship with Him. The problem with this is that everything else you consider about Him will be false. Just like eating protein will add muscle and eating sugar will add fat, growing in the knowledge and truth of Jesus will lead you to eternal life while ignoring or denying the truth of Jesus will lead to eternal separation from God. False teachings will lead to a false understanding which in turn will feed you with empty calories which will not sustain.

One of the growing pains involved with knowing the truth of Jesus is that we soon realize there are things we like, think or do that are not actually good for us. They seem good because they make us feel good and give us some enjoyment, at least for the moment. We don’t want to give it up because we don’t really want to believe it’s bad. Maybe it’s easier than changing. We operate out of our feelings rather than facts. We live for what seems good rather than what is truly good.

When my daughter was three years old, we could tell she wasn’t eating well. We pulled out our Dr. Spock baby book and did some research. We wanted to know answers and the truth about what might be causing this problem and what we could do about it. We learned too much sugar would ruin her appetite. Right away we knew the problem: apple juice. She loved apple juice! But the juice was hurting her, not helping her even though she enjoyed it. We promptly removed the apple juice from her diet and replaced it with water or milk only. For three days she cried! Each day was a little better until rather than cry over not getting apple juice, she asked for milk. Her eating improved and she chose milk over almost every other beverage for most of her childhood.

But those three days were painful. She wanted what she wanted and was willing to forsake the good thing for the enjoyable thing…until she realized the good thing was better.

Something to Consider…

Do you struggle believing the entire Bible is true? Does it contradict what you’ve been told is true? Is it difficult to understand how God’s ways are better than your ways, how they are truly the best way?

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—” 2 Peter 2:2 (ESV)

Don’t settle for good enough. Don’t settle for empty satisfaction. God in his goodness sent His Son, Jesus Christ so we would know His grace and truth. You have the opportunity to choose the better thing. The growing pains of faith are real, but the truth of Jesus is better than any lie the world would have you believe. Seek to know and understand His truth and discover the real source of all you need to be able to change and grow up into all He created you to be!

The “Aha” Moment

“I myself (John the Baptist) did not know him (Jesus), but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” John 1:31 (NIV)

I’ve joined some women in a study on the Gospel of John. John is the beloved. John is the disciple Jesus loved. John also wrote the books of 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation. He is an interesting character who is completely in love with and confident in the truth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

John the Baptist is a different person. He is the cousin of Jesus approximately six months his elder. He was created and born for a specific purpose. When asked by the Pharisees about himself, he replied by quoting Isaiah the prophet:

“I am the voice of the one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23b

John knew his purpose. He knew he was meant to help fulfill Scripture prophecy.

So when, in our discussion, we came to verse 31 in the first chapter, there was some question around what John meant about not knowing Jesus even though they were cousins and he knew his purpose to make way for the Lord.

Have you ever felt God put you in a certain place at a certain time for a certain reason? You felt compelled to take a job even though it didn’t make sense. Maybe you already had a good job or had to uproot your family to take the new job. Maybe it’s your marriage. You know God brought you together even though you’ve felt like you are worlds apart at times. Maybe it’s where you volunteer. There are certain tasks you enjoy and you’ve found a place where you can really put those skills to work but after a while it feels routine and you wonder if what you do really makes a difference.

I wonder if this is how John the Baptist was feeling. “I’ve been out here baptizing people day in and day out. I know God has a purpose for me. I know there is a bigger, greater reason I am here than what it appears to be to me and everyone else. God has revealed certain things to me, but it isn’t happening. When will it happen? Will it happen? What if I was wrong?”

Now, I completely expect that John knew he wasn’t wrong. He trusted God at levels where I get vertigo. But I’ve heard this sentiment from many people. “What I think is supposed to be happening doesn’t seem to be happening so maybe I didn’t understand God and am nowhere near where He really wants me.”

But then…it happens!

You’re there, doing your thing and suddenly you know exactly why you are where you are when you are doing what you are doing! Maybe it’s a conversation. Maybe it’s a networking opportunity. Maybe it’s an answer to a prayer. You have that “Aha” moment and you are certain you were meant to be right where you are. God’s plan was made clear!

John was performing baptisms of repentance for the forgiveness of sins for all who would come to him. God had made it clear that there would be one who was different, One who would be identified as His Son. How long had John been doing this thing, waiting and waiting for the One to come? (Luke 3 actually tells historically when God moved John to begin preaching and baptizing.)

When Jesus showed up, John knew exactly why he was there. This baptism of repentance for a sinless man, Son of God, would mark the beginning of Jesus ministry. God had entrusted John with a purpose and was faithful in bringing about the fulfillment of that purpose. John may not have had all the details, but he was faithful in carrying out his purpose and trusted God in His timing.

Something to Consider…

Has God revealed a purpose and a plan for you? Has He promised you something and you are not experience the fullness of that promise?

Trust that God has a purpose for you right where you are at this time. He may be using it as a stepping stone for the next phase of your life, but there is still a reason. Choose to embrace it trusting that His timing is perfect and He is faithful.

Maybe you’ve stepped away from what God has called you to do. Maybe you’re not sure how to get back on track with what He really wants for you. Ask Him to make a way, to make your path straight. Choose to follow Him and trust that it is not too late to fulfill your purpose for Him.

Joy and Thanksgiving

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I want to hang this verse on my wall. I have the perfect spot between the bottom of my stairs and the laundry room. I pass this wall every day since it is between the bedrooms and the main living area of our home. And I don’t just pass it once a day; I pass it many times as I go up and down the stairs. I grab my purse but forget my shoes. The receipt is on the desk not in my purse. I left my sunglasses on the desk while looking for the receipt. Oops, I forgot to brush my teeth. Where is my phone? NOW, am I ready to leave the house?

It’s amazing what piles up in my kitchen because it needs to go upstairs. I also end up with piles of clothing in the laundry room. I definitely do not rejoice in carrying loads of laundry up and down the stairs. I used to rejoice in this simple task. At one time, we lived in an apartment on the third floor. When we moved into our first home, the laundry was in the basement. I would carry our clothes up and down three half-flights of stairs and be giddy. In the apartment, I would carry the laundry down three full flights of stairs, across the parking lot to my car, drive to my parents home and carry it down to their basement only to carry it all back and up again. My own laundry space in my own home was a dream come true. It didn’t matter where the laundry was located.

But then it happened. We moved. The laundry room was now located upstairs right next to the bedrooms. It was like the clouds parted and angels were singing. How could I be so fortunate? I had 18 glorious months of loving my laundry room and the task itself.

Of course, things do change and we moved again. The best I could do this time was a main floor laundry room, one full flight of stairs from bedrooms to washer and dryer. It was still better than the first house and way better than the apartment, right? Had I never had the upstairs laundry room, I would’ve thought it couldn’t get better than this. Now, anything less than two steps from my bedroom door is not good enough.

I began to wonder how many petty issues I allow to ruin my day and steal my joy?

I should be glad that I have machines to wash and dry the clothes for me. I should be rejoicing in the fact that I have clean water to drink, much less running water in my home to wash my clothes. I should be thrilled that I not only have the arms to carry my loads of laundry and legs to carry me up and down the stairs, but that I have the clothes to wash in the first place.

What is it that makes me think I deserve to have it easier when I already have so much compared to so many? Why am I not grateful for simply having another day to enjoy with those I love, another day to serve those I love?

Lord, I pray that I not only appreciate what I do have but that I would be content with what I don’t have. I pray that my desire to do your will would not be determined by my comfort, convenience or contentment but simply because I know you love me. You have already given me all I need. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Something to Consider…

I’ve heard it said that nothing seems small in the moment. While that may be true from our perspective, it doesn’t mean we need to look at it from our perspective.

In what area of your life do you need a new perspective? What irritations can be replaced by joy and thanksgiving? How can His love and goodness be seen in your life?

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 118:29