Archive | January 2015

Fear and Faith

cupped flower seedling

Mark 4:26-29 (AMP) – And He said, The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed upon the ground, And then continues sleeping and rising night and day while the seed sprouts and grows and [a]increases—he knows not how. The earth produces [acting] by itself—first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe and permits, immediately he [b]sends forth [the reapers] and puts in the sickle, because the harvest stands ready. 

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the scripture in Hebrews (11:6) that tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Taking that all by itself it can be quite a stumbling block because there are so many ways the enemy can accuse us of having inadequate faith and therefore not being pleasing to God.  Over the weeks and months we’ve looked at a lot of scriptures and discussed that this journey of revelation of what it means to be our Heavenly Father’s Daughter is about understanding what He is for us.  He’s not trying to make this an obstacle course, where only the strong survive!  No, Jesus said He came so that none should perish.  It’s the Father’s heart that everyone find their place in Him, and everything that is being done and has been done is based upon the foundation that He loves us and is for us and wants amazingly wonderful, abundant things for us.  The enemy, however, is after just the opposite.  He wants us to be separated from our Heavenly Father and if he can’t keep us from a salvation experience in accepting Jesus as our savior, his next target, an unceasing one, is to keep us from understanding who we become when we are transferred from darkness into light.

There is so much for us as children of God but a foundational area we must become grounded in is overcoming fear and becoming women of faith.  Fear is pretty easy to identify, but faith has become so convoluted by the enemy and religion it’s made it difficult for us to see it how God intended it, which is simple.  God’s way for us is always simple and I mean that it’s not complicated.  As I said, God’s not trying to put us through obstacle courses, nor is He requiring we all be members of Mensa to come to Him.  In fact, just the opposite, He said we needed to come to Him in the simplicity of a little child.  When you’re grown, sometimes it can be difficult to take on the simplicity of childhood, but that is what we are to do and that is how we need to view what God asks of us.

I love the scriptures in Mark 4 speaking about the farmer as Jesus is giving us an example that I think we can all understand.  I come from a family of gardeners.  My Mom loves to garden and she’s gardened my whole life.  We’ve had small gardens and HUGE gardens over the years and this is how it works (in it’s simplest form), you prepare the ground for the type of vegetable you are going to grow, you plant the seed…and you wait.  That’s it.  The only part we can do is prepare the soil and stick the seed in the ground everything else happens without us.  Now yes, we water and we weed (which is also applicable to our faith) but the seed cracking open, the little roots coming out and the seedling breaking the ground, the growth, the ripening, the bearing of fruit, none of that happens by our efforts.  So according to Mark 4, what does the farmer do after he’s planted his seed?  He waits!  He gets up each day, he goes to bed each day over and over again and while he’s going about his daily life his seed is springing forth, growing and increasing and Jesus says, “he knows not how…”  Our faith is the part where, even though we don’t know how, we know that the seed planted is growing and increasing until it’s mature and ready to be harvested.  That’s faith, trusting that what God says He will do and be is exactly who He is and how He is behaving.  That is what God is saying we have to have to please Him; trust that He is who He says He is and is doing what He has promised to do.  The confidence to go to bed each night with peace in our heart and get up each morning with that same expectation that everything that needs to happen is happening for that seed to become what it was designed to become.  That’s where the watering and weeding come in.  In order for us to have that expectation we need to read the Word, His promises to remind us what He is doing and pluck out the doubt that satan tries to plant with our seed to choke it out or strangle it.  Our job is to keep up our trust through the power that comes in God’s word.

Now the opposite of faith is fear.  We have fear because we aren’t able to trust God.  The reason we doubt God is because we have believed or we believe a lie that the enemy has told us about our Heavenly Father and we live our life based upon the lie versus the truth.  We all have them, we all live them.  In our farming scenario, a farmer living in fear would behave very differently than the farmer Jesus described.  He wouldn’t plant his seed and peacefully go to bed and rise each day, no he would daily be inspecting the plot of earth where the seeds were planted, he’d be testing the soil and watching the horizon fretfully for the right amount of rain and the right amount of sun at the right times.  He’d be pulling up the little plants to look at their roots and check their growth and then try and replant them back hoping he hadn’t killed it.  He’d freak out when bugs showed up or the plants just didn’t seem to be growing fast enough or increasing quickly enough.  You get the idea, he’d be all over that plot of land and by the time they finally reached harvest he’d be a stressed out mess, with a mediocre harvest and already worrying about the next thing.  I have to believe we’ve all been this kind of farmer.  Maybe it’s our kids, or our job or our finances, any number of things really.  This is what your life looks like when you are living out of fear vs. living on faith.

Faith and fear do not coexist.  You can only have one or the other and that is why Hebrews says it is impossible to please God without faith.  Who is pleased when someone doesn’t trust them, is constantly looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do and how to do it?  I hate that!!  Imagine how God feels about it :)  If He loves us (and He absolutely does!!), and if He’s the creator of all (which He is!), then He’s the expert of all, why in the world do we think we need to get involved in the process?  We’ve believed the lies of the enemy and he doesn’t tell us what it is we are actually doing, we’ve all been led to believe that worrying is natural, if we’re good mother’s we worry about our kids.  God says godly mothers do not worry, they trust.  Godly mothers pray the Word over their children, they shower them with love and affection, they tell them how amazing they are and how proud they are of them (regardless of their mistakes!!), just like God tells us (which is a far cry from what the world pressures us to be).  How can God see us this way?  Because God knows the outcome, He’s proud of us based on who we become in Christ and everything He sees and says is based on that person, not the messy, troubled broken person we are in the middle.

I encourage you to think about the areas where you have fear and study the versus in Mark about the farmer.  Let the Holy Spirit reveal God’s faithfulness to you so that you can go to bed at night in peace, rise up in expectation and go to the Word to water your seeds with faith and pluck out the weeds of doubt and fear the enemy will be trying to plant.  Like I said, it’s simple, but again we know simple isn’t always easy and waiting is probably the very hardest part.  But we’ve studied that God has told us not to be anxious and He knows we need all of these things so when Jesus said that the farmer sleeps and rises and all these things are happening and he doesn’t know how, that is what He wants for us, to enjoy our lives, have faith (trust) in Him and when the harvest is ready we are there to reap all of the goodness that our Heavenly Father grew for us!!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I want to be a faithful farmer.  I desire to do my part and prepare the ground of my heart and plant the seeds of Your word.  I desire to go to bed in peace and rise up in expectancy.  I desire to water the seeds with the water of Your Word and pluck out the weeds that the enemy tries to plant of doubt and skepticism.  You have shown Yourself to be faithful and true to Your Word and I certainly do not know better than You!  I pray that the Holy Spirit would empower me to be patient when my seed is growing and be excited about what You are growing in and around me.  I choose to live a life of faith and forsake a life of fears.  Jesus came that I might have life and have it more abundantly!  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Message in a Bubble

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) - The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) – The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

Yesterday I was going through my journal.  I do that now and then, go back to a similar date a year ago to see what was going on in my life then.  Yesterday was different, though, I pulled out all the journals I had here with me in Florida and was able to go back to 2010.  So I read what studying and praying I was doing each year around this time over the last five years.  I was actually surprised because my studying and praying wasn’t a whole lot different year over year.  I really expected to see some big advancements in my life that would be truly noticeable as I jumped from one year to the next.  I spent some time thinking about that, and pondering on why that was the case?  God is continuing to bring home that this process of growing, becoming closer to Him and being transformed into Christ’s image is a one step at a time journey.  He’s saying to me and to you…There are no shortcuts!!  My mind responds to that with a resounding…Darn!!  I thought it could be faster, I thought I could be faster in my pace, in my accomplishments, in getting some kind of prize for having “made it”!

I laugh because that is my nature, I’m very competitive (you can thank my Dad for that!), and to me succeeding a lot of the time has been represented in winning at something.  But our Heavenly Father is telling us, we’re looking at this all wrong.  This isn’t a competition, or something that if we do it really fast we’ll get to the end quicker.  This is a life long journey of getting to know who we are in Christ and learning about a Heavenly Father who loves us and does things in the most intricate and detailed ways and says in 1 Timothy 6:17  to trust … in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  As I looked at my journal over that 5 year span I realized that the studying I did and the prayers that I prayed were steps to preparing a life that year over year is becoming richer and sweeter because I’m have a deeper understanding of what those words meant, both mine and in the scriptures.

So, you may ask, what does all of this have to do with bubbles?  You did title this blog, Message in a Bubble.  Glad you asked!  As I’ve been seeking to have a clearer and encompassing understanding of how much I am loved by my Heavenly Father, I realize that I’ve been praying prayers and scriptures over the years that have spoken of His great love for me.  One of the sweetest evidences of that was a simple bubble.  Now don’t laugh, but several months back when things were very emotionally difficult because of a situation I had not yet been released from, I was in the shower and was just trying to understand why no matter what I prayed, no matter what I studied, I could not shake this pressure and feelings of anxiousness.  I knew all the right scriptures, I’d  also read some really great books on trust, but those feelings I could not shake.  While looking up a small, beautiful bubble came floating down from my shampoo bottle.  In that bubble I felt the love of my Heavenly Father, felt Him saying to me that as delicate and iridescent and whimsical as that bubble was, it was an expression of His delight over me.  Romans 8 tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  That bubble, to me, was Him reminding me that as I continue to pursue this journey of understanding what it means to be My Father’s Daughter, how much He loves me, and that that love will continue to overtake the obstacles I feel I am facing in this world.  It was His message to me that I am greatly loved and as Zephaniah 3:17 says He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Here’s my encouragement to you today, it may feel as though things aren’t changing, you aren’t changing, but they are and you are.  Let the Holy Spirit teach you that this isn’t a competition and we certainly aren’t running a sprint.  This is an adventure and the glory of it is that we get to enjoy all of the beauty along the way.  If we will not be in a hurry we will have a rich, fulfilling experience during our time on earth.  You can rest in the truth that God is not late 2 Peter 3:9  tells us  The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.  If we can rest in the knowledge that God will get us where we need to be at the right time, then we can focus on the incredible messages He sends us, sometimes it is something as simple as a bubble.

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, the world I live in is in such a hurry, I am in such a hurry.  Help me understand that You, Abba, are not in a hurry.  You hold me in Your hand and have designed all of my days, days that are filled with delightful and glorious things that I miss because I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy You or the journey.  My steps are ordered by You and I pray that with the help of Your precious Holy Spirit that I will learn to not allow the pressures of this world to dictate how I live my life, but instead allow the truth of Your Word to free me from a life of rushing, pressure, anxiety and missing Your great expressions of love, delight and song over me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Sharp Turn Ahead!

sharp turn ahead

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV) Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God had some pretty amazing plans for Abram.  In fact, he was going to go from Abram (meaning “father of height”) to Abraham (meaning “father of multitudes”).  God lets Abram know that He is going to make him a great nation, He’s going to bless him and make his name great, that he is going to be a blessing and God is going to bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse him and to sum it all up God lets him know that through him all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.  WOW!  I mean, really, that’s way more than wow!!

There’s a little catch though.  Abram has to get out of his country, leave his family, leave his father’s house and go to some place that God is going to show him.  Hmmm…quite a request God.  Here’s all these really amazing, actually more than amazing, things that God is promising Abram, that God says He’s going to do, but how does Abram know God’s going to do them?  And why does Abram have to leave these things behind in order for God to do them?  Seems like if God was God He could do all those things and leave Abram right where He is.  It seems like it could really be a blessing to Abram’s family to see God do all of that, why does he have to “get out”?

I don’t know about you but God is doing some of that “get out” with my husband, Ed & I.  He’s been taking us out of familiar territory and piece by piece dismantling what is familiar and comfortable and calling us into something that is very unfamiliar and, on a daily basis, extremely uncomfortable.  One day not too long ago I think Ed said if he had one more thing happen that he had to deal with emotionally his head was going to explode!  The stress on our human nature is so great that it feels like God is pulling you apart limb by limb.  That’s seems extreme but when we’re going through the emotions of “getting out”, God prying our death grip off of the things we’ve been holding onto, some our entire lives, can feel like an excruciatingly painful exercise.  Many times it hurts so bad we quit.  We don’t let God loose our grip and we stay right where we are.  I’m here to encourage you to not give up, to not quit but to let God see you through this emotionally painful and difficult time and get you to the other side.

Why?  That’s such a great question.  Similar to the earlier question of why Abram had to “get out” and go.  Not just go, but follow God.  God has each and every one of us on a journey, not a way stop.  His plan includes taking us from glory to glory and if we can’t follow Him into these sharp, unexpected turns we’re going to become stagnant.  We weren’t meant to be lakes, we are meant to be rivers.  We are meant to rush and flow and expand and contract and sometimes overrun our borders.  In order for Abram to become who his Heavenly Father created him to be God needed him to leave behind all that was comfortable and follow Him.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Just like when Jesus started calling His disciples and saying  Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)   Each time Jesus said that, they dropped whatever they were doing and followed Him No questions asked, no asking to give them a few minutes to finish what they were doing or go tell someone where they were going; just drop it right there, leave all your stuff and follow Jesus.

God has a way about Him that is very unexpected, at least unexpected to us!  If we don’t get comfortable with the uncomfortable we’re going to live a life of dissatisfaction but believe it or not, we were actually made and designed by Him to be able to follow when He calls.  Jesus said in  John 10:27 (NKJV)  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. The fact that we fight that many times is actually counter to how we were created which is why we become so miserable when we are disobedient.  Don’t confuse comfortable with satisfied.  If you have been asking yourself why you feel dissatisfied when it feels like you have everything you want, that is probably a good sign that God has been calling you to “get out” and come up higher.  Not only higher, but deeper.  Our Heavenly Father isn’t ok with us being comfortable, He wants to continually draw us into a deeper relationship with Him that then pours out of us blessings upon others.  Don’t you love the promise God made Abram?  …And in you all of the families of the earth will be blessed.  We are Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:29) and we were created to be blessings to all of the families on the earth.  The death grip that God is trying to loose you from is something that is keeping you in a place you’re no longer supposed to be, or maybe were never supposed to be.  His goal for you is to be fulfilling your purpose, going about doing good, and overcoming evil with good.

As I mentioned earlier, God’s prying our fingers off of some things that we’ve gotten comfortable with.  It’s been very unsettling and scary at times.  When God says He wants us to follow Him to a land He will show us, and He’s not sharing with us where that is, what that looks like and how long it’s going to take to get there; that’s just downright hard to swallow.  Have you ever watched one of those movies where the hero of the film has complete understanding of what’s going on and something bad is about to happen to someone (usually a female!) and he runs in and tells her, “We have to leave right this instant!”, and we the viewers, also know what’s coming and we know he’s right, she needs to grab his hand and get the heck out of Dodge.  But it seems like invariably she looks at him and asks, “Why?  What’s going on?  I need to go get…”  Don’t you want to scream at the screen (and sometimes I do), “Girl, get out!!”  It’s easy in those scenarios to know why she needs to leave, but when we’re her, we do the same things she does.  We ask why.  We want to take care of some things, we probably don’t even want to go at all some times, but this is why God provided us an accounting of what He did with Abram and with Abram’s obedience we see the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Abraham, in the Bible, is called the friend of God.

James 2:23

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
I think that tells us something.  That as we pursue a deeper relationship with God, that fear of what He’s asking us to do is going to lessen because we’re going to know His character.  He loves us, He wants the best for us and as He sees things that are holding us back or keeping us from what He designed us to accomplish, He’s going to tell us to “get out”.  It’s not a punishment, it’s a promotion.  Jesus told the disciples that greater things we would do because He was going to the Father (John 14:12).  So don’t be afraid, let your fingers relax from what you are holding on so tightly to.  He is happy to assure you that what He is doing is for your good but we are going to have to trust Him.  God didn’t tell Abram where he was going, He didn’t tell him why he had to leave his family but He did impart to him the incredible knowledge of what Abram would receive for his obedience.  Us too.  He’s promised us joy and peace and greater things when we are following Him.  If this is hard for you, commit to spending more time with Him in prayer and reading His Word.  He promises that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
As Ed & I embark on this journey, know that we understand that our human nature fights this and we’re praying that, like us, the truth of what God has promised is greater than the fear of the unknown.  We know that we want to be all our Heavenly Father created us to be and the only way to do that is when He says, “Get out”, to follow Abram and the disciples’ examples and drop whatever we’re doing and follow Him!!
A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, our hope is in You and it’s not about what we see, hear or think.  It’s about the truth of Your Word, Your promises and that Jesus has already ensured our victory.  My hope is in You and I pray that the Holy Spirit be large in me so I can do what You show me and be who You’ve created me to be.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

Well Hello!

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) - Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait in the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not  faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) – Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait in the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

Whew!  I made it through 2014, not completely unscathed but no irreparable damage.  I’m excited about this new year and not in the same way we get excited about the chance at a fresh start but with a sense that this is going to be a very different year, and different in a good, positive and productive way.  God started the preparation for this year in a very cool way.  We were a week or so into December and my daughter, Ashley, texted my sister and I and asked us to do an Advent devotional with her from SheReadsTruth.  Even though we were coming in late we decided to start at the beginning and each day, whomever was able to get to the devotional first, would write their thoughts on that days study and send it to the other two in an email and text and let us know that we had started.  We just keep adding to the same email so that we have each of our thoughts from when we started to that day.

I’ve never done an Advent devotional but as a Christian whose celebrated the true meaning of Christmas since she was born I kinda wondered if this would be boring.  I laugh at that now because it’s been anything but boring and absolutely amazing doing this with my daughter and my sister.  It’s awesome to read something and then get three different perspectives and especially the differences that come from generational gaps.  My sister and I are in our 40’s and Ashley is in her mid 20’s and while there are unique perspectives in our views due to our ages and experiences there are also a lot of similarities in the message and theme we are getting from the Holy Spirit as we embarked on this journey.  As we embark on a new path that is this new year I felt compelled to share some of the insights that we’ve come away with as we’ve trod through the period leading up to the birth of our Savior.  It’s fitting really, to have the opportunity to really meditate on this event as we look to our Heavenly Father in inquiry, wondering what this new year has for us.  I’m expecting some amazing experiences and breakthroughs as I feel that through this process I’m in a much better position to hear Him more clearly and be much more sensitive to His leadings.

  • Belief – As we looked at the old testament and our forefathers we saw people who believed when there was no physical reason to believe, in fact there was every reason to doubt and yet time and again these pillars of our Christian heritage chose to believe God over their circumstances.  Not perfectly but even in their broken human nature they kept pressing on forward into God’s promises.
  • Hope – When things got to a place where they felt they just couldn’t see how God was going to do what He promised they would continue to choose to have hope.  The enemy, satan, tries to strip us of hope but we are not those without hope and the promise of a Savior and all that He would and did do for us they believed without even truly understanding how transformational His work would be.
  • Heritage – Regardless of where we come from we have a heritage of faith once we enter God’s family.  We are made daughter’s of our Heavenly Father and with that comes a heritage and a legacy that we are now a part of.  It’s brought a thankfulness for my earthly family who have been Christians for many generations and it’s also brought a sense of pride as a mother that I am ushering my children into a spiritual heritage that has so much history and influence on this generation and generations to come.
  • The Unexpected – If you really take a look at how God does what He does it is NEVER how we humans think it should be done.  Even though Jesus’ birth was foretold and passed down generation to generation very few people believed it when He arrived because He didn’t come through a mighty king, born in a palace and announced to the world.  He did have some fanfare, a group of shepherds got heralded by a huge choir of angels, three whole wise men saw His coming in a dream and, hmmm, that was about it.  Oh, and he was born in a barn.  God continues to remind us that His ways are not the world’s ways so I’m not sure why we keep looking for Him to do things the way we think they should be done!
  • He’s in Control – God orchestrated each step of the way and nothing that satan does or man does stops His plan forward.  We all kept being reminded that if we let God be God in our lives He will see that we receive what He’s promised us in His Word.  The Old Testament is full of promises and prophecies and God kept them every single time.  There’s comfort in that knowledge and God keeps reminding us, He is faithful!
  • He is Light – If we let Him He will show us where we need to let Him in, areas we think we’ve got hidden or just aren’t ready to let Him deal with yet.  He is the light of the world and He wants to be light and truth to us in every area of our life.
  • Audacity – The audacity of what God does in the middle of what appears to be mundane circumstances and the audacity of His children to grab hold and believe!

I could go on, and actually we are still in the middle of the devotional and planning our next one but I’m so thankful that Ashley asked us to do this because it caused me to take something I took for granted (the season of Christmas) and dig into it and because we started late I’m not ending the thought of the work of Jesus’ birth on Christmas but taking it into my embracing the joy of a new year!  So, as we start this year my focus is not on my plans but on the One who made it possible for me to have hope, expectation and the knowledge that I am perfectly suited for what He will use me to do and be just as our forefathers were each perfectly suited for their role in the time they lived.  I say, “Well hello!” to a new year and I’m excited to see what God has for each one of us that we are specifically suited for!

Resources:  http://shereadstruth.com/

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, this is it, we’re all the way in.  Because of Jesus we can have the same faith as Abraham.  We are having the audacity to have the trust in You that comes when everything around us screams, “Impossible!”  We dare to hope, believe, rely on and trust You.  We have the audacity to believe and be confident in the fact that Your promises apply to us.  We won’t be defeated or turned away or denied.  We are the righteousness of God in Christ!  We are who God says we are and we have what God says we have and no devil is going to keep us from the love of our Abba.  Our Abba who runs to us, showers us with affection and overcomes us with gifts and honor even though we don’t deserve it.  We are children of the Most High and we are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ!  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.