Faith

Night & Day

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5

For about six months one year I barely slept.  I had terrible sinus issues and when I laid down they were exacerbated.  What little sleep I got was sitting up and in short bursts.  Eventually, the lack of sleep caught up to me.  I was so irritable and quick to cry.  After a successful surgery I, thankfully, found myself back in blissful dreamland.  That time  showed me how important God’s structure for us truly is.  

When you think about our lives, we have many structures God created for us.  Besides night and day, we have our years mapped out.  For many, our days are also broken up in going to work or school and coming home, hopefully with a bit of rest in between.  We count our days in school until we graduate then we take a brief rest and head off to college or jobs.  Our gardens are planted for Spring and Summer harvests and take a rest while we plan and prepare for Winter.  Each year we mark the end of 365 days and make a plan for something new in the next.  Our birthdays mark a time to evaluate what we’ve accomplished and dream big for the future.  Today, marks Sunday, the first day of the new week.  It also is a day of rest and time to honor God.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

We’ve heard the saying, “the only thing guaranteed in life is death and  taxes.”  But  that’s not really true.  We know when we lay down our head at night the morning will come.  We know the cold of winter will give way to the beauty of spring.  We know that each day we will get older, not younger.   God’s plan, His structure for us, is like so many of His gifts to us – a comfort.  And it’s a reflection of who He is  —  the  Lord of this marvelous creation that can be counted on to be with us forever and ever. 

 

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The God Spark

So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Recently, an archeological site in Jordan was determined to be the site of the ancient city of Sodom – destroyed by a meteor of fire.  That fact is now added to the 1000s upon 1000s of texts and archeological finds supporting details found within the Holy Bible.  As author Eric Metaxas explains in his new book,  Is Atheism Dead? , science, rather than moving us farther away from proving God’s existence, is actually moving us closer.

The desire by scientists to prove or disprove God does prove something else – our human desire to be connected to something greater than ourselves.  In fact you could argue there is really no such thing as atheism.  If we haven’t submitted ourselves to the one and only God and savior then we have most likely submitted our lives to something else.  In our yearning for connection some turn their job into their worship.  While for others it is nature, money, self-improvement, the mystical, and all other manner of things the Creator has created.

Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns. Jeremiah. 2:28

Since the beginning of time we humans have sought not just the answers to the universe but a connection to it.  I’ve heard it called the “God spark.”  Something within us that seeks Him, not always knowing who or what we seek.  It’s the work of the Holy Spirit moving in and out and around us whispering to us to look heavenward.  Far too many turn a deaf ear and instead seek the world for this connection and are never fully satisfied.

I was recently asked why I started going to church.  About 25 years ago my oldest daughter, then around 4 years old, started drawing angels.  And singing about angels and asking about angels.  We didn’t attend any church or even talk about God.  It wasn’t during Christmas season.  Her questions were so innocent and yet deeply yearning for answers.  It sparked me to start asking those same questions.  Mind you, even though I came from an atheist household, I always believed God existed.  I just didn’t know anything about Him.  But with that innocent child’s questions our family began a journey.

I am so thankful that God put some of Himself in each and every one of us so that we would have that yearning to be re-connected with Him one day.  So many of us just need to be directed to the Creator instead of His creations.

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We Say Yes

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

A few years ago, God put my faith listening ears and my trust in Him to the test.  He asked me to step outside my well-built comfort zone based on the pride of working.  For an unknown period of time, He directed me to feed the homeless with 100 lunches once a week.  He told me what to make and where to take the food.  He tested and challenged me week after week to put my complete faith in Him.  To stand resolutely with Him.  For almost a year I experienced a relationship with God like no other.  

As I wrote the other day, sometimes God asks us to stay silent.  Other times, like during His 100 Lunches Project, God asks us to step up and say, “Yes!”  And if we aren’t paying attention, aren’t tuned in to His character, aren’t sure that He is directing us, then we miss out on great gifts of intimacy with Him. 

The actual making of the first few weeks of lunches wasn’t so far out of my comfort zone.  I had enthusiastic helpers and a husband who supported my venture.  But as time passed and God kept calling, I was faced with having to be resolute in following Him.  For one, my husband thought this would be sort of a “one and done” activity.  Not a financial investment and something that would take up room in our already full garage.  He also was concerned for my safety as I ventured into potentially dangerous areas, at times alone.  I could have easily agreed with him on all counts and shut the program down.  But I knew God wanted me to stand firm.  So, as I explained to my husband, God was directing this project, not me, he relented with a few requests.  One being that if I didn’t go with someone that I would regularly check in via text.

And then there was my work schedule.  At the time I was a long term substitute in a school office.  I prided myself on always being on the schedule to work at one school or another.  It was my source of “happiness” that people needed me.  The direction I was getting from God was to give out lunches in the middle of the week.  Doing that would require me to tell the school I currently worked I couldn’t be there that day for an unknown period of time.  My fear was they would let me go.  And so, I prayed to God.  Asking Him to guide me and bolster me.  The day I spoke to the office secretary I told her, “I’m doing this lunch project, directed by God.  And I can’t work Wednesdays anymore.”  A weird thing to say,  for sure.  Especially in the more liberal area that I live.  The response?  “Sounds good.  We will take you any day you can work for us.”

That’s how the year went.  Door after door opened.  And some closed as needed.  I watched and listened for His Word.  And I did His work in His name.  It was glorious!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

The greatest lesson I learned that year was about trust.  Trusting in that when God speaks to us and gives us a challenge He will provide.  And any obstacle that is put in front of you, you can stand firm in who has your back.  That year I had many people scoff at what I was doing.  Family, friends, policemen, strangers.  But when you know that your mission is God-sent nothing should stop you.  You can be resolute.

So many of us Christians are sitting and waiting for God to call us to something special and yet we haven’t taken up the directions already laid out before us in God’s Holy Word.  We don’t need another whisper to tell us to be kind or forgiving.  We don’t need a tap on the shoulder to know how dangerous our gossiping tongue can be.  It’s all there in the Good Book waiting to be lived out.  We just need to take a stand for God.

The process of sanctification starts with the basics and moves on toward more and more challenges of trust.  When He sees we are obeying the small things He places more of His banquet in front of us.  But like the process of knowing when to stay silent we must be able to discern it is God, not our flesh, directing us.  I knew it was God asking me to embark on this grand project because it asked me to do things so in opposite of my own desires and yet followed perfectly His.

When you act for God you will have detractors.  You will have people that call you crazy.  You might even have people who get angry with you.  You might have to ask God to confirm you are on the right path.  And I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, when you are on that path, the work you do for Him will be seen by people who need to see it.  You just may never realize it.  

There were so many lessons for me in that year of 100 Lunches (which grew to about 300 per week!).  And one day in December of that year God said to me, “You are done. It’s time for something else.”  He closed that door and told me to stop.  Even then I needed to be resolute.  People chastised me for not continuing.  Someone got quite angry with me.  My response?  “This wasn’t my project to begin with, it was God’s.  He told me to be done so I am done.  But you are free to serve in my place.”

I mentioned in my last post about the story from Sparkling Gems from the Greek and listening to God’s voice.  I’d like to share with you the prayer from that day.

Lord, help me follow the Holy Spirit’s leading whenever He impresses me to do something.  I know there have been moments in my life when the Spirit was leading me to do something.  But because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t obey – and later I was always sorry.   Please help me become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to trust Him when He speaks to my heart.   I want to be obedient and to experience the supernatural life that He wants to give me!  I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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10 Bold Bible Verses To Read Today

What lies are you fighting right now? Bold faith, trust in God, and knowing His love for you are the weapons against satan’s ever present lies.

1. “The One born of God keeps me safe — the evil one cannot harm me” 1 John 5:18

You are a child of God. A raging battle is going on in the spiritual world for your soul. Knowing that your father is fighting for you and trusting that all things are done for your good gives us strength. Many Christians have issues with the idea of satan. But as I discussed with a fellow Christian, the Bible does not shy away from satan. Jesus had a number of conversations with him. If you are going to accept the blessings from God you need to accept that satan is at work trying to keep those blessings from you.

2. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jer 31:3

The only love that will never fade is the love God has for us. It never wavers, it never decreases. Even if your physical world is not filled with love, we can draw on God’s love to persevere. This is not an easy task. A mom in a struggling marriage, with children who always seem disappointed in her said, “I remember that God loves me but sometimes I just need someone to physically hold me.” Run to the arms of the father. Fully surrender that need to God. He will light the way.

3. “He has rescued me from the darkness and I have redemption and forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13-14

When we accept Jesus as our savior we throw up the lifeline to rescue us. Notice the word is rescue. If someone doesn’t want to be rescued they can make sure they aren’t. Throw up your hand and grasp His. You will be pulled out of your darkness. I have a Christian friend who had been a drug addict and alcoholic for many years tell me she had a dream of being a fish and a hook dropped down from out of the blue. She bit at it and it hooked her mouth and yanked her out of the sea. The next day she knew she never wanted another drink again in her life. God speaks in so many ways to us, just reach out.

4. “We are God’s handiwork.” Eph 2:10

When women sit around talking you’ll frequently hear us complaining about one body part or another. “I’m too chubby.” “Ugh, my hair.” “I wish my lips were plumper.” But think about it — you are uniquely you. You were created out of tiny DNA pieces that became you! It pains me to see satan’s forces at work taking our little complaints and elevating them to destroying our self-esteem. And worse, convincing people they are a mistake and must chop off body parts or take dangerous drugs to limit natural growth. No matter your height, your hips, your lips, your tomboy nature, your kinky hair, you are you and you are God’s creation. We’d save a lot of money and angst if we accepted that every time we looked in the mirror.

5. “I call you friend.” John 15:15

Boy do I wish I had known this when I was younger. An intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father not only brings us so many blessings but brings joy to the Almighty. He longs for that friendship. He will never stab you in the back. He will never forsake you. He is with you at 7:00 a.m. when your feet hit the floor and at 2:00 p.m. when you find out you were laid off. He’s even with you at 3:00 a.m. when your bills are swirling in your head. Pick up your spiritual cell phone and give Him a call.

6. “And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Rom 8:28

I once heard a funny twist on “why do bad things happen to good people?” Instead, how about “why do good things happen to us bad people?” When we say “bad people” I’d bet most people think, “well, it’s not like I’ve killed someone or stolen a million dollars.” But a pastor asked, “Have you stolen anything at all? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you not been able to forgive someone? Have you ever coveted something?” In fact, there’s only one truly good person that something bad happened to — Jesus. And Jesus suffered on the cross so that our sins are forgiven. So with that in mind we must be thankful for the good stuff God sends our way and trust that any bad that we encounter God is working out a blessing for us somehow, someway in the end.

7. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.” Eph 4:29

Yes, yes, we know not to gossip and to be kind to others. But are you gossiping about yourself? Are you unkind to yourself? When we talk to our friends, family and strangers how much do we tear ourselves down with “I’m not good at xy or z.” Or again with the physical degradation of ourselves? That’s not to say we should be boasting. But remember, we ARE God’s creation. So speak in positives. Don’t give the devil a hand up on tearing yourself or other’s down.

8. “As God’s co-worker (fill in the blank).” 2Cor 6:1

We are in this together. The entire story of the planet is built on covenants WITH God. He could’ve just made the animals and plants and wiped his hands on his robes and said, “Looks pretty darn good. Time for a nap.” But no, He made us. He made everything else FOR us. So He expects us to work with Him to tend to the needs of this glorious place. That includes sharing with others His love for His creation.

9. “We have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16

How often have you finished a prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen”? Do you know what it means? It means that Jesus is standing beside you, writing shorthand as you pray. He then takes that prayer to the Father and speaks for you. But the responsibility of a mature Christian is to discern the mind of Christ while speaking that prayer. We know His values and have His desires for us in mind. When we have the mind of Christ we can pray boldly and act boldly because we know that we are aligned with the spirit of God.

10. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

We can say we know God. We can know God loves us. We can see the blessings and be thankful. We can know the right things to do. But if we don’t go boldly and actually DO the Word of God can we really say we truly know God? We need to obey His Word and leave the consequences to Him. Surrender, trust and receive full blessings.

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Worship, Work, Witness

Are you an “all work and no play” sort of person. Do you know an “all play and no work” person? I just finished studying John 12:1-8 where these issues arose. It’s fascinating how much teaching God puts in 8 sentences.
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My “Bible spirit”, Martha, is busy making an amazing dinner for Jesus. Mary, her sister, lets her hair down and rubs very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Meanwhile Lazarus, the famed friend whom Jesus lifted from death, sits as a witness to Jesus’ holy position with God.
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All three play an important role in this scene. And yet the disciples question Mary’s action — “Shouldn’t we sell that perfume and give it to the poor?” But Mary, who frequently sat at Jesus’ feet knew what was to happen. She was worshipping Him before His impending death.
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Jesus makes it clear there’s a time to worship/celebrate and a time to work. This balance in our daily Christian lives provides us the opportunity for witnessing. How many times have you personally said you don’t have time, even 15 minutes a day, for Bible study? How many times has the opportunity to volunteer at your church come up and you said your calendar is full? How many times have you told a friend or family member you were too busy? How many times have you seen or heard someone in need but you didn’t stop your busy life to help? How many times have you skipped church for something “more important?”
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Where have you gone out of balance? And are you taking the time to complete this holy lesson with witnessing His love and His power and His grace?