Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We Have The Power of God In Us

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New International Version)

For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name.I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen


My husband Brad was a competitive guy. He loved to play all kinds of sports and games and in each one always put his “best efforts” into winning. Two sports that Brad introduced me to and we loved playing together were tennis and racquetball. Now, I can be pretty competitive too and I really like to win! So even though I might not have had the physical ability to play these sports at the same level of skill Brad had, he made them fun to play together by allowing me to “compete” by either playing left-handed (racquetball) or playing (tennis) a little less “intensely” and at a level that allowed me to excel.

Of course, since I’m a competitive person, whenever I would win points and even a game or two, I acted like it was my great skill that accomplished these great feats of victory! I did not give Brad any credit for how he adjusted his game to allow for my victories…(even though he was also nice enough to help me by teaching me better skills to improve my game). We would laugh together over my “beating him”… but I might have laughed a bit harder than I should on occasion! Sometimes when I would get a bit too full of myself over winning a point Brad liked to remind me of his “true” level of play by hitting the ball with the skill and speed he used when playing the sport competitively with his friends. Yikes! He was good!

We always had a great time and Brad usually seemed pretty content to allow me to enjoy those times when I thought I was an equal match to his talents and abilities. He was even sincerely thrilled when my level of play would improve and exceeded both of our expectations! He was a great encourager to “keep playing”! Brad knew he could have “swept the victories from me” … but he choose instead to invite me to join him in his love for these sports so that we could spend time together and share his passion for the games. His passions became mine.

You know… looking back now,it occurs to me that Brad and I may have thought we were playing “against” each other, but because of how Brad actually “played the game” we were actually playing on the same team all along. Brad didn’t play with all his might so as to “crush” me when we played together, he played the game in a way so that I would be encouraged and could learn new skills to play better. It would have been easy for him to play with all his might and ability and cause me to quit and feel that I could never measure up to playing the game and win.

God wants us to know that He is on our side too. So when adversity shows up to “play against us”…God is right there with us and even places His Right Hand over us so that we can drawn on His power and strength to strike back the blows of hard hits adversity plays at us. We are teamed with Jesus! Yeah! He is more than able to “crush” our opponent! We have a faithful God who stays with us throughout… encouraging and instructing us along the way in our battle with adversity. When we fully rely on Jesus, He is able to reveal to us through every return hit and swing at adversity… the powerful testimony of what only God can accomplish in us. Do not fear when adversity calls you into it’s game. Adversity may see a “wimp” but our weaknesses can prove to be a hidden treasure of God’s strength. In God’s strength we are given the taste of victory!

So…don’t be like I was with Brad when he gave me “a win” and I said it was mine…

It is to Jesus’ Name that all glory and honor is due! If others see us as strong while facing adversity… praise God!

You know...isn't it just like our Father to want us to look like Him!

The Daughter of the King.
Kathy

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adversity…Who Wants That?

Isaiah 30:20 (Amplified Bible)
And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.

Adversity: 1. A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune. 2. A calamitous event.

Reading over the definition of Adversity above, I have to ask… who would want to experience that? I can just imagine if God were to allow us to “sign up” for the various experiences this life brings here on earth that most of us would not sign up for Adversity! So while thinking about this kind of “optional sign up”, I imagined what my conversation with God would have sounded like several years ago if I had been given a choice by God to “sign up” for how I would come to know and love and trust Him…and to experience His amazing and abundant love in ways I never could imagine.

So here is how I think I would have reviewed my “life experience” options with God….

“Lord, thank you for my salvation and Your faithfulness. I know I did nothing to deserve it but. Wow, You love me! I am sincere in my love for You Lord and for all that you have done so that I may live eternally with You in heaven. My life is so much better since I accepted Jesus as my Savior because now I know I have you and the Holy Spirit within me to help me make wise and moral decisions. So… since I’m already feeling really good about everything… I’m willing to put my name on the list for knowing you through ‘Mountain Top Experience’! You know Lord; I can’t wait to get to know you better in these kinds of experiences!

And Father, I’m ok with You sprinkling in a few “Some Mild Discomfort” experiences… (If you would, please promise they will also be brief), since I know that going through some tough stuff will help me know You better. So I’m willing Father to sacrifice my complete happiness for a short while…after all, I trust you, and believe that Jesus is with me and will help me endure.

But… Father, I still need to pray some more about signing up to experience ‘Moderate Discomfort’. Now, I realize that as these “experiences” get tougher I’m going to experience You in ways I never will without them…but if it’s ok with you… can I get back to you on that one? I don’t think I have the strength and courage to sign up for this. I’ve kind of pictured my life being ‘carefree’ …full of fun and laughter. It may sound like I think everything should evolve around my happiness, but Lord, I do think of You too…really. Why just the other day I remembered You…

“Adversity” Yikes! Lord, as much as I’d love to know You more intimately and experience Your abundance of love and compassion during times of great hardship…and even experience Your peace which surpasses all understanding… well, don’t you agree that this would be a bit too big of a stretch for me? I mean, after all, signing up for adversity would be a real sacrifice for me… if you know what I mean. I’m pretty sure this would require me to look beyond my own plans and comfort and desires for what my life should be all about. You know…I’ve even heard that if I experience adversity, I will probably have to let go of some of the things I have a pretty firm grip on…and it could even affect my relationships with people I really love…and my future plans. It’s not that I don’t fully trust You, I really sort of do! I believe You will keep Your promises about never leaving me or forsaking me...after all, I feel you are with me right now! May I add…what an awesome feeling this is!

Anyway…I’m pretty confident from what I have been told that you only allow adversity to touch your children’s lives which has an ultimate good purpose in it. But, is it also true that I might not understand the “good” reason for it until I see You face to face? You know…that could take a lifetime!

Although you promise to provide all the strength I will need to endure a season of adversity…it’s just well, frankly it scares me and I’m just not willing to risk what I already have to allow adversity a try. I’m pretty confident that kind of experience will not make me as happy. (You did read the definition of adversity didn’t you?) So Father, I’m sure you understand…”

God does indeed understand. So perhaps it is fortunate that God does not allow us to “sign up” for our life experiences. Although I would not have ever “signed up” for the adversity of my husband to have cancer and all the pain and suffering that disease inflicted in our lives…I can honestly say, I would not want to lose what I have abundantly gained in my trust and faith, and great love for Jesus Christ from it. This season of adversity has transformed me.

Still… it sounds like a tough trade wouldn’t you say? Well it is...and it is not one I could have ever chosen. And God knew that. So, He does not ask us if we want adversity… instead, when the season of adversity comes to one of God’s children, He loves us so much that He desire to equip us by “signing up Jesus” to come with us and to hold us up when we can not stand on our own anymore. Christ gives us His strength and courage throughout every moment and every breath of adversity. It is in our total weakness that we can experience closeness to Christ and establish a relationship that can never be shaken. It is in and through adversity that His abundant love and provisions are revealed for all seasons of life here on earth and in heaven.

You may be in a season of adversity right now… There are many who are struggling with cancer and other serious illnesses…perhaps your adversity is financial, or maybe you have a spouse or child in the military fighting for freedom overseas…or you are struggling with an addiction or someone you love is…maybe you have lost a love one through death or divorce…there are countless other “adversities” this life brings. God knows you can’t do this alone… and He desires for you to stop struggling and allow Him to be your Strength. As you become more reliant on Jesus’ power, love and faithfulness…you will experience a closer relationship with Christ and His abundant love and provisions for all the seasons of your life here on earth. As your relationship with Jesus grows so will your trust… and you may just find yourself “loosening your grip” on what worries you as well. I can’t think of anything I desire to have or any precious person I greatly love, that I wouldn’t confidently place firmly in my Savior’s Hand for safekeeping. What’s amazing to me is that when I do that… Jesus picks me up and holds tightly onto me too for safekeeping. Now that’s amazing love!

Check back with me latter to hear how we don’t have to wait to experience God’s abundance after a season of adversity…we can experience God’s abundance while we are living in it!

In His Grip,
Kathy

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wholehearted Worship

2 Samuel 6:14 (NIV)
"David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might".

As I read God’s Word this morning I was given an overflowing fresh "view" of how great God’s love is. As I meditated over the Scriptures in 2 Samuel 6 & 7, the Lord reminded me that He not only is thinking of me, but chooses to take me with Him into a relationship that will forever change my life!

I soon became overcome by my sincere heartfelt love and gratitude joined with renewed amazement that the Creator of all things knows my name and loves me faithfully even when I am completely and utterly unlovable and faithless! I could not help but ponder the very question David asked in 2 Samuel 7:18, "Who am I, Lord that You are mindful of me?"

2 Samuel 6:14, says" David...danced before the Lord with all his might". David's focus was completely on God...without any distraction or
“proprietary concerns", He gave the Lord his wholehearted devotion. As David danced with all his might...he didn't take a look around to see how "everyone else" was celebrating God's presence ... he didn't "check" to see if others were dancing or "raising a hand or two" as they praised God. I don't believe for a moment that as David danced down the streets of Jerusalem, he had any thoughts of "those with him". His heart and mind were fully centered in God. That's what I want my time with God to be as well! Fully centered...fully focused in God!

Although we may not always be able to express our devotion to Jesus by "dancing" when on Sunday mornings we join together in songs of worship to our Lord...I do feel we cannot fully worship God if we are allowing our eyes and thoughts to also focus on what someone next to us is doing or not doing during their time of worshiping God. Don't let this be the distraction that divides you and your devotion to God. Worship is a personal expression of love and thanksgiving... an offering we bring to the throne of Jesus our Savior.

I'm sure you will agree with me when we enter into the presence of the Lord to worship God and praise Him for Who He is, we want to give Him all we have to bring. I do not want to bring just a portion, but all... all I am...all I have...may the Lord see that everything within me "dances with all my might" (even if my feet don't run up and down the isle, I’m dancing from my heart and soul)!

As I give all my love and devotion to Jesus the Perfector of my faith...my Redeemer I find I have an “I have to praise Him… with all my might or I’ll burst” experience!

All glory to God,

Kathy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We Are all God’s Favorite! Colossians:3:23-25

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.



As most of you know... my husband Brad died a little over two years ago of cancer. The days leading up to his death were horrific and heartbreaking. His death left me feeling amputated. We were one...by God's design for us in marriage...there could be no deeper cut.

Yet, over the past two years God has revealed and provided me with many displays of His love and compassion for Brad and for me. However, there have been some days when I have struggled with not so much the "why"...(for so many others who love God have been afflicted in similar ways or even worse),but I have struggled with feeling that somehow God was displeased with me...well, displeased because He knows me!

I know I have not done anything to deserve any of the good things God has blessed me with. Brad being absolutely the best blessing in my life... apart from Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior! The Lord has blessed me greatly since Brad's death in countless ways. He is faithful and He loves to blanket His children in His abundant provisions and love. My love and trust for Jesus has increased beyond measure. Yet, I have still occasionally struggled...

I struggled with feelings that perhaps if I had loved God more...He would have "favored" Brad and I instead of allowing the cancer to "win". No Scripture or Bible teaching lends itself to this kind of thinking... I know it is a lie...but, in times of weakness...it was there that these thought would creep into the "cracks of my armor".

When I study God's Word I ask that He reveal to my mind and heart what He wants me to know about Him and to give me a new insight into His love and purpose...to give me the courage to respond and act..and to share.

Sooo, while studying Scripture in Colossians 3, I came across the end of verse 25 which states, "there is no favoritism". The Lord illustrated this Truth to my heart in this way;

Imagine a father who has 5 children whom he loves greatly and all have fallen into a deep lake and will drown if he does not rescue them. This human father would not "favor" saving one child over the other. No, he would certainly desire and attempt to save them all!

How much more that God loves all of His children. Unlike the human father, God our Father know exactly what each drowning child needs. One child may need to be rescued "first" because he is the weakest of the 5 and will not survive any delay.

Another child has the ability to "hold on" slightly longer because God has enabled him to. The next child has even more strength and confidence in their father and know He is coming to recues him, so although he is scared and feeling tired, he able to wait a bit longer still.

The 4th child can't see His father but knows He is near and is calling his name...encouraging him to "keep swimming". This child remembers all his father taught him about swimming and focuses his mind and heart on his Father's voice...trusting in His promise to come rescue him. It's taking so much longer than he thought for his Father to come rescue him...he's tired and cold and scared and he begins to lose hope, so he begins to sink...and at that very moment, his Father lifts him out of the water and he is safe.

The 5th child knows he is greatly loved by his Father...this child has seen how his Father rescued all the others from drowning and is grateful to see his brothers are safely back on dry land. He knows his Father is trusting him to hold on and keep swimming.

This child has been waiting and swimming a long time now, but he overcomes his fears of drowning quickly because he can hear his Father's voice and he knows his Father will come for him too. He is amazed at his own strength...yet he knows this strength comes from practicing all that his Father has taught him. He also thinks about how much his Father loves him. He is secure in knowing that his Dad will soon reach out and take him from this nearly impossible struggle to survive in this deep water...

The Father reaches the last child and he is safe once again ...

Whether the 5th child is saved to walk on the dry shores with his other brothers or to walk on the streets of gold with Jesus ... the Father loved each child without favor. God alone knows what each child needed and the right moment to reach them. He loved each and met their needs as each one required...in God's perfect wisdom...and in God's perfect Way.

So, I thank my Father in heaven and praise the name of Jesus! God's love is perfect.

When I was drowning in fear and sorrow... He lifts me out of the pool of doubt and took me to dry land. While holding me tightly in His protective arms I think I heard Him say.... "you know Kathy, if I had a favorite...it would be you"! But you know,I also heard Him say the very same thing about you...and about all my brothers and my sisters... and I didn't mind that at all! It gave me joy!

God doesn't show favoritism... because we are all His favorites!

Worthy is the Lord! May our lives be an offering...our every breath and heartbeat for His glory alone. I once lived "for me"...I now greatly desire to live for Christ.
Kathy