Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't Say Such Things!

“Don’t say such things,” 
      the people respond.
   “Don’t prophesy like that. 
      Such disasters will never come our way!”  Micah 2:6 NCV

I spent all of my teenage years and well into my adult life believing that I could have God in my life... “My Way”.  That is... I liked hearing about God and His ways when what was said about God was pleasing to my ears. 
If I heard a Christian speak about “sins” that I didn’t agree were “real” sins...or speak about God’s judgment one day... (as if God would ever run out of patience and actually judge us)...or if they spoke about a hell that wasn’t a great party place to go to... Well, I just didn’t want to hear any of it! 
I can recall many times in my early 20’s when as a flight attendant, as I worked along side of a Follower of Christ, that I would instantly reject anything they said about God that was contrary to the way I wanted to live or believe. 

I had also worked with many more Christians who only spoke about “Jesus’ love and how forgiving He is of everything we do. They never spoke about what our “sins” cost Him or about God's coming judgement. They spoke only of a “user-friendly” that does not offend.

Yup...I loved those Christians. They were “good people” and didn’t offend my beliefs or criticize anything I did...In fact...they even joined me in my life-style at that time. We engaged in many conversations about God as we’d sit in a bar over-indulging in too much alcohol. ”Too bad” I thought, “that all Christians couldn’t be as loving and fun and non-judgmental as these.”

“But you people want a false prophet 
       who will tell you nothing but lies. 
    You want one who promises to prophesy good things for you 
       if you give him wine and beer. 
       He's just the prophet for you.” ~Micah 2:11 NCV
The way I once thought of God and of His messengers (Believers in Christ) are not fond memories for me...but ones I pray I have learned from!

As I meditated on the words of the prophet Micah... I wanted to know more about the people he was speaking to. I thought perhaps if I understood the circumstances that surrounded him, I might learn how to speak a more bold truth as well, in the face of being rejected by people I care deeply about and some I do not know.

Here is a very brief portion of what I discovered. (Please do some research as well! is a great resource for information and is one of several I use.)
Micah prophesied during the reign of Ahaz and was a period of upheaval and crisis.  Ahaz reign brought spiritual lethargy, apostasy and hypocrisy. The people still worshipped God, but it was ritual without life-changing reality.(1)
Yikes!  “worshipped God...without life-changing reality.” This sounds familiar! 

Why did the the people not believe Micah? Because for every Micah, there were many more that were saying that things would be fine. Yup... That was me all those years ago... Just keep telling me things will be fine and I’ll listen to you...but the moment you start doing that “warning thing”... 
“But I must say this... 
       The Lord is becoming angry about what you have done. 
    My words are welcome 
       to the person who does what is right.                          ~  Micah 2:7 NCV

So what changed my mind about God? Well, I honestly believe it was people praying for me. As my heart began to search for real security and peace, Jesus Himself placed into my heart that it was “ok” to come back home and become the daughter I was created to be...the daughter of the King, and the Beloved of Christ.  

I had run far way from my Father’s house and was covered in the filth and stink and coldness from a lifestyle that could never satisfy me and had left me desiring a purifying bath and a warm home to dwell forever in. 

At first when I came “home” I tried to hold onto with a slight fist some of my prized possession (opinions) of rebellion...

I thought I could have this new relationship with God and keep some of my long held beliefs that were contrary to His Word. However, the more time I spent listening to God’s messengers who taught God’s Truth straight from His Word... and studying God’s Word with prayer...the more I recognized that what I was holding onto had been a counterfeit of what God’s love really is.

 Once I had the real thing in my life... I not only want to hold tight to it...but I wanted to share it too!
But I was afraid... Afraid of offending friends...losing friends. Only the faithful love and wisdom of the Lord could take what I feared most doing and give me the courage to say with Micah; “But I must say this...” 

May it always be God’s Words  and not my own...spoken in Truth and with love when I share my concern for those who have not yet accepted Jesus and turned from a life of sin to a life of Hope and eternal joy! 

Who knows...maybe I will loss a friend... but what if I gain an eternal one? 
My words are welcome 
       to the person who does what is right.~  Micah 2:7 NCV
The power of praying for our family and friends who do not know Christ or have walked away from the daily and life-changing relationship with Jesus should never be underestimated!  Pray my friends and be bold with the wisdom of God!
(1) Micah Study by: Hampton Keathley IV  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ever Changing...

But they will not change; 
       they do not fear God. ~ Psalm 55:19b NCV
I really knew how to enjoy change when I was younger. Not only did I accept change ...but I often desired it. Now, however... it seems I have to not only work at my acceptance of change, but I also have to be deliberate in desiring it! 
Here’s what I mean...
When I was a young girl I enjoyed the change in my growing height as my dad would measure me against the doorway post with the mark of his pen. 

Now...the nurse at the doctor’s office measures the change of my lowering height on my health chart with the mark of her pen.

When I was young, I enjoyed the change in my age at each birthday celebration and the new privileges that came with each one. 

Now... each birthday seems to add another age required health exam of some sort. Instead of  fond privileges of youth...I’m now closer to entitlements for the aged!

As a school girl I enjoyed changing out my closet of clothes that no longer fit and replace them with something new and perhaps more stylish.           

Now...I stare at my closet full of stylish and new clothes and resent the change in my size that has me in need of buying something new that fits!

And... I enjoyed the changing seasons a lot more when I was younger.  Each one delighted and invited me to experience some wondrous activity that could only be enjoyed in it’s unique design. Whether the day was hot or the leaves had fallen or the snow was packed high or the blossoms were blooming I enjoyed each one. 

Now...The change in seasons I most enjoy are warm to hot. I’m resistant to any change in the climate that doesn’t involves these two elements alone. (Ok...maybe this one has been a resistance to change a lot longer than recently!).
In my younger adult years...I enjoyed being single and the career that had me flying to all sorts of different places...but then I loved the change that came into my life when I married. 

Now..I travel less often and the change from married to widowed...well...that is a change I resisted the hardest.

All of our experiences bring change. None of us can honestly say we are the same person we were as a child, or even as recent as a year ago. Our bodies are changing...and so too our minds and our hearts. Our habits change as do our personalities change from the experiences this life brings. Even relationships we cherish go through changes as well. With all this change going on around us and in us...we need to be aware that we do have a choice to make in how we accept these changes and also the direction our choice leads us towards...
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..." ~ 2 Peter 3:18 NIV
Although I may briefly resisted a change in my circumstances or even a change in the way I am feeling...I am thankful that my desire to love God is greater than my desire to remain unchanged by Him!

 For it is true that our choosing to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” reflects our love for God... because those who love Him are changing every day! Don't be afraid to make some changes in your life that God is guiding you to make, and don't be afraid to let Christ change you from within. As we surrender (change) our will to God’s...we're being transformed into the image of Jesus. 
All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 CEB
No matter what stage of life you are in right now...God doesn’t desire to leave you unchanged! Trust God in all the changes of this life. By faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior...”we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to the next...”     
Now that’s a change I can really rejoice in!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unlimited Power

The LORD said..., “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.” Numbers 11:23 (NASB)   

Who of God’s children has ever found the riches of God’s grace to evaporate in the heat of a fiery need? Which of his children has ever had to mourn that the unsearchable riches of Christ has failed to supply his or her need?  Amazingly, when it comes to our plea for God’s grace, the unanimous verdict is that God’s Grace is more than enough...He is still Almighty and that He fulfills all his promises!                                                                                       

What can there be in our thoughts or carried in our hearts that should lead us or any of his creatures to say,“Is the Lord’s power limited?”  How is it, that God should ever ask such a question of us? Of all God has created there is only one creature that God made that has ever doubted him. 
It's not the angels... for the angels of God never doubt him, nor do the devils either:devils believe and tremble!  

The little birds do not doubt God;  ...“Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest, they don't have storerooms or barns...”.Yet they sweetly sing at night as they go to their nest, not knowing where tomorrow’s meal will be found. 
Yikes! Talk about stubborn. We even read in 2 Peter 2:16  about a donkey’s trust in God; "But a donkey corrected him for the wrong he did. Animals don't speak. But the donkey spoke with a human voice. It tried to stop the prophet from doing a very dumb thing". Man is good at taming and training animals (James 3:7) but they have a thing or two to teach him about God. (2 Peter 2:15-16; Luke 12:24)

Yet, here it is in mankind, the most favored of all God’s creatures, whom it is found to mistrust God. Our doubting the power and faithfulness of Jehovah, began long ago with the rebellion in the Garden with Adam, and it continues today. Out of all the beings that God has ever fashioned, it’s important that we understand that we dishonor the Lord by unbelief, and we tarnish his honor by mistrust. 
Yes...Praise God! The Lord still loves us when we worry and when we doubt...He understands our weaknesses and He is compassionate. He forgives. However...when I allow worry to dominate my thoughts, when I live in doubt of God’s goodness because life seems to be throwing too much “bad” my way...I need to know...I want to know... how my doubts and worry affect the Heart of God, because I love Him too. 
So, how do we overcome our mistrust and doubts? Pray...ask God to help you overcome your unbelief!  

And then rest and trust in your belief of God and who He says He is. He is faithful and He keeps His promises...His Power has no limit.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Faithful Love

When reading and studying God's Word, I will often look up the Scripture I am reading in different translations. This method has helped me greatly in grasping more clearly the heart of God as I pray for Him to, "Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law"(Psalms 119:18). As I read Hosea 6:6 this morning I felt that I had been invited in to see the heart of God as I clearly heard Him speak to my heart saying...
 I want faithful love 
      more than I want animal sacrifices. 
   I want people to know me 
      more than I want burnt offerings.” - Hosea 6:6 NCV (Italics mine)

I think we can all relate to having the desire for a “faithful love". Who doesn’t want that? I can not imagine even one person on this earth saying they would be content with a spouse, friend or family member who only promises to love them unfaithfully

I also feel certain each one of us has a great inner need to be known by those we love and who love intimate kind of knowing that reveals our faithful love is accepted fully through their understanding of who we really are.

So,I do not find it all that strange for God who created us and is faithful always to love us, actually desires for us to give Him our faithful love in return. How revealing is the heart of God in just this one verse that was spoken to His prophet Hosea to proclaim. God wants to be known by me and all His people. Through our understanding of His love and faithfulness, we discover that just like us...God doesn't want a gift that camouflages unfaithfulness or words and deeds that deceive our true feelings. No... The One who created us gave us a heart like His...and our hearts can't buy faithful love. 

Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God's child and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God's love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins. 1 John 4:7-10

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fiery Furnace of Affliction

It seems that in the past year, an extraordinarily high number of people I come into contact with, have a loved one experiencing cancer or some other life-threatening disease. The deadly diseases of this world have no regard for the age of it’s recipient, or whether they believe in God or not. No, sadly the affliction of cancer and it’s deadly cousins, do not care for whom they harm or kill...they just strike out and hope to destroy not only their victim...but also to inflict great pain into the lives of those who love them. Although these deadly afflictions care not whom they touch...God cares. 

I am currently in the first weeks of an in-depth Bible study by Beth Moore on the Book of Daniel. It was after one of her lesson, concerning when people of God face a fiery trial, that I wrote to a friend in Christ, whose young son is battling a life-threatening health issue. He doesn’t have cancer...but the threats to his well-being are serious. A portion of what I shared with my friend came from what I learned from Beth’s teachings. Most comes  from what God has given to me as insight for understanding from my own experience of having gone through a “fiery trial of affliction” along side my husband.

I would like to share with you an edited portion of what I wrote to my friend...for I feel certain that some who are reading this, are either currently going through a fiery trial, or will be called to experience one in the future. 

"Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings."                       ~ 1 Peter 4:12 CEB

I wrote...

“Sometimes I think people assume that God has "chosen" only His "warrior" children to go through the type of affliction you and your family are going through. But I don't believe that for one minute. I would not have counted me in that category, that’s for sure, when Brad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer! Yet, I often heard people say to me how "strong in faith I was".  Not unlike you and Karen right now...I also found my strength in faith came from my firm belief that God is always with me and He alone can deliver me (us). This kind of faith I think, is not really so uncommon to most followers of Christ....but perhaps it has just not been tested in the same manner as we have been tested.

No one, regardless of their strength of faith would think to ask or ever choose to step into the furnace of afflictions...why, even Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown in! was their faith that allowed them to face the fiery furness rather than turn and run from their belief in God's love and matter what the result of their faith would bring upon them. They were willing to allow God to take the responsibility for their lives and for what would happen to their earthly being. They  were trusting that God would deliver them safely either on this side of death or into His Presence. 

What splendid security is found in this kind of faith! I searched for security all my the people I loved...the jobs I worked..the money I saved... And yet, it was through a fiery furnace of affliction that I found it. In Jesus alone. Accepting Jesus's love for me as ‘more than enough’ is where my search for security ended in finding this treasure... for it is in that truth, my security can never to be taken, lost, or stolen from me again. Glory!

I pray you and Karen continue to feel the love and prayers of all who would do everything possible to keep you from going through this trial if we could. If we so flawed a friend feel this way about you... how much more God does! The good thing about God loving you more than family and friends, is He also has the power and strength and determination to walk through this fiery trial with you and refine your faith like gold... never to leave any doubt that you are His...allowing you to shine so that His glory is seen by others in you! 

Please know...I continue to pray for your blazing furnace of affliction to be opened very soon and for you to hear our King shout; "Toby, Karen, Sawyer...come out! Servants of the Most High God,come here!” (Daniel 3:26). 

I pray that like our friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that the fire of affliction will result with you finding no harm has been accomplished to your bodies and that the fire did not burn you or leave you smelling of it's smoke! May only the precious fragrance of the Rose of Sharon who was always right there in the furnace with you, be the only smell left upon you all forever and always." ~ Kathy

I pray that these personal words of love and encouragement that the Lord gave me to share with a friend also touches your heart and encourages you as well. Perhaps, you too are going through a blazing furnace of affliction right now. I pray that what I have shared here may help to encourage you to trust this truth as well...                                                                          

What touches God’s children ~ touches God! 

“...Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

In His Grace,