Wednesday, April 27, 2011

God has it all...

This morning, as I sat in the sanctuary, I had a bible in my hands and it fell open to Psalm 18.  (No, it wasn't my bible, so I can't say that my love of that Psalm helped it there....)  and this is what I read:
"He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me."  vs. 19
A spacious place... an open area, or a place of safety as one translation renders it....
And I felt that there this morning.  I knew that God has it all.  
I mean, we are selling our house so we can move to the farm. But first we have to paint, clean, empty out and do some repairs.  At the same time, still live there with 2 kids and 2 cats.  How in the world are we supposed to keep this little house clean enough to show it?

God can see it.  He knows what we will do.  He knows our choices.  He knows the buyer.  He knows how He is going to use this house. He knows how He is going to use us in the lives of the buyers, in the lives of Dave's family.  He knows how it is all going to turn out....
... and suddenly I could breathe again...
He brought me out to a spacious place - (into a place of safety)


Be cause He delights in me.

He delights in me.  In you. In everyone He created.  He rejoices over us with singing.

All these thoughts flooded me as I sat there in His presence in the sanctuary, my safe place.

I had peace.
It's so amazing, that peace that passes understanding.
I just look at where God has taken me, and though I am overwhelmed with the thought of prepping my house for painting with my dad, much less anything else, I know that God has taken me through so much worse.  
There was no way I could have persevered through what I did without Him pushing me all the way.  He was the one who placed that little bit of grit and determination in me to keep me going, even when the rest of me wanted to die, stop and forget, and give up.  
As Psalm 18 says in the New Living Translation:
"Lord, You have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness.  In Your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." vs. 28-29
The impossible things that we are up against, that seem like such a high wall to climb, they aren't impossible with God.

God has taken me into my promised land.  Once the Israelites were in their promised land, they had to fight for every square foot of it, even though it was theirs.  They had to take it from their enemies, even though it was theirs.

I have to take my promised land too. Its different, but the same.  I have to take the land that is mine, but not in my strength but God's.  Its with HIS strength that I can crush an army.  It is WITH my God I can scale any wall.

My wall and army is my house and the mountain of work there for me to do.  But my God's strength is more than enough.  
Without Him, I will not be able to scale the walls of my Jericho, but with Him, I won't have to even touch those walls. 
They'll just come tumbling down!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The right Garden...

I read something recently comparing the Garden of Eden with the Garden of Gethsemane.   

The different men in them.

They were both wrestling.

When you read the beginning of Genesis, you don’t see the wrestle.  But it’s there.  It’s implied between the lines.  If you’ve been walking in the garden with God, in freedom and love and trust, there is a wrestle to move away from that.  How difficult the wrestle is sometimes depends on how long you’ve been walking with God, and how deeply you have believed Him.

The thought that God didn’t really have their best at heart must have been like a knife.

The thought that God was holding something out on them, or denying them something they hadn’t even thought to have asked.  Painful.

To have the truth twisted just a little bit, turned a minute hair, and the wrestle was over.

The choice was made.
They ate.
And then they saw, really saw.

Oh, I have lived so long wishing that my eyes had never lost their innocence!  Wishing that different choices had been made.  Wishing I had won my wrestlings, and thus stayed close to God.

How much regret and guilt and shame must have weighed Adam down.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, there was another wrestle.  A hard fought one.

The thought of what God was asking Him to do must have been like a knife.

The thought that God might find another way to work out His purposes, yet be choosing Him to suffer.  Painful.

Through the wrestle, maybe Jesus’ emotions cried out terribly to not even have to make a choice.  Maybe He didn’t want to.  I know there have been times when I have been forced to make a choice and all I have wanted to do was run away.  But in the running, that is a choice as well.

I have lived with the agony of emotions torn apart.

Jesus did that night in His garden.

Jesus’ choice was made.
He ate.
In His eating, He saw, really saw, the depths and the heights.

His eating took time.  Painful, pain filled time.  Torture, separation from His Father, death… but then, glorious resurrection!

In the Garden of Eden, Adam made a choice.  It was a choice to believe the lies, and not God.

Adam chose unbelief.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus cried out, “Not my will but Your’s be done,” He made a choice.  His choice was to believe the truth, believe His Father.

Jesus chose belief.


In our gardens of wrestling, where are we going to land?

Are we going to be in the right garden?

Am I?

Am I going to be in the right garden with Jesus, crying out, “Not my will Father, but Your’s be done!”  Or will I succumb to the lies and the subtle and not so subtle traps of the enemy in the wrong garden and tell God that I am going to do it my way, not His?

If I pick the second, I am choosing unbelief.  That’s the start to all other sins. If I don’t believe God for something, I am going to try to fix it on my own, try to escape whatever is bothering me, and land myself in more sin and trouble.

If I pick the first, I am choosing to believe my Living God.  Actively believing God means trusting Him with my all.  Me.  My life.  My family.  My job.  My church.  My future.  All of it is in His hands.  His plans are the best for me. 

That active belief produces life altering peace like nothing else I have ever experienced.

I want to always end up in the right garden, the Garden of Gethsemane.

Yes, it was filled with pain.  Yes, it was filled with tears.  Yes it was filled with wrestling, sweating to the point of blood.  Horrid wrenching emotions, nearly leading to despair. 

But it is a Garden filled with God. 
It is a Garden in which  I can walk with Him.
It is a Garden I can be free and unashamed…. Even unashamed of the emotions the wrestling has pulled out of me.

It is the right Garden.
The Garden of Belief.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Making everything new...

Today I looked outside and was met with a rainy Sunday morning as I got ready for church. While getting ready, I heard thunder. Then there was the bits of ice hitting the window and the hint that it had snowed out a bit too.

My husband came home from his third shift and warned me to take it easy on the way home. The further north, the worse the roads were. (He had come from work, which is north of us by only about 20 minutes - there was that much difference in the temperatures and precipitation type)

It's still cold and grey, windy and misty out, even now.

Our pastor reminded us this morning that though everything looks dead, dormant and we keep thinking that spring will never come, every single year it does.

Spring is such a reminder that God brings new life to what seems dead.

Revelations 21:5 says that God is making everything new, and that His words are trustworthy and true.

Did you hear that?

Not just some things, some plants, some trees, some people, some situations.

New life, new sight, new hearing, new flesh, new hope.

God has so much in store for us in the new life He offers. He has so much in store for me in the new life He offers to me.

My heart was just overflowing this morning with gratitude as we gathered together in the prayer meeting before the service. We only had about 40 minutes, but the time just seemed to fly by. I was truly able to enter into His presence and praise Him, confess and seek forgiveness for my sins, and pray for others in a way that I am not always able to do in group prayer times.

Pastor Kim shared today the differences between the Old Covenant that God made with Israel, and the New Covenant He has made with us. He had three different points, but one really jumped out at me.

The Old Covenant brought feelings of condemnation, while the New brings feelings of commendation.

The Old showed how we constantly fail at keeping God's laws and commands. the New gives us the internal power (by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us) to do what is right.

What really struck me about that was God shows us what to do and then empowers us to do it.

How many times have I gotten stuck? I hear and feel God impressing on me something He wants me to do or say. He speaks directly into my heart. Through His word, or through someone else or a bible study I am doing, He asks me to do something, or to give something up. And that's where I get stuck, because I feel like it is completely impossible. There is no way that I can do it, not a single chance that I could ever do or not do whatever it is.

and I can't.
Not in my own power.

But. God.

I love those words! How many times in the bible have those words come together just before God does something amazing, or gives an incredible promise?

God gives me the power to actually do or not do what He wants me to. I have to accept His help. I have to do my part and determine to do what is right, make the right choices, take captive my thoughts, stand firm against the enemy, filter my emotions through the truth of God's Word. Without His Spirit in me, I wouldn't be able to do any of those things effectively in my own power. I wouldn't be able to make those choices without His power in me, working to help me.

How many times do we find people walking through life, but not really living it the way God created?

And I'm not talking about non-believers here.
I am talking about us.
The church.
The Body of Christ.
The very people that God has given up His Son for, and given His Spirit to!!!!

How many times, how long have I walked through this life of mine, without really living? God has given NEW life, hope, peace, power, joy. New ears to hear His truth, new eyes to see Him working, new flesh to walk purely.

We have such power if we choose to tap into it. God has given us so much more than "just" salvation. We have so much more than a ticket to heaven!

With that new life, I have a new hope to which God has called me. Imagine that! We are called to HOPE! I have a glorious inheritance. Not just in heaven, but here on this earth God has given me, given all of us a Promised Land to live in - one flowing with milk and honey - abundance in ways we can't ever imagine.

Here is where I am going with this. We have incomparably great power that is ours if we believe. Not just believe in Him, but really believe Him.

That is the power I was talking about earlier. Power to do what God is asking of us. His power that raised Christ from the dead is at our disposal if we only knew how to use it. We don't have to walk about in defeat. We are free! Can't we start living like it? can't we start stepping out in the little things to see what God can do?

He is willing to start small with us, as long as we are willing to trust Him. As I have become more willing to believe my Father, as I have CHOSEN to believe Him, He has taken me a step at a time.

I've felt like I have been saying, "Ok, I thought I heard You say to test out the ground here and see if it is dry enough for me to walk on..." And so I take a step. Then there is another one, and another one. He keeps asking me, "Are you going to believe Me here too? Are you willing to believe me for this area of your life too?" I have recently been looking back, and all those little steps have added up to quite a long distance. Even in just the last 2 months or so.

All it takes is one step at a time. There is no condemnation for failing to live up to the "standards" and the "law." There is just love and gentle correction and a complete wiping clean of the slate. He gives us such love and approval when we do what He wants, and such love and forgiveness when we don't that we don't ever, ever have to feel condemned.

Only the enemy wants to hold us back. Only the enemy wants to keep us walking through life, not seeing the freedom and joy and peace we can have. Only the enemy wants to keep us from accessing the incomparably great power that is ours in Christ.

Because if we do, if we start living those victorious lives that are possible in Christ, we are going to be so attractive to other believers, they are going to want to know how to access that power in their lives. On top of that, we will find ourselves living our lives in such a way that we will be attractive to those who don't believe and they will want to know how we can live with such peace and joy.

No, we don't get it right all the time when we live in victory and freedom.
But that is the beauty of it.
We ALWAYS live in forgiveness.
We always walk in the new life, with new hope and new growth.