Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Far Above

“. . . what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet . . .” (Ephesians 1:19-22)

If Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Savior, is FAR ABOVE all things, if all things are under His feet, if He is seated at the right hand of the Father, why do I doubt? If God’s immeasurable greatness of His power is accessible toward us who believe, why do I not trust? Stay paralyzed? Frozen? Confused? Insecure? Frustrated? Why do I try to work or be strong in my own strength?

Christ is FAR ABOVE all . . . He died that I would live in freedom. He was raised that I might have life. He is in the heavenly places interceding for me right now that I might become the woman God intends for me to be. LORD, help me to remember you are far above all and your power is beyond my comprehension.

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“So we do not lose heart . . . as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflections from Life Group

Last night was amazing! I love Tuesday nights with these ladies! Here are some of my favorite things we’ve learned from/about each other this summer:

Hot Seat-we’ve been playing hot seat each week and learned so much about one another!

1. Girl #1 is an only child and pursuing her master’s in Speech pathology.
2. Girl #2 used to be Mormon, and was converted back to Christianity through her husband.
3. Girl #3 only likes things in even numbers (stereo volume, air conditioner, etc.)
4. Girl #4 is an exercise physiologist and her husband is a real, actual park ranger!
5. Girl #5 was raised in a home with a mother who was Methodist and a father who was Muslim.

We shared some time-efficient ways to memorize our scriptures:

1. Tape them to the shower door! (The outside of course)
2. If you don’t have a shower door, use a sandwich baggy and tape them inside your shower.
3. Tape them to the mirror and read them while brushing your teeth (and if your Rema, you’re also doing squats)
4. Leave your scripture/bible out on the counter as your getting ready in the morning.
5. If you’re Marylou and you have 5 kids-Lock yourself in the bathroom, climb into the bathtub, close the shower curtain and read! This was my favorite, I love it! Too funny!

We went around and shared what we were reading in the bible and what the LORD taught us. This is the part that just truly excites me! Is God working in us, or what?

1. Steph shared how John 14:15, 21 spoke to her, how our love and obedience for the LORD really go together. If we love Him, we’ll obey Him.
2. Stacia is reading Ezekiel, however last week she reminded all of us that we are a “Child of God” and that stuck with us throughout the week.
3. Michele is reading Isaiah. She shared about all of the judgment and wrath God poured out, reminding us that He is jealous for us, pride produces self-sufficiency, and God really wants us to rely on Him.
4. Marylou shared Colossians 3:12-13 with us, reminding us to have a Christ like attitude towards others (compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience).
5. Jaime is reading Ephesians 1. She shared in the greeting how Paul is writing to those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus”. She asked herself and all of us “what would it take for others to characterize you as faithful in Christ Jesus?” She thought about if people were to talk about her at her funeral, would people describe her this way? Powerful.

So I want to ask you that! What would it take for others to characterize you as faithful in Christ Jesus? Leave a comment . . . what does that mean to be “faithful in Christ Jesus?”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Service and Submission

Twice in the last week I have received the same lesson from God. The first time it came from an article titled “Tyranny of the Urgent” by Charles E. Hummel in our bible study for life group (from the Navigators Colossians 2:7 series on discipleship-“Growing Strong in God’s Family”). To summarize, this article was about how we “let the urgent things crowd out the important”. I’ll just list some of the things I underlined:

“Yet Jesus’ life was never feverish; he had time for people. He spent hours talking to the Samaritan women, yet when his brothers wanted him to go to Judea he replied ‘my time has not yet come’.”

“He prayerfully waited for his Father’s instructions and the strength to follow them. He discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer. Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned.”

“It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack . . . these come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstance.”

“Frenetic service for God can become an escape from God. If a Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and received his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. He may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to himself and others, but he will not finish the work the work God has for him to do.”

The second time, this same lesson came from a devotional I read this morning by Oswald Chambers. http://utmost.org/my-utmost-for-his-highest/

“We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him.”

“Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.”

I can easily overwhelm myself with service and shepherding. So many times I have come to the LORD with a list of people my heart longs for to be saved and freed from sin, Satan, and death. I have asked the LORD how I could possibly shepherd and evangelize all of these people. To which He responds, you don’t have to “save” all of these people. You just need to be an instrument for me to work through. I will save, just obey me when I ask. I love the message in both of these articles/devotionals. Jesus’ served and guided others, but submitted first to the will of the Father. He did only what His father asked and that is where His sufficiency came from.

Are you there? Feeling overwhelmed? Burdened for the needs of others? Not knowing where to start/stop? I’m there. I thank God that I can come to Him in prayer for discernment, wisdom, and peace about my part. My job is simply to listen and obey . . .

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scripture 10

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe . . .” (Ephesians 1:16-19)

I have been praying this for the ladies in my life group. So I thought I might as well try and memorize it! I have absolutely enjoyed Tuesday nights with these women, it’s the highlight of my week!

To the wonderful ladies in my life group . . .

I am so grateful to serve you and have you in my home every Tuesday! You encourage me each week. I delight in hearing what the LORD is teaching you. I consider it an honor that you invite me to share in your lives. It’s a privilege to pray for you and to grow along side of you! I truly hope that all of our hearts are enlightened to what God has called us to, the wonderful and intimate relationship with our LORD and our inheritance as daughters of the King! I know that you all are facing trials and struggles right now, and my hope is that we would all cling to Christ, lean on one another, and press on . . . I love you all! You bring me so much joy!

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:12)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jesus' Love

This morning in Kid’s Connection we talked about stewardship and read about the Rich Young Ruler. I understand the lesson in this story. I know that the point is not to love our stuff more than God. I’m not trying to stretch or pull out something from the text that isn’t there. So please just know this was just a little side lesson the LORD taught me this morning. As I was reading this story to the kids, 2 words really stuck out to me. My heart was moved by two little words in this scripture that I never really noticed before.

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21)

What I loved about rereading it today were those words, “loved him”. I love how Jesus doesn’t give us a formula for following him, but out of love, He speaks directly to the issues in our hearts. The issues that are personal, the struggles we have specific to our self, the things that keep us from completely surrendering and trusting him. He did this with the woman at the well, remember? He spoke to her about her “many husbands”. He did this with Nicodemus, telling him to be “born again”. He did this with Martha reminding her not to busy herself with serving but to choose the “good portion”.

I love this about our LORD! He knows us so intimately, He loves us so much, that He will address those things in our lives so that we may have eternal life, that abundant life He died to give us. He knows it is going to hurt us a little to have these inner issues revealed, but He also knows it’s the loving thing to do to bring these out into the light so that we would grow closer to our Heavenly Father and be conformed to the image of His son.

I learned that the more loving thing to do sometimes is to speak truth directly to heart issues. The more loving thing to do is help someone see what it is that might be interfering with and preventing them from having an intimate relationship with God. I learned from Jesus that this is not judgment, but love. (Oooh, fine line I know). Jesus loved the rich young man, Jesus loved all of the people he spoke these hard truths to. As a community of believers, we are called to speak truth in love to one another, so that we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

Will you allow Jesus to lovingly address the heart issues in your life? Will you allow friends/family to lovingly speak truth into your life? Will you lovingly speak truth to others?

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:5-6)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Delight in the LORD

Santino came home from work this week after listening to a sermon from his favorite pastor John MacArthur. The sermon was on Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He asked me to tell him what I thought this scripture meant. I said “if we are delighting in the LORD, our desires will be His desires. If we are seeking and following Him, our hearts will want what He wants for us.” Then I thought . . . hmm . . . what is he getting at here?

We were talking about how often this scripture is quoted and even misquoted. It is almost as if we just use that second part to confirm our desires, as a guarantee to get what we want. We miss the whole first part of this scripture. “Delight in the LORD”. Santino was saying how if we delight in God, He will give us our desires. Not meaning he will grant what we want (whether it is or is not a desire from the LORD) but that the LORD will give us desires. We will desire the right things; we will want what God wants because we are delighting in Him. If we find our joy in the LORD, He will put things on our heart. We can pray confidently for those things because they are from Him!

I think the question becomes . . . are we truly “delighting in the LORD”? We don’t have to ask if God can and will give us the desires of our heart, He can and will. The question is . . . are we only thinking on the second part of this scripture? The part we can “claim” without pursuing and delighting in Him?

What does it mean to “delight” in the LORD? How do you find joy in the LORD? John Piper says in his book Desiring God, if we can think of Heaven as streets of gold, reuniting with our loved ones, enjoying blessings, no more crying and suffering, etc. without Christ, we’ve missed the point. He reminds us that the joy of Heaven is Christ! When you think of Heaven, do you think of his blessing or do you think of Him? Are you thinking of the gifts, or the Giver? Do you find joy in the LORD; joy in knowing that He is your Creator/Sustainer . . . Savior . . . Redeemer? He is the one in whom we delight! How do you delight in the LORD?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

His Glorious Grace

This morning, I did my second lesson in Ephesians from Chuck Swindoll’s online course. He titles his study on Ephesians “Becoming a People of Grace.” He says living by grace means . . .
1) Accepting others (failures and all)
2) Forgiving
3) Refusing to live in bondage to guilt and shame.

He was teaching through Ephesians 1:1-14 and gave us a few things to think and reflect on. He had us . . .
1) List the verbs in verses 3-9.
Blessed, chosen, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, lavished, obtained (an inheritance), sealed (with the Holy Spirit), guarantee (our inheritance).

2) Write down who was responsible for the actions of these verbs. God.

3) What does that tell us about the nature of our salvation? It tells us that God is the initiator and the One doing all of the work to save us and to sanctify us.

He finished his lecture having us look at v.6, 12, and 14. Why does God save us and bless us?
v.6 “to the praise of his glorious grace”
v.12 “to the praise of his glory”
v.14 “to the praise of his glory”

This is why we are saved . . . to praise Him. We are chosen by Him. For that and no other reason should we surrender our pride and live the rest of our live as a praise offering for our redemption. We should spend our life singing of his glorious grace to Him, with gratitude, and to others, with compassion. Our job is to praise Him and show others His grace.

Let’s praise Him, His glorious grace, to the praise of His glory.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Scripture 9

Our Redeemer

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

I have been reading Ephesians 1 over and over these past few weeks. I just think it’s so rich of doctrine, theology, our identity, and our position in Christ. I am just trying to wrap my mind around it all! So I will continue to work through this scripture and will be trying to memorize through verse 7. I love verse 7!

One of my favorite ways to think of the LORD is as my Redeemer. I can remember growing up and people telling me “Do you know that Jesus died on the cross for you?” I can remember thinking “what does that have to do with me?” Then I watched the Passion of the Christ. Remember that scene when the women caught in adultery is about to be stoned? The scene shows her on the ground, shaking, her face is covered in dirt. She stretches out her hand and looks up, and Jesus is standing in front of her. He is defending her, rescuing her from physical death, and ultimately redeeming her. The rest of the movie you see this woman faithfully following Jesus. She is there every step of the way . . . faithful . . . loyal . . . to her Redeemer.

That is so powerful to me! She was filthy and about to be killed for her sinful behavior. Although I am not faced with a stoning, my sin has made me dirty and my penalty is death. For no other reason than love, Jesus stepped in, defended me, rescued me, and redeemed me. I pray that I respond like this woman . . . with faithfulness, loyalty, obedience, and gratitude to my Redeemer for the rest of my life.