Monday, May 30, 2011

Back On Schedule

Hi Everyone!  We were out of town to celebrate my niece's wedding and I did not have access to the internet during that time.  I would have let you know ahead of time, but I thought that I would have a chance to hop on the internet.  I am currently not feeling well and I do not have a clear head to write a post after traveling all day.  So, I will post Wednesday through Sunday this week to get back on schedule.  Thank you for your patience, but please make sure you still spend some time in the Bible and with God.  I'm looking forward to studying about the Helmet of Salvation!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memory Verse #11

Philippians 4:8-9

This memory verse seemed like a fitting conclusion to this week since I have been studying peace.  Fear and anxiety start with thought processes; as does peace.  When we think on the good things of God, we are able to have peace because we are reminded by the good things that God has done for us and the good things God will do for us.  I have found myself struggling with many worries this year and it has often been about things that I have no control over.  Instead of focusing on what I cannot change or control, I should focus on the blessings that I have received from God.

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you."  What are the good things from God?  Countless answers to prayer... How many times He didn't give me what I asked for because He had something better planned... music... family... friends... nature... the list goes on...  When we choose to focus on truth and praise worthy things; we gain a peaceful perspective.  The peace that passes all understanding.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Peace In Community

1 Peter 3:8-15

We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences which means that we will all interpret things differently.  It is interesting how one thing can be normal for a person, but their neighbor can find it offensive.  This is especially true when we live in a neighborhood that is very diverse and has people from different countries.  For example, in America, we value punctuality and some will get offended if they are left waiting for a person.  In some cultures, it is acceptable to be late if it is because you didn't want to leave the company you're in and offend them by not spending enough time with them.  Throw church into the mix of backgrounds and cultures and you can have a divisive nature stirring because we all worship differently.  Please look at what God tells us about peace and harmony among each other in 1 Peter 3:8-15.

I believe one of the enemy's attacks is to cause division in the church.  It saddens me to think of how some churches because hurt or close to splitting over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary.  If division can happen over something as simple as paint and carpet, think of what happens when there is a disagreement on how ministry should be done.  We are told in this passage that we are to sympathize with each other and keep a humble attitude.  I think part of humility is letting go of what your preferences are and stepping aside to allow someone else to be comfortable.  Imagine what would happen if we could all remember to do that!

Verse 11 says, "Search for peace and work to maintain it."  To me, that sounds as if peace doesn't just happen; we need to be actively striving to find peace.  Even when we find peace with each other, it takes work to maintain it.  Earlier in the week, I looked at how Christ is where we find our peace so we must keep Christ the center of all our relationships.  We cannot create peace on our own, but if we are allowing Christ to change our hearts we will find peace.

What does this have to do with the Armor of God?  I believe if we are in peace together, we are able to stand firm as one with God and as a church.  We will be ready to share the hope we have in Christ because we will be showing the world the peace that only God can give.  We will be able to share the hope in Christ because people will want to know why we are different.

Are you searching for peace?  Are you willing to be humble?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Share Your Story of Peace


This verse is an interesting verse because I have seen it translated different ways that can give it a slightly different meaning.  I have not studied Greek; however, thanks to online tools such as BlueLetterBible.com, I am able to use the little I do understand and find the breakdown of the verse in Greek - word by word.  So I looked up this verse to see how it is worded in Greek, and I can see why there are different interpretations.  The bottom line is that peace provides an element of protection over our lives and we receive that peace from Christ.  Today, I am looking at the idea that peace makes us prepared with the Good News of the gospel.  Please look up Ephesians 6:15.

In his book, The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn't Exist, Craig Groeshel shares a story about when he was younger and had an opportunity to share his faith with someone.  The person came up to him and just asked him for his story, and Craig shares that he found himself at a loss for words.  He stressed the importance of practicing your story so you are ready to share it with anyone.  So, I am going to share my story with you as part of my practice.

I grew up going to church in a Christian home; however, my dad was an alcoholic which led him to sexually abuse me.  A few years later when my mother found out, she divorced my dad and got me and my siblings out of a very unhealthy environment.  It wasn't until I was a teen that I struggled with what he had done and why God would allow it.  Even through all that; however, I somehow knew that God loved me and was with me.  As I learned to lean more on God as my Father, I was able to begin healing from the abuse and later abandonment that my dad had done.  I learned that I could ask God to help me forgive him and one day I realized that I was no longer angry and bitter and found myself praying for my dad.  Statistically, I am supposed to be broken and ashamed and in unhealthy relationships but my God has pulled me out of that pit!  I am whole only through the healing power of my Savior and Redeemer.

I could sit here for days to share everything else He has done in my life since then, but that is how I first experienced Him in such a real and powerful way.  How about you?  What is your story?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Christ Is the Peace Giver

John 14:26-27

A few days ago, I wrote how I struggle with worry and anxiety which often has its roots in me trying to control situations that I often have no control over.  There are times; however, where I have experienced a peace that had no explanation other than God.  In the past, I have heard stories from missionaries that sounded scary and I was amazed at how the missionaries had so much faith.  But, while I was in Zambia, I had the opportunity to experience peace from God that allowed me to pray for the rest of the team.  We were sleeping in a remote village and in the middle of the night I woke up to hear people outside surrounding our building.  They were trying to curse us; however, God had given me a peace and I knew that we were protected by Him.  Instead, I found myself praying that the rest of the team would not wake up and for God's continued protection. It was amazing to know that we were safe in God's arms and that I could continue to rest peacefully.  Please look at a promise Christ left about peace in John 14:26-27.

Jesus promised that He would leave a gift of peace of mind and heart.  I just think of what a beautiful gift that is because when we struggle with worry and anxiety it can paralyze us.  Worry and anxiety will cause us to not think clearly and we will either react to situations poorly or not react at all.  However, Christ promised peace of mind and heart which empowers us to think clearly and trust God to move in all our situations.  In John 16:33 we are reminded of why we can have peace:  "I have told you this so you will have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart because I have overcome the world."  Christ has all authority over everything in this world.

The other piece that I want to put together is the promise that God would send the Holy Spirit to be with us (John 14:26).  Please read what Romans 8:5-6 says about what the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  I have been learning how so much of fear, anxiety and worry starts with an unhealthy thought process, where peace comes from healthy thoughts.  We think on the things that the Spirit wants us to think of and we will experience the peace that can only come from God.  Please look up Philippians 4:6-9.  Things will go wrong around us; however, God promises us that when we fix our eyes on Him and the good things that come from Him we will have peace in the midst of our circumstances.

Have you fixed your thoughts on all that is good?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beautiful Feet?

Isaiah 52:5-7

My daughter is a very active girl and loves being barefoot and she would probably go barefoot all the time if she had her choice.  She is small for her age, so her feet still look small to me.  When she is barefoot, she will skip or dance around the house as she is going about her day.  It truly is beautiful to see her little feet in motion as she expresses her child-like joy.  On the other hand, I can be a bit clumsy.  I often find myself bumping into things even if it is something that has always been in its spot.  This makes me more cautious because I don't want to fall.  I am always amazed at how sure-footed some people are, such as models, dancers, and gymnasts.  Whether or not I possess a great deal of gross motor coordination doesn't matter to the spiritual application God has for our feet.  Please look up Isaiah 52:5-7.

The part of the armor of God that I am focusing are the shoes that represent the peace we receive from the Good News.  In Isaiah 52, we see that the Good News is the news of peace and salvation and that our God reigns.  In Acts 10:36, Peter explains more about the peace of the Good News, "This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all."  The Good News is that Jesus died for us even though He was free of guilt so that we could have a right relationship with God.  But it doesn't end here.

Isaiah 52 says that the feet (or person) who bears this Good News is lovely.  The person who spreads the message of the hope in Christ to others is doing what God has called each and every Christian to do.  We are to share the peace that we can have with and in God.  Please look up what Romans 10:5-15 says about what we are to do as followers of Christ.  It can be uncomfortable or even scary to think about sharing your faith with another person; however, we see that if we do not share the message of the Good News, then others will not know.  Continuing on with the idea that our feet help us share the message of peace, please look up Habakuk 3:18-19.  It is God who gives us the ability to walk where He sends us and He will make us sure-footed, meaning that He will provide us with the words, strength, and peace to get the job done.

Allow God to work through you to give you your spiritual coordination!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peace

Ephesians 6:10-18

I worry.  For as long as I can remember I have worried.  When I was in grade school, I worried about my homework and whether or not I got it right.  It didn't matter that I got all A's in school - that almost seemed to amplify those worries because I had a standard to keep.  In high school I worried about friends and going to work and having time to complete my homework.  In college I worried about getting good grades and having time to practice to keep up with all the other music majors.  During my internship, I worried about doing a good job.  As a wife I worried about being a good and supportive wife to my husband.  As a mother, I worried about my children and their safety and whether I could spend enough time with them.  The list goes on and on!  Most of what I worry about now are things completely out of my control, so there's no use in worrying about them; however, it is a life-time habit that I am learning to break. While I still struggle with worry, I have learned to have a better perspective on life and I am still learning to hand things over to God.  One by one, God is teaching me to hand them over to Him and I am learning that putting on the Armor of God helps fight against anxiety and worry.  Please look up Ephesians 6:10-18.

The verse I am focusing on this week is Ephesians 6:15, "For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared."  Peace.  What does peace mean to you?  As I did a little research on the word, peace, I found so many definitions!  The Greek word, eirēnē, is the word for peace used in this verse and it means peace, one, rest, and quietness.  I don't know about you, but I know that when I let anxiety take over, I cannot sleep; I am up late into the night letting my stomach churn over things I cannot change.  In reality, it is control.  I want to be able to control certain circumstances so I know the outcome; however, God wants me to relinquish all control over to Him.  When I find myself handing my worry over to God; I find that rest and quietness I so disparately need.

The word, eirēnē is also found in Philippians 4:6-7, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  I see why peace is part of our armor; we are told that peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.  For me, I think that if I have control I will have peace, but the reality is that when I recognize that God is in control I don't have to worry about the outcome.  It is like my children who have never worried about food, clothing, or shelter because as parents my husband and I take care of them.  God is our Heavenly Father and He knows our needs and He wants us to go to Him with our needs.

Do you give your worries to God?  Do you pray about everything?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Transformation In Righteousness

Psalm 1

I used to work as a school secretary before we moved to New York.  I loved my job because every moment of every day was different and new.  Another reason I loved the job was because I have a passion for education and it was very interesting to me to see the creativity of the teachers I worked with in action.  The Kindergarten teacher had a tradition each spring with butterflies.  She would order a few chrysalises so that her students could watch a transformation take place before their eyes.  Since she ordered more than one or two, her students were very likely to have an opportunity to see at least one of the butterflies come out of their chrysalis.  It truly is an amazing thing to see how God's creation works.  It amazes me to think that those beautiful and gentile butterflies used to be a big, fuzzy caterpillar.  When we believe in the transforming power of Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, we get to have a spiritual transformation.  Today, I am focusing on the amazing things that happens to us when we are covered in Christ's righteousness.

Please look up Psalm 1 and see what God says about the person who delights in God's law.  We are not bound by the law because of Christ; however, we can still delight in the law because we know that we are pleasing God.  When we listen to God instead of the world, God says we are like trees planted along the river bearing fruit each season.  That gives me such a wonderful visual!  The trees that are planted near a river are big, strong trees because they never lack for nutrients and water.  Verse 6 tells us that "the Lord watches over the ways of the righteous."  When we are doing what God wants us to do, we are promised that He watches over us.

Please look up Isaiah 61:1-3, which is one of my favorite scriptures.  Verse three once again gives us a word picture similar to Psalm 1, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."  I really like the way oaks of righteousness sounds because it makes me picture a tall, strong tree that has withstood storms.  The oaks of righteousness are planted to display God's glory.  When we people see the transformation that has happened in our lives because of God, He gets the glory.  He transforms our ugly messes into things of beauty.


One more section of scripture to look at for today is James 3:17-18.  These verses tell us that peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness.  When we are doing the work God wants us to do with a spirit of peace, we will harvest righteousness.  What beautiful promises God has given us about righteousness!  Let's don the body armor of God's righteousness each and every day!  Philippians 3:9 tells us that the righteousness that comes from Christ is far better than anything we can do on our own.


Stand firm in the promises God has given us!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Righteous Through Faith

Philippians 3:5-9

When I was first learning to play the flute in the fourth grade, my mom put a sticker on my music stand to encourage me.  It said, "Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect."  The only problem with that statement is who can practice perfectly?  I practiced a lot because I loved playing my flute and I was driven to get better each day.  It didn't matter how much I practiced or how hard I practiced, my flute teacher would always have something to tell me that I could do to make it better.  When I was accepted into music school to study music therapy, I thought that I was pretty good.  Then I met other pretty good flute players at music school and met exceptionally good flute players.  I realized that no matter how well I play the flute, I will always be striving to do better.  Human righteousness is that way.  We can do everything right, but we are still full of sin.  Please look up Philippians 3:5-9.

We can appear to be perfect in every way, but it will still not be good enough because God looks beyond the appearance of our behavior and peers into our hearts.  Proverbs 16:2 says, "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives."  Paul writes in Philippians 3:9, "...I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith."  Paul was not saying that it wasn't worth following God's commands, but he was saying that following the law perfectly wasn't going to grant us the righteousness required to be right with God.  God wants us to trust Him.  He wants us to trust Him for our provision and protection, and He wants us to trust Him with our salvation.  God wants our faith.

I think it is a difficult concept at times because we are so used to receiving rewards for doing something.  Here on earth, we are not rewarded for the thoughts and feelings deep in our hearts because no one can examine our hearts and motives; we are rewarded for what people see us doing.  God rewards the heart; He rewards our faith.  When we have faith in God and believe what Christ has done, we obey because we want to obey not because we have to obey.  Otherwise our actions are just garbage (Phil. 3:8).

Are you depending on Christ for righteousness?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Redeemer's Armor

Isaiah 59:15-20

I just came home from the school district art fair, where two of my children had their work on display.  After we first went to find their work, we meandered through the aisles to look at the creativity and talent of the students in our school district.  There was a particular work done with photos where they were pieced together to make a larger work of art.  The artist took pictures of roses at several different angles and put the pictures together to make a new arrangement of roses.  It was well done and very fun to study.  The way the artist did this was to find parallels in the photos and piece together the photos that would continue the story.  I love parallels because they always make me think.  God put a lot of parallels in the Bible and I never fail to get excited when I discover a new one.  He must have fun waiting for me to discover a new parallel because I have to tell everyone around me about it.  Yesterday, as I was looking up verses about righteousness, I discovered these verses; please look up Isaiah 59:15-20.

Praise God our Redeemer came to buy us back; He bought us with His pure and perfect blood.  Please keep in your mind the glorious name, Redeemer; the name of the Righteous One who humbled Himself to come and be among us in order to pull us out of our pits.  I get so overwhelmed by His love that He would stop at nothing to bring us back to Himself!  Now, back to the parallel; please look up Ephesians 6:14-17 and see the beautiful parallel! We are told in Ephesians to put on the body armor of God's righteousness and we read in Isaiah that our Savior put on righteousness as His body armor.  Also notice that Christ put on salvation as His helmet just as we are told in Ephesians.  I love this and whenever I see a parallel in the Bible, I ask what is God teaching me.

I think this point is one that should not be lost on us:  the very body armor that Christ put on in this prophecy is the very armor that God wants us to wear.  Christ's body armor is righteousness and we are to put on the body armor of God's righteousness.  I want to stress that we are not putting on our own righteousness, we are putting on God's righteousness.  This is important as well because if our righteousness was adequate, we wouldn't need our Redeemer.  There is nothing we can do to have a righteousness that is going to make us right with God; we are only made right with God through Christ.  Let our Redeemer cover you and protect you with His righteousness, His very own body armor.

Are you wearing the body armor of our Redeemer?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Because of One Man

Romans 5:16-19

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a teacher that believed if the whole class had to suffer because of one person's actions, that person would succumb to peer pressure and never behave that way again.  I understand the thought behind the theory, but it seemed terribly unfair to the rest of the class that was obedient.  This was back in the day when ADHD wasn't a diagnosis given to children, and so there was little help for the child with ADHD.  Poor Sean didn't have a chance, and the whole class was constantly saying, "Thanks, Sean," when we once again, missed our recess.  Every now and then, we Christians joke and say, "Thanks Adam and Eve," when we are dealing with a consequence of sin.  The reality is that we failed just as much as they did, if not even more.  Either way, one man brought sin; however, one man brought salvation.  Please look up Romans 5:16-19.

I am continuing to look at what Paul may have meant by "righteousness" since he wrote Ephesians, where we find the Armor of God.  A pastor I work with at the church had no idea the other day that he was helping me with my blog.  We were in a conversation and he brought up the differences between studying Greek and Hebrew.  I consider him an expert since he used to teach those two languages at a Bible college.  He was explaining to me how in the Greek language (which was used for the New Testament), the word that is translated into righteousness could be looked at as being made right with God.  In the Hebrew (Old Testament) it is referring to God's holiness and justice.  I see how that makes so much sense in this section of scripture.  Paul writes, "Yes, Adam's one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous."

Our whole lives are different because of one man's actions.  Because Christ Himself was righteous and He chose to take our place on the cross, we have a right relationship with God.  That is so important!  How does that work as part of our armor?  I think it is because we do not have to listen to the lies of the enemy that condemn us.  When we believe in the life saving power of Christ's "one act of righteousness," we are made whole and clean; the enemy's condemnation has no power over us any longer.  We are forgiven.  Condemnation attacks our hearts to the core and destroys our hopes and dreams; however, knowing that we have a right relationship with God brings the hope of our salvation.

Are you putting on the body armor of righteousness so you can combat the lies of condemnation?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Righteousness

Ephesians 6:10-18

As I am starting my fourth week of looking at the armor of God, I realized that it has been a while since I gave a link to the entire section of scripture to the armor of God.  Please look up Ephesians 6:10-18.  I know that these words already have new meaning to me as God has grown me in these first three weeks.  Every day that I look at the Bible to learn more about the Armor of God, I pray that God would help me continue to learn and grow and I pray that you also have a desire to grow in your walk with God as well.  I enjoy being in the Word and spending time in prayer with God - that is what sustains me through difficult times and gives me hope and joy during the peaceful times.  God's Word is life!

Last week, I looked at the belt of truth found in Ephesians 6:14 and looked at five basic truths that keep us grounded and standing firm.  We know that the Bible is true, Jesus is alive, Jesus is both God and man, God loves us, and God is just.  The Bible is so full of truthful nuggets and I could spend more time on important basic truths; however, I feel that these truths are areas that keep us grounded.  The greatest truth of all that I noticed was weaved into the five truths I looked at last week is that Christ came and died in our place and conquered death by rising again.  When we believe in Christ's sacrifice, we receive salvation as a gift of grace.  What an amazing, powerful, and beautiful truth that is so full of God's love for us!  The last truth I looked at last week was that God is just, which brings us to the next piece of armor we are to put on:  God's righteousness.

Righteousness is a HUGE topic that I do not feel qualified to cover, let alone discuss in one week's worth of posts.  I am not a pastor, nor have I received any formal Bible training; however, there are some wonderful resources that can help me.  I am also blessed enough to have a husband who is a pastor and since I also work at the church, I am surrounded by other pastors who are always happy to answer my questions.  Today, I just want to look at a basic description of righteousness so I can dig deeper as the week goes on.  Since Paul is the author of Ephesians, I am going to look to his writings to get an idea of what he meant by the word righteousness first.

Please look at what Paul wrote regarding righteousness in Philippians 3:8-9.  Paul writes that the only way to be righteous is through faith in Christ.  I find it interesting to think that since righteousness is only given to us through faith in Christ, how important it is to have one of the truths notched in our belt.  We need the belt of truth in order to put on the breastplate of righteousness.  This cannot be done in any other order because we have to have faith in the truth that Christ is the only one who can set us free of all sin through His sacrifice and resurrection.  It is not a mistake that the armor of God is listed in the order that Paul wrote.  I love the beauty of how God crafted His Word to us so we can believe and "be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God" (Ephesians 3:19b).  I can't wait to dig deeper this week and learn more about righteousness!

Are you wearing the breastplate of God's righteousness?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Memory Verse #10

1 Peter 2:9-10

Growing up, my mom bought me a plaque to hang on my bedroom wall that had my name, it's meaning, and a scripture verse to go with it.  According to the plaque, my name means princess.  Anywhere else I have looked to find a meaning to my name says that it means "a plain in Israel."  That's not so exciting, so maybe the makers of the plaque felt they needed to give my name a new meaning.  The makers of the plaque put the verse 1 Peter 2:9 under my name and meaning.

The only problem was that they only put the first half of 1 Peter 2:9 so all I knew was that I was part of a royal priesthood.  So many years of looking at that verse and not knowing the rest of the story: "God's special possession."  I love that!  But it goes on!  "...that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  How wonderful is that!?  The salvation we receive through Christ makes us a part of a new family.  That is why I am also memorizing verse 10, because without Christ we are wandering alone; however, with Christ we are now a people of God who have received mercy.

We belong to God as His special possession!  It is so wonderful to belong.  When I was in middle school, I was so insecure and I was dealing with my parents' divorce and other difficult situations.  At school I had a few friends, but I never really felt like I belonged.  I had no idea, even though I was Christian and attending a Christian school, that I belonged to someone so much bigger.  I knew God loved me and I had a good relationship with Him, but I just didn't understand that I was His special possession.  It feels so good to belong.  So, even if my name means a plain in Israel rather than princess, I belong to the Most High God.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Truth #5 - God Is Just


I have learned so much about my relationship with God by being a parent and one thing I have learned is perspective.  My perspective and my children’s perspective can often be very different.  After living for 40 years, I have a perspective based on experience.  I also have a perspective in how I determine the outcome of difficult situations.  Sometimes my decision will show differing perspectives among my children; one child will feel like my decision was fair and the other will feel like it is unfair.  Then there are the decisions where no one seems to think I was being fair.  Being their mom, I sometimes see things in the situation they do not see and I make my decisions based on the big picture rather than one detail.  The Bible tells us that no matter our perspective, God is a just judge.  Please look up Isaiah 30:18-19.

“For the LORD is a God of justice, blessed are those who wait for Him.”  We have a very different perspective on justice and timing than God’s perspective.  It is sometimes hard dealing with His version of justice because we want something done right away.  Perhaps we have been treated unfairly and we want those who treated us poorly to pay for what they have done.  It is hard when you feel you are the one suffering while the person who is treating you wrong is doing well.  The problem with that focus is that instead of focusing on how God would want us to respond in our situation, we are telling God how He should respond to our situation.  But this verse tells us that those who wait for God are blessed.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 tells us that God’s justice will ultimately be played out when Christ returns.  Why would God wait so long to administer justice?  I think the answer is in 2 Peter 3:13-15.  In this passage we read that God’s patience means salvation.  Don’t forget the patience God has extended to you; He wants to extend the same grace given to you to everyone else as well.  It may not seem fair, but it is just.  If God was fair by human standards, we would all be dying instead of holding on to the hope of eternal life.  The truth of God’s justice is important because it allows us to trust Him in all situations.  We can fight the lies of the enemy about the justice of God.

Do you trust in God’s justice?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Issues

Blogger has had some issues over the last few days.  What this means for this blog is that my post from yesterday has been "temporarily" erased and I was unable to put my post on for today.  Sorry about that!  With that said, both posts are written; and I am waiting for my post that has disappeared to reappear otherwise I will rewrite it.  No worries - it is about God's love.  It never hurts to review His love for us again.  Who knows, maybe it will be written better the second time around!

If Blogger doesn't post it today; I will post it tomorrow.  If they do eventually get it up today, I will post the one that is written for today (Friday) on Saturday.  Either way, by the end of the weekend everything should be back on schedule and back to normal.

Thanks for your patience!

Addendum - After a little fixing, Thursday's post is back on.  Tomorrow, I will post the Friday post.  Thank you!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Truth #4 - God Loves You

Psalm 36:5-10

As a parent, I love my children more than they can understand right now.  There are dangers that they have been protected from that they don't even know about.  There are things I do for them out of total exhaustion because I love them dearly.  Yet, they don't understand when I cannot bring in their homework they left home because I am already at work.  It has nothing to do with love, it has to do with the fact that I can't leave work and they may learn a valuable life lesson by suffering the consequences of forgetting their homework.  The fact that they forgot their homework doesn't make me love them less because I think I love them progressively more each day.  Knowing how much I love my children and that I am an imperfect parent, how much more does my Father in heaven love me?  Please turn to Psalm 36:5-10.

"How priceless is your unfailing love..."  God's love for us is priceless, so much so that He sent His Son to earth for one purpose: redemption.  God sacrificed Jesus on the cross to pay our penalty so that we could have a right relationship with Him.  That truly is priceless!  We are told in so many verses in the Bible that God's love is unfailing (Psalm 13:4-6; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 107; Psalm 147:11; Jeremiah 31:3).  There is nothing that can separate us from God's love as we read in Romans 8:38-39.  This truth is such an anchor for us to hold on to because our enemy likes to tell us lies that we are not worthy of God's love.  He will try to convince us that our past is greater than God's love.

Stand firm in the truth that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.  Nothing!  Whatever you have done or whatever has been done to you does not even come close to comparing to the immense love that God has for you.  God is greater than anything in this world and we also know from the Bible that God is love (1 John 4:7-8).  Therefore, His love is greater than anything in this world - including your past or current situation.  Put on the belt of truth knowing that God loves you and His love is greater than anything.  When you buckle up the belt of truth and believe God loves you, the enemy cannot lie to you about your worth to God.

Do you believe the truth that God loves you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Truth #3 - Jesus Is God and Man

John 1:1-4; John 1:14; John 1:18

There are a lot of things that I just don't understand such as how great mathematicians were able to come up with equations and theorems that make sense and work consistently.  I also do not understand how an airplane flies or how a bird flies, for that matter.  I don't understand how a baby is born with the immediate instinct to cry when they need something.  I don't understand how birds seem to know when it is time to fly south for the winter and come back north in the spring.  Just because I don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't true - it just means that I don't either have the ability to understand or I don't have all the information for it to all make sense.  Sometimes there are things in life that are a complete mystery, but we still know and accept it is true.  Today's truth is a truth we accept with faith:  Jesus is both God and man.  How that works is a mystery to me, but I believe it because I know the Bible is true.  Please look up John 1:1-4.

John lays out the first part of this truth when he wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  In this passage it is established that the Word was God.  Please look further in John at John 1:14.  Verse 14 tells us that the Word became flesh, meaning the Word became man and He lived among us.  We also read that He is God's Son and verse 18 tells us that the Son is God.  Aside from all the other scriptures that point to Jesus being either God or man, John 1 tells us clearly that we know that Jesus is God and man.

To look a little more to see that John was referring to Jesus and to no one else, please look at Matthew 3:13-17.  In this passage, we read that God referred to Jesus as His Son.  We can believe that Jesus is both God and man because the Bible tells us.  As you read through the New Testament in the Bible, you will find many references to Jesus being a man and references to Jesus being God.  Paul wrote in Philippians 2:6-8 that Jesus humbled Himself when He became man.

We believe by faith that Jesus is God and man, but this is also a critical truth that we have as part of our protection.  Because Jesus humbled Himself and became a man, He was able to die in our place and conquer death forever.  When we put on the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14) we are believing that Jesus is God and man.

No matter how difficult it may be to understand, do you believe that Jesus is God and man?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Truth #2 - Jesus Is Alive

Acts 2:22-24

I enjoy working in Children's Ministry because the questions children ask are so open and honest.  I have learned so much about my own relationship with God through their sometimes challenging questions.  Since I now work at the church, I do not serve in Children's Ministry as often; however, I still get my opportunities.  This weekend, I had the opportunity to sit with a very inquisitive six year old girl during the large group time.  She had a question for everything..."Does he always dress that way?"..."Does she talk like that every day?"...  As my husband began telling the story of Zaccheus to the kiddos he mentioned Jesus; she turned to me and said, "But Jesus is dead, right?"  I smiled and said, "No.  He's alive!"  She looked confused and said, "Are you sure about that?  I thought he was dead."  So I replied, "I'm sure.  Jesus is alive."  She then shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well, all this time I thought he was dead!"  Please read Acts 2:22-24.

Every time I think about that little girl, she makes me wonder how many people are living their lives believing that Jesus is dead.  To me, this is the ultimate tragedy because Jesus is alive and that is why we have hope.  When Christ died on the cross, He took our punishment and brought them to the cross.  When He rose from the dead on Easter, He demonstrated that He had authority even over death.  Jesus is alive and He shares His victory over sin and death with us!  Acts 2:23 tells us that "it is impossible for death to have its hold on Him."  This truth is the difference between eternal death and eternal life.

The results when we believe the truth that Jesus sacrificed Himself and paid our punishment for our sins and rose again are incredible!  Please look up Romans 8:1-3.  "God declared an end to sin's control over us!"  Praise God that sin no longer has control!  Please look up 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 and see what it means when God declared an end to sin's control over us.  God gives us victory over death.  Believe the truth that Jesus is alive because this is the truth that saves.  This is a truth that we cling to as we are putting on the belt of truth in the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:14).

Do you accept and believe the truth that Jesus has conquered death and is alive?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Truth #1 - The Bible Is the Word of God

Ephesians 6:14

For the last few weeks, I have been studying what it means to be strong in the Lord and to stand firm.  There are many references in the Bible about being strong and standing firm and there are many references to the importance of trusting and standing firm in God's strength and not our own.  I am now digging into the Armor of God and studying each part of the armor.  Please look up Ephesians 6:14.

We are to put on the belt of truth.  I think it is interesting that truth is looked as a belt, because there is nothing more annoying than pants that are slipping down and having to keep pulling them up.  The New King James Version says, "having girded your waist with truth."  This is also an interesting picture because what I have read says that "girding" meant to pull up the robes and tie them so that the soldiers' garments wouldn't slow them down.  The enemy's lies do that to us - they entangle us so we cannot be effective.  If we can have the belt of truth holding everything in place, we will be more effective.

A basic truth we Christians must accept is the validity of the Bible as the Word of God.  This is an important truth because if we don't believe it to be the Word of God we then cannot trust every word of the Bible to be truth.  Psalm 33:4 says, "For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does."  We can also see that the Bible is God's Word; please look up 2 Timothy 3:14-17.  This passage tells us that all scripture (Bible) is God-breathed; I like to think about the fact that it is impossible to speak without breathing.  So, as God spoke His Word, He breathed His breath into it.  Please look up 1 Thessalonians 2:13.  We can see that it is important to accept the Bible as God's Word, even though God used man to write it out.  The Bible is God's Word, which is true and is at work in the hearts of all who believe.

Without accepting this truth, we will get easily tangled up in the lies of our enemy.  We will not have a truth with which to compare a lie.  If we are unable to recognize a lie, then we will not be able to resist the lie and fight the battle.  It is difficult to fight a battle when we do not know who our enemy is.  The Bible is trust-worthy and will never fail us.

Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Friday, May 6, 2011

When Things Don't Make Sense

Ephesians 6:10-18

After spending a few weeks on looking at what it means to be strong and to stand firm, I would encourage you to go to Biblegateway.com and do a search on the words "stand firm."  You will be encouraged at how many times those words are spoken to us and in so many different contexts.  God wants us to stand firm in His love and truth and in any circumstance we may find ourselves in.  When we find ourselves stuck in the impossible, that is right where we get to witness the amazing movement of God's hand.  Stand firm knowing that your Father in Heaven wants you to grow and know His love and He wants to bless you.  Please look up Ephesians 6:10-18.

God has given us the tools to be victorious!  Today, I want to look at one last situation that can be most difficult to stand firm - when God doesn't do what we think He should do.  I was reminded of this last night as I was viewing a video by Beth Moore.  Please look up Luke 7:18-23.  We all have difficult times when things are not making sense and we just cannot understand why God is allowing it to happen to us.  Life is made up of great times and very difficult and heart-wrenching times, and it is the heart-wrenching times that can test our faith.  In this section of scripture, John the Baptist was in Herod's prison and he was wondering about all that he was hearing about Jesus and probably wondering why he wasn't set free.  The thing that struck me last night was the fact that John was Jesus' cousin and his birth was also a miraculous birth.  Knowing that his parents were people who loved God, John probably grew up hearing the stories of his conception and birth and Jesus' conception and birth.  Remember that John also baptized Jesus and witnessed God's visible outpouring of the Spirit on Jesus and heard God's audible voice declaring Jesus His son.

Yet, Jesus was not setting him free, a captive in Herod's prison.  It didn't make sense because Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would set the captives free (Isaiah 61).  John found himself in a place where he was questioning who Jesus was because of his personal circumstances.  Be encouraged!  John had personal experience and evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God; yet he faced a moment where things were not making sense.  I cannot make sense of parts of my childhood, yet God has turned it around and turned those ashes into beauty.  God doesn't not promise a pain free life; however, He does promise to do a good work through us in those difficult situations (Romans 8:28).  Jesus replies in Luke 7:23, "And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.'"  Stand firm in your faith!  Don't believe the lies of Satan that tell you God doesn't care about you or that God is unjust; God wants to do a good work in you.

Believe that no matter the circumstance you are in that God can work it into good for Him.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Know and Believe

Isaiah 7:1-9

I love pictures; especially of the people I love.  I enjoy looking at pictures of fun times with my family and friends and thinking back on the memories the picture represents.  Because of this, we have a lot of picture frames filled with memories.  Currently, we are renting so we cannot hang pictures on the walls.  All of the pictures that we have in our bedroom and living room use the stand that is built into the frame.  Sometimes if the frame is getting old or perhaps not made well, the stand will bend back too far and will not hold up the picture frame.  The stand for whatever reason has become weak and the picture will not stand.  Please look up Isaiah 7:1-9.

Sometimes our faith can be like the picture stand that is not firm; we know what promises God has declared and we even know who God says we are.  But somehow there has been a disconnect between what we know and what we believe deep down in our hearts.  Our faith requires more than just a head knowledge in order for us to stand firm; we need to believe what the Bible says about God and our relationship with Him.  Isaiah 7:9 says, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."  We will get pushed over with the smallest wind that blows our way if we do not grow our roots deep and are firmly planted in God's love and promises.  Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."

Putting on the Armor of God will help us to stand firm when we find ourselves in a battle.  What does a battle look like?  I think it can be anything that causes a struggle for us.  It can be an oppression that is causing fear or anxiety or it could be a difficult relationship at work.  The battle could be feelings of inferiority or guilt, or we could be battling a time of great temptation.  Whatever the battle, we have armor that will help us to stand firm and continue standing firm even after the battle is over.

Are you standing firm so you will stand when facing the enemy?  Are you putting on the Armor of God?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stand Firm in Truth

Colossians 1:15-23

Every Christmas, my family gives me new slippers and I always find myself looking forward to receiving my new slippers because by the time Christmas rolls around my old slippers are getting holes in them.  I almost always have slippers on my feet at home because my feet get cold very easy.  This year, I received my new slippers; however, we also left the next day to visit family and I didn't pack my new slippers because they were still under the Christmas tree.  When we got back, I just kept putting on my old slippers out of habit until one of my children asked me why I wasn't wearing my new slippers.  Feeling silly, I pulled out the new slippers (which were much warmer on my feet) and threw away the old slippers.  I think we sometimes do that in our faith walk; we believe in Christ's sacrifice for us but then we go on and live life defeated and feeling guilty.  God has given us an immeasurable gift of mercy, grace, and salvation through Christ; please look up Colossians 1:15-23 and hear how Paul describes our wonderful gift.

I want to focus on verses 22 and 23 because we are reminded of an important truth about our relationship with God.  Because of Christ, we are reconciled with God and when He looks at us He sees His perfect children who He loves dearly.  If God sees us this way, why do we often heap coals of guilt on our heads?  Some of it is because it is hard to believe that after all the ways we have sinned, God looks at us as "holy and blameless."  Sometimes we are listening to the lies of condemnation that our enemy tells us.  In verse 23 Paul wrote, "But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News."

Believing God's love for us helps us to stand firm; however, we also need to be sure that we are standing firm in truth.  As we read in Colossians 1, we see that an important truth is that Christ sacrificed for us and took our punishment even though He was perfect.  Through Christ's sacrifice, we have been reconciled with God.  The New International Version says that we are "without blemish and free from accusation."  This is a truth that never gets old to be reminded of because it is amazing!  It is also a truth that we need to stand firm in believing.

Do you believe that you stand before God free of accusation when you believe in the gift of salvation given to us through Christ?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Father In Heaven

1 John 4:7-9

Yesterday, I explored how believing God's love for you will help you stand firm.  When we trust in His unfailing love, we will understand that God hears our prayers and knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:9-11).  We are able to stand firm in our belief that God is our Provider, Protector, and Healer.  I want to explore the idea of how believing God loves us helps us stand firm a little more today by looking at a few different scriptures that tell us who God is and how we can grow in that knowledge.  Please look up 1 John 4:7-9.

Verse 8 tells us something very important about who God is; we read that God is love.  In chapter 3 of his book, The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel explains that since God is love, He can't help but love us.  No matter what is in our past, God is crazy in love with us.  He has made a way for us to be with Him.  Reading 1 John 4:7-9, we are told that He loves us so extravagantly that He sent His son to take our punishment for all our sins.  We have been given the gift of eternal life not because of anything we have done, but because God loves us so much that He made a way for us to live - no matter the cost.  Ephesians 3:16-19 explains that as our roots grow down into God's love, His love will make us strong.

Just like the Father in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 7:9-11, God knows how to give us good gifts.  We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we are told in Ephesians 3:16 that the Holy Spirit will give us inner strength.  You can stand firm knowing that you are a child of the Most High God, the only God, and He wants to see you be victorious.  God doesn't want His children walking around defeated; He wants us to stand firm knowing that we already have been given the victory!

Do you believe that your Father in Heaven loves you enough to give you good gifts?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stand Firm in Faith

2 Chronicles 20:1-30

Last week, I looked at how we can stand firm in our belief that God loves us.  There are so many scripture references about God's faithful love and I would like to look up Psalm 136.  God is faithful and His faithful love endures forever!  God loves you and His love for you will never fail.  When we believe this truth we are able to stand firm.  No matter what our circumstances look like, we can know we already have victory because God's faithful love endures forever.  Our greatest enemy is death, and Jesus conquered death when He died on the cross and rose again.  His love wasn't just displayed for the people in the Bible, He loves each and every one of us right now and forever.  Please turn to 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

Judah was in a terrible position because they were being attacked by several countries and the situation looked impossible.  In fact, by all human standards, it was impossible - there was no way they were going to win this battle without divine intervention.  King Jehoshaphat knew this and immediately gathered everyone (including the children) and fasted and prayed before God knowing that God could give them the victory.  God spoke to them and told them that the battle was no longer theirs to fight and that He would have the victory.  I love what Jehoshaphat said to the army of Judah as they assembled to the battlefield; please read it in verse 20.  "Believe in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm."  They were then reminded of God's faithfulness by the singers.

As we read about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, we are told about the importance of standing firm.  We will be able to face our enemy when we are standing firm.  When we believe in God and His promises, we are able to stand firm.  When we believe that we already have victory over death, we can stand firm.  We are able to stand firm when we have faith and trust God.  His love endures forever!

Believe God and you will be standing firm!