Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Know Your Role

*This was originally written as an essay for my English class.  I have expanded my thoughts a bit since I have no word count limits on this blog :)      

  For many years, women have been silenced in the church and their role has been limited to teaching children and baking casseroles.  While children and food ministries are very important, women have so much more to offer the body of Christ.   God calls all of us to obedience, and when women are forced to conform to man made religious laws, they can be forced to disobey God’s calling on their lives.  All of God’s children have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit, and women should be encouraged to use their gifts to benefit the church.

            Peter quotes the prophet Joel, “'And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.  I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy.'” (Acts 2:17-18 HCSB)  In order for a woman to be able to prophesy, she must be able to speak.  God promises to pour out His Spirit on all people, men and women alike.  The Holy Spirit equips each of us with gifts we are expected to use to build up the church and to minister to those outside of the church: wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophesy, distinguishing between spirits, different kinds of languages, and the ability to interpret the languages. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 HCSB).  The Holy Spirit does not distribute the gifts as man sees fit, and there is no indication in the Scriptures that they will be distributed  based on the gender of the recipient, but rather,  distributed as He wills.  (1 Corinthians 12:11)  

There are several instances in the Bible of women using their spiritual gifts and praying in the presence of men, as well as serving in leadership roles.  After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples gathered in the upper room and were “continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14)   Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, invited a Jew named Apollos into their home so that they could teach him the way of God more accurately to him. (Acts 18:26)  The evangelist, Philip, had four daughters who prophesied . (Acts 21:9)  Paul commends Phoebe, a deacon, in the Roman church, and encourages them to welcome her in a manner pleasing to the Lord. (Romans 16:1).  Did Paul feel the need to let them know of her coming ahead of time, encouraging them to welcome her because they struggled with the same issue of women's role in the church as we do?  

            It is better to obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29)    Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 HCSB).  Too often,  man made rules regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit have caused women to question whether or not it really was the voice of their Shepherd they were hearing when called into certain ministries.  It takes courage for a woman to go against what her culture has deemed acceptable, but she must “be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV)  No human can tell you what ministries God has called you to.  No human can limit the spiritual gifts you have been given by God.   In the end, who will we have to answer to:  Man or God?  I don't know about you, but I want to be obedient to the One who will decide my eternal fate.  Hebrews 10:35-38 says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For, 'In just a little while, he is coming will come and not delay." And, 'But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.'"  I can not help but wonder how many times women have "shrunk back" from saying something (prophesying), or praying with someone, or pursuing a certain ministry that God has called them to because of limitations the church has placed on women.



            When women’s role in the church is limited, some women are often forced to serve in areas in which they are not gifted.   If women are to be obedient to God, they must be able to serve in areas that man has closed off to them.  “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelations 3:8 NIV)   Women must find the courage to step outside the confines of church culture and tradition in order to discover the gifts the Holy Spirit has given them and use them to produce what is beneficial for the church.  In the end, we all want to hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 5:21 NIV)  




Romans 16:25-27 (HCSB)
Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages  but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—  to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Friday, October 3, 2014

For Such a Time As This

The majority of the people of the Bible who are taught to children as heroes are men.  However, there are many women throughout Scripture that God has used in many ways.  Esther was one of the bravest women in the entire Bible (in my opinion, anyway).  

           She was a Jewish girl who had been exiled to Persia with her cousin, Mordecai, who was raising her.  After Xerxes, the King of Persia, banished his wife, Queen Vashti, because of her disobedience to his orders, he went on a search for a new queen.  Esther was among many young women gathered to “audition” for the position of Queen of Persia.  Of all of the ladies, King Xerxes found Esther to be the lovliest and chose her to be his queen. Mordecai instructed Esther to keep her nationality a secret.

            King Xerxes had a royal official, Haman, who was the most powerful official in the empire.  Everyone was to bow down to Haman when he passed by, but Mordecai refused to.  Haman was filled with rage, and when he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he went to King Xerxes and asked to issue an royal decree to destroy all of the Jews living in the empire.  And so it was to be done nearly a year later.    The king agreed to the complete annihilation of the Jews.  The decree was issued all across the empire.  When the king issues a decree, it is irrevocable.  When Mordecai found out about what was going to happen, he tore his clothes, covered himself with ashes and mourned.  When Esther sent her attendant to find out what was wrong, he told her of the plan, and requested that she go before the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people. 

However, the problem with that plan was that anyone who entered the king’s inner court without being summoned would die, unless he held out his gold scepter.  Mordecai was asking Esther to risk her life in order to save the Jews.  The king had not called for Esther for a month, so she was not confident that she would be welcomed by him.  Mordecai begged Esther again, telling her, “Don’t think for a moment that because you are in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed.  If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives would die.  Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)  Esther fasted, along with her servents and all of the Jews of Susa.  After three days, Esther dressed in her royal robes and bravely entered the king’s inner courts without being summoned, risking her own life to save a nation.  Fortunately, the king was pleased to see his queen and held out his scepter to her.  He offered her anything she wanted, up to half the entire kingdom.   After requesting two banquets with King Xerxes and Haman, Esther exposed Haman, revealed her nationality, and begged the king to save her people.  Filled with anger, King Xerxes had Haman executed on the gallows that he (Haman) had built to have Mordecai killed on.  Since a decree issued by the king can not be revoked, a new decree was issued to the Jews giving them the authority to unite and defend themselves against anyone out to destroy them.  The enemies of the Jews thought they would over power them, but they did not. The Jews were victorious over their enemies.

Esther was a girl of humble beginnings; a simple Jewish girl.  She was not royalty by blood, but she was chosen from among many young women to become the Queen of Persia. Because of her courage, the Jews were rescued from complete annihilation and the blood line of Jesus was saved. 

That is an abridged version of the story of Esther. It is not a long book, and I encourage you to read it all if you have not yet; it is full of intrigue, drama, and suspense.   But here are three lessons that I have taken from this story: 

1.      Growing up in the church, this was not a Bible story that was ever taught at VBS, and it was not taught to us in Bible class to the same extent as the stories of David, Joseph, Joshua, and Samson (who, by the way was NOT a hero at all).  When we skip over incredible stories like these, we do a great disservice to not only our young girls who desperately need a brave, strong woman to look up to, but also, we do not allow our boys to see girls as people who are capable of being strong.  Being the “weaker vessel” does not make the woman completely weak.  Girls and boys need to know this.  Girls need to know how to be strong with beauty and grace, and who better to learn from than someone like Esther?

2.      Our past does not define our destiny.  Esther was not born into royalty, but she was divinely appointed.  She could have kept looking at her past, saying, “But I am just a poor Jewish girl.  Who am I to do such a task?”  But she didn’t.  She took the wise advise of her cousin and she fasted, which would imply that she consulted God about her purpose and destiny, and was willing to die to fulfill it.  All of us have a “for such a time as this” purpose in our lives, and our past, and not even our present define that purpose.  People can not define your purpose for you.  God does.  People might tell us what our purpose is, and they may be right, and they may be wrong.  People often stay in the context of what is culturally acceptable and not have open eyes to what is biblically acceptable.  When taking the advise of others, we need to consult God and be obedient to His will for our lives, not others.  Sometime we have to break the rules our society places on women's roles to step into our God-given purposes.

3.    Esther could have remained unharmed in her palace, without risking her neck to save her people.  However, she saw the bigger picture.  As Mordecai told her, you can save your life now, but you will lose your soul (paraphrased).  If the Jews died, they would die, but they would be delivered eternally.  We have to be willing to risk our lives to save our souls.  It is easy to send out little "I believe Jesus is Lord" emails, or post cute pictures on Facebook when the persecution you face might be having someone make fun of you, and you probably only send those emails to other believing friends and family, but if someone was threatening your life if you confessed your faith in Jesus Christ, would you be as courageous?  Would you prefer to save your earthly life, or your eternal life?  Would you risk your life to save the lives of others?











Friday, July 18, 2014

Love Revolution

I have developed a habit of paying closer attention to the small details in Scripture.  Sometimes the details that seem the smallest are the details that determine whether we are able to apply the Scriptures we read or not.
   Consider Colossians 3:5-15:


Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed,which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love,which binds them all together in perfect unity.
 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

The words that I highlighted are all action words. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed....  all of those along with anger, malice, slander, lying, and filthy language do not just slip off of us when we become Christians.  We have to intentionally take them off, or put them to death.  When we become Christians, our flesh does not disappear.  We still have conflict between our flesh and the Spirit.  Paul describes it to the Colossians as "getting dressed".  It is something you have to do daily, and you choose every day what clothes to wear.  And what we wear says a lot about a person.  He is basically saying, "Get a new wardrobe!"  Get rid of the things that do not reflect Christ and clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, the things that do reflect Christ.  Your old clothes don't look good on you anymore.  

Put on love!!  Loving others the way Christ loves others is not always naturally easy.  It is something we must be intentional about.  We all encounter people on a daily basis who are not easy to love.  Biblical love is not loving others when it is easy, but loving others when it is hard.  Love is not always an emotion.  It's not always something we feel, but rather, something we do.  And it really isn't an option, it is an expectation.

Luke 6:32-36
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD has a ministry; a purpose, a way of drawing others to God.  They are all different, but no matter what it is, it has to be fueled by love...perfect love, selfless love, the love of Christ...or it is useless.  We can be Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, preachers, Bible study leaders, worship leaders, involved in community outreach, or maybe even overseas missions.  No ministry is small to God, but if it is not done out of pure love for Christ and the people he desires for you to serve, it is worthless.  

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Maybe what makes it hard to love the people it is hard to love is that we fail to realize that sometimes we (self) are THAT person.  Rarely does a person ever consider themselves one of those "hard to love" people.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8  God didn't show us his love by sending his son to die for us because we deserved it, but because we DIDN'T deserve it.  We were wretched sinners who deserved death!  What love!!!  What is expected of us us that we go and show the world this same love.  Not just love those who make it easy to love, but especially the ones who make it hard.  Perhaps those are the ones who need to know the love of Christ more than anyone else.  I believe it is time for a "Love Revolution" 




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Give and It Will Be Given

Luke 6:38    Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I often hear this verse being used to motivate people to be generous givers.  People use this verse to give to others expecting that God will abundantly replace what they have given.  If we give someone on the street in need our last $20 bill, we are not guaranteed to find $40 elsewhere.  I am not going to say that God will never do that for us.  But God does not promise that he will do so, and we should never expect it.   Second Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver, not an expectant giver.  

2 Corinthians 9:6-11  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion,for God loves a cheerful giver.  8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”
 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

On the surface of this passage it seems like the same thing, if you give generously, you will receive generously.  But if you take a closer look, in verse 10, you will see that the reward for our generosity will be the harvest of our righteousness.  And in verses 8 and 11, we can see that our blessing comes before our giving.  We are expected to give out of what we already have, not give expecting to be reimbursed by God.  He blesses us beforehand so that we can do His good works.

Okay, now back to Luke 6:38.  Here is verse 37: 
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." 
 And here are the verses following (39-42):  He also told them this parable : “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?  The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

What Jesus is saying in Luke 6:38 is that the mercy you extend to others is the measure that will be extended to you.  If you read the verse alone, it sounds real positive, "I will receive what I give."  Nice, huh?  But if you look at the context around it, it could be positive or negative.  If you are merciful and forgive others, a generous portion will overflow and run into your lap.  But on the flip side, if you are judgmental and withhold mercy and forgiveness, you can expect a generous portion of judgment to overflow and run into your lap.  And even with that being said, shouldn't we forgive others because we have been forgiven?  Not forgive expecting to be forgiven in return.  God offers us forgiveness every day, no matter how badly we mess up, no matter how badly we hurt Him, or how offensive our sin is to Him.  God is generous with His grace, therefore we ought to be generous to others with our grace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Take a Break!

Please read past my next statement, it's not as bad as it sounds.  I think we may have overglorified motherhood just a little bit.  Now, allow me to explain.  I see often, especially on facebook, mothers praising their husbands for being a good father.  Sounds like a good thing, right?  Well, it is.  Everyone likes some praise now and then.  But here is my point.  I think that in the past several years, we have made parenthood to be this "mom is the main one in charge and the dad is just there to support us financially and fix things."  When I see things like, "My husband is the best daddy.  He took the kids here, and there, and did this and that, and didn't even complain."  All I can think is...okay, so he is really just doing what a parent does.  Mothers are expected to do everything: cook, clean, transport, help with homework, among many other family and household responsibilities, and we are expected to do it without complaint and with a constant smile on our face, even though sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we really just want to break down and cry (someone tell me I am not the only one, please).  But if the daddy does it for one day, he is just going above and beyond his responsibility.  Please do not think I am daddy bashing.  I AM NOT.  Daddies rock!  Mommies rock!  But you know what really rocks?  When mommy and daddy are a team.  Both mom and dad are equally parents of those kids, they should equally be able to handle the responsibility.

I can't wait to see the movie "Mom's Night Out"  because it just looks plain funny, and I get a little weepy from the previews and I am one of those sick people that love to cry in movies.  But here is what bothers me.  It makes daddies out to be idiots that cannot take care of their children. And I know the movie is fiction. I know it is not real.  But sadly, I think that is how we view daddies these days.  Moms seem to think that they are the only ones capable of taking care of our children.  That is just not true.
  
When I say that I think we have overglorified motherhood, I do not mean that we have made motherhood out to be more important than it really is.  Motherhood is one of the most important "jobs" anyone will ever have.  But you know what?  Fatherhood is just as important.  They are equal. And I understand the different roles of mothers and fathers.  When I say that I think we have overglorified motherhood, in our society, we have made motherhood out to be this sort of Wonder Woman who can do everything, be everything, and handle everything with no one's help, and never have a bad day.  That is just exhausting!  I can't do it.  I don't think that makes me less of a mother or wife.  I wonder if I am just one of the few who are actually honest.  What has happened in the process is that we have "dumbed down", if you will, the role of the father.  Mothers and fathers are equally capable of taking care of the kids. That doesn't mean they do everything the same way.  It just means they are both able.  If being a mother is one of the most important jobs, isn't it important to bring our very best?  Sometimes that means that I need to go and take care of myself for a little bit.  FORGET the idea that it is a selfish thought.  It is not.  Sometimes, we just have to rest, and take some time when no one is asking for something as soon as our rears hit the couch, or there isn't a little kid waiting outside your shower when there is a daddy in the living room perfectly capable of fulfilling that sweet child's request.  It's okay to take a weekend where you don't have to look forward to bedtime so you can finally relax a little.  Thinking that your house will crumble to the ground if you go away for the night, or weekend....now that is being selfish!

 I came to this realization when Angelina was about 2.  I was in desperate need of a break.  So I went on a little mini vacay.  I had been training Angelina to sleep in her own bed and to be able to fall asleep without me there with her.  And it was successful.  When I got back, I found out that Ralph had laid down with her every night and my hard training was out the window in just a few nights.  But you know what?  We got through it.  I had a wonderful time, and Angelina is in no way scarred from that.  And I get away as often as I possibly can now.  It's okay if they eat mac & cheese and hot dogs everyday.  It doesn't matter if your kid misses his soccer game or a birthday party, or go to bed later than you would like and not have a bath.

Mommies, relinquish some of your control and relax.  Your husband is completely capable of taking care of your children for a few hours, and yes, even a whole weekend.  If they are not, then I just have to say it....It is all your fault.  Daddy may not do things exactly how you do them, but it doesn't matter.  The house may be a mess, their meals may not be completely balanced, but one thing is certain, daddy loves and cares for those babies just as much as you do, and he will keep them safe.  I think my kids really love it when I go out of town.  I think they just have more fun with daddy.   It will not ruin your children.  But an exhausted mommy who can never get a break because she can't hand over the responsibilities for a little while so you can get some R&R is not good.   Often, i can tell when a mother is smiling through held back tears.  I've been there.  It is an explosion waiting to happen.

Moms, I want you to take a deep breath and let it out.  We don't have to be everything to everybody at all times.  The truth is that we can't.  Are we to be servants?  Yes, we are.  But not only mothers are called to be servants.  Everyone who is a follower of Christ is called to be a servant, that means daddy too.

Philippians 2:14-15 is always a good reminder to do everything with a good attitude:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”

But it is really hard to honestly do everything with grumbling when you literally have to do everything by yourself.  You can fake a good attitude, while internally, you are ready to burst.  Parenthood is a partnership.  You are both on the same side.  You both are always going to look out for the best interest of your children.  Embrace the different styles of parenting that you and your spouse have.  Be open to learn from each other.  Neither of you are the perfect parent, but together, you are both the perfect parents for your children.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Eternal

Whether you realize it or not, there are two powerful spiritual forces at work in your life.
One wants to destroy you, and bring death.  The other wants to give you a full life.

John 10:10 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 

One of those spiritual forces prowls around just waiting to devour you.  The other wants to protect you and rescue you when you do fall into the enemy's snares.  

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.


Psalm 91:2-4 (NLT)
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.  For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.  He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.


Life with Christ is not a life void of trials.  Sometimes those trials are put there by the enemy to bring us down.  Sometimes, those trials are put there by God, who desires to refine us and make us stronger, and draw us closer to Him.  Sometimes it is easy to recognize who those trials are put there by, and sometimes it is not.  But when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter who put those trials in your life.  It is ultimately the One you focus on during the trial that determines whether that trial will produce life or death.  Because anything the enemy places in our lives to mean harm, God can turn into something amazing for His glory. 

Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

While both are powerful, they are not equally powerful, at least not on the whole.  However, in your own personal life, you get to choose which is more powerful.  You're given the choice: Life or Death.  The offer of eternal life is offered to everyone.  You just have to reach out and accept it, and daily choose to walk in it.  

If you are reading this and haven't accepted the gift of eternal life, or, if you have accepted that gift, but have turned away, I want you to do something.

I just want you to think about your life right now.  What is it like.  Do you feel at peace, or do you feel like it is full of turmoil? Peace is not a state of everything going right, or the absence of turmoil, but it is the state of your heart in the midst of that turmoil as well.  God offers a peace that surpasses all understanding.   You can feel peace when your life is turned upside down when you know that the One who created you and loves you holds you in the palm of His hand.

Philippians 4:6-7
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
 
There are two eternals:  eternal LIFE and eternal DEATH.   And you get to choose.  Forget your past, step into a better future.  Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as savior, and your past will have no bearing on your future.  Leave it at the foot of the cross.  Jesus died so that we could be free from the burden of sin.  And lets face it.  Sin is a burden.  While it may be temporarily pleasing to us, if we carry it around for the long haul, it just becomes too heavy to bear.  But Jesus can heal your past, he can heal your wounds, he can make you whole.  And he desires to do that.  You just have to let him.  Life is temporary.  Eventually, you will die.  Think about eternity.  If you could choose eternal life or eternal death, which would you choose?





 

Friday, January 10, 2014

His Love is Higher




I took this picture a few years ago on the beach in Port Aransas, and I just love it.  I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself here.  Imagine how huge the sky and ocean look to us.  Then, I want you to imagine the fact that as far as you can see, it foes further than that.  What we see is huge, but it is still a limited view of what really is out there.  Imagine how much deeper the ocean is compared to what we can see of it.  It is DEEP, and it is wide, and it is beyond what we can comprehend.  And the sky.  As big as it looks to us, there is so much more out there than the eye can see.

Read this as many times as it takes you to let it sink in:

Ephesians 3:16-21

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 


Our idea of love is very limited .  We love our families a lot.  We would do anything for our families.  Could you imagine loving them more than you already do?   Could you imagine anyone loving them more than you do?  If you can imagine the person in your life that makes you feel most loved....can you imagine being loved more than that?

There is one who loves us way more than we can possibly think or imagine.  God loves us so much we can not even wrap our minds around it.  Nothing can take it away from us.  Nothing can separate us from his love.  Just like the ocean, as vast as we think it is, it is way bigger!  As deep as we think the sea is, it is deeper. As high as the sky that we can see, it is higher.


Romans 8:38-40
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are loved by the one who knows everything about us.  He knows our failures, and he loves us anyway.  He knows our struggles, and he loves us anyway. No matter what sins you have committed, and what sins you will commit, he will ALWAYS love you.  Whatever wounds you have, his desire is for you to allow him to bind them, and heal them.  

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.


  Though the enemy tries to convince us that we are not good enough to be loved by God, NOTHING you do will ever separate you from God's love.  

John 3:16-17
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.


1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.