Saturday, March 29, 2014

God is Enough

  Perfect. So perfect. Everything is good. Life…is pure. It’s amazing…it’s perfect. How it was always designed to be. They, the first “us,” had everything…everything! They lacked nothing. They shared in beautiful fellowship with their Creator. They had all the food, all the water, all the animals, all the beauty they could ever want. They had God! God who is a necessity to every soul. God who also makes Himself an option to every soul. A necessity and an option…God! He gave them everything they were created to need, want, and desire. But…the serpent. The craftiest of all the animals. “Did God really say?” “You will not certainly die!” With the reaching of the hand and the eating of the fruit, Eve said, “No God! You are not enough. This is not enough. There has got to be something more…something other. No! I want more. This can’t be all there is. You can’t be all there is. No God! I don’t want what you give. I want something else.” Heartbreaking! So…so illogical! So stupid! “No God, I don’t want you and what you give, even though I was handcrafted for you and what you give.” How can this be? Satan, who’s still at work today, tells us, somehow convinces us, that there is something out there that’s better than God. He tells us God isn’t enough. So we search. We dive headfirst into the “tree” of the world and devour every fruit that promises to give us satisfaction, purpose, and meaning. And, sooner or later, we discover that it’s still not enough. It’s almost like we’re afraid to trust that God is all we need. Everyone needs God, but not everyone wants God. Everyone soul needs God, but not every soul chooses God. God is a necessity to our souls, but He’s also an option. We have to choose Him. He won’t force Himself on us, because He is Love. I want to be a soul that says “yes” to God and what He gives! I want to be fully satisfied in my Creator! I want my Designer to be the focus, the center, the goal of my life. I was created for Him, and I will choose to sing “God is enough” all the days of my life!

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Wave

  Back and forth, back and forth. Up and down, in and out. There I go! I’m rising high…above it all. Thriving. Rejoicing. Living. I am the crest, the highest part of a wave. I am trusting, relying, abiding, and believing. I’m filled with a faith that can move mountains, and I feel as if nothing can move me. I’m secure, at peace. Suddenly, I break. I crash. I pound toward the shore. I’m falling, struggling. I’m doubting. I’m scared. I’m not trusting, not believing. I’m sinking. I hit the sand hard. For a split second, I’m still. I’m at peace again. I’m filled with joy! But then, I get swept back out into the sea. Not trusting. Not believing. I’ve hit the trough, the lowest part of a wave. I’m drowning. I’m doubting. I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus. I can’t see truth, can’t trust truth. I feel alone, abandoned. Suddenly, I begin to rise again! I’m on top of the world! I’m believing that God is who He says He is, and that He will accomplished all that He’s promised to do! I have faith once again! But the wave soon collapses and with it, so does my faith. I break. I crash. I pound toward the shore. I’m still. I’m swept away. I’m drowning, doubting. Then, I rise. Back and forth, back and forth. Oh, when will it end! I hear the Spirit’s soft whisper. It will end when I stop living by sight, and start living by faith. I know that I don’t know it all. I know now that I don’t have to know it all. I don’t have to see the big picture. I just have to trust the One who does. The One who holds the whole Earth in His hands! The One who made me, and loves me. The One who died in my place. Jesus. I trust Him. And by faith, I rise! I can’t see it all. But by faith, I trust the One who does.

  “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” –James 1:6-8

Saturday, February 8, 2014

You Are Not a Mistake

  You are a product of God! You were handcrafted by the Creator of the universe. You are a masterpiece in the eyes of your Designer! You were made in the image of God. He created the very idea of you. He created you so intimately that you can never really find yourself apart from Him. He knows you better than you know yourself! He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). He made you and He loves you. He has an incredible plan for your life! No matter what anyone says, you are not a mistake!

  "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." -Psalm 139:16

  You are not an accident! The Lord purposely placed you on this planet. Your birth was a God-planned event. Before God formed you in the womb, he knew you (Jeremiah 1:5). You were created to know and glorify your Creator! What a purpose! And what an identity...made in the image of God. How thrilling! You are worth so much to God! As Ann Voskamp says, if He gave His Son to save you, won't He give anything? You, yes you, are worth the blood of Jesus! To God, you are worth the death of His only Son. His opinion of you is the only one worth believing. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and He never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Trust Him and believe His truth over the lies of the world.

  I really hope this post encouraged you today! It was just something short to remind you of your incredible purpose and worth and God's unending love!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Whatever You Think, You Are Not Hopeless. Here's Why:

By Langston 

So a while back, I was opening my Bible. In my thoughts, I asked God to show me what He wanted me to read. The response was very faint, but I felt it was Isaiah 8 and 9. So, I read through Isaiah 8 which was pretty good. Then I got to verse 9, which is what dramatically changed my perspective of the Christian life.

For You have shattered their oppressive yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor,
just as You did on the day of Midian. -Isaiah 9:4
Okay ... so what? God removed the burden of some random people. What's so great about that? Well, let's take a look about at exactly who this chapter is talking about. But, before I give my interpretation, make sure you plan to read this whole chapter for yourself in order double-check what I'm saying, and also to let God talk to you personally as you read it. Don't just rely on my words. Rely on His. Check out all of Isaiah 9 here!

Now back to my interpretation. From what God showed me, the passage here is talking about Jesus. Isaiah was prophesying about the coming of Christ--how God's people will be redeemed and brought back to life when Jesus came and redeemed His people. Every verse in this passage applies to God's people, today.

Romans 8:15-16 NLT says: So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. Therefore, we are God's people too! Even more, we're His children. Not only are we co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17), His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:10), and His friends (John 15:15), but we're also God's children! We hear this all the time, but do you ever sit for a moment and let that sink in? I mean the God who created all this--
--and this--
--and this--

calls you His child! He calls you His child in the 
same way the dad helping his daughter learn to ride a bike calls her his daughter, or a mother asleep with her baby boy in her arms calls him her son. The same image and feelings that invade those parents when they think of their children is how God Almighty feels when He thinks of you!
If you're still not really getting this, you need to watch this video: The Awe Factor of God. I have it included in the space to the right if you're reading via website; if you're reading via email just click on the video's name. To truly understand and revel in God's love for you, you have to realize where you are and where He is. He is so much bigger than us in every way - all creation screams it. Yet He still loves us! The Awe Factor of God paints in motion what I'm trying to say through written word.

Alright, so Isaiah 9 is talking about Jesus, God loves us, and we're His children. So what? Read the verse again.

For You have shattered their oppressive yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor,
just as You did on the day of Midian. -Isaiah 4:9
As I said before, this verse prophesying about people--God's people--living in the time of the Messiah and beyond. We are His children, and we are living in the time of Jesus (the last days, as the apostles and prophets called it) so this verse is speaking directly to us!
"For You have shattered their oppressive yoke ... "
One of the definitions for "yoke" is: an agency of oppression, subjection, servitude, etc.
So the phrase "oppressive yoke" relates to anything that is or has been a burden to you in your spiritual life. For example, some "oppressive yokes" for me have been fear, guilt, anxiousness, lust, self-consciousness, doubt, pride and timidity.
"... and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor ..."
Not only did God shatter the yoke itself--fear, lust, anxiety, etc.--but the burden we carry because of them and the attacks of the enemy to bring us back down. We have the total upper hand! We are set free!

And finally, the last and possibly my favorite part of the verse:
"... just as You did on the day of Midian."

Say whaatt? Midian? What happened on the day of Midian? What was the day of Midian, anyway?

To find the answer of this, we have to go back a few centuries to the book of Judges. In chapter 6, we get taste of what's going on here. There we find the ancient nation of Israel, before they were a nation: back when they were a loose cluster of tribes - and constantly bullied by their more powerful neighbors. One of these powerful, oppressive neighbors were the Midianites. They oppressed the Israelites until they cried out to God, and he sent Gideon (not exactly People's Choice for best warrior) out to deliver Israel from the Midianites' grasp. You can read all this for yourself in Judges 8, but the verse I want to highlight is Judges 8:28:
So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful 40 years during the days of Gideon.  -Judges 8:28 (my emphasis)
This is what Isaiah references to when he writes "just as in the day of Midian" or "just as in the day of Midian's defeat" in Isaiah 9:4. When God dealt with Midian, He dealt with them for good - they were no longer a threat. In the same way, God has dealt with the everything that oppresses us - spiritually, mentally and even physically. We may feel hopeless, doubtful, or abandoned, etc, but we aren't. We still may feel as if we're trapped in a never-ending cycle, but we're not. We may feel dirty, unworthy, weak and a waste of time, but aren't. We never have been since the day we believed Jesus came and died for our sins and mistakes and were baptized in His name. We will continue to make mistakes and feel imperfect, and that's fine - because we're human. Jesus didn't die so we could try to be perfect. He died, in part, so we could have rest from the pressures of trying to be something we're not. He died, not to simply abolish those things from our lives, but to give us the grace, the strength, the knowledge and the love to overcome them: to rise above our troubles, transcend our doubts and worries, to leave aside the weights holding us down and "run out the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1)."

You are not a slave, so refuse to live like one. Jesus set you free. Paul gave a strong command to the church in Galatia when he wrote:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1 NIV (all the crazy emphasis mine)
In the immediate context, Paul was telling his readers not to return to living under the Law after committing their lives to Jesus (another post for another time), but I think this also extends to not letting your feelings, circumstances, negative thoughts, anxieties, insecurities, "limiting" factors in your personality (which, in your personality, are actually all good traits; you're just looking at them wrong), desires, disabilities, flesh or anything else that prevents you from being who God made you to be, run your life either.

You are set free. You have hope. You have a calling. And you have a Father in Heaven who loves you; a Friend who died for you and rose again to give you freedom; a Spirit who burns with passionate desire to reveal to you the depth and the height and the width of God's love - for you! Never forget these things. You are more than you see in yourself now. You are everything God's created you to be.
And the real you - not your physical self, with its blemishes, but your soul: the traits, ideas, characteristics and true desires that make you who you are - is perfect.

But how do we remember all these things? How do we keep them all in mind? How do we keep back from falling into the hopeless cycle of literal slavery?

How can we live like this?

Like many things with God, its actual pretty simple:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. - Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT
Keep your eyes on Jesus, and that will empower you to not only get through, but rise above all you that you deal with.

Have an awesome day and God bless!! :)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Mobile God

   "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?" -Genesis 3:8-9 

  We tend to envision a still God. One who sits on His throne and has taken up residence in a distant galaxy. A God who is completely contained in heaven. We think God would be content to enjoy heaven's greatness while surrounding angels praise Him constantly. Honestly, it's quite logical to think these things. Why would God even have to move? And, if He were to even walk anywhere, why would it be toward us?

  God's pursuit of us. It's actually quite a scary thing. Nothing stops Him. Nothing turns Him away. Nothing will make Him give up. A passion for sinners consumes Him. He's relentless. His devotion to His creation cannot be taken away. He's crazy in love with all of us. And He will not tire. He will not rest. He will never stop looking for us until we are back in His arms where we belong. He's jealous for our hearts. He wants us. He doesn't need us. But clearly, He would rather die for us than live without us. But we've all turned away. We spit on the talents God gives us to glorify Him, as we use them to get more glory for us. We disobey His commands and we ignore the God who made us. Satan has lead us all away. He's captured us and imprisoned us inside this cage called sin. There's no way out. Or so we think.

  Wait...yes! Here He comes! There He is, floating in Mary's womb! I see Him resting in the manger. Now He's working as a carpenter with his dad. Over there! He's teaching in the synagogue. Now He's walking on water! He just healed a man born blind. I just saw Him forgive an adulteress. There He is! I see Him playing with the children. I hear Him calling Lazarus out of the tomb! Now He's with His disciples. He's washing their feet?! I see Him in a garden. He' afraid. He's talking to His Father. Blood drips from His face (Luke 22:44). comes Judas! And soldiers! They're coming to arrest Him. But...He didn't do anything wrong. Wait...they might let Him go free! No, they've chosen to free Barabbas instead. They're whipping Him! They're spitting on Him! Now they've crowned Him with thorns. Oh, the nails! The hammer! No! He's bleeding. He's in agony. He's dying. But wait...what's He saying? "Forgive them Father for they don't know what they are doing." And now what? He's talking to the criminal next to Him! The one who actually deserves death! "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Now He's crying out to His Father! "My God, my God why did you abandon me?" And wait...He's saying something else! "It is finished." He's dead!

  "God's nature does not trap Him in heaven, but leads Him to earth. In God's great gospel, He not only sends, he becomes; He not only looks down, He lives among; He not only talks to us, He lives with us as one of us." -Max Lucado

  Father? Why are you so in love with us? What do you see? I know what I see. I see a sinful, broken world that wants nothing to do with you. There's anger, violence, and selfishness everywhere. We've all turned our backs on you. But yet, you're still after us. Nothing will ever separate us from your love (Romans 8:38-39). You see our sin clearer than we'll ever see it. But something in your nature causes you to look beyond the sin, and see the sinner. You see a world filled with hurt, confused, and wounded human beings who all need a Savior. You are not a God who stands still. You're a God of action; a God who moves. A mobile God.

  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." -John 1:14

  Perhaps the fact that God moves isn't that surprising. But think about where God has traveled. He
took the plunge from heaven's throne to Mary's womb. He wrapped Himself in flesh and dove
headfirst into the thicket of humanity. He died the death we deserve and conquered the grave so we
don't have to stay there. What kind of God is so obsessed with people who could care less about Him? When I read the Bible, I see a reoccurring theme. Man runs away from God, and God runs toward man. Jonah disobeyed God and ran away from Him. God went after Jonah and never gave up on him. David committed adultery and murder. God loved him and forgave him. The Israelites, time and time again, turned away from their God and disobeyed His commands. God never abandoned them and was always ready to forgive them. 

 "But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God." -Nehemiah 9:31

  But why? Why does God love us? Parent, why do you love your child? Because the child is yours? Yes, but even more, the child is you. Your blood, your eyes, your face, and your legacy. Your child not only belongs to you. Your child is a part of you. The love that a parent has for their child cannot even begin to compare with the love God has for us. We are all made in God's image. We are His idea. We are His masterpiece. We are His handiwork (Ephesians 2:10). He made us. We belonged to Him (1 Corinthians 10:26). We were His! But something happened. We turned away from our Creator. We turned toward created things to fill the void. His arms were wide open, ready to embrace anyone that would just come home! But we left. We told God life would be better without Him. And He let us leave. Most would expect that this is the end of the story. We forget God. We rebel against God. We turn away from God, and God turns away from us. But no, it didn't happen that way.

  It's amazing that God even moves at all. What's even more amazing is where He moves. But the most amazing part about God's great plan is that He moves toward you and I. He's pursuing us. He
died to win our hearts. God spilt the blood of His only Son for our sake. Don't you see it? We are who He's after! God wants us in His kingdom. Apparently, He wants us to live with Him so badly that He
would rather kill His Son than enjoy heaven without His creation. That's some intense love! God is so amazing. It's incredible how He became a baby. It's crazy how our Creator literally lived with us as a
man. It's ridiculous how, before the creation of the world, God planned out His death (Ephesians 1:4-6). It's awesome how Christ hung on the cross in our place! God went through the pain of watching His Son die a horrific death. He was humble enough to become a newborn baby and surrender Himself to Mary's care. He was faithful and loving enough to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). But why did God go through all of this? It's the most confusing yet remarkable part of God's gospel! In fact, it's the whole reason there ever was a gospel. God did all of this, the traveling, the pursuing, and the dying, just for you. And according to Him, you were worth it! He wants you to remember that.

  Have a great day!