Friday, September 23, 2016

Jesus Is

If you think God allowed something in your life, then you won’t be able to resist it. The Bible says, in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).
If you think God allowed sickness or poverty to come against you to teach you something, then, first of all, you are probably under condemnation, feeling guilty about something you did and thinking you deserve it.
Jesus Christ paid the entire price on the cross. He paid for it all. He provided everything we needed through the cross. Let me tell you this: He didn’t stay there. He was resurrected and lifted up to the right hand of the Father, where He deposited His Holy Spirit into us, and we were then lifted up to the right hand of the Father. We are positioned near the King. We are to reign in this life as kings.
But if you continue to think God is punishing you because He is mad at you and is trying to teach you a lesson through sickness, then you will not resist it. You will receive it. You will hold fast to it. You will change the way you do life. You will make accommodations for this new sickness when it’s actually from the devil.
A lot of people say, “You know, God allowed this to happen in my life.” I would say you allowed it. You didn’t resist the enemy. You passively sat by, being tossed to and fro in a wave of the sea, because you weren’t really sure: “Is this from God or not from God? I don’t want it. I don’t want my child to have it. I hate it. I am doing everything I can medically to get rid of it.” Yet, you think God allowed it in your life to help you. If you are right about that, yet you seek medical attention, then you are in complete and total rebellion, searching for a way out of what God gave you.
We can’t pray, asking and begging God to change His mind after He has given us something. The reason why we see miracles is because He is not the author of it. 
Every time sickness is referred to in the Bible, it is either a curse of the law—but Jesus Christ became cursed for us, so we’re no longer under the curses in Deuteronomy 28—or it is referred to as captivity, as in Job 42. God said, “I will release Job from his captivity” (see Job 42:10 KJV). We all know from being sick that sickness is captivity to your bed. You are unable to move to work or to do anything.
Seek God with all of your heart. Keep a pure heart before Him. Seek first His kingdom, and everything will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). He is a God who wants you to prosper, who sent His Son so you could live in this life. He sent His Holy Spirit, who has the same power that raised Christ from the dead. 

In Luke 10:19, Jesus said He gave us all the power and authority. It is the authority we need over the enemy to prevail so no harm can come near us from the enemy. We have the authority of God to use to speak to the devil and say, “Get away from me. Get out of here. I am not submitting. I am not going into captivity because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. There is freedom. I am keeping my freedom. You are not knocking me out.”
But instead, we are so unsure. Our foundation is so rocky. “Did God give this to me or not? Is He using it for my good? I’m not sure. You know, it’s confusing. This stuff is coming at me like darts from every direction. Is this good? Is this for my good? Am I being punished? I did something to deserve this. Maybe God sent it to me.” 

Those are lies. You are leaning on your own understanding rather than standing on the Word of God. In Isaiah 54:9, God said, “So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again” (NIV). Never! He is not angry. He is not a mad God. He is a good Father. “Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17 NIV). Stop labeling what is evil as “good.” Stop it. It needs to stop, in Jesus’ name.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wrestle with Assurance

I gave my life to Christ when I was ten years old. I was in a Baptist church, and they talked about hell and scared me to death. I did not want to burn in flames, so I thought I would buy my insurance policy and get out. I raised my hand and went down, and nothing changed.

My life was still the same. Nothing changed at all about who I was. No one taught me how to know the Lord and have intimacy with Him. I continued on the same path I was on. I kept going to church. That is what I thought knowing God was all about. I thought it was all about going to church every week, paying your tithe and serving, going to Sunday school classes, and reading your Bible—if you could understand it. 

For me, I couldn’t understand it. I wanted to read the Bible. I read it, and I was like, “What are these words? I can’t even pronounce them.” I wasn’t that great of a reader. I probably should have been in a reading class for slow readers. I didn’t want to be labeled with a disability, although I felt like I had one. I couldn’t read the Bible. I couldn’t pronounce half the names that were in it. So I continued in my life and called myself a “Christian,” but I was like I was before. Nothing had changed.

Now, the Bible says when you become a Christian, you become a new creation. I wasn’t a new creation. Was I saved or not saved? I didn’t know. I had a lot of confidence that I wasn’t going to hell. It wasn’t until later in life when I read John 17:3 that my eyes were opened. It says eternity—in my opinion, heaven—is truly knowing God. It doesn’t say eternity is a place called heaven where you will go some day after you die. Eternal life is knowing God. 

What an eye-opening moment it was. Oh my gosh! This whole time, I thought being a Christian was about going to a destination upon death. But actually, being a Christian is about a destination in your heart that begins the moment you receive Jesus as your Savior. It’s a door opening to knowing God, and knowing God brings you life. Unbelievable. I had no idea. I kind of felt betrayed, honestly, by my church and all my teachers. Like, “How did I not know this? How did I live all these years completely clueless?”

So then I started to clue in that my life was a wreck. I had broken relationships. I’d basically broken every commandment in the Bible. I was like, “I’m supposed to be a Christian, but yet, you know, I don’t even get this. I’ve done everything wrong. What in the world?” So I made a decision. “Okay, God. I don’t know what I am supposed to do to be Your child, but I do know I have to stop breaking Your commandments. I have to stop going in the opposite direction of You. I actually have to pursue You and try to find You.” I tried. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). I started seeking God. I changed everything. I stopped going out. I stopped drinking. I stopped partying. I stopped sleeping around. I stopped everything. I started seeking God.

Unbelievably, I found Him. I started to realize He had been there all along. He was a God who would basically partner with me and be with me. He would help me shut my mouth when I needed to. He would help me do the right thing. He would be my helper and my friend.

Yet, even still, I went to church. I sought God. I started tearing through my Bible, reading the Word and asking tons of questions because I didn’t understand. See, I didn’t feel qualified to know the answers. I thought, “These people who are pastors, they went to school. They are qualified. They know the answers. They are the ones. If I could just get them to help me make sure I know God, then I will feel better about it. If I can just have that assurance.”

I found myself. I knew I was pursuing God at this point. I thought I was a Christian, but I still had this little percentage of doubt. Do you have a little percentage of doubt? That little percentage of doubt agonized me. Is this truly the right way? Is this the way?

I would take my teacher—she was a pastor and had all these young people in there— and I would ask her question after question after question. I came to realize that I can never get my assurance about being in Christ from another human being. It is impossible. They don’t know me. They don’t know my heart.

But I wanted it. I wrestled with having assurance that I was truly a Christ follower. I sought so hard. I sought man. I looked for man’s opinion. I asked pastors, “How do you know? How are you sure?” I asked the questions over and over. I drove my class insane. They were so mad at me that it ended up creating a feud. I kept asking, and I kept pursuing. It was like, “I have to know!” I have to know God has forgiven me for my past, for breaking all of His commandments.

But you know, no one ever taught me the law was for sinners, for before you received grace. Once you have received grace, you are not under the law. You are under grace. Christ became the cursed for you. God is not mad at you. I had never heard that message. I couldn’t forgive myself. I wasn’t walking in grace. I was still walking under the law. I never felt the fullness of forgiveness, so I wrestled with assurance.

Have you wrestled with being sure? Are you sure? How do you know? How can you be sure? We are going to continue this tomorrow on this blog.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Perspective and Little Annoyances

I don’t know about you, but I can get upset at the dumbest things.
Today, I was driving home from the gym, and I saw an emergency vehicle swashing near my home. Sometimes my husband heads out to the gym after me. For a moment, I just stopped, and I was like, “Lord, I hope he’s not in that accident.”
We are so foolish when the only thing we have in front of our eyes is temporal crap. We are so full of it. We can get so frustrated over the dishes or running water. But yet, in a blink of an eye, our loved one may not be present to run the water or leave dishes in the sink or smack our ear or hug us. We take for granted that they are going to be there tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. We can be so mad over the dumbest things.
For example, with my husband, I get frustrated because he is defensive. If I talk to him about anything, he automatically defends himself instead of pausing and processing what I say and then talking back to me and giving me a logical statement. I can become so frustrated—but then I am not carrying the love of God. I know the minute I see an emergency vehicle and pray to God it’s not him, the defensiveness does not even matter. I clearly love the man.
If I could keep in mind the eternal perspective that life is short—it’s merely a breath—can you imagine how differently I would respond? How I would respond differently today?
I would like to challenge you today to live with this in mind: What if your loved one, your spouse, or your friend were gone tomorrow in a blink? Is there anything you would do differently? Is there any word you have said but would take back? Is there any pet peeve you would stop nitpicking on? Is there any little thing in which you use your words to tear down but would turn around and build the person up instead? Is there someone you would hug more today? Someone you would call and tell them you love them? Don’t hesitate—do it.
The next time you are frustrated about something minute, pause and picture in your mind an ambulance picking them up off the ground, and then see if you want to say something about it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Unoffendable Heart

Hey, moms.

Sometimes we get our feelings hurt. As a large and in-charge momma bear, I have seen my kids left out of things or be uninvited to birthday parties. I’ve run into groups of their friends doing things my kids were not invited to participate in. I think, “What is wrong with my child? Why don’t you include her? Why haven’t you invited her?” Those kinds of thoughts run through your head.

Why do people reject? Why don’t they work to be more inclusive? I have spent four years praying my kids would be preferred. I prayed they would have good, godly friends who pursue them and prefer them. It has not been easy. I have wept many tears in my pillow at night.

When I was talking to Spencer one time, she said, “Mom, I am not offended by being left out of this. Don’t take up an offense for me.” I realized when we become offended at other moms or our husbands or because our children aren’t included or are left out, we teach our children to be easily offended. It’s what we do that they do. It’s not what we say that they do.

Moms, my question to you is: What are you doing? Are you easily offended? Do you cut people out of your life when you are hurt by them? Do you build walls to protect yourself? Are you your own defender even though God tells you to love others as you love yourself and He will defend you? When you step up and defend yourself, you lose the best defender. It’s like trading in the best defense team in the country for an accident lawyer. 

Is there someone you need to call today and reconcile with? Is there anyone you need to apologize to for building walls or being easily offended? Why don’t you examine your own heart like I will be examining mine today. Let’s make some phone calls. Reconcile. Kick bitterness in the butt. Let our kids see an unoffendable heart.

I learned a long time ago that being offended isn’t the problem of the person who said something to offend me. It is my sin. Offense is a sin. Being offended is a sin. It’s a sin because it’s saying, “Hey, what you said hurt me.” What you don’t realize is that your own filter has been shaped by life events and makes you sensitive. We need to get a God filter by cleaning out our filters so we can filter through His truth, His Word, and make every thought obedient to Christ. Every single thought. If you are thinking about excuses and making assumptions about people, then you’re not filtering through God’s Word. You are filtering through past circumstances and past behavior.

Give somebody a clean slate today. Start your friendship over. Make those roots deep. Be loyal. Be loyal to a fault. Be kind to people. Don’t throw away friendships like they are garbage. Don’t throw away people. Be unified. Have a godly heart. Be one with people. When they hurt you, work through it. Your friendship will actually be sweeter than it ever was before. It has the chance to be like an oak tree with roots that are deeply planted and not coming up. 

Every time you toss someone out the door, you are uprooting the tree you have planted, and you have to plant a new one. It’s like a new home. It has all new trees planted around it, and none has any stamina or girth. It’s easy to plant new trees. It’s difficult to water them every day and to see them grow and become a hundred years old.

Consider doing this in your life so your daughters and sons can see you have long-term healthy relationships in Jesus’ name.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

God Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then reconcile the Old Testament with the New Testament for me.

I could write a novel about this. Let me just say that for starters, God is the God of life. That is why He created the Garden of Eden. From the beginning of time, man has been rebellious against God. God has had to plan to redeem and bring them back to life in the Garden of Eden. That is heaven. That has been His plan all along. His plan was life. The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy. But He came to bring life. 

That is how God is the same today and for always and forever. He is for you, not against you. He wants to prosper you, not to harm you. He wishes, in all things, for you to be in good health. That is His heart for you. His heart is the Garden of Eden. He has been reconciling our screw-ups back from the beginning of time in Genesis 3 all the way to the New Testament and all the way through today.

There was a curse put on us when we decided to depart our ways from God. When you don’t stay under the ways of God, guess what happens? The enemy has free reign in your life. Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee. But if you don’t submit to God and you don’t resist the devil, he will pester you. He will take your life. He will destroy you. He is out to take you down. God is a gentleman. He is not in control of your life. He is only in control when you surrender. He is in charge of this world. He has the beginning and the end in His hands. He knows the outcome. You can trust Him in all things because He is the beginning and the end.

He is the reconciler. He is reconciling man to Him, the earth back to heaven. He is the ultimate reconciler. He paid the price. He sent His only Son to die for you so His Holy Spirit could live in you. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit could only come upon you because there hadn’t been a sacrifice. Jesus’ Spirit wasn’t released into people yet.

It’s like when Noah was on the boat and he sent out the dove, and it came back. It had nowhere it could land. The second time it went out, it came back because all it could do was pick from the trees. It still had nowhere to land. But the third time he sent it out, it landed and never came back. That is the picture of the Holy Spirit. 

The first time the dove went out, it was like the Holy Spirit. God would give His Spirit to people and let them use the Holy Spirit for a little while, and then He would take the Spirit back. Then when Jesus came, it was a unique time for the Holy Spirit because the Spirit resided in Jesus. He could give the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit came back. But the Holy Spirit didn’t go back fully and never returned to God until Jesus died. When Jesus died, He sent His Spirit, who is permanently deposited into us, guaranteeing our inheritance now.

It wasn’t like that in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, after we sinned there became curses for our sin. Guess what? Jesus became the cursed for us when He died. We no longer live under the law. We live under the blessing.

People do not understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever if they don’t understand that God is the God of the New Testament, that He is Jesus, or if they have not read the Word from cover to cover and understand that God is love. He is not a wrathful, angry God who is sitting up in heaven, mad and angry. He has blotted out our transgressions as far as the east is from the west.

What He is upset about is that you have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. You have rejected the gift. You have rejected receiving the Holy Spirit, so He cannot be your guide and your protector. You have rejected His provision for the plan to work out salvation in you. You have rejected it, and you continue to reject it daily. You have accepted Him as your Savior, yet you turn around and continue to reject Him and live in your own ways and your own understanding. You live according to your own time, your own calendar, and your own schedule.

He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him. He has given us the opportunity to know Him. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. One of the things I hate the most is when people say, “Sin separated you from God. God can have nothing to do with you when you are in sin.” But the first thing God did when Adam and Eve sinned was He went after them. He came into their presence and said, “Where are you? Come out.” Why? Because He is love. 

God has been seeking after us all along. Sin didn’t separate Him and make Him angry and make Him not have anything to do with you. No. He has been working it out, seeking you, pursuing you, wanting to know people, and wanting to get people to come to Him. That is His heart. His heart’s desire is to seek and find the lost. He came for the sick. He spends time with the sick. He doesn’t just spend time with the holier-than-thou. He didn’t come for that. He didn’t come for the righteous. He never did, but He wants to be in community with us. His heart is for everyone to be saved.

Yet people die without being saved and knowing Him. Why? Because He is a gentleman. He gave man a choice. He gave us a choice from the first day: good and evil. “Here are two trees. Pick which one you will choose. Pick one you will follow.” Every day we get that in front of us, minute by minute. “Who will you choose? Will you go out and party with friends, or will you stay here with Me? Will you spend time with Me, or are you going to put yourself on the throne? Where are you going to be?”

He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. When you remove yourself from His umbrella of protection, just like Adam and Eve did, the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The locusts will start taking apart your life. You are not under the protection when you remove yourself.

Yes, He is the same. He is the same loving guy who is trying to restore what we have destroyed.

In Jesus’ name, I bind all of this.