Stay

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In common culture there remains an unfortunate idea: when things become difficult you are no longer obligated to stay. Go, if you please to another place where peace and prosperity await you and life no longer boggles you down with troubles. The problem (among many) with this principle is that when things turn sour we need to stand our ground if we ever plan to accomplish much of anything. Take for instance divorce or sickness, bankruptcy or joblessness. It may seem like the easier option to flee, but doesn’t say much for our character if we do.

In relation to the Christian life I understand each believer will at some point come to the conclusion…life is hard. While I know this may seem obvious to some, to others maybe not. Many assume entering in to a life of fellowship with God will eradicate one’s life of troubles, pain and heartache, but this is not the case. The Bible reverberates of stories in which men and women of God undergo trials of many kinds for differing purposes: sin, testing of faith, refinement/endurance. While the target of such trials is the ultimate glory of God, the unveiling of the human heart and genuine fellowship, the end goal does not make the trials themselves any less difficult than they may otherwise be.

My hope in writing this is to convey to you: don’t lose heart, don’t let go, and don’t stop moving forward. Sometimes progress seems so small we can’t find a measurement fit to view it, but it is imminent. God’s purposes will be fulfilled and you will come out the other end if you stay planted.

I have found much solace in this particular passage from time to time:

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. -James 1:2-4

If you are undergoing trials you are in good company…with me, with our forefathers of faith and with Jesus Himself. All suffering will end, if not now then upon the return of our Lord Jesus. But it will end. In the mean time, ‘Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.’

There will come a point when all tears, all questions and all doubts add up to nothing. All that matters is you made it out of the shadow of darkness and into LIGHT. This hope has kept me enduring, even through the most volatile of circumstances. Because at the end of the day I can proclaim that my God is good and “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71)

Lord God give us the strength to endure each leg of trial which comes our way. For whatever purpose you have allowed these afflictions in our lives we agree they will produce for us deeper faith and greater obedience, all of which are your ultimate good for us. In the mean time, help us to be people of character, people of endurance and people who stand their ground in the storms of life, teach us how to stay.

“Stay” Big Daddy Weave

via YouTube

I’ve seen the flash of lightning

I’ve heard the rolling thunder

I’ve felt the crashing of the waves

And though I’ve known Your Presence

and been filled with wonder

Still there are many things that pull me away

Don’t let me go, hold me close because

 

I don’t want to hurt You anymore

I don’t want to waste another day

‘Cause it breaks Your heart, it breaks Your heart

When I keep walking away

 

You know what it means to sacrifice

But You tell me that it’s better to obey

You’ve giving me a thousand brand new starts

Jesus, give me what it takes to stay

 

I’ve felt Your hand of mercy through my darkest failures

And on the other side You’ve covered me with grace

And like a child lost and afraid, You come and find this runaway

And in Your loving arms You bring me home again

But what’s it gonna take to make me stay

 

I don’t want to hurt You anymore

I don’t want to waste another day

‘Cause it breaks Your heart, it breaks Your heart

When I keep walking away

 

You know what it means to sacrifice

But You tell me that it’s better to obey

You’ve giving me a thousand brand new starts

Jesus, give me what it takes to stay

 

Break my heart with what breaks Yours

Until You’re all I’m living for

Show me what it means not just to believe but to remain

 

 

 

The Heart of God

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Have you ever wondered what the heart of God is like? I know in some sense those of us who know the LORD do discover a level of understanding about His character. We see in scripture He is a loving God, a merciful Father & a friend of sinners. It makes sense in human terms to show love to those who love you in return, but even further than that God shows love to those who don’t even love Him back. And if that alone doesn’t blow your mind, He even has mercy upon those who do evil—so much so that He doesn’t wish for them to perish. Instead, He desires for them to repent and come home.

There’s a lot I don’t understand about the world… like why some people’s lives are full of suffering and others seem struggle free. I don’t have the wisdom to grasp why God allows certain things to happen and yet in His ability halts others. I’ve come to know, however, the more we try to “understand” God the less we allow ourselves to be in awe of Him. What I mean by this is when we are trying to figure Him out, we’re seeking to know why He does the things He does. But the entire character of God is in His mysterious persona. If we could understand God, He wouldn’t be God. He is in His very nature beyond comprehension.

If you’ve never been told this before, I think it’s time: You DON’T need to understand everything about the world or everything about God in order to trust Him. Actually, trust in itself implies that we don’t know where the road is going next, but we keep on trekking.

I came across this striking passage of Scripture the other day and felt it was worth sharing:

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekiel 18:23

We have a tendency as humans to assume that God is like us. It sounds funny even writing this, but what I mean is we have the presupposition to think He reacts or would react to people the way we would. Even those of us, while we are being changed from glory to glory, can fall into a trap of judgment. We can look at others and assume God’s grace has limits, but it does not. It is so far-reaching in fact that God himself takes NO DELIGHT in the suffering of His people, even the disobedient ones. While we may look at others and assume, based on their lives of destruction, God would want to keep accounts—and He does—but not to the effect we think. He keeps accounts but only until a little something called repentance takes place. And God wants ALL people to repent and return home to Him.

None of us are good. It doesn’t matter how righteous you think you are or how many good deeds you’ve done, the fact of the matter is we are all sinners. I don’t necessarily like to think of myself as a bad person, but the Bible tells me that in my flesh there is nothing good. Even more so the closer I grow in my relationship with God; the more my apparent inadequacy is revealed! Why? Because God is so perfect, so Holy, so pure that even one sin makes us unworthy to be in His presence. This is why we need Jesus to cleanse us and bring back the right standing with God that existed in the Garden of Eden.

If we as Christians are aware of how sinful we are how much more should we offer grace to others! If God Himself wishes for each and every heart to repent, we too should desire the same. No matter how badly we’ve been hurt, or how cruel the intention those around us have been in our failure we need to see God’s heart for what it really is… INCLUSIVE. Please, seek to include ALL PEOPLE in your plea for God’s mercy. Because God does not want even one to perish.

Luke 15:7

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

 

Joy verses Happiness

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I enjoy strolling through bookstores from time to time. I’m sure many of you do as well. What I find interesting is that on any given subject one could locate a book pertaining to the topic of happiness—more specifically HOW to attain it (For example: exercise, cooking, positive thinking etc.). This seems like a good idea, right? I mean we all desire to be happy, and maybe even to remain in that state for a while. Happiness is all-well and good don’t get me wrong, but did you know emotions such as happiness are only temporary. They are circumstantial, based on feelings (which are not very trustworthy or stable) & fleeting.

While the world wants us to attain happiness what they’re really saying is that we only need to aim for TEMPORARY HOPE. Because happiness often comes crashing down when things start to fall apart or bad news comes. One could act ‘happy’ but inwardly feel lost. Since it’s such a passing emotion, why not aim for something a little more stable? How about a level of ‘happiness’ or ‘content,’ which circumstances cannot rob? Sounds good to me!

This is called “JOY.” At first thought one might assume joy is merely a heightened level of happiness. But truthfully, joy has very little to do with how we actually feel. It really has to do with what we know, or rather whom we know. I’m talking specifically about Jesus Christ.

When you read scriptures such as James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” it may seem confusing. How could one be joyful all the while in the midst of chaos? Is that even possible? Yes, yes it is. You see there exists a peace, which comes only from knowing the Lord. This specific peace cannot be shaken by the mountains and valleys of life. See, joy comes from knowing the LORD. In fact, the “fullness of joy” is found by living in His presence.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Really in order to maintain joy, we fix our attention on Jesus and the future HOPE of eternal salvation! When we are looking up we can’t also be looking down. The joy doesn’t necessarily come from our own life. We can be content in ANY circumstance (Phil. 4:12) as long as we keep in mind where we are headed. And for those of us in Christ Jesus, we are headed toward Heaven.

Even Jesus himself was able to endure the CROSS by keeping in focus the bigger picture, the joy YET TO COME—the joy that was GOING TO BE His after He was faithful unto death.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What I’m really saying is that JOY is eternal and happiness is temporary. Why not seek something that will last? HOPE will get us through our darkest times. The joy YET TO COME is what produces for us a here and now endurance. So keep your head pointed toward HEAVEN. Despite what things look like now joy can be yours if you focus on Jesus and the future awaiting you in His presence.

 

 

He IS Risen

My heart could literally burst with joy at the sight of people running to the arms of Jesus this Easter morning. There is nothing that compares to this hope. Truly the same power that raised Christ from the dead is ALIVE and well today! Through the Spirit, it is at work in each of us who have claimed Him as our own. Oh the JOYOUS SHOUTS of Heaven the day Jesus was RAISED to life! Yet still two thousand years later praises of celebration ring from Eternity to Eternity. He died as much for persons in Scripture as He did for YOU and ME; That we might be set FREE from the power of sin and death and made alive in the hope and truth of Jesus. Talk about a reason to CELEBRATE! Happy Easter indeed!

Acts 2:47 “all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”

2 Timothy 1:10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”

Good Friday: Jesus Paid It ALL

Good Friday

Blood Moons Timeline

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God is getting our attention tonight! Around approx. 12-2 a.m. Pacific Time April 15 will be the first of four blood red moons between 2014-2015. Hope you can stay up to catch a glimpse. Should be interesting to see the signs from the Heavens!

What is the Difference Between TRUST and FAITH?

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I have been thinking a lot about the topics of trust and faith. The two are so closely intertwined. Trust in God is needed to grow faith, because it allows our faith to become personal. I’ve come to realize, however, that faith and trust may not be identical. You see it’s one thing to accept that an Almighty God is capable of anything because of His resume, whereas it’s another to believe He is personally controlling YOUR life.

This is where we can look to the father of our faith, Abraham. He indeed was a man after God’s heart but, like all of us, had a few bumps and detours along the way. His trust in God began to flourish when he believed that God was capable of not just miracles, but miracles in HIS life. For example Abraham (then Abram) was told by God that he would have decedents as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5), even though he and his wife were advanced in years and still childless.

Even before God came through on His promise Abram believed the LORD, demonstrating his FAITH (Genesis 15:6). But he later succumbed to his wife Sarai’s suggestion to have a child with her servant Hagar, since Sarai was still barren. (We always run into problems when we try to hurry God along). Why did Abram do this? Well it could have been a result of timeline discrepancy. In human minds it is difficult to grasp that God has a much different schedule than we do and is in NO HURRY. His timing for the fulfillment of promises is what will come to pass, and no amount of us intervening will make things happen any faster. TRUST in God means trust in HIS timing.

Abraham (God changed Abram’s name in Gen 17:5) learned this lesson the hard way when God revealed that the promised child was not Hagar and Abraham’s son Ishmael (human intervention), but a child to be born at a subsequent date.

God later showed His faithfulness by the miracle child Isaac’s birth. Abraham’s faith increased AND he began to TRUST God more with his life. This then created an obedient heart in Abraham. The more trust we have in God’s character, the more likely we are to be obedient to His leading. This concept is shown in the life of Abraham at a later time when God tests his faith and asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac. At this point he does not hesitate to submit his will to God. No, Isaac does not actually die but the point is God revealed Abraham’s heart and brought to the surface a new level of TRUST. Abraham was WILLING to obey God even when He didn’t understand, because he knew that God would keep His promise of descendants. Abraham reasoned that God would simply raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His word (Hebrews 11:19). His TRUST in God’s ability to work in his life was strong.

Despite different circumstances our relationship with God could look a lot like Abraham’s. First we look at God’s resume and deduct that He is clearly qualified for the position of sovereign ruler (Genesis 1). Next we believe in God’s character: meaning the nature of God (loving, faithful, just, merciful, compassionate) based on what we know His is like in Scripture (Psalm 145:8). Finally we transfer those beliefs (our faith–Hebrews 11:6) to an understanding of how God may work in our own lives and begin to trust Him personally.

If you haven’t already developed a TRUST between you and your Heavenly Father it would be a wonderful time to start. God cares for you: Matthew 6:26. He has equipped you: Ephesians 1:3. There is nothing too difficult for the LORD. Take a step of faith and TRUST Him to guide the way.

Proverbs 3:5-6 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

 

To look up any of these Scripture verses here is a link to Bible Gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com 

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