Sunday, February 19, 2017

Expiration Dates

When I got married, I moved into Doug's house.  He was already established, and I had been living back at my parent's house to save money.  Doug was (and is!) an amazing chef. He is just good.  Self-taught and everything. Well, one day while he was at work I started going through the small pantry that he had in the kitchen.  It held things like canned goods, cake mixes, some spices, things like that.

I have been a germaphobe and a rule follower my whole life. Well, almost {ahem}.  So you can imagine my shock and horror when I found a cake mix that was expired by almost a year.  It went in the garbage.  Then I went on to find some rice that was over 2 years expired. I wish you could have seen the expression on my face. I continued to search through the pantry, and found some things that were expired for over 10 years.  Ten years, people.  I haven't had anything for ten years except people.

Suffice it to say, Doug had nearly empty cupboards by the time he came home. Let's just say we never did agree much on when something is actually "expired" or when its time is up. (Still don't!)

I was blessed with a Women of Faith DVD from a good friend for Christmas.  I was watching Christine Caine, whom I had not seen teach before.  She's very funny, but she speaks truth.  Anyway, she started off with a short clip about a kid looking for expired items in his parent's refrigerator.

Her point, as she talked about Abraham and Sarah in the Bible, is that God's promises have NO expiration date.  They never go bad, or run out of time.  Abraham was 76 when he was told by God that He would become the father of many nations.  (And his name was Abram, but for the sake of clarity we'll just stick with Abraham; Sarah has the same situation.) Seventy-six years old.  Not exactly the time you think about starting a family.

God said to Abraham, in Genesis 15:5-6:
"Then He [God] brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'
And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."

Abraham believed God. He believed Him.  But then, many years later when God flat out told Abraham that Sarah was going to bear him a son, he "fell on his face and laughed." (Genesis 17:17)

When God specifically told Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah in one year, Abraham was 99, and Sarah in her 80's. 

"Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' "  Genesis 18:11-12 (emphasis mine)

Sarah had "passed the age" of being biologically capable of conceiving a child. That time had expired. Time was up; It had run out.

Well, if you know your Bible, you know that God worked a miracle to fulfill His promise to Abraham.  And I LOVE that!  It was physiologically impossible to Sarah to conceive a child, and that's when God. Showed. Up.

God's promises have NO expiration date!  How often we limit God with our disbelief!  Or rather, how much blessing we miss out on due to our unbelief. 

Dear friends.  Do we believe God?  Maybe at first, when things are still looking optimistic.  But the moment we decide that the time for God's promise has gone, that it has expired, what about then?  Do we believe then? Or do we laugh? 

Let me assure you, my friends.  
"With God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37
Can I get an Amen?  Or how about a Hallelujah?
There is nothing God cannot do.
There is no sorrow He cannot turn to joy.
There is no suffering He cannot stop.
There is no disease that God cannot heal.
There is no financial problem that God cannot solve.
There is no loss that God cannot restore.
There is nothing that God cannot do.  
And He has all the time in the world to do it.  
Will you continue to believe Him? 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Are You a Water-Walker?

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear….”

When I see Jesus doing something miraculous, do I accept it for what it is?  Or do I make earthly excuses?

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus immediately tells them not to be afraid.  Is that what I hear?
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

What is my “wind?”  What is yours?  Do you doubt God’s faithfulness to you?  Do you doubt God will do what He says in His word He will do?  Do you wonder if God really is who He says He is?

I say, “I’ve got bills to pay!”
“Take courage,” says Jesus.

I say, “I’m tired of being ill, and I’m scared of suffering!”
“Don’t be afraid,” says Jesus.

I say, “But I’m so alone…”
“It is I,” He says.

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Why DO I doubt, Lord?  I have seen so many miracles in my own life, let alone in the lives of others.  I know you will never leave me or forsake me!  I know Your promises are true…and yet…

Forgive me Lord.

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:25-32.

When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he first thought He was a ghost.  Peter told Jesus to tell him to come out on the water, if it was indeed Him.  So Jesus said, “Come.”

And to Peter’s credit, he got out.  I’m not sure I would have done that much! But out he goes.  And when he’s looking at his Savior, he walks. on. water.  He WALKS on water! We’re talking wind-tossed, wavy, unfrozen water.  And Peter’s walking ON it.   

That is, until he looks at his surroundings.

When we encounter difficulty, do we immediately start to sink?  Or do we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith?

I challenge you to remember the One Who Walked on Water.  He can give us that amazing ability to be a water-walker too!  But we have to stay focused on Him. 
Circumstances mean NOTHING to Jesus.  He is beyond time.  His power knows no limits.  Our situation is not too difficult for the Resurrected Son. He is bound by nothing. 

Except our disbelief.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

No One Is Insignificant

Have you ever felt too small, or too insignificant to be of any “real” use in the kingdom of God? Have you ever thought, “God could never use me.  I’m not like so-and-so who can teach children.  Or like so-and-so who can sing in the choir.” I think we all have felt that way at one time in our lives.  I invite you to read the following Scripture:

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him [Jesus]. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Mark 6:35-44 NIV (emphasis mine)

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  Jesus took 5 small barley loaves of bread, and 2 fish, and fed thousands of people.  Notice the passage says Jesus fed 5,000 men.  The women and children weren’t even counted, yet we know they were there, because Jesus got the loaves and fish from a small boy. It was his lunch…not a man’s lunch.

Why is that important?  Because some critics of Jesus’ miracles would say that maybe the loaves of bread were really big and could feel a lot of people.  I would say to that: how could a small boy carry 5 loaves of bread large enough to feed 5,000 men?
It’s also important because it was a small boy, a child, that Jesus took notice of, and allowed the boy to give a very special gift to all of the people that day.  Because of that little child, many, many people got to eat. They weren’t going to go hungry.  If God could use that little child back then, don’t you think He could put you to Kingdom work now?

Jesus asked the disciples to pick up all the remaining pieces and bread and fish after everyone was “satisfied.”  Not just after everyone had had a few bites…until everyone had eaten and was satisfied.  And what did they collect?  A few crumbs and a few fish bones?  NO!  They collected 12 baskets full of “leftovers.”
This reminds me of another passage in Ephesians chapter 6: “20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”

Jesus is “far more abundant” than anything we could ever ask, think or imagine.  He LONGS to bless us in abundance! Jesus could have made just enough food to go around for all the people.  But He didn’t.  He went so beyond “enough.”  How so like our lavish Savior. 

Jesus gave thanks before he broke the bread.  Did He need to do that for the miracle to happen?  I don’t think so.  But He did it.  He knew He was going to multiply that food.  He’s God in the Flesh!  And yet He looked toward heaven, and gave thanks.  Are you waiting for a miracle?  Have you given thanks for it in advance?  Step out in faith!  Thank God for what He is about to do for you!

Friends, our Savior is a loving, caring Provider.  He meets all our needs, and then some!  He is lavishly loving, and just waiting for you to come to Him to exceedingly, abundantly do more than we could ever ask or imagine.   


What a Savior.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mixed Blessings

I am a Jesus-follower, and believe He is the only way to heaven.  You can agree or disagree, but I'm pretty upfront about it and not shy to talk about my beliefs.

I started my post this way because the song "Blessings" by Laura Story has been going through my head over and over.  It makes me cry every time.  I have experienced that song.  "What if blessings come through raindrops?  What if healing comes through tears?"

You know, so many people are struggling. 
Think about it:  if it never rained, we'd have no flowers.  And if you get something in your eyes, the best thing to wash them out with is your own tears.

But my heart it so burdened by loved ones who are hurting.  Some are fighting physical illness, some struggle with mental illness (which is so invisible that some people don't even believe it exists!); people struggling with inner demons that just overwhelm them.  And it makes my heart break.

I have always been an empathetic person.

Empathize. Understand.  Identify With.  Put oneself in another person’s place.

I remember one time when I was little, I was at my cousin’s house, and he got into trouble for something.  He received discipline, but I was the one who cried! I’m still kind of the same now, but on a broader scale.  If I could take the burdens of others I would.  I have a few MG friends right now (several really,) that are going through SO much....And I wish with all my heart I could do something about it.

But it's not my place.  It's God's.  It's Jesus's.  HE is the only One who can take the burdens.  Before I had MG, I was not on a great path in life.  I was doing things I knew God didn’t want me to do.  But I was so insecure, and so self-absorbed I did them anyway.

God got my attention.  He loved me too much to leave me where I was.  And if it took MG to do it, so be it.  I have a better life now.  Do I wish I was healthy?  Cured? Absolutely.  Do I wish I could breathe every day really well and run and jump and roll around on the floor with my son?  Of course.

But would I trade all of the blessings that came with this insidious disease? Nope.

I guess in my rambling, round-about way I'm trying to tell you that there is HOPE.  God loves you.  He wants your heart.  He doesn't want some blindly following robot.  He wants to know you.  He already loves you.

When I became a mom, the sacrifice of God sending His only Son to earth to die a horrible death took on incredible new meaning to me.  I don't know if I could do it.  I love my child more than my own life.  To send him to a place where people would mock him and beat him and eventually kill him?  Even if it was to save others?  I don't know.  I could give up myself, but my son?

Just think about that today.  The God of Heaven wants YOU to be His child and ease your burdens. 

Life will NOT be all sunshine and roses. 

But it will be different.  Better.  More joyful.  It may not be easy, but it will be good.  It will be very good.

“Blessings” by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Compassion for ALL

I was just sitting here thinking how different we all are, and how each of our lives is so valuable and precious, yet so very, very different.  What's important to me may not even show up on your radar, and vice versa.

There's just so much going on.  I like to people watch (from a safe distance!)  Like when we all went to the zoo for Jacob’s birthday.  Doug and Jacob rode the train; I waited for them in the center of the zoo on a park bench and watched the people go by. I always wonder who they are, what they're doing or thinking.  I try to guess; I am probably wrong.

Sometimes I have so much pain in my heart that I want to just scream and yell at the world for going on like nothing is happening when there is so much sadness and pain all around me. 

I just want to MAKE people wake up and pay attention and see that it's not all about them...and it's not all about me.  It's about US.  It's about HIM. It’s about Jesus.  It’s about His sacrifice and our desperate need of being saved.

There is so much going on all over the world…terror and horror and murder and disease and war.  And every single one of those things has something in common:  People.  There are people who are terrorized, and people who are doing the terrorizing.

There are people who are being murdered, and people who are doing the murdering.

There are people, children, parents, friends; people just like you, just like me…suffering horribly at the mercy of some insidious disease…and there are people standing by, just watching, helpless to stop it.

We need to support each other, not rip each other apart!  We need to love one another, and pray for each other, not knock each other down the moment we have a chance! 

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:15-17 ESV

We may have different opinions

or religions

or temperaments

or lifestyles

or personalities

but we are all people; children of God.

It could have been me that had to throw my child onto a helicopter, praying he could be rescued from dying of thirst… It could have been you that was captured by a terrorist group and killed.  It could have been your brother.  Or my father… Or…

2 “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.”
Galatians 6:2-3 AMP

WAIT..... What?!?!?

photo courtesy of losarciniegas Have you ever thought of how strange it is that you can have a conversation without really saying anyth...