Scripture Picture 8/17/17

Father God has good gifts for us! Sometimes they coming in a big reveal and other times they are revealed as each side of the wrapping is carefully opened. All good things come from God! He’s a good Dad who never changes!

Photo props: Alex Workman via Lightstock 
#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #james1 #godisagooddad #godgivesgoodgifts #godneverchanges #alexworkman #lightstock 

8 Things I Wish Every Christian Knew…

  1. I wish Christians knew it was scary and overwhelming to walk into church for the first time. Being greeted at the door can be a little uncomfortable for us. Worship can be a little weird for us.  A new Christian needs a soft kind word and space to let God work.
  2. I wish Christians understood that our lives are a mess! We lived without Jesus! Of course our lives are messy. If you have a new Christian in your group and they feel comfortable enough to tell their story, let them tell it and afterward thank them for their vulnerability. Sharing our stories heals our wounds.
  3. I wish Christians knew how much we need a prayer covering. A lot of us don’t have families who pray for us, spouses who pray for us or anyone for that matter. It’s just us and Jesus. Please pray for our spiritual growth and protection.
  4. I wish Christians knew that we need a new family. Our earthly families are often confounded by our new found faith. They haven’t forgotten how we lived our lives before Jesus and being made new is not within their understanding. Being with our families in our new found faith is often difficult and painful. We may need or want to spend holidays, especially Christmas and Easter, with our faith family.
  5. I wish Christians knew that we have really strong convictions. Our convictions may not be yours and vice versa.  Let the Holy Spirit convict. You have the blessing of supporting us while we walk it out.
  6. I wish Christians knew that our eyes are wide open. Amazing Grace says, “I once was blind and now I see.” New Christians are watching with their eyes wide open. You are an example to us.
  7. I wish Christians knew that God has called us. We haven’t prayed for 20 years to be in ministry. That doesn’t make us unqualified to be a part of ministry work. The Bible says that we are ministers of reconciliation, all of us. New Christians often have a passion and boldness because this whole thing is new and fresh. We have something to offer the body of Christ. Help us find our place and receive us with open arms.
  8. I wish Christians knew that vulnerability is important. We want to hear your faith stories. Faith stories are inspiring because it shows us that God is faithful. Your stories tell us how God showed you who he was in a place where your life was less than perfect. Your faith stories give us encouragement and hope.

So, there it is. Eight things I wish Christians knew about being a new Christian. I hope it urges you into love and good works.

Scripture Picture 8/15/17

Keep on believing! Keep your confidence in a God that keeps all of His promises. The peace that the Holy Spirit gives us is in us always, it is up to us to access it and give it away. While disappointment in humanity pervades, we have the peace that the world wants. Be bold and give it away freely. Let all the world come to know peace and a God who saves.

Photo props: Neely Wang via Lightstock 

#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #romans15 #hope #godkeepshispromises #joy #peace #passiton #holyspirit #neelywang #lightstock

Scripture Picture 8/10/17

Is responsibility overwhelming you? Remember, God sees you as a child entrusted with His Spirit not an adult loaded down with responsibilities. His burden is light. Let Him love you and love Him back. Rest and know. He takes care of the rest. Just listen and follow.

#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #matthew18 #faithlikeachild #childlikefaith #simplegospel #rest #playintherain #puddlesarefun #helovedyoufirst #youlovebecausehelovedfirst

“When Christ calls a man…”

I love this quote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I have never read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. I often see this quote scrolling through Facebook and when I see it, there is this reassuring “yes” deep down inside of me. This quote is similar to what I heard when I committed my life to Christ. I heard that I get a new life. That was the glimmer of hope lying ahead of me. However, the new life costs the tiny (or not so tiny, depending on how much you like your life when you give it) price of your old life. It costs your old behavior, your creature comforts, your coping mechanisms, it costs you everything that would have preserved your old ways. Including getting your own way. Yes, Jesus asks you to die first. Then follow Him.

The corresponding scripture to the quote from Bonhoeffer is this: “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to follow Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'” (Matthew 16:24-25) Our humanness is what wants preservation, our spirit wants transformation. That is the tension. When we give up our life, we learn over time that for every life preservation moment, there is a corresponding moment to die and follow. My husband and I talk about this a lot. He will come home and say, “There was a car broken down on the side of the road and the driver needed help. I didn’t want to stop because I just wanted to get home.” That is the self preservation side of him. Then there are other days he will tell me the same story but at the end, “sorry I was late, I decided to stop.” We all have those daily choices. How often do we depart the path behind our savior to maintain our schedule rather than deny ourselves to help someone in need? Probably more often than we would want to admit.

Then there are those self preservation moments where we have dreams and desires and wants and dreams and desires and wants…you get the picture. American life is full of this to such a distraction that we hang on to things that are bad for us in order to look good to the world around us. Following Jesus might ask us to let go of the hopes and dreams we had before we were made new. There are a lot of preaching voices that say the opposite of that. I know, I listen to them a lot. It gets me a little confused sometimes. I truly believe that my old hopes and dreams died when I died. I truly believe that God will show me new hopes and dreams as I grow in love and trust for him. My old hopes and dreams were self created and self preserving. Those hopes and dreams will be replaced with the hopes and dreams sowed into my created value before I was born, into my identity in Christ. Why? Because without knowing God, believing in Jesus, and hearing the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe I can know what I was created for. My old way was to pick and choose. My new way is to search Him and follow. And as I search Him and follow, He will reveal my purpose. A purpose not created by me but created for me. My God given created purpose is so much bigger and so much better than anything I could have ever thought or imagined. The same is for every believer. There is a big life waiting for us if we are willing to drop our own agenda and let God show us what we were designed for!

I feel compelled to pray, because my God given purpose is still being revealed. Maybe it is the same for you. I thank you Father God that you created me for a purpose in this time. I thank you that my purpose meets up with your ultimate plan for humanity, that we would all come to know and love you and love others in return. May my heart be full of your love and compassion for others while I walk out my purpose in my life. I thank you for Jesus and the path that I follow Him on. I thank you that it is narrow, reducing the choices that I have to make. I thank you that your yolk is easy and burden is light and when I choose to follow Jesus it displays your splendor.

In Jesus Name Amen.

 

Scripture Picture 8/8/2017

When I think of being God’s special possession, I see a picture of Him hugging me. I love how God claims us as His own. He calls us by name and says “you are Mine!” He created us, he formed us, He protects us, and says we are His. How very special we are to our loving God!

#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #godthefather #creator #iamyoursyouaremine #isaiah43 #creation #godsspecialpossession

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Scripture Picture 8/3/17

As I get older, I find myself wanting to preserve the beauty of my youth. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who it is looking back at me. I have to remember God holds precious my inner beauty. The girl made new by the precious blood of Jesus. Beauty fades but it is my heart that will be remembered.

#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #1peter3 #beautyfades #innerbeauty #precious

Scripture Picture 8/1/17

Today the Holy Spirit reminded me where people go when they don’t believe in Jesus. I don’t like to think about or talk about hell but God said that those who don’t believe will experience fire and brimstone (Psalm 11:6). The Spirit reminded me that the Father is waiting. He is waiting for us to change. He is waiting for His people to bring Jesus to the world so that all would be saved. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell. All people have value and worth to God! He wants to have peace with all humanity. 

#christianity #scripture #identity #youhavevalue #youhavevalueandworth #immadenew #peace #reconciliation #sharingjesus #psalm11 #2peter3 #godiswaiting #godispatient #evangelism

The Blessed Life

Ah, yes, the blessed life. Christians truly live under the blessings of God. It makes us special. But what happens when circumstances seem to reveal the opposite? Where do you land when things go wrong, when you get sick, someone stole from you, or you lost your source of income? Let me be totally honest with you, I thought that when I gave my life to Jesus I would have an easy life. I actually thought I would not have trouble in my life anymore. I was so ready for life to be on easy street because, frankly, life without Jesus was hard! I guess from the outside looking in, you might think I was experiencing hardship. But for the first three years of pursuing faith in Jesus, life was changing for the better, consistently. I could see very clearly where God was working and blessing with a yes and Amen. Then…the bottom fell out. I should say, it seemed like the bottom fell out. A lot of really tough circumstances hit my life all at the same time. It’s like my seat in heavenly places disappeared and I fell into hell. While that may sound dramatic, if you build your belief system of a blessed life as no trouble in your life, it will be a big wake up call when difficult times hit. What happened when trouble hit was an education only Father God can give.

I have to back to when my son was learning a new Bible verse. It was John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I took a “that’s nice” approach to the scripture, I encouraged and facilitated the memorization and maybe spoke into it without really experiencing a revelation of the meaning of it. Little did I know that the timing and the scripture were prophetic. I needed to take heart and know that Jesus has overcome all the trouble I would go through. God was trying to prepare me for what was to come. I ignored it because it didn’t fit into my blessed life bubble.

So, what did Father God teach me? He taught me about sanctification. What’s that? It is God transforming us into what He created us to be in the first place. He is changing us from sinner into saint. Sanctification is the process of transformation. I call it the burning fires of God (see Hebrew 12, read the entire chapter for context). Why would it be the burning fires of God? Well, let’s take the process of making gold as an example. While gold automatically has value, it is not shiny and useful when it is mined out of the earth. It looks like a rock with gold coloring. In order to make something of use out of the gold, it has to be refined. Fire and heat are required to refine gold. Refining it makes it shiny and makes the rock soft enough to be shaped into something for use. God wants to use us to change the world, we have to be transformed so that we can be used. While there is an instantaneous transformation at salvation, sanctification is a lifetime process that we undergo as we endure the troubles and victories of life. It is the process of learning how to love and trust God and to love others. I don’t believe that sanctification ever stops, although, I do believe that sometimes refining is intense and sometimes refining come easy.  Some call these hills, valleys, and mountains. I like to call it life on earth, being subject to evil, the interference of other’s free will choices and learning to trust God in the midst of it all.

So what does this have to do with blessing? Well, in the midst of difficult situations and circumstances, it is easy to fall into a belief system that says your life isn’t blessed anymore. I am here to say, it is impossible for you to lose your spiritual blessings. What God showed me about blessing during troubled times is that I have to remember the simple things He has done, my identity as a child of God, and that He is with me the whole way through. Trials throw us into a time where gratitude for the simple things, for the simple blessings, brings joy in the midst of trouble. It is a time where we need to remember what we have been blessed with: salvation, provision, protection, victory and more. In the meantime, we wait patiently on God to show us the way through tough times. Take heart new believer! Jesus has overcome every trial you will have. Rest and know that you are blessed.

Seek and you will find…God is kind

I used to think God was sitting up in heaven shaking his finger at me. I believed God thought I was a naughty little girl and there was nothing I could do to change that. It started when I was in grade school. I was in line to “receive” my first sacrament of reconciliation. In the Catholic Church this is most commonly called confession. I was talking with my friend about what I needed to confess and to be honest, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say. I said to my friend, “I must of said a curse word so I’ll say I said a curse word.” Yup, I lied in my first confession because I couldn’t think of anything to confess. Really, it’s okay to laugh, this is funny! It’s pretty clear that I didn’t learn anything in the religion class I was taking. I truly believe that this experience led me to believe I was naughty. The truth is, I was actually a pretty good kid.

I now have a much different view of who God is. God doesn’t see me as a naughty little girl. He sees me as His daughter, forgiven and free. God’s character isn’t just about how He sees us. It is about who He is, His personality. So, let me ask, what is God like to you? Is He a king on a thrown? Unapproachable as you cower before him? Do you see him with a gavel as a judge in a courtroom…are you being judged by him? Are you guilty before the trial is over? Is He the controller of your life? The God who has a lot of rules and He expects you to follow them or you’ll be punished? Or maybe He’s the killjoy God who doesn’t allow for fun. Could He be the God that doesn’t care? He’s up in heaven watching as people suffer the pain of evil and sickness in the world. He could stop it but couldn’t be bothered to do so. It is pretty easy to see God in those roles. The world is a tough place to live and often times we attribute things that aren’t God to be Him. Mostly, because we just don’t know how to know God. The only way to know Him is to seek Him for yourself.

You could take a chance on Google and look up God and see what comes up. Or better, you could check out the Scriptures. What better authority is there on God’s character than God Himself through His word. So, would it surprise you if I said that a primary characteristic of God is that He is kind? The Bible actually says that God is kind. Let’s take a look at Psalm 103:3-10 in The Message Bible:

He forgives your sins – every one.
He heals your diseases – every one.
He redeems you from hell – saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal.
He renews your youth – you’re always young in His presence.
God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up His plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.

 

I challenge you to take a look in the Scriptures with an open mind and search out the true nature of our God. I also challenge you to see the good in the difficult circumstances you might be facing. Next time something bad happens, take a hard look at the situation: is it God or is it something else causing the circumstance? Look for the goodness and kindness. There, you will find Him.