Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lose Weight Now

Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

I am going through a difficult battle right now.  But in the midst of it God is teaching me about his rest.  I am learning what it really means to give him the weight that burdens me down. And what it really means for him to be strong in my weakness.  I am learning that not only is it okay, and recommend to be weak, but that it is required!  As long as I, myself, am strong, God has to wrestle with me, like with Jacob.  We think of it in reverse, but consider for a moment that God said to Jacob, "I will not let you go til' you bless me."  

When we are trying to be "strong" we are actually making a bold and frightening statement.  In essence we are saying that we are God.  We are able to handle our situations the way we see fit.  And if we are strong and can handle things, why would we have need of God?  2 Thes 2:3-4 tells us, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (the day of Christ) (vs.2) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

Another word for perdition is pernicious.  Pernicious means: having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way, causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful, deadly; fatal.  

Who is that man of perdition?  It is the strong man.  It is you and me when we are not allowing ourselves to be weak and to totally rely on God for our every need.  Jacob wrestled with God all night long because he did not want to give up.  He did not want to be weak.  God finally was forced into touching the hollow of Jacob's thigh, causing Jacob to not be able to walk by himself.  He had to lean on God.

The Song of Solomon says, "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?"  Brethren, I am fully persuaded that we will not come out of our own personal wilderness, nor out of the wilderness of this world into his kingdom, any other way!  The only way we will enter into his kingdom is by leaning on Him!

We must remember too, that a king is the ruler of his kingdom.  He is the only one allowed to rule.  When someone else tries to rule he is thrown out of the land.  It is this way with God.  He is the King, the ruler of his kingdom, and you and I must learn right now how to come under his full and total rulership if we ever expect to live with him in his kingdom. 

As with Jacob, when we give up and let God have his way; allow his will to be done, the reverse of perniciousness happens.  We are actually blessing God!  It is then, and only then, that we get our name (nature) change, from Jacob to Israel!

The apostle Paul said he was given a "thorn in his flesh" as a reminder to him that he should not boast.  Then he says, "But the Lord said to me, "My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, then my power is made perfect in you." So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me."  2 Cor 12:9

Psalm 55 tells us to cast all our cares on him, and that he will sustain us. 

I am being reminded of two songs I have not sung in a long time...

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let all God's people praise the Lord.
Shake off those heavy bands, lift up those holy hands,
Let all God's people praise the Lord.


Give up and let Jesus take over
Give up and let Jesus take over
Give up and let Jesus take over
And he'll make a way for you.

And if there's a mountain that you can't climb
And if there's a river that you can't cross
And if there's a valley where you can't stand
Give up and let Jesus have his way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He Will Finish the Work

"As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." 
Deut 32:11-12

I believe we are in the last hour.  In this hour God is finishing his work.  To do so, he has to fine tune his people.  The things he used to wink at, he no longer will.  He is stirring up our nests, making us uncomfortable in our surroundings, and using our circumstances to teach us.  He is perfecting us.  He will have a bride without spot or wrinkle.  The question is, will I let him do that complete work in me so that I can be a part of it? 

John says, "He must increase and I must decrease."  This is not a suggestion.  It is a must!  We are in a time when we must know that he is God.  That he is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and well able.  He is not only the author, but he is the finisher of our faith!  He promises to finish the work he started.  But to do so he must bring us to a place where we have no other hope, no other resource, than Him, himself.  If God left us a way out other than relying totally on him we would most certainly take it.  That is the way of mankind.  Beginnng in the garden, man chose another way other than God's way.  If we really examine our own heart we find this to be true of ourselves.

Recently I have spoken with many christians about the struggles they are going through.  In each case I find a golden thread that ties us together.  God has each of us in a place where there is no way out other than totatlly relying on him.  You may find yourself in a situation like this now, with absolutely no where to turn but to God.  There is nothing that you can do to change your circumstances.  Friends or family may offer to help, saying, "is there anything I can do?"  But you cannot come up with even one idea to help your situation.  Because you know that only God, in his infinite wisdom and power is able to deliver you from your situation.  You know that only prayer can help.  So you say to them, "Yes, please pray for me.  That is all anyone can do right now." 

This may seem cruel of God, but I assure you brethren, this is His love for you.  You see, God loves you so much that he wants to assure that you are a part of his bride.  And to be a part of his bride you must be clean, without sin, without spot or wrinkle.  So he has set to work to clean you up.  Psalm 24:3-5 says, "Who may go up on the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy Temple?  Only those with clean hands and pure hearts. They must not have worshiped idols. They must not have made promises in the name of a false god.  It is they who will receive a blessing from the Lord."  (ICB)

So brethren, yield yourself to the Lord; let him finish that work he started in you.  He will give you the strength you need to finish the race.  He shows us this promise in Deuteronomy 32:25, "as your day is, so shall your strength be."  He promises us that his grace alone is all we need. 
2 Corinthians 12:9

"When you see these things coming to pass lift up your heads; for your redemption
draweth nigh." 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trials and Tribulation

Lately I've been thinking about many christian people I know, and the trials and tribulation they are going through.  At times I have felt overwhelmed when I brought each need to the Lord's attention.  Then I remember that God has everything under control and I don't have to fret.  It is good and prudent to intercede for our brethren.  Christ said to Peter, "the devil desires to sift you as wheat, but Peter, I have prayed for you."  Sometimes, I simply ask Jesus to intercede for a person when I am not sure how to pray for them. 

My heart is sometimes very heavy for those in the midst of difficult trials, and at the same time I rejoice because I believe that God is doing a mighty work in his people in this hour.
One of the ways we see that is because of all the trials and tribulations his people are going through.

Recently, God brought to my mind a few scriptures that I have found particularly helpful and encouraging.  Psalm 4:1 says, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” 

I recalled how God has “enlarged” me each time I have been in distress.  He left me in distress.  Even though our trials sometimes seem so long, “he makes all things beautiful in His time.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11) 

Luke 24:26 tells us that Christ suffered all the things he did so that he could enter into his glory.  The same is true with us.  Christ promised us Eternal Life, but he also promised each of us our own cross.  (Mark 10:21b)  Acts 14:22b says, “that we must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.” 

And so, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." 
(1 Peter 4:12-13)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Christian's Declaration of Independence

I am free from failure for "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Phil.4:13

I am free from want for "my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" Phil:4:19

I am free from fear for "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2Tim1:7

I am free from doubt for "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Rom. 12:3

I am free from weakness, "the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps.27:1

I am free from the power of Satan "because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1Jn.4:4

I am free from defeat "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." 2Cor.2:14

I am free from ignorance, "for Christ Jesus is made unto me wisdom from God." 1Cor.1:30

I am free from sin "for the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all sin." 1Jn.1:7

I am free from worry "for I am to cast all my cares upon Him." 1Pet.5:7

I am free from bondage "for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2Cor.3:17

I am free from condemnation, "for there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:1

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Lamp

Last summer we had a severe thunder storm.  The wind blew, driving the heavy rain into places it demanded it to go. Eventually the winds calmed down, the rain became gentle, and I was sung to sleep by the song of the lightly falling raindrops.

The next morning I awoke and went to the kitchen to get my coffee. I looked out of the window and noticed that the wind had knocked over one of our outdoor torches. It lay on the ground, surrounded by 4 or 5 upright torches. My first thought was that all the oil in the fallen lamp had leaked onto the ground and we would have to pay the price for more lamp oil to refill it.

With my cup of coffee in hand I proceeded to the living room and sat comfortably on the sofa. I decided to review some notes from my notebook that I had taken recently, with the intent of sharing those thoughts in church on Saturday evening. The first scripture reference was Ephesians 3:14-21. It's a very familiar scripture to me, therefore I began to quickly skim through it and go on. But when I came to the end of verse 17, I stopped and said, "Whoa!" I re-read it. Then I read it again. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love....."That Christ may DWELL.  That would mean "live there", "stay there", not ever leaving. "Dwell". I had recently preached a word in church about "going in and coming out". God wants us to come in and go no more out.  (Rev 3:12)

"Being rooted and grounded in love."  I recalled the fallen lamp. That lamp was not grounded. It was only driven into the ground a little way. Here's the beautiful truth of it. My husband had put those lamps in the ground, and in order to do so, he had taken a large hammer and pounded them down into the ground far enough so they would stay. When I mowed the lawn, I brushed this one lamp as I went by, loosening it and causing it to lean. I stopped and placed the lamp upright and applied what strength I had, trying to force it back into place. But obviously a good strong wind was able to blow it over, causing all the oil inside to leak out and be wasted. Have you ever felt like you've been pounded? Like the lamp, we have to be grounded deep enough so we won't be blown over when the storm comes.

The Word of God tells us that God is Love. If we are not "rooted and grounded" in God, a strong wind can come up, and like this lamp, we will get blown over. Then all of our oil will leak out and be gone.

The fact of the matter is, that after the lamp was blown to the ground the oil would not just gush out, it would leak out slowly; unnoticeable to anyone, perhaps even to itself. Then when you up righted it and tried to light it it would become very evident that the oil was all gone.

I don't want to be like one of those 5 foolish virgins with no oil, unable to burn brightly until the Lord's coming.

I want to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth it's fruit in his season." 

" I shall not be moved." 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What You Behold Is What You Become

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Matthew 6:22

The christian walks by faith, not by sight.  It is often very difficult not to look with the natural eye. Sometimes my mind starts to wander and think on things that are bothering me; then suddenly I wake up from my thoughts and realize that I have let hurt get the best of me.  I then have to re-align my mind to the word of God. I feel like Winnie the Pooh when he taps his paw to his forehead and says, "Think... think, think."

For years I have said, "What you behold is what you become." If you behold negative thoughts and feelings you will become negative,deceived, and defeated. If you behold the positive, and God's truths, even in the midst of your battle you will become joyful, victorious, and an overcomer.
I must remember and focus on these truths...
  1. God intends ONLY good for us. He knows what is best. (Romans 8:28)
  2. We enter into his kingdom through our trials and tribulations.  (Acts 14:22)
  3. We  are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)
I must remember to "set my thoughts" or they will set me, and "fix my heart" or it will get me into a fix.

Jesus have mercy and compassion on us as you teach us your ways.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Is Your Safety?

Last summer I went swimming in the ocean. The undertow was very strong that day. I accidentally got out too far in the water and suddenly realized that my feet couldn't touch bottom. I had a small surf board under my arm which was not secured to my wrist. I tried swimming, but between the waves and the undertow being so strong I couldn't make any progress while holding onto the board. I debated whether to let go of the surf board so that I could swim better and decided against it. Should I not be able to make it to safety, at least I could rely on the safety of  floating on the surf board. I decided that would beat trying to tread water until someone could come and rescue me. I gave it a couple more good strong tries with the board still under my arm and landed where my feet could finally touch bottom. From there I was able to make it to land.

I've thought about this incident many times since then- pondering it over and over in my mind. I knew that God wanted me to see the spiritual message in this somewhere. Eventually it occurred to me what the message is. How many situations do we find ourselves in- in which we consider "throwing away" our safety device and rely on our own strength? Sometimes when I feel I might drown in my circumstances, I think that if I just swim as hard as I can, I can make my own way out of it.

In the ocean that day my decision could have been a matter of life or death!

"Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe:" Psalm 119:117a

Take a Closer Look

Take a closer look, Lord.
Take a closer look.
Open up my heart, God,
And read it like a book.
Edit all the pages, Lord.
Use your loving knife.
Let my name may be found, Lord,
In your eternal Book of Life.

Debbie Berry

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who's Report Will You Believe?

There are big differences between what you were raised to believe, what you want to believe and what you choose to believe. 

Growing up, I was raised to believe that there was a God.  I knew very little about the Holy Trinity, the role, purpose and nature of each of the three persons.  It wasn't until early adulthood that I learned that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation for my soul and I must know him personally.  I am thankful that my Heavenly Father drew me to Christ and did not leave me believing only the tidbits I had been told about him in my childhood.

As far as what we want to believe, I recall a time a few years ago when my husband and I decided to read the Little House on the Prarie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We enjoyed these stories greatly and after finishing one book we would promptly go to our local library to check out the next book in the series. 

My husband had made all the library stops, but this day I stopped in to get the next book.  I looked around for a bit and when I couldn't locate the books, asked the librarian where to find them.  "Oh", she said, "you're in the wrong section.  You need to be over in the fiction section."  I questioned her and expressed my beliefs that these stories were not fictional and why would they be cataloged as such.  She explained to me that even though they are based on real people and events, they are in fact considered to be fiction.  This caused me great disappointment.

Later in the day I was thinking about this and suddenly I realized what my thoughts had just told me.  I had found myself thinking, "I'm just going to believe that everything I am reading in these books is true!"  Ding, ding, ding!  An alarm went off in my head.  I realized that my thoughts were involuntarily adjusting themselves to accomadate my feelings.  Upon realizing this, I chose to readjust my thoughts and believe the truth.

And so it often is in our spiritual walk with God, especially when we are in a battle.  Our feelings often lie to us, telling us that we are never going to recover, never going to see the victory, never going to make it through.  And what about when our feelings tell us that we failed, or God has abandoned us?  Do the things our feelings tell us line up with God's holy word?  At this point we are faced with a choice: who's report are we going to believe?"  (Isaiah 53:1)

Brethren, we must remember that we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)  Not by feelings, not by what we were taught or want to believe because it's easier.  We must chose to believe the True Report.

Who's report will you believe?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I was feeding my infant grandson this morning.  He had eaten about 3 ounces when I took the bottle away to burp him.  He started crying because he was still hungry and wanted more.  As time passed without him being able to eat, he cried louder and louder.  However, I knew that if I didn't burp him he could get a tummy ache.  It took him a while to burp and by that time he had cried enough so that he was very tired.

It occured to me that we, as adults, are much the same.  Our Father knows what we need, when we need it.  When we ask Him for bread he does not give us a stone.  Yet, when he takes our comfort away in order to "burp us" (pardon the pun, but perhaps to work something out of us?) we cry, louder and louder, until we are all worked up into a frenzy and exhausted. 

Jesus said, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

I want to learn how to rest in my Father's arms.