Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh Me of Little Faith

Yes, I know the title isn't quite correct, but that is the point.

If you are familiar with the Bible and have been reading any of my posts lately you can probably guess where I am right now:  Hebrews 11.

A few of my favorite verses rest here because they are such great reminders to me every day and in every situation of what it means to trust in God.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." v. 1 and "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." v. 6

So often I struggle with faith.  Not in the overall faith and belief in God type of faith, but in the trusting Him and giving Him complete control of every situation type of faith.  Why is it so hard to let go?  Why do I just want to do it my way and hope that God will be along for the ride?  I need to loosen the grip, better yet, release it and trust in what I do not see.  It is so easy to be a control freak, but so hard to go by faith. 

But if I do let go, Hebrews tells me that I will be pleasing Him and He will reward me.  Should that be a great motivation?  Heck, just the fact that He gave His only Son to die for my sins should be all the motivation I need, but He tells me here that He will be pleased with me and reward me.  And we aren't talking a great piece of chocolate cheesecake type of reward or a pretty plaque to hang on my wall.  We are talking heavenly reward.  I can't even imagine what chocolate will be like in heaven ;)!  Amazing.

Father, help me let go. Give me faith like a child in you.  Move me past wanting control and into trusting you and your plan completely.  You have done so many amazing things for me already and brought me through so much.  Help me remember when the hard times come or when my grip wants to tighten that it is by my faith that I please you.  It is in the depths of my heart that I trust you and can always count on you.  Give me the assurance that I know comes from you, in trusting that your plan will prevail.  Maybe not on my terms or how I might have hoped for, but always for the best.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much Church and Not Enough Christ

I think the hardest person to bring to salvation is the one who thinks they know what is going on, but is missing the main point.  I was raised this way.  In a church that taught about Jesus and went through all the practices and said all the right things, but was totally missing the part where it takes Jesus changing your heart for it to really count.  You went to church and said all the prayers you had memorized because it was expected of you and because if you didn't people might talk.  But there was no heart in it at all.

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."  Hebrews 10:26

This verse makes me think of that kind of "Christian".  They do the things they are supposed to, like attend church and help in all the pot lucks held there.  They know The Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed by heart.  Heck, they might even be able to tell you a couple Bible verses.  But knowing Christ has not changed their life.  They keep on keepin' on in the same way everyone around them does and church and God are just Sunday things.

Heaven knows I know way too many people that fall into this category and it pains my heart to think that because they know the truth about Jesus, but have not changed their lives for Him, that they will face the fearful expectation of judgment. 

Problem is, if you try to tell them that they are missing something, they just don't get it.  They know the stories, they were raised in church.  They are good to go.  Even more so, they may get defensive if you suggest that they truly are missing it. 

How do we reach these people?  How do we let them know that there is so much more?  The only answer I have come up with so far:  prayer.  No reasoning or arguing is going to work.  We just have to pray that the light will come on someday.  That it will make sense somehow.  We have to be the example of what it is to truly live our lives for Jesus with Him in our hearts instead of just the knowledge of Him in our heads.  We have to hope that by our example and prayer God will change their hearts and open them up for the real relationship with Christ.

Disclaimer before I offend someone: I am not saying that everyone who attends a church where things are often repeated and recited/says The Lord's Prayer and Apostle's Creed does not have Christ in their hearts and/or have a great relationship with Him.  I would not make this generalization.  I know there are many who attend these churches and have made the decision to follow Christ in their hearts.  Sadly, I just know too many people who fall in the other category and thus pray for them feverishly.

Father, I pray today nothing for myself, but for those I love with all my heart to find you with all of theirs.  Help me, by your power, to be an example for them of what it is to truly give my life to you.  I know I often fall in the category of just wanting to go with the flow and not stand out, but I need to stand out and up for you.  Help my witnessing not be offensive or prideful but only a reflection of you.  Bring their hearts to you and open their eyes so that they may live with you forever in heaven and not have to fear the day of judgment.  Remind me to daily pray for them and their salvation and thank you so very much for mine.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We live in a competitive world.  I have not overcome this.  Working on it, but not there yet.  I am totally one to get snared up in "keeping up with the Jones'".  I want to do better than others, I want my kids to be better than others. I want to win. 

Really?  What am I doing to myself?  Not anything good that is for sure.  It is so hard to remember that all this junk doesn't matter.  I don't belong here and I don't need to win anything here.  I have already won the battle that counts.  I know where I am going to end up.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Hebrews 10:24  Definitely not, "Let us consider how we may do better than one another and make every deed a competition."  I need to be encouraging others who are doing well, not trying to figure out how I can do better or even just catch up.  That is just plain exhausting and gets me nowhere on the road to glory.

...let us encourage one another ... Heb. 10:25 It truly feels good to encourage another person, even if they are better than you at something.  This is one I need to pin on my forehead and remind me to encourage or congratulate or spur on next time I feel the ugly green monster of envy or jealousy or just my plain competitive spirit edging it's way out.

Father, once again, I thank you for the positive reminder of your word and how easy it is to apply it to my life.  Thank you for the reminder that I don't need to do or be or have anything better.  I have you, your Son and the Holy Spirit, so I have it made.  Help me remember this everytime I want to keep up or do better.  Plant the seed of encouragement in my heart, even for those I struggle with.   Give me your words and love for them in all situations. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Forgiveness of a Child

I have been continuing in Hebrews still, making it all the way through chapter 9.  God has really been revealing some things to me that I haven't really ever thought much about before or connected. 

One of the things I noticed in a different light was the necessity of blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Now, yes, I did realize that it was Jesus' blood that makes me clean and forgives my sins and I have also read through the Old Testament a few times and know the significance of their sacrifices and the blood spattering and smearing and all that gross, stinky stuff.  But, I had never, for some odd reason, put much significance in the fact that it was the offering of the blood of these sacrifices that they used to ask forgiveness.  I call it my light bulb moment. 

My light bulb moment today (well, actually, it came from yesterday and today): forgiveness.  Hebrews 10:1-10 talks about how Christ's blood was our forgiveness, once for all.  No more blood needed ever again.  Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of how easily God forgives us through the innocence and love of my 2-year-old daughter.

It had been one of those days,  a three potty-training accidents before 10 a.m., cell phone fell in the toilet, constant discipline issues, three babies screaming at me at once, printer won't work, woke up at 5:30 a.m. type of day.  At 11:30, when my hopes of stopping by the post office before I picked up my 3-year-old from preschool had fallen through due to very frustrating printer issues, three children were all literally bawling and screaming at me, and my 2-year-old was messing with my computer again after just being disciplined for it 20 minutes earlier, I lost it.  I totally lost it.  I screamed right back at my little girl.  "DON'T TOUCH MOMMY'S COMPUTER!"

I was livid.  I just couldn't take any more.  She had already received 6 or more spankings that morning for blatant disobedience, and I was at the end of my patience rope, I was just done.  I yelled so loud it scared all of the kids and they screamed even louder.  I, then, escaped to my garage to strap in car seats so we could pick up Miss Firecracker, came back and got all the children and strapped them in the car seats.  Low and behold, Miss Thumb Sucker had wet her pants, accident #4 for the morning, and we were already running late.  I strapped her in anyway.  I didn't have time.  And of course scolded her again for not using the potty. 

Anyway, the point of this long-terrible-mommy-day story is that only 2 minutes into the car ride, still intermittently sobbing from having her mommy scream at her, my little girl cheerily said something about picking up Miss Firecracker and going home for lunch.  I don't even really remember what it was.  I just remember her tone was happy.  She had already forgotten all the yelling and was moving on, while I was still churning from the morning.  I was still mad.  She had already forgiven me, and I hadn't even apologized yet. 

Why is it so hard for us to forgive and forget when we expect it from God?  Christ died, once for all and God forgives.  Instantly.  As soon as we ask for it, it is done.  Why is it so hard for me to do the same?  My little girl opened my eyes to how Satan was working in my heart that day.  He was reeling in my head reminding me of all the awful things that had happened that morning and keeping them there.  And by not forgiving and moving on, they just kept piling up and getting worse.  If I had focused on God and forgiveness my day would not have seemed near as terrible. 

So, by the time we got back home I had finally cooled off, squeezed my baby girl and told her that mommy was very sorry for losing her temper and yelling.  She squeezed back and gave me a kiss.  All taken care of.  Now, hopefully, I can learn from this and not have it happen again. 

Father, I failed.  I lost it.  I try so hard to do it the right way, to follow in your loving and forgiving footsteps, but I screw up.  Over and over again, I screw up.  I am so grateful that you give me forgiveness every single time.  That Christ's blood covers it all and I just have to try to do better next time.  Thank you for the chance to pick up and move on.   Thank you for my children's loving and forgiving spirits.  Help me hide your Word, love and forgiveness in my heart so that Satan does not have room to harbor vengeance in it as well.  Help me overpower him though your love.  Help me see the bigger picture, that potty accidents and phones and computers don't really matter, but the little girl does.  Forgive me, Father and help me have the strength to do it right next time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

True Tabernacle

Once again drowning in things I am finding a bit over my head, but through the grace of God and knowledge of the Holy Spirit I am starting to tread some water.

Moving on from Melchizedek, I am finding, in Hebrews 8, more on the covenants.  The entire chapter 8 is devoted to edifying the new covenant much better than the old.  I love how it says in verses 7-8 "For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found a fault with the people and said,..."  Then it goes on to quote Jeremiah 31:31-34, the prophetic announcement of the new covenant to come. 

God's covenant wasn't flawed, we were, and still are.  So, He had to make a way out for us that didn't depend much on us and our actions.  Only one true decision.  To follow Christ.

This is a picture of what the tabernacle built by Moses might have looked like
OK, so onto why I titled this "True Tabernacle".  One main thing that stuck out to me this week while reading chapter 8 was the very beginning where it talks about Moses building the tabernacle.  I usually always get bored while reading all the descriptions of measurements and placements of what goes where and how big it is supposed to be and what it is supposed to be made out of, when they are reciting the buildings to be erected in the Old Testament.  But this caught my attention.  It says in verse 5 that Moses was given these exact instructions because it was to be a shadow of the one in heaven. 

How have I missed that before?  I had no idea that is why God was so specific about all of his instructions.  How cool is that?  A total glimpse of what is to come.  Now, of course, as stated in these verses as well, Moses' version was imperfect and temporary, and really there is no earthly way to duplicate something we will experience in heaven.  But, now I get it a little better and might try to read through it all to comprehend. 

Well, I hope my totally new insight (yes, I realize I am a bit slow and probably should have known this a long time ago, but that's just me.  I miss things like this often.), helped you in some way as well.

Father, as you reveal more to me about your Word, I pray you will continue to keep me hungered for more.  Thank you for showing me your insights and giving me a possible glimpse of what is to come.  Again, I beg of your forgiveness as I am a sinful being, but thank you for your new covenant for me in Jesus.  Thank you that I can go into your presence in the inner sanctuary of your tabernacle through His blood.