Gratitude Challenge Day 7: God Chases

 

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3 Things I’m grateful for — Day 7:

1. God chased me.
2. God caught me.
3. God keeps me.

Chased. Caught. Kept. I’m His! The pictured quote, “Love  is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart” just rings so true to me. That is the love that chases us, the love we show when we chase others in kind. Love chased your filthy heart and chases mine. A.W. Tozer said, “God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.” I mean with every fiber of my being that I owe a debt of love I never can repay. I’m grateful to have such a God and that He has me. Join me in this challenge; feel free to tag or link me! Post 3 things per day for 7 days.

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Greater Works

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” John 14:12

By the time I got situated with the twins on my lap in a congregation that was standing room only, I heard the ending of the church administrator’s address: “…and remember, Jesus didn’t need Twitter or Facebook to spread the gospel…” O_O

WHAT was this man talking about, and why? Apparently, I’d missed his directives to turn our cell phones off out of reverence. I proceeded to tweet updates to both Twitter and Facebook, sharing the word as impressed. At the end of the service, his snippet made more sense as he instructed the congregants to turn their cell phones back on.

“Ohhh,” I exclaimed, “that’s what he was talking about when I first sat down.” I shook my head, and shook my head, and shook my head some more. Yeah, Jesus didn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, but aren’t we supposed to be doing GREATER WORKS? Why are we comparing ourselves to the technological limitations of old, when we have more opportunities, and thus, should be doing MORE?  My mind definitely simplified his theory. After all, if Jesus didn’t have the internet, we shouldn’t be streaming sermons live, either, right? O_O

All jokes aside, I just think it’s supremely important for us to keep in mind how it’s possible for us to do greater works and the reason we’re to do so in the first place. I really can’t imagine doing things more powerful than Christ did when He walked the earth, but I know there’s more time, more people, more suffering; thus, we have greater opportunities. The reason we can do these greater works is the same reason Christ did, they weren’t His Works, they were the Father’s works. The purpose was for the Father’s glory and that others would believe, as Jesus said in John 14:10 & 11, “…the Father who dwells in me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” He proceeds to say in the following verses (12 & 13), “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

The same sentiment is recorded in John 5:20, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel.” The Father loves us; He loves you. What’s best for you is that God be glorified, so out of His love for you, He will empower you to do greater works so that He can be glorified and others will believe. In verse 36, Jesus continues to remind us, “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

The reasons and methods are clear. We will do greater works for His glory and our good, and we will be able to do them because they are not our works to do, but the works of our Father who loves us.

Greater Works

But, It Doesn’t Look Good

This looks good…it’s also plastic.

I absolutely love to cook. I have more recipes than time, but when I finally get some free time and a few ingredients, you can find me in the kitchen. Anyone else who cooks knows that quite often, the finished product looks a bit more “home-made” than the restaurant-quality recipe picture. This was the case when I first attempted a brand new dessert. The pictured pie appeared an amazing golden color, but my finished product was more of a muddy brown. Still, after all of the hard work, I had to give it a taste. To my surprise, it was one of THE best desserts I’ve made, yet!

I thought of how this relates to our walk with God. Christianity, at the outset, does not seem very appealing. As followers of God, we are told such things as: rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3), count it all joy when we meet trials (James 1:2), in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33), blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10). Just looking at the outside, without ever experiencing it, being a Christian doesn’t look so good. However, I believe there is an excellent reason for this.

After years of trying to make picture-perfect recipes, I learned that many of the items pictured in magazines are nothing more than plastic molds, painted with vibrant colors, and polished to a high-gloss finish. The reason for this is that food is not very photogenic; meaning, it may look good to the naked eye, but not on camera. Meanwhile, my dessert, with the home-made look, was not only edible, it was delicious. This reminds me of the age-old adage, “All that glitters is not gold,” and I would submit that the opposite is also true: gold does not always glitter. I think God wants us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). He knows that we can be easily swayed by things that look good, but are no more filling or nourishing than polished plastic. My dessert did not have to look as good as the picture, but it tasted even better than I’d hoped. Likewise, Christianity doesn’t have to LOOK good because we serve a God who IS good (James 1:17; Psalm 107:1; Numbers 1:7; Psalm 145:9; Psalm 119:68; Psalm 31:19; Luke 18:19; Lamentations 3:25; Jeremiah 33:11).

Preparing for the Storm

He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.

Have you ever watched people prepare for an impending hurricane? If you live near coastal regions prone to such destructive weather, you are probably all too familiar with storm preparation. In fact, you have probably already weathered some storms and learned from your experiences. Some time ago, my daughter experienced a medical emergency that reminded me of how important it is to prepare for upcoming storms, even if we have successfully braved the tempests of the past.

When she was about 18 months old, my daughter had her first febrile seizure. This is a seizure due to a spiking temperature. I can say with confidence that I felt the Holy Spirit guide me to immediately rush her into the sink to cool her off. He calmed me as fears arose due to her limited responsiveness following her seizure. When my daughter was almost two, she again experienced a spike in her body temperature due to an ear infection, and again, she had a seizure. This time, I didn’t feel God’s presence as keenly as I did before. I didn’t hear His voice calming me as I did before. Instead, I felt distinctly alone, and this time, all I heard was deafening silence.

There was very little time to think, but I immediately began praying over my daughter and telling her she would be okay. I rushed her to the bathroom and lay her flat in the tub, cooling her with the running water. Those ten minutes felt like an eternity. As I prayed over my daughter and begged God to heal her and spare her life, I remember doubts creeping in. As her lips turned blue, I remember thinking, “There’s nothing I can do,” but that was far from true! I remembered God’s word tells us the prayer of faith will save the sick (James 5:15). True to His word, God’s Holy Spirit brought back to my remembrance the scriptures I needed to recall at just the right time (John 14:26). Thus, I continued to pray, in faith, for my daughter’s healing and protection, and I continued to tell her she would be okay.

The entire ordeal taught me the importance of hiding God’s word in my heart (Psalm 119:11) and being prepared before the storm hits. In the midst of the storm, there is very little time to think, very little time to grab your bible, and it is hardly the time to start learning to pray in faith. We can be sure the storms are coming, for God’s word declares that in this world we will have tribulation and He is a shelter in the storm (John 16:33; Isaiah 25:4). His word also tells us that when we hear His words and put them into practice, we are like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and like that wise man, we have to have that firm foundation in God’s word before the storms arise (Matthew 7:24-26).

Study to show yourself approved ~~~~~ + ~~~~~ Hide God’s Word in your heart

Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness

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I thought this is how it would look, but see the pic below.

I remember waking up one Thursday morning and feeling like the air around me was a thick, heavy, fog. It felt dark, despite the sunshine; I felt fatigued, despite a good night’s sleep. Before I could even rise completely out of the bed, it’s as if someone threw a cloak of unhappiness on me that shrouded me from head to toe. My brain is always thinking, and today, my thoughts were centered on only negativity.

“You’ll never get over your past.”

“You’ll never be good enough.”

“Your prayers haven’t changed a thing.”

“You talk of God’s promises, but look at how you’re still struggling, hoping for restoration.”

The accusation and condemnation couldn’t come fast enough. Admittedly, I listened to that voice for far too long, that day, and as I listened, I sunk even further into a pit of despair. But then I remembered my Father’s voice. I recalled how He speaks to me, how He takes great delight in me, quiets me with His love, and rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Instantly, I knew: this was not Him! I sat at the edge of my bed and began to worship God and rebuke every negative thought that reared its head. I opened my mouth and said, “I WILL bless the lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” As I said that aloud, I was impressed to read further from His Word, so I opened my bible to Psalm 34 and continued along to verse 3: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” I stopped there and immediately recognized this as a call to corporate worship. I sent some text messages off to a few friends who called me back and worshiped God WITH me (praise God for His obedient servants). In no time, that heavy spirit was lifted and I was sharing with others how God picked me up out of the darkness. By the time I had recited verses 1-2 then read and obeyed verse 3, verse 4 was manifested in my life: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Isaiah 61:1-4 is one of my favorite passages, for it encapsulates much of the vision I believe God has placed within me. One exchange offered there, is a “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” and I believe it is up to us to make that exchange. When you’re feeling down, when that spirit of heaviness is cloaked about you, make the exchange. Don a spirit of praise, instead. You will have no choice but to feel God’s presence, for His Word declares that He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). He’s daring us to praise Him and see if He won’t show up and dwell among us. I’ve proven His Word to be true. I put on that garment of praise and the heavy spirit had to flee, for there was no room for darkness in His light! I’ll leave you with this prayer a friend recently shared with me:

“May His still, small voice become the loudest voice you hear.”

Wear your praise! This is how it looks!

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