Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

9287528236_83a1e183bd_b.jpg

He was bone-tired when he finally stopped to rest. He was in a desert place, in rocky, rough terrain.  He laid down among the rocks and fell asleep with only a rock for a pillow. He was running for his life. He was accustomed to the comforts of home, after all he was a homebody. But his deception had caught up with him. Esau, his twin brother had vowed to kill him. His very name, “Jacob”, meant deceiver. He’d conned his ruthless brother and deceived his aged, blind father. He’d cleverly traded a meal for Esau’s birthright, Esau’s rightful inheritance.  Jacob prized the birthright and Esau, a man whose god was his appetites, traded his birthright for a simple meal. Genesis says, “Esau despised his birthright.” The birthright meant that Jacob would receive a double portion of the land, possessions, wealth – Esau’s inheritance. What would that matter now? He was leaving it all behind to escape Esau’s murderous wrath. He’s deceived Isaac, his father, and took the only thing that Esau wanted- the prophetic blessing. Isaac planned to give the blessing to Esau but Jacob and his mother set up an elaborate ruse to steal it away. 

What was the blessing? It contained words of encouragement, details of his inheritance, that he would rule over his brother and family. It was seen as a last will and testament. The blessing Isaac gave Jacob foresaw Jacob ruling over other nations and having God’s protection and favor. (Genesis 27:28-29). So why run from all that the blessing promised him? Jacob was a cheater, a scoundrel, plain and simple, and his conniving ways had caught up with him and could cost him his very life. 

Jacob fell into a deep sleep with his head on a rock. He was, literally, between a rock and a hard place. And that’s usually where we all find ourselves when we’ve been caught up in our own bad decisions and sin. It’s as though we’re hemmed in, our back against the wall of our circumstances. The beautiful Psalm 139 describes it all so well. God searches the heart and mind of every person. Nothing’s hidden from Him. I’m sure that the journey gave Jacob a lot of time to think about what he’d done. Jacob could run but he couldn’t hide from God or God’s plans for him.  

Jacob dreamed of a stairway with angels ascending and descending on it and the Lord God stood at the top. God said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[b] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God had plans for this deceiver and He has plans for you and me.  What wonderful promises Jacob received from God! As a believer in Jesus Christ, we too, have many precious promises from God. 

When Jacob awoke, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.” The next morning, he took the rock and set it up, poured oil on it and worshipped the God he’d only heard of before. I’ve never had a dream like Jacob’s but I’ve had many conversations with the Lord, especially when I was in bad circumstances. And His word that I can open anytime of the day assures me, I’m not alone, He is with me, always. He will never leave or forsake me. I have a hope and future. He wants to spend time with me and know me personally. His thoughts about me are more than the sand on the seashores. And above all He loves me!

If you ever find yourself, like Jacob, running from your bad decisions and actions, turn around and talk to Him. You might be surprised to find, like Jacob, that God’s right there between your rock and a hard place. 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

1434860137784

She felt abandoned, unloved, and alone. She was pregnant and rejected.  She ran away to the desert. There was no other possible escape from the cruelty she’d endured. He found her there in the desert. He comforted her and reassured her that He is the “God who sees.” This is the story of Hagar. But, we also see the Lord revealing Himself in similar ways in the stories of Ruth, David, Mary Magdalene and others. In fact, He wants you to experience this in your life. He is the God who sees you and He loves you. He knows you, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. He knows your story. He is the God who sees you.

To be encouraged further, take just a litle time to read Hagar’s story in Genesis 16:1-14 & Genesis 21:1-20 and watch the video below.

Click here to see the God who sees.

 

Read Full Post »

Dreams.001

Their angry red faces matched the luxurious red fabric of his multicolored coat. They despised him. “Listen,” he said, as he stood before them, “I had this dream, and your sheaves of wheat bowed down to mine.” His brothers, sick of his bragging, his lofty dreams of grandeur asked, “Will you actually rule over us?”  Joseph continued, “Listen, I had another dream and this time the sun, the moon and the stars bowed down to me.” That was it! They had to get rid of this boastful, spoiled, tattletale. Joseph was their father’s favorite and that alone feed their jealous hatred.  They plotted to kill him. Instead of murdering Joseph, they threw him in a dry well, sold him to traders and made it look like he’d been killed by wild animals. 

Do you have dreams? Do you see the Lord working through your difficult circumstances? Are you waiting to see your dreams, your ideas become reality? Have you been betrayed? If you answered, “Yes” to any of those questions then you have something in common with, Joseph, the dreamer.

This is the story of Joseph, one of the best loved characters in the Bible in Genesis. At 17, he was sold by the traders to a powerful Egyptian official, Potiphar, the captain of the guard. He was far from his home and everyone and everything he’d ever known. Even as a slave, Joseph so impressed his master that eventually he was put in charge of everything Potiphar owned. However, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and when he refused, she falsely accused him of attempted rape. He was dragged off to prison. The Bible repeats this phrase, “The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” In prison, God’s favor, Joseph’s exceptional character and integrity were obvious to the prison warden. He put Joseph in charge of the other prisoners. 

This story in Genesis doesn’t record Joseph being disappointed, his loss of hope or his grief as his dreams seemed to vanish.  Where had his dreams gotten him? Joseph faithfully continued to serve God in his dire circumstances, even in prison. Joseph remained in prison until Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered that Joseph could interpret dreams.  Joseph, after years in prison,, interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was given a position of 2nd in command to Pharaoh over all of Egypt.  God’s hand in Joseph’s life is evident throughout the story. 

Joseph’s dreams were prophetic. His brothers, indeed bowed before Joseph. They were unaware that Joseph, now 2nd in command in Egypt was the very official they bowed before and asked to buy food during a great famine.  Joseph had the power to seek revenge, to imprison them. After testing them twice, Joseph could no longer hide his identity or his deep emotions. Weeping loudly, he reveals his true identity. Joseph was used by God to save his family and all of Egypt from starvation.  Later in the story, the brothers come to him fearful, seeking mercy and forgiveness. Joseph tells them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God used Joseph, even his suffering, to save his family, a nation, and ultimately, all who come to God through believing in Jesus. Joseph had no idea that God was orchestrating the salvation of many through Jesus, the Messiah who came through Judah, his brother’s lineage.

What can we do when life is disappointing and our dreams and hopes seem lost? Like Joseph, we can expectantly wait and trust God. If He gave you the dream, he’ll bring it about at the right time. It’s good to remember our timetable and God’s timetable are seldom the same. Faithfully continue to follow God even when it seems all is lost. We follow God, we don’t just follow our dreams. Trust him with the fulfillment of the dream. Trust that God is sufficient for all your needs and He’ll equip you for what He calls you to do.

Just as Joseph said to his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good”, we are assured that God is working for our good and for others’ good and for His glory. Joseph’s life is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ life. Woven throughout the O.T. and N.T. is a story of God’s redemption and restoration. I hope you’ll read this fascinating story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50.

Read Full Post »

759210960_35c953295b_o

It’s strange how a scent, a sound or a momentary glimpse can cause memories to flood back into our minds. In the last few months, the sight of a small hospital chapel took me back to the first time I visited a hospital chapel. Nearly 38 years ago I sat in a similar hospital chapel waiting for the report on my newborn son’s surgery. His very premature birth necessitated a surgery on the thin thread like duct above his tiny beating heart. His birth weight was just 1 lb. 15 ½ oz.. At 8 days old he had lost ½ lb. and he now weighed 1 lb. 8 oz..  After countless tests, it was determined that this surgery was the only option to close the duct above his heart and save his life. It was the only way to strengthen his tiny heart and help him grow and thrive. 

I remember talking to the surgeon and anesthesiologist. Funny how I remember the anesthesiologist’s Australian accent. He said the surgery would only take 15 minutes, recovery would be longer. And he reassured us that they never had lost a child during the surgery but complications were always a concern. 

As I sat with my husband, my mom and a dear friend our nerves were on edge. We prayed together asking for God’s mercy, wisdom and skill for the doctors and God’s healing power. We had many people praying for us. The Neonatologist and nurses had told us all the terrible hard facts. We learned things that no new parent even wants to know. Still, I felt God’s comforting presence that day, just as I had the night of his birth. The quiet in this small chapel was calming. This was our only option and he had no more weight to lose. He was literally skin and bones. I picked up the Bible from the back of the pew and opened it to the Psalms. It has always spoken to me when I had no words to pray. I turned to Psalm 23 – I read it then turned to Psalm 27. It was my prayer. At the very end of Psalm 27 I read these words- This is what it says

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” 

God has the ability to bring the words to life through His Word as you see an answer to your prayers confirming what you’re asking. Those words gave me hope and assurance that God knew my circumstances and God, the author of all Life, had our tiny son in His hands. Handing your child over to a skilled surgeon is extremely hard. I had given God this child before he was born and the night of his birth we did even as they told me he wouldn’t survive.  I’d trusted God, and I know the circumstances don’t always turn out with positive results.  My mother’s heart grieves with those who lose their little one.  God was gracious to us and the surgery was a success.  On the day we left the hospital after 87 days, the Head Neonatologist told us our son was a miracle baby, that she hadn’t expected to see him go home. We’ll celebrate my oldest son’s 38th birthday the end of this month. 

What I can tell you is to trust God, trust His word. The scriptures speak to our hearts when words just won’t come. Psalms 27 is my favorite psalm. I hope you’ll read Psalm 27 and find comfort. 

Read Full Post »

article_7_shutterstock.com_

I stood with my head bowed at a seminar entitled, “Forgiving Forward.” I’d come with a friend who I thought might need this seminar, not that I didn’t need it, mind you. I’m always the one who tries to anticipate what God’s going to ask of me. I’m type A, after all, and I didn’t want to be caught off guard. I thought I’d forgiven everyone I could think of, but regardless, God knows our hearts better than we know our own heart.

I heard these true statements at the seminar: Jesus’ blood is sufficient to forgive all my sins; Jesus’ blood is sufficient to forgive all the sins of the whole world; and Jesus’ blood is sufficient to forgive all the sins that others have sinned against me. Unforgiveness breeds bitterness and gives Satan an opportunity to trip us up. Most of all, it hinders our relationship with God. In fact, in the Lord’s prayer we are told that we must forgive our debtors (those who’ve sinned against us), so that we will be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. 

The seminar speaker illustrated how seriously God considers unforgivness with the familiar story Jesus told in Matthew 18:34. The king calls in a man who owes him a great deal of money. The man begs for forgiveness and the king shows mercy and forgives the man. The forgiven man then finds a very poor man who owes him a small amount and demands he repay it all. The poor man can’t pay and begs for mercy. The forgiven man refuses to show mercy and throws the poor man and his family in prison. Hearing this, the king calls in the man he forgave the huge debt and the story says, the king turns him over to tormentors and puts him in prison until he pays everything back. Jesus concludes the story with, “And so will my Father do to you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

It was near the end of the seminar when the band began to play an unfamiliar song. I only recall part of the lyrics, “forgiving the deepest wound”. It hadn’t occurred to me that I still had unforgiveness toward the person that came to mind but it was the deepest wound that apparently, I still held onto. And that’s when God caught me off guard! After praying and forgiving the person, through a flood of tears, I felt the peace of God. I’d asked God to show me anyone I needed to forgive and He answered that prayer loud and clear. I have been forgiven so much and I must forgive.

I don’t know where you are in your faith walk but I do know that Jesus takes forgiveness seriously. He forgave us all our sins, past, present and future and does not hold them against us when we ask for His forgiveness. He asks that we do the same, that we forgive others when they hurt and mistreat us. Forgiveness frees us! It doesn’t mean we overlook the sin or wrong or that the person isn’t responsible. Instead, we release them to the Lord and allow Him to work on them. And freedom through forgiveness is worth it! It cost Jesus everything! Let go of whatever it is that holds you captive.

Read Full Post »

acts

Are you up for a challenge that just might change your life? For the next 15 days, would you be willing to explore with an open mind a historical account? A story full of intrigue, influence, mystery, murder, persecution, adventure, loyalty, diversity, inclusiveness, and love. It shows people at their worst and their best. Bitterest enemies become close friends; prejudices are overcome; unity and love are the key. I ask that you read with an inquiring mind and fresh eyes the story of the birth of the church. Set aside any preconceived ideas you may have about the church. See how God took a few devoted followers to turn the Roman world upside down and spread a message that continues to influence our world. In fact, this story changed history and the hardest hearts of men.

Are you ready for the challenge yet? Explore the possibility that God’s story- His Story holds the key to many of your questions about life, mankind, eternity and more specifically- your life and your story. You’ll see how God used ordinary people just like you and me as instruments of change in their world. Are you ready? Here’s an easy, creative intro to get you started:

Acts 1-12

The book of Acts is the story of the birth of the church, the work of the Holy Spirit in everyday people’s lives. It chronicles the growth, struggles and spread of Christianity. I hope you’ll join me in reading the book of Acts.  

————————————————————————–

Note – Here are two resources that could help as you walk through the book of Acts:

Dr. Constable Commentary: If you come across something you have a hard time understanding or if you simply want to dig deeper, look up this free online commentary.

https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/acts/acts.htm

Youversion Bible Plan: If you desire to walk through this online, check out this online Bible reading plan that will help you keep on track. 

https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/89-acts

Recommended Bible Versions: ESV, NIV.

Recommended Study Bibles: Life Application Version which can be found in the ESV and NIV version.

 

Read Full Post »

crossroads

Almost without exception, every person that God greatly used in the Bible, N.T. and O.T., had a crisis of faith.  Adam and Eve did, and we know how that ended! Abraham did; Jacob did; Isaiah did; John the Baptist did; and each of the disciples did. Peter did!  It is usually where your faith faces your fears, doubts, and great disappointments. And if you haven’t had a crisis of faith, you will, if you’re following Jesus. It may come crashing in all at once, but more than likely it will come ever so subtly, and doubts will attempt to erode your faith, one little nagging thought at a time. You’ll come to a crossroads where you must decide whether you’ll believe God, what His Word says and His love for you. You’ll have to commit to follow Jesus, no matter what, or if you’ll retreat and pull away from Him in distrust. It may come after the death of a loved one. It often follows the death of a dream. It may come as a deceptive temptation that appears better than what God wants for you and leads you farther away from God than you’ve ever been before. He is the One who sees all, knows all, infinitely loves us, and wants the best for us. At the crossroads, you must decide whether you will follow and obey Jesus and believe He is who He says He is or if you will shrink back and stop trusting Him.

Following Jesus has a cost. It is the cost to daily lay down our own will and trust our life to Him. None of us do things perfectly; we are all flawed and sinful. It is a daily decision as much as there is a one-time decision to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Our faith is often weak. But God meets us at the crossroads, and we must decide whether to follow wherever He leads or not. Jesus challenged his disciples when many others who had been following Him turned away. He asked them, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67) When I have pulled back, I have almost sensed him asking this same question of me.  I want to respond as Peter does, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” So, I, like the disciples must choose how I answer Him. It is always His love that draws me back as I place my trust in His will for me.

The Bible is full of testimonies of God’s faithfulness to meet us where we are in crisis. He will welcome sincere doubts. He is bigger than your doubts, and there are those who can help you with doubts, questions and disappointments. Seek Him and seek someone you know that knows Him well. Jesus will not turn you away. The question is – “Will you trust Him and follow Him today?”

Luke 9:23  – Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »