Saturday, July 23, 2011

Words of Weakness

Romans 8:26-30

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”


This weekend, I find myself allowing God’s grace to cover me, as He has been revealing what it means to rest in His grace.  I found out last week that His grace is what covers our shortcomings and inadequacies.  God does not take away our deficiencies but says that we must endure with them and allow His grace to be sufficient for us!  When we are weak and can admit to God that we are weak, and can surrender control to Him, then he can show Himself strong and conquer!

So now here I am, looking at another aspect of God’s grace.  As our creator, He also understands that we require maintenance.  In Romans 8, Paul explains another characteristic of God’s grace in that, when we are too weak to pray…

I want to stop there for a second… We have all been in a position, especially me, that we are so stressed, burdened, heavy with what is going on, that we don’t even know what to pray.  We’re exhausted and worn out and we’re sitting there with our Bible and saying (or crying), “God, I can’t do this anymore.  I’m so tired; I don’t even know what to pray?  I can’t see what you’re doing.  I’m frustrated and worn out!” 

At that point, we have to allow Romans 8 26 to kick in for us.  See, God’s grace is so great that even at our weakest point, He still has made a way to take care of us.  He allows His Spirit to intercede for us!  Since He knows what we need, He can take over for us!  We can trust Him to do what is best for us and know that His plans and thoughts are higher than ours! (Isaiah 55:9)
When we are weak, He can be strong.  When we don’t know what to say, we don’t have to say anything at all!  And in the end, He will get the glory and we will get the victory! 
Be encouraged and know that He is with you and will never abandon you, even at your weakest point! (Heb. 13:5)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mask

Luke 12:2-3 (The Message) “You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. 3 You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

The mask: A defense mechanism worn to hide one’s true feelings, demeanor, or self from others. We who wear them are hiding so many things.  For example, fear. We are afraid of failure so we put a confident mask on so that no one can see us shaking underneath!

Another example is pain. We want the ones who hurt us to think that we are doing fine, despite the fact that we have been seriously stabbed in the back and are bleeding emotionally all over. We don the mask of happiness and will smile and even move on to other relationships while secretly dying inside.

The third example I give I will call “religiosity”. This mask is a completely different kind of mask and worn for numerous reasons. I have even worn this mask for a period of time. Why? Because as a leader, I did not want anyone to know what I was dealing with underneath so I donned the mask of religiosity to make up for the deteriorated relationship with God. Others wear this mask to impress or pleas men (man-pleasers), or to work, work, work, and they substitute work for God for a relationship with God. These people are easy to spot because while they have a great resume, they have no power. They can’t “pray themselves out of a brown paper bag” as my pastor used to say. Others use the religiosity mask for ambitious purposes but once they hit the top, they usually fall flat on their faces… and tend to take a lot of people down with them.

The thing about any mask, and there are countless more we could talk about, is that they are not foundational or permanent. The can be removed, put back on, traded, upgraded, and painted at a whim. They can be broken too!

God’s word says, in Luke 12, that all masks will be removed and everything in the dark will eventually be brought to light. That means fear will be called out. Pain will be brought to light, and YES, religiosity will be dealt with. Why does all this happen? Is it a punishment?

The answer is: NO! None of it is a punishment. I know that it is hard to remove a mask and face our vulnerability, and admit our shortcomings or deficiencies. We don’t want others to know that we are inadequate. But God reveals our true selves to us for our own good. Paul had the same problem in 2 Corinthians 12.  Here we see that he had a problem that would not go away.  He asked God 3 times to take the “thorn from is side” but God did not take it away. Instead he replied “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV)

The Loop: God cannot intervene until we give our inadequacies to Him. Why?  Because when we are trying to don the mask, we are still wrestling for control. When we cover it up, we are still in denial that we need a savior! The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession cannot occur until we admit our faults. Then God can forgive us, repair us, and extend His grace to us, and only then can we truly be strong! We can rest in the truth that we are inadequate and insufficient but that HE is all sufficient.

If you need to lay down your mask, all you have to do is pray and repent. Confess to Him your shortcomings and ask Him to cover you with His grace and mercy. I promise you, it will be such a relief to take off the mask and just be who HE made you to be. No more, no less.
God bless you and please know that I am praying for you and love you, but there is a friend that loves you more than a brother!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Screaming In Silence: The List

The past few weeks have been especially difficult on me and my husband.  It is very humbling and difficult to look your kids in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry, sweetie, I can’t afford a birthday present right now.”  I have cried at night praying that God would give my children the desires of their hearts because I couldn’t! 

Even in the more important things, like our rent and utilities, we have struggled to stay afloat and have sacrificed on many things in order to maintain our home.  It is in times like these that I know I can’t share all of my circumstances with everyone.  I am not even sharing with you the complete scope of our life as it is 3 dimensional and much more complicated that most people can comprehend.  I have looked around, only to notice the absence of friends, which makes sense because Job only had three lousy friends when he was going through (not that my friends are lousy...they are SUCH a blessing and I thank God for them!).  I do want to make it clear that not everyone can hang with you through a storm.  Most people are busy with their own storms and that is very understandable.  I am not angry at those who are absent.  Just a bit lonely for some of them and miss their fellowship.

Nonetheless, in this particular storm, I find myself occasionally talking with random acquaintances, smiling and putting on a great show; a show that would put even Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller) to shame!  While nodding and talking about how cute the twins are and how big Donavon has grown, I reflectively think to myself, “If you only knew what I am dealing with… If you only could hear me screaming for someone to save me from this nightmare that is my life…”  I wonder, what would they say if they knew it all? 

Then I force myself to consider my list once again.  See, I have a list of concrete beliefs, things I know to be absolutely true!  It starts with the most basic and simple truth known to the Children of God.  When I am in confusion and chaos, I turn to this list of unchangeable, unmovable, and solid truths.  Because the list is so long, I will only list the top 10 most important truths.  BUT, as God reveals more of His truth to you, I encourage you to add to the list for yourself and see how God moves you through your storm!

The List:

1.       God created the heavens and the Earth.  He created me and therefore knows how I am to operate and function!  He has a plan just for ME!  (Genesis 1:1, Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 55:9)

2.       He loves me unconditionally!  (John 15:13, John 3:16, Romans 8:35)

3.       He forgives us when we make mistakes!  (1 John 1:9, Titus 2:11, Psalms 86:5)

4.       He NEVER changes! He is constant and consistant!  (Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 22:13, Psalms 73:26)

5.       He will NEVER abandon me!  (Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 18:24, Ezra 9:9)

6.       He will NEVER lie to me!  (Numbers 23:19, John 14:6, 1 John 2:4-5)

7.       All His promises WILL be fulfilled!  (2 Corinthians 1:20, Titus 1:2, Nehemiah 1:5)

8.       All of His promises are for ME, His servant who fears Him!  (Psalms 119:38, Ephesians 2:12-13)

9.       If I ask ANYTHING of Him, in His name, He will give it to me!  He will provide every need because I trust Him!  (Matthew 6:31-34, 2 Corinthians 12:9, John 15:7)

10.    He is coming back for ME so that I can be with Him for ETERNITY!  (Titus 2:13,  1 Corinthians 15:52, John 14:1-3)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Refills Are Free!

Written August 15, 2010
The past week I have been praying for a refill of the Holy Spirit. I have felt like every time I am filled up, it is drained right back out of me. With that being said, today I received my answer and my confirmation!
I heard the word of the Lord say "I want to fill you. I heard you ask me to fill you. You've asked me many times to fill you. Yet I say your cup is full."
"How can that be possible?" I asked. "I still feel thirsty! How can I have a full cup when I feel so empty?"
His reply was this: "Because the cup you are holding up for me to fill is too small. I fill it to the top and yet it does not sustain the thirst of an adult! See, what you gave me to fill as a child was more than you a child! Now you are an adult...full grown. My word says In the same measure you give, it shall be given unto you. I can not give the amount you are asking me for unless you give me that measure to fill! If you give me a small cup, I will fill it the same way that I will fill a large cup. I am not a respecter of persons. No matter who lifts up a cup, it will be filled. But, you can not complain about how much I give if you do not give me a larger measure to fill.
I still didn't completely understand this morning what God was trying to show me. This afternoon, he showed me the beverage line at Burger King.
I saw the twins go up with their cup and then Donavon went up with his cup. Joe went up with his cup and I went up with mine.
See, if you take a small cup to the beverage station, you can only get what that cup will hold. Regardless of who brings it to the machine, the machine will dispense the pop of your choice into the cup you put under the nozzle! I may want the amount that fits the Super Size but I only brought a small size, therefore I can only receive the amount that the cup will contain. Now, if I want a larger cup, I can definitely choose to order a larger cup, but it will cost more! Then once the price is paid, you can take your cup to the machine to be filled! The machine didn't change, the pop filling the cup didn't change. I changed my cup and then was able to hold more!
Finally, God showed me that once the cup is paid for, I have access to the beverage machine. The refills are free and is limited only by the amount of pop contained in the machine!

Luke 6:38 (International Standard Version) "Give, and it will be given to you. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, you will be measured."

John 3:34 (ISV) "For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God does not give the Spirit in limited measure."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abandoned...Or Are You?

Ps. 27:7-10

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

It is easy to feel abandoned when things aren't going the way you had hoped. Fair-weathered friends seldom linger during turbulance or delayed blessings. The moochers dissipate when the money is gone. Even close friends can become estranged when they are caught up in their own drama. 

When it seems like all hell has broken loose, remember this. The same God that brought you out of the last storm will surely bring you through this one. 

I know it feels like your crew has jumped ship, but rest in the comfort that the Holy Spirit will guide you, the Father has His arms around you and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother through it all. See, I've come to the realization, very recently, that no matter who it is, your pastor, your best friend, your sister/brother, even your father or mother is no match to what God can do. The humans in your life can only stand and watch helplessly as you endure or cave. BUT, cling to the author and finisher of your faith, and your end is guaranteed to be victorious. 

Will it hurt? When doesn't pain hurt? Will you cry? Yes, but the joy of conquering and still standing in the end is stronger than the tears that were shed. Will you lose anything? Yes, you will lose everything, but the trade is priceless! I promise you this: You will be lied to and about, you will be cheated and mistreated, you will be betrayed by the people closest to you, you will lose some of the things you hold dear, and you may even teeter on insanity. BUT, God promises this: He will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5), His favor lasts a lifetime (Ps. 30:5), His favor is like a shield (Psalm 5:12), He will be your strength (Ps. 28:7), He is faithful and will protect you (2 Thes. 3:3), He is working everything out for your benefit (Romans 8:28), and he will restore you (Deut. 30:3)!!!!

Hold on, deliverance is coming! Hold on to Jesus because He will not let go of you!!!  

     John 6:37       "Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go." (The Message Translation)

Be encouraged, people of God! Our deliverance is at hand. HOLD ON a bit longer!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just Rest.

It is a simple concept. Rest.  I wanted to understand this term to its fullest so I started with my Encarta Dictionary.  For length reasons I narrowed it to the most pertinent. It says:
1.   Stopping of work or activity; a state or period of refreshing freedom from exertion
2.   Sleep; the repose of sleep that is refreshing to body and mind and is marked by a reduction in metabolic activity
3.   Absence of movement; the cessation of movement or action
4.   Freedom from anxiety; freedom from mental or emotional anxiety

I have endured 2 C-sections. Both brought forth 3 beautiful children (second was the twins) but where painful to experience! The recovery time is supposed to be 6 weeks but anyone who has had a c-section knows that you don't feel "normal" for at least 3 months (movement plus function and minimal pain). SO, what happens if you do not allow yourself the proper healing time?  You cause more pain and damage than healing.  If you do not allow yourself a season of healing and rest, you could tear open, cause internal bleeding and even death.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, "How does this apply spiritually?" (Or you may already know, kind of, where I'm going.)  Okay, here it is...
When there has been a surgery, a wound, injury, pain, transition, or removal, THERE MUST BE A SEASON OF HEALING TO FOLLOW.  If you rush the season, proper healing does not occur and long term complications follow.  Side effects may include: bitterness; thick, deep scar tissue; hardening of the injury; bad blood flow (circulation); hemorrhaging; and ultimately DEATH. 

I once heard someone say "Hurt people, hurt people."  I didn't understand it until someone close to me, who had experienced a deep sense of loss and betrayal, turned around and hurt me.  I couldn't understand why this person would do such a thing but then I realized that my friend was just acting out of hurt.  It is easy to go through our phases of healing (denial, anger bargaining, depression, and acceptance/forgiveness) lashing out and struggling to be in control of our situations.  We can even work ourselves into the ground just trying to control something in our spinning universe.  BUT, God says that He wants us to cast all of our cares upon him because he cares about us (1Peter 5:6-7 KJV)!  He wants us to be humble and admit that we need to take a REST in him so that He can restore us and heal us.

So, when God says it's a season of rest and healing, do not rush your season.  Stay still and allow His love to encompass and engulf you.  Allow His favor to cover you as a shield (PS. 5:12), keeping you from harm.  Allow yourself to be ministered to and poured into.  SHUT UP for a change and let others gain their obedience rewards for being led to minister to you!  AND, don't complain!  That is the one thing that will shut things down (quick, fast, & in a hurry).  Stay thankful and grateful to God for His mercy, grace, favor, and healing!  Let the great physician do what He does.  Thank you Jesus, for your healing!