Tag Archives: sin

Peace In The Void

24 Jul

Have you ever had to walk only by faith in God’s promises because you can’t see or feel Him? Worse yet, a time when you need God most and He chooses to step His presence away?

C. S. Lewis stated “during one of the most painful times of my life, I cried out to God and got… a door slammed in [my] face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”    He wrestled with his faith, this man that gave us a glimpse of light in his words.

He added: “There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of need

Walking through such a time myself, I praise God for writers that share their testimony or the bible with stories of Joseph, and David. The sharing of testimonies help us relate and help us walk this life, including heartbreaking times in our journey where He simply doesn’t feel present.

I recently walked through a time feeling the void where God had been steady. I really had to dig deep in my faith and examine what I really believe.

He calls us to constantly grow in knowledge and strength of faith so we are better equipped to do His calling on our life. Our faith is not by sight and our faith will be tested and stretched fully. This time of void, where I can’t feel Him or find Him has been the greatest, hardest lesson of all for me.

He chose for me a time when I was already experiencing aloneness physically, and the loneliness of my divorce.  He decided to use this time to step back His presence. This void felt so devastating, cruel even. Yet, even as I could not find Him, I knew He was there, as if behind the door. I had to strain to find grace, strain to remain in His mercy. I had to work through deep anger at this abandonment, fear of rejection by Him.  I had to really stretch to draw nearer to Him and understand the blessings of grace even in this moment of empty.  I had to know His love remains. Grace is grace. It isn’t dependent upon our circumstances nor our sin.

Grace and God remain steady regardless of our feelings.

Learning to trust that He is still there because He says He is, I held tight to His word in my heart. I began to see Him everywhere, though I still didn’t “feel” Him. He was there in the sunrise and sunset.

I cannot find adequate words to describe this time. It was so lonely, so powerful in that I longed for Him in a way I never have and yet even in that longing, I was confident that He was there.

This was His great purpose for teaching me; Growing and developing my confidence in Him so I can be better prepared to fulfill His purpose for my life.  His refinement of my past, my belief of my worthiness for this journey, removal of all works based religion and the lies of the enemy.

This time. ‘A time such as this’,  there is a sense of peace from this growth. He promises us that joy comes after pain. He reminds us in His word, that hope lives on. We are here but a moment of time, like the wind. He remains. He is always there is the midst of darkness and trial as much as He is there in the mundane. He always has been and always will be.

This journey of life will bring times of abundance and times of lack.  King Solomon summed it up best when He said nothing matters but God.  God remains the same regardless of our circumstances or sin. Whether this world loves us, leaves us alone, recognizes us or ignores us;  God never loses sight of us. We are always within His hands.

What immense peace it is to know that I can sit in the center of His amazing love, feeling the fullness of the hurts and sorrows, joys and triumphs of this life, knowing with all that I am, nothing compares to just simply being in His presence.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 tells us: “”Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord, “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens  and the earth?”says the Lord. “

 

Perfect Will

2 Jun

Psalm 37:24 (NIV)
~ though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.


When we make a mistake, especially a huge mistake or when we sin, knowingly or not, there are many truths that will follow.

As a christian, we will feel the weight of that choice and we will suffer the consequences of that mistake; sin or not. Guard your heart from satan,from the lies he will want to tell you about that mistake.

Well meaning friends or the shame that satan whispers to us, will echo that because of our mistake, we will never receive God’s perfect will and favor for our lives.

Not truth.

The truth is that God’s plan for our life is always perfect because His plan for our life as a believer is about our eternity, no mistake here will undo that. Will He allow us to suffer the consequences of our choices? Yes, absolutely! He will allow us to have freedom in our will, so of course he will allow us to suffer the consequences here, but He will never abandon us in the misery of that consequence, never!

Our favor with God will never depend on our obedience, knowledge or faithfulness. Thank you LORD! I don’t remember a day where I was perfect. How quickly we forget that Christ paid the punishment, not just for some but for all. Not just some sins but for all the sins of our past, present and future. I am, and will remain, a sinner.He will remain, forever, my Salvation, my Redeemer, my One Hope.

If God’s perfect plan for my life depended on me earning it, that would mean I have some control over what His plan is. I don’t. That is satan, whispering in my ear. God’s perfect plan for my life, all the favor, trial, joys, sorrows and lessons, are all right on track because God doesn’t have a ‘she blew that plan, so I am going to have to go to the next plan’, plan. He had one single plan for my life. He numbered the hairs on my head. As long as I remain in Him, no mistake of mine will ever derail HIS plan for me.

What satan will do with this line of thinking will shake up your idea of Grace and Mercy. He would love to shake up your faith, and if you are shaky, you can’t be the light to bring other’s to Him.

He will tell you, you are far from God; you are not worthy. He will tell you God is punishing you. He will tell you “you won’t receive God’s favor”. False! Jesus suffered,died and paid for my sin. He bore the punishment, so I can be in union with God.

God wants us to become Holy not so we can earn his favor but because when we sin, there is separation from him. When we are not close to Him, he cannot protect us, we cannot shine our light brightly! We give way to satan.

As our Father, His love is so perfect, He will allow us to make those choices, but, He also allows us to suffer the consequences. The biggest lesson He wants us to learn is to never stop leaning, never stop confessing our sins, never stop letting Him shine His beautiful, bountiful Love on us. Never… doubt His Perfect Promises.

Grace. Mercy. Love and Hope. Salvation. That is His perfect plan for us.

Matthew 10:26-31 NIV

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Life Through the Spirit
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

James 3:2(NIV)

2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

Romans 3:23 (NIV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

John 4:16-18, 23-24(NIV)

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 8:11(NIV)

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What Guilt Could Not Do

3 Apr

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don’t turn away

~Tenth Avenue North – By Your Side

Easter has always been my favorite time of year. It symbolizes the transformation from winter to spring, with the promise of summer. The days are longer, the sun shines brighter and the coats get put away.

I have always felt this newness to everything.

As I have grown in my faith, I realize that the hope and newness was exactly what Easter is about. I just didn’t quite grasp the full measure…yet.

My catholic upbringing made me aware of God and Jesus. I loved and accepted Jesus my whole life. But the religion of it clouded what He taught and what his death meant for me, what Grace was and that hope of salvation for me.

I learned guilt and shame in my faith walk. I learned that I was never going to be good enough for heaven and probably would just barely make purgatory. I couldn’t stop sinning. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I could not be. When I would be judged, it went very deep within my shame.

As I became a mother, I was keenly aware of God. He kept me safe and strong in times of need. I sought Him constantly. Trying so hard to find Him in my life. What I still did not understand was His love for me, His desire for me.

I was in awe of His creation and His Holiness, I just could never seem to connect the dots, to “get it”. I was trying so hard to be good, to be perfect, to earn my way. I worked so hard at being a “good person”, to be a “good christian”.

In the blink of an eye, everything came crashing down at once. I was humbled by the sheer loss of it all; Beautifully shattered.

From that place of humility and rawness, God slowly showed me what Grace was. He taught me so methodically, it is only in the hindsight that I see His plan unveiled.

What guilt could not do, complete failure and sorrow did. Suddenly, at the end of me, from my dark and hopeless place…I gave up on me; I quit. In that moment of I can’t do this anymore, there was nothing left. I had no fight, no pride, no ego, no hope left.
Finally, I was able to look up and be saved. I was the veil that stood between me and Grace.

In my moment of despair, I surrendered.

The peace that settled on my heart that day is the joy and light in me that people comment on all the time.

The lyrics to the song (above) remind me…Heaven has been won, not by me, but by Jesus. I can’t earn it.

Grace and Mercy are ours for the asking. Being saved is the beginning of a journey. Easter is now about new life, new hope. I am in awe of the sacrifice for me and how much He Loves me to suffer so greatly for me. When you truly surrender, you allow God to guide your life, transform your thoughts and you begin to see your purpose here and to love people from His eyes. The best feeling in the world is looking at you and loving the you He created.

His Mercy, His Love and His unending Grace…are ours for the asking.

If you want to know that love and grace…If you understand that you are a sinner and long to know hope…accept Him. Pray this prayer and ask Jesus into your heart.

“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior”.

Then let Him guide your heart. (A bible based church is so helpful and important in sustaining that journey)

This is what Paul said about religion vs. faith:

Galatians 2:17-21 MSG

17-18 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

Amen.

Called For More

30 Jul

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

As Christ followers, we are called to live Holy lives. Lives free from sin, living in such a way that when other’s look at us, they can’t help but see Jesus.

I fail. All the time. I seriously feel like I just never get there. He must just shake his glorious fist at me sometimes.

Give me a journey that is laughter, sunsets, no money issues. I am THERE! I am in-tuned, plugged in, so God focused and driven. Yep. I am great with no distraction. When life is smooth…

Now, throw a hardship in my way and I am all over the place. I become drama mama *big sigh*

Here is the truth. I know too much now. I am not a child any longer. I have grown into a mature Christian. It is time for me to walk like Jesus. What does that mean? Does that mean I am wiser, more confident in myself, sin less, take life’s ups and downs in stride with ease? Actually it doesn’t. It means I submit more, seek more, trust more, hope more, lean more, obey better, learn more,become convicted quicker and surround myself with friends that will keep me on His path, not my own.

Maturity isn’t about wisdom, it is about knowing where to find my wisdom, whom my wisdom comes from. Maturity isn’t about telling other’s how to live, it is about showing other’s the truth about living in The Light of Salvation. Showing other’s where my hope comes from, about showing them how I get through hard times, being transparent and sharing all the Love I receive.

Maturity is knowing, nothing I have is because of me, but because He has showered me with favor. Nothing I have lost is because I deserved it. It is all meant to keep me close to Him. Maturity knows that I am to Love. If I love God first, ALL people second, and love this person I have been created to be, then the rest of the law is redundant.

My life will always be shared, I will be transparent. I think in a world that has had so much hurt and harm done, even in the name of thinking they were doing good, it is important to share my heart, my mistakes, my weakness, my complete hypocrisy. I will seek to ask myself if I can cast a stone at you, before I throw it. I will do my very best to always be truthful with myself, I will surround myself with friends and leaders that will speak truth into my life, even when it hurts. Friends that will say, why on earth are you holding that stone? I am a willing example of a truthful journey to understand and know God, to seek truth and to give all of my heart and soul to pleasing The One, The Way, The Hope, My Savior.

You heard the story! You know what He did for us! What is my life worth without that? He is so patient with me. The bible uses the word forbearance. Synonyms are patience, long-suffering, sufferance, tolerance. Such truth in that word! He didn’t just suffer on the cross, He is still suffering over me! I am so not close to being Him…. But I would so love to love His people like He does.

Romans 2:4 (MSG)

3-4 You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Matthew 8:23-27 NIV
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Romans 3:25 (NIV)

25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Survivor or Thriver

4 May

I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [[a]continue in His love with Me].If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. John 15:9-11 AMP

The word thrive has been buzzing around me this week. It was first posed as a question, then it was stated in a beautiful testimony and today, it was sent as a note of encouragement.

I was asked what it means to thrive (flourish, prosper, blessed). I would explain it as this: When I am one with God, full of the Holy Spirit, I am far more than surviving, I am thriving. Even as I struggle with finances and worldly worries, I am thriving in my soul! I can also tell you this, you cannot thrive without Christ, without hope, gratitude, pain, growth, trust and forgiveness.

When we claim Christ, embrace Christianity, we must understand that because of who He is, we need to know who that makes us.

Thriving isn’t about things going your way, this isn’t about answered prayers, it isn’t about you at all. It is the opposite of what the world tells us. This is about Love, about surrender and trusting God with our lives, with our course, to be enough. What that means is giving up your whole way of looking at things. How you look at yourself, at what you have been taught or told, at your plans, at how you see your past, present and future. Becoming a sponge to soak up all that He will teach you, little by little.

Surrender it all and gain everything. This is not a small thing He asks of us. Your free will means you are given the ability to absorb that Love within your heart or tear yourself apart.

We live in a time of self. We think we are so powerful, that we create our lives, that we can change the course of our lives, by willing something. If that were truth, we would have cures for all diseases, we would have no war, no crime, no hatred. We would all be rich. The lies are obvious… We are not that powerful.

We tend to “adjust” the bible’s teachings, to soften our sin, saying God understands. It’s different now. It’s okay to be unkind in the face of unkindness, it’s okay to live with someone, or be intimate with someone because we love them, even if they are not our spouse, that is what we do now, right? It’s not hurting anyone. If we can quote scripture, pray with power,point out other’s flaws and sins, we can hide the fact that we don’t buy a word of it. Ah! We are so short sighted in who and how these things affect. Understand, I am not saying you won’t go to Heaven. I am saying, you will not thrive in Him. You cannot receive what you don’t believe applies to you.

God never changes. Jesus never changes. The Bible never changes. The Living Word, lives. Our salvation is cemented. This isn’t about salvation. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, what changes is us.

Sin separates us from God, not by removing us from salvation, not by making us unwelcome or unlovable, but through our shame, we break the bond between us. We don’t break our salvation, but we cannot possibly receive all the blessings He wants to bestow on us, if we don’t believe we are cherished enough to receive them. If we look at our sin as inflicting shame upon ourselves and shame as a brick, place that brick between you and God. That is what sin is. There are many bricks. Shame, unbelief, distrust, fear…these are bricks that we place, not God. These are the bricks that Satan holds out to us and we grab onto.

When we are in complete connection, he protects us from our weakness to sin. He keeps us from stepping out of His blessings. We are not called to perfection, we are called to relationship. You are not perfect and you never will be. You will sin. Embrace that fact along with appreciation for all that your journey is, heartbreak and all. It is blessed opportunity to remain in His favor and Loving embrace.

We are the vine, one of many, we are not the vineyard. We have a Father that Lovingly prunes us. If we are stubbornly hanging on to our sin, that is a vine that will not bear fruit. Even if you don’t bear fruit, you can live in a distant belief in God,but you are only surviving, not thriving! That said, trust your farmer with all of it, because sometimes to thrive, the farmer has to remove a healthy branch. It can hurt us because we don’t understand it, but learning to trust Him, eagerly wait for the blessings that come from that pain, is learning that He can be trusted with our whole Vine, That is what it is to thrive in Him.

If you are surviving, and not thriving. Ask yourself if you are making God your cornerstone. Allowing Him to prune your sin, are you living for you or for Him?


John 15
The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Romans 8:37-39
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.