In The Beginning…Faith

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

What is the basis of faith?  What must we know to believe in God?

I had a conversation recently with a friend who was asking some very deep and provocative questions.  He asked me what I believe about the Bible.  Is it true? Is it real?  I told him I believe wholeheartedly in the truth of the Bible, that it is inspired by God, without error and completely trustworthy.  It is the real and living Word of the real and living God.  It has been proven throughout history and time will continue to prove its reliability.

He then asked me about the Biblical account of creation – specifically did I believe that God created the world in 7 days as we understand a 24-hour day, or is the Genesis record of “days” actually much longer stretches of time?  I told him what I thought; but I told him too, that the point of faith is not how long it took God to create the heavens and the earth, but that we believe He did it.

Throughout the Bible, its writers affirm this very basic truth. God addresses Job’s complaints by saying, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation…laid its cornerstone… made the clouds…gave orders to the morning… ?” (Job 38:4, 6, 9, 12)  Acts 17: 24 declares, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” In Hebrews 11: 3 we read, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command…”  The Apostle John wrote: “He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all thing were made…” and again in Revelation 4:11, “You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”    Over and over the Bible declares that “The Lord [is] the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 115:15)

You see, faith is more than knowing exactly how long it took for the universe to be formed.  Faith is knowing Who formed it.  Hebrews 11: 6 says, “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.”  Faith believes that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. (Henry Blackaby, “Experiencing God” and Beth Moore, “Believing God”) Paul said in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

From the beginning of creation, Satan has challenged God by trying to cause the created to doubt the Creator.   His words to Eve still reach the ears of men and women today:  “Did God really…?”   He wants us to doubt the existence of God.  He tries to cause us to doubt the Bible.  Like the philosophers of Athens (Acts 17: 16-33), he sends us chasing for answers that seem religious, but do nothing to encourage us to believe the truth.

There is a new theology forming today, people who choose to believe nothing.  What a sad way to go through life.  What a tragic way to face eternity. I choose to believe God.  I choose to believe the Bible. I choose to live a life of faith that pleases Him.  I choose to seek Him and know Him with all my heart.  I hope that you will choose God too.

God – You are everything You say that You are, and You are everything to me.  Amen.

Go deeper: Genesis 1-2; Job 38-41; Acts 17:16-33

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What Are You Worth?

“God bought you with a high price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

“God paid a high price for you.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)

“Sometimes I just feel so worthless.” I wrote in my prayer journal one day.  It was one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong.  And I thought that the something wrong must surely be me.  The frustrations and stress of the day had combined to create a black cloud of depression and emptiness in my heart.  And when Satan finds any void in our hearts, he aims right for that tender spot.

 Ever notice that when we begin to feel down on ourselves, it doesn’t take long for those emotions to grow in intensity and overtake us. The enemy counts on that.   I was feeling beat-up emotionally that day, and the fists were my own.  I had allowed the enemy to use me against myself

You and I are not the first to find ourselves battling feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.  Feelings of worthlessness have long been one of Satan’s favorite weapons, because it is so effective.  When something is deemed worthless it is useless, futile, meaningless, an empty waste.  If you have ever thought yourself worthless, or worse, had someone call you worthless, you know it is hard to stop that endless tape of self-condemnation from playing repeatedly in your mind.

God doesn’t call us worthless.  On the contrary, He has placed a very high value on us.  He revealed this truth to me during a visit to a beachside souvenir shop. My husband and I were wandering through this little shop and he picked up one of the seashell items. After looking at the price, he commented, “They must really like their stuff. They’ve priced it so they could keep it.”

God spoke so tenderly to my heart at that moment.  I realized that it is not the merchant that places value on an item. Rather the buyer decides if it is worth the price.  If the price is too high, the buyer will walk away.  God willingly paid the highest price for you and me, the life of His one and only precious Son, Jesus Christ.  God decided that we are worth the price.  That makes us very valuable, don’t you think?

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:44-46 describes the value and worth God sees in us. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

We are that treasure.  We are that pearl of great price.

Because God created us and loves us, He places tremendous value upon us.  We are not worthy of His love or the price He paid to redeem us, but He does not consider us worthless.  The next time Satan attacks with his words of condemnation, telling you that you are worthless, remember that Paul says we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” (Colossians 3:12), and John declares that we are “greatly loved children of God” (1 John 3:1). Remember that God has given His Son for you.

Worthless? Not according to the One who paid it all for you.

Holy Father, You gave Your perfect Son to redeem my life.  Such lavish love for a sinner like me.  When the enemy tries to tell me that I am nothing, please remind me that you gave everything for me.  Amen

A Fresh New Day!

The Lord’s loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.    Lamentations 3:22-23

This morning I woke up to a new day – and an old attitude.  The frustrations of the day before hung heavy on my spirit and before my first cup of coffee, I was chewing on them all over again.  I bet you can relate.  Yesterday’s argument with your spouse rolls around in your head this morning.  Your child’s disobedience last night stirs those gnawing thoughts about what kind of parent you are. And as you turn on the shower you draw a deep sigh, knowing that you will spend another day with that irritating co-worker.  If only we could greet the new day without the frustrations and irritations of the day before.

God does you know.  This verse reminds us that as we greet each new day, we do so with the full measure of God’s compassion and mercy.  No “leftover” thoughts of our attitudes and actions from the day before.  You and I often drag yesterday’s problems into today.  But God doesn’t    Because we cannot wrap our finite minds around who God truly is, we tend to think of Him in human terms, assigning Him human characteristics and  human limitations.   We get irritated with others, and they sometimes “get on our last nerve.”  But God has a limitless supply of understanding and compassion toward us.  In other words, God’s doesn’t have “a last nerve.”  Our frustrations mount up with people and we find ourselves dreading the next encounter with them.  Not so with God. As He calls for the sunrise each morning, He has a sense of overwhelming delight toward us.  Psalm 139: 17 says, “How precious [toward] me are Your thoughts, O God!”  We simply cannot conceive of the immense love, tenderness and compassion of God towards His beloved children.

Aren’t you glad to know that God doesn’t hold grudges?  He doesn’t weigh us today based on our actions yesterday.  He doesn’t hold the mistakes of the past over our heads.  And He doesn’t expect us to either.  Because Jesus Christ paid the price for all of our sins, because He took all of our shame to the cross – we can face each day knowing that God’s love, mercy and goodness toward us is fully stocked and there is a never-ending supply.  Greet the morning with the Lord, and step out into a fresh new day!

Wonderful Father – Thank you for a new morning, for new mercies and the promise of Your presence with me all through the day.  This is the day that You have made; I will rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)  Amen

Praise the Lord!

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.            Psalm 8:2

Is there anything more precious than the “Cherub Choir” – those little preschoolers singing “Jesus Loves Me,” and “This Little Light of Mine” (won’t let Satan blow it out-whoosh!)?  Precious to you and me, but a sight and sound that makes Satan tremble. That’s why I love this verse, because it is a sweet image with a powerful truth.

Praise silences the enemy!

Praise that rings out from a thousand-voice choir.

Praise that tumbles from the lips of little earth-bound angels.

Praise that is whispered through the tears of a solitary saint.

The enemy cannot stand to hear praises given to God.

There are at least two important points to see in this verse.

First, the word “praise” is interchangeable with the word “strength” The New Living Translation reads: “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength.”  Tell who?  Tell the devil! (My Daddy is stronger then you!)  Remind him that God has already pronounced his end, and Jesus Christ will bring that end to reality.  Tell yourself.  Sometimes we need the reminder.  Your God is strong, powerful and mighty. “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.” (Zephaniah 3:17a) He is strong enough to save you, and to keep you.  You will draw strength when you offer praises to God.

Second, is the very pointed reference to “silence the enemy.”  What is the enemy’s most powerful weapon against us? Verbal abuse. He throws a constant barrage of words, thoughts, doubts, fear, condemnation, lies, lies and more lies. Since he first trapped Eve in the Garden, Satan has been speaking lies into the minds of mankind for ages.  He started with words that cast doubt: “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1), and it has been his favorite dart ever since. This verse gives us the secret to disarming the devil: Praise silences the enemy!  The word “silence” means, “to come to an end, disappear; to put to a stop.”  Praise brings his words to an end. Praise makes him disappear. Praise puts his criticism to a stop.  That’s power!  That’s strength!   It seems too easy to be real, but it works.  Just open your mouth and pour forth praise.  Search the scriptures, especially the Psalms where expressions of praise abound.  Write them out so they will be handy.  Better yet, commit them to memory. Let your praises drown out the lies of Satan.

I know this works; I’ve experienced it in my own life.   When the enemy of my soul is berating me, pouring condemnation and doubt into my mind, I resist him with songs or Psalms of praise.  I pick up a pen and write praises to my strong God.

I stand on the Name and the Praise of God Almighty. And the enemy flees – in silence.

Waiting…

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;”            Psalm 37:7

“Wait a little longer,”                              Revelation 6:11

How good are you at waiting? I think in our “hurry up” society, waiting is a lost art.  We have instant conversation, instant information, and an instant meal, all at our fingertips.  Have you ever found yourself wishing the microwave would hurry up?

Waiting was a constant for the people of the Bible.

Genesis 7-8 tells us Noah, his family and all those smelly animals spent a little over a year shut up in the ark, from the first raindrop until God allowed them to come out.  According to Genesis 12:4 and 17:1; Abraham, the Father of the Hebrew faith, waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise, the birth of his son, Isaac.  Joseph waited 13 years – through mistreatment, false accusation, imprisonment and estrangement from his family until the fulfillment of God’s purpose. (Genesis 37 – 50)

What was the key to their ability to wait?  In a word – FAITH.

They had faith in God. Notice I didn’t say they had faith that God would work everything out in their favor.  They had faith in God, in His character, in who He is, not just in what He could do.  They had faith that whatever God did, in whatever way He did it, and however long it took, it would be the right thing.  In forty plus years of following Him, God has never done anything the way I expected.  But what He did was always right and good.  Because He is always right and good, and His purpose is always right and good.

Waiting on the Lord, according to Charles Stanley, “is not hopeless resignation, but firm faith in His good purpose.”

The question we need to ask ourselves is “What are we waiting for?”

Are we waiting for the answer we want, the spouse to come to church, the kid to straighten up, the funds to turn around, the tests to come back clear? Or are we waiting with our eyes fixed on God, trusting that He, in His goodness, faithfulness and love, will do what will ultimately be for our best; whatever, however, and whenever that may be?

The secret to patiently waiting is trusting, and the secret to trusting comes in knowing the One you trust.

Holy Father, I want to know You by heart so I will trust you by faith.  Amen.

Yoked With Jesus

“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.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.          Matthew 11:28-30

Our culture today seems to thrive on being busy.  Ask almost anyone “How are you?”, and the answer is often “Tired.”    We are taking care of families, serving in churches, ministries, schools and communities, often while holding down a job outside the home too. At church we teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, keep the nursery, volunteer in the church office, and when there is an illness or funeral, we are there with a covered dish in hand.  There is no limit to the demands on our time and energy.  We’re a lot like Martha in Luke 10:38-42.  We see something that needs to be taken care of, and we jump into action.  I wonder if we serve and work to the point of exhaustion because we feel a need to prove our faith to God and our worth to others.  Is Satan the one who keeps telling us to push ourselves so hard, in order to wear us down, so he can berate us for being so weak?

Jesus offers us a better way, as we see in the mental picture He painted in our opening Scripture.  Oxen teams have long been used to plow the fields for planting and also for turning the heavy millstones used to grind the grain.  A young ox would not be strong enough to do the hard work of plowing and milling alone.  The farmer yokes a younger animal with a stronger, more experienced one, who would carry the majority of the work-load while “training the rookie,” and providing a calming influence.

Jesus is offering us an easy yoke as He promises to be the stronger presence on our “team,” to carry the burden, provide the strength, and work with us to accomplish His purposes.  Jesus is no heavy-handed task-master. He assures us He is gentle and humble in heart, and will give us rest for our souls.

Are you weary of trying to do everything on your own? How long has it been since your soul was at rest?  Maybe it’s time for you to step away from your exhausting burdens and allow Jesus to take the heavy load instead.

If He could bear the weight of the cross, He can carry you too.

Prayer: Jesus, sometimes the weight of the world becomes too heavy for me to bear.  Please come and help me carry this load — better still Lord Jesus, please come and carry me.  Amen

A New Thing

A new thing. A new adventure. A new obedience.
As I sit here watching the cursor blink over the empty page before me, I am making a new step of faith. This is a little intimidating for me, but still very exciting.
God pointed me in this direction over a year ago, but it has taken me a little while to follow through; and thanks to my college friend, Hannah Ostrus, I am all set to do what God has called me to do.
“Write…all the words I have spoken to you.” Jeremiah 30:2

God’s Word is my passion. Teaching and writing about God’s Word is my purpose.
Eight years ago, in the midst of a very trying season, God spoke to my heart. He asked me a question: “Child, who am I?” “You’re God.” I replied. “Who else could You be?” He answered, “Yes child, I am God, yet there is so much more to Me than you realize. I want you to know Me, then tell others about Me.” Know God? How can I know the Indescribable? God is far too big to fit into my finite little mind. But He had spoken to me, and His words were very clear.

Not many days later, I came across a Scripture that has become my life verse.
It is Jeremiah 29:13, which says “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” I knew that this would be a life-long search, but I had His promise in the very next verse – “I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:14a)
Through the ups and downs of the years that followed, I have come to know God in amazing and wonderful ways, yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of who He is.

Incredible, isn’t it? God wants you and me to know Him. He has said so over and over again in Scripture. He sent His Son Jesus to reveal Himself to us. He gave us the Bible so we could know Him through His Words. Even the world that surrounds us was designed to draw us to Him. (see Romans 1:19-20)
God is real. He is everything He says He is and more than we can ever fathom.
He is not hidden – He wants us to know Him…so much so that He pursues us and draws us into a love relationship with Him, a relationship that will last for eternity.

This blog is my new step of obedience; it is God doing a new thing through the pages of an ancient, yet still living and powerful Word. Will you join me on this journey of seeking to know Him?