Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living Strong...

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

Just like a braid… if you just twisted two pieces of hair or rope or string it might stay for awhile, but it will fall apart.  If you braid three pieces of hair, rope or string it will hold up forever or at least until a part of the trio weakens or becomes frayed. 

How do we keep our hair strong and healthy? By eating right, having good nutrition, cleansing it regularly, trimming the split ends. It is the same in our walk through life… we need to feed on God’s Word, we have to receive every bit of nourishment we can from Him.

We need to ask & allow the Holy Spirit to show us what needs cleansing in us… asking for forgiveness and getting freedom from the “dirt” that can easily build up. Chances are we may not even notice it until it shows up in our stinky attitude! This is where I have to really watch & pray… there have been/still are so many changes going on in my life. Some days I wake up on the “wrong side of the bed”… I need to seek God immediately! These times of weakness & ungratefulness are the moments the “dirt” can start piling up. Who needs to carry around that extra weight? Unlike Pigpen from the Peanuts cartoon, we don’t have a dust cloud following us around to show the filth! But we do have the Holy Spirit to shine light into those dark areas!

And the hardest one of all… we need to accept that God (the gardener) prunes us to produce more fruit in our lives. Ouch! A painful process that can lead to greater things in our life! We have a good, good Father… He doesn’t just make a cut & leave us to bleed out! He gets rid of what is no longer useful, & then places His healing hand of love on that exposed area. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how precious those moments are… when I throw my hands in the air & tell the Lord to have at it… take what needs to be taken… I surrender… it’s all His anyway! Whatever will bring You glory, Lord!

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken over you.”  ~ John 15:1-3

I don’t know what any of you are going through at this very moment but know that you don’t have to be alone in it! If you are married… the cord of three should be you, your spouse, & God. If you are single… ask God for discernment in what friendships you can trust to strengthen your cord of living for Him. We are not called to live life alone.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens the countenance of a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17
Rejoicing in Truth!

Carin

Monday, April 11, 2016

Accepted… It’s ALL Good

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” ~ Hebrews 4:13 (TNIV)  

What does that verse speak to you?  In the New King James version it says,And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  I love how the word, “naked” is used!  When I read that it made me see how freeing that is… that God sees me “naked”… warts, moles, lumps, bumps, sin, and all!!! And yet He still chooses to love me and use me in His great plan!!!

You might wonder why I would see it as freeing… how many of us can even fathom the idea of standing naked in front of anyone and the vulnerability that would produce???  I know… yikes!  Almost intolerable, right?  But this verse shows that we are already that vulnerable with God.  We can never pull anything over on our Heavenly Father, so why try???  Do I sin?  Do I make mistakes?  Do I judge others unfairly?  Yes… yes… and yes!  

It is not that I will never screw-up, but when I do it is just so much easier to confess it and seek God’s forgiveness as soon as I recognize my sin.  That is what is so freeing for me!  Father always knows what is coming… we never surprise Him.  And He has promised us He will always forgive when we ask with sincere hearts.

“If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just, true to His own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness (everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action).” ~ I John 1:9 (AMP)

A weight has been lifted off me! I cannot hide my “nakedness” from Him, but that is okay!!!  I challenge you to take the time to read Hebrews 4 and see what other great things God has for you.  Remember to allow yourself to stand “naked” before God… let Him point out those things that may not be quite right.  You are already accepted… it’s ALL good!

Rejoicing in Truth!
Carin

Friday, March 25, 2016

No Greater Love...

Good Friday – I’ve often wondered why it is called “Good Friday”—if this is the day Christ was crucified… then why is it good?  Just think about that day… the day Christ gave up His life… does it bring mixed feelings?  On one side, no one would have a chance of eternal life in Heaven without this Great Sacrifice. So it is good for the sake of our salvation, but so sad that it was my sins and your sins that sent Him to that death on the cross.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Focus on that verse for a moment… it is a mind blowing verse for me… would I be willing to lay my life down for a friend?  As I was thinking on that God showed me He was not asking me to just physically lay down my life for my friends, but to spiritually and emotionally lay it all down for Him!  Really think about that… if someone put a gun to your head and said “deny Christ or die” would you have the strength to die for Him?  I would hope I would. On the other hand, everyday we are asked to “die to self”… but how easy is that to do?

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

If you are at all like me, most every day I know I am a total failure at that… since I am not even close to perfect, but God can see if I have a desire and a willing heart to lay it all done for Him. And because of His unconditional, unfailing love, He gives us an “A” for accepted and not an “F” for failure… He made each one of us… He knows we are all works in progress… we are blessed, priceless children of our Heavenly Father! I am so thankful that He loved us so much to give us a second chance at life by giving up His Son to save all those who believe and receive Him.

Take a look at the story of Mary of Bethany pouring out the precious ointment on Jesus, just days before His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

Mark 14:3-9 says:

Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had suffered from a skin disease. While Jesus was sitting there, a woman went to him. She had a bottle of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She opened the bottle and poured the perfume on his head.
Some who were there were irritated and said to one another, “Why was the perfume wasted like this? This perfume could have been sold for a high price, and the money could have been given to the poor.” So they said some very unkind things to her.
Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. You will always have the poor with you and can help them whenever you want. But you will not always have me with you. She did what she could. She came to pour perfume on my body before it is placed in a tomb. I can guarantee this truth: Wherever the Good News is spoken in the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Mary didn’t do what she did for the memorial to her… she loved Jesus so much & with the mindset that His death was for certain & very soon, she gave it all up for Him. She showed her love like no one else did at that meal. This ointment was worth a lot of money, but that didn’t matter to her… she didn’t care what people thought of her “waste” of this ointment. Mary humbled herself in worship at the feet of Jesus. Are we pouring out our worship on Him just days before Good Friday & Easter? What do you have that is priceless possession? Your heart? Yourself?

If Christ just died for us then the story would be over, but He died because of our sin and He rose from the dead to break the bonds of death (sin) and the grave!  Remember… it is only because of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and RESURRECTION that each one of us can have eternal life through Him.  Good Friday in itself is not good, but when we look at the whole picture… the whole story, the Greatest Love Story ever told… now that is good!

All of the time Christ spent here on earth needs to be remembered… needs to be shared… it is the Good News. Even remembering the sadness of “Good Friday” so that we can have hearts of thanksgiving to sing the praises of the risen Lord on Easter morning!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Carin

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Time In Between...

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Peter was asked to step out of the boat and walk on water. Read it in Matthew 14:22-33. I can remember as a kid in Sunday school hearing this story... in fact I can almost hear Mrs. Bauer, the beginners’ class teacher, telling that story. She was such a sweet, loving lady and I am sure she had great impact on many lives, including mine. Anyway, back to the story... as a kid it seemed so "mystical" to me (although I am sure as a kid I didn't know that was the word for it!).

I can remember being down at our local beach and thinking if I put my eyes on Jesus I should be able to walk on water... I was taught that Jesus was in my heart, so I fixed my eyes on my chest (because that was where my heart is... and Jesus lives there... are you still with me?) and stepping out very carefully to try and walk on water... why didn't it work for me... what did I do wrong????? Oh, the mind of a child... wish I could be that naive now.

Do you ever feel like the in between time is the hardest time? For instance, what do you think was going through Peter's mind the time between when he asked Jesus to bid him come and walk on the water and when he actually got out of the boat??? Do you think he was thinking, "Do I, don't I, do I, don't I?" Did he have anxiety? I find for myself the in between time is probably the hardest time... the thinking about it... wondering what will happen... should I, shouldn't I?... is this really what I should be doing?... how long do I have to wait?... what am I to learn in this time?

I guess that is the question... what am I to learn in the time in between? This time can be the hardest but it can also be the most rewarding. During these times we can be drawn closer to God... our eyes can be taken off ourselves and our problems... we can reach out to help someone else... we can completely surrender our ways to God's ways.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." ~Isaiah 40:31

Here are the lyrics to a song I really love called "Time In Between" by Francesca Battistelli
****
You were there when Your Father said, "Let there be the light"
You obeyed when He whispered, "Son, You have to leave tonight"
To spend nine months in a mother's womb, three days in a borrowed tomb
It's the time in between that brings me to my knees
Knowing You came for me
And all that I can be I'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between
Don't take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul says You're holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands for You to fill me up again
But it's the time in between that I fall down to my knees waiting on what You'll bring
And the things that I can see I know that my songs incomplete
Still I sing in the time in between
So many ways Your love has saved the day
And I'm grateful for them all.
But it's the time in between the middle of two things that says everything
It's the reason I believe, I'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between.
Lord, I thank You for the time in between.
**** 
Just know that in the time in between you are not alone… you are not the only one!  Hold tight to ALL that you know to be truth… God’s Living Truth inside you.  In the silence… in the stillness you can rest in His loving arms and His faithfulness.  Be amazed… be thankful… praise Him!  He will get you through!  He will complete the work He has begun in you!

I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 

Rejoicing in Truth!
Carin 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Forgotten? I Think Not...

Do you have those moments, maybe even days, when you feel like you are alone and forgotten?  You feel invisible at work… the kids are growing up and spending more time away… you have not met the “love of your life.”  All these things can make you feel isolated and alone.

I know for myself when I have those moments I would rather just lay on the couch and pull the blanket up over my head.  And I might do that for a short time.  But I have come to realize that when I “feel” forgotten or alone… that is definitely a time to do the opposite of what I am feeling.

My encouragement to you today is that you are not ever forgotten… you are never alone! As a child of God, you know He is always with you… even when you don’t feel like it.  All the things you have done for the Lord will always be remembered... as a "warrior" you may end up hurt and distraught... but anything done in faith and love will be honored by God... don't let life make you feel insignificant or discouraged.  God remembers the good done in His name.

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” ~ Hebrews 6:10-12

And you know one of the best ways to not feel forgotten is to take your eyes off yourself and put your eyes back on God.  He has given each one of us so many opportunities to serve Him and reach out to those in need.  And this seems like a great day to start! So my challenge is for each one of you to pick up your sword and get ready to slice through the feelings that are bringing you down!

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12

Let the high praises of God be in your mouth, and a two-edged sword in your hand. (Psalms 149:6)

Rejoicing in Truth!

Carin

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Quiet, Please... Hear It?

Do you find yourself in the “bumps & bruises” of life? I really try not to let life get me down, but when it’s one thing after another… it gets very hard to keep looking on the sunny-side of things! I’m sure many of you may be feeling the same way. 

I was reading in 1 Kings 19:11-12… Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

As I read these verses this picture came to my mind & my heart… I could see unpleasant things of life happening one right after the other. Things that are scary… things that can shake your foundation… things that might even make you feel like you are losing everything… things you don’t understand, & you cannot get a grip on why it is happening. I am not saying the Lord causes these things, but I do believe whatever happens in life… God does allow.

When these things occur, we have a choice to make… we will let it rip us further from the Lord, or we will let it draw us closer to Him. We cannot live in the turmoil of whatever is shaking your world, because it is only in the quiet we can hear the still small voice… the voice of the Lord.

Do you hear it? Shhhhhh… Find a moment to step away from the hub-bub of life… quiet your heart… lean in to Him. He is whispering to the ears of your heart! He is a good Daddy… He will not always stop the yucky things of life, but remember He will always use them for good.

“…know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom He has called according to His plan.” ~ Romans 8:28

My prayer today is that you will hear His still small voice… that the peace that passes all understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Rejoicing in Truth!

Carin

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Cost?

A few weeks back I wrote the words, “The Cost?” on my notebook I write thoughts & prayers in… that is the only thing wrote on that page. I had some idea of where it came from, but it was not a complete thought at the time so I never wrote anything more. I was dealing with quite a bit of anxiety at that time… I knew God was working on me in this area… just writing those words gave me some relief in my heart & mind. But every time I flip through that notebook, that page keeps jumping out at me.

This morning I was reading in Exodus 16 about the Lord providing manna for the Children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. They whined & complained about the lack of food, which I’m pretty sure was not pleasing to the Lord, yet He still provided meat (quail) in the evening & bread (manna) in the morning. While I read this, the name, Jehovah-Jireh kept coming to my mind… the Lord our Provider.

I have always felt a connection with Abraham & Sarah in the Old Testament. They were not perfect by any means, yet God made a promise to Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 17)… no matter their “bumps in the road”… He kept His promise to them. There is so many good things to read about this dynamic couple, but today I was reminded of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, their son, to the Lord.

The Cost of obedience for Abraham was unbelievable… yet he was willing to obey. In Genesis 22 you will find this demonstration of faith, obedience & provision.

Abraham & Sarah had prayed for years for a child, & when this promise was finally fulfilled, the Lord asked for Abraham to give Isaac back through sacrifice! It just amazes me… I can’t even comprehend it!

FAITH is the word I have chosen as my word for 2016… I want to grow deeper in faith… I was to learn how to trust God more… I want to move forward in faith no matter how uncertain the road may seem. Remember, when you pray for stronger faith… that does not happen without difficulties of life to stretch you & grow that faith… it will cost you something! It will also be a time to cling, yes cling, to God’s Word even more.

Abraham packed up everything he needed to offer the sacrifice to the Lord as he & Isaac headed to the mountain. I believe that Abraham knew one of two things would happen… if he sacrificed Isaac, God would bring Isaac back to life (Hebrews 11:19), or the Lord would provide a substitute sacrifice. Which as we read He supplied a ram as the sacrifice.

I can look back & see how the Lord has provided throughout my life… always… in incredible ways! My anxiety does not come from His past faithfulness, I am living proof of that… it comes from not trusting Him for the future! It is crazy, I know! The Lord has done so much for me… but why should He do more???

Jehovah-Jireh does not mean “the Lord did provide”, it means “the Lord will provide”… it’s a demonstration of His ongoing faithfulness to His children. He is a good, good Father. I know that… I can trust that!

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” ~ Philippians 4:19-20

The truth is… I have no idea how our current situation will turn out. And I have to be okay with that! Trusting God for provision will cost me something… it will cost me anxious moments, it will cost me miserable days, it will cost me tearful conversations. On the other hand, anxiety has cost me dearly… it has cost me peace… it has cost me joy. Which has the biggest cost… which has the best outcome?

Everyone is going through something in their life… this is my story… I am a work in progress…taking it all day by day! I do pray for each person that reads these words & I ask that you might do the same for me.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Carin