December 20, 2016

1 Timothy 6:15 ~ NIV
“which God will bring about in his own time – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,”

We hear about God reigning a lot, we talk about Him reigning over every situation, every season, every heart. But today, as I was reading through my Bible, I had this thought of, “God isn’t the president. He’s the King, so let Him rule.” That was quite a challenging thought for me.
Far too often, I am tempted to try to ”veto” God’s authority in my life. He’ll tell me that I need to deal with something, and I’ll explain to Him why that’s not possible. It isn’t convenient for me, or I just don’t want to. But that isn’t my right. I don’t get to tell God what He can and cannot do in my life. There are no checks and balances with God, and if He wants to do something we should probably get out of the way and let Him do it.
God is the King, and He has every authority and power in our lives. But, there’s even better news. He’s a good King. He wants what’s best for His people. God isn’t a selfish King, He is a loving King; and if we allow Him to have full power and control in our lives, the outcome will be better than we ever expected. We just need to get out of the way and let Him rule.

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December 17, 2016

Isaiah 43:1-2 ~ ESV
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you.”

Recently I have been thinking a lot about this thought of “seeking God where we doubt He is”. I know I have heard it from my dad a few times, and some other people a few times. But, most recently it has seemed like a much more personal thing for me. Part of the excitement of beginning a relationship with Jesus is the fact that He is always with us no matter what. Sometimes, it can be pretty hard to remember.
I have lost so many things in just sixteen years. My phone, my phone charger, a bazillion and twenty-nine pens, you name it, I’ve probably lost it at some point. But, mostly I lose my phone, it’s like it just walks away and hides sometimes. After I check the obvious places: the dining room table, my backpack, the kitchen counters, and all my pockets. If I still haven’t found it, I start looking in the not-so-obvious places: in the piano bench, under my guitar, with my church stuff … on and on until I eventually find it, usually after calling it several times and charging through the house trying to follow the vibrating sound before it goes to voicemail.
That’s the way it works with God sometimes, when we can’t find Him in the obvious places, sometimes we have to look for Him where we don’t think He could be. When we go through hard times, it can be easy to look to heaven and try to see where God is. But more often than not, He isn’t there when we look because He is right beside us.
Emmanuel is such a great promise at Christmas time, because God really is with us, in everything. That’s one of the best parts of Christmas, He’s right here with us one hundred percent of the time.

December 16, 2016

Ephesians 6:14-15 ~ ESV
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

The main thing that I noticed this morning about this verse was, “having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” It speaks to the necessity of preparing for our battles before we fight them. This whole section in Ephesians is talking about the different things we need in order to be effective in battle. We always need to be ready to fight, because the enemy isn’t going to wait until it is convenient for both of us. In fact, he is more likely to attack when our guard is down.
How do we combat this? Well, we stay ready and we prepare in advance for our battles. If we wait to read our Bibles and pray until troubles come, odds are, it isn’t going to end very well for us. But, if we spend time with God every day and we have an active relationship with Him, we are more likely to succeed.
I read a book (at some point) and someone said, “If they had kicked Al Capone out of Chicago when he was just a small-time operator, he wouldn’t have been so hard to handle; but they waited until he became a first-class criminal with his forces built up. Then it took an army to bring him down.” That works in our lives as well. If you kick the devil out of your house, your church, or anything else before he can get comfortable, then we won’t have such a big fight on our hands.
Anytime the devil comes and tries to bring chaos into our lives, as long as we are prepared in advance, we will be able to take the peace of God and stomp out the devil’s plan before it even has time to cause problems.

December 15, 2016

2 Corinthians 10:12 ~ ESV
“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves to one another, they are without understanding.”

Today’s world places a lot of value on appearances and trying to look good to everybody. So, the natural response is to look at other people and try to see how you can ”better” yourself, in order to look more like the people who seem to know what they are doing. But, that doesn’t make any sense at all, when we compare ourselves with others, we are missing the point. God created each one of us just the way He needed us to be to grow His Kingdom. We aren’t going to look, talk, walk, act, pray, worship, eat, grow, lead, follow, or learn the same way as everyone else. We just aren’t! And that’s okay.
God has given each one of us, unique talents and gifts to further His Kingdom, but too often we hide those gifts because we are afraid of what other peple will think. Just because nobody else is doing it doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do. When the early church was first becoming established, it wasn’t the POPULAR thing to do. They still followed Jesus because they loved Him.
When we are comparing ourselves to other people, we are missing out on so many things God has made us to be. He didn’t create us to be cookie cutter Christians. He made us to be activated warriors for Him. The only one we should ever compare ourselves to his Jesus, anyone else should not be our standard. The only standard of what our lives should look like comes directly from Jesus, nobody else.

December 14, 2016

Psalm 130:5
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, 
and in His Word I hope;”

Sometimes we have to wait for God to reveal Himself. At times it may seem as if He is never going to take action. But if we will just wait for Him to act, it will be good. It is hard to have hope while we are waiting.
Just think of how it must have been for the family and friends of Lazarus. Jesus had JUST been with them when Lazarus got sick. They send a message to Jesus so He will come back to them. They tell Him that the man he loves is sick, but instead of rushing back as everyone expected Him to do, Jesus waits. The family watched as Lazarus slowly slipped further into sickness, until one day he died.
Then, Jesus shows up. Lazarus is dead, everyone is mourning and they all want to point their fingers at Jesus. You’re too late! If you had only been here, this never would have happened! But Jesus had a better plan, with a few simple words, He brings Lazarus back to life.
I think that is how it has gone in most of our lives. We’ve asked God for something but He doesn’t act instantly, and we are still praying, trying to remain hopeful in the wait. And when everything looks as dark as it can be, we often try to blame God. But really, He’s just about to move to perform an even greater miracle than we can imagine out of the darkness.
When God gives us His promise, we can have hope that He will do what He says He will. God has never failed yet, and He’s not going to start with you.

December 11, 2016

Psalm 146:6-10 ~ ESV
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”

I was reading this passage earlier this morning, and I decided to look for moments in my life where God had been each of those things for me in my life. And as I was doing that, I was thinking about all those moments with Him and how He has been faithful in every season. And as I was doing that, I started to praise Him for all those times when He was there and He was good. At some point while I was doing that, I got stuck on one of them, I don’t remember which one. But I was just stuck on this time with God and I was just thanking Him over and over and over for the way He had shown up in my life. I kept saying over and over that I could never thank Him enough for what He did, and I could never do enough to thank Him. And I just felt like He was saying to me, ”It is finished.” Because what He did on the cross took care of all of those moments and paid for all of those moments once and for all.
I don’t really have a ”thought” for today. But, any problem that we are facing or have faced, God has already covered it through Jesus. We don’t have to worry about trying to repay Him, because He did it out of love.

December 10, 2016

2 Corinthians 4:7 ~ ESV
”But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

This verse can probably be taken a few different ways. For some people, it may seem unfair that we only get clay jars instead of a gold jeweled vase or something because we want the credit. But I think this verse is very comforting. It doesn’t depend on me so I can’t mess up the plan.
I feel like a lot of people hold back in their pursuit of God for fear of messing it up. But Jesus paid everything to get rid of all the space between Him and us. So, if there is any space between God and us, it’s because we put it there. Because God wants to get as close as He can (original thought credits to Steffany Gretzinger). We can’t ”mess it up” He already loves us and He is doing everything He can to be near us.
When heaven touches earth, when all the space is cleared, and God’s presence just invades our lives, it was never because of us. That’s the thing, it’s NEVER about us, it’s always about God and what He did for us. We don’t have the power to move heaven. But we do have the power, as sons and daughters of the Most High, to move the heart of God. And in response to that, He moves heaven forward. My dad says, “When you pray, God hushes all of heaven just because He wants to hear what you have to say.” That’s how much you mean to Him. So we may not get the credit for His glory. Oh well. We do get His love. And we still get to watch a pretty cool show in the meantime.