Where my help comes from

I thank God that He knows my heart. He knows I want to change. His grace covers me each time I fall short. When some sins just seem like they wont let me go, I look back to see how far I have come. Seeing how far I still need to go hurts but keeps me humble. I am not enslaved to sin. God says I have been set free. I have set my heart to believe that truth over the lie that sin will forever control my life. I will never be perfect this side of heaven, but my heart for change will be constant.

Do you ever have the same struggle of feeling enslaved? Of feeling like God is not hearing your cries for freedom? I would love to pray with you. It is when my heart grows weary that I know I am doing too much in my own strength and I need to be reminded from Where my help comes from.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Lord, the power in Your name alone sends demons into trembling fear. Why would I think for one second that You will leave me in this sin? That You arent strong enough or love me enough to remove it? Your word tells me that what You have started in me You are good to finish. The stories of the bible teach me patience in waiting for promises to come to pass. Together we will conquor every sin I bring to You and even the ones I didnt even recognize. My flesh may war against me, but You, Lord, have already claimed victory. You will tear down each and every lie. I dont always understand Your ways but there is one truth I can always run back to and grab hold of: You are good. You are good! Your ways are meant for good, and what You mean for good will always turn to good no matter how bad it may feel right now. You, Lord, are good. Thank You for new mercies every day. I love You, I need You. Come into our hearts today and renew the Spirit within us. Thank You, Lord. In Christ name I pray, Amen

Trust

“That’s a lot to trust God with.”
That was my thought as I passed by the missionary’s table. He sat at our church’s lunch with his wife and 5 young kids after speaking to us about his faith and his family’s time in China. Boy, that is a lot to trust God with! He has so much love for people and the salvation of their souls. How do you open your heart that big and wide? That’s a lot to trust God with, too. Opening your heart leaves you vulnerable to be hurt. He spoke about our life being about growing in the trust of God. When we decide to follow Christ then we are always growing to trust God more and more. It is what matures us as Christians, gives us peace in the midst of a storm, and helps us to love people the way God does. Marriage, kids, family, being there for people instead of shrinking back in a hole, caring about the salvation of those around you…yep…that is a lot to trust God with. All of those things can bring on suffering. It can hurt our hearts. Love can be a great burden to bear and there isnt always a happy ending. They dont tell you that in all the romance movies. It’s a good thing we can go to God’s word for the truth and read the great faith of those that suffered for the sake of giving out God’s love. Let’s grow somemore today. Maybe we arent meant to go out to a far land and spread His word in foreign enemy territory. That’s ok. God calls some of us to stay here and spread His word in local enemy territory. That’s a lot to trust God with. I know. He has not forsaken us. Let us trust that and move forward in our own mission and help bring God’s love to all we can. When we spread HIS word it never returns void even if we dont see it in our time with the people. Go forward in faith and practice leaning on God. You have a lot to trust Him with and He has a lot to show you.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 55:11
So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Run to Jesus

One of the most detrimental mistakes I have ever made was thinking that if I simply believed in Jesus then I had my path to heaven. Afterall, doesn’t John 3:16 state that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life? But what kind of belief did I have if I just believed Jesus once existed and died on the cross but didnt believe the words He said? I didnt believe sex before marriage was really all that wrong. I didnt believe living with my boyfriend was an issue. I didnt believe drinking and drugs were really that bad. I was just having a good time. Who was I hurting? Well, it is a pretty long list but Ill start with the ones that bother me the most. Dylan and Myles. I hurt them. I didnt live a life that reflected God’s love. I lived very selfishly. While I did do things with and for my kids, my life was not about them. It was not about bringing them up in the way that they should go so as they got older they would not depart from it. My life was about me. And if I was happy then they would be happy. I had no clue what happiness was. Do you? Happiness is a fleeting emotion. It comes and it goes. And if I am real honest, it feels like it goes more than it comes. In fact, happiness has left me so many times that I just stopped trying to be happy. Sound depressing? Its not really. Trying to make myself happy led me down roads full of lies. It took my eyes off of Jesus and others and put them solely on myself. As I said before, I hurt many people but namely, my kids.

God has rescued me. It doesnt always feel like rescue. Seeing all the ways I was wrong when I had felt I was so right is heartbreaking. The word tells me God is close to the broken hearted and when I meditate on that it brings me comfort and healing. Sometimes I look back at my past too long and from the word I hear Paul say “dont stare at the past, but strive for what is ahead.” And that gives me hope. I dont pray anymore for God to make me happy. I pray for my feet to be on solid ground. I dont need the happiness roller coaster anymore. Happiness lies and says it serves me but it becomes my master. The word tells me to resemble Jesus. Jesus was not here to be served but to serve. When I live to serve others with the love of Jesus I find joy. When I trust in Him even when I dont understand the what or why then I am able to rejoice in all things. Even the bad things because the word tells me God works all bad into good for those that love Him.
You see what I mean about only believing Jesus existed without believing what He said? If you do that, you are already in hell. If you dont feel it yet, bother/sister, you soon will. The things of this world that you use to soothe your misery are temporary. They will only fulfill you here and for short bursts. They lie to you and more and more you shove the Spirit away that is trying to tell you the truth. You believe the lie that you must behave perfectly to be in church, in your bible, or around God’s people at all. Every place that can help you the devil will attack. He will tell you it is a no go and dont even try. You are far too gone. I will be honest again and tell you the evil one still attacks me with a “good works” mentality. The word tells me I can never behave good enough to get my place in heaven only believing Jesus died for my sins does that. Once again, believing in what Jesus said instead of only believing He exisited delivers me from legalistic hell every day. It teaches me to do good works from a place of love instead of selfish ambition of marking my spot in heaven. Obedience to the Lord, then, comes from a place of trust in Him instead of trying to be perfect so I can make sure I get to where I want to go.

You may can tell me you believe Jesus came and died on the cross, but do you believe He did it for you? If you believe in Jesus, do you believe in every word He said? Hell is real yall, on earth and even worse in the everafter. Jesus is the cure. He heals you and seals you as His own. Jesus’ words tell me He knows me by name and I am His. Paul reminds me that nothing can pluck from the hand of God. Even when I stumble. Even when my faith is shaken to its core. As soon as I lean on Jesus and believe that He is the Messiah and His words are true…I am His and He is mine. Nothing can pluck me from God’s hand.

And those relationships you hurt? He is a God of restoration. Time and time again in the word God restores what was broken. God is for you. He sent His Son to die for you so your sins can be washed away, and He left the Spirit behind to guide you through His word and worship. Run to Jesus. Trust Him. Believe in Him AND His words. He will claim you and nothing will pluck you away.

Help them believe

Do you keep praying for God to show an unbelieving loved one miracles and great works in their circumstances so they will believe? Read the story from Luke below. We all need this reminder that if the truth of His word doesnt make them believe then all the miracles in the world wont do it either. All good works can just be explained away. Do we really want our loved one to believe because of God’s grand works anyway? We all know sometimes it doesnt feel like He is working at all. It takes great faith to know and trust God is always working things out for the good of those that love Him even when we are in the midst of the storm or in the valley of what feels like deafening silence. That kind of faith grows over time of having a relationship with God and being able to see what He has already done for us in the past and trusting He has not forsaken us. Begging for a grand performance in their life will only lead to disappointment when you see God moving and they dont. It is the Spirit that brings the truth to their hearts. It is better to pray for open eyes, a renewed spirit in them, and a heart of stone to be turned to a heart of flesh for the Lord.

Luke 16:19-31

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Living in the desert of fear

The below verses reminded me of our media today. Reporting all the bad things and even making the bad things bigger. Putting fear into anyone willing to listen.
Listening to the “media” (the spies)kept the Isralites wandering in the desert instead of claiming land that was promised them. God did good things for them over and over and they so quickly forgot each time and many never found their trust in God. They always lived in fear. There was one spy, Caleb, that stood up and said “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the other spies encouraged them to stay in the desert to stay “safe”. Stay home, Stay safe….sound familiar? The land flowed with milk and honey, yet only Caleb and Joshua, because of their trust in God, and their descendants would get to inherit it. The rest of the first generation of Israelites would wander the desert til they all died off. Never enjoying the fruits of the promised land. But hey, at least they were “safe”, right?

I am not just downing the media or politics or agendas of today. We are all guilty of forgetting what God has done for us and not trusting He will continue to take care of us. We are all guilty of living in the desert of fear while a promised land of trusting God is right there in front of us just waiting to be claimed! Will life present some scary things we have to overcome along the way? Yep! You best believe it! That is when we have to remember what God has done and has promised to do. Let’s not wander in the desert til we die. Instead, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Numbers 13:25-33
And they returned from spying out the land after forty days.
Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
“Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.
“The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”
And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.
“There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Contradiction in the bible

Contradictions of the bible.

James 4:8-9
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep!

Versus

Nehemiah 8:9-11
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”

Oh my goodness!! Have I found a contradiction in the bible? Far from it. In James the author is speaking of finding the sorrow in your sin instead of finding joy in it. This speaks more to a person who lives their life with the mentality of “I am forgiven and I can never be perfect anyway. I want to feel comfortable instead of convicted so I am just going to push that conviction away and live my life my way! May God have mercy on my soul and let the good times roll!” This verse instructs to leave that way behind and want nothing to do with our sin. To let the sorrow in and mourn over our sin. That is the first step in breaking strongholds. We must come into agreement that our sin is sin and desire to let it go. This doesnt always feel good at first, being corrected rarely does. So we mourn.

In Nehemiah we learn that once you feel that conviction and mourn for your sin then be careful not to let that mourning over power the good work God is doing in you. There is a balance. When we mourn so hard over our sin that we dont feel the joy of the Lord then it is possible we have turned conviction into condemnation. Condemnation is not where the Spirit ever wants you to go. Even when we mourn our sin we should be joyful. Joyful that God is showing us an area in our lives He wants to change. All we have to do is come in agreement and allow the change. God has promised to complete every good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6; being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.) Does that not make you want to rejoice?! We are not in this alone! God says “Look here! This is not good for you and it is against Me. Let Me come in your heart and change it.” On one hand we are being called out on something (ouch), told we need to let go of something we are probably used to in our lives (loss), maybe even finally realizing we have hurt ourselves and others with our actions as well as gone against God’s way(mourn; grieve) but on the other hand He wants to draw closer to us and change us (Yes!!!), the God Almighty has chosen us and wants to change us (Wow!!), He gives us the strength to change and be set free from our sin! (Rejoice!!).

The mourning brings us to God. It must happen. But dont let the mourning overpower the joy God has in store for you. Mourn that it was there. Rejoice in letting it go. These verses do not contradict each other. They are simply the difference between hope filled mourning and hopeless mourning.

No matter what you have done…there is always hope when God moves in.

That old bible

I listened to a podcast a while back and the speaker questioned what they should do with their old bibles when they buy a new one. He stated that it just never feels right to throw it out. He sometimes passes it on to someone else but he still has lots of old bibles too tattered to even give away. I had never really thought about what to do with a worn out bible because, until recently, I was never in danger of wearing one out.

As I pondered this issue I thought about the notes I write in my bible. I not only write them for myself but I always think “this could really be helpful for someone that may pick up my bible someday.” With that thought came another thought about what to do with our well used bibles. Now, keep in mind I have just completed studying the book of Revelation. My thought led to rapture. When the church is raptured, humans won’t be the only things left behind. So will those old, highlited, noted up bibles that we couldnt bring ourselves to throw out. I can picture the people left behind searching through our old belongings and finding the treasure of God’s true word, flipping through the pages and reading scripture with all the notes we left during study and sermons. I can imagine those scriptures bringing them closer to God and the notes making them feel closer with us. What a loving gift to leave.

So, I say…keep passing those old bibles down. When you receive an old bible, keep it safe but dont lock it up. When you feel compelled to write a note, write it. You have no idea whose hands these old bibles will reach, whose hearts they will heal, or whose souls they will save.

He considers even how the wild flowers grow

Luke 12:32-34
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus spoke of selling our possesions and giving to the poor. This had me thinking about all of us Christians that are blessed with possessions. Is Jesus instructing us to sell it all, live on the streets, and minister to others without a possession to our name? Man, I struggled with that. Not over the selling all my stuff but where do I find balance? How do I balance a desire to improve my situation with keeping to this scripture? In other scripture we are told that you can’t be luke warm with one foot for the world and one foot for Jesus. How do we know we are luke warm? Is striving for a bigger house or even being more physically fit making us luke warm? You will find in the bible poor as well as wealthy believers. Neither their financial status nor their physical appearance mattered, so, how do I wrap my head around this?

I think we find the balance in that last sentence of the scripture above. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Do you treasure Jesus more or your possessions? When Jesus returns are you only going to be able to show Him your possessions? “Look at what all I gained, Jesus! Aren’t you so proud of me?!” Our treasure shouldn’t be aimed at how much more we can get but how much more can we give. Sure, there are times a bigger house is needed and God wants us to be happy and care for our blessings, but let it not become the treasure in our heart. We are to give to others, and this does not mean only financially or possessions. Poor doesn’t always mean poor in money. Poor also means poor in faith. So, how can we give to those that are poor in faith if all they see us doing is worrying over our possessions? Does that not make us just as poor in faith? Whether you have a little or a lot this worry is useless. Earlier in this chapter Jesus taught:

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

What did He call worriers? “You of little faith!” I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a little faith follower. Will having little faith get me into heaven? Of course! We have all heard the verse of having faith of a mustard seed. But I want to sell my possessions and follow Him in grand, bold faith!! For me that means I want to sell my worry over my possessions and give to the poor a lesson in peace and contentment in all things because I follow a Father who considers even how the wild flowers grow.

Am I perfect at this? Ha! Far, far from it. But you know what? Jesus knows my heart. He knows I desire for my comfort to come from Him and not things of this world. He knows I desire contentment in having a little or a lot because He is my provider that I trust. He knows I desire to walk courageously knowing He is my protector and no enemy can come against me that won’t end up serving His purpose.

We may have to lay down our worry and take up our cross every single day….every single second on some days…but laying down our cross to keep our worries is such a heavy burden to bear. The cross of Jesus is so much lighter than carrying the worries of this world.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”