Fleas.

Life. What is there to say? As a mom, it seems like I seem to get it right, I seem to get in a good flow, and something comes along and knocks down all my folded laundry.

All these years I have fought against the ebb and flow thinking if I fight for the “right” thing and go the “right” way things would turn out “right”. Math Logic: Right+Right=2Right

I wasn’t left with anything new. I have been leaving myself with more “right”…which really isn’t right at all. It’s filler. It’s like getting a bag of chips on sale to find out that 60% of the bag is AIR. I have been buying into air for years, and recently avoiding my Psychology side of my major and doing the other requirements, I took a Theology class of Family Ministries.

It’s really less creepy than it seems

The class was simple. Readings, some shorts posts, a paper or two…and I somehow hardly did any of the work. Life was at 60% air and I got distracted and bought into the air. Again. [I’m human I should really just accept this and move on…]

The class talked a lot about how the family has changed over the last 200 years. It also addressed personal walls that keep us from growing any further. The point we get in life where it feels like everything is stalled.

I could relate to that. I knew I had gone through quite a few points in my life where I was stalled, cranky, and annoyed. [I was going through one of those cycles during this class] That knowledge did not keep me from or get me out of the cycle. In fact, I got more cranky, more annoyed, and more stuck.

Last week I was writing a paper I had asked for an extension on. My husband and I were in a war, my kids had been at each other on a daily basis, and we got fleas from our invisible dog that we never owned. Normal human cycle: I still did not throw my flag up and rely more on God. I got cranky.In fact I got so cranky I did absolutely nothing. I through a “tantrum”. I would sit and “pray” and tell God this test was just ridiculous. Something needed to give.

1 bug bombing, 30 loads of laundry, cleaning, spring cleaning, bags and bags of rubbish, and an exterminator later…I started vacuuming the first of 14 more vacuums to suck those fleas and their spawn out of my apartment and in the hum of the vacuum I realized I was so thankful I had a carpet to vacuum.

I hadn’t invited to fleas into my house, but they found a way. The climate was right and they got comfortable. Really, is there much of a difference between those fleas and how I act sometimes?

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I chose the air instead of the chips. I let my guard down. I stopped thanking God in prayer and giving him my problems for the day. I put them on my own “to do” list acting like it’s a personal task instead of a spiritual one. The trials come in and I have forgotten God’s promises. I surrender and fall on the sword. Even to fleas.

…and at just the right time God reminds me of Jesus. (Galatans 4:5)

I didn’t pray the fleas away. I made my bed. The bed that I have not slept in for 2 weeks out of the fear the fleas would re-contaminate my room. I made it with my clean sheets. And I am going to sleep in my bed tonight.

I realize the fleas might come back. I might get bitten. I might have to do 30 more loads of laundry and vacuum until the belt snaps and I have more problems… but I don’t have to stop living, being creative in the situation, and thanking God for all He’s done. Because really…without all God’s done in my life, I wouldn’t have much to write about.

There’s something going on here…

Many times growing up I remember seeing sequences of violence and destruction and wondering to myself either what it could all possibly be good for or that Jesus was coming along any day now. Now being in a new season of life with my husband and children God is showing me something I have never seen before about these situations.

Psalm 77:7-9 says “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has his promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (NKJV)

I believe many people in the church think this way today. They look at our society and all the chaos, destruction and pain and think God has taken away his mercies and grace. Possibly even that He has completely forgotten about them in the midst of all this darkness. It is a common consumption to speak what we see instead of what we know to be true. After all, what we see is right there in front of our faces, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be restated and repeated. Look on in Psalm 77:

“And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.” (vs. 10-12)

David is speaking clearly here. Look closely. He starts out by looking at the current situation with his flesh and finishes his observation in verse 10. This is my anguish–but I will remember. He knows that the outlook is bleak at that moment in time, but he is making the choice to remember God’s goodness and mercy in the past. Also take note here that he says “I will remember” three times. By the third statement he attaches a “surely” in front of it. As you will recall through many passages in the Bible repetition, specifically in sets of three is a pretty important statement. Biblical hermeneutics in this case is the use of emphatic triplets. Also seen in Isaiah 6:3 in the “holy” repetition it is a common use in Biblical time to put emphasis on what the writer was saying. So here, David is re-affirming his faith when he cannot see, so much so that by the third statement he is so convinced that it is almost a “how could I have forgotten?” statement.

Re-affirming our faith is so important. We are called to worship God no matter the situation because if we consistently come to the throne of God no matter how good or bad the situation around us may be, we will be convinced that we are never walking alone, that in life or death, we will always belong to Jesus Christ.

Our God is constant. Never failing. Never changing. If our daily lives are reflecting his grace, if we are constantly seeking Jesus and letting his word consume us, we will begin to see this. So when destruction, comes, unexplainable murders occur…we are not shaken in our observation and belief that a never failing God is doing something that is going to shake the hearts of many and change lives in ways we may never comprehend.

Bring yourself before the Lord so He can cleanse you in His reflection and live knowing you’ve been forgiven and renewed through His sacrifice and walk expecting God to work no matter the circumstance.

“Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.” Mark 6:56

Oh you of little faith, have a little faith.

Faith, faith, faith. The Holy Spirit has been non stop immersing me in messages, lessons, and songs about faith for weeks. I have come to love faith and I want to spend a few minutes exploring why faith should be our lifestyle rather than our emergency chord.

Start in Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT)

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Keeping this in mind let’s take a look at a few other passages. Hebrews 11: 1-3 (NLT) says:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

I have loved hearing stories about Abraham since I was in elementary school. To me, Abraham was the obvious beginning marker of Jesus making his way to earth. Now I love reading these passages because I realize how much I have in common with him. Abraham received God’s blessing, not because of anything he did. He lacked faith at times, but in this passage in Genesis in specific, Abraham is told to pick up everything and leave to where God will show him. A few chapters later, Abraham is told Sarah at age 91 will bear a son. It seemed impossible, but God made it happen. In fact as you continue reading Abraham’s story, even when Sarah dies, Abraham marries again and has many more children. The birth of Isaac was merely the beginning of God fulfilling his promises. We see Abraham’s faith grow more after the birth of Isaac. It has to take quite a bit of faith to take your son to be the sacrifice and still know God is going to provide through it. See Abraham started with just a little faith in his journey and that was all God asked for and needed to mold him and help him see the bigger picture.

As the generations have continued since Abraham, all each had to start out with was the stories of faith from their fathers and a little faith that was implanted in their spirits to continue the journey and pass it on to the next generation. Let me make this clear, none of this would be possible without God. You cannot do it on your own without becoming your own lord and losing the lordship that is available through submitting to Jesus Christ.

Put yourself back in the shoes of being a child and listening to the stories of the Old Testament. It planted this seed that God could do anything because he could part the Red Sea and let man walk on dry ground, he could hide his believers in the midst of their enemies and consume the land with his power. He could defeat a giant with one little boy who said “I can’t, but God can.”

This is exactly where we are brothers and sisters. We are the children of God in a foreign land. We are the child up against the giant. There is nothing that God cannot accomplish through a submissive heart when we have a little faith. He never required huge faith and profound speeches from learned men and women. He always uses the willing, the humble, the ones who are not convinced that physical situations supersede the power of the Holy Spirit.

Who will be the Davids? Who will be the Samuels? The Joshuas? If we are counting on someone else to do it, we are letting fear make our decisions. If you have seen the light of Jesus and know the truth of His message on the cross, you have been called according to his purposes. God is moving in our generation. He is raising up his people to see that He is not dead, but very much alive. Just like generations ago heard the stories of faith, He is using these to awaken our hearts and minds to see that no matter the politics and sin and depression, He is working, he is more than capable, because we still serve the God of Abraham, Joshua and David.

Joshua 21:45 “Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.”

Break Every Chain

The lost son.

Luke 14:11-32

The parable of the lost son is one that brings a level of controversy. Especially for those who work so hard to get living right on a daily basis. But I must say in my own life, if I did not have the heavenly father willing to take me back, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I was the lost son/daughter. (I once was lost but now am found!) We all are really anytime we stray away from the presence of God and try to do it our own way in the flesh. We need our father to cover us in his robes of grace, his shoes of peace… and the ring? An undeserved blessing for being a child of God.

We can try to dress in false humility on a daily basis and try to do all the right things, or we can remember we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and proceed knowing we have every right to tell Satan to get behind us.

I assimilate the party for the lost son to heaven. When Christ covered me and accepted me as I was and still am, he didn’t tell me to just wait until after I die when it gets better… He told me I have the authority to walk in this NOW! (I live heaven on earth, not after!) The first evidence of this was the empty tomb in John 20. Our old self is that empty tomb. We no longer have to live in those ways because we are now alive in Christ. The old self is now seen as an empty shell. The evidence? For us it is the robe, the ring, the shoes. We should be set apart. We are now filled, covered with a new life. Not “better than” but willing, eager, to serve those that Christ puts in front of us each day. Family, co-workers, the drivers beside you on the road to wherever you are going. No longer live in fear, but the faith and assurance that you are covered in the blood of Christ.

But God…

Just a quick note this morning but something I know I needed to think on and Praise God for this new day.

Ephesians 2:1-4a

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also wel all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of our mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. BUT GOD…

First thing to notice is when Paul was speaking he didn’t say “and us” or “we” he said “and you” in verse 1. Even though this is a letter to the Ephesians he made it personal. The whole letter is like this, Paul even had the tendency to make his letters personal. I believe this wasn’t a drive for others to know he wrote the letter, but rather to imitate Christ. Everything about Jesus ministry and sacrifice was personal, so keep this in mind as you read on with me.

Verses 1-3 Paul makes note of how we once walked in the flesh, taking part in its trespasses and acting as the world acts, fulfilling the desires of the flesh- being entirely filled with ourselves, our agenda, our motives, our ideas and opinions–BUT GOD.

Verse 4 starts But God… That’s all I needed this morning. The Hope and reminder that in the midst of the world’s stuff God said “I know they left me, BUT…”

For that pause of thought from the creator we gained the opportunity to spend eternity with an everlasting and loving God. A rest from chaos and noise; to know for eternity that He is our perfect peace, and that we had nothing to do with saving ourselves.

Take the first two words of verse 4, and follow them with what He has been merciful for in your day.

BUT GOD, forgave me even when I didn’t honor my husband, wasn’t patient with my kids, was rude at work…

He never changes, never walks away or gives up on those who have been made alive in Christ.

Ask, Seek, Knock-Matthew 7

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

I have seen so many devotionals on this verse, so many messages, but it comes into my life once again. This time I looked at the preceding section on judgement, and not judging others. I would have to say this is perfectly placed! Jesus tells us not to look at others before we look at ourselves (maybe this is why it is so much easier to receive feedback when we can tell the Holy Spirit has been convicting the other of THIER sins as well, not just YOURS! =) Then comes the verses about casting our pearls before swine, and not to do it! “lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces (vs. 6).”

Then we come upon ask, seek, knock. “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Ask, seek, knock. Ask if there be any wicked way in you, seek his face, his will, his perfect infallible ways, and knock that it might be revealed and made known to you.

Jesus lays it all out perfectly. This verse applies for other situations, but primarily for the purpose of judging others. If we as followers of Christ are approaching the throne of grace before approaching anothers faults, many situations would turn out a bit differently. The door would then be opened for them as well, rather than closed off in hurt and anger. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (vs. 14).”

He doesn’t say this will be a 1-2-3 equation and it will turn out perfectly everytime! Sometimes other people will get offended no matter how long you spend in the word listening for God’s voice, BUT “you will know them by their fruits…” False prophets…I have omitted from my mind so many times other’s words of anger and false mercy and grace. But it applies! If they say their words before seeking the Holy Spirit, before knocking, they risk overturning the work God has begun inside your heart. Remember, a false prophet is one who leads astray, deceives, has the spirit of the evil one. They seek to kill, steal, and destroy…not build, encourage, and see you prosper. A selfish desire rather than an eternal, holy desire. Even if they have splurts of “encouragement”…if it is followed by utter destruction, beware! Remember, the Holy Spirit is sent to be our guide, comfort, our peace. He is the language and movement of Jesus. Jesus promises what the false prophet’s ending will be. “Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THEREFORE, you will know them by their fruits (vs. 19-20).” Some trees take longer to bear fruit, use the Holy Spirit as a guide.

The last 2 sections of Matthew 7 apply to those that claim they knew Christ, even acted as though they followed Christ. He says if there was never a relationship he will declare to them ” I never knew you! Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!” (vs 23) This would be those who used the name of Jesus for their own benefits…but those who build their house on the rock will NOT be washed away when the storms come, when the false prophets spew their venom, when the end comes and they meet Jesus face to face. They will meet their final reward, rather than eternal separation.

Matthew 7. See the more I study the Word of God, the more I realize how much I can’t live without Him, and wonder how I did it so long without Him. My prayer for all you who are reading this today is that God will begin to work in your life in such a powerful way that you cannot ignore the calling any longer and begin to see Jesus as he really is, rather than the lies that the world has spewed about the God-head who came to save the world over 2000 years ago. You will hear the truth, and it shall set you free! John 8:32