A Strong Foundation of Faith

“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’ …Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Romans 4:3, 16 (NKJV)

Abraham, called the Father of Faith, shows us how to build a foundation of faith. It starts with hearing God. God spoke to Abram (Abraham as he was called later), Abram heard and obeyed.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4)

God told Abraham to leave the place where he was and go to a place that He would show him. Years before God had lead Abram’s father, Terah, to leave Ur the land of the Chaldees (in modern day Iraq) to go to Canaan, but he only made it as far as Haran (Turkey) and settled there and there he died. God spoke to Abram and he heard and he obeyed.

The first thing we have to do if we’re to have a strong foundation of faith is to hear God and then obey. How do we hear God? By taking in His written word, by reading and meditating on what is given to us through the Scriptures. Once we have it in our hearts, then we have to be obedient to it. It’s not enough just to read it or hear it preached; we have to apply it by being obedient, doing what we hear God telling us to do.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:8, 9)

If we desire to live a life for God, we have to learn to be obedient to Him and be fully surrendered to His will. It requires faith to be fully surrendered to God. When we doubt, or lack faith in God and His Word, it hard to give up our plans and desires to surrender to His. It requires spending time in the Scriptures to come to the place where we can genuinely say “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
But when we know the Word, we can also know that God’s plans for our lives are far better than anything we can imagine. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Seek Him with you whole heart, through His written word, and you will find Him. Dwell on that Word and your faith in it will grow. Then you will have a strong foundation of faith that can stand against any circumstance that life on this planet gives.
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

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“Come With Me”

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIRV)

I was recently asked by a friend to write a short Bible study lesson on love. That was her only directive – just write a short study on love. Wow, that a huge subject. As I prayed about what to write, God kept bringing me back to the directive He had given me years ago when I first started writing. “Tell my daughters how much I love them.”

You may wonder, doesn’t everyone know God loves everybody? Probably, in their head if they ever been in or near a church. Most people can quote some version or form of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world”, but in their hearts they may wonder if or how He loves them personally, individually. Even Christians who have a real relationship with God can have periods of doubt, they may wonder about God’s love for them.

This week in our ladies Bible study at church, a lady shared that she was coming out of a period of darkness, she’d been through some struggles with her faith. As I listened to her, I thought about how I’d been through my own periods of darkness and struggle. I knew right then that that was the reason God had led me to write about God’s love for us.

In 1981 Del Shannon recorded a song originally written and recorded in 1959 by Phil Phillips called “Sea of Love”.

Come with me my love
To the sea
The sea of love
I want to tell you
How much I love you

When I hear that song or read those words, I think of Jesus and what He said in Matthew 11. “Come to me, all you who are tired…” Yes, there was a time when I was very tired, and not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.

In 2001, about a year after my mother had graduated to heaven, I went through a deep depression. I was angry at God for taking my mother and not preparing me for her leaving. I felt that some of the people in my life had not given me the comfort and support I thought I needed. I was fighting with my sister over care for our dad. Some individuals at church, instead of reaching out to me, judged me because I wasn’t acting right in their opinion. So I dropped out of church for a period and stopped reading my Bible. From there I continued to spiral downward. My husband and I began having problems in our marriage. Sins I’d not struggled with for decades began tempting me. I don’t know what would have happened had God not loved me enough to pull me back. But He did and He did it in through a secular magazine of all things! But since I’d stopped reading my Bible, listening to Christian music, or going to church I hadn’t left Him a lot of options. I opened a Woman’s Day magazine I’d bought that day on a whim and saw these words:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message


As I read those words, it seemed as if Jesus were sitting right there beside me, speaking directly to me. “Are you tired and worn out?” He asked. Yes, I was very tired and worn out from my hurts, doubts and fears. “Are you burned out on religion?” Yes, I was totally burned out and let down by church members. “Come to Me, not the church, not other people. Just come to Me.” Jesus gently and loving wooed me. There was no condemnation in His words, just love. Tenderly and lovingly God reached out to me when I was at the lowest point in my life.

I’ve learned about the “unforced rhythms of grace”, I’ve recovered my life. I’m leaning how “to live freely and lightly”. I run to Jesus every day to hear Him tell me how much He loves me. Good circumstances or bad, I rest in His love.

Jesus calls you to come with Him, come to the sea of His great love and let Him tell you how much He loves you. Wherever you are in your life, He calls “Come to Me. Come learn about my grace. Come with Me and learn how to live. Come receive My love. Come with Me, I want to tell you how much I love you.”

Jesus loves you, my friend!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Copyright © 1996, 1998 by Biblica

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Through Jesus Christ I Have…

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“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

A number of years ago I was challenged to read the New Testament looking for all the prepositional phrases referring to Jesus. I don’t know how many there are, I lost count but I know it’s in the hundreds. But the purpose of the assignment was not to count them, but to grow in my understanding of everything Jesus has done for us. I began reading and every time I came to a phrase referring to Jesus, I would circle the phrase and meditate on what the Scripture was saying to me. The result was I came away with a deeper understanding of who I am in Jesus Christ.

I encourage anyone wanting to grow spiritually to try the same process. Starting reading the New Testament actively looking for “in Jesus Christ”, “in Whom”, “by Jesus Christ”, “through Jesus Christ”, “through Whom”, “from Whom” and so on. As you find one, stop and meditate on what the verse is saying. Ask yourself how that applies to you and your life, what exactly has God done? Sometimes you need to consider the verse before and after it to fully understand the context of the verse.

To help you get started, here is a small list of verses. But these are but a small sample of what is waiting for you in your Bible.

John 1:17 – we have grace and truth through Jesus Christ
Romans 8:1 – we are free from condemnation
1 Corinthians 5:18 – we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus
Philippians 1:11 – we are filled with the fruits of righteousness by Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:3 – wisdom and knowledge are in Christ Jesus
Romans 5:11 – we have eternal life through Jesus Christ

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

I AM a Cheerleader!

 

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’”  Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)

            Last Saturday my four year old granddaughter Kaylee was sitting with me and her other grandmother at my grandson’s baseball game. There were two middle school age girls there also watching their brother play. From the way they were dressed they were probably on a competitive cheer team. Kaylee kept staring at them admiring their purple outfits, purple hair bows and especially their purple glitter eye make-up. Yes, I said purple glitter eye make-up. The other grandmother asked Kaylee if she wanted to be a cheerleader when she got older. Kaylee looked at us wide-eyed and said “I AM a cheerleader!”
          Kaylee has admired cheerleaders since she watched a cheerleading competition on TV last summer. So in the fall her mom put her in a gymnastics class that also has a little cheerleading instruction included. Then for Christmas she got some pom-poms and a dress-up cheerleading outfit. She’s learning to do flips and she has her own pom-poms. Kaylee sees herself as a cheerleader.
 How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as what the world tells you are? Or do you see yourself as God sees you? Do you see yourself as one who is loved and cherished by God?
 Many years ago when I was leading my first ladies Bible study, God’s instruction to me was to tell His daughters how much He loves them. Those instructions have not changed but only grown stronger as I felt called to start writing. “Tell My daughters I love them.”
             If you only believe one thing, believe this: God loves you and cherishes you. There is nothing, no fault, no sin, no wicked spirit that can keep God from loving you. The choice to believe and receive it is yours.
Jesus said “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
          Let me be your cheerleader and encourage you in the fact that God loves you!  “For God so loved the world”. Put yourself in that verse – For God so loves ___ that He gave His Son Jesus to die for ___. If He loves us that much, why would He allow anything to ever stop that love? There is nothing.
“For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (AMP)

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Amplified Bible Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

My Father’s Voice

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            “…your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher. And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.’” Isaiah 30:20b-21

             Last Sunday afternoon our North Texas area was slammed again by a late winter storm pelting us with sleet and ice. My daughter, a newly minted ER nurse, called me on her way to work asking me to pray for her safety driving the 40 plus miles to her job at an area hospital. The roads, particularly the bridges and overpasses, were getting slippery. I could hear nervousness in her usually confident voice. As we talked, I remembered an incident that happened to me many years ago, before she was even born.

My husband and I were living in Houston, and one afternoon as I was driving home from work, we had a sudden thunderstorm, making the quickly wet streets slippery in places. I was approaching an intersection and applied the brake to slow down, but as I did, my car began to slide right towards another car. For a moment I started to panic, but then I heard my dad’s voice in my head. Dad had taught me to drive and even after I got my license, he continued to instruct me on how to handle various situations that I might encounter while driving. That day I heard my dad say, “If you ever start to skid, take your foot off the brake and steer into the skid.” Immediately I calmed down, did what he said and regained control of the car.

As much as hearing my dad’s voice that day calmed me, there is another voice I seek to hear that calms me even more. The voice of my Heavenly Father can not only calm me in the storm, but He calms the storms in me.  My earthly dad taught me everything he possibly could, not only about driving, but many other things. However, as much as he tried to prepare me for life, his wisdom and knowledge was limited. My Heavenly Father knows all things, He knows my life and what I need to hear from Him.

Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” God knows my past, my present and my future. He instructs me the way to go because He knows where I need to be, what I need to avoid. He tells me when I need to let off the brake and when I need to steer into the skid.

My Heavenly Father speaks to me through the Bible, His written word and by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].”  (John 16:13)

This is what the prophet Isaiah spoke about in Isaiah 30:21, that we would hear our Teacher saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.’

After Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live with and in us, all who will receive Him. Not just a little, but to overflowing. He teaches, guides and empowers us. It is through the Holy Spirit we can share the gospel with others. It is through the Holy Spirit I have words to write. It is through the Holy Spirit I know how to pray when my child calls needing prayer. “For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring.” (Acts 17:28)

How I thank God for my Father’s voice!

 Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

All Scripture references from the Amplified Bible.Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

photo credit: freestone via photopin cc

Life or Death, Your Choice

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    “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17

 

Studying the book of Genesis, I notice something interesting. When God placed man in Eden, two special trees were in the center of the garden. One was the tree of life and the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told them they could eat freely of every tree in the garden, including the tree of life.  All the trees were pleasant for food but one was forbidden. Only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden to them, with the caution that if they did eat the fruit from it, they would surely die. God was offering them life, if they obeyed, or death if they disobeyed.
    Then isn’t it interesting that the serpent tempted them with the one leading to death. The tree of life was equally appealing to the eye, but the serpent could only offer death.  There is no life in him. Jesus said the thief (referring to Satan, called the serpent in Genesis) “…does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10)
    Only God can offer life and He has offered it to us from the beginning. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 says “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live and may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land…”
 God calls us to choose life. He has provided a way for us to have life. Jesus said then, and is saying to us now, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)
The choice is ours. Life of death. I believe I’ll choose life. Thank You Jesus for giving me life, a fulfilled life on here on earth and when it’s done, eternal life with You in heaven.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

All scripture quoted is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Disappointment 101

“My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Mark 14:34

How do you handle disappointments? People don’t always behave the way we expect or need them to behave. Even our closest friends or family members let us down. Things happen that we have no control over cause us pain and disappointment. What are we supposed to do with those feelings? Who can we turn to in those times?

Jesus suffered disappointment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the twelve men He’d called to follow Him, His closest friends, into the Garden to watch and pray with Him. One of the twelve had already deserted Him and was going to betray Him.

“Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.’” Mark 14:32-35

“Remain here and stay alert” Jesus asked them, but when He returned they had fallen asleep, not once, but three times. When He needed them the most, they were sleeping. (See Mark 14:32-42)

David wrote in Psalm 31:7 “I will be happy and rejoice in Your faithfulness because You are aware of how distressed I am.”

God notices our pain, emotional as well as physical. He is aware of our disappointments. But He does more than just notice and be aware. David goes on to say, “But I trust in you, O Lord! I declare, ‘You are my God!’ You determine my destiny!” (31:14, 15a)

Keep trusting God. He knows what happens in your life, and He has a plan for you. Other people do not have final say in your life – God does!

Verse 19 says, “How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.”

When your friend lets you down, when your spouse disappoints you, when you get passed over at work, pull into Jesus. He knows your hurts and He understands them as no one else can.

“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus suffered disappointment without letting it cause Him to sin. He forgave and continued to love those who had let Him down. He held to the plan that after His resurrection, those eleven men would be the leaders and take the gospel to the world. Forgive without being asked, keep loving those who hurt you and hold fast to Jesus.

David closes Psalm 31 saying, “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!”
Be strong. Be confident. Wait on the Lord.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

References: New English Translation (NET)
Mark 14:32-42
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16