Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

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* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

CHRISTMAS The Cost: The Son

If I were to offer you a trade…You give me a 20 dollar bill, and I will give you a one dollar bill. Would you do it? No Way! Why? Obvious, that is a very bad bargain. This is the season that everyone looks for bargains. Sadly, it is also the season that is full of a lot of depression. Why is that? Part of the answer has to do with the cost this season brings to our personal finances. Either we cannot afford to get everyone what we want, or we can and feel pressured to do so.

Christmas should not be about getting and pressure to buy; yet we live in a real world. It has become a part of the culture, and we have to deal with that. One way to help bring a balance is to consider the cost for those from the original Christmas.

We saw looking at Joseph and Mary that it cost them their future: Their Plans, Reputations and even the Roles they thought they would have.

What did it cost the Son of God?

First: Consider Who Jesus is:

Hebrews 1:8–12 But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.” And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.”

The Sovereign Lord of all creation, all power, no lack and needs nothing

What did Christmas Cost Jesus? - His Rights

Philippians 2:5–7 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,

John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Scriptures explains that God became “Incarnate”- Jesus took on flesh, remaining God, yet not claiming the right to live as a Deity.
We say Jesus became a man like it was nothing! In doing so we treat it with contempt.

Imagine if when Columbus was asked what did he do, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I found some land!” The Wright Brothers say – “we went for a ride!” Or, Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon) said, “I went for a walk!)  

To say that God became a man, like we are talking about an everyday occurrence exposes our finiteness.

How does incarnation work??? It means taking on flesh, but to know how that works requires only one thing…you be God! The minute we finite minds try to remove the stress out of infinite Truth, we remove the divine!

God became a man, born of a virgin, and the cost was great.

Let’s consider just some of the cost of Christmas for God the Son.

·      [1]          Cost the Right to home

This is not some move around the block! Not a state, country or even world. This was a move from a Dimension!  From the Spiritual to the Physical realm. Where Jesus lived there was no sin, no danger and no pain. He gave that all up for us.

·      [2]         Cost the Right of perfect Fellowship with the Father.

In Heaven it was face-to-face, in the presence of the Father. Now it was no longer face-to-face and at the end of the road that perfect fellowship was broken as Jesus became sin for us!

·      [3]          Cost the Right of Eternity

God has no beginning and no end – yet when He became incarnate that changed. Jesus was in the womb, being knitted together like all other human beings, with the exception of the sin nature. He had to travel the birth canal and have the rude awakening every baby has as they leave the warmth of the womb to come out into this world!

Luke 2:7, 11 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Jesus experienced an end, when men tortured His body to death and His spirit experienced the pain, separation and wrath that sin brings. *Remember…this experience was not for anything He did, but for what we did.

John 19:29–30 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

We have looked at three of the specific cost that Christmas cost the Son of God. I have several more and will look at them next time. For right now though, I want us to consider that we should never meditate on Christmas in a vacuum. Yes it is a time of joy, however, we will never experience the fullness of that joy unless we go all the way to Easter with it. All of the cost was worth it to Jesus because He desired to do what the Father’s desire was, which is supply us a path to redemption. 
This Christmas contemplate; what have I done with God’s gift to me? Ignored it, turned it into a fuzzy love story, accepted the gift…but squandered the possible investment of my life? Or have I understood the gravity of God’s gift, receiving with joy of redemption that Christmas brought and living everyday a life that seeks to honor Him?

Don’t let this Christmas pass without understanding it’s potential to change your life!

Monday, December 16, 2013

CHRISTMAS The Cost: Joseph & Mary

As we approach Christmas I thought it might be good for all of us to meditate on the meaning of this season. Many times we allow the world to dictate what Christmas will be…that usually means how much will that cost us. I want to use that theme to shed a different light on the cost of Christmas.

When I was 12 I was in the Boy Scouts. One year while at a camp, two other boys and myself decided to leave the camp and hitchhike into the nearest town. It was 20 miles away. All we were thinking of was ourselves; we did not consider the cost to anyone else. We made it to that town and as evening descended on the area, the State Troopers were out in force looking for three “lost” boys, and our scout leaders was in an anxious frenzy, blaming himself for not being a good guardian. The cost to others was high emotionally and very unkind on our part.

“Cost” is an important thing to consider! That’s what I want to consider this Christmas. Instead of thinking about how much Christmas will cost us, let’s consider what that FIRST Christmas cost others.

·      What did that first Christmas cost: Joseph & Mary

What I hope is that we can identify with them and more important ask ourselves some important questions!

Luke 1:26–38  In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Matthew 1:18–25 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ”  When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Christmas cost them their future :

·      a. Their Plans

What do I mean? Well consider…their future chosen for them!

Just like when you plan a BIG weekend, and your boss says WORK! Or Dad says we are going on vacation, and he drops at you at the Aunt that always pinches your cheek and makes you clean the house!

This is where we intersect with our free choices and God’s plans! So the question is…

How open are you to God's plans?

James 4:13–15 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

·      b. Reputation and desires:

Consider the pressure on Joseph; then and later / Pregnant before marriage and even after marriage he could not be the woman he loved until after Jesus was born!

Also consider - What ever happened to Joseph? The Scripture gives no record! He just disappears!

Let me ask you a question: What is one of the first thoughts people have when they think of you?

Joseph was described as a good and righteous man! He vanished from history, yet that testimony remains!!

·      c. Roles

In the day Joseph lived, the father was the key figure! It was HIS son! Yet, Joseph took the lesser role because God chose that Jesus’ mother would be more emphasized than Joseph.

Luke 2:29–35 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.  I have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Luke 2:48–49 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

This reminds me of Bill Cosby’s story about parents and American football – Dad’s teach their kids how to run, throw, catch, and hit…everything about football. Then at the big game their son catches the football and runs 98 yards, plowing through blockers to reach the in zone to score the winning touchdown! Then turning to the TV camera he says “Hi MOM!!!!”

Still, we seen no Scriptures that Joseph resented his place that God had asked him to be in!

Luke 8:19–21 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.” Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

Yet, in reality Jesus made it clear that no one human had special rights over Him. Yes He was the biological son of Mary, but he was the Savior and Lord of all, including all in His family!

Interesting note: * We know very little of Jesus’ childhood. Why?  Because of what we would do with it – can you imagine parents - "Why can't you be like Jesus?” They would grow up hating Him  

To be the parents of the Savior of the world was a Tremendous privilege, but with that the cost is a heavy responsibility

·      If Christ is REAL in your life, what will it cost your:

§  Plans?

§  Reputation?

§  Role?

Spend some time in meditation of what following Christ fully would cost you. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

If you don’t ask, you might receive!

Judges 10:15-16 The sons of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.
Many times when an individual comes to their senses about their sin, they do not run to God for mercy…instead they become proud or refuse to believe that God would show mercy. So they receive what they prayed for…nothing; and are left to reap the consequences of their sin.

Israel has continued to return to their sin, and God has decided it is time for them to learn their lesson. So He states:

“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”

Sometimes, if God is not merciful, we must deal with the consequences of our actions. Dr. James Dobson shares a tremendous illustration of this:

There was a 10-year-old boy named Robert, who was a patient of Dr Dobson's good friend Dr. William Slonecker. Dr. Slonecker said his pediatric staff dreaded the days when Robert was scheduled for an office visit. He literally attacked the clinic, grabbing instruments and files and telephones. His passive mother could do little more than shake her head in bewilderment.

During one physical examination, Dr. Slonecker observed severe cavities in
Robert's teeth and knew the boy must be referred to a local dentist. But who would be given the honor? A referral like Robert could mean the end of a professional friendship. Dr. Slonecker eventually decided to send him to an older dentist who reportedly understood children. The confrontation that followed now stands as one of the classic moments in the history of human conflict.

Robert arrived in the dental office, prepared for battle. Get in the chair, young man, said the doctor. No chance! Replied the boy. Son, I told you to climb on to the chair, and that's what I intend for you to do, said the dentist.

Robert stared at his opponent for a moment and then replied, if you make me get in that chair, I will take off all my clothes. The dentist calmly said, Son, take `em off! The boy forthwith removed his shirt, undershirt, shoes and socks, and then looked up in defiance. All right, son, said the dentist. Now get on the chair. You didn't hear me, sputtered Robert. I said if you make me get on that chair, I will take off all my clothes. Son, take `em off, replied the man.
Robert proceeded to remove his pants and shorts, finally standing totally naked before the dentist and his assistant. Now, son, get in the chair, said the doctor.

Robert did as he was told and sat cooperatively through the entire procedure. When the cavities were drilled and filled, he was instructed to step down from the chair. Give me my clothes now, said the boy. I'm sorry, replied the dentist. Tell your mother that we're going to keep your clothes tonight. She can pick them up tomorrow.

Can you comprehend the shock Robert's mother received when the door to the waiting room opened, and there stood her pink son, as naked as the day he was born? The room was filled with patients, but Robert and his mom walked past them and into the hall. They went down a public elevator and into the parking lot ignoring the snickers of onlookers.
The next day, Robert's mother returned to retrieve his clothes, and asked to have a word with the dentist. However, she did not come to protest. These were her sentiments: You don't know how much I appreciate what happened here yesterday. You see, Robert has been blackmailing me about his clothes for years. Whenever we are in a public place, such as a grocery store, he makes unreasonable demands of me. If I don't immediately buy him what he wants, he threatens to take off all his clothes. You are the first person who has called his bluff, doctor, and the impact on Robert has been incredible!'"

The Dr. was not trying to hurt Robert, but to help him. This is exactly how God works. Still, there is a very important Truth we need to see from the verses that follow. What should we do if God in “tough love” leaves us to deal with our sin? The wrong action on our part is to suffer silently, become proud or presume we are stuck going through all the suffering. It is wrong to complain about reaping what we sowed, BUT it is foolish to not run to the throne of our Father and beg for His mercy!
This is what Israel did do, and we should glean the wisdom of this lesson. It is far wiser to be in an angry God's hand than to be at the mercy of sin! God will always do what is right and is far more gracious and merciful than we think or understand. Sin always leads to death; God provides life…even if it is accompanied with pain. 

You never know where God’s chastisement will end and His mercy will begin.  

The other Truth we learn from this passage is that repentance is a duel action. Repentance is an action word…not a good intention. Notice the two actions that took place: They “put away” and they “served.” When we repent those two aspects must be there, not just “wanting” to “want to” but to “want to” and do it!

Notice also the heart of our God:

"He could bear the misery of Israel no longer."

Don’t remain in pride or false guilt! Repent and run to God for mercy…He will always surprise you!

Meditation Questions: What do you do right after sin? What do you think God thinks of you? Why? How do we discern the difference between how we see ourselves after sin, versus how God sees us? If your sin has brought bad consequences, what should you do? What do you do? Is there a difference? Why? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Philippines: The Path for Spiritual Healing Part 3 – Connect the “Know” to the “Drive!”

When eagles build their nest: First they place thorns, jagged rocks and other sharp objects. Then they cushion that with a thick layer of feathers, fur and wool. It is very comfortable for her chicks. After a while, when her chicks have grown, she knows they will be happy to just sit around all day letting “mama” do all the flying and feeding. This is not healthy for her chicks, so she uses her strong talons to stir up the nest. Bringing to the surface all the glass, rocks and other sharp objects, thus making the chicks miserable, which in turn makes them leave the nest, learning to fly and hunt on their own.

God never wants you to fall, but He does want you to move!

Deut. 32:9-12 "For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. "He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. "The LORD alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.

Whenever we are dealing with grief, it is always a new path. Each circumstance is individual and different from any other grief we have been through. That makes it potentially either a very dangerous time, or an opportunity for growth like no other. As we finish our look at the process of going through grief let me review:

·      A. Live what you know – this is how you get past the initial shock of the emotions. How do we do that?
§  1. Refuse to move to emotionalism; i.e. living based on what you feel, instead of based what you know.
§  2. Mental understanding of life – it includes difficult times.
Do not allow your mind to believe in living in “the Bubble”! No one escapes life! In this fallen world everyone will experience difficult and heart breaking times.

·      B. Meditate on Who God is.  This is where you deal with trust. Who is God? Can you trust Him? What has He done to redeem you?
§  1. Focus on the bridge of hope. This is the bridge from the brain to the heart.
§  2. Focus on the fact that you are not alone.

The last point is when we take all the knowledge we have, and the invested time we spent pondering Who our God is, and now put that into action. With the mind we “know”, however knowledge without direction is not worth much. The drive of our life is the heart. The passion and zeal that fuels our actions; that is why it is so important to make sure what you know first, because once the heart gets in the driver’s seat, it becomes very hard to stop or change direction. The heart will be controlled either by what we “know” or what we “feel”. So called “blind love” is exactly that…based on emotions, it is blind to the realities that are in front of it. This is why we know folks that pursued a partner, that everyone knew was terrible for them, yet in spite of the evidence in front of them, i.e. violent nature, flirtatious nature, terrible with money, substance dependant, different god, etc. they insisted on the relationship and now have deep regret. Real love begins with what we know and that guides the emotions our heart expresses. Here is our third step in this path:

C. Connect the Heart and the Brain

·      1. Realize the reality of eternity: Be quiet and allow God to let you sense what is true inside. Whatever the circumstance in this world, it is only temporary. The first funeral I did was my mother; she went to be with the Lord at 49, I was 20. Though grief stricken, it was not overwhelming because I knew she was safe and I would see her again!  

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him  with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

1 Thess. 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.

·      2. Realize God’s plan for growth – God stirring the nest.

Job 23:10-12 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

 Romans 5:3–5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

·      3. Be still long enough to see God

Job 42:1–6 Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Job cried out, he thought he knew God, but he had only heard of Him. Now, after spending time and listening to God, God revealed Himself. When Job experienced Who God is, seeing himself in that light brought him to the reality of who he is and Who God is. In that light, not only was he filled with repentance, but also consider how he now understands Who is working in his life! As Job stated:

“I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”

We know from Scripture that God honored Job and restored all to him. Would I want this lesson – NO! Would I desire Job’s fruit – YES Sorry, they come together…every victory begins with a battle! There is no maturity pill, that comes from God working in our life and all that encompasses, good and bad!

Meditation questions: How are you handling grief in your life? Do you see that not only do your emotions need to process the circumstance, so does your spirit? During a difficult time that causes grief what do you see? Who do you see? Do you view it only as a chance to fall, or also a chance to grow? The last time you went through grief, what did you learn and experience from God?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Philippines: The Path for Spiritual Healing Part 2 – Who is God?

An English publication had a contest for the best definition of a friend.  Some of the ones that won honorable mention were these:  `A friend is somebody who multiplies your joys and divides your griefs’; `A friend is someone who understands your silence.’ But let me give you the one that won the prize.  `A real friend is someone who comes in when the whole world has gone out.’”

All of us deal with grief in our own way, yet there are certain principles that seem to be universal. As I think of my friends and all the folks in the Philippines, I continue to hear of tragedy, incredible courage, terrible greed and uncompromising generosity and selflessness. It is my prayer that all my brothers and sisters in the Lord will allow God to take them through the healing process so the enemy can get no foothold. His goal is to produce doubt in our trust of God. How can we help those that have no relationship with God work through this horrific incident and come out on the other side with a new understanding of Who God is, and hopefully a new birth, if we ourselves are unsure of His faithfulness, constant love and desire to see us live our life to the fullest.

We have already seen that the beginning of the process is to:

·      A. Live what you know – this is how you get past the initial shock of the emotions. How do we do that?
§  1. Refuse to move to emotionalism; i.e. living based on what you feel, instead of based what you know.
§  2. Mental understanding of life – it includes difficult times.

Do not allow your mind to believe in living in “the Bubble”! No one escapes life! In this fallen world everyone will experience difficult and heart breaking times.

The next step is one that requires us to slow down. In a state of grief the enemy wants us to be impulsive…nothing can be more dangerous.

B. Meditate on Who God is.  This is where you deal with trust. Who is God? Can you trust Him? What has He done to redeem you?

·      1. Focus on the bridge of hope. This is the bridge from the brain to the heart.

We must take what we know about God and begin to bridge that knowledge to our heart. This produces hope. Hope is when we have a clear expatiation of seeing a good result in our life, no matter the circumstances. This is expressed often in the Scriptures.

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
1 Thess. 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.

Romans 8:24-25 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

This is a difficult step because as humans we all prefer to walk by sight…I know I do! Yet, if we slow down enough in our thought life and take what we know about our God, a belief (faith) will begin to manifest itself in our soul that God is in control and does have a plan. The logic of Who God is screams out against all the arguments to not trust Him.

The Hope of eternity outweighs the discomfort of the present. Grieve we must and should, however, even in the worse case scenario – death - the reality that death has lost due to the resurrection of Christ comforts us because we can know we will see our loved one again.

Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, even though He knew He was going to raise him!  The separation hurts, if we love someone it must! Still, the reality is in the fact that our grief is only temporary and the final victory is in Christ, which should comfort the inner area of the heart.

·      2. Focus on the fact that you are not alone.

Job 16:19-21 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.

This is the foundation of all the strength of all of God’s children since the garden! God has never abandoned anyone that desired to be close to Him. So many have abandoned Him, even replaced Him with images, vain fantasies and convoluted theories. Yet, He has remained faithful to His commitment of love toward us. The only person that has been forsaken by God thus far is the Son of God, when He became sin for us. God’s commitment to us is so strong that the Father forsook His Son, to provide us a way back into relationship with Him!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 8:35–39 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is someone that understands exactly how you feel and can bring you comfort. The Father has experienced the grief of rejection, betrayal, unfaithfulness, and loss. He alone can meet you in that quite place in your heart that no one else can reach.

Hebrews 7:25 Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Meditation questions: Are you taking what you know about God and allowing that knowledge to become real to your heart?  What “truths” do you know about God? What “truths” do you only say you know? What is the difference in claiming what we believe and believing what we believe?  What happens to person when they lose hope? Is any circumstance fixable by God?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Philippines: The Path for Spiritual Healing - Part 1

As I continue to pray for my family in Christ in the Philippines and all those that were impacted by this Typhoon, I thought about the time it will take to heal. Emotional healing is important, but spiritual healing is essential!

There is a clear understanding of the process we go through emotionally when dealing with grief.

1.     Denial. Inability to admit the reality of loss or injury. “I refuse to believe this has happened.”
2.     Acceptance. Admitting the reality of loss or injury. “I accept the fact this has happened.”
3.     Anger. Feelings of hostility aimed at something or someone. “I’m taking it out on you, myself, or keeping it inside.”
4.     Regret. Feelings of guilt and remorse that lead to sadness. “If I had only . . . this wouldn’t have happened.”
5.     Sadness. Feelings that can often lead to depression. “I don’t feel like eating, going to school, or doing anything. I just want to be left alone.”
6.     Depression. Deeper lapse into sadness and remorse. “I don’t want to do anything . . . I just can’t cope.”
7.     Adjustment. Working through sadness and depression. “It’s time to get on with life . . . taking a new direction.”

The best way to begin the spiritual healing is to minister to those that are in need. This will give your heart and soul purpose. Still, I believe the Christian has a spiritual process to go through personally also for the pain and grief.

Our first reactions: Rationalization and Questioning God – sometimes reversed.

Rationalization – Come up with a good reason for it happening. This often leads to some very strange and even dangerous conclusions. Rationalization won’t fix this.

Questioning God – Why Lord? Satan, and I am sad to say, a lot of the Christian community try to make you feel that asking God why is a sin. Job asked a lot of questions, yet the Scriptures point out that he never sinned with his lips. There is no scripture I am aware of that states it is wrong to ask God questions. Doubt, is a problem,  but not questions. God created us inquisitive.

The real issue is trust, which is lost when we doubt. From the beginning, the adversary provoked man and woman to doubt God’s love and motives.

There are two roads to take after those initial reactions. One is doubt, which will lead to distrust and bitterness. That road will lead to destruction.

The other road is what I want to talk about as we look at a man that dealt with much grief, let’s learn from him.

Job was a man that lost it all; his family, his wealth, his health - even betrayal of friends and his wife. 

Through this time Job said a lot of things – even concerning the Lord; some may be uncomfortable for us, still in the midst of all he went through – there are statements he makes that I believe we can gain from.

A. Live what you know this is how you get past the initial shock of the emotions. How do we do that?

·      1. Refuse to move to emotionalism; i.e. living based on what you feel, instead of based what you know.

Job 1:20-21 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

The battle begins in the mind; Job knew he had to stay close to God. Our flesh will try to move us away from God using our emotions, but the new nature knows how important it is to depend on God when in the midst of trials.

·      2. Mental understanding of life – it includes difficult times.

Job 2:10 He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

This trial took away any thoughts of living in “the bubble”! Why some believers think that when you become a Christian your life moves into a protective bubble, that keeps you from experiencing hardships is beyond me. Scripture testifies to the direct opposite! Not only does life happen to everyone, when you are in the family of God, the adversary will become quite active against you. Here is the BIG difference; if you are not in a relationship with God, you go through that hardship alone. However, as His child, He is always there to guide and comfort you through life, the good parts and the difficult parts. God promises to be with us in the midst of all that happens, He does not promise to keep us from it.

Living in “the Bubble” leads to doubt because no one escapes life! In this fallen world everyone will experience difficult and heart breaking times. 

Job has more wisdom for us, which we will look at next time. Right now ask yourself how do you handle your emotions…or do they handle you? When bad things happen, do you move closer to God or feel you cannot trust Him? Are you living on what you know or what you feel? What are you doing to know more of Who God is?