Category Archives: God lessons

It’s Never Going to Happen

We’re in the midst of our first snow of the season.  Sampson couldn’t wait to walk and play in it so I walked him down the hill this morning to let him run in the woods.

I went to a nearby shelter and was reading my devotionals as it’s still snowing and I was trying to stay as dry as possible.  I got immersed in what I was reading. Usually when we walk I try to stay where I can at least hear him running in the woods but this morning I didn’t. When I came to myself I called him.  Nothing.  I listened for him.  Nothing.  I started to walk down to where I thought he was, calling him. I looked up the hill toward our house and he was running down the hill!  That’s never happened before.  He thought I had left him!  He was whimpering and ran to me happy to see me.

Sometimes we feel like that, don’t we?  While we’re running, working, playing, immersed in our lives we sometimes feel God’s left us because He’s quiet.  There are times when we may feel we’re utterly alone.

I’d never leave my precious pup.  I love him.  Sometimes I let him go and do his thing but I’m always close by waiting for him to come back to me.

Our Father does the same.  He awaits the invitation to join us but during the times there’s no invitation from us, rest assured.  He’s always nearby.  He’s as close as a whisper no matter what, no matter where.  Jesus came to earth donning flesh to assure we’d never be alone.  He’s in us, beside us, in front of us, over us and in us.

Sampson was sure happy to see me and hasn’t left my side since.  I’m praying we stay that close to the Father today.  As unstable and unsure as the world is, we never have to be unsure of Him, His presence and His love.  Leave us?  It’s never going to happen.

Genesis 28:15  “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

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Do You Know What he REALLY Wants?

Your enemy…the enemy doesn’t want to kill you.  He doesn’t want you to die.

He relishes your pain.  He enjoys your suffering and lashing out at God.  He loves to hear you complain.  His desire is for you to wish death upon yourself.  Even more than that, he longs for you to be despondent, miserable, depressed and despairing.

Why?

When you’re miserable you’re quiet.  There’s no praise, no prayer resulting in no power – because you don’t feel like there’s any point in praying! You’ve played perfectly into his hands.  Quiet and distant is the first of many plans he has for you.  Will you fall for it?

He longs to render us ineffective and uncaring about anything except our own misery.

Why?

When we’re depressed and totally consumed by unfavorable circumstances we’ve no energy to lift anyone else up.  I mean, why would we?  We can’t do anything for ourselves, why would we even attempt to help someone else?

The enemy knows where our source of power is; WHO our source of power is and he knows when we feel cheated, mistreated, broken down and low down, the first place we’re likely to turn is away from our Father.  That’s what he’s after – his ultimate goal is to get us to turn from God.

He wants us to live like we’re dead with no joy, no faith and a bushel of doubt.  Don’t tell anyone about what God has done for us – because it’s discounted considering all the suffering and hardship we’ve endured…that’s what the enemy wants.  Joyless, bitter, disgruntled, dissatisfied believers so nobody wants the Jesus we have.  Nobody wants to listen, much less come to church.  His ultimate goal (since he can’t have our soul) is to render us useless for God.  He can kill our joy, make us doubt our faith ultimately causing us to have no effect or impact in the world around us.

No, the enemy doesn’t want us dead…he wants to live like we’re dead.

When Evil Shows Up

We were all shocked yesterday when we heard that a gunman entered a little Church in Sutherland Springs Texas and killed 26 people and injuring more.

I can’t even begin to fathom what was in that young man’s mind when he walked into that church. Understanding something like this is beyond us. What I absolutely know though is evil is rampant in our world and when it comes in to a place or personal life, the results can be devastating…even to Christians.

For some reason God’s people think we’re entitled to a pass from devastation and destruction. Exactly the opposite is true. Exactly the opposite is true (according to Jesus Himself) and that encompasses inside the walls of the church as well. Evil can exist and does exist literally everywhere. I wish God would protect us from horrible things happening, I wish we were all exempt from the experience of evil and sin. There was a time in my life when I expected God not to let me suffer anymore; I thought since I had been through some stuff, I’d had my turn and ‘land of milk and honey’ was my destination.  It shames me to admit that but after all, that’s what I was told when I got saved! Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Romans 8:35) I thought I’d failed as a Christian when bad or horrible things happened because I didn’t understand – now I understand better and I know that just because bad, evil things happen to us doesn’t mean God loves us less or has abandoned us in any way. (Romans 8:35-39)

Our hearts break just like everybody else’s. We lose people we love just like everybody else. We lose jobs and finances, material things that are important to us, and we feel it just like everybody else does. There is only one difference between us and people who don’t know Jesus and that difference IS Jesus.

I don’t pretend to understand how people will cope with what happened yesterday. I just know that Jesus is with them. I believe God weeps at the atrocities (He’s in us, with us, for us – he feels our pain, of course He does!) playing out now but I also believe He will comfort his people. He promises to do so, we must believe He’ll be true to His Word. In times like these His promises are all we have. Jesus himself said we will have (not might have) trials and tribulations but He’s overcome it all (John 16:33).

When we have pain we can go straight to Him and when we do, we can have that peace that passes all understanding – the peace only He can give. (John 14:27)  Miraculously through His Spirit that lives in us, His comfort comes. Those of us who have lived any time at all can testify to the fact that He eases our pain, He comforts our broken hearts and helps us by giving us His strength when we’re at our weakest so we can carry on through this Valley we’re walking through (2nd Corinthians 12:9). He will do the same for His precious people in Texas because he’s 100% faithful. He died so He could have a connection with us and that His Spirit could live inside of us for moments like these. He’s the Difference Maker. I’m quite sure many hearts are broken and many tears will be shed but I’m just as certain that the many hearts turning to God, seeking His touch will be comforted by His great presence and His matchless love.

In this world of uncertainty where evil seems to be out of control, where morals are definitely on the decline, and where there is nothing solid to hold on to we can rest assured, God is with us, walking us through these times of the unfathomable.  Jesus feels our pain and He’s right here to help us through it.

That’s all I know and today, that’s enough.

Just as Ugly as Ever

I took Sampson walking this morning. He was chasing squirrels like he always does. We got to a tree and this little tiny squirrel was right at the base of it. When he saw Sampson he started climbing up. Long story short he fell and Samson got him and started shaking the squirrel violently.  Sampson is a gentle giant and doesn’t have any aggressive or mean tendencies. However, when he had that squirrel in his mouth, he reverted back to a dog’s natural instincts and when he did, I reverted back to mine.

I enjoy watching him run squirrels and everyone else does too.  People come to the park just to watch Sampson.  He’s an older dog so I think he’ll just run them up trees so no harm is done. Not today.  When he had that squirrel shaking it for the kill, I freaked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sampson is a rescue. We’ve had him for 4 years and when we got him, I could walk toward him with my phone in my hand and he would put his tail between his legs and run.  He was afraid of everything, even loud noises and loud voices. Obviously, he had been abused by hands he thought he could trust.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to even talk loud when he’s close because it visibly upsets him.  The first year we had him, we purposely didn’t walk toward him with anything in our hands because he was so scared.  I have never laid my hands on him for punishment but when he grabbed that squirrel I smacked him on his tail and I screamed at him.

It was only when he let go of the squirrel that I realized what I was doing.  When I snapped out of the heat of the moment, I felt terrible.  Sampson sat and looked at me with a look I’d hadn’t seen from him before.  My heart was absolutely broken.  I was so disgusted with myself and the possibility that maybe I’d undone the trust and safety it took so long to build with my companion.

This, obviously, wasn’t the first time I reverted back to my old nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last but there was something different about this morning. I saw how quickly – based on circumstances – the human flesh can revert back to what it so desperately wants to be free of – that ugly, vile “sin nature”.  We all have it and as I saw this morning, no matter how loving and “good” we want to be, our “flesh nature” will rule the moment if we act on feelings and/or circumstances.  We’re capable of anything at any given moment.  Those of us who say “I’d never…” are the most vulnerable. I didn’t want to scream at my dog. I certainly didn’t want to smack him but I did. I’d promised him and me I’d never do anything to make him fear me.  This morning I did exactly what I said I’d never do.  What I never intended to do became instinctual in that circumstance.

One second I was praising and listening to my music enjoying a beautiful sunrise and happy in the Lord and the next minute I was a monster. Just goes to show you that at any given second I can be just as ugly as I ever was, doing what I never intended to do. Never ever, ever think you ‘would never’ do something because all of us when left to the heat of the moment in a given circumstance will find we’re capable of anything.

I’ve spent years with the Lord. I know he’s changed me from the inside out. I know I’m not who I used to be but this morning I learned I can act just like I used to, given the right circumstances.

I’ve repented, asking God to forgive me as well as Sampson. He seems to not be troubled because after the incident he went after another squirrel.

I don’t like myself very much right now. I’ve seen in a very short span of time how I can be just as ugly as I ever was. Instincts (and our culture) encourage us to act based on how you feel. That’s the very thing the Lord is teaching us to get out of.  He’s teaching us to react based on what He says in ways (actions, words, thoughts) pleasing to Him and not how we’ve always done it. I thought I had mastered that a little better; this morning proved I’m capable of being just as ugly as I ever was and when left to my emotions and reacting out of fear, I’ll be that way again.

Thank you for the reminder Lord, as humiliating and ugly as it was.  I pray to keep this flesh controlled regardless of what happens. I hope you do, too.

 

1st Corinthians 10:12  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Philippians 3:13:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”

Equipped

I watched a squirrel in amazement this morning as he walked a limb with his hind paws holding a walnut with his front paws chewing away the covering as he went along.  Amazing to me God equipped even the critters around us to survive many of their circumstances.  We know they’ll eventually die (as will we) but in the right now they have all the instincts and abilities to survive…and thrive!

God gives humans amazing abilities to survive our circumstances as well, even more so than animals.  Humans were created by God to be houses for the Holy Spirit and afterward, being instilled with all the power He used to create this beautiful planet, hang the stars in the sky (and name them) and the power to raise the dead Jesus after He was crucified to eternal life.  Think about that.  If you’ve surrendered to the authority of personal relationship with Jesus you have all that power inside you. Right now!

Not only do you have physical attributes of survival and provision for the same, you have God’s spiritual dynamite inside of you right now.  You’re thoroughly equipped to live a life honoring Him thanks to Him.  You’re not a victim; you’re not a prisoner to your circumstances (or you don’t have to be).  You’re not a less than, overlooked or discounted IF you believe God’s word and take Him up on His promises.

The “seed” of the Holy Spirit was planted in you when you accepted the Savior-hood of the person of Christ.  However, it’s up to us to “grow” the seed.  “Work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) means we grow through a relationship with Jesus – getting to know Him and what His death and resurrection means to us personally because that’s where the power is.  We grow up and into all the fullness of God and all the promises that relationship brings to us when we learn to trust Him and live like we do.

The closer we get to God and the more we come to believe Him, we see He has equipped us with amazing gifts for every area of our lives – for us and for others.  It’s easy to believe that when paths are smooth but when the way gets rocky do you still believe?

No matter what we face the key to surviving it, overcoming it and being victorious through it is found in God and accessed only through Jesus.  He is the only way.  Pray and ask God to show you WHO is inside of you and believe.  You – through Jesus – got this!

One More Time!

I listen to doctors dictate and type what they say (medical transcription).  Sometimes the doctors are wonderful speakers and the job is easy.  Others are difficult to understand due to language barriers, mumbling.  To make matters worse sometimes they’re shuffling papers, not speaking into the microphone clearly, they’re in loud places and many other contributing factors.

I listened to a dictation over and over again and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Especially to those of us who have been in this profession for a long time, nothing is more frustrating.  I listened for 25 minutes, over and over again!  That’s a long time in the production world of transcription!

After I finished relistening to the entire dictation, I was going to send it to QA and let them figure it out.  Because I find it excruciating to give up, I decided to listen one more time and to my delight, I very clearly heard what the doctor was saying. It was so clear I couldn’t believe I didn’t hear it before!

Just as clearly as I heard the doctor, I hear God saying:

“I know you’ve tried and tried.  You believed you could do it, but believe One More Time.  Believe because I said so.  I know you’re weary and just want to walk away and if you do, that’s okay too.  Come on.  Just because I said so, do it one more time.”

It would have been acceptable…”okay”… to send the document on to QA. That’s what they’re there for and they excel in solving mysteries.  No harm no foul.  I tried but I couldn’t get it.  But I tried, one more time after listening time after time and I finally got it.

God won’t bail on us if we decide to quit.  We won’t be any less in His eyes if we stop where we are.  He always gives us the choice to try, one more time.  One more time, we put our feet to the floor with nothing but faith, believing we can and believing God will do His part.  Don’t be afraid to fail or fall short. Don’t think about it.  Just do it.  One more time.

Matthew 7:7 (NLT)  “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

To Grieve or Regret?

I caught myself grieving my life this morning.  Do you ever do that? I grieved the fact that I made horrible choices when I was younger – I just didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even myself. I just wanted to be happy, to feel good, to be loved at whatever the cost.

One of my first memories was my parents telling me, a 6-year-old child and my 4-year-old sister they were getting a divorce. I think a part of me died or at least changed me forever.  That may sound foreign to the reader since divorce is so “normal” now.  Back then it wasn’t.  There was no therapy available; coping skills were “suck it up and go on”. Because it was so hard on Mom and younger sister, I buried my feelings and told no one how I felt. That was just the beginning.

I’m knocking on the door of 60 and to this day, I look back and see every wrong turn, every decision made out of self-righteousness and self-loathing.  If no one else was going to care about me and what I do, why should I so I pursued self-destructive things and habits and because of MY choices (not because of anyone else) here I am today.  Alive?  Yes.  Saved and changed?  Yes, thank God. But I can’t help looking back to what could have been.

I stop short of regret, but grieve more than I care to admit. I think there’s a difference.  Grief allows me a healthy awareness of sorrow over things in my life.  Regret is, well regret.  I do regret – but I can’t wish it had never happened.  Regret would lead me (I fear) to resent my life, and all the things that led me straight into the presence of Jesus.  How could I regret anything?  I wish I had lived differently; I wish I had KNOWN to live differently.  I grieve the years I could’ve been different and the things I could’ve done differently.  I grieve the death of myself but I don’t regret who I am now.

Would I have been saved or had the privileges of seeing the hand of God in my life and in my son’s life had I (or my circumstances) been different?  Would I have ever written for Him, live to honor Him?  I know this:  I wouldn’t have this powerful testimony to share about a “wretch like me”.  I wouldn’t know what I know.

So there you have it – the point of it all, the beauty for ashes. All that ugly is turning into something beautiful…in EVERY life, not just mine.  Look back occasionally and no matter what you feel, see how God has brought you through it all for His good pleasure. Grieve a moment, but don’t regret.  Believe all of it has a grand purpose:  for His glory and for you to know He is the One True God and that He’s faithful to see His plan through to the end. Always.

Jeremiah 29:11-13; Isaiah 61:3; Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:13