September 1, 2008

I was 10 days old the first time my mom and dad took me to church. So, it is fair to say that I literally grew up hearing about Jesus. I heard all about the miracles He performed and that He died on the cross to forgive our sins. All I had to do was ask Jesus to come live in my heart and He would be with me forever and I would go to Heaven. It really is that simple, but He is revealing simple things on a deeper level these days.

The Trinity consists of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They are one in the same, but each has an important function. God has always been here (which is hard for us to grasp) and He is the creator of us, and everything around us. In the Old Testament, people used to offer sacrifices on an altar to reconcile sin. God decided to send the ultimate sacrifice for sin and came to earth physically as Jesus. Jesus walked with us, talked with us, felt pain, felt joy, experienced sadness, even temptation. When He died on the cross, He died for all sin and His blood officially made a way to end to anything Satan could bring into our lives. Then came His Holy Spirit, which is what dwells in us when we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made and ask for His blood to take our sins away. Adam and Eve were not born into sin. They were created in God's image and placed in the Garden of Eden, which I believe is what was intended to be perfect, just as Heaven is. When Satan showed up and tempted them with the one thing God told them they could not have, they made a choice to disobey God and ate the apple. This choice is what made the Earth no longer pure, and we were all born into a sinful world after that. We all see little kids get angry at some point, even before they can talk. They did not necessarily see someone else act like that, it is just a part of who we are. Once we get to the age where we are accountable for what we do, that is when we have the choice to continue as we are, or admit that there is sin in our lives and we want to include Jesus. I had a very good childhood. I did very well in school, I did not get in trouble. I was respectful and I did what I was told by my parents and teachers. Yet, at a young age, I knew that I needed Jesus. I wanted Jesus.

I am a child of God. I believe that Jesus is who He professed He is, and that He died to make a way for me to be freed from the sin in my life. I went fishing last night, which is something I have loved to do for a long time. I went with my dad and Mike, and we were cat fishing so we were out late. As we sat there in the dark, we saw several shooting stars. When I was little, I remember that there was a night that there was supposed to be a lot of shooting stars happening. Jeff took me to a field where the sky would be clear enough for us to see them, and I sat with big eyes to the sky. We saw lots of them that night. I am humbled to know that the One who created the sky and has control of those shooting stars, left the beauty of Heaven to come here. He walked this earth. He got dirty feet that were undoubtedly dry and blistered. He knew what it was to be hungry and He drank dirty water. He felt tired and had people ridicule Him. He made friends, but also knew what it was like to mourn. He was beaten... beaten. Nails driven into His hands, can you imagine? Then was hung from those nails to die. And He had me on His mind. He had you on His mind. All so that there would be a way for Him to be close to us. (John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay his life down for his friends.)

Recently, God is bringing to light more things for me than what I knew before. Maybe I knew it, but did not grasp it the same way. We say all the time, if God is so sovereign, and if He is so loving, then why do bad things happen? If He has the ability to step in and stop a situation from happening, then why wouldn't He? In my own situation, I know people are thinking, enough already! That sign I passed in Chicago that said "NOTHING SURPRISES GOD" has really cause me to think deeper into that phrase. I have always been told that is true, and seems easy enough to comprehend. But it has proved to have a deeper understanding. God is all knowing, even before events take place. He has never said, "Whoa, that was a twist! Didn't see that one coming!". Romans 8:28 says: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. It is true that God promises to work all thing for good, but sometimes we omit the last part of the verse. It specifically says He will do that for those that love Him and are called to Him. The choice has always been our own of whether or not we will allow God to work in our lives. Until we come to Him and ask for forgiveness for sin in our lives, there is a separation. We have not given God permission to come into our lives and direct us on the path that He has for us. We are doing our own thing. We have to give God the permission to be that guide in our life... to change us so that there is no longer that separation, but so that His Holy Spirit dwells in us. Then, it is possible for Him to work good in all circumstances. It is not unsettling, but extremely comforting to know that God did not inflict cancer on me in any way. Because I am a child of God, I belong to Him. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.). Because of this, anything in this world, anything that Satan would chose to do to me, it has to filter through God first. God was and is aware of everything and anything that happens to me. Satan can think that he has devised a plan to harm me, and God can say "Okay, I'll allow this" knowing that He has a plan to make something wonderful out of something evil. To make beauty from ashes.

Isaiah 61:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zionó
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.

If you have not given your life to Jesus, you have not given Him permission to work things out in your life. That does not mean that accepting Jesus means that everything in your life will be perfect. (John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.") Letting Jesus be the guide means that He promises that He has already overcome what you are up against, and He will make something beautiful out of it. I have incredible comfort knowing that I have that relationship with Jesus. He knows me better than I know myself. When this plan came up against me, I can imagine God saying: "I'll allow this and this, but not that. I know her completely and she can handle this. I am going to help her. I am going to raise her up in a family capable of praying for her and supporting her. I am going to bring her a husband that is stronger than he knows he is and he will be the perfect one to keep her smiling. I will bring people into her life to encourage her and pray her through. I am going to bless her with talents that will help her share her testimony with so many. I will speak through her. Yes, she can do this. I am going to help her."

I have had such a pull on my heart to write about this. I feel like there are so many that need to understand that there is a Biblical difference in how situations unfold between believers and nonbelievers. It is a choice; God has called you, but will not force you to let Him work in your life. I know this, but even I need to continually ask God to help me understand it better. (Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.) I will never fully grasp what God is doing until I get to Heaven. But I know that in the meantime, I am paired up with the One who understands it all. I am praying for...well... people I do not even know. Someone needed to hear this because God has made me feel it. I could not fight this battle without God, I would be scared to try. He doesn't want you to face what you are facing without letting Him help you. You were not made to have the strength to do it on your own. (Philippians 4:13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.)

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