Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hope of Glory

 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

As Paul was writing to the Colossians, he was writing to them to remind them about Jesus and his pre-eminence.  He was encouraging them to move onto understanding the great glory of God.  He wanted them to know what their hope was to be in.  

When life happens, we can get beaten down and become disappointment.  If the enemy can disappoint us, then he will achieve his goal.  He knows that disappointment is opposite of faith.  

Disappointment is defined as to failure to satisfy the hope, desire and expectation frustrate or to thwart. But faith is defined as confident in belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing.

If Satan takes our eyes of the hope of glory, which is Christ in you, then you will begin to question God.  I know for I have been led down this road many times.  However, I have found that through every trial and through every circumstance, God truly does something miraculous.  He keeps his promise.  Just when I felt defeated and beat up with no hope.  He reminds me of his word and truth.  He is renewing my mind.  He is transforming me and my faith into a greater level of hope.   He begins to bring life to those dead areas where I lacked in belief. He is giving me beauty for my ashes.  He who began a good work in me will complete it.  

Each of us have our own journey.  The routes are all different. God who formed us in your mother's womb is fashioning each one of us into a new masterpiece.  He is making us see yourself as he created us to be, a new person in Christ.  He is restoring those broken down walls of distrust and bringing trust in him.  Our eyes are being opened to see his great love, grace and mercy. He is bringing us to that place of our hope of glory. All of this can only be done by him.  Although, we may be used as a vessel of honor to assist him, it is only because of him that we can do anything.

Today my hope for all of you that have been disappointed that God would be able to come in and show you the hope of glory that is in Christ Jesus.  May your faith arise and may you see beyond your what is before you.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"  Luke 10:27b

Upon reading the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, we encounter a teacher of the law who was seeking eternal life.  Jesus replied and asked him, What is written in the law and how did he read it? and he answered,

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."  

Jesus then affirmed him by saying he was correct and to do this and he will live.  However, the teacher wanted to justify himself and he asked who is my neighbor?  Jesus then replied by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan.  He tells of "a man who goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him for dead."  So as the man is laying there in need in shame, embarrassment, physically and emotionally hurt and about to die, a priest walks by and keeps walking.  He doesn't stop to help.  Then a Levite now approaches and in ordered not to be bothered by him, he actually crossed the road to avoid having to help him.  The man who was robbed was forsaken by his own people.  But when the Samaritan saw the man, he had pity on him and went to help him.  He bandaged him up using his resources of oil and wine and put him on his donkey.  He then took him to an inn and paid for his stay.  He also offered to pay for the additional things this man would need. 

Jesus then asks the Teacher, which of these three men was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robber?  And expert of the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

Every day, we have the opportunity to love our neighbor.  Look around us.  We have people who are in hurting. They are beaten down emotionally and physically.  They are stripped down. They are in shame from their condition and embarrassed by their circumstances.  Which one are we when we see someone in  need?  Are we willing to go and do likewise?  Or are they too much hassle for our day.  Do we choose to cross the street to avoid them?  This is a question we need to ask ourselves.  

Living in the United States, especially Southern California the lifestyle here is so busy.  People need to work hard to maintain their lifestyles.  Many are in competition with one another and many really don't care to listen to others and their problems.  They don't want to be weighted down by their issues.  It is too much and they may have to sacrifice something in their life.  However, there are those we read about or encounter who we call our neighbor who loves us.  They are the ones who stopped and helped out.  They saw someone in need and provided aid. One pulled a person out of a burning car.  The other stopped to help an elderly person with their groceries.  Someone acknowledged the grocery store clerk as a person and displayed kindness. Another stopped by to give someone food who did not have any while another prayed for the person in need.  May we be the one who will show mercy and be found loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

God is Good During Trials

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.  Romans 8:28

Many have heard this verse.  Although easy to quote to those going through trials, each of us have to come to a place where we truly trust in God and know that he is good and that he loves us despite the trials or circumstances before us.  When we think about trials, we tend to be leery.  What adversity comes, we lean towards asking God, why.  Our enemy loves this because he is a liar and loves to blame God for everything.  He loves to make us angry with God.  He loves to come in between our relationship if he can.  

Jesus however gave instruction that we would have trials on this earth.  He did not mislead us, but knew that we have an enemy who seeks to devour and destroy us.  He knew that if we seek him, we will overcome because he overcame.  The plan of God's salvation would not necessarily take us out of this world, but it would give us peace during the storm.  It would give us hope in a dire situation.  It would give us an opportunity to see him work the situation out for good.  

1 Peter tells us that these fiery trials have come to prove our faith.  I personally did not like adversity or trials.  When a friend of mine shared this with me that I would endure a season of this, let me tell you I was not happy nor did I want to embrace this.  However, the trials that came into my life changed me and my walk with God.  Although I would not desire to walk through them again, I did grow from them.  They were not easy.  They were some of the toughest things I had ever encountered.  They range from betrayal from a mentor and good friend, to financial, to my father passing away and no one to help, to enduring churches who were unwelcoming, to a private christian school that hosted a fundraiser with witchcraft, It hit me hard.  But God used these circumstances to work them for good.  My prayer before all of this was God I want to serve you and you only.  I want to always appreciate your salvation, giving thanks for what you have done.  

Despite the things that happened, God gently nudged me to continue to meet with women and started a bible study for me to lead.  It initially started out with 6 women and it went through summer.  Then it changed and ranges from 2 sometimes to 10 and he has continued this for the last 4 years.  I am now in a church where I see the love of God.  People reaching out to people not judging them so harshly and extending the grace and mercy needed.  However, they still implement discipline if needed with gentleness.  I see them lifting up Jesus by preaching the gospel so that Jesus can draw all people to him.  It was what I loved doing.  I was no longer being beaten down for sharing God's goodness and his word.  I wasn't being constantly corrected anymore about how it needed to be done perfectly.  I was able to abide in his grace despite my shortcomings.  I was able to see that the fruit of my labor.  It was at the heart and soul of Jesus to share the good news of what he has done.  It wasn't about leaning more towards the gifts or the offices, but towards the heart of God.  My passion always was to bring people back to God and not to me. Although I do have the gifts, I believe many can abuse such things.  God's power and gifts sometimes lead to thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to rather than walking out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

God out of his great mercy began to show me by bringing those women I had minister to at over the last 13 years how he changed their lives.  He was able to use me as a vessel to bring reconciliation back to God, to bring healing and restore their hope.  They began to walk in a deeper relationship with God.   He was able to do good works through me despite my poor condition. He brought encouragement to me when I needed it most to keep me gently moving forward despite the adversity.  Where I had seen as failure he had produced his glory.  

He also used adversity to bring me to a new level of faith by increasing my trust in him.  Over the last few weeks I had to take my son into emergency for possible appendicitis, our water heater sprung a leak, our budget was now blown, our daughter needed to go to the eye doctor and get a new prescription and we were served papers from a piece of property we bought from the builders.  However, through the trials my spirit began to stir and Romans 8:28 began to resonate within my spirit. God took care of everything.  

As I went into the emergency room with my son, I was prepared for whatever the Lord had.  If he needed surgery I was okay with that and if he didn't I was okay with that.  I knew God would work it out.  Good news is he didn't have appendicitis but it was a virus that was like it and would just need to run it course. We had to pay for our water heater to be repaired.  It cost us $760 to service it and fix it.  I believed that God prevented something else from happening by allowing the unit to have issues.  The eye doctor was so kind and God moved on him to give us a discount for the exam and for the contacts.  He also gave us enough of her contacts to last us until my husband got paid again to pay for it.  Last, we found out that although we were served to be a witness by the developer, we already had an attorney that represented us through a civil lawsuit because of the other owners.  God is in the process of redeeming the situation.   We know that justice will prevail.  

During these trials what I gained was more faith and more trust.  At times I still do fall short, but I know that God is faithful and in the end and he will work all things for good to those who  love God and are called according to his purpose.  My hope and prayer is that you too will come to understand and know God this way.