5.08.2013

God's great goodness

In the church I grew up in, we would always say at the end of the service, "God is good all the time and all the time, God is good." Ten + years I finally understanding what that means, which goes to show that God never gives up on us. I had a head knowledge of His goodness but had no experiential connection to it.

How has God shown His goodness to me? Through lifting me up out of the depths, delivering me from darkness, overwhelming me with kindness, giving to me when I deserved nothing... whispering to me that He loves and cares for me more than anyone else could. My troublesome circumstances took quite some time to change, but God wrapped me in His love in the hardest times.

I've just seen a glimpse of His goodness and I can't wait to see more. The Bible says, "God delights in His steadfast mercy and loving kindness " (Micah 7:18). God loves to show goodness whenever His children will receive it. If I say that I don't deserve happiness or kindness because I have messed up, I am refusing something that He has already decided to give me. I may not deserve good things, but Jesus suffered and died so that I could freely receive forgiveness and goodness from my Father.

"Benevolence is the great attribute of God. If you want to please Him, remove the obstacles out of the way of the exercise of His benevolence. He is infinitely good. He exists forever in an entire state of consecration to pour forth blessing upon His creatures whenever they make it possible. Everyone can do this. Suppose the vast Pacific Ocean were elevated high above us. Then conceive of its pressure into every crevice to find an outlet through which it might pour its ocean tides over all the earth. You have a picture of God's benevolent attitude toward us." (Christ the Healer, Bosworth)

4.09.2013

Jehovah-Rapha

When God brought His people out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea, He said, "I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)  Isaiah 53:5 says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." God has many names in the Bible, and one is Jehovah Rapha, which means "God who heals."

God is teaching me that He feels the same way about sickness as He does about sin. Jesus paid the price for our sins and our sickness. For whatever reason, the church has taught mostly about the atonement of our sins and has neglected sickness. I believe, based on God's word, that it is His will to heal all. There is no question because He dealt with the issue of sickness completely on the cross. There was nothing left unfinished.

It makes sense that if sin is from the devil and sin leads to death, then sickness, which ultimately leads to death, is also from the devil. If Jesus suffered so greatly and was "crushed," why would He be so casual about sickness now? He does not give us sickness, and He does not allow it. We allow it when we do not believe His word or when we are ignorant of His will. We allow it when we know that it is His will to heal and we do nothing about it. I am guilty of this.

John G Lake says in his book "Christ the Healer," "Healing of the body is not, therefore, a "side-issue," as some represent it. It is no more this than the healing of the soul is a "side-issue." They are both but parts of the same Gospel, based equally on the same great Atonement."

Jehovah-Rapha is a covenant name, and Jesus Christ is the "same yesterday, today, and forever."

2.18.2013

Clarity and quiet

(Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiklund/6375907285/)

I have never seen a sky like this, that I remember. Where I live, I see probably no more than 5-10 stars. (I also don't really go outside past 9:30.) At my new place, I am on a hill, so I see the vast expanse of the sky. So even though I can't see the stars, it is still beautiful and impressive to me. But, I can't imagine seeing a sky like this, how it really is. I would imagine that I would not be able to take my eyes away.

I was thinking about this today and thought of my relationship with God. I know I hear and see God. Because Jesus is in me, I live in His kingdom, and He affords me all the benefits of living in His kingdom. Lately I have been focused on this verse: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (Ephesians 1)

The kingdom of God is at hand. What does that mean? What is the kingdom of God?

I miss out on the stars because of light pollution, and I believe I miss out on God and everything He has for me, all the riches given to me, also because of pollution. Noise. Distraction. TV. Internet. Music. Fear. Worry. Work. My day can be so easily cluttered and leave little room for quiet where I can stop for a significant period of time and be with God. Unless I get rid of things in my life, this will never happen. For awhile now, I have stopped watching TV past 6:30. I don't miss it! Instead, I worship God, lay down and listen to Him, read His word and learn new things about Him and me, chat with Him, picture Jesus in my mind's eye, and sometimes listen to sermons and read books. Okay, every now and then I will check Facebook!

I am ashamed to say that sometimes I don't want to spend time with the most amazing Person ever to life. But, Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and ascension took care of my sin and my shame. So I have nothing to worry about. I only have to enjoy Him and receive His love and everything He wants to give me.

1.25.2013

Disappointment

God has brought a lot of amazingly good things into my life, especially in the last few years. There have also been multiple disappointments. I've especially experienced numerous disappointments in the last several months that are mainly financial in nature. I told God today that I was so weary of these disappointments and wanted to give up hoping for things. I admitted that He is still good and always will be good no matter what (this was, admittedly, a very difficult declaration to utter aloud), but I wanted to give up on the promises I was holding onto and that have really motivated me to continue seeking God, other than the fact that He is an amazing person and friend.

Just maybe ten minutes later, I started reading where I left off in the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. A friend told me several times actually that she felt like God wanted to speak to me through the book. Here is the first paragraph I read after expressing those thoughts to God:
"But suddenly it flashed upon his mind that he now knew (even if Aunt Letty didn't) that there really were other worlds and that he himself had been in one of them. At that rate there might be a real Land of Youth somewhere. There might be almost anything. There might be fruit in some other world that would really cure his mother! And oh, oh—Well, you know how it feels if you begin hoping for something that you want desperately badly; you almost fight against the hope because it is too good to be true; you’ve been disappointed so often before. That was how Digory felt. But it was no good trying to throttle this hope. It might—really, really, it just might be true. So many odd things had happened already. And he had the magic rings. There must be worlds you could get to through every pool in the wood. He could hunt through them all. And then—Mother well again. Everything right again."
I knew God was encouraging me and telling me that He understands my disappointments. But, He doesn't want me to give up on the things I really hope for.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (even if what we hope for is a long time coming)

1.18.2013

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is my friend. A great, trusted friend and close companion.

The Holy Spirit is God, just as Jesus and the Father are God. He's how we are able to have a relationship with God. Can you imagine never hearing a word from God except through a prophet? I complain and feel lost when I haven't heard anything in over two days. That was the Old Testament. Sometimes in the Old Testament, God showed Himself in a cloud or fire. That is what they call visitation. We are now in the time of "habitation."

Jesus' death was the ultimate sacrifice for the world's sins. "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith." (Romans 3:25) Sin is gone and dealt with. Because of Jesus, we are now righteous and blameless before God. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (1 Cor 5:21)

Why make us righteous? God is pure, holy, and perfect. He cannot be with sin; therefore, to be with us, we have to be sinless. Now that we are sinless, because of Jesus Christ, we can be with God! John G. Lake said, "The redemption that Jesus Christ wrought out on Calvary restores to man all the privileges and prerogatives forfeited by the fall." All along, God just wants to be with us. I want that, too.

After Jesus ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit came to be with us. The Holy Spirit is God. Every time we interact with God, we are interacting with the Holy Spirit. Before God rescued me two years ago, I never understood or acknowledged the Holy Spirit. I recently read Good Morning, Holy Spirit by Benny Hinn to learn more about Him. He's fascinating. Of course He is - He's God!

"And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." (Ephesians 2:22)

"The personal coming of the Holy Ghost into human consciousness is a marvelous fact of God's manifestation in history! His coming was just as definite and conspicuous as the advent of Jesus Christ." (John G. Lake)

I love the Holy Spirit. It's one of my life missions to get to know Him more. From my experiences so far, He is kind, patient, a genius, a tutor, a comforter, an encourager, funny, and just fun to interact with.

I pray the Church is awakened to the presence of the Holy Spirit. I pray for a great move of the Holy Spirit over this great country.

1.16.2013

Learning to wait

God recently taught me an important lesson.

In December, I felt that God told me to apply for a certain affordable housing program. A few days later, I was searching online and found a particular neighborhood that participated in this program. I toured their model home that weekend and absolutely loved it, the neighborhood, and the location. That night I dreamed that I was there in that place and was talking with others about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I felt then that for sure we would move there. I turned in my application to the lender. A few days later, I saw online that the federal income limits decreased and I no longer qualified. A few weeks later, the lender called and said I qualified. I was really surprised and so happy. But then a few days after that, she told me she had not used the updated income requirements and I did not qualify after all.

I was disappointed but decided to trust God. However, the next day, I kept thinking about it and let myself stay in that disappointment and get very discouraged. I felt let down that it didn't happen, especially with all the disappointment and difficulty I've experienced the last 2 or 3 years.

God had mercy on me and started to show me what He wants me to learn. I dreamed I saw a bunch of words that described Christians. One was "waiting."

Then last night I came across a scripture - "But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for his enemies to be made His footstool." (Hebrews 10:11-12)  Jesus is waiting.

Today I thought of how when Jesus came to dwell with us on earth and to save us, He came as a baby. The more I think about this, the more astounding and amazing it becomes to me. God did not act in haste. Jesus was born a tiny helpless baby to a young, inexperienced girl (she was anywhere from 13-17 years old scholars say) and then went through the slow process of growing up. He finally performed His first public miracle when He was around 30 I think.

Then tonight I was thinking about all of this and I felt like God showed me that being okay with waiting, not being in a hurry and not acting hastily, is so important. The Father does not worry about when and if He's going to do something. Neither should His children worry. He can provide a house for us. I believe He will. He wants that for me. He loves me and wants to give. He is so kind and generous. I believe that in this particular situation God is saying there is no need to be in a hurry. He says, "Rest in me. Enjoy me. Leave it all to me. I care! I want to give you more than you could hope for or imagine."

It's easy really. My job is to love Him and do what He says. Now if I can just remember this from day to day. He is so patient and persistent though.

Thank you, my Father. I'm grateful for this lesson and for revealing the purpose of this situation to me. Thank you for revealing Your character. You are always good. You are a good Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being my tutor and friend. And thank you, Jesus, for giving Your life and giving us victory!

12.31.2012

Russian orphans

Reece's Rainbow is an international adoption group for children with down syndrome. They also advocate for children with other special needs. I saw Weston on there the other day. He is such a darling. He is HIV positive and has a heart and eye problems. It is common for international orphans to have medical conditions that can easily be fixed or managed in the U.S. I was devastated though to see that he is from Russia and Putin just banned American adoptions. I pray that law doesn't last very long so Weston and other orphans can find parents. As of 2010, Russia had 700,000 orphans, more than after WWII when 25 million Soviets died. Only 74 have been adopted since 1991. However, several articles say that the recent ban affects 46 American families who are somewhere in the process of adopting a Russian child.

The NYT article from 2010 talks about how Russia is embarrassed that it cannot take care of its children and that they have to be adopted internationally. It is tough for any country to accept help but especially for Russia who warred with the US for so long and sees themselves as equal or superior in many ways. The article also mentions the corruption in the Russian orphanage system. Rather than reuniting or finding other homes for children, there is apparently much money to be made by filling and running the large orphanages.

It's just too bad that the ban affects the most vulnerable - children with special needs who will likely die much earlier and lonelier.

This is Weston. I'll be praying for this sweet boy. He is the same age as my son.