Monday, July 9, 2012

He is Good

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" 
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

When strangers and friends alike ask me "how did you do it?" in reference to my pregnancy with the twins and early delivery, I usually have one main response:

I was able to do it only because I found my refuge in Christ. The night before I delivered these 28 week wee little ones, I can remember just soaking up every little kick and movement inside my womb...and I remember smiling and thinking "God you are so good."

I spent only a moment with my son before he was whisked away to the NICU. My daughter, Audrey, I would need see till much later. And although there was much anxiety about what lay in the future for those two little babies, I can remember not crying upon seeing them in their incubators because all I could think was "God, you are so good." It was the song of my heart every day I walked into that sterile room with babies even smaller and sicker than my own. That face in the picture below isn't of a mother wallowing in fear...that's a picture of a mother who was looking on in amazement of what she has just seen her Healer just do. And it was the most beautiful moment.

I dwell on that moment when I feel like God does not care about my desires. Those moments when I am having a pity party for myself...those moments when my heart is so full of anxiety...those moments when I am feeling weak..I look at this picture. I see that smile of hope. I see woman just amazed at His goodness.

And I realize the beauty in letting go and surrendering to God.

I see a woman who was not strong at all...but her God indeed was. And He was/is good.

The beauty in suffering is when you die to yourself, you fully get to experience God in a way many people never get to.

He cares. He loves. And He is good.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha:What You Can’t Handle

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 
Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

I’ve said it a million times, always with the intentions of giving well meaning advise to someone struggling with life's toughest problems. I’ve also received this advise a thousand times over, from people with the same desire to give only the kindest, gentlest advise possible.

“God will never give you anything you can’t handle”.

It’s the oldest trick in the book, the cure all for just about anything that darkens your day. No matter how bad things get, someone can always stop you in your tracks, prevent those next few words of complaints from exiting your mouth by throwing this old fashioned saying at you.

But I don’t believe it any more.

We are human, deeply flawed and stained by a sin nature. God is perfect, magnificent and powerful in every way possible. We can accomplish nothing good on our own, but through His grace, we can do all things.

All things.


But apart from Him, we can do nothing.

So, here’s my reasoning. God absolutely gives us more than we can handle, and He gives us more than we can handle on purpose. Every. Single. Day. However; if we are His children, He is alive and well inside of us. And if we trust Him-fully give Him control of our lives-He will lead and guide us through any storm.

And He allows these trials and tribulations to come our way not to punish us, but to grow us. To help to shape and mold us into the image of His perfect son. And He never ever leaves us alone to deal with any of life's problems, He’s right there with us every step of the way, always waiting for us to come to Him for help in times of need.

If we never had problems, or if the problems we did have were always small and easily fixed, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. Our human nature would kick in, pride would take over, and we would try to “fix” everything ourselves. And then when the problem was solved, we’d pat ourselves on the back, giving ourselves the glory instead of Jesus.

He wants us to need Him. He wants to have a relationship with us, a friendship. He already knows everything that has and will happen in our lives, but He still desires for us to come to Him and share every detail of our day with Him, and to trust Him to work out His will in our lives for Good.
So even though it’s not true that God won’t give us anything we can’t handle, it’s good to know that
He’ll guide us through anything that comes our way.

And we’ll never go through anything HE can’t handle.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The War is Over

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved ),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus For by grace you have been saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. "
Ephesians 2:4-9 (NAS)

God does not make junk. He doesn't want a refund for making you. He knew every ounce of you before you were even created...and He made you anyway. He knew our flesh would be nasty and He knew we would need a savior so we could be made right. Once you have accepted Him in faith as your savior, there is nothing left to do. You are immediately made right with God...simply because of that gift of grace. Immediately, the war is over. It does not mean your sin goes means we have raised our white flags and surrendered. It means we realize He is good and we are not. And you can work your whole life trying to please God...but my friends, please hear this: HE IS ALREADY PLEASED WITH YOU. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He calls you His beloved.

In the church world, we have become so obssessed with our sins that we forget that God is the one who makes us clean. When you find yourself struggling with sin, God is no less pleased with you than when you are giving away everything to the poor. He loves you just the same. Do not hide your head in shame when you sin. Look to the heavens and say "thank you Lord!! Indeed a reminder that I am desperately in need of a savior!!" 

When we are in sin, we are simply missing out on the joy God has for us. It does not mean He is shaking His head in embarrassment. He is not this God of many rules. He is a God who adores, cherishes, and desires for us to experience the greatest joy possible...and when we are living in sin, we can't experience that. It doesn't mean He stops loving is God saying "I want you to stop sinning because it will bring joy to your life."

With my own child, I find myself looking at her and saying "if you would just be obedient and make your bed, we could then go outside and enjoy playing. But you continue to disobey me, so you can not experience the fun day I have planned for you." 

Do you see what I mean here? I love her the same. I want her to obey because I have great plans for us. When my child disobeys me, she is missing out on so much goodness.

My friends, God feels the same way. He just wants you to experience the joy in knowing Him.

Perhaps some may say this is a romanticised view of Christ. But someone who would create filth, yet see it's beauty and want it to so desperately that He died for us...that is the greatest love story ever told! He tells us over and over again that we are made right because of our faith in Christ.

When you accept Christ as your savior, the war is over. He will continue to polish you up until the day you are embraced in His arms in Heaven, but only He can do the polishing. Stop trying to work to please God. He is so incredibly pleased with you. Just dwell on who He is. He is beauty. And although our flesh may be filthy, a heart that has accepted Christ is beautiful.

He does not want a refund. He just wants you. Stop hiding your head when you sin. Just say "thank you God for loving me anyway." 

There is freedom in the surrender.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

God is my boxing champ

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) 

He is my savior. He is my friend. He is even my psychologist at times...if only God could write prescriptions. 

But lately...lately, God is my boxing champ. 

Sometimes waiting on God in faith is like waiting for Christmas to come every year. It always comes, but it feels like it will never get here. This is where my faith is at lately. I have faith that He has great things in store...but, I feel like I am always impatiently waiting on Him. You know how there is this unspoken rule in America that you can't put up your tree until after Thanksgiving? Yeah, I've had mine up for weeks by the time we are carving that turkey. 

The longer I wait on God to answer a prayer, the more anxious I become. I constantly find myself saying "I put all my hope in you Lord...but, I don't for how much longer." I am in a constant war within myself...God against my flesh. I want to abide in Him, but I struggle with His timing.

Sometimes I feel like the Israelites crying out saying "you are leaving me here to die in the desert!!!" 

It is hard when you feel like you are fighting alone. The world always questioning you and your decisions. People who are supposed to love you break your heart and leave you with battle wounds. Sometimes I really just want to wave my white flag of surrender in the air at the world because it just seems easier to follow the crowd.

But my Heavenly Father doesn't allow me to stay pushed down for long. I wrestle with scripture and I wrestle with Him...forgetting He is on my side. I wrestle with the world. I wrestle with the really hard questions about faith and God. This week I have thrown my fists at the sky and said "God, why would you create people who you know are going to go to Hell? You love, why even create non believers?"

I get frustrated reading about Calvinism vs. Arminianism. I get frustrated watching denominations fight over theology. I get frustrated hearing the debate over gay marriage within the church itself.

But, I can feel Him fighting for me. Fighting against the world and reminding me that He is my only hope and He is the only good here. I feel like God lets me take a time out now and then, but He draws me back in and just says "let ME do this, Sarah!" Reminding I am not alone on this faith walk.

Reminding me that like the Israelites, He is the boxer. I am simply commanded to let Him take out the enemy. 

And there is so much peace in knowing that. So, even though I feel like I have been waiting on answers to prayers and questions...even though the world beats me down...I find comfort in knowing He is the greatest boxer in the world. And He has already won my heart.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha: The Sacrifice of Praise

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
Hebrews 13:15 (KJV)

Do you ever find yourself having one of "those days"? Days packed full of disapointment when things just don't go your way, and you are completely exhausted from the weight of the world?

I've had one of those weeks.

Even though I know its wrong, sometimes satan keeps my mind from recollecting that God's promises are true, His ways are best, and His timing is always perfect. And when I don't get what I want, I feel like I've been let down. Because I deserved this, because I needed this, because this was perfect for me and right now is the right time for me to have it.

But as I was feeling sorry for my self earlier this week, a still, small voice gently interupted my pity party, pressing on my aching heart the words of Hebrews 13:15.

And that's when I realized there is a reason what we are told to do its called as a SACRIFICE of praise.

Because it isn't easy for me to do, and God gets that. And He loves me anyway.

Even on weeks like this, I have so much to be thankful for. But disapointments can wound us, leaving us in a weak and fragile state, vulnerable to the enemy. And if we let him, he'll seize any opportunity to slip in doubt, anger, jealousy and self pity, and before we realize it, were drowning.

But God's Word tells us that even when it doesn't feel right-even when it hurts-we are to offer God the sacrifice of praise continually, giving thanks to His name. And in Ephesians 5:20 it says that we are to give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things. No matter what trials come our way, whatever tribulations plague us, it is our duty to "in everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Wait, what?

So, if my car breaks down, my husband loses his job, we have no money in the bank and my baby gets sick, God's solution is to give Him thanks?!


When everything turns upside down, we can show God-and prove to ourselves-that we trust Him when we come to Him continually with a sacrafise of praise. When every bone in our body, every breath in our lungs cries out in praise to Him even during the darkest times in our life, we are giving Him complete control. And even though it may feel unatural, painful, and sometimes rediculous, training our minds to give thanks to God continually strengthens our faith and brings rememberance who we really are.

We are redeemed, forgiven, and loved, despite our circumstances.

We can look back in our past and see times where God was faithful and just to carry us through, just as He promised. and then the choice is ours to make; we can drown in fear and sorrow, or we can thank Him for whatever work He is doing in our lives through this trial, trusting in faith that He will keep His promises even now and never leave our side.

And we can praise Him, even in the midst of a tornado. Because let's face it; we were once lost, dying, and without hope. But God saw through our sin, and loved us enough to send His only son-and a rediculous amount of grace-to take our place. And for those of us who believe on Jesus Christ as our personal saviour and have excepted His free gift of salvation, this world is not our home. We have been pardoned, freed from the bondage of sin, cleansed, and made righteous.

Our chains are gone, we've been set free!

So we ALWAYS have that to be thankful for, even when our world turns upside down. We will never be without reason to praise God for what He's done for us.

I know its not easy, especialy since I'm in the middle of trying my best to practice what I preach, but I also know its not impossible. Because if it were, God wouldn't tell us to do it.

So I'm going to do my best to steady my grip on God's hand and push forward. Instead of dragging Him backwards and begging Him to change His mind and the outcome, I'll choose to thank Him for this weeks disapointments, and trust that even though it feels wrong, He knows its right. And I'll keep asking Him to remind my heart again and again that His promises are true, and His ways are perfect.

And I'll offer Him my sacrifice of praise.

What things have hapened lately in your life that make it hard to give thanks continualy?

Can you look back at any specific times on your life that God has turned a disapointment into something good?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Scripture: Be Courageous

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. "
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV) 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn: Faith

"These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:7

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