Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Comments

Wow, the weekend is here again. I hope you are getting into this book study. I know these may be some things that many of us know, but it's good to see Bible concepts taken apart and looked at separately. I've found that especially with Biblical truths, that even though I know them and believe them, sometimes it's hard to see how I made the journey.

I'm hoping this won't be boring to you. The Lord was insistent that this be taught. I know there are many out there that this will help just as much as it did me. If so, I encourage you to get the book.(Victory Over the Darkness, by Neil Anderson) I'm trying to follow closely along so I don't "miss" sharing anything important. Good Christian psychology will give you a firm footing in the Word of God and relating to God, and it will also shake loose some of the old baggage we've been carrying around.

As I said, this book may seem elementary, but when it all starts adding up, then things start coming together in our thinking.
In the past, I had always wanted control of the situation, wanted to "fix" people, and was stubborn on some of my belief system. Stubborn, and not in a good way. I thought I knew what was right, without letting God give me His opinion. These teachings really made me stop and think about what I was doing and thinking, and how I was approaching life.

You all have left some great comments. If I don't get back to everyone that leaves a comment I hope you'll understand. Even though I have studied this material many times, it's been at least 8 years since I've read the book. I'm spending at least 2 hours a day preparing for these posts. (I'm so not complaining, I love doing this!) So please know I need your feedback and just  love to know that you are here and reading. My dear friend Melanie, just leaves a little love note that tells me she's here. Each one of you bless me with your presence and thoughts. Please don't think it's not important. And the added benefit is that you all "round out" my posts with other important concepts and ideas. It all comes together so well!

If you have any comments from earlier posts, be sure to come back over here to leave them. I don't want anyone to miss out.  Remember, if you have any questions or thoughts don't be afraid to put them out there. I welcome your opinions and ideas.

All of us in the lower Midwest are getting hit with a big snowstorm. We missed the ice,(it went south of us) but have about 6-8 inches of snow and are expecting a few more inches. (I think the worst is over here, but the roads are tricky.)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Stayin' Alive"

I just couldn't help myself with this title and image of the Bee Gees, from 1977. Oh what memories, and what a song. Can't we just see John Travolta strutting down the street? But you may ask, what does this have to do with our new book study?

Well, we are finding out what it means to "be alive"!

Knowing our identity

In order to understand who we really are we need to understand our "identity" that we received from "Adam" at creation. The following is a diagram that Dr. Anderson created that will help us visualize our identity as human beings. Incorporating our "three parts": Our body, soul, and spirit.


Genesis 2:7 says. "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being."

We got our start from Adam, the first human being, and since then we have all been born in his likeness. We are born in a physical body, an "outer self" which allows us to relate to the world around us. To do this we have our five senses: touch, taste, seeing, hearing, and smell.

Our "inner man" or the soul, gives us our mind, which allows us to think, our emotions which allow us to relate to others, and our will, which allows us to choose. Then separate from the inner man is our "spirit", or how we relate to God.

Physically Alive

To be physically alive is for our earthly body to be in union with our soul or immaterial body; our mind, will, and emotions. This is referred to as "Bios". No matter how smart we may have been, how talented and creative; if our physical body ceases to function we will no longer be here in this earthly realm. Our physical body "contains" our "inner man" and allows us access to inhabit and navigate the earthly realm.

2 Corinthians 5:8
"we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."

Looking at this scripture we see that our identity must be more than just "physical", since at some point our physical body will die and our inner man will go to be with the Lord. Our body will die and it will return to the "dust", while our inner man will remain alive and be united with God.

2 Corinthians 5:1-4
1. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2. For indeed in this [house] we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; 3. inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. 4. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Our physical body is like a tent, or an "earth suit"; a temporary dwelling place.

Spiritually Alive

We also inherited our capacity to communicate with God from Adam. To be spiritually alive, the Greek word "zoe", means that our soul and spirit is in union with God.

2 Corinthians 4:16
"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."

We see here that even though we are growing older, and that our body may be changing and aging, we are still "spiritually alive with Christ" if we allow Him to "renew" and strengthen our minds and spirit daily. To be in union with Christ is what the word "zoe" means, truly and totally alive! God created the first man, "Adam" to be in union with Himself.

So we see we really are a three-parted being; body, soul, and spirit. We seek the Lord to be "alive" in every area. This is good for me to remember, as I have a birthday coming up in about 5 weeks. The mirror and the calendar sometimes don't appear to be my friends, but I need to remember, that I'm still the person God created me all those years ago. I may be growing older, even dealing with some physical things, but my inner man is still being renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2
1. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

These verses in Romans have been one of my "life verses". And I need to remember to be daily allowing God to "transform me" into the image of Himself. Big job.

much love,

(concepts and diagram taken from Chapter 1 "Victory Over the Darkness")

Love your comments.
 Let us hear about how you relate
to these scriptures and ideas,
and what they mean to you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who Are You?

Today, we're starting something new. We're looking at a book that changed my life. If you haven't read my post from yesterday, please do. I'm going to be sharing some ideas and concepts from a book that made a huge impact on my Christian life. I highly recommend Victory Over the Darkness, and if you'd like to read and follow along, feel free. If you just want to read these posts, that's great too. I'll try not to cover too much in each post. It's good simple Christian "psychology". Many of these truths you already know, but hopefully we'll discuss these as they pertain to our lives and experience. You know how I love for you all to comment! Please join in. Share what these ideas mean to you!

Chapter 1  Who Are You?

When someone asks "who are you" what do YOU say?

How would I describe myself?

Let's see, I would say...Debra

No, that's my name

OK, I'm a stay at home, antique and junk lovin', Christian blogger.

No, that's what I do.

I'm an American.

No, that's where I live.

I'm a non-denominational pentecostal, charismatic, whatever...

No, that's my "Christian label".

OK, well, I'm short; 5' foot tall, I weigh !## pounds, (need to lose a few here). I have auburn hair (thankyou, Preference) green eyes, and a big mouth.

Not it either...

Well, then who am I?

Let's look at these scripture to see where to start.

The Apostle Paul says:

2 Corinthians 5:16-17
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view; even though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come."

Or this scripture as God was speaking to Samuel about David's older, handsome brother in regard to choosing the future King of Israel:

1 Samuel 16:7
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him, The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

So, let's think about this question: "Is who you are determined by what you do, or is what you do determined by who you are?" Knowing who we are is foundational for not only our Christian walk, but for our everyday life.

Is "who we are" on the outside the same as "who we are on the inside"? Do we spend alot of time trying to make "who we are on the outside" appear to have it all together, when "who we are on the inside" is falling apart? Been there...for many years. Often we spend so much effort to look and act "normal", when what we are feeling inside is a shambles. Our outer self, becomes a facade, hiding our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Appearance, social status, success(?), and the admiration and recognition that these bring can sometimes lend itself to a false sense of worldly security.

Version: NAS

Luke 9:25
"For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

What if we spend our whole life thinking our value is in the "world's system" when it really is not? Our value is found in Jesus Christ alone.
 As King Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes 1:2 "Meaningless, meaningless! says the teacher, Everything is meaningless!"  He felt everything was without substance if you didn't know the Lord. There is futility in life if you don't know God.

As a society we buy into the idea that "happiness" is equated with good looks, money, and status. Are we "hopeless" if these are not who we are? And how much better if we can regard ourselves through the eyes of Christ, instead of our own. To look at our own selves and others and not see the "physical" but to look at the heart of the person.

God wants us to focus on "who we are in Christ". To find our worth and value in Him. The following are just a few scripture that will show us who we are in Christ. Feel free to copy them and look them up in your devotion time.

"Who I Am in Christ"

I am born again…through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)

I am a child of God. (John 1:12)

I am saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I am loved by God and He gave his one and only Son for me. (John 3:16)

I am a new creation in Christ; the old has gone and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have peace with God. (Romans 5:1)

The Holy Spirit lives in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I have access to God's wisdom. (James 1:5)

I am helped by God. (Hebrews 4:16)

I am reconciled to God. (Romans 5:11)

I am not condemned by God. (Romans 8:1)

I am justified. (Romans 5:1)

I have Christ's righteousness. (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

I am Christ's ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

I am completely forgiven. (Colossians 1:14)

I am tenderly loved by God. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I am the sweet fragrance of Christ to God. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

I am a temple in which God dwells. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I am blameless and beyond reproach. (Colossians 1:22)

I am the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)

I am the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

I am a branch on Christ's vine. (John 15:1,5)

I am Christ's friend. (John 15:5)

I am chosen by Christ to bear fruit. (John 15:16)

I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him. (Romans 8:17)

I am united to the Lord, one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I am a member of Christ's body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)

I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

Today, let's evaluate what we think of ourselves. Do we feel like we are nothing in the world's eyes? Does society call us "losers"? Do we call ourselves "losers"? Maybe we have a lot or all of what society calls success. Are we attractive, personable, talented, wealthy? Have we reached or are within reach of all our goals?

If you are having an issue with your identity in the sight of God and if you aren't sure where you stand in the "big picture" of your life, look up these scripture.

Really, when you get down to it, our identity is a result of our understanding our relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him I am nothing; with Him, I can do all things, through Christ. Thank you, Jesus!

much love!

(concepts taken from chapter 1,"Victory Over the Darkness")

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finding Victory

In 1999 I had hit the bottom. I was going through a spiritual transition. Sometimes, as they say, things have to get worse before they get better. Emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually; everything in my life was needing an overhaul. I was seeking God, really seeking Him, but I felt like for each proverbial step forward I was taking 2 steps back. Depression was taking a toll on me and everything else in my life. I had had some physical issues that were nagging at me. Hypoglycemia, hypothyroid, peri-menopause, the beginning of heart problems that were then yet to be diagnosed. Then my Dad died. Top that off with our younger daughter's struggles, (an 18 yr. old) and my life was heading into the "perfect storm".

Day to day living was getting harder and harder. I was attending church regularly, but that wasn't solving my problems. I was reading the Bible and Christian books, and it was helping, but still I was floundering around like a fish thrown in the bottom of the spiritual boat.

We were attending a large denominational church; several thousand members. There were a lot of options for study and they regularly hosted guest speakers, conferences, and workshops on any number of relevant and not so relevant topics. One Sunday in our worship handout there was a notice of a conference coming up. A "Freedom in Christ" Conference led by the head of the ministry, Neil Anderson. Funny thing, I had purchased his second book in the series when there were some issues I needed clarification in. But I hadn't read his first book, Victory Over the Darkness.

I attended this first conference and I have to tell you, it was like "someone" turned on the lights in a pitch black room. Talk about "aha" moments. I was blasted all through the 2-day conference. One thing after another. God was using this time to literally give me the biggest wake-up call of my life. A bucket of cold "living water", right in my spiritual face!

This began a time of sorting out my thought-life. My perspective on God and my Christian life had been "screwed up". If I could say that one thing was the pivotal, crucial, and life-changing experience of my Christian walk up to that point, it would be reading and studying this book. I felt like I had been living in a deep dark forest and I was starting to see glimpses of light up ahead!

This conference was the start of me not only reading and studying this book, but then studying within this "ministry" itself. Taking courses to qualify as a member of the team at our church and then becoming a prayer facilitator and teacher. I worked within this ministry for several years, and it was during this time that God gave me a great passion to help other women who were in the same place I had been.

I knew in my heart at some point I would want to share this book with you. Please don't get me wrong, I don't "idolize" this book or this ministry, but the information I received and allowed God to incorporate into my heart was in every sense of the word, "life-changing". It is what I call "Christian counseling at the very best."

Dr. Anderson is and was a Christian counselor who after seminary, felt the call to help individuals with discipleship. For years he gained information on Biblical understanding of what it takes to bring change to people. This book "Victory Over the Darkness" is that cumulative information; good Christian pyschology.

I am going to be going back through this book, pages well worn and marked. I will listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads me on breaking down and passing along this information to you. To many of you, this will be affirmative, to some it will give food for thought, and for others, who were like me, I pray this will be new and refreshing thinking; some "aha" moments. I'm hoping that no matter where you are in your Christian walk that you can join in and identify with the concepts and ideas.

Like any new and groundbreaking concept, Dr. Anderson and his ministry, received criticism. People always have their own opinions. I first measure something by the "Word of God". Is it Biblical? yes. Then my own experience. Was my experience Biblical? You better believe it! So to those who have disagreed, so be it. I know how this radically changed my mind and life and cleaned out all the junk that had been festering in my life and heart for my whole existence. I hope that even if you are familiar with this ministry that you will stick with me and look at this with a fresh perspective.

If you'd like to read along you can find this book on Amazon or at any Christian bookstore. It was published in 1990 and has been proven to stand the test of time. By all means I'm not saying that you have to order this book. I'm going to go through it and discuss it from my perspective, life and viewpoint. Just sharing information in case you are interested.

The subtitle and description of this book is so very accurate; "Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ".

And I hope that is what we will do. Realizing who we are in Christ is the key to our Christian growth and walk. I hope you'll join in, and find "victory" for your everyday life, just like I did.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pray the Word

When I wrote this Bible Study on prayer, it was just to set up a foundation for our prayer lives. I was within a time constraint that meant it could not be all-inclusive. There are so many facets of prayer and so many ideas and concepts, hopefully we will be able to cover some more ground here at another time.

"In depth" study of prayer is such a beneficial undertaking. The first, and one of the very best books that I have read on the subject of prayer, is by Andrew Murray. It was written over 130 years ago by a Dutch Reformed pastor in South Africa. It is a classic and foundational study; "With Christ in the School of Prayer".
There are so many contemporary books also, that are insightful and energizing that will guide you on starting a more intimate and fruitful prayer life.

I want to share one more concept about prayer that helped me in the beginning of my prayer journey. Praying God's Word. This is a concept that I heard about many years ago. There are "prayer promise" books that have categories for your particular need, such as marriage, physical health, fear, hope, faith, repentance etc. They can be found at any Christian bookstore and they offer scripture that addresses your particular need. We know that the Bible is God's Word to us, so if we pray the scripture back to Him, we know we are praying within His will and guidelines.

Praying passages from the Psalms and Proverbs are also a wonderful way to incorporate scripture into our prayers. Reading the books written by Paul and praying back the prayers of Paul the Apostle are passages of scripture that we can find great promises in, such as in the first chapters 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians 1 and 2 Timothy. These prayers were spoken by Paul to encourage and build up the people of the churches in the early New Testament. They are still so very relevant for us, as individuals today.

Version: NAS

Ephesians 1:17-19
17."... that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18. [I pray that] the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19. and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. [These are] in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20. which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly realms."

Let's take this apart and see how we can pray it back to God. 

17." Dear Father, I ask that you might give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation knowledge about You, so that I might learn and understand who You are. 18. and that the "eyes of my heart" might be enlightened so that I can see and know the Hope of Your calling; that I might know the riches of your glory in the inheritance that I have as a Christian. 19. I ask to know the surpassing greatness of Your power toward me, and the strength of your might, like you used with Jesus when you raised Him from the dead."

Here's another passage from Paul's prayer in Philippians.

Philippians 1:6
[For I am] confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

So let's pray: Dear Father I know You began a good work in me, and I am confident that you will perfect it and bring it to fulfillment.

If this idea seems a little overwhelming just take one or two verses and break them down. Concentrate on praying those back in your prayer time. Then move on when you feel it's time. God will direct your prayer time if you will only ask.

We have looked at God's desire for relationship which leads to communication in prayer. We saw that God's great desire is for us to seek after Him. We have looked at elements of God's Nature, and realized that by being aware of these things it will bring us confidence in our ability to come before the Father to pray.

And for me the most important thing I did was to ask God to teach me to pray. Just like the disciples with Jesus, I wanted to know how to communicate with God. I had to admit that I needed His direction and then I asked Him to give me a desire to know and love Him, which would generate my desire to pray.

 Prayer should be thought of not as a burden, but as a great privilege.

Be sure and check back tomorrow as I introduce our next subject. I think you will find it to be exciting and life-changing, as I did.


p.s. I need to add a link to this blog, that my sweet sister-in-law visits. It is a small town in Virginia, they need our prayers.
Notforgotten Farm

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Abba Father, He's My Dad!

Who wouldn't love to have a great relationship with our Dad? Many of us had great ones, while some of us really lacked the ability to have a wonderful father-child relationship. Some dads traveled, some dads weren't communicators, some dads had themselves been hurt as little children and couldn't show affection. Some were too harsh, others too lenient. Some were absent physically or emotionally. Some were even abusive. Then some of us were distant, too busy, or thoughtless. There are many reasons why we haven't had a perfect relationship with our earthly dads, but our Father in Heaven isn't like our earthly "Dad", no matter how wonderful he might be.

We as human parents love to give gifts to our children. Christmas, birthdays, sometimes even a "just because" gift, just to let them know we love them. Our Heavenly Father feels exactly the same about us. He wants to give us good things. He longs to bless His children.

Matthew 7:7-11
7. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. 9. "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10. "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11. "If you then, being evil, (by comparison) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Matthew 6:8
"Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.

James 4:2
You lust and do not have; [so] you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; [so] you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

God knows what we need, yes. He's all knowing, but He still desires for us to ask. And then say "thank you, Father."
These first three scripture talk about our "asking" the Father for the things we need, but have you thought about asking Him for everything that HE would like to give you. There may be gifts and blessings that we haven't thought about, that He would like to bestow upon us.

We've probably heard the story about the man that arrived in heaven and was led to the large room filled with rows and rows of beautifully wrapped presents, each one tied with a bow and sitting on a shelf. He was amazed and asked his guide what they were. The guide replied. "These are all the gifts and blessings that God had for you, but you never thought to ask for."

A little simplistic, but wouldn't you want to receive each and every gift that God had prepared for you out of His great love? This goes for not only material things and blessings, but how about friendships, experiences, and spiritual gifts. Many people are afraid to ask for spiritual gifts because they think they are "scarey". God is good, He will prepare and nurture you for your giftings.

Psalm 103:1-5
1. [A Psalm of David]. Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, [bless] His holy name. 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3. Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; 4. Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5. Who satisfies your years with good things, [So that] your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Here we see that God has gifts and "benefits". These come with our salvation "package", but sometimes we don't know or recognize it. Salvation, forgiveness of sin, health, love, spiritual optimism and hope. A satisfied life. Youth in body, mind, and spirit. These gifts are all available for us by "asking" for them.

Galatians 4:6
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

These last two verses talk about God refering to Himself not only as our Father, but as our Dad. How wonderful to know that God says "I love you so much, call me Dad!" Knowing God in this way enables us to go before Him to "ask" because we know He loves us, really loves us. This gives us the understanding that we have a loving dad who wants us to ask for the things we need, even though He knows these things in advance. He has a plan to give us all that He wants to give us, and so that we will come before Him with confidence, that we might have "effective prayer".

Hope you are having a great start to your week.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Comments

Hi Everyone,
I hope you have had time to read and study along with us this week. We've been looking at scripture that speaks to us about God's "Nature"; His qualities and personality, and how that relates to our confidence in Him. Prayer is still the main focus, but we have to "know" God before we have "confidence" in Him. Then our confidence in God translates into "effective prayer".

Version: NAS

James 5:13-16

13. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. 14. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15. and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Remember, if you haven't read or have missed out on any of the daily posts, please comment here on the weekend comments. That way everyone else will get an opportunity to read and share.

I have a little more in this study on prayer, but I'm letting God lead me on what He would like us to discuss next. I've mentioned it before, but if anyone has questions or topics that you are interested in please let me know. I'll be open to see where they might lead. I want to keep this Bible Study relevant, and I know God can surely do it.

I'll be checking back in throughout the weekend. Have a great one!


Friday, January 22, 2010


What is your perception of God? How do you see Him? Do you see an angry old man hurling lightning bolts at the human race from the heavens? What about a kind and loving rotund figure sort of like "Santa in the sky"? What about Jesus...what does He look like to you? How do you equate your ideas of God the Father with your idea of Jesus of Nazareth? Are they alike, the same?

New American Standard Version

Hebrews 6: 17-20
17. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18. in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. 19. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a [hope] both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20. where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

God has certain purposes for His children here on earth, to come into relationship with Him and to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ are two that we have been discussing in this study on prayer. In this scripture passage the writer of Hebrews is telling us that these promises that God has given us are certain because of who God is. He is telling us that God is unchangeable and that He also swears to us in an oath that He will not lie and that the promises He has made are "good"; they are Truth.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today, [yes] and forever

Malachi 3:6
"For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

These two verses basically say the same thing. Jesus never changes, God never changes. Thank you, Lord. I'm so glad He doesn't get sick of me. That He doesn't lose patience with me. That He doesn't change His mind and decide I'm not living up to His standards. So I'm out!
John 14:7-10
7. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." 8. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9. Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and [yet] you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father '? 10. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

I grew up in a church where "hell fire and damnation" were the sermon topics of each week. Whether or not there was anything else preached I can't remember. That was all I could remember. Week after week, year after year. It really didn't even matter if the pastor changed. It was all the same. I remember when I was a teenager. I really had had it up to my eyeballs with hearing how I was going to hell if I didn't repent, and "get saved". I don't know if anyone else has been through this, but finally I'd had enough of condemnation and misery. I was 6 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I knew I had made that decision. I knew I was going to heaven. Why did I have to hear the same "sermon" every week? It warped my view of Father God. I felt like He was sitting up in Heaven just waiting for me to mess up so He could "punish" me.

Don't get me wrong, I know we need to know about the consequences of our lives lived without Jesus. But I just needed more. I needed to know about the love of God for "me"; me individually. I knew God loved me because He sent His son to die for me, but I wanted to know how he felt about me, personally.

When I was a little girl I loved Jesus so much and so enjoyed all the Bible stories I had learned in Sunday School. Jesus loved children and small furry animals and only got mad if you tried to sell things in the sanctuary. Then you better watch out!

Into my adult years I was never able to put God the Father and Jesus "together". Not until I really had this verse put into my heart.

So how do you justify all the bloodshed and "justice" of the Old Testament in light of what the New Testament says? I never could wrap my mind around it. How could God change from the stern disciplinarian of the Old Testament to the sweet baby and loving young teacher of the New Testament?

Here goes. A simplistic answer straight from the Holy Spirit. God has never changed. He has been the same through all eternity. God had had a plan in the Garden of Eden, but we messed up. So, plan B involved more "structure" by the 10 Commandments and the Law. Men still messed up. The only way to remedy this was by sending Jesus, God's son, yet the embodiment of God, to live and then die for us as payment of our sin. He "paid the price". God is Holy, and He does not allow sin in His presence. Jesus "justified" us by His death and resurrection.

Now, God did not change, but because of Jesus death on the cross, our perception of Him changed because we are now "covered in the blood of Jesus". When the Father sees us, He sees His Son, Jesus. There is a reason that our dating of time starts with the birth of Jesus. B.C. and A.D. Before Christ, and Anno Domini, meaning in the year of our Lord. Time and history radically changed at Jesus birth and death and crucifixion. We are now able to approach the Father, because of Jesus shed blood on the cross. Before, that could not happen.

We have been looking at God's nature and how that pertains to our prayer life. Knowing that God doesn't change and that we can trust Him, gives us confidence to come before Him in prayer.

I'm interested in hearing about how your views of God were shaped and how you have perceived Him in the past and present. Share with us your journey of knowing God.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

True to His Word

Don't we all want to be a person that's true to their word? I don't think any of us set out to "lie", nor do we want to be known as a "liar". I want people to feel like they can trust what I say, and that my actions will back it up. I want my "reputation" to be that of someone who is genuine, not a liar.

That's why I'm honest about the topics here. If I have an issue in any one of these areas, I want to be "upfront". So, if for some strange reason, just because I write this blog everyday, you may be thinking I have it all together, I have to inform you, that "NO", I'm far from it.

There are no perfect people. We are all flawed and that goes in the area of honesty and truth telling. My point today is not about we humans, that goes without saying. We've all lied or "fudged" or exaggerated. I'm talking about God today, that He IS Truth, and He will never lie. What He says stands firm. It is up to us to believe Him and the truth of His Word, the Bible.

Below are some verses that speak about God's Nature in the area of honesty, truthfulness, and promises that are found in scripture.

Version: NAS

Numbers 23:19
"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

God is not like us in the area of truth telling, He never needs to repent because He is perfect, without flaw. When He says something in His Word, or to us personally, it is our responsibility to have faith in that "word" and believe Him for it.

Isaiah 55:10-11
10. "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11. So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding [in the matter] for which I sent it.

God sends His Word out through the scripture in the Bible and just like the rain waters the earth, we can count on it. His Word waters our thirsty souls and gives birth to the seed He puts there. When you feel The Holy Spirit "quickening" your heart over a matter; when a certain scripture just "speaks" straight to you. Grab ahold of it, and let it get planted in your heart. Water it with faith in God and His Word. Let it stay there until, in God's perfect timing it will sprout and flourish.

John 4:50-53
50. Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off. 51. And as he was now going down, [his] slaves met him, saying that his son was living. 52. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." 53. So the father knew that [it was] at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed, and his whole household.

This man had come to Jesus because he had a sick child. He wanted Jesus to come with him before it was too late, but Jesus said in so many words, "If you will just trust my word your child will live." That is what happened.

Acts 10:34-35
34. And opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand [now] that God is not one to show partiality, 35. but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.

In Acts Chapter 10 Peter meets with a Gentile (anyone not a Jew) named Cornelius. He was a Roman centurion, who was a believer in Jehovah God. Up until this time, the message of salvation had been only for the Jews, but now God was showing Peter, the Apostle, that the message was for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. It was an eyeopener for Peter. God desires and loves each and everyone of us, no matter what nationality. It is totally up to our belief in Jesus as God's son. That is the qualifier.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20
19. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us-- by me and Silvanus and Timothy-- was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20. For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

God's Word is full of "promises". It is up to us to read and find them. Then believe God for them. They are all "yes" !

2 Peter1:3-4
3. seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Believing God's promises enable us to live a fruitful life. We get to know Him through His Word. We can trust Him, and all that He says to us.

Don't be overwhelmed with the amount of scripture. Let God speak to you about what He has for you. Let God put it in your heart for your particular need.

What I'm going to say next is of critical importance.

In the past, I knew God had told me something...He had given me a promise, but I didn't see it happen when I thought it should. God and I got in a big tangle over it. From that moment on I realized I do not know the "timing" of things, only that He is truth, not a liar. My job is to believe, trust, and wait. Wait until it comes to pass.

And that is where "patience" kicks in!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do you have GPS?

If you are a Christian we have one of these nifty little gadgets already installed. You don't have to pay extra, it comes with the package. Yes, we all have a GPS; you know, a "God's Plan System".

"GPS-the Global Positioning System is a U.S. space-based radionavigational, and timing services to civilian users on a continuous worldwide basis -- freely available to all. For anyone with a GPS receiver, the system will provide location and time. GPS provides accurate location and time information for an unlimited number of people in all weather, day and night, anywhere in the world."

Part of learning about God and His Nature is realizing that He cares for us, and that He has a good plan for us. God knows where you are at all times, and has a great plan to get you to your destination. He sees if we are "on course" and knows when we are about to make a wrong turn. He sees what lies ahead and warns, and protects. His timing is perfect and He asks us to stay close. It works all over the world and it's "freely available to all." He will talk us through every step of the way.

I know we've talked about God's plans for us before, but because this aspect of God's nature is so important I want to re-visit these scriptures. They never get old and can always offer us some new insight.

Version: NAS

Romans 8: 28-29
28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose. 29. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.

I've heard unbelievers say "well, I just believe everything works out for the good." While that is an optimistic attitude it's not particularly "truth" for those who are not in relationship with Jesus Christ. As Christians that trust God and live a life according to what He desires, we can be confident that He will take all things that we learn and experience, and make them ultimately turn into "good".

I had a friend many years ago that had lost a son tragically in a car accident. Two years later when I met her, she was still raw and angry at God. She had received this "word" from God over and over, even by people that did not know her and the loss of her son. When the Lord impressed me with this scripture and was adamant for me to speak it to her, she became infuriated and blew up at me.
"How can you say what happened was good?"
Then I showed her that the verse did not say what happened was good, but that God would take it and ultimately make good come from it. As we submit our life and experiences to God, He will heal us from hurt and harm and will take those burdens from us, then He can work supernatural things in our life. But only if we allow Him to do so.

Romans 12: 2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

As we allow God to "transform our thinking" we are then able to hear and understand His will. If we are "worldly thinkers" then we will not see God's plan or believe it to be "good".

Ephesians 1:11
NIV In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.
NAS: also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.

Our inheritance as God's children is to be like Jesus. He has a predestined (thought out in advance, determined and planned in advance) plan for us, and asks us to be available to follow that plan.

Ephesians 2: 10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God created good works for us to do here on earth. Each person's works and plans are not the same. God calls each of us to be in His likeness, that way wherever He puts us and whatever He asks us to do, we will be letting Him shine through.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Going back to that GPS, isn't it easier to read if all you have to do is stick on a major Highway? I'm not particularly good at map reading, but when we go to St. Louis to see our kids, we have a straight path, one highway.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
11. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13. 'And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart. 14. 'And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'

This is one of my favorite scripture passages and I speak this back to God frequently. His plans for us are for good and not calamity. He gives us a future and hope! No matter if we get off course, as these Israelites had done, He promises to bring us back to Him and that He will restore us.

Genesis 50:20
"And as for you, you meant evil against me, [but] God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

As Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brother's lack of love and ruthless jealousy, God had a plan all along. He situated Joseph in the Pharaoh's household and gave him access to the wealth of Egypt. So when famine came God would have a plan to build the nation of Israel.

John 10:10
The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Here Jesus is telling us that He does not kill, steal from you, or plan on destroying you. Please remember this. It is our, enemy, the devil that does these things.

With what is happening in our country today and in our personal lives, stay strong with the power of the Holy Spirit. Remind God of these scriptures, for yourself and family. TRUST Him and ask for His good plan for your life and your loved ones.

He is good and has good plans for us!

love to you all,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To "Know" Him is to Love Him.

Before we fall in love with someone, we usually get to know them. Someone might be gorgeous, and looking at them from "across a crowded room" might spark interest or desire for them, but to fall in love... it's most often because we have spent time with that "someone" and we are beginning to know their personality and "nature".

Many people find it difficult to love God. Why? Because we really don't know God. We might honor and respect God, but He wants us to love Him, like He loves us. That can be difficult if we are not interested in knowing God. 

Lets look at some scripture that gives us a basic understanding about God. Read them with an open mind. Put aside any preconceived notions about God, and let's take a look at what the Bible says about Him.

1. God IS Love and He loves us.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16-1
16. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19. We love, because He first loved us.

Romans 5:5-8
5. and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 3:17-19

17. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19. and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

2. God has understanding of human emotion and He loves us with passion.

Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.

John 11:33-36
33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, [also] weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, 34. and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 35. Jesus wept. 36. And so the Jews were saying, "Behold how He loved him!"  

Matthew 9:35-36
35. And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 36. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.

We've looked at a lot of scripture, yet we have only scratched the surface in seeing how much and how deep God loves us. So many people look and think of God with the same "lens" that they use with their earthly father, yet God's love for us is incomparable. Earthly love comes no where near what God the Father feels for us. He is perfect and has perfect love for us.

Matthew 23: 37-39
37. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39. "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

I was just thinking last night about how I had heard on television once about a forest fire, and how they had found a momma bird in the aftermath that was scorched and lifeless, sitting on her nest. When the forestry people picked up her stiff charred body, a group of healthy baby birds were alive underneath. They were untouched by the ravages of the fire. Even though the momma could have flown away to safety she chose to stay and protect her little ones. My heart broke at the thought that Jesus is like that momma bird with us. He chose to stay and sacrifice Himself, so that we might have life.

I hope you think on these tender verses about Father God, and His Son, Jesus; that you might understand His great and passionate love for each one of us.

Blessings for a wonderful Day!

p.s. Laura asked a wonderful question about the Hebraic priesthood. Check the comments from yesterday if you have a moment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where's Your Confidence?

One of the all-time favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz. Imagine yourself being Dorothy after her long exhausting trip to the Emerald City to see the Wizard. She's ready to step up and make her request before the powerful Oz, but when she and her companions arrive for their audience they are terrified by the atmosphere. The tin man is "jangling", the lion is trying to escape, and the scarecrow is falling over in his state of fear. Have you ever felt like that when you come before God to pray? Do you feel small and overwhelmed by God, feeling like you can't measure up, that you are insignificant, or that He is intimidating?

God is certainly all powerful, and "Ruler of the Universe". He does ask for respect and honor from us, but ultimately he is not "hiding behind the veil" manipulating us. He wants us to know we have been invited into His presence.

In the Old Testament times when the Tabernacle was constructed there was a massive curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle. It was many inches thick, and impossible to be hung or moved by just one man. It was in this place that the Ark of the Covenant was located and the place where the Spirit of Jehovah God resided. Only a priest was allowed access into the Holy of Holies, and only then, he was allowed after ceremonial cleansing and being prepared with a time of repentance.

That was the way it was until the very moment that Jesus died on the cross. When that occurred the curtain, or veil, was supernaturally torn down the middle. This represented the fact that Jesus had made possibly by His death, our access to God the Father. The dividing wall was down. We the common man now would be able to not only speak to, but to fully know the Father.

Exodus 40:33
Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.

Luke 23:44-45
44. And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45. the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

 Ephesians 2:14-16
14. For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15. by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace, 16. and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

Jesus became our High Priest, and now goes to the Father on our behalf, as He has suffered that we may know God and come before Him.

Hebrews 4:14-16
14. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin. 16. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 10:19-23 19. Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21. and since [we have] a great priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

Jesus made the way for us to communicate with and to know God the Father. Because of Him we can "go behind the curtain" so to speak. So that we can have nothing separating us; full access to God.
We saw in the scripture last Friday that God invites us in to know Him. It is His desire to be in relationship with us. He desires fellowship and communication. When we communicate with someone we begin to learn about their nature. Knowing God's "nature" enables us to come to Him in prayer with confidence.
Tomorrow we will begin looking at scripture that speaks to us about God's amazing nature.