God’s Abundance or My Scarcity?

My God will supply allyour needPart one in a series running through December

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For the last three weeks, through 2 sermons, a blog, and finally through a speaker at a Christmas dinner, I’ve heard this question posed in a variety of ways:

Do I recognize and embrace God’s abundant gifts; or do I instead choose to live on my scarce resources?

What does God’s Word say?

…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. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

I rarely use the words ‘abundance’ or ‘scarcity’, let alone use them together, and so hearing them multiple times over the last three weeks has gotten my attention and made me consider my life on several levels.

When I first heard a similar question posed three weeks ago, I immediately thought of our finances. My husband has been off work for several months with an injury, and finally went back to work Monday.

As one month turned into two, then three, then four, and now seven, my tendency to worry has increased as finances have gotten tighter. Yet, through this whole time, God has taken care of us. One of the biggest gifts is that Gary and I have had time to spend together as we’ve never had in our young marriage. It’s been sweet for both of us. Gary’s body has healed well. Throughout this time, we’ve been able to use savings, and God has provided in other unexpected ways.  To add to the blessing, upon showing up for work Monday, Gary was made supervisor of a job requiring a lot of overtime, which will help greatly. So rather than focusing solely on my concerns, I need to thank God for how He’s abundantly cared for us. Since several of the gifts have only come within the last couple of weeks, it’s taken some effort on my part to re-focus my thinking, to be honest.
It helps to make lists of God's daily gifts. Click To Tweet
Maybe your situation is different. Maybe you can’t yet see any of God’s gifts and things are getting pretty rough. Or maybe you see His ‘gifts’ but they aren’t what you wanted or expected. I get it. I’m truly sorry.

Can I pray for you?

Lord, whatever situation my friend finds themself in, please give them hope. Even if the gift you provide is different than they longed for, or not what they expected, help them to hold onto your love and good plans for them as they unwrap this gift from your hand. Please. Use this unexpected gift to show them your ultimate best for them. Help them to hold onto you as they wait to see your plan unfold. Please. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let me know if I can pray for you in any way, especially if this post has brought pain screaming to the surface. It may also be helpful to look at Part 2 in the series, “To Trust or Worry.

With love,

Robin <3

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A Fresh Look at Jesus

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

WEEK TWO OF FIVE IN THE SERIES: “CHRISTIANITY FROM A FRESH PERSPECTIVE”

If we are going to take a fresh look at Christianity, then we must begin with how we view the One we worship and the message he came to proclaim.

Over the last 4 years I’ve had the opportunity to take my own fresh look. And although I met Jesus at 4 years old (and am now 58), and have been walking with him since – what I’m discovering has radically changed my life and walk. Even if you have walked with Jesus many years, please join me in taking a fresh look at this One who came to earth 2000 years ago for the purpose of restoring a relationship between God and man.

For those of us who’ve walked with Jesus any length of time, we can become immune to that which once captivated us. So before I begin, let me pray.

“Lord, protect us from boredom and from thinking “I already know this.” Rather, give us the heart of a child to see you from young eyes. Remove any hardening of the heart and any staleness. Breath your fresh, living Spirit upon these words so as we read them, we would we feel your wind blow life onto any parched ground. And give us a fresh longing to know you in all your majesty. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

WHO IS JESUS?

John the Baptist, a man sent from God to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming, described Jesus in John 1 in this way:

  • The only life-giving, creative Word – whose very words powerfully spoke the world into existence, and who continually speaks life into his creation
  • God of very God over all life and creation
  • The only Light, so powerfully bright it quenches the blackest darkness in universe and heart
  • One so great he could demand allegiance, yet chose not to force himself, accepting the rejection of his very own people
  • The One who lovingly embraces any who come and receive Him, granting them the honor of becoming part of his grand family – re-birthing them not because of any man’s decision, but by His Father’s decree
  • One so limitless, but yet chose to subject himself to the confines of human birth and existence. And living with us, among us – he allows humanity to see and touch glory
  • The One who fills our lives with his fullness, giving us the ability to experience abundant and overflowing grace and truth (Greek: kindness and reality)
  • The One who in making himself known, revealed God
  • The Lord (master); so perfect and flawless – yet he chose to sacrifice himself to pay the penalty due for the rebellion of his subjects
  • The One the Spirit of God descended upon at his baptism, thereby God declaring him “God’s Chosen One”
  • The One who fills us (his children) with that same Spirit (John 16:1-16 NLT; Romans 8:11 ESV)

Meditate on John’s description of Jesus. Don’t quickly brush by him. Then ask yourself: Do I recognize Him as he truly is – the One full of power and might, life and light, grace and truth – all things we desperately need to live? Do I act in a way that represents such great power, might, glory, and grace truthfully to my world?

WHY DID JESUS COME?

Luke 4, (especially verses 18-21). After being baptized, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert alone with God, also being tempted by Satan. The Bible says, after the 40 days, he returned to his hometown, Nazareth, filled with the Spirit. He entered the Synagogue on the Sabbath (the day of worship for Jews), which was his custom, and was given the opportunity to read the scriptures and then teach those who’d gathered.

As Jesus read and spoke from Isaiah 61, he proclaimed why he came to earth:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. (emphasis mine)

Do we see Jesus’ heart in coming to earth? Do we believe and long for the world to experience what was most on his heart, or do we respond as those did that day “He’s a good man with amazing words!”

Do we view Jesus as One with authority and power able to release those held captive, to set the oppressed free, and cause the blind (in life and in spirit) to see? Or do we act as though he is only “Joseph’s son”?

As I look at these few verses, and there are so many more, I’m struck with three things:

  1. I don’t really see Jesus as he is, and want to.
  2. I don’t live as though I believe he has the power today to release those held captive, set the oppressed free, and make the blind to see, through me.
  3. If I intimately knew Jesus as John did, and lived as though Jesus were who he claimed to be, my life and the world around me would be transformed.

Lord Jesus, please change my heart and mind. Grant me the ability to not only see you with fresh eyes, but to be transformed by knowing you. May I become your “skin” so as to become freedom and healing to a dark, imprisoned, hopelessly blind world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

With great joy because of the message of the Gospel,

Robin <3

You may also appreciate reading: Christianity from a Fresh Perspective and Power to Give Life 

 

 

Who’s Big Enough To Handle ….This?

When life gets bigger than me, and struggles loom much larger than my landscape, what I want more than anything, is to know there is:

  • Someone powerful enough to make certain I don’t crumble underneath the weight
  • Someone who is bigger than my struggle
  • Someone wiser than I am
  • Someone who can protect me
  • Someone capable of making certain, in the end, all will truly be well

Honestly, I don’t know of a single human who can tick off each of these boxes.  I can’t.  To insist upon it, would be a weight weightier than any of us could carry.

Yet, how often do we actually take the time to make such inquiries?  How often, when things are going well, do we even want to consider that life may not hold such goodness forever, prompting us to ask ourselves the questions, “Who in our world will be there for me when the bottom drops out?”  “And if there is such a one, are they able to handle it all?”  And, “Will they even care enough about me to assist?”

When life is good, we often forget we need a Savior.  We got it.

When life is easy, and the skies are blue, we can convince ourselves that our jobs are enough, our partner is enough, our children are enough, our accomplishments are enough, our activities are enough, and we are enough.

But when the skies crack open and our worlds’ collide out of control  – the gods we’ve made in our image, the things we’ve collected around us, the agents we utilize to numb our senses, everything we call upon to protect and feed our egos and cravings to the full, suddenly aren’t enough.

When our worlds begin to collide, then isn’t the time to try and figure out who is really big enough to rescue me.

Who is able enough?

Who is powerful enough?

And if there is such a one – do they even care enough to help me?

Because, at the moment of collision, all our cravings, collections, and contraband will crumble and fall into dust, becoming no more than gaudy baubles and cheap trinkets to be thrown to the wind.  Unable to assist.  Powerless to save.  Mocking that we needed so much more.

None of us want to plan for such moments.  But unless we do, we may find ourselves one day (or we may already have found ourselves) panicking, as we flail in the quagmire of debris.

These questions, today, are more than pure thought for me.  They are real, and the urgency of asking them great, as this week my church family will bury our beloved senior Pastor, “Pops”, after a long, painful bout with bladder cancer.  I know who carries us, but do you?

We all fashion gods in one form or another.  Careers, people, things, ourselves.  What we are willing to give our lives to pursue, become the gods we fashion.  Yet, we rarely consider if our gods are enough, until they fail.  And they will fail, eventually.

Handmade gods can rescue no one. But the God who created man can rescue anyone.

Throughout this blog, I will always try to answer the questions – Is there a God who made me?  If so, does he care about me enough to listen?  If he cares, is he able to answer?  Does he have the power to rescue?

I know there is such a God.  He has revealed himself through this intricately formed creation he has made – too vast and amazing to have come by accident.

He has also revealed himself through his living word – Jesus Christ, as found in the Bible.

And he has revealed himself to me, through a lifetime of discovering his interaction and intervention in my world.

AND THIS GOD,

Cares enough to listen.

And has the power to answer.

This week, I’d like to continue discussing this God’s power.  When worlds collide, it would be nice to know how powerful he is, because Superman is only a story, and I don’t want to do it alone.

Will you join me?

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

Why Do We Suffer, Part 3

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We were made to live in a garden, surrounded by God's goodness. Click To Tweet

What went wrong?

The Beginning of Suffering

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:1-10 (NIV)

Every time I read this, my heart breaks.

In choosing to eat from the tree, to acquire personal “knowledge” and “wisdom” apart from God, Adam and Eve immediately began to suffer the natural consequences of evil:

Decay and Death (verse 3)

They were created to know and experience God’s goodness alone.  Knowing evil was a poison that once entering their souls, suffocated their spirits with doubt, mistrust, shame, fear, and all manner of evil. Knowing evil altered their very core as their rebellion against their Creator imprinted on their souls. Thereafter the effects of rebellion and the knowledge of evil passed down from generation to generation.

Shame (see verse 7)

Before eating the fruit, their understanding of “good” came from the unchanging goodness of God’s character.  However, now, their sense of “good” would be based upon personal preference and circumstance. Ever-changing wisdom of man, rather than the unchanging character of God.

Their sense of “good” now saw shame in what God had made, so they covered their nakedness by sowing fig leaves to cover themselves in an attempt at providing their own goodness.

Fear (verses 8-10)

Evil is antithetical to Good – always has been, and always will be.  In listening to the serpent (Satan in disguise) and eating the fruit, Adam and Eve (as well as their offspring) became captive to Satan and sin, blinding them to God’s goodness.  Now aligned with the enemy of God, they feared the one who had made them.  God hadn’t changed, they had.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16 (NLT) Click To Tweet

Are We Any Different Today?

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

On our own, we can’t restore what was lost; but God can.

The plan of restoration began even before Adam and Eve ate the fruit. And so the rest of this week, we will look at God’s restoration plan through the series, “Amazing Grace” in discussing “Who Is Jesus?”

This discussion was very difficult to write, and so took me much longer than normal to pen. Hence finishing up last week’s post this week.  These truths are so pivotal to understanding suffering in our lives and in the world; I didn’t want to mess it up.  

Again, I love discussion!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Why Do We Suffer? Part 1

I’ve asked this question in one form or fashion.  My son has asked, as he’s dealt with his father’s death, and every other thing he’s suffered through having autism. My step sons have asked as they’ve grappled with losing their mom.  My husband has asked. We may not all use the same words, but we have certainly asked, along with millions who’ve asked before us.  There will be millions after us.

Have I a pat answer?  No.  But I’ve grappled, and asked, and sought an answer in the only book I know can answer such questions authoritatively.  From the only author whose not only seen all suffering, but been through all suffering. The only One I know who can answer the question of suffering with personal experience, along with immense grace, mercy, and hope. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Here’s what I’ve come up with.  Please bear with me and don’t walk away before I’ve finished, with an “I know where she’s going, and I don’t want to go there.”  You may be surprised by the ending, if you wait it out.  Remember, I have several “t-shirts” as the backdrop to all of this.

God Made and Entrusted Adam to Rule Over His Creation

In the first days of creation, God waited until after he’d made the sun, moon, planets, land, oceans, sky, atmosphere, vegetation, fish, birds, and land animals. We were the last creature he made, and the pinnacle of his earthly creation. (Genesis 1, Genesis 2:15Psalm 8)

After, God said all he made was “good”.

God gave Adam the job of ruling over all he’d made, under him. That would be a “bit” more important than if the royal family of England called one day and asked one of us to run their kingdom for them, under their tutelage.   Pretty heady job! Along with this, Adam was tasked with tilling the ground and filling the earth with little Adams and Eves.

Don’t overlook this – God put Adam in charge.

God created Adam in his image – Adam’s ability and authority (his heart, compassion, courage, grace, mercy, and wisdom) to rule under God came from being made in God’s image.  

There Were No Barricades to Relationship

As God’s creation, made in his image, Adam longed to be in relationship with God. And God chose relationship with Adam.  This relationship was not forced but natural and beautiful, with nothing at this point to mar their communion as Creator and created. Nothing.

One of Adam’s first tasks was to name the animals.  The Bible says God brought each animal he’d made before Adam to see what he would name it.  I picture Adam sitting and thinking…contemplating… about each characteristic, each nuance, each detail of each creature as it came before him.  The Bible seems to insinuate God waited to see what Adam would name each animal, as if in anticipation. (Genesis 2:19-20)  I can imagine Adam talking it over with God, each together reveling in this moment when everything was new.

Of all the creatures in the garden, there was none like Adam.  So, God chose to give Adam a special gift.  He made one like him, to complement him, from his own body, and presented her to Adam, so that he wouldn’t be alone.  Adam named her – Eve.  There was no strife between them.  They were naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2:20-25)

Beautiful, huh!  No suffering at all.  Only “utopia”.  Something we’ve all longed for – not surprising as we all originated from this scene.  What happened?  Let’s continue the story tomorrow.

Until then,

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

The Only Right Response

In the burdens and busyness of daily activity, life sometimes takes on a hew of ordinary.  The sky is…blue. The grass is…green.  The breeze is…chilly. There’s a hint of rain in the air, and I must scurry and hurry to complete the next task.

However, when I slow enough to notice, the trees’ soft blossoms become delicate, aromatic, dainty. In those special moments, the bird’s melodic song warbles above me on a limb. I can laugh at the squirrels’ chasing one another in childlike delight.  The aroma of Spring wafts through the breeze as the rain patters on my umbrella.  I’m alive, and easily notice the Creator’s amazing artistry.

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And my soul echos a refrain to his praises.

Is it that creation’s beauty shows itself only on special occasions, like a child getting dressed for Easter?  Or is it in those moments when I’m busiest or most burdened, I’m not attuned to notice?

Have I allowed life’s burdens and cares to swallow me, rather than allowing the Creator’s life to envelope me and fill me so I’m able to respond to all he’s made and done?

If I were daily aware, what would creation’s amazing artistry confess to my soul?  And what would my soul cry back to our Creator?

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3-9 (NIV)

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Who is God?

He’s an amazing Manufacturer, Designer, and Artistic Creator.  His manual, the Bible, is full of detailed instructions on how to care for all he’s made.  It also includes details as to how we came to be, and for what purpose he made us.  It outlines his explicit rights as Manufacturer, Designer, and Creator of all he made.

We are so intricately made.  His creation so vast and immeasurable, that it behooves us to consider him, and his words.  When we do, there are rich benefits.  When we don’t, life won’t work well.

God made us with great love and care.  He deserves us to consider and take notice of all he’s said and done.

It pays to know this before the struggles hit.  Struggles will hit.  But, it’s wonderful to know before they hit, our amazing Creator is safe to run to.

I wouldn’t doubt at this point, if you haven’t had this view of yourself and God, the posts this week may have brought more questions than answers. Please, dear one, don’t stop reading. Next week we will continue this series with Part 2 – “When Life Doesn’t Go Right.” as we look at “Who Am I?”  Again, good things to know before the struggles hit.

If you’re in the middle of a storm already, please don’t give up.  There is hope.

As always, lets talk!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Following the Designer’s Care Instructions

Designer clothing is valuable because it carries the designer’s label and there are no two pieces exactly alike.

We carry our designer’s label.

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT) (italics are mine for emphasis)

Each of us is an individual masterpiece, created specifically and personally by the Master Designer himself.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT)

Each of us bear the Master Designer’s label because we bear his image.  None of us are like the other.  We are each his personal masterpiece!

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We would never consider wearing a designer outfit to work on a car or in the garden.  Nor would we out of convenience decide to wash it with our everyday clothing in the washing machine. Why not?  Because the value makes us want to protect and cherish it according to the designer’s care instructions.

‘For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  

Acts 17:28 (NLT) (italics mine for emphasis)

We would never think to say “I hate breathing oxygen, so I think I shall start breathing carbon monoxide today, just because I feel like it!”  Yet how often do we think we can decide to live outside of God’s care instructions because we feel like it, thinking we know better than the one who designed us?

God made us to live in his life and environment.  When we attempt otherwise, we starve from lack of him and die inside.

His care instructions state that we were designed to live in him.  That means that we were designed to find our satisfaction and identity in close relationship with him.  Not as a robot doing his every bidding without thought, but more as a lover responding to the love given.  

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God’s word, the Bible, outlines his care instructions for us.  It lays out the blessings for those who choose to abide by his instructions.  It also lays out what happens if we choose otherwise, in the form of warnings. Not because God wants to limit us, but because of his great love for his masterpiece, he wants us to have the most amazing life, by being cared for and cherished according to the value he placed upon us, and according to how he designed us.

What difference would it make in your life this very moment, if you decided to live within the care instructions of your Master Designer?  

I challenge you to discover the answer!  As always, I’d love some discussion!

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With love and prayers,

Robin <3