Monday, December 30, 2013

Where do we go from here?

This year has been a challenging one for so many people. The economy has suffered and many have lost their jobs. Families that were once making ends meet are now finding themselves struggling. They wonder when or if things will ever get better. Worry takes over and fear sets in. Uncertainty looms as trust dwindles.

While none of us know what the future holds, we can rest in knowing who holds our future. God tells us that He sees our needs and knows what we need even before we ask. Let's look at one of God's names, the name that signifies His ability to see know us. The name El-Roi means "the God who sees me" and it is found in Genesis 16:13. "You are a God who sees me.”

Hagar, a servant of Sarah, Abraham's wife, served her mistress faithfully. She worked hard day in and day out and even gave Abraham a son when Sarah was unable to give him one. Her days rolled by in a monotone of mindless work. No hope of getting ahead, no chance for marriage or family. She had traveled far away from home for this position and had no intention of jeopardizing her job by messing up.
Sarah wanted a baby but was unable to have one so she gives her servant girl, Hagar, to her husband. No one knows it yet, but Hagar got pregnant! Suddenly, instead of things being better, all of a sudden they grow much worse. Sarah is very unkind to Hagar and very jealous of her. She speaks harsh words to Hagar and threatens her. She tells her husband, Abraham that she wants Hagar to leave. Abraham tells Sarah that she can do what she chooses to with Hagar, afterall, she is her servant Sarah banishes her from their home. Hagar is scared and bewildered. She does not understand why she is being sent away. She has done nothing wrong.
Hagar heads for the hills. She is so distraught that she stops in the middle of a desert road and begins to weep. Suddenly, the angel of the Lord appears and asks Sarah what she's doing and where she's going. He also tells her that she needs to go back to her mistress and submit to her. (Can you imagine Sarah's distress??) Then the angel tells her that God is going to bless her and give her many descendants through her son, Ishmael. That’s when she saw God. Actually, that’s when Hagar realized that God saw her. She says to God, "You are the God who sees me!"
So even though we don't know what the future holds, we know that God sees us and He holds the future. He sees the you that no one else ever sees. He sees deep into your heart and soul. He knows what's coming around the corner. He knows what the new year is going to bring into your life. Aren't you thankful that you don't know what the future holds? If we knew all the things that lay ahead, we might be scared out of our wits! But thankfully, we have a God who is loving and kind. A God who wants to bless us.
There's no cause for need to panic! Rest knowing that you have a God who sees YOU and loves YOU. Step out into the unknown with confidence knowing that He will give you just enough light for your next step on the dark path...all you have to do is be willing to pick up your foot and take the step....
(You can read the Bible story here:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My New Year's resolution: Choosing to give the gift of forgiveness

A new year is coming and as all of us do,  I began thinking about resolutions. As I searched my heart; I had to ask if I was holding onto any bitterness or unforgiveness. Were there past hurts that were still haunting me? Had there been hurtful words that still echoed in my mind? Could I be holding onto something that I should have let go a long time ago???

Forgiveness...the very word evokes pain doesn't it? If you've been hurt or wronged by someone, the wound is probably still very fresh in your mind. It's natural for us to want to retaliate when we've been wronged...that's the fleshly side of us wanting justice, but that is totally the opposite of how God sees it. When we want to hold onto that bitterness and unforgiveness, we inadvertently feed it as it slowly grows inside us. God wants to totally eradicate that pain so we can live in freedom.

Some people choose to replay the wrong done to them over and over in their instant replay on a movie screen. Each time the wrong is brought to the forefront of their mind, emotions swell and the hurt seems to grow larger and larger- festering like an infected wound. The hurt may have taken place many days, months, or years ago but as it is replayed, it can seem as fresh and new as if it were yesterday.

Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book, Forgive and Forget, "When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself." When we choose unforgiveness, we imprison ourselves in the past. We allow the wrong that was done to us to constantly weigh us down and hold us captive. If we choose forgiveness, by an act of our will, we allow God to release us from our man-made prison.

If we are obedient to Christ, we will choose forgiveness. In the Bible, we are given clear instruction in Colossians 3:13: "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." You may wonder how we can forgive when we don't feel like it? We forgive by choosing to forgive as a heart choice- an act of faith on our parts out of obedience to Christ. It's not in our nature to forgive on our own, so we have to allow God to forgive through empower us to choose to forgive. We can't just forgive in our heads by saying "I forgive you," we have to be willing to forgive from the heart. A forgiveness that says "I choose to forgive you even if you never know that I've forgiven you...even if you never ask for my forgiveness...even if you never admit that what you did to me was wrong."  
 Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. Many hurts will never be forgotten even though they are forgiven...but, God can erase the pain from the hurt if you will let Him heal your heart.  He can set you free from anger, bitterness, and resentment. We are the ones who suffer the most when we choose not to forgive the one who wronged us. Forgiveness isn't going to just happen overnight. Often times, it takes time and is a very slow process especially if you've been hurt over and over again.  Forgiveness is not a one time thing! The Bible tells us that forgiveness is a continual action, did you know that? In Matthew 18:21-22, the Bible tells us that Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when he sinned against him. Peter wanted to know if up to seven times was enough but Jesus said "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." In essence, He was saying, forgive as many times as you are hurt.    It's not easy to forgive but if we allow ourselves to see the person through God's eyes, how can we not forgive? When we remember that God forgave us for all of our sins, how can we hold unforgiveness in our hearts? Matthew 6:14-16 tells us "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." And in Mark 11:25, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

In order to truly be set free, we must choose to forgive. Don't allow roots of bitterness and unforgiveness to strangle your joy and happiness. Don't let the weeds of resentment grow in your heart! Unforgiveness is like a Cancer that eats away at us, slowly devouring our heart. Choose forgiveness and wrap that gift up in the love and grace of Christ. It won't be easy, but you can do it! I am choosing to give the gift of forgiveness in this new year. I'm choosing to release myself from the pain of the past. I'm going to begin this new year fresh and about you? Will you CHOOSE forgiveness? It's your choice after all, choose wisely.

Monday, December 23, 2013

God cares about the little things

It's two days before Christmas and my oven isn't working! I called the appliance repair company today and they are swamped. Perhaps they can get to me today and perhaps they can't...they can't guarantee anything. I'm in full fledged "freak out" mode. I'm going to have a house full of people on Christmas day and I don't know how I'm going to cook for them. My menu is planned and the groceries have been bought, I just don't know what to do! But wait a minute...the Bible says "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." It doesn't say cast some of your cares on Him, but ALL of them. Okay, do I really think that God cares about my silly little oven problems??? Yes, I do! I know that He cares about all things, big and small. He cares about what concerns me because He loves me so very much...after all, He is my Heavenly Father and Fathers always want what's best for their children, right??? So, I will humble myself and get on my knees before my Father and ask for a simple request. The Bible tells me that NOTHING is impossible for God and that if I have faith as big as a mustard seed, that I can say to a mountain be moved into the sea and it will be, if that is what the Bible says, then I believe it! I know that God knows my needs and even before I ask Him for His help, He's already providing. As an act of faith, I choose to believe that what God says, He means. Do I think it's a trivial prayer request, I might if I wasn't already aware that the devil certainly wants me to think that way so I won't take time to go before the throne...but since I know the way he works and understand his tactics, I'll just go with what I know to be true...that Jesus loves me and cares about me. He always wants the best for me. Even small things in our lives touch His heart and I believe with all my heart that He cares. No, I don't think that He's a genie that I can command to do this or that...heaven forbid! I would never presume to "tell" my Savior what to do...but, I do know that He hears my prayers and a prayer offered up in faith is subject to His mercy and grace. Even though my trivial little problem might not seem worthy of praying for, I'm going to trust it into the hands of a very capable, loving, kind, and giving Father and see what He chooses to do with it today. Maybe the repairman can fix it and maybe he can't...but either way, I know that I can take ANYTHING before the throne because my God is loving and merciful. He is full of graciousness and if He chooses to provide the knowledge or equipment that the repairman needs to take care of my little problem, then let it be so. If my oven isn't able to be repaired that's okay too, because I know that God works ALL things together for my good. Perhaps it's time for a new oven or perhaps there's another reason that I don't understand...I am choosing to trust Him no matter what so I'm going to say goodbye now and get down on my knees. I can almost smell the Christmas cookies baking, can't you???