1 Samuel 17:37
“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
It is interesting how we doubt that God will take care of the obstacles before us. Even if God took care of us in the past, we have a hard time looking at our current situation and trusting that God will come through again. The Israelites had heard stories about how God performed mighty miracles for their a ancestors, from making a path through the ocean (yes an ocean) to daily raining food from the sky and bringing water out of rocks. And more recently they have seen God overcome the Philistines time and time again. But here they are at this point in time fearful of this Philistine, Goliath, that kept taunting them day and night.
It takes a young boy to remind them of God’s power. God had prepared David for this moment to show the Israelites that God is more powerful than ANYTHING before them. David did not forget what God had done for him in the wilderness and God needed to use David to show His power. We are like the Israelites, that easily forget how God has moved in our lives. When we need to be more like David and TRUST that if God battled the obstacles before, He will battle them again. Never forget God’s miracles. Remembering those miracles may give you the courage that you need to face your next Goliath.
As we move into Easter week, we are reminded of the sacrifice God made for us by sending His only Son to die for our sins. It was the ultimate act of love by our Father in Heaven and Romans 8:38-39, reinforces that fact. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And yet we continue to question this truth over and over again. We make a mistake and we constantly go back to that mistake and it only reinforces our suspicion that God could NEVER truly love a sinner like me. I think that is why God puts this reminder in His word. He needs for us to know that He sacrificed so we could be set free not so we could continue to live in the bondage of shame and regret. It is time we receive this never ending, pure love that can NEVER be taken from us. Stop running to your past for proof that you could never be loved by God, instead sit in the presences of the Lord, knowing that even though we sin, He will ALWAYS be right by our side.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4: 22-24
In my last blog, I shared how we can only love others when we truly love ourselves. This is very true. But many times, it is not an easy task. God’s word tells us that we are a new creation in Christ. When we accept Jesus, we have been transformed. But what happens when we struggle with believing we are no longer our former selves? God sees us as a new creation, but we do not. In this verse, it clearly tells us “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” It starts in our minds, in our thoughts. But even knowing that we have to think a certain way, is not enough. We are having a hard time throwing away our old clothing of sin because we keep digging it up from the trash reminding ourselves of the past. The only way to stop this behavior is to retrain our minds. Start focusing on what God says about us. This may come in the form of healing. I have found healing for many areas in my life and I know there is more healing to come. God used people around me to help me find healing from the pain and shame from my past. It was only at that point when I could truly see my “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Look inside your hearts to see if there is an area that is holding you back from truly loving yourself.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31
The two most important commandments are clearly given to us in Mark 12. We are to love God and love others. Many Christians find the first commandment easy enough. Many believe they understand the second commandment and follow to the best of their ability. I share in great detail the importance of loving those around you and how it contributes to the ministry God has given each of us, in my blog on 2/3/2016. But some still find it difficult to love others. There is something holding them back. They can’t quite forgive the hurt from others or extend love toward someone that drives them crazy. But I think there is a portion of these verses that many people overlook. It says to “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” Maybe that is the struggle. If we cannot love ourselves, how can we extend love to others. Maybe we are not fully accepting God’s forgiveness for our sins. God has forgiven us, but we can’t forgive ourselves. Now is the time to fully let it go and let God’s grace cover you. His word clearly states that we are made in His image. Our sins are wiped clean once we accept Jesus into our hearts. Yet we bring it up over and over again. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But we know too well that the enemy tries to throw our past in our face and remind us of who we were and what we have done. It is time to stop living in the past and hold on to the future God has for you.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching then to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Jesus calls each of us to reach out to ALL nations to share the gospel. This command is stated very clearly at the end of Matthew 28. To help with that calling, He has given us a passion unique to each individual. That passion leads to our ministry, but sometimes when doing ministry, life gets tough. We find ourselves in the middle of a spiritual battle. The enemy does not want us to reach out to the hurting and the lost. He will put up barriers so that we are afraid to do ministry. The cost seems too high. What about my family, God? Will they be okay if I choose to do ministry? But God knows all and at the end of this Great Commission He assures us that He will be with us until the end. He knows that there will be a point when we may want to walk away from what God has called us to do, because we can’t handle one more attack against ourselves or those we love. God is right there with us. He is always with us. God knew that each of us would come under attack when we decided to serve Him. I believe that is why He added the encouragement at the end of His call to us to do ministry. It was like He was saying, “Go out to the world and tell them about me and WHEN life gets tough, never forget that I am with you always.”
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
God has given each and every one of us certain giftings and talents. He placed those talents in our DNA before we were born. And yes, each of us has our own talents to contribute to this world. There is no one like us in the world. We are all parts of the body that need each other in order for the body to function properly. But regardless of whether or not we are one of a kind, it is extremely important for us to live out a life of love. Love towards one another and love towards ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 13, God spells out just how important love is for us and how nothing else matters if we do not have love. So are we loving our brothers and sisters? What about our neighbors? Maybe a person that hurt you deeply, are you loving them? We can have all of the natural ability in the world, but if we can not grasp the most important characteristic of God, are we going to be used to our fullest potential? Or will there always be something that is holding us back? I am presenting a challenge to you(but mostly to myself because I really need to live this out). Look deep into your heart to see if you are truly loving all of those around you. Ask God if there is someone that you are not loving. And all you have to do is LOVE them.
This year, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday fell on January 17, 2016. That date holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons. First, I value human life and I believe that we should not end that human life or allow others to end the life of another human being. Ronald Reagan was the first president giving the proclamation that the third Sunday of January was going to be designated as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This fight for human life holds very near and dear to my heart. I have been on both sides of the abortion debate. I fought hard in the early 90s for women and their right to choose to do with their body what they want. I adamantly supported that side of the debate and held on tight to my belief through my own abortion. My “rights” that I held on to so dearly, caused me more pain when I realized what I had done. I had to live with that decision for the rest of my life. That brings me to the second reason why January 17th is so special to me. It was on that date in 1999 that I walked into New Beginnings Community Church and allowed Jesus to enter my heart. He forgave me for every sin that I had committed including my abortion. I was changed forever. It has not been a pain free change. The Lord has brought me through hills and valleys. I have shouted praise to God on those mountaintop moments when I felt like I was on top of the world. And I wept in those valley moments when I have felt like I couldn’t possibly handle another trial. But I have learned to praise God in those moments as well. It has been in those moments where I have learned to forgive myself for my abortion and my “jaded” past. It has been in those moments where I have endured the pain of lost friendships only to realize how much God was truly watching out for me and my family and how He needed me to focus on the loving friends and family He has placed around me. In those valleys God showed me His love in a way I never thought possible and I never thought I deserved, but He reminded me that I do deserve the unconditional love only He can give. But without those moments of trial I would not have an ever changing testimony to share. I thank God for January 17th because He reminds me of how much He sacrificed for me and how much I need to press forward and stand up for those that do not have a voice.