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Posts Tagged ‘unbelief’

The dark moments in the past have a strange way of remaining alive and, while I’d thought moving ahead meant leaving them behind—discarded in the emotional trash heap–I’ve discovered the unexpected. God can use all of it.

In His hands, anything—and anyone—becomes new…restored…redeemed. Whatever the sin. No matter the regret.

Beauty!

Sometimes, though, I’m captured by the enemy’s lies. Instead of receiving God’s promises—I live as if the lies are true. Who do you think you are to tell people about Jesus? If they knew the truth about you…well, no one would listen.

 And a mental recording plays over and over—untruths spilling into my heart.  Unworthy. Unchangeable. Unloved.

 But when I heed those messages then I discount everything Jesus did for me—trading His perfection for my failures. Heavenly hope for my humanness. Sacred separation for my Divine acceptance.

Have you, too, grabbed hold of the adversary’s lies? Believed God is unable to do His work in you? Found that you’re stuck in unbelief and losing spiritual momentum? Remember, dear Friend, if you are in Christ then you were called for a purpose…on purpose. It’s time for us to throw off those hindrances and follow after Him—each step taking us deeper and further into those places that are less about our hang-ups and habits and more about Jesus.

This is the day to believe truth.

 

 Scripture for Reflection

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him.

(MSG 2 Cor. 5:17-19)

PatriciaHolbrook_RW_button3A-e1485727161169  LIVEFREETHURSDAY

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Big God

 

The small, golden statue sat immobile on my roommate’s shelf—its eyes boring into me while I studied, laughed with friends, and slept. When Victoria was away for more than a day or two, I spun her statue toward the wall—gratefully tossing a shirt or towel over its broad, grinning face.

I didn’t fault my friend for seeking meaning…for expressing her faith…for her belief in a religious system so unlike my own. But the miniature, man-made deity set my spiritual nerves on edge when we shared the same space.

As a young Christian with limited personal insight, I didn’t realize that I harbored my own set of little gods. Like a modern-day Rachel (Genesis 13), I covertly questioned the power of an unseen and inaudible Almighty God and–in an effort to feel more in control of my seemingly directionless life–I tucked away my personal idols for safekeeping—away from prying eyes.

While my friend proudly displayed her minor god, mine was disguised in the regular, day-to-day of young adult life. The lesser idols—a desire to please family or friends and an inward-facing, struggling self-image—were rarely noticed or, they adopted more acceptable labels. Rather than seeking approval? I was dedicated. Instead of severely limiting the food I ate? I had great self-control.

As the Father began to teach me about the woman I am in Christ, the shackles of unintentional idol worship started dropping off one by one. Slowly, year-by-year, I’ve begun to realize how big God really is.

He has healed miraculously. He has rescued regularly. He has protected inexhaustibly. My God is able!

There are still times I fashion God into my image—the picture of a small God smiling benignly as He sits idly by on a bookcase—and the worries, concerns, or priorities of this world threaten to grow into a something greater than they should be. Then? I return to the promises of scripture…prayer…the counsel of a trusted mentor. And I am reminded that a manufactured idol has never given its life for someone; a self-created god never offers peace.  Only Christ–the  One who left a tomb standing barren–is a big enough God to do these things.

Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Exodus 15:11

Who compares with you among gods, O God?
Who compares with you in power,
in holy majesty,
In awesome praises,
wonder-working God?

 

Complete this sentence.

*Complete this sentence.

“God is too small to take care of my (finances, children, health, ______________”).

*Is there an idol you’ve hidden away? Have you allowed any area of your life to have more value or importance than Jesus?

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What matters more than material blessings are the things He is teaching us in our spirit.

Charles Stanley

It all began much earlier for him, but most of the nascent signs were quiet and crept into life bit by bit–a silent predator slowly introducing the victim to its presence. Then two years ago, the boy’s everyday life shifted with such suddenness there could be no doubt. Our son knew what it was to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Sleep oscillated between the extremes of non-existent and constant.  Recurring migraines…weight loss…lack of appetite. And my adventurous, full-throttle son retreated to a solitary world that seemed impenetrable.  Once in a great while I would catch a glimpse of the boy , but the cloud of oppression that hung over him was normally the more visible of the two.

There is no heartache quite like that a parent has for her suffering child and in my grief I confronted God.  I wept.  I raged. I begged.  I prayed.

Please, Lord, please!

After more than two years of trial and error…missed school days and fading dreams, we discovered the right combination of interventions and supports–not the least of which included medication.  Finally…some relief for the boy I had soothed with lullabies not so many years ago.

During this time, my boy continued to seek after God.  He wanted more of Jesus–and, unlike me, didn’t seem to struggle with blaming God for allowing this trial in his young life.  Despite the depression…regardless of the anxiety…in spite of the weariness.

One evening he returned from youth group, his face transformed by joy.

We asked God to heal me.  I don’t need my medicine anymore.

christian : Man worshiping god shot at yellow grass Stock Photo

I was skeptical…fearful…doubtful.  I believed in miracles, but this? A young man’s life could be at stake.

Slow and methodical in my response,  I have taken the “yes, but” approach to this precious boy’s healing. “Yes–God can heal, but…”

Yes, but…healing is not probable…practical…likely.

Yes, but…this could be temporary…time-inhibited…explainable.

Yes, but…are you sure you can sleep…function…manage?

And he continues to do well.  Feel well.  Live well.

I have begun to relate to the Bible verse, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” in ways I never expected.  And I wonder if any of you understand?  If you’ve lived it, too?  At some level, those of us who are Christians must grasp the mystery of such things–at least a little bit.

We trust in Jesus, after all.

Yes, but…a virgin birth is impossible…unimaginable…implausible.

Yes, but…a resurrected Messiah is unbelievable…incredible…miraculous.

Yes, but…can we know we are sanctified…rescued…redeemed?

Yes, but…He was born of a virgin, died on a cross, and rose again in three days.

Scripture for Reflection

Mark 9:24

Genesis 15:6

Isaiah 43:10

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Strains of praise music filled the sanctuary while God’s people raised their voices in adulation and reverence.  Yet I stood–motionless, unmoved, and angry.  Lord, help my unbelief.  I can’t see your plan in his pain…his struggle…his loneliness.  Why him?  Why my son?

This child-man bore the brunt of another’s sin.  It lay heavy and unshakable on his soul like the weight of a yoke forced upon the shoulders of a helpless slave.  Pressing and unrelenting– its sharp splinters were a constant reminder of the burden he carried.

This morning–surrounded by smiling faces offering praises to the One who gave me the joy of mothering this blue-eyed son–my heart rebelled.  And I ached to have an answer…a reason…some reassurance.

When the pastor shared his illustration it was as if Christ was speaking to me alone–simple words penetrating a mother’s hardened, grieving heart.  What did he say?

Caught in a fire, a young boy peered from his second story bedroom window hoping to escape the flames threatening to 

consume him.  Smoke filled the darkness, but through the roar of the fire the child heard his father calling from below.  “Jump      

          down, son.  I’ll catch you!”  

          The  boy cried, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”  

But I can see you–trust me.  Jump.”

 

You probably understand.  Maybe you’re in the same place today–wondering, unsure, and asking for faith.   Trust Him, dear friend.  He sees you–and yours.

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