Friday, August 4, 2017

By Faith
Hebrews 11

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11: 1-2

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11: 39-40

By faith Abel . . . By faith Enoch . . . By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith Isaac . . . By faith Jacob . . . By faith Joseph . . . By faith Moses . . . By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . By faith the prostitute Rahab . . .

By faith these followed the call of God and the Holy Spirit. As scripture says, ‘yet none of them received what had been promised’, but ‘something better’! They trusted their God that He would provide for them, change their circumstances, bless them, they spoke the truth, they marched for 7 days and they were obedient.

Isn’t that all God is asking of us, to trust Him and be obedient to Him? He wants to give us something better than what we can see for ourselves in our current circumstances. All we have to do is ask Him, trust Him and be obedient to Him. He will give us all we need, not necessarily all we want, but all we need. Those are two different things. As you approach His Holy Throne are you asking for wants or needs? Ask with an expectant heart. He is waiting to bless you.
In the scripture below Christ says three times 'remain in me/vine'.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

This is what Barnes' Notes Commentary says regarding this text.
Abide in me - Remain united to me by a living faith. Live a life of dependence on me, and obey my doctrines, imitate my example, and constantly exercise faith in me. And I in you - That is, if you remain attached to me, I will remain with you, and will teach, guide, and comfort you. This he proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the vine. If the branch should be cut off an instant, it would die and be fruitless. As long as it is in the vine, "from the nature of the case," the parent stock imparts its juices, and furnishes a constant circulation of sap adapted to the growth and fruitfulness of the branch. So our piety, if we should be separate from Christ, or if we cease to feel our union to him and dependence on him, withers and droops.

I believe that part of remaining 'in' Him is to remain in His Word. I know for me being 'in' His Word daily I am refreshed and can feel the 'constant circulation' of His love, peace, guidance and comfort.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 20, 2017

Ezra 9:9New International Version (NIV)
Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.

Last night during Bible study at Second Baptist Church in Levelland, Texas, Pastor Michael Holster was teaching on Ezra 9. I have heard this text taught before by Rebecca Ashbrook Carrell, a Women’s Ministry teacher out of Dallas.

Last night the above highlighted text hit me like a brick. I couldn’t even listen to Michael any longer I had to write. This is what I wrote:

V 9b Granted us a new life to rebuild the house (our body – His Temple) and repair our hearts and he has given us a wall (the Cross) of protection.

New Life — In Christ
                Hebrew—New Life—saving a life, sustenance, relief, recovering, reviving (added later)

Rebuild — New Temples (our bodies, minds, relationship with Christ)
                Restore (added later)

Repair — Our hearts, healing of past hurts and our relationship with Christ
                Rectify, mend, fix, make amends, put right (added later)

Wall — The Cross and His Word
                Enclose, encircle (added later)

I am not sure why this text hit me so hard. Maybe it is because of a discussion I had in a Bible study I am leading on Monday nights? I was asked a question about my life. I quickly gave an overview of my 3 marriages and my 3 divorces. I talked about how before my last marriage I had been single for 14 years, but wanted so desperately to be married. Everyone around me was married!

So I stepped out in my own strength, as Christine Mann (the Women’s Ministry Leader at New Life Church, Denton) once told me and I married and then divorced an unsaved man God had not told me to marry. I had prayed, a lot, about getting married to this man. I had asked God a lot if this was the man I was supposed to marry. I never heard anything. So, I married him and it didn’t take a long time to see what a mistake I had made. But (as my mom would have said) I made my bed and now I had to lie in it! See where that led me? Straight away from the protection of God’s Merciful Wing.

Back to the night of Bible study. I realized that night I had never asked God’s forgiveness for not listening to him and being dependent on my own strength and not on Him. In the last 4 years I have not felt the protection of God, oh I know it was there, but because of my failing to seek His Face and ask for forgiveness I have not been walking in His Will. I had never thought until that moment that I needed to seek forgiveness. Yes, I have now! Now on to forgiving myself for not trusting God, once again!

So, what does all of that have to do with the scripture from Ezra 9:9? A lot!

I now feel the closeness I was missing with Christ. My spirit is settling back into sync with Christ. I feel new, revived. All 4 words and what I wrote are how God is working on me right now.

New Life, Rebuild, Repair, Wall, this is what Christ is doing in me — repairing, rebuilding and creating a new life with a strong wall around me.

Since that divorce I have been out of sorts with God, and of course it was my own doing – again! Every time I am out of sorts with God – it’s me – not Him that put me there!! So, why has it taken 4 years for me to realize it? Because of me and my own desire to be in control.

Growing up, the way I did, I learned to depend on me a lot. There wasn’t the parental security that most children have. The loving, kind, be there for you father around to offer protection. We were left to fend for ourselves a lot. The mindset of ‘take care of yourself’ was ingrained in me from a very early age. It is like a bad habit, like smoking, it is hard to break. I want to lose myself in Christ, to be fully dependent on Him for everything, for every decision, but I keep falling back on ME. It is so hard to trust someone you can’t see, when the person you could see, you couldn’t trust to be there.

Once again, He is calling me back to Him, calling me to restoration in Him and calling me to trust Him in all things. I want to so much. I want to be so head over heels in love with Christ that He is the first one I go to for comfort, affirmation, peace, guidance, for all things.

So how do I get there? I allow him to work on my broken places some more! They obviously aren’t healed the way I thought they were. I think the revelations of the last couple of weeks are the beginning.

As I was sharing what I wrote last night with Michael Holster, it dawned on me that this also applies to our Second Baptist Church. We need New Life, Rebuilding, Repair and a Wall!

This will be my prayer as I become a member of SBC. I believe God for New Life in our church. I believe Him for new members who seek His face and a place that is filled with others who also seek His face. I believe, like in Ezra, the old wall that had been torn down and destroyed will be rebuilt and repaired.