This morning God asked me if I’d be so kind to attempt to share some of the things He brought me through. He reminded me that yes, it’s awesome to overcome and that is what He wants for all of us, but we all have valley’s that we go through that shape and grow us. One of mine was trying to find my significance in other people. Yes, I knew Christ alone could fill the void, but I kept going around mountains of hurt, and putting way too many unrealistic expectations on others. I couldn’t understand why people even at church seemed cold and distant at times, until one day God showed me that we are all dealing with stuff in life. I was angry and bitter, and asked why church was such a messed up place. He told me that we’re all messy, broken people; and when God heals us we need to learn to take that healing forth and help others where they are; but we also need to come to a place of knowing our true significance and security is in Christ alone, and that too is a journey. So how did I get from point A to B? Well, it’s a journey. God used circumstances, failures, false expectations, misunderstanding, and lack of affirmations from others, just to name a few. Every time I went through hardship, it beckoned me to the cross and the feet of Jesus to surrender so much of what I couldn’t even understand. Slowly, but surely, and I mean slowly, God began to show me that he was for me, that he did love me, and that he does have plans and purposes for my life. There were many times of doubt, and feeling like I was taking 2 steps forward and one step back, but that was still a step in the right direction. I’d try and read the Bible for my own good, but so many times it felt so futile, and being in seminary, knowing that I’m suppose to know this, made me feel even smaller. I’d doubt my call at times, wondering why God put me in seminary when I felt so insignificant. Really Lord, what are you going to do with me? Prayers seemed like vapors at times, just vanishing into thin air, never to be seen again. But through it all, I chose to persevere. It wasn’t easy, but I continued to push forward. I learned what worked for me in the fight. What were my weapons? Surely I knew the Word of God was stronger than a two-edged sword, but it didn’t seem to be working, so one thing that always helps me is putting on worship music; so I loaded my iPod up with tons of worship music and began to fight. At other times, God would give me a nugget here or there in his truth, or because I knew I needed to fight the battle, I’d intentionally choose to seek out positive influences, such as reading Christian books or listening to sermons or other Christian programs I liked online or on TV. When I did have little victories, I’d be sure to share them, whether on the blog, facebook, with my prayer partner, my mentor, or other people I knew. I didn’t do it to sound smug with myself, but this was victory and it was mine, and I knew that if I declared it, it would make me stronger. I also learned through doing this, that not everyone is going to get where you are, not everyone is going to share in your “victory dance”. This easily led once again to those feelings of insecurity and false expectations, feeling like I once again took a step back, but again, I made the choice to press on. Yes, there were times that God had me sit with myself, when nobody understood, when it seemed like I was all alone, but it was in these times He would show me how to rely on him, it was in these times that I would begin to hear him speak to me in His Word more and more. I guess what I am trying to say is that the journey is just that, a journey. We have our mountaintops and we have our valleys. They all exist to grow us into Christlikeness, allowing us to be there for others who have gone through similar things. None of us get to “arrive” on this side of heaven, and that has been another lesson that I have had to learn. Being a seminary student has helped me to see so much, yet it has also showed me how little I really do know. It’s a very humbling journey to say the least, but one that I am so grateful that God has put me on, and one I know will produce kingdom fruit. I guess dear reader; just know that you are not alone in your circumstances. Life is hard, and I for one do not want to minimize that fact. But we are more than conquerors; we have so many beautiful truths of the Bible to bring us hope and healing. Our churches aren’t perfect; they are full of hurting and imperfect people, I being one of them. The journey may seem long but God is with us! His Word is true and He loves us more than we will ever know. I could sit here and quote passages, but I don’t know what that would do for you. It will have to be your choice to seek the goodness of God, and it will have to be you who will chose to trust. You alone will have to say “Yes Lord, I believe in who you say you are in The Bible”, I believe that you are good, and even though you allow sin in the world. You will have to find and choose your weapons that will help you fight! I was reminded of the power of choice today as I continue to read through the Book of John. In John 12:34-36 Jesus speaks to the crowd, telling them to” walk in the light while you can. Then you won’t be caught walking blindly in the dark. v.36. “have faith in the light while it is with you and you will be children of the light.” Here Jesus was talking about himself, and how he’d not be with them in a little while. Sometimes it feels as though God is not with us, but we are to exercise the faith that we do have, by remembering all that he has done in our lives; to think on those things, so that we can believe in the times when He doesn’t seem close by. This is what Jesus was trying to tell the people, and what He tries to tell us today. Remember what you have gone through and remember what I brought you out of. It’s the same story from the Old Testament when the Lord brought the people out of the desert into the promise land. In v. 37 it states “He had worked a lot of miracles among the people, but they were still not willing to have faith in him.” Hmm, sounds like another opportunity to choose. Are we willing to believe God when we see him do mighty things in our lives? Will we choose to remember what He has done for us, or are we going to just shrug it off as luck or chance, or even something that didn’t seem “big enough to count?”; and are we going to go one step further and believe when we don’t see him working?, when he’s behind the scenes doing something bigger than we could ever imagine?. That takes faitih. The Choice is yours; Choose Life, Choose to Believe, and fight the battle, never letting the devil get a foothold. We are reminded in Deuteronomy 30:19 again about choice: It is what He wants for all of us! “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! I pray you forth in the life and Name of Jesus, Amen!
I have decided today that I have to retire one of my Bibles. It’s actually the first Bible that I received back as an early teen. Needless to say, it is full of markings and many of the pages are falling out. I though it be a good idea to go through and re-read my markings and possibly re-mark those verses in one of my other Bibles. As I was paging through, I came across the book of Deuteronomy, which is one of my favorites, and had a lot of markings, so I thought I’d re-read it this morning, but really try and study and apply it chapter by chapter. So today is Chapter 1 and I thought I’d share my notes here. As you read mine, and maybe read the first chapter for yourself, ask how it applies to your life, and look for circumstances maybe presently or in the past where you have dealt with issues of obedience unto God.
Deuteronomy: 5th book of the Bible. It was written in 1410 B.C. Has 34 chapters. It is the last book of the Pentateuch. Author: Moses. “Deuteronomy” is from the Greek word “Deuteronomion” meaning “second lawgiving”. The book is said to be the longest sermon in the Bible. It restates many of the laws and teachings given in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It reminds God’s people of the faithfulness and saving power of God and stresses the importance of people’s gratitude for all the Lord has done. Moses challenges the Israelites to rededicate their lives to Serving the Lord. As you read this book, think about God’s daily care in your life and His desire that you dedicate your life to serving Him.
1:1-8 Moses commands the Israelites to leave Horeb.
1:9-18 Moses appoints leaders for the tribes that are growing too big to handle
1:19-25 Scoping out the land of the Amorites
1:26-46 Israel doubts and so God sends them packing.
Go where God leads you 1:6-7
Receive fully what God gives you 1:6-8
Choose leadership wisely, don’t show partiality, and help and support one another 1:9-18
Do what God commands; don’t fear or be discouraged. 1:19-25
Don’t doubt God when the circumstances look impossible 1:26-28
Remember what God has done 1:30-31. You must let this be enough even when you can’t see all the details-God can see it all, because He went ahead of you in your circumstance 1:32-33
When we doubt God or choose not to remember His goodness, we’re telling him we don’t really trust Him and open the door to escort him out of our problems and not giving him a chance to reveal his power through our lives 1:26-35.
He wants and will bless wholehearted followers 1:36.
Vv.37-46 reminds me how “one bad apple” can ruin the whole bunch. Even with the best leadership in place, like Moses, if the majority that we are trying to lead, be it a church, organization or family will not get on board with what we are trying to accomplish, the door of opportunity closes and the blessings that God wanted to grant will be given to those who will fully believe and not doubt. As verse 41 shows us, we don’t always get 2nd chances to make things right, so we must consistently seek God in prayer and ask for strength wisdom and increased faith, so that when God calls us to task we will be ready and willing to surrender all for the cause of Christ with unwavering confidence that He will bless our obedience, as we look back and remember all that He has brought us through. Father, forgive us for doubting your goodness and faithfulness in each of our lives. Help us to remember all that you have brought us t through and protected us from. Increase our faith and trust in you that we would go where you send us, and have confidence as we walk in your will. Amen.