Tag Archives: Jesus

Doubting God’s Love?

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John 15:13 says: Greater love has no one than this:  to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

If you have ever doubted God’s love like I have, this is for you. 

I am working through the last few days of my Beth Moore study, Jesus the One and Only, and I am right in the middle of Jesus’s betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.  What really struck me this time through Matthew, was how Jesus responded to Judas during the betrayel.  As described in Matthew 26, Judas kisses Jesus as a signal that He is the one to be arrested.  Jesus, knowing all along that Judas would betray Him and now in the thick of that betrayal says to Judas: “Do what you came for, friend.” (Matthew 26:50)

Jesus knew Judas was the catalyst to the cross.  The same cross that caused Jesus’s “soul [to be] overhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)  Yet in the midst of it all Jesus calls Judas friend!  I can barely wrap my head around that.  Even as Judas was betraying Jesus, he used the term friend, showing love and endearment toward His betrayer.  In this new light, I am certain that God never stops loving us.  No matter what we have done, He says . . .

Folks, we deserve to go to hell with Judas. To sin is to be an enemy of God.  Yet, because of the cross, we are considered His friend, whom He died for.  By not accepting the cross, we can choose hell, as Judas chose.  But I don’t think that even then, God ever stops loving us.  The fact that He called Judas friend (after his choice had been made), showed the love He felt for him still. 

Like the Apostle Paul, I too “am [now] 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. {Romans 8:38-39}

Let the Light Shine

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I think my heart breaks more for those that go through this life without a relationship with Jesus, because I didn’t always have one.  I didn’t grow up knowing my Savior in a personal way.  Not knowing my Savior meant I did not truly know God.  I think coming to the Lord later in life, gives me a deep appreciation for all He has done and brought to my life.  I look at my life, before and after, and I see black and white, no shades of gray.  It was dark before, and now it is full of light.   

 Before I had given my life to God, things didn’t seem all that bad, but I was never fully happy.  I never felt . . . free.    That’s a good word to describe it.  John 8:32.  Now I am free, and God equips me each day for what is in store.  Those without this freedom, have no idea what they are missing!

Like my Pastor, Rob McNutt at Faith Bible Church said this past Sunday:  “Becoming a Christian doesn’t make life easier, but it makes it better.” I agree!

Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed . . .”  –Luke 4:18

143

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143=numerical I (1) LOVE (4) YOU (3)

I remember the day I first fell in love with the Lord. The sun was shining, and I had set up camp on my old blanket I keep in the trunk of my car (cause you never know when the need to just sit on a blanket will arise). I had my One Year Bible and a copy of The Purpose Driven Life , I dubbed “The Green Book,” by Rick Warren.

I cannot remember if I was in The Word or in “The Green Book” when it happened, but I literally fell head over heels in love with God. It was the highest high I have ever felt, but I was completely sober. It was mid-day at a park mind you. And it was like the secrets of heaven were spoken to my heart. I cannot explain it in words. It was out-of-body, and I will never be the same.

In that moment, I felt so much love, I could hardly stand it! I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I knew I never wanted to be out from underneath God’s wonderful grace again. I couldn’t believe that the Creator of the universe loved me so much that He allowed His son to die for me. I couldn’t believe that Jesus loved me so much that He was faithful enough to go through with it. And I couldn’t believe that the Holy Spirit was pursuing me all that time. I couldn’t believe that God loved me in the same way I loved my child–even more! That was unreal to me! And I had done nothing but run away from Him and hurt Him. I felt bad for running all that time, not accepting what He had done for me, but there was so much love inside of me in that moment that shame took the backseat. God didn’t allow the devil to ruin this love story. It was like God Himself was hugging me (I could imagine His hugs feeling that good). It was like He was hugging me and saying “It’s okay. I know all of you. I know everything you have ever done or thought, good and bad, and I love you just the same. I am happy you are here with me, and I no longer have to chase you.”

Now trust me when I say, there is nothing special about me. I believe the only reason I experienced this was because I was seeking Him with my whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). I wanted to know who He was, and He revealed that to me. We are all free to do that at any time. And He is more than willing to run to all that do.

Later, when I heard the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), I completely related with to the son.  I was the same in that I wanted all the privilege of being God’s child, but I wanted to go my own way. When I realized I would never be complete without being with Him, I came back. When I did finally come back, He didn’t throw my shame in my face, He didn’t scold me, and He didn’t go around telling others what a disgrace I had been. He ran to me. ME! With open arms. He threw His arms around me and then threw me a huge party with all the angels in heaven!  Sweet!

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” –Luke 15:7

I believe I felt a little bit of that in the park that day!

So what’s 143 got to do with it? Well, when I was a teen, we used pagers, yes pagers instead of cell phones (gasp), and 143 stood for “I love you.” Over the years I have always noticed these three numbers together, and I would think to myself “I love you”–to no one in particular. It was just engraved in my brain. Ever since I have returned to my Heavenly Father, I see those numbers and am reminded that He is looking down on me saying, “Michelle, I LOVE YOU.” I LOVE HIM too. 143

Bacon

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I am currently reading Leviticus in my One Year Chronological Bible. Pretty hefty stuff. Leviticus is the book discussing laws set before the Israelites, as spoken through Moses. I am on the part where God was telling the Israelites, through Moses, what they could eat (like sheep), and what they could not eat (like pigs). It also discusses what kinds of skin diseases required separation from the camp. This was taking place after the Israelites were led from Egypt, and Moses had been given the 10 commandments.

Now I loooove bacon! And eat it often too. We no longer are commanded not to eat it either, because Jesus fulfilled the law, which we couldn’t do alone (Galatians 3 and Romans 7). But I imagine that God was telling the Israelites not to eat certain foods for their own health, not because He didn’t want them to enjoy bacon. I mean times were different back then, and perhaps they would have gotten an illness from eating pig. Along the same lines, I think God thought it best if people with diseases remained outside the camp walls so they couldn’t spread their illness to others. Again, God setting boundaries to protect His people, not to keep good things from them. Of course bacon being “good” is all relative.

But I just want to take today to say “thank you God.” Thank you for having rules for us, as any good parent would. I know you do not want to keep any good thing from me. What you really want is to give me the best. And you know that I am the safest and happiest when I follow your laws. Francis Chan explains this a bit in his Just Stop and Think video if you start watching at 3:40. (The whole video is amazing if you have the time to check it out though. You won’t be sorry you did! His book Crazy Love is amazing too!)

I mean you made me! You would know what’s best for me. You know every beat of my heart, everything that saddens me, everything I long for, and it is your desire to fulfill these longings. It wasn’t until I entered into this relationship with you, that I realized this can only be done through your son Jesus. I had stepped way outside of your boundaries. I looked every place but up to satisfy that deep longing for “something more.”  I get it now, and I know that deep longing for something more is part of your plan, because there is something more–Heaven. We get there through Jesus (John 14:6).

But back to the point though. What kind of parent would I be without setting boundaries for my children? Not a very good one. Without your boundaries, it would be hard to know you really cared for me. Chip Ingram paints a beautiful picture of this in his study Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. He talks about a Dad that lives in an apartment complex near a busy highway. The dad set boundaries for his son–where he could ride his bike and where he couldn’t– not to be mean, but to keep him safe. And yes that dad also had to discipline his child when he tried to go outside of those boundaries. Imagine if he didn’t do that. It wouldn’t be long before his child ended up seriously injured or even dead.

In the same way, God, you have set boundaries that keep me safe and happy. The bible is full of commands for us, and I have broken many! I will probably break many more! But I thank You that your son paid the price for my transgressions. And I know, with your help, I will get better at keeping your commands and be better off for it. For You that started a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

::Lord, help me also to set God-honoring boundaries for my children. This is so tough to do, especially when the discipline that comes alongside can be painful for them. No mother wants their children to hurt, for any reason. But like that little boy on the bike had to feel the sting of discipline, and I have had to feel the sting of your discipline, and my children have felt the sting of mine, I know in the end, like you, I only want what is best for my children. And it is always done out of love.  Thank you for disciplining me out of love::

THANK YOU for a little more time

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Luke 13:6-8 says:

Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

I came across this while going through my Beth Moore study, Jesus the One and Only, and it was my understanding that the one asking for more time on behalf of the tree was Jesus. I believe that tree to be me!

I feel like the best way to begin is, well, at the very beginning. . .

When I was 15, I heard God calling to me. I was attending a non-denomenational Christian church in the small(ish) town where I grew up. At that time I professed (and believed) that I was indeed a sinner in need of saving. I was soon after baptized (with the permission of my parents, who did not attend this church), started to read my bible, and began my walk of faith, alone. Therein lied the problem. At such an impressionable stage in life, it did not take long until I put that bible on the shelf along with my uncultivated relationship with God. I was to be a tree not producing fruit for more than a decade!

God continued to pull at my heart strings through the years, but I claimed I was not ready. Someday I would go back to church, maybe when I had a family. Perhaps God wanted to test this theory, because he gave me Noah. Instant family. Still I refused a relationship. I didn’t have the time. I was a busy, single mother. Surely He understood–I would get to Him when I was ready. There were some things I needed to get situated, clean up if you will, in my life before committing. A wise friend even said, “You know Michelle, you should seek God first, and you will be amazed how He will help you put things in order.” I believe God was talking to me through her that day. I didn’t listen.

All the while, I was running from what I needed the most. The lover of my soul, Jesus Christ. The one saying to God, “Give her time, I know she will produce fruit.” Jesus, who would fill the void that had become so large in my life, I thought I would remain lost inside it forever. The void I had tried filling on my own, outside of God’s will, more than 101 unhealthy ways. One destructive decision after the next guided my life, and I had no joy.

Until one day, I listened. It started with a book; The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, which led to me reading the bible, which led to attending a church, which led to the beginning of the relationship that has brought joy and so much more into my life. A relationship that led this tree to producing fruit. I am glad that I was given a little more time.