Feelings

I’ve Been Run Over

I’ve gotta tell you. I’m not often rendered speechless but God has certainly out done Himself over the last couple of days. We have been looking off and on at vans—we really needed a larger vehicle. The kids are getting bigger and will soon want to go places with friends and our car was just too small. We weren’t in a hurry (we actually started looking several years ago.) Two days ago I happened upon a vehicle on the website of the dealership we like to go through. It was much nicer than the other vans we had seen in our price range. And loaded with everything we wanted and then some. (Isn’t that just like God? Much more than, more than enough!) The van was listed for $3000 under Blue Book value. Vince and I discussed it and said if we get it for the price and monthly payment we want, let’s go for it. We went and looked and it was nicer than I could have hoped for! Price, trade-in value, payment, timeframe was exactly what we wanted. We were overjoyed (even though we had been car-payment free the last couple of years), so we brought it home.

That would have been enough in and of itself to make me exceedingly grateful but that is not the end of the story. I was “moving in” this morning, transferring all the stuff into the van that was taken from the car, when Vince called me. He said, “Man, God sure has overtaken us, hasn’t He?” I agreed with him, thinking he was talking about the van. He wasn’t. Apparently his boss called him this morning and offered him $1/hr raise—without Vince even asking for it! The raise more than covers our newly acquired car payment (which was very manageable for us already.) I had written previously about him getting a $2/hr raise (and then some) two months ago—that one also came without asking for it. So it was a complete shock coming so soon after the last one. It was like God was saying, “You thought the van was good? Watch this! I will find you the van of your dreams and cover the payment!” The word of God says in Deuteronomy 28:1-2, “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high abve all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Now, if you’re going to tell me that God doesn’t desire to bless His children not only spiritually but physically, you have come too late. Because I just feel plum run over.

Truth

Identity Crisis

Let me start by saying that God is not the devil. I know what you’re thinking… Duh, I know that! But do you really? I have a feeling that if God could go through an identity crisis He certainly would when people attribute the works of the devil to Him. Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Steal. Kill. Destroy. Those are the works of an enemy that is out for our very souls. Jesus is the life giver. If sickness comes, be it a cancer diagnosis or a common cold—that comes not from God but from the enemy. If loss comes, through death or failed relationships—again, that is the enemy. Poverty? Lack? Yep, you guessed it. That stinking, lying devil.

It’s amazing how many people can blame God for the terrible things that happen. This past July I was pregnant with a little girl we named Isabel. I should have been due this December but something unthinkable happened. At my 17th week the doctor could not find a heartbeat. As I went through that whole awful experience, never once did I think that God caused it. God is the giver of all good things. James 1:17 tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Not only does every good and perfect gift come from Him but He has no variation. Which means He never changes. He has been good, He is good, and He always will be good.

There is no scenario that would ever exist in which I as a parent would inflict harm or pain on my children to teach them a lesson. But somehow people get it into their heads that God does that very thing. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” If I were to paraphrase it would go something like this: if you who are fallible and imperfect can treat your kids well and desire the best for them, how much more would I, your Heavenly Father want for you!

Now can God use the trials and pain to make us and mold us? Can He take the shattered and broken pieces of our lives and make something beautiful out of them? Absolutely. But does He cause them? Absolutely not. We live in a fallen world. A world in which, contrary to popular belief, God is not in control. I will explore that thought in a future blog. But in a nutshell. If He were truly in control He sure is making a mess of things. He put man in authority down here and Adam handed his authority over to satan. Jesus had to go to the cross to win that authority back for us.

So next time you walk through a hardship or temptation, instead of using your mouth to blame God. Use it to declare His word over your life. God intended us to take authority over our situation. He has put all things under our feet.

Truth

Count the Cost

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought—I mean really thought of the price Jesus paid for your redemption? I think sometimes we tend to gloss over what Jesus went through as he hung on the cross. We forget what He had to become to secure our redemption. Jesus knew what His mission was. Not only to remove our sin but to become it. To bring His Father’s creation back into a right relationship with Him.

Jesus came. He left the glory of heaven, stripped himself of deity and became a man with a divine purpose. To give us an example of a human walking in the authority and power of almighty God. He said what the Father said, He did what the Father did. But His ultimate mission was to die. He knew that and He still chose to do it. He knew his blood would have to run down that cross in order for us to be redeemed. He knew that He would have to become every vile thing that the heart of man would ever contemplate. That the sins of every man and woman would be laid to His charge. My sin. Your sin. And He knew that would result in the most painful thing of all. Separation from His Father.

Jesus knew the cost. And as He died He felt it. That loneliness He had never known before as His Father turned His face away from Him. That feeling is something we never need know. He bore the chains so we could be free. He carried our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus saw the bigger picture. That in His death would come life for all those who would believe on Him.

We must make a decision. Do we disregard the price that He paid for us? Or do we acknowledge that He provided for everything we would ever have need of and walk in His footsteps. Laying down our lives for those who do not yet know. We must count the cost, take up our cross and follow Him. This Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” He also said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Make a decision friends. Trust God to fill you with His Spirit. That we may walk as He walked—in the grace, power, and authority of almighty God. That we would come to the realization that our sacrifice, however small in comparison to His, will be worth it.

Thoughts

Condemnation vs. Conviction

I think these days many people confuse condemnation with conviction. Condemnation points only to a problem, giving no answer. Conviction shows you the problem with the answer. Condemnation points only to our failures. Conviction says, “You made a mistake. You failed. Let me show you how to overcome.”

“A father disciplines those He loves…” I think I remember reading that somewhere. Conviction, like discipline doesn’t necessarily feel good but it is necessary. If neither of these existed we would have a bunch of spoiled, worthless, weak people walking around. I shudder to think of the child who is left to his own devices. I can’t number the times my mom and dad “convicted” me. Most of the time I got mad. Then after cooling off I realized they were right.

God is our Father, He certainly has the right to speak into our lives. Pastors are the authority God has placed over us on this earth, they should be able to speak into our lives. Other Christians should be free to do the same. Its what the Word of God instructs us to do, not to condemn, but to convict. When someone says something to us, instead of going into “offense” mode, why can’t we just turn the mirror on ourselves and see if there’s anything there that needs changing? If not, fine… but odds are there will be something that needs work. I have yet to find a perfect person. I have yet to find someone who has all the answers. Its time that we start acting like the grown ups that we are instead of little children. Hmmm…  I think I read that somewhere too. Oh yeah, and can we quit assuming the worst about people? Sometimes, however misguided, they can have our best interest at heart.