Words from God

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

Because

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  (James 4:14)

So

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”  (Romans 13:1)

And

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.   For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”  (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Since

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”   (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Therefore

 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Finding Delight

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”  ~Psalm 37:4

Have you ever watched a child experience something he or she loves for the first time?  Do you remember being at that stage of life- when life was much simpler and joy could be found even in the littlest things?  Recently, I have the privilege of introducing a child to something they took delight in… something completely new: bubbles!  Those innocent eyes stated at me as I gently dipped the bubble wand into the solution, unsure of what I was doing and probably wondering what all the fuss was about.  But when I slowly blew those first few iridescent bubbles, the child’s eyes grew wide.  Pure amazement first, then they began shine with merriment as a full-on belly laugh exploded from those tiny lips.  Pure, innocent delight.

It was a beautiful thing to watch, and, as I did, the words of Psalm 37:4 rang out in the back of my mind.  “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I often ask God for things that I want and need, but I couldn’t really think of a moment when I last took delight in Him.  It made me feel sad and a little bit ashamed of myself.  How could I just forget to acknowledge my Lord and Saviour?

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”  (Psalm 16:11)

I’ve read those words over and over.  I can probably give a church worth answer to what it means to delight myself in the Lord and experience fullness of joy, but do I ever?

Is it because I don’t take the time to look or experience it?

Is it because I have become complacent?

Have I taken my status as a Child of God for granted and just expected that I deserve the blessing given to me?

You know how there’s those surveys that say “If you said ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, then you need to do this or that?”  That’s exactly how I felt as I pondered this thought.

So, how can one “take delight?”  (And I don’t just mean that so we can get more for being more spiritual or better than others.)  I mean it in the way that, because of experiencing God and delighting in Him, we truly know joy, love, peace, happiness, belonging, and His divine plan for us.

God is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere present.  He can be found in the most breathtaking of sunrises or sunsets, on the top of the tallest mountain, in the power of a tornado, on the street corner of a small city, or in the still small voice.

For me personally, taking delight can happen when I pause to admire a beautiful plant and think “Wow, God, You are the ultimate artist who created beauty to remind us of You and how much You love us even though we are sinners and deserve no beauty or love.”  It can also be reading or re-reading a promise in Scripture and meditating on the fact that, as a believer, God has given me written proof of His intentions and steadfast, unequivocal love for me.  Taking delight can also happen on a tough day, when everything seems to be going completely wrong, but I can still have hope knowing that God has a plan for good in my live and that even at my lowest moments He is always in control, right beside me, guiding me, perfecting me, and drawing me closer to Him.  In hard times, delight can be found when I feel God’s presence within myself or moving through those around me, pushing me, pulling me closer to Him as I persevere, not through my own frail strength, but through His strength, which is made perfect in my weakness.

The possibilities are endless.  God is an eager parent, wanting us to look to Him with those childlike eyes filled with awe at who He is, was, and forever will be.  We just need to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts to how His love and power is always on display around us.

What does it mean to “take delight” to you?  What are ways you have taken delight?

In a world focused on our own self-sufficiency and pleasure, often only thinking of ourselves, it’s time to get out there and start to re-see the world as a child, a Child of God, and revel in our amazing Saviour and Creator!

Unboxed

Who am I?

That is the ultimate question that people throughout the ages have been asking.  What is it that makes me the person that I am?  Is it my family?  Is it my accomplishments?  Is it my chemical or genetic make-up? 

I recently filled out some “about me” forms that made me really pause and consider who I am.  Here’s what I learned about myself: I am a single Caucasian female between 21 and 29 years old who is about to start her journey as a career woman.  I don’t know my blood type (what if that’s the key to who we are?!?).  The only known allergy I have is to penicillin.  I have dirty dishwater brown hair and brown eyes.  When wearing my favorite 3 inch heels, I am 5 feet 7 inches tall.  My weight is… as if!  I am in reasonably good health.  While I love to walk and hike, seeking out opportunities to exercise hardcore isn’t my first choice.  I am up to date on all my immunizations.  I haven’t ever broken a bone (knock on wood!).  The biggest surgery I’ve had was wisdom teeth removal (I’m not going to make any “wise-cracks” about that).  I have very poor vision- it is bad enough that even though I am classified as near-sighted, I can’t see well far away or close up.

With such average, generic results, those boxes that I checked or blanks that I filled in could apply to anyone.  Aside from a few things like age, height, or weight, I know at least a handful of friends off the top of my head whose results would be nearly identical.  That felt rather depressing.  Obviously, there’s more than just superficial me, right?

I tried to think about how I would tell someone who didn’t really know me about myself, aside from some of the general information I listed above.  I come from a large family that I love very much.  I love to play the piano, flute, piccolo, and oboe, which I have studied since I was very young.  I’m a figure skater- not Olympic good, but good enough to impress my friends!  Other than music and skating, I’m probably one of the most uncoordinated people alive.  My favorite colors are purple, blue, and green (in that order).  I would totally classify reading as my ultimate favorite hobby.  I’m a sucker for a good love story, but it definitely has to have a little bit of action and adventure mixed in.  I can quote my way through the old Star Wars trilogy (the only good ones), Pride and Prejudice (the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version, of course), and sections of The Lord of the Rings movies.  I love action movies (almost anything Marvel/superhero!), but when I need a movie that make me feel inspired, I, strangely enough, go for a sports movie.  I’m a hands-on learner- I love learning about new things, but getting to try them or do them is the best!  I would describe myself as kind, compassionate, loyal to my family and friends to a fault, and just a little short tempered.  Deep down, I am also determined, stubborn, and competitive- if you tell me it can’t be done, I will work harder than ever to show you that it can.  I’m completely OCD about some things, but totally carefree about others.  Procrastination is my biggest vice (I probably should be doing something other than blogging right now…). While these are things about me, reflecting on them made what I thought made me ME seem trivial- some of those could also apply to anyone!  So, I dug a little deeper.

I am a Christian, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  I trusted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior when I was around 6 or so years old.  I try to attend church regularly, but I must confess, uprooting and moving around over the past few years has made it difficult to find a church “home.”  I honestly don’t know what denomination I could classify myself as.  “Bible” is probably the closest since I believe in what the Bible, as the true Word of God, says as the final authority of who God wants me to be in Him.  So, I dug into that truth to learn/relearn these things about who I am.  (Take the time to read the verses- it’s totally worth it!)

Who am I in Christ? 

I am a daughter of the King of Kings (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:5)!

I am a sinner, but now, through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of death on a cross, burial in a borrowed tomb, and miraculous resurrection three days later, I am completely forgiven and sanctified though my profession of faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my ONLY source of salvation (Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:7-8;  Ephesians 2:8-9)!

I am a new person in Christ, the old sinner is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20: Philippians 1:6)!

I am Heaven-bound because this world is no longer my final home (Philippians 3:20)!

I have The Holy Spirit, who is greater than any power in this world, living inside of me (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 John 4:4)!

I am chosen– before time as we know it began, God chose me (John 15:16; 1 Peter 2:9-10)!

I am loved by the Creator of the universe– He knows my name (Isaiah 43:1; John 3:16)!

I am called to serve God and share the love of Christ and bear witness to His testimony to everyone around me (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 2:10)!

I am a part of something much bigger than myself (1 Corinthians 12:27)!

I am called friend by Jesus Christ (John 15:15)!

I do not have to be afraid (Ephesians 6:11; Philippians 4:13; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:13; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 13:5)!

I am able to communicate with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Great I AM and He cares about ME (Ephesians 2:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15)!

I like that picture of who I am.  Even though I have never liked to be defined by labels, those are some I am proud to claim!  If there where checkboxes next to those, I would be making my checkmarks in very sparkly ink with as much flourish as I could give them!  In a society where any talk about those “taboo topics”, especially religion, is hushed up, I think that it is time to step outside of those little checkboxes that are meant to generically define us, categorize us, and put us into “safe” little groups where we are supposed to stay!!  Those of us who are in Christ need to take a stand and break down the walls that we feel we have to hide behind!  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline!”  (2 Timothy 1:7)  It’s time to leave the comfort of the conformity of a checkbox society and start unashamedly living out the reality of who we are in Christ!!

“What then shall we say to these things?  IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO IS AGAINST US?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?  Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?!?  Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  BUT IN ALL THESE THINGS WE OVERWHELMINGLY CONQUER THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US!!!  For I am CONVINCED that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING, will be able to separate us from THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD!!!” (Romans 8:31-39, bolding, italics, and exclamation marks added for emphasis)

It’s time to get UNBOXED!