Blind Faith

Words

‘When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,”Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”‘ Mark 10:47

One of my favourite hymns is Amazing Grace as it proclaims that I was saved from myself, found and blind but now I see. God awakens us to a whole new understanding of what life is about and that there is more to it than what we see. I also continue to get greater understanding and I hope, wisdom as I age that this journey does not always bring immediate sight. Faith is a process of knowing God and believing that which He said, then walking in that truth. We often are the ones that hinder that progress. We create our own experience of who God is based on false information or how we have been taught to see Him.

The other morning I was quickly reminded how I am blinded by my selfish tendencies. We woke up freezing but also praising God it was not 40 below outside. Our blower motor on our furnace had met its last days and so the night before my Mr. Fix it husband, spent a good three hours trying to replace it but something was not quite right and he walked away around midnight. Selfish tendency number one, if I am awoken at night, it is difficult for me to go back to sleep and it’s not pretty. I did all I could to suppress this and speak gratitude to him instead. Thank you Jesus. Victory number one. Funny when I do this, I don’t have that much trouble going back to sleep. hmmm…

Anyway, we get to the next day. We all have the afternoon off to travel to spend time with my family but because the furnace is still not right my husband decides to take the morning off as well. Noble deed right? My first thought, but I was so excited to be alone this morning and write before we left since our week was full. Another opportunity to take this to Jesus and submit my selfishness before Him to turn to my husband with gratitude for his sacrifice. We never run out of opportunities to die to our flesh that so quickly rises sometimes. I read recently that ‘There is never a death to self without a corresponding resurrection from God.” Praise Him for that.

As I reflected on my quickness to be blind to the blessings and the trait of persistence my husband has, I was reminded of the story in the gospel of the blind beggar that was healed. This story is told in three of the gospels but my favourite account is in Mark as it tells us his name. Bartimaeus. During this time a lot of the work was physical so if you had any kind of disability that prevented you from working you often ended up a beggar. I will let Mark tell the story, 10:46-52  Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.’

This story reveals so much. First of all, when Bartimaeus referred to Jesus as the Son of David, this disclosed that he Knew Jesus was the Messiah. There was no hesitation, he began to shout to Him. He knew the possibilities that lay before him even if he couldn’t physically see him. His heart knew. This is all we need too. For our hearts to know the truth of Jesus. This faith should rise up the shouting in us, despite what others say. You notice that many rebuked this man’s heart cry to Jesus and told him to be quiet. What I love is it said Bartimaeus shouted all the more. I also love that Jesus asked him what he wanted him to do. He gave him opportunity to ask to be healed.jesus-2152703_640

I think it was Bartimaeus’ persistence in faith that got Jesus to stop and call to him. Jesus wasn’t standing right beside him because he stopped and asked who was with Him to call this beggar. So you know Bartimaeus had to be yelling loudly. He knew this Jesus so well, He didn’t care what anyone thought. He knew His audience was of One and that was all that mattered. He had to have been taught to have faith, for blind Bartimaeus, 2 Corinthians 5:7 rings true in more than one way, ‘For we live by faith, not by sight.’ He believed and that was enough for Him to call out to the One who could save Him.

Do you have enough faith for this? To live by the truth and not always needing to ‘see’ a miracle or the hand of God, to know that He is present and working even when it is not visible to you? To continue to call to Him even when the naysayers are telling you to stop? And once you do receive sight from Him, are you willing to immediately follow Him? Our faith journey is constantly pressing in, repenting, turning back to Him, questioning, seeking, trusting, being still, listening, persisting, running the race kind of life. In this you will find Him, be amazed, be healed, be willing, do great things because of the Great things He has done for you. Never forget that His offer is always the gift of Himself. Relationship with our Creator. He is enough.

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Waiting Well

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Psalm 27:14

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. MSG

 Wait patiently for the LORD . Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. NLT

 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. NIV

Did you think the title Waiting Well is an impossible feat? I heard a quote about financial planning that said usually you are coming out of a crisis, in the middle of one,  or one is on its way. This may be a good reference when dealing with money but if it refers to waiting, it doesn’t bring much hope. Although the definition of crisis can mean a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger, it can also be a turning point when an important change takes place.
We all have our own definition or experience of crisis depending on our life filters. We all have different ways of responding. My heart is to wait well through things but often my faith in attempting that is not pretty. Often it results in me taking things into my own hands and messing with the outcome God may have wanted, or I may become suspicious, resentful or full of doubt toward the situation and sometimes even God.

Trying to help things along on my own often reminds me of the story of Abraham and Sarah, once Abram and Sarai. I invite you to read this fascinating story beginning in Genesis 15. In short, God promised Abraham in his old age, offspring as many as the stars. Sarah did not believe after all this time that the God who had kept her from having children would fulfill this promise through her. Now before we persecute Sarai too much in her decision, know that it was common practice in that day and culture to give a female servant to her husband to produce an heir. Often women were shamed when they were unable to conceive. Imagine for a moment how that felt to her, now imagine trying to wait well in that situation. Notice Abram didn’t seem to protest too much about her suggestion. (Genesis 16:1-4)

This created a series of problems from Sarai feeling rejected, her barrenness highlighted even more as the servant conceived,  to blame towards Abram and the maidservant running away. These are all seemingly difficult situations that arose from independence from God’s plans. But God…

He not only brought restoration to these relationships but He gave Abram and Sarai their promised son, through their 100 and 90 year old bodies, and He gave them new names. The meaning of a new name in that culture was that God was calling them to submit to Him and His promises, it wasn’t to shame them for their mistakes but to create more intimacy with them.

Do you know our God this way? Have you experienced His redemption in the midst of your waiting even in the form of the strength to keep standing? I have a feeling like the financial saying about crisis above, that waiting is more a normal in our walk with Him, than the manifestation of answers or miracles or removing of circumstances. I think He trusts us more than we trust ourselves.

Marlo Schalesky said, “Waiting is not a punishment from God, it is a tool in His Hands to make and mold us into who we are meant to be.” We are always looking for the ‘there’ aren’t we? Once we get _____ or do ______ or accomplish ______ we will be happy or successful or have ‘arrived’. It is an elusive chase though. Marlo also said, “There is no ‘there’ here in this life. When God brings us to a place, He doesn’t want that to be the answer. He wants Himself to be. True fulfillment comes in God.”

In the Mercy Me song, Even If, they sing this sentiment. ‘I know you’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand. But Even If you don’t My hope is You alone.’ Can you sing that? Is your heart convinced that there is purpose in this process? Or are you in a place of discouragement? Of not being able to believe for that?

What do we do in the meantime, in the wait? How can we wait well?

Remember that our life is not our own. I know this statement is a newsflash to many in this self-centred, what about me world? I can relate and I still sometimes struggle with this. But it really is Not about us. Jesus died, buying our freedom at a price, so that we could be reconciled to God and in this bring glory to Him by living for Him. Our lives are because of Him and in Him. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.‘Jeremiah 10:23
‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ 1
Corinthians 6:19,20

Seek Him. Yes Him, not always His hand. I once heard it said that He is more concerned with our character than our circumstances, but He uses our circumstances to make us more like Him. His heart is for relationship, it is why He created us and He promises that we will find Him if we look. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ Jeremiah 29:13

‘Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.’ Psalm 105:4

‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:33

Be Real. He knows you better than anyone else. Go to Him with all of your emotions, honesty, discouragement, praise, frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, questions. It is in this place of honesty and surrendering all of this along with your opinions, ideas or thoughts that He will come and meet you and minister to your heart. You know when He says to love Him with All of you heart, ya He meant that. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.’ 1 John 1:8-10

Receive. Take in the love He wants to give you. Don’t let it bounce off of the filters of your wounds or shame. Ask Him to help you receive all that He has given you. And this is everything, by the way. When you sit with Him, be expectant that He will meet your heart. We can’t buy, earn or deserve His mercy love and forgiveness, we just need to receive these free gifts. Not because we are good, but because He is!  Renew your mind with these truths;

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ Matthew 7:7
‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Hebrews 4:16

 

Pray. Submit. Surrender. Trust. Hope. Persevere. Choose. Pray. He’s Got You.

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Come & Adore

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1,2

Adore – love and respect someone deeply, to worship, to express reverence and homage.

Adoration – the act of worshiping, a deep love and respect.

Who do you adore? God invites us in this season to come and adore His Son that He sent to this earth in the form of a baby. God is love. The adoration aspect of love could only be accomplished through the innocence of a baby. If Jesus had come originally as a man, this type of love may have been missed. God became tiny, wrinkled, crying flesh! Oh the wonder of it all.

He was announced with a star, imagine your very own shining star calling out your birth. A heavenly host was sent to terrified, astonished shepherds praising God and sending them to the manger. The shepherds were so moved that immediately they went to Bethlehem to see what had been told to them. Does this wonder move you? Are you glorifying and praising God for all that you have seen and heard?

Luke 2:9 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Imagine Mary, a mother’s adoration taken to the next level as her son, God’s son was adored and worshiped by so many unlikely characters. To ponder is to think about something carefully but the Greek definition means trying to put things together. So as Mary was observing all the things around her, she also was trying to figure out what does this mean for my son, for me, for God. She accepted in faith what was to come. We know the story but do we accept in faith what that means for us?

I have been paying particular attention to the words in Christmas carols this year, it has been the way God has highlighted for me to keep His story fresh. O Come All Ye Faithful was my inspiration about adoration.  Come and Behold Him Born the King of Angels O Come Let Us Adore Him Christ the Lord. Our King came, as a baby, so we can relate to Him, adore Him and share His story. God’s great love story. He wants your heart, so He can give you life. Does He have it? Come and adore Him.

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Doubt Rectified

Hebrews 12:2,”Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”cross-1177327_640

I was telling a friend recently that as our children become adults the things they deal with become bigger and harder but my trust in God has become deeper and wider. Our children have been given to us as a precious gift by God and our time influencing them is short. Peace of mind comes with being able to trust God has their best in mind. They are His children first.

If we can teach them at an early age to trust in God with everything in their life, they will rely less on their own devices. Our world places far too much importance in being independent. Don’t hear me wrong because I know there is value in independence and is part of the process in maturing. It is when we become too self-reliant and prideful that the humility of coming to God gets wiped out. I can do it myself makes even faith a place to perform and do it yourself. It does not allow for a place of trust and belief and seeing that we really can’t do things without God. At least not to the fullest potential of who He created us to be.

I lived over half my life, first of all not even knowing that God existed, second, not knowing He loved me. Now I can’t even imagine the opposite. Once you have experienced the love of God and the fullness of belonging to Him, your hope changes and your joy increases. It reveals that there is a purpose for your life and a reason you are on earth.

Hebrews 12:1 says,”Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The race is marked out for us, are we going to choose to run it? Do we know what comes after the finish line?

The next verse goes on to say that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the author of faith, the one who wrote the book on it. He is the perfecter and in Greek that means completer or finisher. He both creates and sustains our faith. It took me a long time to understand what was meant by the ‘joy set before him ‘or at least being able to reconcile that with death on a cross. But joy was His motivation. Just as we are instructed to keep our eyes on Jesus, Jesus kept His eyes on His Father to finish His race and purpose. In completing His race He gets to affect redemption and reconciliation for every person to God’s heart. If they so choose. As John Gray says it, ‘He did it just in case’ someone chose Him. This is pretty incredible motivation for Jesus to finish.

It was not an easy journey, enduring (suffering patiently) the cross which was a representation of shame and humiliation. Jesus scorned the shame of the cross which meant he despised it, ignoring that it was a shameful way to die. He got victory in the place of shame in order for us not to have to live in it any longer. Jesus was able to do this because He was set on the joy set before Him.

What are you set on? Sometimes our independence has us miss what has already been done for us.

He has created our faith, we just need to step into it and believe. “If you declare with your mouth,’Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

He completes it, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

He died for our sin and our shame, we just need to confess it and receive His forgiveness.“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

He will guide us. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

I tell my son that being right is highly overrated. I believe that independence is too. We were created to depend on our Creator. What can you trust to Him today?

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Embracing the Teacher

I LOVE learning. I love learning about God, myself, and in general how people tick. We are a fascinating bunch that God has created. The world is never boring with all the mishmash of personalities, gifts and abilities God has lavished on us. I heard once that what stirs in your heart as a child is probably something you were meant to be. Every since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. It is a possibility had I not gotten cold feet that I would have been a school teacher for over 25 years already.I believe God had a different path in mind, even though I seem to have been doing hopscotch for a long time on it and not landing right in the square. I do believe this year is the revealing of my destiny and it will be evident that all I have done up until now has been the exact squares that God wanted me on. Oh I know sometimes I didn’t listen well or even know Him to hear but as I learned long ago, often the path we come around to is the one where we began and nothing has been wasted, even my backwards hops.

This path of thinking began as I searched for a teaching for my son and I looked through my boxes of journals and courses and bible studies and personality tests. There was a plethora of books, manuals and paper and my first thought was I should really get it together and decide what I want to be when I grow up. I didn’t like that thought so I went to the next one which I felt was God speaking to my spirit and He said you are what I made you to be, a teacher, one who has had to learn to do what I am calling you to do. In that one moment, the hole created by years of anguish over my lack of direction, was filled instead with reassurance and excitement.

I definitely don’t think this is a teacher in the common understanding of the word but what God has put in me to further His Kingdom, the way He wants me to be an ambassador of reconciling hearts to His. To help show people that the way is open to discover life and God, there is no obstacle in the way because Jesus took care of that. Lately I have been doing some studying on the 7 redemptive gifts of God. Romans 12:6-8 ” We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

 I have been studying this concept according to Arthur Burk. He believes the 7 gifts are prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy. He teaches that one of these is a defining template of our soul but in our spirit we are a blend of all seven gifts. He says our gifts are shaped by birth order, family dynamics and culture among other influences and that our gift is either muted or exaggerated by these things. Regardless of the influences, our original software stays in tact, it may just take some peeling to find and operate in it. As I have discovered my redemptive gift is teacher. I fought that truth for a while which is common for ones with that gift apparently ( I still have yet to discover why that is so, although I am thinking it has to do with the responsibility).  It makes a lot of sense though as I learn more about this part of my identity.

This is part of a description from a website about the gifts – ‘This temperament presents truth in a logical, systematic manner, enjoying word studies and reading. They are concerned that truth be established in every situation. They have strong convictions of facts, and can tend to neglect the practical applications.’ It was like that was part of my biography or they were in my head or something haha. My daughters have been known to say, if you want to know the truth about something, just ask Mom! And I think well yes! haha

As always, there are positive and negative aspects to most everything and so it is no different with redemptive gifts. One of the biggest areas of caution for me is to be careful not to let my love of knowledge and learning take the place of intimacy in my relationship with God. I remember Joyce Meyer saying, ‘We are educated way beyond our level of obedience.” I need to let the things I learn flow through me and not just store them up thinking it is a buffer for relationship with God. Our redemptive gifts are given to us so that we may glorify God, not for our own use. God gave me this verse at the beginning of the year when He showed me that my word for this year was to be present.  2 Timothy 2:15 ” Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” This is my prayer as a teacher in whatever capacity He will have me be, that I will not misalign Him or His word.

What is your love danger? What can or does take the place of you having relationship with God? How can you turn that to show the majesty of God and seek Him instead?

The following websites are the ones that I  studied from for this blog. I encourage you to check them out and find out what your redemptive gift is for your place in this world to help reconcile hearts to God. Send your discoveries in a comment below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbhclJfW1_U&list=PL9CD6CF7C5BBF5F63&index=2

http://www.totalchange.org/Seven%20Redemptive%20Gifts.htm

http://storage.cloversites.com/crossroadscommunitychurch9/documents/Redemptive%20Gifts%20Outline%20(filled%20in).pdf