Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I view my life through two different lenses...

I view my life through two different lenses: pre and post discipleship.

When I think back on my life before discipleship I was insecure, emotional, over-reactive to those said emotions, and therefore, lacked composure. It is so embarrassing to think back to those days. Especially when I was guilty of saying things I shouldn't. Even though I was a believer, I didn't understand how to live as one or the necessity of it. 

Believing in Jesus Christ is the foundation by which Christians live. Once we understand that by believing in the power of the gospel we are saved, we are forever changed! I do not want to gloss over the power the gospel had in my life, but I stayed there for many years. I was a stagnant Christian and that is a dangerous position to be in.

It wasn't until the year before Brielle was born, a little over five years ago, that I began a discipleship relationship with Deb Evertson. She began teaching me how to study God's Word. This one-on-one time learning about Jesus through His Word was effective because that's what He commanded us to do: 
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
I began to change. God was using His Word, taught by an amazing teacher, to draw me closer to Him. 

I believe in discipleship because women must teach other women what it means to glorify God by loving their husband, loving their children, how to live a pure, self-controlled life, upholding the Word of God in our lives so that we do not sway when the storms hit. I am the exact opposite of that pre-discipleship person because of the time spent on how to study the Bible, which taught me to rest in Christ, which in turn helped me to remain composed in turmoil, giving me an eternal perspective, glorifying Him for His amazing works, praying, searching His Word for truth... focused on HIM alone. Because of discipleship I have accountability and a deep and abiding friendship centered on Christ. I want to pass it on to others, so they pass it on to others, who pass it on to others, until the day of His return.

When I view my life through the pre-discipleship lens I thank God for blessing me with that first discipleship relationship, which has now blossomed into four others! I am not who I once was because He brought this amazing woman into my life to teach me His Word. 

I encourage you to do the same. Find a woman that embodies the qualities listed in Titus 2:3-5 and ask her to teach you. You will learn so much about what it means to be a woman of God and you will be forever changed as He draws you closer to Him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [Bible Verses Relevant to Presidential Elections]

"... there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Romans 13:1 If it were true in Paul's time (the author of Romans) then it's true today. And what was Paul's advice to the Roman Christians who endured persecution from the rulers (instituted by God)? Submit to them. Therefore, we shall as well and TRUST God's plan, whatever it may be.

"The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men." Daniel 4:17 If it was true in Daniels time that God, the Most High, rules the kingdom of men and sets over it whom he will, then I believe that our unchanging, all-powerful, all mighty, sovereign God still rules the kingdom of men and sets over it whomever HE chooses. And from the looks of it, it'll be the lowliest.

"The kings heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." Proverbs 21:1 If God controls the heart of a king, I am 110% convinced that includes the president of the United States. Do I know why things are going the way they're going? Nope. I am not God and I do not know what the future holds except this: He wins. (Read Revelation 19:11 - 20.)

Have you read the story of how God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt? (Exodus 1 - 15) Time and time and time again God tells Moses that He is going to harden Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh. The king of Egypt. A man whom the people worshiped as a god. (Remember? The kings heart is a stream of water int he hand of the Lord.) Egypt at this time was one of the most powerful nations in the world (sound familiar?  Hmmmm... like the United States is today?) Read statements like, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go." (Exodus 4:21) and again in 7:3, "But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them." and again in 9:12, "But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses."  and again in 9:14-16, "I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." again in 10:1-2 and 10:20 and 10:27 and 11:10 and 14:4, 8, 17. What was God's reasoning? To proclaim HIS NAME! So that the most powerful nation on the earth and the people of Israel knew that HE IS GOD and there is none like Him. He will do what He will do when He pleases because He is God and it is HIS NAME and HIS WORD that will endure for all eternity (Psalm 138:2). It is just as true now as it was in the day of Moses! He will harden hearts and His Name will be proclaimed, even kings and presidents IF it is HIS will.

So what must we do? Like the Israelites coming out of Egypt: Be silent. He does the fighting. We must only trust in HIS plan, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (Exodus 14:14) How did God fight and win? Read the story in Exodus and then in Revelation 19-20. He wins. He ALWAYS wins. So no matter the outcome of this presidential election, HE WON.

"Behold I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Revelation 22:12 No matter the president chosen on this day or from now until the day Jesus returns, HE is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega. The King of kings and Lord of lords who institutes authority, sets over rulers, rules the kingdom of men, and holds the hearts of every ruler in his hand as though it were a stream of water. He is worthy of praise and our complete and utter trust.

"I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away." Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 God has decreed everything that's going to happen and He does things for a purpose. Who are we to question it? It's already been done.

Plus we do not understand His thoughts or His ways! "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:8-11 Can't get much clearer than that. Whatever He says will be done and it will accomplish His purpose and it will succeed, because He declared it. That is as true in Isaiah's time as it is today!

Because, "For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." Psalm 135:6

and He also declares things that have not been done, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose;' Isaiah 46:10

And 11 for good measure:
If you don't like this truth I dare you to take it up with God! Job tried with comments such as, "Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments." (Job 23:1-4) What bold arrogance! And it would be easy for us to justify his complaint, after all he had much to be bitter about. He lost everything. Yet, we complain as much, or more, than Job making comments such as, "Today my complaint is bitter on account of the new president! Oh, that I knew where I could find God that I might come to his throne! I would lay my case before him, because my way is best and I would argue the authority he set in place because I know best." You might receive such responses such as this, "Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is around and abase him. Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you." (God's response to Job in 40:8-14.) In other words, can you do such things as command lightening to strike a mark (Job 36: 32, 38:35) or lay the foundation of an earth (Job 38:4) or loose the cords of Orion (Job 38:31) or thunder with a voice like his or adorn yourself with majesty and dignity, glory and splendor? You can't?! Well then stop and consider the wondrous works of God (Job 37:14) and do nothing else! Respond as Job does after hearing the word of God, "I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) Hallelujah and AMEN!

No matter the president, no matter your earthly circumstances, look up, watching and waiting for the returning of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is King. And the one who will stand as President will be President because it is HIS will. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is outside of His control. Not even the President of the United States.

Whew. What an amazing relief.

Now, go do your duty and prayerfully vote, but vote resting in the almighty sovereignty of God, knowing that not one purpose of His can be thwarted and whatever He pleases, He does, because