Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sanctuary of Tranquility: When God Calls Us Into Seclusion

Sanctuary of Tranquility: When God Calls Us Into Seclusion: There are times in our lives when God knows that the only way we will become what he wants us to become is by isolating us; by pulling us...

When God Calls Us Into Seclusion

There are times in our lives when God knows that the only way we will become what he wants us to become is by isolating us; by pulling us aside and putting us in a position where the only true answers we get come from him, to show us that the very best friend we have in the whole wide world is him for he is the only one who truly understands us and what and who we need. 
Those times can be very difficult; if we struggle to  understand what he is doing, it can almost feel like a punishment. God does not punish. He does, however, rotate people in and out of our lives. and he does it for seasons and reasons that we may never understand. He knows exactly where we need to live, why we need to have specific jobs or join specific clubs. In essence, he knows exactly what we need to help us succeed and get the things accomplished he has planned for our lives.
He does indeed have a master plan for each of us with experiences we need to endure that will change our attitudes and beliefs. And he knows exactly who will provide the perfect encouragement to us when we are close to giving up, and who will be around to open our eyes to the truth about our own thoughts and behavior. He whispers things to us that become part of our own thoughts and he can and will answer any question we ask him in his time and he will only allow things to hurt us for a season if that pain will bring forth lessons and change or something beautiful.

Ecclesiastes 3:1111 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end

I sometimes struggle to fully understand the free will thing. Most people in this world, have 100% free will. However, when you belong to Jesus, its not quite like that.
You are his possession in a sense and although that may frustrate you on occasion and you might think, if only for a minute, that you don't have to listen, you don't have to do what he wants, the reality of the situation is do.
You see, that old expression, "There's no turning back" is true. You can't change your devotion to him and and you wouldn't change it even if you could, and the reason is simple.
You know that he knows e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and he would never steer you wrong unless that wrong manifested into something amazing.
He is not only your very best friend. 
He is God Almighty.

Being isolated with God can be lonely if you allow it to be, but if you press in and treat him like the best friend that he truly is, you will experience changes and miracles that will draw you even closer to him and you won't ever want it any other way ever again.
It's kind of crazy in a fantastic way!
Things will begin to happen and things will change; unexpected things. 
Always expect the unexpected with God.
When they happen, you will know it's him. There is no explaining it to anyone who doesn't know him, so you just smile, knowingly and keep it to yourself. 
God is so amazing.

There will be, however, moments, hours and days when he is trying to make a point with you. Sometimes the things he wants us to learn are not easy, and anything but fun.
Often times they are even very painful. 
Yet, painful with the knowledge that he is forcing you to open your eyes and see things, do things his way, instead of your own.
Good luck getting mad at him or trying to make him see things your way. He will listen and he will see, but that won't change his mind unless and until he is good and ready. 
When he is determined to change something about you, he will get it done. 
It will be accomplished, His will will be done. 
He is always successful in every single one of his endeavors
Always! So you can do things the easy way, or you can do things the hard way, that choice is ultimately yours. 

He is destined to change us if we belong to him. asking him to change you is a brave request! He listens and is more than ready to take you up on your request. Be ready for some amazing transformations to occur. You will look back and shake your head when you think about how different you have become. 

1 John 5:14-15 
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Don't let that scripture fool you, God is not Santa Claus. Santa may be described as having a few of God's characteristics but they are worlds apart. The one characteristic that truly defines Jesus is that "if we ask anything according to HIS will, He hears us". 
It must be his will for he doesn't hand out perfect gifts unless they are his perfect will

Believe me when I tell you, receiving that perfect will is tougher than it sounds.
If he has placed you in a difficult situation, it's all yours until he is ready to change it. 
Have you ever asked for something and been told 'No'? 
I have, more times than I can count. Don't pout, Father knows best. 
Remember, No request to God comes back void. 
You will receive what he determines to be the perfect response when he is good and ready, and it's not always what you thought you wanted, but it always comes and it's always perfect. God is not going to just hand you something without it being precisely what he wants it to be and you can rest on that. 
Because he created us, he can use his finely tuned wisdom and knowledge to plant dreams and ideas into our minds and without a second thought we come to believe that those thoughts and dreams were our own idea. We are so determined to believe we are in charge of everything that we fail to give him the credit he deserves. That is the pure and simple truth.

Don't misunderstand what I just wrote; "He did not make us to be mechanical robots that just march around doing preordained things. Our Father God created us to have fellowship with him. It is our birthright to have an actual relationship with our God."(From the book Hearing God by James W. Goll) But it takes two to complete that relationship and the more time you spend alone with him, the greater that relationship will become. Go into seclusion with God. Talk to him. read the Bible, listen to podcasts from good teachers and ask him to change anything about you that he knows needs changing and you are guaranteed to see miracles in your own life. I promise. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine: As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world...

He Leaves the Ninety Nine

As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world who are struggling, yet have something 
in common... a tremendous faith and love for God. 

I have traveled a rough and ragged road in the past year, as have so many others that I know. There have been days when I have been angry with God for putting me through such a season; a season that has been trying, and some days has even felt like a punishment. 
What is this all been about? 
It may not appear from the outside that my season, or yours, is tough, but Jesus knows your truth, he is with you through all of it.  

One thing I know for sure is that because I am here, writing this, even though it has been difficult, it has been a season of blessings. For there are Always Blessings. Always things to give thanks for. 
Those blessings can be something as simple as the fact that God woke us up this morning, he gave us a breath, a drink of water, a roof over our head, a warm place to sleep and on and up from there. It doesn't matter what we have or don't have...the Bible says when we have God, we have all we need. 
That being said; Our Father God is one tough customer, he has expectations of us which can be difficult, almost too difficult sometimes. 
He expects us to get through situations we are certain we haven't the strength to accomplish; hard things that make us want to give up, quit and move on. 
I can't tell you how many times I have felt like my giving up day is drawing very near and I have even told him so. I have given him deadlines, making pretend alternative plans so in case things don't change soon, or in case his promises don't pan out, I will have something to fall back on. Something, quicker and easier so that I can pretend I never heard his voice.

I bet he thinks I’m really funny, I know he thinks I am impatient! Perhaps when he says "soon" I don't envision months or years. But the Bible says that God is not a liar and he always gets his way! He has a keen sense of humor and loves to be praised. He knows us each very well, and he is always one jump ahead of any foolish, stubborn plans we make on our own. 
I can not lie and say that I have never doubted God, I must be honest and say that I have foolishly doubted him and he has shown me time and time again that He is not like a human who will lie and use and abuse us for his own gain and then walk away. 
So if I l were to be the one to up and walk away; call it quits (which I could never do because that would mean I would be failing him), it would be about me, not Him. And that right there is what keeps me going. You see, I am no saint, but I do want to be a tough customer just like him.

It's true what they say, there  is no turning back. Once you love him and feel his mighty love for you, turning back is not an option, and there is only one way...
His way.
So the best thing to do is rest in that and be as patient as you possibly can be. 

I am blessed to wake up many mornings with some truly great music playing in my head.
I know it is Jesus who provides that music, for the songs I am hearing reflect the mood I was in before I went to sleep the night before. Sometimes I am sad, mad, frightened or  frustrated and I cry. Other times I just know he is right there by me and I am content. 

I have woken up to "Good Good Father" from Chris Tomlin and other mornings I hear Steffany Gretzinger telling me that Jesus is and should be The King of my Heart
Other times when I have had foolish, faithless concerns; including my fear that he has forgotten me, I wake up to and hear randomly through out the day,  is Reckless Love.
When it pops into my head I know he is reassuring me, especially when I am having a rough day and I am exhausted or frightened. I know it is Him telling me to keep going, and not to give up. He whispers, "I know I'm making you fight a tough fight, walk a tough walk but you can do it. You have this, this is cake." And I know then that I do have it. I can do it. I can deal with any and all personal or financial struggles, get up before dawn and drive through any storm, deal with the most difficult of situations and be kind to the most difficult of people. I know I can overcome whatever I have to...
because He Loves Me.

The lyrics to Reckless Love explain that love to my tired brain in such a way that I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! 
Read these words and listen to the song....

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so Good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me. You have been so, so Kind to me.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, Still You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me, You have been so, so Good to me. 

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me. You have been so, so Kind to me 

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up, Coming after me.
There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down, Coming after me.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

The lyrics to this song reference  the Parable of the Lost Sheep which is told by Jesus, and recorded twice in Scripture, first in Matthew 18:12-14 and again in Luke 15:1-7
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable
4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 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.
Source: Bible Gateway
That says it all right there... 
it doesn't matter who you are, what you've been through, what you've done. 
You are one of those 100 sheep and if you get lost, even for a minute, He is coming after you. He is only a call away; "Jesus, please help me. I need you!" 

I have been like Peter on the lake;  I looked away for a split second and lost sight of him and found myself calling, "Please help me! I can't make it without you my dear, sweet, Father." 
He always knows where we are and what we're enduring and he always has his eyes on us. 

So please, keep your focus on Him and try not to take your eyes off of Him, but if and when you do; and it does happen just like it happened to Peter, Jesus will find you and he will rejoice and never let you go.

So remember...

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up coming after me. 
 There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down coming after me 
 Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, Oh, it chases me down, fights 
'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn't earn it . I don't deserve it. 
 Still You give yourself away...

We might not be able to see the end of our current situation, or understand why he created it or why he is allowing it, but He can and He does. Remember always that His ways are nothing like our ways, and His thoughts are nothing like ours...we tend to forget that, and it's a good thing to remember. Don't try to put him in a box, because first of all, there are none like him and secondly, there aren't any boxes that can hold him. No matter what your circumstance or situation is...know this, if you keep your eyes on him and make him your number one will see the blessings, even if they are invisible to the world around you. 

He will be rejoicing that he found one of the ninety-nine.  

Blessings for a Joy filled New Year...
    Keep your eyes on Him, His are on you! 

Jeremiah 23:3-4 says, 
"But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where 
I have driven them and bring them back to their folds and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking." says the LORD

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paul to the Corinthians 

About a month ago I picked up a counted cross stitch kit while out shopping and began working on it. I thought it would be something fun to revisit as the weather cools off, plus as it is a great passtime.      The kit I selected is based upon 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 to be specific. A message from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians                                                                                                                        What a wonderful opportunity it has been to revisit those words spoken by Paul to the people of Corin and to truly reflect on their meaning. This scripture is most frequently associated with wedding vows, however, Pauls thoughts were far from weddings or ceremonial vows. It was Paul’s intent, to teach the people of Corin how to treat one another...with charity.                                                               Charity is defined as goodwill, compassion, consideration, concern, kindness, kindheartedness, tenderness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, indulgence, tolerance, leniency, and caritas which is Latin for Christian love of human kind, ‘charity’
In todays world when we hear the word charity most, clutch their wallets tightly as their brains immediately go to the poor, broken, unfortunate, helpless, diseased, aborted, beaten, abused and on and on.
The true meaning is totally eluded.                                                                                                  Charity is in fact, the voluntary giving of help and isn’t that what we all deeply desire from the people in our lives? Our parents, spouses or significent others, children and friends?
Although I am uncertain which Bible version my cross stich is, I have chosen to use the King James; where the Apostle Paul refered to love as ‘charity’ in his original writings and the Message, which is quite contemporary and has a lovely and interesting view and flow.
The Way of Love.                                                                                                                            Though I speak with human eloquence; the tongue of men and angelic ecstasy, but have not ‘charity’,    I am as sounding brass or a tingling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy (I speak Gods words with power, revealing his mysteries and knowledge) and though I have faith that I can say to a mountain, “move” and it moves, without charity (love), I am nothing.                                                             If I give everything I own to help the poor, and even give my body to be burned at the stake like a martyr, if I don’t love, it has been of no profit to me.                                                                             So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.                                     Charity suffereth long (never gives up), is always kind (never me first) nor does it want what it does not have (never jealous)                                                                                                                       Charity never behaves irritably (flys off the handle)  It doesn’t ever keep score, it puts up with everything, (endures all things). Is always honest (speaks truth in all things) and fair, (never rejoicing in wrong but always rejoicing in right) Love Trusts God Always and Always looks for the best and never looks back but keeps on going to the end (love never ends)

A good excercise that only takes a few minutes is to read this again and replace the words love or charity with “I” See how that feels. God will test your heart, (he’s really good at that) and it will serve as a good starting place for all of us when we ask God to help us be more like him.

                   Blessings for a truly wonderful Holiday Season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What you allow, defines you.

We've all heard this expression; "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car". Most of us pretty much just giggle at it and decide it applies to someone else, right?
The truth is harsh.
It has everything to do with us, especially when we tell people, including ourselves, that we belong to Christ thus making us Christians.
What does that mean, anyway?
If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he rose from the dead and is seated in heaven at the right hand of his father that should be enough, right?
The only way to the Father is through the son, right? There is a little more to it than that.
Titus 1:16 tells us that if we profess to know God, but deny him by our works (actions), we are detestable, disobedient and unfit for any good work.
There's that harshness again.
So what can we do that will show our good works?
We can start with our behavior. God is watching us, he misses nothing.
1 Peter 2:9 says we are to be a peculiar people, right? That means we’re different. How are we different? We don’t behave like pagans, that's how. That means when those around us are behaving like pagans we don't join in  We  behave differently, we  are no longer led away by anyone by heathen thinking. We are new in Christ. We need to stand up for ourselves.We are also described as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. We are to show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness. into the marvelous light. We are to be representatives of Jesus and conduct ourselves accordingly.
God will be there for us, and that is a promise.
A few months ago, I was working part time processing clothing at a department store. I really enjoyed the work, although I needed more hours. My community was preparing for the annual motorcycle rally and i came across a job for a part time cook for one of the vendors who would serve as a food provider. at our local Harley Davidson Store. I applied, was hired and was given a schedule. The next day, the person who interviewed me called me and asked me if I would be interested in something more permanent. It seemed her daughter was the GM at a local hotel and she needed a breakfast cook. It all happened so fast I felt like I just fell into the job. It was kind of odd.
I accepted the position and began questioning my decision soon after as I worked with someone who was prone to temper tantrums; during which he would say some very unkind things to me and behave very childish. The executive chef at the time excused the behavior saying chefs act like that. Maybe some chefs do, I don't. The turnover at the motel was pretty crazy and before too long that executive chef was gone as well, but before he left, he hired a chef with a very impressive degree from the Cordon Blue. I am always excited to work with people like that so I was thrilled.
The Saturday before she started the Holy Spirit told me that I would not be there much  longer. His words provided me with much food for thought and I began guessing what was going to happen.
Silly me. We can never, ever out think God!
The new chef started and she was great! A week later the hotel brought on yet another executive chef. This one from the east coast. His love for himself left very little room for anyone else to grow fond of him and his very first day he insulted the new chef so severely she went home and never came back.
He was prone to angry outbursts complete with some of the most foul language I have ever endured. He claimed that foul language, fits of rage and occasional flying objects were all par for the course in restaurant land.
Once those words came out of his mouth, it was as if the staff took it as license to go crazy. When one of the wait staff called me the filthiest of names, this executive chef stood there as if nothing had been said. When I mentioned it to him later he laughed in my face.
I knew then why my papa God didn't want me there to deal with it.

The next morning I was pushing the same char grill out of the way that I do every morning, but on this particular occasion, for some crazy reason, it tipped over. What?? Yes, it tipped over.
The chef began yelling and screaming obscenities, grabbed his phone and began.  as he called it, "document the incident". It all seemed so surreal. I knew exactly what was going to happen next and it did. So when I received a message to come in on my day off, I went and was directed to his office where I was asked to sign a document admitting to pushing the grill over in anger and frustration, which makes me giggle just thinking about it.  Needless to say I not only refused, but I resigned my position.
God is so good. The word that he gave me not only prepared me mentally for something to happen that would end my job, but it also provided me with a peace that surpassed all understanding and the knowledge that I have a father in heaven who loves me so much that he doesn't want me to be subjected to the heathen behavior and language that was going on at that workplace.

We are a peculiar people. In this world of filthy language, lies and trickery He defends us and allows us to show that we are different, we are indeed peculiar. We don't take part in pagan behavior. We are His. So do not be afraid to be different! Don't be afraid to be Godly and worthy of the seat in Heaven next to Ashua. We ARE different and our works show it, or at least they should. We are a cut above because we belong to Him.

In a side note, when I went in to pick up my final paycheck, the front desk associate informed me that the new executive chef had been fired.
Gods a busy man!