A Missing Treasure

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Is there a place where one can encounter the presence of God more than in another place?

This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago.  We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm, the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.

Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into weekly routine. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone. It was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.

Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?

Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.

Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)

I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change, and that is my expectation. On the camping trip I had high expectations, partly coming from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded them. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, and everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.

I may not have a choice as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist, My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” –Psalm 62:5 KJV

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Glorious Redemption!!

Glorious Redemption!!picture of cross glorious redemption

The Son of God is hanging on a cross, suffering unimaginably but not just from physical pain but from the weight of the sin of the whole world, my sin included! He has the choice to call ten thousand legions of Angels to His rescue but He stays, He submits to the will of His Father to redeem mankind from their sin. He knows He is their only hope, and so He willingly gives up His life on the cross. All creation trembles and the sky grows dark, it acknowledges what has taken place.

It was here at the cross when Jesus died that redemption was made possible for us. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace.” (NKJV)

I have known the truth of this for almost my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home, but only recently has it actually changed my life. I have been a Christian for a couple of years now; I gave my life to Christ at a revival meeting one night when I was 18. The joy of being forgiven of my sins was amazing! I was on fire for God; unfortunately it didn’t last very long… I didn’t know what I had done wrong and I started doubting my salvation. I had many doubts and had no victory in my Christian life, I felt confused and alone. I lived this way for many years and eventually I began searching Scripture and started believing the promises of God about how He has called us and will complete the work He has started in our lives. I didn’t have complete victory over this until recently.

We had a speaker come and teach our class a couple of weeks ago and his topic was not about redemption but while teaching he mentioned briefly what redemption means and how it impacted his life and I was just struck by this truth and it has stayed with me ever since. He said that when we come to the cross in repentance and salvation we exchange our lives for the Righteousness of Christ, so that when God looks at us He does not see us in our sinful flesh but He sees Christ’s Righteousness in us. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)

This verse was not foreign to me, I just never really fully grasped it’s meaning but it makes so much sense now and it has really encouraged me and helped me be victorious in my life! Through Redemption Christ lives in me, by understanding this truth I now can fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him to work in me and make me more like Him; I don’t have to try and overcome my sins and failures on my own.

1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (NLT)

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Overwhelmed by God

 

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“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” -Psalm 61:2

These past few weeks God has been teaching me how totally dependent I am on Him for my every need. Back in the beginning of the year I had prayed that God would bring me to the place where He was my only source of strength and that I would not rely on my own ability to live for Him. God answered that prayer by allowing me to become overwhelmed with all that was before me so that I would find my strength in Him.

I really don’t like being in situations where I am overwhelmed by all that is before me. That feeling of not knowing how you will complete a task and being totally inadequate for the job certainly wasn’t what I was asking God for!

God showed me that this is exactly the place I need to be at in order to experience His Holy Spirit at work in my life. If I am still holding onto my own wisdom, strength, and ability then I won’t be looking to God to do the work in my life. He just becomes a backup plan, someone I can go to if my own plans don’t work out.

God desires that I have nothing else to rely on but Him. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit means that I must surrender all of my human abilities to the Lord. Instead of relying on my own strength, which runs out pretty quickly, I need to allow the Lord to take over. No longer will I be overwhelmed by my own inabilities, but I become overwhelmed by the power and ability of God.

Phil. 2:13 says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God is the One who does the work in me. I don’t have to struggle on my own or rely on my own abilities. Everything I need is found in Him alone, but only when I stop trusting in myself will I experience the fullness of His Holy Spirit at work in me.

Each time I am in a situation that is beyond what I can handle in my own strength I am reminded where my strength and ability lie. It is not in anything that I can do but only through the Holy Spirit at work in me. Even though I still don’t like being in overwhelming situations, God is teaching me that peace and rest come when my focus is on Him.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah” -Psalm 62:5-8

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Waiting On The Lord

Waiting-Lord-DSC_0211During my solitude time this past week I was reading from Isaiah chapter 8 where God speaks to Isaiah about the coming judgement against Judah. Because of their wickedness, God is going to send the nation of Assyria to punish them and carry them away into captivity.

God reminds the prophet Isaiah in the midst of all of this not to be overcome by fear but to keep his focus on God. Verse 13 says, “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”

In times of difficulty and struggle, it can be so easy to take our eyes off of God and to be overcome by the fear of man, but God says that He is the One we are to fear.

To fear God means to live in reverential awe and respect of who He is. When our focus is on the power and might of our God, we will no longer be concerned about what is taking place around us. We can trust that God is in complete control.

Further on in Isaiah 8 verse 17 says, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him.”

Isaiah knew that He could put His complete trust in God and had faith that God would use the Assyrians to bring His plan to pass.

Waiting on the Lord means to be attentive to His voice and to be constantly in tune to what He is doing. Just as a waiter at a restaurant has the job of making sure the needs of their customers are met, so we must be looking to see what God requires of us and how we can serve Him.

When I am facing a spiritual battle it is so easy for me to focus on what is going on around me instead of keeping my eyes on the One who is in control of the situation. Instead of waiting on the Lord and being attentive to His voice I allow fear and anxiety to overtake my mind. God used this passage in Isaiah to remind me that my mind must be continually on Him. He is the One that I should fear and stand in awe of. I can wait on Him and rest in the assurance that my trust does not lie in man but in God, who is sovereign over all.

“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people”

– Charles Spurgeon

 

School of Discipleship CA

—School of Discipleship student

God’s Plans, Not Mine

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“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands… Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD God disciplines you.”

—Deuteronomy 8:2,5

 

It has been the cry of my heart for years that God would call me to be a missionary and use me to do something significant for Him. Last year, God closed the door on what I had been counting on doing and longing for. I was upset. I couldn’t accept the reality of it and believed that it would still happen. Then God showed me why I was so upset: I had my own plans that I had given my life to, and when God changed them, not only was I shaken in the moment, but my whole future seemed to shatter.

It didn’t happen just once. God opened a door I counted on being closed. I wrestled within my heart and fought the will of God, until finally I accepted it and followed Him. I can’t explain the peace that filled my whole being each time I surrendered my plans and submitted to God. He waited so patiently for me, just like a loving Father, not letting me have my own way.

Now as I look back, I realize that for the longest time I had fooled myself into thinking that I was submitting to God’s plan. Even if I was submitting in my outward actions, my heart was set on the things I wanted to do. Without knowing it, I put my plans above God. They were good things I was longing for, but when they became more important to me than God, my walk with the Lord was hindered. As I read this verse from Deuteronomy, I see what God was been doing. I thought He was keeping me from something good, but instead all this time, He has been patiently teaching me to follow Him and preparing me for what lies ahead. He’s been testing my heart just as He did to the Israelites, to see if I’m really willing to obey His commands. He’s disciplined me in a gentle and Fatherly way.

My longings aren’t gone. I still hope and pray for God to open the door He closed, yet I know His timing is best – better than any of the plans I have. I hope that when God changes my plans I will be quick to surrender to His ways. I may have learned this lesson once or twice, but I have to continually surrender my plans to God. Every day is a choice.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Does Fashion matter?

Does-Fashion-Matter-TD15-02125I haven’t yet figured out why girls go to the bathroom in pairs/groups, but I do know that we often go shopping in twos or more so that we can get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion on an outfit – to ask “Should I buy this?” Our friends often hold a place of an advisor.

The other day I saw a jacket that I really liked and was reasonably priced. Now, you must understand that I am not a fashion-conscious person at all and I hate clothes shopping, so if I see something I like that fits and is decently priced, I will buy it.

I wanted to get this jacket, but then I started thinking… do I really need it? No. But I really like it. The price is good. However, the money could be better used elsewhere. I would definitely wear it a lot and get the value’s worth of it. I went back and forth, and finally, I said, “God, should I get this?”

I’d never asked God for fashion advice before. (Not that I usually ask fashion advice much of anyone.) But I realized that this is what it means to seek God in … everything. Even in something that seemingly is as trivial as “Should I buy this jacket?”, if I ask God whether it honours Him, well, the question itself honours Him if I follow His (fashion) advice.

—School of Discipleship student

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