Sunday, July 29, 2012

A worm or a butterfly?

Our pastor, this morning, touched on an analogy that got me to thinking. Before we accept God and allow Him to change us, we are lowly, sinful, ugly worms (metaphorically speaking of course). We crawl around on our bellies, living the way of the world, following our own desires, eating and causing destruction wherever we go. Sometimes we get gobbled up by a bird or other predator and end up in the bowels of the earth, suffering eternity apart from God.

But some of us see our need for God and we allow Him to participate in our lives and lead us. At this point, we're wrapped in a cocoon where God works on us, changes us, perfects us as we learn and grow in Him.

God promises us in Philippians 1:6 that He will complete the good work He started in us. He doesn't promise that the work will be easy, painless, and/or fast, but He promises to finish it. That changing process is sometimes brutally painful, drawn out, agonizing, but other times it's joyous, wonderful, and easy.

In the end, when the work is done and the cocoon finally opens, we emerge a butterfly, colorful and beautiful, and full of God's grace and mercy. We are capable of soaring to new heights to show the world what God has done in our lives.

How true is that!? If we allow God to change us into the people He wants us to be, we can be transformed from a lowly worm into a beautiful butterfly. What a miracle! I am still in the cocoon and probably will be until I die, most of us will continue to change and grow until we're ushered into the eternal kingdom of God. What a beautiful promise, a beautiful thing to strive for.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Offering Forgiveness and Making Amends

Have you ever hurt someone and neglected to make amends for it? I know I have.

Has someone hurt you and you've been holding onto resentment and unforgiveness toward them? Guilty again.

A class I'm taking at our church has helped me search myself- and ask God to search me as well to point out things I might be missing- in order to see these things so that I can fix them and move on. Forgiveness is important- both the giving and the receiving. And if we don't ask it and offer it to those in our lives, how can we truly understand the gift we've been given by Jesus? If we hold onto the bitterness and unforgiveness we have toward someone who hurt us, who is it really hurting?



I saw a bumper sticker once that said: Hanging onto unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting someone else to die.

And that's so true. If we refuse to forgive those who hurt us, it eats US up inside, not the person who hurt us.

Being willing to forgive and/or offer amends is the first step in the healing process. God wants a willing heart because He willingly offered up His Son, He willingly forgives us and He can't forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.

 Matthew 6:14 says: "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you."

Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Letting go of that anger and hurt toward someone else is often a difficult task but it's one that we as Christians are called to. It's not a request, it's a command. God doesn't say, "Please do it." He says, "FORGIVE!" it's an order, not a choice.

And one more thing, forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to be friends with that person or that you have to let that person be a part of your life. It means you are letting go of the hurt, letting go of any payment or punishment you expect for that person. I have forgiven the man who abused me as a child but that doesn't mean I want him in my life or near my children. But I've let go of that hurt and the anger I harbored toward him and I pray he found salvation before he died. And doing so gave me freedom!

Let go and let God! He will do amazing things through you if you will let Him help you clean out the dark, dank closets of your heart. Offer forgiveness and make amends. Start fresh today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reaching the Lost

Ever since I started really working on my relationship with God, the spiritual condition of those I love the most has become an enormous burden on my heart. I never realized how many people in my family, close members, are lost. They either don't believe in God at all or have such skewed ideas about who God is that salvation is out of the question for them and it breaks my heart.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that the God of the Bible is real. The more I get to know about Him, the more I love Him and long to be with Him. Yes, there are stories in the Bible that, to someone who doesn't know the true nature of God, seem to paint Him in a negative, mean spirited light. Stories like Job for instance. To someone who doesn't know the true spiritual reason behind the testing of Job, it could seem like God and Satan were simply toying with Job and torturing him for no apparent reason. But I know that the purpose behind it was, for one, to prove to Satan that there are indeed men in this world who cannot be turned from God's side no matter what. And for another, to show future generations that no matter what Satan does to us, God will never leave us or forsake us. He will always be faithful through no matter what kind of trials we are faced with.

I know for certain that Jesus is God's son and that He came to this earth to show us the very image of love and to reconcile us to God through his sacrifice on the cross. I know these things, not in my head, but in my heart, in the very deepest part of my soul, I know these things to be true.

So why is it so hard to convince those I love the most? Why does it seem that my prayers are falling on deaf ears? Please don't get me wrong, I know God hears my prayers, but these family members are as defiant and determined to refuse God as they ever were.

Jesus is coming SOON! We are living in the end times and I believe with all my heart that the end of this world as we know it is emminent. And I'm so afraid for my family. The thought of them being left behind in such a terrible time breaks my heart. The thought of them dying before then and not having another chance to get right with God, tears me up. But I don't know what to do besides keep praying. I know prayer is key...but I feel so helpless. I wish I could say something to these beloved members of my family that would change their hearts and turn them back to the God who created them, who loves them in spite of their rejection of Him.

And what makes it harder is that they're 2500 miles away. I can't be there for them to see the difference God has made in my life. I can't be there to be an example for them. I love them so much and I'm broken by their lost state. If any of you read this and feel inclined to pray with me for these people, please do. I won't mention names, so just know they're my family. And I love you for praying with me. I know God will hear! I have faith that He'll move on their hearts and call them Home to Him before it's too late.