Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Against All Hope

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." Romans 4:18-22 My husband, Shane, and I had the privilege of attending a Christian marriage retreat, specifically for coaches and their wives, this past weekend (coachesoutreach.org, by the way;-). It was wonderful! In the worship sessions, we studied the first 5 chapters of Romans. As I was reading along with the pastor, we came across the above verses. It seemed at though time stood still for me as I read these verses over and over again. It was as if they were written in darker ink than any of the other text. The entire day and night, I thought about these verses. Then, God spoke to me and said this would be the post... You cannot study God's word without learning about Abraham. If Abraham lived in our world today, he would totally be on the front of every tabloid magazine. Why? Because he had an incredible life story. If you only knew the ending of Abraham's story, then you would think he had been this young, strong, well-educated man that was from a strong Christian home and had a beautiful young trophy wife to match. After all, who wouldn't choose this type of man to say he was 'the father of all nations'? Wouldn't this type of man be chosen to begin the bloodline of Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? The truth is, Abraham's life story is incredible because of one thing: Abraham believed God. That's it. We find in God's word that Abraham's father worshiped many gods, while Abraham worshiped the one true God. So, it wasn't his monumental upbringing that moved God's heart. And as for physical appearance, Abraham was an elderly man (and so was his wife for that matter!) when God decided to let the blessings begin. God showed me, after reading this text, that believing Him was the ultimate characteristic He is looking for. Abraham did not only believe God, but he put his hope in God when there was no reason to hope. The beginning of Romans 4:18 says, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed..." So here is a question: How do you hope in God when there is no reason to hope? The definition for the word 'hope' in the dictionary is very different from the definition of how 'hope' is used in God's word. The dictionary says hope is: 'to desire something, yet having no assurance that it will really happen'. The Bible tells us that here, hope means, 'strong and confident expectation'. That's it. Abraham was confident that God would come through on the promises He had made. Perhaps you are at a place in your life today that you are finding it extremely difficult to find hope 'against all hope'. Maybe you really wish God would come through, but that doubt that He just might not, takes your thoughts captive. How do we fix it? How can we have this confidence in God that Abraham had? Well, to be confident that someone will come through for you, you have to KNOW them. Right? I mean, would you meet a stranger or someone you talked to every once in a while, and ask them to do something for you and really be confident they would come through for you? I wouldn't! But don't we do it with God? We don't know Him. That is the problem with the hope. Abraham KNEW God. Verses 20 & 21 say that Abraham was actually strengthened in his faith after facing the fact that he was too old for this to be humanly possible! How often do we totally give up when we see how big our obstacle is and we run the stats on if we can get past it? It makes me want to jump up and down when I think about the fact that Abraham knew God so well, that he was 'fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised him'!! If you read through Genesis, you will find many examples of where Abraham is talking to God. He went to God with his problems. I also noticed that Abraham didn't forget to praise God in the good times too. The Bible tells us of numerous times Abraham stopped and build an alter and gave a sacrifice to God. This was done because He praised this Almighty God for just being with Him, being faithful. O how I forget to praise Him for just waking me up in the morning. If you feel hopeless about your situation, God wants you to know that He can provide you hope. To me, Abraham was the most blessed person by God in our history. God began a legacy with Abraham; a legacy that gave us a Saviour! God didn't choose to bless Abraham because of his physical, mental, or emotional characteristics. It wasn't about Abraham's status at work or the money he had or didn't have. It was the fact that Abraham believed God 'against all hope'. You may say, "Corrie, it's 2009 and my circumstances are alot different from Abraham." This may be true, but thank goodness having different circumstances won't matter... it's still the same God. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, thank you so much for recording your journey with Abraham in your word. It makes me feel so much better to know that when I feel hopeless, hope can be found in you. Help me to remember to take the time to get to know you so that I may be confident in who you are and your power. Draw me closer to you so that I may depend on you for my every breath...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Do Not Forget: Part Two

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Galatians 5:16-17 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24 In the last post, 'Do Not Forget', God reminded me just how often I place other things and other people in front of Him. In writing that post, He refreshed my mind and heart in knowing how involved He wants to be in every aspect of my life... if I would just spend time with Him. As Christians, we know this. But, why is it so difficult for us to do this? Why do we find ourselves failing over and over again to spend more time with God? Thankfully, God gives us the answer in the following post. Part 2 begins... Have you ever been on a diet? I don't like diets because I don't do well on them. You know why? I don't like to NOT eat stuff that taste good! :-) Diets mess with my mind, I think. When I know I can't have something, it makes me want to eat it even more! I can be full up to my eyeballs and Canaan will leave a couple of chicken nuggets and you know what? I eat them!!! Why? Why? Why? The answer is lack of self-control (yep, I don't want God to go here any more than you do). But before I can use it in my eating, I must learn to use it in my spiritual life first. Self-control. Not a great topic for us but a necessary one, according to our Lord. This past month, God has opened up my heart to focusing on the fruit of the spirit. He began working with me on self-control. At first, I was confused by this because self-control is the last fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23. But the more I learned, the more I realized this is the key in strengthening my relationship with God and that's why I needed to begin here. In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul tells us that, as Christians, we must be led by the Holy Spirit. If we are not, we will gratify our own desires, which are sinful. Several places in the Bible, we find Jesus saying that we must 'deny' our self in order to follow Him. Deny, by definition, means 'to restrain oneself from gratification of desires'. I began to think about that and I realized that there is very little that I 'restrain myself' from to follow Christ. What do I deny myself from or when do I exercise self-control with God? God sacrificed His son so that you and I can have a home in Heaven. He wants to be close to me and only asks for my time; Time to worship Him and praise Him before I do something I want to do; Time to ask Him for forgiveness for hurting Him before I need to go somewhere I want to go; Time to offer up my burdens that HE asked me to bring to Him before I spend my time with the very people He put in my life. That, my friends, is simply nothing for me to sacrifice or to deny myself. So, a closer walk with God, (going from an introduction to an intimate friendship) has alot to do with self-control. We must exercise self-control in putting Him first. This is difficult, I know. But God's word tells us that it is difficult because what we want and what God wants is contrary to each other (makes sense of why it's hard sometimes to do the right thing). God tells us we will feel this controversy, but we must choose Him. We can't afford to have distance between us and God, so this is extremely important. When we want to watch TV to wind down at night, we must go to God first. When we want to eat in the morning or get ready, we should spend the time with Him first. I hope you will join me in thinking about your day and night and finding ways to deny our self something in order to put Him above our wants and desires. If you are a Christian (meaning, you have accepted Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior), and you feel that there is distance between you and God, this is the way to close the gap. 1 John 1:5-6 says, "...this is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." Well, if there is one thing we know Jesus did, it was to spend time with the Father. He made time. Spending time with God was everything to Jesus. It must be everything to us. We will set the DVR or rush home early to prevent missing our favorite show. But, seldom do we deny ourselves or move something or someone out of our way if it threatens to come between the time we have with our Lord. I hope that you and I will exercise that necessary fruit of the spirit: self-control. If we do this, we will 'not forget' Him. If we are tempted to do something else when God is prompting our hearts to spend time with Him, may we remember Calvary... enough said. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, I want to be close with you. I hate when there is distance between us. And most of all, I hate that I caused the distance. I want to put you ahead of everyone and everything in my life. You have given so much for me. Help me to use this precious gift of self-control in every aspect of my life. i praise and honor you for my every heart beat and my every breath. May I live my life for you alone.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Do Not Forget

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." Deuteronomy 4:9 "Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws, and his decrees that I am giving you this day." Deuteronomy 8:11 I can't wait to get to Heaven. We will finally get to see Jesus face to face! We will be able to worship this God we have believed in for so long. And seeing all my loved ones! So exciting! You may laugh at this, but when I get to Heaven, there are people from the Bible that I really want to meet too. I want to meet David (I bet the Goliath story is even cooler hearing David tell it in person!) and I definitely want to meet Paul. I want to sit and talk with Moses for a while. I have a bone to pick with Eve, though (I blame all my pain of childbirth on her! Thanks Eve!--Just kidding). Heaven is going to be a wonderful place where we can worship our Lord. And, we will worship Him along side all these believers we read about in God's word. I believe one of those people will be Solomon. Ecclesiastes is written by Solomon. If you haven't read it, I challenge you to do so. It is only 12 chapters, but it is so very powerful. This is Corrieology, but when I read Ecclesiastes, I imagine it is being written as sort of an interview with Solomon on what he has learned in his life. Have you ever heard the phrase, "they've got everything under the sun" ? This comes from Solomon. He shares that though he was wise (the wisest man ever, as a matter of fact), had pleasure, power, and wealth, he was empty. He tells us that nothing mattered without God. He says that everything 'under the sun' was worthless and that a relationship with God was everything. He mentions more than once, to 'remember your creator'. Throughout God's word, we are told time and time again, not to forget God. At first, that seemed silly to me. I thought, "I could never forget God!" Then, I looked at the definitions for forget. One definition really bothered me. It read, "to treat with inattention or disregard". Wow. Do you know how many times I have paid more attention to something or someone else more than God? Countless times. In Judges, we read the story of how God's people, the Israelites, disobeyed God when He told them to drive out the Canaanites. The Canaanites were ungodly people, doing their 'own thing', living their 'own way.' God didn't want His children to conform. Judges 3:7 says, "The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord: they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs." They forgot God. They worshiped something else. Do we realize that we worship other things when we refuse to make time for God? That we are 'inattentive' or 'disregard' the fact that He wants us to talk with Him when we get up in the morning before we eat our breakfast or drink our coffee. BEFORE. I must stop trying to fit God in where it is the easiest for me then mark it off on my 'spiritual checklist'. This is my creator. As a Christian, sometimes we feel so very distant from God. Satan loves when we feel this way. We feel sorry for ourselves. We get down and out because we think, "God's just not hearing my prayers." We must not forget. God is teaching me that when I get into a spiritual rut, I can just go to God and tell Him that I remember. I remember the day He saved me. I remember the day He did 'this' for me and 'that' for me. And pretty soon, the distance is gone! We are together again. What about you? Do you feel distant from God today? If you are His child, all you have to do is remember. What has God done for you? Satan needs us to feel alone and isolated. He doesn't want us to remember how God rescued us before. God tells us all we have to do is utter His name and He will run to us. That name is powerful, my friends. That name conquered death! But that name can never be forgotten. I hope you will join me this week in remembering God on a daily basis. There will be a 'part two' to this post. But for now, we must not forget our creator. Look at the clock for 10 seconds before you read the rest of this post(Stop here). (Resume) Now, know that it was God who allowed you to breath during those 10 seconds... He is sustaining us even when we don't realize it... we must not forget Him. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, please forgive me for forgetting you. I break your heart so often, yet You continue to love me and bless me. I want to remember Your power, Your love, Your mercy every day. Help me to know I cannot exist without you, nor do I wish to...