Monday, August 24, 2009

Responding to the Power of God

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 I first want to begin by thanking those of you who have been praying for me and my health. These last 2 and a half weeks have been very difficult, both physically and mentally. For those of you who don't know, I have a rare disease that (when active) causes my arteries to narrow and close, causing little to no blood flow to my heart and brain. The main artery in my left arm is almost completely closed due to the disease's beginning. Since then, every so often, I have problems with that arm constricting and minimizing my blood flow in my arm and to my heart. My doctors are beginning more tests to find what is causing this and to know how to stop it. As you can guess, I have been doing alot of thinking. I thought alot about my faith and God's power. I want to be able to have that faith that melts the very heart of God. I want to be in such a deep relationship with God that my eyes never fall away, that they stay locked in His. I want to have a trust in my Lord that is so great, no circumstance could make me doubt his power. Yet, sometimes, my eyes do fall away from His. The swirling wind and waves around me get my attention. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever wondered why, as a Christian, you feel so cowardly and confused in the trial you are going through? Have you ever asked yourself, "Why can't I just trust God like I'm 'supposed' too?" Well, for 22 days, I have prayed for God to reveal to me His next post. I am pleased to say that He answers those questions in this post... When I think about what happened at the cross all those years ago, my response is bitter sweet. It hurts me to think about how badly Jesus was beaten, how much He bled, how much pain He endured. It is difficult for me to think about the insults He heard, the thorns that were pushed into His head, and the nails driven deep into His hands and feet. But then, I am filled with so much love and gratitude that I smile when I think about the fact that He did that for me, for you. I think of how God gave up His own son so that you and I could have an eternity with Him and our loved ones. I am so happy Jesus has gone to prepare a place that is so beautiful, it is called Heaven. Even though what happened at the cross makes cry with both tears of joy and with tears of sadness, what happened at the cross was powerful! It was God's power! When we accept Christ into our hearts as Lord and Savior through salvation, we are responding to this very power (Romans 1:16-17). By making this profession of faith, our response is that we believe that we are sinners and are in need of being 'saved' from the eternal punishment for sin, which is Hell. We are also saying that we believe that God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross in place of us and took on our sin (John 3:16). He became our Savior. By accepting this gift of salvation, this in turn, gives us eternal life in Heaven. We also believe that Jesus arose from the grave and ascended into Heaven and is someday, coming again for His Bride (Matt. 24:44; John 14:2-3; Rev. 19:7). Wow! We serve a God who is so powerful that He defeated death, sin, and is preparing a place for us to be with Him one day! POWER. As Christians, the power that God showed through His son's death and resurrection is our very reason for living. It ensures our eternity. As 1 Corinthians 1:18 states, it is the 'power of God' and certainly not 'foolishness'! But here is a question: Why doesn't our response to the power of what happened at the cross (the power of God), change our response to the trials in our lives? Ephesians 1:19-23 tells us that we (God's children), have the same power working within us that raised Chris from the dead. I believe this is a concept that Satan doesn't want the believer to know. Do we believe that God's power is limited to the cross? We believe that God could save us from an eternity in Hell, defeat death, but that He will fail to carry us through a fiery trial? My friends, we must realize that we are still responding to God's power in our lives today... we either believe Him to be faithful and at work within us or we believe Him to fail us. God is showing me that when I fail to believe Him and trust Him, it is because there are pieces of me that I have failed to give over to Him completely. These are also known as strongholds. They create distance between us and our Father. They are lies that Satan uses to keep us from having an intimate relationship with God. What about you? Are you a going through a trial in your life right now? Are you a Christian and wondering why you just can't seem to get rid of fear and doubt that God might not come through for you? We must go to God with those thoughts of fear, doubt, anger, etc. We must find out who He really is. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. He will provide you energy when you are tired (Col. 1:29). He will give you strength, endurance, and patience when you think you can't make it even one more day (Col. 1:11). Allow God to show His power in your life. It's the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! It's the same power that we believed at the moment we accepted Him into our hearts. We must let go of trying to control it and do it 'our way'. It never works that way. I hope you will join me in 'responding' daily to God's power. Give God complete control of your life. I would like to share one of my favorite passages in God's word with you. It is Isaiah 49:16: "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands: your walls are ever before me." In the earlier Jewish times, it was customary to puncture one's hands with a symbol of their city and their temple as a sign of commitment and devotion. This verse and the verses before it show us God's amazing compassion and His promise to never forget His children, even those children who disobey Him and then return. When you feel afraid that He is going to leave you or doubt that He won't come through for you, reflect on that verse: Close your eyes and imagine that you are standing at the foot of the cross. You can see Him hanging there. Jesus, the Deity living in bodily form. His arms are outstretched. Look closer at His hands. Closer. Do you see it? Your name is written on His palm. God won't forget us... Calvary has already proven that. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, I am so grateful for your power. Words can't express the love I feel for you when I think about the cross. But I know that you want to show that power in my life on a daily basis. Help me to give you every part of me. Break my strongholds. I want to deepen my trust in you. I want faith that is unshakable. I want a heart that mirrors yours. Help me to give you my life fully...daily...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rockwood Women's Conference

Thank you, ladies of Rockwood Baptist Church in Russellville, Alabama, for hosting a wonderful women's conference! Our theme was, "Reflections of a Lovely Lady." Throughout the day, God revealed who He says that we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit moved in such a mighty way. It is so good to know our true identity in Christ! It was an honor for me to be with you and I am so thankful for the invitation to share God's word. May we continue to remember Debbie King and the entire Bolton family, in the loss of Bro. Oneal Bolton. We lift you up in prayer to be bathed in God's grace and His comfort. We also rejoice in the fact that Bro. Oneal has been called home by our Father... Love, Corrie

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hugging God

"The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!" Deuteronomy 33:27 At 32, I finally understand why my dad used my brother and I as illustrations so often in his sermons: kids are great material. Yes, they are hilarious but they also say those things that are so very profound and leave you speechless; Especially when it comes to things about God. The other day, Canaan (my 4 year old son) and I were discussing things about God and I was answering his questions the best that I could (no one told me that when your kid is about 4, you need to take a class in theology!). You know, the usual questions about how God made everything and everyone, and how...why... and when. I had just finished answering a question that had something to do with God and dinosaurs. I breathed a sigh of relief (thinking the conversation had ended and hoped I had answered his questions without making anything up :-) when Canaan asked me a question that I think I will never forget. He said, "Mommy, how can I hug God?" He continued with, "I just want to hug Him but I don't know how." I felt a lump rise in my throat and wanted to cry right then and there. I wanted to cry because of the love I knew Canaan had for God. To him, a hug is one of the biggest ways to show someone you love them. I wanted to cry because Canaan's question made me check my own heart. How often do I really tell God how much I love Him? Do my actions reflect that my heart beats for Him above all else? I knelt down by Canaan and told him the only answer I could think of. I told Him that we show God how much we love Him by telling Him in prayer, showing Him by our actions, and telling other people about Him. Later that day, Canaan went on about his business, but that question about hugging God stayed with me. I looked up the definition of the word 'hug'. It means, "to press tightly, especially in the arms." I started thinking about God's arms and the times they were there for me. How that during my trials, God's arms were around me, protecting me, sheltering me, comforting me. Sometimes His arms were stern, as a loving disciplining father, directing me and keeping me from making harmful decisions. There were even times that I ran away from those arms and then wondered why I didn't feel Him near and felt afraid. I am slowly learning that as God's child, it is absolutely necessary to press into God's arms. This not a suggestion or something you 'could do' is a must. I was turning through my Bible and saw that Deuteronomy 33:27 was underlined. Out to the side are the words, "Proof that God Protects". As His people, we MUST believe this verse. This verse cannot be skimmed over, it must be broken down and studied piece by piece. The beginning of the verse tells us that God is eternal. He exists even when we don't believe He is there. No doubts that you or I have about Him, makes Him less powerful or effective. He is eternal. He has always been here and always will be. How? I don't know; that's one of the reasons I call Him God. The next part of the verse says that He is our refuge. He is that place of shelter in times of distress. His word doesn't say that times of distress won't come, but that when they come, we will press into the arms. The last part tells us that God will protect us from our enemies. I think that sometimes, we believe that people around us are where are battles are. But we forget that our biggest enemy is Satan. I believe that if God protects me from Satan himself, He can handle anyone on this earth that threatens me with harm. This whole verse is powerful, but I must say that my favorite part is the middle... 'underneath is the everlasting arms.' Underneath means 'beneath the surface'. This tells me that at the end of every trial, every tear, every struggle, there are the arms... His arms. To me, stepping out on faith feels like I am just free falling. Falling and falling and having no idea where I will land. How wonderful it is to know that at the end are His arms. The arms are everlasting. There is no end to His help. You and I never have to wonder when God will leave us or abandon us. He won't. Perhaps you feel like you are completely alone in a trial in your life right now. Maybe it is comfort you long for from His arms because of the pain that you feel. You must press into His arms. Perhaps you need protection from the fire that is flames from those around you. You must press into His arms. When you do this, He will deal with your enemies and not a hair on your head will be singed (Daniel 3:27 ). There are a million reasons to need God's arms. We must remember that as His people, we must not worry about 'what the arms will do'. Our job is to press tightly into them. I guess there is a way to 'hug' God after all... Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, thank you for Canaan and showing me that I need to press tightly into your arms. Thank you for loving me, disciplining me, comforting me, and just simply holding me up with your everlasting arms. Help me to rid myself of arrogance and pride and know I am nothing without you...