Most days my house is pretty neat and tidy. It may not be the most stylish or well decorated, but it is often clean and organized. There are times when the house is so crazy neat that I almost feel bad about it when people come over; as if I might appear a little too perfect. I have even purposefully left dirty dishes out to make people feel better (yeah, that kind of crazy). However…
…today is not that day…nor have I seen one of those days in quite some time.
Currently, my vacuum has been standing in the front entry of my house ALL week because I plan to vacuum “soon”; the dust bunny colonies are beginning to organize themselves into cities. I just started the dryer again to hopefully take the wrinkles out of clothes that I washed and dried three days ago. The counter in my bathroom is turning strange colors of orange and green, it has been on my “to do” list for 12 days straight… it remains unchecked…and today's not looking good either. I’m having trouble remembering when the boys had a bath last…they may soon turn strange colors too, let’s not talk about how they smell. Has anyone fed the dog recently? Has anyone seen the dog?
So there you have it, a peak into my glamorous lifestyle. You know what I have to say about all this?
Big deal, that’s life. Get over it.
God doesn’t love me less because my house is a mess and my kids are dirty. Clutter is not a punishment for some lacking in spiritual discipline. I’m not being outwardly punished for missing my “quiet time” with God this morning. Matter of fact I had a great time in prayer and Bible reading this morning, and yesterday too.
Being a Christian does not equate to having things all together. There are days when we are messy on the outside yet are well prioritized on the inside because we are attending to what matters. There are also times when we are perfectly well-to-do looking on the outside when our insides are a mess. Faking a peace that is not there. I know which I would prefer, how about you?
When we are obedient to God there is no guarantee of life being neat and tidy either on the inside or the outside. We still live in the same world we did before we became Christians. God changes us, not our surroundings. There are no special angels that guard against dust accumulation, give fashion advice, or remind the boys to shower (as cool as all of that would be!). However, there are golden promises from God that will hold us together through it all and make this life truly worth the living, messy times and all. Here are just a few precious nuggets:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There is hope that abounds beyond this temporal world and we find that in Christ alone. He is the one who holds us securely in his loving hands, never to be snatched away by the enemy or the literal messes he may throw at us (John 10:28, one of my personal favorite promises). So the house may fall to shambles for a time, but my soul never will. That is true peace.
I guess I should wrap things up now, that dryer buzzer went off ages ago and the dog has turned up…he looks hungry. So, ladies, I want to encourage you today, no matter how things look on the outside, if you are in Christ, you are okay. In fact, you are beautiful, dust bunnies and all.
Caskets shouldn’t come in size small. Life shouldn’t be able to end before it really begins. As our community mourns for a sweet little boy, questions surface and we find ourselves asking, “why?” Who is at the receiving end of this question? Well, God of course, the only one who has the power to allow or prevent such painful occurrences and therefore the only one adequate to provide an answer.
God tell us in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” We are not able to understand the mind of God; he is infinite and has infinite knowledge. While we only see the small portion of time that we live in at the moment, God sees all of time at once. He knows what is best because he knows every possible scenario in each of our lives.
I understand some do not believe in God. Even though the design of the universe screams intelligent order and our inborn sense of right and wrong provides us with evidence (Romans 1:19,20). If there is not an ultimate standard of good then we are a people without hope. Then there is no reason for children dying and people suffering as they do. If that is the camp you fall in then pitch your tent and sleep in it yourself.
For those who have eyes to see truth and believe in an all-powerful and loving God, our perspective is remarkably different. We are told we do not have to “grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13). But the question remains…why? Why is there so much pain in the world?
Well the simple answer is sin. Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, creation’s first couple. They thumbed their noses at God and decided they wanted to be their own masters. They ate the fruit and the curse came down (Genesis 3) and we have been suffering for it ever since. Sin continuous to wreak havoc in human hearts today. We are a world that has thumbed our collective noses at God and have declared ourselves to be masters of our own hearts. So evil runs rampant on this earth and causes pain, suffering, and death. Sin is the easy answer to the “why?” question.
The hard answer is this: God allows hurt because he loves us. If we belong to God, he will use whatever he decides is necessary to make us more like his son, Jesus. To purify our hearts and cause us to be closer to him. Closer to God in Christlikeness is always the direction we need to be moving in. It is the best thing for us because it is there that we find truth, peace, joy and all things good.
We live to bring glory to God, that is our purpose for breathing. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36). Therefore, God has written our lives in such a way that he will be magnified through the events that take place in them. So even in pain, we can be fully confident that God is in control and has a purpose for the pain. Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse should bring great comfort for those that are his.
Now for those who do not believe (or if you are one of the many who are faking it), God may use painful times to draw you to him; he may allow you to be sent to your knees begging for a Savior. In that there is mercy, for if God really is God and our only hope, then the most loving thing he can do for us is to make us know him even at the cost of great pain. Then you can experience true comfort as one of his children.
Christians have hope like no one else can because we understand that life does not end here on earth. Sin came into the world through humans, but God, in order to display his great grace gave up his only son to save us from the death of sin. He allowed Jesus to die on a cross to pay for the sin we are not able to pay for. Through his sacrifice we are able to have a relationship with God and spend eternity with him after this life is over. In this there is great hope - Jesus did not stay dead, he destroyed death and lives forever. He made a way for us to do the same if only we have faith and believe. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
If anyone understands the pain of a son dying it is God. The only arms safer for a precious child than his mother’s are those of God himself. Though we mourn for a time here on earth, we trust a God who knows all things and has divine purpose in all he does. We look forward to a day when our tears are wiped away and the joy pours in as we spend our days in the perfect presence of our Savior.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 1 Peter 5:10 and Romans 8:18
So now we have come to the cream of the crop, the epitome of evil lies I hear way too often. There are many others we could tackle but this one will be our final one in this little series we have been on for the last four weeks. In dealing with this lie, we will both demolish this foolish deception and equip ourselves with weaponry to ward off future attacks.
For those of you just tuning in, welcome, we are dealing with lies straight from Hell that target women in order to smash their witness. Keeping them sidetracked and unfocused on what really matters –the advancement of the gospel and unity of the body. We, being women who desire to live courageous lives serving a great God, need to refuse to play nice with lies like this. We need to stamp them out fast and furiously leaving no ugly trace of the enemy in our homes or hearts. If this is a lie you struggle with, it is also exactly why you may be having problems with the other lies we have been addressing. So, let’s go…
LIE #4: I can’t read my Bible. Other popular forms of this same lie: I’m too busy, I can’t understand it, it’s too confusing, I don’t like to read, I’m not a good reader, the Pastor/Priest/Minister tells me what it says, blah, blah, blah. Can you tell I’ve heard this one a few (hundred) times and that I’m not buying it? There are very rare possible exceptions to this: 1.) you are illiterate and cannot read, if so, you need to get help so you can read...but, hey that’s not you because you are reading this right now. 2.) You are like my Christian brother Jose in Guatemala and are blind and dying (though even he was listening to the Bible read to him via a special device) once again, not you since you can see these words. 3.) You are comatose or experiencing a medical trauma of some kind at this moment. Other than these I can’t think of any other reasons off the top of my head where this would be okay.
I may sound a little snarky, but this is just a display of how passionate I am about people reading the Bible (if this is new to you, you have not been reading my blogs for very long). No excuse holds water for me. As I’ve said before, if you have time to breathe you have time to read God’s Word.
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22
God’s words are life and bring healing. This is true life and deep spiritual healing. God’s word is about Jesus, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Jesus is full of the grace we desperately need for our salvation (due to our sinful nature) and full of the truth we need to be living a wise and godly life. Reading the Bible is like reading Jesus. This alone should cause you to grab it up and dig in.
As Christians (to whom this is addressed) you should have an internal drive to know God more and to serve him better. This always begins by being in the scriptures. The author of Hebrews tells us that “in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son” 1:2. Are you wanting answers in your life? Direction? Wisdom? Do you desire to hear from God? I sure do and hope you do too! Then we need to be reading what he has to say to us. He is such a gracious God that he has not left us without instruction; we don’t have to wander around blindly. God has already given us eyes to see, we just have to open the book and read. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130. Let the Bible be the first place you go every time for answers.
Ladies, I want you to understand me clearly on this: the Devil will stop at nothing to keep you out of this dangerous book we call the Holy Bible. He will keep you busy, cloud your thoughts, try to confuse you, make you feel stupid, and encourage you to cling thoughtlessly to traditions and blind teachings. He hates you. He hates Jesus. He hates the truth and wants to keep you far from it. News flash – he can’t have his way in our lives because we belong to Christ. Don’t put up with his trickery!
Desire the truth above all, stop at nothing to get it into your mind and heart. Don’t ignorantly take other people’s teachings as solid. I don’t care if they wear fancy robes and hats, speak with big words or have the alphabet behind their name – I’m not fooled by costumes, titles or educational degrees I’ve read the truth for myself. “Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,” Psalm 119:98. Check everything and everyone against the truth of the Scripture.
Ladies, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. No more entertaining lies, kill them all with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6:17.
It comes down to who you believe – a God who loves you, died for you, saved you and has promised good to you. Or an enemy who hates every bone in your body and is disgusted every time you start to look more like Jesus. Yep, answer is clear…now act like it. Read the truth of God’s Word every day - you breathe, you read.
“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165.