Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Confession #70 - Deep Down

Before I met my husband, I was such a different person.  I was so staunch and proper and I didn't realize I had a fun side and never could I laugh at myself.  Basically, I was so afraid of how people saw me that I kept myself in a box.  I didn't allow my personality to flourish and take shape.  I spend the first 20 years of my life trying to please everyone instead of just being myself.  I couldn't let my hair down and God forbid allow anyone see how broken and messy I really was.

That began to change when I met Vincent Cuchel.  Vince was the most down to earth person I had ever been with.  He could make me laugh at things I'd never let anyone think I found funny.  He gave me the courage to let down my guard and see who I could really be.  That's when I realized I was in love and 24 plus years later, I still am.

One of the most important things I've learned is that being in love isn't just how you feel about another person, it's also about how you feel about yourself when you're with them.  With Vince, I've been able to truly be myself.  I've learned to let my hair down and not to take myself so seriously.  I learned I could tell him just about anything and he still seemed to love me, I could let him into some of my deep down places and he was willing to bring a flashlight to help me clean it out.

After I fell in love with Jesus, I began to change even more.  But for a long time I kept God in a box of sorts.  I kept Him at this level of reverence and respect, and forgot that He's also my Heavenly Daddy; the one who loves me above all.  Eventually I came to understand that the more I get to know the true nature of God, the more I am able to let my hair down with Him too.  That must sound silly, I mean, God knows me better than I know myself.  After all, He created me.

God knows the deep down stuff inside of us, the things we don't want to admit to, the really dirty, dirty stuff.  Many of us keep these things hidden deep down and don't even talk to God about them.  We know He knows, so why  should we talk to Him about it? Because it gives us a freedom we've never known, it creates a deeper intimacy with God and most of all it changes us into the people we were meant to be.  Just as my relationship with my husband brought out the more fun-loving side of me.  Jeremiah 23:24 says, "Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord."

I pray you don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that God loves you for who you can be.  The bottom line is that God loves you period.  Not who you can be, not who your going to be, not who you wish you were, He loves you, the entire, broken, sinful, dirty you.   Psalm 139: 13-15 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth."  If He didn't, Jesus would not have died for our sins.

Beth Moore illustrated this point really well.  I recently did one of her studies, "Sacred Secrets" and I just loved the truth Beth shared with us.  She said (paraphrasing):
It's so interesting that science hasn't yet come up with a way to tell people the exact moment when a woman is pregnant.  You have to wait.  But what's so cool about that is that in that time frame before the positive result is able to show on the pregnancy test, the only one who knows you even exist is God.   You're His intimate secret.  
How amazing is that?  You are God's secret, He keeps you a secret just waiting to tell everyone about YOU.  Our lives are never a mistake!  He made you with a purpose and has a plan for your life,"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.  He just wants you to let Him get deep down in there.  Allow Him to teach you to be yourself and let your hair down so he can fulfill His purposes for you.  Likewise, let yourself love God, love Him to the point that you feel better about yourself when you're with Him.

Listen, if you've been praying for a breakthrough and hoping for a deeper relationship with God, but are not willing to let Him into your deep down places then you're blocking a blessing.  Until we really learn to grab that truth and let Him get deep down we are missing so much!  John 10:27 says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."  He knows us, we've already established that fact, but we have to know Him, we have to be able to recognize His voice and if we're not listening and letting Him inside, deep down, we may not recognize it.  But the Bible warns us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."  Matthew 7:21-24.  When we know God's voice we can discover His will for us and then are able to put His words into practice which transforms us into the person He created us to be.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you Lord that I've learned how to let you into my deep down places.  Thank you that I can be myself with you.  Lord I pray that through the process of allowing you to clean out my dirtiness and shine your light in my dark spots you will continue to reveal your plan and purposes for my life.  Lord for my sisters-in-Christ I pray that they too will allow you into a deep and intimate relationship with  you.  They will face those deep down places with you and that you will show them your will for their lives and just how much you love them.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confession #69 - Heavenly Pleasures and Treasures

Photo taken from  https://www.flickr.com/photos /marianneedelacruz/8657019110/
Today I've been thinking a lot about Heaven.  It started out with an indescribable bliss I was feeling about the simple pleasures in life.  This morning my slice a pumpkin bread from Starbucks was warm and wonderful.  Later a trip to the Italian meat market brought to mind joy-filled childhood memories.  I began to find such pleasure in simple, relatively ordinary things and an appreciation for the gift of life God has bestowed upon me.

So few times do I just slow down and reflect upon these pleasures.  So few times to I just operate in monumental happiness, but today I had a few of these incredible moments which lead me to think about how unimaginably joyful Heaven must be.  To live in utter and complete joy here on earth seems absolutely improbable, still it's possible when we commune with God on such a deep and intimate level.  But in Heaven, living within this realm of joy is not only possible it's most certainly probable.  And so I began imagining Heaven and what my mansion will be like.

Photo Taken from http://rfhadley.com/
In the Book of Revelations John describes Heaven, "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass."

The Bible also tells us that we are also storing up treasures in heaven whenever we sow seeds in the spirit, by obeying God, giving and doing His will.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."  Matthew 6:19-20.  And Matthew 13:52 says, “Therefore
Photo taken fromchristianpreschoolprintables.com
every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  and in chapter 19:21 Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  John 14:2 tells us that Jesus is building us a mansion there, "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?"

So basically Heaven is beautiful, we get to enjoy the pleasures of the treasures we store there based on our early performance and we get to live in a great mansion that Jesus himself is preparing for us.  We get to spend our days surrounded by the purest love and are able to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continually.  How incredible does that sound?

Photo taken from theshelbyreport.com
After a lovely trip to the Italian market my mind began to flutter with what those treasures in my mansion would be.  This may sound silly but I believe our mansions will be filled with things that we appreciated here on earth.  If that's true, mine will be filled with elements of Italy everywhere since this is the sole place on earth were I want to be.  I imagine the smells will be aromatic with fresh baked bread and pastries, fresh cut grass, pumpkin anything, and cinnamon, apples and cloves.  Of course it will be comfortable, warm, and welcoming.  I trust that there will be a beautiful and bountiful garden filled with flowers of all kinds especially hydrangeas.  I will be surrounded by loved ones and pets and that it will hold all of the simple joys I knew here on earth only to a degree of beauty that I could never imagine.  See for me, these are the treasure I dream of.  Gold and jewels are wonderful and I know there will be immeasurable amounts of them around but each time I earn a treasure for my heavenly home I believe that these are the types of things I will be surrounded by in eternity.  Have you ever thought of what Heaven will be like for you?  Have you imagined the pleasures and treasures surrounding you in eternity?

There is no doubt in my mind that that's where I'm headed when I leave this earth, and just imagining these pleasures and treasures waiting there for me builds a determination to stop living for this world and what it holds, but to enjoy each day as a gift.  A gift to earn more treasures in my heavenly home.

I know, that I know, that I know, I'm going to Heaven.  Perhaps you don't know for sure.   So I have to ask, do you want to join me?  If you don't know for sure that you are saved you can.  Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  But God loves us so much that He had a plan, " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16.  The Bible makes it quite simple and easy, "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."  Romans 10:9-10.  You cannot earn salvation, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..."

So we can't earn our place in Heaven, but we can receive the gift of salvation.  You can pray this prayer right now and know that you are saved and are going to heaven:

“Dear Lord Jesus,
I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
In your name, Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer please leave a comment telling me so, and let me rejoice along with you and the Angels in Heaven.   "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents"  Luke 15:10.  I hope to meet you there someday and check out your incredible mansion.  God Bless you!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the heavenly pleasures and treasures in the simple things of life here on earth, but thank you even more for Jesus Christ who paid the price for my sins on the cross so that I can live an eternity in Heaven with you.  Lord I pray for my sisters reading this right now that they would receive the gift you have for them and that one day I will get to meet them in Heaven.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  AMEN.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Confession #68 - I will Survive and Blog on!

"At first I was afraid I was petrified, thinking I could never live without you by my side.  I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong, but I grew strong, and I learned how to get along...."  These are words of wisdom from Gloria Gaynor's hit no. 1 song  "I will survive" in 1980.  They come to mind because of a recent issue I've had to wrestle with. An issue that halted my blogging for a while.  It's got me thinking quite a bit about wisdom and how in the absence of it we tend to make ourselves look utterly foolish.
The word wisdom is used 51 times in the book of Proverbs alone, and the phase "get wisdom" is in the Bible six times.  I'm pretty sure that's much more than a hint!  So just what is wisdom?  Often people mistake wisdom for prudence, knowledge, experience, understanding. It really is none of these things. Reading books and articles on subjects may give us a head knowledge of things, just as simply reading the Bible only gives us head knowledge of the word of God.  Real wisdom comes not only from a head knowledge of God and His book, but also by allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us.  The evidence of this wisdom is when the fruit of the spirit begins to show.  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us just what the fruit of the spirit is, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  It goes on to note that, "Against such things there is no law." 

Allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruits is a process of staying in daily prayer and study of His word, by practicing its principles and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in every circumstance and also by taking the advice of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God {foolishness}, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  In order to have real wisdom it must be a skill practiced by taking our thoughts captive, filtering them through the obedience of Christ and then allowing them to manifest outward through the Holy Spirit to allow His fruit to show and to grow.

Impulsively expressing "our" thoughts and criticisms without the filtering of the Holy Spirit is the work of foolishness. And please be careful not to believe that by simply holding a title in life that automatically grants one wisdom.  PhD's earners, Nobel Peace Prize winners and high elected officials have proven themselves foolish at one time or another, even pastors and preachers.  Truthfully, if we are not submitting everything we do to the obedience of Christ and allowing the fruit of the spirit to be evident, before we respond to our circumstances, our friends and our adversaries, we run the risk of being the antithesis of wise; we risk looking like fools.   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  Matthew 7:24-27

Thankfully I will survive the foolish words of my adversaries AND my helpmates.  God has sought fit to that and given me the resolve to blog on.  This experience has taught me so much about myself and the nature of others.  It has also given me the ability to forgive them and love them anyway through the grace of God, which another example of the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Today and everyday, I choose to operate within the realm of God's wisdom by filtering my thoughts through the Holy Spirit and allowing them to manifest through love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  And in my moments of weakness, being the dirty christian woman that I am, I pray God to forgive my foolishness and set me right again.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray today for my sisters-in-Christ, who may have been attacked by the foolishness of others.  I pray that you will give them the ability to survive and the wisdom to know how to respond like women of God and not foolish subjects on behalf of hurt and anger.  Allow the fruit of the spirit to show and produce a sweet taste to those who have used foolishness to hurt them.  Teach us all your wisdom Lord, not just a head knowledge of it but a heart knowledge too.  In Jesus name I pray.  AMEN.