Faith… I Am Finally Getting It!

Leap of faith

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This year, the prevailing theme God has been teaching me is that of faith.  I often see how understanding (“sight”) seems to come in “layers.”  God shows me something; then, He shows me another “layer” to the truth of that thing.

God had showed me some profound truths in regards to faith a few months ago.  I wrote about it in these blog posts: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/what-we-view-as-faith-in-god-is-often-not-about-god-at-all/ and https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/.

Each of those blog posts was another “layer” to what God was showing me concerning faith.  He was showing me that faith was resting in God.  He was also showing me that God doesn’t quantify our faith; because it’s not about how much faith we have but that we have faith, period.

In my devotionals, I was reading that faith is confidence. In fact, I recently heard that the root for confidence is confideo, which means in faith.  They are directly related to each other.  Makes perfect sense when we think about the usages of both.

Yet, this amazing and profound truth just “nailed” me this morning!  It is this:

Faith is confidence in God.

So simple, right?  Yet so profound and life-changing!

I used to view faith as something that I had to do or stir up in myself.  I always wondered if I would have enough faith to get me through certain types of trials.

Now that I am finally getting it, the profound truth about faith is completely “revolutionary” to me!

Faith is confidence in God!

It’s not about me.  It’s about Him — the Object of my faith.  It’s because of Who He is that I can have complete confidence in Him — no matter my circumstances.

Wow!  Doesn’t that take the pressure off!

God has been leading me into a much deeper walk with Him, and as He does, my love for Him and personal understanding of Him has grown.  That is also why at the same time, my faith is also growing.

Faith grows parallel with a personal and accurate understanding of God.

As I am growing in my love and an accurate understanding of God personally, my faith is also growing.

How incredibly encouraging it is to know that I don’t have to worry about my ability to trust in God.  I need to look at my God and why He is so worthy of all my confidence/trust!

I just need to have confidence in Him.

That, I can do, because I know my God!

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A Full Life

Sailing

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SKI

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I sense this restlessness, this hunger for something more…  I am seeing this among Christians too…  This hunger for something more — a recognition that something is lacking in their spiritual walk, and they aren’t quite sure what it is.  They know a lot about God, are doing all the right things, but so many times, it feels as if they are going through the motions.  They go to church.  They come home.  Life goes on…  Predictable to an extent, somewhat “safe,” fairly comfortable, but there is this sense of “shallowness.”

Then they meet someone — someone that has a “fire” in them.  There’s this undeniable passion and fervency in this person or people.  Their eyes and countenance have a glow, and when they talk about the Lord, their entire countenance “lights up.”  Suddenly, they sense that they are lacking a fervency and love for the Lord.  They feel like they have to force a feeling of love.  They know in their heads they should love God. “Afterall, Jesus died on the cross for their sins.”  Yet, the feelings of true adoration and heart-felt love seem missing.  They may attempt to “stir” up in themselves this feeling of love, but it feels forced because it is.

How do we as Christians/people experience the fullness of life?  What does “fullness” of life look like?  What does it mean to really “live” life?

When I was reading through the names of God, the name Jehovah stood out to me.  It is taken from the Hebrew word chavah, which means life.  This name of God literally means the All-existing One.  In other words, He is the Source, Essence, and Continuation of life.

As Genesis 1 tells us, God created life.  Life came from Him.  Every atom, every molecule, every means of energy and matter came from God.  Because God “breathes” life into the very structure of life, He is also its very means of continuation.

It also makes sense that because God created life and sustains life, He also defines life for us.  Within Him is the very essence of life itself.

I have lived life for 30+ years, and I have experienced what we normally define as living life: eating, breathing, working, enjoying some pleasures, doing, learning, growing, developing, procreating, and becoming a mother, etc..

I have also experienced the difference of what it means to truly live life.  Within true life is a sense of absolute wholeness, completeness, fullness.  Until you experience it, it cannot be totally understood.  This kind of fullness of life does not require any thing, any circumstance, or any emotion to sustain it.

I have experienced this kind of life when I am in close fellowship with the Lord.  This fellowship is not produced by more programs, more preaching, more acts of service, more doing, more knowledge.  It is a result of simply being in the Presence of God.  Sure, attending church services and spending time in God’s Word are some of the very things that can bring us into direct fellowship with the Lord, and they are “needful.”

BUT…!  Nothing can substitute for actual time spent, listening, worshiping, and abiding in His Presence.  Words that come to mind are: observe, absorb, reflect, and ponder.

The problem is so much of the time, as Christians, we think that knowing about God or doing for God is the same as knowing God, and it isn’t!  You can know a lot about God, without really knowing God personally and intimately.

Don’t tell us what you know about God.  Tell us Who He is to you?  What does it mean that God is loving and loves you?  How does that change who you are?

This morning as I was reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, I wrote the following notes:

We try to keep everything “safe” and predictable and then wonder why life sometimes seems so “shallow.”  Why?  Because faith requires taking risks.  It involves personal involvement, which means vulnerability, humility, and sacrifice.

If we want to experience the fullness of the life God has for us, we have to be willing to be “all in” for Him — that means surrendering ourselves, laying down our fears, our pride, our goals, and letting God use us in ways that will challenge us, grow us, and cause us to “risk” (take a risk).  What we risk is far surpassed by what we gain: His fullness — the fullness of the All Existing-One!

In a devotional I am reading, Wonder Struck, it says the following:

Sometimes we have to take risks, …to be wonder-struck by the love of God.

If we are honest, one of the main reasons why we hesitate to surrender or give ourselves fully to the will and “life purpose” God has for us is because of fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of death, and fear of suffering will cause us to erect barriers around our hearts, souls, and very lives.  We think we are protecting ourselves by not fully investing ourselves or being willing to be “raw” and vulnerable, but the reality is we are hurting ourselves by not.  Our “barriers” keep people at a distance, and then we wonder why we don’t have close friends or no one wants to include us.  We will miss out on the blessings God intends for us.  We will miss out on experiencing the full life God has planned for us.

If you want to experience the fullness of life — the life God has planned for you — you need to be “all in.”  You need to trust God fully with your life, and that may mean facing some lies you have believed about God.  You need to be willing to be transparent, vulnerable, “sacrificial,” and humble.

I recently heard it said, “Humility is trusting in God.”  I wrote a past blog about the connection between pride and fear, and I must fully agree with the quote I just mentioned.  Humility requires letting go of our own desire to control the people and circumstances around us, to keep everything predictable.  It requires surrendering our wills, our lives, our futures to God.  How do we do this?

We do this by knowing Who God is.  When I finally experienced God’s love personally for me, I was able to surrender myself to God.

God has been working on my heart to surrender more to Him.  He is calling me into a deeper walk with Him.  He has stirred up a “hunger” to know Him more personally, to be more aware of His Presence, and yes, to be “wonder struck” with the reality of Who God is.  I want every second of my day to be lived in the fullest measure of life — this incredible abundant, overflowing awareness of God and His goodness!  I have never known life to be sweeter than it is when lived within this full “awakening” or awareness of God!

Yes, Lord!  I want You!

Captivated!

waterfalls

(FreeImages.com/YaroosKonkret)

sunny mountain

(FreeImages.com/BiankaMarton)

Mountains & Valley

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Monument Valley

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Snowy valley

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Grand Canyon Point Royal

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Antelope Canyon 4

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Flower

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insect

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sleeping baby

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Beauty surrounds us everywhere!  There is beauty in the creation we see — from the tiniest insect, to vibrant flowers, to rainbows, to mountains, to valleys, and to the innocence of a baby.  So often, I go through life unaware of the beauty that surrounds me and to the greater purpose of what that beauty reveals.

This morning I read the following quote from the new study I am beginning, called Wonderstruck:

God extends uncounted invitations to encounter Him; yet, too often I sleep straight through.  Unconscious of the life God desires for me, I slumber in the presence of the sacred and snore in the company of the divine.

Wow!  In the study I am reading it is all about being aware and in awe of God’s Presence.  This study reminds me that you and I have been created to worship God.  That is our purpose.

To a selfish culture, the idea of being created just to worship God can sound very boring, or worse, we fear it.  We fear that we will lose ourselves and that we have no significance in such a purpose; so, we strive for autonomy at the cost of our own highest fulfillment.

An object that is created for a purpose will only function best when it fulfills its intended purpose.  You can try to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and may achieve limited success, but the screwdriver will suffer from greater wear than for which it was designed.  The user will suffer greater frustration for forcing an object to be something it wasn’t intended to be.

The same is true with us.

We fear that in surrendering control to the superior Being of God that we will lose ourselves – our uniqueness and our significance.  The truth is the opposite.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:25 is saying that when we surrender control of our lives and yield to our greater purpose, we actually then “find our life.”  That is when we truly live life to the fullest.

We actually don’t reach our full potential and find our greatest fulfillment and satisfaction until we become who we were created to be.

So if we were created to worship God, why does it often seem so elusive and challenging to be in a constant or even regular state of worship?  Shouldn’t it be easy to worship God?!!!

I was studying what it means to worship or wonder.

Three words came to mind when I considered the word wonder.  They are awe, inspiring, and captivating.

The thought came to me that in order to be in awe of something, we have to be aware of it.  Two people can be driving by a beautiful scenic mountain.  The one person is dozing and misses the entire view.  The other person is awake and is mesmerized by the scene.  Two people in the same location have two very different experiences.

The same can be true with our spiritual lives.

Some of us are too busy trying to “win” our way to God in order to experience Him.  The problem with that is that God’s love for us was never based upon our ability to be “worthy” of it.  We can’t experience God by trying to work our way to Him.

God, as the Giver, gave us, as the receivers, our worth.

Heaven paid its highest price in order for us to be reconciled to God!  We have inherent worth because God was willing to pay the ultimate price for us.  He wants our fellowship and a relationship with us that much!

Some of us are too distracted by inconsequential things to focus on the more important.  We miss the “vistas” because we don’t want to get out of the comforts of our cars or leave the predictability of our homes.

To experience the presence of God does not require we have to necessarily leave our normal routines.  It does require us to be in a place of receptivity and awareness.  We can’t receive from God if we are unwilling through pride and/or fear to be vulnerable and receptive.

In order to be aware means we need to be less self-aware and more God-aware.  We can be so caught up in ourselves that we miss the greater wonder surrounding us.

I wrote a list this morning of a few wonders that I take for granted:

  1. His Word — bored or read it from a sense of duty rather than desire sometimes.
  2. Prayer — instead of being amazed at the opportunity to partner with God, I am distracted and/or doubtful at times.
  3. His creation!  I often don’t stop and savor the magnificence of creation.
  4. His Presence and communication with me.  I can be distracted, lazy, anxious, or selfish — instead of resting, “entering” into His rest, abiding in His Presence, and listening and waiting on Him.

This morning, I was challenged to pause, consider, savor, absorb, and be inspired by the God of the Universe.

The more I consider the magnificence of God, the more humbled I am by the significance He gave me by desiring a relationship with me!  It is overwhelming and amazing to consider that He cherishes and desires my worship!

One simple refrain repeats itself upon my lips: “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus! Jesus.”

A Growing Trend…

Supreme Court 1

(FreeImages.com/DavidLat)

There is a growing trend in our society to accept whatever someone else believes, regardless of whether it fits any measurable realities.

I recently watched random interviews conducted on a college campus, asking students if it’s okay to believe you are a different race, gender, age, and height then with which you were born.

For the most part, the students interviewed said that it was fine so long as you were happy as an individual.

The one area most of the students objected about was claiming you were 6 feet 4 inches if in reality you were 5 feet 9 inches.

What’s the problem with believing in something that is not reality?

We could look at all kinds of practical reasons as to why it would create problems.  You might hit your head on a door-frame if you refuse to believe you are the height you are.

It wouldn’t be fair to the other students if you decide you are in first grade when you are in reality an adult with an adult’s normal intelligence.

You might have some difficulty assimilating the full life and appearance of a different race, unless you are a talented actor with a fantastic makeup artist working with you.

I could believe that I am fully Native-American and then I could demand that I receive full scholarships to college programs.  When asked to prove the reality of my claims, I could say it doesn’t matter the way I was born because I feel and identify as a Native-American.  I may receive my scholarship, but wouldn’t my personal preference be denying the reality of authentic Native-Americans?

I could be a soldier and demand I deserve a Purple Heart because I believe that I feel as brave as the soldiers who have earned them, and in my  heart, I believe I have taken a thousand bullets for the protection of others.  I could be rewarded a Purple Heart, but wouldn’t that award be at the expense of the reality of those who truly earned and suffered in order to acquire theirs?

There may not be anything inherently wrong with believing you are something you are not, but we must ask ourselves, “What is at the root of this desire to be something you are not?”  Does it not imply that the person has rejected part of who they are — that there is self-hate lurking within?

Perhaps instead of trying to readjust reality to fit someone else’s denials, we should begin asking the hard questions: “What is it about being tall you like?  Why do you want to believe you are taller than reality would measure?”  In the same way, we could ask, “Why do you want to believe you are a specific race?  Why don’t you want to be the race you are?  Is there something you dislike about the race you are?”

In other words, there are deeper issues at stake in wanting to ignore or redefine reality.

We do society and the individual a disservice when we are unwilling to view things clearly and to clarify the real issues at stake.

I have a friend who has an amazing gift of humor and quick wit.  I love being around her!  There have been times I have wished I had her same level of humor and quick wit.  I recently heard a speaker say that if you are envying someone else, it means you don’t know who you are.  As a Christian, I believe we were all created with a very special and unique purpose.   Who I am will look different than others, but this doesn’t make me less valuable.  It also isn’t healthy for me to say that I am my friend, just because I like the way she looks, talks, quips, and laughs.  For me to deny the reality of who I am is to deny my own value and uniqueness. 

When we ignore reality in preference to an individual’s personal interpretations, we absolve the very tenets upon which true justice can operate and prevail.

For example, what if a person kills someone and decides it’s okay because it is helping them “transcend to a better universe”?  (They are redefining the reality of murder.)

What if a highschool student cheats on a paper but tells the teacher they believe that it’s not cheating: “It’s just equalizing opportunity for everyone by giving every student access to the same information/intelligence?”

What if an employee on the job makes a measurable engineering mistake and as a result, the wrong capacity generator is used and some people lose their lives in the resultant accident?  When the employer fires the employee, the employee then says, “I didn’t do anything wrong.  To me, this generator is the same as the other generator.  Who are you to limit my freedom as a designer/engineer?”

Society cannot function long-term within the instability of ignoring reality to please an individual’s personal preferences.  When the individual is promoted above the well-being of the vast majority, there is reason for concern.

When personal preferences take precedence over measurable reality, there is reason for concern.

An individual can believe what they want, but when it comes to forcing society to adjust to match your own “created reality,” then are we not infringing on the functionality of society and therefore ignoring the rights of the greater majority?

Society cannot accommodate the “personal interpreted-realities” of individuals and sustain a viable structure.  It is society’s “job” to acknowledge measurable realities and to uphold that criteria for the well-being of the whole.

Random Notes But A Powerful Message!

The home of the the power for the sky

(FreeImages.com/AndreiGhergar)

 Yesterday, the Lord encouraged me with many wonderful truths through His Word, devotionals, a message, and thoughts during a prayer meeting.  I wanted to share them with you.  Enjoy the following:

5/4/16 AM: Believe the Lord was speaking to my heart this morning.  He reminded me of the verse I was given for this year:

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Read in my devotional how we often want to go back — back to happier times.  God though always leads us forward.  I need to let go of the “if-onlys” and remember, “Today is fresh with no mistakes” (quote from Anne Shirley in Anne Of Green Gables), no misgivings, and no if-only.

5/4/16 early afternoon message:  “We often try to head towards freedom when God wants us to live from freedom.”  He is freedom!

It’s been said, “Freedom is experiencing the Presence of God.”  Amen!

“Grace empowers us to walk out the truth.”

Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”  Pivotal question!  This will determine your entire belief system and how you live your life.  Who is Jesus to you?  It’s not what other people say; it’s not what the books say.  What do you believe about Jesus?  Who is He really to you?

Your ministry doesn’t validate who you are in Him.  Get ahold of who you are to Him and in Him.  Your “ministry” is not to find something to prove yourself.  It’s finding Jesus — having such a powerful/intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that it impacts everyone you meet.

We spend so much of our time waking up sin-conscience when we should be awaking Son-conscience.

“People aren’t your problem; you are.”

“You can be wrong about being right.”

“Instead of trying to sell people my fruit, why I don’t let them pick it?”  (sharing our faith)

“Let your roots go into the love of God.”

“Your family isn’t your problem; you are!”  (How many times do we blame others for our own lack of happiness and peace?  Our lack of peace and joy can only be blamed upon ourselves.  No one can take away your peace and joy, unless you allow it.)

Wherever you are shouldn’t be dark because you are there.   (Jesus in you!)

“Having a form of godliness is knowing a lot of God’s Word without the power of the Holy Spirit to apply it.”

“You can’t walk the Beattitudes out in the flesh.”  (Why so many don’t like them.)

False grace slips when there’s no relationship with Jesus — not the intimate knowing and being known.

“A lack of the body of Christ is in praying — not preaching.”

“Don’t bypass God to get a father figure.”

Co-labor with fellow Christians — don’t be co-dependent.

Heaven paid an infinite cost.  Why?  Because He values you!  The one who values the object is willing to pay the high price.  This is what gives the object worth.  Anything can be valuable or valueless.  It’s the buyer who determines the worth of the object.  Jesus determined our worth by paying the infinite price to redeem us!

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

“If you envy someone else, it means you don’t know who you are.” (Whose and therefore who you are…)

“Intimacy is that you know that you’re known.”  (truly known — all of you and yet accepted and loved)

“Live a life that is pleasing to the Lord — not because you have to but because you want to.”

“Pursue God at the cost of everything; God is worth it all!”

“If you’re on fire and you get put into the fire, you’ll be alright.  The fire is not the issue.  Trials aren’t the issue.”

“Heaven paid the highest price to revalue you.”

Wherever you go, there should be revival.

“Everyone is a target for the love of God, but not everyone wants to be.  You have to know who you are.”

“You’ll never love your neighbor unless you know who you are.”

5/5/16 AM devotional:

Read this this morning: “I will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know how weary you are, my child. You have been struggling just to keep your head above water, and your strength is running low. Now is the time to stop striving and let Me fight for you. I know this is not easy for you to do. You feel as if you must keep struggling in order to survive, but I am calling you to rest in Me. I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God. Quieting your body is somewhat challenging for you, but stilling your mind may often seem downright impossible. In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking. This struggle to be in control has elevated your mind to a position of autonomy. So you need the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to control your mind more and more — soothing you from the inside out. Take time to rest in the shadow of the Almighty while I fight for you.” (by S. Young)
5/5/16 another devotional:
Reading about Gideon…  He was a man blinded by his perceived limitations.  He relied on the physical rather than the spiritual.  He based his security on what was tangible.  He forgot or ignored the God-equation.  Following quote from Men & Women Of The Bible:
God’s grace and provision are more than enough [to compensate] for what we may lack.
This is true because God is El Shaddai — the all-sufficient God!  He is more than enough!
Gideon’s perspective revealed that he didn’t know his God.  He didn’t know his true self (what God created and died for us to be).
We are sometimes our own worst critic.
from Men & Women Of The Bible:
We are our own worst critic because we don’t know ourselves as God knows us and sees us!
What are we to God:
I am His inheritance!  Jesus brought me to the “throne room of His grace,” redeemed me, forgave me, and clothed me in His righteousness.
5/5/16 AM Bible study with my son:
 God looks at you in the light of His Word — not yours!
from “Men & Women Of The Bible”
So many amazing truths as seen in Ephesians 1:

Ephesians 1

Greeting

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Redemption in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

How secure is our salvation and position in Christ?  As secure and reliable as Christ and the Holy Spirit!  He sealed us by the Holy Spirit.  He brought our salvation about in Christ.  This is our security!

You accept this gift of salvation, and it is yours.

What is the price of one soul — your soul?!!!

Jesus said, “You are of infinite worth because He paid the ultimate, eternal, and infinite cost for you!”