Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Experiencing Grace

(It might be helpful to start reading at God's Holiness, then Embracing Brokenness, and then this post :)

Grace- Unmerited favor. Receiving something that we do not deserve.

The last study that we did under “Set Free” was Experiencing Grace. After taking a look at God’s Holiness, and embracing our brokenness, we have nothing left to do except experience His immeasurable and undeniable Grace.

We looked at Ephesians 2: 1-10
 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Through this study, the Lord continued to reveal more and more of His character to me.  In verse 1 it tells us who we were, or who we are, without Christ in our life; we were dead in our transgressions. We are sinful by nature, and our sinful condition keeps us separated from God because He is so Holy and can have no part in sin. Also, because of this sin, we deserve death. We deserve all of God’s wrath poured out on us, but because of God’s character, because of His great love and mercy, He sent his only son Jesus Christ to die that death for us so that we can know God, and that by His grace we can live with Him forever in Heaven. We are seated with Him in heaven. Even though we still sin after we accept Christ, because of Christ, our sin is 100% FORGIVEN- past, present, and future. When we accept Christ we are IN Christ, so when God looks on us he doesn’t see us and our sin, He sees Christ and His holiness and righteousness. Rest in that, friends.
In Micah chapter 7, verse 19, it says that God will have compassion on us, he will tread our sins under his foot, he will hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea. He forgives our sin and then forgets it the moment we commit it and admit that we did something wrong. By denying that we are forgiven, we deny the power of the cross. If we don’t believe we are forgiven, then he died for nothing. Rest in the fact that if you are in Christ, then you are a new creation. Your sin is 100% FORGIVEN.  

These last three studies gave me such an incredible look into the character of God. I am so thankful that He revealed Himself to me in the ways that He did and when He did.
I hope you can find encouragement and truth in these studies as I have.

Seek after Him and He will never leave you. He longs to know you and to show Himself to you, all you need to do is seek after Him.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Embracing Brokenness

       The second week after staff left project, the theme was embracing brokenness. With the first week being God’s Holiness, we began to look at our brokenness compared to God’s holiness. During the study that week we looked through quite a few passages from the Bible that talked about light and darkness.

The bulk of our study was in John 1:5-9.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

According to this passage- God is light. That means that NO darkness can be found in him at all, EVER. This points back to how Holy He is. We are called to walk in this light. How can we walk in this light, though, if we are sinful (darkness) and God cannot have any part of darkness? It is because of the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross, cleansing you and me of ALL of our sin- past, present and future, so that we may be found IN him. If we are in Christ then we are seen as holy and blameless before God. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are in him, and when God looks at you he doesn’t see your sin, he sees Jesus. This reveals that in order to have a relationship with him, we need Jesus, because God cannot be in the presence of darkness, but with Jesus we are children of light. The old has passed and the new has come. ALL of our sins are forgiven and we are called to live in that freedom.

        So, if you are a child of light, then what does it look like to walk in this light? Well, first, lets look at what it looks like to walk in darkness?
            -Believing lies, not surrendering to God, not abiding in the Spirit, not seeking after Him, denying that we have sin, denying that we need Jesus, and more.
Now, what does it look like to walk in the light?
            -Confessing sin, seeking after God, repentance, trusting in God, not looking for satisfaction in other things or people, and more.
            - Walking in the light is about being exposed, not just being a good Christian.
When we embrace our brokenness we can see God’s faithfulness, justice, love and so much more revealed in our own lives, and it shows our desperate need for a Savior. When we embrace our brokenness, truth is revealed to us.
The more we embrace our brokenness, we will begin to know more of God’s character and who He is in our own lives. He longs to reveal Himself to us; we just need to realize how bad we actually need Him.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

God's Holiness

Holy (adj.)- exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.

In the last five weeks of project, the Lord really began to show me how Holy he is. I know I cannot fully comprehend it, and never will be able to because I am only human and He is, well, God, but what He did reveal to me was absolutely incredible.  In the midst of my doubt and unbelief He revealed Himself to me in a powerful and stunning light. Even when I was doubting the very being He was and who He was in my life, He looked on me and said “ I long to reveal myself to you. I will show you whatever I have to, to prove myself to you, no matter what you think of me. I love you that much. I will not let you go.” What incredible and never-ending love.

If you take a look in Isaiah 6 verses 1-3, it paints a beautiful picture of just how Holy our God is.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Right away in verse 1 it shows how big and worthy He is. He is high and exalted the train of his robe filled the temple. Then Isaiah mentions the seraphs. Seraphs are defined as- a member of the highest order of angels, often represented as a child's head with wings above, below, and on each side. If you look at verse 2 it says that the seraphs covered their faces. They are members of the highest order of angels and God is so holy that even they can’t look at Him. All the seraphs did was fly above His throne and sing out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” That is all they did, day and night, everyday, all the time. What would it look like for us to praise God day and night, everyday, all the time? He is so worthy of that kind of praise.

This is just a small glimpse into just how holy our God is. How crazy is that.

Through this study, the Lord revealed Himself so true in my life. He revealed so much of his character to me. He is my Rock, my Savior, Redeemer, Father, Comforter, Creator, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End, and so much more. He is so powerful, just, merciful, gracious, loving, kind, gentle, strong, compassionate, and good. He only wants good for me. Even if it means taking me through the most difficult situations, it is a chance for him to reveal his power and sovereignty to me. It creates a more intimate relationship with him, and he does that for me. My God is a jealous God and He will do ANYTHING to keep me. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lord, what are you doing?

      During the first five weeks of project, this was a question that I asked of the Lord daily. There were also other questions like “Where are you going with this? Why are you taking me through this? What purpose does this have in my life? How long are you going to leave me here? Are you even listening to me?” 
I was beginning to doubt God. I doubted who He was in my life. I doubted His very character and the promises that He had made to me. I was beginning to believe that He had abandoned me, left me, like He was holding out on me. There were prayers that he wasn’t answering, places in my life that he wasn’t satisfying, anxiety that he wasn’t taking away from me when I thought I was giving it up to Him.  Have you ever felt like this, or do you feel like this now? If you are, I have good news for you; there is hope.

     Through this period of doubt, unbelief, and all out wrestling with the Lord, He was there. As I reflect back on it now, He NEVER abandoned me, He didn’t leave me, and He definitely was not holding out on me. He put people in my life that just sat with me while I wrestled, friends that gave me cold hard truth when my stubborn heart didn’t want to hear it or believe it, they were the hands and feet of Jesus. He showed Himself so true through them. Of course it wasn’t an overnight switch that flipped and all of a sudden my feelings of doubt were gone. I still struggle with some of these questions and feelings, but one thing I do know is that God has not and will not leave me, He is there, and He is taking me through this so that He can reveal more of Himself to me. There are still prayers that I am waiting for Him to answer, anxiety that I am still trying to give to Him, and there are still characteristics of God that I am having a hard time believing. But by taking me through this hard time, the Lord was able to reveal Himself true and Holy, present and loving, close and compassionate. I will go through hard times, but friends, it is so worth it if I get to know my Creator more intimately. He longs to reveal Himself to us. This is the truth that I am resting in today, and the truth that I will continue to rest in because I know He is near.