Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Biblical Perseverance:  All of my February Morning Munch Spots in one place!

Morning Munch Monday February 10th

Morning Munch Tuesday February 11th

Morning Munch Wednesday February 12th

Morning Munch Thursday February 13th

Morning Munch Friday February 14th

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Detour Ahead!  How I have dreaded that sign. Fortunately with today’s smartphone and GPS technology it does not carry the same fear factor that it did when I was younger.  In fact today with a little bit of effort we are able to avoid detours altogether and if we do get stuck in one with a few simple screen touches we no longer have to rely on the often sparsely placed detour signs and can map out our new path to our destination.  However we have not managed a technology that will predict and map out alternative routes to our goals when we hit those life detours that take us away from path of life that we have planned.

1de·tour

noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\

: the act of going or traveling to a place along a way that is different from the usual or planned way

: a road, highway, etc., that you travel on when the usual way of traveling cannot be used

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detour

I have been struggling with this topic for some time now.  I originally thought I would be talk about heavenly detours.  How God diverts our path for his purpose and we just have to kind of ride along.  That is certainly how I felt about this latest chapter in my life.  As I looked at the scene pictured about today (Wednesday October 2, 2013), I realized how different my life was just 9 months ago.  January 2nd Nisa Faith had just joined our family after a 10 year Odyssey of losses, tears and suffering.  Allana was feeling a little ill but we were certain a quick trip to the OB, some antibiotics and we would be good to go.  Ready to run that path that seemed to be so obviously stretched out ahead of us, a Spring and Summer of ministry at The Lewis House, working with Compelled, CityLight and our other partners to spread the Love of God.  What a difference 3 days can make.  3 short days and I would be on perhaps the greatest detour of my life, or would I.  God has been really battering me on this subject, because I truly have felt like this was exactly that, a detour.  When in reality it is right on course but instead of my course, or Allana’s course or TLH’s course, it IS GOD’s course.  When we view these events in our lives as detours, we detract from God’s omniscient role as master planner of everything.  I want to step lightly here because I am not writing doctrine on God’s sovereignty nor am I suggesting that God gave this horrible disorder to Allana, or anyone else.  I think that perhaps my concept of our situation whether thought out or not was of God looking down and saying, ” Oh shoot!  Allana has Leukemia, well I guess I can use that for My Glory ’til we can get things back on course.”  There we go, just a heavenly detour and I am so tempted to detour here into writing the very doctrinal statement that I said was not my intent.  Thank God for the delete button.  However what I have found is that God does not take detours.  Allana and I are not on some end around that will eventually get us back on the path that God has for us.  We are on the path that he has carefully laid out for us.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

No detours for God’s consecrated, God’s appointed, God’s anointed.  There is a point in every Born Again Believer’s life that he or she makes a choice to change direction.  However this is not a detour because not only the route changes, the destination changes.  The Believer is no longer on a pathway to eternal separation from God, to hell, but has turned to a path leading to the mind of Christ.  There is an intentional, continual seeking of God’s presence.  It harks more the etymological root of the word than our current usage.

French détour, from Old French destor, from destorner to divert, from des- de- + torner to turn —

First Known Use: 1738
To turn from, this is the very heart of repentance and salvation.  There is one major difference when we submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ there is not just a temporary course change.  There is a change of destination, and I don’t just mean heaven.  Every man has in his mind a course and destination.  What the destination will be is determined by our core values.  Some pursue riches.  Some pursue power.  Some pursue pure evil.  Some pursue the greatest good.  Honestly some pursue nothing at all, seeking to have no destination at all but simply seeing life as riding out each circumstance to the best of their ability only to find that this is in itself pursuing a course to a destination.  When one comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ all of  that changes.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28  Suddenly we are on a new course.  It is not one of our own creation but one that God set into motion before the world was created.  This is the confusion.  We conceive of where God has us headed and when things don’t turn out we see it as a detour.  This brings frustration just the same way that an unexpected detour on the road unsettles us.  However when we give God the glory he is do, this evaporates.  “In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” Psalms 16:9  It is the assumption that God has it all under control that allows to continually apply His word to our situation. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”   Psalm 119:59.  It is in this place that God affirms us even in the midst of the storm.

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fear

I did not sleep well last night.  I find that as we approach the time of returning home and as the visits to the hospital and to our doctors become fewer and far between, there is not a sense of relief but a sense of fear.  Throw into the mix the new healthcare laws going into effect in a matter of days and not really knowing how that will impact Allana’s ongoing care and I find myself doing just a little bit of internal churning.  Friday enhanced for me the precariousness of her situation.  This is not to say that this sense of fear came on suddenly, it has been building.  It just kind of peaked last night and early this morning.  But as I finally gave in to the hopelessness of getting back to sleep, again…I heard buzz of an incoming email and this is what I found:

Sep 29, 2013

Facing Your Fears

By Charles F. Stanley

http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=facing_your_fears_article

I wanted to smile and cry at the same time.   At that point the content of the devotional didn’t really matter.  God was just reminding me the He knows where I am at every minute of every day.  I am a little disappointed in myself that after all of His miraculous interventions in my life I am so easily sidetracked but it is great to KNOW that I have the God who is ready to coddle me when my human weaknesses show through.  I did of course read the piece and the first major point highlighted what had really happened.

“The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself and onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority. Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

People may criticize, reject, ridicule and persecute, but they can’t take away your salvation, your relationship with Jesus Christ, your eternal home in heaven, or the joy, contentment, and inner strength the Lord imparts to you.”

It is part of the incredible human disconnect that is at the heart of our faith.  For the Children of God successfully facing fear means not looking at the problem, or problems that bring the fear, it means looking right into the face of Jesus.  It is from this place that Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content no matter what his circumstances are because no matter what is going on around him or what is happening to him, the face of Christ never changes.  I would encourage you to go and read the rest of Stanley’s devotional for today but here are the basic points

Second, ask the Lord to give you the help you need.

Third, encourage yourself by memorizing the Word of God and quoting it as often as you need a fear-buster of inner strength.

And, finally, ask others to pray for you.

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“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.

Ezekiel 24:16

(I do want to start this with a disclaimer: While I do believe that God has called us to walk this difficult road for His purposes and have already seen incredible fruit from our experiences both within us and around us, I have no reason to believe that Allana is going to be taken from us any time soon.)

Serving God can at times be overwhelming.  We are not told a lot about Ezekiel’s wife, just that she was “the delight” of his eyes.  Ezekiel loved her.  She was perhaps, next to God, the most important thing in Ezekiel’s life.  I have heard it taught that Ezekiel somehow sinned in his desire for his wife, that he had placed her above his devotion to God.  This is simply not in the text and perhaps arises from the desire to believe that God is here to serve us instead of the other way around.  We serve a God who loves us immensely.  We also serve a God who commands ultimate obedience, honor and trust.  The circumstances surrounding this loss are not known to us.  It can be supposed that Ezekiel’s wife succumbed to a fatal illness, a much more common occurrence in the those days than living a long and healthy life.  I can easily imagine Ezekiel crying out to God in prayer over her having been there many times for Allana.  I cannot but believe that Ezekiel’s wife was a godly woman, the respected and honored wife of a priest.  Why O lord does she have to go through this?  And the answer comes,” “For my purposes”

Paul understood service to God when he wrote to the Philippians, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, ” (Philippians 1:29)  Carizomai does not mean imposed upon or required.  It carries the sense of a pleasant task, a favor, something given benevolently.  As His servants, suffering for His name and for His purposes is part of the gift, but in the same book we find that this gift is paired with something else.  “ Rejoice in the Lord always ; again I will say, rejoice !  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will  guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)  This does not mean that everything is going to go the way that we desire it to, it means that through the storm we will be able to say, “It is well with my soul”.

God called Ezekiel to more than just losing the love of his life.  He is called to contravene the social norms of the day and to not enter into what was the common practice of very public and very loud mourning.  God calls him to “groan silently”.  Paul says, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.”  We are called to a holy standard not only in the gift of suffering for His name, but in the Holy Spirit empowered ability to break the customs of this world in our reaction to that suffering and show the very nature of God in our actions.  When we do that the world takes notice!   “and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded. The people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things that you are doing mean for us?” (Ezekiel 24:18-19)  It is in the very city of Philippi that we get the story of the Philippian Jailer.  After being beaten and praising God through a night of imprisonment Paul and Silas are able to lead their captive audience, the jailer, and his whole family to Jesus.  “Sirs, What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)

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This is  a study that I first wrote before Nisa’s birth and before the present trial that God has placed in our path.  More than ever the depth of God’s love for His people as illustrated by Hosea’s call and response to that call inspires my heart and lets me rest in the knowledge of His Grace.

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry ; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.”  So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”  Hosea 1:2-3

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”  Hosea 3:1

Hosea is first and foremost a love story.  It is a live action representation of the redemptive love story called The Bible.  When I first read this amazing story I glossed over these two passages.  I did not really conceive of what God was asking of Hosea.

It is in chapter three that the reality of Hosea’s call becomes clear. Suddenly all of the technical sniping about the legal ramifications and the arguments over interpretation seem shallow.  Hosea was called by God to create in life a wonderful picture of His love for us, the love that culminated on a cross outside of Jerusalem and was fulfilled by an empty tomb!  It is a love that is sacrificial, one that accepts rejection and seeks redemption.  It is love that forgives offense and pursues atonement but it is a love that recognizes the requirements of holiness and demands a response.  It is a love that understands that in the absence of that response destruction comes.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.  You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies.  Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors”  Hosea 10:12-13

In this case I like the NIV’s translation of CHECED (rendered kindness by the NAS), “unfailing love”.  I think this considers well the overall theme of Hosea.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love…”

This foreshadows Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment was.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind soul…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”


The formula is simple: Righteous living = Love.  God called Hosea to graphically demonstrate this love, the love of Righteousness.  He also calls us to love the un-lovable and shows us that this can be done without sacrificing righteousness.  Hosea never accepted and/or condoned her sin but he went and loved her, went and redeemed her where she was at.  In just the same way Christ came to our sorry estate and loved us, redeemed us.  Now he waits for our response.  Just as Hosea required a response from Gomer,

Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days.  You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”  Hosea 3:3

Here the story of Hosea ends and the application to Israel begins.

“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them.  For the ways of the Lord are right, And the righteousness will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them.”  Hosea 14:9

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Since Allana was diagnosed with Leukemia this place has been a mad house.  People ask the question and I find myself saying over and over, I have had to redefine what is a good day and what is a bad day.  The new normal for Allana, myself and our family is a bad day by the old standards, every day.  As I sit here thinking about this redefining process and my relationship to God it became clear to me that my relationship with God is the catalyst and the key to it.  This is what God does for us.  This is how he grows and draws us close.  A burning bush redefined life for Moses.  Suddenly a good day was risking his life standing before Pharaoh, or before his very own irate people.  I cannot help but wonder if Moses did not wish for the good old days of tending sheep in the hills of Midian.  Joseph had his days redefined in Egypt several times.  An angel by a wine press redefined a good day for Gideon.  Job, well Job is Job and he is perhaps the poster child for the redefining process.  Jesus redefined a good day for the disciples, over and over and over.  Then He redefined it for the universe by dying on Calvary.  I can almost hear God in his best Jerry Maguire impression on that day speaking to His People:  You know our little venture, well it had a big day, a really big day.  Now I complete you!.  Each of these has a real element of BAD to them.  It is important to realize that God does not want us to suffer, but He USES it and yes ALLOWS it because it serves His purposes in achieving Romans 8:28 which outlines the end result of the redefining process.  The good thing about this process is that it has a core.  It is a core that is made of rock hard incorruptible absolute truth.  It is a core that is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and immutable.  What happens is that in all this redefinition we actually come to a single truth.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Circumstances change but a good day is when we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.  I cannot say that today was a good day, but We believe and we are learning  God give us grace and power to make tomorrow a good day, no matter what the circumstances are.

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Nisa Faith was born on 12-16-2012 at 9:40 pm.  She was 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20.5 in. long.  Yet those simple statistics do not in any way define the miracle of faith that she is to this family.  A physical living expression of the journey that God has taken this family on over the past decade.  I have been literally overwhelmed by her presence in our lives and not just by the usual intensity of life with a new baby.  I am going to re-post my blog from July 31st because today I stand with the realization of that post in my arms:

                  (Nisa- Miracle)

Faith

Guidry

We have prayed for this day for 9 years.  We have ached for the losses and doubted our faith.  We refused to give up even when we were labeled as a “Chronic Miscarriage” case.  When the entire world (and even God himself from a purely worldly standpoint) seemed to be saying emphatically NO, the Holy Spirit whispered in our ears to leave it in the Father’s hands.  So we did.  Don’t get me wrong we cried, we wailed, we begged over and over again.  We wanted at times to throw in the towel and act out of our own understanding.  We still do not completely understand, but understand this:  We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

The difficult part to grasp is that my statement about our Father’s love for us is not just true because Nisa is healthy and strong.  It is an eternal truth that is expressed in both the tragic and the joyful.  He does not love us more now than he did on the very days that we miscarried our other seven precious babies.  The reality is that our journey to the fulfillment of the call that He had placed on our lives led us directly through David’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.  While we might prefer a detour around the Valley, God does not promise that.  He does promise that he will be with us, standing by us with His rod and staff and even more importantly for New Testament believers dwelling in us.  Many times it is not until after we are through the Valley that we are able to look back and see that God wielded His rod and staff on our behalf as we walked that  difficult road.

Even more than she represents the miracle of life to us, she is the miracle of faith itself.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that she is an expression of miraculous faith.  Faith inspired by the ongoing presence of God in our lives.  It is the faith that kept Abraham going on his 400 mile journey.  It is the faith that kept him in relationship with God even when he arrived only to face famine.  It is the faith that saw the birth of Isaac and the substitution of a ram for his only child on the mountain before God.  It is not a faith of the perfect life or of perfect people. It is a faith that traverses pitfalls and carries us through our own mistakes; faith that originates not with us but in the very heart of God and comes to us as a gift from the hands of our heavenly Father.  It is Nisa Faith.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lied down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

PSALM 23

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