Coincidence?

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Do you see God in your day? Do you chalk up events as divine intervention or coincidence? I want to encourage you to start seeing God’s hand more clearly in your life. He is always with us. He promised us that. He sent His Holy Spirit to live within us to guide and comfort us. We are never alone. God is active in your life more than you realize. I want to encourage you this week to look for His handiwork in your day.

Simple example from my life. I am teaching a class next week that I haven’t taught before. I assumed it would be similar to a class I taught for the 2016 version of the class. Nope. It’s very different. When I realized this on Friday afternoon, I folded. I had a long week of classes from 6 am – 2 pm every day and now I would need to work on the weekend to really be ready for my Monday-Tuesday class. I cried. I reached out to my prayer team for prayer and I called a friend to commiserate. I too prayed. Saturday morning when I began diving into the meat of the class, I discovered I had made PowerPoint slides when I first prepped this class back in December. What? I never do that. I usually do it once I’m scheduled to teach it. I had slides prepped and my notes were current too. I realized that God knew in December I would be teaching this class in April. He knew I would be overwhelmed with work, quarantine and prepping for my daughter’s 19th birthday. He nudged me back in December to fully prep the class so when April rolled around, I would be pleasantly surprised and my stress would lessen. He knew. I didn’t.

Coincidence you say? That’s your choice. I say it was God. He cares enough to work in us in December to make April easier. He likes to surprise us and show up in unexpected ways. I like seeing Him in my day. I like the gifts He has planned for me ahead of time. I like that something I did this weekend could come back to bless me in a week, a month, a year or more. He works in and through us for the big picture. If you life has become a bit routine and boring, open your eyes and look for God. What did He do to bring a smile to your face today? How did He show up? Look and you will see.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Why?

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We may be asking this question a lot these days. Why? Why are we still stuck at home? Why did my kid have to miss out on her last quarter of freshman year dorm life? Why is this virus not stopping? Why are so many people hurting? Why are finances tight for everyone I know? Why?

I don’t have the answers. The One who does, may or may not reveal the answer. You probably don’t like hearing that. You want to know why. You want God to provide answers. You know what I have learned? He doesn’t always provide answers. He never promised us answers, too.

He promises His peace. The peace of God is with us and the Holy Spirit is with us. The Holy Spirit will remind us of God’s promises.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:26-27 NIV

He promises His presence:

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:20 NIV

However, He doesn’t promise answers. Today in my study of “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa TerKeurst, I discovered that Job never got an answer from God as to why all the bad stuff in his life happened. God knew why. He allowed Satan access to Job. Job didn’t know that. Job didn’t know that God trusted Him to withstand the temptations of the devil and to continue to praise God. Here is the why that Job never got.

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” – Job 1: 8-12 NIV

All Job knew what that he lost his ox and donkeys, his sheep and servants, his camels and then all his children. Here is Job’s response to those tragedies.

 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20-22 NIV

Wow. A lot goes on in Job from Chapter 1 – 42. In the end, however, Job was blessed.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.  Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years. – Job 42:12-17 NIV

He never got an answer to why. Why not? It was a good answer. God trusted Him to remain faithful. God put His trust in this man and allowed Satan access to him. God uses the story of Job to teach us that bad things are NOT because we did something wrong. Many Christians still have this false believe. We aren’t in this struggle because of sin. There are times in life when consequences to sin does lead to hard times. However, in many cases, hard times are just that. We aren’t immune to it. The evil are prone to it. In fact, it happens to us all.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:45

Christianity isn’t immunity to the harshness of this world. It’s hope in the midst of harshness. It’s peace in the midst of chaos. It’s God’s presence when everyone else feels so far away. It’s hope. It’s not answers to why. It is however, trust that the why isn’t important. God and His glory are what matter most.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

P.S. Read some Job this week. It offers perspective and humanness.

 

Easter redefined

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I hope you all took time to celebrate and reflect on Easter. Easter is our Christian celebration of Jesus’s amazing gift of eternal life. Jesus was killed on Good Friday but on Easter Sunday we celebrate His resurrection – He came back to life and went to heaven to prepare a place for us. He sacrificed His life to pay the payment required for our disobedience to God. Now, through our relationship with Jesus, we can freely approach God’s throne. We are made whole and holy because of Jesus.

Yesterday was Easter. For those of us who celebrate, it looked different. We had our wonderful ham dinner with all the fixings but my parents and friend who come every year weren’t here. Instead of dressing up in a new dress or outfit, we wore PJs and slippers to online church. Our Easter baskets weren’t so full this year – no candy (we are eating enough in our quarantine) and just one item (due to a major pay cut at my work we are scaling back). We actually had a rainy day on Sunday in California so outdoor events weren’t even an option.

What was the same? The worship online still ushered us into God’s presence. The sermon touched my heart and changed me. The outreach message stirred my spirit to pray for many who were hearing about Jesus on this day. The best part – Jesus is still alive!!!! His resurrection happened and we can celebrate that every day not just every Easter. The good news is still good and still real. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

During this quarantine, focus on what is good and what is the same. Your love for your family is the same (hopefully deeper, even though some days are challenging). Your friends are still there even if you can only talk 6 feet away wearing masks or via Zoom. God still loves you the same, if not MORE. God is on His throne. Jesus is alive.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Time for change

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Friends I wrote my entire blog then went to find a picture that had to do with learning. I found the picture above and am rewriting my blog.

It’s time for change AND you have time for change.

No more excuses friends. No more. In this season of quarantine, you have time to change. You may think – “I don’t want to change.” Well, I don’t care, you have to. God asks it of you.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV

As believers, we are called to add to who we are. Always adding. Always growing. A stagnant Christian is not an obedient Christian. We are called to become more like Christ.

On Sunday, hopefully you heard a sermon. Did it change you? Did you get a take-away? We watch our online service as a family. Afterwards, I ask everyone for their take-away. If you watch alone, ask yourself. If there is no take-away, there is no growth. Church isn’t entertainment – it’s food! Spiritual food to nourish our souls and draw us closer to Christ and to be like Christ. If that isn’t happening for you, make it happen. It isn’t your pastor’s fault. I know, some of you are thinking “his sermons are so dry.” OK. Is he preaching the Word? Did he read scripture? If you have no take-away, reread the scripture passage on your own when the sermon ends. Now, what is your take-away?

What do I mean by take-away? Ask yourself – how will my attitude, thinking or behavior be different as a result of what I heard from God today? Guess what? You should be asking that question after every sermon, Bible Study, quiet time or lesson God is providing you. This Sunday my take-away was to see what I am learning during this quarantine. What is God teaching me in this? What part of me is not yet surrendered to Him? I am keeping my eyes open this week to have Him reveal that to me.

We are in a season that will hopefully never happen again. While we are in it, we need to milk it for what it’s worth. You aren’t commuting anymore (most of us). What can you do with that extra 45 minutes (or 2 hours for some of us)? You have dinner every night with your teens. What is the intentional conversation about? You have time to nurture your little kids. What truths are your pouring into their hearts that will shape them for a lifetime? Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 NASB You have time with your spouse. How are you two reconnecting? Your daily time with God – how is that growing?

Open your eyes today and see what He has for you. We all need to change. We all need to grow. You can do this!

Dream Big! Pray Big!