Thursday, July 2, 2015

God is Never Late

Somedays I live in 'late'. 
Always trying to squeeze out one more minute of getting something done before I have to run to the next task or event or meal. 
I have a house to manage, a business to run and a family to care for - I am a BUSY woman! 
Time is of the essence people!
Needless to say, all this running and squeezing creates a less than peaceful Robin for my family and friends. 
Heck, it's not so great for me either!

My heart and my body long for a slow-down, a respite, a breath as I trap myself in a world of 'what's next'. Living in 'late' has fed into my life of worry and anxiety and my tendency to charge ahead and get it done without waiting on the Lord to lead the way. 
Busy-ness is one of my biggest struggles and because of it, sometimes I miss what my precious Father God is trying to say to me as I urgently whiz past Him, running on to the next thing on my agenda. 
Late yet again. 

Can I get an 'Amen'?! 

(I don't like this word usually because it tends to negate whatever came before it, however this time, it belongs here), 


GOD is never late. 

I know you've heard it before, just let it sink in this time: 

GOD is never late. 
He knows our need and He knows our hearts and He continues to wave his arms about, trying to flag us down and get our attention. 
And I for one am oh, so grateful that He loves me that much. 

It takes a lot to slow me down some days. 
Last night, oddly enough, it was a video game. 
Ha! No, I wasn't playing, but Emma and I were sitting together watching Mark play Xbox - getting great enjoyment from his angst as he "died" many times over. (I really should video tape it sometime - it's pretty funny stuff. But I digress.)

I was working on posting yesterday's blog post on Facebook when I ran across my friend Shannon Long's Scripture Writing Plan for July. 
I'd seen it before and fleetingly thought "Oh, I should do that." and then went on to 'what's next'.....

But last night, God said, "No, not this time. Stop. And breathe. And DO this."
So, I'm listening. 
And Oh, what a sweet release it was to me. 
Day one spoke right to my heart. Right when I needed it most. 
It's allowing me to breathe today and feel peace in the crazy. 

Read this now my friends. 
Let it's truth wash over you and bring peace to your heart. 
I know God is right on time for some of you reading this today - I'm praying for you!

Philippians 4:4-9

Always be full of joy in the Lord. 
I say it again—rejoice! 
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. 
Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. 
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 
Fix your thoughts 
on what is true, 
and honorable, 
and right, 
and pure, 
and lovely, 
and admirable. 
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. 
Then the God of peace will be with you.

With a Courageous Heart, 
(Be sure to visit Shannon's Blog and download or print out the July Scripture Writing Plan. I'll be doing it every day this month and I challenge you to join me!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Gospel - From the Beginning

My dear readers, 

There's been a lot going on in my life since I last posted here, but mainly, God has been working in many ways, both large and small. 

It's been challenging and overwhelming at times, all shaping me more into who He's called me to be and to do what He's called me to do. 

Recently I've been privileged to co-lead a new Bible Study as we begin an official Women's Ministry in our church. 

#RealWomen #RealImpact came about from a simple 'meet for coffee' with two other women I am blessed to serve with at Impact Church NOVA. As we met that morning, it very quickly became abundantly clear that the Holy Spirit was working specifically in each of us three, speaking to us and prompting us to begin our Women's Ministry in earnest. 

3 hours passed and we left that Starbucks with a full 6 week outline in hand including lesson topics, breakout group activities, retreat plans and committed dates on our calendars. 

We began to meet the first Saturday in June and we've seen God do some wonderful things in the hearts and lives of the women we're meeting with - in short, He is amazing! 

Today, I'm sharing Week 1 of #RealWomen #RealImpact with you. 

It's a look at The Gospel from a different perspective. One that begins, well, at the beginning and leads us to The Word made flesh. 
My prayer is that it speaks to you and challenges you as you continue your adventure with Christ. 

The Gospel - From the Beginning

The Bible, as we know, is God’s story. It’s a compilation of His love letters to us in one book. 
This book has stood the tests of time and challenge. It’s a book that remains both a lighthouse and a lightning rod because of the truth it contains. 
All attempts to discredit its truth have failed because it is ultimate truth. 
Infallible truth. 
And it’s pages are woven together with a singular thread - the blood of God’s son Jesus. 

All books have a beginning, a middle and an ending. 
And a compelling storyline to keep you engaged from cover to cover. 
The Bible is a story of perfection and failure and restoration and failure and redemption that’s possible because it was written by a God who loves His creation and has a beautiful purpose and plan for the lives He’s created. 

No matter how many times His creation fails Him, God still loves, still pursues, still redeems. 
And there is no missing that storyline as we read of His love revealed in the pages of His word. 
This video is a wonderful summation of His love for us: 

The Story of God from Josh Sliffe on Vimeo.

So, there you have it, our salvation, our restoration - 
God’s perfect plan for us is reflected in the entirety of His story from beginning to end. 

**Let's start at the BEGINNING and look at some scripture together. 
  • Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
  • Colossians 1:15-17
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.”
  • John 17:5
“Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:9
“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
  • John 1:1-5
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

**Scripture clearly shows us that Jesus - the Messiah, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Sacrifice; was, is and always will BE. He is one third of the Holy Trinity - God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

So, why did Jesus have to die? 
What is the purpose of his blood? 

To answer that - we need to look back at the Garden, back to Adam and Eve and the serpent. 

God, even though He created Adam and Eve to walk in perfect communion with Him, God created them with FREE WILL
They always had a choice between good and evil; obedience and disobedience. 

  • Deuteronomy 11:26-28
“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.”

**God planted the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and told them it was the one tree they could not eat from.

  • Genesis 2:16-17
“But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.””

**You would think being told you would DIE would be enough to keep you from doing the thing you’re not supposed to do. 
Especially when the one telling you is the one who created you. Isn’t it reasonable to assume He knows more? But in our sin nature, our human nature, we don’t like being told what not to do, do we? 

God also created the serpent and placed him in the garden: 
  • Genesis 3:1a
“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made.”

**And as the story goes - his first victim was Eve: 
  • Genesis 3:1b - 6
“One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.”

**Once the serpent deceived Eve, tempted her to eat of the tree and she shared the fruit with Adam, we know what happens next - scripture tells us that “their eyes were opened, and they felt shame at their nakedness.” (Genesis 3:7)

**Sin never takes us unaware - built into each of us the choice to do good or do evil - FREE WILL - just like Adam and Eve discovered when they disobeyed the one command God had given them. And you have to wonder why? 
They had it pretty good. 
Perfection in their Garden home. 
Communion with God. 
The perfect man. 
The perfect woman. 
How rough could it have been?
But verse 6 tells us that Eve “wanted the wisdom it (the fruit) would give her”. 

Aren’t we always tempted by what we don't have, by what we are told we can’t have? 

The serpent made it sound so good. His words offered her something new, something extra. 
We always do want more, don’t we?

And when we give in to our temptation, we are left with the consequences. 
We end up asking ourselves the very pointed question -

“What have I done?” 

And it’s followed by blame, regret, shame and fear. 
Nothing good, ever. 
  • Genesis 3:13
“Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?””

**Eve blames the serpent - “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
But Eve didn’t eat simply because the serpent deceived her, she ate because she wanted what he told her it would give her. Remember?
  • Genesis 3:4-6
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.

**Eve believed the serpents’ lies because they sounded good to her - enticing her with what he knew she wanted. 

With that single, simple act of disobedience, Eve set in motion our redemption story. 

When she went after what she wanted instead of obeying God, it resulted in drastic, life-altering (life-ending) circumstances. 

First, for the serpent: 
  • Genesis 3:14-15
Then the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed
    more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
    groveling in the dust as long as you live.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

Next, for the woman (Eve):
  • Genesis 3:16
“Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
    and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
    but he will rule over you.”

**It is so compelling that God directly addressed Eve’s desire for special wisdom, His curse was directed at the very heart attitude that caused the break in their intimacy with Him. 

Lastly, for Adam:
  • Genesis 3:17-19
“And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
    though you will eat of its grains.
By the sweat of your brow
    will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
    from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
    and to dust you will return.””

And without a perfect, sinless sacrifice we all face eternal separation from God.

So, the answer to our question - 
Why did Jesus have to die? 
What makes Jesus this perfect sinless sacrifice?

Jesus is fully God, yet fully man. 
He IS God. 
Jesus is living, eternal and holy.  
His death, and resurrection sets him apart from any other sacrifice that could be made. 
No one but God himself could make a way for us to return to Him. 

Jesus not only died for our sin - the sin that is unavoidable because of what took place in the Garden;  Jesus - because He is God - raised himself from the dead and provides a hope that no other faith, sect or religion can boast. 
Our salvation is in THE living Christ. THE Son of God. 
THE Word made flesh. 

“The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.” 
- John 1:4

With a Courageous Heart,