Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus Is the Image of the Invisible God

I've been memorizing Colossians 1 since January as part of Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. I've reached my favorite part of Colossians, the part where we are told about Jesus.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (v. 15-20, ESV)

I've memorized up to verse 20 so far. I love knowing that when we look at Jesus in the Scriptures, we are looking at our heavenly Father. I rejoice in the fact that we have a God and Savior who created the universe and the earth and the heavens and that this same God and Savior loves us so much, they sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and to empower us to stand firm in our faith.

"...whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him." As long as I fix my eyes on Jesus, the Enemy cannot get a foothold. Jesus has authority over him. Jesus protects me, and when I cry out to Him, He saves me. He destroys the devil's works.

"...and in him all things hold together." Every time I repeat that as I'm working on memorizing these verses, I thank God that Jesus holds me together. It's His power and His strength that keeps me from falling apart--mentally, spiritually, physically. In Him we have One who is willing to fight for us, get us back on our feet (and gives us a firm place to stand, Ps. 40), who encourages us, promises to be with us always, and who restores our soul. One who loves us and desires for us to love Him and find our life in Him. Jesus Christ. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Savior of the World. He is worthy of our love and devotion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Still Praying to God to Stop Anxiety

I don’t get panic attacks like I used to but I do occasionally experience anxiety when feeling pressured or under intense stress for any length of time. Then I get out my Scripture cards and pray through them to God. When I focus in on what God tells me in those Scriptures, it forces my thoughts to think the right things about the situation. It’s as if I need to be convinced that what my negative thoughts are telling me is not the truth—which it really isn’t—but it seems like it is, until I read God’s Word. Then my heart, mind, and soul, and spirit respond to His Truth. Meditating on Scripture helps me settle down into His Truth, the only Truth. Scripture reminds me that God is in control and that He is the one who enables me to do what I need to do and that He will help me like He says He will in His Word. And then I feel so much better. I feel not alone. I feel supported. But always I have this knee-jerk reaction to stress, and I guess the good thing about it is that it keeps me running to God. I have learned what a shelter and hiding place He is for me. For my mind.  A few months ago, I started reading the Bible for 30 minutes most nights, and it has really helped me relax and rest in His love, especially after a trying day. The Psalms especially. And all the New Testament. I switched a few years ago to the ESV version and I’m really liking it. I still lead a ladies’ Bible study class—it’s been 12 years now and I still love it. And I teach a ladies class in Sunday School at my church, and I know that helps me a lot, too! God is so good and He wants us to know Him. Psalm 142 is great advice for us. It tells us to cry out to God, to voice our complaints and troubles to him. To speak out loud and talk to God. I do that almost every morning. I get up early before my husband and go into another part of the house and shut the door and it’s just me and God and His Word. I can tell Him everything that’s on my heart. He encourages us to do that in His Word. He wants us to seek Him. And He promises if we seek Him with our whole heart, He will be found by us.  (Jeremiah 29)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Great Passage in a Different Version

I have memorized and prayed Philippians 4:6-7 many, many times over the years, but I just read these verses in the Message, and I really liked them. So here they are in case someone else enjoys this paraphrase:

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. " Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

Shaping our worries into prayers of petition and praise--that's something we can do when we don't know what to do. It's a positive thing and we'll feel better. But it doesn't stop there. Now that we've let God know our concerns, asked Him to help us, we know help is on the way.

The passage goes on to say that we'll gain a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good will come and settle us. When God settles you down with His assurances, worry and anxiety fade away. Peace and faith and the other fruits of the Spirit start being produced in you.

We are so blessed to be children of God!
"God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear." Ps. 46:1-2, KJV  

Confidence in Suffering

What God wants you to know: You are not alone. You have not been abandoned. Whatever is going on in your life right now, God is aware of it. He knows everything. He knows what He is doing. He will work all things out for good. What He wants from you in this situation is your complete trust. He wants you to put your hope, your confidence in Him. In His love for you, His plans and purposes for your life, His wisdom, and His grace. He wants you to abide in Him. Use these words from 1 Peter 5 as your comfort from Him, your assignment, your “prescription” during this trial, this season of your life.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another. ‘For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:5-11, ESV)

God, your Father in Christ Jesus, wants this from you:

1.      Humble yourself before Him and walk in humility before others.

2.      Humble yourself by casting all your anxieties on Him. Do this by crying out to Him in prayer. Pray as often as you need, every time anxiety rears its ugly head. Acknowledge you are powerless in your situation and turn to the One who has all the power to meet your needs. Ask for His forgiveness where you have sinned, strayed from Him, taken matters into your own hands. Humble yourself before others. Don't respond in pride. Let God take up for you. Let Him meet your needs.

3.      Pray and cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Never forget that God loves you, the Lord cares for you, has compassion for you, treats you as His own. If you are in Christ, you belong to Him. You are not your own but have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). God takes care of His own.

4.      Stay aware of God’s presence with you. He is wherever you are. Cling to Him. Keep reminding yourself that He is with you now. He is watching. Hold fast to the word of life and don’t let the devil tempt you away from Him. Once your adversary gets you to thinking you are all alone in this, that God isn’t there or doesn’t care, then he can wreak havoc with your faith and your life and plunge you into despair and desperation. And that is what he is after. 

5.      Resist your adversary, the devil. Take every thought captive to Christ. What did God say? Are your thoughts agreeing with God or your adversary? Hold up your shield of faith. Take up your Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. Pray for other saints who are going through the same kinds of sufferings. 

6.      Wait in humility and loving obedience for your Heavenly Father, the God of all grace to restore you Himself. Wait for Him to confirm your identity in Christ, to strengthen, and establish you. Don’t take any short cuts. Wait in hope, grace, and love. Keep abiding in Christ Jesus and keep letting His Word abide in you. Keep asking for His help, mercy, and grace. And God will do what He says He will do.

To God be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.  Amen!