Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Did God Disappear….

Have you ever felt this way? Like God has completely disappeared from your life? I will admit that the thought (and feeling) have crossed my mind. Especially when I’m going through a difficult situation.

I feel lost!

I want answers!

I need help!

Sound familiar?

There is usually a reason why at times, I don’t feel God’s presence in my life, and it does always lay at my doorstep. We don’t want to take responsibility most of the time, let’s just be honest here, but feeling far away from God usually means that we have continued walking on our merry way down a path that God has not intended for us to travel. There’s a saying I heard years ago, but it’s so true, “It only takes one step in the right direction to find God again.”

He is always right there when I need Him. Always!!

But sometimes, there might another reason why we feel that God has seemingly disappeared from our life. Maybe it’s because He’s shielding us. Maybe He’s behind us, protecting us from something coming, something striving to devour us. I Peter 5:8 {AMP} warns us to be alert, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.”

There is SOMETHING seeking to destroy us and his name is Satan. He and his demons really do have a plan to completely screw up your entire life.  He wants to get us so anxious, worried, depressed, angry, etc., that we think God has disappeared. All of those distractions become like a thick fog over our spiritual vision and we can’t see our own hand in front of us. But let me assure you…God is still at work in your life when things seem upside down.

If you go back into the verse above, you will see that the devil is “like a roaring lion” ~ he is NOT a lion though…but he sure makes us think he has that kind of power when he’s lurking about. The devil’s job is to poke around in our mind, confuse us, cause us to doubt the truths we know,  and quite simply bring us to a point where we lose hope.

Matthew 22:37 {AMP} says, “And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”, and we are told this because we are cautioned in Ephesians 6:11-13 {AMP} saying, Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].”

So although God is working on our behalf, He also calls us to be an active participant in the process of keeping the Lord close and the enemy far away.

But for those times when we are actively pursuing what God has called us to do, how He asks us to live, the way in which to raise our children, our attitude at work ~ whatever it may be ~ and we still feel alone, let me take you to the Old Testament for quick minute and give you some encouragement.

In Exodus 14:19-20 {AMP} we read, “The angel of God, who had been going in front of the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of the cloud moved from in front and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud along with darkness [even by day to the Egyptians], but it gave light by night [to the Israelites]; so one [army] did not come near the other all night.” 

To put these verses in perspective, the Israelites were in the middle of escaping Pharaoh. Now, the Pharaoh had let the people go with Moses, but then he had a change of mind when he realized that he no longer had anyone to do the manual labor around town. So he sent hoards of his chariots and armies to get them back.

The Israelites were already anxious about leaving the life they knew in Egypt (even though they hated it…it was what they knew), and God knew this too.  He knew the depth of anxiety they felt as they walked across the land. I’ve always thought that the people who were in the front of the pack, walking closer to Moses and Aaron, would’ve been quite a bit more at ease than those closing up the ranks. I mean, come on, if they were attacked, who was gonna die first?

But check this out…those folks in the front also could see the cloud that God was in, the one leading and guiding them, seemingly disappear. That must have been incredibly unsettling. Can you imagine the conversations, “Hey – did you notice the cloud left us?” “Um, I think God just disappeared.” “What do we do now…where do we walk?” Those people in the front were suddenly forced to believe that although the cloud was behind them and probably looked a bit smaller way at the back of the pack, it was still there!

It had moved but it was still there!

The cloud offered a massive amount of protection…one that was not even quite realized by the Israelites. It offered a source of light for them to walk by night and it appeared as darkness behind them so that the armies of Pharaoh could not see them, or each other.

The cloud that God was in, stayed there until the Israelites were safe!  The whole group (which was probably more than a million people) came to the Red Sea.  Once again, the people had to trust that God was still there. Moses had to trust that he was hearing God’s instruction. The sea parted, the people walked across on dry land…and that cloud stayed behind them all along the way to the other side. God caused confusion for Pharaoh’s armies and they were annihilated by the Lord when the sea walls came crashing back together. {Exodus 14:21-30}.

It only looked like God has disappeared, leaving the people to fend for themselves…but He didn’t.

And He hasn’t left you!

Look around your life and see where the hand of God has protected you? Shielded you from injury or attack? And if you can’t identify something right away, pray and ask the Lord to show you how He has protected you.  He WILL absolutely reveal to you where He has been in your life.

You left your keys in your unlocked car ~ and it was still there when you got back?

You left for work later than usual, causing great irritation, only to pass a horrific car accident on the freeway that possibly could have been you?

The anonymous grocery gift card that is dropped off on your front porch when you’re in need.

And so many others…

If you look hard enough, meaning, if you take your eyes off of yourself and lift them up, you WILL find the Lord. You will see Him guiding you, protecting you, shielding you. He is not far from you ~ just turn around and you will see.

He’s been there the whole time!

Blessings,

René

Exodus 14 verse 19

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Women's Ministries, Writers

Careful, your mask is slipping…

I was recently watching a show that I had recorded on TV, called Kingdom of Heaven, taking place in the 12th century during the Crusades, set in Jerusalem. {http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320661/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1}

It was very fascinating to me that the king of Jerusalem at the time was not a well man, he had leprosy. But that did not stop him from ruling the country. His birthright deemed it so and he did his job to the best of his ability. It was interesting how he wore a metal face mask to hide the ravages of leprosy that had attacked his face. For every day tasks he had a plain mask, where the only thing you could see was his eyes. It was a little unsettling to be able to hear him speak but not see his mouth or his lips moving. The mask was solid in the area all around his face except for his eyes. What I found very interesting was that when he knew he needed to go to war with the enemy, with all of his frailties and disfigurement, he knew as the king he had to be the one to lead his people, his army into battle.

He did not dress down for the battle either. He put on his full armor.

It was so astonishing to see him enter the battlefield dressed in his finest linen edged with intricate gold stitching and amazingly intricate patterns of other gold fabric that had been woven into the garment. But what was even more fascinating was his mask. The mask he wore was absolutely stunning. It had been carved with beautiful flowers and vines that intersected all over the whole thing. When he met his enemy in the middle of the battlefield he spoke with strength and determination and was able to settle their proposed battle without any bloodshed.

Upon his death he wore another mask that was darker in color to reflect the somber situation. The last words he spoke to his sister were, “Please remember me for who I am and what I used to look like in my youth.” You see, she had not seen him in his disfigurement.

He had servant’s that took care of him and his decaying body…and were sworn to secrecy. And I don’t believe it was from embarrassment, I think it was from a place of honor and respect. But after this king had breathed his last, the sister removed mask ~ his beautiful & perfect mask ~ to reveal a face that was hideously disfigured by the leprosy.

She was of course shocked, but you could tell the sadness in her eyes was simply because her brother was now gone. Not because of what he looked like.

So how many masks do we wear throughout our life, our day?

When we are feeling disfigured spiritually by the sin in our life, we put on a mask, and use beautiful garments to hide what is really going on underneath. We have different masks that we wear depending on who we are with. A mask with our family when we are out in public. A mask when we are with our family behind closed doors. A mask that we wear when we are volunteering at our kids school. The mask we wear at work every day. Maybe even the mask we wear with our spouse?

Most of the time I think that mask we tend to put on is just a regular, simple and fairly ambiguous mask. The one that says, “Life is great!” when it really isn’t.

The more beautiful the mask, the more disfigured the soul. The harder we try to distract from the ache of our soul, the deeper the lines are at carved into our mask. We don’t want to let anyone know about what is really going on…

  • Anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Eating Disorder
  • An abusive relationship
  • Difficult children that are getting out of control
  • Addiction problem
  • And the list goes on and on.

So what happens when that mask slips? When our frustrations and fears get the better of us and we begin acting out of control?

Luke 12:2-3 says, “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. (HSCB)

How much of our life stays covered and hidden from the Lord?  NONE of it! The masks that we have so cleverly and carefully fashioned over the years, will fall away in the instant that we come before the Lord, humble ourselves, and ask Him to make the beautiful the disfigurement of sin.

I John 5:12-15 reminds us, “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. (HCSB) {emphasis mine}

The Lord came to earth for YOU…to bring you back from the depths of sin and eternal death.  He does not want you to experience the death of sin, so He has given us the gift of His salvation.  There is nothing we can do to earn it.  There is no need to wear a mask of perfection for Him…because He can already see beneath the mask.

From personal experience, I know what happens when you remove the masks you where in your life. Freedom happens. But it isn’t easy. God expects us and wants us to be a part of the recovery. We have to be determined to operate within the power and strength of HIS might…not our own.  When we try to do it on our own, the mask will pop right back on!  Don’t save the mask, no matter how beautiful you think it is!  THROW IT OUT!

You find true freedom in walking the path as the person God created you to be, flaws and all. You will bring honor to the Lord when others see that you struggle in life, but more importantly, you put your faith and hope in the power of the Lord.  When the mask comes off, we are proclaiming that we are not perfect, but we are perfectly LOVED by the Creator of the Universe.

And if you have any doubts as to where “the mask” fits into the spiritual battle armor (Ephesians 6)  we are called to wear?

It doesn’t.

There is NO mask.

When the mask comes off, our countenance will tell the story of God’s redemption and His love.

Matthew 5:16 declares, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” {emphasis mine}
Take off your mask today ~ choose to live in the freedom of eternal life ~ and share with others the great glory of God’s salvation!
Blessings,
 René
Luke 12 verses 2-3

 

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Jesus Chose Judas…on Purpose!

Have you ever thought about this fact?  I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old….almost 40 years….and it has only been until recently that I’ve truly pondered this truth.  And I’ve truly marveled at this idea!

Jesus. Chose. Judas. On. Purpose.

ON PURPOSE!!!

When Jesus began His public ministry, we see the journey He took in choosing the 12 disciples.  Throughout the first four gospels of the New Testament, each author introduces the disciples at various intervals, but they all follow the same path.  John the Baptist had been preparing the people for years, during his public ministry, declaring to them that the Messiah was here and coming to save them all.  Remember now, that John and Jesus were cousins….John’s mother, Elizabeth, was visited by Jesus’ mother Mary while they were both pregnant.  John lept in his mother’s womb at the sheer nearness of the Savior that Mary was carrying (Luke 1:41).  God ordained even in that moment to prepare John spiritually for the ministry he would have in proclaiming the good news that the Messiah was on His way!

One more thing that had to happen before Jesus began His public ministry was that He was sent into the wilderness by God the Father, to endure various temptations brought on by the devil.  Let me be very clear here ~ Jesus cannot give into temptation because He is fully God.  And as fully man, Satan tried to tempt His earthly flesh, but Jesus was never in danger of giving into any of those temptations because He is fully God.  This part of scripture shows us a few things.

One is that, God will always give us a way out of any temptation we face in our lives.  ALWAYS!!  (I Corinthians 10:13).  Secondly, Jesus wanted to show us the key principle to use when the enemy is trying to tempt us is to go to scripture.  Speak the truth of God’s Word into whatever the situation might be and keep the devil out of our life.  There is nothing Satan can say that will ever trump the truth of what God’s Word says.

Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times and each time, Jesus reminded Him what the truth was.  Satan’s job is to distract us from what God says is true; to try and manipulate God’s Word to make us think God is wrong and that His word doesn’t apply to our life.  Everything Satan used to tempt Jesus, were things that already belonged to Jesus as the Son of God.  There was nothing Jesus would gain from giving into temptations.  We need to remember this because we are God’s child and as such we have been given the same authority over the principalities of the earth.  We can tell Satan to hit the road and never come back!

After going through the 40 days in the wilderness and being tempted three times, Jesus didn’t jump up on the proverbial stage and declare His power and demand to be listened to.  He went to find his cousin John the Baptist, and asked to be baptized. So John did just that ~ Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the Jordan river and,  we read in Matthew 3:16, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.”  What a powerful sight to behold that must have been!

Now, Jesus was ready to choose his disciples.  The 12 men who would become the cornerstone members of the Christian church.  Just. Twelve. Men. Not perfect men, not special men, not men with high ranking jobs….just human beings who were willing to follow Christ when He called them.

You can read all four gospels to get a unique perspective on who was chosen and how they were chosen, but for today’s blog, I’m going to be primarily using the books of Matthew and John.

In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus begins by choosing Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, then James the son of Zebedee and his brother John ~ all four were fisherman and do you know what their response was, vs. 20, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” and in vs. 22, “and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

There was absolutely NO hesitation!  I love that and wish I was more like that!

In Matthew 10:1-4, we read how He sent out the disciples to begin their ministries along with Jesus and look what He does, Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

So you can see ~ these were just ordinary men.  Fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot….and a betrayer.

He taught these men all that He knew and unfolded parts of the mysteries of heaven (healings, preaching, casting out demons) to them in order to give them authority to preach God’s truth throughout the lands.  

This all included Judas.

Why would Jesus do this?  Because He KNEW what Judas was going to do and He knew that it needed to happen.  Jesus chose this disciple, this friend, knowing Judas would betray Him.  Jesus had to make sure that His disciples, and all of His followers, would realize that it HE wasn’t caught off guard by His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.  One of the ways that Jesus made it clear He knew what was going on and what was about to happen, is these passages in John 13 ~

vs. 18-20 ,“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.””

vs. 26-30, Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.  So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”

Look at the parts of these verses above that I put in bold ~ JESUS KNEW WHO HE CHOSE AND WHAT JUDAS WAS GOING TO DO!

There is no question about it.  This is further proof that every part of Jesus’ life was determined only by God the Father.  Human minds did not bring God the Son, Jesus, to earth.  Human minds did not determine where and when Jesus’ public ministry began.  Human minds certainly did not dictate the why and how of His crucifixion.  And most importantly, human minds did not and could not comprehend the beautiful resurrection of Jesus, completely the plan that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, devised to bring about restoration and salvation!

One last piece to today’s writing that I feel cannot be missed, is a simple but an impactful fact. Jesus was betrayed by a friend. Just like Jesus knows hunger, exhaustion, delight, sadness, and the joy of obedience to the Father, Jesus knows the pain of betrayal.  I’m sure like me, you don’t become friends with someone knowing they will betray you. Why on earth would we put ourselves through that kind of pain from the beginning of a friendship?  Sometimes we are betrayed by someone we may have had an inkling was not a good influence on us, but most often the experience is one of the friend who chooses at some point in the relationship to turn against us ~ to betray our confidence, our trust, or the sincerity of our heart.

Rest assured my friend ~ Jesus knows this pain all too well.  Cry out to Him and He will hear you.  As with Judas, there was a purpose in his relationship to Jesus. May I suggest that the difficulties in friendships you may have had in the past, or may be currently having, have a purpose.  It doesn’t matter your age, a betrayal of friendship can cut to the heart.  At a recent women’s retreat I attended, the speaker made it very clear that forgiveness of a betrayal (no matter how big or small) does not mean that you have to automatically trust that person again. Forgiveness can be freely given ~ Trust must be earned.

Betrayal may feel like a wound that is impossible to heal ~ and you’re partly right…you can’t do it on your own.  Only our Comforter, the Holy Spirit can come in and bind that wound and heal it in order to make us stronger for what’s coming next.

Jesus is the best friend we can ever hope to find.  He will never betray you.  He will never use your vulnerability against you.  He will never sell you out.

He will always have your back. He will always care about your feelings.  He will always have time for you.

Jesus will always love you.  

Romans 8:38-39 declares,For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Oh, and one of my absolute favorite reminders of God’s love for me ~

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Blessings to you my friend,

René

2 Thessalonians 2 verses 16-17