Tag Archives: promises

risk

27 Apr

A turtle never moves forward until he sticks his neck out.

 

To move forward, you have to take some risks.

 

Check this out, the Bible is not a book that was written for our information, but for our transformation. When we choose to believe in the promises that God has to offer, when we actually apply those truths to our everyday lives, we will find the reward is well worth the effort.

 

Easier said that done though, right? In this life, it takes a lot of courage to risk everything on God’s promises. Like, when I put my hope in His promises, I’m pretty much betting my whole life on something I haven’t seen or experienced yet.

 

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)

 

 Which is where faith comes in I guess.

 

 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)

 

Maybe sometimes we are supposed to do things the hard way. If we constantly do the whole pain-avoidance strategy, playing it safe, never taking chances, never dreaming bigger than what we are now… because we are afraid to trust God, afraid He wont hold up His end, afraid He will disappoint, afraid He wont handle it the way we want Him to (the safe, easy, pain-free way we are comfortable with)… then we actually inflict greater pain on ourselves. It’s ironic. By trying to avoid pain, we end up with more of it.

 

For me at least, I feel like I actually learn more from my mistakes than my successes. Mistakes teach us more about ourselves, more about reality. Pain often does that I think. I try not to see mistakes as mistakes though – as long as I’ve learned something, it was worth it. And I most likely wont make the same mistake again. There’s something about “learning the hard way” that really sticks with you.

 

There are times when God invites us and leads us in a direction that we are scared or uncomfortable going, and we choose not to trust Him. But God has our best interests at heart. He truly, deeply LOVES and cares about you. He created you, He knows you better than anyone, and He wants you to reach your full potential – what you were created for! He wants your life to glorify Him.

 

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

 

If you have God on your side, what is stopping you?? Anything worthwhile is going to be hard to get. It’s worth the risk.

 

Stick your neck out.

 

And don’t stop. Its not always going to work out. Pain is part of life. Embrace it. As hard as it may be. Because if you keep avoiding pain, you’re going to miss out.  Dream big and pursue those dreams. Take the risk to follow wherever He is leading you.

 

Don’t let fear hold you back.

 

And when you come to a painful place, hold fast hope. Hold fast to the hope that you have in Christ, the promises and truth that He has provided. If you walk away from Him when things get tough, you will never experience all the awesome things God can do in spite of your seemingly hopeless situation. That’s what He does best – take the broken pieces and put them back together, even better than before. Beauty from ashes. He wants to bring you out of the dark mess you’re in, and into the bright fullness of life that only He offers.

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

 

Sin is reality. Pain is reality. Suffering is reality. Having God on your side does NOT mean everything is easy and pain-free, but it DOES mean that He is your ever-present help in times of need, your comforter, your protector, your peace that transcends understanding. He is love and He is good and He is on your side. He has a plan for you, He knows whats going on, and His timing is always perfect.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

So if you believe it, live like it.

 

In the Bible theres a story where Jacob wrestles with an angel (Gen 32:22-32). Now, I don’t presume to completely understand this story, but here’s the way I see it:  Jacob’s brother, Esau, wants to kill him because Jacob tricked him out of all his inheritance mulah. Esau is a big ol burly hunter with an army of like 400 bandits. Jacob is a little soft guy who likes to play with animals and talk to women. Esau could totally kill Jacob if he wanted to, which he did. So Jacob’s running away with his peeps to stay alive and they’re camping out one night, and Jacob decides to go off by himself to pray and be alone and sleep under the stars. Someone attacks him, they start fighting, turns out its an angel. (Weird.) They wrestle. The angel throws Jacob’s hip out of joint. Its uber-painful. Jacob keeps wrestling. All night. With a wrenched hip. He wont let go until he gets God’s blessing. The angel finally gives in a Jacob is given a new name. He goes from Jacob “the cheater”, to Israel “the overcomer”. The rest of his life he walks with limp. And a smile. 

 

Here’s what I get from this. Even when he is scared and in pain, Jacob wont let go of the angel until he receives a new name. He no longer wants to be known as a cheater, he wants God to give him a new name – he wants to be an overcomer. And God does just that. When Jacob cries out for God’s favor and protection, when he clings to His promise in the midst of a tough painful situation, God is faithful to bring him through. In Christ we are overcomers.

 

It’s a risk to live the life He calls us to. But it’s the only way to truly live. Don’t run from the pain, let God help you overcome it.

greater things

5 Apr

Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done here. (“God of This City” – Chris Tomlin)

Can God make something beautiful out of something so ugly?

I choose to believe the answer is yes.

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.

 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
       and restore the places long devastated;
       they will renew the ruined cities
       that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4)

So many promises.

1. Fix the broken hearts. Bind them up. Bandage them. Give them a bugs bunny bandaid and kiss it all better. He brings TRUE and complete healing.

2. Freedom. No longer a slave, no longer a captive, no longer shall we live in captivity. We have been set free. My chains have been left behind. I never have to wear them again. I may have marks where my chains once were, but remember how He brings true and complete healing? His mercy reigns. Unending love. Amazing grace.

3. Release from darkness. Release from the tight grip that darkness once held on us. That tight grip may have left bruises, but remember that thing about how He brings true and complete healing? (sensing a theme here)

4. Comfort all who mourn. Not just some people who mourn. And not condemnation, but comfort. A big hug. A tight embrace. An ear and a shoulder. This is still a mystery to me, honestly, as are most things with God I guess, but truth is truth. When I am mourning, when I am balling my eyes out so hard that my head is pouding and I feel like I cant even breathe, when I feel like all hope is lost, when Im overwhelmed with the “whys” and the “how could yous” and the “so unfairs” – you know exactly what I mean. When you have been hurt, and your anger has turned to mourning, He wants to comfort you. And He is more than capable (its beyond understanding) if you allow Him to.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)

5. A crown of beauty instead of ashes. This is one of my favorite lines in all the Bible. I think its because it hits right to the core. I am just ashes. Apart from God, I am nothing.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

And yet, in such a hopeless state, there IS hope. He wants to replace my ashes for beauty. He wants to trade nothing for something. And if youre trading nothing for something, its more like a gift, and not really a trade. Its giving life where there was only death. What love is this? That the King and Creator of the universe cares so much for me? For you and me. For ordinary people. That He gave his life for ours? Its insane. Its intense. Its all or nothing. I think thats why this is one of my favorite quotes:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Elliot)

6. Gladness instead of mourning. Not only does He comfort, but eventually, He wants to replace our mourning with gladness. Seem impossible? Honestly, yes. But thats another crazy thing about God, He loves doing the impossible. Because its not impossible for Him. And why wouldnt we want a God like that on our team?

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

7. Praise instead of a spirit of despair. Thinking back on times where my spirit was one of despair, and the furthest from praise, the furthest from victory, the furthest from the Truth… I did NOT feel like “praise”. Why would I praise God? I was so mad at Him! Praise was the furthest thing from my lips or heart. But I think that maybe if we truly get to know Him better, we understand the truth about who He really is. Not who we think He is. In times where we have a spirit of despair, when we are being suffocated by darkness and depression and hopelessness, if we cling to the REAL Truth – that even in all of this God is at work, making all things work out for our benefit and for His glory, even when we dont see it or understand it or think that its even possible – then maybe we will experience this promise, and we will be forever changed. We will never be the same. In Him we are overcomers.

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)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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. (Romans 8:37-39)

8. Rebuild, restore, renew the ruins and places long devastated. There are places in my life that look and feel like ruins, they have long been devastated. They were destroyed a long time ago. Is it even worth it to go back and rebuild? Why cant I just leave the ruins where they lie? Why cant I just let ruins be ruins? Let destruction reign victorious over just that one or two places? I dont know. Honestly. I think Im okay with some ruins. But apparently, He wants to restore those places – bring them back to life, back to functioning as they were meant to. True and complete healing? Seems like God is in the business of restoration and renewal. Of rebuilding what has been destroyed. Maybe thats why Jesus was a carpenter…. hmmmm!

So WHY?

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3b)

Oaks of righteousness – like a tree, a big strong glorious perfect-for-tree-climbing oak tree, with deep roots. Theres so much metaphor you could find in that, but the point is, you are “a planting of the LORD” – you are His, and He has made you into something awesome and mighty and strong…. He wants to make you into that, He wants to take whatever you are now, your ugly ashes, your nothingness, your ruins, your broken heart, your anger, your deep sorrow, and do what only He can do: make something from nothing. And not just something, but something awesome, something beautiful, complete, whole, and full of life. And when you allow that transformation to begin, when you accept His love and power into your dead and hopeless life, He works miracles. Thats just what He does. I dont understand it. But I want it. And I can have it. And so can you. Thats what Jesus offers. Change and transformation and love and compassion… and a billion other things, thats what He’s all about. And when God starts something, He finishes it.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)

God is continually at work in those who desire and follow Him. A life brought from darkness to light, from death to life, from ashes to beauty, is only done so through God’s transformational power. Therefore, our “new selves” bring glory to God, because He is the reason we have been made new and changed for the better. Freedom is only possible in Him. So we are for the “display of His splendor.” For His glory. Our purpose is to praise God.

When I think about the promises He has made, about who He really is (healer, love, freedom, joy, peace…) it helps put things in perspective. Remember the Truth. Speak it, live it. God is doing greater things than we know.