Redeeming all we Thought was Lost.

“That the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. 

 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 

Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.” Deuteronomy 30:3-13.

I have learned throughout the years that God has an amazing way of dealing with us in our brokenness and in our sin. As humans, I think we are quick to finalize things as being what they are forever and ever. For instance when we see a criminal, our first assumption is that he or she will always be a criminal. This is a very loose example, but I think you get the point. We inherently have very little grace-filled and redemptive responses to certain sins, crimes, and other negative behavior. Don’t get me wrong there is a definite need for discipline and correction, but there must be a balance.

There have been times in my life an in others that I have seen God redeem or bring back something that was thought to be lost. When I was younger, I had eczema and epilepsy, two ailments that kept me inside and by myself for long periods of time. My self-esteem would fluctuate and I never thought anyone would like me. People would tell me I was beautiful, but I did not believe them because I had “finalized” myself and my future. I was always going to be “ugly” and I was always going to be alone with no one to like me.

Then God stepped in, and He changed everything. I have the privilege of being married to a wonderful husband who swears that I am THE most beautiful women he’s ever seen in his entire life, and that I am the one he prayed for. How can this be? I thought this would never happen, how could I have gone through this awful time in my life and have things turned around so quickly? In my brokenness God gathered my heart back together, and showed me His plan for my life, which far outweighed  mine.

God is good. His mercies are new every morning, and He is the redeemer of what we thought was lost. He breaks the boundaries of second chances and creates third, forth, and fifth chances. He cares about our coming and going, and He loves to bless His children. If I can offer you any encouragement as you read this it would be to know that our redeemer lives, and he’s not finished with us yet.

(Image: Pexels.com)


 

 

 

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Galatians 4

Wonderful words of truth and hope!

Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

Galatians 4 has Paul talking about our status as Christ Followers in relationship to God.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born  of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”.  This is no small thing that God has done for us.  He gave His only Son to redeem us as sinners to His righteous standards.  But more than that, He adopted us as His very own children. We’re not outsiders granted a gift, we are taken in as His very own and become part of His family and He becomes our Father!

What an amazing gift of grace. But the impact of God’s decision to love us that way and adopt us as His very own means we will always be a child of His.  Our future…

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Race Has Nothing To Do With It.

I’m sure you are wondering what in the world I could possibly be talking about here. Well, it may not be a soothing social justice blog about how us African- American people are terribly oppressed in this white America we find ourselves living in, nor is it a post about how America is the worst place on earth. It’s simply about how, when it comes to faith and our actions as a human being, race has absolutely nothing to do with it.

 

Ephesians 2:11-16 talks about the reconciliation of the Jews and the Gentiles by Jesus in that time saying, ” Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

Another wonderful example of how we need the love and help from God to do most anything, and when we experience the benefits of following Him and learning from Him, we see how insufficient we can be.  I often get bored of hearing people say, “let’s have a dialogue about it” or “let’s start the conversation” when we never really get anywhere with the conversation or the dialogue. Now I am certainly not against someone wanting to share about a real life racist encounter that they had, those situations should be handled with care and swiftness to find a solution, but very little gets accomplished when we sit in groups and discuss what we don’t like about the other race.

Instead I suggest that we begin to literally open up the word of God and see what the true problem is. The problem isn’t white people, the problem isn’t black people, the problem isn’t white privilege, the problem isn’t “the system”, the problem is our hearts.  As you can see in the scripture I added, it took help from God to tear down those dividing walls that kept the Jews and Gentiles from enjoying and maintaining peace and equality. Jesus didn’t say, “Okay I want you all to meet at the river and have the conversation.” He literally went and died on a cross so I could look at someone that’s a different color or creed than me with the love of God in my heart. So I could bear my brother and sister’s burdens in times of need, and during worship I can join hands with a fellow believer and worship the same God who unifies us all.

You will not find any of Jesus’ words to say, “Oh black people, you don’t have to like or love any white people and it’s okay to hold hate in your heart against them because of what they did to your ancestors.” Or, “oh white people, favored of God and man, I want you to remember that other races are beneath you and you have every right to belittle them.”

Sorry friends, that’s not what it says in my bible!

We are to love one another with the love of God, to forgive each other and to uphold and uplift one another when they are down. When you follow God there is no excuse for holding hate in your heart towards anyone for any reason. So that’s why I say race has nothing to do with it. If you walk down the street and someone throws a rock at you and yells out a racial slur, sure that was a racially charged incident but if you take out the race card and go deep into that person’s heart you will find hate, and the symptom of that sin is racism.

Take a young girl who calls another girl fat and ugly, sure she had no right to say those things but you look at her heart and you’ll find pride and possibly wickedness, her words were just a symptom of the sin.

So I say again, race has nothing to do with it.

(picture from: Pexels.com)

Rejoice in The Hard Times.

sorrow_editedConsider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face various trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2,3)

Reading theses words always put me in such a strange spot spiritually. I know that I am supposed have joy in all things, but am I really supposed to consider it PURE joy when I face various trials? I don’t think James made a typo here, and the more I live the more they start to become true in my own life.

This past year, although it has been full of wonderful memories and moments, has been the longest year of my life. I have been through things that I hope most people don’t ever have to go through. I found myself in a really low place and I felt like God was far from me. In my bible, the verses above led me to Acts 5:17-42 which talks about the apostles of God suffering for His sake. In the story the Sadducees were upset that these men were preaching and teaching the name of Jesus and had them arrested and put in a public jail. During the night an angel of the Lord came and released the men and told them to continue teaching. They did as they were told  and continued preaching the next day. The Sanhedrin (a full assembly of the elders of Israel) saw this and became angry again and wanted to murder the apostles. Then a pharisee named Gamaliel stopped them and reminded the Sanhedrin of previous men who come to Jerusalem in the past who taught certain things and created a stir and how eventually they failed and what they did didn’t last.  Because of this he said  “If their purpose or activity is of human origin it will fail, but if it is from God you will not be able to stop these men: you will only find yourself fighting God.” Then the apostles were let go by the Sanhedrin after being flogged, and they rejoiced because they knew they had suffered for Christ’s sake.

The thing about this story that shocks me is that these men did not back down or fear. At no point did they say to themselves, “Well I guess God really isn’t with us because this wasn’t supposed to happen.” they kept the faith and continued on in the Lord. So much so that when they were flogged (a public beating, meant to be humiliating, usually resulting in multiple lashes) and released they left with joy and they were rejoicing because they knew that they had just suffered for Christ’s sake. I can’t really recollect a time in my life that I have rejoiced when I was hurting, or when I was criticized for my faith. This is some serious food for thought, especially in the world we live in.

How do we have joy when we get treated unfairly in the workplace or even in our own homes? How do we have joy when we are struggling with sorrow and sadness, when everyone has left and we find ourselves in the pit of anger and frustration? How do we have joy while living in a country that is continually turning it’s back on God and forsaking his commandments? It’s hard to imagine a solution, but I assure you and my own self, there is one, and His name is Jesus.

Yes, just Jesus. He endured things we may not ever even begin to endure here in America, and He did that not so we wouldn’t ever face any trials, but that we wouldn’t remain there, and so we wouldn’t be consumed by them. Last week I went to a near by county fair and among the booths at the fair there was a station were you could buy a clam/oyster to crack open and find the pearl inside which you could keep and take home. I hung around and watched these two young girls begin the process of getting the pearl out. They sat there for at least 5 minutes trying their best to crack open the shell of the oyster, using a knife-like tool to try and pry it open here and there. Pulling at it and cracking off certain loose pieces. Then finally, one girl got one open, she was so excited as she pulled apart the insides and searched around for the precious pearl.

This reminds me so vividly of what God does to us. Sometimes we must go through those rough times in order to be broken apart. And after we are broken apart if we allow Him, God will produce something precious in us, and after all the picking and tearing breaking, He will search for us, for that special part of us that He, through all the trials, made beautiful and pleasing to Him. If I hadn’t gone through all the things I went through this year, I would even be able to write this blog post to encourage you. I would still be naive concerning certain things of life.

“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face various trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Let this be your prayer. Those apostles had something precious, they had the joy of the Lord. After they were broken and pulled apart they produced the precious joy of the Lord. If you are suffering for Christ’s sake He will not leave you. I pray that God helps his children to remember that we have a prize ahead, a constant help in times of need. Let God lift your head, let Him have his way in you because His way is always good.