The Archway of Trust

Now you are ready, my bride, to come with me as we climb the highest peaks together. Come with me through the archway of trust. -Song of Songs 4:8a Passion Translation

In Song of Songs chapter 4, verse 8, we are given an invitation by Jesus, our bridegroom. He invites us, his bride, to go away with him. He tells us that the way to go is through the archway of trust. 

Trust. The opposite of doubt and unbelief. You cannot trust someone if you hold any doubt or unbelief towards them. As we looked at yesterday, this is is exactly why the enemy continuously tries to cast doubt on the goodness of God. His endgame is to get us to stop trusting the Lord, and to become complacent, compromised, and disobedient to Gods Word.

Going through the archway of trust is not easy. It is also not a one time thing. Looking back on my life I have walked under this archway. I have also yielded to fear at times and ran back out from the archway back into the safety of the “known and controlled” way of life.

I am just one in a long line of people that have have started walking through the archway of trust and then allowed fear to come in. Peter stepped out of the boat in a grand moment of trust, and seconds later looked at the storm, realized what he was doing, freaked out, and started to sink.

The disciples spent three years with Jesus, not only watching, but also performing miracles. They had walked away from the lives they knew. Literally walked away mid shift dropping their nets, leaving their boats, walking away from the tax booth. They trusted Jesus with EVERYTHING, because he was literally all they had. Yes- they walked (more like ran) through the archway of trust.

They lived a life of faith and awe watching water turn into wine, bread and fish be multiplied, thousands being healed, and even people being raised from the dead. Yet on the day of Jesus crucifixion, where were they? They were hightailing it back out of the archway as fast as they could. Hiding and shaking in fear, certain they were next to die.

Trust is a big thing to God. After all, how can you truly love or be loved by someone you don’t trust. Even a small about of doubt and distrust will hinder a relationship. I believe that is why God allows us to walk through so many archways of trust. He is building us up to a place where we stop asking questions, stop listening to the enemy, and simply move at the sound of His voice, without any hesitation.

Let’s go back to where we left the Israelites a couple days ago. They were camped at the Red Sea. They were facing the mountain of the the false god of the sea and the Egyptians were approaching them to wipe them out. They were trapped. There were crying out to Moses, who was crying out to God.

God’s response “Quit your crying and move” (Jen Gilbert translation :). He told Moses to raise his rod and part the sea. Umm…ok…sure…

Raising his rod was a step towards the archway of trust. God responded by causing the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided -Exodus 14:21.

Moses moved. God moved.

That’s just the beginning. They still had to walk through it. Can you imagine what that was like? Can you imagine the fear, doubt and unbelief that would try to creep in? I love to imagine those moments. You are walking THROUGH the Red Sea. If you look to the left you may see a whale with his mouth open just waiting to have you and your family for lunch. On the right may be a bunch of jellyfish waiting to sting you. Or forget the sea creatures, “what if” the water suddenly comes crashing down on you? There are over 2 million of you and grandma is ahead of you walking slow as ever so this is literally going to take FOREVER!

Ok, so don’t look to the left or to the right, and don’t think about the waters crashing down, or how long this is going to take. Just look ahead. Wait. We are walking TOWARDS the mountain of the false god of the sea! What if he isn’t false? What if he really is the god of the sea? I bet he isn’t happy that Moses messed with his sea and divided it like this. Well isn’t this just super…

I set my face like a flint and I walk through the waters.

They moved. They were probably freaked out the entire time, but they moved.

They moved. God moved.

God moved by taking the wheels off the chariots of the Egyptians, so they drove them with difficulty (ok- how fantastic is that?!) At that point the Egyptians realized that they were no match for the God of Israel. They tried to turn tail and run, but it was too late. The waters closed in and drowned them all. It says in Exodus 14:28 that not one of them remained.

We move. God moves. We go first. Catch that? WE GO FIRST. It’s time to stop waiting for the waters to divide in our lives before we take a step. WE MOVE FIRST. We listen for what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to us through His written or spoke Word and then we move. And we TRUST that He will move. And His moves are AWESOME. But here’s the deal, He cannot move until we do. WE MOVE FIRST.

Is there something in your life God is telling you to do? Is there an archway of trust He is inviting you to come through with Him? Understand that He is building your relationship. It needs to be established on trust. Despite the whales, jellyfish, and mountains, you need to MOVE. The beautiful thing is God has ALREADY moved before us in ways we do not know. He is simply building up our faith so we stop running back to the false safety of a life lived in the boat, or on dry land, but never ON the water.

Dear Heavenly father, thank you for the Divine invitation to come away with you through the archway of trust. Thank you for making a way where there is no way. Thank you for your patience and mercy during all the times I have refused to move. I want to build my relationship with you Lord. I want to trust you with EVERYTHING Lord. Holy Spirit help me to know the move you want me to make right not in my life. I trust that as I move, you move. Lead me today through the archway of trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Running through the archway,

Jen

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MOVE!

He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. -Matthew 17:20 AMPC

Last time I wrote I said we would pick up where I left off. Little did I know it would take me over 5 weeks to “pick up” again.

I am sure you need a little refresher- after all it has been 5 weeks… We talked about dead-ends and how God deliberately allows our journey to include dead ends as part of His perfect plan. We were using the account in Exodus 14 as our study guide. If you would like to reread the post you can do so here.

When the Israelites got to the dead end, God told them to retrace their steps and then He gave very specific instructions. They were to “turn around and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea.”

Allow me to explain the significance of their location. God told them to camp facing Baal Zephon. Baal Zephon was a cult mountain of worship. Baal Zephon was the false god of the storm and sea. People gathered to worship and offer sacrifices to this false god, and many truly believed he was the god of the sea. Anytime you see Baal in the Bible it is referencing a false god. There are thousands of false gods that people had, and continue to worship in the world. This one just so happened to be the God of the storm and sea. So God has the Israelites camp facing the Red Sea as they stared at the mountain of the false god of the sea on the other side of the sea.

When the Egyptians come after the Israelites, they are cornered. They are backed against the Red Sea and the mountain of the false god of the sea is in front of them, staring them in the face. And here comes the entire Egyptian army, including hundreds of chariots. The Israelites go into panic mode. They are crying out to Moses saying “Why did you bring us out here to die? It would’ve been been better for us to serve the Egyptians than coming out here to die in the wilderness!”  Moses is trying to calm them down and then God speaks to Moses and says “Why do you cry to me? Tell the children of Israel to move forward towards the sea”.

Can I just stop here for a moment and say I am not sure why God tells Moses to stop crying out to him. I don’t read anywhere that Moses cried out to God. I have looked at over 15 translations and they all say the children of Israel were crying to Moses and Moses was calming them down when the Lord spoke to Moses. If any of you have any understanding or revelation on that please let me know as I am still puzzled by it. Perhaps the Lord was reading Moses’ heart at the time and even though Moses was trying to calm the others down, he himself was freaking out as well.

So God tells them to move towards the sea while staring at the mountain of the false god of the sea. They may even have been able to hear the worship and sacrifices occurring on the mountain. He then instructs Moses to lift up his rod and stretch it out over the sea to divide it. As Moses does that the Angel of God moves from the front of the camp to the back of the camp standing in between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front of the camp to the back of the camp so the Egyptians could not see anything.

I know this is a lot of Bible talk, but we need to see the significance in the details because whether we believe and accept it or not, our faith journey closely models that of the the Israelites, including the things they did wrong.

You see, in the midst of the moment, the Israelites failed to remember that the Lord Himself was WITH THEM. He was with them in the pillar of fire. He was with them in the cloud. He had also assigned the Angel of God to lead and go before them. Despite this provision and protection, when trouble came they freaked out. They were more aware of the situation around them and what they could see, then they were of God’s presence.

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself acting like the Israelites. I see the situation. I see the problem. I see the mountain in front of me and the enemy behind me. I cry out to God, not with faith but with a “why did you bring me here to die in this place?” mentality.

That’s where I have been for the last 5 weeks in fact. I have been camped out in front of my false god mountain. I didn’t know what the mountain was at the time. All I knew is that I was stuck and staring at a mountain, unable to move forward.

Camped out. Staring at the mountain. Crying out to God to deliver me out of the hands of my enemies. Getting angry when nothing changes. Crying more. Crying louder. Getting angrier until finally I am out of tears and exhausted. I give up. I move to plan B which is trying to ignore God. After all, if He isn’t going to answer me, I am going to ignore Him. Hey- I am being transparent with you because it’s What Real Women Do

My Bible time is flat. My prayers are half-hearted. My frustration and my excuses increase. I am in pain. My heart is breaking. Why do I have to believe there is more for me? Why can’t I just be content with the fantastic life I have? Why am I compelled to share the love of God but have no idea where, when and how I am to do that? Why can’t I just be happy watching tv and living a life of distraction like many people?

God is good. His Word is true. He says he will never leave us or forsake us. He says he pursues us daily with his goodness. It’s true. In the midst of me running from him he pursued me. He woke me up two days ago at 4am with a vivid image of the mountain I was facing. The name of the mountain was FEAR and I had allowed it to become real in my life. Fear of failure. Fear of missing it. Fear of trying again. Fear of stepping out. Fear of not being able to survive one more disappointment. Fear of dying in the wilderness and never crossing over into my Promised Land. FEAR. FEAR. FEAR.

I would like to say I jumped out of bed ready to face my fear, but I didn’t. I stayed in bed drifting in and out of sleep still arguing with God that I was too tired to fight anymore. I didn’t care. I have a good life and I am going to learn to be content with it. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone…

I don’t know why I bother arguing with God. Never once have I won. The last two days have been horrible. I have tried so hard to ignore the mountain that was revealed to me. I have kept busy. I have distracted myself. But God is relentless. Everywhere I turn I see the mountain. I hear God whisper things like “Speak to it”.  Yesterday He brought me to Deuteronomy 2:2-3“You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn north”. I tell you, He is relentless in His pursuit! He will allow you to be miserable until you listen to Him!

We may not have the rod Moses had. The rod of Moses is the one thing Amazon doesn’t sell (I just checked :). We have something better. We have the Word of God. It is a living Word. When we believe that our words carry the same Authority that Jesus carried (He tells us that many times yet we don’t truly believe it), we can speak to the mountain and tell it to move.

So here I am. Staring at the mountain of fear in front of me. Fear that says I just wasted two hours of my day writing this. Fear of lost time. Fear of hope deferred. Fear of people thinking I am a weirdo. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of another disappointment and dead end.

Despite that stupid mountain I choose to believe God’s Word that says all I need is a MUSTARD SEED of faith. I have that. I have a mustard seed’s worth of faith. Not in me, but in God’s Word. I speak to that mountain of fear and say “MOVE!” I am no longer staring at you. I am turning north. I am looking to Jesus, the Author (love it) and perfecter of my faith.

I share this Word with you in hopes that you too will face your mountain. We all have them. But we don’t need to be ruled by them any longer. It’s time to wake up to who we are. It’s time to speak to the mountains and may MOVE- FROM HERE TO YONDER- MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your relentless love. Forgive me for my fear, doubt, and unbelief. Forgive me for running from you. Thank you for pursuing me daily with your love, mercy, goodness, and grace. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for your Promises. Holy Spirit I ask you to reveal any mountains in my life that have dominion over me. Teach me how to use my rod, your Word, to declare and decree that the mountains in my life MUST MOVE and yield to the plan and purposes you have for me. Thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!

Moving mountains,

Jen

 

 

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Pass the Faith Please!

And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up out of Egypt’.- Exodus 13:8

According to Wikipedia, approximately 276 million Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving today.  From sea to shining sea families will gather around the dinner table to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. For those celebrating with the traditional feast there will be a lot of “Pass the turkey please! Pass the mashed potatoes please! Pass the gravy please!”

Even as I type this I see families gathered. I see them laughing and passing the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. And I hear the Lord say “Pass the Faith please!”

Yesterday we took a quick look at the Passover meal. The Lord instructed the Israelites in Exodus 13:3 to observe the Passover meal each year in remembrance of the day He delivered them out of Egypt. In Exodus 13:8 the Lord goes on to say And you shall tell your son, that this is done because of what the Lord did for me! (paraphrased)

The most important thing we can pass on to our children is faith. It is good to share with our children what God has done in our lives. It is good to pass on the stories of God’s faithfulness. It is even good to pass on the stories of our trials and tribulations to show our children that God is with us and brings us through every fire we face.

I grew up Lutheran. I am thankful for my Reformation roots. I love the traditional hymns (even though I find them impossible to sing in tune to). The psalmists of the early Lutheran church truly understood the gospel and Lutheran hymns are some of the most God honoring worship songs to this day.

Another observation I have made about many Lutherans, is that even though they love Jesus, they are very polite and quiet about their faith. I believe that is largely in part to the Scandinavian and Norwegian roots of many Lutherans. Though my mom and dad rarely engaged in conversations of faith with me as a child, I still learned faith from them.

My dad passed on the importance of serving in your local church. He ushered most Sundays. Though we used to tease him saying his favorite part of ushering was the fact that the guys went downstairs and had coffee during the sermon, I knew better. My dad was a humble man. He was a farmers son. He knew the importance of serving and giving. He ushered with a smile on his face and loved to tease. He never once said “Jenny, now when you grow up it’s your duty to serve in church.” He didn’t have to. I simply observed him and loved him for it, even if it took me years to realize it.

My mom passed on the importance of time alone with God in Bible study, as well as time with others in study. She starts every day with her coffee and her Bible. Even when we go to the cabin as a family she sneaks away in the morning to have her alone time with God. She has also been part of a church Bible study and women’s Bible study for as long as I can remember.

I was blessed two years ago to “crash” her senior Bible study to do a 10 week study on Luther and the Reformation. There was many years of faith coming together on those evenings. I am grateful for that study. It was exciting as an adult to go back and learn the roots and foundation of the faith I grew up in. I am sure I learned about them during confirmation but lets be honest- I was most likely more interested in the cute boy across the table than I was about Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door 🙂

My mom also passed on the gift of pure worship. When I was a teen attending church with my mom (while my dad was downstairs drinking coffee with the other ushers :), I remember her singing so loud. I am ashamed to say that there were times I was embarrassed by how loud she sang (Lets be honest as a teen you are embarrassed by just about everything your parents do in public. For example, things like breathing…)

Many years ago I was at church with my mom. It must have been a Mother’s Day or Christmas Eve service. She was still singing loud and proud. Instead of being embarrassed, I smiled. I now understood her. I understood her heart. She loves Jesus. She has a hard time expressing it to others, but she can express it in worship. She passed that on to me as well. When my family goes to church I am in the middle, hands raised and singing as loud as I can. My teens get embarrassed but they are also used to it. My hubby stands stiff and quiet and I just go ahead and worship loud enough for the four of us. I am passing on what was passed to me. Someday they will get it.

Today as you gather, I encourage you to pass the faith in whatever way you can. Some of you will share stories. Some of you will simply lead with love. Some of you may even be moved to seek or extend forgiveness to a family member, and in doing that you are passing on faith!

Enjoy your ThanksOver today. May you heart and bellies be filled with everything good! May you feel the love of Abba Father surround you as you go forth in your day. May you have the grace for all circumstances in your day. May you pass the faith in whatever way the Lord gives you to share. And please consider sharing in a comment below the ways you either pass on faith today, or have had faith passed on to you!

Today’s prayer is in honor of my Lutheran roots. It is a prayer I heard at the end of every service growing up and even today when I visit. It is a blessing from the Lord found in Numbers 6:24-26:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace”

Passing the Faith,

Jen

 

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One In a Million

Now the Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides [the women and] the children. Exodus 12:37

We are told that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, there were six hundred thousand men along with women and children. Commentaries vary, but on average they determine between two to three million Israelites left Egypt following God’s mighty display of glory and power.

Do you know how many out of the two million made it to the Promised Land?

Two! Only two made it!

Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were found to be faithful. They were the only two that could be trusted with the Promised Land. The only two that passed every test and trial of the wilderness. I guess you could say that the odds of making it into the Promised Land were one in a million. A little better than winning the Powerball, but not much.

My question is, are our odds any better? How many of us will make it to our Promised Land?

I am not talking about salvation. The Word tells us in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. I am talking about our Promised Land- our full inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High God. There is a difference.

Our full inheritance includes the fulfillment of every Promise God gives us in His written and spoken word. It includes healing, provision, wisdom, revelation, blessing, peace, favor, hope, authority, and so much more.

Now you may be reading this thinking “I am sick, anxious, broke, and defeated. When does this ‘full inheritance’ happen?”

I’m glad you asked :). It happens when we, like the Israelites, come through our wilderness season victorious. It comes when we pass every test and trial with a grit and determination to believe God’s promises regardless of what our current situation may look like.

It’s not easy. After all- the odds for the Israelites were one in a million! I confess I am not living in the fullness yet, though I will tell you this- I am a whole lot closer than I was a year ago. I am a whole lot closer than I was a week ago. I am even closer than I was yesterday. Determined to pass the tests and trials, I am taking a step each and every day onto MY Promised Land, until I fully possess it!

So you may be thinking “If the odds were one in a million for the Israelites, how in the world do I stand a chance?”

That, my Beloveds, is the beauty of God’s Word. The account of the Israelite journey through the wilderness has been given to us so that we do not fall into the same traps and temptations that they fell into. We will study and see where they “missed it” so that we won’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

Oh we have ALL made many of the same mistakes the Israelites did. You will see that as we move forward in our study. However- we must read these things in light of the new covenant. The blood of Jesus covers our multitude of sin and mistakes and even though we have failed the tests time and time again, His grace is sufficient to carry us through. His mercies are new each day, ready to be poured out on those that will go to Him to receive it.

So rejoice daughters of the living God! There is still time to receive our full inheritance! There is still time to pass the tests and trials of this world! There is still time to possess your Promised Land! But we must study so we do not continue to stumble.

I encourage you to start thinking about your Promised Land. What do you need from Abba Father? What things in your life are not lining up with God’s Word? What are the things the Lord has spoken to your heart about the plans and purposes He has for your life? Take a few minutes today to write down the desires of your heart. Don’t judge them. Whatever comes to your heart- write it down, and keep it before you. Do not lose sight of YOUR land!

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your written Word that is a lamp unto my feet. I thank you that you have recorded your Promises for us to stand upon. I thank you for recording the journeys of those that have gone before us so that we can learn how to be victorious and how to possess our land. Holy Spirit, reveal to me the deep desires of my heart. The desires I once had. The desires I have given up on. The desires that YOU have for ME! I ask for the grace to believe your Promises as I stand in the midst of my wilderness. Help me to see every circumstance as You see them. Help me to keep my eyes on You as I take steps towards my full inheritance. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen!

Beating the One in a Million Odds,

Jen

 

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Into His Own Presence

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault— Colossians 1:22

I know it may seem like ages ago, but just a couple weeks ago we spent a few days looking at what it means to be reconciled to God. We learned among other things that it means to be set apart, dedicated for a purpose, and restored. Today we will look at why God reconciled us to Himself.

The way I see it, the reason why God reconciled us to Himself is simple. He missed us. He missed communing with us. He missed walking with us. He missed talking with us. He missed rejoicing at His marvelous work.

God wanted to get back to the garden days just as much as we do. He created us to be with Him. However, once we became tainted with sin, our sinful bodies could no longer stand the glory of his presence and His pure and holy nature could not be in the presence of our sin.

God hates sin. He hates it because it takes us away from Him. He hates it because it destroys the ones He lovingly and thoughtfully created. He does NOT however, hate the sinner. He longs to restore those ensnared in sin. He longs to once again see us as He created us to be, not as we currently are.

I believe we often overlook two very important facts from the story of Adam and Eve. We often boil it down to “Adam and Eve sinned so God kicked them out of the garden.” It can leave us with a “you better watch out or God is going to get you” mentality.

However, when you read the story you see two things that reveal how much God still loved Adam and Eve despite their sin. First, we see in Genesis 3:21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. Immediately after God told them what their sin had done He brought them covering, the first sacrifice recorded in the Bible, for their sin. He did not want them to remain naked, afraid, and full of shame.

As for escorting them out of the garden, this too was an act of love. It says in Genesis 3:22 “Look- man has become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever”. 

God banished them from the garden because He did not want them to live forever in their broken condition. They had already proven their inability to follow one simple rule “do not eat from this one tree”. Wouldn’t it be such a different story if the tree they ate from was the tree of life, rather than the tree of good and evil? God never told them they couldn’t eat from the tree of life. It says He placed two trees in the garden, but He only told them not to eat one of them.

Oh but if they would have eaten from the tree of life the story would end right there. There would be no need for us. More importantly, there would be no need for a Savior! Though this earthly life stinks sometimes, I am happy to be part of God’s marvelous and often mysterious plan!

There is one more thing I want you to remember from the story of Adam and Eve, Though they were sent out of the garden, they were not sent away from God. We know this because later on in Genesis 4 we read the story of Cain and Abel. We see that they brought gifts to God. We also read that God spoke to Cain. He even warned him about the sin that was trying to ensnare him. Oh if only Cain had listened. If only we would listen!

Thank God for his marvelous and mysterious plan to redeem and reconcile us! Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, God no longer sees our sin. There is no record of it either (so please do not believe the horrible teaching that when you get to heaven you see a highlight reel of all of your sins and mistakes!). Your sin is forgiven and forgotten. You now have the ability to commune with God in His presence. When He looks at you He sees you as pure and blameless, as He created you to be, not as you currently are. If that doesn’t make you love Him, I don’t know what will!

If you find yourself ensnared in sin, or hiding in the bushes full of shame from your past sin, please understand that God has not kicked you out of the garden. He has not banished you from His presence. The blood of Jesus has reconciled you completely to God. You can go before Him day or night with confidence that when He looks at you He sees you as pure and blameless. He sees you right now, today, as the Girl He created you to be, not as the Girl you currently are.

As for the gap between who He created you to be, and who you currently are, Jesus is the one that promises to fill that gap so you may run your race and live out the plans and purpose God has for you and your life. Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce and faithful love towards me. Thank you for reconciling me to yourself through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for seeing me as pure, blameless, and without fault. Help me to see myself as you see me. Help me let go of my past sins and failures so I can be free to be me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Time In His Presence,

Jen

 

 

 

 

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Jesus, Your Eternal BFF

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. -Colossians 1:21

Last night at youth group we invited students to come up to the alter after service if they needed prayer. I had three girls come to me and ask me to pray for them regarding their friendships.

Each of them were dealing with friendship hurts. They are at the age where they are best friends one day and enemies the next. Middle and high school is a tough place filled with gossip, betrayal, back stabbing and hurtful words.

Seeing the hurt and confusion in their eyes broke my heart and brought me back to those years. I don’t think any of us escape experiencing the horrible feeling of losing a friend. It especially hurts when it is for reasons unknown to us. We wonder what we did wrong. We wonder what is wrong with us. We wonder if things will ever be the same again.

The worst is the panic feeling that we have knowing we have shared EVERYTHING with our best friend. They know our secrets, our failures, our dreams, and our crushes. We know that these things will most likely be revealed to others and used against us. We walk down the hall wondering who knows which of our secrets. We assume every snicker is directed towards us. We wish we could hide in our locker or under a desk until the next victim of the week is revealed.

The more girls experience friendship hurts, the harder it is for them to develop true friendships. They carry around hurt upon hurt. They bring these hurts into future relationships. Many never truly recover from them.

I know many women that seem as though they are thirteen year old girls stuck in forty year old bodies. They carry their past friendship hurts with them. The workplace is filled with the same high school behavior such as gossip, cliques, cool kids, bullies, double standards, and back stabbing. Lord help us!

We are told in Romans 5:10 Our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son. Yes, Jesus is our friend. He is our confidant. He is the keeper of secrets. He is the One we can go to no matter what mood we are in. He loves us when we are happy, sad, silly, angry, hurt, or confused. He is the best listener and problem solver. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will also NEVER betray you!

Not only does He want to be your best friend today and forever, He also wants to heal your past hurts. If there are any hurts you are carrying around from your youth, or even as an adult, He would love nothing more than to heal your heart and set you free. You can trust Him with everything. He will never ever use your failures or feelings against you. He will never reveal them to others. He will never reject you.

If you feel hurt for any reason today, I encourage you to take your hurts to Jesus, your eternal best friend. Pour your heart out to him. He already knows your hurts. He wants to heal them. He is waiting for you to come to Him so you may experience His perfect love and redeeming grace. He will restore your ability to love, trust, share, and do life with others without fear!

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Thank you for restoring my friendship with you through your Son. Thank you for being my hiding pace in times of trouble. Thank you for being my refuge and strength. Thank you for promising to never leave me or forsake me. Thank you for caring about the details of my life. Thank you for healing all of my hurts as I pour them out to you. In Jesus; name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Eternal Friendship For Us All,

Jen

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Restored to Innocence

 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!-Colossians 1:20 The Passion Translation

Yes, this is the same verse again. However, it is in a different translation :). If you recall, the previous translation read; and through Christ God reconciled everything to himself.

We looked at the word reconcile and learned it means to be set apart, dedicated for a purpose, and restored. We spent the last two days looking at what it means to be set apart and dedicated for a purpose. Today we are going to wrap up this verse by looking at what it means to be restored.

Restore: to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank

Brought back to an original condition. What original condition? Put back to a former place, position or rank. What was our former place, position, and rank? In order to understand all we have been restored to, we need to look at what our original condition, place, position and rank were.

The verse does not point us back to ourselves. Our original condition was not something we want to be restored back to. According to Psalm 51:5, we are born sinners. Yes, we may be born innocent in the sense that we haven’t outwardly sinned, but we are born with the same sinful nature that was brought into the world the day Adam and Eve fell for the serpents lies.

What is it then that we are restored to? What happens when we accept the Good News that Jesus bore and paid for all of our sins and infirmities on the cross so we would not have to? What happens when we realize all of our sins (past, present, and future) are truly forgiven? What happens when we realize we can now go boldly before the throne of grace and pour out our requests to the King of King and Lord of Lords? What happens when we truly understand that when God looks at us today He sees us as pure and blameless?

I will tell you what I believe happens. I believe we are restored to the original condition, place, position, and rank that Adam and Eve were in before they sinned. The condition, place, position, and rank are things I get very excited over.

In Genesis 1:28 God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them to fill the earth and govern it. They are to reign over all of the animals and fish and birds. We read in Genesis 3:8 that God was walking in the garden looking for Adam and Eve. We also learn that Adam was so close to God that he knew the sound of God walking and could clearly hear his voice.

These verses show us a very close and intimate relationship between Adam and God. They walked and talked together. God gave Adam authority over all that was on the earth. God provided everything Adam could ever need and Adam didn’t have to struggle to provide for his family.

We all know what happened. Adam and Eve broke the only rule God gave them and lost their innocence. They lost their authority. They lost their place in the garden.

According to today’s verse everything that Adam lost was restored in Jesus. Once again we have the ability to be with God in his presence, to talk to him and hear from him in his still small voice. Our sins have been forgiven and we have been declared innocent. We find rest in Jesus and no longer have to struggle and toil for provision.

I like to sit and imagine what the garden must have been like. I imagine the colors and smells were amazing. I picture walking by a lion and scratching behind his ear like he’s Cat. I picture it being about 75 and sunny all the time. I think how crazy it must’ve been to walk alongside the Creator of the Universe. The hardest thing to imagine is ever being okay walking around naked…

Maybe we don’t have the colors, smells, and ability to play with lions at this time, but we do have the best part of the garden. We have the ability to have a close, intimate relationship with God. As the old hymn goes, he walks with me and he talks with me. That privilege and blessing came through the blood of Jesus, and through him we have been restored. Don’t let the enemy try to deceive you out of that truth- his MO hasn’t changed since he first slithered up to Eve.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for being the God of restoration. Thank you for bringing us back to our place and position through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for bringing us back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Complete Restoration For Us All,

Jen

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Dedicated To A Life Of Purpose

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Yes, we are still on this short verse. If you recall from yesterday we looked at the definition of the word reconcile. We discovered that reconcile means: to set apart, to dedicate for a purpose, and to restore. We spent our time focusing on what it means to be set apart. Today we will look at what it means to be dedicated for a purpose.

For those of you who know me, you know the word purpose can put me into a bit of a tizzy. When I start asking myself what my purpose is, and whether or not I am fulfilling it, I can easily end up in a pit of frustration and even despair. I need to self talk my way out of the pit as I remind myself what God has to say about the plans and purposes He has for our lives.

It says in 2 Timothy 1:9 for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling [a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose] not because of our works [or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this], but because of His own purpose and grace 

This verse reminds us that God is the one who has set us apart through Christ, and there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve our set apart status. It also tells us that a life set apart is in itself purposeful. Lastly, we see that He has done this amazing work in us to fulfill His own purpose in our lives.

To me that is not only Good News, it is great news! I am assured that since He has his own purpose for my life, He will in fact see to it that it is fulfilled. We haven’t been set apart by grace and then left to struggle and figure out on our own, how to live our set apart, purposeful lives. No! We have been set apart by His grace, and our purposes will be fulfilled by His grace.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us Many plans are in a man’s mind, But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out).

It is good to dream big and make future plans as long as we understand that in the end, God’s plans for us are the ones that will be carried out. There is no need to worry or waste time wondering if we are living out our purpose (preaching to myself here). Our job is to believe that God has good plans for us (because He tells us he does in Jeremiah 29:11) and trust that He will see those plans fulfilled in our lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for setting me apart for your purpose. Thank you for your Word that promises you will see that my purpose is fulfilled. Thank you for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for your grace in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Life of Purpose,

Jen

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Your Set Apart Status

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Last week when we looked at the verse above we focused on the word everything. I wanted to make sure you were firmly grounded in the truth that YOU are included in the word everything. Every single thing on earth has been reconciled to God through Jesus’ death on the cross. This includes you!

Now that we know we are all included, lets take a look at what it is we are actually included in.

Reconcile: to re-consecrate: (to once again make or declare sacred; set apart, or dedicated for a purpose to the service of a deity)

to restore: (to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank)

In reading the definition for the word reconcile we discover that we have been set-apart, dedicated for a purpose, and brought back to our original condition.

God has set apart many things for Himself. In a quick study of scripture, you will see, among other things, He has:

  • Set apart the Jews as his own special possession
  • Set apart the Levites as his royal priesthood
  • Set apart cities of refuge
  • Set apart the temple for worship and offering sacrifices
  • Set apart the Sabbath and feast days
  • Set apart Jesus for us
  • Set apart US!

In Acts 26:18 Paul (still Saul at the time) has a life changing encounter with Jesus. Jesus tells him “I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”

To be set apart means to be sanctified, or made holy. It has taken me years to comprehend (and perhaps I am still learning) that we are made holy simply by believing Jesus has made us holy. I often find myself striving and struggling to “be good”. I understand that the blood of Jesus washed my sins white as snow, but somehow after that initial cleansing it is up to me to stay white as snow.

Anyone who has found themselves trapped in this lie knows it is impossible to keep yourself white as snow. We are imperfect people living in a corrupted world. We will fall short. Daily. Trying to keep yourself holy will either lead you to a sense of failure and defeat, or even worse, a sense of self-righteousness.

We all know brothers and sisters in the Lord that have fallen into either of these traps. I myself have fallen into both. For a few years it seemed as though I vacillated between either not feeling good enough to feeling superior. Either trap is a dangerous place to live. It will make you judgmental towards yourself and others. It will rob you of peace and joy. It will take your eyes off of Jesus and place them on to yourself.

As you go about your day today I encourage you to keep your eyes on and your faith in Jesus. Trust that He has set you apart and made you holy. We do not become more like Jesus through striving in our own self efforts. We become more like Him when we spend time with Him through prayer, praise, and studying his Word. As Saul experienced, you cannot encounter the Lord and remain the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for sending your Son to sanctify me. Thank you for setting me apart and making me holy. Help me to understand that it is not up to me to be perfect, but to rest in your perfect love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Grace, Love, and a Revelation of our Set Apart Status,

Jen

 

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A Visible Image of God

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. -Colossians 1:15a

In the Old Testament no one was allowed to truly see God. Their human body could not handle His glory. If they were to actually see God, His glory would kill them. Even his greatest prophets couldn’t handle his glory. When Moses asked to see God, God replies, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. . . . But . . . you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:19–20).

Do you ever wonder what God looks like? Do you have a picture of Him in your head? I don’t where this image comes from, but for me He has a great head of white hair (like really great hair) and a face that shows age and wisdom but not in a wrinkled kind of way.  His eyes are eyes of fire and lightening yet they are not scary. He appears magnificently large and authoritative, yet again I am not afraid. He wears a white robe that is the whitest white I have ever seen, and it drapes down over His throne.

What about Jesus? What does He look like? In my mind His appearance is way different than God the Father’s. He has nice, shoulder length, slightly wavy, brown hair. His skin is smooth, somewhat olive in tone. He has the kindest eyes I have ever imagined. His eyes are filled with compassion and forgiveness. One look at Him will forever change you.

I think many people have an image of God the Father, as the big, stern, demanding, authoritative one, and Jesus is the nice one. Kind of like good cop, bad cop. But Jesus says in John 14:9, Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father!

We may not have the ability to see the face of God the Father, but we can see the heart of God by looking at Jesus. It says in Colossians 1:15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

When we look at Jesus in the gospels, what do we see? We see a man full of compassion and grace. We see wisdom. We see humility. We see patience. We see love.

When looking at the life of Jesus, we see love, as explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

We see Jesus fulfill every description of love during his time on earth. Since Jesus is the visible image of God, we see that God is also love. When the enemy tries to tell me God is disappointed in me, or God can’t believe I made that same mistake again, I find comfort in replacing the word love in the above verses with the name of God. It also makes a great prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to come and be the visible image of you. thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving me. You are patient and kind with me. You are not boastful or proud or rude towards me. You do not demand your own way, you give me free will. You are not irritable, and you keep no record of  wrongs, I am truly forgiven. You do not rejoice over injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. You never give up on me, lose faith in me, you are always hopeful towards me, and you have endured through every circumstance for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and An Image of God For Us All,

Jen

 

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