More reunion pics!
I am enjoying the gift of a perfect Fall morning today. The windows are open throughout the house, there is a perfect crisp chill lingering in the air, and a gentle light breaking through the clouds! When I took the girls to school this morning, there were scattered glowing pink clouds all over the sky. I love to see God's beauty in creation each day... especially in the morning when the day is so fresh, new,
open to possibility, and waiting for me. I love it when God tells me, "Good morning."
"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22,23~
I also love that each day gives me another opportunity... another chance... another try... to SEEK Him, to FIND Him, to BE with Him, to HEAR Him, to FEEL Him, to SERVE Him, to SHARE Him, to PRAISE Him, to GLORIFY Him, to ENJOY Him, to TRUST Him, to LEAN on Him, to RELY on Him, to FALL into Him, to DWELL on and in Him, to WALK in Him, to be USED by Him.
Wouldn't that be great. Wouldn't that be great if it were that easy to just have the above each day! Yes, yes it would. And that is what we are made to do. That is our purpose... that is the reason we are here.
But the challenge for me lies in "doing" all the above WHILE: trying to be patient with Abby through her challenges, her attempts to control and manipulate, her irrational behavior and squealing and whinning; trying to be patient with Marc through his current lack of emotional control and manipulation and trying to teach him it is not acceptable and to "grow" him through it (all the while trying not to pull out the small amount of hair I have); and trying to balance/prioritize/line up my "physical/worldly life" with everything God is showing me and my walk in my "spiritual life". It's no easy task! :0)
I am finding that everything is changing. The way I see things, people, situations is very different than the past. The pain and sadness I feel about the above is greatly increased. The way I relate to things, people, and situations is different. My desires are different. My interests are different. My conversations are different. My conviction to be different and set apart is growing in rapid fashion.
One HUGE desire I have been given is to become a family of purpose! I'll go into that more later... soon... but I am very excited about what God has shown me here and SUPER excited to share it with my children. One part of this is going to be setting aside money each month to give to the Lord's kingdom work. Then we will be purposeful in praying for that, learning about that, and sacrificing to give to that specific thing (for example World Vision, the Bible League, the local food pantry and such). I can't wait.
OK. Now onto verse 12 in Ephesians 3. By the way, thank you for your comments, emails, and face book messages about this look at Ephesians. I am so excited to share such a RICH passage with you and humbled, thrilled, and motivated that it is speaking to you! That HE is speaking to you through it!
"in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith by Him." Eph. 3:12~
We are focusing on this one verse (although it will take us to MANY others). The verse is part of the previous verse and is talking about Jesus Christ our Lord. We have talked previously about how Christ is IN us after we believe and receive salvation through Him. It is that very fact, the fact that Christ is IN us, that we can have BOLDNESS AND ACCESS to the throne of God. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Romans 4:16
This is such a privilege that we so often look over, take for granted, fail to use, fail to believe, fail to understand and grasp. What if someone gave you the telephone number, the cell phone number, of the President of the United States and said, "Here it is, use it whenever you want, he'll always answer, he'll always listen, and he'll give you the desires of your heart." Would you be excited? Would you use it? Would you use it often? Would you share it? Would you think about everything you could think of that you wanted to tell him, ask him, share with him? Would you have an agenda? Would you call him with the requests or concerns of others? Or would you just toss it in the trash?
We have the access to the God of the universe. THAT makes me stop in my tracks. THAT excites me. THAT humbles me. THAT motivates me. THAT makes me thankful. THAT makes me bold. THAT makes me careful.
But why can we relate to having the phone number of the President more than we can to having the ear and attention of the God of the universe? Because we can't see Him. Because we don't always hear Him. Because we don't always believe... believe what He says He'll do, what we can do in Him, or that His presence is really with us. Simply, because of "unbelief".
That brings us to another part of the verse... "with confidence through faith in Him." There is the answer to our problem... FAITH. But that seems so easy. You may think, "I have faith". I have learned and am continuing to learn that faith in salvation is only the beginning, the tip of the iceberg... and it is not enough. It's not enough. Yes. I said that. It's not enough. It "may" be enough for salvation. But it's not enough to live this life we are called to live. So this takes us on a journey to look at "Faith".
1.) What is faith? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God. It is the conviction that what God says is true and that what He promises will happen. It makes things hoped for as real as if we already had them. Faith provides unshakable evidence that the unseen spiritual blessings of being Christ's child are absolutely certain and real. It makes the "invisible" visible... it makes the "unseen" seen. (taken from Beliver's Bible Commentary)
Faith is the essence of the believer's walk in this world. It is the core of everything we do, say, and believe. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 This is a big one. To walk by faith and not by sight requires us to reject our five senses sometimes. It requires us to TRUST bigtime! It requires us to look at things, people, and situations with spiritual eyes and listen with spiritual ears and stay spiritually minded. It requires constantly realigning ourselves with the Spirit... the Holy Spirit, who enables us to do this through His power. It requires us to remain surrendered to the Holy Spirit, to the Lord God, and to Christ our Savior.
2.) We have been justified by faith. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1,2 So as a result of our faith, we have peace with God and access into grace through Christ Jesus. That means, because we accepted Jesus as our Savior (by faith... we can't see Him and we can't "see Him" save us), we have peace with God and access to His grace... the grace IN which we stand.
3.) Faith pleases the Lord! "When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" Matthew 8:10~
"When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" Luke 7:9~
So what made Jesus marvel and who had such great faith? Both passages are about the same situation and the same person. It was the faith of a centurion officer that made Jesus marvel. Can you imagine making Jesus marvel? The officer had a servant, who was dear to him, dying. He knew the Lord could heal him. He believed the Lord could heal him. He asked the Lord to heal him. But there is more... much more.
The Lord says He will go and heal the servant. Then this is where FAITH is stepped up a notch... many notches... and it is a screaming example for us to notice, meditate on, and immitate. "And Jesus said, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go' and he goes; and to another 'Come' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this' and he does it." "When Jesus heard it, He marveled..." Matthew 8:7-10
Do you see it? Do you see what made Jesus marvel? Do you see what he called out to be the GREATEST faith He'd seen... even in Israel? Do you see what caused exclamation points in the Bible!? The centurion believed not only in Jesus, not only in who He was, not only in what He could do... but believed IN HIS AUTHORITY. "But ONLY SPEAK A WORD and my servant WILL BE HEALED." That is the faith that we should be striving for, praying for, longing for, and using in our lives! WOW! PRAISE HIM!
4.) Faith varies in amount. "And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Luke 17:5 What a humble request. What a powerful request. What a wise request. So simple... yet so deep. But it shows us, without a doubt, that faith can vary in amount and we should be desiring for an increase in ours at all times.
In Matthew, the disciples had been trying to cast out a demon and could not. Jesus rebuked it and it came out. "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" So Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief;..." Matthew 17:19, 20~ In other words, because of the lack of their faith. The power was there but they failed to appropriate it. They were right there, walking with, talking to, and seeing the Lord Jesus and ALL He was doing... and yet they still had unbelief. Let that be a glaring warning to us that our unbelief affects our walk in this world. It affects our heart, our mind, our deeds, our effort to fight the spiritual battle all around us, our prayers, our use of authority in us, our work for the kingdom, our witness, our testimony, our relationship with the Holy Spirit, our relationship with Jesus, our relationship with God! 2 Corinthians 10:15 speaks of faith increased as well.
Jesus goes on to talk to them about faith. "So the Lord said, for assuredly, I say unto you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20~ A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. Jesus is making a point. We may think we have faith... but REALLY NOT BELIEVE IN IT. Jesus is saying that if you have the tiniest amount... but it is REAL... there is POWER in that FAITH. People are healed ALL OVER the New Testament because of their faith! Jesus says it over and over and over... "because of your faith" when He healed someone! It is the conduit for God's power!
"Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12~ Faith and power go hand in hand. There is no power without faith. Without faith there is no power.
"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly..." 2 Thess. 1:3~ The faith of the church at Thessalonica was growing "exceedingly".. However, they were encouraged in their faith by Paul in First Thessalonians. He sent Timothy to help them. "to establish and encourage you in concerning your faith," 1 Thess. 3:2~ "For what thanks we can render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?" 1 Thess. 3:9,10~ How beautiful to be given an example of the growth of faith in a church. How? Paul sent Timothy there in person to help them. How? Paul and Silvanius (and probably Timothy) were praying night and day that there faith would be perfected. Paul says they were praying "exceedingly" Then later in 2 Thess., he says their faith was growing "exceedingly"! So sweet. So powerful. So insightful. So encouraging. So needed today!
5.) Where does faith come from? "So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17~ The word of God is the written word of God. Hearing does not just mean "hearing"... it means "to receive". To hear the word of God, you have to be in the word of God, you have to believe the word of God, you have to be convicted by the word of God, and you are changed by the word of God. And faith GROWS and GROWS and GROWS as your knowledge grows, as your life changes before you!
6.) Faith is tested. "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen... you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--- the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:7-9~ Our faith is contrasted to gold... a very precious metal. Faith is said to be more precious than gold. When gold is tested in fire, it does not perish, it withstands the heat. Faith, when tested by fire, (trials) withstands when it is real, grounded, rooted faith. By our faith, we rely on God, we call on God, we trust in God, we claim God's truth against our trials and situations, we use the authority to call on the power of God, AND GOD SHOWS UP! And when we do these things, and when He shows up, and when the unseen becomes seen in our lives, when we stand against these things IN HIS POWER... FAITH GROWS AND GROWS. That trial becomes yet another opportunity for us to call on God, trust God, obey God, rest in God, claim God's truths, be used by Him and our faith GROWS AND GROWS AND GROWS! That trial becomes yet another opportinuty for God to show up and DO HIS THING! IF WE CALL ON HIM... IF WE TRUST IN HIM... IF WE OBEY HIM... IF WE SEEK HIM... IF WE BELIEVE IN HIM! When your faith is tested... does it grow or fail? Do you go into action, try to remain idle or do you just lie down defeated?
Do you see how all of this is tied together? Do you see the PURE BEAUTY in all this and how it glorifies the Lord! Do you see our part in this? Our part is the FAITH... THEN GOD DOES THE REST. But faith is not passive. Faith is not stale. Faith is active, living, and if it is not growing... it is dying. When we have trials (attacks from the enemy who wants to destroy our faith because that is the conduit of the power of God) or when God tests our faith (to refine it, grow it, perfect it) we don't just sit back and say, "Oh... I have faith God will handle it," and do nothing! NO WAY. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ENEMY WANTS US TO DO... NOTHING! That is not faith. That is laziness and blindness and ignorance. We put our faith into action with the word of God! We pray, we claim God's truth over the situation, we put on the whole armor of God, we put our trust in Him, we call on Him, we surrender ourselves to Him, we are obedient to Him, we are convicted and repent, we seek Him and focus on Him! Faith without action is dead!
7.) Faith in what...? Faith in God. Faith in God's word. Faith in God's power. Faith in God's Son. Faith in the name of God's Son (faith in the name is a WHOLE other post! Acts 3:16)... Faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Faith in God's word. Faith in God's Holy Spirit. Faith in who we are as believers.
Because of all of this... through this, we can approach the throne of God with boldness and confidence. It is a beautiful treasure and precious privilege. I stand amazed.