The Only Thing That Matters

In the circle of dawn to dusk, man pursues many things. There is one thing that surpasses them all. Indeed, to lack this one thing makes all else vain.

Relationship with God.

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Better than anything this world offers, a relationship with God is like treasure. To find Him, is to lose everything, to have the only thing.

Prayer, fellowshipping with God, is backbone to relationship with Him.

The Bible says to pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is both listening and speaking with Him. The Bible also says to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Ecclesiastes 5 says it is better to draw near to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools.

I’m reading the Psalms now. It’s amazing how honest and raw they are. The Psalms encourage me to make my heart fully known to the Lord, while always remembering truth. Honest prayer.

Not to forget the Holy Spirit. Our Helper, spirit of Truth, Teacher, Guide, Comforter, and so much more.

It’s easy to think: if only Jesus were physically here with me.

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Jesus said it is better that He go and the Holy Spirit come! If we truly believe this, it changes everything! The Spirit of Christ is alive inside of us!! Woah!

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The best and only thing that matters, is knowing Jesus. I encourage you to go into  your room, close the door, and spend time with Him. No matter if you’ve gone to church for decades, or you’ve never thought of God before, He’s waiting to meet with you.

The God of the universe loves you. Go to Him, just as you are.

Yesterday’s post, How to Stay Out of Prison, discusses living out relationship with God, too.

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How to Stay Out of Prison

The Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians. However, God never forgot about them.

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God delivered the Israelites through a servant, Moses. When the Egyptians chased the Israelites, not letting them go, God’s mighty, outstretched arm supernaturally parted the Red Sea. His people could cross through and be free of slavery.

Afterwards, in the wilderness on the way to the Promised land, God continued to take care of the Israelites. He gave them water from a rock and bread from dew. Most of all, His Presence was with them in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. He chose them as His treasured possession. He loved them.

God desired they love Him back through covenant obedience. To listen and obey His voice. To be set apart, holy. To be His. He asked them simply to have faith, despite the wilderness surroundings.

In the same way, all human beings are born into sin. Enslaved to sin. God loves us. So He sent Jesus, His Son, to set us free. Jesus shed His blood by dying in our place on the cross. This is akin to the cross-ing of the Red (blood) sea. God made a way. Jesus is the way to life. For those who cross God’s way, there is freedom.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is Jesus taking our place on the cross / parting of the Red Sea. Faith is receiving Him as Lord / believing in the wilderness. Faith, our response to God’s grace, is how we remain in Him because He’s set us free. Loving Him back through listening and obeying. Enjoying covenant relationship with the God of the universe!

Remember the Israelites? After God set them free, they had a choice: To believe God and obey, or to disobey. They chose the latter.

The New Testament of the Bible includes warnings for Christians concerning the Israelites:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,   and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown  in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”  We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ  to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,  nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.  Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:1-14

 

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
 As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

 

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

 

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:7-19

Today, all who believe in Jesus are free! We, like the Israelites, have a choice. Will we remain free by obeying, or disobey and fall away?

 

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Soften your heart. Listen to God. Receive His Son, His love and love Him back through obedience! Through following His narrow way: crossing the Red Sea, believing in Jesus.

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Another word for ‘abide’ is ‘remain.’ We must remain in Christ through faith. No matter our feelings, thoughts, or situations. Test and weigh every feeling against Scripture. Take thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Remember truth no matter what happens. Trials are tests of faith. Remain. Be loved. Love. Give thanks. Enjoy God’s rest.

Stand firm!

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One day, (SOON!) it will allllll be worth it.

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To the Tired

Are you tired? Do you feel like you’ll never be good enough?

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About a year and a half ago, I was in a rehab program when God told me this verse. Exhausted & weary, carrying the weight of all my burdens and pain, I knew I needed the rest Jesus offers.

Where are you? Do you know that you need rest? Not just a physical rest–yes–but also a spiritual rest.

Christ is our rest. The good news is Jesus provided our way to be made right with God. No amount of striving or trying to earn salvation will do a thing. We can never be good enough.

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Jesus laid down His life for you. Believe Jesus loves you.

When you die and stand before God–just you and Him–and He asks you why He should let you into His Kingdom, what will you say?

Actually answer that.

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If your answer began with “I” and then a reason of your own “goodness” or deeds, it will not pass. Romans 3 says that no one is righteous. Not one. Going to church won’t save you. Having Christian parents won’t save you. Doing “good” things or trying extra hard to be good will not cover you. That’s called religion. It’s of the devil.

While Jesus hung on the cross, He said: It is finished. Rest in the finished work of God on your behalf. This is grace. There’s nothing you can do to earn your way to Heaven. Salvation is a freely given gift, to be received through faith.

God wants relationship with  you through Jesus. Not religion.

He wants  your heart.

The best part is Jesus died so we can be in covenant relationship with God right now. Yes, eternity with God will be awesome. This freedom, the Kingdom of God, is at hand. It’s now. When we truly know God, He transforms us from the inside out. Makes us reborn. Fills us with His Spirit. Sets us free. A relationship with God is not praying a prayer once to go to Heaven then continuing to live however you want. A relationship with God is total surrender and dying to self. Being made alive: a new creation. To live is Christ, to die is gain.

If you want to know God, you can! Go to Jesus.

God doesn’t “put up with you.” HE LOVES YOU. You’re His treasured creation. Go to Jesus. Enter God’s rest. Discover fellowship with God. He’s calling your name.

 

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God,

Thank you for loving us. I pray for each person that reads this blog. May they know you.

Origins

like all the deep bursting forth

like all the sunrises of time,

crescendoing into a glorious uproar:

Jesus is Lord!

 

until we recognize Jesus as our Maker, there will be

confusion and

disorder within.

 

for years, I sat in

unbelief and

angst.

mentally beating myself

up, insides crying out

for attention.

no matter how

hard I tried

to be satisfied

by this world

and the people,

it left me

dry.

 

when Jesus bled and died,

He defeated

sin and satan.

died so we could live;

took our blame

to set us free.

He rose again

victorious.

now,

ALL and ANY who

come to Jesus,

believing,

are receiving this

freedom and

life.

 

if this dings a chord in

you,

don’t delay:

go to Jesus today!

He will teach you truth.

He will set you free.

He loves you steadfastly.

 

Would anyone else (being spotlessly perfect)

die in the place of their enemy?

…like Jesus died for us.

like love conquered death.

trust, surrender, believe.

 

there’s waterfalls of peace and

tranquility

beyond your craziest hopes:

being satisfied and free.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own,and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1-18

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whispers in the Woods

Though my throat hurt and my head throbbed, though my 33 week pregnant belly ached and I peed every 10 minutes, the sun was out and God whispered: go to the woods. Before my husband and I left, I noticed new, much bigger stretch marks on my belly. A barrage of old familiar lies disguised as truth flooded my mind. Stupid. Ugly. Gross. “Jesus, teach me my beauty and worth!” I prayed.

We hiked five minutes into the tall trees and feathery ferns. I sat down on a mossy log. Overwhelmed by God’s beauty all around me, tears welled and fell softly down my face. “You’re SUPER pregnant,” my husband said. I smiled a little. While hormones were definitely raging, these tears flowed from a deep hurt being healed. God was again whispering: “all this beauty? I made it. I don’t make junk. I made you in my image, you are beautiful.”

As I waddled up the short path to the overflowing port-a-potty, my heart swelled with joy. I am beautiful. I am worth dying for. I am loved.

So are you, reader.

Thank You, Jesus!💞

Creation’s Ovature

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
 Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

 

juicy, ruby berries

vibrant emerald leaves

each bird song a melody of praise

painted paper butterfly wings

strong long octopus arms

curving antlers

decomposing logs supporting mushrooms

come, adore the Lord with me!

 

hidden roots

moisture licking air, hydrating plants, returning to clouds

the symphony of ecosystems

the mystery of stars

the beauty of each being proclaiming His majesty.

 

 

you are loved

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

 

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

the cross is the power of God to save those who believe. it does not make sense to the world.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God made foolish the wisdom of this world. His way is not the world’s way. Goliath towered above everyone, wore thick, brilliant armor, and shouted with a booming voice. to the Israelites, he was terrifying. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. David, a shepherd boy, defeated the giant with a sling and one smooth stone. in the same way, God does not save in a way that makes sense to this world. we cannot come to God on our own understanding. He delivers us, not with sword and spear; the Lord saves through the pierced hands of a crushed Saviour:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
 For he [Jesus] grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
 He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53

if the cross is speaking to you now, don’t harden your heart. humble yourself and surrender, even if it doesn’t make complete sense. Jesus wants to guide you into truth. He loves you.  just look at the cross–the highest price, the costliest sacrifice. Jesus took the punishment for your sin. it’s paid in full. you’re free, only believe.