It is written…

My husband and I read a devotion the other night based on Matthew 4:1-11.  Just to sum it up, if you’re not familiar with it, this is when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray.  Satan tried to take advantage of his physically and mentally weakened state by tempting Him in many ways.  Obviously, Jesus did not succumb to the temptation.  But that’s not what struck me about this devotion.  That’s what I’ve always known about it.

Here’s what stirred me.  Jesus, being God’s son, had the power to call down any power from heaven to “defend” against temptation.  He could have summoned angels.  He could have called down God himself.  He could have caused the earth to swallow Satan up.  But he didn’t.  He did something that can do in any and every day of my life.  He said, “It is written…” followed by Scripture and that gave Him the victory.  Jesus, who has all power, simply quoted Scripture.  And He WON.

I’ve never seen the significance of that before.  That story has always been an example of prayer and fasting, an example of how Satan will use God’s word in distorted ways to lead people astray.  But never as an example of Christ embracing the human and giving us a standard for when we are tempted.  He didn’t just fast.  He didn’t just pray.  He faced temptation and instead of calling on all of the power of heaven, He chose to give us an example of the power of Scripture.  The power of knowing God’s Word.  The power of hiding His word in our hearts.  The power to overcome any temptation that is put in front of us when we call on Scripture.

He simply said, “It is written…”  Each time Satan left him.  Each time the power of God’s spoken word alone caused the devil to flee.  I think we as Christians have a wonderful habit of quoting Scripture when healing is being sought, when we’re in a desert place, when we’re hurting or uncertain about our future.  And those are fantastic habits to have.  But what do we do when we face temptation? We tell ourselves that it’s wrong, we fight the urge, that compulsion.  But how often to we go straight to God’s word and quote Scripture? How often do we follow the example that Jesus gave us in the wilderness and speak Scripture over the temptation?

As I sit again in awe of Jesus “human” life, I cling tightly to three words that have never meant so much before, “It is written…”

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They Say That Confession Is Good for the Soul

You know those moments with God? The ones where you’re convinced you’re doing everything right, doing all that you need to do and you’re questioning God as to why things aren’t better or different? Then God shows you that you’re the reason things aren’t better or different? Then He goes on to show you that your attitude and your mishandled frustration have created a bigger problem than the problem you started with?

Maybe it’s just me that has those moments.  Oh and after you’ve realized that what God’s showing you is truth, He takes things one step further and tells you to confess that to someone? It’s a humbling, growing, strengthening, rewarding process I’ve spent the last week in.

I’m grateful for God allowing me to get “low” enough that I was finally willing to see what He was trying to reveal to me.  I’m grateful that after He reveals my weakness to me, He also helps me to refocus and readjust.  I’m grateful for the courage and peace He gives while prompting me to confess my weakness.  And I’m thankful for the grace and kind words extended after confession.

This process of growth that God walks through with me is seldom enjoyable.  I never enjoy the process.  But at the end of the process, I always feel a sense of gratitude for it.  Every time I go through a growth process I’m reminded that I’ll never really be done growing.  I’m reminded that God desires the best for me, so to get me to my “best” I’ll continue to go through growth.  I also learn a little more every time that the sooner I stop and ask God what my part is, the faster the process ends!

At 32 I’ve learned there aren’t many guarantees in life, but one thing that is guaranteed is that I’m not done growing.

Three Years

Three years.  Three years really is a long time if you think about it.  Three years ago today, I gave birth to a little blue-eyed, blonde headed girl who has forever changed my life.  She is the source of most of the comedy in our house and the source of most of my gray hair (but that’s a secret between me, Lori and God!).

Addison Lynn Bates, born 2/1/08 has a personality so much bigger than she is!  She’s loud, she’s funny, she’s stubborn, she’s precocious, she’s loving, she’s practical, she does her best to run the show where ever she goes. She challenges me to live a better life so that I give her the best example I can of what a Godly young lady should live like.  She’s also the reason I require as much coffee as I do to get through a day.  She diligently reads her Bible and won’t let any of us get through the day without reading ours.  And you can’t just tell her you did it, she has to SEE it happen.  Daddy can’t walk out a door without praying with her.  Payne can’t leave to play with friends without giving a hug and a kiss first.  Mommy can’t possibly cook a meal without her expertise.  She wants to make sure her shampoo loves Jesus and goes to heaven.  But doesn’t want to go to heaven herself because that’s not where her house is.  She’s a neat freak like no child I’ve ever seen, but prefers to tell you what needs to be done instead of doing it herself.  She has a quick temper that results in lots of time outs.  She’ll squeeze your neck so tightly in a hug that you might not be able to breathe.  But you don’t care because you can feel the love coming through that squeeze.  She chooses friends carefully, but already shows fierce loyalty.

She makes every day better.  She’s our princess (and she makes sure we all know it!).  And if the rest of our years are as adventurous as the first three, we need to fasten our seat belts now!  Addi, Mommy loves you!  Happy 3rd Birthday!

“It still hurts. Do it again!”

Do you ever have those moments with your children that completely and totally convict you? Today mine was with the 2-year-old.  Both kids have been sick the last few days, so this morning when Addi woke up and came into our room, I asked her how she was feeling.  She said her stomach and chest hurt from coughing, so I prayed for her.  Her immediate response was, “It still hurts.  Do it again.” I told her to just give Jesus a minute, that He was working on it.  Her answer? “Jesus not need a minute! Pray again!”

Her expectancy was like a kick in the gut.  I mean, I pray and I believe God can and will do things.  But do I pray and expect immediate results? The conviction comes into play because often times I don’t pray that way.  I pray for my children to be healed (or my family or friends), but expect that the doctor and medicine will be how we get it.  Then when God does show up and do the miraculous, instant healing, I’m in awe, thrilled, of course.  But truthfully, I’m surprised.  I didn’t expect it.

I know that sometimes a delayed answer is God’s plan because of a path that we’d miss if we got an instant answer.  But I can’t help but wonder how often we go down a longer path because we don’t expect a shorter one?

At the very least, praying with the expectancy that my 2-year-old prays with will build more trust & faith in God and His outcome.  And that in itself is huge.  But what if God met us in the place of our expectancy and moved bigger?

A new goal for this year for me is to pray with the expectancy of my 2-year-old.  Then truly expect God to move.

Daniel Fast

Our family, along with our church, is almost half way through our third Daniel Fast.  This Fast challenges me every time we do it.  This time the challenge has come more spiritually than on the food side.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m struggling without my coffee, but my battle is spiritual this time.

During our first fast 2 years ago I miscarried.  At the time it was totally God timing that it happened during the Fast because we had drawn so close to God during the first 2 weeks that I could literally feel God carrying me through.  This time the Fast is (or was) a constant reminder of what I lost the first time.  The first week was a huge struggle and I can honestly say that if I weren’t on staff at the church, I probably would have just quit.

But this weekend was a breakthrough.  I finally allowed God to do what He wanted to do all along.  The Fast and the miscarriage no longer “connect” for me.  It’s actually something I added to my DF prayer list after we got started.  And it conveniently ties into the message series we have at church for this month: Baggage.

How often does our “baggage” hold us back from what God wants to do with us, in us, through us? Why do we hold so tightly to that baggage that does nothing but peel the scab off of healing wounds? I don’t understand it, but I know we all do it.  My new prayer for the rest of this fast is for God to reveal other “baggage” that I have so that I can leave it on the platform (you’d have to see our “baggage” covered platform right now to know what I mean).  God is good.  And he wants my baggage!