1 Corinthians 3:4-9

"For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."

1 Corinthians 3:4-9

Friday, January 13, 2017

El Roi- The God Who Sees All

El Roi, You are The God Who Sees
Genesis 16:13

Over the course of my life, this is the name of God that I have believe has had the greatest impact on me. In my younger years, though, I fought the truth of the meaning of this in my life. I did not believe that God really was the God who sees. I believed that He only saw me in my sin and He turned His back on me and left me where I was to figure out how to get myself out of the mess and the mud I had gotten myself into. I was not raised in a Christian household or in the church. Although my mom has always been a believer, it was not until recent years that she began living out her faith. So growing up, I remember going to church off and on with my grandma, and hearing about God and Jesus, knowing he died on the cross, but knowing nothing about his desire for, nor my need for, a relationship with Him. In fact, as a teenager, hearing that he had died for me on a cross, actually made me want to try and run and hide from him out of shame and embarrassment, knowing that I was not worthy of that sacrifice, and therefore I felt incredibly guilty. There was so much I never understood about God, especially that He was my Father. My own father was an alcoholic and my only memories of him as a child are that of drunkenness and verbal rage. So, my youth and young adulthood were spent really trying to rebel in almost every way possible in order to prove to God once and for all that I was not worth his love nor his sacrifice for me.

But God- the God who sees all.

All of this resulted in a life lived behind many masks. In high school, the mask was to be the good girl in front of authority and the wild, party girl when outside the sight of any authority. That continued into college, except that I dropped the mask in front of authority. I had moved out on my own and had virtually rid my life of authority so the only mask I clung to was to be the life of the party and make sure everyone around me was happy and having a good time. 

Later on in life, after having met my husband, having had given my life to the Lord, the mask became having the appearance of being the good Christian wife and mother. I knew Jesus, I had a relationship with him, I did love Him, but I just did not understand that He really did love me and had forgiven me, and had cleansed me and made me whole. I knew it in my head but I had not yet allowed it to be written in my heart. 

Years later, Matt and I had been serving on the mission field for several years. I really and truly had grown in my relationship with the Lord, but I was still so very independent. I still had not accepted the fact that God truly loved me to the depths that I read in His word and had forgiven me. I believed it for others but I still did not really believe it for myself. I found myself in a dry, dry place- a wilderness.

Hosea 2:14--'Therefore Behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness to comfort her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the days when she came up from the land of Egypt.'

Even though I believed God had forgotten me, He met me in the place of my wilderness. Even though I had run from Him, He met me where I was at and drew me close to Him. It was irresistible. He was irresistible. 

But God. He is the God who sees all. 

After a lifetime of trying to hide behind masks, of trying to cover who I really was, I finally saw the One who sees all. I had been a Christian for years, been serving on the mission field nearly five years, had harbored bitterness, anger, rage, fear, and shame for years and finally recognized that there was hope. 

The valley of Achor means trouble- and God takes that place of trouble in our lives and He is our Hope in the midst of the trouble. 

But there must be a transformation of our hearts. We must give God everything and as we give him everything we must do it with open hands and freely give it to him and let him do with our heart what he sees best. 

Ezekiel 36:26
'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.'

The last five years of my walk with Jesus have been learning to live without my former reactions, my former thoughts, my former heart. God has given me a new heart of flesh where there once was a heart of stone. He has redeemed my years of the false belief that abuse had made me dirty and shameful to him, that he had left me and abandoned me as a child, that my rebellion as a teenager and young adult had caused me to be unloved by him, and therefore that he had tossed me aside, and that he had turned his eyes from me as a young wife and mom, that he had forgotten me in my wilderness. 

But God, who is the God who sees all.

I now know and walk in freedom of all of my former ways and my former beliefs. I now believe and live in the truth that God is the One who sees all. He never left me, not once. In every moment where I felt alone, incapable of being loved by Him, He was there. He saw it all, but none of it caused him to flee from me, even though I tried to flee from him. Instead, He has pursued me and allured me and has restored me and freed me and healed me and loves me. 

Ezekiel 36:27-29;33
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your father's; you shall be My people; and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleanness...thus says the Lord God: On that day I will cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt.'

That is exactly what He has done in my life- He has cleansed me from all of my uncleanness, all of my sin. He has rebuilt the ruins and the mess I had made of my life, redeemed me from a pit, and restored my marriage and my life. He has shown me my worth in Him. He has never once left me. 

He is the God who sees all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Building to destroy or yielding to grow

"Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?" 2 Samuel 7:18

David had desired to build the Lord a temple so that He would no longer have to dwell in the tabernacle of the desert days of his people the Israelites. David tells Nathan his desires and Nathan seems to think that it is a good idea.

Then, the Lord speaks to Nathan and gives him a message for David that is contrary to what David has in mind. When Nathan delivers the message to David, his response teaches us much.

David could have responded to the Nathan by rising up against his message, defending himself and his position as king and walking in his rights as the anointed one.

But he seemed to have known Nathan's words were from the Lord and he humbly responded in gratitude and thankfulness that should cause each of us to examine our hearts and our our attitudes towards the Lord and his perfect plans.

What would you have done in David's position?

The Lord told David through Nathan that it was not to be David that would build his house, but rather David's son. Furthermore, the Lord promises to establish His people throne David's seed.

The Lord might not have allowed David's desire, but his denial did not equal rejection. God simply had a greater plan for David's life than to build Him a temple.

David responds to the Lord,

"Then David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said,

'Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet, this was a small thing in your sight, O Lord God; Now what more can David your servant say to You? For You, Lord God, know your servant. For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore, You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.' " 2 Samuel 7:18-22

David did not believe that all God had laid out before him was because he (David) was so great or so deserving. No, David knew that the Lord knew him and all his failings and his response shows that David knew the Lord was so great that He would give even David gifts.

Proverbs 15:31-32 says, "He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."

There is rich application from this section of scripture.

The first and maybe most obvious is that the Lord has a plan for each of our lives and He will direct our steps and guide our paths. When we are looking to Him to do so, even correction, discipline and a change of direction will be recognized as His perfect will and will result in an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness, not in rebellion, pride, or resistance.

Sometimes, the Lord speaks to us through spiritual leaders in our lives. We need to be willing to receive from those the Lord has placed in authority over us and trust Him as we trust them. We need to have open ears to hear from the Lord and open hearts to receive, we need to eagerly desire to grow, and be ready to repent when confronted with our errors.

For the past four weeks, we have had mission teams on the property helping with the remodeling project of a building on the property that will be used to house future mission teams. There has been a man helping the team throughout the whole process who is from the church who is in need of work. He was hired by the church to assist in any way needed. He did everything from run back and from the shed for tools and supplies, to holding a ladder, to trying his hand at different parts of the construction process- sometimes with success and other times realizing that a certain skill or job was clearly not his gift. Saturday, he and his wife brought a token of their appreciation to the team members that remained. His wife had cooked a Guatemalan dessert for the men to enjoy and this was their way of saying thank you. The men had not given them anything material, but it was the time the husband had spent with them that had impacted his heart and touched him deeply. And they came to say thank you. He asked me to translate for him as he shared with them his gratitude. One thing he said to them forced me to swallow hard to keep the tears from coming as I tried to translate. He said he had learned so much from them. But the one main thing that had transformed his life was that he had learned that anything he tried to build of his life would only come to ruin. He had learned that the plan the Lord had for his life was far superior to his and he knew now that he would yield to the Lord and trust him completely for whatever might come.

You see, the reason the tears came to me is that I know their story, They have been in the midst of an intense fire and an attack from the enemy. Seemingly, they have lost everything. But God. He taught the husband through the demolition and rebuilding of a earthly, temporary structure, that His plan is always far better than any that we mere humans could ever imagine.

David learned this same lesson in 2 Samuel chapter seven.

The response of both men are the same- humbleness and gratitude- and a willingness to follow the Lord and His perfect plan, no matter what.

May my heart attitude and my outward reaction be the same as both my fellow brother and as David's.

I thank the Lord for correction, exhortation, and discipleship of the spiritual leaders in my life. I am thankful for their willingness to allow us to walk in the way of the Lord and also for their patience and grace to guide and lead us.

In the devotional, Wisdom for Women, Debbi Bryson says this,
"Never underestimate how God can use your present circumstances to deepen you and prepare you for his noble purposes. Be faithful in the small things. Be a servant joyfully and willingly. Trust God with all of your heart. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom and humility comes before honor."

This picture was taken in June 2006 on Brooke's first mission trip to Costa Rica. This was the beginning of their journey to present day, for such a time as this.