God Takes Great Delight In His Children

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This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture, it describes the deep and abiding love God has for us.

Zephaniah 3:17 is full of emotion. God, our Heavenly Father is the One who holds His daughter Jerusalem and sings joyfully in her presence. Just as a loving parent cradles their child and sings to them in love to calm them.  This is born of His great love for us. After a time of hardship, our loving Father will dry our tears, comfort our hearts, and welcome you to a new family.

Can you imagine this beautiful picture, that God is literally dancing over you with shouts of joy and singing? Many of us have missed out on this beautiful image of God’s love. How beautiful the sound of His voice must be.  How awesome it must be to see God dance. And it is all over you, His beloved child.

He will rejoice over you with gladness: We often underestimate the joy God has in His people and too often think God is annoyed or irritated with us. “Faulty as the church is, the Lord rejoices in her. While we mourn, as well we may, yet we do not sorrow as those that are without hope; for God does not sorrow, his heart is glad, and he is said to rejoice with joy – a highly emphatic expression.” (Spurgeon) 

Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends all human understanding? He wants you to know He loves you, He wants you to know He cherishes you, God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength?

He longs to have a relationship with His children.  He wants to be wanted by you, He wants to be adored, He wants to be treasured, and He wants to be worshiped? The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139 17-18 

When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God, we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts. We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has chosen us to be part of His family.

I John 3:1:2  Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.  2: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is.

We are God’s poetic masterpiece; the ultimate evidence of His unboundless love. The unfathomable richness of His love and mercy is focused on us. He chose us when we were dead in trespasses and sin and gave us true life in Christ and we are an eternal testimony of the riches of His grace.  Consider and take to heart these beautiful words expressing God’s love for you. This is one of the most incredible sections of Scripture about the wonders of God’s love for us.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10

So, people, we should stand in awe!  God’s beloved children He treasures you and loves you, and He dances and sings over you with great joy. God has great plans, great purposes and great treasures stored up for you. God cherishes every thought of you and longs for an intimate fellowship with you. He is always looking for you. His love, goodness, and mercy will relentlessly pursue you all the days of your life.  Will you reach out to Him and accept His Love?  He is waiting, isn’t time to come home?

‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Jim Elliot

An amazing and truly inspiring story! A story we should never forget.

Elisabeth Elliot memorialized the story in her book Shadow of the Almighty. That title comes from Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

The title was not a slip — not any more than the death of the five missionaries was a slip. But the world saw it differently. Around the world, the death of these young men was called a tragic nightmare. Elisabeth believed the world was missing something. She wrote, “The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’”

She called her book Shadow of the Almighty because she was utterly convinced that the refuge of the people of God is not a refuge from suffering and death, but a refuge from final and ultimate defeat. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24) — because the Lord is God Almighty.

“The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for, but we must believe that whatever it involves, it is good, acceptable and perfect.”
― Jim Elliot

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”
― Jim Elliot

“The will of God is sweet tonight, altogether ‘good and acceptable and perfect.’ The considerate love of the Lord Jesus for us seems such a kind thing now. I know it has always been so, but somehow I didn’t see how wise it was when it didn’t seem kind… Remind me of this when I cannot regard His love as considerate some time.” Jim Elliot

Quick Bio
Jim Elliot was born in Portland, Oregon to Fred and Clara Elliot, and became a Christian at a young age. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1949, with a degree in Greek. He arrived in Ecuador on February 21, 1952, with the purpose of evangelizing Ecuador’s Quechua Indians.

On October 8, 1953, he married fellow Wheaton alumnus and missionary Elisabeth Howard in Quito, Ecuador. Their only child, Valerie, was born February 27, 1955.

There they were approached several times by small groups of Huaorani Indians, and even gave an airplane ride to one curious Huaorani who they called “George” (his real name was Naenkiwi).

Encouraged by these friendly encounters, they began plans to visit the Huaorani, but their plans were preempted by the arrival of a larger group of Huaorani, who killed Elliot and his four companions on January 8, 1956. Elliot’s mutilated body was found downstream, along with those of the other men, except that of Ed McCully.

The five missionaries had guns with them in their camp, but they did not use them to fight the Indians. When the Auca men came toward them with their spears, they did not shoot back with their guns. They knew that if they would shoot the Indians, they could probably save their own lives.

The Aucas always remembered those five strange white men who had been so kind to them and had not tried to kill them. And so a year later when more missionaries tried again to speak to the Aucas about Jesus, they were ready to listen.

Several of the men who had helped to kill Jim and his friends with their spears now became Christians. One of them gave his testimony at a meeting. He counted on his fingers and said, “I have killed twelve people with my spear! But I did that when my heart was black. Now Jesus’ blood has washed my heart clean, so I don’t live like that anymore.” God’s love had changed his life!

 

Overcoming Betrayal

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I have heard,  “The most surprising thing about divorce is that is doesn’t kill you instantly like a head-on car crash because it should. Instead, we are left trying to process the impact and cope with the painful aftermath.”

I recently got together with a dear friend who shared with me the difficult news of her impending divorce. It was a hard conversation, filled with sadness and her shame of having failed her marriage. The hurt and betrayal she was feeling, unfortunately,  is a pain I know all too well.   Especially, since we both wanted to heal our marriages and seek reconciliation, but faced hard-hearted spouses.  In my case “I thought separation would be a powerful attention-getting boundary to stop the abuse” Instead of counseling, I was met with divorce. As we sat together crying and sharing, I immediately thought of Psalm 55 12-14.

12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. Psalm 55 12-14

As we know David was no stranger to betrayal. I think we can learn a lot from the way he cries out to God, in real raw honest truth. David shows us how to overcome the pain. “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice” (Psalm 55 16-17).

I think there are few things in life more devastating than finding out that the person you once loved could become the object of your pain and betrayal. The person you promised to love until death do you part.  The person you dreamed of spending your entire life with.  Someone you thought was your friend and spouse could become your enemy. Trust is shattered.  Faith is questioned. The covenant is broken. A life built becomes the focus of a battle to dismantle. I have experienced the pain, anger, and resentment of divorce, along with it’s never ending repercussions.  How do you stop loving someone you have shared so much intimacy with and as David spoke in Psalm 55 “sweet fellowship.” I now understand why God hates divorce.

Who can we turn to when the one who betrays us is our spouse? Especially, since they were the person, you use to run too? Ultimately, our sinless heavenly Father is the only One who will never sin against us. He will not betray, abandon, or reject us.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Romans 3:23).

God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance,  God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.  God wants to do a work in you. He doesn’t want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him, and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.

This path begins with taking our eyes off our ex-spouse and on to Jesus as the power source for our love.

I am praying for all who need to believe that Christ is with them in their pain. If you are struggling with your faith, I am praying that you will have the strength to surrender your doubt to Christ and ask for his strength to believe. May you know that He loves you more than you could ever know. He has promised to never leave you, not ever, no matter what you are going through. God is close to the brokenhearted. His word is true. He is with you now. Let him work this out but trust him with the details. Your faith shows the world that you belong to Christ. May God give you his peace and may you know that you are not alone.

Prayer Of Salvation

Prayer For Salvation

God’s love is not based on our goodness or how we perform but rather on who’s we are and we are all God’s children when we accept His son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for all of us. Receiving the love of Jesus and living in his love every day, is the first and most essential step in having a love worth giving. Jesus gave His life for you! If you desire to know God’s unconditional love and want to follow Jesus, you can pray this prayer of salvation.

Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.

I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.

You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.

Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.

Thank you, Jesus, for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you, Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.

Thank you, Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. AMEN.

If you decided to repent of your sins and receive Christ today, welcome to God’s family. Now, as a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.

  • Get baptized as commanded by Christ.
  • Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.
  • Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.
  • Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
  • Find a local church where you can worship God.

When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you will receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit [Holy Ghost], as it states in Acts 2:38:

Acts 2:38 – King James Version (KJV)

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

PLEASE NOTE: Confession of your sins is not something you do just the one time or periodically. Whenever you sin, you should immediately repent [ask forgiveness from the Lord] and turn away from your sin.

Then, as you grow in Christ [become spiritually mature], and your love for Him grows, you should be seeking Him through His Word [Holy Bible]. You will need to find a bible-based church and study God’s Word, and eventually become water-baptized. It is through water-baptism that you show your obedience to the Lord. Water baptism is a symbol of your salvation from the dead. You were dead but now you live, for the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed you for a price! The price was His death on the cross!

Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries states:  “In terms of salvation, you cannot separate faith and repentance—both happen simultaneously. In order to be saved, you must place faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and that faith decision requires a change of mind (repentance) about your way of life. Yet many people mistakenly believe they must change their way of living long before they can make a faith decision for the Savior. The truth is, repentance does not mean that we must completely change our ways and “clean ourselves up” so we can receive Christ as Lord.

If you’re holding off on a decision for Christ until you think you are “ready” or “worthy,” you’re waiting in vain. Jesus is ready to receive you right now. Only as a child of God will you find the power—His power—to truly become the person you were created to be.”

Stepping Out In Faith

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“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Have you ever been exhausted waiting for God to answer your prayers? Or have you ever prayed for something so much bigger than you—that only a God-intervention makes it happen?

Last week, I started praying for something that on the surface seems insurmountable. I am stepping out in faith like never before.  This is a prayer request a couple years in the making.  My faith bubbled up in me as I put my request through the filter of God’s word.  I was not asking with wrong motives, in fact, I felt the Lord would be glorified. I have been reading through the book of Deuteronomy and have been overwhelmed at the mighty hand of God that moves dramatically throughout the pages of His Word. The Bible say’s that as Moses neared the end of his life, he reminded the people of Israel about the mighty hand of God.

Because the Lord loves you … the Lord has brought you out [of Egypt] with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 7:8, NKJV).

After Moses died, the Israelites stood on the banks of the overflowing Jordan, ready to cross into the Promised Land. It looked insurmountable. The water was swift and deep. But God told Joshua to instruct the priests to go and “stand in the Jordan” (Joshua 3:8). As they approached the rushing torrent, nothing happened.

But when they touched the water’s edge with their feet, God worked a miracle and stopped the river. The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until a million or more Hebrews had crossed into the Promised Land. When they stepped out on the other bank, the water resumed flowing.

After studying the scriptures I started realizing, that I have a tendency to put human limitations on my prayer requests.  Now I am not naive enough to believe that God is going to give me everything I ask for simply because I ask for it. He is too wise and too loving for that. He knows much more about my situation than I do, and many times will override my prayers because He knows He has a better plan. I decided if I was going to go out on a faith limb, I was going to go all the way out. I called several of my prayer partners and asked them to pray for the impossible with me.

Jesus said, “The things that are impossible for people to do are possible for God to do.” Luke 18:27

Is it impossible for God?  Our Heavenly Father made everything we see, and everything we can’t, with a word. He breathed life into this world, He designed and created it all. There are no limitations to His power. He can (and does!)

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Oh, how this must grieve the heart of my Heavenly Father when I limit His power. He knows how much more He wants to do in my life if only I’ll invite Him.

Let’s start to be bold with our prayers.  I want my prayers and faith to go beyond human power. I want to bring everything to my Heavenly Father, every care, every need. Not with a demanding heart, but with one with positive expectation.

I don’t need to worry about how God decides to answer. How wonderful it is that we can trust our Heavenly Father with ALL our requests.  Knowing with all certainty that He and only He knows how to answer my prayers.

I don’t know how the Lord will answer my leap of faith, I have peace knowing He knows the hearts involved.  I pray the Holy Spirit will go before me, preparing the way.  I’m tired of playing it safe. It’s time to cast off my fears, remove the limitations I’ve placed on God, and invite Him into every situation I face — especially those that seem hopeless. It’s then I’ll see God’s power, not mine.

God will get the glory when we press forward in prayer and faith. We refuse to give up or give in and God will honor it with answered prayer in His perfect timing.

Learning To Accept God’s Love

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Do you ever struggle with unanswered prayers?

Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor.

I have had such a deep longing within my heart that I’ve desperately wanted to see come to pass. For the last several years I have waited for the Lord to answer my prayer. I wait patiently on my good days and tell myself “It’s just not God’s timing yet”  But, on my bad days I feel afraid and hurt and unworthy.

I began to wonder why I struggled with unanswered prayer so much and why I always felt defeated.  You see, I never realized the correlation between how I view God and my prayer life before; Let me explain.

I was raised in an angry, abusive home where I was sexually abused. The only role models I had were quick tempered mean alcoholics.  Needless to say,  I grew up scared of men. My life was filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.  I found myself thinking I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

So years later, after I became a believer, the concept of a kind, loving heavenly Father was a completely foreign concept to me. The words my pastor spoke sounded wonderful, like a fairy tale, but deep down I couldn’t escape the sense of God’s judgement and anger.  Even when I read my Bible, I seemed to focus on the legalism aspect of scripture. And every time I failed, messed up or fell short, I felt myself the target of God’s anger. I came to almost expect unanswered prayer, because I believed I did not deserve to be blessed.

This began a cycle of falling short all the time and making unwise choices.  Never realizing the connection between my childhood and my skewed perception of God.  The years of an unloving atmosphere filled with anger and fear had warped my brain, therefore, unconsciously blocking the truth of who God really was.

It wasn’t until after my second abusive marriage, I began to recognize that I had become comfortable with accepting less than what the Lord desired for me.  This was bolstered by the declaration from my ex-husband that the Lord had told him to divorce me and had in fact, taken me out of our marriage for his ministry.  That are marriage was never ordained by God.?  I guess in some way, this belief somehow absolved him of all the hurt he had caused me. Since I had been long ago programmed to believe that everything was my fault, I bought into his lie.  This had devastating effects on my heart and feelings of worth. I felt so much shame for my divorce and thought, “here I go again disappointing God, once again falling short, I had failed as a wife.”  I did not even sign my divorce papers when I was served, because I feared God’s wrath.

I remember sharing with my counselor that I desperately wanted to please God.  I shared how I knew God was mad at me, because I had failed again.  That I knew I did not deserve a happily ever after, like most Christians.  My counselor took my hand and said “Cheryl, God is not angry with you, He loves you, He cares for you and He understands your past and wants desperately to heal you. Slowly thru my brokenness and pain, and on my knees seeking God, that the truth started soaking in.  I think this was the first time I realized that maybe, it was true, God was not angry with me and in fact loved me.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalm 145:8

This verse which says God is slow to anger, that He offers forgiveness when I confess my failures and that He does not hold my shortcomings against me, began transforming not only my brain, but my heart. And if that were not awesome enough, the fact that God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness toward us..” As I meditated on this verse I began to believe God’s truth, the massive wall that had protected my heart as a child and continued into adulthood, slowly began to come down.

The unanswered prayer that was weighing on my heart for so long, was lifted.  I began to see that the Lord is my Daddy, the Dad I never had.  I realized as I love my children unconditionally and want what is best for them, so does my Heavenly Father.  My prayers began to change, I started trusting that I could trust Him with my deepest hurts and needs.  He knows my heart and the heart of the person I was praying for.  He and only He knows how this prayer should be answered. I began to truly have a peace that passes all understanding.  Knowing if this door closes, He has something better for me.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. in all your ways acknowledge Him,  and He will make your paths straight Psalm 3:5-6

He is our gracious heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, patiently bearing with us, teaching and guiding us as we grow and mature in Christ. He is not mad at me, and He is not mad at you. God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Sometimes our past experiences shape us in ways we don’t fully understand. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God reshapes us, transforming our hearts and minds as only He can. Though it often takes time, God’s truth can work its way deeply into our hearts and completely break down walls built of lies. And oh, how He loves to bring those walls down!  I learned I am worthy, worthy of love and am a beloved child of God.  Amen

So, the sentence at the beginning; Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor. Is far from the truth, The Lord either answers are prayers with a yes, or a no and No is because we have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what’s best for them even if He has to say no to something they want right now. Or He is teaching you to trust in His timing, to wait on Him, If you’ve asked God for answers but find yourself waiting longer than you planned, take a moment now to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don’t give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond and remember that the Lord is good to those who seek Him.   The question is: Do we really believe that He is good? If we did, wouldn’t that be cause to celebrate, whether He says yes or no?

Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” Max Lucado

Be His Hands and Feet

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The one thing I know for sure is, God has a plan for you, and every time he allows you to go through trials and difficulties, he is building you up to launch His calling for your life.  He is making you stronger, and adding a depth to your character that only God can give.  He is giving you compassion and empathy for people in situations similar to yours, and someday He will use your tough experiences to help others.  Be ready for that day, and remember that His power is the greatest in our times of weakness.  Think about it what a privilege it is to partner with our Lord Jesus Christ to comfort His people in distress.

I do believe that while God can use any method He wants to comfort us, restore us, and make us strong, He uses the people that He puts in our lives – divine appointments as I like to call them – to be His healing hands and feet on earth.  I remember the night my son passed away and the nurses surrounding us, holding us and one praying for us.  During his entire last hospital stay we were never without some sort of comfort from the staff.  I believe that the Lord sent those nurses and a Christian Doctor to comfort us at a time when we needed them most.

We all have our own unique stories in which God has comforted us in a trial, sent angels (without wings) to be His hands and feet, to comfort us and used them to draw us closer to Him.