What Does it Mean to Settle Into God?

https://rebeccaberschwinger.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/settling-into-jesus/

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Two Words That Break the Chains of Bondage and Set Us Free!

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Psalm 107:43 ESV

I have spent the last few years of my Christian walk being enslaved by feelings of guilt and fear. Why? Because over and over again, I have been listening to the enemy whisper the word “failure” in my ear. Let me attest to the fact that living in guilt and fear while feeling like a failure is exhausting, draining and overwhelming. It sucks the life right out of you!

I recently spent some long overdue time in my bedroom with God. I spent an entire day praying, fasting, praising and reflecting. Once again, I poured out my heart to God, all of my great sorrow and distress. After some time of quiet, I felt God nudging me to write out all of my feelings about everything that I felt guilt over or had fear about. So I did. 5 pages worth! I was amazed at how much I had just written. Seeing it all down on paper really brought to life just how much burden, how heavy of a load, I had been dragging around with me all this time.

“It’s all down on paper now Lord. Can you give me a word or something to reflect upon?” I asked. I decided to read some Psalms. Upon opening my Bible I just so happened to open up to Psalm 107:43. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Hmmmm. Quite some time ago I had underlined the words steadfast love in my Bible every time I saw them because I had noticed that the phrase had been used a lot. 191 times in the Bible actually, 123 times in the Psalms alone. Over and over the Psalms speak of God’s steadfast love that endures forever. Psalm 103,107, 108, 117, 118,119,136, just to mention a few. Also Lamentations 3:22,23.

This verse, however, I had missed. I had spent time underlining the words steadfast love, in my Bible, but I never really took the time to consider (contemplate, examine, ponder, meditate on) exactly what steadfast love meant.

So why does the Bible tell us that it’s wise to consider the steadfast love of the Lord? Because it frees us! It utterly destroys Satan’s stronghold of habitual wrong thinking built into our thought lives, bringing his craftily whispered deceptions to total ruin and breaking the chains of our bondage. Join me in this delightful word study and the wonderful realities that naturally transpire from a deepening knowledge of God’s steadfast love for you.

For me, as I dug deeper into the words meaning and its synonyms, I finally began to grasp God’s steadfast love for me. I began to realize that no matter what I’ve done as a believer, God’s love for me is steadfast! I pray that, as you read on, you will treasure in your own heart Gods steadfast love for you and that you will truly discover God in a healthy, refreshing new way, and fall in love with Him all over again.

Begin by reading through Psalm 119. Underline or highlight all the verses containing the words steadfast love.

Next, soak up, drink in, the definition of the word steadfast and it’s synonyms. Steadfast: A sureness and continuousness that can be depended upon. Loyal, faithful, determined, committed, relentless, unchanging, unwavering, unfaltering, unflinching, firmly fixed, enduring. Now think about the meaning of the word and its synonyms in terms of God’s love for you. What is this saying? It’s saying that God’s love for you is sure, firmly fixed. It will never change. It doesn’t flinch (recoil, wince, or drawback in fear or distaste) when you mess up. His love for you is relentless (continuous, non-stop, endless, untiring). Wow! God never stops, never tires of loving you! Basically, the Bible is saying that you cannot escape God’s steadfast love!

Not only does God show you steadfast love, He is steadfast love! His love isn’t endowed to you out of some sort of obligation. God can’t help but steadfastly love you because it’s who He is.

How often have you felt alone or unloved by those around you, including those closest to you here on this earth? Have you inadvertently allowed that feeling of being unloved due to broken, flawed relationships to spill over into your relationship with your Heavenly Father, causing you at times to feel unloved by Him? I have. It’s a terrible way to live; not loving yourself because of past failures, mistakes or guilt, assuming that God must feel the same way.

But the reality is much different than our feelings. God described Himself this way in Exodus 34:6 “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Don’t you just love that God Himself uses the words, steadfast love, to describe Himself? He says He is abounding (profuse, generous, boundless, inexhaustible) in steadfast love. What’s wonderful is that His abounding, profuse, generous, boundless, inexhaustible steadfast love is directed at you and me!

Because of your disappointment in yourself, have you unknowingly carried around the feeling that God must be disappointed in you too? The truth is, the mistakes you’ve made don’t come as a surprise to Him. Think about it. God is omniscient and in His omniscience, He knew long ago about every sin you would commit, every mistake you would make, some of them over and over again. Yet, long ago, before the foundation of the world, He still chose to love you. Even sending His Son to die on a cross in your place for your sins!

Satan, the great deceiver, the father of all lies, the accuser of the brethren, loves to remind us of our past mistakes and our sins, but God has chosen to forget our past sins and mistakes. God sees the person you are yet to become, through the help of the Holy Spirit. “For we are God’s handiwork (His workmanship, His masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. When God sees you He sees His masterpiece (a work of outstanding artistry, an artist’s greatest work). God sees you as one of His greatest works!

I’m so very grateful that God led me to that verse that day. It’s wonderful yet a lot to wrap one’s brain around. I’m still digesting it all because God’s love is so very different from mine. His is a perfect love, mine is imperfect. I’m learning not to judge God’s love based on mine. My imperfect way of loving here on earth is far from steadfast. Thankfully, though my love isn’t steadfast, His is. Always.

I am learning to settle into God’s steadfast love. To settle into means to get to know, become familiar with a new way of life, to adjust by getting a new way of thinking, to make yourself comfortable. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the definition of the word comfortable and it’s synonyms too. Comfortable: to be free from stress or fear. At ease, restful, relaxed, secure, safe, unworried, contented.

So settle into God’s steadfast love for you. Get to know it. Become familiar with it. Get comfortable with it. You’ll have a new way of thinking and you’ll be free from stress and fear, living a life that’s much more secure, unworried and content, glorifying God in the process.

And if the Liar tries to deceive you once again, which he will because he in no way wants you abiding in God’s steadfast love, go back and ponder it all again, as many times as you have to in order for it to sink down deep into the depths of your heart. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, remember that freedom doesn’t have to be all at once. It can happen in small steps, in stages. Persevere. Don’t give up! God is stronger than any chains Satan can bind you in.

Does Your Heart Need to be Pierced?

Looking and praying for that to change, I have begun to read Ephesians chapter 1 verses 1-14 while asking the Holy Spirit to pierce my heart with the reality of what God has done for me through His son Jesus. I am learning that it greatly helps me as I read the scripture verses where the pronouns “we” or “us” are used, to replace the words with “me” or “I”.

This is how I read the verses: Blessed be the God and Father of my Lord and Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined me to adoption as a daughter through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on me in the Beloved. In Him I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on me. In all wisdom and insight He made known to me the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him………In Him also I have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined accordng to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. In Him, I also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation – having also believed, I was sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of my inheritance until I acquire possession of it with to the praise of His glory.

Now, lets really, really mull over the incredible richness of what this is saying. First of all, I love that this starts out by blessing the Lord, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ……..The supreme duty of creation is to give praise and to commend our God. Who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ……….I’ve been blessed! I’ve been giving complete and total blessing by the total source of all blessings, God, through the realm of God’s complete heavenly domain thanks to Christ. Just as He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world…….. Wow!! God was thinking about me, making plans for me first, before He created the world! His concern for me was more important than His creation of this magnificent world! I came first! That I would be holy and blameless before Him; God chose me, an unrighteous and unworthy sinner to stand before Him and be declared holy, righteous, and worthy of His salvation! In love He predestined me to adoption as a daughter through Christ Jesus to Himself……….. God’s reason for choosing me? Love. There was nothing in me to make Him want to choose me, nothing but sin. My salvation, my being made God’s daughter, is all about His love and grace, nothing else. What a humbling, wonderful feeling it is to be loved that much! No one here on this earth could ever begin to love me that much! Again, all of this is through Jesus Christ. It is He, who through His atoning death made this possible. Thank you Jesus! According to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace………Again, it was God’s kindness, it was His will for me to be saved. I had nothing to do with it. That is why it’s to the praise and glory of His grace. If I at all had a part in it, if my salvation in any way shape or form was dependent upon me, then I guess I could receive some of the credit, right? But no! That’s why it’s to the praise and glory of His grace. God gets all the praise and glory! It was His grace, His umerited favor, a complete and total gift!

Is your heart being pierced yet? Is the enormity of God’s love and amazing grace leaving you awestruck? Let’s dissect some more of these amazing verses. Which He freely bestowed on me in the Beloved. In Him I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses……Again, I am reminded of Jesus tremendous sacrifice, the total emptying of Himself through the shedding of His precious blood in order to cover for my sins. Jesus paid the price that I was supposed to pay for my sins so that I would be forgiven! Forgiveness was freely bestowed on me in the beloved Jesus Christ! According to the riches of His grace which He lavished on me……These are the only kind of riches we should want or need, the riches of God’s grace, His unmerited favor. There is absolutely nothing I could ever do to earn even a tiny fragment of God’s grace. Not only has God lovingly and mercifully shown me grace, but His word says that He lavished it on me!! Wow!! To lavish means to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon. God has been extravagant in the grace that He has chosen to bestow upon me! In all wisdom and insight He made known to me the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him……God has also freely bestowed upon me in Christ Jesus, wisdom and insight as to His will for my salvation and for the church. How? Through the illumination of His Word with the help of the Holy spirit who now dwells within me, another free gift of God through Christ Jesus. God shares with believers His purpose for our salvation and His purpose for His church. In Him also I have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will……Through Jesus I have obtained a divine inheritance that is so much more than any earthly inheritance I could ever want or hope for. This inheritance is eternal and filled with an abundance of God’s riches. This divine inheritance is so certain that it is spoken of as if it has already been obtained! God set this in motion before the foundation of the world and in His sovereignty is working all things according to His will, including my salvation, my inheritance! In Him, I also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation-having also believed , I was sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of my inheritance until I acquire possession of it to the praise of His glory. God’s word says that after I heard the message of salvation and I, in faith, believed in Him (that faith is also a gift from God, lest I should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9), that He sealed me with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of my inheritance. Not only did God, through His amazing grace save me, but He gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me so that my salvation should never be lost! I am forever sealed as God’s own! I know that if left up to me, I would lose my salvation. In my sinfulness I would surely mess it up! But God in His infinite love and wisdom has taken care to make sure that I will always be His! All this is to the praise of His glory!

God is good. He’s good when I don’t deserve it. I will never be able to fully grasp the measure of His love, mercy and grace. How deep, how wide, how infinite. There is nothing more humbling than God’s umerited favor upon my eternal soul. Oh how I long for the realization of what He has done to sink in more!

My friend, if you are a true believer, these verses apply to you just as much as they do to me! Does your heart need to be pierced? If so, perhaps you’ll consider joining me in the practice of daily reading and inserting yourself in these rich and powerful verses. I’d love to hear from you whether or not it begins to make a differnce in your heart and in your thinking.

Nothing more to be said here except, “Praise God!”

When Life Gives You More Than You Can Bear

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I had been struggling to cope with our then, barely 17-year-old daughters pregnancy and her having left home against our will to live with the baby’s father. I was devastated! Sometimes love hurts. On top of that, I had received a phone call from my father in law’s wife, distraught over the painful news of her daughter’s untimely death in a car accident. Sometimes love hurts.

I couldn’t begin to imagine the immense pain she must have felt and as I lifted her in prayer to my heavenly Father, I thought about how He was there as that awful fatal car accident happened. He was there when my father in law’s wife received the horrifying news of the loss of her daughter and He was there as I laid on my bedroom floor trying to catch my breath, sobbing uncontrollably after my precious daughter, with child, left home.

“Father”, I whispered. “I know You are a God of love and compassion. You see and feel my pain and anguish. You are witness to people suffering and in pain every day; people hurting one another, people hurting themselves. You are there to see the pain of marriages and relationships crumbling, of families being torn apart, people sick, starving, lonely and in despair. You see and hear the grief-stricken cries of overwhelming pain when people receive the news about the death of their loved ones. You see it all, Lord!”

Our God, in His never-ending love, indeed bears the pain and anguish of not just me and my father in law’s wife, but He bears the pain and anguish of the entire broken world! From my own weak and limited human perspective I find myself asking God how He copes, how He endures the pain.

As I ponder it all in my heart, I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father sees the big picture, the final outcome of His perfect plan; the plan that I, cannot yet see.

If we could see the outcome of His perfect plan, one for our own good right up front, how different things might be for us. But the reality is that some of our time here in a broken world will be spent in pain not finding the answers that we so desperately hoped for this side of heaven. The purpose may not be clear until we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I feel led to turn to 1 Corinthians 13 and as I do I can hear His still, small voice. “Yes, Rebecca, love can cause us pain, but it’s my perfect love that gets us through that pain.”

And as I read 1 Corinthians 13, these words leapt off the page: Love is patient, love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, it endures everything without weakening and never fails.

Yes, that’s how our loving God endures the pain of love. We can too, through His perfect love for us!

If you are experiencing pain and heartbreak in your own life as you read this, take heart. You are not alone. God does in fact, feel your pain and anguish.

Look to Him and His never-ending, perfect love. Let Him love you through it with His perfect love for you.

Assuming the Worst When God Seems Silent

My husband is a hard working carpenter. He is in the business of making people’s homes beautiful. So one can imagine my zeal when the occasion comes my way in which I’m able to be a recipient of his gifts and talents for our own home.

Our latest project has been remodeling our old worn out kitchen. Long overdue and years in the coming, needless to say, I was more than anxious and excited for the job to be completed.

Lying in bed every  night, my eyelids heavy as my consciousness begins to ebb away ,  I can envision in my sleepy mind, walking into my new kitchen with the freshly painted walls, tin backsplash that’s reminiscent of an old farmhouse kitchen back in the day, new bright white cupboards and drawers neatly organized with the pots, pans, plates, bowls and utensils and such, comfy in their new home.

But for the time being, I’ve had to settle for cupboards with no doors, displaced pots and pans sitting on the table, taking the silverware from the old drawer sitting on the floor in the corner by the stove and bowls and plates sitting out on the counter.

Maybe when I get home from my shift at the hospital tonight some more of the cupboards will have been installed. That night, as I wearily trudge down the stone path toward the house after a long, frustrating evening at work,  as tired as I am though,  I’m excited about what I will see when I walk through the door and into the kitchen.

What?  Seriously?!  What had he been doing all night while I was at work?   I tried not to let my disappointment, and yes, my anger at not seeing any visible progress show as I inquired as to how my husbands evening was.

“Fine,” he answered. “How was yours?”  I ignored his question and instead sent a rapid-fire succession of questions mingled with complaints in my poor husband’s direction. “Is there any reason the cupboards still aren’t up on the walls?  What could possibly be taking you so long to finish this?  What are you doing the whole time while I’m at work every evening?  Why can’t we just get this kitchen finished already?”

After I finished my tirade, I glanced over at my husband. He didn’t utter a word. He didn’t have to. The look on his face said it all.  I knew he was irritated, to say the least, at my childish outburst.

After a few moments of awkward silence, my husband stood up and graciously explained, “Well, first of all, I’ve been replacing our old worn out plumbing lines as well as updating the electric behind the walls where the cupboards will go so I can install a ceiling fan like you’ve always wanted. Oh yeah, I forgot that I had asked for a ceiling fan.  He continued on, “and I’ve been cleaning, caulking and repainting inside the bottom cabinets to make them look better inside and help to guard against those destructive mice.”

My husband continues to explain,  but I’m not listening.  Not because I’m not interested in what he has to say, but because I’m berating myself for my audacious behavior and assumptions about my husband’s hard work in our kitchen.

I assumed the worst because I saw no outwardly visible progress. I assumed nothing was being done when in truth, my husband,  the carpenter, was busy at work accomplishing so much more than I could have ever imagined, behind the scenes.

As I  reflect upon my chronic short-sightedness, I’m reminded of Jesus, the master carpenter, and how so often it may seem to us as though He’s not working in our lives at all.  It’s as though God isn’t listening,  He’s not answering. It seems as though He’s just not there. It seems as though He just doesn’t care.

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though there are no outward signs of visible progress in our prayers or in our lives, our Lord and Savior is in fact hard at work, taking care of all the details, both little and big,  that we’re not aware need to be taken care of.

Perhaps while you’re waiting,  God is working behind the scenes preparing someone whom He’s going to bring into your life to encourage or bless you.  Maybe He’s working on giving you more than you’ve requested, or perhaps, like my ceiling fan, blessing you with something you’d forgotten that you’d asked for.  Could it be that you’ve got some cracks that need filling in so as to keep out destructive things in your life?

Whatever you are waiting on, know and believe that God is diligently and faithfully working behind the scenes, building and repairing.   And don’t forget, God works based on our believing, not our seeing.

In his defense, Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working.  John 5:17

 

 When will the Dam Burst?

Today’s bible reading very much reminded me of the state of things in, not only America,  but in our world today.  Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are clever in their own eyes and clever in their own sight…………Who justify the wicked for a bribe and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! Isaiah 5:20, 21, 23.  

The continuing verses go on to speak of God’s wrath being poured out because of the people’s thinking and behaviors.

Imagine a very large dam like the Hoover Dam. This dam is a phenomenal concrete behemoth! It measures 1,244 feet in length, is 644 feet thick and 726 feet high. It’s said to hold back such a great volume of water that it has deformed the earths crust and it caused around 600 earthquakes in the 10 years after it was built. Wow!

I cannot begin to fathom what would happen if the strong materials of the walls of that dam became weakened or compromised and the extreme weight of the waters behind it eventually won out.  The floodgates would be opened to a roaring fury of waters that would  annihilate anything and everything in it’s path, leaving behind nothing but chaos, destruction and heartache.

Our nation, our world, is sitting below a humongous dam itself.  A dam much larger and more threatening than the little ole Hoover Dam. We are precariously sitting below a dam in which the waters of God’s wrath are beating furiously upon the dam of His grace.

Sadly,  our delusional, misguided society has begun to poke holes in and weaken the infrastructure of the dam of God’s grace through denying and even foolishly attempting to change God’s created order of male and female and the legalization of  same sex marriage and abortion, just to name a few.

Do they really believe they can spit in the face of our perfect holy Creator by changing His familial foundation for society? ? Do they think they can try to strip believers of their right to live their lives and conduct their jobs according to God’s holy and true word and not be held accountable for their destructive and hateful attitudes and actions toward God and those who are His?

The great and mighty dam of God’s grace has been compromised. It’s been weakened. How long before the torrent of furious waters begin rushing out no one knows, except for God.

I do know that I’m so very glad to know that as a believer, when that dam does burst, I will still be the recipient of God’s unmerited grace and not His wrath, thanks to my dear sweet Jesus and His sacrifice made on my behalf.

Tragically,  the same can’t be said for unbelievers. Instead of being children of God’s grace, they are children of God’s wrath. They need repentance. They need our heartfelt prayers. They need the good news of the gospel of Christ Jesus. They need us.  As believers we are to be God’s mouths, hands and feet.  That responsibility lies with us.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 

Galatians 6:7,8

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19,20