The beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

“No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

Advertisements

Bringing balance in our conversations


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4: 5-6

Imagine you are getting out the ingredients to bake a batch of cookies, but you have unknowingly mixed up the salt and the sugar. You end up putting in a dash of sugar and a cup of salt.

Now, picture a little child taking a big bite of one of those cookies. How long will it take the child to realize something is wrong? Do you think he or she will ask for another cookie? Of course not!

The art of seasoning is a matter of balance. Just enough salt to notice, but not too much salt to overwhelm. Salt creates a thirst, a desire for more. As Christians, we sprinkle the salt of God’s grace and gospel into our daily conversations. We don’t saturate every conversations in a way that drives others away. The artful seasoning of God’s loving grace into our conversations will create a thirst and a desire in the lives of others. They will long to know more of Jesus. This is how you “make the most of every opportunity.”

War Room: A Battle Plan

 

A storm is coming. Or you’re in a storm right now. We all know they’re a part of life. We don’t have to be told that. It’s no surprise to us. What it does is catch us off guard sometimes. We have to be ready. We have to be on guard and have a battle plan working and ready when it comes.

A boss that just wont get off our backs.

A spouse that doesn’t seem to be lined up with you at the moment.

A friend that isn’t really a friend.

A family member that seems like a stranger to you.

A competing co-worker.

Gossip.

Rage.

Hurt.

Betrayal.

A past.

A present.

Sin.

All these things and more can be a battle for us at any given time. We know this. We are warned about this in the Scriptures, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is in our battle plan.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities and the powers of the unseen dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

We forget that our battle isn’t with people and get sucked into battling each other. We argue with each other, battle our spouses and divide our own households, families, and work places. In other words, we help the devil carry out his very schemes we want to battle!

You see, there is a battle always going on in the spiritual realm. That’s where the fight is. That’s the battlefield and that’s where we need to fight. The enemy is our accuser. It’s always happening and we need a battle plan.

God is strong and He wants you strong and prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own so take everything God has given you, well-made weapons of the best materials – God’s Word and prayer – and put them to use so you will be able to standup to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray first, pray often and about everything. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up that that no one falls behind or drops out.

This is an excellent Battle Plan!

I was invited to a premiere event last week for the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers – creators of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. This movie is coming out tomorrow, Friday, August 28, 2015. Priscilla Shirer stars in it and Beth Moore has a role too. These ladies are two of my favorite Bible Teachers. This movie is so inspiring. If you are a Believer, go see it. If you are alive and breathing, go see it. You’ll see the power of prayer played out on the big screen. You’ll be moved to get active and speak out boldly and loudly against the enemy’s schemes in your life. You’ll come away with a battle plan. It’s what inspired me to write this message today. It inspired me to get back to my war room battle plan. I know it will inspire you to do the same.

IMG_2824

#WarRoom #KendrickBrothers #PriscilaShirer #BethMoore #Prayer #Bible

Where Am I Building My Life?

 

My Dad was very talented when it came to creating things. He created everything from beautiful, fine crafted wood workings that were gifts from our government to others and celebrated in city parades, to houses, and everything in between.

He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

I was so blessed to grow up on building sites and in work shops where my Dad would share his wisdom with me as he worked. One thing my Dad taught me was that wise builders know that every house must have a foundation. A foundation is usually made of concrete or stone and steel, and its purpose is to hold the house up from underneath. Wise builders also know that the foundation must be built on very solid ground or rock. If the house is built on sand, the building will fall when the sand under the foundation washes away in a storm, or when it shifts during an earthquake.

For the same reason, our lives must have a strong foundation. Storms are a part of life. We all will face our share of difficulties and disappointments. Therefore wise people build the foundation of their lives on God, whom the Bible calls the Rock:

“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:32)

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation. (Psalm 62:2)

God is like the solid rock, dependable and durable, on which wise people lay the foundations for their houses. You can always count on God and His Word–the Bible–because they always tell us what is true. Whether building houses or building their lives, wise people will follow a good plan, and there is no plan as good as the one found in God’s word:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

christyrawls.com

Growing Into It

IMG_2823

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.” -1 Samuel 16:13

We were sitting down at a very nice restaurant and had just ordered when my young daughter grew impatient, asking when her food was going to arrive. She couldn’t understand why her food wasn’t coming immediately after ordering at this restaurant as it does at fast food drive-thru windows.

We live in a very microwave culture. If we want something, we want it right now! But, even though we can go through a drive-thru to get fast food immediately, this microwave mentality often doesn’t apply to our calling and life with God.

We tend to think of David in the Bible as the great shepherd king, the worshipper after God’s own heart. But I wonder when we think of him, if we truly consider all the processing David endured after he was anointed to be king? Yes he won the fight against Goliath; but after he was anointed, he went back to tending sheep! He spent many years running from Saul. It was only after he was tested and he did not kill his enemy Saul that God allowed David to be king. This was years after Samuel had anointed the little shepherd boy in the field before his brothers. Years.

Often we can be impatient with God’s processing. We may want God’s promises – all right now! But God has His reasons for timing that may not make sense to us in the moment. We may not be ready. We may not be able to handle what He wants to give us until He puts us in a place of character building. We have to learn to trust God when we have yet to see the manifestation of the dream that’s on our hearts. This is how God knows we can be trusted with it. This is how we grow to be able to have the capacity to carry God-sized dreams. We grow through experience. This is how character is built.

The journey there brings the growth we need to rightfully handle the “thing” we’re dreaming about now.

Are you letting God grow you through experience? Even if you feel the place you are at right now is not your ultimate destination, decide to treat it with respect. It will provide the training ground we’ll need to be able to withstand God’s promises in our lives and our ultimate calling. Bloom where you’re planted.

IMG_2824

Let God Overwhelm You Today

20140126-110525.jpg

I am your all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present Father.

You may feel lonely, but don’t believe it. You’re never far from Me.

I Am is always here – delighting in you, watching you, adoring you.

I know you better than you know yourself, and it brings Me great joy to show you My love. I pleasure in caring for you.

Come.

Let My love overwhelm you today….

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6

These are my notes from my devotion time today. His loving presence is wonderfully, fantastically, overwhelmingly, almost too much to handle. It makes you feel like you’re going to spontaneously combust! It’s miraculous. It’s where I crave to be all the days of my life.

Let God overwhelm you today.

Go ahead….invite Him in right now

Rescued and Redeemed, walk in it: Colossians 1:13-14

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

We have been rescued! We needed rescuing from the domination of the enemy. His ways are meant for our destruction and harm. Let’s speak the truth….he’s after us.

Thanks to Jesus and His redeeming forgiveness of the cross, we reside under his dominion no more!!

    God rescued us from darkness to light….
    from slavery to freedom….
    from guilt to forgiveness….
    from hell to heaven….
    from the power of satan to the power of God.

The enemy no longer has any dominion over us. We are freeeeee!! Thank You Jesus! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Sweetest name I know!

Paul mentions we are rescued AND redeemed:

Rescued: to save someone from a dangerous or distressing situation; keep from being lost or abandoned; to set free from danger; a deliverance

Redeemed: Do something that compensates for poor past performances or behavior; to recover ownership by paying a specified sum

Isn’t that cool? Rescued and redeemed….that’s what we who accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior are! Saved and set free……paid for and under the power of a great and wonderful God!

Any bondage we are in is by our own doing.


My husband puts it like this:

Imagine being raised by a mean man….mean to the core. This man continually tells the child, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that.” or, “You must do this, you must do that.” One day this man dies, and that child is on his own. He comes to know that the old man was wrong about everything he said; that there is freedom in Christ that’s been there all along.

We need to start listening to the right Man! You see, we are co-heirs with Christ. This means everything Jesus has, we now have. Everything. We have put ourselves in bondage to things in this world that we are free of.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

(For more in relation to the former life read Ephesians 4:17-32)

But before we can have a former life, we have to gain a new life in Christ. I ask you now, if your life ended today, would you go to heaven? The Bible tells us all about how we can claim our salvation: read here and then come back and tell us about it, and let us celebrate with you.

Our sin debt is paid. We have been redeemed and and rescued. Our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west to be held against us no more(Psalm 103:12). Let’s walk in it!

There’s an awesome song that speaks so well what we’ve talked about today. Go here and allow this song to speak to you in worship of our risen Savior.

I love you deeply. Walk freely with the King.