Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding Balance

I had the opportunity to meet Constance Rhodes, the founder of Finding Balance, a Christian eating disorder non-profit.  She is doing great work to help those struggling with eating and body image issues to get the help they need. Her website has a lot of great information and videos, and I highly recommend signing up for her e-devotional.

All the information can be found at findingbalance.com

Here is a youtube video of Constance performing her song "More Than A Number"

Take this time to reflect on how your worth lies in more than a number.  1 Peter 2:9 says "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light".  Remember that YOU are chosen. You were created by God for His pleasure.  He is delighted with His creation... you!

Constance also has some compelling words about our culture and the dieting industry.
Take a look at this video...


What a staggering picture of the distortion of our culture today.  Consider all the money we spend to change how our body looks to make it "more appealing" on the outside.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Psalm 139:7-12

Continuing our study of Psalm 139, I want to focus on verses 7-12 today.  Let's start by looking at the passage from the NIV

7      Where can I go from your Spirit? 
        Where can I flee from your presence?

8      If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
        if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9      If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
        if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10    even there your hand will guide me, 
        your right hand will hold me fast.

11    If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me 
       and the light become night around me,"

12   even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
       the night will shine like the day, 
       for darkness is as light to you.

We discovered last time, in the first few verses of Psalm 139, that we cannot escape the knowledge of God.  He knows everything about us yet still loves us!  If that wasn't mind-boggling enough, here we see that we cannot escape God's presence--no matter where we go, God is there with us!  Let's take a closer look at what this means for you and me. 

The word presence in verse 7 can be defined as 'immediate vicinity' or 'proximity', meaning that there is no hiding from God.  He is right there with you. 

Jehovah had promised His presence among His people from the beginning.  His presence took on many different forms: a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, a cloud over Mount Sinai, an angel, the ark, filling the temple.  God freed Israel from captivity in Egypt and His presence guided them.  But the Israelites only found themselves in captivity again in Babylon, and this time they were taken captive by things of this world.

Kay Arthur shares this story in her book Lord I Want To Know You, In the Korean War the majority of our men who were taken captive never tried to escape.  This seeming apathy was unprecedented, especially in comparison to World War II. Y et, they resigned themselves to prison because they saw no future. They had lost their vision.  Their hope was gone.  They gave in and were absorbed by their captivity (167).

Don’t we often find ourselves taken captive by the world?  Sin slowly creeps in and soon we find ourselves in bondage so deep we don’t feel like we can ever break free.  Satan tries to convince us that we are all alone and that even God has given up on us.  Is that where you are today?  So resigned to your captivity that there is no point in trying to break free?  You feel far away from God, like maybe He’s forgotten about you?  I know that place.  It seemed easier to me to just stay where I was, stuck in an eating disorder, rather than try to break free.  But that was a place of hopelessness and despair. 

That might be what Satan whispers, but God proclaims in Joshua 1:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.  Hasn’t God promised that His presence will be with us?  Look at this Psalm and hear the message of encouragement and the promises it gives of a future and a hope.  He promises that He will be with us no matter where we go, from the heavens to the depths (v8), from the dawn to the sea (v9), darkness will be light (v11) and all along His hand will guide me, holding me fast (v10).  WOW! Stand on these promises, Beloved, and rejoice that God is right there with you!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Psalm 139:1-6

Have you ever taken a moment to think about how and why you were created?  Maybe that question is scary to think about because you don't really know why you were created.  Maybe you feel worthless, unacceptable, a failure.  I used to feel that way.  But God transformed my heart to be able to see just how much He loves me and it is my prayer that, as we study Psalm 139, God will transform your heart as well.

I want to break the Psalm down into smaller chunks, so let's start with the first 6 verses from the NIV.

You have searched me, LORD,
 and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
 you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
 you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
 you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
 and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful
 for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Let's start by looking at the word LORD in verse 1.  You may be wondering why it is in all capital letters?  Here the word LORD is from the Hebrew word for God, YAHWEH.

  • Historical Note: This name is known in Hebrew as the tetragrammaton and was written as four letters YHWH.  It was considered blasphemous to speak this name so when the Jewish people spoke about God they would call Him Adonai.  Because of this, the true pronunciation has been lost.  This is the most frequent name for God used in the Old Testament, appearing more than 6800 times.  It was first used in Exodus 3 when Moses encounters God at the burning bush.  In verses 13-15 God refers to himself as I AM (LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, His memorial name to all generations). 

Here we can see our God (Yahweh or Jehovah) is omnipotent (all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful and present everywhere), an absolute ruler, the alpha and the omega (the beginning and the end).  But at the same time He knows us, He is with us, and He desires a personal relationship with us!  These truths alone are incredible... and we haven't even gotten past verse 1 yet!

Let's dig a little deeper and look at all the words used to describe how God knows us:

search[ed]: to examine in order to discover
know: to understand as truth
perceive: to identify by means of the senses
discern: to recognize or apprehend
familiar: to be well acquainted

That sounds like God has a pretty intimate understanding of who I am.  It's nothing less than mind-blowing to think that God knows EVERYTHING about me and He still wants a personal relationship with me.  I'm no one special.  I'm just one of the billions of people here on earth, which is a part of an infinite universe that is so vast that it is beyond comprehension, yet God still cares that much about me!  Did you know God cares this much about you?  Did you know just how much God wants a personal relationship with you because YOU are that important to Him?

If you are still unsure, look at verse 5.  It says "You hem me in"...what does that mean?  That means being like a hedge or enclosure around you, protecting you.  You may already be hemmed in, but maybe it seems more like a prison cell than a blessing because your walls are rooted in eating strongholds, or unforgiveness, or self-loathing.  These may offer you a sense of protection, but in actuality you are trapped and you want to get out because you are tired of living this way.  However, you are afraid to leave this trap.  At least it's known.  At least it is familiar.  Let me challenge your thoughts.  What would happen if you left behind those familiar walls?  Do you fear it could be worse than it is right now?  It could be... but what if it's better?

Do you know who you are?  Do you know with confidence that your identity is found in Christ?  If you place your identity in Christ, then HE is the one hemming you in and His walls are those of protection and love, NOT of sin, hopelessness and despair.  Christ surrounds you with His love and everything has to be filtered through his love.  Trust the One who knows you better than you even know yourself.  YAHWEH is bigger and more powerful than whatever you are facing right now and I know that what He has for you IS better!

Arthur, Kay. Lord I Want To Know You: A Devotional Study of the Names of God. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

You Are God's Masterpiece

So what does that mean "You are God's masterpiece"? It comes from Ephesians 2:10 which says "We are God's handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)

This word handiwork comes from the Greek word poiema which gives us our English word for poem and it means "what has been made".  It can also be translated workmanship or masterpiece or creation.  That means YOU are something made by God.  Have you ever considered yourself a work of divine poetry?

Do you realize what that means?  That means that when God created you, He created a masterpiece.  It means you are a work of art that is one of a kind, custom designed, tailor made by the Master's hand!  Often when we look at ourselves, we don't see a masterpiece at all.  Instead we see all of our flaws, all of our imperfections, all of our smudges if you will.  But that is NOT what God sees.  He sees what He knit together in their mother's womb (Psalm 139:13)

I like how Nancy Leigh DeMoss puts it in her book: Lies Women Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free.

          It is conceivable that someone who did not recognize or appreciate fine art would toss a masterpiece into the trash. Would that make the painting any less valuable? Not at all. The true worth of the art would be seen when an art collector spotted the painting and said, "That is a priceless piece, and I am willing to pay any amount to acquire it."  
        When God sent His only Son, Jesus to this earth to bear your sin and mine on the cross, He put a price tag on us--He declared the value of our soul to be greater than the value of the whole world. Whose opinion are you going to accept? Believing a lie will put you in bondage. Believing Truth will set you free. (68)

Even though you may not appreciate yourself as fine art and you may feel like you should just be tossed in the trash, it doesn't make you, God's creation, any less valuable!  The enemy will try to convince you otherwise and you may not even be able to discern the Truth from lies.  In order to discover Truth we must go straight to the source, the Bible.  Let's look at some scriptures to see what God says about you:

1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light." 

Ephesians 1:4-6 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

Romans 8:31-34 "What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chose? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who diedmore than that, who was raised to lifeis at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." 

If you ever begin to doubt how much God loves you or how pleased He is with you as His creation, look at these scriptures (and many others) to remind yourself of just how special you are.

I love this Identity Declaration by Beth Moore:

Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you.  Ask Him to remove the web of lies that are keeping you from seeing yourself for who you truly are.  Remember, this is who you are: loved, chosen, precious, redeemed, forgiven, fearfully and wonderfully made, God's masterpiece!