Jesscbnyc Recommends: All Things New 31-Day Devotional: DAY 2

DAY 2

IMG_2344

I liked this devotional from Betty Robison because she briefly talks about the loss of her daughter.

Some things, like death, don’t make sense to us. We can often blame God, or worry that we did something or didn’t do something that would have changed the outcome.

I like the reminder that God is always with us. He never leaves us and He never punishes us by taking away a loved one.

Unfortunately this life on Earth has times of sickness and death but it is comforting to know that God is with us always and will make everything beautiful.

“I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”

There’s a story I heard of a man who fell in a hole and could not find his way out. A doctor came to see him, wrote a prescription, tossed it in the hole and moved on. A preacher came to see him, wrote a prayer, tossed it in the hole, and moved on. A friend came to see him and jumped in the hole. The guy says “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck.” The friend says, “I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.” Author Unknown

I was reading through some of the captions and comments on “Humans of New York”, one of my favorite things on Facebook. One photo was about a woman who had struggled with depression and one of the comments was this quote.

I’ve been depressed. I think sadly, sometimes, that’s part of life. Something didn’t go the way you expected. Whether this is a death, a diagnosis, a betrayal, a job loss, or endless other situations it can be easy like the man in the quote to “fall in a hole”.

Society tries to tell you what will fix you. Therapy, medication, religion, and friends are just some of the things hinted at in this quote. Ultimately you will find that all of these things fall short because Jesus is the only one who can climb into that hole with you and say “I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”

Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He endured all so there is nothing that He doesn’t know the way out of.

Be of good cheer today knowing there is no depth He cannot reach to pull you out.

He Who Calls

IMG_8272IMG_9216

Today on the commute to work I was listening to Hillsong’s No Other Name album as I normally do. I haven’t in a while because I’ve forgotten to charge my iPod but I remembered to the other day. I was feeling a little woozy on the bus and decided to take out my headphones and listen to it.

I was remembering how early on (when I started to first come to Hillsong) I would listen to my iPod and various Hillsong albums and have my eyes closed on the bus to or from work. More often than not I would see a vision of myself smiling and singing and dancing and lifting my hands to the songs. Maybe that seems normal but for me, prior to Hillsong, I can count on one hand or a few fingers the amount of times I’ve lifted my hands in worship. It was just never my thing. I never judged people who did, but I didn’t want to feel guilted into worshiping how other people do just to feel like I was doing Christianity properly.

Fast forward in time and now it feels weird not no lift my hands in worship. And that’s a cool thing. I remembered who I was and now who I am and it dawned on me that maybe God was showing me what He would see me doing one day. I wasn’t yet there, but He exists outside of time and had revealed something to me.

Anyway, I was listening to whatever song came on this morning and I saw myself singing and dancing around on stage like we usually do at church in choir, in the background, with the worship team on any given Sunday. But this time I was singing two lines. I wrote them in my phone which is why I included them in today’s picture. The first was “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes”. And a few minutes later the second was “He who calls me to dance on graves”. I started to imagine me dancing on stage and looking down as the floor was covered in snakes. They didn’t try to bite me, they didn’t try to squeeze me, it was like no one was phased by it. Then I stopped day-dreaming and whatever the next song was started.

I decided today at work to look up these two things in the Bible. First snakes and then graves.

Here are some examples of verses that talk about snakes:

Psalm 91:1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

Luke 10:18-20

Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

How cool is that? It makes total sense now right? My first reaction whenever I’ve had any sort of dreams or visions is to go to the Bible first and see if it’s actually from God. I have my fair share of pointless or disturbing or random dreams and not all of them are worth exploring. But I was so excited after reading these verses because I got a few important points out of them:

  • God rescues me from hazardous situations i.e. “snakes” which can be many obstacles, negative comments about you, gossip, sinful temptations, etc.
  • Wikipedia defines snakes in one sections as “Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.” In other words…there are different kinds of snakes. Some who appear non-threatening but can literally consume you or destroy you through consistent pressure and some that you know you should avoid completely because they are lethal. Wow.
  • Psalm 91 says that I’ll watch safely from a distance kind of like how I saw this vision and no matter the amount of snakes, I knew that I was safe and smiling and dancing like nothing was wrong
  • God is showing me what He has done for me i.e. I have safe passage as I walk on “snakes” through life because of His authority over and presence in me

Here are some examples of verses that talk about graves:

Psalm 30:2-3

God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.

Jonah 2:1-9

[ At the Bottom of the Sea ] Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!”

Matthew 27:51-53

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

Once again I found these verses amazingly cool! Here are some takeaways from what I read:

  • When we are “6 feet under” and have been pronounced “dead” in areas of our life, whether these are dreams, relationships, our optimism, whatever it might be we need to remember that when we call out for help God will pull us out of the grave. He pulled himself out of the grave and rose from the dead, and as children of God we have access to that same resurrection power. We have reason to hope.
  • Prior the Hillsong I had a lot of hardships ranging from an abusive relationship to a dysfunctional relationship with my father to betrayals by friends and just overall despair and depression. When entering Hillsong I was desperate for a change. I was always in church every Sunday throughout my life and always considered myself to be born-again, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to life. Life happens, hurt happens, but you can choose what kind of seed your life has. I mean this in the Matthew 13 kind of way. For those of you who don’t know it says: “A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” I think in my pre-Hillsong season I had seeds, I had moments where growth sprouted through different seasons but through various storms I withered and weeds began to strangle me. My hope withered, my view of God withered, and had I grown stronger roots I wouldn’t have died as quickly. You see? So I relate to Jonah in the part where he says “I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple”. So often I felt unloved or betrayed by God. That He saw me but wasn’t acting on my behalf. That I was being punished for some past sinful behavior. That He didn’t love me as much as He loved other Christians.
  • As low as you think you’ve gone, God can quickly pull you out. Jonah knows this first hand: “I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God”
  • I forget some times that when Jesus rose from the dead that other people rose with Him. In other words, nothing that looks dead in a Christian’s life can stay dead.

I love this song from this morning because it is a simple picture of what God has accomplished in just two years. “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes/He who calls me to dance on graves”.

Be hopeful that whatever is trying to devour you, God has equipped you to crush. Be excited that whatever looks long dead, God will make come alive. God calls us by name and we see this proven in the Bible when He calls out to Adam, Moses, Samuel, and many other people. Never become bitter and believe that God has forgotten you or doesn’t know who you are. He does. And if He can show Himself faithful to me and speak to me I know He can call out for you too.

Tuesday Inspiration 12.16.14

image

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks hasn’t it? Between the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, the verdicts in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, and the school shooting in Pakistan the world has a lot of reasons to lose hope. Today I came across this quote on someone’s Instagram and decided to use just a simple PicMonkey.com font to design for today’s blog post.

It was only ten words but it took my breath away. I thought it was such a simple and beautiful concept because it’s easy to feel defeated. It’s human to mourn death. It’s easy to feel scared about the future and to wonder what is wrong with the world today. But the important thing about this idea is that it causes us to see beyond the current horrors. Fields full of seeds can look dead before they sprout crops. And situations, people, and places can seem irrevocably damaged or evil but God is still at work here on Earth.

In 1 Peter 1:23 it says:

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”

In Mark 4 it says:

26-29 Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

In other words those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior are full of God seed. We are not defined by time or death but are new creations who will live forever in community with our God. For those who are still committing evil here on Earth or living under the blindness of their sin, I try to remind myself that Jesus’s heart on the cross, though broken by what man has done, still had enough sympathy for us to say “Father forgive them, they do not know what they do”. I’m not saying the world events are right. I’m not saying they aren’t a big deal. They are. Any death is devastating. Any evil hurts to hear about. But ultimately I don’t want to live in fear or feel like the world has somehow come off its rotation and we’re all spiraling out of control. God is still on the throne, He is not hard-hearted towards the conditions on Earth. Instead, miraculously, He holds back for the sake of those who have yet to come to salvation. This is scandalous to us, but if we believe, truly that God is all-loving but also all-fair, we have to understand that while things look like they are dying all around us that God is still at work. Seeds of hope and life are still being planted no matter what the Enemy or evil-doers think they are destroying. I know that God wins at the end of all of this. Let that be our hope.