Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Redeeming Love

Thursday

Have you ever read a book that just CHANGED YOUR LIFE?!?! Getting to know the Lord more fully through Scripture is utterly life-changing, and certainly has proven so for my life, but in the past several months, I read another book that really got to me.

So much so that I began recommending it to every person God put on my heart. You may know how much I LOVE Goodwill shopping and I began praying before all of my shopping expeditions for the Lord to place a copy of this book on the shelf so that I could share it with more people. (And He provided!!)

I talked about my LOVE of the Book of Hosea yesterday, and this book is actually a version of that piece of Scripture, rewritten in a more modern setting.

You may, or may not, know this, but Hosea is a short book in the Old Testament about a prophet, by the same name, who God asks to marry a prostitute…and to continue loving and pursuing the prostitute – his wife – no matter what she does or how unfaithful she is…no matter that she has (at least) one child while they are married by another man…no matter that he ends up having to pay to purchase her out of slavery…no matter what.

And as you may have drawn by your own conclusions, the account of Hosea and his unending pursuit and relentless love for his unfaithful wife, is ALSO a picture of the way God loves us.

Think about that.

How many times have I run in the opposite direction at full-speed away from God? How many times have I prayed for forgiveness, only to make the same mistakes over and over and over again? How utterly LOST have I been that I couldn’t find my way back to Him, and yet, He purchased me out of slavery when no one else would have?

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Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

That is amazing grace. His truly redeeming love does not ask us to be the finished product to win Him over. No. He pursues us just as we are, and molds us into His creation.

Read this book. Read Hosea in the Bible. Discover the unrelenting love He has for each one of us, no matter how far we have strayed or how unfaithful we have been.

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs (Psalm 103:8-10 TM).

I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again (Isaiah 43:25 NIV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son… (John 3:16)

His love, my friends, is so unsurpassing we cannot even begin to wrap our little minds around it.

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What's Up Wednesday

All Our Fruit Comes From Him

Wednesday

One month and counting in Maine, and we have been BUSY. Church events, planning a youth ministry from scratch and this house. Y’all. This. House. I can’t wait to share our finished product. And honestly, for the changes we are able to make now it shouldn’t be too much longer before we can do the big reveal! Wahooo!!!

One blessing, though, in our move is substantially bigger than the updates we are making toward making this house our home, and all the other activities we are involved in – it’s time with the Lord. What an extravagant gift! I’ve had the privilege to be involved in an awesome women’s Bible study (‘Breathe’ by Priscilla Shirer – it’s awesome!!), and in my read straight-thru the Bible, I have just made it through Hosea. I am loving this beautiful land. This quiet. This time.

And today, God blessed me with a Word from Him He knew I desperately needed to hear. And honestly, it’s my new favorite passage of scripture:

Healing for the Repentant

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
    for your sins have brought you down.
Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
    Say to him,
“Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
    so that we may offer you our praises.
Assyria cannot save us,
    nor can our warhorses.
Never again will we say to the idols we have made,
    ‘You are our gods.’
No, in you alone
    do the orphans find mercy.”

The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
    my love will know no bounds,
    for my anger will be gone forever.
I will be to Israel
    like a refreshing dew from heaven.
Israel will blossom like the lily;
    it will send roots deep into the soil
    like the cedars in Lebanon.
Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
    as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.
My people will again live under my shade.
    They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
    They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Hosea 14:1-9

I stand in awe. His love is extravagant. It is all we need. HE is all we need.

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So many times All the time my prayers are asking and pleading and begging…and every time His answer is the same: I am the Lord Who provides.

How beautiful that His love knows no bounds!! He is even our SHADE!! (And on days as hot as today, I can fully appreciate that attribute – and I’m sure you can too!) We don’t just serve a god who makes us happy in this moment. We serve the Almighty God, the Creator who provides for our every need.

I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me. Hosea 14:8b

He asks us to follow Him, and He will provide. Stop for a moment this afternoon and reflect on that for a moment…Whatever it is you are worrying about and stressing over, give it up to God. Fully surrender to Him. He. Will. Provide.

Return…to the Lord…for your sins have brought you down…Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us [Lord], so that we may offer You our praises.

Hosea 14:1-2 (emphasis & editing mine)

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TTC Tuesday

Bless The Lord, O My Soul!

tuesday

Yes, I know. I have been a bad blogger and ALREADY broken my ‘resolution’ of daily (M-F) blogging and we aren’t even out of January yet! 🙂 But, I have a good excuse…

Wednesday I trained a temporary employee all day at work, and then Thursday through Monday we were out of town. So, see…Does that really count as breaking my resolution??? 🙂

Well, since I have been playing catch-up all day at the office, I wanted to keep this post short and to the point, so here goes!

The current Bible reading plan I am using also includes one ‘focus Scripture passage’ for every week…I’m a little bit behind (of course), but I have been stuck on the first passage of the year. I keep it on a post-it note at my desk, and I feel like I have been gaining insight about what scripture is saying for several weeks now:

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I realize now that I’ve attached the photo you can’t really see the verses written on my turquoise stickie (because you know I can’t use a plain yellow stickie note, right?!?!???)… So let me share what my little note says:

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” Psalm 103:1-4

Wow!!! I just LOVE that Psalm!! What beautiful knowledge to be reminded that our Savior forgives everything we do, heals us to complete perfection (upon our entrance into Heaven), saves us from eternal fire, and once we are His, we are CHANGED!!

When I look up at my little note at my desk and see this, I am reminded that no matter how busy I am – no matter how much I am dreading the commute home or the upcoming meeting – no matter how sad I am that Craig is on a trip for work and I’m still not pregnant…this little reminder reminds me that He is in control; reminds me that He is my Savior, and I am His – that no matter what else is erupting around us in this world, our Lord is THE Almighty, and all things are possible through Him.

When you don’t know what to pray, repeat this passage. Praise Him for all the many things He has done for us! Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NLT) says, “Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.”

The Lord is so amazing and wonderful, He is beyond our human capacity of understanding! So this small set of four verses is a good place to start in our praise of Him. It reminds me to be thankful, joyful, peaceful and patient. So for you, I have made a little printable, so that you, too, can have Psalm 103:1-4 close-by to keep your mind on how amazing God is!

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Print this out, and enjoy being reminded as you go about your day, what an AWESOME GOD WE SERVE!!

Until tomorrow (and yes, I promise I’ll be back!!),

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

You Won’t Need The Receipt

ThursdayHow our world changes in three weeks! At Thanksgiving, as Craig and I celebrated together at the Cape Neddick Inn, we were only praying this week would hurry up and get here. Now, as I sit in our living room, surrounded by boxes, I can almost breathe a sigh of relief.

Tomorrow is the day. We close on our new home in Maine! Finally, we will be able to settle down and nest into the first home we have chosen together, and other than the inordinate packing before my eyes, I can see a bright future ahead! We are so excited!

Here’s a sneak peek:

OurNewHomeSo, since I already know what Craig and I got each other for Christmas – our new house, I began thinking about other gifts my husband has given me in the past…

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Anyone who knew me pre-Craig can attest to the fact that my car was always…well…crowded. In high school, I drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee and at one point, my parents were looking at selling it. A friend of mine remarked on this and said, “Does it come fully loaded?”… and he wasn’t talking about luxury options. He was talking about my STUFF.

Back in the pre-Craig era, I am fairly confident I could have driven into the desert and survived for several weeks just with the junk I was carrying around in my car. Not trash, mind you…but clothes, shoes, CD’s, books, bags, purses…You name it, my car had it!

But, when Craig and I started dating, he took one look at my ‘fully loaded’ car and shook his head. I think the name Lefebvre must translate roughly to “My Car Must Be Sparkling At All Times”. Before I could stop him, Craig set to work cleaning my vehicle – from the inside out. After a few hours of scrubbing and polishing and the filling of several garbage bags, my car looked brand-new. Long gone were the signs of the outfit I wore the month before or the stain where a friend had spilled a Coke along the ride…It looked like a different Pier-mobile…

And that’s what Jesus does for us.

Since He died on the cross, to save us from all of our sins, He became a living sacrifice for the the world. When you allow Him into your heart and let Him be Lord of your life, He will take all the junk, all of your baggage and throw it out. All the stains from your past will be cleaned. No one will ever know they were there. You will be a brand-new, sparkly clean person, inside and out.

Clean.BlogIsn’t that amazingly freeing? The other day, I was watching a sermon given by one of my FAVORITE pastors, Robert Morris at Gateway Church, and he told a story about being at the end of a service one evening, and the Holy Spirit pointed out to him a woman sitting in one of the first few rows. The Holy Spirit said to him, “Do you know that woman’s past?”, to which Robert replied, “No, I don’t”…

And the Holy Spirit said to him, “Neither do I.

Wow. How awesome is it that we not only serve a God who forgives us, but a God that blots out our stains, our past. He throws out our baggage and it’s gone. For good.

I don’t know about you, but when I truly realized that He loves us that much, it felt like I was walking on air. All of my junk is GONE. I am a new person, a new creation in Christ.

So let the Lord give you the most beautiful gift imaginable this year: His Son. Trust me, you won’t need to keep the receipt.

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