shadow

The gift we’ll never lose

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”Luke 2:11 

You may have noticed this writer has been a little absent of late. My family has recently moved after a nerve-wracking period of transferring jobs. As the military joke goes, “Hurry up and wait.” There has been a great deal of transitions, as we now live in a different state. We packed up our house ourselves, toddler in tow, and drove the seven hours to our new home.

I have come face to face with not having my wants met. Our hearts’ cry is to bring another child into the world, but yet God is not allowing it at this time. We are once again in‘the stretching phase.’ Recently very dear family has also suffered a devastating setback. Something they were so close to having was quickly taken away, plunging them once again into waiting and hoping. I am reminded of the verse, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)

Any transition is hard and this new season brings on its’ own challenges. Finding a church, friends,even places to take our toddler to play all take time, patience, and a little humor. This new season of our life has also brought the desire to add to our family. My body needs a little help, so we’ve begun seeing a specialist after a year of trying.

What are we to do in the waiting? What are we to do when we are surrounded by those proclaiming God’s goodness in their lives, celebrating all His blessings?

I have come face to face with the question: Do I love God for who He is? Or do I love him for what He will give me? Maybe like me you remember asking a jolly man in a red suit for gifts this time of year, eyes aglow with visions of toys. Let’s remember the best gift God has given us, that will never be taken away: Jesus. Let us love God for who He is and what He has done. Let us love Him for the right reasons,not just for the blessings we hope for. More painfully, let us love Him regardless of our circumstances.

When we set our eyes on the eternal perspective of Jesus, our trials become far more temporary. Were member this is not our home. We remember the greatest gift of all, a humble child born in a manger, come to save us all.

In Him,

Amy

What a loaf of bread can teach us

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. “
Romans 5:3-5, NIV

You’d never think a humble loaf of bread could teach us much about the Christian life, but look a little deeper and you’d be astonished. In the Bible study ‘Feasts of the Bible,’ I’m examining what bread offered as a sacrifice can mean. Jewish feasts required many different items God requested. Some of the foods were bitter to represent trials in life, other items were sweet to represent the hope of a Messiah. Normally bread offered up for sacrifice is unleavened, with a very notable exception.

One feast calls for two loaves of bread, with leaven, made with very fine flour. The leavening throughout the bread represents our sin, the flour the refining process, and two loaves portray Jews and Gentiles. To dig deeper, I decided to make my own bread as it would have been made thousands of years ago.

As soon as you start the process the lessons begin. Leaven is made by stirring together simple coarse flour and water and waiting, just as we start our life by being coarse and unrefined. Wild yeast present in the air infects the simple flour and water mixture just as sin infects our untested lives. The leaven is sour and takes over whatever is in your container once you feed it. Just like sin, it grows and destroys.

Then God starts changing things. God asks for refined flour. This flour has been crushed, stomped down, until it is light and pure. God will put us through the same refining process. Once we add this refined white flour to the leaven, the tang of bread becomes less sour. The dough mixture is kneaded and stretched, then left to wait and mature. Often God will knead and stretch us, leaving us to wait on Him. The dough is ready only when it’s been stretched so much that we can see the Light through it. It’s not difficult to draw the comparison there! God will refine us and keep stretching us until we reflect his light. Then we are ready to be put in the refiner’s fire to be an acceptable offering. As James points out, endurance and perseverance perfects us, a worthy and desirable goal. (James 1:2-4)

The beauty of this offering is that God asks us to come as we are. No matter what sin is in our life, so long as we ask his forgiveness He accepts us. His work doesn’t stop there, we are continually being refined, stretched, and left to wait, reflecting His glory throughout the entire process. If you’re struggling, left in a long season of waiting, or even being stretched, take heart. This is the process God uses to refine us! A little lesson from a humble loaf of bread.

In Him,

Amy

Hope Through the Fire

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 
John 16:33 (NIV)

Christian song artist Mercy Me has written what is, in my opinion, one of the most relevant songs of our day and age. Within the song it says: “God when you choose to leave mountains unmovable, give me the strength to say it is well with my soul. I know You’re able and I know You can, save through the fire with Your mighty hand. But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone. I know the sorrow and I know the hurt would all go away if You just say the word, but even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.”

Even though God promises in His Word to work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), He does not promise us that everything we experience in this life will be good. In fact, He promises just the opposite. He warns His disciples of the trouble they will face in this world (John 16:33). And if we’re honest, sometimes the circumstances of our lives are just plain awful: the diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness of a loved one, the death of a child or spouse, the catastrophic event that leaves us reeling and having to start from square one… the list can go on and on. It can be so difficult knowing God is more than able to heal, fix and deliver, but for reasons unknown to us sometimes He chooses not to. When that happens, when we are standing in the “furnaces” of life, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, will we be able to say: We know God is able to save us, but even if He does not, we will continue to place our hope in Him and worship Him alone. (Daniel 3:16-18. Paraphrase mine)? I pray for you that during those times, you will feel His strength to be able to say just that.

Be blessed,

Noree

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/easter-fire-3-1374889