"With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments." ~Psalm 119:10

Monday, March 26, 2012

Abide in Him

Yesterday's sermon was amazing! The sermons are always good, often they seem to go along pretty well with what the Lord has been teaching me, but very rarely are they exactly what the Lord has been teaching me. Mr. DeVowe's sermon was just that, and the Lord also used it to show me the answer to something I've been very confused about lately.
The title of the sermon was "The True Vine". John 15:1-17 talks all about Jesus being the True Vine and that we as Christians need to abide in Him. If Jesus is the True Vine, then He can not allow false branches to remain. They must be cut off, just as Judas Iscariot was, so that the dead branch does not take sap from the healthy branches. When pruning is done,  not only are the dead or unfruitful branches cut off, but the good branches themselves are also pruned. Pruning is a painful process, but in the end, it will make the branch more healthy and cause it to bear even more fruit! One of the evidences that we are saved is that God is constantly pruning us and making us more Holy and more like Him. God's plan for His people isn't prosperity and success in this world, it's not "you're best life now"; His plan for His people is to make them more Holy and more like Himself.

Look at Jacob and Esau. Esau was not a follower of God, and look at His life. Every promise God made to Esau was fulfilled, Esau was prosperous and had very few trials that we know of. God had cut him off. He never pruned Esau. Now look at Jacob. He was a follower of God. What is the evidence of that? From an earthly perspective, Jacob's life was difficult and full of trials. But from a Godly perspective, we see those trials as the very evidence that he was a child of God. "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" ~Heb. 12:6 God was constantly pruning him, making him more holy, more like Himself. Jacob went from being a supplanter and deceiver, to being the man of God we see at the end of the story. If you are never being pruned, never drawing closer to the Lord, and never becoming more Holy, it should be a cause for concern. Yes, Christians will sin, we will make mistakes, but when you look back on the whole course of your life from the time you were saved, though it may be two steps forward one step back, you will see that you have grown, and are continuing to grow more like Christ.

We must abide in Christ! Abide means "to rest or dwell, to continue permanently, or in the same state, to be firm and immovable, to remain, to continue, to endure." ~Webster's 1828 Dictionary 
We must dwell in Christ every moment of every day! Just as a vine brings forth fruit, one who has been truly saved will also bring forth fruit. When one is truly saved their lives will be completely changed, God will take out their hearts of stone, (stone is a dead thing that does not respond to stimuli) and put in a heart of flesh that is sensitive to the promptings and convictions of the Lord.
"A new heart also will I give you. and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." ~Ezekiel 36:26
"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give them an heart of flesh." ~Ezekiel 11:19
"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." ~Jeremiah 24:7 
Their lives will be centered on Christ and their desires will be changed. They will no longer love sin, they will hate it. Yes, we as Christians still sin, but we instantly know it is wrong, we hate it, and we repent.
"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" ~Phil. 2:13

Christ loves His children with the same love that the Father has toward the Son. We are to love Christ with that same love, and we are also to love others as Christ loves us. Some evidences of a true believer are; true joy and peace that surpasses understanding, and love for God and for others. True joy comes only from Christ, and it is not dependent on circumstances. We must continue to abide in Christ no matter how hard it is! Jesus is the True Vine. We can do nothing in ourselves. We don't abide by trying harder; we abide by resting in Christ and depending on Him for everything. When we abide in Christ as He has told us to do, He will give us true peace and joy.

I had been confused this week. I did not have the peace and joy of the Lord and I didn't know why. I was constantly frustrated with myself because I felt like I should be putting more effort into my prayer and bible times. The Lord used this sermon to show me that "We don't abide in Christ by trying harder; we abide by resting in Christ and depending on Him for everything." Without even realizing it, I was trying to earn my peace and joy by praying long and hard enough and meditating on scripture more. Indeed I should be praying long and hard and meditating on scripture, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I can NEVER earn peace and joy! NEVER! Only through Christ can I be truly saved, forgiven, and filled with peace and joy! Christ never fails, so as long as I am abiding in Him, resting in Him, trusting Him for everything, then I will always have the peace and joy of the Lord! I am still going to persevere in prayer and scripture meditation, but now I have the right motive. I can pursue Christ with peace and joy knowing that it is He who has saved me! Thank you Lord for your incredible mercy and grace in showing me these truths and continuing to draw me closer to yourself!

Monday, March 19, 2012

God is Good No Matter What

This week it has been hard to remember that. Saturday morning I wanted to start my day right. I woke up at 7:00am, did devotions, worked out, then went out for a jog a little after 8:00am. It felt great. As I ran I was planning my day out in my head; have breakfast, enjoy the outdoors, go horseback riding, maybe go shopping....yes. It was going to be an enjoyable relaxing Saturday. Then it happened. Only about two blocks into my jog something suddenly popped in my back and there was a sharp pain like a knife jabbing me in the middle of my back. Instantly I stopped. It hurt to breathe. I slowly turned around and carefully walked home. Thanking God that I could still walk okay and that I was only two blocks from home.

About two hours later I was at the chiropractor. (thankfully they had an opening that morning!) I had a dislocated rib. Ouch. He was able to pop it back in, but said that the muscles and ligaments are damaged and will take awhile to heal. He said it's similar to a sprained ankle, but it's on my back. Pretty much all of Saturday I went between laying on my heating pad, to walking around slowly (which is supposed to help), and back to the heating pad. Sunday morning was worse, but then it got better in the afternoon. Today was pretty good, but then I did something to it this afternoon and it's all stiff and sore again. Also, I usually sleep on my side, and I can't now, so I haven't slept very well since it happened. 

Did God allow this to happen for a reason? Yep. Until now, I didn't realize how little I depended on the Lord for my joy and peace. If I wasn't feeling very joyful or at peace, I would go horseback riding, or shopping, or do some hard work to get my mind off of it. I can't do any of those things now, and the Lord has been using it to show me that no matter what is happening, I need to rely on Him and Him alone for my joy and peace. I must live my life for Christ! My life should revolve around Him, not me. It is hard to have pain and not be able to do much. It is hard not to be able to sleep restfully. It's hard to be pretty much exhausted, and yet know that there's a good chance I won't be able to sleep much tonight. (Of course, the Lord could allow me to sleep fine tonight, that is totally up to Him.) But I'm glad it happened, because it has shown me how much I rely on my health, and the things of this world for my happiness. I must live joyfully for Christ alone no matter what happens! God is so good! And His plan is always so much better than ours!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sounds From the Wild

 Mom and I went for a walk around the 248 acres of trails (owned by Youth With a Mission), which is across the street from our house, today. As we were walking, Shep took off toward the pond at full speed leaping and bounding through the tall grass. He ran back and forth at full speed up and down the bank of the pond for awhile, before we discovered what it was that got him so excited. Suddenly, we heard a bark coming from the middle of the iced-over pond. Immediately I knew it was a coyote. It barked a few more times, then let out a typical, eyrie coyote howl. We watched for awhile, then continued on our walk, seeing a muskrat in a different pond, and three deer as well. It's so much fun to see all the animals coming alive for spring! We also have been hearing sandhill cranes every day for the past couple weeks. They make the craziest sounds! And we've been hearing/seeing lots of trumpeter swans. God's creation truly declares His glory!

Here's the video I took of the coyote howling at YWAM! :)

And you can actually see the coyote in this video. He's a little far away, but you can see him walking.

Sandhill Crane call  (I did not take this video. This is just to show you what they sound like)

Trumpeter Swan call (I did not take this video, this is just to show you what they look/sound like)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Snake in the House!!!!

As I was sitting here browsing the internet, I heard a shriek coming from the kitchen. I, and everyone else who heard it, came running from wherever we were in the house to find mom, looking slightly surprised, looking at a snake which was in the middle of the kitchen floor! We've had snakes in our basement before, we've even had them climbing up the stairs to our bedrooms, but never in the kitchen. We have no idea how it got in. Oh well. Andrew came and threw it back outside. Brothers are great. :)

Here are some other random pictures from this winter/spring. Enjoy!