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The Blessing of Belonging!

Ever have one of those days when you feel like life is hopeless and overwhelming? When you feel like you are all alone? I’m sure you have; most of us struggle with those thoughts once in a while.

I remember feeling that way following the flood of 2008 in the Midwest. Everywhere you looked in our small town, someone was struggling with the results of flooding. Some, like us, was relatively minor with only 4 feet in the basement; others lost their only home and had their businesses impacted. I remember reading this passage with new eyes -“when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.”

I like how the New Living Translations states it:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are Mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

The water from the Cedar River was roaring past and deeper than anyone could imagine. We had a 500 year flood. Flood stage is 12 feet and we hit 31.12 feet. Water was several square miles in Cedar Rapids and Palo and areas all along the Cedar. To think of “rivers of difficulty” in the reality of the flood and to be reminded that we will not drown (or be overwhelmed by our trials) were incredibly comforting words.

Even more precious were the words “I have called you by name, you are MINE!” I belong! No matter what happened during the flood, the stuff we lost, the reconstruction we had to do, nothing mattered in the reality that I BELONG! God knows me intimately by name. I’ve probably used the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1 Question & Answer 1 before, but it is one of my favorites. My parents have it on their headstone. It has been a key reminder of who I am and whose I am.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Praying you understand how precious it is to belong to God. Just ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Understand that He died on the cross and rose again to save you from your sins. Believing allows you to know how precious you are to God – You belong to Him! ~ Faye

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Filled with the Fullness of God’s Love

This week we are studying Ephesians 3:14-21 with Good Morning Girls. (See the top right side panel of God’s Abundant Blessings.) I love this passage. I cannot comprehend the depths and vastness of God’s love. I can’t understand why He blesses us more than ALL we can ask or imagine, but He does. Now, I’m not saying if you pray for healing, God will answer with perfect health, just the way you or I want. But what I’m saying from my experience is that when I turn my life over to Him, He takes care of ALL the details and provides for my needs in ways I never could have asked for or imagined. He does this because of His immense, overpowering love for us. It’s indescribable!

Paul definitely gives us a glimpse of God’s love. He can’t describe it either, but he prays for us to have a full understanding of God’s glorious, unlimited resources; His riches. He tells the Ephesians and Gentiles that he wants them to understand/comprehend how wide, and long, and high, and deep is God’s amazing love. How incredibly blessed we are.

Isaiah 43:1-3a reminds us of God’s beautiful love as well:

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are MINE. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Some of us have been through house fires, flood waters, tornados, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters. Many have felt the calm presence that can only come from God in those difficult times of loss, grief and shock. As you deal with insurance companies or FEMA and the tiring rebuilding process, you can so easily become weary and overwhelmed. Yet God, out of His INFINITE love, has promised to be with us. He is pulling us up out of the muddy waters. He’s the shield around us in the flames.

Some of you may not relate “literally” to the natural disasters in these verses, however, we’ve all been in the deep waters of financial difficulties and job loss or the difficult rivers of chronic or terminal illnesses. We’ve felt the flames from the fires of oppression in difficult relationships. But we don’t have to fear when these trials come. Why? Because we are blessed with being called by the LORD, the God who made each one of us.

If you don’t know this amazing God, just open your heart to Him, call out to Him. Ask Him to be your LORD and Savior. Realize that out of His overwhelming love for each one of us, He sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from our sinful selves when we believe on Him. When we tell God we want to belong to Him, we are filled with the fullness of life from the Holy Spirit. We are filled to overflowing with the incomprehensible, unfathomable love of Christ.

Praying you are blessed with being “filled through all your being with God Himself”! ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory! Brag on God Fridays

The Transforming Process

I talked yesterday about being transformed at Christ’s return and in our daily walk with God. This morning I was challenged with a situation where my attitude needed to be transformed by God because anger, bitterness, frustration were some of the things that were taking control. God’s timing is always perfect – this morning  was no exception when I was reading 1 John 3:4-8. John talks about being pure when God dwells in us and being sinners when we let Satan have a foothold. I definitely needed to have some transforming work done on my attitude.

My husband’s hobby is blacksmithing. He’s shared with me the process that happens to form metal through fire.  Iron and steel can be formed into something when they are really hot. First he has to have something in mind and creates a design.  Whatever he makes, it is always a one-of-a kind object, even when it’s laid over a pattern.  Then he has to prepare the fire. He adds the coal, cleans out the clinkers that won’t burn, and uses the blower to breathe oxygen into the fire to bring it to the temperature he needs.  He watches the flames as they change color and knows by that color when the fire is at the temperature he needs for the type of metal he is using.

Next he puts the metal into the depth of the fire. He also watches the color of the metal to tell when it is ready to be worked. Once the metal reaches the temperature he wants, he takes it out of the fire and puts it on the anvil, but that doesn’t shape the metal alone. Only when he lifts the hammer and starts to pound does the metal begin to give way to the shape it’s intended to be. But a blacksmith doesn’t just bang away at the metal. It is often a very gentle and intentional strike of the hammer to create the desired effect. After the initial hammer blows, slag begins to flake off of the metal.

What happens next is often like our walk with Christ, the iron being out of the fire begins to get cold and won’t form easily. The blacksmith can actually hear, as well as feel, the change in the temperature of the hammer’s ring on the metal and anvil as the metal cools. So he puts the iron back into the fire to heat it to the color needed then brings the iron to the anvil and hammer again. This process is repeated many times before the desired shape occurs. After the forming process, the remaining slag is brushed off. The metal is set aside to cool, or is quenched to cool more quickly. Depending on the use of the formed metal, a wax coating may be added after it is allowed to cool and then rubbed in to bring out the color of the steel and bring a soft luster to the finish.

The blacksmithing process reminds me of what God does daily in our lives to transform us to be like Him. It’s a long process and it’s not easy, it takes work, fortunately He is patient. Often God takes us to the heat of the fire. He’s always there watching the heat of the fire and the metal to make sure it’s just enough and not too much. Then He begins the process of gently shaping us by the pounding of the hammer. As we are gradually shaped into what He desires us to be, He has to regularly brush the remaining slag off. He inspects us to see how we are growing to be like Him. Occasionally He has to quickly cool us off so we don’t become too brittle if we are too hot.

What a wonderful heavenly Father we have who lovingly takes us through the fire, but won’t let us be consumed. He molds, forms and shapes us to what He wants us to be. How much more quickly it would happen if we would willingly surrender to His molding hands.

God’s abundant blessings come from Isaiah 43:1-3a as an encouragement as well as Psalm 139:13-14

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Celebrating God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

Christ’s Appearing

Reading 1 John 3:1-3 this morning (following www.goodmorninggirls.org Bible study), and I was truly excited to read John’s opening words – we are God’s children, precious, valued, prized, loved. What a way to go into the day.

1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” – New Living Translation

What a glorious thought that we will be changed to be like Christ when appears/returns. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NLT) says,

51 “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.”

When Christ  returns we will be made to be LIKE HIM. If we live a life with the EAGER EXPECTATION, we will live a life that honors Christ. We will make it a priority to keep ourselves pure. I like how The Message describes it: “All of us who look forward to His Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.” Glistening purity of Jesus’ life – I can’t even come close to describing what that will be like.

Seeing Christ as He really is when He appears to us at His second coming is just mind boggling. Knowing that we will be transformed to be like Him in an instant! How amazing. However, did you know Christ appears to you right now? I’ve gone through some disappointments and unmet expectations, especially living with a chronic, progressive disease; and recently have spent a lot of my time taking walks and talking with God. In the past when disappointments and unmet expectations have come, I’ve been quick to talk with family and friends, hoping in doing so it will help resolve the situation or make me feel better. In my times with God, I’m finding that there are times when Christ appears today too.  The other day it was not at all in the way I anticipated. I thought He’d have used someone close to me to fill the need I had.  But recently Christ has made it very real that He has been walking beside me listening to my heart’s longings, and when I am resting and trusting in Him, He gently guides me closer to Him so I can come along side His desire for my life. He is constantly shaping me to be like Him. I’m really looking forward to the quick transformational change that will happen when Christ returns again. I don’t like the long, drawn-out, painful process that He uses daily to transform me into His image. But I’m very grateful that He walks with me and talks with me when I choose to share with Him my heart’s thoughts. I’m so grateful to have a glimpse of His appearing this side of Heaven and His Second Coming.

May you enjoy the abundant blessing of God walk with you today

~ Faye

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