Tag Archive | Prayer

Separation from GOD

This morning, I started my day by reading the biblical book of Habakkuk.  It’s a short book with an odd-sounding name by today’s standards, and it’s message is absolutely poignant.  I highly encourage you to read it; as I said, it’s short and to the point.

habakkuk

The message of Habakkuk got me thinking about the world we live in today.  I found myself pondering Romans 1:28: “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done” (New Living Translation).  This one statement summarizes the condition of modern humanity.  People have chosen their way over God’s way, and many have chosen to reject the very existence of God.  Don’t think so?  Let’s read on:

Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful.  They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.  (Romans 1:29-32, NLT)

Sound familiar?  This type of behavior has been displayed for decades, and it doesn’t take a biblical scholar to see that the choices people are making are, indeed, getting worse.  This begs the question, “Why?”  Why have our sinful choices caused God to abandon us to our own demise?  Actions breed consequences.  Too simple, you say?  I disagree, and here is why:

  1. God exists and the Bible is true; therefore, the biblical description of God is also true.
  2. We have free will (a.k.a. freedom of choice) and have chosen against God, rather than for God.
  3. These choices have separated us from God; hence, God has allowed us to live with the consequences of our actions.

God exists and the Bible is true.  Romans 1:20 reads, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (NLT).  (For further in-depth research, do an internet search for Lee Strobel.)  I believe God exists, that he created the world, and that one day those he calls his children will reside with him in heaven for eternity (Genesis 1, John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10).   Additionally, I believe that the bible is true: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT).

We have free will and have chosen against God, rather than for God.  When we continually choose to live according to our own desires instead of permitting God to guide our lives, he allows us to be consumed by our own appetites.  This condition of humanity is described not only in the book of Habakkuk and in Romans 1:29-32, but throughout Scripture.  Here are just a few examples:

So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen” (Romans 1:24-25, NLT).

“So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas” (Psalm 81:12, NLT).

“Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy” (Revelation 22:11, NLT).

These choices have separated us from God.  Sin creates a chasm between us and God.  “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore” (Isaiah 59:2, NLT).  Adam and Eve committed sin when they ate the “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  Prior to that moment, they walked and talked with God in perfect, serene fellowship.  Because of their choice, they suffered the consequences; the main one was the breaking of that intimacy with their Creator (Genesis 3:23).  The chasm that began in the garden is growing larger today.

God has allowed us to live with the consequences of our actions.  Going back to “God exists,” many would argue that there is no God.  I’ve heard it said that because of the pain and suffering in this world, there can not be a God.  Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “It seemed as impossible to conceive of Auschwitz with God as to conceive of Auschwitz without God. Therefore, everything had to be reassessed because everything had changed” (The Nobel Peace Prize speech, 1986).  We cannot address the atrocities in this world without bringing God into the conversation, yet I would challenge you to leave him out of it.  In fact, as those who oppose the authenticity of God do, let’s say there is no God.  If there is no God:

  • Mankind lives for its own pleasure, sometimes ethically, sometimes not
  • People behave as though there are no consequences for their actions
  • Humans abuse the very earth they live upon until it negatively affects them
  • Innocent people are harmed due to a blatant disregard for human life
  • Diseases run rampant due to everything from pollution to food additives
  • People admit they have nobody to blame but themselves for these consequences

On the other side, if God is real and the Bible is true, then he created a perfect world – a world that was GOOD (Genesis 1:31) – without disease or destruction.  If people choose to reject God, their sins have cut them off from God (Isaiah 59:2).  Therefore, we are living in a world filled with individuals who are separated from God and relishing in their own choices.  So what does this world look like?

  • Mankind lives for its own pleasure, sometimes ethically, sometimes not
  • People behave as though there are no consequences for their actions
  • Humans abuse the very earth they live upon until it negatively affects them
  • Innocent people are harmed due to a blatant disregard for human life
  • Diseases run rampant due to everything from pollution to food additives
  • People blame God for evil in this world

My friends, if we are going to live as if there is no God, then we must accept the responsibility and the consequences of our actions.  God is not going to take away our free will.  He did not create a species of robots; he wants us to choose a relationship, fellowship, and life with him.  Without this relationship made possible through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, there might as well be no God for those who do not know God.  Yet the day will come when this choice serves its greatest consequence: eternal separation from God.

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, NLT)

There will be a day when the choice will be made for us: everyone will know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord!

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NLT, emphasis mine)  

If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior – the free gift from God for salvation from eternal damnation/separation from him – then we must “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NLT).  In this world of turmoil, our only hope is found in Jesus.  He can and He will restore our relationship with God, our heavenly Father.

hugging Jesus

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT).

 

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2016 Reflections

As I sit here on NYE awaiting the arrival of the new year, I realize that much like this year’s presidential election, I may not be exactly “for” 2017 so much as I’m “anti” 2016.  My word, it’s been a rough one in just about every way, shape and form.  The media has focused upon the numerous deaths of celebrities; I admit, it’s been easy as a child of the 80’s to get caught up in the “what the heck?!” feeling that for some reason, 2016 set out to attack my teenage memories.

Celebrities weren’t the only ones who met tragedy over the past year.  2016 was bathed in conflict, controversy, and sadness: racial tension, police officers and criminals, natural disasters, religious doctrines, sex-trafficking, ISIS, battles over human rights.  I couldn’t listen to the radio or check out social media without discovering another tug-of-war within humanity.  Often times, it was too much to stomach.  (We won’t even go into the hatred spewed during this year’s election.)  What was happening to this world?!  Is this how God created people to be?!

Toss into mix my own family trials that knocked the wind right out of us in 2016.  My mother suffered a stroke in late August and is still in rehabilitation.  This prompted an unexpected trip to visit her in September, during which my husband underwent an emergency appendectomy while my daughter and I were traveling back to GA from PA.  (He arrived home with the help from a friend about the time I walked through our kitchen door.)  My husband had other bouts in the ER throughout the year.  My sister-in-law had a cancer scare and thyroid surgery.  And me?  Well, I received the gift of the beginnings of menopause in January and was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  In March, I had a traumatic flashback from childhood that caused my depression to spiral.  (I am not ready to journey down that blogger’s road by sharing the deep darkness of my past, although I am sure that day is coming.)  As my depression worsened, my physician decided medication was the best route.  It would be easy to bitterly, with tongue in cheek, exclaim a sarcastic, “Thank YOU, 2016!” and insert a few Fred Flintstone grumbles in place of cussing out the whole year.

Yet it will do me no good to yell and scream obscenities as Auld Lang Syne plays somewhere in the distance.  The more I struggled personally, the louder God’s voice became as He guided me to one particular verse: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25, New Living Translation).  I had to hold on to His promise in the midst of this tumultuous year.  I’ve learned in my counseling courses that although a complete dichotomy stands between the evil in this world and the goodness that is God, making it impossible at times to believe that there can be one AND the other … both do indeed exist.  God is good, He has always been good, He will always be good.  Satan may have his sway on this earth now, but eternity sees him bound in hell while my God reigns forevermore.  I am reminded that while suffering takes place, it – and all of this life for that matter – is temporary.  My husband and I were discussing getting older and losing loved ones, and he brought up a good point.  When we were very young, we thought that 40 was old.  Now we are in our 40s, and we realize a lifetime has passed in the blink of an eye.  Soon, Lord willing, we will be in our 60s and eventually 80s, and it, too, will fly by just as quickly as this half of our lives.  Thank GOD for eternity, or what would be the point of this short little life?

So goodbye to 2016, a year of painful lessons – some visible, others, not so much.  I have to hold on to my faith in God and His promise that no tears are wasted.  He has a purpose for each and every one, and I praise Him for the day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT).

Welcome, 2017.  And come, Lord Jesus, come.

happy-new-year-2017-images-for-whatsapp-2

Unfailing Love

There was once a time

When I walked with God

And talked with God

And thought that all was well.

Maybe it was youth,

Maybe it was pride,

But I fell for Satan’s lies –

And I no longer walked with God;

I no longer talked with God.

I threw it all away.

Where was God in all of this?

Where was He while I drifted

So far away from the God of my youth?

Did He abandon me?

Did He stop loving me?

No.

My God and my Redeemer

Was waiting for me.

I didn’t see His face

But I felt His presence,

Even when I didn’t know

It was Him.

He knew the mistakes I had to make.

He knew the choices I had to choose.

He knew my life had to become a mess

In order for me to fall to my knees,

And hand the broken pieces back to Him.

Oh God, thank you for your unfailing love!

Thank you for your grace and mercy!

Thank you for taking my failures

And using them for Your glory.

Thank you for not giving up on me

When I had given up on myself.

Thank you for sending Your Sweet Spirit

To nudge me, to move me, to guide me

Back into Your arms,

Back into Your will.

Use my life, dear LORD,

As an example of grace:

So undeserved,

Yet so beautiful, and so very

Very real.

Amen.