Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 66 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families) with a third girl on the way. I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bible Study: A Case for Hope

Friends, as I have been watching and prayerfully listening in the Body of Christ, I have seen something that greatly troubles me. People have been going through some very serious trials. The trials are bigger than we ever thought possible, and some of them are shocking and disheartening because some of us thought as Christians we would avoid such things because we had done our best to follow the Lord both ourselves and with our families. We thought that by following Him we were setting the stage for success, not the trials we are now experiencing. This has tried to erode our confidence in God and His promises as applying to us.

In addition, some of us, depending on the kind of trial are seeing places of past immaturity or other things we have done that have further contributed to what we are going through now. As I pray over this, I am seeing the enemy, Satan, adding to our own thoughts, suggesting that we have no right to God’s promises because we didn’t “follow God correctly.” That’s not what God says.

In view of this, I felt I was to do a study on hope and put it out here on my blog. I pray that as you prayerfully consider the following, the truths of God’s Word strengthen you, encourage you and give you hope.

1 Chron 29:14b-15 14b For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.15 For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope. NKJV

To say v14b about God, and then v15 about ourselves may have been an OT experience, but Jesus has come! Our Savior is here, and knowing Him is to make a difference in our lives! To make it (and even thrive) in these times, we need to continually experience the hope and help of His life, love, and provision.

Ezra 10:2 Shechaniah…spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God…yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away…” NKJV

The hope we have lies in repenting, or turning to God with our whole being (as opposed to living in guilt and condemnation) and agreeing with Him about what He says our sin is. Oftentimes, and this is very important, what God says our sin is, as well as the remedy He proposes, differs from our view of things. Once we hear His voice, repent and receive His love, grace and forgiveness we can begin acting prayerfully on the actions He guides us into, which will begin to take us back to the path He wants us pursuing. This, according to the Bible, puts us back where hope is alive, because God through Paul says in Rom 8:1 that there is no condemnation to those who walk in Christ Jesus and are led by His Spirit.

Job 6:11 " What strength do I have, that I should hope? NKJV

Our hope is directly proportionate to our strength—they are inextricably tied together. Where does our strength to hope and our reason for hope come from? Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. What does that mean? His joy is the joy we as His people give Him from our wanting to love and serve Him all the days of our life. His joy is not in a perfectionistic obedience on our part, but in the living, active relationship His actions toward us have made possible. As incomprehensible as it seems, our God takes great joy in us as His people, and our heartfelt repentance and agreement with Him show we are His people.

Now let’s look at the ways in which our confidence is undermined even when we have repented and are listening to and obeying God. The severity of the circumstance can undermine our confidence:

Job 14:18-20 18"But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, And as a rock is moved from its place; 19 As water wears away stones, And as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; So You destroy the hope of man. 20You prevail forever against him, and he passes on; NKJV

Job 19:10-11 10He breaks me down on every side, And I am gone; My hope He has uprooted like a tree. 11He has also kindled His wrath against me, And He counts me as one of His enemies. NKJV

This is the view the enemy wants us to have of God. He wants us to think that God through trials is playing with us and wearing us down, and that He is the destroyer of our hope.

Friends, it is Satan who truly is the enemy.—He’s the enemy of God and the enemy of our souls. The enemy himself works overtime to undermine God. Here the Bible describes the strategy of a future leader who will follow the enemy-note that the slanderous suggestions the enemy brings to our minds and hearts about God is what he inspires his followers to do against God and His people!!

Dan 7:25 He will speak words against the Most High and try to exhaust the holy ones of the Most High. - The Complete Jewish Bible

His strategy is not unlike what we as believers are experiencing today. He first speaks against God’s character, aims and motives. When he gets us considering that, he tries to “wear out” (KJV) or exhaust us with seemingly endless trials. In verse 21, the enemy will “make war against the holy ones” (holy ones are the saints—you and me).

Question: Has war been declared on your family? Your health? Your livelihood? Your marriage? Below is a description of what is really going on in this war from God’s side. This is what Satan wants to prevent—the birth of God’s people into His likeness. Rom 8: 29-30 says

29God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.- The Message

The following is where we are in the war right now. Thinking again on the subject of hope, note that God subjected everything to futility in hope. Yet also note the statement that it is a fact that creation will be delivered. That fact is not seen yet with the naked eye, but it is first seen through the eyes of God through hope. (Then hope breeds faith. -That’s another study—but I believe it is impossible to have faith without first having hope… . That is why the enemy tries to kill our hope.)

Rom 8:19-20 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. - NKJV

If we hope, we wait with anticipation and perseverance. God asked me a question once: “What kind of God am I if I can make plans but do not have the power to see those plans to fruition?”

About ten years into the same trial where He spoke to me above, I was saying that it was just too hard and too long. God reminded me in His still, small voice that even the length of trials is in His control (yes, even when man’s free will is involved!) and that if Job had quit on God when he thought his trial should have been over, he would never have experienced the blessings in the end that God poured out

Those things being said, how do we endure in hope (not just always hang on by a thread)? To quote an old hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. No merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. His oath, His covenant, His blood, sustain me in the o’erwhelming flood… .” That hymn says it all, friends.

I have to learn to constantly submit the circumstances, the people involved, and myself to the One in Whom I have believed, knowing that He is able to change things (and people, including me) and to keep me from falling. How do I know He is able to keep the things I entrust Him with? I truly know the power of His oath, His covenant and blood. How have I learned this in practice as opposed to in theory, and how do I continue to learn it? By trusting Him and refusing to try to bail myself out.

My faith grows as I wait for Him, seek His strategy and obey Him and watch Him work. Who better to trust? Consider Hebrews 6:13-20a from The Message:

13When God made His promise to Abraham, He backed it to the hilt, putting His own reputation on the line. 14 He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have — bless and bless and bless!" 15 Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. 16 When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. 17 When God wanted to guarantee His promises, He gave His word, a rock-solid guarantee. - 18 God can't break His word. And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. 19It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God 20a where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up His permanent post as high priest for us… .

But what do we do when we are looking to Jesus with all of our being and still feel like we are barely able to hold on? God’s Word says God has provided for just such an eventuality. Jesus mentioned in John 14 that He would send the Holy Spirit when He went away, and that this would be to our advantage. He would remind us (in a living, applicable, not religious way) of all the things that Jesus spoke. Jesus also called Him the Comforter. Now in Romans 8:26-27 we see His role in our weakness:

26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. NKJV

Continuing further, we have God’s promise—He says it cannot fail—He says He’s made sure of that. He says also that since He gave us what we needed most, our Savior Jesus, then He will most certainly give us everything else we need to “make it” in this life with our God (Rom 8:28-32):

28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? NKJV

Why did God go to such lengths to give us His Word in these areas? Rom 15:4 NKJV tells us: For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Friends, I pray for you what Paul prayed. May the Word fall on good soil and strengthen you. Rom 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NKJV

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Catch Up-New Job, New Car-Life's an Adventure!

Hi, Everybody. It is now the middle of summer. As you can see, my last post was in mid-March. That was about the time I was entering the whirlwind, which is just now beginning to settle down, I think. By the way, for those who are interested, I think there will be more of the series "I Will Build My Church," but I got diverted for a time. I'm writing this now to let you know (and to remind myself) that I'm still alive and well.

On March 5th, our hearing aid company, A Hearing Service, transferred ownership and became Accurate Hearing Service. It was a move long expected, as the former owner was ready to retire and travel, and didn't want to work all his life (though I'm sure he still finds plenty of things to do that help other people--he's that kind of a person). But as with many buyouts, the transfer came with many changes. The new company has a different emphasis, and, while I was welcome to stay during the transition, I needed to find a new job.

I was going to be 56 (I just turned so this past week), and that didn't bode too well for my job hunt. -- But God... - What, you say, does that have to do with anything? --I am so glad He does have to do with many things--in my job and in my life. For I believe He has helped me navigate through this time. First, as I prayed, I "heard" (still, small, inaudible but still loud voice) one thing: that I was to "Finish well." That meant I worked in the same place while learning lots of new computer things, etc. Meanwhile, other people who were praying for me "heard" things too. They (more than one person, and they hadn't "compared notes") heard that I didn't have to go out and look for a job, but that God would bring the job to me.

That was all well and good, but I was nervous. After all, my livelihood was at stake! However, that advice did seem to go along with what I'd heard--I was too busy trying to obey God and "finish well" to be able to also look for a job. My final day was to be the last Friday in June.

So what happened? I got a phone call at the beginning of June from family friends. I have known her for over 14 years. For some time they lived down the street from me. Her husband owns a small business, Omega Retirement Plans, Inc. He is an actuary and works with (what else?) retirement plans. His administrative assistant gave notice that she was leaving on June 15th. Would I like to come in and talk? Well, yes, thank you!

The upshot of it is that I was hired and began on June 11. All the upheaval and learning during the transition time in the former job proved to me that I could learn "new tricks," even though I'm not about to call myself an "old dog!" It gave me a confidence that things could work out, even though the new job required a lot of things I'd never done before.

There are several wonderful things about what happened. One is that I work for a boss who is every bit as nice as my brother-in-law. Ron is as patient as Darrell was (and that's hard to find). I am able to learn (and flourish) in a low-pressure but intellectually stimulating environment. I also am now working four days a week instead of five, and bringing home more pay. That is an interesting answer to prayer, for I have felt for some time that I am to spend time developing some other areas of my life that I've needed more time or energy for...and now I'll have it --once I learn my job better and have more brain-power to devote to other things.

One other detail. I haven't had a car since the winter of 2000. It gave up the ghost--I was beginnng to put repair money down a bottomless pit and needed to let go of that "black hole" at the time and just plain save money. The good thing is that I have lived within 15 minutes walking distance from work at all times. In the last year especially, however, I have been prayerful about whether to buy a car. I kept hearing, "Wait." Last January, a couple from church came up to me and told me they felt God wanted them to give me their used 1994 Honda Accord Sedan. I prayed about it, checked it out financially with my children (they know how my finances run because I want them to) and came to the conclusion that I should take it. However, the car needed fixed, and the couple didn't have the money and didn't want to give me a broken car. They prayed, talked to pastor, and put out an email without my knowing it, and people from church contributed so the car could be fixed up for me.

I am now driving a small red car that I love. It got to me in May--just in time to get used to the idea of having "wheels" again--and just in time to be needed to get me about 4 miles to a friend's home so we can go together to work on the other side of town. (She works near where I do.) This is a God-send, because my depth perception is not good and driving in the dark and in rain for a short distance is different from driving all the way across town.

So you see, not only am I alive and well, but so is God and His work both directly and through others in my life. He is always providing. I left one job on Friday, June 8, and started the other on Monday, June 11. I didn't lose one day of pay, and time off started accruing on my first day (for every 10 hours I work, I get one hour of time off). I just pray I will be as much of a help to Ron and Omega Retirement Plans as Ron and Omega are to me.

Well, there's more to talk about, but not today. It's Friday, and I'm going to do some other things on my day off. I'm thrilled I'm beginning to want to study and write again--I've missed these things for the last four months. Have a good day, everyone. 'Bye for now.

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