Sunday, January 12, 2014

Into the Unknown

A new semester, and I think I am more clueless than I've ever been before.
Even so, I am so very encouraged looking back and seeing what God has done.
This season has and is one of trial, hardship, and growth.
For many of you, these past months have been the hardest you've ever experienced.
With discouragement, pain, heart-break, deception, and many other discouraging things running about in our lives, it is so easy to lose vision and to lose perspective.
But, we always must remember the God we serve and the unrelenting love that He has for us.
I keep remember back to when a group of us went to Acquire the Fire.
The picture of a fierce lion filled the screen for most of the conference.
That picture, with the tag of God's unrelenting love, has resurfaced in my memory many times since.
We must keep to the knowledge, faith, and hope that God is Emmanuel, and that He is the Lion who will never cease in His pursuit for His love to reach deeper and deeper into our hearts.

Even though I am confused and unaware of what the future holds, I know that God will always be consistent. He will always be faithful, and we can always hold onto Him when everything else is lost.
I encourage you, as we enter this new time, back into school, begin to pray new prayers.
Pray radically. Pray impossible things. Things that don't make sense.
"If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move."
Don't be weighed down by what your life may or may not look like.
Don't judge by what you see, remember that the all-powerful God is for you and with you.
So pray and live, not by the situation, but by the strength and provision of your Lord and Savior.

Walk into this season with expectancy. Choose to open your heart to new possibilities.
Let the Lord work new things into you as He continues to bring about His life in you.
And in everything, remember that He is good.
I am encouraged to see what God's will for us is as we walk with Him in this next time.
I am also honored to be walking with you ladies and gentlemen.
God has huge plans for you.
Even from our small group, the Daniel's and the Ester's will rise up as God calls them.
Now is when He is making us into the servants, sons, and daughters for His Kingdom.

Everything to the Almighty Lord.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Brina's Brain Processing :)

LORD, come down and rescue me. Where there is doubt, build trust. Where there are insecurities, be the foundation of everything I believe in.

During different parts of my life, different verses really speak to my situation. Sometimes I just read a Psalm and go, "That's exactly how I feel!"

A while ago, I repeatedly recited 1 Peter 4:1 to myself.  Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, army yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

The verse was a strong reminder to keep my eyes on Christ throughout all suffering. He went through much more pain than I, and his attitude was, well, God-like! Despite the hatred against him, Jesus Christ never faltered or failed. He was good.

But my verse changed from 1 Peter 4:1, and soon I began digging into Psalm 55. I felt like David did, pleading "Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught." (Psalm 55:1-2.)

So much worry, lies, minor depression weighed me down. So much confusion kept me from looking to God to cure my anxieties. I longed, like David, to "fly away and be at rest" (from vs 6) But I couldn't run away from my own thoughts, which plagued me until I couldn't sleep, eat, enjoy life.

Yet, if God has taught me anything in these past three years, it is that He will not forsake me. In Joshua 1:9 (one of my favorites) God says to Joshua, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

In our discouragement, we forget this promise. When we are depressed, we cannot feel God beside us and for that reason, we begin to believe that He's abandoned us. When these lies penetrated me, I was discouraged further--because if God had left, there would be no end to this trial!

But later in that same Psalm, the fifty-fifth, David in his anxiety and troubles says this: Cast your cares on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Vs 22)

He is there, even when you feel like you're shattering. You're losing it. You feel hopeless, because there's nothing left to do.

Yet, can I say something very important for you to hear? God is faithful. What you are doesn't really matter, in sight of all that He is.

When I am afraid,
    I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
    What can mortal man do to me?
 -Psalm 56:3-4

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Isaiah 57:15,18-19

For this is what the high and lofty One says--
   He who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and lofty place,
    but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
   I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
   creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace to those far and near,"
   says the LORD. "And I will heal them."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Our Midst

Near the beginning of this Bible Study, we, as most of you know, did a study in the book of Ephesians.
When we were starting our study there I had many questions for the Lord.
"Why did You have us start this Bible Study?"
"What do You want to do through this?"
"Why are we reading in Ephesians?"

And as God often does, He spoke through His Word and gave me a verse as an answer.
This answer came through Ephesians 2:22
"In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

From the very beginning it was God's goal that we be a people and a group where God's presence could dwell.
This came about through our submission.
There was much struggle as there will continue to be.

But, this is the Invitation, Promise, and Challenge that the Lord issued to us. 
And, I believe that God is bringing that to fruition in our lives.

An interesting thing that happened recently:
A few weeks ago we had a Bible Study in Pioneer park. While we we worshipping the Lord, praying, and being in fellowship together, about three people came over by where we sitting in the park. One lady said several time, "You guys just have a nice vibe." Also, a good number of dogs ventured over into our group of people. And it seems that people were just generally attracted to where we were.

And, I believe that this is due to the Spirit of God dwelling with us.
Because, though my friends are awesome people, it wasn't us who were attracting people.
It was the Spirit the Lord dwelling in our midst.

God is fashioning us into a people who walk with the Lord where ever we go.
In our homes, with our friends, at any and every place we go.

But now there comes in a new part.
We need to go out.

God didn't bring us together so that we can just talk to each other about Him.
We are called in the Great Commission to go out into all the world!

This is going to be a huge year of change for all of us.
I believe that the Lord has some very crazy things He wants to teach us.
But, in all of it, He is calling us to go forth and declare the glories of Him to everyone.

He is Emmanuel, God with us.
And He will be our strength through it all.
As we keep our eyes on Christ, He will use us to change the world.

Glory to God!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do not be afraid

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
-Revelation 2:10.

Me too.
Yeah, he suffered too.

The whole world suffers, and it stinks. But we've got an advantage named Christ. Some people have their escapes, their drugs, their comforts from the pain. But guys, lets head to the professional. In Revelation, the Church in Smyrna is warned about the persecution to come. They are even given a convenient time amount...ten days. (Ten days, though...ten days is a LONG time when you're suffering.)

But you know, reading this right now, I'm quite encouraged. Because yeah, I may be suffering, and I have not a clue when it will end. Ten days? I dunno. But the promise still stands. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

And in Revelation 2:25, Jesus says to the Church in Thyatira, "Only hold on to what you have until I come." What is it that they held on to?

Here's something cool....I rediscovered this excerpt from a blogpost Jadon posted, like last year. In it he says, "In my personal life right now I'm facing the impossible. Last time this happened I ran away in terror. But not this time. This time I'm looking the impossible right in the eyes and saying, "Come at me bro!" =) The difference in me between then and know is where my strength is found. Last time I relied in myself for strength, and that didn't go over so well. This time though, my strength is in Jesus and He is my strength...So when the impossible comes, don't focus on the physical but the spiritual. Focus on Christ."

It's the same idea. When facing the impossible, when Satan attacks you, when you're just straight up in pain--Focus on Christ. Do not let your physical circumstances scare you away. Why should you, when you have Christ to hold on to?

When Christ is holding on to you?
God, holding you in His arms. Father, comforting child.

And that is why Christ could direct his Church not to fear. "Do not be afraid," He says. So that we can say, "come at me bro!" knowing that in everything, God will walk with us. Through the valley of the shadow of death itself. You can walk into suffering, relying on Christ for strength, knowing that He will be glorified throughout it all.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 

 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

-Isaiah 43:1-2

Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

-Isaiah 46:4

Hebrews 3-4:13

Hebrews 3

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Greater Than Moses

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Warning Against Unbelief

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
    though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”[b]
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
    as you did in the rebellion.”[c]
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Hebrews 4

New International Version (NIV)

A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”[d]
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.