For such a time

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Oh the wonderful heroine tale (well more like actual events) of a common girl turned queen, who uses her position to save her people. I do not envy Esther’s position at all. The idea of being a princess is kind of a turn off for my historian self. They find themselves in too many unsettling near death positions (Esther not excluded.) However, God places us right where we need to be, so I guess for me it’s ok that I don’t want to be a princess. Maybe Esther was like me and didn’t want to be queen, but that was the position she found herself in.

Sometimes it’s scary to see where God places us, but there we are. The one thing that we will always have is a choice in how we react or respond to the places where we find ourselves. In the verse above we see Mordecai reminding Esther of that. You see the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that after 70 years of exile God would deliver his people. (Jeremiah 25:12) We know that God always keeps his promises and fulfills his prophecies (2 Corinthians 1:19), in saying that, if Esther had kept silent and had not gone to the king (uninvited) then there would have been someone else that God would have used to deliver the Jews. Still there would have been consequences to her silence, which Mordecai also details. In reading this verse there is something that sticks out to me: the question that we find at the end.

From before we are born God has placed in us a special task that he wants us to complete. Sometimes they are more blatant than others (some we may never be aware of), but the one thing is certain, we have all been placed on this earth for “such a time as this.” Our whole lives God has been preparing us so that when the time comes we are ready to accomplish what we need to. We can see how God prepared Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus (just to name a few), we can see where they came from and what they did. We have the hindsight that they didn’t. This should be encouraging for us to know that God is working beside us as he readies us, and the people we find in the Bible are testaments to that – they become our own hindsight to the faithfulness of God.

Reading the story of Esther I saw that God had orchestrated all the events and they worked together so perfectly. God had prepared the way for Esther right up until the moment where she had to choose: fulfill the purpose God had placed on her life even though it could end her life, or stay silent and wait for death. Not really enticing options. * Spoiler alert * In the end she does choose to follow God and she lives as well as saves her people from the impending doom.

When you find yourself in a situation(s) where you have the choice between following God and following your heart know that you were made for such a time as this. God prepares us and places us exactly where we need to be. We are given everything we need to accomplish what he has purposed us for because God equips his children. So I pray that when God says that it’s the moment (or moments) we have been preparing for, I will be able to step forward and do it, even if the stakes are as unstable as what Esther had to face. I know that God is for me and to use the words of Esther, “if I die, I die.” (Esther 4:16)

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Walk towards God and the path will be made straight. God may surprise you in how the path is paved, but you can be sure that it will be there. (Isaiah 43:19, Proverbs 3:6)

*P.S. I’m very cool with being God’s princess because he is a King who will never be dethroned.

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“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

This last month has been a rollercoaster for my fellow citizens of Alberta. May 1 marked the start of a wildfire that is being labeled the most costly disaster in Canadian history. It has displaced approximately 88 000 people, destroyed more than 2 400 buildings, and approximately 1 900 firefighters have and continue to fight the ongoing inferno. Some people being evacuated had mere minutes to grab something and leave their home. Hearing this made me think, “What would I take if I had only 5 minutes?”

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Smoke looming over the city of Fort McMurray ominously.

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

As I thought about all the items I own and which ones I would grab if I had 5 minutes this verse came to mind. I can remember having this verse told to me as a child in Sunday School, I’m not sure I ever perfectly understood it, but after living for such a short time, so far, I see the importance of this verse. We put so much value in stuff that we sometimes forget that it’s all just stuff. Their value lies in the memories we associate with them, and the work and money we put into them – that’s it. Our stuff will never last; even our memories fade. So why would I hold it all as a treasure?

About three years ago I had a conversation with a wonderful lady who has been a great influence in my life. She has since moved away and I don’t know if she realizes the impact that she has had on my life, but there was one thing from this conversation that has stuck with me. Actually it was something that she had learned that week. “Camilla, I need to be in a place where if there comes a time where my husband is no longer with me I can continue to live without him. My reliance needs to be on God, my heart with God, not on my husband.” That struck a chord for me. It is an idea that can cross boundaries, one that is not simply relevant to marital relationships, but all relationships (including the relationships we have with items and possessions.)

It is important to store all that I hold dear with God. What I give to him will not be destroyed, deteriorate, or die. They aren’t physical treasures, they aren’t tangible, but they are real. There needs to be conscious effort to put God first, put him as the only thing on my list of “things to grab if I have 5 minutes”. With him I am provided for, loved, have joy, am alive… Remember “He is; therefore I am.” So when I have him, that’s all that I need. He is what will satisfy.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21)

You know it can be a hard thing to let our treasures go. I’d say for me that it is people I have a hard time surrendering to God. But in the end I know that if I give God my heart (which I consider to be my treasure), then I know that it will be taken care of. I will be given a greater capacity to love, to forgive, to support, to help, and to have compassion. However, if I hold onto the things of this world, when the stuff or people that I hold as treasures fail me, leave, or die a part of me will go with it. Living with God at the top of the list allows me to be free from the temporariness of this world. I want my heart to desire more of him.

So another question I would like to ask is this, if you had no time to grab anything, if you had to leave everything behind would you be ok with that?

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Matthew 6:33-34

I’m a warrior (pt. 2)

Shield of Faith

Q1: Why a shield? A shield is a tool of interception. It stops the flaming darts before they come in contact with the armour.

Q2: What is faith? “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) By building up this faith in God and trusting that all his promises for me will come to fruition, when I am told that I can’t or that I’m not enough, I can hold onto him. My assurance is in him who I cannot see.

Q3: What does that mean for us? If our faith in God is strong then we can stop anything that the enemy comes at us with before it pierces other pieces of armour. We can move forward knowing where our hope lies and that we can be confident in him.

Helmet of Salvation

Q1: Why a helmet? The purpose of a helmet is to protect the head. The head is usually associated with logic, rationality, and discernment. Injure this and it is easy to render the body immobile.

Q2: What is salvation? The salvation that is named is not the salvation of Christ due to the fact that it is the followers of God who are in his army. By definition salvation means to protect or deliver from harm. For me this refers to protecting our minds from harm, from thinking in circles that stir up skepticism and doubt. (Romans 12:2)

Q3: What does this mean for us? Over-thinking things can become our worst enemy. It can cause us to sew seeds of doubt in our mind. There are times where are doubts allow us to ask questions and grow, but the problem is when we doubt what we already know to be truth. By protecting our thoughts we prevent unnecessary skepticism and doubts, in the end we are able to trust in the promises of God.1441278_528110397284326_1542076766_n

Sword of the Spirit

Q1: Why a sword? A sword isn’t a piece of armour; rather, it’s a weapon. We aren’t only equipped for defense, but also for the offense. Swords are used both to deflect blows and to give blows.

Q2: What is the sword of the Spirit? This is the only article that Paul actually explicitly defines. At the end of verse 12 in Ephesians 6 it states that the sword of the Spirit “is the word of God.” In Hebrews 4:12 it describes the word of God as being sharper than any double-edged sword! Continuing on in Ephesians though, verse 18, Paul tells us to also pray in Spirit (referring to the Holy Spirit.) So to me this means that the sword of the Spirit is a combination of the Bible and the movement of the Holy Spirit in our prayers and when we read the Bible.

Q3: What does that mean for us? Reading the Bible regularly and not only reading, but also memorizing scripture is necessary to keep our swords sharp. In doing this we can overcome temptation (like Jesus Matthew 4:1-11). Every response Jesus gave to Satan was scripture. We can also see the promises of God and hold to them when we go through struggles. Words have power and there is no exception to our prayers and the word of God. The Holy Spirit is power, and it resides in us.

 

So now we see the armour that God has given to us. Because of this we don’t remain helpless children needing God to always fight our battles. He does fight with us and for us, but he also gives us the tools to go forward into battle as well. It is our job to be diligent in maintaining the armour of God so that it will continue to be effective.

Therefore put on the armour of God, knowing that you are the child of one who has already conquered, and with that you are also a conqueror. There is a constant battle raging on, so to arms warriors! Remember who goes before us.

I’m a warrior (pt. 1)

This last week I was at worship practice and during the practice I had this little epiphany: I am not just a child of God – I am a warrior. God has adopted me into his family, which makes me his child. Now there are different levels of being a child. For example, I am not a baby, but I am still my parents’ child. Generally speaking though, a child is usually associated with needing help and needing to be defended. However, I am not defenceless or helpless because God equips and arms his children to be warriors, in his name.

There’s a whole passage in the bible where Paul talks about the armour of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) In these verses we are given the enemy whom we fight against and what we have been given to equip ourselves to fight. Here’s the rub: God gives us everything that we need, to equip us to fight the battle against “… the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12); however, it does us no good unless we take the armour, put it on, and use it. A gift is no good if you just look at the wrapping and leave it on your shelf.

The Belt of Truth

Q1: Why a belt? For me, in my most 21st century childlike response to this would be that a belt holds things up. Things that are held up by truth won’t fall down.

Q2: What is the truth? Well let’s look at John 14:6.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Q3: What does the truth do for us?

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus is truth. Stay rooted in him and we won’t fall – we will be set free.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Q1: Why a breastplate? A breastplate was a piece of armour used to protect the chest and ultimately the heart.

Q2: What is righteousness? Righteousness is the state of being righteous, which refers to being moral, or “right with God.”

Q3: What does that mean for us? In Proverbs 4:23 we see the importance of protecting our hearts. What happens in our hearts is reflected in our lives.

The Gospel Shoes

Q1: Why shoes? So this piece of armour is a bit different in the sense that it actually says, “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness of the gospel of peace.” It doesn’t say, “put on the shoes of the gospel of peace,” it’s all about the readiness. When I was a child my mom would tell me to put my shoes on to get ready to go. Here Paul tells us to get ready to move.

Q2: What is the gospel of peace? (Philippians 4:6-7) It is easy to become anxious over what and where God calls us. Paul wrote these verses while he was in prison, not a very peaceful time. Yet through this he was able to declare the peace of God, which “transcends our understanding.” The gospel of peace is the revelation of Christ’s peace.

Q3: What does that mean for us? To me the readiness of the gospel of peace is just that, having the beyond comprehensible peace found in Jesus (the Word, John 1:1-2) to be ready to go wherever you are called, whenever it comes. It is not understandable, but it allows us to move forward without hesitation, ready to complete what God has for us.

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Be diligent in maintaining the armour. Without proper care the armour will not be able to fulfill its purpose.

to be continued…

Wait a second… or fifteen

Patience is something I struggle with. You are all shaking your heads in disbelief, I know, but it’s true. Lately this has been a big point of contention in my life. God has deemed it a necessary time to work on this weakness of mine. Waiting periods are not always the most enjoyable; growing pains are just that – a pain.

Going through these times in life where all that is required is patience has made me see that there are a few different ways that we have to be patient. I would like to focus on two in particular: baking a cake patience and planting a flower patience. Baking a cake patience is a passive patience. You put the cake in the oven and do nothing, but continue on with life until the cake is ready. (Hebrews 6:15)

Then there is planting a flower patience, which I like to describe as more active. One can’t simply place a seed in the ground and leave it expecting something to grow. It needs to be nurtured, watered, and have the weeds pulled so that it can flourish and grow. (James 5:7) Sometimes it takes a while before we see any of the fruit of our labour, or before the flower blooms, but we need to continue to nurture it.

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Luke 12:27-28. God takes great care in composing his masterpiece.

At first I was struggling with which patience process I needed to go through. Now, I’m realizing that it doesn’t necessarily matter if I choose which type of patience I need to have at the moment. What is important is that I continue to pursue God and develop this fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It is not always cut and dry in identifying how I’m supposed to be patient, but serving God is simple.

 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)

There are many verses in the bible that talk about patience. There are many examples. The one thing that they all have in common is this: take a second to slow down. It is important to be able to take things in stride and not in leaps. Yes there are times where leaps will be necessary; however, there are many more times where we need to take just a few seconds to breathe. Learn to treasure the moment you are in and recognize the blessings that God gives.

I like to remind myself of this: God’s timing is always perfect, never late, and rarely early. So I will take the second or fifteen to breathe in and enjoy the moment I’m in because if I try to rush ahead I will end up missing the blessings of today and not be able to appreciate them. Just breathe.

His love song

Have you ever seen a really nice cake, so nice that even the smell tempted you to taste it? And that as long as you don’t sneak a taste you can say no to eating the cake, but once the taste buds have been given a bite the desire for more sets in and it becomes hard to stop eating. Then someone comes along and takes the cake away; however, the craving remains and grows. The craving desires to be satisfied, but even if you ate the whole cake it wouldn’t be.860317_10200691240913183_326466434_o

This is a comparison (definitely not a perfect one) of how it feels when we try to satisfy our emotions by the world’s standards, but I want to especially focus on the desire to be loved. It seems to be something that the world hungers for, yet the world has no way to appease its hunger. In fact, I think that it perpetuates the addiction, making its victims slaves to the drug called love.

I can see how I have been affected by the stories of love told by the world. Fairytales, romantic comedies, romance novels, although I know that these are all stories, there are elements to them that have made a home in the back of my mind. They cause me to fight with myself, searching for what is reality and what is fantasy. They also cause me to reconsider where I am looking to find love. Because when looking in the wrong places the addiction will continue, it will never be satisfied the way it should. It’s time I stop listening to stories and start listening to the truth of His love song.

I am pursued by a love that never tires.

It was not me who loved God first; rather it is he who first loved me. He knew me before I was aware of the world, or the world of me. From before I was, he is. It was because of his loved that he created a plan to pursue his creation, to become connected once again to the ones whom he had molded and shaped. For centuries God has continued to pursue us and never once has he given up on us. Neither has his pursuit weakened.

(1 John 4:19, Psalm 139:13-16, Genesis 3:15, Luke 15:4-5)

I am pursued by a love that satisfies.

(John 4:6-10)

In these verses Jesus begins to explain to the Samaritan woman about the living water. He tells the woman that the living water will satisfy her thirst and give her life. (John 4:13-14) His love satisfies, and it gives life. I can continue to live life trying to fill my need for love, but none is so perfect, nothing so sufficient, as the love that I receive from Jesus and the Father. So as the woman at the well did (John 4:28), I will leave my jar (a vessel used to gather things of the world) by the well, ready to receive the satisfying love of my Father.

I am pursued by a love that heals.

According to Isaiah 53:5, it is by his [Jesus’] wounds that we are healed. Healed from sin, but I also very much believe that we are healed in matters of our hearts. Our hearts become hurt and broken as we go through life. We are all human and as such we hurt each other, even those we love. It is reassuring that God’s love is healing. It will never betray me, change its mind, or lie, but with it I am actually able to mend. The deeper I am in God’s love the more whole I feel.

 

 

So God continues everyday to sing me his love song. He wants me to remember who I am to him, that he sent his son for me, so that I can live and be loved forever by him. His love is not determined by who I am or what I do, it is given to me freely: in fact, it pursues me. It is time to listen to his love song, forgetting the world’s empty promises.

I am being pursued. I am already loved.

Free to struggle

I guess my life centers around music because the last few posts have had musical components to them, and this week is no different. This week I was listening to a song by Tenth Avenue North called “The Struggle”. I have listened to this song many times and every time I listen to it the chorus sticks out to me.

“Hallelujah we are free to struggle; we’re not struggling to be free.”

That whole idea that when we have been freed by Jesus, immediately our chains are broken is liberating. The struggle no longer is for life, to break the chains that we were entangled in, but all we have to face are the struggles themselves. Now that is not to make light of the struggles; however, it is to say that through our challenges we don’t need to have fear of their chains.

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

 “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child…” (Galatians 4:7)

(John 3:16)

God’s ultimate plan was to break our bondage to death (Romans 6:23). Jesus was his way of accomplishing this plan, at least to make it possible for us to be free. The marvelous love of the Father came to us to set us free from a debt we could never pay. It weighed us down, it drowned us in its waters of peril, and it wasn’t until we were washed in the blood of Jesus and shared in his life that we were able to escape the chains we bore.

Chains symbolize limits, imprisonment, burdens… slavery. We all have been constrained by chains, sometimes we may feel like we are still held by them; however, with Jesus we are released from them and no longer need to be slaves bound by chains. God has given us the ability to live as humans: he does not force us to live as robots serving him. We have been given freewill, and with that he has made it easier to live on earth in the sense that by adopting us into his family we don’t have to live on earth with a death sentence awaiting us, but we can live free, in him. My struggle is not to be liberated from death. I can go through life and take everything it challenges me with because I have been set free from the earth’s bondages. I am not a child of the world and therefore am not shackled to its fate.

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So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36

I have been set free so I can struggle through life with God, knowing that what awaits me is life with him for eternity and that death will not overcome me, rather I will overcome death.

(Ephesians 2:4-6)

(John 5:24)