Saturday, November 12, 2011

I saw this picture today and I just loved it. It reminded me of the passage in the second chapter of Joshua where Rahab tells the Israelites that the people of Jericho had "melted with fear" 40 years before because the Israelites had God on their side. The people of Jericho knew that NO enemy could stand against the people of God.

And yet, the Israelites spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness because they didn't believe the truth about the power of God through them as much as their enemies did!

Things haven't changed much...the people of God still sometimes forget who they are in Christ and who Christ is in them. As a result many Christians live defeated lives with an occasional victory instead of the abundant life of victory God intends for them to live.

We have a promise we can a battle with our enemy, Satan, we are ALREADY winners! The victory is already ours! The enemy knows it, but he knows that as long as we DON'T know it, we might as well not have it!

So if you want to EXPERIENCE the victory that is already your possession, then live boldly as the victor that God has created you to be. Walk through life with the assurance that you are empowered by God, unconditionally loved by God, accepted by God, complete in Him, and VICTORIOUS through Him!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Expunging Power of God's Forgiveness

This is a long read, but it will bring you great rejoicing and provoke some serious thought as well. I wrote this a few months ago, but was reminded of it again today. Maybe it's for someone that needs to hear it today..

Sometimes God just surprises me with an illustration from real life that teaches me a great spiritual truth. It’s almost like I understand fully what He is saying all at once, but then He sort of unwraps this gift of revelation slowly in order to show me what He is saying in detail. This morning I saw something on television that God used to take me on a detailed journey in thought, reminding me of His full forgiveness. I’m inviting you to take that journey again with me now as I re-trace my steps of understanding this incredible truth.

The important thing to note first is that when Jesus was on the cross dying for my sins, He saw me. And He saw my entire life; all the sins I would ever commit and in fact all the sins of the entire world were in His view that day. And He died to forgive every one of them.

So we can emphatically state that the forgiveness for all sin was purchased by the death of Jesus on the cross. There had never before been a sacrifice that was effective enough to forgive sin fully and forever. And after the death of Christ there would never be a need for another sacrifice to add anything to His because His was enough. In fact, Jesus said, “It is finished” indicating His completion of all that God required to provide forever and full forgiveness for those who receive Christ and have His forgiveness applied to them.

Now, let’s take this journey one step further. When I came to an understanding that I was a sinner in need of a Savior I responded to His invitation and received Christ as my salvation. At that moment, the forgiveness Christ purchased on the cross was applied to me. And it was a package deal. I didn’t just get forgiveness for all the sins I had committed up until the day I received Christ as Savior. I got fully and forever forgiven for all my sins for all my life!

Remember that Jesus looked ahead through the corridors of time when He was on the cross. He looked ahead to see me and to see you. But did He just see the sins I had committed up until the day I was saved? Was His view limited to only a portion of my life? Of course not. From the cross, Jesus saw every sin I would ever commit for my entire life and paid for them all.

We are limited by time and space. We can only see a limited view of things. But God’s view is not limited by time, space, or anything else. He sees our tomorrows as clearly as we see our yesterdays. So when Jesus was on the cross, everything in my life was future tense at that point. He saw the final day of my life as clearly as He saw the day I was born.

So the death of Jesus was enough to take care of all my sin and the sin of all the world…past, present, and future…because that’s what God saw that day. When God’s forgiveness is applied to me, it’s applied completely; withholding nothing for a future day when I might need it again. God’s wrath over my sin is fully satisfied forever, no matter how badly I mess up in the future. Nothing I ever do will surprise Him. He saw it before He saved me and saved me anyway.

When I think about this fully, I have to realize that in God’s view, even the record of sins I will commit 10 years from now were already on my record and in His archives on the day that I was saved, even though in my limited view I haven’t seen them yet.

Now, back to what I saw on TV this morning. Fox News reporter Orlando Salinas was in Miami, Florida reporting on the job shortage there. Because the jobs are so limited there, only the top candidates get hired. In Florida there is a huge population of criminals who have records of law breaking going back for many years. In some cases, many years have passed since their last conviction, but that old record is keeping them from getting jobs. So convicted criminals are now seeking to have their criminal records “expunged”. Orlando Salinas went into great detail describing the process of expunging.

When a judge approves the expunging of a criminal’s record, a court clerk literally goes to the basement, the attic, or wherever the archives are located. He looks for the record until he finds and it. Then he physically removes the criminal record and obliterates it. There is absolutely no record left of the crime. The crime can never again be used against the former criminal and in fact he is no longer even identified by the law as a convicted criminal. It is “just as if he never committed the crime.”

The former criminal and those closest to him may remember the crime, but in the eyes of the law it is gone forever. The crime is in the former criminal’s memory, but it’s no longer in his past.

Here’s what God showed me. Because God’s vision transcends time and space, all of the sin record of my life (past, present, and future) was recorded and archived on the day of my birth as if they had already happened. When I received Christ as my Savior, the debt caused by the penalty for my sins was marked “paid in full.” Jesus suffered and paid the penalty for my sin.

But God didn’t stop there. He sent Jesus to the archives to pull my entire sin record and then He obliterated it. God forgives fully and forever, but He doesn’t stop there. He JUSTIFIES….it is “just as if I never sinned.” In fact, just as a former criminal who has had his record expunged is no longer considered a criminal, God justifies me and no longer calls me a sinner. He calls me a saint.

At this point you may be shouting glory or you might be wondering why I’m making such a big deal of this. Here’s why…We often accept, believe, and even praise God for such truths, but we don’t carry the truth to the furthest extent. If we are truly already forgiven, fully and forever, why do we keep asking God for what He’s already given us? Isn’t asking Him for forgiveness basically saying that we don’t believe Him when He says we are fully forgiven? Isn’t continuing to ask Him for forgiveness just like asking God to send Jesus back to the archives to look for and destroy a record that no longer exists?

If God says that I am justified forever (and He does) then that means that in regards to the guilt of my sin (what is charged against me) I will forever be “just as if I’ve never sinned”…and that will not change even on those occasions when I sin (because even my future sins were already archived and subsequently obliterated). So when we ask God to forgive us, we’re asking Him to do something He’s already done…and our request reveals that we don’t believe Him.

Does that mean that God doesn’t see me when I sin? Or worse yet, does it mean that He doesn’t care if I sin? Of course it doesn’t mean that. Sin will still destroy what is beautiful in our lives and prohibit us from living in the abundance of Christ’s life in and through us. When we sin it is still crucial for us to confess that sin to God as the Holy Spirit convicts. But confession is not the same as asking for forgiveness. Confession is simply agreeing with God about my sin. The Holy Spirit’s conviction is not condemnation because my guilt record has been eternally expunged. His conviction is simply convincing me that something is a sin and that it will bring destruction to my life. It is His way of convincing me without condemning me…and He only does that for those who have experienced the expunging of their archive of sin through their relationship with Jesus.

Do we still sin? Yes.

Does God see our sin? Yes, in fact He saw it before we even did it. But He’s not surprised by it, disappointed by it, or unprepared for it because He saw it before He even saved us and fully forgave us.

Does He still charge our sin to our account? Absolutely not. When He looked over my life at the point of my salvation, He scooped up every sin I would ever commit and put them in my record…then He expunged my record. He obliterated it.

Does He still point out my sin to me? Yes, because He loves me and wants me out of the danger of all that sin can do to me. He convicts me without condemning me because there is no longer any condemnation for one who has had the record of their crimes against God expunged.

Praise God for His expunging, obliterating, justifying grace by which I am fully and forever forgiven!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Knowing vs learning something...

Sometimes I rely on what someone has taught me about God instead of coming to know Him and His ways for myself. And when what I’ve been taught is not the full truth about a matter, I tend to doubt God instead of doubting what I’ve learned about Him.

For instance, I’ve heard preachers and teachers say that God will always speak to you and assure you in the midst of the storm. I have experienced that.

But I also have experienced times that He doesn’t. When I’ve gone through those times when I didn’t hear God clearly through the storm, I wondered if God had abandoned me or if I had somehow done something to push Him away from me. I had to ask if He was mad at me and letting me suffer in my storm?

But my issue was not that God had not acted according to His character. My problem was that He didn’t act according to what I had believed He would do! My belief was wrong. God is always right.

Sometimes, He wants you to remember that He is with you and that He is able to take care of everything. And He wants you to to know it by faith in the midst of the storm without Him having to speak it to you. Sometimes He waits until the time of trouble is passed before I hear from Him. It’s almost like He’s silent when I need to hear from Him most and then when the calm returns I find that He was there all along; but He was silently watching and He was quietly active in my circumstances. I always wondered why He did that.

Now I get it. In the Bible, when God said, “Do not fear,” He also gave the reason the instruction was possible when He said “for I am with you.” That’s the answer to living a life out from under the control of fear. The ability to operate without fear is in the constant KNOWING that He is with me. If I have to depend on Him to tell me in the midst of every trial and every scary situation of my life, then I don’t KNOW it and I will be afraid. But if I truly KNOW it, then He won’t have to remind me of it every time a problem arises. And I will never fear if I constantly know and never doubt that He is with me.

You don’t come to know something in a way that you will never doubt it by having someone tell you over and over again. It's not something you can just "learn" by hearing it. You come to know something with assurance when you experience it over and over again. And when you experience something over and over again you will know that it is truth in a way that you will never doubt it, no matter how hard times get.

When God does not tell me or show me where He is working it’s because He wants me to know that He is working without me having to be reminded of it every time I face a crisis! I am going to have more troubled times in the future and those times will require an ever maturing faith. God’s silence is for a noble purpose. It is to grow me spiritually and to prepare me to be of greater Kingdom use.

I am convinced that the "overcomers" that will be victorious in times of tribulations that the future holds are those who KNOW the truth about God and His faithfulness. They don't have to be reminded of it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My life as a sailboat...

Get ready...this is a long one. But it's worth the time if you tend to let your emotions run wild like I sometimes do!

The logo that my husband and I chose for our ministry, The Reality Group, is a sailboat. We chose that because it’s a perfect picture of how we feel about serving God. You can either be like a rowboat, trying hard and struggling to do all that you believe will please God. Or you can be like a sailboat, driven and empowered by the Holy Spirit within you…in other words, either YOU can serve and usually fail, or you can allow the life of Christ to serve through you and be victorious.

That part I knew with all my heart, soul, and mind. We have both learned the hard way that we must “sail” in service, empowered by God Himself. But recently we have experienced a time when God didn’t seem to be moving. It seemed that we were just “dead in the water.”

When that happens in the life of a believer there is always a tendency to return to life as a rowboat….I don’t know about you, but I would start paddling again at that point. If God didn’t move, then I’d move “for Him.”

After months of impatient waiting and unsuccessful attempts to get God to move again, I reached a point of hopelessness. I began to think that I’d never hear any direction from God again. I felt defeated at that point. The boat that was my life was sinking. I was not sailing because God wasn’t moving and I just quit rowing because I wasn’t getting anywhere anyway. (Bringing me to a point of exhaustion and surrender was God’s intent by the way…He never wanted me to row again!)

I desperately called out to God. I didn’t want to be dead in the water anymore. That’s when God began to show me what He was doing. You might remember that when Mary and Martha sent for Jesus because their brother Lazarus was dying, Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead to show up on the scene. They both questioned why Jesus took so long.

I believe it is because they already knew Jesus as a healer. But He was about to show them something new about Himself; a new characteristic that they could depend on in times of sorrow and death. He chose this occasion to show them, and in fact the world, that He was RESURRECTION AND LIFE!

In my situation I had known Jesus as the wind that empowered me. I had seen Him do incredible miracles through me that were totally out of my abilities. But there was another way that He wanted to show me I could trust in Him.

19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

Vs 19– the HOPE that we have in Jesus is to be the anchor for our souls (our mind, will, and emotions). It is that hope that keeps us steady and secure during troubling times.

God began to give me some incredible imagery to teach me truth and restore my hope. An anchor is what keeps the boat from drifting with the prevailing currents during a storm or just during the times when the boat is not in motion for whatever reason, INCLUDING those times when the wind is just not blowing. (Or in my life, when God is not moving.)

He showed me that though I have known Him as the “wind” I had never come to know Him as my “ANCHOR”…the hope for the times when God has me in a place of stillness….when the winds of ministry have ceased for a time. Those times of rest are supposed to be profitable for me, but they can also be devastating to someone who is accustomed to and enjoys “sailing swiftly”…as we do.

Here’s what I wrote after that revelation:

I need to know Jesus as my anchor, not just as my wind. I need to know how to let Him hold me steady in a still place and not get caught up in the current of my runaway thoughts that take me off in dangerous directions where I neither want nor need to go. I need to learn how to get to the TRUTH that will give me strength, peace, and a sense of security when the storms of my life try to draw my emotions away from that truth.

God brought me to a point where I realized that the thought process that usually happened during a crisis in my life would eventually destroy me if I didn’t let God show me this new way of thinking. If trouble entered my life my thought pattern tended to run wild. I would get a sense of something being wrong and I would start to stew over it like a mild current running alongside a sailboat. But after a season of stewing over the crisis, the mild current turned into an overwhelming jet stream in my mind and I would then find myself drowning in it.

If there was ever anyone that needed to know how to be held fast by my Anchor it was me. I needed to know truth so that I would no longer get caught up in such raging currents that would keep sweeping me further and further toward the destruction of my peace, my sanity, and my ministry.

So I asked God to show me how to hold on to the anchor. And His response was SHOCKING. What was so shocking is that I spend my whole life teaching that it’s not about me holding on…yet I still thought that was the answer.

God began to show me that sailors NEVER hold onto the anchor. They just stay on the ship and trust the anchor to do all the holding! They just trust that the anchor will hold.

The key to my peace of mind is not holding on to Jesus. It’s a matter of trusting that Jesus will hold on to me…that His grip is STRONG and SECURE enough FOR ME!!! No matter what storm, no matter what current, if I will simply “stay on the ship” He will keep me from drifting into dangerous water.

So, my next question of course was: what does it mean to “stay on the ship”? What was He teaching me with that? Here’s what I learned:

I tend to panic and jump off the ship and when I do I jump right into the current of my raging emotions!

I can be sure that the ship in which I have my hope (salvation) will NOT be destroyed because the anchor that secures it (Jesus) is stronger than anything that can come against it. It will stand strong during any storm. But if I panic and jump overboard because I’m somehow not sure that the boat will be strong enough, then the strength of my anchor does me no good.

In other words, if I jump overboard to look for my security in other sources that are not “on the ship” (God ordained sources), then I will get caught up in the dangerous current of my runaway thoughts; I’ll get caught up in them, overwhelmed by the storm, swept out to sea, and I will FEEL alone and helpless and HOPELESS. If I seek my security in anything else but what I have in Christ, then I’ll lose all hope because there is hope in nothing else.

Here is the truth. If Jesus is both the anchor and the wind, then we have to allow Him to “blow” and “hold” as He wills. When He is being our ANCHOR we can’t try to get Him to move the ship. And when He is being the WIND we can’t try to get Him to stop it. He’ll stop our forward motion when He knows it’s best to do so and it will always be based on what we need. And He’ll move us forward again when the time is right and not before.

It’s not enough to know Him as the wind of our personal ministries. We also must know Him as the anchor that holds our lives steady during the times that we are still. And remember that He said to “be still and know that He is God.” The times of stillness are just as important as the times of great activity…in fact they may even be more important. Don’t hurry them. Stay on the ship and trust the anchor!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stake your claim!

God gave Joshua an assignment that must have brought great joy to Joshua. God appointed him to divide the land among the Israelites. That would have been good news for a couple of reasons. First of all, if God gave him instructions to divide the land, that was confirmation that God was going to defeat their enemies and give them possession of the land. But there is more reason for rejoicing.

Think about this…God gave Joshua the privilege of telling the people what they had been given as the chosen people of God.

And we can rejoice in that assignment as well because that’s exactly what God has called the leaders in His kingdom to do today. One of the most important roles teachers, preachers, ministers, and all believers have today is to tell believers what they have in Christ!

Sadly, many Christians hear more about what they lack than they do about what they have. They hear more about what they are NOT supposed to do than they do about what they CAN do through Christ. Since they don’t know what they have in Christ they spend their lives trying to get what God has already given them. We are joint heirs with Christ. Everything that He has belongs to us as well. We are complete in Him. His inheritance is our inheritance. We don’t have to wait for it and we certainly don’t have to earn it. We get it simply because we are children of God.

“16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” Romans 8:16-17

And notice that we have already been given everything we need for life!

“2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…” II Peter 1:2-4a

Like the Israelites, we have been given an unconditional gift from God. Through Christ, we have everything we need. Everything that Jesus has is ours; His faith, His wisdom, His strength, His power. It is all available to us. It is our Promised Land. It is our inheritance.

Everything we need for life and for living a Godly life is ours. It’s an unconditional gift of the grace of God. But just like the Israelites, whether or not we live out of the abundant life God has given us is conditional on us following His leadership all the way to the life He has for us.

So many Christians get stuck in the wilderness because they have crossed the Red Sea into salvation, but they stopped short of crossing the Jordan into God’s promised land of His abundant, victorious life. It’s ours, but we don’t live in it.

God wants us to stake our claim - take possession and live in the abundant land that He has given us as believers. We can quit walking in spiritual poverty and live out of the riches of the Kingdom of God!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wandering and wondering....

In preparation for the release of my new book looking at the Book of Joshua, I'll be posting some excerpts from it here.

Do you ever feel as if you are wandering through life and you wonder why? Well, you are not the first.

At the Red Sea, with deep water before them and Pharaoh’s army behind them, the Israelites found themselves in an impossible situation. If God didn’t make a way, they would either die or be taken back into captivity. But God miraculously parted the Red Sea and they crossed over on dry land. Safe on the other side, they looked back as the army chasing them was crushed by the violent return of the walls of water into the dry sea bed.

But that miracle and all the miracles that followed weren’t enough to convince the Hebrew nation that God could do the impossible. They continued to murmur and complain on the entire journey to the place where they could finally cross over to take possession of the Promised Land; the land that was already theirs. The group they sent to spy out the land returned with reports of a beautiful land, flowing with milk and honey. But sadly the reports also included facts about the inhabitants of the land. They were described as strong giants who lived in fortified cities.

The people were struck with fear. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, spoke in favor of going on to claim the land under God’s leadership and protection. All the others were paralyzed and willing to settle for less than God had given them. They owned Canaan, but they refused to take possession of it.

As a result, that generation of Israelites was destined for an aimless life wandering around in the wilderness instead of an abundant life in their promised land. They were owners of the richest of lands, but they lived the rest of their lives in a vast wasteland because they were afraid to take possession of their bountiful inheritance.

It’s a perfect picture of the lives of most modern day Christians. We don’t exercise the courage, the drive, and the wisdom to live in the abundance of what we have already been given. Either we don’t know what we have inherited in Christ so we live in mediocrity and failure, or we know what our inheritance is and we refuse to take possession of it.

We are joint heirs with Christ. Everything He has is ours as well. That is our inheritance. But we haven’t taken possession of it. Over and over we stand at the point where we can cross over to live in the abundance of His power, His provisions, His righteousness…His LIFE. And over and over, out of ignorance, fear, or apathy, we settle for spiritual poverty and aimless wandering in spiritual wilderness.

If that is happening to you there is no need to wonder why...The answer is crystal clear. God never intended for us to wander in the wilderness. He has given us abundant life and if we will follow Him, He will lead us right to it and do everything that needs to be done for us to experience it fully!

Friday, July 22, 2011

What God's doing now...

It's been a while since I've posted...And I've been through a lot in the past two years. Today God drew me back to some old videotapes of previous speaking engagements. I watched them and realized that I have lost something. Well, let me re-phrase that. Actually, I haven't lost anything. I just forgot for a while that I have everything I need for life and godliness. Im suddenly remembering again that I have everything I need to do anything that God calls me to do in His power and strength. God is showing up in a fresh new way and I have had to face the fact that He has been showing up all along and waiting for me to join Him in what He was doing.

He is reminding me that what I have is Christ...His power...His faith...His love...I can speak to Him and know that He will listen and respond in whatever way is best for me. I can listen to Him and know that He will speak clearly to me. I can do all things through Him.

What I have been realizing over the last few months is that I once spoke boldly and with confidence when I spoke of Him. And the stress of dealing with things that have happened in our churches, in the world, and in my family have pretty much just sucked the joy and confidence out of my awareness. It's still there because it's the joy of the Lord and it's confidence in what He can do. But I've just taken responsibility to handle things that have never been my responsibility to handle. I've tried to fix things God never expected me to fix. I've let things and people bring me down and distract me from where I should always be focused.

And that has caused me to operate almost on auto-pilot. I knew the truth. I taught the truth. But I failed to live the truth. Even though I taught the full truth of God's grace every Sunday morning and many times during the week too, I neglected to apply it to my own life.

God never moved. He has not left me. He did not forsake me. I knew that all along. But I've learned that I need to constantly remind myself of the truth I know so well! I've learned that if I don't, even the teacher is capable of forgetting the lessons she teaches others!

I don't know how often I'll post to this blog. I don't even know if anyone will ever read this post. That doesn't matter. I just wanted to record in some special way that God has brought me out of a low spot...a low spot where I planted my feet and dug in my heels for a while... and He has set my feet on a rock...a rock that's on higher ground than I've experienced in quite some time.

The joy is back...the excitement of waiting to see what God is going to do next is back...the assurance that God is in control even over situations that seem impossible is back too. And my desire for the things of God is back in it's appropriate place in my life. It's top priority!

And most of all, I'm experiencing the peace that passes understanding and the faith that moves mountains again!

And I like it!

Reality Check

with Debbie Childers