Thursday, January 30, 2014

BUT Nina Keegan

As for you, you meant evil against me, BUT GOD meant it for good...  (Genesis 50:20)

 There are few experiences in life that are more universal than disappointment.

 I have recently walked through the most difficult of personal trials I have ever experienced, and for what it's worth I have been through a lot... Suffice it to say  if I were to write my autobiography it would most likely read like a fictional novel because my story is quite unbelievable.

I know sadly that I am not unique in any way to gut wrenching trials and all too often we all suffer tribulation that takes us to our knees and beckons us to go so much deeper in our faith. Through broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, and shattered dreams we are invited to a place that without the turmoil we would never know the enormity of the Lord's pure sweetness. Is this not the very reason for a trial? 

 This trial in my life that blew in like an unexpected thunder storm on a sunny day, has been so profoundly lined with such close parallels of the bitter sweet. The closeness and the presence of God have never been more absolute, miraculous and so supernatural; while simultaneously the blindsided feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and rejection have achingly pierced my very soul. 

Hurt, pain, lies and mistrust can level our lives and can change our worlds in an instant. This life.... It can certainly throw us a curve ball and cause you to want shout,"I quit, I'm done, I'm out... I GIVE UP!"
 But... Yes there's a  but... BUT GOD, yes there it is," BUT GOD," those 6 letters that can change ashes into beauty. They arrest me in my tracks, penetrating my self righteous, pity party and they command me to NEVER GIVE UP!  They cast a profound shadow and ignite the flame of my sorrow to be a light. Those words reel me back in, stretch my faith, strengthen me, guide me, hold me and bring me to my knees in abundant thanksgiving and paralyzing praise.  My eyes as if with blinders on stare straight ahead in laser focus on my very Creator in whom I can always trust with confident expectancy and hope.

 The ampleness of comfort 
 He shows us when we are downtrodden goes unsurpassed in comparison. He does not ever waste anything but contrarily He will use our pain as a catalyst and a testimony to demonstrate His love and tenderness. He is so close to the brokenhearted, never have I known anything to be more sure or more absolute than this.

The vastness of what I have learned about my heavenly Father's character, love, faithfulness and ultimate devotion to His children is nothing short of  miraculous. His glory is beyond measure. We can and will have what our faith expects. God will meet us at our level of expectancy.

 In our fleshy sorrows we utter, But God where are you?
But God, why are you allowing this?
But God, it hurts so much.  But God, if you loved me then why oh Lord am I having to suffer like this?
Those are the questions we frantically pour out as we lobby, and litigate on a quest for answers better than any high priced, ivy league lawyer ever could.

Faith is what we cannot see! What we must remember ...

 But God... 

But God will never leave you or forsake you! 
But God will turn all things around for your good! 
But God is a good and just God and He longs to pour out His blessings on us.
 But God knows your suffering and your pain and wants to comfort you.
 But God knows who's hurt you and He will rescue you.
But God's plan is immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine, wait on Him BE STILL.. And know without hesitation that He is GOD!
 But God...yes He is here.. Always....winning all of our battles!

I have seen Him supernaturally fight on my behalf. He has led me to the scriptures outlining what His brilliant plans are for me and how He intends to deal with the one who has hurt me.

"We must never worry about the judgement of the Godless." He warns, as He wants us to keep our eyes steadfast on Him alone. God's wrath far outweighs any vengence we could ever seek. We must forgive in the measure He has forgiven us and leave the punishment to God. God does not lie and His word will hold true for the obedient and disobedient alike. He is no respecter of persons. We can count on His word, He is not a God that should lie!

 I know that as He has led me through it all, He has drawn me closer and not allowed me to look back at the treachery He has rescued me from. We must always look ahead to where HE is. Seek His face first. We as Christians are called  to a higher standard of love, we must FORGIVE our enemies. Let the scab heal, move on and set the example. He will take care of the rest! His promises are glorious, unfailing and divine in truth.

We need to wholeheartedly trust and lay claim to the nearness of God, cling to His character and believe He is who He says He is. 
His will for us is Holy, perfect and unchanging. We must always let His Word trump our emotions.

 We will never be where God is not! 

He is closer than our breath! Walk valiantly through the trials of life knowing that Heaven's army will never let the righteous fall and that the blessings on the back side of obedience are enormous.

He's Got this, you're going to be OK!  You really are...It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be painless! Things will change! It will get better! Joy is on the way! Let His praises always be on your lips!... BUT GOD!! You make everything glorious!!

Job 36:17 But you are too obsessed with judgment on the godless. Don't worry, justice will be upheld!

Psalm 44:7-8
But you will give us victory over our enemies and we will praise your name forever

Psalm 38:18. 
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God Will Provide by Nina Keegan

I was barely tall enough to peer over the  shiny, yellow, laminate, countertops in my grandmother's  immaculate kitchen, but it was homemade noodle making day, and  I was overjoyed as I took my rightful place next to her on a worn, red, metal foot stool. "Always make sure the eggs are at room temperature," she reminded me as we  took turns cracking them into the bright blue earthenware bowl .

The smells of that wonderfully cooked Italian food, glorious food, lovingly prepared  by my tiny grandmother in her homespun kitchen are still unmatched  today, and those memories remain some of my most cherished!

 Being from a very large Italian family, all of my most favorite and thoughtful memories involve my grandmother's  brilliantly prepared food. Banquets and feasts were the centerpiece of every holiday, birthday and even simple Sundays. My grandmother wanted to feed everyone. She loved people with food. Making others happy with food gave her unspeakable joy.  She would bring food to all her friends, cook for those who were shut in or just in need of a little TLC. She was always prepared. To her it was a crime to not have a freezer full of  "just in case" lasagnas, and canolis for company...

I believe that this is a "no getting around it", inherited trait of just being Italian, at least in my family. I too love to feed everybody and everything. The ducks on the lake outside my home know that all to well.

To me there  could be no worse feeling than to not be able to provide food for my family or being unable to feed my children.

I thought about the children of Israel being led out of their homeland by Moses. While they were endlessly wandering in the wilderness, they needed to fully rely on and trust God  completely to provide food, manna, for them each day.  They were not allowed to take any more than a single day's portion, if they did it would immediately rot. There would be no "Just in case" food, no what if God forgets to send it tomorrow rations. They had to have blind faith in what they did not see and wholeheartedly trust that they would be able to go out each day and  collect fresh food for their children. They had to believe that a new day's supply would  be sent to nourish them by God from Heaven. 

Can you imagine  the vulnerability of being a parent of young hungry children and having no stocked pantry or extra food at all?  You would have no choice but to trust that God would provide and that you would be able to feed your  family.

 Mark 10:36  "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.

God is so simple in His love for us. He just wants us to trust him, He asks us to tell him what we need? He says we have not because we ask not.

By Him commanding that the Israelites  not collect any more food than they needed for one day, God was asking them to take a leap of faith and to totally rely on His merciful grace. The grace that can only come from Him, His grace is sufficient to take care of all we need on any given day..

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Sometimes we look ahead and the mountains we face and the trials and storms that engulf us seem overwhelmingly impossible to manage. But then God shows up again with a daily helping of His amazing grace, and a fresh batch of heavenly manna and says,  "trust me, we will get through this together today, I will be here tomorrow and we will handle tomorrow then." When we  are weak, He is strong! He always shows up.

Matthew 6:25-34

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Heavenly Father thank you that you provide for us all, you give us food for our body's and  grace for our souls every day!  You are all we will ever need
Help us to trust you, you will never leave us or forsake us! 
In Jesus name we pray!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Be Bold For God by Nina Keegan

"Take a seat please in the lobby area and we will call you when your car is ready,"the lady at the counter told me with not so much as a glance in my direction.  
She busied herself and nonchalantly worked her way through a small stack of papers in front of her. I was just the norm for her, another customer waiting on my cars oil change. I selected a seat in the  lobby area as I surveyed the other patrons in the room. Each one was so capably manipulating either a smart phone, iPad, or lap top computer of some type, completely oblivious of their surroundings. Not one person looked up to say hello, acknowledge me,or anyone else in that room. While I was waiting, I was being lulled by the rhythmic text clicking sounds and the faint tapping of keyboard keys as I sipped my lukewarm coffee from a styrofoam cup.

As I sat in this room that had been so randomly kidnapped by technology, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. What has happened to good old fashioned communication, friendly conversation and exchanging pleasantries? Where is the good will of days gone by? When was the last time you met someone new or took an interest in someone else's life? Why does actually having a real conversation have to be a thing of the past? Why must we be so busy staring into the glass screens of electronic gadgets that we cannot even utter a "hello" or inquire how someone is?

Are we so numb these days that we do not even care about others or has society made it completely acceptable to just keep to ourselves and mind our own business ?

We as Christians are called to be an example in this world  where out reach is a thing of the past. We are called to break through the barriers of computer screens and be a voice.. A real human voice that can be a light of compassion and a word of encouragement that is so scarce today. We can be a voice of hope ,a voice of reason,or even just a kind listening ear.

We are to be bold for The Lord and bring the good news of salvation.  We are to be His mouth piece on earth and an example of His Goodness.

In the book of acts it says we should be Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are to be a mirror image of God , that we should be a reflection of his joy, peace, and love everywhere we go. We may be the only chance that person seated near us will ever get to hear about how much God loves them. 

2 Cor 3:18
We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 

We should never miss an opportunity to spread the good news of Jesus.   Go into all the world the Bible says!! We as Christians often think that this refers to the missionaries preaching in remote parts of the world and ministering to those in the secluded far corners of the earth.

While that is extremely important, the man seated next to you in a lobby on a Wednesday afternoon is every bit as important to God.  It's no accident that you are seated near a certain person on a particular day. We all have divine appointments set up in advance by God. 

 I challenge you this new year to live in boldness for God. Before leaving your house ask Him to put someone in your path today that needs to hear an encouraging word of hope. Be a blessing where ever you go and you will be the one that is blessed.

Thank you Father for Boldness to be a light to those in need. Let us not be afraid to be a witness for you today. Give us people today that need our encouragement. Let your words be our words! In Jesus name we pray! Amen!