Do you have a hard time believing that God is real? It is nothing to be ashamed of. I grew up in the church and I believe in God. But thinking of God as real, well, that feels like something completely different, doesn’t it? (It isn’t just me, is it? I hope not!)
As humans, we have this tendency to think that “seeing is believing”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot in my life. I am sure you have too. It is an idiom that dates back to 1639 and it means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. For many things in life, I can understand this way of thinking. There is certainly a case to be made for it. And, no doubt, I am sure there are multiple areas in life where this way of thinking makes sense. But what about when it comes to God?
I don’t know about you, but when I think of God, I think of Him in an abstract fashion. Initially, what comes into my mind is a great, big, all-knowing, all-seeing entity. And, I do think God is that, but I believe Him to be triune. That means, I believe that He is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus was the human form that Father God sent to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus was the human form. But, I wasn’t around to see Jesus in the flesh. Maybe if I was, it would be easier to believe in God. Then again, maybe not. What do you think?
I mean, can we really trust what we see? If you lived in Jesus’ time and saw Him and talked to Him and watched Him perform miracles, would you believe in Him then? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Stop and really think about it. If you saw Jesus give sight to a blind man, would you believe your eyes? Would you think that Jesus performed a miracle? Or, was He just fooling you, putting on a show, pulling your leg? No one can make a blind man see. Surely, what you witnessed was not real! Or, was it?
Can we really trust our eyes? Honestly, no, no we can’t. (But we can trust Jesus!)
Psychology experts tell us that our senses can be tricked. Our eyes can be unreliable. Police tend to discount eyewitness testimony because they know that it is the weakest link between a crime and the criminal. Laboratory test results are much more precise. The witness of a crime could tell you that they saw a white male commit the crime. But, DNA evidence left at the scene of the crime tells us very specifically who that person was.
So, back to God. Is God real? You can’t specifically see Him. Even if you could see Him, can you trust your own eyes?
I know and believe God is real. But, how do I know? I have felt His presence, I have heard His voice, literally heard His voice, and I have observed His miracles. And, while I have never actually seen Him in the flesh per say, I have seen others who radiate His love and do His work here on earth. I see Christ through others. I also see His existence in everything around me, each and every day. I see God in sunrises and sunsets, oceans, prairies, and flowers. I see His fingerprint on all of creation.
It’s funny, as I type this out two TobyMac songs pop into my head, Feel It and Everything. Some of the lyrics to Feel It go like this, “Oh, I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my soul, That’s how I know.” Some of the lyrics to Everything tell us, “I see You in everything, all day, And every beat of my heart keeps reminding me.” (If you haven’t listened to TobyMac yet, please do yourself a favor and stop and listen to some of his songs. He is one of my favorite artists. But, I digress…)
Now, I know that just because I say and truly believe God is real doesn’t mean that you do. But, I want you to know God and to believe in God and one day say that you know He is real too. That is a huge reason as to why I write this blog. So, I must tell you another reason I know God is real and why I believe in Him; I have faith.
Faith can be confusing, but it is a basic tenet of Christianity. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says, “Not-seeing is believing.” In other words, we do not believe what we see; rather, we believe what we do not see. And, that is what faith is all about! Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Jesus told doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In the Bible, Peter also writes about faith. 1 Peter 1:7-9 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
Faith is choosing to believe, it is a choice. And, I choose to believe.
If you are just coming across my blog for the first time, I encourage you to go back and read some of my older posts. Maybe you will find some that resonate with you. To get you started, here are some of my favorites: How Do You Get to Heaven?, He Is Risen!, Are You A Fighter?, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Grow Up, Masticate on This!, and Fear God?
God is most definitely real. And, I hope that you find Him soon for yourself. It will be the best thing you could ever do!
Life is funny sometimes, don’t you think? I do. (Not funny “ha ha” just, well, curious. I mean, it is also funny “ha ha” sometimes too, but, I digress…)
Case in point, have you ever had a friend who bought a white SUV and then suddenly, you notice white SUVs everywhere? Our neighbor bought one recently and I then noticed that four other neighbors on our same street all had the exact same SUV. Or, maybe you bought a cute, teal bag and then noticed at least two other women carrying them around every time you went out in public. Isn’t it odd how we can pick up on these little things in our lives once we open our eyes to them?
The number seven is like that for me. My husband, Paul, and I celebrated our seven-year wedding anniversary last week. Seven is Paul’s favorite number. (He grew up in New England and was a big fan of Mickey Mantle.) We were married on February 11, 2012. Or, if you shorten it: 2/11/12. (Add 2+1+1+1+2 and you get 7.) The home that Paul grew up in had a street address of 52. (5+2=7). The house my parents live in is 106. (1+0+6=7.) Our current address is 124. (1+2+4=7.) We are moving into a new house soon and that house has an address of 151. (1+5+1=7.) I have come to think of the number seven as our blessed number. (I would say our lucky number, but I don’t believe in luck, I do believe in blessings!)
When I decided to create this blog, I knew I wanted to call it “Focus on God + Good” but it seemed a little long to have as the URL. I wanted it just be fogg.com. Unfortunately, fogg.com was already taken. Paul told me to just add a number to it. Seven seemed like the logical choice. It was “our” number and I feel like we should be focusing on God and good every day of our lives; seven days a week. So, fogg7.com is the result of that.
As I grow in my spiritual life and read my Bible, or listen to it, as the case may be, I have been delighted to learn what a significant and sacred role the number seven plays and has played in Scripture.
In all, the number seven is used more than seven hundred times in the Bible! In Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, God rested. On the seventh day, creation was complete.
There are other instances in the Bible where you can find the number seven showing divine perfection or completeness. Before animals could be used for sacrifice, they had to be at least seven days old. Naaman, who had leprosy, was commanded to bathe in the Jordan River seven times and his flesh would be restored. Joshua was directed to march around Jericho for seven days, and on the seventh day to make seven rounds, while seven priests were blowing trumpets. The Lord told Joshua that on this day, the wall of the city will fall flat. These examples relate to us that the number seven signifies a completion of some kind.
Seven is considered the number of perfection, security, safety, and rest.
We have seven days in a week. Seven continents make up our earth. There are seven colors in a rainbow. Our skin is regenerated in seven days. Every cell in our body is replaced every seven years. There are seven wonders of the ancient world. Seven has the highest probability of occurring as an addition when rolling dice. The OSI model has seven layers. A ladybug commonly has seven spots. The neutral pH value that lies between acidity and alkalinity is seven. There are seven basic musical notes.
Plus, my friend Sherri sent me this great article from Bible Study Notes: The Number 7 in the Bible. Read it, it is so cool!
Isn’t this fascinating? So, many people identify the number seven with something being “complete”. I love this! I like to think that my husband and I complete each other and make each other’s lives complete. What do you think about the number seven? After reading this, maybe you will start to see the number seven in a whole, new light.
God created us with two hands. Hands are wonderful things, useful things. Our hands allow us to hold on to things. And, there are times in life when we need to hold on to things. There are some things in life that we should on to tightly and never, ever let go of. I think the most important and precious thing we can hold on to in this life is God. We need to hold onto Him, His love, His grace, His forgiveness, and His promises.
But, let’s be honest, there are also times in life when we need to learn to let go. I know, I know, letting go isn’t always an easy thing. Actually, I have personally found that it can be very hard. However, as we grow in our spiritual lives, it is imperative for us to learn how to let go. This is a key component in being spiritually mature. We must learn to let go of anger, bitterness, shame, disappointment, failure, stress, and hurt.
Once we let go of these things, our lives will become lighter and more peaceful. And, who doesn’t want that?
The problem is learning how to let go.
This is something that I struggle with often. I think we sometimes get a sick satisfaction out of holding onto things that are bad for us. Somehow, for some reason, we can get a kind of joy out of holding onto our anger and bitterness. Or, we take satisfaction in proving that we are right, even if that means we hold onto our disappointments, failures, and hurts. This has got to stop!
With this in mind, I am trying my best to let go of things that are harmful to me. And, I stumbled upon something recently that is helping me do a better job of this. (At least a little bit anyway. This is a baby-step process for me, just like everything is in my life.) So, I wanted to share this nugget with all of you. So here I am.
Question: What happens when you let go of something? Answer: You open your hands.
When you open your hands, two things happen: you let go and you set yourself up to receive.
We so often focus on the “letting go” part, but don’t think about the “opening up to receive” part. And, this is an essential part of the process, don’t you think? This second part never even occurred to me before. I was listening to a meditation app on my iPhone the other day and it was mentioned in that day’s meditation. It was a small revelation for me. (One that has the potential to be huge!)
When I think about letting go of things that are harmful to me, I occupy my mind with getting rid of the bad. What I should be centering my attention on is not only getting rid of the bad, but taking in the good that comes along with that. It’s a two part process – out with the bad, in with the good.
We can open our hands to let go of all the negative things that are weighing us down, and at the same time set ourselves up to receive God’s love, forgiveness, and peace. We just need to retrain our brains to think of the positive effects we will get. By opening our hands to receive we can rewire our minds; and this will in turn rewire our hearts. We can learn to open our hearts and minds, as well as our hands.
So go ahead and open your hands. Receive all the good things God has for you. This practice of opening our hands to God’s love is just the beginning. Once you get the good stuff, you will want others to have it too. And, every good gift is from above. That is what we should be holding onto. So, will you join with me today and open your hands? I know that we will all be better for it.
Growing up, I heard people talking about how God gives and takes away. This always seemed scary to me as a kid. I started thinking about this phrase in two different ways. One, was that God was an Indian giver. I know this is a horrible colloquialism. But, it is an expression I grew up hearing and it seemed to go right along with God giving and taking things away. The second, was that I only thought about God giving us “good” things and then taking said “good” things away. I guess they both boil down to the same thing though; God gives us things, but He also takes them away.
I think the scary part for me as a kid was the fact that at any time, without any notice, God could take something good away from us. I didn’t like that. It was almost as if the giving part had to be accompanied by the taking part. Also, I have no idea why I thought God would only take “good” things from us, but that is what I thought.
Now, as an adult who is growing spiritually, I am learning to view this remark in a different light. First, I should point out that the saying comes from Job 1:21—“He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
If you read this verse and think, yes, God can give and He can take away. Or, at the very least, He allows bad things to happen. Read the book of Job and you can see that Job has been blessed, but then he suffers great and terrible losses. From my point of view, Satan is the one taking things from Job, not God. Satan is the thief that we read about in the Bible. In John 10:10 it says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Reading the book of Job can also show you what a blessing it is to fully trust in God with everything you have. Job was not perfect, and yes, he lost a great deal in his life, yet through it all he kept his faith and trust in God. And, that faith and trust in God was eventually rewarded by God’s grace. Through God’s grace, Job got back everything he had once lost.
But, back to God taking “good” things away from us. I do think He can and does take “good” things away from us. However, taking “good” things away from us isn’t always a bad thing. Our definition of “good” may be skewed. What we think of as “good” may not really be that good. Maybe God has something better in store for us. Maybe there is lesson we need to learn. Maybe that “good” thing is hindering us and we don’t even realize it. Maybe that “good” thing is causing us to love things more than we love God.
In other words, just because we think something is good, doesn't mean it is. As Jon Bloom, has observed, “Prosperity tends to conceal idolatry and false faith. Loss reveals what we really love and believe.”
I truly believe that God loves us and only wants good things for us. God is a giver. No matter what He is doing, whether it makes sense to us or not, He either does things to benefit us, or He can work bad things out, so that they can be blessings. God’s ultimate intention is never for suffering or death, but for blessing and life. Two of my all-time favorite Bible verses are: Romans 8:28 (…all things work together for good to them that love God…) and Isaiah 61:3 (…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…)
I also like to think about the fact that God takes “bad” things away from us too. He can and will take away our pain, our sorrow, our guilt, our worries, our shame, our remorse, our stress, our fears, and our sins. God loves to take away all those “bad” things that harm us.
And He will take them away, if we let Him. That is why He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. It is our job to trust and believe in God and accept His gift of grace with a thankful heart. For, it is by His grace and love that He sent His son Jesus to save us. And, save us, He did. And, that same grace and love will heal us of all the “bad” things we fall prey to.
So, as a conclusion, I believe that our God is a loving God, a kind God, a God who gives and gives generously. He takes too, but not in the negative way that I thought of for so long. When He takes, He does so to help us and bless us. And, that is just another way of giving to us, another way of loving us. He is after all, our good, good Father.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.