Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Again I'm reminded that God places an importance upon His children. He created us so He would be able to commune with us. Although He cannot abide in the presence of us in our sinful state, He has given us a Way to bring us back into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is His desire that all people would know Him and desire to commune with Him. He calls us and if we willingly heed His call, He saves us. Then He begins the work of refining us and transforming us, but not that we would become robots. We are still allowed to make our own choices, but hopefully they would be the right ones. He allows us to be who we are and use the gifts He has given us at birth. He hopes that we will be conformed that we might use our gifts in the way He intended.
When we use God's gifts for us properly, He is glorified. This calls for trust. This calls for letting go of some of the things that we hold on to so tightly. It's not easy but He tells us that it is for our good and only good things can happen if we allow Him to work within us. We are called to reverently fear God, not be afraid of Him. Man can kill physically, but if we give our lives to and trust in God, although we die physically, we have not lost our eternal life. It sounds like a win-win situation to me.
If He knows the very hairs on our heads and always has knowledge of the number (times every person in the world--past, present and future!), how can we not trust Him? He tells us we are more valuable than sparrows (we went over that yesterday). Sparrows don't, in my estimation, amount to that much in the grand scheme of things in this life. But if He cares so much just for them, how much more does He care for us? And if He cares, doesn't it stand to reason that if we fear Him, follow Him and trust Him, nothing but good can come about for us? It's something to think about.
Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Heavenly Father, I'm so glad You have a purpose for each of us. I'm glad that You care that much about us and in return You only require that we trust You and work with You that our lives might be according to Your plan. I pray that Your will would be done this day in my life. Let the thoughts I think and the words I speak come from You. I only want to do Your will.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
God was asking Moses to lead Israel out of the "comfort" of Egypt to go to a land God had chosen for them. Granted Israel was living a life of bondage and slavery in Egypt, but leaving to go someplace they knew nothing about, having little to no possessions or provisions did not make them feel very safe. When they got tired of what God provided for them each day, they began to exaggerate their recollection of what they had in Egypt. They decided it might not have been so bad living there after all. Numbers 11:5 - We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic... A commentary on this verse suggested Israel was "engaging in 'creative memory.'" This food would probably not have been available to them as slaves.
As we journey with the Lord, He will ask us to leave the comfort of our surroundings and go to down a path He has chosen for us. It's time for us to let go of the things that hold us in bondage against the things God has for us, what He knows we are capable of doing. What can I say? Holding those things dear and letting them go is a process, no doubt. I heard a sermon or teaching once about not living in the past and moving forward. Not letting go seems to me to be hanging onto our past. Oh, I've never been outgoing, I'm shy, I'm not a debater so I can't do -------" But God says you can. He says I can. What in the world is so important about the past, especially if it wasn't so great, that we can't let it go? Are we engaging in creative memory?
Yesterday we determined that God calls us at some time in our relationship with Him to step out or arise and begin to do His work. I believe we will find that when we take that step--and this has happened to me on occasion--we will then take possession of that thing God wanted us to do; it will be delivered into our hands. Also in the Old Testament in Judges 7:9 (and in many, many other instances) God told Gideon that their enemy would be delivered into their hand, meaning God would have done the work. It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand." The struggle Gideon had at one point in his battles was whether God would truly be with him. And when God pared one of his armies down to a mere 300 men, it truly had Gideon concerned. In the end Gideon and those 300 men frightened the enemy into running from them and God caused them to attack each other!
When God asks us to do something, do we also worry that God won't be there for us? If He has called us to do something, why do we fear He will not be there? As with Gideon, God proved that He was doing the work and Gideon was only the instrument. So He wants us to be. When will some of us--no, when will I--get that into my head? I will not be the One doing the work. I am only the instrument. I have asked God to make me that willing, empty vessel that will receive from the power of the Holy Spirit to take possession of those things, those people, those situations that are placed before me. God will not remove Himself but rather empower me.
"As the heavens as higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Isaiah 55:9, Jeremiah 29:11, 2Corinthians 12:8
Father God, there are just so many times I can pray that You truly allow me to be that empty vessel, strengthened by You and empowered by You. There are just so many times You desire that I get out of the way that You might do the work. I'm sure I've failed time and time again. I ask for another chance. How do we know whether we are "waiting on You" or just sitting something out failing to recognize an opportunity? I'm admitting this here that it might be seen as way of being accountable. I understand that it is not what I know, but what I'm willing to allow You to do through me. I'm sure I'm as equipped, or unequipped, as the next person. But You have the power to do Your will through me. Lord, have Your way.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In the Old Testament arise means to rise, of course, but also to accomplish, make good, perform. It means to establish. I like that word, establish. That word alone means to bring about. In the New Testament the meaning is to rouse, as from obscurity, inactivity or nonexistence or to stand up. Putting these two definitions together, I see the meaning as we have arisen out of our obscurity or nonexistence as people of the world into God's new creatures. Once that has happened we are called to make a move to establish, to perform, to accomplish something. God requires that we, as His children, arise to do His will.
1Chronicles 22:15-16, 19 - "...there are workmen with you in abundance: woodsmen and stonecutters, and all types of skillful men for every kind of work. Of gold and silver and bronze and iron there is no limit. Arise and begin working, and the LORD be with you. Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God... Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy articles of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD."
If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior you've taken the first step. However, as I mentioned before, there is a time period where you bask in the healing of your old, worldly self into the new person in Christ that you are. You hear that the Lord loves you and you allow His love to wash over you and cleanse you, change your heart and give you assurance. But there comes a time when you must "arise" and go to begin your work for the Lord. For some it will be immediate. For others, taking that next step is a difficult one, as I admittedly have struggled with. So much is required. We must have faith that God will lead us in a direction we may not even be able to see. We must trust that He will continually guide us, that He will be with us.
In 1Chronicles above David was commissioning the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon build a sanctuary where the holy things of God would be placed. God would have a home, as it were. We know that the Lord does not need a home built with human hands, but it's nice to have a physical picture of what He's wanting us to do spiritually. David knew there were men (and probably women) with many talents/gifts given to them by the LORD. He was asking them to work toward a goal for the LORD. This is what God still asks us to do today. We were each born with certain talents that He purposes for us to use. We first build a sanctuary within our own hearts where God may reside and where the things of God abide. I believe when we have done that He will show Himself to us and ask us, with the gifts He has given us, to arise and begin to work toward building His Kingdom.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
...trembling and astonished [he] said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." Acts 9:6
We saw yesterday that there is a time when God calls us to arise and go forth with Him, even leaping the mountains. We are to do this with blind trust and faith, acknowledging that God has His best interests in us and knows what we are capable of doing. It is His love for us that causes Him to reach out for us. It's His desire to take us to places we've never been.
Scripture tell us not to fear, that God knows what we need before we even ask. He has already equipped us. And if He knows all about us, why should we struggle with doubt? Well, admittedly, for me it's still not easy. But here, today, God is telling us to "arise and go." Go where? Do what? How? When we have arrived at our destination we will be told what to do. That's blind trust. What would we do if we knew ahead of time? We might worry more, believing we couldn't possibly do that or believing God must have chosen the wrong person. We might want to adjust the instructions to suit what we think might be the best way to handle the situation. Oh, how we sometimes struggle with the greatness of God. How our human nature and stubbornness, pride, even ignorance, can stand in the way of our glorious God and His immutable ways. God is never wrong. Let's just know this with every fiber of our being.
Yes, we need to be instructed through God's word through study of Scripture, sitting at the feet of Jesus. What we know will be helpful to God when He calls us to go somewhere and then be given instructions. The Word that we put into our hearts will be called forth by the power of the Holy Spirit; God's instructions will be clear and He will be able to accomplish much through us as long as we are willing to go and be obedient. Jesus gave us this promise and encouragement when He said:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will be your teacher in all things and will put you in mind of everything I have said to you. [And] these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. (John 14:6 and John 16:4a)
Lord God, it can be a struggle sometimes to allow You to do the work You so desire in us. Continue to teach us through Your Word. Let that be the beginning of our instruction. Proverbs tells us "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Instruct us first how to fear and revere You as Almighty God. We are already equipped and all you want us to do is arise and go to do Your will. Thank You, Lord, that You have perfect plans for us. Let us be obedient to Your desires. Remove any doubt and fear that might hinder our work for You.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Luke 14:11 - For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Humility is something we all struggle with. We sometimes rush ahead of our circumstances believing we know the answers and assuming we will be successful in our own efforts. This can be taken as an attitude of pride. Oh, oh.
The Disciple Peter knew all about pride. He was admonished several times by the Lord. Jesus knew Peter had leadership qualities but Peter liked doing things his own way. Peter rebuked the Lord when Jesus told the disciples about His future death and resurrection. At the Transfiguration Peter spoke out of place. When Jesus wanted to wash Peter's feet, he objected. Jesus told Peter he would deny Him and Peter adamantly said he would not.
Quite often it was Peter's miscalculated words that got him into trouble. Each time Peter was humbled by the Lord or God Himself, in front of others no less. It doesn't always have to be our words, however. We can move beyond God's will when we speak out of turn or step out of the will of God. Can we remain silent or wait upon the Lord in humility when we are in a position where we are not so sure what to do? Or will we be faced with being humbled?
Perhaps some situations in our life were brought about as a test to see how we will respond. I'm sure we learn from them. Nothing we do for ourselves and by our own strengths yield the fruit God would desire. It's not about us. He wants us to be humble and yielded to His will so He can exalt us in his own time and thereby glorify Him in the process. Wait upon God's perfect timing.
In time Peter had learned this lesson and he passed this information on to others:
1Peter 5:6 - Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
Heavenly Father, reveal to me when an attitude of pride rises up within me. Help me to step back and take a good look at every situation and determine when it is the right time to speak or the proper time to take a position of yielding. Let me be humble right from the start rather than be humbled later. Take me out of the way that Your will would be done. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Seek God. These words came over and over not long ago when I first decided I needed to more actively seek God through more avidly reading His Word and listening to Him speak...sitting at His feet. The words came through sermons, reading and a Bible study I was doing. It was something our church was doing at the beginning of the year, seeking God for our lives, our families, our relationship with the Lord and for our nation. It made so much sense when I'd put all the various thoughts together. It was time.
In a Bible study we discussed something which is not new, that the whole reason God created us was to fellowship with us. I got to thinking, somewhere along the way over hundreds of years we have forgotten this. We've gone our own way and left the most important part of our life out. I was reading a book last night before going to bed about how our nation has done the same thing. We're slowly taking the most important Person out of the very life of this country. Or should I say the very life of this country is being sucked out because we are attempting to remove all semblance of a Divine Creator?
In his book What in the World is Going On? David Jeremiah makes a reference to something George Washington had said: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." There were other quotes by other presidents saying pretty much the same thing. And then David Jeremiah wrote: "...when America turns from its position of being under God, we can no longer expect His blessings on this nation to continue."
I wasn't planning on going in this direction! But I just did. It seems it fits both situations--personally and as a nation. My original thoughts were that I cannot take for granted my salvation. It is a gift from God. He called me. I did not search for Him. I thought the knowledge I had of Him was all I needed. He tugged until I responded. He justified me in His eyes. He blessed me with this gift of salvation. But it's up to me to actively seek Him now.
How does this fit with our nation? I believe God gave us this country. It was His gift to us. It provided us the freedom we desired (salvation). So we should not be taking it for granted. Now it seems like a melting pot of disasters. As long as we seek Him for this nation, we are blessed. That blessing may be dwindling. If as a nation we change our attitudes and return to seeking Him He will bless us accordingly. However, we are living in troubling times. Our nation faces an unknown future. As Christians we are not to worry about anything, not about our lives and what we will eat, drink, our bodies, or clothing. God takes care of all things and aren't we more important than everything else? We shouldn't worry about what may transpire. If I seek God first...if we seek God first...He will provide all our needs. I am worried about those who do not know the Lord and do not have that provision for their lives.
I thank God that He never gives up. I thank Him that He gets into a season of our lives and relentlessly taps our shoulders to get our attention. He speaks so we will listen and then captures our hearts once again. Seek God for our own lives and for this nation. He will provide the answers, the encouragement, the understanding and the wisdom.
Matthew 6:30-32 - Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Lord God, I sometimes think I sound like a broken record. I still am thinking about and thanking You for never giving up on us. I thank You that all You ask is that we seek You first...first in the morning, first in our time of need, grief or trouble. And then when our needs are met it is important that we thank You. You know our needs. You know the desires of our hearts. You know the beginning from the end of any situation and we just need to trust You with all things in our lives. If we are not to worry about our needs for every day, why should we worry about those things we would like to see happen in the world, our nation, our families, and our lives. As long as we seek You, You will provide.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
Awhile back I read this scripture. It caused me to set out to do a study on it. Let me share my findings. Let me share what God offers us.
We are to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.
True: Not concealed, not unaware of; not the world's version of true, but God's. His Word is truth; His plans for us are good; His promises for us are great and precious. (John 17:17; Jeremiah 29:11; 2Peter 1:4)
Noble: Meaning good; covered above; reverend, worshipped
Just: Meaning moral, truthful, honest, fair; without criticism, without judgment; righteous, virtuous, innocent, faultless; conformed to the Word of God, approved of God. (Romans 12:2)
Pure: Wholesome things; sacred, modest, clean, most holy
Lovely: Pleasant, agreeable, delightful, acceptable.
Good report: Sounding well, uttering words of good omen; good news or the Good News. God's Word is a good report. (Hebrews 11:2)
Virtue: Good quality, honest, moral, upright
Praiseworthy: Admirable, creditable. Like the good news report, not what we get through most secular media
All these words describe God. It's all about Him. It's not about us, it's not about the world, it's all about God. Only He offers these things in the truest sense. He is the Good News and offers Good News to each and every person.
How often does the news we hear everyday on television or radio give you the warm fuzzies? Most often we hear about disasters, murders, kidnappings, drugs, theft. What's so good about this news? But the news of Jesus Christ is all good.
There are good people. There are honest people. There are wholesome people, pleasant people, virtuous people. Even if a person is all or one of these things, he is not without sin. That's why there is the Good News of Jesus Christ: The Good News is about His life on earth, His discipling of men and women, His teachings, His example to live by, His death and, praise God, His resurrection. The Good News is He suffered unto death in order that we might be reconciled once again with God.
The attributes I mentioned above are what we are to desire for within ourselves as well as looking for in our relationships. We are to relate to and treat others with these good attributes. And, if we truly take the time to consider these things, our attitudes will begin to look like them.
Consider the Good News of Jesus Christ, that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.
1Samuel:12:24 - Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
Heavenly Father, in these days with so much negativity in the news and in the world, a good report is so welcomed. I thank you that You have given us a good report. All we need do is listen for it and take it into our hearts. I thank You that You constantly call us into relationship with You. It's not about religion or denomination, but relationship only. How freeing a concept that is. It is a true, just, pure and lovely concept. And how wonderful that it is free to all who want it. Lord, in these days ahead, I ask that You work in the hearts of those who think they know You because they go to church every week or believe themselves to be good people. I ask that You show Yourself to them in a way that only they would understand and believe. You desire that ALL men would come to You. Let that also be the cry of my heart for all mankind. Thank You, Lord, for the grace and mercy You give. Thank You for your risen Son, Jesus. Amen
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Luke 12:2-3 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
What a hard scripture for me to read today. My head was filled this morning with criticism and I couldn't shake it. It came out of nowhere. I'm reminded of the scripture about out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34) So, then, when we recognize what we are doing why don't we stop? It seems like an obsession to continue to think what we don't want to.
I was thinking about a friend who seems to always be in an unhappy state. She finds it difficult to rejoice in difficult situations and I've heard her say,"Why me?" And my thoughts took over. Then I read Luke 12 this morning and knew the Lord was showing me something.
He was revealing to me what sin was in my heart. There are times when I'm inundated with critical thoughts, not that I want to be. I think to myself about others: "Why not put your mind to rejoicing instead of whining? Might not things change?" But it's also human nature to be so frustrated and unhappy with some of the circumstances in our lives. Do I do that myself? When will we ever learn? I think how rejoicing might bring a change of heart to the circumstances. Let go and let God, we hear. Let Jesus carry our burdens; His yoke is easy and His burden light. (Matthew 11:30). Is complaining trusting in Jesus? And didn't Jesus have to go through difficult circumstances Himself, and aren't we to use Him as an example of how we are to live our lives? But even without thinking outright, we are saying to ourselves, "Why me?"
Maybe I felt like I did out of frustration, of not wanting to see her suffer and desiring for her to finally rely on no one but Jesus. He's gone through it all, He knows, so He's willing to share the load of that burden. We need to be willing to let it go. Sometimes I think we just like being in that state of unhappiness. We choose to complain. We're comfortable in that place. Oh Lord, how sad is that? Do we get satisfaction from others feeling sorry for us?
My friend's attitude and mine are different, but both are equally as sinful. I should remove the plank from my eye. And how could I possibly know what she should do? How do I know what she's tried to do to overcome her attitude? Have I gone through a bad situation? What is considered bad, difficult, a challenge? How have I reacted? Have I really had something to suffer through? How do I know I haven't gone through my trials and moved on? I don't have an answer to any of these questions. So, take the plank of your eye, Laurie!
What do I need to learn? Understanding, compassion. A hard heart doesn't soften others. I could easily be one of Job's friends. And a hypocrite to boot. I'm not perfect. None of us are. I know I want to change and ask God for His help. I can't speak for my friend.
So who's right here? Neither, I presume. We both need to lose the attitudes. I need to look at the situation with sympathy, not criticism. Oh my. This is hard to write. I wonder if writing this will be healing? I wonder if anyone else recognizes this in themselves?
And finally, Oswald Chambers today wrote about Matthew 11:29 - Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. He suggests stopping the whining and crying out to "let me be like other people." He's suggesting we be thankful for our times of pressure under God's hand. He has something for us to learn--if we are willing to find out what it is. He ended his devotion by saying "If you have the whine in you, kick it out ruthlessly. It is a positive crime to be weak in God's strength."
Two scriptures and two different lessons to learn. I'm trying to put these both into perspective. Luke 12:2-3 should be fearful for both of us, for all of us. All my thoughts will be brought into judgment. And so can many others' thoughts. Doesn't make it right, though. The day of judgment, unfortunately, will come and where will be be? So, shouldn't I also give this to God? Is that the conclusion here? We are both in the midst of our own sinful attitudes. Heaven help us both to let go, give the burden to Jesus.
Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. [And] all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Psalm 100:3 and Isaiah 53:6
Father God, I realize that we are always going to be in a process of cleansing ourselves from the filthiness of our sins. Do a work in us, Lord, that we may overcome whatever it is in our hearts that needs to be confronted and changed. Continue to grab our hearts through scripture that we read each day. It really does not give me any consolation to know that others are as guilty as I. I need only concern myself about my own sin. Work in my heart, Lord. Work in all our hearts that we might be conformed, transformed into Your image. Thank You for Your persistence. In Your name I pray, Jesus. Amen
Friday, April 10, 2009
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This is the Good Friday before Easter. It is time of reflection and rejoicing in what our Savior did for ALL mankind on the Cross. This is not to say we shouldn't remember what Jesus did every day of the year. He lived, He died, He rose again from the grave and He is alive today for those who call Him their Lord and Savior, who have heard His voice calling them and have accepted this call to follow Him and have intimate fellowship with Him and learn from Him. He spoke the truth in love and taught His disciples to do the same. As imperfect as they were, He knew what they could be and what they would be. He saw beyond their imperfections. He loved unconditionally, even His enemies. He loves all of us in the same way. We are told if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. We may not physically see Him but experiencing the love of Jesus we have seen His attributes. He lived a selfless life of sacrifice and forgiveness.
I am again reminded of the father and son I've spoken about this past week and I see many similarities. He received Jesus at an early age and loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul and mind, as we are called to do. He lived selflessly and as unto the Lord with a pure heart and without deceit. He was a man after God's own heart, exuding the love of Christ in all he did. He ended disputes by asking people to forgive and knew how to say it in love. I am reminded of Matthew 5:9 which says "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." He saw to it his family was raised on the strong foundation of Christ. It sounded like it came naturally to him. He was truly an example for his family and friends, as Christ is to be our example.
What's amazing is his little nine-year-old son was watching and learning from his father. He was, in essence, being discipled. They were best "buds," doing many things together and he was beginning to show his father's attributes. Another similarity? A good friend of the father's who also knows the Lord, admittedly having fallen away for a time, said this man looked beyond his faults, never walking away from their friendship. Another amazing similarity.
I see how these two lived and died and we know that they both will rise again to meet our Savior when He returns. Their many crowns received for what they did on this earth out of pure hearts as unto the Lord will be placed at the feet of Jesus. They will both hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant(s)." For those of us who have an intimate relationship with the Lord, we have the same hope.
What is so perfectly evident is how this family is being strengthened through their relationship with the Lord. It will be a difficult road to travel in days to come, but they will be leaning on the arm of the Lord and calling on Him. Through them the love of Jesus will be seen. And the words of life this family will be able to speak into the lives of others... This sums up what this weekend 2,000 years ago was all about...the result of God first loving us, revealing Himself to us then offering up His life for ours on the cross. This father was not perfect but will be remembered for his love, kindness and gentleness.
1Corinthians 1:1 - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for taking this father and son into Your loving arms. I thank You for the lives they have touched in life and even in death. My prayers go out to the family for strength in the midst of tragedy and rest for healing bodies and hearts.
I also thank You that Your eye is on their neighbor who is sturggling with the loss of her daughter and we thank You, Lord, for bringing her son out of his coma. I ask that You bring total healing in his body. Let his mother's heart to be stayed on You that she might be filled with peace. Let Your presence be with them.
Thank You for Your patience for all of us and all our own imperfections.
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Do you like a mystery? I do. I love digging for answers. The best part is when that answer is revealed and the understanding takes root. Life is a bit like that. Each day there is an opportunity to have something new revealed to you if you keep your eyes open. It doesn't always have to be something monumental, but there is still that "ah-hah" moment when a question that might have been going through your mind is finally answered. Another word for that is revelation.
Remember a time when you had to just know the answer to something? How hard did you search for an answer? Were you satisfied when you go the results? Did it take a little off your mind to have better knowledge? Was it like a puzzle that piece by piece came together to completion?
All throughout the Bible there are "ah-hah" moments...from Genesis to Revelation. They are there for the reading. But in the Bible the last book is Revelation and is a revelation of who Jesus Christ was and who He is and who He will be, from God the Creator of the past, the Savior of the present and the King of the future. All that was written in the Old Testament points toward Him. He was in the beginning and is right now and will be in the future. He is the first and the last. Through Him all things were created and exist. He IS the Alpha and Omega.
When we work at a job we glean information from someone with experience. We tend to trust someone who has the knowledge about something. I think I would much rather put my trust in someone who's been around awhile, been there, done that, who has the knowledge of past, present and revelations of the future. The same goes for our God. He's our spiritual encyclopedia, the one who has all the answers. Look to Him for the answers to the questions about your physical and spiritual life.
Romans 11:33-36 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" "Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
We each have changes that need to take place in our lives. I need to rely on God more and less on myself, I was once reminded. This is nothing new to me. If we let go of our own strengths, God will pick up the slack in the times of our greatest weakness. We have all He requires of us at any particular time. He will not ask us to do more than we are able. He has chosen each of us for a specific purpose and through our obedience He will work out that plan through us.
How is this done? Part of it is through discipline, a word that can make us cringe. Discipline can be negative when it means punishment, correction or restraint. Yet it is also positive when it means to instruct or prepare. The word "disciple" comes from the word discipline and that is good--we are called to be Jesus' disciples.
We have a good example to follow, that of Jesus Christ, who took up His cross daily as well as literally. He took up His cross even before He physically took it upon the road to Golgotha. He thought not of Himself but of all others first. That's a disciple's discipline!
Discipline starts inwardly through meditating or studying God's word, prayer and fasting. Obedience is the greatest discipline and that's all the Lord desires of us. We should not doubt or question His will for us. It means putting aside my desires and living the life that Jesus would want me to live. When we allow Him to guide us, He will make those necessary changes. We might not even recognize all of them right away. Our lives should be one of instruction and preparation. Correction will come if we choose to go our own direction; however, is done purely out of love to bring us to holiness and into the image of Christ. It is also a discipline.
Remember Christ went before us in discipline. He knows all about it. When we received Him as our Savior, we were also crucified with Him on the cross. Galatians 2:20 states: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." We gave up our old, sinful nature so we could follow Him. His arm will be there to grab when we stumble, He will lift us up when we fall, comfort us when we are distressed and guide us when we lose our way. Let us show our gratitude for His discipline through our own self-control.
Hebrews 12:11 - Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Lord God, let us be challenged today with discipline. Let us develop good spiritual disciplines that lead to godliness and righteousness. Turn us toward the road that leads to our own daily cross and give us the strength to pick it up as you picked up Yours. Thank You, Lord, that You did not deny us the life that was originally intended for us. Guide us in the ways that are right. Speak to us that we might know what Your desires are for each of us and thank You they are not all the same. Your ways are good and true and we cannot go wrong in following Your desires for our lives. Lord, open our eyes to see where we need to change. Take away the selfishness and pride that can take over when we desire to do our own thing. Convict us, Lord, when we have strayed. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Apostle John used the word or a form of the word "believe" 93 times in his Gospel. This particular word is defined as having faith in, entrusting or having the assurance of. This word is used so many times in one book to describe Jesus Christ I think we might want to pay close attention to it.
Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again. Anyone can believe that and many will agree with this statement, but it goes much deeper than just an acknowledgement. Is there anyone in your life you can say for certain will always be there for you? You might say yes, your spouse has always been a comfort or help to you in a time of trouble. But anything could happen to change that situation, as seen by this week's tragedy. However, there is One who will always be beside you--"there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24)
God has promised so many years ago that "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you." (Joshua 1:5) This promise is for us today as well--but we must put our trust, our faith and our assurance in Jesus Christ alone. We must admit we are sinners, repent of our sins, humble ourselves (so important) and call on the name of Jesus to redeem or free us from our sin. Then these assurances are ours! There is only one ultimate gift and that is the gift of salvation of Jesus Christ and the liberation that comes in acknowledging and receiving Him as Lord and Savior.
Put your life into one person's hands, the One who created this universe and knows all the hairs on your head, who has known before the beginning of time every thought you would have or every word you would speak from your first day till your last. The One who knit you in your mother's womb, whose thoughts of you are precious. The One who knows the number of your days. If He knows all this and feels this about you, doesn't it stand to reason that He would also know your needs and desires? He can be trusted with your life; He will guide you better than any earthly person can.
Hear this word that you might believe and have everlasting life. Put your trust in Him and He will give you new life, a life full and blameless in His eyes. This life will be vibrant, stronger and full of hope and peace, despite trials. Call out to Him today. He is anxiously waiting to become everything you will ever need. You need only ask Him to come into your life, forgive you of your sins and open your heart to receive more and more of Him. It's a relationship He desires with you, not religion or denomination. He wants to commune and speak to you. Receive Him.
John 10:28-29 - And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
Lord God, I ask that You speak Your glorious word into someone's heart this day. Reveal Yourself to them in a special way that they would know You are speaking only to them and calling them into a relationship with You. Let them behold the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the earth. Remove the walls of doubt and mistrust in what You are able to do in their lives. Build their understanding of who You truly are, that they might receive You and receive the ultimate gift of eternal life in You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Abraham had faith. His faith was so strong it was "accounted to him as righteousness" according to Hebrews 11. It was through Abraham's faith that the nations of the world came into being.
Look at this: God spoke the world into existence.
Psalm 33:6,9 - By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
Hebrews 11:3 - By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Faith takes place when action is asserted. Speaking is an action. God looks at both faith and actions. I for one tend to believe positively in the things of God but negatively in what God can do through me. My faith in God where I am concerned is weak. And it's something I need to overcome--I must overcome. In Romans, above, we are to call those things which are not as though they were. That's just part of the action, though. We need to step out in faith and walk through whatever it is that is trying to hinder us. We CAN do all things through God who is our strength.
If God was able to do what He did for Abraham, how much is He able to do for us? God spoke this word to Abraham and Abraham believed. God spoke things which were not as though they were. God created something out of nothing, just by speaking the words. What, then, can He do through me?
In James 4:2 we are told that we have not because we ask not. There again is faith in action...asking. A commentary on this verse explains that we should ask God for the good and necessary things of life. This should always be in submission to God's will and with thankfulness that we will receive. Again, faith in action...asking and expecting...speaking it as though it were.
If we have faith and believe, He will give, in His time. He has, just by his saving grace, already done that work in ME! He already knows what I am capable of doing through Him. He knows that they ARE within me. So I need to have faith that I can do whatever He has called me to do. This is why we need to get close to God, allow Him work within us and teach us...He will speak to us and show us the desires of His heart. When we've heard we need to declare it and step out in faith to do it.
James 2:22 - Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
Father God, for some time now I have questioned my own faith to be able to do the things You would have me do. I know that's not trusting in You and it's, in essence, disobedience. My faith is just a small part of what other things keep me from acting. But You have brought me to a season where I believe You are working toward showing me these things. I praise You for that! Work all You want. It's not about me and all about You. Your Word says there is nothing I can't do through Your strength. You will be there to lead me as I take that first step, whenever it is, whatever it is. Show me what Your desires are for me. Let a door be opened that I might step out in faith to act on it.
Friday, April 3, 2009
As I read this yet again in Judges this morning, I wondered how this would have any affect on my day! What can one glean from Judges other than "Israel did evil in the sight of God, or everyone did what was right in his own eyes"?
When the LORD's anger distressed them enough they would cry out to Him for deliverance from those He allowed to oppress them, "for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning..." and God raised up judges to rule over them, mainly fighting their enemies after God had left Israel to their own devices! Only while those judges ruled Israel did what was right.
Then I read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for today. Now being sure my mind can go into some strange places, I saw a common theme. The title was If Thou Hadst Known! Briefly, he discussed how there are things in most of our lives that have us blinded. It is something within us that we cannot or more likely, will not, cease to do when God has asked us to stop. It is our own personal act of disobedience and because of it He has shut some doors of opportunity which will never be opened again. Like Israel during the time of the judges, in our obedience we experience peace. Not that there isn't another kind of peace that we always have as Christians. But there's something internal the Holy Spirit is stirring us to do, or let go of.
Israel was reminded time and time again how they had been delivered out of captivity by God's own hand and time and time again they "forgot." They were blinded by their own desires and had not fully yielded themselves to God. Had only they kept their eyes on the LORD... Chambers, however, reminds us not to look back on those things we see we might have missed but to look to the future and what lies in store for us and yield ourselves today. (This even pertains to today's Israel.)
Then in a chapter in another book by Chambers, If You Will Ask, he was saying that we need to watch and wait for God's direction. Don't let the wait cause us to do in our own strength or succumb to our own desires. It's an active strength, something done with childlike wonder. What will God do? How will He glorify Himself? We need, again, to sit at His feet to hear HIS voice for our lives. Expect Him to do strange things. Cry out, "Here I am. Send me."
So, all this being said to set the stage...these words came to me:
What have I not yielded to You, God? What is it that brings tears to Your eyes? What responsibility of mine have I missed? What doors have been shut and what opportunities have I missed because of lack of understanding, maybe fear, indecision, lack of trust in You, pride?
If we ask for our hearts to be purified, You will show the true nature of them and we might see those unyielded areas and see behind those closed doors. Will we be prepared for what we see? Will we be grieved, ashamed? Will we recognize a time where we knew we should have responded? Will we see our stubbornness or selfishness? Will our perfectionism come forth? Will a hard heart be recognized?
Thank You that even if we missed the mark in our past, You open new doors to us today and we should not look on the past as failure but rather a lesson. Thank You for continuing to perfect us. You never stop even when we make mistakes. And we can be "confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) Thank You for taking hold of us sometime in our lives to show us this. Thank You for the words You imparted to me today:
"This is it. Now's the time I want all of you. Heed my voice and I will perfect you. I will teach you. Sit at My feet and listen and learn. Then go out and do. I will be with you. I will be your eyes, your hands, your voice, your heart for I am with you always. You are in Me and I in you. You have My mind. Yield to my urgings and you will find contentment. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. You follow My path, you learn My heart and you will serve to bring life to others. Do not fear--what can man do to you? Remember what I have already gone through for you. What I ask is small in comparison. Do not worry...I've paid the price. If others do not heed it's no concern of yours. You've stepped out in faith--that's all you need to do. The rest is up to me."
[You] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory...[I will give you] beauty for ashes...that [you] may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. 2Corinthians 3:18 and Isaiah 61:3
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
We are continuing to be apprised of situations of the family from our church who were in a terrible accident on their way to church on Sunday. Three died, four are hospitalized.
I could not stop thinking and praying for them yesterday. My mind was consumed and I didn't even know them. On a church blog set up for us, the brother of the man who died poured out his heart. He is heartbroken beyond words. He asks God why and at the same time he knows that God has a purpose and he is trusting in Him. But he is also pleading for strength to carry on and to remove the tears that will not stop.
His brother said he lived for the Lord. His whole life was about doing God's will and seeking Him for the answer to everything concerning himself and his family. He "unabashedly" loved his wife. That phrase continues to ring in my head. That is the love that God tells us we must have as shown the scripture above. Can we all say we unabashedly love ... ?
I'm sure he was not perfect, but the way he lived his life, I think a lot of people would say he was. I have been inundated with scriptures from 1 Corinthians lately. It's something I've known for some time, but am finally beginning to realize. It's all about love. It's all about selflessness, not selfishness. It's about giving like God gave and living, as well as giving, like Jesus.
If one has grown up without a clear, unselfish love of our earthly father, it can be hard to understand the Father's love. It can be confusing if that love has not been learned from the start. And when one finds out about it later in life, it's harder, without the help of our Father. It's just hard. Change can be difficult. And when change does occur, those around us might not quite understand what's happening. But if we persevere.....
I for one don't want to treat one person any differently than another. Why treat a friend or stranger with more love and respect than your own spouse? I'm not saying I do this! Granted, we get comfortable with a spouse, but that shouldn't mean we respect them any less or treat them with any less love.
I can imagine how this one man's loss by so many family members would affect them all. The pain right now seems to be greater than the joy. But I thank God slowly that pain will go away, healing will occur, and remembering how this man lived his life for God will bring peace and joy back into these lives. It may even cause some people, like me, to look more closely at their own lives and reevaluate and rethink how things can and should be changed.
His death may bring about more changes than he or the family will ever know. I praise God for that. I praise God for the wisdom He can impart through this crisis--for those who recognize it. And I thank God for the opportunity He has given me recently to make the decision to get back into His word, to sit at His feet, to learn who He is, to hear Him speak to me, to have Him begin to make changes in my life, to give me His wisdom. I can see how God as begun to instrument changes in me, in my thoughts. There are things He has shown me and pulled together things that once seemed like a lot of loose ends. It's all about gaining His wisdom. And from that wisdom, love will pour forth, lives will change. And it's all about what He's done...nothing I can do on my own, other than to sit at His feet and listen.
But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? The LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding... Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Job 28:12, Proverbs 2:6, Romans 11:33, Hebrews 4:12
Heavenly Father, show us how to be men and women of God. Show us Your heart and help us to see through Your eyes. We thank You that you continue to draw us near to You so that we might learn, through the wisdom of Your words, how to love as You love. I ask that you guide us. Work in our hearts and minds to understand what Your love is all about. In Jesus' name. Amen.