Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Door--The Good Shepherd

John 10:1-3 - "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

I've mentioned previously some of the names of Jesus. Yesterday as I was reading He became the Door and the Good Shepherd. It reminded me of a teaching I'd heard.

When my husband and I toured Israel a couple years ago were were in Bethlehem and visited a typical sheepfold. It was not a fenced and gated area like one would think but an enclosure, like a small cave. Often more than one shepherd would use the same enclosure for protection at night. Our tour guide for this particular site was a Messianic Jew, a believer in Jesus Christ. He gave us a few specifics of the life of shepherds of that day and the nature of sheep. It made the above scripture come alive.

It is fairly common knowledge that sheep are not very smart and they wander unless guided by their shepherd. Scripture calls us sheep as well because we wander aimlessly in life without our Shepherd. Let me explain as best as I can remember what this guide told us about shepherds and sheep.

First, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd and He is the Door we are to go through to enter into the Kingdom of God. He is the ONLY Way, the ONLY Truth and the ONLY Life. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, like the wolves and thieves bent on capturing the unsuspecting sheep.

We learned that the entrance to a sheepfold was large but the shepherd would pile stones at the entrance so the entry would be just big enough for a man and sheep to squeeze through. Our guide explained that there was no door to the entrance. The shepherd would stand at the entrance and with his staff count each one of his sheep as it entered. He was the door! His responsibility as a shepherd was to know his sheep. If there were any missing he would look for them and call them by name...they would hear his voice, recognize it and come to him.

Straying a bit from John and heading into Psalm 23, we were told that a shepherd was known for his ability to lead and that one of the things a shepherd carried with him was a staff. It was always the shepherd's role to find calm water and green pastures for his sheep and the staff was used to direct and correct sheep. Sometimes the sheep would be so lost in their grazing they would begin to wander from the area the shepherd had chosen for them. Or they would see what appeared to be better pastures and they would wander in that direction. The shepherd would use his staff to lead them back, sometimes having to take the crook of the staff and draw them back!

Sheep could often be irritated by bugs and flies on their faces and noses which would cause them to rub their heads for relief, often until they were bleeding. They could do nothing on their own to bring about relief and without help could die. The shepherd would take olive oil, place it on a cloth and gently rub the affected areas. Not only did the olive oil help, but the tender touch of the shepherd.

Do you see the the similarities? I love how God uses real life situations to draw analogies.

Shepherds were not well liked. Their job was despised. Most of them were hired to tend flocks whose sheep would be used in Temple sacrifices. These shepherds could have cared less about protecting their flock. Later in John 10 Jesus tells us explicitly: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them...I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own."

Jesus, our Savior, came not to be served but to humble Himself, serve and give His life for us, His sheep. He knows our names. He draws us near (and sometimes back) and desires for us to follow Him to where we can be saved and led in the direction He knows is best for us. He wants to be our Door and our Shepherd. Draw close and listen for His voice. Listen--can you hear Him calling your name? Trust Him to lead you as the Door into the presence of the Good Shepherd.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Such Thing

Romans 3:10 - "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:"

I was in my car yesterday morning and heard a song. Never heard it before so I don't know the name of it. The chorus, I believe, was: "There's no such thing as perfect people." It got me to thinking two things: 1) I think this is fodder for a blog, 2) I wish I had a voice recorder with me because I know I'll forget what I wanted to write!

Anyway, it's true, both about there being no perfect person and I did forget what I really wanted to write! Adam and Eve were perfect until the apple incident. Because of that men have to work for a living instead of walking in a lush, perfect garden talking with God face to face. Women get to endure the pain of childbirth and living in a male-dominated society instead of walking beside him. (Although sometimes that is possible.) Despite what Adam and Eve did for mankind, God had a Plan B already in place.

All through history we have seen imperfect people. Even those who walked closely with God were imperfect: Abraham (and Sarah) rushed into finding a solution for having children before God's perfect timing. Moses disobeyed God's command to speak to a rock to bring water and chose to strike it out of anger and frustration with the rebellious, grumbling people of Israel. And then there's David, a man after God's own heart, who couldn't take his eyes off Bathsheba as she bathed on her rooftop. Joseph spoke about a dream he had which included his family. His brothers' jealousy caused him captivity in Egypt. There are many other instances but the beauty of all these is God used the imperfection to bring about His good.

What I love is that we are all imperfect people, even when we have asked Jesus into our lives. I've heard us called "cracked pots." Only the Master Potter is able to repair those cracks. He's the One who molds and shapes us into the men and women we really should be. He sees us as we should, can and will be as His children. It's never too late. He asks us to be regenerated, "formed or created again or spiritually reborn or converted" as Webster's Dictionary tells us. John 3:3 tells us that "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"

There's God's Plan B--that we be reconciled to Him and be able to walk daily with Him (like Adam and Eve) and be assured that when we commune with Him, He hears us. That happens when we acknowledge a need for Jesus in our lives. God sent His only Son into the world that the Truth of who He is (not was) would spread. God's Plan B is for all imperfect "cracked pots." Everyone needs a Savior whether it is acknowledged or not. Part of our imperfection is thinking we are good to go without Him. Just knowing who Jesus is is not enough. We must accept Him and listen to Him speak through His Word.

We will never live perfect lives, but Jesus in our lives causes us to be made more into His likeness, conformed and transformed. Cracked pots can be mended. Jesus mends cracked pots. He doesn't require us to be perfect to be a follower of His. He will see to it that in His Kingdom, should He be accepted today, we will receive our new, unbroken bodies. Yesterday I mentioned how water refreshes and takes away our thirst. If our pots are cracked that water seeps out. Let Jesus mend your cracked pot and receive the Living Water He provides! Let Him perfect You.

1 Corinthians 13:10 - But when the complete and perfect comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away.

Father God, Lord of all creation, Master Potter, thank You for taking my cracked pot and working out the imperfections. I know it's a never-ending process and there will be no perfection in this lifetime. I also thank You there will be no cracked pots in Heaven because of the new bodies You provide in the new world if we acknowledge You now. It is Your desire that all of imperfect mankind would find a way to You to be made new through You. I thank You that You do not require perfection before this can happen but that You will not only mend our imperfections but make us whole through our knowledge of You.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Rain - New Things

2Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I'm looking out the window this morning and the rain is refreshing all things. Sunshine is nice, but I also like the cleanness of rain. I am reminded that it is spring and rain is what we get! So be it. I am also reminded how spring is God's new beginning for a new year. All things come and go at His hand. Not a flower blooms or leaf comes forth that He doesn't know about. When you multiply that times the billions of trees all around the world it's beyond comprehension.

I love spring. It's my favorite season. Things are fresh and green and blooming. All things are new. It is the rain that brings life to the new earth of spring.

The concept of the newness of spring is like the new life Christ brings to those who choose to receive Him into their lives. We truly do become new creations ourselves. So often people believe they are happy the way they are. But there's an underlying desire for something they can't quite put their finger on. I know, I experienced that. I was frustrated, angry, unhappy and in search of "something." I even went about "looking for myself." I guess that something was peace. With all those feelings I had at one time one would guess I was totally without peace.

When Christ is the center of your life, that peace is the underlying anchor. There will still be days of frustration, sadness or difficulty and other emotions known to man, but with Christ we will always know despite those things there will be peace. That peace comes from the hope we have in Christ. We know that we know He will be there for us. We know that we know there will be a day when all the frustrations of the world will be over. Even death will not be feared knowing that we will be in the loving arms of a loving Father.

Spring rain brings a refreshing. With a new life in Christ, we are refreshed because He is the Living Water. He is a fountain of Living Water. I don't think it's a coincidence that water is referenced as part of Jesus' miracles or healing. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast. The spiritual connotation here is, I have heard, is water is equal to joy. A new life in Christ brings joy. At the wedding the water produced even better wine than the first wine given to the guests. Jesus is the better alternative!

Go to the well like the Samaritan woman and you can receive the refreshing Living Water and you will thirst no more. After Jesus anointed a man's eyes with mud He told him to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash them. That man once was he saw. Jesus can open your spiritual eyes to things greater than you could imagine. Water heals, it refreshes, like the spring rain. There were churning waters at the Pool of Bethesda where people would go in and be healed. Jesus was baptized in water and when we receive Christ and are water baptized, we are washed clean of our sins and refreshed.

The Book of Revelation also talks about waters that flow down from the Throne of God. It is river of the water of life. It will be like the river once in the Garden of Eden. Those who receive Christ will partake of this river. We cannot live, as I have mentioned previously, without water. To live without Christ is to live without that Living Water. One will always thirst for something else without that Living Water.

If you're in a dry and desert place, stop by the Living Water and receive refreshing through Jesus Christ. He is there and He is waiting. His hand is outstretched to lead you into the water. He desires to bring refreshing and a newness into your life. He can make all things new.

Revelation 21:5 - Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

Lord God, thank You for Your Living Water that You so freely offer to cleanse, refresh and heal our souls. Thank You that You never refuse to offer this water to anyone. Whisper in the ears of those who need a refreshing, who are desperate for a new beginning. Let them know You are there at the well, You are the well! Jesus, in Your name I pray. Amen!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Sign of the Times

1John 3:4 - Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

I think about this every so often. I think about our country and all the sin that has taken over. Some people would call those of us who believe this nation is sinning greatly prudish. Let them say that. It sure seems like lawlessness abounds in one way or another here just the same.

I can't remember if I mentioned this before or not but our Pastor told us in a sermon a couple weeks ago that just because the majority of people do something doesn't make it right. We've heard that before in one context or another. And it is just as appropriate biblically.

People can think whatever they want about the future of our country, and the world for that matter, but I believe our days are numbered on this earth. The Bible says we cannot know the date or time--we can't know precisely when the Lord will return--but we can know the signs. They're all around us: many things that are the direct opposite of what the Bible says should be adhered to. War seems to be something that everyone can agree on; we see lots of that. The world tolerates aberrant lifestyles. "It's just a sign of the changing times." Yes, I agree! "The times they are a-changing." Good has been deemed evil and evil good. Again, we might appear to be prudish in our biblical convictions.

Good once meant: abstinence before marriage, honoring mother and father, respect across the board, marriage between one man and one woman, pro-life, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, good moral values and good work ethic (trusting handshake), Ten Commandments as a guide for life. Can anyone tell me that these are still adhered to by the majority? Add to that technology that has very quickly brought about pornography, blatant and sometimes subtle sexual situations on prime time television, use of profanity and using God's name in vain, even channels on cable or satellite where there are no restrictions. It is a sign of the times.

Trust has been lost. We don't trust government or political figures (or we trust the wrong persons), businesses, banks. We are bombarded with telemarketers just hoping to catch some unsuspecting person in a "deal of a lifetime" just to take their money. We can't trust television commercials. Television and internet scams abound. There is no such thing as a "free trial offer." It's all about taking from someone to satisfy selfish desires. Honesty and transparency among people for the most part is gone.

When did evil become the major past time? When did cheating, lying, stealing and everything-is-about-me become so commonplace? I truly believe it happened in my lifetime. I remember the innocent 50's--sort of! And yet it was shortly after that, in the 60's and 70's, that I see now life as we knew it began to change.

Now just about anything is acceptable. We must be politically correct, open minded about everything, tolerant, don't offend anyone (except Christians!). The Bible's influence on society is in the minority. I admit that even I was accepting and part of the world's majority before I received Jesus: I did things because "everyone did it." I used God's name in vain for the same reason and I'd heard it at home. I laughed at dirty jokes and complained about work and authority. I thought winning the lottery would be the end to all my worries. I'm glad to say that I have changed. I'm thankful that I am now offended more than accepting. I'm not perfect by any means. There are things I would love for God to just remove from me! But His work a lifelong process.

I thank the Lord that I came from being blind to everything around me to having my spiritual eyes opened that I might see what is right and true and just. The Word says:
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) It will continue to be this way until the Lord returns. By what we seen happening in this world, we are living as in the days of Noah prior to the flood that destroyed all, saving only a handful of God-honoring people. There were a lot of unsuspecting people then, there are a lot of unsuspecting people today.

We can look at all that's happening in our world as disturbing and distressful or we can look at it as a sign of the times: The Lord is getting closer to returning. To those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, this is not a time to worry, but a time to look at the signs, know the signs, be ready during these signs, and help others to understand the signs of the time to come.
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16 - He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." - Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation."

Lord God, I thank You that You are ever present in times of trouble. You see what this world is coming to and You will do what needs to be done. I believe You are ordering our steps even today. You have drawn me into a new place, brought me to a new level and although I don't see where I'm going right now, I trust that I will follow Your lead. Hold me fast, Lord. I thank You we can trust in You--those who have accepted You as Lord and Savior. Open the eyes of the hearts of those who do not know You. Get them to a place where they are ready to receive You, that they are willing to listen to us speak of You without being offended. You know already who has been chosen to be received and You know just how much longer it will be. I thank You we have You by our side for our strength. I praise You, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray...AMEN.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's All About You

This morning I couldn’t stop thinking about how it’s all about You. It’s such a simple concept and like we hear all the time, we make such a difficult thing out of it. Where’s the simplicity of a child to just believe it and trust it? No doubt about it. No doubt about You.
It’s all about You.

You are the Creator of heaven and earth. Everything we see comes from You. If there ever was such a thing as a “big bang” You would have instigated that as well! Yes, You created. It’s all about You.

You are our Creator. You chose the time of our births before time even began. I can’t stop coming back to such an amazing set of circumstances! We were created in Your image. Although we have given in to the sin that comes too quickly into our lives, somewhere within us lie hidden Your characteristics. And it is those characteristics in us You desire to draw out.
It’s all about You.

You are the Master Designer. You set the stage of our lives. You know the beginning from the end in of each us. You have
given and You will take away. You knew before the beginning of time everything about us. And most importantly, You knew who would become accepting of You, receiving You and ultimately engrossed in You and Your Word.
It’s all about You.

You gave us gifts from birth that even though used in the natural world would give way to use in the spiritual. We didn’t really come to develop these gifts on our own. You worked them within us.
It’s all about You.

Then You put circumstances into our lives that would help us to be led in Your direction. You worked even those bad decisions we made in our lives for good, to guide us closer to You. We would come to the end of ourselves and in need of something or Someone greater than our circumstances. And in that guiding we would begin to see You. That’s when You stepped in. You fit all the pieces of the puzzle of life as we knew it, You allowed the circumstances, You placed the individuals in our lives to bring us to You.
It’s all about You.

You chose us! We didn’t choose You. You brought us into Your light. We at first didn’t see. We were blind in the darkness of this world but You shined Your light before us. When You chose us You gave us Your Holy Spirit to guide us. You gave us wisdom and knowledge to learn about You.
It’s all about You.

What’s so amazing is while we were in the midst of doing our own thing, we weren’t even aware of You. You stood quietly behind the door. You weren’t waiting for the right opportunity to grab hold of our hearts, You were in the process of orchestrating. You have done this, You are doing this and You will continue to do this till the day of Your return.
It’s all about You.

There may be people who think it is presumptuous for You to think it’s all about You. Your Word tells us that You are a jealous God, jealous after us, jealous is a good way. Where does the hope of the world come from? What happens when the world fails miserably? Where will the world put their trust? I would not want to go through life trusting in myself or any other when I know there is a God to whom I can go, to whom on which I can call.
It’s all about You.

From the beginning of the Word of God to the end,Your Word is what teaches us it's all about You. It shows us examples to live by when we are doubtful, in need of peace, desiring hope. It’s Your love letter to a fallen world. It’s You showing us right from wrong and the consequences of our wrongs. And it continually to point us to You if we are willing to search for that Truth.
It’s all about You.

I tried to find Old Testament scripture declaring that it’s all about You. There wasn’t anything in those words, but I know that the Word is You. So, i
t’s all about You.

There's so much more that could be said. It would be a lifetime's worth of consideration, observation and thankfulness. Daily recognition. An impossible task.

In the beginning You created. All throughout You exist(ed) for all mankind. In the end You will be coming back. No doubt in my mind:
It’s all about You..

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feeding on the Word

John 6:57 - As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

All through the Bible Jesus commands us Himself to seek Him. He is the Living Water and the Bread of Life. We are to feed on Him. Sounds a bit odd unless you totally understand what the Word is. I've mentioned previously about some of the names of Jesus. He is the Word made Flesh. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water.

We can be sustained by bread and water in the natural and we can be sustained on bread and water in the spiritual. But feeding on the Word? Yes!! If Jesus is the Word and He is the Bread and Water, oh, how we can be sustained. As we study Scripture and let it speak to us we are feeding on His Word. He is filling us with our daily bread. We are being filled spiritually.

In the natural we have cravings. Certain food prompts certain responses and desires. When we crave the Word and all it has for us we are more than satisfied...and yet we crave even more. How I love that. It fills us. It fills our souls, minds and spirits and at the same time it leaves us wanting more. I think the term is: "It tastes like more!"

Continuing to be fed through the Word of God gives us life--the Bread of His Word, who is Jesus. If something is mentioned several times in the Bible, it must be important. Jesus Himself repeatedly tells us:

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, 57-58)

Let us continue to feed on the Word and sit at the feet of Jesus and take in all that He has for us, the life giving bread of His Word. The more we seek Him, the more satisfied we will become.

John 6:32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

Lord, I thank You for Your Word, for the Bread from Heaven that sustains. I thank You that all throughout Your Word, from beginning to end, it's all about You. It's all about a life so enriched and filled with You. Give us this day our daily bread! Give us a lifetime of Your bread.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Know the Plans

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I touched on on this yesterday. It reminds me of the story of Joseph. I love this story. Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife. Joseph at the time was the youngest son. His brothers were jealous of him because he was favored and because he had interpreted two similar dreams where he would in time rule over his own family. Offended, the brothers devised a scheme to do away with him. But God had other plans.

The brothers, in a nutshell, sold him to Midian merchants who then sold Joseph to Pharaoh's official guard, where oddly enough he was made head over the household. Joseph's ability to interpret dreams eventually secured him the great honor of ruling over all of Egypt under Pharaoh, in charge of selling food to the people. A famine took place in Israel and ten of Jacob's sons were sent to Egypt to buy food. This brought about the realization of Joseph's dream. When Joseph realized who these men were he did not divulge who he was at first but tested them. Eventually he made himself known and I believe the brothers were put into a humbling situation.

Joseph was a type of Jesus in that he became their savior. He was disliked (by his brothers), but loved and favored by his father (Father God). Even the coat which Joseph was stripped of is symbolic of the coat that was stripped off Jesus before His death. Joseph was taken out of a well to survive and put in a place of honor where he saved his own family from famine and death. Jesus was resurrected to save all mankind from eternal destruction. Both were reunited with their Fathers. This is also God's plan for Israel today, and also for all people--to come back to God. Just as Joseph's brothers eventually served him, we also now serve Jesus, and in time all Israel will know their Messiah. God has so intricately woven all events, people and lives together, from past to present and on to the future. It ceases to amaze me.

When I look at all that is happening in the world today I don't doubt for a minute we are seeing the birth pains the Bible tells us we will experience before Christ's return. But anything which we encounter in our lives today are part of God's plan. And it's not a plan to trip us up, but to encounter HIM. Joseph said to his brothers:
As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

Those words are for us as well. If we experience difficulties, look up to God, not to man, and look for the good. And be certain that we cannot always know when difficulty or doubt or even evil in our lives isn't part of God's plan to draw us closer to Him.

Lord God, You are the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is through you that we have our hope and future. Keep us on the path that leads us to You. When frustrations and difficulties face us, let us be thankful for the promises You have for us, to give us a future and hope, life everlasting. Thank You, Lord. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Author and Finisher and Hope

Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. How good is that? Isn't what we as believers are to do is let every weight and sin be laid aside so we can be followers of Christ, running with endurance the race before us? What is that race? What has God got purposed for our lives? Sometimes it's not very obvious. Sometimes I wish it was very plainly written out for me. But I think part of the plan is to see just how willing we are to do as His Word says. everything. Sounds like quite an undaunting task. And who can we compare ourselves with? We are not to, we are told. But still, that question comes to mind: Am I doing Your will? Is this what you want me to do? It's a question that is never really answered.

Does it really matter where we are headed as long as we are conferring with the Lord along the way? If we are willing to let the Spirit move us, isn't that enough? Being flexible, moldable, teachable, obedient? I'm thankful Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. I'm thankful for what He did 2,000 years ago not just for me but for all mankind. Where would any of us be if it had not been for Him? I'm thankful for His Word which gives us examples of right and wrong and blessings and curses. I'm thankful even for a conscience that is sometimes pricked at even the smallest of things. All God wants for us is good. Why would we want anything less?

We have seen throughout the books of the Bible that "so great a cloud of witnesses" who did what was good in the eyes of God. We have also seen accounts of so many who have done evil. It's good we have the examples of wrong. Perhaps that's where the comparison is. What amazes me is despite the judgment of God upon those who were disobedient to His commandments, they didn't change. No different today.

Every so often I doubt myself and the direction I'm going. I think a little doubt keeps me coming to the Lord for guidance. I'm secure in my salvation but I still am not sure of my direction. I keep thinking one day I'll wake up and I'll know just where I am headed. I'm reminded, however, to "bloom where I'm planted." If this is where I'm planted today, that's all I need to be concerned about.

The Author and Finisher of our faith. The One who knows the beginning from the end. Author = beginning, Finisher = end. The WORD. The One who created me, who knew where I would be on any given day and what I would do on that day even before time began. More than I can comprehend. What I know I need to do is let go of the questions, the doubt. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace and hope for my future, my Author and Finisher. How can we doubt that? Praise the Lord!

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Lord God, I thank You that You are forgiving of our doubt on some days. Today there is doubt, tomorrow forging ahead once again. Ah, fickle feelings, which we are not to even count on. Continue to direct me. Continue to bless me as You speak to me in Your Word. Let Your Spirit work mightily in me. Fill me to overflowing with anything You desire that I might share it with others. All I want to do is Your will in my life. Lead me down the right path. Thank you for the future You have planned for me.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Ecclesiastes 3:1 - To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...

Revelation 22:17 - "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."

Malachi 4:2 - "But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings..."

I had an appointment this morning out of town, an hour's drive one way. As per usual, I got to thinking! So...wrapping my head around this was difficult. I know what I want to say but words, as might be obvious, cannot express what's in my spirit.

I was mulling over the fact that nothing can live without sunshine and water. And then I got to thinking about Jesus, who is our Living Water and the Sun of Righteousness. Are these descriptive words coincidence? Or did God purposely use these two words to explain what happens in the natural world with what happens in the spiritual? No life can live in darkness. No life can live without water. And there is no life eternal without Jesus, who brings light into this dark world and exposes sin "in the light of His glory and grace." For each of us there is a season when we are called to receive this Living Water and be healed by the Sun of Righteousness and then a new purpose for our life.

Many of the parables, I heard explained one time, were rooted in farming circumstances--sowing and reaping--because in the days the parables were spoken this was a typical livelihood and something most people would understand. But--long before time even began--God knew that the world He created and the people He would put into the world would need to be sustained by water and the natural and eventually in the spiritual. So doesn't it stand to reason that He would relate these two things with His Son?

I'm absolutely amazed at how God will take ordinary day-to-day circumstances in our lives and, for those who are able, allow to be seen the awesomeness, the beauty, the majesty of Him within them. There is nothing "under the sun" that truly can hide our Creator, if we are willing to see it. All the earth proclaims his majesty. Just like He knew a day would happen when we would die in our sin and be surrounded by the darkness that is called evil, He knew we would need a Light to shine the way out of the darkness and be sure that we would have Living Water to cleanse us, purify us and sustain us.

On another note, sort of, I'm convinced, as I have been for a long, long time, that there is more to the Word of God than we even realize--yet. Just like this little bit of "coincidence" I believe, although I can't put a finger on how it's done, between every line of Scripture, maybe even every word, there's a whole other dimension of God's wisdom. We only see what we are able to in our limited vision and understanding. It makes my heart want to burst with a desire to know what is hidden in the text. 1Kings 8:27 states "Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You."

I guess the important thing is to just believe that Jesus is "the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12) If anyone wants to have the spiritual Living Water and allow the Sun of Righteousness to shine in their lives, it's only a matter of seeking God. He will supernaturally give you that living water and allow the sun to shine in your life.

Job 9:10 - He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number.

Heavenly great is Your love for us. How awesome is Your wisdom. You have set everything in place according to Your plan. Your Word is marvelous. Lord, You provide us with water and sun from which we obtain our food for life here on earth. But, glory to God, You also have provided us with the Living Water and the Sun of Righteousness for our spiritual life in heaven. I wonder at those things I cannot yet understand. The riches within the pages of Your Word are also "past finding out." There is none like You. Thank You for who You are.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Word, The Truth, The Living Water--Yesterday, Today and Forever

The [Samaritan] woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." - John 4:25-26

Praise the Lord, He has already come and He is teaching us all things even today! Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. This has not changed. He was and is and is to come. He is the Word made Flesh. The WORD. It is by His WORD that He teaches us.

I wrote the other day about the Word being not only the Bible but Jesus Himself. He is the Word. In John 4 Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. Little did this woman realize the transformation that would take place in the next few minutes. She had no idea she was speaking to the Messiah and He would teach her the truth of His Word. Normally Jews did not associate with Samaritans, but Jesus came for ALL people, including the sin-filled Samaritan woman, just like He comes today for ALL people because we are all sin-filled.

Jesus asked the woman for water but in turn offered her Living Water that would cause her to no longer thirst. She did not know yet who this Man was who offered this to her but she had heard of the coming Messiah. She knew He would open the eyes of understanding to everyone. When He said to her that He was the Messiah something caused her to believe--because He had revealed to her the truth of her sin--without judgment. Then she understood what the Living Water was.

She was not without some understanding, but like the world today, she needed a personal experience, a personal visitation, to have a better grasp of just who Jesus was. She needed to hear the Word, Jesus.

She understood about the pilgrimages Jews made to worship each year in Jerusalem. He explained to her that there would no longer need to be a physical place in which to worship God because when one becomes a true worshiper of God it can be at any time and any place because it's a spiritual act. We are imparted with the knowledge of truth through the power of the Holy Spirit when one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior...the Truth of who Jesus was, is and will be. He was in the beginning with God, is now by the Holy Spirit and will be our soon coming King. Her experience was yesterday. Ours is today and there will be many more tomorrows. He imparted what seems like a lot of understanding in such a short period of time.

When we allow ourselves to hear and learn and accept this Truth (Jesus), the Word, like the Samaritan woman did, our lives change. We have open communication with God. He provides truth and living water which bring eternal life. This woman experienced forgiveness of her sins and no doubt a changed life. She had heard the Word and knew Him to be truth. This is what happens when we allow Jesus to transform us by the truth of His Word.

Accept Jesus in spirit and in truth and let your life be changed. Allow yourself to know who He is, not just know of Him.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Lord God, step into the lives of all people that Your truth might be known by them. Touch their lives that the Word would be the beginning of a new life in Christ. If they knew the gift of God and who it is who says to them, "Give me a drink," they would receive living water. There cannot be anything better than living water. Make us instruments that we might share the living water we have received. Let us be empty vessels that You might fill us with Your living water. Fill us to overflowing that it would spill into the lives of others. You are an awesome God. In Your precious name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Evil in the Eyes of God

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit...But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him...He did evil in the eyes of the LORD...He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. - 1Kings 15:34, 1Kings 16:25, 2Kings 8:18, 2Kings 15:9

The Scriptures above are only 4 of 26 listed speaking of the evil some of the kings of Israel did. Are there days when nothing seems to go right? You are rushed, you can't find something quickly, traffic has you at a crawl when you're late. We've all had days like that. I have occasionally noticed if I have not allowed myself my quiet time with the Lord my day gets whacked out--even causing me to become impatient or grumpy--or things just don't run smoothly. It feels like I'm trapped in some entangled mess.

Before you wonder about the harsh Scriptures, let me explain I'm not trying to say we have literally "done evil" in the eyes of the Lord. However, there is a recurring theme among those kings--they were all appointed some disaster in their lives. God was provoked to anger. Instead of looking to Him they looked to their own gods which offered nothing to them. They didn't praise the God who took them out of captivity. They settled for believing unseeing, unhearing gods of their own making. God is a jealous. His righteous jealousy is for us.

There are times when we as believers don't have that first part of the day to spend with the Lord. But do we put it off for the whole day? Or find the time later? Or have we opted to do as we desire one morning and leave God sitting waiting for our hearts to turn to Him and remember Him that day? Are we hearing or feeling His disappointment? We can take these kings' lives as examples of what not to do. What are the idols that prevent us from going first to God? What excuses can we come up with?

These kings worshiped idols and did away with the need for priests. What are the idols that have us do away with our great High Priest? I'm not talking about little statues we might hold dear. I'm talking about anything that chews up our time--cleaning, computer, television, calling friends, overabundance of personal activities.... How is our idol worship affecting our lives? Is it bringing spiritual death within us and our families? Is it allowing other sin to quietly, slowly, unassumingly creep into our lives? Are we being attacked by our enemies--those seemingly little distractions that eat away at us spiritually? If we continue down this path, more temptation, more evil, as it were, will infiltrate and devour our spirits.

The kings experienced all these things listed above and more. Their families' lives, like ours,

(even "to the fourth generation" Exodus 34:7) can be a result of any lack of discipline in our prayer closet and time with God. Spiritual injuries can happen. God can be provoked because of our disobedience, especially if we have chosen to commit ourselves to Christ.

If we are repentant God will forgive. One of the kings of Israel was repentant but it was not permanent. God allowed his enemy to succeed in battle, although Israel was not totally destroyed. Do we want only partial success in our lives or the lives of our family?

Let us maintain that time with God--or begin to develop a time--each day to prevent such things. It is our worship of Him. He will be blessed in our praises. He in turn will bless us. We will prosper, we will grow in holiness and righteousness.

Psalm 67:5-7 - Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Lord God, keep us from the temptation to not steal away some time of our day to spend in praising and worshiping You. We know in our heart of hearts that You desire that time with each of us. Let us not be deceived by thinking our time is insignificant. It is far from that in Your eyes. Draw those closer who have slipped away and draw those even closer who have taken the time to be with You to praise, worship, learn and hear from. Like Mary in a Martha world, let us come and sit at Your feet, letting the distracting idols come between us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who Is Our God?

Our God is holy. Our God is a consuming fire. Our God is greater than all gods. Our God is merciful. Our God is the God of salvation. (Psalm 99:9, Hebrews 12:29, 1Chronicles 2:5, Psalm 116:5, Psalm 68:20)

Lord God, I thank You for this day. It is the day You have made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. I thank You for the gift of salvation which is offered to all mankind. I thank You for wooing me and lighting my path in the midst of a dark time in my life. I thank You for Your love, mercy and grace. And I love You for healing me of old wounds. I thank You for bringing joy into my life through Your forgiveness of my sins.

I thank You that You are holy and that by You and through You we are perfected that we might be holy. Thank you for being a Consuming Fire to burn the dross of our lives. You alone are the One who perfects us.

Your name is to be lifted up, O God. Your name is the Name above all names. There is none greater than You. You are called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. You are our Righteousness. You are the Fountain of Living Water and the Bread of Life, our Rock, the King of kings and Lord of lords. You were the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. You are the Lamb who is seated at the right hand of God. Not only are You the Lamb of God, You are the Lion of Judah. You are victorious. You reign. You are our Servant Leader.

You are the Alpha and the Omega, First and Last, Genesis to Revelation. You were before time began and You will reign for all eternity. There is none like You. You are all that we need. You are our Provider, our Peace, our Righteousness, our Healer, our All in all.

You are our strong Tower, our Refuge in time of trouble. You are the Cleft of the rock where we may hide. You are our Protector. You gather us under Your wings like chicks to a mother hen. And we will soar on wings of eagles and not grow faint because You are our Strength.

I thank You that all creation declares Your glory. The works of Your hand, Lord--too numerous to comprehend. The universe is measured by the span of Your hand and the waters in the palm of Your hand. You stretch the heavens like a curtain. You know the name of every star You have created. There is none like You. You are too great for words.

Thank You for tearing down the veil that kept us separate from You. Although Your presence is not seen You are here in the midst of us, by faith, through Your Spirit. Your Spirit lives in us and shows us the truth of Your Word--both the written Word and the Word, Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for such knowledge and revelation within our lives. Thank You for opening up Your Word to us.

You long for the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths be pleasing to You. Let Your Word be our guide each day. Your Word, Your Name, is true and just. You were symbolically concealed in the Old Testament and outrightly revealed in the New. How I love Your Word. What riches and treasures are hidden there. You are not only the Light of the World but the Light of Your Word!

My heart rejoices in all things that have to do with You because You have given us all things. Thank You for the excitement You bring when two or more are gathered in Your Name to pray, to study and to just talk about You. How I wish I could put into my own words just who You are! But my words would not compare to Yours.

Lord, a day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess You as Lord. I thank You for giving me the opportunity to have confessed You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You that You ceaselessly call people to Yourself, to become children of God, heirs of the King. You already know who the elect are and it is in Your perfect timing that they are called.

Lord God, I believe in You. I worship You. I love You. I trust You. I seek You. My hope is in You. I wait for Your glorious return.

Psalm 130:5 - I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ideal or Vision?

Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18

Saturday's writing by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest spoke about Ideal or Vision. There is a quote he included by the poet Robert Browning: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"

I wanted to be absolutely sure I understood what Chambers was saying. I looked up the words "ideal" and "vision." Ideal did not appear in the Bible so I checked the dictionary. Webster suggests that it is a "mental image or fancy; conceptions; standard or typical example." The way I see this, it may be man's thought or idea about something. Vision on the other hand is defined by Strong's Concordance as a "divine communication; to behold, to see."

So Proverbs 29:18 is suggesting that without Divine communication, people perish or "show lack of restraint." Many people go about their lives living as the world lives, in whatever fashion they desire--their ideal--without the relationship or Divine guidance of a Holy God. They will wander aimlessly, believing in their own way of doing things or seeking man's approval of their way of life, many never finding true happiness.

I have to admit as I first read this devotional I saw it quite differently. My first thought was a question: Is what I am doing in my life right now for God an ideal or a vision? Is what I am doing what God wants me to do? Is He setting the stage for me? I personally don't see what I do today as impacting my future. I don't see what I'm doing, as I mentioned on Friday, as being important, but one day I may look back and see where I have traveled from and where I will be at that time. I'm in a process of change. The Lord is still putting it all together and I must start here, in faith, believing that I am and will be continuing to learn by sitting at His feet. I cannot see the outcome yet, but it will revealed one day.

Perhaps that is what is meant by reaching out and grasping at something that is beyond our reach, not for what is just at our fingertips. Desire the vision, not the ideal. We don't need to know the specifics of that reach and what we will grasp but trust that if we want to do God's will we deliberately allow Him to stretch us. We should allow ourselves to reach beyond what seems comfortable today. I've often heard that we should go beyond what we think we can do. Of course if it's God's will it will be successful. If not, it won't!

People without a vision will one day wither and die without the Divine relationship and Divine revelation. How empty those lives can be. How full our lives are having a vision rather than an ideal. And my vision is not just about myself. It's about impacting someone else's life either now or in the future. I feared that I only was grasping at an ideal, but after having studied the above Scripture I believe I can say that I am working toward God's vision for my life. It's about sharing with others that I can be fallible, I will stumble, I am not strong on my own, but that the Lord will be my strength as I continue reach for that vision.

How can we reach for this goal? We must continue to seek God for our lives. We must look to Him for our guidance. We do this by sitting at His feet and learning and listening as we read His Word and applying it to our own lives. Have I an ideal or vision? God has shown me seeking Him I have gone from ideal to vision. Chambers ended with these words: Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done before? Is there a freshness and a vitality in our spiritual outlook? What excellent questions to be asking ourselves.

...give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 1Timothy 4:13, 2Timothy 2:15

Heavenly Father, I thank You that there is a vision in my life. Perhaps it has always been there but not realized until recently. I thank You for never giving up. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. Continue to work in me that I might be shown acceptable and approved in Your eyes. Let Your Word be understood and spoken with integrity to those around me who do not have a relationship with You. I'm reminded of an old hymn which says "Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light." What more could a person desire?