Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thank You, Lord

Lord God, yet another day to be thankful for the breath you have given me. Yet another day for Your Word in my life. Yet another day to be thankful for the things You have given me. I especially thank You for Your wisdom. I realize how long I lived without true understanding.

I'm thankful for friends who also abide in You and love the things of You. Thank You for the words You speak to all of us that bring confirmation into our lives that You truly are speaking to us!

All this comes from that first step we took at one point in our lives. That step of faith to trust You as Lord and Savior of our lives. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live without You as my center. Granted I'm not perfect and there are days when it seems like You are lost in busyness of daily routines. But then there are days when everything I do has a thought of You behind it. I wish there were more days like that!

Thank You for Your gift of salvation. Thank You that I didn't have to earn it but that You freely chose to give it to me. Thank You that I am a sinner saved by grace. I am reminded that there is no one righteous, no not one. But somehow, You have made me righteous since I have placed my trust in You, have invited You into my life.

Thank You for Your Holy Spirit. Let His voice come louder in my life. Let me hear the still, small voice. Thank You for the gift of praise and worship. You rejoice in us with singing so why shouldn't we rejoice in You the same way?

Strengthen us with all power and might. Help us to realize more fully that power You have given us. Why is it we just don't understand what power we truly have? Open our eyes to that in each of us. You have told us that the works You did we also will do and in greater measure. Thank You for being our mediator, our intercessor for us to our Father. Show us the power we have as children of God having Christ in us.

This IS the day you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. You are our Redeemer. You live. You have defeated our enemy and as long as we are devoted to You, we will not be harmed. You have given us eternal life. At our salvation You healed us spiritually. We may die a physical death, but You have promised us life.

Lord, our world needs a touch from You. We need revival. We need to have the fresh wind of Your Spirit blow across the land. Only through Your power will nations be healed and people be guided to You. I admit there are times I don't understand why You wait when things are so out of control. Are You trying to see who will step out in faith here on earth to do Your will? No doubt, that's the answer. Strengthen us.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart today be pleasing to You. Let every work that I do be focused on You and be done out of a desire to please You.

Only You are worthy to be praised. Only You are our provider, our strength, our hope, our wisdom. I can't imagine a day without knowing You are beside me. I feel sorry for those who don't understand that concept. A day will come when men's hearts will fear for the things we will see. I pray that we will be ready to help alleviate those fears. I pray for the day when the voice of Your people will be heard and not rejected.

Thank You, Lord, for so many things...too numerous to mention. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kicking Against the Goads?

Acts 9:4-5 - "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" ... "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."

Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee well known among the Jews for his opposition to the teachings and belief in Jesus Christ and his persecution, even murder, of many Christians. One day, however, as he was traveling to Damascus a light came down from heaven causing him to fall to the ground, unable to move. A barrage of questions and answers took place. Jesus explained that it was He whom he was persecuting. Saul responded by asking what He would have him do. Jesus told him to arise, go into the city and wait for further instruction and as he arose, opened his eyes and realized he was blind.

We quite often start out life being blind to the truths of Jesus. At some point in our lives, I would hope, we meet Jesus face to face spiritually and a decision needs to be made...do we receive or reject Him? He may appear many times before true acceptance is accomplished. Sometimes we just don't get it. And then we might have Saul's Damascus Road experience...some not quite so drastic...but the blindness we had becomes sight.

So what does it mean to kick against the goads? Goads were cattle prods and when cattle were poked they would frequently kick back at them. This would cause even more injury. Today people are still "kicking against the goads." (I typed "kicking against the gods." Could that have been a slip? Fighting against God, which it is.) The truth of who Jesus Christ is has been spoken into their lives but because they don't want to hear it (or see it) they are kicking back. The thing I've heard over and over and it pertains to me as well, is that when we are stubborn against God we aren't hurting God in the slightest, we are only hurting ourselves. When someone rejects God, he is hurting himself.

Saul eventually had his sight restored. He had been touched by the hand of God. This time, however, Saul, who eventually became the Apostle Paul, did not fight God. He became a powerful man of God who could not stop preaching Jesus.

When we allow God to touch us and we stop the fighting, He can do amazing things in our lives. Are we ready to stop kicking against the goads? Are we ready to allow God to do that thing He so desires in our lives...to enrich us and to strengthen us for His service? I'm sure I'm still kicking at times. We are called to arise and go. That is our call now that we are believers and followers....go and do. I may not be fighting against the knowledge of God, but kicking against what He wants me to do with the sight that has been restored to me. "I once was blind, but now I see."

We all have a testimony about how the Lord has changed us, how He has opened our eyes, how He has filled us with His Holy Spirit. If nothing else, share that testimony with someone. Get the ball rolling. It might be just the thing someone needs to hear today. And if you have experienced a touch from God, consider responding to the call.

Acts 26:16 - But rise [Saul] and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

Lord, forgive me for any time I have kicked against the goads! When will I understand that my life would be much simpler if I didn't do that. There are things, I truly believe, that You have been waiting to reveal to me and plans I cannot conceive for my life. There are things I know you can do through me that I'm afraid, yes afraid, to even wonder about. Let me look forward and let me be led by You. Let me stop injuring myself, as it were. Bring forth the power of Your Holy Spirit which You have so richly blessed me with. Let Your Spirit be my guide, even today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace." - Helen H. Lemmel

I could be wrong about this but I can't help but think that with the death of music "idol" Michael Jackson, we will be bombarded for some time with news, past interviews, biographies and television specials of this "larger than life" individual. I'm sorry he died; I enjoyed his music--up until a certain time. I don't ever recall really knowing the words to his songs, but the music, his dancing and voice were enthralling. He was gifted.

I struggle with all the attention movie stars, music stars and some athletes receive. They are role models for so many young people today. These individuals have everything money can buy. Sometimes they have more than they could ever need, just because they have the means to buy it. On one hand some can't comprehend why they need three houses on three different continents, expensive cars, private jets, fancy clothes...and drugs, alcohol and sex...and on the other hand they still lift these people up to the level of an idol. When these people are in overly extravagant, lustful, illicit, sometimes bizarre, lifestyles how can that compute to being a good role model? And it's just wrong to say it's just what society is accepting these days; times change and so should we.

One headline this morning stated, "The World Mourns...." What was it about this man that would cause the world to mourn? I'm sure he meant different things to different people. To me, he's just another man who let life go to extremes and nothing good really came out of it. Yes, he WAS gifted. But why would the world mourn someone with the lifestyle he led? Pardon me if I'm critical. He let the outcome of his lifestyle turn his life into something not so pretty. And he's not the only one.

I got to wondering...why is it the world is so interested in these people? Is it just to see how other people live? Is it to look at them as role models? What good is idolizing them? Will we ever learn from all the lives of the rich and famous? What is it that causes people to want to be like them? They have all the money...but still do not have happiness.

More wondering...why is it the world can talk about, mourn and be so enthralled in these people, but when someone shows the same enthusiasm in Jesus Christ it becomes a taboo subject?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy biographies. I like to know about people and their lives. I don't compare myself. I just like to see how other people live. I'm always amazed at the talent that is out there...God-given talent. Yet people don't realize it's God-given. They credit themselves for their abilities...their being able to "become" the person they are portraying on the silver screen, developing their own music style, or how they were self-made persons.

God is the Creator of all things. God is the Name above all names. If He created us, shouldn't credit be given to Him for what He has given us? I know, a person has to be committed to Jesus before any of this will be realized. I remember how many years I lived as the world lives, giving no thought to the Lord. However, when one's view on the things of the world begins to change there is a nagging in one's spirit that somehow this is meaningless. It comes with the territory, glad to say. It shows what really is important in life and not who you have become in the world, but who you are in Christ. It's like the verse from the song I added above...when you turn your eyes to Jesus, the Creator, the God above all gods, you will see things in a different light and realize what is truly important.

What does any person considered an idol really have to offer? They can't save a soul or bring eternal life. They can't do the miraculous. Yes, they might be able to offer money to charities and that's a good thing. But that kindness does not promise access to heaven unless their lives have been transformed by God and they do it with a heart for Him.

I looked up idol in Webster's dictionary and found two interesting meanings: an object of extreme devotion; a form or appearance visible but without substance. Now my mind sometimes thinks in offbeat ways...I actually felt like the last meaning meant more! What are movie, television or music stars to an average person? Aren't they visible forms?

What I see, however, is that sometimes they are without substance because of the way they live their lives? Maybe I'm stretching it a bit. The Bible, on the other hand, has a much stronger meaning: horrible thing; of no value, worthless; a false god. Yes, this generally refers to something we can see, but isn't that what is being done when one worships a person? It's of no value. We are told not to compare ourselves to others or envy their lifestyles.

I'm writing this not to judge Michael Jackson. Perhaps I have. I don't really know. I'm sure family and friends are saddened and I don't discount that. I just know that we are not to place anyone over the Lord our God. We should be worshipping God, not man, or not anything that could be considered an idol. It can takes us to places we should not be.

Psalm 97:9 - For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today You Can Understand

Ezra 8:2, 7-8 - So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Also [those who studied and knew the Law] helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

I can see from these scriptures how it has been said by some religions that most persons will not be able to read the Bible and comprehend it, that it needs to be interpreted by someone who has studied it. This is simply not true.

Priests in the Old Testament were:
  • the head of the Temple or Tabernacle.
  • it was their duty to know the Laws (of Moses)
  • they were the mediator(s) between the people and God.
  • It was their responsibility to keep themselves consecrated before the LORD
  • they offered up the animal sacrifices for the people so they could live in some form of righteousness before God.
These priest/mediators came and went because of death or through sin, so there was more than one in those days.

Enter the New Testament. A new Priest came on the scene. His name was (is) Jesus. Jesus is:
  • our great High Priest.
  • Because He is God He knows the Laws. He wrote them. He Himself said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." He fulfilled the Old Testament Law, those words that were spoken prophetically about Him by the Old Testament priests.
  • He IS our only Mediator between God and man.
  • He was consecrated--He was the holy, pure Lamb of God
  • He literally became THE sacrifice so all people would become righteous before God, reconciled to God and have access to Him any time.

In the Old Testament the people were told what the Law meant, what they were to do and when they were to do it (sacrifices for various types of sin and worship). The Torah was only studied and used by the priests. It was their duty to pass this responsibility down from one generation to another within their family and to teach the common people.

Now we all have access to the Bible and we have Jesus. Through it, Old and New Testaments, He teaches of Himself and guides us to Him. After His death He provided us with the Holy Spirit that we might continue to learn and understand. It is always nice to have a clergyman to aid us in our understanding of Scripture, but we are capable quite often of comprehending if we take the time and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit.

can read His Word and understand. He is the Word and He wants us to understand. Through a certain amount of common sense we can comprehend the Bible, but through the power of His Holy Spirit it can be seen through spiritual eyes and come to life even more.

Allow Him into your life, be filled with the Spirit of God and receive wisdom and understanding of the things of God. It's never too late.

Ephesians 1:17 - ...That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just What is the Bible?

2Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...

Tomorrow I have a topic I want to discuss but as I got my thoughts together, I felt I needed to write this first.

Just what is the Bible? There will be people who will dispute that it truly is by Divine inspiration. You have to believe in
God to believe in the Bible. For those of us who do believe it is our tool to understand the things of God, not just the rights and wrongs but to understand prophecy concerning the end of days, about heaven, like I've mentioned before, and even the character of God.

I have heard it said that the Bible is God's love letter to those who believe in Him.

One concept that I find amazing is that not only is the Bible a book of inspired writings, but it is the person of Jesus. John 1:1-2 describes it this way:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Jesus is that Word. I love this. It makes the thought that it's God's love letter to us come alive. He speaks to us of all things. He gives us promises. He tells us of His love, His chastening and His judgment. He has shown us that He uses imperfect people.With that little bit said, let me show you God's Love Letter to those who have chosen to receive Jesus as Lord of their life. As children of God, these promises are for you. They were written thousands of years ago, but they are just as true today. Let the words of God take hold in your heart.

You may not know me, but I know everything about you... Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up... Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways... Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered... Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image... Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being... Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring.... Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived... Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation... Ephesians 1: 11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book... Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live... Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made... Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb... Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born... Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me... John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love... I John4:16
nd it is my desire to lavish my love on yo
u simply because you are my child
and I am your father... 1 John3:1
I offer you more than your earthly parents ever could... Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father/mother... Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand... James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs... Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope... Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love... Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts towards you are countless as the sand on the seashore... Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing... Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you... Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession... Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul... Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things... Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me... Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart... Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires... Phillipians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine... Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager..
. 2 Thessalonia
ns 2:16-17
I am also the Father/Mother who comforts you in all your troubles... 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you... Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close you my heart... Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and will take away all the pain you
have suffered on this earth.... Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus... John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed... John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being... Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you... Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins... 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that I could be reconciled... 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you... I John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love... Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen... Luke 15:7
I have always been your Parent, and will always be your Parent... Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is ... Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you ... Luke 15:11-32

Hebrews 4:12 - 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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Does Heaven Look Like?

Revelation 21:2 - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.

Friday I talked about the inevitability that there will be an end of the world as we know it today. What a way to end a week! It's a somber thought, but one which believers can also be excited. This does not mean the world will end, but it will be the end of an age. Yes, difficult days will come. We don't know for a fact that we ourselves will see the soon coming of the Lord but we know it will happen because "the Bible tells us so." However, there is much happening today that gives us insight into the words the Bible speaks of last days' events.

Last Thursday I spent a day at Old World Wisconsin with a group from church. This is an outdoor museum of rural life just outside Milwaukee's city limits. We marveled at the simplicity of the lives back then, in one respect--their houses, barns, tools, etc., were basic. As simple as that was we realized that their lives were not, but comprised of hard work from sun up till sun down just to maintain what they had and eke out a living.

At one location a friend of mine and I got caught up in thinking about what the world will be like someday and we happened to mention it to Pastor Cliff who was with us at that moment. He quoted the Bible saying it would be a new heaven and new earth. So we mulled it over. We don't know all the details of what it will be like, whether we will have trees, grass, flowers or all the critters we now have. He said it's just one of those mysteries of God. I know we're in agreement that no matter what it will be like we will be happy, and hopefully it will be a simpler life, although we will not be just sitting on clouds playing harps like we've often heard!

With this end of an age, however, we see what lies in store and it's glorious! It all comes together as God's great plan, which He knew before the beginning of time.

Heaven is described as paradise. The first New Testament description of Heaven states it is where God's throne is. There will be no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city will have no need of sun or moon to shine on it because the glory of God will give it light, and its lamp will be Jesus, the Lamb. Jesus is the Light of the World.

This city, the (new) Jerusalem, will be on a great and high mountain. A description of the city shows us it will be 1,500 square miles, a little more than half the size of the United States. It will be made of pure gold, like clear glass, as are the streets. There will be twelve foundations each bearing one of the twelve apostles' names. They will be decorated with twelve precious stones which will reflect the light of the glory of God. The walls will be 1,500 feet high and made of jasper. There will be twelve gates of one great pearl, each one bearing the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. An angel will stand at each one. They will be open continuously during the day. Nothing evil, detested or cursed will come into the city.

We are told there are many rooms within the Father's house and there is one for each believer. I have read that when we see the rooms we will know immediately it is ours! We will be in constant worship of God, which is hard to imagine. I'm sure it will be easy to do since He will be there among us and it will be what we desire to do. Only the righteous will live there, those written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

There will be a pure river of water of life that will come out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Jesus is our Living Water. On either side will be the tree of life bearing twelve fruits which will produce fruit continually. The leaves of these trees will provide healing. All the people will serve God and even, at last, see His face. We will walk with Him as Adam and Eve did in Eden. We will commune with Him. All days will revert back to the way it was in the beginning before the fall of man.

The best part, however, is that God will dwell with us and He will wipe away all our tears, remove all death, sorrow and pain. All will be new.

(Luke 23:43, John 14:2, Matthew 5:34, Hebrews 8:2, 2Peter 3:13, Revelation 7:15-17, 21:3-4, 10-14, 16-23, 22-23 and 22:1-5)

I'm convinced words cannot do justice to what it will be like in Heaven. Our human minds and imaginations just cannot comprehend what God has in store for us. Isn't this the life we'd all like to have, even today? We can be assured of this life if we allow Jesus into our lives. Let Him do the work of transforming us into the men and women of God that He desires. Without a relationship with the Lord this lifestyle I described cannot be attained. It's not about a religion or creed but about relationship. No other gods will be worshipped in Heaven because there is only one true God. This may sound narrow minded, but then the Bible tells us the way of Jesus is the narrow Gate.

1 Corinthians 2:9 - But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Look to the Lord

2Chronicles 4:11 ... "LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You ... O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!"

[His power is superior and infinite to all others.]

I've been putting off this topic but it's on my heart. Anyone these days can sense the turmoil in our nation and in the world. Things are not going smoothly and it doesn't take much to see that it isn't going to get better all too soon. But there's an excitement as well.

Some say, and I believe myself, that we are seeing the birth pains described in the Bible...those days preceding the last days. It keeps going over and over in my head that we truly need to be focusing more on God for answers, looking to Him, as we ought, sitting at His feet.

God's plans are laid clearly out in his Word. He has shown us over and over through the ages what is right and true and just. God never changes. He is all powerful, ever present, filled with all wisdom--which He gives to us in what might seem as small increments, if we desire to receive it.

In Daniel 2:21 it states that God changes the times and the seasons and raises kings and deposes them. In other words, God is in control of all things that man perceives as man's doing. Yes, these are exciting times we live in. Yes, despite the turmoil, we see God's hand at work (and His handiwork) and see what the Bible has predicted all along would happen:

Matthew 24:4-14 - And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

Does any of this sound like the world today? Our world and our nation has fallen away from God. What once was right and true and just is now the opposite. Good is now considered evil and evil is considered good in the eyes of many. "Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil" Isaiah 5:30 states. Oh, as individuals we've probably not really contributed to the evil. But we have allowed ourselves to become complacent and accepting little by little of the things that the Lord cannot tolerate...slandering His name, all the crime that takes place, homosexuality, even the dividing of Israel. There are so many avenues I could take on this whole subject....

God's greatest desire is for us to look to Him, to follow Him, trust Him and have faith in Him. And "Him" is Jesus (and Jesus is God). He has already shown us what is right and wrong in His Word. I do believe history repeats itself. The Old Testament is filled with detail about what happens to nations that disregard Him. It saddens me that so many don't see a connection. All one needs to do is look at creation and know there is a Divine Creator, One who measures the universe with the palm of His hand, who names the stars and knows the very number of hairs on our heads. And He is also the One who brings and will bring judgment upon this earth.

A tough message but true. A day doesn't go by that I don't wonder when His hand of judgment will come down. Perhaps some will think this is nonsense. People have been proclaiming the end of the world as we know it for some time...it's just another scare tactic. By the way the world looks now we have to admit things have progressed for the worse quickly over the past 60 years. A day will truly come and who will be ready for it? The road is wide to destruction, so we are told, and many will be on it. I sometimes wonder myself if I will be ready. That's why I'm spending time sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning and listening.

Psalm 121:1-2 I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

Heavenly Father, I thank You that You are in control of all things. I thank You that You have called my name and my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and will not be blotted out. You have given me an understanding of the things that are happening in this world. Lord, continue to give clear messages. Thank You for standing beside me in the midst of trials and for promising to always be there. There is a peace that comes from knowing that our hope need only be in You even if we face difficult, trying situations. You have touched me, now let me touch others that they may enter into this peace as well. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Faith to See

John 9:30-33 - The [blind] man answered and said to them[religious leaders, Pharisees], "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing."

I never "saw" this so clearly! Here is a man, blind from birth, whom Jesus has given sight to--on the Sabbath, no less, when the laws the Jews followed specifically said not to work. The Pharisees were grilling this blind man and his family about how and who did this. We don't know if this man had heard of Jesus prior to this time. He mentions Him by name but only in his statement "A Man named Jesus..."

This man did as Jesus suggested without question. In faith, He washed his eyes in the Pool of Siloam after Jesus made a paste of mud and anointed his eyes with it. If someone did that to us today how would we react??

After being questioned, I love how this once blind man threw it right back at the Pharisees in the profound Scripture above and they responded with "...and you are teaching us?" before throwing him out of the Temple. Here are men of the Law, teachers of the Law and they are being taught by this once blind man who acted in faith. And here we are, believers, seeing what others do not or do not want to. Who do others say we are?? How can we have been like this blind man and suddenly see? And how is it that we are now in the position of teaching others? Who do we think we are??

I note that this man is still not sure who Jesus is. He knows He has a special gift and he knows He is from God but still struggles a little with his belief. Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of God. The man asks, "Who is He that I might believe?" And Jesus' answer? "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking to you." In John 9:5 Jesus tells us "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." It takes faith, like I said yesterday, in the unseen. Jesus died, He rose again from the dead. He lives. He lives with us and in us if we choose to believe this and allow Him access to our hearts and lives.

We are all born blind spiritually. It isn't until He opens our eyes that we see. The world is in darkness with what I perceive to be only patches of Light scattered around. For some the Light is still not seen, for others the Light is dim. I believe for some this Light is too bright and some are turned away because it is painful to their eyes. Others are drawn to the Light because their darkness is so painful and they are seeking a solution.

All it takes to see the Light is a little faith in what one hears about the Light. If this Light is shining in your eyes, don't turn away. Let the Light open your spiritual eyes. Let the Light of Jesus Christ bring you a whole new life.

Psalm 146:8 - The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's All About Change

Ephesians 4:21-24 - If you have heard of Him and have learned from Him, put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires. Let your minds and hearts be made new. You must become a new person and be God-like. Then you will be made right with God and have a true holy life.

Last Friday I spoke a bit about who we are in Christ. When we decide to settle down and learn from the Lord and allow Him to show us our shortcomings, it can be a painful journey. Maybe that's why some choose not to go there. There's a plan in the works, however. It is the transformation that takes place to make us "God-like." I mentioned Friday that some might think Christians arrogant to be considered saints of God...and now this, "God-like." It's not always our desire to change, but always the Lord's. And it's a process. Yet when you begin to immerse yourself in the Word you begin to see the process is nearly unattainable. You can clean up one area of your life but then another one shows up. Ah well.

The process can either be like "pow" and it's right in your face and you are floored with convictions and change or it can slowly begin to sink in (like in my case...everything is slow). When one's heart and spirit begin to ache with the realization that this is what you are and you don't like it and don't want it, it's easy to want to push the process aside. Thankfully, if you are serious about the Lord, the Holy Spirit will bring it back and bring it back until you decide to tackle it. We will never be finished in the change God wants from us.

I think I'm in that place after all these years. There is a dissatisfaction about myself. I constantly feel I'm not good enough in Christ. But maybe that's so I cannot become puffed up. I know who we are can come from how we were raised. But as Christians we are to let go of the old person and believe we are "new in Christ." That's not always easy. We can become settled in our ways...comfortable...and it's hard to change. It's a conscious effort on our part to do what we know is right. Change is what God requires.

I know some changes have taken place and I know I'm in the process of changing. Some things I was able to tolerate I can't anymore and I know I have to come up with a solution. It's the solution where I need some help.

I'm thankful the first steps have been taken in this process. Like I said before, everything happens slowly in my life it seems. Maybe I drag my feet or run from change. I don't know. No doubt a day will come when the change required will be more difficult.

We will always struggle with sin. It's our human nature, it's our flesh, not our spirit. Romans 7:15, 17-20 tells us: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. If that doesn't describe me!

There is discipline in this challenge. Our hearts and souls will be pierced to show us when change is necessary. If we fail to respond, we have basically rebelled against God. Chastening is difficult and we don't like it! That's our pride getting in the way. If we humble ourselves and allow the work of chastening to take place, we come out ahead. We are becoming more Christ-like. Again, easier said than done sometimes.

Hebrews 12:5-8, 11 - "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 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.

Heavenly Father, let us yield to Your chastening that we might become the person You desire. The old man is gone, let the new man come forth. Let us become disciplined in change that we might show more of our Christ-like, God-like characteristics. Thank You for Your chastening.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Believing in What We Don't See

1Kings 17:10-12,15 - And he [Elijah] called to her (a widow) and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar..." [But] she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.

To continue on this thing called belief....belief can also be called trust or faith. This is a great story about Elijah the prophet and a widow God has asked him to seek out. It's a story about believing something will happen when we don't see the possibility that it will happen. It's about believing in a God whose wisdom, power and purpose far exceeds our own. He knows our needs before we do ourselves.

I was reading something one day where the author was put into a position where company was suddenly coming that evening and she had no time to shop for food. She did what she could with what she had. Having no bread or potatoes and only having one cup of rice to feed more than what one cup should feed, all she did was make the rice according to the instructions...and pray! That takes faith and believing in what she couldn't see. Somehow it was enough to feed the lot of them! She explained this isn't going to happen in every circumstance but when a person's back is totally against the wall and there's no where else to turn, God sees the consequences and can step in if we are willing to go to Him. Believing in what we don't see.

Are we going to believe that God has a plan and purpose for our life? A day will come when things in this world, I'm certain, will bring concern to many. Questions will be asked: Why is this happening? Where did this all come from? Where can we turn for leadership or comfort, protection or support? Perhaps this might be the time when my voice will be available to be heard. At the appropriate time--for such a time as this--in His perfect timing. I could write how I have struggled with anxiousness in some areas of my Christian life. After Sunday's sermon, however, I will refrain! We are told to be anxious for nothing, fear not. It is our faith in God that will sustain us, even in our words. It's not about me but about the great God we have to do the seemingly impossible, like in the widow woman's dilemma...we come to the end of ourselves and just believe that God will intervene.

Perhaps God's purpose is coming together for me right now through spending more time in the Word and letting myself be filled with words I will be able to speak some day. I realize we don't need to know everything now. He can use me today if He so desires, if I am observant to what's happening around me and obedient to speak if necessary. In fact, I know He'd rather I not be prepared. Again, it's about my believing in what He will do in me. Believing that as Jesus was one with the Father, so I am one with Him. Believing in His power, not my own. Believing in His wisdom, not mine. Believing that His purpose is greater than my own. Believing in what I just don't see....

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For we walk by faith, not by sight. (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:7)

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Opposite of Belief is What??

Numbers 14:1-2 - So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!"

Israel had had it in their journey to the Promised Land. They began to complain, murmur and whine about their circumstances. What they perceived would be their outcome after being taken out of Egyptian captivity was not what they expected. It wasn't going according to how they thought it should. I will write occasionally about doubts, anxieties or fear. I know this is nothing really new, but obviously it's something we need to be reminded of every so often. We had another amazing service at church yesterday as Dr. John Bosman returned again and had a word for us as individuals and as a church.

Very briefly, Dr. Bosman spoke about Israel being taken out of bondage from Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land. We all carry around something from which we need deliverance. It can be physical, spiritual, emotional, financial... When we are delivered we are in victory. Sometimes the journey is a long one. Israel's journey should not have been physically long, but it ended up as 40 years of wilderness wandering because of their inability to let go of what held them in bondage. Their vision of what God had for them had been blocked and they looked back at what they believed had been a secure place, despite their oppression. They could not see He was providing everything they needed at that very time.

In our lives we want instant victory but sometimes, as Dr. Bosman suggested, we need to take the long route. It may be a wilderness and it might take time. That time is one of testing and lessons to be learned along the way. But...there is a way out. When we are in difficult times we tend to think on the past and how things were. We, like Israel, we lose sight of God's provision when we don't see immediate results. God will allow a wilderness to draw us back to Him, to teach us, and I believe to set various things in
place for our victory. We've seen this happen in our church because of the unexpected death of a pastor some 18 years ago. So many times I heard about what it used to be like.

Dr. Bosman told us that Israel had come to their place of victory. It was an actual location where they were to cross over into the Promised Land. The place was called Kadesh-Barnea, which means holy or consecrated. This location happened to be in a wilderness area. Funny how it is in the wilderness that we becomes consecrated or made holy. Spies were sent out to check out the land. Of the twelve, ten returned with a message of fear, unbelief and hopelessness--impossibility. Only two came back with what God had instilled in them as a message of possibility, through Him. As Dr. Bosman stated, the majority is not always right. (I think I mentioned that awhile back in reference to something else!)

At this place of victory Israel complained and thought, mistakenly, about all the "great" things they had while they were in Egypt. They'd puffed up their belief in what they'd had and now were succumbing to unbelief in what God could do. They'd forgotten, already, that God had provided for them provision and protection so far on their journey. They'd forgotten...even though the presence of God was with them day by day.

So what is the opposite of belief? It's fear. How many times have I heard this? How many times have I also forgotten? If we are believers why do we allow lies to fill our heads about who we are in Christ? Why do we doubt what God is doing in our lives? Why do we obsess over things we cannot understand? Why don't we just trust God knowing His plans for our lives are good?

I feel I might be in that wilderness in one area of my life. It's been a constant questioning, wondering, doubting. In other words, fear that God is not doing what I'd like Him to do. And there's the rub....what I'd like Him to do. Dr. Bosman stated it won't happen according to our plan. How I keep forgetting. I have to get beyond myself and just let God work in my life instead of always "struggling" (which is a word I seem to be using a lot these days) to do what I think He would want.

I wrote previously about the vastness of our God, His greatness. If we can see what He's done in this world, even just through nature, why can't we believe He can do great things in each of us? Throughout our testing we are also to continue to praise and worship God. I'm convinced that when we remove the complaining about our circumstances and praise God for what He's doing, we'll better handle the wilderness.

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands...[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...For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope... (Psalm 138:8, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6)

Father God, You are all that we need. You do provide and You do abide with us. You don't take leave of us; it is we who sometimes lose sight of You. I see why it is so important to live each day as it comes and praise You and trust that whatever that day holds it is part of Your grand plan for our lives. You are a great God with great plans for Your people--to bring victory in all areas of our lives. Lord, I thank You and it is in Your name I pray. Amen.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Who Do People Say We Are?

Matthew 16:13 - When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"

The world view is the majority, the wide path leading to destruction. (Matthew 7:13) Jesus once told the Pharisees (religious leaders) they were of the world but He was not. He told them of the destruction they would face because of their sins. Believers and followers of Christ are told to be in the world but not of it. The world around us is perishing, filled with sin and lawlessness. I'm sure this is easy to see these days. God tells us to take the narrow path, spiritually, which is believing in Jesus. There is only one Way.

Jesus was in the minority in His days. His beliefs, His lifestyle, His demeanor all looked narrow and so different from the majority of the people. His words must have grated on some people's nerves. He offended just because He had the audacity to claim He was sent by His Father, that He was the Son of God. Aren't we seeing offense taken today at the mention of God? Aren't Christians being silenced for their beliefs? Aren't we even seeing more and more use of God's name in the form of demeaning exclamations rather than exaltations?

So, who do people say we are? If Jesus can ask that question of Himself, so can we. We who have Jesus as our Lord and Savior can claim "saint" status. Who do we think we are to make such a claim? Are we self-righteous? No, but yes to taking our rightful stand with Jesus. We are to be added to the numbers of disciples that have gone before us and are alongside us today. This might seem very offensive and arrogant to some. That's what Jesus faced in His day; it's what Christians today face.

So, who do people say we are? We fall into two categories. Either we're in the world or in Christ. Being in Christ doesn't make us perfect, though. I think this is where a lot of people get hung up, thinking because we claim to be in Christ, we consider ourselves as better than others. Simply not true, although--again because of our imperfection--some will act as though they are. Jesus came into this world with a servant's attitude. He washed the feet of His disciples for crying out loud! He allowed Himself to die on the cross for all our sins. Does that sound like He was better than anyone else? He humbled Himself. In John 3 we are told that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it through Him. If He thought so highly of Himself He could have looked down His nose at all sinners but instead He associated with them, which brought sneers from the religious left, the Pharisees.

Jesus' blood at Calvary covered our sins and continues to cover our imperfections. We are still are sinners. There's no change there. Nothing we can do, no works--going to church every week, reading the Bible every day, praying, giving offerings and tithes--can gain us this status. Nothing, other than taking the step to accept the words of Jesus Christ,
that He IS the Way, the Truth and the Life and believing that what He says is true. Receiving Him into our lives. That doesn't mean that we should continue in our old lifestyles and habits if they are not in line with God's Word. But all that will be made clearer after the first step is taken.

So who do people say I am? I wonder.... I'm thankful for the new life I have received. I'm thankful to be called a child of God and a saint. It's not always easy. Jesus didn't say it would be. I don't consider myself better than anyone else. There was a time when I believed that just because I knew who God was and I wasn't Jewish made me a Christian! I balked at those who wanted to convert me. Who did they think they were!? But one day the Lord touched my heart, took my hand and opened my eyes. I'll be forever grateful for that day.

Ephesians 2:18-19 - For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God...

Thank You, Lord, for the truth of Your Word. May it penetrate to the very depths of my soul and spirit. May others who today find you a rock of stumbling one day pick themselves up and see that it was Your hand that helped them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yes and Amen

2Corinthians 1:20 - For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

Lord God, thank You for Your wisdom and Your words that so enrich my life. I thank You that as a believer even when it seems like You're so far away, You are truly abiding with us--a constant in our lives. There are days when I struggle putting two thoughts together to make any sense and then there are days of great richness where You have opened Your Word to me in such and amazingly easy way. I love those days.

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and light for my path. Your Word breathes life into a dry soul and brings hope to the hopeless. It is ever true and just. Just as You never change, neither does Your Word. The promises are always yes and amen.

I look at the things happening in this world and what seems so important to many people. I'm reminded how short our life truly is in this world. And then I think about what only You can give us. We cannot live without oxygen; You are the one who breathed life into us. We cannot live without water; You are our Living Water that refreshes when we drink from Your well. We cannot live without bread; Your Word is the Bread of Life. So many don't realize the promises You have for us. I thank You that You bless those who earnestly seek You. You call us Your special treasures and we have lasting value in Your eyes because we have sought You.

You have given me eternal life. You have given me wisdom that is special. I know that that will never end. And I'm certain that one day You will allow me to have a voice that will be heard, a voice that will not worry about what others think. This is my greatest obstacle and I know You know that. I'm looking forward to that day.

Lord, this is the day You have made. I am rejoicing and glad in it. I pray that you bless and comfort family and friends. I ask for spiritual wisdom to be imparted into their lives. I ask that You guide the rest of my day. I ask that You speak to me and impart more words of wisdom into my soul and bring a fresh wind and fresh fire.

In Your name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lord's Provision, Our Idols

Psalm 24:1 - The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

I had another thought while taking my little "journey" last week. Not only did God create nature, He was instrumental in creating men, their wisdom and intellect, their gifts and the materials needed to build all things. I passed farms, barns, sheds and fences. Some were old, some abandoned, some well kept. But all were as well part of God's magnificent creation.

What does this have to do with idols? Bear with me on this! God has gifted us with wisdom and skills. Some are skilled with their hands. Yes, man's hands built those structures. However, they are God's creation because He first created us and it is His wisdom given to man that brought about the creation of tools and resources for making every intricate thing. His hands ultimately built these things. It's about what
He has given us and it's all about Him.

So idols?? Yes. So often people take claim for something they believe they have done. Yes, we sometimes off-handedly say, "Look what I did!" I can remember a time when I was so proud of myself for bicycling from point A to point B under my own strength. But it was God who allowed it to happen; He gave me the power and tenacity to do it. Everything has been given by God and is God's. Every accomplishment He ultimately allowed to happen. Every job we've ever had He put in our path. Every dollar made is His. He has given us wisdom, money, houses, land...and all our gifts and talents. It is Hew who should be given the glory for them. He is our Provision.

I didn't learn anything new on this trip. I just believe that He pushed it deeper into my spirit that He is God and nothing is too great for Him, not even those things in my life that I fret about. Pressures, trials, frustrations, fears. Even they can be considered idols because they replace our trust in the Lord's provision. Let Him tackle the things we cannot. Everything is in His hands.

Then there are the physical treasures. We sometimes treasure things in our life that really belong to God. If we could fully understand how everything is His it would not be such a big thing to lose them or let them go. If something is difficult to let go of or to lose, it has become our idol. I'm still learning this lesson myself...

The other week I went morel hunting in the woods behind our house. My husband offered some to his brother (over the phone) and I was standing in front of him shaking my head. I can just imagine what I looked like! "No, no, those are ours!" I was thinking. When he hung up the phone I questioned why he did that. He quietly said, "They're not ours, they're God's." I was humbled and learned a lesson. Another time I had accidentally thrown some pictures away. I was crushed until I was gently reminded that they were only things; I still have memories. If He is our all in all, our provider, what more do we need? People, it's all about Him.

I hope you can see the connection here...His creating and our idols. We tend to take credit for what He has done. We want to keep what He has given us. We are a selfish lot sometimes. I know in my heart of hearts that if I let go of those things I hold on to so dearly, He will bless me in ways I could never understand. So what's holding me back?

1Chronicles 29:11b - For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all.

Lord God, show me those things that I cling to so dearly. Yes, I do not need to live in a state of total abstinence from all things, but I must want what I already have and be content. Let me be happy with the little things of life. Show me where we can be of service to others by using the gifts You have given me. Show me what I need to let go of.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gravel Roads and Valleys vs. Paved Roads and Ridges!

Proverbs 104:8 - They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them.

As I drove the back roads of Wisconsin last week I stayed clear of the hustle and bustle of well-travelled roads. I encountered valley roads and ridge roads, patched roads, old, cracked roads and gravel roads. Up and down, back and forth. I wish I would have kept track of the miles each day. I'm sure it did not add up to very many.

These roads are like our lives. We experience highs and lows and different types of conditions. And God is in the midst of all, refining and repairing that we might get to the place He has just for us.

I found driving gravel roads took more time. It was not easy taking curves with those little stones rolling under the wheels and the dust rising behind the car. We might experience some rough times, where like gravel, our lives are bumpy, unstable and clouded. It may be that God has placed on this gravel road to work out some of the roughness in our life. It will take a little more time but He will make the repairs and allow us to travel again on a smooth, paved surface, with clearness of vision.

This is similar to being in the valley. Down the valley roads the sun was not as pronounced. There was more shade and trees overhung the roadway. When we have valley experiences in our life we might experience shadows and darkness. When God has us in these places, He might have us there to be corrected or to learn and grow. The days appear to be dark, but growth occurs just the same. You sometimes can't see past the difficulty, like you can't see past the next curve in the valley road, but God is working just the same. Trust He is doing a good work!

Paved roads are, no doubt, the best for driving. They're smoooooth! Although I still didn't drive quickly, I could have had I wanted to. I enjoyed the time on paved roads. We experience smooth times in life as well and enjoy those days, often not wanting them to end. They are the ridges of life! On the ridges the sun was high and warm. The ground was dry. At the top you could see for miles in any direction. You could see hill upon hill of growth and farms. You could see how the road extended ahead and where you'd come from. It was exhilarating. On the ridges of our lives, nothing is able to stop us. We can see more clearly into the days ahead.

God takes us through valleys and over gravel roads to continue the process of repairing and eventually leads us to a place where the road is smooth, in (His) good repair and a mountain top experience. He does this is so we will see where we have come from and where we are headed through His grace and loving repair. In the end, following His path for our life will bring the best results. Allow the valleys and the ridges of life. Allow God to take you to those places He has founded for you! And remember that God is with you always.

Isaiah 49:11 - I will make each of My mountains a road, and My highways shall be elevated.

Lord, thank You for the hills and valleys of our lives, for the patching and repairing You so often do, for the highs and lows of life when You are working in us. Continue to work in me that those gravelly and patched areas of my life would be truly repaired. Work in the valleys that I might ride the ridges. In Your name I pray, Jesus, Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Order in the Vastness

Isaiah 45:18 - For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: "I am the LORD, and there is no other."

I was gone last week. I took time to drive the back roads of southwestern Wisconsin. I had hoped God would show Himself in some powerful way and I was not disappointed. It's not that I have never been in awe of the greatness of God's creation. I have always appreciated nature and the seasons and all the changes each season brings. As a friend of mine told me about my admiration for nature, "It's not like being a tree hugger." There definitely is a difference. I admire God's creation and I know that "to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Taking care of God's creation is good, but not to the extent we worship creation. We must realize there is a natural order to things and that order is Divinely inspired.

As I was driving the winding, hilly farm roads I, once again (because I've done this before), encountered the vastness of God. Hill upon hill presented tree after tree and wildflower after wildflower. You get the picture. And when one hill was behind me another one faced me. I'd be in the hollows and valleys and on the ridges totally in awe of what I saw. On ridges more hills, more trees were as far as the eye could see. And this was only within a few miles of where I was. The thought that this was across the entire county, state, country and world was more than I could even comprehend. And to think that God created it all...He knows just when a seed will fall then become a new tree. He knows when it will develop leaves and when those leaves will fall. And not just for one tree, but for ALL trees. How is this possible? As God tells us above: "I am the LORD, and there is no other." All I could do was look and allow the limitedness of my human mind take in what I could.

"If you are amazed at this, you need not be amazed at what I AM able to do...in your community, in your church, in your family, in you. Have I not said, 'I AM God. I AM the Great I AM. I AM Almighty.' It's all about trust, hope, faith and belief." These were the words God whispered in my ear one day after I'd thought, "Lord, I'm having a hard time even thinking about all this." We've been told before to come as little children. Children trust explicitly. No questions, no doubts.

If God is able to create such marvelous things for us, how can we not believe that He has some grand plan for our lives as well? How can we not trust what His Word tells us? How can we not believe that we are more important to Him than all that is around us?

In her Bible study, Believing God, Beth Moore had us say this each week: "God is who He says He is and He is able to do what He says He can do. We are who God says we are and we can do all things through God who lives in us. I'm believing God." The Word of God, if we are willing to take the time to learn, will teach us all things. It will show us that there is an Almighty God who wants nothing but the best for us. There is nothing too small or too great that He can't handle. The problems we face as so miniscule to Him and yet we make such big things out of them. How can we not believe that?

I will never cease to be amazed at the beauty of God's creation. It is a constant reminder of the greatness of our creative God. There is order in everything He creates. He has created for our pleasure and yet everything still is His. Over and over I will always be reminded of how His handiwork extends beyond the boundaries of our imagination. There is also an order in everything He does in our lives. So, when we are overwhelmed, let us remember how big our God is.

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. "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them." (Hebrews 11:3, Acts 4:24)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good Fodder

Jeremiah 29:13 - And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.

There are so many things to be thankful for in life. I'm sure each one of us could come up with our own list. As I was mowing the lawn Saturday the thought ran through my head that I was most thankful for knowing Jesus.

I think that about sums things up. The God who created all things, including me, and who knows each person by name, who knows every thought and intent of our hearts, who willingly died for us so long ago so we could be reconciled with our Heavenly Father...

I was thinking how grateful I am that I can see Him in just about anything. In nature, in animals and birds and in everyday occurrences that come out looking like modern-day parables. Seasons, for instance...spring is birth (or spiritual rebirth), summer is growth, fall is pruning and readying for rest and winter is that rest. I had deep thoughts about this when I was MUCH younger, before I'd even read about these things.

God has given me a desire to dig deeper, keep on learning, meditate and "dream" on His Word. I enjoy looking for Him in all things. I am thankful He is always with me. He will have the passenger seat alongside me this week. I am also thankful that He is with everyone else at the same time. What an incredible God.

I am spending a few days "on the road." I'm leaving this morning and returning Thursday night or Friday morning. Just me, my car, my camera and my Lord. It's something I haven't done in years and am looking forward to just tooling around the hollows and ridges of farmland western Wisconsin and witnessing spring erupt. I'm anticipating some, pardon the farming pun, fodder for blogs. That means I am open to spiritual dialog with the Holy Spirit.

Just for fun I looked up the definition for fodder: coarse food for cattle, horses, or sheep or readily available material used to supply a heavy demand. I like the second definition better! God readily makes available material to write about. He readily makes available His wisdom. This is why I am so thankful. I have always had an inquisitive mind and enjoyed searching things out. Hopefully I won't have to search very far the next few days. And I am sure I will be met with some "fodder" for future blogs!

Matthew 28:20 - and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.