Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ta, Ta

I will be unavailable for awhile...on vacation...will resume in November.

God's Silence, God's Timing

John 11:4 - [Jesus said] "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." 
After writing last Thursday's blog about God's timing and how sometimes we need to let something die in order to allow a new thing to emerge, I read the story of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus.  I noted a similarity and the confirmation of the truth that it's all about God's perfect timing in all things, even when He seems silent. Look at nature. Trees, shrubs and flowers come and go with the seasons. Such are the seasons of our own lives. 
Lazarus and his sisters were very close friends with Jesus. One day while Jesus and His disciples were in another city, He was given word that Lazarus was ill, close to death. The sisters sent for Jesus because they knew He could heal him. When Jesus heard, He told His disciples they were to stay where they were a couple more days. The disciples were undoubtedly confused that He did not rush off to help His friend and comfort these sisters. For the sisters, as well, His silence, His not showing up, was difficult to understand. But Jesus knew what He was doing...and it would be because of His silence, His not being in what probably would have seemed to be the right place at the right time, that people would understand.
So, two days later Jesus arrived only to find the sisters grieved, maybe even angry, that He had allowed Lazarus to die. But Jesus' timing was perfect for a one reason: to show the glory of God. Jesus did one very, touching thing, despite knowing what He was able to do.  He wept. (John 11:35)  Then He called Lazarus out of the tomb. He emerged in his grave clothes. He had been miraculously brought back to life. This incident was to reveal God's glory in an impossible situation. Now many people, Jews as well as Gentiles, would believe Jesus was the Son of God, the One who He spoke of.
Similar things like this can happen in our lives, as individuals, families, churches, when something needs God's power to bring back to life. He allows a death of some sort to occur, sometimes even needing to force the issue, in order to prove His power to revive.
In our church we've experienced a "death" of sorts. It has caused some strife and a lot of grief with a lot of questions as to how and why this happened. I believe it's yet another part of God's perfect, although not quite understood, timing for our church, the congregation and even the pastoral staff.
In this time of questioning and upheaval, as it were, we are being tested, we are just being given another chance to see what we are made of. Will we succumb to the world's standards of jugment or will we act as godly people? And--He will, in time, His perfect time, rebuild and heal. 
I pray that we do not allow ourselves to grieve God and harden our hearts because of this but allow unquestioned healing to take place. He is silent for now but if we trust in Him His timing and His glory will be revealed.
Psalm 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wait Upon the Lord

Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

In our amazing study on the Book of Esther, Beth Moore was looking for the perfect ending to the session she was just about to tape. She waited all right--until she and her team were in prayer before she began the taping. She showed us the slip of paper on which she had scribbled the final word. She already had the scripture above, but she wanted clarification. Here is what the Lord showed her: Waiting on God means something is happening in the heavenlies before we can proceed. Trust Him. We will lose our strength when we wait upon the event, person or thing to happen, but we will gain strength when we wait upon the Lord.

I have a letter to write and while I'm contemplating its contents and the words are flowing gracefully as I'm thinking about them, when I sit down to begin to write, the words completely escape me. I know in time the words will be just right. For now, however, they're swimming around in my foggy feeling brain and putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, is pointless.

I, along with others, have gone through a difficult time in our church. There are many I know who no doubt have the same feelings, questions and prayers to God for the same thing. Some are feeling anger and bitterness and a desire to, for lack of better words, make a big stink about what we've all experienced and point fingers. I'm just feeling saddened because of the others and because of the circumstance. I believe the difference between the two types of feelings is one group may have a hard time getting past their anger so we can move forward while the other, which I believe I'm in, wants only to allow God to do the work that is necessary, express support and love, and continue to see what God is going to do next. Waiting upon the Lord.

It's difficult, however, to not know what lies ahead. I think this is especially true for those who are saddened. Some will opt to just walk away from the whole issue and take their grousing somewhere else. All that keeps going through my head, after all I've been writing, is God is in control and He knows the beginning from the end. He is setting things up in the heavenlies. Now is the time to trust Him in the things that I do not see or understand. It's not about anything I can do, except pray and seek God for what is right and true. The only thing we are called to do is love on those who are angry and attempt to soften their words with words that the Lord gives us...or remain totally silent until the words and the timing are just right. Unforgiveness is not an option. No one is perfect--and who can possibly be the first to cast a stone?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

If this doesn't speak volumes. We will endure hard times. And then there will be good ones. Through it all we are to praise God. Praise Him for what He's going to do next and praise Him for what He's given us in the past. Praise Him for the moment and the peace He will bring after a time of grief. Psalm 30:5 tells us: For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

There are times when we must endure death, tearing down, mourning, letting go, warring and all those things that bring weeping but then after a time the joy returns and the rebuilding begins, the laughing, life and peace return. Sometimes things just need to break in order to be fixed. We are called to stand firm in those times. I believe we are being tested. How will we react toward all this? Will we do as God desires or will we turn our backs? I pray we all react exactly as He would have us...and we must continue to wait upon the Lord.

If we have God by our side the anguish will not last forever. Our Lord brings hope if we stick close to Him and trust in Him during the times we cannot even express our emotions. God knows what we feel and He will test us in these difficult times. Tears may flow and questions left unanswered, but God's love never fails. He's there to comfort us. For those whose hearts have been hardened into anger and unforgiveness, I believe His comfort may not come as soon. They need to let Him heal their hearts the way He knows how. We are in a time where God is setting in place more pieces of His puzzle and in time He will proceed. We do not know where God is taking us, but we must trust Him just the same while we wait on Him.

Mark 3:5 - And when He had looked around at them [Pharisees] with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his [withered] hand was restored as whole as the other.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

God Knows

Isaiah 59:1 - Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.

I could not help but see in Isaiah 59 how it parallels a lot of going on in our nation today. A few quotes:

Isaiah 59:4 - No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.
Isaiah 59:7-8 - Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.

Do these words conjure up any thoughts? But hold on, God sees everything that's going on around us. Don't think He isn't privy to the thoughts of man. He sees how we have begun to shed our outer skin of morality and have exposed what the Bible calls our transgressions. It's been happening much more quickly over the past 50-60 years. It's clearly becoming more recognizable today. 

Isaiah 59:12a - For our transgressions are multiplied before [God], and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

Our sins can do nothing but cause God to consider, and I know He is, alternative action. Here is the shocking statement in this chapter: 15a - So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Do you see this? Those who desire truth, honesty and unity in this country will become and are becoming prey--like truth telling media, conservatism or the Church. But the last part of that verse tells us Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. Mark my word, God will intervene. His hand is not shortened that it will not save!

Yes, God sees all that's happening and for those of us who want to see good overcome evil, we will cling to His promises of judgment against this evil. Oh, we may go through some hard times to get there but a day will come when God's plans will come to fruition and "Every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord." How long will people struggle before they realize the Truth is God? How long will people resist Him? It's always been about God, not man.

I began yesterday's blog with Isaiah 55:11 - So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. How important it is for us to know God's Word, for guidance and promise and the truth it brings. God is eternal. Both He and His Word will never fail or fade away. There will always be a remnant of people who have seen God at work in their own lives and know what He alone is capable of doing, who will remember His Words of hope and promise. Oh, that more would fall into this category. For those who follow God closely, hear what He tells us:

Isaiah 59:21 - "As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What More Can I Say?

Isaiah 55:6 - Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.

What more can I say? It's always about Jesus. His love, His mercy, His desire that all should know Him intimately.

Nothing satisfies more than the deep knowledge of an unseen God. Just because we cannot see Him doesn't mean He does not exist. He's always a prayer away to those wanting to know Him.

Isaiah tells us in Chapter 55 that God has what we need. Thirsty? Hungry? Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters...Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:1a, 2) Why else would He be called the Bread of Life or the Fountain of Living Water? He has all we need.

If we give up our own ideas of what life should be like, what we think we need to make us happy, and accept Jesus, we shall be satisifed. Isaiah 55:3a - Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live...

Everlasting = lasting through all time, eternal. Without Jesus we will always flounder. Hah! Flounder? Isn't that a fish? Didn't Jesus enlist the help of fishermen? Didn't He say they would become fishers of men? Isn't that who we are without Jesus--people who just flounder through life without a purpose? Haven't we all at one time asked what we are here for? Let Him catch you in His net.

What more can I say?

Isaiah 55:6-7 - Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. I think about the three people who died in a sweat lodge recently in Colorado. One man was from Milwaukee. His obituary stated he was searching for truth. How sad he probably did not find it.

No one will ever find truth without first searching for the Lord. It's as simple as that. When I was 40 I lost my mother to cancer. That time was all a blur. It must have taken it's toll because I decided to quit my job and get away from it all. I packed my bike, got a plane ticket to Luxembourg and spent seven weeks biking through Europe--searching for myself. I believe God was with me even then, every step of the way, in the people I met and safety I experienced, even down to very real needs that I expressed out loud to myself. God heard me and those needs were met--without my knowledge of His hand. He knew a day would come when my searching for myself would end when I found Him.

Now I now my purpose is to glorify God in everything I do. To know Him as Truth and to trust Him with my life.

Why should we trust our own ideas? Who gave us life? Who gave us our abilities and gifts? If we do according to His plans we will not fail. Some believe our gifts and ideas are our own; they are our gifts, but gifts from God's knowledge and wisdom of who He wants us to be. He knows what's best for us. It's true, our Father knows best!

Despite the troubles life can bring, He gives us peace, joy, singing, blessings instead of cursings. With or without us God's plans for this world will be accomplished. I'd rather be on the safe side, on God's side. Seek Him and His Word.

Isaiah 55:11 - So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Witnesses of Truth

Isaiah 43:10 - "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.

The question in my mind lately is about truth. And now I read about it in Isaiah. How amazing is that? That's the way God works. He knows our thoughts and I believe even if we do not vocalize our concerns, He will direct us to answers. Isaiah 43:9 says Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them [the nations] bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, "It is truth."

The Truth is Jesus Christ. Isaiah 43 tells us all about a Redeemer of Israel. I like to highlight when something impacts me. I could have highlighted all of this chapter! Back then the Redeemer was God. Today it is Jesus. The past has repeated itself. That's the Truth and the Truth of Jesus Christ. The truth is trusting in Jesus only.

The people of Israel trusted God, then quit--repeatedly. God grieved and forgave when they called out to Him. It's no different today. In the end God will prevail, His Truth (Christ) will be known. He is calling people to turn back to Him. Deaf ears and blind eyes need to be opened .

It is the LORD who created, healed and redeemed His people, just like He does today. Trusting in Truth is fearing not. Fearing not all that comes before us in our own intimate lives (personal, family, church) and in the world (finances, wars, failing or falling nations, corrupt governments, leaders).

God gives us promises as His children:

Isaiah 43:2 - When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Isaiah 43:5a - Fear not, for I am with you...
Isaiah 43:19b - I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Here's a question: Do you know Jesus? Not just know of Him but know Him intimately? These promises apply to those who truly believe, who have asked Christ into their lives. Who do you say you trust today? Do you trust leaders or government? You can't even always trust your church. So who is left? Obviously, the answer is Jesus.

As believers we need to show that our trust is in Christ alone. As believers, having been redeemed, we are God's witnesses. We have been chosen by Him to believe on Him and convey the message, that I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:11). Only Christ saves.

If it sounds like this is all I write about, it's because it is the truth!

Just like there's turmoil in our country, there's turmoil in Israel today. It's only a matter of time when an attack against them will occur. I recently read that all the furniture, utensils and priests' garments like in the original Jewish Temple are being done or are finished. I've read an article in an Israel newspaper that "training" for priests on ceremonies and sacrifices is taking place. It is believed by some that one sign for the last days is the rebuilding of their Temple. All this has been prophesied. It has been prophesied that one sign for the last days is the rebuilding of their Temple. I cannot possibly go into detail here. It's a whole different study and one I'm not truly qualified to discuss.

The Truth is Jesus will make Himself known to these people, either through witnesses or directly by Himself. If only they could see the Truth and trust in Him now. Like those who have accepted the Lord into their lives, their sins would be forgiven with just the professing of Christ. Let us who follow Jesus remember who He is, what He has done for us and what we are now to do.

Isaiah 43:25-26a - "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

But God...

1Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 

But God. There's a phrase I love. It's a phrase I've been repeating to myself over and over. It provides strength and comfort for any situation.

I had a mini breakdown last night...finally. There's a situation I'm aware of that is demanding answers. What's happened is darkly shrouded in hushed voices, speculation and eyes searching others' eyes wondering what they know but not wanting to find out. However, truth is necessary. Acknowledging failure, if that's the case, needs to happen. Forgiveness also needs to take place. And then--healing will begin. Honestly, I would like to believe this is all a mistake.

We go through issues in life, whether our own or others', in order to learn. For myself it's the importance of keeping my eyes focused on Jesus. He sees the beginning from the end when we only see what's right before our eyes...or what we perceive. It's just important to be satisfied with allowing God alone bring the truth to light. Jesus is the Truth. Trust in that Truth. That is so hard. But truth always prevails.

But God...by His wisdom and His power He will accomplish all that He needs to. I realize God knows what He's doing. We cannot keep anything hidden from Him. And He continues to love us just the same. All He desires is a turning from wrong. When there's falseness in our lives, it will be exposed. It's the only way God can continue to purify and cleanse us, by bringing to the surface those things in us that need to shrivel up and die in the light and power of Christ.

But God...Genesis 50:20 - As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good... This is for those on the outside looking in on any circumstance. We may find it difficult to understand how good could come out of something bad, but God promises it will. Continue to trust in the Lord, step by step.

My heart is hurting. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26). If a wrong has been done, the longer it is hidden, the greater God's punishment. I don't want to see that happen. The consequences will not just be for this individual, but the entire family and friends. Man fails and he falls and most certainly can turn away from the Lord.  We all can, no matter who we are, even daily in small things. But God...But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Stay focused on Him and trust whatever happens it's best for all.

I'm thankful that even when we stumble, fall and fail, He picks us up, forgives us when we have asked for it, works yet another flaw out of our humanness and continues to purify us. It is because of His love for us.  But God...demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us....  But God...who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us... Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4, Mark 2:7b)

1Peter 5:10 - But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Only Words

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh.

Just a brief discussion about the Bible today, but a powerful one.

I love the Bible. It's because I love God. The Bible is the Word of God. It's God-breathed. It's not just a book of rules and admonitions but a book of love and promises--if we follow the rules and heed the admonitions! It's not difficult to read--there are so many versions  there's bound to be one for anyone's liking. Even the King James Version filled with thees, thous and thines is supposedly written so that a sixth grader can understand it.  

The Bible is filled with interesting stories of creation, battles, prophecies and people just like us, with issues--and it tells us how to work out our issues...God's way...for the best outcome.

God spoke and the world was created. He didn't have to use His hands. He just spoke...words. That's incomprehensible to me.

But I think the most amazing fact is--the Word, the Bible, became flesh. Another name for Jesus is the Word. The Bible is all about Jesus. It shows Him in the Old Testament throughout, but He is hidden among the feasts, sacrifices and prophets in every book. In the New Testament, He is revealed to us.  The whole book was written about Him. The Word...of God...Jesus, the Word.

Jesus' ministry was to preach the Gospel message, the Good News of who He was. More words. Something nudged me to look up the definition of the word "word!" The oldest meaning Webster's Dictionary gives is "to call or name." Jesus was named the Word. Later it is suggestedthe expressed or manifested mind and will of God; good news. Good news. Yes!  

Strong's Concordance, which is a cross reference of every word in the King James Version of the Bible, gives the definition in the Old Testament of the word "word" as speech or utterance. It comes from a root word which means to speak, declare, promise, sing, even threaten. I particularly like the word promise, because that's what Jesus is--our Promise, our Hope, of life everlasting. 

In the New Testament the Concordance explained this: In John, [the word "Word"] denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world's life both physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man's salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.

It was years before I understood and saw the connection between word and Word. And when it did, I knew I was beginning to understand at another level. This is what the Word of God can do...reveal some of the most incredible truths and show us the most amazing meanings to what appears on the surface to be a simple word. I'm blown away. I hope it makes sense to you.

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The F Word

Matthew 6:14-15 - "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

My, my, my, this past weekend was filled with the F word...forgiveness. We are commanded to forgive.  Twice this weekend I got a hefty dose of the healing capability of forgiveness.  What I heard was confirmation of what I had written to a friend earlier that week about forgiving someone.

This friend is divorced for good reasons. Her ex has been trying to get on the good side of his children ever since but comes and goes in their lives. I believe the children have forgiven him, but my friend probably has not. It might be that he's at an age where he has finally come to grips with what he's done, or not done, in his life and how he's been a fool all these years and wasted his life. Maybe God has finally gotten hold of him spiritually.  

She asked for my advice. I don't know why she chose me when she's been a follower of Christ a lot longer than I have. She says she hasn't anyone where she lives to talk to. And not having been in a situation like hers, I'm not sure how I would react at first myself.  

He's begun attending the same church, to be with the children and grandchildren. She's remarried.  And she's uncomfortable with this situation to say the least and considering looking for another church after all these years.

This I know, we are told to love our neighbors and when our enemy does wrong to us, we are not to retaliate. 1Peter 3:9 says we are not to return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. We are to do good to them. Kill them with kindness, as it were - Romans 12:20 - Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."

Running from any problem doesn't take care of it. I believe we are to work through them. I know we all hang on to things that we need to let go of...things that we need to ask God to help us overcome. Sometimes we can hang on to anger, bitterness and hurt that comes from a broken relationship.  But God is greater than any problem we have.  

This weekend I listened twice to an evangelist, Nicky Cruz. First he preached on emptiness in our lives which brings on some of the problems we might face. He was totally empty in his life because his mother abandoned him, but not before, beating him, telling him he was worthless and a son of the devil.  His life was filled with anger and he got in with the wrong crowd on the streets of New York City. He headed up a gang and was filled with rage, like an animal, he claims. When a preacher named David Wilkerson confronted him by telling him Jesus loved him, he laughed and threatened the pastor telling him he would cut him into thousands of little pieces. Wilkerson gently told him, "Even if you do, each one of those thousands of pieces would cry out, 'Jesus loves you.'" With that Cruz gave his life to Jesus.

Sunday morning at church, Nicky preached on forgiveness and retold the story about how when he started living for the Lord he was summoned by his family to go back to Puerto Rico because his mother was dying.  He went but hated the sight of where he had lived, hated the sight of his dying mother.  The anger and bitterness and hurt that he had felt as a child came back. But he reached out to her and with no feeling of forgiveness told her he forgave her. He kept pointing out that he felt no forgiveness at all. But in time God began to do a work in his until a transformation took place. He was able to forgive his mother and mean it.  He explained how the pain of his past melted away. He explained how he led his mother, father and some of his brothers to Jesus after that. And his mother, who was dying, lived another 25 years...all by the love and power of God in their lives.  

Yes, Christ forgives us and we are admonished to forgive others in the same way.  Unforgiveness gnaws at us.  It hurts the one with the unforgiveness more than the other person(s).  Jesus harbored no resentment against those who killed him.  He asked God to forgive them while He was on the cross.  He pardoned one thief who hung next to Him because that man realized he was guilty of his crime and deserved to die, but knew Jesus was not--and he asked Jesus to forgive him.  

Who's to say that God won't constantly bring our unforgiveness before us until we do the right thing?  Forgiving someone, no matter how long ago the situation, has got to be the hardest thing a person can do. It's the darn pride thing again. But just imagine the freedom you'll have once it's over. I've heard about hardened hearts softening completely with the words of forgiveness. One needs to be the initiator, even if it's not that person's fault. The process has to start somewhere. Maybe the other person will not receive, but you've let go of that unforgiveness and you can begin to heal. We can't change another person, but we can change ourselves. We can change our thoughts and our actions and words. God will be the ultimate judge of the one who has done wrong. If we hang on to unforgiveness, we'll get judged ourselves for not giving it up.  

All of us have been hurt by someone. I wonder myself if I have truly let go of some. I don't feel I harbor deep set anger for anyone. I remember the distance I had with my own father, an alcoholic. I'd see him as little as possible. I came into relationship with Jesus Christ about five months before finding out my dad had Alzheimer's. I know it was God's perfect timing. I was able to reconnect with him in his last years. Through that reconnection my disappointment with him faded and if there was any unforgiveness, it melted away.  

God knows our hearts and He knows what we going through or have gone through. He knows any resentment we harbor. And, most importantly, He knows the freedom, healing, renewal and refreshment of giving it to Him and asking forgiveness--even if we haven't caused the strife in the first place. If someone has hurt you, you can to say to them, "I'm sorry you feel that way (or think that) but I'm choosing to forgive you."  

I think when we finally figure out what God wants us to do and we do it, He will have the biggest smile on his face.  

Psalm 103:8-12 - The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Isaiah 30: 1 - "Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin..."

We can all be a rebellious lot sometimes, even in the small things of day to day living. I'm convinced that our egos, our pride, get the best of us. If we could learn to subdue that, think of others as better than ourselves.

I think rebellion is a sort of stubbornness. When we just don't want to listen or hear. I'm as guilty as the next person.

Rebellion only compounds unless we recognize it for what it is and allow ourselves to let it go. Rather than arguing, rather than having to have the last word, mull it over. Give it some thought before opening your mouth! Easy to say, difficult to do. Guilty again.

I've seen rebellion this week. I've recognized it in its worse form. Not in me (ahem) but in someone I've looked up to and admired. Someone who has not looked to God for counsel. But in the back of my little mind, I'm reminded that even I need to look to God over any other person. He is to be my ultimate Guide.

What distresses me is how this rebellion in not seeking God's wisdom or counsel will add "sin to sin." I don't want to see this happen. The more rebellion, as a friend stated, the greater God's wrath will be. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

We should not trust in ourselves. We should not avoid the counsel of authority, especially God's. He is the highest Authority we all have. He has the greatest wisdom, knows what's best for us and will lead us down the right path IF we seek Him for that.

When we turn to our own devices we fail. We've all heard that pride goeth before the fall. Unfortunately, this does happen. Then comes shame, humiliation and reproach (Is. 30:3-6).

Sometimes our hearts and minds can just shut these thoughts out. We don't want to see what could happen--or we deny it could. Eventually it will surface and will not be able to be covered up.

To those with a close relationship with God, it is inevitable He will expose our sin. But--it's for our own good. It's because of His love for us. But depending upon the circumstance and how long we've allowed it to go on, God will judge accordingly. 
Psalm 62:12 - Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work. This applies to all of us....

It's difficult to see a beloved saint in Christ go through this. Funny how we can stand without and so clearly see the fault within someone else and not see it in ourselves.  Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. When we pray that prayer we need to realize if we mean it God will do it. Sin will surface. We will see it and need to deal with it. But praise God He is merciful and works these out because all He desires is to see us as spotless and without blemish, as persons in Christ and as a Church.

He tells us that when we admit our sins and give them to Him that "In returning and rest you shall be saved" (Isaiah 30:15). He always promises such good things for us. He will not change His mind. But we need to toss our egos aside, let go of pride and allow Him to heal and restore. You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19b)

The fear of failure is so strong. But fail we will if we lose sight of God's will. It's always good to return to God. He brings nourishment, rest, refreshing, renewed vision, increase, gladness and song. (Isaiah 30)  But He also will withhold this if we are rebellious.

Isaiah 31:1 - Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! 

So often God's Word speaks of Israel's rebellion, but we can read these words and see it is as admonition for ourselves as well. I've often felt there are dimensions in His Word that go beyond what we can see on the page. I don't know if that makes sense or not but I believe the Lord whispered that in my ear one day!

I will finally end here with this great promise:

Isaiah 33:15-16 - He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Door

Psalm 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God...

I'm thankful for God. I can't imagine what it would be like to live without knowing there is Someone who knows your heart, your desires, your pain, your needs.  And we are told all through Scripture just how great our God is.  He is our portion in times of trouble.  He is our Strong Tower, a place to run for refuge.  He is the Light in the darkness of this world.  He is our Path and, again, the Light upon it, to guide us.  He can be whatever we need Him to be, if we just search for Him in the midst of whatever our need happens to be.

I received some news this week that was upsetting.  It was news I'd heard once before a few years ago.  It does not pertain to me or family, but affects me.  I know I have grown in maturity since that time because although the news was somewhat bothering, beneath it all I have a sense of peace.  I know God is in control and most often the trials anyone goes through are for a good purpose, although we don't always recognize it at the time.  He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.  I could get angry or become anxious but I'm certain somehow He will allow His will to be done.  And that is so important to understand, not just for me, but for those who will be affected by all this.

When we are troubled about anything, He is there to help.  Search and learn the Scriptures...seek Him in the pages of the ancient history of the Bible and He will be found.  But we need to actively seek Him.  We cannot always count on the teaching of others. It is His desire that we sit at His feet and listen to Him speak to us through and even between the lines in the Bible...it is His word to us and for us.

Who is God?  First of all, I have to add that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one person with three distinct functions.  A few things that describe Him were listed above.  Here are some of His attributes:  He is mighty, just, cannot lie, merciful.  He loves all people and rejoices over us with joy and singing.  He is also all sufficient, omniscient and omnipresent. 

He is our Creator and our Heavenly Father. He is our Provider. He tells us He is I AM. What more do I need to say there?  HE JUST IS. He is our Healer and the Lord who sanctifies.  He is our peace, righteousness, Holy One, Judge. He is jealous for us. He is everlasting. He is the Rock of our Salvation and the Rock which we can stand on for our strength. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  He is Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end. Jesus, as God, is our Bread, our Living Water, our Salvation, our Shepherd. Oh, if only I could put into words how each of those words mean the same thing--He is life everlasting.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling strengthened just listing these. Whatever your need, that He is!  I AM WHO I AM.

But to me He is most importantly the Door. Years ago that Door was placed before me. I entered that Door and entered into eternal life, into righteousness, into forgiveness.  In this world we don't have three doors from which to choose from like the popular game show, but we have two...the Door to everlasting life or the door to everlasting death. And we have a choice which door to choose. If they are marked Door or door, I'd take Door.

I bring that up only to show you that without the Door I would not have the peace within me over this situation. Without the Door, Jesus, I would not know all that He can be for me, or for you. I would not be strengthened in the midst of trials, I would be devastated. Even the things happening in this world would be a concern. But because I entered that Door who is Jesus, I know that He will be my every need.

The Door is the Shepherd, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. When we follow our Shepherd our paths are straight and well lit. He is the Light in the darkness that is the world.  He is the Light on my path.  I am engraved in the palm of His hand. (Oh, how I love that scripture.) And because of that I am secure in Him...in Christ.

I only see part of what this situation is. But God already knows how it's going to end.  He knew before the beginning of time that on this day I would be writing this. So He knows the beginning from the end.  He is the Alpha as Creator and the Omega as the soon coming King. He had the first word in creation; He will have the last word when Jesus comes back to reign on earth. So anything in between the first and the last He has covered! So, why should I fret over something I know He's in control over?

I'm thankful for the day I AM showed me that Door where I met my Savior and Shepherd. He has given me Bread and took away my thirst with His Living Water.  He is my Hope and my Help in time of trouble. I'm thankful I have the I AM.

Exodus 3:14 - And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

His Hand is Outstretched Still

Isaiah 9:12b - For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.

Just as Israel in the Old Testament kept turning away from their God, it seems we do the same today.

Back then they were given a prophetic word that there would be a Messiah coming to save them from their enemies.  They waited a long time.  God used Isaiah to prophesy:  And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end... (Isaiah 9:6b-7a)  Israel was looking for deliverance from a man.  When Jesus arrived they continued to turn their backs because they did not understand and did not believe Jesus was their Messiah.

How many of us don't understand? How God is trying so hard to open people's eyes and we're still looking for peace through our government. Don't get me wrong, we need a leader for our country. The leader we need, however, is one who holds on to God's principles, without compromise.  

In the Old Testament Israel cried out for a king like the other nations had.  They had been under the guidance of the Levite priests, men who looked only to God, but the people no longer wanted that.  And God allowed them to have their king--almost as proof that they could not rule as well without His guidance.

I'd say we're in a similar postion now.  We've been doing okay as a nation but have slowly slipped, compromised a lot of issues and God says, "No more. They want their king, then they shall have him."  He has given us what the majority wanted; he has given us what we deserve.

But we have hope.  See how many times it has been stated:  For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still. - (Isaiah 10:4b, 10:16, 20a, d). We, like Israel, are forsaking our God. There is a remnant (handful of believers) who will not turn away from Him, who see from the past what the present is and what our future will be.  

Isaiah 10:3b asks us To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory? Who will we run to when all else has failed? Will we look to God? Will we continue to look to man? I pray that we will see God's glory by continually looking up. Let God heal this land.

These chapters in Isaiah are just so chock full of good words, I just have to quote them:

Isaiah 10:23, 24, 27a - For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a determined end in the midst of all the land. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: "O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt...It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder...  You must understand that history repeats itself.  Israel is a type of believer in Christ, those who follow God.  In this context I would say Assyria and Egypt are a type of enemy, whether within our nation or without.  Isaiah may have been talking about Israel, but He speaks to us as well.  

Then, again, Isaiah 5:25 tells us "But His hand is stretched out still."  ...for the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed... For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 9:16, 9:17b, 9:21b)

But God!  It is His desire that "none should perish." His hand is stretched out still for us right now.  Our hope is in God.  But we have to desire Him, like He desires us. We have keep our eyes focused on Him...and if we aren't we need to begin to. He is our salvation and He is our strength in the midst of any trouble. We cannot look to man. His hand is outstretched even now to those who need to believe in Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. If you do it with a pure heart, He will respond.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

For Such a Time as This

Esther 4:14 - For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Oh, my. Fall has truly arrived and I wonder if there's even going to be an Indian summer. This also means a new season begins at church after a "rest" during the summer. It's always started with enthusiasm. What does God have in store? What nuggets of understanding will He impart to us through our new studies or from our sitting at His feet to learn? What direction will He be taking us and expecting us to follow? Will we be equipped?

We have started a Bible study this fall by Beth Moore on the study of the Book of Esther. I'm sure as we glean incredible insights from this study I will be commenting occasionally. Often we all wonder just what is it that we are here for on this earth? Is it just to be born, live, work, support a family, retire, get old and die? I don't think so and neither does God. He has a plan for our lives and we just need to tap into that. When we do there will be a feeling of satisfaction that comes knowing we've done something great through the power of God...not our own power. Our own power does not produce the same results.

Esther was a Jewish maiden. The Jews had been exiled to Persia at that time. Ahaseurus, the King of Persia, dethroned his queen for disobedience and was looking for a new queen. Esther was among the many choices. It was a painstaking year's worth of beautifying for these women! All the while Esther kept her Jewish heritage a secret at the advice of her cousin Mordecai. Esther was chosen as Ahaseurus' queen. I find it incredible that her Jewish heritage played such an important role in all this. It was all part of God's great plan, as we will see.

Even Mordecai, repeatedly referred to as "the Jew," became a prominent figure in the king's court. How the puzzle of these lives was being put together so well. So, she was chosen "for such a time as this." The scripture above is about Mordecai urging Esther to take up an issue with the king, one that could cost her her life since the king was not normally approached. Even as queen she must await the king's call. But her life and the life of the Jewish people was at stake because someone wanted to annihilate all Jews.

God planted Esther and Mordecai in these positions in life because He had a great plan for her and His people. In a way, we who follow Christ, are here for the same reason.We are here to spread the word of Jesus and help draw them to Him. God may plunk us into situation after situation where it is by our actions, our words that He wants for us to be an impact on someone else's life. It doesn't have to be anything grandiose, but in the mundane, day-to-day things we do. Are we in God's will? Are we acting as God would have us? Are we leading people in the direction of a "life Savior?"

Esther may not have known about Jesus, but she knew God. This story is for us today. It is another example of our responsibility to be obedient and humble in our walk with God and be willing to take a chance, like Esther, to reveal God's plan of salvation. When will we be ready to do this? Are we willing to take a chance? Are we willing to stake our lives (or reputations, friends)?

Esther had learned to be obedient, humble and self disciplined by Mordecai, who raised her as his own daughter after her parents died. It seems these characteristics were what appealed to those around her, even the other virgins hoping to be chosen queen. Everyone regarded her well. It was not about her, but about her king. Mmmm, that sounds familiar--it's not about us, but about our King, Jesus.

She did not pride herself in being someone greater than she was. Her humility got her the crown. I seem to remember writing about how humility, though seen as weakness, is actually a characteristic that will be admired by many. If Esther had acted as some of the other virgins, she too may have been passed over. The others wanted the king to see all the jewels and finery that they had chosen so they could be beautiful for their king. Ahaheurus saw Esther, who chose only to take those things which she knew 
he would like, in her purest and humblest form. She pleased him most. That's how we are to live our lives too. What is it He would desire?

I should want to please my King. Is there something hindering me? Perhaps. Maybe I'm waiting to hear specific instruction by someone telling me, "you need to reach this person." Yes, I struggle with an outward display. If my King is so important to me why can't I show it more? Here's my dilemma.

I believe as we study this book there will be some insight into why we are like we are--at least as women. So far we have learned "It's hard to be a woman in another woman's shadow (the first queen), in a world where beauty is a treatment (the year's worth), and in a mean world (knowing someone wants to kill your people)." She was learning how to use the gifts that she had been given, her wisdom, obedience and humility, to obtain favor with her king. Plus, she was given a boldness when she needed it most. A boldness that God had given her and the wisdom to realize, again, this was not about herself, but this time for her people.

I'm anxious to find out where I fit and what more I am able to do that I've not allowed myself access to. 

2Timothy 1:6-7 - Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.