Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sold Out?

Philippians 3:7-8 - But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...

I was mowing the lawn yesterday when the words "sold out?" hit me like pieces of mulch being kicked up by the mower! Good thing I had my sunglasses on or they might have got me in the eyes.

What does it mean to be sold out for Jesus? Read the scriptures above again. I'll be the first to admit that in my own mind I think I'm sold out. But I probably am not fully there. Oh, I may be able to write like I am, but what about verbally? I can preach to the choir, but what about when I'm in a crowd where the name of Jesus does not enter into conversation? Am I able to interject something that at least hints at what's on my mind? Do my unbelieving friends really know who I am? Do they know what consumes my thoughts...but doesn't exit out of my mouth? For shame. I'm thankful, however, the God is never finished with us.

Again, I bring up Peter (oh, the array of thoughts that have been so interconnected lately that I've not been able to put together...until now). Here's a man who on one hand is sold out for his Jesus, yet he later denies him, three times before the rooster crows. After he denied his Savior that third time, scripture says, And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62) This makes me weep! I'm imagining the look Jesus gave Peter was not one of disappointment or anger, but one of unconditional that would bring a person to tears. I'm so thankful that Jesus never gives up on us, like He did not give up on Peter. Peter is a great example of one sold out, yet flawed for a time.

Jesus lived His life knowing He would be sold out (literally with 30 pieces of silver); how can we not be sold out for Him?

I've been told people know I'm different and perhaps that's why I don't fit too well in many social situations. For me, unfortunately, I find there are times I have little in common with others and find it difficult to enter into conversations. Sometimes it seems as if the others are talking another language altogether. They might feel the same way if I brought Jesus up. 

I guess there comes a time when I have to let go. Glenn Beck talks about pivotal points in a person's life. Could it be I am heading in that direction? Will the things I've been doing eventually be replaced with things God would have me do? How will this affect my life and my home life? That scares the daylights out of me, to be honest with you. Is that what it means to be sold out for Jesus? Perhaps not. Or maybe God is just getting me prepared first in my heart to get to that place of letting go. There are things in my life I have, I enjoy, I enjoy doing and having. If these things were taken away or I chose to let them go, how would I feel? This is all part of how I'm thinking God is preparing me.

Maybe the preparation is because something will force these things to be "recalled" from my life. Could be health or finances that might bring this about (which could easily be as a result of a faulty government). It might just plain be a call from God in my life to move on. Any one of these situations will be hard...and yet not. I believe if the Lord asked me point blank to quit something, I could do it. The first reaction is to become unsettled. But then you come to the realization that anything the Lord takes away He fills with something so much more extraordinary. 

I keep recalling a dream I had twenty years ago or so. I had the dream twice. It took me to a small clearing in the woods with a stream running by. It was quiet and peaceful. There was a very small cabin. The second dream allowed me to see inside the cabin, where it was one room with a bath. The thing I noticed the most about the cabin was the wall that was one huge bookcase, floor to ceiling, full of books. I seemed very content to be in that little place with very few conveniences...or should I say distractions.

Sold out. Letting go of all the things this world has to offer and rejoicing and relishing in the things of God only. Practicing the presence of God (Brother Lawrence's claim to fame). This is all He requires of us...that we be in right, close, personal relationship with Him. Forget the world. A relationship with Jesus should be the first and foremost thing. All other things will fall into place very nicely.

I'm not saying He wants us to remove ourselves from the world. His Word tells us we are to be in the world but not of it. I guess part of me is a little weak in that area because I want to fit in...and yet I often don't. Is that my fault or is it the Lord's doing? A good question to mull over and ask Him. 

I keep thinking there is a day coming when "the other shoe will drop" somehow in my life. It will either be God's shoe--or sandal--or something in the world that will cause all the turmoil that I'm experiencing in my spirit to be explained...and then gone through. The answer to my inner upheaval will be clear as day. I can only hope that I will rejoice at this.

Sold out. That's about keeping our focus on Jesus. We have many, many examples in the Bible of people who were sold out. In Hebrews 11, known as the faith chapter, there is a list of the most noted people in the Bible whose faith in God was beyond compare. I want so badly to be counted among those of this day whose faith and focus on Jesus has be completely sold out. I want to be able to say with confidence that the things of this world are nothing in comparison to my knowledge of Jesus Christ. So, perhaps that's the other shoe that's ready to drop. Perhaps I will realize without a shadow of a doubt that nothing in this world means anything apart from Jesus Christ and His gift to me of salvation. 

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

Friday, July 30, 2010

They Have Gone Far From Me

Jeremiah 1:16 - I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 

I opened my Bible to where the bookmark was located. It was the Book of Jeremiah. He was one of the major prophets of the Old Testament. I was struck by some of the words God asked Jeremiah to speak to the people of Israel, although I've read them before. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2Timothy 3:16). It is just as important to read the Old Testament as the New. The Old shows us what happened to Israel when they did not follow God...and it shows us today what can happen. The New, on the other hopeful hand, shows us where our salvation lies, in Jesus Christ. It shows us the plan God had in place to help this fallen world. We need to know history so we are able to understand what is happening today. We can't ignore our past, even the ancient past, which is rich in details.

We can recognize what's happening to us today and look back on world history to see similarities. There are more similarities in the Old Testament if we look hard enough.

Jeremiah was asked to show the people what they had done and the judgment God would bring against them for their actions. We cannot assume that God does not have a hand in today's world, because He truly does. He is not some distant "higher power (ugh)" whose job was finished with creation. He is a God who knows the beginning from the end and we have not ended yet. He is keenly aware of every detail of every person's life and every circumstance taking place in this world. What is happening today was prophesied thousands of years ago in the Old Testament and it's time we take notice. We must also grasp the promise given to us in the New Testament through salvation in Jesus Christ.

Without that salvation, without the acceptance of His free gift, without the knowledge of Jesus, there is no hope. Despite what might be happening in this world, if we know Jesus personally as Lord and Savior of our lives, we have nothing to fear. There is no doom and gloom. If what is perceived is considered doom and gloom, Jesus does not reign in that life. 

Despite the worst that could be upon us, the best is yet to come through the return of Jesus Christ. Oh, again I know there are many who will scoff at this thought...just like the Bible tells us will happen in the last days. This is God's story and He's sticking with it!

Like so many I personally know, my church, even Glenn Beck, we know that we know that we know that our country is in peril because "we have forsaken God." Little by little He has been ignored, even by intelligent people who have bought into the "let's not offend, let's embrace the diversity of all religions" concept. I'll tell you, it's harder to stick to the guns of Christ and Christianity than it is to accept the worldview. But then our strength is in the Lord.

Here are some scripture references I underlined from Jeremiah because they spoke to me about our nation:

They have gone far from me.
(The LORD) brought us up out of the land of Egypt.
I (the LORD) brought you into a bountiful country.
The rulers also transgressed against Me...and walked after things that do not profit.
Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? 
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God.
Why do you gad about so much to change your way?
(Jeremiah 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 17, 19, 36)

These scriptures aren't just for us as individuals, or us as a country, but even to the Church. Remember, churches are man-made. It is harder to find a church today that is totally sold out for Jesus, not willing to become complacent about what God says a church should be. We must also understand that although God is a loving God, He is also One who will judge.

Remember this: God never changes. What He has done in the past He can do today. There is a major theme in these scriptures...we have forsaken God (verse 5). Isn't He the One who brought us out of our slavery from England (verse 6)? Isn't He the One who brought us to this "bountiful country" that we might flourish under His blessing (verse 7)? Aren't we experiencing rulers who are more power hungry than caring about the people of this nation (verse 8)? Haven't we as a nation brought this all on ourselves because we have not stood by God (verse 17)? 

I'm not trying to portray doom and gloom...just the facts. There's always a hopeful side to this, even if our country as a whole does not want to do this: We have a hope in Jesus Christ. Those who follow Him faithfully, closely, unashamedly, may endure struggles. Will endure is more like it. But it's not what's here on earth we are to be obsessed with. It's our relationship--not religion--with our Savior, the One who has brought us out of our sinful captivity and given us a spiritual freedom that cannot be taken away no matter what happens in this world. 

Below is just part of the hope and promise given in Psalm 146. Take time to read the entire, encouraging Psalm. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 146:5-6 - Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Ephesians 4:1-3 - I, therefore ... beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Holy socks, what in the world is omothumadon? Pastor Paul Hanson enjoys so much digging deep into meanings of words to round out and bring depth to our understanding of something a word, thought or circumstance. I for one will miss this.

I wrote about truth again yesterday. Anyone who reads this blog will hear me say time and time again that Jesus Christ is the Truth. You may get tired of hearing this and tired of hearing we must know what truth is, but I'm not going to stop because it is true! Without this Truth we have nothing. Without Jesus there is no hope, no peace. Somehow I knew there was a connection between my truth dissertations (!) and omothumadon. I really like saying this word out that I know how to say it.

In order to have peace, we must be like minded, being in one accord. That is the meaning of the Greek word omothumadon - with one mind, with one accord, with one passion. Anyone who reads this blog will also realize my passion...the truth of who Jesus Christ is. It is so wonderful to be in the presence of those who have this one mind and passion. There is a cameraderie. There is a bond. There is strength and encouragement. And iron sharpens iron!!

Pastor Paul suggests that unanimity, being like minded, gives us hope, focus and the grace to accept. There's hope again. That comes with peace. That comes with knowing the truth, which comes from a relationship with Christ and which is essential in today's world. Why do you suppose the world is so troubled? Is there any unanimity? Is there peace? 

We are in the process of looking for a new pastor and our search committee believes it has found the man. We will hear him for the first time next Sunday. That evening we will vote whether to accept him or not. As Pastor Paul was teaching, he said some will not agree with the others. Chances of there being a unanimous vote are slim. Some will not want him. And how will that affect us as a church? It is our duty, Pastor Paul told us, to realize that "there is a cause bigger than any individual." We must get over ourselves and our preconceived ideas in order to see God's hand at work in our church. We must first be of one accord. We must allow God's will to be done and that means stepping out of the way. When we do this, no matter how we feel, we are glorifying God and accepting that He is the bigger cause.

Pastor Paul told us a story, that I wrote about in my blog on Community. Community is just another word for one accord. It was a great story. I don't think we know how we might be blessed if we let go of our way of doing something for the sake of  "a cause bigger than yourself." 

In the Book of Acts this is precisely what happened to the believers of that day. In Acts 2:1 it states "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  This could only happen because they were "omothumadon,"  the meaning in this scripture for one accord. It was at that moment the birth of the Christian church began through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And, oh, how the Church needs this "omothumadon." Stop grumbling about the little things. Why would God want to let His Spirit rest in a place of unrest? Don't we trust that He can handle every situation, perfect it, if we just allow Him? Another thought is when we are grumbling or fussing or obsessing about something we cannot control, we are like Israel when they grumbled in the wilderness...never happy, always wanting more...or the old days. Aren't we ultimately grumbling to God Himself? 
In talking with a friend yesterday she said what was in the back of my mind: if people don't like something, perhaps it's then they need to move on to a church where they can have what they're looking for. It only brings division if they stay...and the Holy Spirit cannot do His work. Not everyone leaves with animosity; it's just their time to move on. I have learned over the years not to judge or criticize someone's leaving. God may have a greater plan for them elsewhere. That could happen to me, too. I say: Hallelujah! Oh, I certainly believe the Holy Spirit can come into a church and change people's hearts if they are not exactly in one accord with the rest. But imagine the possibilities if that didn't have to happen, if we were all unified to begin with.
This country could use a dose of omothumadon. More and more as I see what's happening in the world, see how things have taken a change that is unsettling, I see how history is repeating itself. The Word of God is filled with examples of how we are to live and the consequences if we do not. We [as individuals and a country] have exchanged the truth of God's word for a lie... (Romans 1:25). The Word of God is the beginning place of learning about being of one mind, in one accord.

Romans 15:4-7 - For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Truth Equals Peace

Colossians 1:27 - To them [who are true believers] willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Oh, how many times will I write the one truth that is the most important truth there is? That Jesus is our Savior. He is our life when we grasp hold of that concept. I've mentioned previously about a study our church did called the Truth Project. Well, they're offering it again and I sat in on Lesson 2, again! Truth...truth...truth. We cannot live without it. We must search for it, we must listen for it. If we don't know what truth (Truth) is peace is distant. I mentioned last week the Bible tells us that we are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.

We are living in troubling times. Not all news media will acknowledge this. We are not being told the truth in many instances. Somewhere some authority is holding the truth from us for their own control and power. The media will soon be under their complete control and we will be fed more lies. From a spiritual standpoint, we can say this is a work of Satan. He has blinded eyes of authority and some in the world so he is able to drag down more people than Jesus can pull up. That's Satan's job; that's his goal. And many are buying into this unwittingly.

But those of us who know Jesus, know the Truth. Yes, it's very frustrating to see the lies that are being fed to us, to see double standards taking effect. Ugh. 

Our country was founded on the principles of God...which include freedom. When we have Jesus in our lives, we have freedom from all the things this world dishes out whether we become slaves to the world or not. We have that great hope that is in the Lord. I watched an episode of Glenn Beck the other day and he pointed this out:

    No peace without hope
    No hope without liberty
    No liberty without integrity
    No integrity without virtue
    No virtue without enlightenment    
    No enlightenment without truth

Let me add this: No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace. We've all seen that bumper sticker!

What's that last word in Beck's little list above? There it is again, truth. The hope of peace can only come about when we know what truth is. When we know what that truth (Truth) is, we become enlightened. We gain knowledge and often change our ways of thinking and acting and virtue steps in. When we are virtuous in others' eyes, we are seen as having integrity. We have shaken the deception in our lives and the burden of those lies has given us liberty. With liberty we have hope and with hope comes peace. Jesus is all these things. 

He is the Truth. He is the One who enlightens as the Light of the world. Virtue is a conformity to a standard of right. Isn't that what Jesus did? He was without fault...and yet He was falsely accused. Integrity comes out of virtue...a soundness to moral values. Again, sounds like Jesus. With the truth, with Jesus, we have liberty. Hallelujah! That gives us a hope for our future that we can totally count on. Jesus rocks! 

We need now, more than ever, to grasp hold of Truth, to know it (Him) and live it. He will be our main Source of provision in times of trouble. He will be the greatest Peace we will have to hold on to.

John 14:7 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In Daddy's Arms

Isaiah 40:11 - He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.

I had the wonderful opportunity the past couple of days to spend a little time with yet another grand niece. She's the newest of our grand nieces and nephew. What a darling, just like the other two toddlers preceding her in the family.

Not having had children, this is such fun for me. It's like being a Grammy but I can call myself Auntie! I marvel at the perfection of each of them as newborns and joy in their growth patterns. The older two are now able to talk and understand. Their personalities are taking shape.

Of all the children so far, baby Olivia seems to be nestled delicately (and yet seems to get lost), quite often, in her daddy's arm. Our nephew is a big guy! He's tall and lifts weights so he has massive arms. Little does she know yet the strength of those arms and the safety there is in them... How everyday life can show us about God's nature.

This is how we should feel in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. No matter what befalls us in life, we can know that He will never let go, will never leave us or forsake us, continues to hold us in the palm of His hands and hold us close in His arms. Though our nephew's arms are strong, our God's arms are stronger still. They are the tower of refuge we can run to when we are in need of shelter. He is our dwelling place. 

In the world we live in today, we need that place of refuge. We need the arms of a great Father. I've said it over and over, He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. He knows our needs, our strengths, our weaknesses. He knows just what we need. If He knows these things, shouldn't we place ourselves in the strong, loving arms of our Heavenly Father? Yes, He admonishes...and often that's not fun...but it's all for our own good.

Although there are not many scriptures about God's arms cradling us, I know we can all picture Jesus holding the lamb in His arms. We are all like that little lamb, the Bible tells us. We all wander and stray in life. When we get too far away or we are in danger, Jesus is there to pick us up and take us back where we are safe. 

I also offer the picture of the prodigal son who chose to take his inheritance early and leave home to squander it, only to realize in time it was the unwise thing to do. He ashamedly and humbly returned home, not knowing how he would be met by his father or whether he would be welcomed back. But like God, like Jesus, his father's arms were open to receive him and no doubt ended up wrapped around his son. No matter how old this son was, his father was willing to take him back. Our Father does the same.

One time holding our first grand niece shortly after she was born, I briefly, but amazingly, experienced the love and tenderness of Jesus. As I had her held in my arms I suddenly felt like Jesus' arms were wrapped around me. I felt like I was sinking into them. There was a very good reason for that, one which I'm not ready to publicly express. Just know it was the most wonderful experience for me. So I know spiritually how it feels to have those strong, yet gentle, arms of love surround me.

Yes, baby Olivia doesn't know yet how fortunate she is to be held in those strong arms of her daddy. She doesn't yet recognize the love in her father's eyes and the tenderness of his heart toward her. But I guarantee she feels safe. I pray that she will also experience the love of her true Father, the One who knit her in her mother's womb. There are many in this world who don't recognize this kind of love our Father has for us. I'm sure I can't even grasp the magnitude of it, even after my experience above.

We are in some troubling times, although many wish to shove it aside. I truly have struggled lately with an inner turmoil that I don't believe has anything to do with me or my circumstances but waiting for "the other shoe to drop" in this world. I can only say I am thankful that I have a strong, powerful and loving Father who I can turn to, whose arms will be my refuge.

Oh, the love of our Father. His arms open wide to receive us. His arms available to gather us and to protect us whenever we need them. Yes, He will let us stray like the sheep; He will let us wallow like the prodigal son, if necessary. Yet He will take us back...or receive us for the first time because He is merciful. His arms are outstretched. What a wonderful Father we have, if we allow ourselves to find Him. 

Psalm 136:12 - With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, His mercy endures forever.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blindness, Truth and Hope

John 9:25 - He (a blind man) answered, “Whether He (Jesus) is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.

Glenn Beck? Going blind? We heard him tell us. We heard the pain in his voice. How would you feel if this type of news came to you? It wouldn't have to be blindness but that one thing that would take away your ability to do the thing you enjoy the most. For Glenn...he loves to read. Going blind poses a threat. 

Despite the news he received, he stated he still has hope. And so can we all if we have Jesus Christ in our lives.

Beck has been laying himself open about how he believes if this country doesn't change its ways soon, there will be no hope for us. We have taken God out of most things. We have forsaken the truth for a lie. Gee, that sounds familiar: Romans 1:25 - They exchanged God's truth for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator...  I realize this is referring to worshipping idols or things rather than God, but I also see this as meaning we should not replace God's truth with our own misconceived truths, our own ways, our own lives. 

Where have the lies come from? They've come slowly and benignly. We have listened to what seems one harmless lie after another and they have been assimilated into our beliefs.  We now wonder how we have gotten where we are. Beck has been exposing these lies. I'm paraphrasing, but he said, "We only have hope if we know the truth." For goodness sake, I've heard that before too.

What message was Jesus trying to convey all throughout His teachings? The only way to the Father is by the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus, as I know I've mentioned more than once, is the Truth. The only hope we have for eternal life is through the Truth of who Jesus Christ is and our relationship with Him. Not our truths, not our ways, not our own lives.

So what has this to do with Beck's going blind? He once was blind, but now he sees. He knows the truth and that has taken away the blindness, both in this country and spiritually. He may be physically going blind (and I pray it doesn't happen) but spiritually he is still able to see. He has the knowledge of God behind him.

When all hope fails in lives or this country, it is my prayer that people will finally see what Truth is. Beck may be in the throes of this bad news, but his attitude is what will get him through. He strongly believes that no matter what happens, with God he will be able to continue...there is hope. God got him through his addiction to alcohol, which he has clearly said he could never have gotten over on his own. So Beck believes that no matter what, he will get through whatever it is he must go through in this next set of circumstances. 

Those who know God have an upper edge because of the truth we have learned. And those of us who know what Truth is have a hope of our own. I'm sure I could be criticized for saying that. I, too, once was blind and now I see. The truth of who Christ is opens eyes. And when His truth penetrates into the recesses of our heart and soul, nothing looks the same. It's absolutely amazing and only something a person can understand when they have experienced and take to heart the power of God in their lives. 

There are many who don't want to listen to Glenn Beck because the truth sometimes hurts. It can cause us to want to retreat into our own little worlds where only good things happen. We can bury our heads in the sand...until it's too late. Doom and gloom or truth? It's all how a person perceives it.

It's the same with Jesus. When He speaks the truth it can convict us of our wrongs. If we hear the Truth we might have to change. Rejection can take place so lives can remain as is and holding on to what seems good remains. If we don't listen to Him personally or to those who speak of Him, we can "play dumb." What's that old saying? "What you don't know can't hurt you." I disagree. What you don't know can hurt you. It's the difference between life and death spiritually. 

Jesus is worth knowing because He is Truth. He's there for the asking, for the receiving and accepting. He will open the eyes of the blind...those people who have not yet had their spiritual eyes opened to His truth, the truth of who He is. We are all born blind and we remain blind until the words of Truth enter in and begin to transform. Those blind eyes are opened and oh, the gloriousness of it all!

I truly empathize for Beck. I'm sure he will find his way through all this and I don't doubt he'll not mince words in any way. Sometimes tragedies bring an even stronger resolve. If Beck truly trusts in God he has all the hope in the world (and beyond) to strengthen him. As he has said, he knows that no matter what happens, there will be a good ending to it. I give him credit for speaking up...for the truth we need to know about our country and speaking openly about God.

Those who know Christ know this is the truth: tragedy or death may come, but what does it matter? If one has a relationship with Christ we can look both in the eye (no pun intended) and see beyond our circumstances here on earth to the day we are received in heaven by Christ's outstretched hand. Earth is only temporary.

I once was blind, but now I see. Nothing can take away my sight spiritually. Physical blindness might only enhance the vision of who the most important Person is. For that matter, any disability can do that. God has admonished us Himself, whether a person wants to take it as truth or not. Remember, He is our Heavenly Father. He longs for all of us to return home to Him. He wishes for us to have the blinders removed against Him. He may have been addressing the priests of the Old Testament, but this word below is for us well. Without knowledge of God we are nothing; we are the truth.

Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests, because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 - Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Heavenly Father,

You have shown us how we should pray. You have shown us how to worship You with our words and actions. You have said we should ask for Your guidance because You have given each of us a purpose in life. We must realize the provision You give; You give not as the world gives. You have admonished us to forgive others, just like You have forgiven us. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. We can realize the great protection we have when You are the center of our lives. We acknowledge You as the Most High God.

I praise You Lord for who You are. You are high and lifted up as You are seated on Your throne in the heavenlies. You are the Name above all names, You reign eternal. You are all that I need because You are my provider. I thank You for Your wisdom which is much greater than any man's. You are worthy of all praise and honor and glory. Only You are worthy. Thank You for this day. Thank You for the freedom I hold on to. Thank You that whatever life holds for me You will be by my side as my guide and comfort.

This world today strives to push You aside. I know better...that You will return some day to rule and reign. All will see who You truly are in that day. All knees will bow and tongues finally confess Your Lordship, Your awesomeness. I long for that day. You will return and all things will change...the change so many people don't realize they need. That will truly be heaven on earth.

Thank You for sending Your son Jesus to become the propitiation for our sins. He is the daily Bread. He is the One who speaks wisdom into my life and to those when they are ready to receive. Thank You for bringing that day to me. Thank You that day by day Your Word opens my mind to greater truths and discernment of those things in this world that are false. 

Keep me from turning away and prevent me from doing what my flesh wants to do. Thank You for being the Way, the Truth and the Life for me. Thank You this is what You desire for all mankind, no matter what race, religion or denomination. Let others know You this way. Thank You for seeking me, a lost sheep. Thank You for forgiving me of the wrongs I committed so long ago. Thank You that they are as far as the east is from the west and that You have forgotten them all. Thank You for forgiving as I ask for it each day. Thank You for Your never ending love and forgiveness. How difficult it is to understand such a great love...that no man can hold a candle to.

Thank You for being my Light today. Keep me out of the hands of my enemy. Keep me on the narrow path that leads only to what You desire this day. Strengthen me against my enemy with Your words, Your wisdom. Give me the words I need for each situation today.

Your kingdom reigns. No matter what we see in this world, my hope is secure because of You. Your power is greater than any other on earth or in the heavens. Your glory will shine and light this world in days to come. Come quickly Lord

So be it!

Matthew 6:13 - Amen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stumbling Blocks

Zephaniah 1:2-3 - "I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land," says the LORD; I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," says the LORD.

I was reading in Zephaniah. The words "stumbling blocks" stood out, as if they shouted at me although no one spoke them aloud. I know what stumbling blocks are biblically but I wondered why today these words stood out. I searched because I knew there was another reference to a stumbling block. I was surprised to find several passages. There is no doubt they are a problem and God wants us to know about them...and Him.

There are two forms of stumbling blocks. One kind are those that get in the way of knowing God personally, impediments or obstacles. We're so absorbed by these things. This goes for believers as well as non-believers. We are all at some time or another focused on something else. It can be a hobby, food, television, sport, friends, shopping...anything that comes in the way of God. I'm not saying we aren't to do these things but that they should come after seeking God. 

Ezekiel 7:19 - Silver and gold are stumbling blocks; they cannot save
Isaiah 57:13-14 - Trust in God and the stumbling blocks will be removed
Jude 24-25 - Trust in God and He will keep you from stumbling
1Peter 2:7-8 - Those who trust in God find Him precious; those who do not find Him a stumbling block

I'm suggesting that even that cup of coffee with the morning news before quiet time with the can at least arise and have the first thought be of Him..."thank You for yet another day; guide me," instead of "coffee..." A song came to mind as I wandered out of sleep. It's by Sara Groves and it's called "First Song That I Sing." She describes this very thing: "before the dreams have left my head;" before our feet hit the floor; "before I fill my cup." What do we do? We are to praise God, ask for His guidance right off the bat. Acknowledge Him first thing.

Another type of stumbling block appears to be the ones that God lays out before us when we have chosen to reject His ways or have wandered from Him. I think these stumbling blocks are put there that we might turn back to Him, to begin to realize that the things we have found so appealing in our lives have very little meaning. They cannot take the place of God and it is His desire for us to find that out...the hard way, by stumbling.

Romans 9:33 - God brought about a stumbling stone; however, those who choose to believe in Him will not be put to shame
Jeremiah 6:21 - He has been made known and rejected; therefore, stumbling blocks will be laid to cause one to fall
Isaiah 8:14 - God is a safe haven for believers, a stumbling block for non-believers

Jesus was a stumbling block for many. The religious leaders of His day were worried about losing their followers because Jesus' way of teaching was so different. His teaching was not negotiable. It is said He was a rock of offense. Why? He got in the way of all they found so intriguing in their lives. He still is a stumbling block. People tend to like their things and their own way of living. And yet, the very Person so many consider a stumbling block is the One we need the most, the One who can keep us from stumbling, the One who provides all we need. How is it this can be overlooked?

What is important to us? What consumes our thoughts? Do we put God before all else? I know it's not all that easy. It takes practice. I can say Jesus is on my mind a lot, but constantly? No. Would I like Him to be? Definitely. I am reminded of a book called The Practice of God's Presence by Brother Lawrence. I might have to retrieve it again. It spoke of how He managed to do this (although he lived in a monastery!).

If there is something that's causing you to not take a good, hard look at the One who died for your sins, just one morning try thinking of Him before you get your day started. Thank Him for yet another day; ask Him to help you guide your day; ask Him to protect you as you go about your busyness. Keep Him close at hand and in the forefront of your mind and see what a difference a day makes. Let the things of this world not become the stumbling blocks from a God who loves you more than you can imagine.

Jude 1:24-25 - Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will You?

Psalm 118:24 - This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I admit there are many times my will is my own! It's not God's. How I long for the day when every bit of my will is gone and only His will exists in me. This will be a long wait I think. There are times I let my will subside...many times to keep peace, other times because I defer to authority. But then, aren't we always to defer to authority? Think of yourself less than others? Oh, I know there are times when we do not want to defer to someone if what they do is not what we think is right...or in the will of God.

When God gives a vision of truth it is never a question of what He will do, but of what we will do.  This is a truth that Oswald Chambers spoke about in his My Utmost for His Highest devotion for July 8. God gave me a vision 11 years ago. It wasn't the kind of vision you might think. He just impressed upon me what I needed to do at that instant...receive Him, receive His grace and mercy, receive His love and eternal life. I chose to accept the challenge and am so grateful for it.

I have met the most wonderful people in the process. Some friends come, some go, but there are always those who will never leave because of the bond we have in Christ. There just is nothing like it...the red thread that binds us to Christ. It's amazing.

I met one such friend last week. On July 8. We'd known each other from our similar blogs and finally had a chance to meet. She lives in Indiana and I in Wisconsin. But isn't the Lord good? She and her husband have "Wisconsin friends" they visit every summer. So we worked out a plan. What a day.

So I awoke to the song, This is the Day the Lord has Made. It was quite the day. I had no expectations and was open to whatever might transpire, even if it meant walking away disappointed. I didn't know how to pray that morning so I committed everything into the Lord's hands! All I could say was, "Lord, this is your day. Do as you wish." It was all I could do! That meant, really, what He would do.

I was excited to say the least! I pushed all thoughts aside and decided it was up to God to be my eyes, my ears, my mouth and my heart. Then I read Jeremiah and took the words to heart with anticipation and added excitement that I would just be what God had called me to be...and be obedient.

Jeremiah 1:5, 9 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you...."Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth." 

I only had what God gave me to offer. The day was going to be special. I just knew it. How did I know? What was our connection? Basically our love of Christ. He's the bond in our lives. There's a special connection when He is the center. It's like you've known each other for so long.  God put the words in both our mouths because what God told Jeremiah was for each of us as well.
I chose Christ and as Chambers suggests, think back on that day when He first desired me to choose something new to know that He is in that new thing He is proposing. He never fails. Choosing the right thing is always a blessing if it's His will. You may think you're giving something up you cannot live without, but let me tell you, He replaces it to the point where you think back and wonder what the big deal living without Him as Savior. Like meeting brothers and sisters in Christ and bonding in the most deep and intimate, godly, way. Nothing like it.

Choose this day whom you will serve. You choose to do And amazing things come as a result...especially the peace. There was peace in the day Shirley and I met for the first time. There was bonding. In the middle of it all, there was Christ.

I could have been wrought with insecurity or self-doubt upon meeting her, but as only God can do, we met, we shared, we bonded with that one common red thread. He was there in our midst. We both were who He made us to be, with that strong bond of loyalty to the One who created us and who joined us as sisters in Christ.

Matthew 18:20 - For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Promises, Promises

Malachi 3:7 - Return to Me, and I will return to you."

Oh, the promises! How can I possibly put into words what God has already written? Malachi 3 is just one chapter describing what it is like to become a child of God. It describes the moment we first know Him as our Heavenly Father. 

A messenger is sent. It is a person who knows the LORD of lords. We become aware of God, accept Him and are filled with the Holy Spirit (vs. 1).  The LORD whom you seek will come to His temple...we are His temple when we invite Him to reside within us. He brings along His Holy Spirit to live in us as our guide.

But then He purges us...a sometimes painful, difficult process, to contine to remove the impurities we have developed before we have been placed in His loving hands. He refines us, as scripture tells us (vs 2, 3) the refining process is so that we might be made into His righteousness. THEN our offerings back to him will be pleasant.

Oh how hard it is to explain the importance of this relationship with an Almighty God who cares so much for us. How hard a word it is for some to know that without this relationship we are aliens because we do not fear Him. Sometimes the truth is unbearable. 

The prophet Malachi speaks about Israel but it is also referring to us. He says God is the LORD and He does not change, but we have turned against Him by not desiring to follow after Him. But here's the promise: there's always time to go back. And when we do He will return to us!

He tells us we have robbed Him in our disobedience and have spoken harshly against Him. But one verse spoke volumes to me: Malachi 3:10 "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try Me now in this." Although it refers to tithing, like in church, I believe what He is asking is that we give all of ourselves to Him and not to hold back. All He wants is us. When we give our all, He gives back His all. He asks us to try Him in this and we will see. When we do this He is our defender against our enemies. He will be our provider in all we need for any circumstance. People will see this and wonder what we have that has blessed us so. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

But what about those people in the world who don't know God and appear to be blessed beyond measure with all they seem to have need of? I guarantee their lives are still missing something that no amount of  "stuff" can provide. If all this stuff was taken away, where would be the hope? Where would a person turn? Only God can provide for our every need.

We cannot truly serve God without first knowing Him and knowing what He requires. We need to know the intimate details about Him...and we need to find these out on our own. A clergyman can guide us in that direction but cannot be the end all word for us. We have to meet Jesus face to face. Where, how?

Verse 16 tells us that a book of remembrance was written for those who feared Him.  I've read that this book may very well be the Bible itself. What a great place to being searching for Jesus. It's for meditating on...on His name as verse 16 concludes. That's how we find this Jesus. This Book is so we have an idea about God's character, His grace, His mercy and yes, His judgment upon those who do not fear Him, who do not love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds. To those who take God to heart, take Him seriously, give Him a chance, learn about Him, He tells us..."They shall be Mine." That is an awesome promise.

I have always believed that for us to appreciate the good we must first experience some bad so we can treasure the good when we have it. We think we have it all without God until we meet Him and learn about Him. I experienced the goodness of God in my own life and it is darn hard to turn back even when things don't look that rosy. I know that God is up to something, always in His time, and if I persevere through struggles only good will come out of them, even unto death.

Turn to God, return to God. He is there for all in either category. All we need to do is seek and find. Get out that book of remembrance and seek Him while you still can.

Malachi 3:17 - "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

See You Later

On vacation. Will have lots to write about when I return!

God bless you.....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Clouds are as Dust

Nahum 1:3-4 - The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.

I had been noticing over the past few days trails of big, puffy clouds. When there is an unobstructed view they form like an endless funnel shape...

Think about what this means. Each cloud is like a particle of dust to God. Can't imagine it, can you? How awesome and great He is. It is said He is greater than any problem we might have, no matter what the size. Whether you've done some horrible thing in this life, something so unspeakable you don't believe you can be forgiven or as small as a white lie or critical thought, He is able to forgive. He's that great.

He is high and lifted up and He looks over us at all times. It is said He never slumbers nor sleeps. We cannot hide anywhere from Him. Even if we go to the depths of hell He is there. I'm trying not to take that too literally and looking at that scripture to mean that no matter how low we could become in this life He is always there to offer His hand to lift us up, to bring us out of our shame, sorrow or pain. His hand is always extended to us.

The clouds are as dust beneath His feet... If the clouds are as dust, His hands must be pretty big as well! Because of His greatness, there is nothing so big that He can't handle it. I like that idea. When I go into despair He will be there. When things seem out of control, He is not the author of my confusion but the bringer of peace and contentment.

It amazes me sometimes that some Christians rarely show the peace that passes all understanding that God can bring. I know some have difficult lives, maybe more so than others, but they seem to be unable to wrap their heads around the peace that the Lord has. They are focused on their situation and not what God may be doing through their circumstances. They have lost their joy. But our God is greater than their circumstances.

We all go through stages of life where something dreadful happens and we are in pain or discomfort over it for sometimes longer than we would like. Like I wrote Monday, it's at the very moment we are experiencing that that we should seek God for peace. (Well, actually, it was Oswald Chambers who said this!)

The clouds are like dust beneath His feet... His greatness is nothing we can comprehend. We just need to seek Him in the moment of our weakness. Think about being on the beach and picking up a handful of sand. Do you feel powerful? Of course not. It's nothing for you to do. That's how it is with God. He is in control of all things in this world, each day; His creation never ends and there's order in the things He has created. That is important to Him, but more important are His children. And He holds us securely in the palm of His hands when we have come into relationship with Him. 

I would surely want to place myself in the care, the hands of, such an awesome God.

Jeremiah 32:26-27 - Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?