Monday, February 28, 2011

Desperation to Faith

Desperation to Faith

Hebrews 4:16  - "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

I see a similarity between two amazing women in the Bible, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. Both these stories are extremely important, and well discussed. These two women were Esther, the Queen of Persia, a Jewish woman, and a woman known only as a woman with an issue of blood. No name. If you know the stories you might know the similarities.

Esther, a Jew, was called by God to save her people from the hand of one evil man who had a grudge...against one single, solitary man, Mordecai who was Queen Esther's cousin. Haman wanted all of Mordecai's people killed, wiped off the face of the earth just because of this one man's refusal to bow to him (because it was against Mordecai's religious beliefs to bow to anyone other than God). What power and captivity our egos, pride and humiliation can have over our lives.

Esther became Queen of Persia without anyone knowing she was a Jew, no doubt God's plan. Long story short, Esther was urged to speak to her husband the king regarding the word that had gotten out and the decree made that all Jews were to be killed. She knew she had to do this by faith because for her to approach her king unannounced could mean her death. Her faith-filled statement was: And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish! (Esther 4:16). When she approached he held out his scepter which was the sign that he was accepting of her appearance. She was safe; the king in the end granted her desires to save her people. Thankfully, our King's scepter, His hand, is always outstretched when we choose to approach.

The woman with the issue of blood, with no name, had to do a similar thing. I point out no name only because this could be any woman, or man, today. Jesus was in a throng of people. He reached out to the people He was encircled by as they requested salvation, deliverance or healing. Unbeknownst to Him this woman had worked her way through the crowd. Because she had this of issue of blood it meant, by the customs of the day, that she was considered unclean and was not allowed to be in the presence of others. It is suggested that this woman was crawling on her hands and knees to get to Jesus to touch the hem of His garment so as not to be seen by the people. Just like Esther, she was in a desperate state.

This hem...the hem of His garment: it would have been a shawl or sash of sorts that all Jewish priests (He is our Great High Priest) wore (and still do). Sewn delicately into that sash were blue threads whose fringe would hang at the end of it. This blue thread is called a tzitzit. Through a number of Hebrew definitions they are also called wings. It was worn as a reminder to the Old Testament priests that God's word and His will prevailed over self-will. In Jesus' case it would be His only desire to do the will of His Father. And what was His bring deliverance, to heal, physically and spiritually. This woman, being Hebrew, would have known this and perhaps this Old Testament Scripture came to mind as she determined to press through the crowd: But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.  (Malachi 4:2). The definition for wings here means edge, border or the corner of a garment. 

This woman had been ill for twelve years, her money spent seeking doctors to no avail. Like Esther she only had one more possible Source of help. Like Esther she sought a King. Like Esther she needed to reach out for deliverance. The blood issue might not be illness for us but a deliverance from whatever holds us captive. This woman took a chance; not that Jesus would have ignored her. But as Esther reached out her hand for her king's scepter, this woman reached out for the healing hem of Jesus' garment. She had as much tenacity and faith as Esther. And [Jesus] said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction." 

No matter what our consuming need might be, we are told we can reach out to Jesus and He will supply our need. He will provide deliverance. He will save us from destruction. This need might be great or small. If we truly believe and have faith that God can help, we need only search for the hem of His garment, spiritually.

We can have faith the size of a mustard seed and God will acknowledge us. These two women were both tenacious in their acts. They reached out to their king/King and received deliverance. Each knew they could fail but in their determination they chose not to concern themselves with failure. Their lives were at stake; they had no place else to go.

Let us believe that we can have this same faith for something in our own lives. Let us realize we may boldly approach His throne of grace. Think about one thing you would reach out to the Lord for, believing He will come through.

Luke 7:50 - And Jesus said ... "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thank You, Lord

Revelation 1:8 - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Lord God, thank you for this day. This is the day You have made! Thank You for the sunshine and thank You even for the aches and pains which prove I am alive! Thank You for the new songs You give to Your people and the one You gave me last night. Thank You, Lord!

I am reminded that You are the giver of life and You are the taker of life (Job 1:21). In between life and death, you are the upholder of life (Psalm 54:4). From beginning to end You provide for Your people. 

You came to earth as Emmanuel, that You might be with us. In Spirit You reside with us. You have given us Your Spirit that we might know You are with us. Thank You for Your Spirit. You have given us discernment for these days we see approaching. Day after day we see one more thing that immediately reminds us of You and Your plans that are unfolding before us. Thank You for discernment. These plans are both dreadful and wonderful. Dreadful because of the people who will never know You and what they experience now amid the death and destruction will be eternal and even worse for them without You.

Wonderful for those who are in Christ and await Your return. Wonderful because with the wars and rumors of war, we know You are planning Your return. Wonderful in that we know where our security is and where our eternal life will be spent. Death may take us out, but only out of this world...and into Your welcoming arms. Thank You, Lord. We remain steadfast in our trust that You will provide here on earth, just like You will be greeting us someday in Heaven. What we see happening today only shows us how much closer we are to seeing Your return. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Strengthen Your people and continue to provide in time of trouble. We know that it is under Your wings we can be sheltered. It is Your tower that we find refuge. At the name of Jesus the devil must flee. At the name of Jesus You are there as our protection. We thank You Lord.

I so thank You that in the midst of difficult days I am covered in peace. That peace that passes all understanding. How can You do that? I'm totally amazed. I trust in You that You will uphold me. I trust that Your hand will reach out to grab me out of the hands of my enemies. You are our Redeemer. You are whatever we need You to be. 

I thank You, Lord, that You are Truth. When we know Truth we are in the right hands. You shelter us from the storms of life. You strengthen us. You give us wisdom and knowledge. You give us, above all, discernment. So thankful for that discernment.

All You have done for us, Lord. It's incomprehensible. And all You desire is that we receive You and trust what You have already done for us. Beginning and the end. Of all things. Creator, Savior. Giver of life, taker of life. Alpha and Omega. All things. What new words can be spoken to give thanks other than thank You Lord. It doesn't seem like enough. 

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation…I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. (Psalm 107:1, 63:4, 35:9, 13:5)

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Matthew 5:17 - "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."

We have the Old Testament and the New. God covenanted with the Old Testament peoples. When things didn't work quite according to His plan He brought Christ. A new covenant was formed. In Christ all things are made new. A new testament that brought a  new testimony.

I'm amazed, as so often I am, that the people of the time of Moses, of the Exodus, of the time of release from captivity and a time of seeing God's miracles right before them, of His provision each day, didn't get it. It amazes me that even today sometimes we don't get it. 

Everything we have we owe to God. He has given us life. We are here for such a time as this, like Esther was for her people. We were born for these days. Perhaps it's like a test...will we choose to believe in God or not; will we choose Him or the world? This is an exciting time for those who see what is happening in this world. We are privileged to be discerners of the truth, despite the bitterness of it. We see these things because we also were made new. We see that in Christ we know the glorious ending that the world sees as possible disaster. I relish His return...

If you are reading this, you know that God has given you a physical life, but we are asked to partake of a better, newer life, in and through Christ. Jesus calls us to a new life and if we are willing to receive that life, there is a whole new world, which I've mentioned before. I seem to always end up on the same topic...being in Christ. Is there anything else of importance?

When we receive Christ we have that new life. The religious leaders during Jesus' day couldn't handle this new stuff. Aren't we a people who don't like change?? We can be so settled in the way things are. Like those in the days of Moses, they questioned His authority even though they were amazed (see, others were amazed, too) that without formal training like they had, He knew so much and spoke with a wisdom they could only dream with all the training they had they could not speak with this same authority. Who was this Man? What power did He have?

They as much as admitted this in Mark 1:22,27 and 2:7: And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 
It was why they longed to kill Him. They didn't see Him as the Son of God. He was a threat to their ritualistic way of (Old Testament) life and the control they had over others. Some of our churches today attempt to do the same. They only are qualified to speak on behalf of God instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to speak God's Word through them. He, in some way today, is still a threat to them and their power. It was also why Christ came to earth, to die, not at the hands of these men, but because of our sins. Those men then couldn't kill Him because He chose to die. As He was a New Testament for mankind, we would become new, through Him. He and only He would be able to forgive us of our sins.

Who are we to think we are better or smarter than the Lord? Who is any man? Who is any minister in any denomination? It's all about Jesus. He is God and He is the only Way, Truth and Life. No one goes to the Father except by Him. He is the new way of life. In Christ we are made new.

Revelation 21 is a perfect example of all the things Christ promises us once we have received Him. It's not only for the future, it's for now. Although we might still go through difficult days on earth, as some can relate, underneath it all there should be an interesting and powerful sense of peace. Why? We do not fear what man can do to us nor do we fear death because Christ has conquered everything! Please read the link to the chapter. It is so very wonderful and can be an encouragement.

It's like our life before Christ is our Old Testament. We strive to do good to please God, if we believe He exists. We live according to our own desires when God wants nothing more than for us to worship Him that He might be our God. He tells us this is what He wants to do: [I want to do] a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? [I want to make] a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19). Do you see? He wants to do a new thing. He wants to do... He wants... He... 

But we don't get it. We want to believe it's all about us and what we can do. Then one day we meet Jesus face to face and our world changes, hopefully. Our hearts are made new and along with that God's Spirit shows us and guides us into all things new: Ezekiel 36:26 - I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you... The world is different and new. We see a glimpse of heaven on earth because Christ now lives with us. We realize it's not about us, but about a Father in Heaven who gave His only Son to die for us.

In the Old Testament the people worshiped and sacrificed at the Temple. In the New, with and in Christ, we ARE the temple because Christ resides in us. We can sacrifice and worship anywhere, even within our own heart. If none of this makes sense, you need show you these are still in the world and He wants to take you out of the old world and bring you into His new world that He might reside in you.

Christ was in the beginning and is now. He created the earth and all things in it. He created you, that you might receive Him. He will also be at the end of the world. And if you are in Christ, He will take you to His new home. His glory will be the Light that shines in this new world and new home. And if we are with Him then we will see His glory! 

Without Christ none of this can happen, either now or in the last days. If you aren't sure what this all means, ask Him to show you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. If you are sincere in your heart He will do just that. He will give you a peace you've never experienced. He will also frustrate you when you see others who do not share in this new life. You will wonder why others don't choose to believe in Him, who don't choose to have their name written in Christ's, the Lamb's, Book of Life.

Revelation 21:27 - But there shall by no means enter it [the New Jerusalem; the new world] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be Still and Know, Again

Matthew 24:6-7, 14 -  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

I admitted yesterday, and even one time last week, that I question where I'm headed. Having occasional times of doubt and emptiness, even wondering about what God is doing. Am I not good enough, am I not in His will, what should I be doing...where am I going.

So when I read Oswald Chambers this morning in My Utmost for His Highest the reminder came to "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10), I felt a bit relieved. It's the second part of this well known Psalm that also stands out: "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

We think we are doing nothing, but according to Chambers if your hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. 

The lull before the storm. This morning we learned of a tragic earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. This one struck something in me. It brought to mind the scriptures above about the last days. Are we really headed in that direction? How do we know if this isn't the truth?

But we are not to be troubled. We are to be still and know that our God, He is. He just is. He is in the midst of all these things. We can wonder what we can do, but there are some things that we just cannot do because it's God's plan and His work only that can be, must be, done. 

Be still and matter where we are or how we feel, He is there. He knows the plans He has for each of us if we are in Christ. Although we are to be ready in season and out to direct others to Him, whether we do it rightly or wrongly, there will still be a time when we feel we aren't doing enough. 

I think this waiting and the purification Chambers talks about is our drawing nearer to Him, seeking Him even more and in doing so He is purifying us. We think we need more of the Lord so we search the scriptures. We look for His truths and His promises and He continues teaching us more about Himself through His Word. He tells us who He is...and what He is going to the last days. He is giving us more discernment while we wait. And we may not even realize what He's doing. 

My Christian brothers and sisters and I know that we are seeing the last days unfolding before us. We still do not know when but we all know that there will be a day in our future when God will open the floodgates of our lives and show us that NOW is the time for "whatever." He is preparing everything, behind the scenes. He's setting up the nations to rise up against Israel. Wars and rumors of wars are in the works. You can see this, right? He is bringing about the earthquakes and tsunamis, storms and whatever other plagues and pestilences might arise. Oh, you might say it's always been this way, but with such frequency and determination as today? 

While we wait for God, sometimes impatiently, He is strengthening us. We can remember He is with us always. We can hold fast to the truths and promises that He will sustain us. We can maintain a solid stance on our trust and faith in Him. And we can wait for His words to each of us that "now is the time." 

Chambers talked about remaining spiritually tenacious. I cannot imagine ever saying or thinking, "I've had it. This is enough. I quit." No, because I wait patiently to see what the Lord is going to do. I'm anxious to see it happen. I know it will be something so spectacular. He may use me in a little way or a large way. It doesn't matter. It's the big thing He is going to do that I am waiting for. And in the meantime, I will listen for His still small voice for a clue what my next step will be.

I see all that's happening in the world and all the unrest. Amuse me a second and consider just what if we are seeing the last days. Wouldn't you want to know more about what is going to transpire? Wouldn't you want to know how you fit in all of this or how you can? Wouldn't you want to know what your future will be? Wouldn't you want to know if you were going to be secure in it all? Are you ready for the last days?

Christ is the one who gives us true rest. When all else fails, Christ is there. Even if my world comes crashing down, I know who my Lord is and where my trust is. I might have to go through some difficulty, but I know that He will be my refuge and strength and the end is eternal life in Christ. Wouldn't we all want to know this? Isn't it time to realize this?

I wouldn't want to be living in today's world without knowing that I know Jesus. Maybe I seem like just another worrier or fear monger and that's okay. I don't look at it as worry or fear. I look at it as knowing the truth. Better safe than sorry! Jesus Christ is Lord. His plans will prevail. Those who believe in Him will not perish. Those who have their doubts will...unless they reverse their ideas, let go of their own strengths, loosen their grip on their own pride, and receive Christ.

You cannot make yourself a better person on your own. You cannot work harder doing good things for others to receive Christ. You cannot assume anything as far as Jesus is concerned. Either you know Him personally or you do not. Either you are living your life for Him or you are not. It's not about what you can do for Him but what He has done for you. He speaks to us daily. All we need to do is listen. The signs are out there.

Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Truth of God's Word

John 14:23 - Jesus answered (one of His followers) and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."

What a night. God will wake us up in the middle of the night when it's quiet to get our attention. I know when He wants to get our attention He repeats himself in His Word. These are so we will heed what He's saying. Example: O give thanks to the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endures for ever is written in several Psalms. Jesus says Truly, truly, I say to you often. God tells us all throughout His Word to fear not. There are many other examples.

Well, He was relentless last night as I tossed and turned. First I was in a dreamlike sleep when He kept repeating a message over and over in my head. It was a heavy word and it pressed on me until I awoke. It was as if I was trying to express myself repeatedly to someone else. Like I was standing on a corner or like Jesus on a hillside wanting to get these words across to someone. There was an urgency in this dream.

I couldn't shake these words and had to get up and write. I asked Him to reveal exactly what He wanted to show me. Was it for me or someone else? Was I supposed to write it? Did someone need to hear (read) these words? Was He setting the stage?

I got up and began to write hoping the Holy Spirit would take over. Then I remembered something Pastor Joe from the little Baptist church I attend in Arizona asked yesterday morning at church: "Do you love the Word? Do you love it enough to read it every day or just sometimes?" 

"If anyone loves Me he will keep My word." Was this where this was all heading, I wondered? Pastor Joe further stated we are to keep His Word hidden in our hearts. This is  a biblical mandate. The only way that can happen is if we are in His Word...reading it diligently.  Not that we are making a work out of it...having to spend this much time each day or having to read the Bible from front to back each year. But by even just taking one scripture each and truly meditating on it and applying it to our day or life. There's really no set way of hiding His Word in one's heart. 

But then again, the words or the Word? Abide in Me also means the same thing as being in His Word and having God make His home with us. I wrote, trusting the Holy Spirit, and these words came forth:  My Word is the truth. When one knows the truth they know Me. When they reject My Word they do not want to know the truth and the truth is not in them.

Gee, where have I heard those words before: 1John 1:6, 8, 10 - If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. We are filled with sin until we know the Truth. Truth comes from being in Christ, in the Word...the Bible. If we do not want to do this, we are rejecting the Word and the Truth (Jesus) is not in us. Of course, in between these statements we are told that if we turn away from these things, if we confess Jesus, then the light of Christ is in us. His light uncovers our sins and shows us His truth.

Those are pretty sobering words. His light, His Word, His truth. God's Word is His Bible. God's Word is Jesus. His Word is His instruction manual for our life. His Word IS life. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father without first knowing the truth of His Word. No one goes to the Father without first knowing Jesus. It's a simple concept. God the Father, Jesus and the Word are one and the same. You cannot have one without the other.

Then for some reason I remembered an email a friend of mine sent earlier. She confided something about which I've had the same thought for awhile. It may be something many of us are feeling lately. We feel as though we are treading water. I continue to wonder if I have grown cold and fallen away. I have felt like I really need more of the Lord, yet I tell myself that I must persevere and stand and not give up any ground and trust that the Lord is with me. Sometimes I feel I am just going through the motions of being a believer. But, I must stand "in faith" and not waiver.

I know the Word is in her heart. I know her heart. I've heard this more than once lately. It's almost a thought you don't want to admit for fear of it being true. You don't want anyone to think you've lost faith.

The words the Lord spoke last night first were quiet then to the point where I felt He was shouting at me. They were hard to put into my own words because, like dreams often do, they make sense as you're dreaming but when formulating them you find it was more like just a thought, inexpressible.

So where is this all going? Like my friend and I and others I'm sure, if we doubt ourselves as believers, how can others claim to know Jesus? Have they honestly confessed Him? How many really have Him, God's Word, in their heart? How many love Him and His Word enough to be in it each day? How many truly spend time communicating with Him each day?

I think God's plans are to be revealed soon in our lives. It's like the lull before the storm. Perhaps that is when the urgency of my dream will manifest itself, although the urgency is now. The world is going to see an outpouring of something soon. It might not all be good. But those who know Christ will stand firm...and then it will be we who others turn to in difficult times. Perhaps then His Word will be heard, understood and finally taken seriously. I can only pray that others have the same dream some time and that it attaches itself to their hearts. That His, that He...become real in the lives of so many now.

I don't think this was a dream. I think it was God Himself prompting me. It was more like prodding me.

When someone gets the Word of God in their hearts it will pierce them. Like in Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 

If Jesus is the Word and He is alive, what He has said in the past is as relevant today. Do not reject Him or His Word. Today is the day to receive Him. Do not reject the Father or He will reject you in the same way. You don't want that. Tomorrow may be too late. Let the words of His truth pierce your heart. I look at that piercing as being more like a cauterizing. Our hearts are like open wounds or sores for the hurts and rejections we have had in our lives, for the evil and lies that have manifested themselves in our hearts. Our hearts fester until He is received and His Word brings conviction and healing. 

The dream I had was pressing. Whether for me or for others, it was a reminder of what God expects of us. To abide in Him means to be in His Word, to hide it in our hearts and even to be ready to speak His word in season or out, to be salt and light, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost world. To tell others that receiving Christ removes God's final judgment from them. Yes, God will judge all mankind. Make no mistake about that. If we want to avoid that eternal judgment, it is imperative we receive Christ, His Son, the Word, the Truth and the Life, now. 

John 12:47-50 - And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Let Us...Enter In

Hebrews 4:1,11,14,16  - Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it...let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience...let us hold fast our confession...let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace...

Oh, the richness of these verses. I mentioned the other day about entering into God's rest. This rest I said is the presence of God. It's having faith in Him and trusting that He can be all we ever need.

The Book of Hebrews was a teaching to converted Jews, those who in that day received Christ as their Messiah. The reason it was written was to strengthen and encourage them in their belief because of the persecution they received when they converted. I could take a rabbit trail here, but I edited those paragraphs out! Phew, some of you might be thinking.

The message is for all of us, however. When we enter into relationship with Jesus, we enter into His rest. We are allowed access to God through Jesus Christ. We are allowed to enter into His presence without fear. We do not need to go through anyone else.

The scriptures above describe, first, anyone today who has heard the truth of Jesus and about God's rest, who have heard the Gospel preached but who may still be wary of entering in. The second part is not to let that understanding and entering slip by, like Israel did when they wandered for forty years in the wilderness. (More to follow.) Today people still avoid entering into God's rest, choosing Christ. Let the wandering cease. Enter in.

The third part of the scripture describes those who have entered into rest, who have received Christ, who have confessed Jesus and the importance for them to hold fast to this confession and continue in obedience to follow Him. The fourth part is also for believers...because we have received Christ we now have access to God. We do not need to fear entering into His presence. We receive mercy anew each day. And in so doing, His rest, His presence, His guidance, His help is always before us.

This is the rest we are given. Before we know Christ we are separated from God. There has been a separation since Adam and Eve. But God...gave us His Son Jesus that we might regain what Adam and Eve once had, communion with God.

This is knowing the truth and being set free. When we enter in there is a freedom we have. There will be a day when everyone will know the truth. Everyone will know one way or the other whether they have embraced Jesus or embraced the world's idea of diversity. 

As I see all that's happening in this world, I see where there is no rest because God is not always a part of the picture. I see what this country once stood for eroding completely. It no longer stands on the views of the founding fathers of God and country. Honesty, integrity and truth have been lessened, just as the Church has given in to the way of the world, choosing to water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of Jesus is less harsh and more palatable to those people the Church wants draw in. No one wants to hear hard words. You've heard me say this many times.

But for those of us who understand the times, understand who Jesus is--for real--who stand by the truth of His Word, we have entered into His rest. This rest, His presence, is marvelous. If we continue in His rest the things of the world can aggravate or frustrate us, but we also can cling to the knowledge of the good things God has for us. 

This rest, again, is for everyone. It's all about entering into relationship with Christ and receiving Him. All it takes is asking Jesus. Asking and believing. No works are necessary. All He desires is you...first and He desires your allegiance to Him, your faith and trust in Him for all things in your life. 

When you give yourself into His rest, giving Him your faith and trust in Him, not the world, not your family, not your church, He will handle the difficult times. There is nothing we can do apart from God to make this world better. We trust God to take care of us individually. When the world around us crumbles, when governments fail, when life is not so secure as it once was, we can know without a doubt that our God has us securely in the palm of His hand and we can rest, assured of our future. 

Receive Christ and enter in--the foremost act of obedience. Then Jesus can be our bridge to God. He can be our mediator. He can receive our prayers Himself. We are allowed bold access to the throne of God through Christ Jesus to receive grace and mercy. His mercy and grace is new and available to us each day. All we need do is confess our allegiance to Christ. Confess Christ and enter in.

For some it is difficult to confess Christ. The world tells us one thing, which I myself believed once, you don't need God. It's all about you. But He tells us another thing, that it's not always an easy road to take following Him, that we might be alone in this walk, but it's well worth it in the very end:  Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:14 ) 

There's another part of the scripture I started with where God is quoted saying, "So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest."  I left that out in order to emphasize it here. It's a quote from Psalm 95. It is a call to obedience. 

Psalm 95:7-11 -  Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways." So I swore in My wrath, "They shall not enter My rest."

This is the reference to their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God offered His people rest but in disobedience they failed to do so. Because they did not accept His rest, His presence, in time He offered it to another group of people...those who chose to believe in Christ. 

You will note in the Psalm Today, if you will hear His voice... that is what the Lord still says. Today is not too late. Tomorrow might be. Do not harden your heart. The world view is a hardened heart. It is the wide road to destruction. Don't wander in your wilderness another day but heed the voice of God. Don't enter into the same type of disobedience Israel did, but instead enter in to God's rest, His glorious presence.

Hebrews 4:11 - Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience...that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let All the People Praise Him

Psalm 67:3, 5 - Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.

I'm in Arizona. It's a partly sunny day, big fluffy clouds are blowing across the sky. It's not really warm enough to sit outside without long pants and long sleeves. As I sat at the dining room table relishing in the occasional spurts of sun between the clouds I remembered a time when I would come out here and be absolutely overtaken by the beauty of the mountains, desert, cactus, sunshine and critters.

All of a sudden the thought came to be that I would worship God for all the differences between Arizona and Wisconsin. I would sit outside and contemplate the magnificence. Two totally different landscapes and temperatures. Two totally different lifestyles as well. As much as I enjoy and realize the God of all creation has touched this part of the country as equally as He touched my home town and home state, and all the world, I have grown used to Arizona. It provides a respite from the cold in winter, but not quite like it used to.

I can remember how excited I would become just during the drive from the airport to "home." Now it's almost commonplace. And a sudden uncomfortableness struck me and I thought, "is this complacency toward You, Lord?" Oh, how I never want to become complacent...and yet there are times when it can happen. I think that happened this morning, which I don't really want to admit. 

I realized I used to sit outside in the Arizona sunshine and listen to the birds and I'd hear and see God in all things. I would worship Him for the amazing differences. And I realized I was not doing that this trip. Why, I wondered? 

And the thought quickly raced through my head..."You need to see Me in the everyday things, in the mundane." And I bounced back immediately and praised God for that. Yes, we need to see Him in the smallest of things because it's not just in the grand sights or grand feelings we have but in the smallest detail of everyday life, even in the uncomfortable things of life.

He encompasses ALL things. As I began to write, a song came to mind and I had to tune in to it...All Creatures of Our God and King, written by St. Francis of Assisi. (This is my favorite version of it by Fernando Ortega. Just listen to the song's words because some of the photos are hokey!) It was just what I needed. I looked out the windows again and just as the lyrics Ye clouds that sail in heav'n along, I happened to be staring at the clouds floating smoothly by. That may seem like a small thing, but I guarantee it is not to our God and King.

We cannot let our down days, our tired days, our aching days, whatever days we feel lost, get the better of our love for the Lord. We cannot lose sight that even in our worst moments, He wishes us to rejoice in Him. He wishes us to praise Him in every circumstance. And you know what happens when He does...He lifts our spirits. He puts a glad tear in our eye for all He has created for us...and for what He has created us for! 

We are not here in this world just to live and die without meaning. We are born that we might worship Him first and then spread that love we have for Him. We are to spread the words of what He has done for us, how we have finally seen Him for who He is. Oh, people, there is so much more to know about Him if you just take the opportunity. 

Let Him lighten your load. Praise Him for that breath He allowed you to breathe this morning. Let Him open up a new world for you...just like how I feel when I see the difference between Arizona and Wisconsin. What He shows us is like night and day. This is what He does in our lives. He takes us out of the darkness and puts us in His shining light. He opens up our mundane lives and creates new things within us. He gives us the opportunity to see so much in such a different way and it's so glorious! 

There are days when we just need to be reawakened, I guess.  Oh, praise Him, alleluja!

I read Oswald Chambers' devotion for today in My Utmost for His Highest. He talked about depression and although I don't for a minute think I'm depressed, it spoke to me about how I was feeling this morning. If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation.

Sometimes we just get ourselves into a temporary funk. Even with God, I think. But if we never experience the lows in life, we cannot feel the highs, as Chambers states, of exaltation. So, in just a short span of time this morning I went from the doldrums to praising God! And a new day began.... God is good at doing this. Check Him out and find out for yourself.

Another thing I recalled this morning: God is with us at all times, even in our times of busyness. He will never leave us nor forsake us if we have initially received Him. He will always draw us back if we stray or lose sight of Him for a moment or a day. I feel sad for people who never feel God even calling them...or asking them to return to Him. I'm certain He does too.

Romans 15:13 - Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pushing Buttons

Esther 5:2 - So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. 

Preparing for a Bible study on the Book of Esther, I was moved by the words above. It is a reminder of what I am able to do as a child of God, coheirs with the King. It is a reminder that when we are in the will of God, we find favor in His sight. He reaches out His scepter toward us and allows us into His presence.

Esther had a daunting task ahead of her. She needed to confront her husband, King Xerxes of Persia, of the impending annihilation of the Jews, of which she was one, although he did not know this fact. God had placed her in this position as queen of Persia for this very purpose. This is what God does for each one of us when we are in relationship with Him. Each day might bring about our own circumstance where God might want us to do something or say something that will show His glory in our lives and perhaps change a situation. It's not about us, it's about Him working through us. And with this thought, we must realize that it's not a prideful thing we might have to do. It's God's will.

So often we are confronted with a situation where we should say something, but sometimes we don't. We're basically afraid of what others will think of us. We're afraid of the backlash, of losing friends or family for speaking what we know is the truth. This is where Esther was. But she knew she had to face her fears. She had to "do it afraid."

Esther had fasted for three days in preparation for a meeting with the king. She dolled herself up in her royal robes knowing that seeing him without permission could mean her death because she had not been summoned. But what difference did it make? If she didn't speak to the king about the plans to kill all the Jews, she would have died just the same. What did she have to lose? Once the conviction was apparent, she said to her cousin, "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish?" Esther 4:16.

Thankfully, this is not the way it is with our God, our King. He longs for us to come into His presence. 

Esther did not know what would happen when she met with the king and petitioned him. She stood for what she believed was right and whatever the consequences, she was prepared for the outcome.

God asks us to have the same type of confidence. He wants us to do His will. Sometimes that's speaking up especially when we aren't so sure of ourselves. He wants us to realize that when we do, He will be behind us in our actions and words. It's overcoming that fear that gets some of us.

I write this blog often. I believe it was God's idea in my little brain years ago. He allowed me to cogitate on the idea awhile and then presented me with the opportunity to develop it. Even to this day I wonder if what I have written is good enough, if I've misspoken or misinterpreted something in His Word. I probably have made some mistakes but I may learn from them. I can push the "preview" button over and over, but when it comes time to tap the "publish" button, I still cringe.

It isn't until I've received a response from someone, which happens occasionally, that I've touched someone's heart that day, that I think to myself, "see, it wasn't so bad after all." Maybe those are my words; maybe they're God's subtle reassurance. I don't know for sure. But don't we all have times when we think we have erred and boy, if we don't feel a burden or embarrassed or ashamed...even angry with ourselves for doing or saying something? This is not what God would want us to feel if we know we have done His will. This is what our enemy, the devil, brings to the surface of our defeat cause us to cause us to believe we're not worthy... Oh, that dang devil!!

This particular day's Esther study had these words written from Beth Moore, the author of the study:  Our conditional trust not only makes us an open target for enemy torment; it also positions us as negotiators and beggars before God instead of secure children who trust their lives to their faithful Father. Those times when our fears become reality we feel devastated. We thing God is unfaithful, and Satan essentially gets what he wants--us to believe that life is over. We need to hold fast to the idea that we can trust God.

When we fear to speak or do, we are out of God's will. If we speak or do when we know we should, He is right there behind us. We fear, like I said, the backlash of our words and what others will feel about us. But we never know if what we might say might bring life to someone else. We may never find out about it, but if we've been obedient to the Lord, that's all that matters. I'm still in the process of learning about all this. I'm still hanging on to my insecurity, and not just about my blog, but about life circumstances.

I will probably always have a trepidation about pushing that "publish" button. But God will never cause something we do in His will to fail. We may not always know the purpose for a word we speak...or write...or what it has to do with anything in the grand scheme of things, but He does. Sometimes He will allow us to realize what that purpose was, other times not. It should not matter to us; it's not about us after all.

Getting back to spending time with God, He is willing to listen to our requests. Just our presence before Him causes Him delight. When we enter into His presence and make requests that are of His will, He is more likely to respond. We can't enter His presence and expect that every silly thing we'd wish we could have will be granted. (When I was a youngster I would fall asleep at night praying that I would awake with skinny legs...hah, never happened!) Esther's husband, the king, was delighted in her presence and although she came without his permission, he was well pleased. These might be the words of an elated King Xerxes for Esther, but no doubt they are God's words to us when we enter in and present a meaningful request:

Esther 5:3 - And the king said to her, "What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you--up to half the kingdom!" 

I'm pressing the "publish" button now!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roots, Foundations and Olive Groves

Romans 11:17 - ...and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree...

Yesterday a new friend and I went to an olive grove in the Phoenix area. We took a little tour and listened as the young woman told us about the trees, types of olives and how these olives were gathered between October and December and then processed.

My thoughts took me back to Israel where we saw the olive trees that were thousands of years old in the Garden of Gethsemane. These could have been the very same trees that Jesus saw when He was there. Gethsemane, I come to find out, means oil press. Throughout the day my mind kept going back to olive trees and the pressing of olives. If you recall, Christ went to Gethsemane to pray for what He knew was about to happen to Him. He prayed to His Father that "if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done"(Luke 22:42). He was being pressed, so much so that blood drops came from His brow. And of course, it was the Father's will that prevailed and Jesus died for our sins. 

This is a reminder of who I am in Christ. Although I've written about olive trees and those who are in Christ, I can't help but put my thoughts down again.

In an act of totally unselfish sacrifice, without murmur, without regret, Jesus was willing to die for our sins. He took that cup of suffering. He did it without trying to defend Himself, like we always do when we are wrongfully accused. He just did it...because He would rather have died than to live without us, as a song goes. He died for the sins of all mankind. His life was pressed.

So what does this have to do with olive trees? We would not be able to partake in this unfathomable love Jesus has for us if we didn't believe in Him. Okay, so what does that mean? When one is a follower of Christ he is called a Christian. Yet Jesus was a Jew...

So...the olive trees. There are two types: the natural olive tree, which would be Israel and the Jews and the wild olive tree, which is anyone else. We are grafted into the natural tree through our relationship with Jesus Christ. The natural olive tree's roots are well established, because the root is God. Through Christ we become part of that very strong root system...that firm Foundation that is Christ and become a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree.

As it is told in Romans 11, the Jews were likened to a natural olive tree. However, they were in so much rebellion against God that He needed to prune it of the unproductive shoots. He then needed to bring in another people so He grafted in a wild olive shoot. That wild olive shoot became Christianity, those who would believe in Christ as Savior when the Jews would not accept Him as their Messiah. These people were to carry on His work by leading others to this Man called Jesus. These men and women were nourished by the root that was Jesus. They made this tree productive once again. When we are in right relationship with Him, through Christ, we are nurtured. If we do not share in this relationship with Christ, we wither and die.

We also become grafted, as it were, into the Jewish heritage; our roots are in Judaism. If we are people who look at Israel and the Jews in a negative light, we cannot call ourselves Christians. If it were not for a Jewish King of kings and Lord of lords named Jesus, we would not be able to partake of the wondrous gift He has offered to us. 

We are all considered wild olive trees when we come into this relationship with Christ. It is and always has been God's plan that we all be part of this natural olive tree, with well-established roots...the roots of our Christianity...being one in Christ that we might not be separated any longer from God. We need to be completely aware, however, that it is not about us or our religion; it's not about what good works we can do or how good we can be to please God; it's not about which church we belong to because all churches and denominations are manmade. It's all about Him and and what He has done for us...and what He offers us freely. It's all about who we are in Him.

Once in Christ our lives are not our own. We shouldn't grow the same way once we've been grafted in and with a root who is Christ. Our lives will show this difference. Just as olives go through processing, so must we. We are separated from our pits...the stony heart...and we are crushed and squeezed until so our hearts become purer and we become the person God chose for us to be from the beginning of time. The pure oil might be thought of as the Holy Spirit and when we are in Christ it is His Spirit that fills us and causes us to change. 

We must give up the person we were. We were that wild olive branch, growing as we desired. We are now grafted, if we know Jesus personally, and we are to allow a new nature to emanate from us. We should have more faith, more trust in the Lord, and know where our hope now is. We will, as is told in Hebrews, know rest...which is the presence of God in our lives despite our circumstances. When we know Christ we are part of the natural heritage and grafted into the natural olive tree, where we are in the presence of God, in our rest, and know the hope of our eternal calling.

Although we may share the privilege now of being part of this natural tree, we should not consider ourselves better. We are, after all, only grafted in. If we do not produce fruit, we can be cut off just like the Jews were. God has made provision to bring them back...of this I am sure because His Word tells us as much. Until then, we must remain rooted and grounded in His Word and maintain our own trust in Him.

Romans 11:18 - ...remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snake in the Grass

Leviticus 11:41-44 - and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination...whatever crawls on its belly...they are an shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth...lest you be defiled by them. For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.

I wonder if there was a reason why God chose a serpent to represent the devil? We've created our own verbiage to relate the same thing when we say "a snake in the grass" or just refer to someone as a snake. There have been several Bible scholars who have believed that snakes might have had legs and feet at one time but God made them to slither on the ground because He considered them the lowest of all creatures. The serpent in Genesis 3:1 was called a beast of the field..he was more subtle, in fact. A beast would refer to a four legged animal.

Anyway, Here is God telling Israel, before the snake even became "popular" in the Garden of Eden, to refrain from eating of it because they would be considered unclean. It would be an abomination unto Him.

This is what He calls us to do today. Disassociate from the devil, have no part of him because if we don't we also will be considered unclean and an abomination to Him. In other words, full of sin. We've been warned to separate ourselves from those who are not like us.

God goes on to say we "should not defile ourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth, for He is the LORD who brings us up out of the land of Egypt, to be our God. We are to be holy, for He is holy."(Leviticus 11:45-46)

If you've read my blogs before you will understand that when we come into relationship with the Lord Jesus, we have been brought out of our own form of Egypt in the world. We have come out of the sin that held us captive before we were in right relationship with Christ. We have been made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ, although we are still not without sin. A concept hard to fathom.

God was telling the people which animals could be eaten and which should not. Today we can look at it this way...there is a verse in Psalm 34 that says we are to taste and see that the Lord is good. Eat of the good things in life. Fill yourselves with Christ, with His Word, which is the bread of life. 

When we do this we find our faith being given a great boost. We will understand how He loves to guide us and give us His strength, not our own, in so many situations in life. 

Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love of God

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul... (Micah 6:8, Deuteronomy 10:12)

Oh, I love Micah 6:8! As I typed this scripture, I could hear the voice of my pastor back in 1999! That was the day God spoke life I to me. The day God became very real to me. The first day of the rest of my life.

I mentioned yesterday how our God is our Creator. The wondrous works of His hands...or just His totally beyond comprehension. All He requires is for us to acknowledge Him in our lives. There are some who find that so difficult to do.

Oh, how science has dismissed Him. How scientists cannot believe in anything but facts and figures. What a boring life they must live...unless or until they have come to the amazing realization that there is a God out there somewhere...or as close as the chair next to you.

A friend sent this remarkable YouTube video. It's just one more example of this amazing Creator God. It shows, at least to me, how detailed He is. It proves to me how intricate He is in all His creation. If scientists can't see this is all part of His incredible nature, I don't know what will. Please take the time to watch this 3 minute video right now.

This also tells me that if all His creation and all the things His hands or mind have touched, then how much more does He love us? With that, how much should we return that love? How can we deny receiving Him and all that He has for us?

He loves us all so much that He gave the most important thing in His life so that we might have life too. It doesn't get much better than that.

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.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All of Creation

Isaiah 40:26 - Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might, and the strength of His power; not one is missing.

Sometimes I think I can be very simplistic in my view of God. Yet there is a very deep understanding that well's up in my soul.

It is hard for some to understand that all of creation was made by the Lord. Not by His hands but by His very voice. He commanded and it was so. It's something we just have to take at His word. The part of that preceding verse that stands out is: not one is missing. Nothing is missing. Can we comprehend that? 

If we cannot fathom God creating, it may be that we have missed this point...that all we have, all we are, all we will be given is because of Him. Nothing will be missing for us either, if we stay focused on Him, if we look up instead of at eye level at our own daily circumstances. 

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest urges us to look beyond ourselves, our things, our own strengths and look up at Who is the Creator. We can do in our own strength but it is truly God who gives us what we really need. We may be missing out on many things in this life if we have not sought Him in all things.

Do we ask if this is what the Lord would want us to do? Is this the right decision to make? Is this the direction to go? Is this purchase the right one? Do we really need this? 

We can begin to understand God just by taking in all we see around us. Take a good hard look. Don't let another day go by without seriously contemplating just the things of nature. Chambers suggests we turn our imagination "aright:" "If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in Nature. In every wind that blows, in every night and day of the year, in every sign in the sky, in every blossoming and every withering of the earth, there is a real coming of God to us if we will simply use our starved imagination to realize it."

Starved imagination. Wow. Have we come to a place where we have taken nature for granted? Do we look and think, ho hum, when we see something outside even the living room window? Or do we become excited again at even the most common occurrence? Or has that television become your god? Has that sports team become more interesting than a relationship with the God who created you and has a great plan for your life, one you cannot imagine. Can you quiet yourself at all during the day and think about Him and what He has done for you?

If this is you, Chambers suggests we may be caught up in ourselves: "Is your imagination looking on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Your work? Your conception of what a worker should be? ...when you are (finally) up against difficulties you have no power, you can only endure in not look back to your own experience; it is God Whom you need."

I couldn't have said it better. Our lives should be consumed with thoughts of God. Where is He in this circumstance? Did He leave you or might you have left Him? When tragedy strikes where do you first turn? Do you call out to God for strength first? Do you ask for His guidance, peace, comfort? Or do you call on help from family, friends, or even internalize and attempt to draw from your own so-called wisdom or strengths. God will provide what you need but you need to seek Him above all things.

God is real. He is powerful to those who seek Him. He is always there for any need. He may not always answer in the way you would want, but He knows what's best, what we need most. 

Even in the throes of illness we need to focus on what His will is. He can heal if He so chooses, but if the choice is death, He is in that as well. The illness did not come as a surprise to Him. It is our attitude during this time that might be God's test for us. Do we still draw His strength for the moment or the day? If we are His children and in right relationship with Him our greatest assurance that no matter what we endure, we are His.

Are our imaginations starved for God as Chambers asks? Take the time to ask Him directly to help you get a grip on who He is and of what benefit He might be to your life. He is more than willing to listen if you are truly interested in knowing Him. You may not realize it but I think we are all starved for God at some time in our lives. That's when He begins to show up in little things in our lives that don't make sense...yet. The people who are put in your path, the things you begin to hear and might even be annoyed about. It happened to me; it can happen to you.

Let your imagination go and let it consider the truth of who He is. Start with taking the time to view nature. That's where He began before He created Man. Consider the intricacies of it all. Consider the depth of wisdom it took to create it (which is nearly impossible because of the enormity of it all) and then consider the intricacy of even your own creation, your birth. Nothing was made by accident. Not even you. Rejoice in the fact that being here, today, in this lifetime, can give you the opportunity to know this incredibly awesome God. 

Isaiah 66:2 - "For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Depths to Heights, Pits to Rocks

Psalm 61:2 - Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Without a doubt there’s nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning (Super Bowl Sunday, no less) to find your sewer has backed up. No wonder there was that odd smell the night before that prompted a long spray of room! But thank heavens for that odd, “I have to look for something in the downstairs bedroom” thought the next morning. And even more thanks go to the even odder sense that I needed to poke my head into the mechanical room! “We have water in the basement again! And it smells like gas.”

Just what I wanted to do Sunday morning instead of going to church! As with everything else in life, there’s a lesson...or a blog.

I got to thinking about our lives without Christ. They are sort of like sewers...dirty, mucky, smelly. I kept thinking about the guy who would have to clean out our well. I thought about what a disgusting job it is lifting the lids to these wells and seeing all the “stuff of life” down there. 

Then I got to thinking about Jesus. He sees the muck in our lives. He's looking down at us and seeing the stuff we have made of our lives. Funny, I was thinking earlier before I arose about Jesus and how He didn’t hang out with the elite but He hung out with the baseless sinners because they often knew they would not amount to much in the states they were in. They needed someone to take them out of a lifestyle they had gotten themselves into and couldn’t get out of. 

I’m certainly not equating the well-pumper-outer to Jesus! I’m just saying that He would have been about the same type of up messed up lives. Jesus was there to offer a hand. He offered to bring righteousness into their lives. There is nothing in the Bible that says we’re like sewage, thank goodness. The worst I believe is a scripture describing base things in 1Corinthians 1:27-28 - But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are..

Look at the lives of those who have allowed themselves to get out of hand...through drugs, alcohol, prostitution, even at times homelessness. When one wakes up in their own vomit or worse, living in the most squalid conditions. Is this life? Is this how God intended us to live? Is this how anyone really wants to live? Is this the life they really chose? I doubt it, but somewhere they made a bad choice and this would be the result of it. 

Jesus comes to clean us up. And He does this quite well. There is a verse in Psalm 40 that tells us “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” Well, there you have it. Another Bible version says He will take us out of the slimy pit. Aren’t some people referred to as slimeballs? We might all be considered slime in our sinful states! We were, after all, formed once a long time ago out of the dust of the ground.

Jesus is into cleaning us up. Like cleaning out the “stuff of life” in our own personal well. If we are at the bottom of this personal pit of a life, we are the dregs! We are the sediment that sinks to the bottom. But Jesus He takes us out of the dregs of our life and puts us where we should be, on the Rock that is Jesus and then He guides what’s left of our life. 

We’ve all been in such a place. Don’t think anyone is immune. Before Christ we are all dead in our sin. There is only one way out of a pit. If you look up, out of the pit you are in, in that mucky well, you will see the hand of Jesus reaching down to pull you up to the place where He would prefer you abide. 

As I think about how the awareness of this sewer backup came about, I see that it all started last week Sunday with a comment a woman made to me after I said something to her. She was urging me, sort of, to consider something. All week I thought about what she said. It also prompted me to look for something in our basement bedroom yesterday morning. If I would not have approached her and she would not have responded, I would not have gone to the basement and sensed I needed to look in the mechanical room. This is yet another way that God sets things in motion. It may seem like coincidence to you, but after seeing things like this happen occasionally, and probably even more than I think, I know it was God. 

Don’t think He isn’t interested in even the “basest” things about your life. Every detail of our lives is important to Him. Although this sewer backup is a very strange way of looking at what He can do for a person, He is interested in only bringing good to a person’s life.  He watches out for His children.

If you’ve messed up your life and want to remove the dregs, clean up your sewer, call on Jesus. Let Him be your sewer-pumper-outer. 

Psalm 50:15 - and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Even Greater Work

Hebrews 4:2 - For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

I'm always between this book and that. Some are there just for enjoyment, some are for inspiration, some are for a purpose, and rarely in that order. A book for enjoyment doesn't happen as often as it used to. I'm not much of a reader, first of all! 

I remember one day having to make a decision about which book to read to take on a trip or something. In my spirit I heard, "You only need one Book" and I knew which Book and who was telling this to me. And it's true. The Bible has got to be the most inspirational, filled with the most interesting stories and there is always a purpose to it.

So, today I have seven books that I decided to take to Arizona next week! The Bible, My Utmost for His Highest, a study on the Book of Hebrews, a workbook on the Book of Esther, Radical by David Platt, a book by John MacArthur and a secular book, just for fun, for a book club I belong to...and have only been to once! 

As I was reading Radical, I hadn't gotten even a page done when the words ORDINARY CHRISTIANS, EXTRAORDINARY GOD stood out in the middle of the page, signifying the next subject Platt was going to introduce. As he pointed out in the previous section, it's not about the fantastic people, talents or finances a church might have. God can do an even better work when the church is small, has the least number of gifted people and not much money. It's all about faith. 

No eye has seen, no hear heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1Corinthians 2:9) comes to mind. We just don't know what God can do in any of our situations as individuals, in our families, work and within our church. I don't think it's that we don't have faith. We just can't always see how God will get us through. We are so a people who need to be able to visualize.

Right away I was taken the book I occasionally read for inspiration, Twelve Ordinary Men/Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. I was on the fence about taking the book along, but now I know I will. Just one more chapter might hold another key to the greatness of our God and a reminder of what He can do with ordinary people.

Platt points out that when we have all the people, talent and resources that's okay, but God can do an even greater work without all these things, if it is through His power, His Holy Spirit, that we can accomplish these things. And that's just what MacArthur describes in each of his chapters. 

Jesus picked ordinary men, sinners to boot, and women who were at first caught up in sin and set free or who were put in precarious places only to find that they were used by God to save people, to do His will. This is what makes God God! It's not about those who have it all and are so impressed with themselves or so sure of themselves or so in a person's face. It's about one single person willing to wait until God determines now's the time to His favor, for someone, in His time, with His power.

If we could see something happen in our lives that we absolutely knew we had no knowledge, strength or resources to accomplish, wouldn't we have to believe in Someone greater who did the work? I'm waiting for that!! And when it happens, I know that I know God will get the glory.

All that from one heading in a book! Platt goes on to say we are a people who need to be desperate for God. Enough of this complacency and more desperation. We need to be a people who realize that without God nothing will happen they way it should happen. Platt wrote about a man who chose to do this, "He risked his life trusting in the greatness of God, and in the end his life made much of the glory of God." Oh, I know that goes against the grain of how we've been raised up. We pull ourselves up, we live the American Dream, we fight for what we believe is right. And in some instances, these are good. But the thing that most people don't get is that it's done right when God is behind it all.

The American Dream is materialism. Pulling ourselves up is all about self. And how can we fight for what is right if we can't agree with what right is: abortion or pro-life, embryonic or adult stem cell, homo- or hetero-sexuality, creation or evolution? You get the point. Me, myself and I, the unholy trinity, doing what I want, when I want to, under my own strength, no matter what others think. And believing what I do is right and true. God's view of these things is so different. He knows all about truth because He IS truth.  

I don't even fully realize all that God can do with me. And that's okay. It's probably better that way. That's what makes faith faith. But it's that very thing called faith that gets us all bound up. How can we have faith in something we don't see...and yet we can because Hebrews 11:1 tells us it is so: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That'll get us every time. We want to be able to bring something we are familiar with into it. We need proof and God says, No you don't; you only need Me. That childlike faith I keep bringing up. I am not 100% filled with faith, but I'd like to be. 

Faith cannot be found in any one person we know here on earth. Our only faith and hope is in Someone we cannot see, but are able to hear from, Jesus Christ. If we give Him a chance He will show us, but that first step must be taken to give Him a try. 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him...that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (Hebrews 11:6, 1Corinthians 2:5)