Friday, April 29, 2011

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:12 - For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

God has given us the best protection against the things in this world. They may sound like worldly materials but I guarantee this protection is purely spiritual. These weapons, this armor, are much more powerful than any that we could physically put on our bodies in time of war. This armor and weaponry, because it is spiritual in nature, and because it comes from the hand of God, protects like none other.

Thank You Lord that just one part of what You give to us as Your children is access to Your armor. We can lay claim to the power that it has over us.

I thank You for the helmet of salvation. Thank You for calling my name and knowing that I would hear Your voice, that I would not only hear but would respond and also receive You as my Lord and Savior. Your gift of salvation is my helmet. I wear it proudly and securely.

Thank You for the breastplate of righteousness. This righteousness is an automatic gift given upon salvation. I thank You that when we are in battle with the enemy or even when we "mess up" this breastplate protects us. You see us only in righteousness because Your blood has covered us and only through that blood will the Father see us. You call us holy and righteous. What an honor that is. What a humbling thought.

Thank You for the shoes You have placed upon our feet. Shoes that carry the gospel of peace. The same peace that You have offered to us is offered to all who will receive You. Peace You leave with me and Your peace You give to me but not as the world gives. These shoes will never wear out because You will never leave us nor forsake us. This peace, these shoes, like the clothing that never wore out for the people of Israel wandering in the desert 40 years, will never wear out because by Your supernatural hand You keep our armor intact. Thank You our peace is maintained and to be taken into this world by our own feet in peace. 

You have girded our waists with the the belt of truth. This is the only truth that stands strong in this world because it is the truth of who You are and what You have spoken to us. You are the same today as You were yesterday and exactly Who You claim You will be tomorrow. We praise You for Your unchangeable nature. Your truth will stand the test of time (always) and one day the whole world will see You and Your truth and either rejoice or regret. I pray that the eyes and ears of many will not turn away from Your offering of salvation, that they may be counted with those who will rejoice.

Thank You for giving us protection through Your shield of faith. This faith in You is stronger than any fiery dart of the enemy. It is by wielding this shield in the face of the enemy that we are protected. His weapons hold no strength when we show who it is that is our strength in times of weakness. My shield is held high. My faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ and no one else.

Along with that shield of faith you have provided for us a very powerful sword. The sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word, the Word of God. You are our Word. Thank You that all it takes is to speak the truth of Your Word in those difficult times of our lives...and in the lives of others...and our spirits meld with Yours and we are protected by You, the living Word, the living God. At the name of Jesus, the Word, the enemy must flee! Your Word stands the test of time, therefore You stand the test of time. Both my hands wield that outstanding power.

You have armed us, O God, with weapons much more powerful than man's. In You we live and move and have our being. We are Your offspring and You are our protection. You hide us under the shadow of Your wings. You are our sun and our shield and you protect us by night and by day. The shadow of Your hand protects me. I dwell in Your protective shelter and rest in Your shadow. You are my refuge and fortress, my dwelling place. Your right hand will save me. Your are my strong tower. You put me in the cleft of a rock. You hide me in secret places. If I call on the name of the Lord, I will be saved. Though the world around us might crumble we can stand steadfast in Your promises that even in death we have life through You, Jesus.

Ephesians 6:10-11 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Psalm 40:10 - I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. 

These could be the words spoken by Reverend David Wilkerson. My heart goes out as well as prayers to his family. He was former pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. Although there are many who know who this man was, there are even more who do not.

Those who knew him will understand both the sadness and joy in his passing in a tragic head-on collision Wednesday. The sadness comes in our knowing we will no longer hear the very truthful, tough and and also encouraging words of this man who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart, soul and mind. We will miss the heartfelt cries of a man who heard God speak loudly and clearly about the transformation of this world as it begins to recognize what many believe are the last days before the return of Christ. He was considered a modern-day prophet.

Like the scripture above, Wilkerson did not keep what God wanted him to speak within his heart. He poured it out for a lost and dying world, despite constant criticism. He was also known for his work with the founding of Teen Challenge, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers around the world. It was God's call on his life to preach the Gospel to the gang members in the streets of New York City. That was his first call and he was obedient even when he didn't understand how or why. But I believe his sermons and messages were an even greater calling.

His timely messages were shared from his heart with those who chose to listen to him preach or read his daily devotions. He lived a life very close to the Lord. He admonished and encouraged, often in the same breath because he knew that when God had a powerful word for all mankind, its hard words were not always to chastise as much as open the eyes of those who might need to hear, that they be saved and guided to an all powerful God. He longed for people to realize Christ as the answer to all that anyone needs in this world. He longed for people to get right with Christ. One never knows when his last day will be...even as in his case.   

This is what David Wilkerson was all about. Praise God for his never backing down, even when people laughed or called him a false prophet. Jesus never said following Him would be easy. Thank you, Lord, for Reverend Wilkerson's faithfulness. The prophet Isaiah heard God speak and he responded. So did Wilkerson. Isaiah 6:8 - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." 

On a day that was one of such tragedy in the southeast part of the US with amazingly horrible tornadoes flashing across the news, all the deaths involved, along with the glitz and glamor of the preparations for a royal wedding, his loss was especially sad among those who cared and who stood on his words. 

We may not have been affected by any of these natural occurrences. Life goes on for us. But we still need to know that we know where we will be on our last day. To see the face of Jesus is my desire. To know without a shadow of a doubt where my eternal life will be is the most important thing. That only happens when we are in that wonderful relationship with Christ. To know Him, know the meaning of the sufferings of the One who first suffered and then died for our sins. To know without a doubt that He is alive and still working in this world, that He can still be heard and received by those who need to know Him, He who is the only Way, Truth and Life.

It saddens me that with all the lives lost in our country we do not know how many truly knew the Lord. I don't mean know of Him but know Him personally, like Wilkerson...and like He encouraged others to do...and encouraged believers to stay strong in their faith. I don't doubt Wilkerson's faith was strong even in the midst of spiritual battles. We can learn from him.

We have lost a great Christian man with vital words for this generation. He did not mince thoe words either. You can read twenty plus years' worth of messages here:

I'm sure even the pastors today who still proclaim the truth in the pulpits will be criticized. Anyone who tries to open the eyes of others will be criticized and rejected. Some day the truth will become known. The truth of Jesus Christ will become known and there will be some surprised people!

Wilkerson followed the Lord with all his heart and soul and I don't doubt he's with Jesus and he's heard the words "Good and faithful servant." Wouldn't we all like to hear that? Shouldn't we all care about this? How are we doing? Are we doing at all? Who will do as David Wilkerson did? Would he have proclaimed this:

You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:20, 27)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Psalm 27:4 - One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. 

I can write about Jesus' love and offer suggestions on how people can come to Christ and for what reasons and there's nothing wrong with any of these things. Jesus is in love with us, whether we know Him or not. It is His desire that we all know Him in a very deep way, that we know His love and we realize our love for Him in a real way. 

Coming to the Lord, receiving Him into our lives is all He desires. Read my blogs and you'll hear repeatedly about relationship with Jesus over religious rituals. There are reasons why receiving Jesus should be done and many benefits in receiving Him. The blessings, the peace even in the midst of difficulty, the assurance of our souls for eternity. All these things are real.

What we need more than anything else, however, is a desperation for Him. We cannot settle for "Jesus loves me" and "He abides with me" or "I am saved by the blood of the Lamb." We need to be desperate for Him. We need to get to a place where we cry out for His glory to be seen in our churches, in our families, in our lives. We need to cry out for His Holy Spirit to consume our church services. Not that we experience some physical manifestation but that we feel, individually and as a congregation, the very presence of God among us. It's hard to describe what that feels like.

I remember one time when the presence of God was so real during worship one morning that I was completely oblivious to everyone and everything around me. I saw the Lord as if in a vision. It was so real and so completely marvelous. As He walked down the aisle and passed alongside where I was sitting that "peace that passes all understanding" came over me. I did not cry, I did not rejoice. I just felt such strong peace and like warm oil being poured over my head. I never wanted it to stop. That's what being in the presence of an Almighty God should feel like.

I've experienced it in another way, too. I've experienced sitting with Jesus and from behind He wrapped His arms around me and that same peace overcame me. It was at a time when I needed that specific "hug." I knew I was forgiven and that He loved me and was comforting me.

These things may sound strange to some, but this is all so possible if we have a true desire for the Lord. We are headed for desperate times and we desperately need God to strengthen us. We cannot be strengthened without His Spirit. 

Some may have felt distant from the Lord. Some may have completely walked away. Some might feel He has remained quiet, maybe too quiet, for awhile. These things do happen. Wait on God. He might be testing you to see what you will do. Will you become desperate again for Him? Will you call out for Him? 

I think about how between the last book of Micah in the Old Testament to the first book of Matthew in the New, there was a four hundred year gap. God silenced Himself for four hundred years. He waited for the desperation of His people. Then He "spoke" again through the Word Himself, Jesus. The rest is His-story.

We have not known calamity in this lifetime. We've had it so very good. We've had more and done more than we could ever have expected. We've seen prosperity; we've lived prosperity. What will we feel if this is all taken away from us through natural disaster or terrorism. Think it can't happen? What's all the news about?

Again, I bring up what the Bible has told us: there will be wars and rumor of wars… If the Bible says it, it will happen. There's been talk about the world ending in 2012. I don't believe that, but I do think it's possible that some tragedy could put us in a place where it will seem like the world, as we've known it, has ended. If that happens, will we be prepared? Will that strength in the Lord be evident and lived out? 

Don't think for a second I hope this will happen. I'd like to believe it can't happen, but I also don't want to be someone whose head is buried so deep in the sand that I'm not at least a bit prepared for this. 

Think about what it would be like without transportation, without fuel, without electricity, without internet or phones or any sort of communication. Wouldn't it seem like the world had ended? Everything we so totally rely on coming to a complete standstill. Not even knowing if friends or family in the next city are okay because the only way to connect with them is talking to them. Wouldn't that bring a great amount of fear?

That's where having the knowledge of a God, Jesus, our Savior, is so important. I'm sure if this happens, there will be a lot of desperation coming from people. 

Better to have a desperation for Jesus now, to be fully aware of who He is and what He can do, have the trust and faith in Him now. We ought to have this desperation for Him. We need to be desperate about our futures and Who it is taking us there. 

Whether we know that we know the one true, living God or haven't a clue, we can always ask for Him to show us again or for the first time how to be desperate. He will draw us closer or He will draw us for the first time. If our hearts are truly desiring His peace, His wisdom, His knowledge, He will reciprocate. Let us not harden our hearts. Let us not allow the enemy of our souls grab hold and take us to a place where desperation is futile. Let us become desperate for Jesus.

Psalm 84:2 - My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hallelujah, For All You've Done

Isaiah 49:6 - "I will also give You as a light...that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." 

The beating alone should have killed Him. But this was no ordinary man. This was Jesus Christ, Son of God...God incarnate. He was a Man with a mission, to do the will of His Father. That will was to die for the sins of every man, woman and child that has lived, is living and will live. This Man suffered many things. His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 52:14, Isaiah 53:4-5)

We complain about being mistreated, about being wrongfully accused, about life not being fair. Who are think like this? Jesus was rejected, wrongfully accused and mistreated. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him (Romans 5:8, Isaiah 53:3). He suffered all of life's trials and temptations, but He chose to because He loved us so much. Has Buddha made this claim? Or Mohammed? Has any god one might worship actually done this for anyone? Can our sports, music or movie heroes do this? Can even His mother? And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).

Only God could do this. Only the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Maker of heaven and earth. He stepped down from His throne that He might come to earth to live among sinners so He would experience every temptation, sadness and challenge so that He would understand and He alone could provide the Way for us and tear apart the veil that separated us from an all loving, all powerful God. He did this for you. He did it for me. He did not consider it loss. He was wounded that we might be spiritually healed. He died for our gain. His death brought life. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

The crown of thorns, the blood that was shed. We might not like to hear of or see such gruesome details. We might turn our eyes away, but it happened just the same. We might try not to consider it all and what's more we might not be able to comprehend how one Man could withstand it all. But He did it because He loved us so much. As He carried the cross up the road to Golgotha the suffering continued. Who could withstand such agony? Then being nailed to the cross...all this was His passion. He did it because He loved us so much that He gave...period. He gave. 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 (John 3:16).

He gave and we take. We feel we are deserving of so much in life when we don't deserve a darn thing. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). He already knew He would do this but still did not count as loss His life for us. 

It's not all about us but all about Him. He died so we might live. Only Jesus Christ, Son of God could have done that. While He hung on that cross you were on His mind. Every step He took to get there, with every word He spoke during His ministry He thought about your salvation. Imagine His head full of the sad realization that one person would reject Him and then the joy knowing another one would be with Him some day in Paradise, our Promised Land.

At 3:00 in the afternoon, after six hours on the cross, He finally gave up His Spirit. He proclaimed: It is finished. Access to God was restored as the veil was torn. He took His last breath still thinking only of you and me and loving us even in our sinful condition. I wonder if all the lives of all the people in the world flashed through His mind? Wouldn't it be just like Him to have no thought about Himself but to think about the world which He just gave His life for?

It might be easier to dwell on the thought of baskets filled with candy and chocolate bunnies and the fun of hunting for Easter eggs, but I guarantee these thoughts did not enter His mind. His life was lived knowing He was going to and willing to pay the price with His death. 

This part of the agonizing story doesn't end there. He arose again. Hallelujah! He brought good out of something that seemed so horribly wrong. That's why God can make the claim that He brings good out of evil in our lives, if we are followers of an all-loving, all-powerful God. This dreadful story has the most glorious ending. And we can experience the same.

He became the Lamb that the people of the Old Testament sacrificed during their very first Passover. It was His blood that was applied to the doorposts and lintels of the houses of the Jews held captive in Egypt to keep the firstborn of every household safe from the angel of death and a jealous Egyptian Pharaoh. It is that same blood that covers our hearts and a multitude of sins, rejections and miseries as only man may withstand. It is His blood that courses through our veins when we receive Christ as our own personal Lord and Savior.

He lived, He died, He rose again. He became the Way that we might have eternal life. Isn't this something to celebrate? We will never be able to wrap our heads around all He's done for us but we can make a simple declaration of our faith in Him. We can submit our wills to His as He did to His Father. We can receive Him that we might also be raised up from a spiritual death. We can be resting in His love and His life the rest of our days. Thank you, Lord, for all you've done!

Philippians 3:10-11 - that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Joy, Strength and A Faithful God

Psalm 27:1 - The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

As I approach the end of a week where a feeling of dread has lingered, I wonder where it all began. Did I lose sight of the Lord? Did I turn my back in some way? Is He working something out...or Is He calling me to a greater depth in Him? Thankfully, it appears to be lifting. Scripture helps. Words of confidence and peace and wisdom.

Some day I might look back and know the answer. But for now it's simply trusting in Him. I will follow Him even when things seem dark. I might not see the path laid out before me but there is One on that path who sees very clearly and all I need to do is follow Him. 

I read an article that spoke to my heart. It was about temporary setbacks. Although it was speaking of work projects being put on hold because behind the scenes God needs to set things in place, I believe it also spoke of circumstances in life. 

Boyd Bailey the author of Wisdom Hunters daily devotional wrote: Obstacles become opportunities; adversaries become advocates; critics become cheerleaders; enemies become emissaries. And setbacks become a tremendous springboard for God’s will. Take heart, and keep your head up. It is darkest before the dawn. Hang in there with Jesus, and He will hold you up. Your Savior will sustain you. God’s purposes will not be thwarted, so believe it, and watch Him work. Amazing how he used similar words as a pastor in prayer on Sunday morning...keeping our heads up and walking tall, in the strength of the Lord.

No matter what the situation, if we trust God through it all, He will come through and we will be victorious. Maybe we need some added wisdom before we can proceed. Maybe we need rest. Maybe we need a strong word of admonition. Whatever it is, if we go to the Lord...with our hands open to receive from Him whatever it is...He will in His time show us, guide us and give whatever we need to move on. 

Funny how I later found out I was not the only one who had been feeling like this. Maybe it was no more than the promise of spring as we, in the Midwest, looked outside our windows and saw winter hanging on to every moment it could. Even seasoned Christians go through a time of weariness, wonder or doubt. It's just not often spoken if it's something a person doesn't want to divulge can happen because we are in Christ, as if we aren't thrown for a loop every so often. 

Funny also how I after I had talked to my friend I watched a recorded Christian program. It spoke of the same we can doubt ourselves sometimes. But if we have not lost our desire to attend church or have not stopped contemplating the things of God, we are still secure in His hands. What a comfort to hear.

It's always easy to trust when things are going well. It's harder when we cannot see ahead or when our spirits are downcast, which can happen to anyone. But thankfully if we know Christ we can still hang on to the joy that is deep within our souls. We can dip into that wellspring and drink of the water of life and be refreshed.

What troubles you today? I dare you to go to God and ask what He might give to you that will remove the discomfort in your heart. Sometimes it's hard to rejoice when your heart is weary. But it's that joy that is deep inside that allows one to carry on in the midst of heaviness. Thank the Lord for His goodness and patience. Thank Him He has said He will never leave us. Thank You that You turn mourning into joy.

Psalm 5:11 - ...let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remember This

Hebrews 10:1 - For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

The animal sacrifices that were done continually in the Old Testament could do no more than keep reminding Israel of their sins and could never release them of their bondage. In Hebrews 10:11 we are told and every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifice, which can never take away sins.

Two things stood out in our study of Hebrews by the Life Change Series. The phrase make perfect is defined like this: not sinless perfection, but "that definitive removal of guilt which makes free access to God possible." Hallelujah! And in Hebrews 10:11 the word stands means the priests never sat because their work was never done.

Oh, here's the answer to an underlying question. I knew this but this definition added to my understanding! I questioned the work being done in me...and in all who have received Christ.  We don't always see in us what God sees. We're at a bit of a disadvantage, if you want to call it that. I think we don't see all our goodness for a keep us closer to the Lord, to keep us seeking and searching...perhaps even to keep our pride in check. However, and this is a big however, we have been made perfect at the defining moment when we received Christ as our Savior, when we became in Christ. But that perfection, as noted above, is not sinless perfection.

What good news. At the moment we receive, our cracked pots are forever being perfected! Sometimes reading this in a different context is sometimes necessary...and this definition could have just been waiting for me...or had I done my Hebrews lesson sooner, might I have not gone through a few days of discouragement...or did I go through the discouragement to learn another valuable lesson or confidence? Food for thought...bread of life!

Back to Hebrews is talking about Jesus. Nothing new. So many things in the Old Testament speak of Jesus. Jesus is the shadow of good things to come throughout the Old Testament. All the dreaded, but at the time necessary sacrifices, which did nothing to alleviate the sin of the people, only remind them of how sinful they were. And, oh, those poor priests. In a study Bible I have, the futility of their work was pointed out in these words which nail the feeling they must have felt: utter helplessness. They could never finish the work set before them. They knew their work would never be complete. 

That's why Jesus came, to mend cracked pots and forever perfect us who are forever in need of perfection. His single, perfect, human sacrifice did what the animal sacrifices could not. He did it all and only one time for anyone who wishes to receive Him. He even said: It is finished. What a glorious ending of a magnificent life for us. 

In the same vein, none of the good works we attempt do before knowing Him will get us to that place of true salvation. They, too, are all futile. Those who try will only be like the priests...utterly helpless in achieving that goal of salvation, working, working, working and getting nowhere until, hopefully, acknowledgement of Jesus as the only true Savior and the simple act of receiving Him is finished. 

Quit trying to work at it. Easter is upon us. Rejoice that Jesus has He died for all our sins and raised up from the dead. Just as we die to ourselves and give our lives to Him, we are raised up. No repetitious prayers, no great works. Just a contrite heart willing to fully accept what Jesus has done for us. No one can do what He has done. If there's anything He will accept as payment, it's our lives poured out for Him like a drink offering. Our hands must be open to receive. If your fists are clenched, loosen them up!

Hebrews 9:9 - It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Restorer of the Breach

Psalm 71:20-21 - Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

Well, here it is, another year later. Another spiritual birthday under my belt. April 18, 1999...12 years. This is a cause for true celebration. Real life birthdays come and go and one day will end on this earth, but a spiritual birthday, one where you are born again of the Spirit, will live on for eternity. Jesus has given me new life and continually restores it as the years go on.

Just when you you think you've gained a foothold in a life in Christ, which I know I have, a circumstance pokes it's ugly head, as I mentioned yesterday. Ach, the things we forget! The things of which I need to be constantly Him. How He restores.

Coming through another troubling time, as if the words "time heals all wounds" is true, for me it's not just the's the words of the Lord that are the healing balm of Gilead. The truth is, when we do seek the Lord and listen for His voice, He steps in to be that ever near and promised Comforter.

Jesus Christ, Lord of all, Savior, Comforter, Friend...One who sticks closer than a brother (or friend, or family, or anyone). One who will never leave us nor forsake us. The perfect Lamb of God, the darling of Heaven who was crucified for the sins of the world (most precious being the definition of darling as was pointed out during worship Sunday). Only He is worthy of all our glory, honor and praise.

How thankful I am for His love for me, His joy over me, His peace that He has given me, His patience with me, His kindness toward me, His goodness and gentleness for me. Now allow me the self-control which escapes every so often! He crucified His flesh for all, and for me. It is our turn to crucify ourselves in a similar manner, to give ourselves and all we are over to Him. 

Jesus, the lover of my soul; I am my Beloved's and He is mine. He is the sweet rose of Sharon. I am His bride and He is my Groom. He is the soon coming King, everlasting Father, Prince of peace, mighty God. And He is a God of restoration. Despite any time we might lose in the midst of our trials, He has said He will restore the time the locust has stolen.

As we have lived, or are living, without Christ, when we give ourselves to Him He restores those lost and dreadful days. All the years spent without Him are as far past as our sins. They are only memories. He closes that door and has opened a new one for us. A new life, yet not completely free from pain. But pain which is now minor compared to what we lived before. Pain dies more quickly now. He is our Healer, the Restorer of the breach. He is in the job of mending.

In our times of need, if we rejoice in who He is, He brings peace, understanding, wisdom and healing. He cannot fail us, but we can certainly fail Him if we do not acknowledge and turn to Him.

Psalm 37:4-6 - Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Cracked Pot

Psalm 31:12 - I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.

This is how I felt for a day or two last week. Insecurities loomed. The idea of being alone was my friend...and worst enemy. And what does the enemy of my soul relish in? My insecurities. Who am I in Christ? Certainly not what I think I am...or what anyone else might think I am. I am in Christ and, therefore, no lesser nor greater than anyone else. In and through Jesus, I am who I am and no one can take that away. No one can talk that out of me, no matter how hard they want to. 

What cracked pots we are, aren't we all? Insecurity, too much security, too much pride, desiring too much control, wanting too much attention, too much complaining, too much a victim, fearing too much, always wanting the left hand to know what the right is doing. Oh, how we are all in need of a Savior. Some of these words were what I sent to an internet friend in Indiana! 

I admit...I was having a bad day and feeling so very insecure as I poured my heart out to her in a long email. Somehow it made me feel a bit better getting things off my chest. She listens (reads) and comments (writes). 

I have questioned myself how God can sit in the heavenlies on His great and glorious throne and look down upon us and see us, those who say we are in Christ, and wonder at how we can still be imperfect. It's almost like He has to turn a blind eye. But I know that's not what He does. Because His blood has covered us, He sees us who we can be. Our strength is only in Him. When we lose that strength it is important to get it back!

Since then I have been reminded how we are to be filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) and then it dawned on me, this is how he can look at us in our imperfect natures...because those are also God's nature. He exudes all these things. So why is it so hard sometimes to have all these qualities? Because we are imperfect. We are cracked pots. Some just don't vocalize it.

I see the cracks in my nature. And the beauty is...Jesus covered those cracks and flaws. He wants to fix our pots! His blood was poured out for me. And all I needed to do was receive the gift of Jesus into my heart for that to happen. There are still cracks in this old pot! I wonder often if the cracks will fill in or whether the pot will fall apart? Either way, God has a plan for fixing those cracks, whether it's mending them or starting all over from scratch on the Potter's wheel.

That's why Jesus is who He is. That's why we need to seek Him in the midst of our troubles instead of writing emails! I wonder how many others occasionally feel so ashamed of how they feel they can't go to the Lord? And I wonder how much He is saddened by that? At some time in each of our lives, whether we want to believe it or not, we are all cracked pots. Absolutely no one is exempt. 

Others may consider me less interesting or less knowledgeable, but I AM NOT inferior in Jesus' eyes. He is jealous after me. Just as others are His child, so I am. That cannot be taken away from me. He sees beyond my flaws and I'm so thankful. Doesn't matter what others think. Praise God for that! He's the only One who matters.

There are times when all I want is to be alone with the Lord. Alone, secluded and secure in Him. To relish in His presence, to listen to Him speak, to know that when others fail me, He will be there. He will strengthen me and gently, or strongly, rebuke my thoughts or actions. He will turn the thoughts around to His words and not my own or those of others. 

I love the Lord with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. It may not show the same way as someone else, but I know in the recesses of my soul that I do. I know that I am His and He is mine. Do I still have work that needs to be done in me...yes, absolutely. I will trust in the Lord and not lean on my own understanding in that regard. Do I want a quick work? Another absolutely. I've waited a long time and I know there's a long time yet ahead of me. No matter what others think, the One who knows, the One who loves unconditionally, the One who will not leave me nor forsake me, is the One I will trust. 

So what happened to the woman who speaks of trusting the Lord? She's still inside. The old insecurities creep up time and again. As I thought about this I know I heard the still small voice within my spirit saying I never said it would be easy. If they rejected me they will reject you. It's your cross to bear. This was not a purposely hard word; just an honest one. Have I gone to the Lord since? Oh, yes. And as if he read my mind, a pastor early Sunday morning spoke these words in prayer: Whatever you have gone through, hold your head high and walk in the Spirit. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but we have a victorious Savior who has gone through it all. 

Thank you, Lord, for your love which is far greater than anyone else can give. Thank You for Your kindness and patience. Thank You for whispers of encouragement when they are needed most. Thank You that You are the Master Potter and that the cracks in my pot will be mended only by You. You know which cracks are most critically in need of repair. Take this old pot and mend it. Break it into bits if You must to start from scratch. Just mend it!

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 38:15)

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's All About the Journey

1Corinthians 9:24-25 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now [some] do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

My husband and I watched a program called America's Game. It was about the 1996 Green Bay Packers. That year was a defining one. Quarterback, Brett Favre, newly received receiver, Desmond Howard, and as reported, a one-time, ex-assistant tennis coach, Mike Holmgren, joined together for what could be called the year for the Pack.

Holmgren and Favre and Howard. A winning combination in 1996. But who would have guessed it at first? Holmgren took chances. After Favre was found to be under severe drug addiction, Holmgren decided to "clean up" this yet-to-be MVP quarterback (although good, old Brett has since come into some not-so-great attention). When Favre came out, however, he proved a winner after rehab. His claim to fame began as he matured in his ability to play football. He took the Packers to Superbowl XXXI to win against the New England Patriots taking the coveted Lombardi trophy back home to Lambeau Field in the frozen tundra.

Howard, not having a great past football record and given only a one year contract with the Packers, stepped up that same game to receive a pass and to magnificently run 99 yards for a touchdown, showing a strength and agility he had not previously had. He also proved himself. 

The game only got better. The score? Who knows? One thing that stood out in the program was what Favre mentioned as he stood on the winner's platform receiving all the cheers and adulation. It was his feeling of numbness over it all. The game was finished. Emotions ran high for awhile but soon he thought, Is this it? Shouldn't I feel more? It was eerie to him to have gone all this way only to feel like this.

The meaning of it all? In the locker room Holmgren, minus Favre who took off for the showers (he should have stayed!), told the guys, It's not about winning the Superbowl, it's the journey getting there, as he lifted up the trophy. And that's what it's like knowing the Lord. 

Every day is another part of the journey. One day He's quiet. One day He's gentle. Another day His sense of humor shows. Yet another day He's liable to reprimand. And every day He's wanting you to trust Him. As I've alluded to all this week, a life with and in Christ can be exciting. He speaks, He guides, He blesses, and He reprimands too! He wants our trust when He asks us to do something special...or when He wants to stretch us. But as we learn this about Him, trusting Him as the Authority over our lives gets easier. And it's not about us, but about Him in us working through us. 

The journey is always exciting. And in the end? We are told, according to the good works we do in Christ, we are given our own trophy...a crown...for every unselfish deed we did for God for someone else. And one day when we bow before the Lord, we will lay those crowns (trophies) down at the feet of Jesus. Why give them up? Only Jesus is worthy to receive these crowns because only He is exalted in our good works and because for us the journey with Jesus alone should be worth it. 

In doing a quick bit of checking on something about Holmgren, I came across this statement from an interview with him: Win or lose, I learned a long time ago what really matters: It's not Super Bowl rings, but the crown of eternal life Christ has won for us by his victory on the cross. As the Swedish hymn writer Lina Sandell put it: "Though he giveth or he taketh, God his children ne'er forsaketh, his the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy."

He shared in the article how he met a woman who changed his life and he rededicated his life to Christ. They eventually married. Proverbs 3:5 became his personal line of scrimmage for which he dug in: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. As he began his coaching career his family and his professional opportunities grew. He added, But ambition was not the demon it had once been for me. My wife and kids were a daily reminder of both God's blessing on my life and his priorities.

What a surprising testimony he has. Sometimes you just don't realize how God is working in those around you. How ordinary people can become extraordinary when Christ is the foundation and center of a life. Totally blows me away. So there's still hope....for all of us. Through our walk with Christ, we can receive the greatest crown of all, the crown of life. That is one crown I don't think is taken away.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life. (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Lead, You Follow

Joshua 3:3 - "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it."

So my enlightenment continues as I read further about the accounts (don't like calling them stories anymore...stories can be fictional).

Yes, Joshua was a leader. Yes, we can be too. Our leadership abilities, however, stem from a relationship with Christ where we follow Him. It comes when we let go of ourselves and let God lead us first and trust in His guidance.

An interesting thing I heard in Sunday school last week fits so perfectly here. A friend who had just come to know the Lord (years ago) was on her way someplace. As she left her apartment she quietly ushered the Lord to come with she went out ahead. She headed down the hall when she heard a gentle voice saying, You've got it backwards. I lead, you follow, to which she said if anyone could have seen her would have thought she was crazy...after admitting she was wrong, she bowed and made another sweeping gesture with her arm to let God go ahead of her!

What a great testimony of what is expected. If we cannot accept authority in our lives, we might not be able to accept His over ours, an Authority who knows so much better what we are capable of doing through the wisdom and strength of so powerful a Man.

So here's Joshua telling the Israelites to watch for the ark of the covenant, which God commanded Moses to build and where God met with Moses on the mercy seat (a whole other blog). These people knew about the ark. They understood the meaning of it and how supernaturally God was near and was their protection. Joshua is telling them to watch for it and follow behind it so they will know which direction (of safety) they should go.

Just like when they crossed the Red Sea and the waters parted, so the waters of the Jordan River did. They passed over on dry ground to the land God had given them. 

If we personalize this we can see that if we trust the Lord with our lives, we will be successful if we follow Him and be obedient in all things. We follow Him so we know which direction we should go. We can never go wrong...but we can so easily slip and get ahead of Him because in our human minds we think we have Him all figured out...and we want to help Him along!

I ran into an acquaintance the other day in a grocery store. I'd not seen her in years. She told me she was planning on retiring shortly and after living in the Milwaukee area and having all things within a very tight radius from her apartment, she was believing God was asking her to trust Him to pack up her things and move to another state. She has no idea why or what she will do. She's a little uneasy because this is not her way, but she specifically knows that she is to take an account of all she has and uses and get rid of all she doesn't need. Sounds like a moving plan to me! How exciting to just trust Him without any understanding. I hope I will be informed as to all that transpires. I know the Lord will be beside her and when all is finished there will be some glorious plan awaiting her.

This is what God wants us to do with every minute of our lives. This is what yesterday's blog was about. We talked a bit about this even in our Bible study on Hebrews Tuesday. Listening for God's voice, taking heed of what He says and being obedient to His command. And especially trusting that what you do will be guided by His Spirit. He has already prepared the way...just like He prepared the Way for us 2,000 years ago. He prepared the Way that we might become His followers....not His leaders. What's the old saying, Too many chiefs and not enough Indians?

Joshua was shown and now was showing the people that "By this you shall know that the living God is among you..." (Joshua 3:10a)

To end, another quick point: Joshua had all the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel take a stone to build a monument where they had crossed over the river as a reminder of just what God had done for them. All our lives we can see little monuments of times when God has done things in our lives. When we are obedient we succeed. When we succeed we are encouraged. When we are encouraged, we can continue on knowing no matter what, God has something good in store for us. When we fear God enough to do things like I've brought up here, only success will prevail. Doesn't it make you wonder what you're missing?

Joshua 4:24 - "...that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Enlarge My Territory

Wow! I was bombarded with things about discipleship and the Great Commission and our own personal role. There must be an important message there. Uh, should I say, there is an important message there. Oh, my blogs are all over the place these days, but intertwined nonetheless.

Listen to what Jesus has to say. He had risen from the dead and was telling His disciples what the next step was they were to do:
Matthew 28:16-20 - Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

First of all, this is a command of Jesus' to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. If we have received Christ and are filled with His Spirit, this should be easy, right? As I picked up emails here, a book there, the words of Jesus shouted at me. We know we are not supposed to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are for us and which are not. But sometimes we do. That's easy to do.

And sometimes we doubt. That's easy too. We can't conceive of ourselves being "commissioned" to do certain things. That's the hard part. But let me add that as Jesus said, He is with us always; He will be our guide in any and all circumstances, if we are in Christ.

I was reading a chapter in Radical by David Platt. It deals with God's global purpose from the beginning until today. Platt takes the point we oftentimes make that Jesus died just for me and tells us that He didn't just die for me. It's not just about me, me, me. He died for all mankind. It's okay to personalize His death for ourselves, but it doesn't end there. The next step is sharing the meaning of His death with others because it doesn't just stop with us. We can't just be Christians satisfied with our own salvation and receive it...period. We must also share it with others. We are not the end of the Gospel; God is, Platt so truthfully writes. We have received salvation so that His name will be proclaimed in all nations.

This is what the Great Commission is all about. It's about adding our names to the list along with the disciples. Long before I started this particular blog I had the urging to go on another missions trip with our church. I've inquired about future trips. I don't know why, other than I believe God has something to show me...again. Do I feel qualified to go? Not necessarily. I'm older now and a little creakier, probably less able to lift concrete blocks or sift sand out of rocks for concrete, but that won't disqualify me from doing something for the Lord.

I also don't think I'm in line with those who would make it their life's mission to be a missionary...but one never, ever knows for sure. Some really drastic changes would have to take place in my life. Short term for now is good. Platt tells us there are some who believe they are not called to do's for someone else. And he decidedly says we consider this an optional program in the church for a faithful few... Jesus himself has not merely called us to go to all nations; he has created us and commanded us to go to all nations.

Some might suggest that their interests lie here in the United States, not overseas. And might I add some believe that their family is their mission field...doing for them that they might see Christ in them and come to a saving knowledge of Him through their good works and love. That's just one area and something we should do. But sometimes our boundaries might be stretched.

James Robison wrote in a blog recently on the Great Omission (Believers have failed to fulfill the Great Commission because of a Great Omission): Any lack of desire on the part of professing church members to be fruitful is a legitimate reason to examine yourself whether you be of faith (2Corinthians 13:5). Believers are misguided when they try to be like other Church members rather than holding on to Jesus. I throw this in for a reason.

Although we are not to compare ourselves to others, we are all called to be disciples. In a recent devotion sent by David Wilkerson on holiness, he said: You can never again look at another Christian and say, "Oh, I wish I were as holy as He is." He continued to basically say we have our own struggles, make our own mistakes or even lack discipline in some areas where others are stronger. But if we have received Christ we are all equals in God's eyes. We fail. We do. But God loves us just the same. (Yes, He will deal with us when necessary.)

Here's why I bring this up. If we profess to be in Christ but do not carry out His command to go to all nations, if we feel His nudge, we are not abiding in Him. If we do not compare ourselves, and we are all the same in God's eyes, that means disciples and "Great Commissioners." I'm not saying everyone WILL be called overseas or across countries, but we shouldn't rule it out completely. If we aren't to compare ourselves to others we should not say, they are more the type to do that; I'm not. The Holy Spirit will guide us and that can be the most glorious thing.

I don't think we can ever know what great things we will encounter if we minister in some way to those, who most likely will be less fortunate, than we. We will learn humility, for sure, when we are taken out of our comfortable surroundings and put into the world of the less fortunate. For some, however, it might be just the thing for them to complain...You call this a motel? You call this food? You call this a place of gathering? Where did Jesus minister?

As Robison continued he said we have made the commission of making disciples of all believers into making churches and focusing on our own priorities. How sad is that? We should be focusing on what God has placed within us through His Holy Spirit. We will be as Jesus has asked us to be; we will be less focused on ourselves, less comparing ourselves to others and just letting God be God through us...and being His disciples. That way we only glorify it should be. I wonder if choosing to do something that is stretching us doesn't glorify God all the more? Robison also said, Even in people who are gifted and highly effective, it is the Giver of the gift and Jesus being exalted that attracts me.

The Giver of the gift...The Great do God's will in sharing Christ with all nations, through His Spirit, not just those close to us, or not at all. Let the Spirit of God be the guide  in our lives. Go where He directs. Choose to let Him show what needs to be seen to develop a better understanding of what He sees every day. To have His heart for the world...a world that is dying quickly.

Platt also said this: Because from cover to cover the Bible teaches that all the church--not just select individuals, but all the church--is created to reflect all the glory of God to all the world. Is that what the Church, as Robison says, is doing? Or is it only making members? And are we as members determining in our own hearts we are more like this person and not that, comparing ourselves...and deciding that's not my job...or my gift?

I thought about the prayer of Jabez. Although it was the cry of this man that he would always realize God as the center of his life, I see it in another way. If God is the center, we should be able to do anything through the power of His Spirit. You never know how God will bless us when we stretch beyond who we think we are...we are all He wants us to be and we should be willing to do beyond our own comfort level. And yes, this word is for me! As He has told us above, He will be with us always. Let's not make the mistake of assuming others are better qualified than we. If we abide in Christ, we know no bounds. Lord, enlarge my territory!

1Chronicles 4:10. - Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. And God granted his request.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Do I Have in Common With Joshua?

Joshua 1:8 - This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.

Now what could I possibly glean from Joshua, my groggy head was wondering yesterday morning? Joshua was a leader, next in line after Moses, chosen of God to lead His people into the Promised Land. I'm no Joshua! Or am I? Aren't we all if we are followers of Christ?

As I began to read words that were spoken thousands of years ago to a man we can only picture in our imaginations, my highlighter began to work. Then the pencil came out to underscore words. Words like I will be with you always, be strong and of good courage, observe my laws, meditate on them day and night, that you may prosper, and success, stood out.

I had a blog I'd been working on in increments over the weekend but this decidedly had to come first because it fell in line with what I'd already written, sort of as a prelude. So...Joshua. What in the world do I have in common with him, I had thought at first. Now I know.

God came through loud and clear in just the first nine paragraphs. Despite the fact I am not a man (!), I can be considered a leader. As a follower of Christ, God teaches us that He will be with us always, especially  He will never leave us nor forsake us. We find this in His Word, if we choose to look there. That message is for all who seek it. It's there for all who claim Christ as Lord and Savior. If we follow His commands, are obedient to His Word, listen to Him speak or even whisper through His Spirit or Word, we can be strong and courageous...warriors...if we trust the Lord and not ourselves in all things. The Word is our shield (Ephesians  6:16).

The LORD told Joshua in the first nine paragraphs of Chapter 1 to be strong and courageous three times. Once He even emphasized very courageous. He told Joshua that if He meditated day and night on the law that Moses commanded the people he/they would prosper, have success. The law was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. These first five books are the foundation of the Christian religion, whether the sacrifices of so many years ago are obsolete or not. There is a correlation. Today we can see Christ in those sacrifices. Today the Word as a whole is to be our guide, God's commands to all His people who hunger and thirst after Him, after Jesus, and are obedient to His Word.

We are told to meditate on the Word day and night. We are to observe to do according to all that is written in it. The be prosperous and successful...not in the world's way but in the way of God. He has greater things to give us through His Word and through Him if we truly seek His Word.

So, the other point that came as I meditated on these words is tomorrow's blog! He was a warrior as well as leader. He fought many battles and with God's strength won...because He observed the law that God had set before Him. Joshua did as God asked him. As a follow of Christ it is my obligation to reach others with the Gospel, to lead others to the knowledge of Jesus, of His saving grace. Sometimes that takes being a warrior. Sometimes the battle is not won right away. It takes persistence.

The Word of God is powerful, we are told. It divides the soul and spirit when it is truly received. It changes people. It pierces our hearts and shows our sin that it may bring about transformation in our lives...certainly not all at once, but enough that we might be recognized as different...a good kind of different. We are then in a lifelong process of purification and thankfully God does not quit working in us. Transformation is how I view success, prosperity and fruitfulness as we see Him work more and more in our lives.

It's all about God and His Word. Meditate on it and be successful...and fruitful.

Psalm 1:1-2 - Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wholly Devoted

Isaiah 26:9 - With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Are you wholly devoted? Do you seek Me? Do you trust Me? Do you see me at work in your daily life?

Or...Do you go about your day without any thought of Me? Do you trust in your finances, treasures or your own strength? Do you trust in things that cannot be held on to instead of ...treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal?

Are you satisfied with your life? Do you long for something new? Look to Me and I will be that new thing? I will give new life, new hope, new strength, new provision. 

My life was not my own as I headed to the cross. Neither should your life be your own. Let your life be Mine; let Me take on your burdens. Let Me give you the wisdom and strength for any situation. You will have a win-win situation if you do. Only I know exactly what you need and exactly how it should be done. The way of the world does not provide the same type of security as I. Lean on Me. 

All I ask is that you not turn Me away, for I have all you need. I can fulfill all your desires if your desires are founded on My plans for you. I will never fail.

Some world religions cause those who believe to fear and become oppressed. They are held captive. But I will give you freedom. I will set the captives free. I will give you a reverent fear, not a dreadful fear. My Father repeatedly has said to fear not. So, fear not.

When the world is in dread, they fear Me not. They fear what they cannot control. But through this fear, they may find Me. They might seek Me when all else fails. So search for Me while I may still be found, before the troubles come. Seek Me and My righteousness and glory in Me. 

I gave My life for you. I was dead but I was also resurrected. Give Me your life. If you do you too will be resurrected in the last days. Your life is not your own. In the world you will lose your life, but in Me you will gain eternal life. Which do you choose?

Wonder, oh wonder, about Me. Then seek My face. Seek My heart, seek to hear My voice and if your heart is true, if your heart earnestly and honestly seeks Me, you will find Me. Return to Me those who have strayed. Return and receive My love again, like the prodigal son. My love never faded, never fades, and I will receive you again, My children. My love knows no bounds. It's as high as the mountains and as deep as the seas--and even greater than this. No greater love did I have than to lay down My life for My friends. 

Receive, receive--My love, My wisdom, My strength. Do not fear it. Let yourself become weak so I might make you strong, for in your weakness you will be made strong through Me.

I am able to heal all your illnesses. I will heal the lame, blind and deaf. If you follow Me these things will happen, not necessarily in the physical but in the spiritual. If you follow Me you follow the right Way. You will receive spiritual healing first and foremost. Your lame walk will be healed because you have followed Me. Your blindness will be healed because you will spiritually see what is Truth. Your deaf ears will be unstopped because you are now able to hear the Word and understand it.

Wholly devote yourselves to Me and your healing and your life will be secure. 

1Kings 8:61 - Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Now That's God!

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

If we listen for God's voice and if we respond to it, we will see the details played out time and time again. He's amazing.

I've seen this before but it's worth sharing. I don't know if it's real or the product of someone's creative literary ability, but it's very good. It ties in a bit with my blog on Listening for God.


It was one of the hottest days of the dry season. We had not seen rain in almost a month. The crops were dying. Cows had stopped giving milk. The creeks and streams were long gone back into the earth. It was a dry season that would bankrupt several farmers before it was through. 

Every day, my husband and his brothers would go about the arduous process of trying to get water to the fields. Lately this process had involved taking a truck to the local water rendering plant and filling it up with water. But severe rationing had cut everyone off. If we didn’t see some rain soon...we would lose everything. It was on this day that I learned the true lesson of sharing and witnessed the only miracle I have seen with my own eyes. I was in the kitchen making lunch for my husband and his brothers when I saw my six-year-old son, Billy, walking toward the woods. He wasn't walking with the usual carefree abandon of a youth but with a serious purpose. I could only see his back. He was obviously walking with a great effort ... trying to be as still as possible. Minutes after he disappeared into the woods, he came running out again, toward the house. 

I went back to making sandwiches; thinking that whatever task he had been doing was completed. Moments later, however, he was once again walking in that slow purposeful stride toward the woods. This activity went on for an hour: walking carefully to the woods, running back to the house. 

Finally I couldn't take it any longer and I crept out of the house and followed him on his journey (being very careful not to be he was obviously doing important work and didn't need his Mommy checking up on him). He was cupping both hands in front of him as he walked, being very careful not to spill the water he held in them ... maybe two or three tablespoons were held in his tiny hands. I sneaked close as he went into the woods. Branches and thorns slapped his little face, but he did not try to avoid them. He had a much higher purpose. As I leaned in to spy on him, I saw the most amazing site. 

Several large deer loomed in front of him. Billy walked right up to them. I almost screamed for him to get away. A huge buck with elaborate antlers was dangerously close. But the buck did not threaten him...he didn't even move as Billy knelt down. And I saw a tiny fawn lying on the ground; obviously suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, lift its head with great effort to lap up the water cupped in my beautiful boy's hand. When the water was gone, Billy jumped up to run back to the house and I hid behind a tree. 

I followed him back to the house to a spigot to which we had shut off the water. Billy opened it all the way up and a small trickle began to creep out. He knelt there, letting the drip, drip slowly fill up his makeshift "cup," as the sun beat down on his little back. And it came clear to me: The trouble he had gotten into for playing with the hose the week before. The lecture he had received about the importance of not wasting water. The reason he didn't ask me to help him. It took almost twenty minutes for the drops to fill his hands. When he stood up and began the trek back, I was there in front of him. 

His little eyes just filled with tears. "I'm not wasting," was all he said. As he began his walk, I joined him...with a small pot of water from the kitchen. I let him tend to the fawn. I stayed away. It was his job. I stood on the edge of the woods watching the most beautiful heart I have ever known working so hard to save another life. As the tears that rolled down my face began to hit the ground, other drops...and more drops...and more suddenly joined them. I looked up at the sky. It was as if God, himself, was weeping with pride. 

Some will probably say that this was all just a huge coincidence. Those miracles don't really exist. That it was bound to rain sometime. And I can't argue with that... I'm not going to try. All I can say is that the rain that came that day saved our farm...just like the actions of one little boy saved another. 

I don't know if anyone will read this...but I had to send it out. To honor the memory of my beautiful Billy, who was taken from me much too soon... But not before showing me the true face of God, in a little, sunburned body. 

*~THAT'S GOD ~* 

Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for? 
THAT'S GOD! He speaks to you through the Holy Spirit 

Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to? 
THAT'S GOD! He wants you to speak to Him. 

Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven't seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them? 
THAT'S GOD! There's no such thing as coincidence. 

Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn't even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you wanted, but couldn't afford. 
THAT'S GOD. . He knows the desires of your heart. . 

Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it is going to get better, but now you look back on it? 
THAT'S GOD! He passes us through tribulation to see a brighter day. 

Don't tell GOD how Big your storm is. Tell the storm how Big your GOD is! 

We so often tend to think the Lord doesn't care about the small details of our lives. It's so untrue. His arm is never too short for any situation. He speaks to us all only some just don't recognize His voice.

After being in Arizona for several days with two friends, we nearly daily relished in the beauty of God's creation as we'd sit outside with our coffee, listening to the cacophony of birds flitting through the yard, gazing at the Superstition Mountains as our backyard backdrop and delighting in the wispy clouds against the bright blue sky and noting the fast growth of spring in the southwest. More than once the words Isn't God amazing? spoken...and probably more often than not, thought.

He can bless us in one instance just by recognizing the beauty of His creation and then He can call us to do something in the next where, when we obey, we see His hand at work in another way. In our trials, if we know Jesus as Lord and Savior, we realize all we need do is call out for Him and He will hear. I'm certain He will hear the heartfelt cries of those who don't even know Him when they are in desperate need, and He will make Himself known to them, that they will believe.

I think about little Billy above and his childlike trust that what he was doing was the right thing. If we could learn to be more like him and listen to our hearts...listen to what God plants in our hearts...fully trusting He will bring about successful ends, this world might be a better place. It's all about God. It's all about trusting that He only desires the best for us and trusting His still, small voice that leads us to realizing He exists in even the small things of our lives and all He wants is to give us all we could ever hope to have.

Now this is God: once about twelve years ago I heard the Lord speak to me and I responded and received the fullness of what God has to offer. I'm thankful that I know this God and know that whatever happens on this earth is only temporary and what lies ahead for me is eternal. I have that hope. 

Ephesians 3:19 - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.