Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Being Understood by God Alone


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all yours ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”   
Proverbs 3:5-6  

A few days ago I received a panicked call from my mother.  Apparently she had heard (though my sister) that I was running for school board and she was calling to let me know that she was “worried” about me.  Without giving me a chance to talk, she followed her comment with many explanations that made complete and logical sense, that is from a worldly perspective.  In the past I have learned that it does not help in reasoning with my mother because when she gets something in her head, she is certain it is truth, even if it concerns itself with the lives of others, so I had to be very careful about how I responded to her panicked call.

First, I had to start off by confronting the half-truth she had heard.  Yes, the school board position was out in front of me.  No, I had not yet agreed to run, but at the same time God has been gently pushing me to continue exploring that avenue.  Does that mean I think I can make a difference if I am on the school board?  Does that even mean I could win an election to get a seat on the school board?  Or, does that even mean a commitment for 2 years on the board would allow me to make any changes to the current system?  I have no answers to those questions, but the answer I do have is that God’s peace has gone before me and in faith I am committed to following Him.

I do not know what purposes God has behind this new tangent He has been guiding some of my time and energy into.  I could only be possibly exploring this school board position so God can put me into contact with certain people I have never met.  Or, I could end up running only to lose and yet a higher purpose that I don’t’ understand could be served through the event.  Or, I could sit on the board for 2 years and accomplish nothing because of the entire infrastructure seems to be pushing the system into eminent collapse.  But, then again maybe God wants to do a work in my local school district and He wants me to join Him in His work.  It is by faith and obedience I have chosen to move forward, not understanding in any way.

This quote by Oswald Chambers took on a new meaning to me after the exchange I had with my mother.  “When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by arguments; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible; that is why a saint can be easily ridiculed.” In the end, my response to my mother was that I was not pursuing this call out of my own desire, but rather out of a nudging from God that I couldn’t explain.  To her, my response was not adequate, but she finally tired in trying to convince me to not run for the school board.  In all reality, I did not have an argument to stand on in talking to her about this subject, but my peace was apparent because I did have a God to stand behind as I set my heart to following His lead in this situation.

As you ponder the path of obedience over the path of reason or duty, I want to leave you with the following scripture verses below from Psalm 37.  May God continue to encourage you to stand in the gap for Him, no matter what He asks you to do – no matter where it may take you – no matter how it may look to anyone else but Him.  Have courage and “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might”. (Ephesians 6:10)

Psalm 37:1-11
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

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.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the
Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.

For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;

Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,

But it shall be no more.

But the meek shall inherit the earth,

And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Experiencing the Names of God


“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?”  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites.  ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13

A few weeks ago I started going through the book Experiencing God, Youth Edition with my children and yesterday the lesson was such a good one that I thought I would share a bit of what the lesson had to say and then some of the things God laid on my heart to mull over in my own spiritual life and to expand upon with my children.

Henry Blackaby states:  “You will never be satisfied just to know about God.  Knowing God only comes through experience as He reveals Himself to you…Frequently when God reveals Himself to a person, the person gave God a new name or described Him in a new way. ..This is why we frequently see new names or titles for God following an event in which a Bible character experienced God.”

Have you ever taken time to think about what ways you could describe God or name God out of the experiences you have had with Him in your past?  I know I have gone through the list many times at different points in my Christian walk, and each time I have made the effort to go through the list, I am amazed at how much longer and more meaningful the names of God become to me.

I had a chance later in the day yesterday to talk with one of my sons about some of the difficult times he had had recently had and about how God was revealing Himself to him.  We discussed how difficult those times were, but we also went back to our lesson from that morning and talked about how God was working though his healing process to teach him more about Himself – a new experience and a new way to acknowledge and understand God.  When we are able to look at life from this perspective our darkest moments are not so dark anymore.  Instead, the perspective of seeing our past experience in light of a loving God who wants us to know Him more intimately becomes a moment to treasure in our hearts.

In my own life I have to admit it has been in the toughest of times that I have learned, through the adversity and the lessening of myself, to see God from an entirely new perspective.  They were not experiences I had originally desired to enter into, but in coming out of them I would not have changed them one bit because the other side afforded me the ability to understand another side of God I had only heard about before the experience.  

Below is a listing of some of the names God is given in the bible.  As I went through the list this morning, preparing to talk to my kids more about this subject later today, I made a quick note of some critical places in my life and the perspective God gave me of His character at each of those times.   

Here are just a few for example:
  • When I was struggling with depression I realized God as the “Light of life” and my “Savior”.
  • When my family was in the process of moving to our farm we realized God as “Faithful and True”, our “Confidence”, and our “Leader”.
  • When we went through the storm of fostering three special needs preschoolers in our home,  God was my “Sure Foundation”.
  • And when I pray and dig into God’s word He has the wonderful way of being my “Teacher”, my “Friend”, my “Comforter”, my “Hiding Place”, my “Mediator”, my “Bread of Life” – my “Life”.

I pray you will take time today to look though this list and discover the character God has revealed to you about who He is.  When we remember, we have all the more understanding of the great God we give our worship, our praise – our lives to.

  • ABBA.............................Romans 8:15
  • ADVOCATE.........................I John 2:1 (kjv)
  • ALMIGHTY.........................Genesis 17:1
  • ALPHA............................Revelation 22:13
  • AMEN.............................Revelation 3:14
  • ANCIENT OF DAYS..................Daniel 7:9
  • ANOINTED ONE.....................Psalm 2:2
  • APOSTLE..........................Hebrews 3:1
  • ARM OF THE LORD..................Isaiah 53:1
  • AUTHOR OF LIFE...................Acts 3:15
  • AUTHOR OF OUR FAITH..............Hebrews 12:2
  • BEGINNING.........................Revelation 21:6
  • BLESSED & HOLY RULER..............1 Timothy 6:15
  • BRANCH............................Jeremiah 33:15
  • BREAD OF GOD......................John 6:33
  • BREAD OF LIFE.....................John 6:35
  • BRIDEGROOM........................Isaiah 62:56
  • BRIGHT MORNING STAR...............Revelation 22:16
  • CHIEF SHEPHERD.....................1 Peter 5:4
  • CHOSEN ONE.........................Isaiah 42:1
  • CHRIST.............................Matthew 22:42
  • CHRIST OF GOD......................Luke 9:20
  • CHRIST THE LORD....................Luke 2:11
  • CHRIST, SON OF LIVING GOD..........Matthew 16:16
  • COMFORTER..........................John 14:26(kjv)
  • COMMANDER..........................Isaiah 55:4
  • CONSOLATION OF ISRAEL...............Luke 2:25
  • CONSUMING FIRE......................Deut. 4:24, Heb. 12:29
  • CORNERSTONE.........................Isaiah 28:16
  • COUNSELOR...........................Isaiah 9:6
  • CREATOR.............................1 Peter 4:19
  • DELIVERER..............................Romans 11:26
  • DESIRED OF ALL NATIONS.................Haggai 2:7
  • DOOR...................................John 10:7(kjv)
  • END....................................Revelation 21:6
  • ETERNAL GOD............................Deut. 33:27
  • EVERLASTING FATHER.....................Isaiah 9:6
  • FAITHFUL & TRUE........................Revelation 19:11
  • FAITHFUL WITNESS.......................Revelation 1:5
  • FATHER.................................Matthew 6:9
  • FIRSTBORN (3)........................................Rom.8:29,Rev.1:5,Col.1:15
  • FIRSTFRUITS............................1 Cor.15:20-23
  • FOUNDATION.............................1 Cor. 3:11
  • FRIEND OF TAX COLLECTORS & SINNERS.....Matthew 11:19
  • GENTLE WHISPER.........................1 Kings 19:12
  • GIFT OF GOD............................John 4:10
  • GLORY OF THE LORD......................Isaiah 40:5
  • GOD....................................Genesis 1:1
  • GOD ALMIGHTY...........................Genesis 17:1
  • GOD OVER ALL...........................Romans 9:5
  • GOD WHO SEES ME........................Genesis 16:13
  • GOOD SHEPHERD..........................John 10:11
  • GREAT HIGH PRIEST......................Hebrews 4:14
  • GREAT SHEPHERD.........................Hebrews 13:20
  • GUIDE..................................Psalm 48:14
  • HEAD OF THE BODY.......................Colossians 1:18
  • HEAD OF THE CHURCH.....................Ephesians 5:23
  • HEIR OF ALL THINGS.....................Hebrews 1:2
  • HIGH PRIEST............................Hebrews 3:1
  • HIGH PRIEST FOREVER....................Hebrews 6:20
  • HOLY ONE...............................Acts 2:27
  • HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL.....................Isaiah 49:7
  • HOLY SPIRIT............................John 15:26
  • HOPE...................................Titus 2:13
  • HORN OF SALVATION......................Luke 1:69
  • I AM....................................Exodus 3:14, John 8:58
  • IMAGE OF GOD............................2 Cor. 4:4
  • IMAGE OF HIS PERSON.....................Hebrews 1:3 (kjv)
  • IMMANUEL................................Isaiah 7:14
  • JEALOUS..............................Exodus 34:14 (kjv)
  • JEHOVAH..............................Psalm 83:18 (kjv)
  • JESUS................................Matthew 1:21
  • JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD................Romans 6:23
  • JUDGE................................Isaiah 33:22, Acts 10:42
  • KING.................................Zechariah 9:9
  • KING ETERNAL.........................1 Timothy 1:17
  • KING OF KINGS........................1 Timothy 6:15
  • KING OF THE AGES.....................Revelation 15:3
  • LAMB OF GOD...........................John 1:29
  • LAST ADAM.............................1 Cor. 15:45
  • LAWGIVER..............................Isaiah 33:22
  • LEADER................................Isaiah 55:4
  • LIFE..................................John 14:6
  • LIGHT OF THE WORLD....................John 8:12
  • LIKE AN EAGLE.........................Deut. 32:11
  • LILY OF THE VALLEYS...................Song 2:1
  • LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH............Revelation 5:5
  • LIVING STONE..........................1 Peter 2:4
  • LIVING WATER..........................John 4:10
  • LORD..................................John 13:13
  • LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.....................Revelation 15:3
  • LORD JESUS CHRIST.....................1 Cor. 15:57
  • LORD OF ALL...........................Acts 10:36
  • LORD OF GLORY ........................1 Cor. 2:8
  • LORD OF HOSTS.........................Haggai 1:5
  • LORD OF LORDS.........................1 Tim. 6:15
  • LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS..............Jeremiah 23:6
  • LOVE.................................1 John 4:8
  • MAN OF SORROWS.........................Isaiah 53:3
  • MASTER..................................Luke 5:5
  • MEDIATOR................................1 Timothy 2:5
  • MERCIFUL GOD............................Jeremiah 3:12
  • MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT................Malachi 3:1
  • MESSIAH................................. John 4:25
  • MIGHTY GOD...............................Isaiah 9:6
  • MIGHTY ONE...............................Isaiah 60:16
  • NAZARENE.................................Matthew 2:23
  • OFFSPRING OF DAVID.......................Revelation 22:16
  • OMEGA....................................Revelation 22:13
  • ONLY BEGOTTEN SON........................John 1:18(kjv)
  • OUR PASSOVER LAMB........................1 Cor. 5:7
  • OUR PEACE................................Ephesians 2:14
  • POTTER...................................Isaiah 64:8
  • POWER OF GOD.............................1 Cor. 1:24
  • PRINCE OF PEACE..........................Isaiah 9:6
  • PROPHET..................................Acts 3:22
  • PURIFIER.................................Malachi 3:3
  • RABBONI (TEACHER)........................John 20:16
  • RADIANCE OF GOD'S GLORY..................Heb.1:3
  • REDEEMER.................................Job 19:25
  • REFINER'S FIRE...........................Malachi 3:2
  • RESURRECTION.............................John 11:25
  • RIGHTEOUS ONE............................1 John 2:1
  • ROCK.....................................1 Cor.10:4
  • ROOT OF DAVID............................Rev. 22:16
  • ROSE OF SHARON...........................Song 2:1
  • RULER OF GOD'S CREATION..................Rev. 3:14
  • RULER OVER KINGS OF EARTH................Rev 1:5
  • RULER OVER ISRAEL........................Micah 5:2
  • SAVIOR...................................Luke 2:11
  • SCEPTER OUT OF ISRAEL....................Numbers 24:17
  • SEED.....................................Genesis 3:15
  • SERVANT..................................Isaiah 42:1
  • SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS....................1Peter 2:25
  • SHIELD...................................Genesis 15:1
  • SON OF DAVID.............................Matthew 1:1
  • SON OF GOD...............................Matthew 27:54
  • SON OF MAN...............................Matthew 8:20
  • SON OF THE MOST HIGH.....................Luke 1:32
  • SOURCE...................................Hebrews 5:9
  • SPIRIT OF GOD............................Genesis 1:2
  • STAR OUT OF JACOB........................Numbers 24:17
  • STONE....................................1 Peter 2:8
  • SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.....................Malachi 4:2
  • TEACHER...................................John 13:13
  • TRUE LIGHT................................John 1:9
  • TRUE WITNESS..............................Revelation 3:14
  • TRUTH.....................................John 14:6
  • VINE......................................John 15:5
  • WAY........................................John 14:6
  • WISDOM OF GOD..............................1 Cor. 1:24
  • WITNESS....................................Isaiah 55:4
  • WONDERFUL..................................Isaiah 9:6
  • WORD.......................................John 1:1
  • WORD OF GOD................................Revelation 19:13
 (This list is from http://smilegodlovesyou.org/names.html)

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Study on Slothfulness


 “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”  Hebrews 6:11-12

Definition:  Avoidance of physical or spiritual work.

 

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 56:10-12 and Ezekiel 3:16-22; 33:1-11


Idle, lazy, sluggish – all traits that translate into the last of the “7 deadly sins” that we will be studying in this series – slothfulness.  The words I just put before you sound despicable in our culture, yet at the same time the actions associated with those words are common place (consider for instance the picture of the woman to the left in contrast to the picture of the woman below and the words that are used to describe her from Proverbs 31).

 

Diving In:  After reading the scripture referenced above, answer the following questions.


In Isaiah 56:10, God tells about the state “His watchmen” in Israel.  List below the characteristics listed in the Isaiah text for these “watchmen” who had let the city go to ruin.





According to Ezekiel 3:17, what is the job of a watchman appointed by God?

How serious was the job of a watchman according to Ezekiel 3:18-22?  What was at stake if the waterman did not do his job?



Finish filling in the blanks which describe all of the things God called Ezekiel to do as the watchman for Israel as described in Ezekiel 33.
o   Verse 2:  “Son of man, _____________ to the children of your people…”
o   Verse 3:  “…when he _________ the sword coming upon the land…”
o   Verse 3:  “…if he _________ the trumpet and ________ the people…”
o   Verse 7:  “…therefore you shall __________ a word from My mouth and ________ them for Me”

Ezekiel 33:10&11 contains the message Ezekiel, as the watchman, was to deliver to the Israelites.  Consider the ramifications of shouting out this message to nation that was no longer following God.  Would the message have made Ezekiel a popular guy?

 

 

Prayer and Scripture Meditation: 

  • Praise Jesus Christ for “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself  (Ephesians 1:7-9). 

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to, you through the scriptures in this study, ways you or people you know struggle with idleness.  Additional scripture:  Proverbs 31,  Romans 12:11-13, and Luke 12:35-48

  • Take time to write down the verses that speak to you. 

  • Pray through them while asking God to restore those areas of your life and the destruction idleness has caused in them. 

  • Then seek God and how He is calling you to start the process of reconciliation and healing both in your life and in your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this last study and are feeling your thirst has been quenched enough to enable you to not be idle anymore about drawing the living water you need each day from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Keep on dipping into the well and you will never run dry.  Tomorrow I will be back again with my ponderings and the revelations God has allowed me to see in His word.  Until then, God bless.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Study on Greed


“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Definition:  A desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual and the trustworthiness of God to provide for all needs in His timing.

 

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 21


Greed, sometimes also referred to as avarice or covetousness, has a way of stealing our hearts away from having hearts for God.  I hope you enjoy this study as it drinks from a story in scripture that is often not taught on, but which holds a lot of wonderful thirst quenching living water.  Enjoy.

 

Diving In:  After reading the scripture referenced above, answer the following questions.


What did Naboth have and what did Ahab want, according to verses 1 and 2?



What was Naboth’s response to Ahab’s request as recorded in verse 3?



After the interaction between Naboth and Ahab, describe what Ahab’s state of mind was? (verse 4)




Who stepped in to rectify Ahab’s delima?  (verses 5 & 7)

What transpired after the situation moved into the hands of the one Ahab had confided in about his situation? (verses 8-14)





Did Ahab ask any questions about how Naboth died before taking possession of his new gain? (verses 15-16)




What punishment was prophetized (and later carried out) for Ahab and his accomplice as a result of their greed? (verses 19-24)


 


 



Prayer and Scripture Meditation: 


  • Praise Jesus Christ for “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself  (Ephesians 1:7-9). 

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to, you through the scripture in this study, ways you struggle with greed in your life or ways you can deal with greed in the lives of those you know. Additional Scriptures:   Matthew 19: 13-26, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Hebrews 13:5-6, and Philippians 4:10-13

  • Take time to write down the verses that speak to you. 

  • Pray through them while asking God to restore those areas of your life and the destruction greed has caused in them. 

  • Then seek God and how He is calling you to start the process of reconciliation and healing both in your life and in your heart.