Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lesson in Gratefulness

“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:7-11

This morning as I woke a bit before my alarm and had a wonderful prayer time, knowing the morning schedule would be a bit more relieved due to the rain last night and my not needing to water the gardens, I left the house to start my morning milking with a happy heart that everything was going so well for my schedule. But that happiness was not to last for long. When I turned on the pump for my milking machine and it failed to do what it usually does and hand-milking was the only option before me.

Up until now I had been wholeheartedly thankful for the 3+ gallons of milk I was getting from my cow at each milking and I did thank God for the gift of the milk, the health of my cow, and the ability to provide milk, butter, and cheese for my family from that surplus of milk. But this morning my as I milked as much as I could with my hands, instead of my machine, the Lord spoke to my heart in about the difference between thankfulness and gratefulness. (He had a long time since it took almost 45 minutes to get all the milk I could out of my cow by hand.)

Look at the difference in the definitions I found, once I finally got in from the barn:
Thankfulness – is a state of being pleased and relieved
Gratefulness – is the showing of appreciation
To be able to give God glory in all circumstances we need to have grateful hearts instead of thankful hearts. Not every circumstance we encounter as a Christian will please us or relieve us of our burdens. But because everything that comes into our lives are gifts from our Lord Jesus who loves us and knows what is best for us, we still need to be appreciative of whatever they are, wherever they take us, and how much work they require from us.

I am praying that tonight my pump will be fixed, but if not I am glad that God loved me enough to teach me the difference between having a thankful heart and a grateful one. May your day be filled with gratefulness onto our Lord too no matter what it may hold.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What is Truth?

Pilate said to Him, 'What is truth?'” John 18:38

As Pilate was questioning Jesus right before His sentencing and death on the cross, Jesus stated to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37) It is then that Pilate questions Jesus and asks Him, “What is truth?”

Today many people ask that same question, “What is truth?” And they also have the same response as Pilate, they do not wait for an answer. In this world of relative thinking we live in, my truth does not have to be your truth. Actually, it can be commonly agreed upon that no truth exists at all. But what good does type of thinking do for our human condition which is constantly seeking for answers to the simplest but yet most relevant question we can ask, “What is truth?” The sad answer to that question is that if we do not find the truth we are looking for we are bound by the search for it or caught in a battle of trying to justify the half-truth we have settled for.

I looked up the word truth that both Jesus and Pilate used in their conversation and then did a word study on that specific Greek word each of them used for “truth”.  The following information is what I was able to pull together from that study. I hope you will have a greater understanding of what Jesus was referring to and what Pilate chose to miss in walking away from the Truth which was standing before him that day.


The Greek Word “alētheia” is the word both Jesus and Pilate use in their conversation. This word literally means the unveiled reality of something which agrees with its character. In this instance the truth Jesus was talking about was the character of God which was manifested in Him. The word here also implies that what is seen by the human eyes is not always what is in agreement with what is really true, instead the truth is the reality of what is behind what we perceive to be true - the untainted truth.

In the case of what Jesus was saying then to Pilate was that it was not just the words that Pilate was hearing from Jesus that were the source of truth, but it was rather the complete character of God which was revealed to those who opened their hearts to really hear the voice of God in what Jesus was saying. Pilate was not only thick in skull but also thick in heart – he only wanted to hear what could possibly let him out of this sticky situation and he was not searching for God or the Savior which God had sent to the world that was now standing in His presence and who was revealing the complete revelation of God's redemptive work for the world.

But see now, what other scripture passages have to say about the truth of Jesus as this specific translated word “alētheia” is used:

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

(Take the meaning of the word truth and applying it to this verse, it means that Jesus was the one who showed the real meaning behind the law God established originally through Moses – it was presented in perfect form now through Jesus. Jesus and the gospel He gave – His life and His teachings – are the Truth – the complete character of God.)

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'” John 8:31-32

(Again, the Word of Jesus is truth and only through resting in all that He says in truth shall we completely understand what real truth is – otherwise we only see our perception of truth. It is the perception of God alone and living in His completed reality that we find freedom from the lies of this world.)

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” James 1:16-18

(It is in living and trusting in the truth God shows us, and not in our own interpretation of what truth is based off of His Word, to which we live lives worthy to be called offerings of service and sacrifice to our God.)

This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6

(We still have truth with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we listen to the Spirit and all He has to teach us about God, His ways, and His reality about our lives and our situations then we will live in truth and not be deceived.)

As I said at the beginning, many people chose not to listen to truth in this society of relativistic thinking we live in. Yet, if we desire to know God for who He really is and live in the freedom we are given through resting in the Truth of God, then we must listen and trust completely in what God reveals to us through His Word and the Spirit of Truth.

Not all will listen and heed the voice of truth, but for those who make the choice to trust in the Truth of God the search for truth and the battle against the lies of the enemy are a thing of the past.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Redeeming Blood

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

As I was reading last night, there was a page of verses in one of my devotionals that was completely dedicated to scripture about redeeming blood. I really felt the need to do a cross reference study off of those verses and see what else I could find to add to the list. The exercise ended up being good for me because even though none of the verses I found were new to me, it did help to see them together to gain a greater perspective of God's plan to redeem this lost and fallen world.

As you read through these scriptures, take the time to absorb what they are really saying and also realize the place in the history of the scriptures each were recorded. I pray the Holy Spirit may speak to your heart through these scriptures not only in showing you how precious you are to Him, but also of the plan He set in motion before you even were, of the future He has already seen that the redeeming power of Jesus has brought about, and of the freedom you have the ability to live in each day as you are freed from your past and your sinful nature. For me they were good reminders of all those things and more.

Without the blood of Jesus we would be lost in our sins.  And for those who think they can just do better or live a good life and all will turn out well, they are greatly deceived.  Through Jesus alone and His perfect sacrifice we are healed, redeemed, and given life!


For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood. Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!'” Revelation 5:9,10,12 were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.'Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:12-22

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jesus' Prayer for You and Me

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17: 20-26

This morning part of my bible reading included John 17. It is unfortunately too easy for me to just skim through this prayer Jesus prayed in the early evening, right before His progression to the cross, instead of really giving it the great deal of thought it deserves because I have read this text so many times. This morning in order to discipline my mind and concentrate more completely on the meanings behind the words, I decided to take the text apart verse by verse. I hope you enjoy reading through my thoughts after each verse I have reprinted and I hope you have the time to meditate on each one and think about how God is speaking to you through the truth He reveals through them.

So, here are the verses with my thoughts below:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;”
Jesus was praying for me and you and for His living word, as kept through the believers and the Holy Spirit. The foundation of belief is truth and the truth of the Lord needed to be preserved for all generations to come so they would know Jesus as completely as His disciples did. Not tainted by the world and the deception that sin brings to everything in the world, but rather perfectly preserved truth to keep His followers on the path to life – the path to Him.
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Unity with God the Father, the same unity Jesus shared with the Father, is necessary for belief. Jesus knew that on our own we would not be able to carry on our own faith, let alone be able to show a watching world the God their hearts were yearning for. Our unity with one another is what opens the eyes of those who are searching for God.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:”
As Jesus was brought glory (that is fruit through His obedience and unity with the Father), He desired the same for all who were to be called His followers. Our fruit – the glory brought into our lives by the presence of God in it – is the ultimate proof that we have unity with the Father.
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
This unity is not a unity of just us and the Lord, but rather a beautifully orchestrated unity amongst all who are believers in Christ. The real love of God is shown in and through not just one person to the world, but rather through the body of Christ lived out in the perfect harmony God leads us each to play our part in.
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus also didn't want for His fellowship with us to end when our lives on this earth came to an end. No, instead He desired for us to continue our fellowship with His from the moment we came into His presence and to continue from there into eternity. The ultimate love that the Father shows towards the Son is one none of us can imagine, but that is the love Jesus wants us all to experience as we see Him fully glorified – that is the perfect revelation of who He is without the barrier of sin to distort it. We can only see Jesus in that way when we are as intimate with Jesus as He was with His Father.
O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.”
The Father is righteous and the world, being full of sin, is not. We do not understand righteousness from our point of view because we are tainted. Only when we live in unity with Christ can we come to know who God is through the Father, Son, and Spirit. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is only revealed to those who see the unity of the Father and the Son – to the rest of the world that fact is lost in human reasoning that says it can't be so.
And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus never brought fame or greatness to His own person or His own name. Instead He pointed people to the perfect love and character of His Father. This is the lifestyle that He also desires for us to have as we follow Him and ultimately follow the Father – one that brings glory to the One which all glory is due.

Disciplining our minds to read what God's word is saying is not always an easy task as you can see the above exercise. To skim through God's word in hope that something God wants you to pay attention to is not always the way He works. At times God wants us to dig and probe deeper. To make an effort to show Him how much we love Him and how dedicated we are to seeking Him and finding Him.

The next time you find yourself looking at some difficult verses in the bible, don't just skim through them with the mindset that they are just too difficult for you to understand. Instead, set your mind on finding the hidden treasure God has waiting for you in them – they will not only bring you knowledge of the Lord, but they will also draw you into a more intimate relationship with the author and finisher of the text itself – our Lord God Almighty.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

God's Idea of a Blessed Life

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

Trust is the cornerstone of peace. If we cannot trust in what the Lord has shown He has prepared for us then we tend to go off and try to make it happen on our own – take Abraham and Sarah as an example as they were waiting for the child the Lord said would come to them. And trying to make things happen in our own time usually adds obstacles and future problems to the path the Lord has predetermined for us.

A blessed life is more than one filled with material things. In reality the more stuff we acquire, the larger the work load we bring along with it. Living a truly blessed life has more to do with letting go of the material (and non-material) things in our lives. When we have no pressing demands upon us, except for those requirements the Lord sets before us each day to walk out in faith upon and to trust in His perfect will, then we experience a sense of blessedness the world is not accustomed to. This is the blessed life our soul seeks to taste and see because it is a preview of the blessed eternity we will one day live with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Does that mean we do nothing about the situations around us? Does that mean we just say to ourselves and everyone around us, “The Lord will work it out”, and then just sit back with a glass of tea in our hand and wait on God to bring the good life to us? No, we must be obedient in doing what we are called to do and not slack in letting even one thing drop out of our hand which the Lord asks us to do. But, we also must not run before the Lord in our anxious flurry to bring about the work of the Lord by our own hands.

Daily seeking the Lord in prayer, letting the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions, and making a point to let the Lord instruct you in His ways and correct you throughout your day with His truth are good ways to start tasting and seeing God's mighty goodness in your life and the blessed state He desires for you to live in with Him.

The blessed life is ready for each of us to partake in on a daily basis whether or not the blessings God has revealed to us for our future are in our hands yet. Trusting what we can't see, but knowing is yet to come the definition of faith. And through faith we have the ability to share in the life we have seen but not yet realized. Why? Because our God who we put our faith in never fails to bring about what He promises. His perfect character is what we trust and find peace in, and which bring about a blessed life we can experience while we are still separated from Him on this earth.

Heaven on earth is attainable but don't let the blessings of this world distract you from the real blessed life, the real heaven on earth, which is reached only by trust and faith in our Lord.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Staying Diligent in the Summer

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation...beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:10-14,17-18

This morning I was thinking about how difficult it has been these past few weeks to be diligent in keeping up with all of the demands I have set before me each day and how easy it would be for me to slip into a more relaxed and comfortable pattern of life now that summer is here. But the things that I would more than likely let slip into the background would surely be the spiritually urgent ones which I should be most consistent to keep in check on a daily basis.

With new summer schedules just around the corner for most of you, the matter of staying diligent to the spiritual things in your life is definitely something to bring before the Lord. Your time with the Lord may not look the same in the summer as it does throughout the rest of the year, but without a plan of keeping your time with Him a priority, there is a great likelihood of having it slide completely off your schedule.

In reading the verses from 2 Peter above, we are reminded that we do not have time to be slack in our fellowship with the Lord. We need to be always watching, always diligent, always steadfast, and always on the alert. The goal is not to take time away to rest up for the next season ahead. (By the way that doesn't work.) But rather to be growing, looking, and preparing all the more for the day of the Lord which is approaching - one which will bring everything we have done up until that time into judgment.

As I have set all the things I have to do each morning before the Lord, He has shown me that my mornings need to stay the way they are (with a few added chores this season brings to our hobby farm) and I just need to add a nap into my afternoons to keep the schedules of the morning and evening consistent. On the farm, during the peak of the day is when it is warmest, and a siesta from my work makes the most sense. But in the morning there are chores which cannot be put off, time with the Lord I cannot be slack about, and children, gardens, and animals I need to care for.

I pray you can also take some time to prayerfully put your summer schedule before the Lord. Ask Him how He has made time for all that needs to be completed each day. Be willing to be flexible and creative, God loves to shake up our schedules so we do not grow complacent in a specific method or way of seeking Him. I know God has great things planned for me to join Him in this summer and I don't want to miss a single moment. He is ready for you too to join Him in the plans He has set around your life. Be prepared to be diligent so not to let one of those moments slip away from you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Victory is Ours

...the ruler of this world...has no power over me...” John 14:30

Last night as I was pulling together some scripture passages for a friend who will be fighting a massive spiritual battle today, my thoughts went back to some really dark times in my life and the lessons God taught me in them about His ability to overcome and the powerless position the forces of evil hold in my life. 

Jesus has the ability to overcome anything, that is anything I am willing to set before Him. Over the years, my experiences of spiritual victory over darkness have shown me there is no limit in God's ability to heal and come forth victorious when I set my mind on trusting Him, believing all He says, and following His orders regarding my role in fighting the battle before me. I just have to be cautious, as we all do, in making sure to leave the rest of the battle that is His to Him.

I have a few verses below that I want you to read. But first, I want to point out an important fact. The fact is this: Each of these verses is in the past tense, meaning the “deliverance from” and the “disarming of” the powers of darkness in this world have already been completed.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” Colossians 1:13

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” Colossians 2:15

This much we are certain of: The defeat of Satan has already happened and the weapons of evil that are aimed at us are filled with blanks. Satan is the great deceiver and he is skilled at wielding his weapons and making them look as if they are loaded, but they are not. The fear generated by those unloaded weapons has given Satan power over so many people for many centuries. The fear alone of what may come through his weapons of warfare ensure, in most cases, that people will bow to his demands. But as Christians we have the knowledge in Christ regarding these deceptive practices and therefore we should have no fear. We should live victorious in knowing the truth about the uselessness of those weapons.

But then, why do we get intimidated still when we are threatened by the “big guns” our enemy pulls out on us? The reason is this: We fail to trust in the knowledge that Jesus has given us about His defeat and His message that all the bullets have been removed from those "big guns". In the back of our minds we play around with the thoughts like:  “What if not all the bullets were removed?” or “Maybe there was a stash that Jesus missed in His raid on the enemy camp.” We can't have confidence to move forward in battle if we question our General. In order to defeat our enemy we must trust in the intelligence given to us from the most trustworthy commanding officer that has ever walked this planet – Jesus - and His messenger - the Holy Spirit.

The only sure path to victory is complete submission to the One who has spoken in truth that the work of the battle has already been finished. Trust today that victory is yours through Jesus, and do not let those unloaded weapons have any power over you. It is a choice to believe the truth or to believe the empty threat – the choice is yours and it will decide if today you live in victory or in defeat.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No Despair When Focused on God

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.
I cling to Your testimonies;
Lord, do not put me to shame!
I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart.”
Psalm 119: 25-32

Have you ever reached a point where it seems all hope is lost? The other day I had the opportunity to encourage a friend who was unable to see what God would have for her in the middle of her despair – and what a wonderful change God brought to her circumstances when she set her eyes on the Lord and His promises for her.

This morning as I was reading on in Psalm 119, it struck me that the advice I gave to this friend, to focus on the faithfulness of God and His word, was exactly what the psalmist above writes he did to find comfort in his desperate situation which had brought “heaviness” to his soul.

In taking the focus off those things which bring despair to our souls on this earth, we are given the ability to cling to God and the hope, peace, and perspective His truth and past faithfulness provides to our hearts and minds. It is in these times we need to seek for God in a most concentrated fashion and be ready for the things He desires to bring about and reveal in our lives. God does not allow these times to make us question His faithfulness, but rather to draw us into His presence and confirm His faithfulness to us all the more.

Oswald Chambers in “His Utmost for His Highest” states the same concept in this way:

In the midst of the awfulness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ...Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it is ineffable peace and comfort...When once His touch comes, nothing at all can cast you in to fear again...Watch some of the things that strike fear despair. There is despair in which there is no delight, no horizon, no hope of anything brighter; but the delight of despair comes when I know that 'in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.' I delight to know that there is that in me, which must fall prostrate before God...God can do nothing for me until I get of the limit of the possible.”

To get beyond living in fear and the state of despair, a person must choose to leave the lies of “what may come” in the hands of the One who always desires the best for her life. We cannot will ourselves to think beyond our despair because there is no hope in our thoughts that focus on “good possibilities”. Rather, the only way we can move beyond despair and into a life of hope is to concentrate on the Giver of all hope who wants us to draw closer to Him through His word and His marvelous works we have been able to witness in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

May God's hope dwell richly within you today as you make Him your focus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Praying the Word to Stay in the Word

 “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.
You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!”
  Psalm 119: 1-8

Today as I was reading through Psalm 119, I felt the need to take the first stanza and turn it into a prayer. If you are not familiar with Psalm 119, it is the longest in the book of Psalms but it seems to be filled with repetitions around one specific topic – living a life centered around the law of the Lord. This writing was intentional and it is laid out in a manner that puts the text into sections which are ordered by the Hebrew alphabet.

Praying to have a life that is centered in the Lord and His law should be our greatest prayer, because living a life with that priority at the top will leave everything else the ability to fall into place as God intends, not as we would like to orchestrate them.

I encourage you today to take a scripture verse(s) that the Lord lays on your heart and turn it also into a prayer – one you can focus and meditate on through the day. The Holy Spirit does mighty things when we allow the word of the Lord to penetrate our hearts in this manner.

So, now to my prayer:

Dear Lord,
I want to be blessed and to walk in a way that is undefiled and within your law. Help me to maintain a life that keeps within the scope of your word and therefore is in avoidance of sin.
Truly I want to live in a manner that reflects all of the lessons you have taught me and to desire with my whole heart to seek You and Your ways in every twist and turn in my life – not always trying my hardest to solve problems without first consulting You, but rather seeking You first and then following Your leading in peace in the resolutions You have already planned for me and the situations which arise in my life.
I know in my head that living in Your ways will keep me from falling into the traps that a sinful life can ensnare me with, but help my heart to desire to walk with You as you keep me from those traps – that is the foundation of living in Your will and following Your law.
Help me Lord to also live a diligent lifestyle. One that is focused on You to the utmost and in keeping to Your law above my own selfish and wayward ways, every moment and every day.
I know for certain that if I am directed by You and I keep my life within the will You show me then I will not have reason to be ashamed for anything that comes about in my life.
Praise to You Lord Jesus! Let my heart be one that as drawn close to You through obedient praise, for Your righteous ways and Your faultless judgments are worthy of the greatest praise I can offer.
I chose this day to once again follow Your ways above my own.
Please do not forsake me for my feeble attempts to bring You honor, glory, and praise.
With everything I have to give You this day,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Race Filled with Peace

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Well today is the day I file to run for school board in the November election. You would think I would be anxious about the race and the outcome of the vote that will dictate the my personal schedule for the next 4 and a half years, but I am not. I have this overwhelming peace surrounding me because deep down I know that whatever the result is of my obedience, it will be in the perfect will of God.

But, that is not the case for many people today who are going into offices around our country to put their names on the ballot for the upcoming elections. For some, their reasons for running are for personal glory and for others it is a desire to bring about human justice and make personal strides to right the wrongs they see happening around them. There are also those career politicians who have made public service a positive for themselves and the specific lobbying groups and their own special interests. For these people the upcoming elections will give them anything but peace because their entire lives are wrapped up in how the votes will fall on election day. They will push themselves to their limits to achieve something they want to see happen in their lives and in their communities. Human plans to try and perfect a world in which they cannot even predict what the next day of their own life will bring their way.

I know the peace which surrounds me has entirely to do with the fact my life is not wrapped up in what the election results may bring into my life. Rather, my life is and always will be wrapped up in God Himself and the purposes He leads me into and out of for my life. He is the only One who can perfect the things of this world and in Him I have chosen to rest completely in.

A fitting verse to ponder while thinking about how the peace of God in me will be evident to those I encounter in this campaign is this one:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

For people who are going to the ballots this fall and are looking for something different than the typical politics of the past, they will see the peace of God in those He has anointed to run this race for His glory. I feel privileged to be called as one of those He has asked to rise up for that reason and I know there are others out there too. So I urge you as you consider the candidates who will be on your ballot this fall, do not make your voting decisions based solely on human wisdom, but pray and seek God making sure to look for that peace of God which will set apart the ones God wants to work through to bring our nation back to Him.

Monday, May 21, 2012

To Each His Own

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” 1 Corinthians 12:21-22

The other day, I was talking with a friend who has been battling menopause and all the hormonal imbalances that go with that process. I have to say I have a bit of empathy for her situation because I am just starting that process with some very uncomfortable side effects and I do not look forward to the day when my personal battle will intensify (I just pray the Lord will give me the resolve and patience of my friend to battle it with grace if that too is meant to be a difficulty I am to endure in my future.) But the main message I want to convey this morning doesn't specifically have to do with menopause and so I digress.

What I really want to talk about today is the way we as Christians compare ourselves with other Christians and how we sometimes feel we ourselves do not measure up to the lives of those we see around us, or on the flip side we feel that others are just not carrying their share of the spiritual weight that needs to be divvied out. Now, maybe there is some truth in the fact that we sometimes need a kick in the pants to get inspired to go out and do the work we are called to do in the kingdom. And, also there are some people who do not answer the call to follow God and their ignorance is a result of their laziness. But what about those Christians who are doing all they can and yet feel like they are falling short?

In my reading this morning I came across the following story in 1 Samuel and it made me start thinking about my friend and the purposes God has for her in the work of His kingdom as she has been forced to sit back “with the luggage”. And yet at the same time my thoughts were left on how God wants to still bless her in her suffering and rest, not just heal her to keep up in the physical work she had been doing for many years in the church. Read on and see what I mean:
Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, 'Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.' But David said, 'My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.'” 1 Samuel 30:21-24
David is known as a man after God's own heart, and I believe these above passages really show us the heart of God for His people who are unable to fight the full battle or work a complete day as some are incapable of. As you read through the following parable and then also reflect on the introduction verse up above, listen with your heart how closely the words of David reflect the words of God through the things Jesus was trying to teach His disciples:
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?'” Matthew 20:1-15
Today if you are weary, then rest in the Lord and the little you are able to do. Do not beat yourself up if a little is all you can give today. God knows and He cares about your situation and He does not call you to do more than you physically, mentally, and spiritually can handle. If He has a desire for you to do more, He will supply but that is not always His plan. Sometimes resting in His will, waiting, and trusting are the greater works He is desiring to work in your life.

On the other hand, if you have energy bounding out of every pore of your body today do not waste it on the things of this world or on criticizing those who cannot perform as optimally as you can. Instead, turn all your work today into acts of worship and thank God at every turn for His faithfulness in keeping you healthy, alert, and ready for each opportunity the day brings which gives you the ability to praise Him through the work of your hands, mind, and spiritual fortitude. And also pray for ways to be able to share your energy with those who do not have the greater amounts you have been given.

This is the day the Lord has made – rejoice and be glad that He is in it and the fact that He has given you the grace to live it unique to the abilities He has given you for this day.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Day of Praise

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 117:1-2

What a wonderful day of worship, prayer, fellowship, and God's continuing provisions today has brought! I pray that your day was filled with many blessings and also you have been able to give Him the glory He is due through the following ways that Psalm 117:1-2 points out to worship God:

  • Through songs of praise that fill your mind with thoughts of Him and make you dwell on His greatness
  • Through declaring His mighty works while talking to others about the ways you have seen Him at work in your life
  • Through recalling  the mercy He has given you and the many ways He was forgiven you for the sins you have committed - even just this week
  • Through reminders of the truth of God as they has been a light onto your path and have kept you on the straight and narrow with your Lord and Savior

We have so much to give God praise for. Don't go to bed without letting God know how much you love Him and appreciate His presence in your life.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who Does What?

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away...For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed...Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:4,5,7,10

I thought I would introduce another way to dissect scripture that you may or may not have used in your study of the bible. I find for myself, this process helps me to distinguish two areas of scripture where roles are intertwined in a series of passages. In the scripture I have used today the two roles are God's and mine. Or more accurately, they describe what God says He will do and what He requires for me to do as a response to His work and in order for Him to work through me.

As you read through each of these scenarios, think about how God has worked in your life in doing the things He says He will do and then reflect on what you can recall your responses were to His work. Did you do what He said you needed to do? Or rather, did you decided to keep the gift He gave you for yourself or did you ignore it and just roll over and go back to sleep?

May the Spirit of God lead you into a greater understanding of how God works through you as you read through the verses above and the table below.

What God does: What my responsibility is:
Gives the tongue of the learned Speak to those who are weary and need to hear the word of the Lord and what He has taught me
Awakens me in the morning Get up
Awakens my ear to hear and opens it to truth Listen and not rebel or turn away from what I hear - do what God asks
He helps me and does not leave me disgraced Set my face like a flint (means to be determined and focused on doing the task set before me without allowing myself to be distracted) and trust in the good outcome of my obedience
He will provide all the light I will need for each step He calls me to take Fear God, obey His voice, trust Him and rely upon Him

It is very convicting isn't it when you come to a place of realizing that God cannot work through us unless we respond to His work in our lives. We sometimes have the false impression that God will just make something happen and then we can just jump in and enjoy work He is already doing. But God is very clear in many places in the scriptures that if we do not respond to His call and His initial work then we will completely miss out on the greater work He desires to do through us.

I pray today you keep your eyes open for those initial works God is doing in your life and that you commit to taking action even before you know what the end result of your obedience will be. As the final verses above say, He will provide the light to continue to lead us as long as we fear Him, obey His voice, trust in Him and rely upon Him. That is a tall order but the product of living in God's light and the fruit produced in us in that environment is beyond compare to anything we could ever manufacture on our own.