Monday, April 24, 2017

teach me and give me understanding

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Psalm 119:33-35

As I was reading this morning, I had to go back and re-read these verses again. I realized that we sometimes rely on our own thoughts and understanding way too much. We try to reason out what we know to be true and try to figure out what God wants from us. We try to talk it out with others, read about it in books and try to figure our what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. I have heard many people talk about their true purpose and whether they know what it is or not, often, it comes from their understanding of who they are at that moment in time. SO, as I read these verses, I realize I have forgotten to ask God to teach me His way.

His way is the one true purpose we should all have in this life. I need to understand and seek out His way more than my own. I need to walk in the path He has prepared for me. They best way I know to find that path is to get to know God even more. He will give me understanding and teach me His ways when I seek him and desire Him above all else.  I will know more about Him and know more of what He intends when I understand more of Him through prayer, fasting and spending time in His Word.


But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

When we seek Him and His kingdom, He will direct our paths and provide for us all the daily needs we have. He will give to us and bless us bountifully. He will be our Shield and our Protector, our Guide and our Strength.  May these verse be my prayer and my heart's cry. May I learn His ways and walk in His path. May I delight in God's commandments.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

casting shadows

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

As I realize that I have walked through a bit of a shadowy valley  recently, I was reminded what my husband had spoke to me about shadows. It echoed and reminded me that if I had just applied what he explained to me, maybe my valley wouldn't have felt so dark and lonely. Maybe, I might have moved in and out of the shadows a little quicker. But, just maybe the shadow was cast by my own uncertainty?

My husband,  not too long ago, was talking about this verse and how the shadow of death may appear in life and cause uncertainty, but it is just that, a shadow. Shadows are a part of life. We see shadows cast all the time but have you considered the source of the shadow?  My husband pointed out that a shadow is nothing more than something blocking the light. We often perceive shadows in a different manner. I have seen little kids try to hide from shadows or be scared by them. Even Peter Pan struggled with his shadow. Shadows can stir fear in our beings. Shadows can represent coming darkness or reflect feelings of sadness and loneliness. I have seen and read many instances of literary use of shadows to show sadness, depression, loneliness and even deep fears. But when we recognize that a shadow is only something blocking the light, it really doesn't maintain the same control or fear.

So, spiritually speaking, Jesus is the light as He stated in John 8:12. Life casts shadows. We have shadows of hurt, pain, disappointment, and grief. Sometimes the enemy, Satan may attempt to block the light from us. Sometimes, we even block the light with our own self getting in the way. If we stand with our back to a light source we see our own shadow and not the Light. We may have taken our eyes off of Jesus and got turned around spiritually so we see our own shadow. When we see that shadow, we may feel lonely, scared, defeated, etc. The whole time, we just need to turn to the Light and all that the shadow tries to remind us of is gone. Darkness cannot remain in the presence of light.

John 1:5
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Just like Peter walking on the water, when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, that was when fear entered and he began to sink. he called on Jesus  to save him. (Matthew 14). We may become distracted by the shadows life casts over us and around us, but we can keep our eyes on Jesus, our Savior.
We can call on Him when we feel like we are being overwhelmed by the shadow. He will deliver us.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Jesus will strengthen and help us in our time of need. I can say there are times when I feel alone and have no one but Jesus to go to. There are times I get my eyes onto the struggles, trials, and uncertainty. I may feel like a shadow has overwhelmed and darkened my world, but I know the only source of light is Jesus.  When I call out His Name, the darkness begins to fade as His Light shines into my soul. I can find that Jesus is still right there, working for my good and I am not really alone after all.  

Joshua  1:9 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We do not need to be afraid of the shadows, the Source of Light is right there ready to dispell  the darkness  that tries to creep in and distract us from His goodness. We can trust that God is always good and has nothing but good for us.

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

The next time, you feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, remember that Jesus is the light and something may be blocking the light to cast that shadow. Look on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will finish what He started in us when we keep our eyes on Him, the Light. His light can shine and remove the fears, sadness, and loneliness that we may have found in our hearts. We can find peace, joy, love, and contentment in Him. We can find that He is our friend and the one who cares about everything we face. We can cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter  5:7)  We can stand facing the Light and all the cares of life are now in His hands. We can find rest. (Matthew  11:28). We do not need to allow shadows to overwhelm us, we can know that we do not need to fear, for He is with us.


Friday, March 24, 2017

peace in His path

There is an old southern gospel song sung by the Hinson's "I Won't Walk Without Jesus."  I remember my parents singing this song when I was younger. The words have stuck in my memory, and every so often, I recall them.

And I won't walk without Jesus,
I won't talk without Jesus;
I refuse to live one day as before.
I won't go without Jesus,
Just ain't so without Jesus;
Everything that I would do,
I just won't do without the Lord.

There are so many reasons I don't want to walk without Jesus. I am able to see the times that I have drifted a little further away and realized that those times are the rough places in my life. Those were the times that difficulties overwhelmed me, depression would speak to my soul, and trials grew larger than I could bare. The times that I stick close to Jesus' side are the times that hope reigned, Jesus was only a whisper away, and I could feel Him holding on to me as I faced the trials of life.

He is always present, but when I rely completely on Him, life gets a whole lot easier. You see, when I am reliant on Jesus, He carries the load for me. He said in Matthew 11:30, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   I don't have to be burdened down, because I can find hope, peace and strength in knowing that Jesus is right there with me. There are times when I may not know what to do, but I can rest assured that He does. He is already working on the situation for me and I don't need to worry about it.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We do not need to worry over things when we know God is already meeting our needs.
We can trust Him and know that he cares for our needs and is meeting us right where we are.
I know He holds tomorrow in His hands and I can rest in peace over any situation.

I may hear news I don't like. My son or daughter may get a health report that may strike fear in my heart, but I know I can run into the arms of my heavenly Father. He is already waiting for me to place the need at His feet. He is ready with the answer. He has performed a healing and I am so thankful.  What should have caused me to fear, is no longer a worry, when I give it to God. He holds it for me, so I can go on and trust that He is already healing and working.

We may not know the future and we may not know what is going on sometimes, but God does.
I am so glad I don't have to carry around the burdens of life. He does that for me. I can walk with Jesus and He holds me up with peace and strength. I am safe and secure in His arms.

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


I will walk the path He has placed before me. I will walk in His ways and with Him next to me. It is  an easier path to walk than without Him. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, (Psalm23:3). I do not need to fear or worry when I am on His path. I can walk on with God and know I am safe. I find peace in His path.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

serve for a lifetime and beyond

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
Joshua 24:31 NIV

I always find something that stands out or challenges me when I read through the Old Testament and the recount of the Israelites. This time, as I reached the end of Joshua and read chapter 24, verse 31 struck my interest. Is real served the Lord during Joshua's life time and during the lifetime of  the elders who outlived him and had experienced everything the Lord had done. They served because they had seen God perform miracles, like parting the waters, delivering enemies into their hand, the walls of Jericho fall after they marched around them, and God's  promised land delivered to them.  They had experienced  God.  But, when you keep reading into the next book, the book of Judges, immediately you find that the Israelites  had strayed. They were odd serving Ball and Ashterah. They had left God.  I started to wonder and ask why, when I realized  a key word in the verse above. "Experience. "

Those that stayed with God after Joshua died had experienced God. Those who followed later did not stay with God.

Why hadn't they experienced God? It makes me wonder, had the elders forgotten to pass on their own experiences? Had the elders forgotten to teach the next generation about God Almighty or shared their experiences with their children?  I don't really know the answer to this, but I do know I can find that God did gave commands to the Israelites to teach their children the statutes of God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord  is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4‭-‬9 NKJV

When God  spoke the law for Israel, it was meant to be taught to the next generation, it was meant to be passed down and carried on. His law was to cherished, loved, and placed deep in the heart for each generation to love the Lord God.  In Deuteronomy, we can read that Moses recounted all the events that had transpired while he lead the people so they would all recall it, remember God's mighty deeds, and that they were chosen people.  Joshua also recounted the history of God's deliverance before his death to the whole collection of Israel. He ended with a challenge to the people:

“Now therefore, fear the Lord , serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord ! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord , choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .”
Joshua 24:14‭-‬15 NKJV

The people that heard him, responded that they would serve the Lord.  While those that spoke those words, kept this commitment, their children and their grandchildren did not. They strayed to the idols.  Perhaps the elders after Joshua forgot to declare to their children the great deliverance of God, to share their experiences.

This gives a greater challenge to make sure I take the time to declare the mighty deeds of God to my children.  I need to teach them the statutes  of  God.  I need to write them on the walls of my home and keep them before my eyes.  I need to hide the word in my heart and let my children see it in action in my life.  I need to share with them how God delivered me and spared my life. I need to share with them the stories of what God has done for me and what I have experienced.  I need to teach them the miracles I have seen  and the stories of how God has provided for us.  I need to be sure they have an experience with the word of God and with God, that will be life long. An experience and understanding that will carry them through the difficult times, through the moments of trials and temptation and give them the strength to stand for God for a lifetime.  I want to see them carry on this word of God to teach their own children. I want them to be able to say to their children, that God delivered them and recount the mighty blessings of God.  I don't want to fail my children
by not sharing my experiences of God. How will they know if I don't  tell them?

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “ Lord , who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14‭-‬17 NKJV

I will choose to be the preacher of the Word to my children. I will make sure they have heard, so that faith can come to their hearts.  I will show them and tell them  that God is the Almighty One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that He is my Savior and the one who changed my life.  They will learn my experiences and be able to say that God did great things for my parents. I hope they will be able to say, "Yes, we will serve the Lord!"


Saturday, February 25, 2017

listen

"Listen."
I keep hearing a reminder to listen. I have written about listening before, but I know God is reminding me to listen more.

If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Mark 4:23 NIV

This verse is a reminder that we have been given ears for a purpose: to hear. This verse is repeated several times throughout Matthew, Mark and Revelations. Hearing God is found as a command or theme many times throughout the Bible.   We can look back into the Old Testament at many stories when ordinary men and women were given direction and guidance because they listened to the voice of God. Moses is one example. Moses amazes me.  He started out rough. He was raised as an Egyptian prince, murdered someone, and ran away from responsibility. God appeared to him in a burning bush and explained his plans for Moses, for the redeeming of Israel, condemning of Egypt, and the exodus.  Moses followed God's direction and became so close to God that he was described as one whom God spoke to plainly and face to face. He spent so much time with God that his skin glowed. He was so close to God, that God listened to him complain, or to Moses plead for the lives of those who had deserved death.  Moses was a friend of God.
Daniel is another man who listened to God. God sent angels to meet with Daniel. God showed Daniel many great and wondrous things that led to the return of Israel to Jerusalem. Daniel was also given many revelations about the end of time to come.

I think of my own desires to have my children listen to my directions. I urge them to listen. I try to guide them and advise hem to do the right thing, get work done, and just be obedient to what I ask.  It is frustrating when they do not listen.  Last week, when I asked one to study for a test, he chose not to study.  The next morning, when I quizzed him, he was not able to give the answers. I asked if he had followed my directions to study and he had to admit he had not.  I reminded him that it was important to study to pass the test and when I tell him to study, it is because I am trying to help him do well. I told him he still needed to study before school and now he would be in trouble. His morning now had the added pressure of rushed studying and if he did not do well, it was because he had made a choice not to put in the effort I had asked of him.

Is this the same frustration God has with His children who chose not to listen?
Jeremiah 5:12 describes those who do not hear as foolish and senseless.

The Bible has several examples of those who did not heed or listen. God had given Israel some commands and even warned them what would happen if they turned from the law. They did not listen and most of the Old Testament is describing the hardships that turning from God and not listening brought  upon them. They had attacks from enemies, lost their cities, their homes, and we're taken into slavery. Consequences of not listening were harsh. All of it was warned and all of it could have been avoided by listening to God.

We have consequences when we do not listen to God. He has warned us that we take great risk of falling into the traps set by the enemy of our soul. We may not hear God warning us. We may miss out on blessings or a chance to be a blessing to someone else. We may miss out on God's call to purpose and His true plans for us. We may make wrong decisions and face those consequences.

Jesus talked about those who hear are blessed and those who do not hear are missing out on blessings.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:16-17 NIV

He gave the parable of the sower who planted seeds and the types of ground where the seeds fell. Some seeds fell along the path, on rocky places, in shallow ground, among thorns, and on good ground. Only those seeds that fell on the good ground survived and grew strong and produced.  Jesus explained this as those who actually heard the Word and allowed it to produce in their hearts and lives.  He was teaching and admonishing his followers to be good hearers of the Word.  Another place Jesus describes His children as sheep who know the voice of the Shepherd.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV

God desires to have children who listen to him and know His voice.  Not too long ago, I was involved in a short discussion about hearing the voice of God. We were discussing the ways God speaks to us.  Some talked about finding His voice in the Word of God. Some described hearing the still, small voice or hearing through others who spoke words of wisdom or truth. Others described how God revealed himself in the midst of circumstances when they least expected it.  These are all true. God will speak to us in different ways.  He uses what He needs to get our attention or uses what we understand.  He can use our circumstances to reveal Himself, He can speak directly to us through a still, small voice or through His written Word.  I find the more time I spend reading the Word of God, the more I hear Him speaking to me. He reveals himself through the words written in the Bible, through the narratives that tell of other ordinary people that God used through the ages.  As I listen to His voice in the words of the Bble, it becomes easier to hear that still, small voice speaking to me throughout my day. When I spend more time listening during prayer, I hear Him speaking more often; speaking directly to my heart reminding me that He knows my prayers and He is working to provide the answers. I can hear him call me and tell me that He loves me. I can recognize more often that he is speaking and directing my steps and actions when I really stop and just listen for His voice.

I knew an evangelist many years ago whose life testified of his relationship with God.  One pastor described hearing him pray and how it was truly intimate. He called out to God intimately, "Speak to me, my love." God was his first love. He was intimate with God and his ministry and life revealed the intimacy he enjoyed with his Savior.  When he ministered, he could speak directly to a person and reveal deep things only God could have given him.  God would speak, he would listen.  Oh, to be that deeply intimate with God.

I have been hearing God speak one word to me lately.  I hear him say "Listen."  He is calling His people to pray more, to spend more time with Him, and to listen. Listen to Him. Hear His voice. Listen to the words He is speaking through the ministry, through His Word, and directly to your heart. He is trying to prepare His Bride. He is calling His Church to fulfill its purpose and destiny. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you hear His voice? Listen. He is speaking.  

Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.
Isaiah 28:23 NIV                              



Sunday, February 19, 2017

how do I see myself

What does God see when he looks at you? When he looks at a person who has repented and has accepted salvation, he sees the blood of Jesus. He sees His child.

So many times, we focus on what we see in the natural. We are the ones who see all our own faults and shortcomings. We are the ones who remember  our past sins and mistakes. We are reminded by the scars and wounds we carry with us. We sometimes think  that is all God sees in us. We think He is busy looking for reasons why we aren't  good enough or unworthy. Yet, in truth, He has already taken all that for himself, forgave it and removed it as far as the east is from the west. He will remember  no more.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalms 103:12 KJV

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:19 KJV

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Hebrews 10:17 KJV

We are often defeating ourselves by looking at ourselves, not as children of God Almighty, but as sinful and broken. Jesus died for us and when we called out His name in repentance, He applied His blood over us, washed us clean and removed the sins. He covers us so that we are seen by God as pure and righteous and holy.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Colossians 1:14 KJV

In Exodus, we can read how God instructed the Israelites to take the blood of the lamb and strike it upon the posts of the door. He would see the blood and pass over them. He would not bring judgement upon that house with the blood visible and covering them.  This foreshadows the grace we would receive through the blood of Jesus.

And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
Exodus 12:13 KJV

Jesus shed His blood for the same purpose,  to cover us and redeem us from  sin. We are then covered. God sees the blood of His Son when He looks  on us. That tells me that he doesn't  see us as broken, sinful, and lost. He sees us as precious, blood-bought, pure and holy. We need to understand that by the blood of Jesus, we can stand in righteousness, walk in holiness, and declare that we are freedom from sin and shame. We are no longer who we thought we were, we are now children of the Most High. We are forgiven and redeemed. We have a new identity in Christ and are no longer subject to the old nature in which we were trapped. We are now born into the Kingdom of God. When we get that revelation of who we really are, how God sees us, we can begin to look different, act differently, speak differently,  live differently.  We should see ourselves as God sees us. Change how we look at ourselves. Stop dwelling on the faults, and perceived weaknesses and begin to walk as children of God.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:2‭-‬6 KJV

We can put away the  old things and we are made new. We can walk as we now are: new creatures in Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

God sees His child. See yourself  through His eyes.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

most precious gift

This weekend I got to go visit my hometown in Arkansas and while making that long drive I thought about a lot of things. I thought about the bookmark my dad had given me when I was young with a special verse on it. It said, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." (Proverbs 22:1 ) I also thought it about when I was very small and I would like to say the "Lord is my shepherd I shall not want," when I was in church.(Psalms 23:1) I thought about how my parents taught us to read the word of God, not just by telling us to, but by reading it themselves. They showed us that the word of God was precious. They made sure we each had our own Bible to read. They made sure that we had a good church that taught us the word of God. They also tried to live the word of God in our home and in their daily lives. I understand that they wanted us to know the word of God and plant it in our hearts. They gave me a precious gift that would help me my whole life.

As I have grown older I have desired more of the word of God. I read it more everyday than I did before. The word of God is very precious and we need it in our lives. The word of God is how he speaks to his people and to this world. We learn who God is and what his character is like when we read his word. The word of God gives us access to God and helps us understand more of him and more of what he intends us to be. Without his word we do not know him. Without his word we cannot understand that he loves us and that he has our best interests at heart. Without his word we cannot know God for ourselves. Without his word we are lost and dying and don't know it. Without his word we have no salvation and no hope.

When we begin to pour ourselves into reading the word of God, into understanding the word of God, and into finding out who God is based on what he spoke to this world, we begin to change. We change more into what he created us to be. When we understand God and his plan for us, we begin to become more like him. We are changed into his likeness and into His Image as we are filled with his word and with his spirit that comes from the reading of his word. His word permeates our lives and changes everything about us when we allow his word to become truth and life to us. We grow in faith when we read His word.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17 KJV

The word of God is truth and we need to accept it, learn it and cherish it.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV

Jesus said we are blessed to hear the Word and to obey it.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11:28 NIV

We should not just read it, but strive to obey it and live it completely everyday.
We should find God in His word so we will recognize His voice, know His will for our lives, and have intimate knowledge of God for ourselves.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV

He will work in us and change our hearts and attitudes to reflect Him more and be less of our sinful selves. He does the work as His word fills us with knowledge of His perfect will.


Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12 NIV

So as I look back, one of the most precious gifts I have received is the word of God. I want to carry it in my heart and live it thoroughly.  I hope that verse on my bookmark holds true. I want to have a good name, or reputation, that when others think of me, they think of someone who loves God, who is reflecting God, and who lives by His word. I hope my children learn from me, that the word of God is precious and they fall in love with it. I want them to seek God by reading His word and be eager to find more of Him. So as Valentine's Day is this week, my husband  and I bought our children new Bibles. What better gift to receive on a day celebrating love, than the ultimate love story.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 NIV


Sunday, January 29, 2017

in service or at a service

I was sick one Sunday and had to miss church. When my husband got home I asked, “How was the service?”  He, of course, replied and told me it was good and what had occurred.  As I was thinking about it, I thought about the question I had asked and what service really means as a Christian.  It struck me that the church has become very concerned with the service but not with being in service to God.   We often fuss and worry over how a service will go.  Should that be our main goal? 

A service, or meeting together, to worship God, encourage one another, lift up the body of Christ, etc. while very important, should not be our sole concern.  I do believe we should come together and we should bring our best to present to the Lord. We should be prepared for worship and for the edifying of the body, but our service is not just to gather once or  twice a week.  Our main service for God should be our daily witness and how we live.

We are to be in service (verb), in action for God, not just showing up for a service, (noun).  We are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We are to be busy for the kingdom of God, not just a bystander or partaker in the blessings. We are to be living our daily lives in a manner that glorifies God. We are to be studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word (2 Timothy 2:15); praying without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17); and fasting (Matthew 17:21) to bring our flesh under subjection. We have a command to go forth and preach the gospel.  We are to love one another.(I John 4:7-8) We are to be obedient to the Word of God. We are to let it permeate our daily lives, inside out and upside down. We are to be completely and fully given to God.

Service means we are being used and useful. Service means we are providing and supplying aids or services, not just attending a religious occasion.   My husband was in the military, or as many describe it, in the service. While in the service, he was required to live, eat and breath being a Marine. He entered the service and was stripped of all personal identity, then retrained to provide service without delay, without hesitation, when told. He followed orders daily, from the time he woke up, to the time he laid down, his sole purpose was to obey the orders given. He was completely given to the service of the country. He did not show up once a week to a duty, but he was daily involved in providing for the protection of the country. He was in service, not just attending a service.

Spiritually, we are to be in service, not just at a service. Daily, we are to serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing (Psalm 100:2) , from the time we wake, until the time we lay to rest. We are to be about the business of serving God by our actions, our thoughts, our words, our deeds. (Colossians 3:17) We are to be speaking life into those around us. We are to be calling on the name of the Lord for healing and deliverance for those who have need. We are to see the hurting and the wounded and act on their behalf. We are to be the body of Christ reaching the dying and lost. We are to speak the word of God and bring hope to this world. We are to serve and love others. (Mark 16:15)

Yes, that even means when we come together for a service. Yes, we are not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) We are to come together with our brothers and sisters in Christ so we can edify one another, lift up the name of Christ and find strength to continue in service. We are to come together to pray and bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) We are to come together and worship the Lord.
This should just be a part of our service, not our only service.

So, I guess from now on, I will need to ask, not "How was the service?" but, "How did I serve today?" Did I serve God or anyone else today?  Did I obey God and do His commands?  Did I provide and serve for the needs of others? Was I the hands and feet of God reaching for the lost?  Did my words, deeds and thoughts bring glory to my God?

Lord help me to be in service for you and not just at a service.  Help me be completely devoted and given to your service, daily. Permeate my being and use me for your Kingdom.

even when it seems worse

I was reading through Exodus and I realized a great important lesson. As Moses went to Egypt to obey the Lord and lead the Israelites out, some interesting things happened. He was sent by God after an experience of talking to God in a burning bush. God gave him direction and specific guidance in what he was to say and do. He explained that the deliverance of Israel was going to be a process that not only brought deliverance, but also brought punishment to Egypt for wickedness.

Moses went to Egypt and presented himself to Pharaoh with the request of letting the Israelite people go to sacrifice and worship their God. Pharaoh's response in Exodus 5:2 was "Who is this Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go."  Pharaoh refused the request, then turned around and increased the labor of the Israelites. He gave instructions that the straw was no longer supplied to the Israelite slaves, but they must gather the straw as well as meet the same quota of bricks they already must meet. When they asked why this happened, he called them lazy. The Israelites realized they were in trouble and immediately found Moses and Aaron. They basically were angry with Moses and blamed him for making things much worse than they already were. When Moses talked to God about this. God said, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."(Exodus 6:1)  God declared, "I am the Lord." (verse 2) This was followed by many conversations with Pharaoh, the 10 plagues and ultimately, the word of God becoming true as Pharaoh drove them out of Egypt. God kept His word in a mighty, miraculous victory that would never have been without His intervening.

I realized this is a spiritual principle taking place.  We often ask God for deliverances and make our requests known. but we cry out and often complain when things appear to get worse.  How many times have we made a request to God, and instead of seeing an answer right away, the situation seems to worsen?  We can make an important choice in this situation: we can continue on in faith and trust in God, or we can cry, complain and give up.  So many times, I think I have forgotten the faithfulness of God and have given up too soon.  God is making things happen that I cannot see. He may be preparing me for one of the great victories that only could happen with his deliverance, and I can't see past my circumstances. While the people thought it was getting worse, Moses obeyed God and trusted that God would do what he said. He did not give up, he kept pressing onward. He kept speaking the word that God gave him. He kept declaring the promises of God for deliverance. He pushed forward in the face of everyone else doubting and complaining. He lead the people to victory.

Sometimes, we face difficulties that seem to increase. Sometimes, circumstances grow and become ever more burdensome, just so God can say, "Now you will see what I will do."  Sometimes, victory comes through waiting on God to do what He said he will do.  He is faithful and He is good. He does not fail.  We do. When we let our faith waver in the face of growing distraction, fear, and get our eyes off of God, we fail.  We may even lose out on a great victory that God was setting up for us. He knows more than we know. He is working on  our behalf and his ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) We may not see the big picture when we are bogged down in the middle of a situation. He does and he knows what we have need of.

So I see how sometimes, we may only think things are getting worse, but it is really God bringing about a greater miracle than we could ever dream. He is working to bring about good things for us. He is working to bring about blessings in our lives. He is working to give us an even greater testimony of His goodness and power. We need to trust in Him and believe that He is good and we have no reason to doubt or fear, for what he is doing is for our good. We may not understand it in the moment, and it may bring about those who may ridicule, laugh, and call us crazy, but when we trust in God, He will do what he says he will do.  He will be faithful.  Do not give up, even when it seems hope is running the other way.  Do not give up, for God is working on your side. He will bring victory and deliverance like only He can do. He will bring forth mighty miracles that will bring us to know that He is the Lord. He will perform His word. We will be able to declare that He is the Lord!

Hebrews 10:36  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Psalms 111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

If you are facing a situation that seems to only get worse, don't give up, for God's mighty hand is moving to bring forth deliverance. He is able and He will do what He said He will do. He is Lord!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

immersed

As I was making grits for breakfast for the family, I began to think about how the grits are made. In the box, they are dry, but I guess you could say they are good and you could try to eat them, but they become really good to eat once they have been immersed into boiling hot water.  Cold water doesn't suffice.  It must be hot.  I know we generally think about baptism when we say the word immersed, but it can mean immersing yourself in your work or into your area of interest. Its to be completely absorbed in something.  We are often absorbed by sports, crafts, activities, work, family,  or whatever keeps us busy and interested. Now, these things may not be bad in and of themselves, but are we taking time to become immersed in reading the Word of God, in obeying His call or His guidance?  The word immersed is a verb and according to the dictionary means:

1. to plunge into or place under a liquid; dip; sink.
2.to involve deeply; absorb:
3.to baptize by immersion.
4. to embed; bury.
Wow, that is cool.  I found my thoughts going to how we can be good, we can be doing things that seem right and know how to act right, but until we are immersed in the Spirit of God and His Word, we really cannot be really effective in what we need to be for God. 
Revelations 3:15-16 says:
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

God wants us to be heated up and passionate about Him. He wants us to be immersed in His Will. In 2 Kings chapter 5 we can read about Naaman, who had leprosy. He was told by Elisha to go dip seven times in the river Jordan.  Once Naaman was convinced to go ahead and go dip in the muddy, dirty river, he did and was healed. If he hadn't immersed himself completely and fully in obeying Elisha, he would not have received his healing.  We can read about the Apostle Paul and the other disciples who risked life and limb, were beaten, boiled in oil, and eventually killed for the preaching the gospel. They were sold out and fully immersed in the obedience to the Word of God.  

When we become fully immersed, we become who God has intended us to be.  The grits in the boiling water become softer and delicious.  When we become immersed in the Word and Spirit of God, we also become softer. We become more sensitive to the hearing the voice of God, to seeking His will and to obedience of his guidance. We become more like Him. We become flavorful. Matthew 5:13 says: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
We are the salt of the earth. We season, we preserve, we cannot lose our savour. 

We need to be fully immersed in the Word and Spirit of God.  Paul stated in Philippians 3:7-9:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

There is much to gain when we fully immerse ourselves in the power of God and allow His Spirit to operate in us.  We can be effective in the area of our calling, in being an example of the believers, in our prayer life, in our living for Christ. I want to be effective. I want to be immersed in God. I want to be hot and fervent for the cause of Christ.  I want to be in His will.  I want to run toward Him, full force and reach the prize. 

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14



 

Friday, January 6, 2017

holy, holy, holy

Last Sunday, I was privileged to get to teach the toddler class. I know many think this is just babysitting or maybe even unimportant, but I see it as a chance to teach them some foundation and truths about who God is. The lesson in the curriculum was about heaven and how amazing it will be. After getting snacks and some playtime, I started the lesson and began describing heaven to these little ones.  I began describing how the angels cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"  I demonstrated how we will all join in and began raising my arms and saying, "Holy, Holy Holy!"  I began to feel the presence of God sweep through the room. Those little faces were just looking and and watching. One raised her little hands as well. It was a sweet moment in the presence of God.  Even at a small age, they recognized a moment when God was present. I was reminded that when we take the time to worship unabashedly before God, He takes notice.

How often do I take time to just worship God?  I have asked myself that question a few times this week.  Not enough, is my answer. I take time to pray and pour out my many needs and requests. I tell him that I love him and I do tell him how amazing He is.  But to just pour out praise?  No, I do not do that enough.  For years, we have heard that God inhabits the praises of his people.  While the Bible does not directly state that, In Psalms 22:3  King James Version, it says, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."   Other translations translate that as (NIV) Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.  and (NASB) Yet You are holy, O You who [e]are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.  So while only the KJV implies that God inhabits our praises,  the idea behind it is still there.  God does want us to praise him.  In Isaiah 6:3, the Seraphim that Isaiah saw were crying out "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts." They were before the throne of God. This was also reported by John in Revelations 4:12 as he saw the throne room and the four creatures who cried out day and night, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and is and is to come."   The word 'praise' is in the Bible 259 times.  Psalm 150 is all about singing praise to God. 

150 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Praise is important to God. It is important for his children to praise Him and I believe that praise gets His attention. I know from experience, that when I praise Him, start my prayer time with praise, true praise, His presence sweeps in.  It is palpable and almost like waves of joy washing over my soul.  It is precious and awesome. I love to bring praise before Him and experience His presence.   Praise is so important, that God does not want it given away. The three Hebrew children refused to praise and worship before the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. He demanded that bow and worship his statue. When they refused, he had them thrown into the super-heated fiery furnace. God's presence showed up and protected them.  The king saw four men walking around in the fire and one was like the Son of God. He recognized that God was there protecting these three men.  When they came out, they didn't even have the smell of smoke on them.  God took notice of three men who refused to give their praise to anyone but Him.  
We can also see in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison, they sang praises at midnight.  They chose to worship and praise even in the worst of circumstances and God honored that praise with an earthquake that shook the chains right off the prisoners.  This situation that looked dire, became a moment of praise and lives were changed. They were able to witness and baptize the jailer's entire family and a great testimony was formed as they were delivered from prison. God heard their praises and honored them with his presence. He moved and changed their circumstances.  

Praise is heard by God and He will honor those who praise Him with His presence. He moves and acts when he hears praise. His throne room is filled with praise from the seraphim or angels that stand day and night to cry "Holy, holy, holy!"  But when one of his children begins to cry out, "Holy, holy, holy!"  He hears it above the angels. He hears it and moves to be in that moment. How awesome it is when the presence of God sweeps in to hear his precious child sing, "Holy, holy, holy!"  He is there in that moment. Does that make him egotistical?  No, makes him faithful.  He promises to hear us and he has set a precedent in the Word, that praise gets his attention. He is holy and righteous. When a child of God understands that and brings it forth in praise, the Holy and Righteous God, moves and brings forth the holy and righteous acts that need to be done.  He will keep His Word and he will hear our praise. He is present and knows what we need before we even say it.  Just like Paul and Silas, they did not ask God for an earthquake to get them out of prison, they simply praised Him. God took care of the circumstances.  
Sometimes, we talk so much about our circumstances rather than the greatness of God. Maybe we are giving too much 'praise' to the circumstances.  Maybe our talk needs to change to the holiness of God and to praise of Him who made us.  Maybe the words we speak are more powerful than we realized. Maybe when we spend so much time speaking about the troubles, we are actually 'praising' those troubles.  Maybe our words need to change to "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, Almighty!"  Maybe the words we speak will bring the attention of God and His presence will sweep into the circumstances of our lives.  Maybe he will take care of the circumstances in ways we don't expect when we just begin to speak His praises rather than dwell on our circumstances. 

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

If death and life are in the power of the tongue, the words we speak have great power. We should carefully consider our words.  Praise is words we speak to God. Like Psalm 150 tells us that we are to praise God everywhere.  We are to praise God and everything that has breath can praise God.  I really think I need to take more time to praise God and quit worrying over everything else.  I can make requests known  to him when I pray, but the most important thing I can do is praise.  "Holy, Holy Holy!"