Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Root of It All

Psalm 139:23-24
Good News Translation
 
23 Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
    test me, and discover my thoughts.
24 Find out if there is any evil in me
    and guide me in the everlasting way.
 
As a contemplative person by nature, this prayer of David's rings true for me.  It isn't always a pleasant pursuit - being searched and examined by God - however, I believe it is so necessary. 
 
This, like most of the Bible's guidelines and principles, does not come natural.  As humans, especially in today's culture and society, what is natural is to blame other's for our problems and shortcomings.  Taking responsibility and being accountable for one's actions and words doesn't seem to be the "norm."  The way of human nature (a.k.a. one's own will) is to pass on the responsibility to other people, to protect, at any costs, one's own feelings.  Generally, in my own experience and observations, this comes down to the main human nature problem - pride. 
 
If we are really, truly submitting to God's Word, we are choosing humility.  Then we can subject ourselves to His examination and testing.  Then He can point out the waywardness of our own selves and point us in the right direction.  But it only happens when we stop pointing the proud fingers of blame at other people. 
 
However painful the process, I know I need His searching, I want Him to put me on the everlasting way. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Finding Yourself

James 1:23-25
New Life Version

23 Anyone who hears the Word of God and does not obey is like a man looking at his face in a mirror. 24 After he sees himself and goes away, he forgets what he looks like. 25 But the one who keeps looking into God’s perfect Law and does not forget it will do what it says and be happy as he does it. God’s Word makes men free.

In our crazy world, the message is to make yourself happy, look out for number one, do what feels right, be who you are, find yourself, etc.  These attitudes can even invade our churches - they are made up of people, after all. 

But the scripture referenced indicates that it is not about ourselves.  In fact, if you are "finding" yourself outside of the mirror of God's Word, you will be unhappy.  We need to use the Word of God as a mirror into our lives - find yourself in the Word let it change you - and be happy and free!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

No Back-Up Plan

Daniel 3:16-25
King James Version

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

I'm sure anyone reading this post knows all about the three Hebrew children and King Nebuchadnezzar.  How he wanted them to bow to his idol, and they wouldn't.  How he got really angry and said if you don't, I'll throw you into a furnace to be burned alive. 

The passage above is their answer to the king when he asked them what their problem was.  They let the king know that they had faith that God could save them.  It is pretty clear that they had no doubts on that subject.  But notice Verse 18, by saying "but if not" they recognized that God's ways were higher than theirs and were completely and unreservedly trusting in His purpose and plan. 

There have been so many times in my own life where I have "believed" God for something that He didn't do.  I have questioned my own faith in those times, thinking that a lack of faith was keeping God from doing what I believed He could do. 

As I think about these things, I look at the example of the three Hebrews, they believed God could and would deliver them. But they still thought maybe he wouldn't, and if He didn't, they were good with it.  They were all in with their trust in God.  No reservations.  They didn't have a back-up plan on how they would handle the situation if God didn't come through.

I understand a little better today the lack that I have perceived in my own life.  It's not a lack of faith or knowledge that God can do something.  It's the presence of a back-up plan in case He doesn't do something.  That is not who God is.  His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.  If we decide to trust Him, we need to trust him, period.  If we are praying and asking for His intervention in our lives, all the while planning on what to do if He doesn't show up, then we are not really all in. 

I want to be all in with God, with no back-up plan.  I trust Him, I know He can do wonderful, miraculous things.  And if He doesn't - I still trust Him, and still know He can.  No back-up plan!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Promise of Action

Luke 11:9
Modern English Version

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

There are two kinds of people in the world.  Okay, actually, a few more than two, but for the purpose of this post, there are two.  Those who act and those who react. 

With some self-reflection, I find myself on the reaction side of things a lot.  A lot more than I would like.  You see, a reactor has no purpose.  They are subject to whatever anyone else is doing.  A person of action who is asking, seeking, and knocking - is receiving.  A person of reaction is just getting the remnants.  And potentially getting bogged down which can create resentment, etc. - but that is a whole other post.

As I apply this to spiritual things, I see an even greater need to an action person.  Personally, I don't want just the remnants and scraps left over from other people's blessings - I want to ask and be given, I want to seek and find, I to knock and have the doors opened.  Don't trail behind other people (it's too distracting, anyway) and be satisfied with the results of someone else's action, lift up your head, raise your hand and ask, seek, knock and receive first hand promises!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Love vs. Fear

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
(Tree of Life Version)

Love is patient,
love is kind,
it does not envy,
it does not brag,
it is not puffed up,
it does not behave inappropriately,
it does not seek its own way,
it is not provoked,
it keeps no account of wrong,
it does not rejoice over injustice
    but rejoices in the truth;
it bears all things,
it believes all things,
it hopes all things,
it endures all things.

A very familiar passage of scripture.  So familiar that I think sometimes it is easy to quote without any meaning attached to it.  The other day I was asking God to speak to me about a particular situation, and He led me to these scriptures.  I found it very convicting as I was feeling something slightly less fuzzy than love.  But, of course, He knows what He is talking about so I stopped and listened.

Over the last few days as this has marinated in my heart, I have come to realize that the opposite of love is fear.  And this is why love is such a powerful thing. 

Love produces patience, fear is in a frenzy. 
Love is kind, fear promotes meanness. 
Love has no envy, fear is crazy jealous. 
Love doesn't even need to brag, fear is afraid not to. 
Love doesn't get all cocky, fear needs to be noticed.
Love doesn't ever embarrass, fear will say and do things that shouldn't be said or done.
Love defers to its neighbor, fear is a know it all.
Love doesn't get mad, fear is all about anger.
Love doesn't keep score, fear remembers everything.
Love doesn't laugh over other's failures and tragedies, fear is happy when others are hurting.
Love is happy with the truth, fear will lie and try to hide the truth.
Love helps out, fear stands by in judgment. 
Love sees the good, fear focuses on the negative.
Love never gives up, fear doesn't even start trying.
Love puts up with life and all it brings, fear is always complaining about it.

As I have contemplated the extreme contrast between love and fear, I feel so woefully lacking in true understanding.  However, I can see where God's love is teaching me how to love, what it means, and how powerful of a weapon it is.  This love,while it certainly can be applied to our romantic idea of love, is not really about that, it is about choosing.  Choosing power and a sound mind over the anxiety and slavery of fear.  

To me it is very clear in my outline above, you choose one.  If we look at our lives, the things we do and say, and the decisions we make, we are choosing one or the other.  It is not some vague idea that floats around the universe.  It is not some romantic poem to insert into a valentine's day card.  It is a choice we are making every moment of every day.   

In Verse 8 of this chapter, it says love never fails.  Love never fails.  If we choose the actions of love, we will never fail.  Fear cannot succeed no mater how hard it tries.  The more it tries, the more it fails and ends up causing chaos in our lives.  Love might take a little more effort than fear sometimes, but it is God-given and much more rewarding than fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Emotion



I will sing unto the LORD,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:6
God has been so gracious and good to me.
His bountiful favor is more than I could ever expect.
It makes me feel emotional about Him.
So, I sing songs that reflect that emotion.
~~~~~
The more I seek You,
The more I find You
The more I find You, the more I love You
I wanna sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand.
Lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heart beat
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in Your peace, it's overwhelming

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Grace Area

1 Peter 4:10
New English Translation


... serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

If the reader has perused the previous post, then you know that I am a self-confessed "all in or all out", "black and white" sort of person.  I identify this as a human struggle because the basic result of this is some intolerance and, lets just admit it, sometimes stubbornness. 

Well, not surprisingly, God has once again spoken to me in a clear and special way.  As I was chit-chatting with a friend recently, I was explaining my struggle with the "black and white" perspective on life, and bemoaning the fact that it is hard for me to see the "grey area".  I recognized that it is basic human nature and ultimately, I want to see things more the way God sees them....and that was when God helped me out. 

The words came out of my mouth almost before I had time to think about it.  Grace area.  If I replace the "grey area" with a "grace area", it makes so much more sense to my spirit.  My heart leaped for joy a little as I realized that God had shown me what the problem was.  Right is still right and wrong is still wrong.  I still have my opinions about things (and people), but grace can replace the grey and that causes the discomfort of differences to fade significantly. 

So, I think I will no longer claim to be a "black or white", "all in or all out" sort of person.  I think I will work on just being a "grace area" sort of person.