Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How are the people (you and I) to prepare?

We know we are to wait on the Lord... the Bible tells us that numerous times.  We are even told that we will be blessed for waiting (Isa. 30:18)... but what are we to do in the meantime?

Matthew 25:1-13 is the Parable of the ten virgins. These virgins are attendants to the bride. In the Jewish culture, the attendants "served the bride by helping her prepare, watching for the return of the bridegroom and sharing the joy of the wedding feast."  When you read the parable, you will see that 5 have oil for their lamps and their wicks are trimmed.. they are ready for the bridegroom. The other 5 are not ready and when the bridegroom calls they have to run to find oil and end up missing the bridegroom.

The lesson, obviously, is that we are to be ready for the bridegroom's return. The key is to actually have a relationship with the bridegroom, Jesus.  If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you are not going to be glad for His return. I would urge everyone reading to make sure they have that personal relationship with Jesus.  Here is a great way to know that... http://web.mac.com/cwbc/Country_Woods/FAITH_.html  

If you do have a relationship with Jesus, then you are to prepare for His return. The parable in Matthew 25 shows that "Christ assigns us personal responsibility to help prepare the bride for His coming."

So again the question is how do we prepare? By being about our Father's business.

From Genesis to Revelation, God has written us a guide book of love letters. We are to spend time daily in the Word and in prayer developing our relationship with Christ and as we do this, we will learn all we are to be doing. Things like...

Watch and Pray (Matt. 26:41)
Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5)
Be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)
Go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20)
Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5)

and so much more. But lest you feel overwhelmed, we are never told to do any of this on our own and in our own strength. In fact, God promises:

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Get in the Word... Seek Him (He promises to be found see Jer. 29:13-14)... Ask God to show you what He has for you to do (Eph. 2:10) and to give you all you need to do it... and then walk in Faith trusting Him to do just that!

"Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Isa. 26:8

Lord, that You that we aren't to just sit here and wait. You have things for us to do.. good works.. kingdom work.. purpose. Draw each of us into Your Word and into a state of listening to hear what You have for us to do and then give us the courage to do it! Thank You for not sending us out in our own strength and abilities, for we would surely fail. Thank you for giving us all we need.  We praise You Lord for your first arrival on earth and look with excitement towards Your return. Haste the day, Lord, haste the day! Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When Will He Get Here?

Throughout the Old Testament there are Scriptures which ask When Oh Lord.. How Long Oh Lord... the Israelites were anxious for their king to arrive with His might and power to rule and reign.  I find it interesting that God tells them through prophecy where He will arrive and even details of how, but He never says when.

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Isa. 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

We know Jesus did come... born of a virgin in the City of David, Bethlehem. And we know He is coming back. That is our Advent. And like the first coming, God tells us some of the details, but not when... at least not exactly,

You can read the books of Revelation and passages likes Matthew 24 and learn a great deal about the Second Coming of our Lord, but no time stamp is given. We know He will not return until the Time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luke 21:24)... Jesus made it clear that He did not know the time, that the angels do not know.. only God the Father knows... 

Matt. 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

But we do know one thing about the time.. it is SOON.. Jesus says so in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible.. in fact, the last words in red.. the last recorded spoken words of Jesus... say He is coming back soon.

Rev. 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
Rev. 22:12 "Look, I am coming soon!"
Rev. 22:20 "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'"

Now that soon is translated quickly in some versions of the Bible and there are those who think it indicates that when Jesus comes it will be quick. After studying the book of Revelation and other end time prophecy, I would agree with that. But I also think Soon fits. I believe that from Gods perspective the time is short.. Jesus will return soon.. no matter how long it might be to us. Keep in mind that "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8)  God's perspective on time is grander than ours. He sees ALL of eternity... we see a small finite piece.  

No matter how you view it, we are to be watching and waiting and to be ready!  (We will talk about that more tomorrow.)

Lord, Ready our hearts... give us eternal eyes to see that the time is short... may we focus on You and live in the expectation of Your return. Even now, Lord, with all the hustle and bustle in our lives... with all we "have" to do... may our hearts be draw more and more to you so that we can say with all our hearts, not just our lips, "Amen, Lord Jesus, Come!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who Awaits Him?

We know that Advent is a time of anticipating an arrival.  We talked yesterday about who is coming... Jesus. Today we look at Who Awaits Him?

In the Old Testament days it was the Israelites, God's chosen people. They were waiting for their King to come and avenge them and take control of the World.  A strong and mighty ruler. Throughout the Psalms you can read the cries of God's chosen people... "How long, Lord, how long!?" The thing is He did come.. but not in a way they expected or, honestly, wanted. He came as a baby and grew to be a servant.  

Today there are still Jews waiting for their King to come.. for the first time. And He is coming, we saw that yesterday. And this time He will be that ruler King they have been looking for... and the Bible tells us there will be Jews who survive to the end and receive the promised inheritance from God. After all, He always keeps His promises .... the New Covenant.. did not do away with the Old Covenant.

There are others awaiting Jesus too.... or there should be.... the Church. We know Jesus is coming again and we need to be waiting.. watching... anticipating... making ourselves ready for His return. This is the final Advent... the time of expectancy that will lead up to His final victorious return!

"so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." Heb. 9:28

So the question I have for myself is "Am I awaiting Him?"  I mean, I know He is returning, but do I live like I know that? Am I expecting it... anticipating it.. excited about it.. longing for it? And if the answer to any of those is not really... then why not! It is so easy to become "use" to this world... our norm... to forget that this is not all there is, this is NOT our real home.  We need to turn our hearts and our focus to Jesus.... to watch for Him... pray for His return... make the Bride ready for her Bridegroom. He IS coming... SOON!

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Ps. 27:14

Lord, Stir within the heart of every Child of yours a desire for Jesus' return... a desire to be with you. Help us be about Your work... making ready the Bride of Christ.  Let us not be like the virgins in the parable who have no oil... may our lamp be full with the overflowing of the Holy Spirit within us.  And may we point others to You during this time.  May our excitement and anticipation be contagious!  Amen.

Phil Wickham is a wonderful Christian singer. He was a song called "Your Arrival". If you search YouTube, you can listen to one of several live recordings. It is also available through iTunes.

The lyrics, to me, are powerful and should be the heart cry of every Believer:

Here in the final hour
Hope lifts the tired eyes
Here now we are waiting
For You to arrive

Great things are set in motion
The sky breaks with a trumpet's sound
You call all Your children
To meet You in the clouds

Chorus:
We are waiting
Anticipating
Your arrival, Your arrival
Voices raising
Celebrating
Your arrival, Your arrival

We'll keep the candle burning
We'll watch for every sign
Here now we are waiting
For You to arrive

Great things about to happen
Lord let your kingdom come
And call us home to Heaven
The city of our God

Haste the day!

We are waiting
Anticipating
Your arrival, Your arrival

Voices raising
Celebrating
Your arrival, Your arrival

This is our song
Wherever You are
Is where we belong, oh Lord

We wanna be with You!

We are waiting
Anticipating
Your arrival, Your arrival

Voices raising
Celebrating
Your arrival, Your arrival

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who is Coming?

The first question from yesterday's thoughts on Advent is "Who is coming?" Jesus, right?

But WHO is Jesus?  The Son of God... Messiah... Christ... Prince of Peace... Wonderful Counselor... and so much more. 

Do you ever stop and meditate on WHO Jesus is or do you, like me, often take it for granted? I was blessed to be born into a Christian family... reared in church... saved at a fairly young age... I often say that I cannot remember a time that I did not know God loved me and Jesus died for me. That is great... but sadly it can lead to a familiarity that breeds apathy... complacency. It helps to step back and really look at WHO Jesus is.

One of my favorite names for Jesus is Emmanuel which means God with us.  Do you realize that Jesus was not.. is not.. just a person. Yes, he was a real living breathing human being who walked this earth... but he was and is also God... full deity... full humanity... in 1.  How can that be? I have no idea and do not try to figure it out. God is God and I am not.. His ways are not my ways.. they are higher and greater (Isa. 55:8-9). But I do know it is true.

Phil. 2:6-7 "Who (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

WOW! Can you even imagine! Here Jesus was in heaven... God... creator of all... and yet He willingly came to earth to be human... and not just any human... a baby born in a manger... not a king in a palace. He was born of low estate... insignificant, as far as the world was concerned... the son of a carpenter and his teenage bride.

And not only that... Phil. 2:8-9 "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

He willingly came to earth knowing He would die a horrible death... the worst of all deaths... so that we would have the chance to live with God forever. He took on our sins.. all the sins that ever were and ever will be ... He became them... paying the sin debt for all humanity for all time.

That is who Israel as waiting for 2000+ years ago... and that is who we wait for today. Oh he came that first time... in Bethlehem.. in a manger... and He died and rose again and then ascended to heaven, but He is coming back... most assuredly.. without a doubt!

John 14:2-3 "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Rev. 22:20 "He (Jesus) who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'"

I don't know about you, but knowing that I say with John... "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

Jesus... it is so easy to become complacent about You and who You are.  Bring new revelation... new excitement... new anticipation... for You and Your return.  We know that You do not tarry to make us wait... to draw it out... the Father wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of You and so He continues to provide the time for that to happen. May those who do not know You, be drawn to You during this Christmas season. May the Holy Spirit do His work and tender hearts ... prepare them... to hear about You and may we, who know You, do our part and speak with boldness and love sharing the Good News of the Season to all we meet. Yes, Lord, You are coming again.. and coming soon... may we be about Your business... Amen, Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent

The time leading up to Christmas is called Advent in the church. The 2010 Advent season began this past Sunday, November 28.  Some have Advent wreaths and candles. They will light 1 candle each week (some even do so daily) and read an Advent devotion and/or scripture. In fact, many churches have Advent services. 

So what is Advent? Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus which means the approach or the arrival. The verb form is Adveno which means I arrive, I come or I am coming.  

Advent is a time of awaiting an arrival... a time of expectancy.

In his book, Preparing for Jesus, Walter Wangerin, Jr. asks 4 questions as we enter into this season of Advent.

"Who is coming?
"Who awaits him?"
"When will he get here?"
"How shall the people prepare?"

The answers seem obvious... Jesus is the one coming, the Church awaits him, no one but God the Father knows when He will get here, and until He does we are to live our lives in obedience to His Word glorifying Him.

Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Well.. it is.. and it isn't. There is just so much more to it all. It is worth our time to dig in and really see WHO is coming.. who  Jesus is... to see who is really awaiting Him, are you? am I? Can we know when He will get here? and what is it we are to do... specifically... to prepare for His arrival.

As we begin this season of Advent.. of waiting.. of expectancy.. I thought we could look a bit at those questions and see what the Word tells us.  Over the next few days we will ponder each question and let the Spirit show us the answers.

In the meantime... let us pray for a sense of anticipation... of expectancy... of excitement to build within each of us concerning the coming of Christ.

Lord, The Christmas season has begun here. People are shopping and decorating and cooking and making ready for friends and family and fun. All of those are good. But there is a great event on the horizon.  We live in a season of Advent awaiting the coming of Christ as Victorious King.  May we be filled with wonder and awe and anxious expectation at that truth. As we sing about and read about the birth of Christ may our hearts be stirred at the awesomeness of that babe in a manger who came to save us and the knowledge that He is going to return.. soon!  May we say with the Psalmist "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning."  (Ps. 130:5-6)

"God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming!  Can't you feel it?" -- Walter Wangerin, Jr. 



Friday, October 22, 2010

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Recently I read an idea where you are challenged to read the same passage of Scripture each day for a week.  I like to change things up in my Daily Time with the Lord every now and then, so I thought I would do this and see how it goes.

After praying, I felt led to settle this week on a familiar passage...   Jeremiah 29:11-14

Here are some of the things I learned along the way this week....

10/18/10
The first line of this passage starts out "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord."

I like to know "the plan." It is a real hang-up with me and yet I rarely do know God's plan!  But I realized as I read this that it is Okay.  I may not know the plan He has for me, but He does and I am to trust Him fully knowing that His plans are always perfect and always the best thing for us.

10/19/10
This passage was written to Israel and God tells them He sent them into exile -- into captivity with Babylon because they had lost sight of Him.  And He promises in verse 14 that He "will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

God carried them there -- He did not send them alone.  He went with them -- carried them.

I am reminded of when a child is small and is sent to his/her room or the corner of some such place to sit because they are misbehaving and cannot be allowed to play until they settle down.  Often I had to physically pick my child up and take him/her to the place of "exile" and even though it might have seemed like I wasn't with them, I was. I did not leave the hour or leave them all alone.  Often I was in the room waiting for him/her to settle down.  It may have seemed mean to them, but I placed them their for their own good -- to teach them proper behavior-- to protect them from my "wrath" -- to give them a safe place and time to right themselves -- to refocus and get calm.

I think this is what God does. He carries me into exile - a spiritual time out - where I might feel dry and alone, but He is right there with me - teaching me -- giving me an opportunity to avoid His "wrath" -- letting me refocus and quiet myself and when I do I will seek Him with all my heart and He will be found by me. (v. 13)

10/20/10

Back to the beginning words.. "I know the plans I have for you" (v. 11) -- "for YOU"  That's the thing that hit me this day.. He has plans for me.  It isn't about me figuring out what to do or making a plan, it's about me surrendering to His plan for me.

There is a verse in the Psalms which essentially says Man makes plans but God directs His steps.

Throughout the Word we see that we are not here by accident -- God picked this time and place and He has a plan for us and for our lives. (See Eph 2:10. Ps. 139, Acts 17:26)

It's time to turn loose of my plans and seek after His!

10/21/10

Not sure I learned anything new this day... it was a bit more like being a lab and testing what I had learned!  I am living in the midst of a trial... not that unusual for a Believer.  Things escalated on this day. I felt the enemy pressing down... doing His best to pull me into despair, dread and doubt.  As I was dealing with this.. struggling... I thought of the words of this passage -- again reminded that if I am in exile, God carried me there and is with me and He promises He will bring me back from captivity, BUT it is conditional.  He will do this when I seek Hum with all my heart.  I chose that day to stand with shaky legs on the promise that He Knows the plan and it is a plan for me and it will give me a Hope and a Future!

10/22/10

"You will see me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (v. 13)

All means ALL -- total -- complete -- Every bit of my heart!

Ps. 86:11 "Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name."

Eze. 11:19 "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them, I will remove from them their heart of stone and give the a heart of flesh."

If I want to find God - to truly know Him - I have to set my heart fully - squarely -- on Him and seek after Him with ALL my heart - an undivided Heart... and I get that heart from Him!

So He equips me to have all I need to seek after Him with all my heart because He wants to be found by me!

I enjoyed focusing on one passage a bit each day.  Plan on continuing this type of meditation for a bit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The LORD is there

As I was reading and praying this morning, I was struck by the truth of this... 

Ezekiel 48:15 is talking about the City of God.. the new Jerusalem and the last line says that the city will be called Jehovah-Shammah ... The LORD is there.

Now I know God is everywhere... but still.. as I was praying I was able to claim this truth... Lord, be with my friend who is having medical tests.. you are right there with her... help her to feel your presence... guide the medical team.... Lord, be with my son during his test today.. you will be there with him... give him peace and focus... Lord, be with my daughter at work today... you will be there... give her strength.. help her be the Light you want her to be in her workplace.. and on and on...

BUT we are told in Hebrews 4:12 that the Word is sharper then any double-edged sword... while it is so wonderful to know the LORD is there.. wherever our there is He is there! ... it is also convicting.. He is There when I sin.. when I gossip... when I roll my eyes (haughty eyes!) at my husband... when I drive over the speed limit... 

That THERE is every THERE that ever has been... is right now.. and ever will be! 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

Lord, help me... help us... to live today fully aware that You are Jehovah-Shammah... the LORD is there!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Calling....


Call to me and I will answer you 
and tell you great and unsearchable things 
you do not know. 
Jer. 33:3 
(God's Phone Number)
I have a very close relationship with my mother.. always have. I think a lot of it is because I am an only daughter, so no sister to rival for Mom's attention... and while I am not actually an only child, I lived that life. My brother is 9 1/2 years older than me, so by the time I was 9 he was in college and then got married before he finished school... so he was gone and it was just me and the folks.
While I have had disagreements with my mom over the years, I never went through that "I hate my mother" stage some girls do.... the guilt of even thinking that would kill me!  
So it is no surprise that I talk to my mom regularly. Growing up she owned a business and I had the number there and could call her for any reason at any time.. and I did. I called her almost daily in college.  After being married a few years my husband and I left my hometown to move 2 hours away. I called a lot! 16 years ago she and my dad moved here.. 9/10s of a mile from our home.. and still I call!  LOL!  It is just a habit to call and check on Mom each day.. even if I have seen her in person.
That is why it was so weird last night when I came in from mid-week services at church and went to grab the phone and call Mother.  I could call.. she would not answer. Mother has flown with my brother and his family to CA to a Marine base to see my nephew graduate from Basic Training.  I am glad she went.. she will love seeing the Pacific Ocean... she will love seeing my nephew even more and there will be other grandkids and even a couple of great-grands that she rarely sees, so it will be a great trip for her. But it really was strange not to be able to talk with her.
As I thought about the strangeness of this, I thought of verses through out the Bible that talk of Calling on the Lord.  The cool thing is He is always there to answer!  He never goes out of town.. turns off His phone.. falls asleep and doesn't hear it.. nope, He is always there and He always hears us when we call.. and He wants us to call. 
the LORD will hear when I call to him Ps. 4:3
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me Os. 17:6
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him Ps. 34:6
Over the next few days when I feel the urge to call my Mom,  I think I will call my Father instead!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Delight!

 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Ps. 37:4

I have always believed that to Delight ourselves in the Lord means to enjoy spending time with Him.. find pleasure and joy in fellowship with Him.. and that is true.. but today I decided to dig a bit and while it is true the Hebrew word for Delight means have delight in.. the root word it is from means to be soft or pliable.  Wow!

To me that means we are to be pliable and let Him mold us into who He wants us to be..which is the imagine of Christ..  and all the while we are to delight in it. Now surely you know that molding and is not always pleasant.. so it will take a choice to delight in the midst of it.

And as for the desires of our heart.. I have heard folks take this verse to mean if we want it and ask for it, God will give it to us. Not really... He is not a genie in a bottle.. but in a way it is true IF we do the first part of the verse. If we are delighting in Him while He molds us into the person we are supposed to be, which is the imagine of Christ, then our desires will line up with His will and so He will give them to us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

He Makes All Things New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17  


My daughter is a very artistic young woman who loves to take old things and repurpose them or bring them back to life... essentially, she takes something old and gives it new life.


Recently she did this with a table for our Women's Ministry to use...


Before: 




After:




What a difference!  Isn't that what God does for us? He strips away the bad.... cleans us up... and then adorns us with His love and grace making us into a new beautiful creation in Christ.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Motives

I am reading the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan. If you are unfamiliar with it, the focus is on the Holy Spirit.... very good and solid book.

So he is talking this morning about asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit.. and we are to do that.. but then he asks WHY do you want to be filled? Seems like a dumb question in a way, but it isn't. The pat answer would be "because" God tells us to.. and that is not a bad reason.. but his point was are we wanting an infilling because we love the Lord and the church and we want to serve and minister through His power OR are we looking forward to His doing something through us and then folks saying "Wow.. look at what she did"... that would be the wrong heart motive.. and based on James 4:3 ("When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motive") we won't get the infilling if we have that as our motive. 

So this made me think of other things I have prayed for and am praying for.. especially where I am not seeing answers yet. NOW I have to quickly say that just because God hasn't answered your prayer does NOT mean you motive was/is wrong.  Remember that He does what is best for you... for the person or situation for which you are praying.. and ultimately for His Kingdom.

But still.. it is an interesting exercise to walk through prayer requests and really truly honestly look at WHY you are asking.  I mean I have asked for healing in the past.. earthly healing.. but if that person is a Christian, is that really the best for them? Doesn't the word say To live is Christ, to die is gain? NOT that I am saying we need to pray for folks to die!  When it comes to healing prayers, I tend to pour out my heart and tell God what I want and why, but then I also add (and I pray for it to be a genuine desire) that no matter what HIS will is done and He is glorified even if that means the healing is to be a heavenly one (for believers).  

It is easy to see wrong motives behind some prayers.. especially those for material things.. money.. or things we know we should not have. Again!  I am not saying don't pray for money or material things, but look at your motive. 11 or 12 years ago I prayed for a mini-van... I had 2 kids and they had friends... my mom travelled with us.. it just made sense ... at the time I had a 4 door Honda Accord.. not the best for hauling folks. But thankfully the Spirit gave me the right words and attitude about the prayer.. Lord, I think I need a van and here is why... IF you want me to have this then Lord please provide the van and the means to pay for it so we do not add debt to our lives.  A month or so later we had that van and had the funds to buy it out right.  So no doubt God does care about the material things in life. I still have that van and it would be so easy to pray for something new... something smaller and more economical.. more fun and cute to drive... but there is no way my motive would be right, because I can assure you that the only reason I would be asking is because I want it.. not because there is a need.  Another example... let's say I pray for a raise for my husband or a job that pays more money... or to get out of debt... and my thought is how much easier life will be.... we can finally afford this and that and the other... Wait! Is that a right motive? I am thinking no. I am praying for our family to get out of debt.. we have been working on it for some time (takes lots longer to pay it off than run it up!) so I looked a lot at this one today and the thing that hit me is I need to be out of debt because God tells us not to owe another... because it is a hindrance to me at times, a burden that causes me to sin (mostly worry).. and because we would then be able to do MORE financially for the kingdom of God NOT so we could then buy and do more stuff for us.

It isn't so much that you can or cannot ask for this or that.. it is all about the Motives behind the asking.  And it is VERY easy to convince ourselves that our motives are right when the thing we ask for is a good thing, but that may not always be true.

SO as you are praying.. for yourself and others.. ask God to show you your motives AND to forgive you when they are wrong and to give you right motives and the right things to pray,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Romans 11:33-36

I am reading through Romans right now in my Quiet Time.  This morning I read Romans 10 & 11. The verses at the end of 11 really stirred my heart and I wanted to share them with y'all.  I read in the NIV and then later looked them up in the Message. Both are sooo good, so I am sharing both!

Romans 11:33-36

NIV:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
      How unsearchable His judgments, 
      and His paths beyond tracing out! 
 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? 
      Or who has been His counselor?"
 "Who has ever given to God, 
      that God should repay him?"
 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. 
      To Him be the glory forever! Amen.


the MSG:

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out. 

   Is there anyone around who can explain God? 
   Anyone smart enough to tell Him what to do? 
   Anyone who has done Him such a huge favor 
      that God has to ask his advice? 

   Everything comes from Him; 
   Everything happens through Him; 
   Everything ends up in Him. 
   Always glory! Always praise! 
      Yes. Yes. Yes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Sin, oh the bliss...

I continue to work my way through James MacDonald's Bible Study, Downpour. Last week the focus was on sin. I had to read it in small bites and then let it settle in... it was rather overwhelming at times. It is so easy to think we don't have a lot of sin in our lives. I mean I don't murder.. commit adultery.. steal etc. But there are sooo many things that constitute sin.. and I find we often dance around calling them what they are. "I'm just that way... just my personality... can't help it... my momma was the same way and so was her momma... just a quirk... I don't really mean it..." and on and on. But the bottom line is they are sin... pure and simple.. sin.

One thing that really hit me hard was James 4:17 "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." I have read and studied James numerous times, so this verse isn't new to me. But it really slammed me this past week, especially when MacDonald was kind enough to give examples like you tell someone you will pray for them and don't follow through... you know you are to spend time with the Lord daily, but you don't... ouch! I have a consistent quiet time 5 days a week. Then the weekend comes. Saturday I sleep in a bit and once I am up it is time to fix breakfast and get the day started. Then Sunday.... well that is a busy morning! Gotta get up and going for church and besides, I will get my God fix there. Wrong! God asks for one on one time with me not just corporate worship... and as great as church and family are, they are not to come before God. So when I ignore His call on the weekend, I am not just slacking off a bit... I am sinning.

Like I said.. this has all been a bit overwhelming at times to me. Then today rolls around and the task was to list my sins and next to them list the consequences. (I had already IDed my sins last week). It was a great exercise... very eye opening. There are consequences that can be rectified.. others I have to accept.. ALL can be prayed about. But I noticed today that while it still saddened me that I had this sin in my life, I wasn't as overwhelmed. I wondered a bit why. I was expecting to be burden... broken... sad.. something. But I wasn't. And then I heard it... playing softly in my mind...

"My sin, oh the bliss, of this wondrous thought. My sin, not in part, but the whole. Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Oh my soul!"

You see... last week when I went through the task of evaluating myself in prayer and letting the Spirit show me my sins, I followed up with a time of confession and repentance. 1 John 1:9 assures us that "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." There was no need for me to feel burdened by those sins anymore. I had confessed and I had been forgiven. And while the consequences remain, the burden has been lifted... ALL of it.. nailed to that cross 2000+ years ago.

Does that mean I forget all those sins and go about my life? No, I don't think so. For me, I want to remember them... to keep them before me, so that I remember the things that easily trap me. I will continue to pray about them. I will have a close friend (or 2) pray also. And I will strive to not repeat them.

And sadly, when I do repeat some of them, God will be right there ready to listen to me confess once more... and He will once more cleanse me and set me free from that burden.

He will do the same for you! It is a wonderful, marvelous feeling. Then and only then, can you truly say "It is well with my soul!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Your Grace Still Amazes Me

Do you ever take time to think... really think... meditate on God's Grace? All of it... the grace that saves someone... and the grace He pours out every day.. that allows us to come back to Him over and over again after we have messed up for the zillionth time.  It truly is Amazing!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Praying for our Nation

Today is a called National Day of Prayer for our nation... but truly every day is a day of prayer! I encourage you to pray for the US and our leaders today. If you church or area has a special service try your best to attend. 
My church is open today for folks to come and pray. While I was there earlier, God really convicted me about a sin in my life.... not praying for our leaders... He calls us to do that in His Word... 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says : I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I have been seeing bumper stickers for the past few days that say FIRE PELOSI... while praying God brought those to mind and then as quickly as I saw it, He said "It should say PRAY for PELOSI" WOW! We are quick to pop a bumper sticker on our car... to make a comment about our leaders and the "dumb" things they do... but do we pray for them? While I do not have personal knowledge of Nancy Pelosi's heart, I feel safe saying she is probably not a believer. That should burden me for her. I should fall on my face daily interceding for her and her salvation because whether or not I like her personality... disagree with her on most (if not all) issues... etc. God created her... God has a PLAN for her... God loves her... God wants her to come to be saved and as a Christ-Follower it is my duty... my responsibility to seek HIS WILL and to pray for it.

This is true not only of Nancy Pelosi but of other leaders on all levels... we cannot blame the lost for the shape of this world... 2 Chr. 7:14 lays it at our feet If MY people will HUMBLE themselves and Pray and TURN from THEIR wicked ways... When we pray for our leaders instead of making jokes and snide remarks, we are humbling ourselves before God and His authority and trusting Him because HE place them in those positions.

I, for one, am seeking to pray more and complain less when it comes to our nation...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marshall Your Troops

God led me to an interesting verse recently... "Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us." Micah 5:1

Do you ever read a verse and think "Now where did that come from and what does it have to do with me and my life?"  But knowing that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting.. I knew this one had as much value as all the rest and I was certain God led me there.

So I read it again... Marshal your troops really popped out at me and has stuck with me ... other translations say Muster yourself.. gather... prepare... so I did a bit of digging and found that the Hebrew word used here for Marshal is gadad and it means to penetrate, cut, attack, invade.. it can be to cut into OR to cut oneself, to prune... PRUNE!  That immediately took me to John 15:1-2 where Jesus says "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."  

For me, I feel God is saying "There is a battle raging and you need to get it together!  Get rid of all that excess dead stuff in your life that doesn't serve a purpose or glorify me.  Surrender and let me shape you into the person I have planned for you to be as you walk through this battlefield." 

I also like the definition included the word Prepare. We need to be prepared for battle everyday.  The Word tells us we are in a battle and we also know we have weapons to aid us in the fight:

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."  2 Cor. 10:3-4

We need to be in the Word daily... sharpening our swords... making ourselves ready.

Praying your troops are marshaled and you are prepared for the battle... you are in it whether you want to be or not and whether you acknowledge it or not... BUT remember that the victory has been won!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Battles...

I was thinking about a friend earlier today... she is traveling to Houston to MD Anderson, recently diagnosed with an aggressive and advanced cancer... I was praying... and God brought several verses to mind, especially some from 2 Chr. 20.. which is one of the most amazing passages of Scripture! God used it in a huge way in my life years ago and still brings it to mind regularly. So here are the things He reminded me of this morning concerning my friend and this "vast army" she faces and the battle ahead...
from v 15 - 17 "This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. ...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "
Awesome promises, right!? But then as I was meditating on those verses.. while putting on makeup and getting ready to go off into the real world... it hit me, yes.. those promises are for my friend.. but they are for all of us today.. and for the many battles we face every day...I have friends struggling with rebellious children, financial difficulties, unemployment, chronic illness, elderly parents, marital difficulties and so much more ... whatever you are dealing with right now, that is the army you face and the battle you see coming or are in the midst of, but here is the great news.. It is not your battle! It is the Lord's. He asks that you stand firm and let Him be God. That doesn't mean sit back and do nothing.. unless He tells you to. My friend is going to Houston for Medical Treatment because God has called her to do so... we will all do what needs to be done as He shows us... but we don't need to live in fear and try to be God in this... give it to Him.. whatever it is.. no matter how big or small it seems.. and then do whatever you feel He is telling you to do, all the while knowing that HE is God and the battle is His. He will deliver you.. maybe not in the way you want or plan or in your timing, but He promises to always deliver His children.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time....

Stumbled across this today in an article I was reading on prayer and thought it was good... something to we all need to consider....

The question deals with finding time to pray...

Q. How do you find the time?

A. Time isn't found. It's chosen. We all get the same 24 hours a day. No one is too busy. They just busy themselves with different things by their choice. That's the tough news. From the Gospel accounts, Jesus appears to have regularly withdrawn for whole evenings of prayers. Do you think that you are busier than Jesus? I doubt it, so if He had the time, then you should be able to have the time. (from http://thepracticaldisciple.com/ )

Ouch? Yep.. Ouch! Like it or not we make time for the things we want to do and that we deem important. I am praying God moves in our hearts so that we see what is truly the most important.. that we will be like Mary and choose the better thing.. that we will seek first the Kingdom.

Monday, April 5, 2010

God's Unfailing Love....

Leads us: In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. Ex. 15:13a

Saves us: Turn, O Lord, and deliver me, save me because of Your unfailing love. Ps. 6:4 Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love. Ps. 31:16

Keeps us from Being Shaken: For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken. Ps. 21:7

And It cannot be Shaken: Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken not my covenant of peace be removed says the Lord who has compassion on you. Isa. 54:10

Surrounds Us: Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in Him. Ps. 32:10

Our hope is in it: The eyes of the lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love. Ps. 33:18 The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. Ps. 147:11

Rest upon Us: May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put out hope in You. Ps. 33:22

Is Priceless: How priceless is Your unfailing love. Ps. 36:7a

Redeems Us: Rise up and help us; redeem us because of Your unfailing love. Ps. 44:26

Is to be Meditated on: Within Your temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love. Ps. 48:9

Brings Mercy: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love. Ps. 51:1

We trust in it: I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever. Ps. 52:8

God Shows it to Us: Show us You unfailing love, O Lord, and grand us Your salvation. Ps. 85:7

Satisfies Us: Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Ps. 90:14

Give Thanks for It: Let them give thanks tot he Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31 (He repeats this 4 times in this Psalm... God is serious about our giving thanks for His unfailing love!)

Comes to Us: May Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, Your salvation according to Your promise. Ps. 119:41

Comforts Us: May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. Ps. 119:76

Is with the Lord: Oh, Israel, put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love. Ps. 130:7

Silences our enemies, destroys our foes: In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies, destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant. Ps. 143:12

We desire it: What a man desires is unfailing love. Prov. 19:22

Is Great: Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. Lam. 3:32

Bears Fruit: Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up you unplowed ground for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

Monday, March 22, 2010

God is still in charge...

The national health care bill has passed and many are up in arms... grieved over the thought of Government funded abortion. Not to mention the doors this opens for other radical health care changes such as care being withheld from the elderly. I have no idea where this decision will lead us, but I do know this... it did nothing to change the fact that GOD is Sovereign... nor did it thwart His plans.

He is allowing this for a reason... one we probably could not understand even if He told us.

Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

We must realize that God sets up authorities... which means He placed all the various leaders that are "in charge" in their places:

He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

And they aren't quite as "in charge" as they think they are...

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. Proverbs 21:1

So what are we to do? What the Lord tells us to in 1 Timothy 2:1-2:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

God is still God.... His plan continues to move forward unto completion.. we are to pray and be about His work... sharing the good news and glorifying Him in every thing we do!