Quick to Forget: Dumping Your Blessings to Follow the World

So you’ve had a good run at life.  Perhaps not your dream job but you’ve landed in a good place that’s safe and takes care of you so you can provide for your family well.  Aside from minor tragedies (cuts and bruises) you’ve not had to endure any life altering trauma.  All is well!  And then, you’re suddenly betrayed by a friend.  Even more clearly, you perceive to have been betrayed by a friend.  Because after all, it’s your gut intuition not necessarily built on facts and proof.  How does this make you feel?  How do you react?

Let me take you back a bit.  To a time of High Priests and Kings.  It’s 3061 B.C. and King Joash reigns, Jehoiada is a priest.  (2 Kings 12: 1-15)  Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  Together he and Jehoiada maintained a collection of money brought in by the people and used to pay the workers who worked to restore the Lord’s temple.  They did not need a treasurer because everyone acted with honesty, all was well.  Safe to assume at this point God was well pleased.

So here we are, everything is clicking along beautifully.  Workers are moving stones, the temple is being repaired, people are coming with smiles on their faces gladly dropping their fare into the prepared box outside of the temple.  God is smiling down, glorious day!

Then, full of years, priest Jehoiada dies at the age of 130.  (2 Chron. 24: 15-22)  Soon thereafter Joash is persuaded to abandon the temple of the Lord to begin worshiping Asherah poles and idols.  Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, came to the people as God instructed him.  Pleading for why they’ve turned their backs?!  After all the wonderful times they had enjoying the blessings of following the Lord they can easily turn and begin adopting the ways of this world?!  Zechariah was stoned to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple, and Joash completely forgot the goodness of priest Jehoiada.

How often do we forget the good?  We cruise control through life soaking up the sun, laughing with our friends and family, to suddenly be spited by someone or something that doesn’t go our way.  Our smiles turn to gritted teeth and our thoughts begin to plot revenge.  We are very quick to react, become stubborn, and cold.  Our hearts immediately turn off to what was previously good and well.  Our instinct is to defend ourselves (pride) and our territory (earthly things).  Do we forget the big picture?  Our blessings?  What is good?

Rise above!  Big picture thinking!  It’s amazing how you can change your whole world on perspective alone.  I encourage you to keep a small notebook and journal all of the times that happen where you are WOW’ed.  Perhaps a coincidence (which do not exist by the way because all things are God planned and ordained), but none the less these are the moments you have been blessed.  So jot them down in this book and have it handy.  When you are spiraling down the hole to the abyss of bad things you can go back and read your notebook to be reminded of all of the good things that truly exist.  Those are the moments you directly experienced God at work in your life.  Be reminded that He is in and around you at all times.

It’s extremely easy to fall into the ways of this world.  To be honest, it’s the easiest route to take.  Please don’t buy into easy for comfort.  God never promised us an easy life, but he does promise to never leave or forsake us.  We are never truly alone.  Connect with your God, your universe, and be mindful of what you are putting out there in thoughts and deeds.  Everything is energy going out and coming in.  What kind of energy do you want to put into the world?

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Send Me a Farmer

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As I am sitting, doing morning Bible devotional, I realize that I’m doing a lot of reading of words but nothing is soaking in, absorbing.  I begin to visualize my heart as soil.  Needing good nutrient soil in order for the Word to take root in me.  Not to simply fall on dry sand that shifts around by every breeze and doesn’t ever stay in place.  Picturing moist dark rich soil and I start to pray for the Lord to work the soil of my heart, of my being.  Till it up!  Make it rich!  I prayed, “Send me a farmer Lord.  I need a farmer to till this soil”, and as soon as I opened my eyes to look down at my next reading, the first thing I see is Isaiah 28:24 “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?”.  I absolutely LOVE those moments when God speaks immediately at your request.  So, what did this mean?

Some days we are in the meadow and are expected to simply enjoy the views.  Be thankful and at peace during this time as we gaze upon lush green grass, birds flitting about, baby blue skies with white puffy clouds.  However, at other times, the farmer comes to dig up the ground, to prepare the once beautiful meadow for a harvest.  We need not be afraid of these times. This is when we are being dug up, plowed down, and stripped bare for a season.  When this occurs, the Lord is preparing for a great harvest.  A new crop will eventually begin to grow up and grow strong.  The Fall sun’s rays will shine brightly through the wheat colored tops of this new crop. It will once again be something beautiful, and at the time of harvest, will provide for many more in the world.  This is us!  We are given days of rest where we are in plenty and can simply say “Thank You Lord” for your provision.  But, we are also given days of deep despair and longing.  A sense of being lost when the rug is ripped out from under us.  In these days we shall also find comfort and peace in our Lord as this is harvest season.  Something greater is yet to come.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Off the Ship Talking Like a Sailor

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Eph. 5:4)

In writing this, I know it seems strange, quite random, and unfitting.  During my morning quiet time this really stood out to me and I couldn’t shake it.  There isn’t a current situation or example that lead me specifically to this other than perhaps it’s a reminder for anything to come in the near future.  Some of these basic principals are great refreshers.  We must come back to remind ourselves of what behaviors help us to shine and those that make us really ugly.  Without further ado..

Tiny-Ship

What is this teaching?

T – We are to follow God’s example and walk in love.  Jesus Christ is our perfect “model after”.  He is without sin and blameless which is what we should aspire to be.  Immorality and bad language is not something God would encourage nor an example of himself shining through us would be.

What can we praise God for?

A – Praise Him for sending His one and only Son into the world so that we have the example of the perfect lamb.  Who we aspire to be like, we were created in His image.  Those who are impure and immoral will not be entering the kingdom of heaven, however we continue to pray for their salvation.  God has selected and chosen His people, we give him praise that he personally selected us, he knows us personally.

How do I fail to realize this in my own life?

C – I’m guilty of talking like a sailor.  Being influenced by the negativity of the world.  In anger I will have outbursts of filthy talk, sometimes using it to hurt others as I am feeling hurt.  Words are extremely powerful and they can cut deep.  It’s best to choose our words wisely.

What can I ask God for?

S – Father God, help us to not waste a single word that comes from our mouths.  Our speech should be used to build others up according to their needs and to benefit those who listen.  (Eph. 4:29)  I need to remember you first when I am angered so that my focus can be on you and see the situation whole through your eyes and not my own eyes who are jaded by the cloudiness of this world.  We aspire to be in your image and thank you Lord that you chose us!  In your son’s name we pray, Amen.

He’s Alive! No Stranger Among Us

It seems so long since my last post, a whole month in between, funny how our technology today makes us feel like we’ve lost touch after only such a short time really…

I’ve been going through a season of much change. Everything from new jobs (yes, that was J.O.B.’with an S), to putting our house on the market, and relocating, amongst everything in between that comes with that when you have kids involved, family, your home, the dog, fish, guinea pigs…on & on & on. Sparing you of dirty details, hark! I’m having a “normal” moment, getting to spend much needed coffee time with the Lord and His word and felt you were deserving of a little Bible Study:

Before diving in, let’s refresh on the TACS method of study. It will help you follow along as well as you can easily do this on your own.

T: Teaching – What are the particular verses in scripture saying or teaching?
A: Adoration – What about God can we praise him for in these verses?
C: Confession – How do I fail to realize this in my own life?
S: Supplication – Based on the text, what can I ask God for?

John 4:19-26

T: Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. They discuss about traditions of worship, where, how, and about/for. About Jewish traditions of worship and then how she believes the Messiah is coming and waits for him to explain/sort out all of this for the people. Jesus tells her that the awaited for Messiah is HE.

A: That he sent us Jesus. To teach us about God. A direct vine to the Heavenly Father. That Jesus was a real person, like all of us. He experienced our struggles and lived as man lives.

C: By keeping Jesus as a story figure. Not always grasping how “real” and “tangible” he really was and still is. Keeping him in a history box. Learning and reading about but not applying it today as if he’s still present and active.

S: Father God,
I ask to love you with a weird love, as Beth Moore would put it. With our whole being and so much so that we want to talk about it. Share it. That we constantly live remembering Jesus is a real person, like us, who lives today. We walk with Jesus and he with us. Ever present in our lives, must we live like it with life! And joy! Happiness & peace! Ask God that our own being reflect that the Messiah HAS come. He walked among us. People no longer need to “wait” for him to come, he has come and he will come again! Let us wait eagerly for this arrival. In God’s will alone we pray, Amen.

When Your Feet Are Stuck, Yes! Give Up!

“My eyes are ever on The Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” – Psalm 25:15

Keep your focus on The Lord. Not the things of this world, for they are only temporary. When you have your eyes set on Him you are reminded of Whose you are and that nothing else matters.

It’s when you give up all of your control that He can do His work in you. You cannot have one foot for yourself and another for Him. Being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, He will SPIT YOU OUT!! (Rev. 3:16) You see, you will be locked up until faith happens. In the chains of this world, and only until you give up control and trust in The Lord with 100% of yourself! will he be able to release the snare from your feet.

God wants to do amazing things for us. That we might have life and have it abundantly! (John 10:10) Even when our minds wander throughout the day, and they do, that is OK! Remember The Lord and whisper His name. This will gently bring all things back to Him. Thank you Lord that you never leave us and are always there! (Duet. 31:8)

This is comforting to me. Especially during this season, I am continually straying with thoughts and dwelling on scenarios. It’s important to keep Him in the middle of it all, that our feet stay planted on unshakable ground. And even more so when things are going swell! Do not forget who showers blessings.

Father, we thank and praise you in, during, and through the storms. Nobody promised life would be easy, but with you all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26) Encourage us to keep our eyes on you, Lord, that you may work your will on earth as it is in Heaven. (Matt. 6:10) We know that only YOU can release the snares of this world from our feet. You rescued Paul from prison, where he was bound by chains, and in that saved the guard and his family too! Thank you Lord, you are so so good. In your son, Jesus, Amen.

Found! Lost Coins, Precious Treasures

Parable of the lost coin. The woman lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and searches diligently until she recovers the coin. (Luke 15:8-10) In that time houses were small and windowless. It’s likely that the coin had come from her dowry or headdress, similar to a wedding ring today. Having lost this coin is precious and worth a full day’s wages.

Jesus is speaking to the multitudes of people. A woman can relate to this parable. The woman here is God and the coin is us. How much like this parable is God?! First, our lamps are lit. By God’s light the darkness is broken, we can see. The Holy Spirit (God’s helper) sweeps us clean. We are cleansed of sinful debris. (Titus 3:5) Lastly, He seeks us, saves us, that even if one of us is lost His desire is that we are found. Do you realize that if you were the only lost soul on this planet, God would have still sent His only Son to die for you? Who has goosebumps?!

God is in the Search & Rescue business. We are His lost coins, His treasures. Do this today to help those who are veiled from the Truth (2Cor. 4:3-4). Would you pray a prayer? When you do this, the Lord’s light shines through. He begins a good work in them. Remember to pray often for those who are lost. There will be great rejoicing in Heaven for even one of these who is saved. (Luke 15:10)

Weathering the Sin Spiral

This one may prove challenging today, even for myself. I struggle knowing where to begin but trust in the Lord’s guidance. Please! Come along on the journey!

“Rahab the Do-Nothing” (Isaiah 30:7)

I was first stricken, taken aback by this. “Do nothing?!” How can this be?! Ill words spoken of Rahab, the woman of faith who hid the spies? The mother of Boaz! Royal genealogy of Jesus the Christ! Rest assure folks, this is not the woman Rahab as we first thought. Rahab, a name designation for EGYPT. Whew! Relief right?

So what are these particular groups of passages showing us? Here’s where our new journey together begins, shall we…

This is about a group of people who begin to follow their own ways. They do not consult on The Lord before making their plans. (Isa. 30:2) They find themselves in sin and end up heaping more sin upon sin. Have you ever been on the Sin Spiral? When it seems one thing leads to the other, then the other, and so on… Once you get on this ride it begins to pick up pace and before you know it, are spinning out of control at a fast speed. Be wary of this! As you grow in faith and learn to discern The Lord you can stop this vicious cycle before it starts. When you sense one sin approaching STOP! Lest you can foresee what’s to come, spiraling down down down..

In v. 18 we are reminded of how much God longs to be gracious to us! (Thank you Jesus!) In all of our weakness He remains. As a parent will be disappointed in their child’s wrongdoing, they continue to love and care for them. So our God loves and cares for us. Can we give him praise for never leaving our side no matter how foolish we get, AMEN?! We are reminded of how Rahab was redeemed. The Bible shows us real people, like you and I, who out of our shame and darkness comes redemption and glory!

When we fail to remember this we may seek comfort in other things such as people, things to do, eat, or drink. Where do you turn when you feel abandoned or a failure? Are you a runner? Do you go into hiding? Do you lash out in anger and violence? Do we try to hurt others the way we’ve felt hurt?

Father God, we pray for those who are spiraling downward from one sin to the other with the hopeless sense of not knowing where to stop. I pray that with your strength and power they are lifted from the miry pit (Psalm 40:2) into your healing grace and salvation. Let us KNOW that during the midst of our foolish mistakes, you never leave us. You are a shepherd going out to bring the lost sheep home. (Matt. 18:12) We may run and hide but we cannot hide from you. We are reminded that the worst parts of us can be made new. Our filthy lives can change! Thank you for being the light that eliminates all darkness.

Amen

When Your Arteries Clog, Your Faith is Broken

I picture a clogged artery. The most vital and important ones you require to transfer healthy blood and oxygen to your heart and the rest of your body for nourishment and the LIFE to survive. Now there is something in the way. Nothing can get through, your body begins to lack what it needs the most. Things start to fail.

Such is faith! Faith is the communication line between Heaven and earth. Without faith your prayers are in vain. Faith is the necessary element for God’s messages of love to travel. He answers before you are hardly finished because your faith lines of communication are wide open.

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring- not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.” (Rom. 4:16)

God made a promise to Abraham that his offspring would multiply and he would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:5). Through his son Isaac nonetheless, Abraham had the faith in God’s promise that he was willing to sacrifice his only son! Sound familiar?! Now we know that The Lord provided a ram in the thicket to take the place of Isaac on that altar, however there was no ram to take the place of our Father’s only son, our savior Jesus Christ. And through Him all of us have come to believe and are children of the mighty God. We are one of those nations God promised to Abraham!! It’s doesn’t get more exciting than that folks.

When our faith is broken we have severed the communication lines necessary for God’s love and grace to shower us. The Holy Spirit resides in us, like logs on a fire to keep burning, we must keep the flames within us hot. Father, we pray that the Holy Spirit inside of us is awakened! We are your holy temples and we want to be alive! We want to hear your voice and know you intimately. Set us on fire Lord! That we burn so bright with your grace and love that others see the light. Your light.

Amen.

There Are Sinners In My Church!

There’s a common theme of arguments made amongst people who are skeptic of Christians, or church goers in general. Some of the quotes I read are:

“It’s funny, they call themselves a Christian and claim to go to church every week, but then why would they ‘say that’ to me?!”

..And sometimes the H word is thrown in, “What a hypocrite! Why do they even go to church?”

Please, let’s jump in shall we?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Luke 5:31

If we were all perfect and in full glory, we wouldn’t need church or God at all. It is because we are all (emphasize ALL) sinners and fall short of the glory of God that we need grace. (Rom. 3:23). The best place for the sinner and hypocrite is IN church!! What better place for the chance to hear the Word and a seed be planted. A place where repentance and forgiveness can begin and a heart begin to change. The same way, if only healthy people saw the doctor, that means the sick continue being sick and roaming the earth unhealed, unchanged.

We praise God for his Grace. Grace on the broken hearted and broken in spirit and mind. Thank you Lord that you welcome the worst of us into your very home with open arms and are accepted beyond what anybody would allow on this earth. When we fail to recognize that every single one of us needs you, we become our own gods and it is WE who become the hypocrites. WE become the blasphemers. WE become the sinful. WE become the sick who need a doctor…

Father God, I pray for those who cannot see. Open their blind eyes Lord. (Isa. 35:5) Lest you be the mirror they need for their own reflection. Forgive those that do not know you, for they know not. (Luke 23:34) We pray blessings over people’s ignorance and foolishness. Let us not fall into their temptation! For you alone know the hearts of all, we are not the judge. In your son’s precious name, Amen!

We Are Called To Be “IN” This Thing

A lesson today from:

Isaiah 24:15

“Glorify ye The Lord in the fires.”

T: We are to glorify God “in” our trials. IN the very thing that afflicts us. In the heat of the fire and pain we are to go to Him. We often want to run from, or go around, even avoid, the hardship. However, we are called to be IN it. This is where God’s glory comes through. If we persevere, he will remove our shackles in the furnace of affliction!

A: Where ye of little faith begins a testimony. We do not get a testimony from attending a good church service, or reading an article. We get it from being faithful and giving yourself up to the glory of God while in the heat. While in the struggle. We can trust in The Lord that He’s got this. He’s got US and will save us from the pit we are in.

C: We want to run from our problems. Run from those things that are uncomfortable to us. When that happens we think something isn’t right, something is surely wrong. Instead of resting in, IN, God’s will and perfect plan. Since when did we become God? And know best for ourselves?

S: Father, we pray for strength IN the fires. That we rest IN you to carry us through. We pray for our shackles to be removed without a hair on our heads scorched (Dan. 3:27) by the flames. Let us be your witnesses to your power and gift of grace!

Amen.