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Archive for March, 2011

Romans 5:3-5 (New Living Translation) 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

It’s Thursday.  I woke up early this morning to rain and wind and was thrilled to notice something was washing this pollen that God thought up and sent to us off of my truck and driveway.  It has been an interesting few days.  No matter how hard you plan, there are things that come you way that cause you to stretch personally and spiritually.  Jeremy’s car’s engine in his Jetta threw a rod and knocked a hole in the side of it you could put your fist through.  We have been in a ten day period of adjusting and shifting three vehicles trying to get four people somewhere on time.  Jeremy has had my truck.  I have had the privilege of taking Nancy to work.  She does an unbelievable job at her school as a P. E. teacher and gets there early.  So I have been getting up early and getting ready for the day so I can take her to school.  I get up early, anyway.

Adjusting schedules and vehicles are mild compared to what I see and hear in a days time.  I hear about people who are struggling with cancer in their body.  They have to deal with surgery and chemo and or radiation and see the debilitating nature of that disease not to mention that they call chemo and radiation a “cure”.  The “cure” is sometimes far meaner than the disease.  There are people I deal with that have cancer in their marriages and they struggle big time.  I wished there was medicine I could give to help.  Only Christ’s presence in the middle of it gives anyone hope at all.  He is the Great Physician!  That doesn’t count the folk who are viciously battle with addictions to drugs and money – just to mention two…

God reminded me yesterday and again this morning that the truth is we will have struggles in this life.  You cannot miss them.  God brings testings that give us a chance to choose to do right or wrong.  He may not cause the struggles, but he is powerfully involved in how all this plays out in our lives.  All these things gives us a chance to choose to Trust God or to trust our own resources in the midst of it all.

Today’s verse – read yesterday as a passing reference – became my focus for this day.  He is stretching my faith muscle today.  I am placing my trust in Him today for people that I care about and love – even for those who are a struggle to love.  The cure isn’t medicine.  He doesn’t give medicine.  He give us answers all the time.  What He gives is Himself – His presence – and it is welcomed.

As the Scripture says, “…he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

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14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.

I am reminded again this morning that prayer is our privilege bought and paid for those of us who are children of God who live by faith in God through Christ under the daily leadership of the Lord Jesus.  I pray because I can.  No other faith gives me the promise that I can know the God I worship personally and we can communicate about everything in life.  He answers my prayers. It was the nation’s joy to know that they could inquire of the Lord about everything from their daily needs to how they were going to defeat the enemy.  They just never expected the enemy to come along in rags and looking “po’ mouth”.

My responsibility today is to walk through every moment of it conscious of the fact that God is present and involved in it.  I can talk and walk through this day with the confidence that my heavenly Father is watching over me.  I also have to keep a clear awareness that the enemy is alive and well and wanting to steal, kill and destroy.  If he has to dress up in rags and look po’ mouth to get it done so be it.  Everything they did should have been put through the test, “did I ask God ask God about this…did I inquire of the Lord…”  Not only could he have given them guidance, he could have also clarified if this is real and how we deal with this particular situation.  I will trust that to be true.

Today I will ‘inquire’ of the Lord about what I am going through trusting not only that he will  provide but will also protect me as I face every new person and situation.  You never know ’til you ask.  Ask!  Do it because you can!  My relationship with the Father deepens every time I sit and talk together.

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32 The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.

I found this phrase jumping out at me this morning.  It is in the context of pain.  Its wording reflects that he is hurting, complaining and trusting at the same time.  I was blown away at how bold he is with God and I took courage in that part as well.  Here is a king who finds his only friend in the midst of calamity and pain to be the Lord God himself…He is an approachable God…one you can tell anything.  He seems to be innocent.  He really does seem to care about how people will think about the Lord because of what he is going through.

But this line snatched up my attention.  Here is a king in pain being falsely accused who finds himself in quiet retrospection wonder what God is doing in his life through this whole deal.  Those who are selfless and submissive to the King of Kings begin to look at all the circumstances of life and see God at work.  He is not absent.  We are his children.  He loves us and will not walk away from us but is involved in the daily affairs of our lives.  That “be glad” stuff comes out of the depth of a relationship with the Father that comes from experience from within pain.  He has shown himself strong in these situations.  David never blames God for the attack.  He simply knows that he can come to God with the stuff he faces and God hears.

Let all who seek God’s help… we can do just that!  I will continue to let that rattle around in my head for a while.  What would life be like if we could not seek God for help?  What kind of mess would we be in if we could not approach God?  What if her were just an idol made of wood, silver, or gold and all he could do is sit on a shelf?  We should be encouraged.  God hears us.  He knows us better than anyone else.

God has not packed his bags up and gone home to leave us to deal with life alone.  He is my Father.  I can call him.  He listens.  I can be encouraged that the Father is here.

For the past several months out of a study of Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Corinthians, that little word “humility” keeps coming up.  Here it is again.  Only those dead to themselves and alive unto God – those who have settled the “self” issue…those whose eyesight has been helped by seeing the Lord, Others, then self can see God at work even in the midst of the junk life brings to us everyday.  He is here.  He is at work.  Help my eyes to see!  AND be encouraged!

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2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

I read this verse in 1 Corinthians 4.  I immediately thought of  the verse that say something on the order of to whom much is given much shall be required.  When I was much younger I had nothing over which or no one over whom I held “requirements”.  Dating, engagement and marriage all had pieces of this verse being proven faithful.  Husband with their wives, Parents with their children and Employee and Employers are three areas we have been studying on Sunday mornings together that require this whole idea of faithfulness to be settled.  The same is true with good friends.

We have been given a “trust”.  Some person selects the individual and then gives them a “trust” and stewardship over that trust begins immediately.  I carry Lacey, our dog, to the place where we lodge her on the weekends we are gone, we expect the folk to handle the trust we have placed in their care with great responsibility.  Nancy and I would take a trip and leave our children with our parents and they would be good stewards over our children.  The Lord has gifted me with a wife, three children, a daughter in law, a grandchild and as the eldest child I hold a trust with her as well and God expects me to be a good steward over the trust I have been given.  I am the prayer warrior of my family and take great joy in praying for them each day.  They mean so much to me.  Add a church of 1400 members to that and I am reminded that only God can do this kind of thing and if he doesn’t work a great work we are dead because I cannot do this in the flesh.

I have some very special friends that I have been gifted to be a part of their lives.  I am entrusted to be faithful to their lives.  I pray for them every day, too.  I take it seriously.  I wish I could say I don’t miss a day.  I wish I could say that you could count me in to be the best model in the world about it…but I am doing better and taking responsible.

It’s kind of like milking cows – it’s everyday.  It’s how they make a living.  It is the daily faithfulness in the “everdayness” of life that influences the most.  Persistent faithfulness!

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It’s Friday

8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

This verse reinforces a desire I seek after to keep my mind focused on the things of God.  The only way I have found to help that is to give me some verses to hang around in my mind that keep me focused and rehearse them over and over.  What a direct affirmation of that desire.  It should prove to be a helpful discipline…especially that day and night thang.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

I know that I should have picked one verse (I did) however, the following verses speak to me.  I can trust in the LORD – that is not determined by whether or not I dwell in a safe land or he gives me the desires of my heart.  However, the promise to my heart is that I can ask Him, he understands the desires of my heart (there are so many who do not understand them for they are human and don’t listen or they have no context to relate to the situations) I trust that He knows…he is not detached from things

Words like “dwell” and “be still” and “wait patiently” and “do not fret” allow me to see that there is still room for growth and gives me hope today that I can take the pressure off of the moment and live full in each moment  – In his presence.  I choose to be still.

 

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A New Focus!

Psalm 27:4 (ESV)

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to inquire in his temple.

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He IS!

3 I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

Your ears perk up when you hear the musings of an old man finishing his earthly assignment and getting ready fly “home”.  Age has a way of refining what you think and how you process life.  The older I get I join him in proclaiming the greatness of our God.  The more time you spend with the Lord on this side of Eternity the more mysterious he becomes and the greater he becomes.  He is ginormous as my daughter would say…beyond all “ginormous”…  The theologian in me says I believe that He is the Rock – that’s what THE Book says and it never lies.  His works are perfect and His ways are just – again I rise to the evangelist’s crescendo – It NEVER lies.  He is Faithful…does no wrong…upright…just… And all that – He is – and The Book says it clearly – And IT Never Lies!

I sat not too long ago with a friend whose experience and current circumstance did not add up to his perception of an abundant life he felt that he was promised in The Book that never lies.  He wasn’t denying the truths just trying to figure out maybe what one would call what he perceived to be the “fairness of life”.  His experience and circumstance did not look like God was great – it looked like God was being mean.  He did not see God as a Rock but God as a smasher.  God’s ways did not look like they were perfect and just – it seemed unjust and out of whack…how could something that was supposed to be godly feel so disjointed and painful.  To this guy God didn’t feel faithful – it was almost his perception that God led him up a cliff only to let him fall off the edge…promised him abundant life and almost felt God laugh sadistically when the pain of his circumstance  pushed him.  Pain has a way of keeping you from seeing God’s upright and just ways.

I don’t know of many people who do not honestly struggle with the God of heaven and contemplate our perceptions of how we think He should do things.  Our American desire of a nice God that does nice things because we deserve it – chicken in every pot…car in every garage…kids that behave according to the way experts say they should and homes filled with normalized stuff…jobs that never end…money in the bank kind of things begins to cave in when pain starts to minister to our perception.  There were days when the heat would rise in our circumstances and the painful distance between our expectation and the reality of Who God really is began to increase that one honestly says, “If I had known this, I am not sure I would have signed up.” “Who talked me into standing in this line of life – the roller coaster is a lot different than the picture I saw on the wall…”  And there are days when I have said, “Someone lied to me!”  “The truth – is a whole lot different than the marketed product that this “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” bunch pushed”.

Now for the record – I believe that God is great…great in the sense that he is much more than my mind could understand…  He is my Rock!  How could I get through life without my faith in Who he is…He is no crutch – He is a Rock.  I don’t need someone to lean on I need a God that is strong and steady…and HE is to me.  His ways are perfect and just as long as you allow me to scream when it seems he is allowing my nails to be pulled out or putting me through some great testings in life.  And He IS Faithful… and He gives me the chance as His child to talk to Him about the times when I perceive He ain’t…and that is a good thing.

Pain and circumstances drive us into His presence!  C. S. Lewis was right -“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”  Pain lets me know that there is something that needs my attention.  Pain sharpens my sensitivity.  Some days it stinks, bad!  Overall it is a blessing that drives you right into the arms of God.

What a mighty God we do serve.

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