Monthly Archives: February 2013

In Wrath Remember Mercy

I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.  Hab 3:2

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin….

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.  (Selections from Ex 34)

God is an incredibly compassionate and merciful God.  Although he should have vaporized the Israelites, or at least turned His back on them, for worshipping the golden calf at the very time when he was carrying out His plan to benefit them, He instead makes a covenant with them to drive out the other nations before them and give them the promised land.

A couple of days ago I did the cross study with someone. I feel I have been brought to a place where new depths are revealed and I am in reverent awe at the unfolding.  I am more in awe of how much Jesus went through, the torture, the anguish, the barbarous pain…things I wouldn’t be able to leave my comfortable life to endure for more than a moment, he endured on a massive scale.  The more I read the Bible, the more I see how much the grand scope of history and the prophets culminate in this happening.  It is unutterably sacred.  It gives me limitless hope.  I realize I have profound value.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

As God showed mercy in Moses’ time, so he shows mercy through Christ.  And mercy is something the world needs so much.  Even this morning I read about people bombing and killing each other in Iraq, and in Pakistan.  There is such hatred, such hostility.  And even if nations don’t solve their problems through violence, they are corrupt.  There is such hopelessness among the inhabitants of the earth, that there could be a nation that finds peace or integrity.

We watched a movie last night, “Children of Heaven,” about two children in Iran who were so poor they had to share one pair of shoes between them.  While the rich of the country were sequestered in palatial dwellings, the poor scraped by.  The two children were a picture of purity.  They cared for one another and gave to one another, even though they had almost nothing.  They understood mercy.  The message of the film was that we all should be like these “children of heaven.”

And now I want so much for God to renew His awesome deeds in our time.  We are wicked and stiff necked, but I want to see God work powerfully to bring many people to Him in Auburn and the surrounding areas, and in the world. Lately I have been disconcerted by the ugliness and tenacity of my sin.  Yet I would come before God and beg him to work.  I dream.  I need to drink His mercy in though my pores, and let it quiet me.  I need to get excited that even though we have failings, God WILL do amazing things.

I am trying to finish my musical about Rahab and Joshua.  I read the Jericho battle scene again a couple of days ago.  A big part of the story is that they must dedicate everything in Jericho to the Lord.  A big part of God’s promise of strength to the Israelites was that they do not get involved with the profane practices of the other nations.  The voice of the Lord must sustain us.  Just as they could not let other things fill their needs, we must always live in the green pastures and still waters given by God, and not sample the addictive junk food of the world.

God is already renewing His awesome deeds in our time.  There are miracles God is doing, and I must hold onto these as my food, remember them as so many needs and failures swirl around me like a sandstorm.  In the last two days I have seen people understand Jesus who could never understand Him.  I have seen people who were stuck in a lack of effort, now taking initiative and making a difference.

I pray that I can be humble, and that He can continue to work.

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Walking with God

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.  Hab 2:14

Yesterday I was asking myself how many people set a goal for themselves to know God better in the coming year. We hear of all kinds of New Year’s Resolutions, but do we hear of this one?  We all get caught up in jobs, raising kids, in life.  I don’t want to be snobbish, but it seems like people are consumed by shallow things.  If they would just have this as the one thing they want to accomplish.

Similarly, I am a person who gets caught up in doing things for God, instead of finding ways to know Him.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.  (John 10:14) 

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.  (John 10:4)

I can know Jesus.  I can learn to listen for His voice.  Jesus wants to guide me.

They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to
give them a rich and satisfying life.  (John 10)

Jesus wants to guide me each day in a good direction.  Satan wants me to focus on myself, and the messages of the world.  He wants to guide me in a way that is like poison to me, a way that looks good, but is actually a briar patch, a maze I cannot get out of.

And just like the good shepherd guides the sheep to places where there is nourishing grass to eat and refreshing water to drink, Jesus wants me to have satisfying sources of spiritual sustenance all day long.  He wants me to remember the words of life he has given me.  He wants me to know there is love pouring out on my head, love embracing me.  He wants me to remember the Lord is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness.   He wants me to feel the encouragement of the Spirit.  He wants me to experience the positive dynamics of fellowship.

This past weekend we had a Women’s Day entitled, “Designed to Thrive.”   The idea was that just as God created plants to thrive in the presence of the correct elements — water, food, sunshine —  we also are designed to thrive.  Today, and from now on, throughout the day, I want to picture myself as a little seed soaking up the good elements that God is providing.  I want to feel myself thriving as I am nourished.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:26-27)

Last night in church Chidiya led a class on the Holy Spirit, and he gave us this passage from John.  I thought it was great, since I have been thinking about how God guides us.  Jesus said it was better for us to have the Holy Spirit than to even have him physically with us.  There are so many ways the Spirit can help us, but one thing is for sure, the Spirit wants to lead us, counsel us, help us go in the right direction every day.  And having the Spirit to guide us should give us peace and comfort, and we should not let our hearts be troubled and afraid.  We are not wandering in the chaos aimlessly, vulnerable to being unexpectedly hurt at any turn.  God wants to walk hand in hand with us, be with us always, provide great sustenance for us, and bring us to be in His arms forever.

This past weekend I watched, “Cry the Beloved Country,”  The book has always been one of my favorites.  It inspired me to go back and listen to some of the songs from the musical, “Lost in the Stars,” which is based on the book.  Here are the lyrics to the title song.  They speak to me eloquently of how I feel sometimes, without guidance and vulnerable.

Before lord God made the sea and the land,
He held all the stars in the palm of his hand.
And they ran through his fingers like grains of sand,
And one little star fell alone.

Then the lord God hunted through the wide night air
For the little dark star on the wind down there.
And he stated and promised he’d take special care
So it wouldn’t get lost again.

Now a man don’t mind if the stars grow dim
And the clouds blow over and darken him,
So long as the lord god’s watching over them,
Keeping track of how it all goes on.

But I’ve been walking all the night and the day,
Till my eyes get weary and my head turns gray.
And sometimes it seems maybe god’s gone away,
And we’re lost out here in the stars.

Little stars, big stars, blowing through the night,
And we’re lost out here in the stars.
Little stars, big stars, blowing through the night,
And we’re lost out here in the stars

In closing, I want to list some passages that build my faith on how God is guiding me, how Jesus is the good shepherd, and I need to listen to his voice and follow as he leads me to green pastures and still waters.  I need to seek to know God, and walk with Him.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  (Isa 58:11)

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  (Ps 143:8)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  (Ps 32:8)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps 23

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.  Ps 48:14

(Thanks to Teresa Bobbitt and to “Walking with God” by John Eldrege for some of the inspiration for this blog.)

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I Can’t Get No…

Moreover, just as wine leads astray the proud and powerful man, he remains restless; he has expanded his appetite— like the afterlife or death itself, he is never satisfied.  (Hab 2:5, ISV)

For those who are proud, there is no satisfaction.  In my last post I wrote down some of the pieces of wisdom I’ve gleaned.  One of them was, If I am restless it is about me, if I am restful, it is about God.  If my life is about me, I am prideful, and I will never be happy for long with myself or with the way things are around me.

It is interesting that I am taking a class on foreign policy right now and studying the people of other nations.  There are so many who fit Habakkuk 2:5. They are egocentric.  They think they are right, and the world should be run according to their definition.  If things do not go according to what they think is right, they are very bent out of shape, and often take violent measures to try to change things.  They don’t know how to  consider someone else’s viewpoint.  They don’t know the importance of compromise or respect. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many peoples.  (The last part of Hab 2:5)

This past week I have had some struggles, and I have gone back to one of my lifeline scriptures, “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  II Cor 12:9  The word “sufficient” also can be translated “content” or “satisfied.” I know that God’s grace can give me what I need, but do I know it is ALL is all I need.  Am I greedy?  Do I want something more than that?  Do I possibly want to be in control and have things my way?  I know one thing I want that is a spiritual stumbling block — I want to be strong, not weak.

I love what Kristi Hickman said about strengths and weaknesses at our Women’s Day this past weekend.  She pictured God creating each one of us and giving each one of us strengths.  And then God said, “She is going to be weak in this area, but that’s okay, because then she will reach out for her Daddy, me, and I will come and hold her hand.”

I need to learn to be satisfied.  I cannot beat myself up for shortcomings and mistakes.  These are the things that cause me to reach out for God.  If I was the way I would like to be, I would be stunted, because I was created to walk in a relationship with God.

Even more than that, though, if personal strength is my goal, then I am like the verse from Habakkuk I opened this blog with.  In one translation of this verse, it reads, They are as greedy as the grave.  I am craving personal perfection like a drug, like the wine that is mentioned in the verse.

In closing, I am sharing a song I wrote that helped me when we first moved here.  I say I wrote it, but I mainly wrote the melody.  It is really several verses cobbled together.

You brought me to a spacious place

Forgave my sin, that grievous weight.

I went through water, went through fire.

You brought me where abundance lies.

The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places.

Surely my allotment is fine and gracious.

For you, O Lord have delivered my soul from death.

My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

That I may walk before you in the light of life.

Run in your path for you have set me free.

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God Has Taught…

Here are a few of the things God has taught me over the past year, or in times past.

(Speaking to God) You CAN!! You can, and I will praise you!   You can change hearts , turn weaknesses into strengths, accomplish the improbably. 

“NOT BY POWER OR MIGHT, BUT BY MY SPIRIT!!”  We want to see the power of the Spirit, and know that we couldn’t do these things by our power.  We want Him to work things that are only His power!!

BELIEVE FOR THIS MOMENT

 Feel the weight of God’s will descend about me like dew. Let it fall on my shoulders until I take up and share the burden of God’s will with him, His yoke.  Pray and feel in prayer that I am moving along with His will, instead of constantly feeling that I am dragging a load into uncertainty in prayer.  SEE HIS WILL LIKE THE DUST CLOUD FROM GOD’S ARMY AS IT ADVANCES, THE STORM FRONT OF HIS WILL AROUND ME.  Focus on what GOD is doing, not the accomplishments of people.

TAKE A ROAD TRIP WITH GOD TODAY!

 PRAY MORE – At least ½ -1 hr a day.  God, if I give you this time, please work out all of the things that seem to demand my time.

When I am prayed up, that is when things work right.

PRAYER IS THE ONLY HOPE –God’s will is the only way the world will work & good things will happen.  It is the only way for my family, my friends, our lives, our futures.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.

 I pray to not  berate myself and burden myself that I must do so much and do it well.  Instead, let me just PRAISE GOD with uninhibited joy.

Let me not lose heart, to “be negatively influenced with the outcome of experiencing inner weariness,” but HOPE, which gives me energy.  If I believe something is going to happen, I have energy!

Jesus personally went into my slimy pit and paid the only price there was to get me out, paid my penalty.  It is real.  It is personal.  The God of the universe really did this.

 Choose to please HIM today, to make Jesus Lord, let him create my agenda. If I pat myself on the back at the end of the day, I will be pleasing myself, and I’ll never get rid of the many facets of pride.

 KEEP MY INTERGRITY BEFORE GOD.  It’s just me and Him, and I must feel I am right before him and be ready to answer for my choices at judgment day.

 God knows how to put the pieces of my life together better than I do, to create the future I was created for.   I have to give Him  ALL the pieces, every single bit of my life and heart.

 Give thanks for every weakness, fault and imperfection you have.  Accept it as a favor of God…Remember if God has chosen to shrink your swelling pride, he has made it that much easier to enter through the narrow way.”  (Not sure who said this.)

 WAKE UP EACH MORNING AND BE THANKFUL FOR ANOTHER DAY BEFORE GOD TAKES ME HOME.  Why has he allowed me to live?  I must seek to fulfill what he gave me the day for.

 There’s a conduit between me and God through which God is constantly giving to me, Let me give back!  Let me Love him throughout the day instead of focusing on doing.

 LIFE IS A GRAND ADVENTURE!  LET ME GO FORTH WITH JOY AND BOLDNESS! BE INDIANA JONES! There’s a way– BECAUSE GOD WORKS IN A GOD-SIZED WAY –Expect , anticipate, Him to do BIG things!  “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be put to shame but as always Christ will be exalted/magnified.”

Every time I “get out of the boat” I make God bigger.  AMAZE Him with my faith!

 I HAVE TO GIVE THE SPIRIT SOMETHING TO WORK WITH!!  DO things.  Cast bread on the waters!!

 LOVE IS A COMMITMENT, AND GOD IS COMMITTED TO US.  RIGHTEOUSNESS IS FULFILLING THE DEMANDS OF A RELATIONSHIP .  It is either built up or damaged according to how we meet these demands.  God is righteous not because he obeys a moral code, but because he is FAITHFUL

GOD WINS!

 Everyone thinks they are right all the time.  They might have been wrong, but they changed those things and they are right again.  I must fight to not think I am older and I am right all the time. That is why I need discipling and people in my life.  

I must only seek God’s glory.  Remember too, God  didn’t send the gospel to the “sharp leaders”

I also need discipling because there is personal entropy – we tend to gravitate towards mediocrity,not setting and achieving goals.

 The Spirit is actively CREATIVE. With it I purposefully swirl beautiful colors, shapes and designs across the canvas of God’s will.  **Each opportunity is a chance to paint colors through this dark, dead world.

 THE WHOLE GOAL IS TO BECOME GENUINE IN HEART,  GENUINELY LOVE GOD AND ONLY SEEK HIS WILL,  AND GENUINELY CARE FOR OTHERS.  I CAN ONLY DO THIS WITH THE SPIRIT.  “Purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”  “I will give them an undivided heart, my spirit, a heart of flesh.” (Steve Kinnard said “Be perfect” means “Be genuine.”)

 But I can only do this as I truly understand God’s love for me.

 One of the biggest impediments to the Spirit is the lack of gratitude and praise.   Sin is also an impediment to the Spirit working, and my relationship with God, my wellbeing

 “BUT AS FOR ME, I WILL ALWAYS HAVE HOPE.  I WILL PRAISE YOU MORE AND MORE AGAIN”  (Ps 71:14)

What do I SEE the Father doing?  “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

The truth is that this world is all like wax that is melting away; a façade. God is the real solidity.

I am the salt of the earth.  I show people what is real and lasting.

 If I am restless it’s about me, if I’m restful it’s about God. 

“Peace:” “Shalom” Complete, soundness, wholeness, safety, contentment, wellbeing (Being in sync).  THAT  is what it is all about to me – what I want to share with others,  peace, beauty. He orchestrates

 “Every secret breathing of pride, self seeking, self will, self confidence and self exaltation is just the strengthening of the self which cannot enter the kingdom or possess the things of the kingdom.” (I am not sure who said this either — I think Andrew Murray?)

 I AM WILLING AND GOD IS ABLE – AND GOD/JESUS IS WILLING TOO!

 Loving is speaking God’s language! Prayer is a language of love  PRAYER IS LOVE WITH WINGS

At that place where I was so full of anger and hurt that I couldn’t think of something good, that place where I was full of melancholy and there was no way to feel better, at that place where sin was  in taking me places I shouldn’t go,  at the place where I didn’t want to be with anyone or give to anyone, at that place where I was so far from being worthy of saving, like a despicable criminal on death row, the slime of the earth, EVIL in heart, only selfish, and leading others to temptation, unfaithful, foolish, willfully selling my soul to Satan, that is where I NEEDED AND NEED A SAVIOR and Christ saved me. That is where his righteous faithful commitment to me extended.  It was like he was rescuing a demon.  I need his divinity.   Romans 5 is exemplified.  Time stopped, history changed at that moment he had to die for me

May I walk fast enough to keep up with optimism and the Spirit, and slow enough to love those along the way

MY HOPE IS IN GOD TODAY, THAT HE WILL REVEAL SOMETHING NEW TO ME, GIVE ME AN EXCITING INSIGHT, GUIDE ME THROUGH CHALLENGES, RESOLVE THE UNRESOLVABLE, MAKE PROGRESS IN A SITUATION, GRACE ME WITH MOMENTS OF PEACE, BESTOW HERE AND THERE A TREASURE OF A BLESSING.

I MUST TAKE TIME IN PRAYER EACH DAY TO BE QUIET AND LET GOD SPEAK TO ME

“You will fill me with joy in your presence.” I have to resonate w/God, not w/the anxieties around me.

 TODAY IS THE DAY!!!  It could be the day that I meet my new best friend, that someone’s life is changed forever

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Habakkuk 2 – Faithfulness and Knowing God

Notice their arrogance— they have no inward uprightness — but the righteous will live by their faith.  (Hab 2:4)

Another translation of this is (combination of translations): Behold, his soul is puffed up. They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.

Literally, it can be translated, Look at the puffed up/proud person, his soul isn’t going in the straight, right way.  But the righteous will live faithfully.

There are three points here:

  1. That pride means puffing up — it means giving myself more importance than I really have.  It is egocentricity.  I often act as if it is my responsibility to hold things together.
  2. When I put too much emphasis on myself, this warps my soul.  I don’t conduct myself in thought or in action in the way I was intended to, in humility before God, depending on Him.
  3. The way I should live is to be  steadfast and trustworthy, to have fidelity. This is the definition of faithfulness.  It means that I am not like unproductive soils in Jesus’ parable.  I don’t quit when things get hard.  I don’t get distracted by other things.  I continue to serve God.

In Habakkuk the prophet is talking about the Babylonians, and asking if they will get away with their wicked and cruel self interest.  God’s answer is that even if it takes a long time, the Babylonians will be brought down for their sins.  This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,  for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed…..But soon their captives will taunt them. They will mock them, saying, ‘What sorrow awaits you thieves! Now you will get what you deserve!

My other favorite part of Habakkuk 2 is verse 14:

For as the waters fill the sea,

the earth will be filled with a knowledge

of the glory of the Lord.

In the days of the prophets, much about God was still a mystery.  I live in an age where, “He made known to us the mystery of his will.”  (Eph 1:9)   No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. (Jer 24:34 and Hebrews 8) “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Jer 31:33, Hebrews 10)

This is my goal, and should always be my goal.  That I can KNOW God.  It is so hard to separate doing good deeds for their own sake from a relationship with God.  My desire is to know Him, but I find myself consumed with doing things all day instead.

What will move me toward this goal?

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…You need to persevere.  (Selections from Hebrews 10)

  1. Draw near to God with full confidence that I am beloved, desired, and right with Him.
  2. Know He is faithful, so I can always have hope.  Hope every minute of every day.  I can be faithful in hope because He is faithful.
  3. Help others to be faithful as well.

Knowing God means seeing His glory, His majesty and all encompassing splendor.  It means I am amazed at His creation.  I am in awe that He sent His son to die for me.  This is a story that can astound the nations — that there is a God who loves so much that He would sacrifice so much for each individual.

It also means that I realize the wonders He does every day in my life — the people who are coming to Women’s Day, the conversation I had with someone who is miraculously coming to faith, progress I see  in others who are struggling, and so much more.

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Utterly Amazed

I would like to have the mindset that I am excited to see what God is going to do.  That he has been planning great works, and I will be amazed when I see Him work.

This has happened so much in the past.  We have been amazed to see how God has worked here in Auburn, the number of people who have studied the Bible and gotten baptized.  I have been amazed to see how God has worked in the lives of my loved ones.

Often, though I feel that I am in a rut where I just expect God to conform to the pattern I am used to.  I invite people and reach out to people, but they don’t come.  This becomes my unconcious expectation, my way of thinking, my definition of life.  I really want to get out of my rut, find a new way of doing things, a new pattern of thinking.

I have been studying the prophets in chronological order, and just finished Zephaniah.  Since Jeremiah preached for many years, I have been going back and forth with this book, and haven’t finished it.  Today I read Jeremiah 36, where Jeremiah has his prophesies written on a scroll and taken to be read to the king.  The officials seem to take the prophesies seriously, but the king burns the scroll in the fire, bit by bit, after he reads it.  Jeremiah writes the same words on a scroll again.

I want to say that I would never be like that, that I would never ignore the Lord’s words.  But if I am stuck in a rut, do I not become unbelieving of God’s promises, insensitive to what He is doing?  Jehoiakim does not believe bad things will happen.  I do not believe good things will happen.

Yet the word is constant.  Jeremiah writes it again.  The truth is not going away.  No matter what my feelings say, God is going to act, and He is going to act in a great way.  But it could be somewhere else that He acts.  It could be that He can’t do many miracles around me because of my unbelief.

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

I am moving on to Habakkuk.  What a perfect verse this is, that I just read in Chapter 1.   I started writing this entry about amazement, and I hadn’t read this verse!

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. (Isa 29:14)

God’s works will always be more than I can plan for.  I want to plan the future, put it order myself.  But in the process, I become entrenched in the limitations of my plans.  I am only carrying out things in my way, and I am hampered by my weaknesses, which define the paramaters of my efforts.  But when I look to God, there are no limits.  My wisdom is my handicap.   My reliance on having to be the organizer is the thing that keeps me in the rut, keeps me in the realm of feeble attempts.

Jesus constantly amazed people.  They were amazed at his teaching, and at his deeds, All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”  (Luke 4:36) 

Some of it has to do with perspective.  I should be more amazed at the daily ways God is working in my life, by each Bible study I have with someone, each person in my life, each victory, each thing that works out.  I should be amazed as I remember what He has done in the past.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken  (Luke 5)

This story is such a great illustration of what I am studying today.  Simon hadn’t caught anything in his nets.  He was in a rut of believing that there were no fish to be caught.  Jesus told him to cast his nets in a different way, on the other side.  Perhaps it is that I carry things out in the same ways, and have no success, and I think it is useless.  But Jesus just wants me to try something a little different, to try again in a different way.  That means I will constantly be getting uncomfortable.

The key is that Peter fell at Jesus’s feet when he astonished by how Jesus had worked.  I need to stay at Jesus’s feet.  I need to stay utterly humble.  Peter went on to follow Jesus.  I need to follow Jesus, and I will be amazed at the things that happpen in unexpected ways.  But if I lead the way, it will be like I have fished all night and haven’t caught a thing.

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Thoughts on the Will of God

Lately, I wonder so much — what is God’s will for me, and for Ken and me, in the coming years?   Should I get a job?  Am I using my time and talents as I should? How should we invest money and prepare for retirement?  How much should we help the poor?  It seems so hard to discern what is best.  Sometimes I wish He would just pick me up and carry me in a direction with the force of His will, not have me choose.

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.   (I J 2:7)

That is the verse I was looking for when I wrote yesterday’s blog!  I just found it!  All powers built on man will cease, but the one who seeks to be humble and do the will of God will endure.

Today I came across some notes from Doug Jacoby’s lesson on the will of God.  This verse was his conclusion:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom 12:1)

Do not conform – Do not fashion ourselves after the model that is the world.  Do not let myself be molded into the world’s image.  For instance, last night when I went to a class on social media I wanted to look like the world’s definition of success — dressed a certain way, having the trappings of technology.  As far as the will of God goes, if my mindset is to conform with the world, I am not thinking along the lines of God, and I won’t be able to understand or discern His will.

But be transformed by the renewing of your mind —   I have been thinking a lot lately about how many versions of Christianity today teach that you just need to believe, and love God, without completely leaving your old life behind.  And then because people haven’t completely left their old life, they fall back into some of the same sins, or continue the sins they never gave up.  Then they experience all kinds of grief, and cause grief to others.  Christianity is ineffective to them.  This passage about renewing your mind reinforces that you have to leave your old life behind.  You have to think new thoughts in your mind.  As it says in  Colossians, “Set your minds on things above.”  Or in Romans 8, “Those who have their minds set on the Spirit

I will not be able to discern God’s will without pushing aside in my head all of the thoughts that reflect worldly thinking — “I need to be successful,”  “I need to look good”  “What will people think of me?”  “I am a failure if I don’t…”  Each one of these thoughts pollute my thinking.  How can I know what God’s will is when all of these thoughts pull at my mind?

So Doug stressed that we need to read the Bible to renew our minds.  For me the key to this is remembering the scriptures throughout the day, recalling my quiet time, thinking of verses as situations arise.  This puts me more in line with God’s mindset.  It steers me away from the worldly tracks of thinking, and creates new paths of thinking for me.

In this new year, one of my main goals is to start each day with the remembrance of the cross, and how I am just someone who was stuck in the slimy pit of my own making, and Jesus came and rescued me.  This powerfully renews my mind.  When I think of pleasing God, making Him smile, it renews my mind.  When I remember to love, it renews my mind.  When I reflect on the nature of God it renews my mind, that he is love, joy, peace, patience and all the fruits of the Spirit.  That He is righteous and trustworthy.

Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will — Then I will see whether something has the aura of God around it.  I will see with different eyes, eyes that can discern.

For I will then restore pure speech to the peoples so that all of them may call  on the name of Yahweh and serve Him with a single purpose  (Zeph 3:9)

It has always been God’s will that we will be holy, a people set apart as His own.  It has been His will that we will be unified.  We are to have undivided hearts, “I will give them singleness of heart and action.”  (Jer 32:39)  We are to be sincere.

God’s plan was to purify people from their crassness, selfishness, greed, independence.  I want to know if I should get a job, or invest money.  God may work through all of that, but ultimately He wants me to be more holy.  That is His will.

And His will is that all men would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.  This earth is only a proving ground.  We are only here for a short time.  His will is that we are the yeast of love in the world.  His will is that we let our light shine, doing good deeds.  His will is that we be thankful, joyful and pray always.  (I Thes 5)

There is much more to understand here.

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