Monthly Archives: November 2013

Boosts from Hebrews


Random super encouragements I’ve had from reading the GOD’S WORD Translation of Hebrews:

 Through God’s kindness he (Jesus) died on behalf of everyone. (2:9)

  • It is so good to know that God is intrinsically and profoundly kind. 

God is the one for whom and through whom everything exists  (2:10)

  • How can there be a better statement than this?  It’s all about God.

Jesus, who makes people holy, and all those who are made holy have the same Father.

  • It’s all about holiness. It is so hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am holy, but I am.  And I am because of what Jesus did, his creation process in me.

Brothers and sisters, you are holy partners in a heavenly calling (3:1)

  • That’s who my beloved church mates are — partners!  Here are the things we have in common as partners:  we are holy, God has chosen us, and we are citizen servants of heaven.  It’s like the process of being chosen for a sports team, only so much more.  We ARE a team — God’s team!

So look carefully at Jesus, the apostle and chief priest about whom we make our declaration of faith.  Jesus is faithful to God  (3:1)

  • We need to look to Jesus and his example of being faithful to God.  He never did what he wanted, it was all about God.

Therefore, a time of rest and worship exists for God’s people.  4:9  (NIV: There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God)

According to Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, there are two Greek words for rest used in Hebrews 4.  One describes a rest from weariness.  The ark came to rest after many days of voyage.  Israel rested from war after Joshua’s victories in Canaan.  The other describes the rest we have when work is completed, as God rested after the work of His creation.  It is encouraging that it is both of these kinds of rest that we will have in heaven.  We will have relief from a life of trial and striving, and God’s work, of which we are a part, will finally be complete.

We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. So we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time. (4:15)

  • I love the picture of approaching God’s throne being sure that I will receive mercy and kindness.  Queen Esther was so afraid of approaching her own husband, the king, that she and the Hebrews fasted for 3 days.  I can go straight before Him and He will welcome me with open arms. Even though I have sinned, His heart is overwhelming grace and mercy.  And because of that, even though I have sinned, He will help me!!
  • Side note here — I have been thinking about this verse:  I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. (Phil 1:9-10)  The more I see God’s mercy and kindness, the more I understand his love, the more I will be able to make the right choices.  It all starts with love and mercy!

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Setting our Orbit

‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to my mountain. If you carefully obey me and are faithful to the terms of my promise, then out of all the nations you will be my own special possession, even though the whole world is mine. You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.'”  Ex 19:4-6

This passage says that God will cherish Israel when the people are faithful and obey the laws. It was very interesting to have a class about the laws of the Old Testament this week.  We learned the purpose of the laws was to help the Israelites know how to live.  The purpose was also to shape them into a people who would be God’s very own.


The universe is designed to work with God at its center.  When people follow God, their life is in harmony with His will and it goes well for them.  God doesn’t have people follow Him because He is a megalomaniac.  He wants to help them to go in the way that is best for them.

The same is true for our hearts.  Our heart, our soul, is designed to work with God at its center.  This is when we will be filled with joy and peace.

Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.  Heb. 3:10

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…  Matt 6:19

The thing is, our hearts stray towards other things.   We love God, but it is very hard for us to believe that enjoying the things of the world can be harmful.

I was reading the Ten Commandments this week, and I was puzzled by the last one:  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

I thought, “Why is it such a sin to want what your neighbor has?  How is this so harmful that it would be listed in main list of ten rules to follow?”

As I have studied it out, I am realizing what a deceptive gravitational pull the things of the world can have on our heart.

Gravitational Pull

Here are some verses I found:

  • “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Luke 12:15
  • Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Heb 13:5
  • Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.  Ecc 4:6
  • How hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven.  Matt 19:23
  • ….For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:21
  • …the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.  Mark 4:19
  • But among you there must not be even a hint… of greed … For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a person is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Eph 5:3-4

Why is coveting so harmful?  Part of the answer is in Romans 13:9 — The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

COVETING IS DESTRUCTIVE TO OUR RELATIONSHIPS.  It is not loving your neighbor as yourself.  It is not wanting good things for others, it is wanting them for yourself.   And when you want put yourself ahead of your neighbor, it will affect your relationship with them.

COVETING IS DESTRUCTIVE TO OUR INNER SELF.  We begin to believe that happiness and self worth come from possessions.  Our security is tied to having the right clothes, the right appearance, the right job, the right house, the right achievements.  God wants so much to gather us in his arms and fill us with good things, meet our needs, sooth our fears.

This can be true for me.  I just bought a new dress for the office party because I was insecure with ones I have.  I still struggle with looking at other houses and wishing for them.  I see the accomplishments of others and I feel my heart twist.

Here is what our attitude should be: money is just a means to an end. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”  (Luke 16:9)  We use it to practice hospitality.  We use it to have a well groomed appearance so the gospel we speak is well received.   We use it to provide for those in need.  We use it to celebrate the life God has given us.  We use it, in a reasonable way, to rest and recharge for more works of service.


I read that on the moon, if you shoot a bullet just right, the gravity of the moon and the lack of air resistance will cause it to continue all around the moon in an orbit.  In the same way, when we get rid of the resistance of the world and have God at our center, we can continually act in a Godly manner.

Our life needs to revolve around God.  Poor in spirit, our hearts must be pulled to him in desperate recognition that only He can provide what we need.   May Ps 73 be our mantra:

…But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. . . 
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

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Filed under Old Testament Survey, Relationship with God, Synchonicity

Don’t Forget Those Glasses!

glasses craft

This is what the Sovereign Lord says. . . “When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused . . . I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.  And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”  Selections from Ez 38

Who is Gog?  No one knows for sure.  But this verse illustrates for us one thing we can know.  God is with his people and fiercely protects them.

As I was running this morning I thought of how I have lost sight of this.  When I pray, I haven’t been having the faith that God is going to work the situation out.  It may be because sometimes I have felt bad physically, been tired, and haven’t been able to think clearly.   When I have needed God to give me a clear head, it hasn’t always happened.  God doesn’t always change our physiological circumstances.

But God’s grace has been sufficient.  I have gotten through one day at a time.  I am feeling somewhat better in health. I am excited that we have candidates to be permanent leaders in our church.  Several of the women we have been studying with want to get baptized.

God HAS been with me, even in my weakness!!!  Let me not be like the Israelites:

And he (Moses) called the place Massah and Meribahbecause the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”  Ex 17:7

Here is the source of my faith:  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5  Nothing in my life is going to go right unless I am close to Jesus.  When I embrace him throughout the day, things will work out.

Jake preached a great sermon on Sunday about seeing with eyes of faith.  He used this passage from II Kings 6:  And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  Jake asked us, “What would you do differently if you really believed God is with you?”  I have been asking myself that this week.  I am not sure.  But I know I don’t have the confidence I need to have.

I will give you every place where you set your foot . . . No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous…  Joshua 1:3-6

Be strong.  Be courageous.  I second guess myself too much.  I am too quick to feel defeated.  Let me go out instead with boldness.  I am God’s daughter, I am chosen by him, I am a part of his priesthood, his anointed.  Of course He is with me!  Of course He is fighting for me!

God takes it personally when His people are in distress.  In Exodus, after the Amalekites attacked the Israelites and were defeated, the account tells us, “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.  He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”  Ex 17:15-16  

David said of Goliath, “Who is this uncircumcised philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  I Sam 17:26

When people contend with us, they contend with God!

This Sunday, we are teaching the story of the 12 spies who went to investigate the Promise Land.  For the craft, each child will make and decorate a pair of glasses that will be their “eyes of faith” to help them see like Joshua and Caleb, that God is bigger than whatever they fear.


Let us all put on our eyes of faith.  We need to persevere and believe that God is with us, even when it seems He is not.  I was talking to someone yesterday who has for years been one of just a handful of disciples where he lives.  He was excited to share that finally there are plans to plant a church in his city.

I will post a picture soon of my tomato plant.  I planted it in the summer from seeds.  It grew and grew, but never had any tomatoes.  Then, a few weeks ago, it actually started to produce fruit!  Now, in cold November, I have a tomato that is red and ripe, and several more that are growing.  I think and hope that this tomato plant is a symbol for my life, that sometimes it seems like nothing is working, but in time, if I keep on, the harvest will come.  Amen.  We will stand in awe.  To God be the glory.

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Filed under Ezekiel, Faith, Old Testament Survey, Uncategorized

Turning Down Self


So I took a personality test this week.  The test listed statements, and asked you to rate whether those statements were accurate or inaccurate about you.   Here are a couple of the statements that were inaccurate for me:

  • My thoughtfulness and charitable nature are my foundation.
  • I am frequently helping others but I forget about myself.

As I read these, I thought, really?  Some people are naturally giving?  There are people who help others all the time out of the pure goodness of their heart?  Wow.  I assumed everyone was more like me.  I care about others.  It is my goal to be giving.  But I have to make a conscious effort to put SELF aside.

Selfishness.  It is a beast most of us wrestle with often.  We face it so much, we begin to forget that it is a big deal.

But then this verse in James reminds us,  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  James 3

Selfishness isn’t just a weakness, it is something that creates disorder and every evil practice. Probably the majority of the wrongdoing we commit over the course of our lives is rooted in selfishness.

Going back to the personality test, which statements were absolutely true for me? There were statements that were true for me that reflect my strengths of leadership and creativity.  But then there were these:

  • I am always afraid that I will do the wrong thing.
  • I worry about things all the time.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about past mistakes.

I am an anxious person!  I thought, as a Christian, that I had this more under control.  But these phrases describe me well.

So I am selfish and I am anxious. Do both of these stem from the same place within me?  I think so.  I think that I am anxious and selfish because I do not TRUST that God is running the world, and taking care of me, in the right way.

Yesterday the kids did a craft in Sunday school where they pasted their footprints on a piece of paper with a simply worded version of  Psalms 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”  And this is just what I need to hear.  ALL GODS PATHS ARE RIGHT.   If I am following God, I am going in the right direction.  The world around me is going in the right direction.

  • “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phil 1:6

God is working towards an end in my life.  He is working towards an end across time, across the universe.  I need to have faith, to remember that after suffering comes restoration, to prepare myself to stand in awe at what God will do.

How can I be more compassionate?  How can I be less anxious?  I can learn to TRUST more.

I will trust more when I know better the character of God:  “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.” Ex 34:6

  • “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”  Romans 2:4

I will trust more when I humble myself and let God lift me up.  I do not have to find for myself the recognition I so crave.  God will take care of me and shape me into the person I was created to be.

  • Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”  James 3:13

Turning down the volume on self.  Learning to have God’s wisdom.  Learning to have God’s heart.   I love how James describes it, this is who I would like to be, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  James 3:17

In closing, may we be inspired by the compassion of Jesus.

  • “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.”  Matt 15:32
  • “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  Matt 9:36
  • When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matt 14:14
  • So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  Matt 18:26-27
  • They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him. John 20:33-34
  • Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:12-13
  • But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  Luke 10:33
  • So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

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Filed under Faith, Grace, One Another Relationships

Walking in the Light

path of light2

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. ”  I J 1:5

Walking in the light.  What does that mean?  I love the way the Message Bible words this:  “Let your primary focus be communing with Me, worshiping Me, glorifying Me.”  I want my focus to be on just loving God and glorifying Him.  So many times I focus on what I should be doing.  Instead, if I focus on God, the right actions will follow.  “Then you will be able to smile at others with My Joy and love them with My Love.”  (The rest of the verse from The Message Bible.)

Communing, worshiping, glorifying.  What a wonderful way to live!  I missed the women’s class at church last night, but I know they talked about learning to know God better.  There is so much to know about God, so much to praise Him for, so much about Him that makes us in awe.  The more we know God, the more the rest of our life falls into place, and our motivation is pure.

And talking about pure motivation, I was in a cross study Tuesday night.  It hit me again — Jesus went through all of this excruciating experience because he really cares about me, to the point that he wants to have a personal relationship with me, not just a god-from-afar relationship.  He cares intimately about me.  He wants to spend time with me.  He wanted to rescue me from the mess I had made of my life,  from the total disaster my future could be, from the loneliness, the despondency, the debilitating insecurities, the hopelessness.  He is interested in the details of my life.

Jesus loved me at my worst.  He loved me unconditionally.  Loving people is something I have been struggling with.  And then I realized that I have been loving people conditionally, when they make good choices.  I am impatient with people who make bad choices.  I don’t remember that Jesus loved me during my teen years when I made super bad choices that hurt others and caused them to sin.  I don’t remember that Jesus still loved me in the foolishness of my 20’s when I kept on choosing to be halfhearted and  went after the things of the world.

I have to realize that I am just a former convict who has been pulled out of prison, saved from the wrath of God and death row.  I can’t think I am better than anyone.  God took me out of the sordid place I was trapped in and put me to work for Him, and that is all I am now, a grateful worker for Him.  My days do not belong to me.  I do not live to please myself.

But even if I do not live to please myself, life is wonderful because I am walking in the light, and Jesus cares about me.  He wants me to be close to him forever.

  • God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. I J 1:5
  • “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 1:8
  • (Jesus said) “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am”  Jn 17:24
  • But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom  Luke 22:27-30

I love what the prophesies say about the light that was to come:

The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light. The light will shine on those who live in the land of death’s shadow. . . For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. . . A child will be born for us. A son will be given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. He will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and peace will have unlimited growth. He will establish David’s throne and kingdom. He will uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever. (Selections from Isaiah 9)

I will lead the blind on unfamiliar roads. I will lead them on unfamiliar paths. I will turn darkness into light in front of them. I will make rough places smooth. These are the things I will do for them, and I will never abandon them.  Is 42:17

It is a time when I can walk on the new roads, the roads that are illuminated by the knowledge of God.  I can worship and praise him like no generation before.  Let me meditate on who He is, how great He is, and take my mind off of myself.  Let me remember I was bought at a price, a very huge price, and Jesus wants very much to be involved in a relationship with me, in the day to day matters of my life.  Let me remember where I once was, and that I have been chosen and rescued for a purpose.

I am a child of light — Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.  Jn 12:38

God is the most inspirational, positive, encouraging thing that could ever be:  God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.  I J 1:5

The lord is a sun

For the Lord your God is a sun and shield, bestowing grace and honor, withholding no good thing from those whose walk is blameless.  Ps 84:11


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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Discipleship, One Another Relationships

Oh yeah, it’s a relationship

It’s a relationship.  I keep forgetting that.  I start having an internal dialog with myself all day, instead of talking to God.  I start doing things because I am focused on actions, instead of interactions.

It was a relationship with man that God wanted in the Garden.  It was for a relationship with me that Jesus was sacrificed.

I went out of town earlier this week to visit my kids and grandkids.  When my grandchildren saw me, they were so happy that they were grinning widely and jumping up and down.  When I returned, I had a warm reception from my husband, who was very glad that I was home again.

God is like that.  He welcomes us with open arms.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) He can’t wait to be united with us forever.  “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”  (Rev 21:21)

I have talked often about the need to balance love and righteousness.  Our Christian walk is about loving God with all our heart, and having mercy and compassion.  It is also about making Jesus Lord, and being obedient to the Word.  We can’t stress mercy to the point that we stop thinking it’s important to be righteous.  And we can’t stress righteousness to the point that we lose track of the compassionate, loving heart of God.

But then I remembered that it’s a relationship.  Love and righteousness are really the same thing.

  • Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”  John 14:23
  • “this is love for God: to keep his commands.”  I John 5:3

The very definition of righteousness is to be faithful to a relationship, fulfilling the obligations of that relationship.   And there are obligations involved in my relationship with God because He gave everything so he could have a relationship with me.  He reached out to me when I was low and hopeless, like the description in Ezekiel 16, “Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”  I made you grow like a plant of the field.”  He provided a way that to break down the wall that separated me from Him.  “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him.”  Isa 59:15-16

So what are the obligations of this relationship?

  • He gave everything, so I need to give everything. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Phil 3:12
  • All that I have is because of His love, so I need to love others.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13

But mainly, I think my obligations of having a relationship with God involve availing myself of that relationship, instead of being self sufficient.  I need to talk to God more, ask for guidance more, ask for help more, thank Him more, depend on Him more, and include Him more.  He needs to be the joy in my heart, the music in my days, the rock in my times of stress, the security blanket in my trials.

He needs to be my Father.  The very first phrase of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples is “Our Father.”  This relational phrase is not just the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, it’s the beginning of everything in my Christian walk.

  • If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.

He needs to be a constant presence.  I need to remember that I can do nothing apart from a relationship with Christ.

  • “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jn 15:15

So I go about my life seeking to be righteous, seeking to be obedient.  But I must do this in the context of the loving relationship Christ has established for me, or I am actually not being righteous. That is mind blowing.

And, conversely, I say loving God is the most important thing to me.  But if I am struggling with selfishness, I am missing something —  the relationship which motivates me to be righteous.

Let me slow down, take a deep breath, and be present with God.  I don’t know how to do this, but I know there is strength in it.

Today, I was watching baby Jack for a bit, and he tried to play the electric piano.  It was turned off and didn’t work.  So Jack took my hand and put it on the keys, expecting that I could make it work.

That is what I want to do with God — put His hands on the places of my life that don’t work.  I can’t play the music, but with a relationship with God, everything will flow.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Discipleship

Like the Advancing Dawn


This is a time like no time in history.  I think that Christianity is stronger and more pure now than it has been since the early days of the apostles.

God’s work started with Abraham, creating a nation that would be his very own.  He shaped this people through bondage and deliverance from Egypt to be a kingdom of priests.  Through kings and captivity and oppression over many years, God taught people to respect his holy name.

And then with the coming of Jesus, God showed us how to live a truly God centered life, and how to have God’s heart of righteousness and mercy.

Since that time people have tried to implement Christianity, but it has been flawed. False teachings that deviated from the scripture arose.  Many wrong things were done over the years in the name of Christianity — the Crusades, the selling of indulgences, witch hunts, and so on.  Protestantism grew, and this was closer to the Bible.   But how many men truly lived a God centered life, balancing righteousness and mercy?  I think if we conduct an honest assessment of history, we see greed and selfishness everywhere.

Next, there was the establishment of new churches in the 1800, groups that sought a more pure way to follow God. Then came the popularity of tent meetings, campus crusades, Billy Graham, instant conversion and evangelicalism.

To me, each step of the way people have been getting closer to the model of what God would want us to be.  Along the way there have been bright lights — people who stood up for the truth and lived in an exemplary fashion.

Today, it is encouraging to be a part of a group that stands for and lives out the fundamentals of Christianity — making Jesus Lord, denying self,  being evangelistic, serving the poor and needy, being humble, loving and practicing one-another relationships.  It is encouraging to me that more people are adopting this kind of worship, led by teachers like Francis Chan and David Platt. I know we still all have a long way to go.

But the point is, God’s work is advancing.

Sometimes I need to just take a deep breath, let go and let God do what he’s doing.  If I’m not careful, I run off in a direction and try to drag God with me.  I want to advance in God’s direction, in step with Him.

Let me remember —

  • It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.  Romans 9:16
  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.  Eph 2:8
  • This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  Mark 4:26-27

The word of the Lord is living and active. Hebrews 4:12  All I need to do is put the Word out there, do what I can, and stand back and let God work. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Is 55:10-11

May I keep in step with the Spirit.

May we be the generation that worships in Spirit and in truth.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  John 4:26

The world is not falling apart.  Although there is much evil, may we trust that God is working in an amazing way, advancing His kingdom like the bright line of dawn advancing across the globe of the world.  He WILL be exalted.  He will show His name as holy.  The future is unfolding as it should.  In the days to come, we will stand in amazement as we see that he has accomplished immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Ez 37:27

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Ezekiel, Grace

Dry Bones and Living Water


Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD. This is what the Almighty LORD says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. I will put ligaments on you, place muscles on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you, and you will live. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'” Ezekiel 37

Like dry bones coming again to flesh, there are no situations too impossible for the Lord.  I think of a friend who is wrestling with repentance.  To her it seems like a huge obstacle, but nothing is impossible for the Lord.  I think of disciples who are trying to be faithful while living a long distance away from those who could encourage them.  There seems to be no good answer for them, but nothing is impossible for the Lord.  I think of people who have so much to overcome to come to faith.  It is not hopeless for them.

God will always provide a way.

  • God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. II Cor 10:13
  • And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matt 6:13
  • the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.  II Peter 2:9
  • He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Ps 23

And then God works in the impossible situation of forgiving our sins.

I am reading an excellent book right now called “Iscariot,” written as if Judas were telling his own story.  On one of his first encounters with Jesus he sees Jesus heal a leper.  The way Judas describes the leper — deteriorating,  foul, unclean, despondent — reminds me of the way we are in the depths of our sin.  How could there possibly be any hope for us?  We feel unwanted and unworthy.

But Jesus healed the leper, and most miraculous of all, he can heal our souls; he can cleanse us of those hidden putrid cancers that no amount of our own efforts can ever fix.

You know, at our Wednesday midweek we talked about how for hundreds of years the Jews anticipated the time when they would be saved.  They thought they would be saved from their oppressors, the Romans.  How could they know that the greatest thing they needed was to be saved from themselves; saved from the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the idolatry of self, the corrosive lust, the gnawing guilt, the inner pain?

Jesus is the living water, the source of internal cleansing, the source of LIFE for our dry bones.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:37-38

In “Iscariot,” the author, Tosca Lee, describes the first time Judas, wrestling with his inner demons, found himself alone with Jesus.  Judas asks Jesus about healing.  “‘Teacher, the leper.  How?  How did you know you could heal him?’”  Jesus focuses his attention on the healing of Judas.   “‘The thing you seek is not along this shore, or in the hills.  But with me.  Follow me.‘”  Judas responds in his  internal dialogue, “Yes I said it in my heart…in that moment I felt I had found a thing, a person, worth the resurrection of my every hope.” 

Every day, Jesus is the resurrection of my every hope.  No situation is too impossible.  No state of a soul is beyond redemption.  Yes, I will follow him.  HE is the thing I seek above all else.

As the sun rises on the horizon, I think about how it is God who will put the flesh on the dry bones of the day.  Through Him people will find faith.  Through Him we will meet those who are searching.  Through Him we will find answered prayer, joy, love — all the things that give us abundant LIFE.

“My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; ..I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’ ”  Ezek 37:12

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Filed under Ezekiel, Hope