Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ramdon Beautiful Thoughts

Love this rendition of the hymn, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”

resonate

Resonate with the world.  Sometimes it’s good to close my eyes, picture those near to me, feel what they are feeling, and pray for them.  This can expand to include others I know, letting their situations wash over me as I pray for them.  And then I want to reach my consciousness towards all in the world who are suffering.  Let me feel their pain.  Let me know there is much more going on than  my little sphere of reality.

  • Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Phil 2:4
  • …if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  Is 58:10

God's grip

GOD saved me.  He is a thousand thousand times stronger than me, a thousand times more more firm.  I am a flimsy coagulation of dust.  He holds the whole universe together, and he holds me with an iron grip that will never let go.  I was not saved by a personal whim, a human act.  No, it was the almighty sovereign God that saved me.

engraved on palm

God cares about my fears.  I am not alone in my anxiety and cold dread.  God’s heart is engaged with me. (I know, the illustration is a bit much, and Jesus was crucified through his wrists, not his palms, but I like the visual.)

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.  Is 49:16

way of love2

Follow the way of love.  I Cor 14:1  And now a more surpassing way I show you.  I Cor 12:31

pure heart

Create in me a pure heart, O God.  Ps. 51:10

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Love, Things I Am Learning

Cry Out for Knowledge!

cry out for knowledge

Lately I have discovered how deceived I can be.  I thought I was pretty good at being honest with myself.  But then I started dealing with my old cat.  A few months ago she had frequent bouts of diarrhea.  I changed her diet and told myself she was better.  She started prowling around and yowling for no reason.  I told myself she was just getting old.  She started to lose interest in eating.  That became the new reality.  I ignored the signs because nothing REALLY seemed to be wrong.

Then I took her to the vet and found out she has pancreatitis and kidney problems.  She is seriously ill.

I was going along in my happy little deluded world, not really KNOWING the truth.

Knowing the real truth is important, especially when it comes to God.  It is easy to be deluded and confused.

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Prov 2:2-3

 I can spend all day doing great things and thinking of great things, but it’s all for naught if I don’t really KNOW God and understand what’s important to him.

 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.” Jer. 9:23-24

 Knowing God is not just knowledge —

. . . if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge . . . but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. I Cor 13

 It is loving and caring for others.

“He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD. Jer. 22:16

 Knowing God is not just following Him —

The Israelites followed God through the desert, they thought they were the chosen people, but God said about them, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.” Heb 3:10

 It is COMPLETELY trusting Him.

 We think we’re God’s people, we’re Christians. But do we really trust him at all times? Do we really believe his right hand holds us fast, and he is always guiding us and working for our good? Or are we like the Israelites, who freaked out and whined when something went wrong?

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Heb 11:6

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6

 It is walking in obedience —

 To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. I Sam15:22

 It is walking in mercy —

 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hos 6:6

 It is walking in humility —

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Ps 51:17

Humility is one of the scarcest attributes of religious people. The more we study the Bible, the more we think we know, and the less we become humble.   It is a true battle to remain in a state of abject nothingness before God.

Just like the situation with my cat, I can be spiritually sick and not know it.  I have to seek, CRY OUT, to truly know God. Let me get out of my self-centered bubble and RESONATE with humanity, always acting in love and mercy. Let me be humble at the foot of the cross.

 And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Knowing God is the most beautiful, meaningful thing there is.  Thus do we see and reflect the glory of God.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory2 Cor 3:18

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Glory Above All, Having the Right Heart, Humility, Love

In Shalom

I have been listening to Christene Jackman, who sings Bible passages, mostly Psalms, in Hebrew.  I really like what she’s written.

I listened her song on this passage, “The eyes of the Lord range through the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  II Chron. 16:9  And in the song, the word for “fully committed’ was shalom.

Shalom can also be translated as whole, complete, perfect, PEACE.

And it makes sense, because when we are fully committed to God, we are at peace with him. We aren’t divided, trying to be a friend of the world, which makes us an enemy of God.

More than that, we’re at peace because we are finally in the state we were created to be.

I’ve been reading a book on how our truest identity is in being made in the likeness of God. (The Truest Thing About You: Identity, Desire and Why it All Matters, David Lomas and D.R. Jacobsen.) Yesterday I read how God said to Jesus, “This is my son, whom I love  In him I am well pleased.”  (Matt 3:16) God knew how important it was to have Jesus see as his identity that he was God’s son.  It would strengthen him against temptation, which he soon encountered. (Note that Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt his identity:  “If you are the son of God.”)   It would define his daily mission.  Jesus said in John 5:17 that he always worked, as his Father worked.  In John 13;3, Jesus washed feet because he knew he had come from God and was returning to God.

Realizing that he was God’s son created a state of shalom for Jesus.  He was realizing his truest identity, what he was created to be.

And the same is true for me.  I am created to be in a relationship with God.  I am a chosen person, God’s special possession. (I Peter 2:9)  In love, he predestined me to be adopted as his child. (Eph 1:4-5)  I can have a calm confidence and a sense of utter rightness with God.

And of course, I am in shalom with God because he reconciled me to himself. (II Cor 5:16)  Unlike the Jews of the Old Testament days, I am completely right with God because he has taken away my sin and clothed me with his righteousness.  (Is 61:10, II Cor 5:21)

Shalom.  That is who I am.  I am in a state of peace with God.  I am complete.  I am whole.

I don’t have to chase after deeds for affirmation.  I don’t have to look or act a certain way to prove myself.  I don’t have to be riddled with insecurity.

This is a powerful concept that is changing me from the inside out.  Father, I pray that it may continue to do so.

 

 

 

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Eight Things I am Learning

 

soaring

1. He is the wind beneath our wings.  Envision God as the power source.  When we are going in his direction, He will sweep us along with him, it will not be difficult.  Soar with Him.

  • Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Gal 5:25 
  • The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him..  John 8:29

And along the same line —

path of light

2. Visualize the path before me.  When I am trying to decide how to act, it is helpful to picture a path before me going the right way.  Then I take that path.

  • “God is my strength and power: and he makes my way perfect.  II Sam 22:33
  • When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.  Ps 142>3

butterfly

3. Butterflies need nectar, not leaves.  We have been transformed into as a new creation, children of God, and as such, we need spiritual food.  Just like a butterfly wouldn’t go back to eating leaves as it did when it was a caterpillar, we can’t try get our needs met by worldly things.

  • It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods”  Heb 13:9
  • Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, Eph 5:18
  • Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matt 4:4

fish image of god

4. My truest identity is God’s glory. It isn’t the talents I have, the way I look, the culture I’m from, or the way I was brought up.  The truest thing about me is that I was created in the likeness of God.   “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.”  Gen 1:27.

It was always God’s plan to transform us into our truest being.:  “You were taught . .  to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Eph 4:22,24.

As spiritual beings, we need God, like a fish needs water. “In him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17:28.  Going back to the previous point, it isn’t just that we need spiritual food.  We were created to thrive on spiritual food.

sheep -- feeding

5. Feed the sheep. “Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.'” (John 21:16)  I continue to seek wisdom on how much we should expect people to take the initiative.  This verse helps me.  People NEED shepherding.  They need to be led.  They need to be fed.  But this is a maturing process.  I help them to grow up into doing this for themselves, and others.

dream new

6. Adapt my dreams!  I recently listened to the audio book of “Who Moved My Cheese?”  Talking about dealing with change, it gave me the insight that as the ministry here goes through changes, not only does my behavior needs to adapt, my dreams need to evolve.  I can’t keep my old patterns.

And then I need to practice visualizing my new dream.  My new dream is to have a married Bible talk that reflects family and fun.   I can see us sitting around laughing, loving, growing, being best of friends, making great memories.

stage

7. It’s the God Show!  Being performance oriented, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s about God, not about me!

  • My soul rests quietly only when it looks to God; from him comes my deliverance.  Ps 62:1
  • I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother. . . From Ps 131
  • Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Ps 127:1

planting-a-seed

8. Each moment has impact.  Every prayer, each choice I make, can make a difference..  I tend to get overwhelmed by all that should be done.  Or I find myself drifting, being distracted.  It is very helpful for me to focus on each individual thing I do, each word of prayer (especially corporate prayer), and realizing that it has POWER!

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  Mark 4:30-32

 

 

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He Delights in Me

I think sometimes we forget that God loves spending time with us.  We pray, not realizing that it’s not just about the petitions, or even the praise.  It’s a mutual enjoyment of togetherness, a shared tender intimacy.

This study chronicles verses a bit of how God feels about us.

Our prayers are precious to Him. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.  Rev. 5:8

Through Jesus, we see how God craves fellowship with us.  And (Jesus) said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  Luke 22:15

God delights in us!!

  • The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Ps 147:11
  •  The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17
  • Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.  Is 62:4

 He delights in doing good for us.  I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.   I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.  Jer 32:40-41

 He delights in showing mercy.  Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. (OR delight in showing unfailing love.) Micah 7

 He delights in rescuing us.  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Ps 18:19

He delights in giving us victory.  For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Ps 149:4

He delights in being restored to us.  (From parable of lost sheep) When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’… Luke 15

So today, let us remember how utterly precious we are to God, and all He has willingly, joyfully done for us.  Let us spend time in the warm embrace of our loving Creator, and be happy that it makes His heart happy for us to do so.

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Let Goodness Remain

Good in the world

I was in a conversation with a nonbelieving friend last week, and he mentioned a t shirt he saw.  It said something like, “Love Your Neighbor — and that includes blacks, whites, gays, racists . . .” (etc.)  My friend asked, “What does that mean?  It’s not like they’re going to have a crack head into their house, or anything.”

My friend is so cynical.  He can’t believe that someone might be good enough to really give to an “undesirable.”

I had a denouement the other day.  I realized that I haven’t been leaving the impression with people that God is good.  I’ve been stuck on communicating to them the things they should do.  I keep thinking of the things that are wrong and need to change.

In my interactions with others, I want to leave them with the knowledge that  God is good.  When I am gone, I want my grandchildren and those I love to have this as a strength against the discouragements of the world.

So I’ve started working on this more.  I’ve started being more cognizant of the impression I am leaving.  It’s easy to talk to people about the problems of the world, the things that need to change.  But if I hold onto the inner core of truth that God is good, all my interactions are different.

Yesterday I trying to have a devotional while I was at the mechanic getting my car worked on.  Not being able to think too deeply with all the distractions, I read through James and I Peter.  I love reading these books because I can see first hand the heart of the writers. With Jesus, it’s someone else’s account (inspired by God, of course).  But with the letters, I can hear straight from their mouths what they are thinking and feeling, what is important to them.

And how does James start out his letter?  “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds. . . ”  He’s talking about having literally ALL joy.

What does Peter say first? He gives exuberant praise to God!   “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 

These men are so enamored with the goodness of God.   Note some other things they say.  I am listing just a few —

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17
  • Mercy triumphs over judgment.  James 2:13
  • 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
  • The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  James 5:11
  • Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. I Peter 2:2-3
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  I Peter 2:9
  • And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  I Peter 5:10

campfire in the snow

The world is a cold place, but we have the warmth of God’s goodness.  Let us share it unceasingly, leaving a legacy of beauty and hope.

 

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Haggai — God Sets Us Up to Win!

rebuilding temple

Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them. Ezra 4:1-2

I’ve been reading Haggai and Ezra, about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem following the Babylonian and Persian captivity.  I love it!  There are so many good lessons.  Here are some of the insights I’ve had.

At the right time, God gives us the opportunity to do His work. Just like it says in Ephesians, we’re, “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The Israelites had started rebuilding the temple, and wanted to complete it earlier, but they faced much opposition.  The work came to a halt for many years.  They were probably very discouraged.

When Haggai began prophesying, it must have been difficult to have hope and faith that this time would be different.  But God intended for them to be a part of an awesome thing, something that would encourage their hearts for generations.

God opens doors. No matter what has happened in the past, we need to have faith, and walk through those doors. It will be a blessing for us, and for others as well.

When we are working in the direction God is working, He gives us the tools we need for the work.

We want to work for God, but it seems too hard to get the momentum going, or to know how to get from point A to point B. It’s encouraging to know that when we do His work, God sets us up to win.

He gives spiritual inspiration. There’s a reason motivational speakers do so well. We all need someone to give us that zing of energy, that seed of faith that we can do it.

It’s wonderful that God didn’t just tell the Israelites to rebuild the temple, He sent prophets to inspire them.

But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’  Haggai 2:4

He gives strength and guidance. We don’t have to do it alone. God is with us when we do His work.

Again, God didn’t just tell the Israelites to rebuild, he orchestrated the ideal circumstances for them to rebuild. The king ensured the cooperation of the local authorities. Neighboring leaders were instructed to help with supplies. Haggai and Zechariah continued to prophesy and exort.

taking initiative

I’ve been wrestling lately with how much to expect of others. Each person is different. Some are leaders and some are followers. Some are go getters, and some are passive. And yet we all need to obey God and serve Him wholeheartedly.

This passage in Haggai reminds me that God is the prime factor in the equation, not us. We will only succeed if we work in tandem with God’s will, when He is the source of inspiration and support.

Maybe what is most important is not initiative taking, but humility. On our own, we can come up with the energy to run in all kinds of directions for God. But it’s only when we are waiting on Him, that we will succeed. And that will be the greatest joy there is, because God’s perfect work is the most magnificent thing.

So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. . . Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.

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