Monday, November 30, 2009

Count on His Fathfullness

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3&4

Did you know that there are about 8,000 promises in the bible? Considering they are given by a god who cannot lie, offers us eternal life, created the universe and loves us beyond our comprehension, I’d say we can count on Him to fulfill them. Our faith may waver because of the past broken promises of man, but we must separate that from the real truth of God’s word to us.

We must also be careful lest we impatiently impose natural nudging to see those promises come about. Just as Sarah took matters into her own hands when she grew tired of waiting for God to give her the child of His promise, we too are tempted to find another way to secure it. But that only delays the promise – we mess up the timing when interfere with God’s plan. Even when it seems impossible – if God said it was coming – it’s coming. He knows how old we are, how sick we are, how broke we are! He hasn’t forgotten us. He’s not too busy keeping score, too angry with your behavior, or too overwhelmed by mankind to remember his promise to you.

God is gracious to give us promises in order for us to “participate in the divine nature.” What a double blessing – to be a part of His own nature and be blessed by an undeserved gift, all at the same time. It all brings glory to the One who delivers the promise – as it should be.

Heavenly Father, I stand on the promises you have given your children. Help me to wait for your plan to be accomplished in my life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

There are 34 references to "give thanks" in the King James Bible. There are 29 references to "thanksgiving". Here are a few of my favorites. Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday wherever you may be.

Psalm 26:7
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Psalm 69:30
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Revelation 7:12
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 106:1
Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Model For Prayer

"Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us." Luke 11:2-4 Matthew adds: And do not lead us into temptation. But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

The disciples that followed Jesus were in a position to observe His communion with the Father. No doubt they could sense there was special power in Jesus' prayers. If it were me, I would have wanted to have the kind of communication that existed between Jesus and his heavenly Father. His followers had been given a glimpse of the true Kingdom, but weren't sure how to enter into a fuller understanding of belonging there.

This model of prayer that Jesus gives them speaks to God's holiness, life on earth, provision, forgiveness and sin. Embedded in the words are declarations, praise and supplications. It is a guide for concise and deliberate prayer or conversation with God. It's simple, to the point and powerful.

We need not make prayer a complicated endeavor. God already knows our heart and the thoughts rolling around in our brain. I believe it is the praise and declarations that provide effectiveness for our prayers, and continual communion with our heavenly Father provides us with stability and peace.

Lord, help me to continually commune with you. I desire to seek your Kingdom and know You more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

So I Fall

“So brace up your minds, and, as men who know what they are doing, rest the full weight of your hopes on the grace that will be yours when Jesus Christ reveals himself.”
I Peter 1:13 The J.B. Phillips Bible

This verse reminds me of the exercise you might see at a group therapy session, or at a youth retreat. One person stands with their back to a group of their peers or friends. He puts his trust in them, that they will catch him as he falls backward into their arms. It can be a scary experience, especially if you don’t know the other people well. The exercise of trust is putting your full weight into another’s hands.

What is your full weight? It’s your life – all of you. Whose hands are they? Jesus’ hands.

We live our lives, pressing through each day, with an assurance that we can trust Him for grace, happiness and eternal life. I can’t wait for the day when Jesus will reveal himself totally. I will stand before him, weeping and jumping for joy. In Him lies all that is worth hoping for. He deserves all our worship, yet he came to serve us in this way. He points us to the Father with his love.

The pain of this world will disappear when we see the gates of our new home opened by the lover of our souls. We are to consider soberly what God has done for us in his great mercy. Even when we feel despair, anguish or fear, He is standing behind us, waiting for us to fall into his arms.

Will you trust Him to catch you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Would You Go?

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings an before the people of Israel.” Acts 9:10-15

I can just see Ananias shaking in his sandals! The Lord has just asked him to rescue the zealous enemy of the early Christian church, and Ananias was clearly apprehensive to say the least. I greatly admire this man. He was just an ordinary guy, minding his own business when, out of nowhere, God speaks this rather large request. He may have hesitated a bit, but he did go. It took a lot of courage and faith in God.
I wonder if Ananias realized just how important a job he was about to do. Isn’t it just like humanity to argue with God when approached with this kind of proposition? But you must remember, this was a formidable foe, this Saul. I think I would have tried much harder to get out of the deal! But Ananias was obedient and did as he was told – not even knowing what this all meant to the advancement of the church.
Let me ask, how many of us have our hearts primed to hear God’s voice in the first place? It takes spiritual awareness and practice to know that voice speaking in your spirit. Secondly, how many of us would have gone where He asked us to go, even though it meant possible danger? Are we ready to take on the burden of doing the tough job if we are asked? If we were as in tune with God as Ananias was, and we were as obedient as Ananias, we could change the world.
I would like to think I am among the many Christians with a heart to serve God whenever and wherever. I know that I am still learning to hear his voice and to be obedient. If the work of God is to be done, we must answer “yes Lord.” He will prepare the way and stay with us through it all. Draw courage from the experience you have that tells you God is faithful. Ananias did, and see how incredibly he was used!

Lord, I want to say yes to you. Teach me how to recognize when you are calling me. Thank you for using even the meek and lowly for your glory.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How Big Is Your God?

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hart was darkened…..For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1: 21&25

What is your concept of God, and where did it come from? Boy, is it easy to miss the mark on really knowing who God is. It doesn’t matter how long we have been a believer, we can be mistaken in our thoughts about Him.

Often our conception of God is mostly made by the conclusions we draw from life and the opinions of others. It happens slowly and without us even being aware of what is happening. If our knowledge about life and its mysteries is faulty, or biased, or based on feelings, our “knowledge” of God may be the same. This makes God a mere magnified version of a human. Modeling Him upon what we know of man may be easier, but it doesn’t fit with who He truly is. If our God was nothing more than a super-human, living somewhere up in Heaven, He would not be big enough to handle this world and all His children. We are a handful!

Have we as a Christian culture exchanged the truth of God for a lie? Yes, According to the apostle Paul, in the case of the Romans, their worship of idols and behavior in unspeakable things led them to reduce God to nothing. They paid a great price for it – God handed them over to the darkness. We must be sure that we keep God where He should be in our lives and in our churches – on the throne. There He will receive the adoration that He deserves, and we will see Him as the big God that He is.

Lord God, forgive me for the times I reduced you to smallness in my mind and heart. Help me to change my thinking by reading your word and getting to know you more.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rescue Me!

“Yet I am poor and needy, may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God do not delay.”
Psalm 40:17

Have you seen the movie “Castaway”? Tom Hanks plays a man that gets stranded on a deserted island after his plane crashes in the ocean. It soon becomes obvious that he is not a survival expert. He spends his first night with only his wet clothes and torn rubber raft for shelter. The next day items from the plane start washing up on the beach. Several of those items were quite useful for his survival and actually saved his life.

He could have just sat on the beach, crying over why no one had come to rescue him. But he paid attention, and realized that the articles that washed up on shore could provide him with an answer, maybe not the answer he wanted, but it got him by until he was finally rescued. He came to see that he must use what was provided, and begin to build a solution to his dilemma.

How many times have we been in a situation that we thought was hopeless, and felt like we were stranded with no rescue in sight? It’s easy to sit on the beach, cry and be upset with God for not coming to take us out of that place. When we open our eyes to see that He sends us certain items or people to aid us while we wait, we can spend our time fashioning those things into tools for growing and surviving. Our rescue is sometimes delayed because God has something for us to learn. He will always send us help in times of trouble, but it is in his timing, not ours.

There is a danger that comes with refusing to wait for God’s rescue. We often invent our own way out when we tire of waiting for God. We leave the tools behind, and go out on our own. It’s hard to wait when you feel like you are in trouble. Don’t ever forget that God knows where you are, and knows just the right time to provide your rescue.

Father, help me to wait. I thank you that You care enough to send me aids in these times. I know you will come for me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Altar of Worship

“He (David) appointed some of the Livites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel: …They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.” I CHRONICLES 16:4&6

The dwelling place of God was always at the altar of worship. There He waits for his children to come and offer themselves. His eyes and his heart will delight in our prayers when we set our minds in his direction. When we are fixed only on what God will do for us, we miss out on what He wants to be in our lives.

David knew the way to God’s heart was through worship. In battle, in heartbreak, in triumph – these times were always soaked in the sweetness of praise to God. There was no holding back. All the instruments and voices were directed at regular acts of worship before the altar. It was their custom to “make a joyful noise” before Him. All the Israelites were brought up to know that worship is essential to those who are God’s children.

When we don’t bring our best worship to God, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Others see and most importantly, God sees. His desire is for us to enjoy worship and do it with our whole heart. It is in worship that we can offer ourselves and experience the communion He desires to have with us. It is our choice to either engage or let the opportunities pass by. It’s a decision we all have to make to do whatever is necessary to express our devotion and gratitude to our Creator.

Worship is an attitude of the heart. Once we realize who God is and what He has done for us, we know what we must do. As we let our hearts receive the truth about worship, we will be transformed into the kind of worshipers God is looking for. It’s a matter of dwelling at the altar.

Dear God, I want to dwell where You are. Help me to learn how to praise You in a way that pleases You.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grow In Confidence

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27: 1, 13 & 14

This Psalm discloses David’s personal relationship with his God, and relates his experiences in a way that reflects an ongoing attitude of confidence. Through all the trials and calamities of his life, David could look back upon those days when God rescued him, and take courage in knowing he didn’t let fear corrode his faith. He understood that in order to accomplish God’s will, he would need the confidence that only comes through capturing the beauty of God’s character in his own life. It came to be as he sought His habitation daily.

If we have the courage to wait upon the Lord we will begin to see that our prayers will be answered, and that God is always in control. God uses waiting to renew, refresh and teach us. The very powerful words that the Lord gave to King David brought personal assurance to his walk, and focus to his task at hand. In our times of waiting, we can be in a better position to hear the voice of God. As we hear his voice, we grow in confidence – and confidence will be expressed in all areas of our lives.

Confidently express yourself with your talents and abilities with God’s power. You can then play your part in building momentum to take the church to the next level of faith. Waiting and listening are hard for us to do. It takes practice to feel comfortable in this seemingly passive state. We know from David’s writings that he did a great deal of waiting and listening. In turn, he came to know God in a special way – earning his favor.

All things, seen and unseen, are subject to the glory of God. As we yield to Him, growing closer to Him, we find the confidence we long for.

Dear Lord, help me to wait. I want to face my fears. Open my eyes to see the confidence I need to serve you better. Thank you for being patient with me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gather The Wind

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 NASB

“Are they as straw before the wind, and like chaff which the storm carries away?”
Job 21:18 NASB

My son left an unusual post on his My Space page some time ago. It was unusual because it was a thoughtful, well written story. Unusual because my son never writes, and doesn’t always articulate with clarity. The story was about a piece of newsprint he saw out his window. As he watched it blowing in the wind, he meditated on how he would like God to be the wind that directs his path.

I thought about this for several days after reading it. It was a great analogy and one that would speak to me in the days to come. It is amazing to me that God will use the simple observations in life to plant seeds of faith into our hearts. A piece of paper blowing in the wind reminded my son of God’s direction in our lives and I was fascinated at comparing the ways we let the wind guide us.

I personally would not want to be blown about, feeling myself pushed up and down, over and back. There seems to be no purpose to that kind of direction. The wind of our own choices, our worldly connections, and casual attitudes can blow us without plan or wisdom. We are propelled by a force that could either carry us a long way off track, or straight into the arms of God. It is a matter of being stronger than a thin piece of paper that is torn and tattered by life. When we are weakened by trials and misfortunes we are easily tossed to and fro by whatever wind would come along.

There is another kind of wind that directs. The wind of the spirit blows us toward the One who created it. If we have kept our hearts strong, we can be a sail that will catch the wind and capture the mighty power it brings. If we have taken great care in our responsibility for the plan, if we will stand tall in adversity, we will only be driven in the direction God would have us go. It takes courage and determination to be the sail and not the newsprint. The desire to be in the center of His will comes from a relationship with Him. He will fashion us into the sail we were meant to be. Then He sends the wind that we desperately need.

It takes faith to believe in things we cannot see, like the wind. But we will be pushed by it whether we see it or not. We can be tossed without purpose or driven in our Creator's plan. Our minds tend to waver, and our moods go up and down, but the stability God brings to us will make us sail worthy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Double Portion

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.” 2 Kings 2: 9

Elisha had been following Elijah around for some time. He had observed miracles and seen first hand the blessings of God on the life of this prophet. Elijah had been promised by God that he would be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind – the only prophet to be given an alternative to death. As time for that big event approached, Elisha stuck as close as he could to his mentor, not wanting to miss anything. Elijah knew Elisha would be succeeding him as prophet so he wanted to grant him a request to get him off to a good start, so to speak.

Elisha wanted to inherit a double portion of whatever it was that Elijah had. Elijah built a legacy and left it to Elisha. It was a legacy of faith and favor from God. Elisha did not ask to be left with riches, or possessions. He wanted the blessing. He wanted the inheritance of powerful service and a double portion of it! He was hungry for the kind of life that would bring the most fruit. He was ready to do it without the comforts of the world.

Most of us are caught up in the world we live in, and the desires of our hearts are not always for the things of God. Guess what, God knows that. He is aware when we are operating at much below our potential and gives grace for that. But He also waits for us to ask for the blessing. He longs to hear the words from our hearts that we are ready for a double portion of His spirit. We have followed Him around long enough to know what He is capable of. Jesus left us with a job to do, just like Elisha. We don’t always understand what we need in order to accomplish the mission.

Are you ready for a double portion? Are you ready to release the glory that God is waiting to share with you? Read, pray, listen, share. Stick close to God so you can succeed at the mission.

Father, show me how to enter into oneness of knowledge with you. I pray you will help me be ready for the job you have in store for me. Bring the harvest, Lord.