Monday, January 31, 2011

Dwelling Securely in Hope

"O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.

"I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope."
(Psalm 16:5-9)

These words of David warm my heart. Don't you love how he just sits down and has conversation with the Lord? His honesty inspires me.

There are three things in particular that stand out to me:
"O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance..."
"My heart also instructs me in the night seasons..."
"My flesh also will rest in hope..."

Notice how these three phrases are like steps leading through this passage.

David first proclaims that the Lord is the portion of his inheritance
. Not, the Lord GIVES him his portion. The Lord IS his portion. David doesn't want land. He doesn't want the spoils plundered from victories. He doesn't want wealth or prestige. He wants to know the Lord and for the Lord to know him. The Lord is enough. He is David's all-in-all.

"My heart also instructs me in the night seasons."
The night seasons. We all have these seasons, don't we? We all have times of sorrow or anguish or times that overwhelm us. But David says that his heart instructs him during those times. Even when it feels like we are consumed by darkness, the Light of Christ - our portion - remains within our heart. He counsels us, instructs us, leads us back onto a lighted path.

And perhaps my favorite, "My flesh also will rest in hope." Rest in hope. What a glorious thought! For hope provides rest. Hope restores peace and joy. Hope provides strength and contentment. A literal translation says, "My flesh also will dwell securely in hope."

I like that. I think that's where I'm pitching my tent! I plan on dwelling securely in hope.

Yes, my hope is in You, Lord.

Praise You, Father! We offer You praise for Your goodness and mercy. We offer You praise for Who You are. You are our dwelling place. You are our hope. And You are our portion. Thank You, Father. We love You.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

There Is A Time For Everything

"There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born and a time to die.
There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy and a time to build.
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
There is a time to love and a time to hate.
There is a time for war and a time for peace."
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, The Inspirational Study Bible)

Ain't it the truth?
! I am old enough to know that the old saying, "This, too, shall pass" is very, very true.

No matter what you are facing today, no matter what season your life is in, this time for you is not happenstance. God is in control. He is the Sovereign Lord, Creator of the Universe and it is He who determines the events in our lives. Nothing comes to us without having gone past His throne first.

Take comfort in that.
Take comfort in the knowledge that His grace is sufficient.
Take comfort in the knowledge that His mercies are new every morning.

And always remember, this too shall pass.

Father, It is so amazing to realize that You really are in control. YOU, Lord. Not me. Thank You. Help me to rest in that knowledge - to get it down in my knower. I think once we understand this Truth, the "time" for worry and anxiety will be over and the "time" for peace and laughing and dancing and rejoicing will abound.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fan Into Flame the Gift of God

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."
(2 Timothy 1:6)

The New International Version (NIV)
reads, "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you."

Stir up the gift of God.
Fan into flame the gift of God.

What is the "gift" Paul is speaking of?
He uses the Greek word, charisma (khar-is-mah) which means "a gift of grace, a free gift, undeserved benefit from God." (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Oh, I like that...a gift of grace, an undeserved benefit from God...

My mind is tumbling with thoughts of undeserved benefits from our Father. Thoughts of mercy, compassion, faithfulness. Thoughts of wisdom, lovingkindness, protection, provision...the list goes on, doesn't it? All of these come under the greatest gift of all - our salvation - offered by grace, fulfilled by love.

I love the fact that the NIV refers to "fanning into flame the gift of God."

I immediately thought of all the verses that refer to God as a consuming fire. Did you know that our Jewish brothers and sisters believe that each of them contain a spark of His consuming fire? They, like us, believe that they are to be a light to the world. Isn't that fascinating?

So, if we, like the Jews, have a spark of God within us (through the Holy Spirit) it makes sense that Paul would encourage Timothy to FAN that flame. Have you ever stoked a fire, especially one where only a spark remained? If you close the damper a little, or if you gently blow on it, the spark begins to blaze. It, too, becomes a consuming fire. But it requires action, attention.

What would happen if the spark were left to blaze on its own? It would go out, wouldn't it? It would become something cold and hard. It would not become the blaze - the light, the consuming fire - it was meant to be.

Often things come into our lives that threaten to quench the flame within us.
We suffer hardships, losses, depression, illness or whatever - anything that desires to separate us from the Lord. But sweet friend, the spark is still there. Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us. His spark (His gift) is still there, but it might be dim, it might be hidden under a load of care.

Stir up that fire! Fan that flame!

And if you are too weary to blow on it, ask your precious Father in heaven if He might breathe the breath of life upon your spirit and cause it to blaze once more.

Father, I love this! And I love the fact that we share this truth with our Jewish brothers and sisters. THAT is precious knowledge. Help us to see the image of Your flame within us and help us to understand our responsibility to keep it blazing for Your glory. And Lord, I am so thankful that when we are weary, You are faithful to fan the flame for us, if only we will call out to You, run into Your embrace and rest in Your everlasting arms of love.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

"The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.

"For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

"As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

"The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

"Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His Word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
(Psalm 103)

I felt so weary this morning.

The Lord heard my cry and drew me to this Psalm.
I read it.
And read it.
And read it one more time, soaking it in, lapping from the stream of Living Water.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy Name!

My spirit revived.

SELAH. Pause and think about it.

Father, Thank You for Your lovingkindness which is better than life. Your Word is refreshing, strengthening the soul. It is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Your Word brings life and ministers grace. Thank You for Your Word. And thank You for hearing us when we call. I love You, Lord.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

But God Never Gave Up

"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then He said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!"' And he said to me, 'These are the true sayings of God.'"
(Revelation 19:6-9)

God's restoration - perfect and complete.

It is important to realize that when Jesus comes for us - His Bride - it is because God's redemptive plan is complete. The Church - the Bride of Christ - is being returned to the glory and majesty God intended for her before sin entered in.

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, not only was their action blatant disobedience, they were also saying that they could do things on their own, independent of the resources and wisdom of God. No longer were they righteous before God - sin had darkened their soul separating them from a Holy God.

But God never gave up.

From that time forward He has been working to reconcile with His children, to restore lives individually AND restore the Church corporately in preparation for the Great Day of His coming.

The Bride of Christ has to be pure, holy and acceptable before the Lord. That leads us to Hebrews 12:26,27, "He has promised saying, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also heaven.' Now this, 'Yet once more,' indicated the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain."

Have you noticed that there is a whole lot of shaking going on?

The Lord is sifting and shaking the Church to see what will remain. Christians are experiencing extreme hardships, even oppression, at an alarming rate. I believe the Lord is saying, "Choose this day whom You will serve. Do you trust Me or not? Do you love Me or not? Am I your Lord or not?"

Tough questions.
Piercing questions.
Necessary questions.

I love Revelation 19:8, "And to her (the Church) it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clear and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."

The priests of the Tabernacle were dressed in fine linen as they went about ministering to the Lord. The Bride of Christ, also, will be dressed in fine linen, because all that will remain of their lives are their righteous acts. The "shaking" removes anything unrighteous.

Now, close your eyes and open your ears. Picture yourself in the Presence of your King. Your garment is whiter than snow, crafted of a priest's fine linen. You're standing before His glorious throne and all around you are the voices of a great multitude. Their praise sounds like many waters - yes, like the sound of mighty thunder! And there before you is your Lord. You are overcome with joy and gratitude. You stand in awe of what He has done and you can't help yourself. You must join in the chorus, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory!"

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Alleluia!

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Father, this scripture fills me with wonder. It is beyond our comprehension, yet it is our reality! The day WILL come when we stand before your throne and worship You. It's not a fairy tale. It's not somewhere in the sweet by and by. It is Truth - Your Truth! Teach us to reverence You, to stand in awe of Your holiness. And thank You for shaking away the impurities so that all that remains is righteousness before You. I know that's because of Your love. Thank You Lord for never giving up on us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh Lord! Send Your Light & Truth!

"Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling place. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise you, O God, my God."
(Psalm 43:3,4)

My paraphrase:
"Oh Lord, send Your light to lead me out of the darkness and Your truth to lead me out of my confusion! Let Your light and truth lead me to Your Presence where I will worship and praise You with all my might until I am no longer bound by my distress - until I am changed by Your grace."

Psalm 43 is thought to be an extension of Psalm 42 which was written by the sons of Korah. Korah was a Levite - a priest - who was swallowed up by the earth because he dared to challenge the God-given authority of Moses (Numbers 16). Korah's sons were spared and, as they grew into men, ministered as priests in the Tabernacle.

I honestly do not know what trouble the sons of Korah found themselves in, but this I know, the sons of Korah had experienced the Presence of God because of their service as priests. And now they find themselves separated from God, being overtaken by their enemies. They are yearning for Him, longing for Him as a deer pants for the water.

And they are pleading with God to send out His light and His truth to lead them back to His dwelling place.

Have you known the glory of the Presence of God and yet find yourself distanced from that Holy Place? I venture to say that most Christians will experience this from time to time. Sad, but true.

But your Father stands with open arms ready to receive His wayward child.
Cry out to Him. You will find Him faithful to shine His light on your darkened path. He delights in speaking His truth into your confusion, dispelling the lies of the Deceiver.

Run to your Lord and fall to your knees in worship and praise.

And be changed.

Father, Thank You for Your light and Your truth! It is such a comfort to know that when we distance ourselves from You, You stand ready to receive us when we call out to You. Your faithfulness astounds me. Your love truly is everlasting, unconditional, beyond understanding. We love You, Lord and desire Your Presence. It is in Your Presence that we are changed and set free.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

His Present Was About To Become His Past

"Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Then many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, 'Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.' And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' The blind man said to Him, 'Rabboni, that I might receive my sight.' Then Jesus said to him,'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road."
(Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus had a need that only Jesus could fulfill.
So he was bold.
He was persistent.
And he put the past behind him so he could go forward as a new man.

I love this story.

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar who sat by the road begging and, most probably, listening. He had not seen Jesus, but He had heard about this amazing man who called Himself the Son of God.

And Bartimaeus chose to believe that nothing was too difficult for Jesus.

Jesus was in the midst of a multitude. Everyone was talking and walking along the Jericho road. But above the noise, Jesus heard someone call His name, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Bartimaeus was proclaiming quite a bit in this sentence. He called Him by name, "Jesus", but also recognized Him as the Messiah by the use of the title, "Son of David" - a messianic term.

And then he said, "have mercy on me."

Have mercy is a term meaning "to have an active desire to remove the cause of distress from someone"(commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible). "Jesus, will you remove the cause of my distress?" Bartimaeus called.

Oh, there were obstacles. The crowd tried to shush him, but Bartimaeus paid them no attention. He just cried out louder. He knew his cry would not fall on deaf ears.

Jesus responded.

Then Bartimaeus did something very important. He threw off his garment. Then he rose and went to Jesus.

Bartimaeus knew a change was coming!
He knew his present was about to become his past.
And he took the first step by throwing off the garment that marked him as a beggar.

Jesus removed this beggar's distress - his blindness - and replaced his old garment with the garment of praise and the robe of righteousness. Jesus was everything Bartimaeus believed He would be.

What do you have need of today? What is causing you distress? Nothing is too difficult for Jesus.

Be bold.
Be persistent.
And take off the garment of the past and get ready for something new.

I've heard the garment of praise is very popular.

Father, Teach us to be bold and persistent and active in our faith as we cry out in our distress. Have mercy on us, Lord. We need You and we trust You and we desire to be all that You created us to be. We give You glory, honor and praise for You alone are worthy. Bless You, Father!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And We Shall Behold Him

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(1 John 3:1,2)

I can't help but think of a song Dottie Rambo wrote and sang years ago, "We Shall Behold Him."

Let these words capture your heart as we ponder the Truth of today's verse:

"The sky shall unfold, preparing His entrance;
The stars shall applaud Him with thunders of praise,
The sweet light in His eyes shall enhance those awaiting;
And we shall behold Him, then face to face.

"And we shall behold Him, We shall behold Him,
Face to face, in all of His glory.
O we shall behold Him, We shall behold him,
Face to face, our Savior and Lord.

"The angel shall sound the shout of His coming;
The sleeping shall rise from their slumbering place.
And those who remain shall be changed in a moment;
And we shall behold Him, then face to face."


Dear friend, can you see it? Reach out with your spirit and let the Lord open your eyes to envision this glorious day that is coming. "We know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Unfathomable joy and wonder!!

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Repeat after me..."I am a child of God!" Oh my goodness.

Father, open our eyes that we might see!! Open our hearts to receive your love, to understand how wide and how deep and how high your love is! WE are your children, us to know how marvelous is Your love. We await Your coming with ready hearts. Praise You, Father!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The God of Glory Thunders!

"Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His Name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; The Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, "Glory!"

The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, and the Lords sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace."
(Psalm 29)

In this Psalm, David is equating the voice of the Lord to the powerful sound of thunder. Perhaps he was caught in a thunderstorm and had to seek shelter in one of the many caves that flanked the region. There in the refuge of the cave, David ponders the mighty power of the Lord. As he considers His God, David interprets the thunder as the voice of the Lord calling to him to give glory to His great Name.

I like how The Message interprets some of these verses. Allow your mind's eye to see the imagery and glimpse the glory of the Lord:

"God thunders across the waters, brilliant, His voice and His face, streaming brightness" (verse 3).
"God's thunder tympanic, God's thunder symphonic" (verse 4).
"God's thunder smashes cedars, God topples the northern cedars" (verse 5).
"God's thunder spits fire" (verse 7).
"God thunders, the wilderness quakes" (verse 8).
"God's thunder sets the oak trees dancing a wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches. We fall to our knees - we call out, "Glory!"

David said, "Give to the Lord the glory due to His Name..." Do you suppose the Lord receives our worship as a gift? I think so.

The next time you hear the rolling explosion of thunder, let your heart be filled with awe as you consider how great is the Lord our God.

Lord, I can't help but think about that old hymn, How Great Thou Art. Lord, can we fully grasp how great You are? Can we wrap our brains around it? You are beyond our comprehension and yet You dwell in us. You are the Creator of the Universe and yet You call us by Name. You are glorious in majesty, worthy of our praise! We love You Lord and bow before You in adoration and worship. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."
(Hebrews 2:17)

Do you know what comes to mind as I read this? The word "intentional". Odd? Yes, but look at the wording. The verse begins with, "in all things He HAD to be made like His brethren." Why? So that He would be a merciful and faithful High Priest - mediator - for us in all things pertaining to God.

Intentional. Done with design and purpose.

Aaron is perhaps the Old Testament priest we are most familiar with. He and his sons were designated by God to minister to the Lord as priests in the Tabernacle while in the wilderness (Exodus 28:1). As the chief priest - High Priest - Aaron was Israel's main representative before God AND He was God's representative before the people.

Aaron was a foreshadow of Jesus as our High Priest.

So what, besides the obvious, distinguishes Aaron from Jesus? Aaron did not have the power to make a sinner righteous before God - he could not transform a heart.

He could follow his priestly duties to the letter.
He could present sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of the people every day.
He could even be happy that he was chosen as the chief priest.

But Aaron could not place the robe of righteousness on anyone - he could not even make himself righteous!

Only Jesus could do this.

And that's why Jesus had to walk this earth as a man. As our High Priest, it is His job to represent us to God and to represent God to us.
Make sense? I know! Isn't it great?

Because Jesus walked the earth as a man He understands us - our struggles, our heartbreaks, our fears and temptations. Therefore, with compassion and sensitivity, He presents us before the Father, making intercession on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus HAD to be made like us.
Intentional. Done with design and purpose.

Father, Thank You so much for Jesus. Thank You for understanding that we are a peculiar people in need of a Savior - One Who understands us, Who is sensitive and compassionate towards our needs. I pray that we never take His sacrifice for granted. Open our eyes that we might see Him seated at Your right hand making intercession for us. I think, for the first time, I have a handle on what this Truth means. Thank You, Lord for giving me understanding. I love You, Lord.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Right Hand of God

"And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting til His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."
(Hebrews 10:11-14)

Oh my goodness! If we could only grasp the magnitude of this verse!

Before the sacrifice of Jesus' blood for the atonement of sin, the priests of the Tabernacle had to make sacrifices daily! Their sacrifices were not lasting - they served the purpose of forgiveness and reconciliation with God for only the moment. Their sacrifices could not change the heart.

But Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God died once and for all. His sacrifice was complete - perfect and entire, changing the hearts of men and setting them apart in righteousness.

Verse 12 contains something very telling and, I think, fascinating. It reads, "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God..."

To begin with, what did Jesus' sitting down imply? Yes! That's it! He was finished. His sacrifice was sufficient for the forgiveness of sins for all peoples - FOREVER!

Have you ever wondered about God's right hand as opposed to the hand of God? Is it significant? Yes! I want to share some insight I received from Beth Moore:

"God's right hand purchased the hill country where He led His children (Psalm 78:54).
God's right hand displays awesome things (Psalm 45:4).
God saves by His right hand (Psalm 17:7).
God's right hand holds me (Psalm 139:10).
God's right hand gave His children the land (Psalm 44:3).
God's right hand planted the vine (Psalm 80:15-17).
God instructs us to remember the years of His right hand (Psalm 77:10)."

God's right hand is the vehicle by which God releases His power!

Now, I hope this will thrill your soul as much as it thrilled mine. Beth goes on to say, "Notice that each reference is ultimately fulfilled in Christ Jesus, who sits at God's right hand:
Christ is the saving hand of God.
Christ is the One who holds us, who said, 'No one can snatch them out of my hand' (John 10:28).
Christ is the One who teaches us through His Spirit - the One whom Mary called Rabboni (John 20:16).
Christ is the One who leads us to the holy mountain of God and who purchased our promised land with His own blood.
In Christ's resurrection God displayed His mightiest work.
Therefore, we must remember the years of the One who sits at God's right hand." (Beth Moore: "A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place".)

Gotta love Beth Moore! Isn't her insight a blessing?

I've said this before and I'll say it again: the intricacy of God's Word astounds me! The way the Lord weaves the Old and New Testament together is powerful - solid - convincing. The fulfillment of His Word...? My goodness. The fulfillment of His Word is found in ONE word: JESUS.

This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.
Praise His Name!

Thank You Father! We praise Your Name for Your saving power, for Your work of righteousness so that we might know You. Thank You, Lord. And thank You for Beth Moore who has taught us and blessed us. Return to her one-hundred fold all that she has done for the Body of Christ. We love You, Lord.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tweaking God's Instructions?

"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is an iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king."
(1 Samuel 15:22,23)

Ouch! This is a strong word from the Lord. And to think I came across it because I looked up the word "delight" in my concordance!

Notice the paradox: "delight" is juxtaposed against witchcraft, rebellion, stubbornness, idolatry...Yikes!

Let's put this scripture in context.

Saul is set to be king. The Lord told Saul to attack the Amalekites and to not spare any living thing - not even the oxen and sheep. But Saul tweaked the instruction of the Lord. He and the people took Agag king of the Amalekites alive along with the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs and all that was good and "WERE UNWILLING to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed." (verses 8 & 9)

Saul was so proud of himself! My, what a mighty warrior he was!! He went to Carmel and set up a monument in his honor. When God sent Samuel to talk to Saul about his sin, Saul greeted Samuel with, "Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord"(verse 13). He was completely oblivious to the seriousness of his sin.

Can you smell the pride?
Samuel's response cracked me up. He said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen I hear?" (verse 14)

Now Saul's answer is key to what I believe the Lord wants us to understand. Saul said to Samuel, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." (verse 15) Sounds like a good plan, right?

But that is NOT what God had commanded him to do.
God had clearly instructed him to "utterly destroy EVERY living thing" because of the consuming sin of the Amalekites.

How often do we set out to obey God and then, very casually, tweak it?!
I KNOW!! Far too often! We hear clearly what the Lord has spoken to us, but then we get an idea that we think will enhance the original plan. Or maybe our idea creates less static, you know, its the easier solution - it makes everybody happy.

Everybody but the Lord!

Was God upset because Saul and the Israelites made a mistake? Was He upset because they had not understood what He told them? Absolutely not. The Lord was upset with Saul because of his blatant - intentional - disobedience. Remember, the scripture said they were UNWILLING to do as the Lord had commanded.

We serve a merciful God, a loving Heavenly Father Who adores His children. He is not offended when we do something wrong because of misunderstanding. But, too easily, we forget that He is the Sovereign Lord, the Lord God Almighty! Too easily we put Him back in that gilded box where discipleship doesn't cost anything.

I know. That was hard for me to hear too.

The Lord takes great delight in an obedient heart, a life fully surrendered to Him.

Father, Wow!! That one was tough. But I see the necessity of the lesson. We must always understand Who You are in light of who we are, especially, I think, when we know You well and walk very closely with You. I desire an obedient heart - one that counts the cost of discipleship. I desire to please You in all things, to honor You with my life. Lord, I desire to be a delight to you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Implanted Word of God

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls."
(James 1:21)

"...the implanted Word..."

I love the image these words create.

Close your eyes and visualize the Word of God as a seed implanted in your spirit by God Himself. Can you see it? Can you imagine the awesome hand of God reaching into your heart, stirring the soil within, then delicately yet powerfully - yes MIGHTILY! - planting His Word within you? Mind-boggling, isn't it?

Who is the Word of God? Yes, Jesus Christ, His only Son. All that Jesus is, all the power that raised Him from the dead, now dwells in you - the sinner saved by grace.

Can you see the implanted Word - the seed of life? It is yearning to come forth, straining to produce its fruit of righteousness. The implanted Word has purpose! God has purposed it to transform you and those around you. He has purposed it to make you more like Jesus through the renewing of your mind, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He has purposed it to take root in your soul and sprout goodness in your life.

The Lord Most High has purposed His implanted Word to make a dwelling place within you where His Holy Spirit can reign and rule and be Lord of your life.

The implanted Word.
Receive it with humility and thanksgiving.
Put aside the burden of sin and complacency towards the things of God.

And watch that fruit grow. My, oh my...

"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22,23)

Father, What a beautiful image you have given us. Help us to see this image in its entirety, in its incredible Truth. Help us to understand the the implanted Word cannot - it MUST not - lie dormant. We are called to be transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus so that we might take His Light into the dark crevices of a hurting world. Open our eyes that we might see, Lord, our ears that we might hear the cry of Your heart. Thank You for Your promise: "For its not by might, not by power but by My Spirit." Your Spirit, Lord. Your strength. Your power. Thank You, Father.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Dig the Ditches First

"'But now bring me a musician.' Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him (Elisha). And he said, 'Thus says the Lord: "Make this valley full of ditches." For thus says the Lord: "You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink." And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will deliver the Moabites into your hand.'"
(2 Kings 3:15-18)

Israel was embattled with the Moabites. They had marched into a barren area with no water. For seven days the children of God marched with no water for the army nor for their animals. To say the least, they were parched.

Ever feel that way?
Have you ever battled for so long that all you can think about is water, so to speak?

King Jehoram called upon Elisha, the prophet, to beseech the Lord for water on their behalf. Isn't it interesting that Elisha requested a musician before he began to discern the voice of the Lord? When we praise Him, He makes His Spirit known.

What did God, through Elisha, tell them to do? He said, "Make this valley full of ditches."

Full of ditches? Why? There was no water to fill them! Lord, we need water, not ditches!

Don't we always think we know best? **sigh**

The Lord told the Israelites they would neither see wind nor rain, yet the valley would be filled with water. Water! Plenty of water! Enough for every man and beast!

But first they had to dig ditches.

The children of God had to prepare for God's blessing, then trust that He would do what He said He would do.

Have you been waiting on a dream?

Have you stepped out in blind faith, trusting only in the voice of the Lord?
Have you been working hard, walking in obedience to God, but experiencing fatigue and thirst as you wait for what seems to be an eternity?

Lisa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, said, "Sometimes you have to dig a lot of ditches before the Lord sends an unexplainable rush of water to fill those blister-worked places."

The Lord said, "In due season you will reap, if you don't give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Hold fast to your dream.
Do the work as God directs.

And wait expectantly for that "unexplainable rush of water to fill those blister-worked places."

Lord, It is so hard to wait!! I know better than to pray for patience, but I am very thankful for Your grace. Give us strength to hang on to our dreams, to do the work you require and then to wait for you to send the fulfillment. When we want to question, satisfy our longings with Your Spirit. Help us to think on those things that are lovely, pure and worthy of praise as we wait for you. Thank You, Father.

Monday, January 17, 2011

At Home With God

"You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in El Shaddai's shadow, say this: 'God, You're my refuge. I trust in You and I'm safe!'

"That's right - He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you - under them you're perfectly safe; His arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing - not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.

"Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.

"Yes, because God is our refuge, the High God your very own home, evil can't get close to you, harm can't get through the door. He ordered His angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they'll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

"'If you'll hold on to me for dear life,' says God, 'I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best care if you'll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I'll answer,I'll be at your side in bad times; I'll rescue you, then honor you with a celebration. I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!'"
(Psalm 91, The Message)

"You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in El Shaddai's shadow, say this: 'God, You're my refuge. I trust in You and I'm safe!'" This is the interpretation for Psalm 91:1 from The Message.

In the New King James it reads, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'"

The child of God who dwells in the secret place of the Most High is at home with God. She returns to Him and lays at rest in His shadow after the trial of battle. She worships behind the veil - in the Holy of Holies - and loves to be alone with God to speak with Him in solitude.

And in that shadow, in that secret place, the remaining promises found in Psalm 91 unfold.

So I leave you with this. Are you at home with God? Verse 14 reads, "I'll give you the best care if you'll only get to know and trust Me."

We serve a great God.
He's waiting for you.

Father, I love you so much. Hold me close, Lord. Tuck me under Your wing near to Your heart. Let me sit and talk and listen and love. I want to dwell there - to be at home there in Your secret place. Thank You for Your power to keep me safe. Thank You for Your power to keep me strong. You are precious, Lord. Praise You!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Has the Lord Told You Any Secrets Lately?

"Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in goodness and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net."
(psalm 25:12-15)

"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him and He will show them His covenant."

"The secret of the Lord..."
It is my heart's desire to know the secret of the Lord - His mysteries, His treasures, those words spoken only to those who love Him.

This scripture tells me that the Lord reveals His secrets - the essence of Who He is - to those who worship Him, to those who love and adore Him, to those who stand in awe of His majesty, yet understand His authority.

He confides in those He calls friend.

Can you imagine? Can you JUST imagine?!

Abraham was called the friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7). In Genesis 18:17, the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham the things that I do?"

Abraham and Jehovah God were in a close relationship. The Spirit of the Lord walked with him and talked with him. I believe the Lord bared His heart to Abraham because He trusted Abraham's love.

In John 15:15 Jesus told His disciples, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

"All things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Divine wisdom and understanding.

The Lord confides in those He calls friend. We must press in and listen.

Father, I long to know You more. I long to honor You with my love and with my reverence of Who You are. Open my ears that I might hear, enlighten the eyes of my heart that I might understand more of Your Truth. Thank You, Lord. I love You.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Breathe On Me Breath of God

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.'"
(Revelation 1:8)

I find great comfort in these words. To me, this verse unequivocally says the Lord God IS in control - not in concept, not in a nice little thought, but in TRUTH! He is saying, "All of life is contained WITHIN Me, created by and for Me, determined and sustained through Me."

The Message offers this translation, "I'm A to Z. I'm the God Who is, the God Who was, and the God about to arrive. I'm the Sovereign Strong."

Whoa!! "I am the God about to arrive - the Sovereign Strong!" I love this.

As I researched I found a very insightful commentary, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, that made me say, "Whoa!" again. Are you ready?

Clarke says, "The union of Alpha and Omega in Greek, makes a verb meaning 'I breathe', and may very properly, in such a symbolical book as Revelation, point out Him in Whom we live, and move, and have our being; for, having formed man out of the dust of the earth, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul; and it is by the inspiration or inbreathing of His Spirit that the souls of men are quickened, made alive from the dead, and fitted for life eternal."

From beginning to Him.

I keep thinking about an old hymn, Breathe on Me, Breath of God. Do you know it? Sing with me:

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breath of me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Isn't that beautiful? He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End. He is the God Who is, and the God Who was and the God about to arrive.

And He has breathed the breath of life in us that in HIM we might live and move and have our being...both now, and forever.

He IS the Almighty. Is there anything too difficult for Him?

Praise You Father! I stand amazed at Your glory. Thank You for Your sovereign hand in our lives. Thank you for Your sustenance, Your faithfulness and Your grace. Help us to grasp the magnitude of Who You are and to walk in the fullness of Your love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

God's Companions

"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'"
(Genesis 1:26)

"Let US make man in Our image..."

Have you ever caught that before? I didn't until a year or so ago. Oh, I had read Genesis, chapter one a kazillion times, but the word US had not grabbed my attention. Of course, once my eyes read the word I realized its reference was to the Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I thought the use of the word Us was interesting.
Well, now I've realized its much more that just interesting.
It's fascinating.

Genesis, chapter one tells the story of creation - God's spoken word establishing the heavens and the earth. Throughout the chapter, the Lord speaks creation into being:

"Let there be light..."
"Let there be a firmament..."
"Let the waters under the heavens be gathered..."
"Let the earth bring forth grass..."
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night..."
"Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth..."
"Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind..."

And then the words of command change (drumroll, please)"

"Let US make man in Our image."

Why does it change? This is speculation, of course, but consider this:
All of creation was spoken forth through singular commands of great authority. Now the command involves consultation. Elohim, the Creator, now involves the Son and the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we are made in their image. We are the "creature" that traverses heaven and earth, body and soul. We become the children of God.

Consider this also. Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Commentary) believes the statement, "Let Us make man in Our image" denotes affection. I can see that. It reflects ownership or connectedness. The Creator has everything in place for us, for our dominion, for our sake and now its like God said, "All the preliminaries are over. Now its time for My children. This is what I've been working towards...someone to love Me, someone to walk with Me and talk with Me. This is the reason I AM. Come, let Us make man in Our image."

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

Father, thank You for, once again, showing us how special we are to You. We are Your special treasure. Open our eyes that we might see and know the magnitude of Your love. Thank You, Lord. Bless Your Holy Name!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It Was By Faith...

"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past

"It is by faith we understand that the whole world was made by God's command so what we see was made by something that cannot be seen.

"It was by faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. God said he was pleased with the gifts Abel offered and called Abel a good man because of his faith. Abel died, but through his faith he is still speaking.

"It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven so he would not die. He could not be found, because God had taken him away. Before he was taken, the Scripture says that he was a man who truly pleased God. Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.

"It was by faith that Noah heard God's warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built a large boat to save his family. By his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong, and he became one of those who are made right with God through faith.

"It was by faith Abraham obeyed God's call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. It was by faith that he lived like a foreigner in the country God promised to give him. He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who had received that same promise from God. Abraham was waiting for the city that has real foundations - the city planned and built by God.

"Do I need to give more examples? I do not have time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through their faith they defeated kingdoms, They did what was right, received God's promises, and shut the mouths of lions. They stopped great fires and were saved from being killed with swords. They were weak, and yet were made strong. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies."
(Hebrews 11:1-10,32-34 The Inspirational Study Bible)

It was by faith my friend climbed her way out of a deep depression.
It was by faith a sweet couple in Charleston conceived, not one, but two little darlings when the doctor said there was no way.
It was by faith a mom & dad refused to abort their unborn child as advised by doctors because of severe deformities. The child was born healthy and normal.
It was by faith a young woman was able to let her daddy die in peace, knowing that she would see him again one day.
It was by faith that, out of nowhere, a totally perfect job came to a man in a totally imperfect job market.
It was by faith my son dared to love again.

It was by faith...

"But dear friends, use your most holy faith to build yourselves up, praying in the Holy spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the Lord Jesus Christ with His mercy to give you life forever." (Jude 20,21 ~ The Inspirational Study Bible)

Father, Although the walk of faith is difficult at times, its footing is always sure. Your Word fails not. Your promises are true. And Your power? Your power is astonishing! Help us to dare to believe that You are Who You say You are. Give us courage to walk this walk of faith, enjoying each blessing, each kiss of favor, each miracle - big and small. We love You, Lord.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Heart Set On Pilgrimage

"How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young - even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools of blessing. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.

"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed."
(Psalm 84:1-9)

The words to this lovely Psalm settled my restless spirit this morning. It is my prayer that you will experience the same.

We are on a pilgrimage.
At times we are in the Valley of Weeping.
At times we find ourselves in pools of blessing.
But, always, we are on a pilgrimage.

Set your eyes on the dwelling place of God. Respond to the longing in your heart, the wooing of the Holy Spirit calling you to rest beneath the shadow of His wings.

And journey there...without looking back.

Father, I sense that someone needs to read these words this morning in order to not give up. Strengthen this, Your Child. Lead them to Your love, Your Light in their darkness. Hold them, Father. Let them hear Your heartbeat beating for them. Thank You, Lord. I love You.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Unveiling of a Heart

"Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power..."
(Ephesians 1:15-19)

A dear friend recently shared this scripture with me. Judy is a true example of a faithful prayer warrior. When this servant of God is asked to pray for someone, she often uses Ephesians 1 as a guide, especially when she doesn't know what or how to pray for the individual. Let's take a closer look.

The Apostle Paul begins with thanksgiving as he prays.
Thanksgiving and praise settles the heart, focuses the mind and leads the intercessor into the Presence of God.

And then Paul prays that the child of God will receive "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling.

What does this mean? I think the best explanation is found in my Spirit Filled Life Bible commentary, "Paul says he prays for people to receive 'the spirit of wisdom and revelation', with the dual objective of their knowing Christ and understanding God's purpose and power in their lives. Such 'revelation' refers to an unveiling of our hearts that we may receive insight into the way God's Word is intended to work in our lives."

Woo-Hoo! Doesn't that make sense out of a complicated scripture?

Knowing Christ and gaining an understanding of God's purpose and power in our lives...How? Through an unveiling of our hearts so we can see how God's Word is meant to work in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for.

This reminds me of, "Open our eyes that we might see." Sound familiar? I pray this often for my Morning Glory readers, but now I have a visual for this powerful prayer. I can see a heart covered - concealed - blinded - by a veil that casts it into confusion and darkness because it cannot receive and understand the Lord's guidance and instruction. Perhaps the veil occurred because of stress, worry, anxiety or depression. Maybe anger, heartbreak or disappointment. Whatever the cause, the veiled heart cannot see the Lord's footsteps or hear His gentle voice and therefore it is difficult to walk in faith. But when the power of prayer removes the veil, wisdom and revelation and insight will follow.

Want to know what else follows a veil being removed through prayer? The child of God begins to realize the "exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe."

Yes, the child of God begins to truly know God and the very essence of Who He is.

Father, this is glorious. Thank You for prompting Judy to share this scripture with me. I love the image of the veiled heart. This happens so easily to us, yet it blinds and confuses us as we seek to walk in Your ways. Remind us as we pray that it all begins with the heart condition. When the heart condition is right before You, when the veil is removed, we become enlightened with wisdom, revelation and insight. Help us to remember this, Lord. Thank You.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day by Day

"May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day."
(1 Kings 8:57-61)

Following Solomon's prayer of dedication for the temple, he stood and blessed the children of God, exhorting them in their covenant relationship with Jehovah God.

I love Solomon's statement, "And may these words of mine (his prayer) be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of his each day requires."

"...that He may maintain the cause of His servant, as each day may require..."

This makes me think of the Lord's grace - His unmerited favor, undeserved blessing.

And this, in turn, makes me think of 2 Corinthians 12:9, "And Jesus said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

"...that He may maintain the cause of His servant, as each day may require..."

God's grace is sufficient IF we will only rely upon it. He has a purpose - a cause - for each of us, and He knows that it is only by His grace that we can accomplish the task before us. Our Father keeps our prayers and supplications near to His heart day and night so that He might uphold, preserve and sustain His children.

He delights in giving us favor.
He delights in revealing His power.
He delights in "parting the Red Sea", if necessary, for His child to achieve his/her dreams.

Solomon concludes with, "Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day." (verse 61)

I love the wording used here: "LET your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God..." Walk blameless before Him. Be at peace with Him by walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments.

Do you remember this song from the 70s?

Day by day.
Day by day.
O dear Lord, three things I pray:
To love you more dearly,
To see you more clearly,
Follow You more nearly,
Day by day.

I believe this is a contemporary expression of Solomon's sentiment.

Perhaps this should be our theme song for the New Year...that He may maintain the cause of His servant as each day requires.

Bless You, Father! I so appreciate the fact that You are with us always, working in us, strengthening us...pouring out Your grace upon us so that we might accomplish Your purposes. You are wonderful, Lord. You are faithful, mighty and lovely to behold. You keep moving us forward toward the goal of Your high calling and for that we are grateful

Sunday, January 9, 2011

With Hands Spread Up Towards Heaven

"Whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows of the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart you know (for you alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), that they may fear (reverence) You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers."
(1 Kings 8:38-40)

This is an excerpt from Solomon's prayer as he dedicated the newly rebuilt temple. I was struck by the similarities found in the New Testament concerning prayer, supplication and forgiveness. Solomon is dedicating a temple - a building - to the glory of God. We, the Body of Christ, are now that temple - the dwelling place for the Spirit of God.

I would like for you to read this scripture again, but consider your heart as the temple that may need to be dedicated. That's something to think about, isn't it?

I absolutely love the imagery Solomon uses in his prayer: "...when each one knows of the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place..."

"the plague of his own heart..."

Wow!! Isn't that what sin feels like? When we allow our relationship with our Heavenly Father to suffer, doesn't it feel like a plague? A plague of the heart?

Webster's dictionary defines plague as "a disastrous evil or affliction, to cause worry or distress which hampers or burdens, to disturb or annoy persistently." Yes, that is what a heart hardened by sin experiences - distress, worry, persistent annoyance, a disastrous influence of evil...Solomon's imagery paints a clear picture.

This puts words to what I experienced recently (I wrote about it a few days ago, "The Lord Has Rolled Up His Sleeves!") when I allowed my relationship with the Lord to take backseat. I wasn't participating in "blatant" sin, however I grieved the Holy Spirit just the same - maybe more, because I allowed my spirit to be overcome with the stress of life, rather than turn to my Comforter. And yes, it felt just like a plague!!

But, God, in His love and faithfulness heard me from heaven, examined the heart of His child and forgave, transformed and restored this transparent heart. He removed the plague and replaced it with His love, joy and peace. And He will do the same for you.

At the end of this chapter we are given another glimpse of powerful imagery: "And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven." (verse 54)

Solomon had been kneeling on his knees before the Lord with his hands spread up to heaven...think about this. Allow your mind's eye to see this holy moment. Can you feel the humility, the reverence?

May we never forget the glory and majesty of our God.

Father, Help us to see this image of Solomon kneeling humbly before You. Help us to understand the deadly threat sin is to our spirit - a plague. Wow, Lord, that says it all. Forgive us. Cleanse us and restore a right spirit within us. We desire to love You with a whole heart, completely, purely. We want to see Jesus. Bless Your Holy Name!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lord Most High is Awesome!

"Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth."
(Psalm 47:1,2)

"For the Lord Most High is awesome!"

Now THAT is reason to clap and shout!
THAT is a reason to celebrate!

I found some interesting information about the word clap. Its Hebrew translation is taqa' (tah-kah) meaning clatter, clang, sound, blow (trumpets) and strike. Taqa' is used often in the Bible with "strike" being the truest definition and "sound" being a strong possibility.

Okay. Here's the part that got my attention: "Taqa' describes pitching a tent or fastening a nail, probably due to the striking of the hammer used for both tasks." (Spirit-Filled Life Bible commentary).

Oh my goodness. My imagination is now going wild and, perhaps, I am taking some literary liberty here but, please consider my thoughts.

When I saw the phrase, "pitching a tent" I was immediately reminded of the "tent of meeting" - the Tabernacle in the wilderness which was the dwelling place of God.
The Tabernacle was mobile, traveling throughout the wilderness with the children of God. At each new location. this holy tent had to be assembled - pitched, if you will. This was done with great anticipation because the completed assembly assured the Presence of God within their midst.

Imagine the Tabernacle workers striking the stakes that held everything together.
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Each strike bringing the children of God closer to His Presence.

We know that God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3)
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Each resounding note of praise bringing us closer to His Presence.

Perhaps, symbolically, we are pitching the tent of meeting where God can dwell in our midst. Do you agree? Our praise is not just an emotional display; it has purpose. Our praise establishes a holy environment necessary for a Holy God's Presence.

So, clap your hands all you people! Pitch the tent where your awesome God can dwell in your midst.

For He is the great King over all the earth and worthy of our praise.

Lord, this is wonderful! The concept of taqa' makes perfect sense to me. Oh, how we love to dwell in Your Presence. Thank you, Father.

Friday, January 7, 2011

This Is The Day The Lord Has Made!

"I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."
(Psalm 118:21-24)

Are you singing that familiar tune yet?

This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made!
We will rejoice, we will rejoice and be glad in it
And be glad in it!!

I have sung this song for years, but not until today, did I realize its literal meaning.

The psalmist is rejoicing in the day of salvation
- the day of salvation which the Lord has made! It is by "the Lord's doing" that Jesus, the living stone of the temple, has been made the chief cornerstone - the foundation, the pivotal piece for the dwelling place of God - the Body of Christ.

Don't you love it?

The day of salvation - unto ALL generations - to all who will believe...THIS is the day the Lord has made by "His own doing" - by His own plan.

I will rejoice and be glad in it for it is marvelous in my eyes!

Thank You, Father! Thank you for the day of our salvation, for Your plan to unite us as one with You. I pray we will never take it for granted; that we will always consider the sacrifice made and for what purpose. It is unimaginable to us that the Creator of the Universe dwells in us...all because of Your plan. We rejoice in Your love. Praise You, Lord!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Think On These Things

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
(Philippians 4:8)

As a young Christian I heard a fantastic message on this scripture and now, more than 35 years later, I still try to apply its principles.

Our thought life is crucial to our walk with Jesus
. There are many scriptures that address this: "For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) "...bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) "My thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8)

There are others, but the point is this: the thoughts that we entertain matter...a lot! I believe this is because, although our spirit is sealed in the Holy Spirit, our mind is very susceptible and vulnerable to the fiery darts of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16). This is where he can defeat us.

But what a wonderful tool our Father has given us! He instructs us on how to focus our thoughts so as to be pleasing to Him. His instructions establish the way in which we should walk, resulting in a journey of faith and victory.

Philippians 4:8 is tucked away in a chapter where the Apostle Paul is exhorting the Believers in the Church at Philippi to be strong in the Lord, not wavering, but pressing forward. I love the way Max Lucado's Inspirational Study Bible reads:

"Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:5-9)

Amen? Amen.

Think on these things.

Father, what a wonderful message you have given us. Now, if we can just get our flesh to line up with our spirit's desire to please You and walk in Your ways. That's the hard part. It's so much easier to have a pity party!! But, Lord, You promise that nothing is too difficult for You. So, I am asking that You make this scripture a reality in our lives. That as soon as we start having negative thoughts You will cause Philippians 4:8 to pop in our heads and then give us the courage to act on it. Lord, Your ways are perfect. Thank You for teaching us how to defeat our enemy. You are wonderful, Lord.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Not Woolen Blankets & A Sling Shot?

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
(Matthew 2:10,11)

Have you ever wondered why the wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh?
Why didn't they bring woolen blankets or a sling shot?

It is safe to say that God does NOTHING by happenstance.
Everything has purpose - meaning. His plan of salvation was carefully orchestrated - He left no stone unturned. The details are mind-boggling.

Well, listen to this.

According to Matthew Henry, in Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary, each gift was specific to the nature of Christ. "They offered Him gold, as a King, paying Him tribute; frankincense, as God, for they honored God with the sweet aroma of incense in the tabernacle; and myrrh, as a Man that should die, for myrrh was used for embalming dead bodies."

Isn't that fascinating? These gifts further established Jesus as the Christ - the Messiah. I wonder what Mary & Joseph thought as the wise men brought these particular gifts?

Matthew Henry said something else that I found interesting.
When the wise men came into Jerusalem they asked, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2) These men came with great anticipation to worship the newborn King. They probably came expecting to "find all of Jerusalem worshiping at the feet of this new King; but no man can give them any information." We know that the news of their inquiry eventually reached Herod who quickly sought to deceive them.

I had never thought of this before.

The wise men had traveled far to worship the newborn King, but the people right there in His midst were not aware of His Presence - they could not tell the wise men how to find Jesus.

How sad. How many of us cannot direct others to Jesus? How many of us are in His midst and don't even realize it?

I know, OUCH! But I believe the Lord wants us to consider this. Our world is in need of a Savior and we know Him. Let's make sure that we are not selfish with this knowledge nor are we complacent about His Presence.

In this New Year, let's work hard to bring Him our gifts that acknowledge Him as King, Almighty God and Risen Lord.

In this New Year let's come to worship Him with great anticipation and show others the way.

Father, Thank You for once again giving us new insight into Your Word! It truly is living and sharper than a two-edged sword, changing us, restoring us and making us more like You. We offer our gifts to You. We desire to lead others to You, to show them the way to their King. I pray that Your perfect love would cast away all fear that would prevent us from speaking up on Your behalf. You are the Lord, the risen Savior and we belong to You. Thank You, Father. Thank You for Your love and for Your mercy. Stir up Your Spirit within us to worship You more. Praise, honor and glory be unto You!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lord Has Rolled Up His Sleeves!

"Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
(Isaiah 52:9,10)

This scripture is addressing Jerusalem - the people of God - who have been held in captivity by Babylon. They have been greatly influenced by pagan worship, sorcery and idolatry. Primarily, the Israelites have forgotten who they are - the covenant people of the Great I AM.

And now, God is going to take His people back from their enemies.

I would like for you to consider something for a moment: Are there waste places in your life? Are there areas that you have come in bondage to, perhaps allowed to take precedence over your relationship with the Lord?

I have.

I have allowed the complexities of life to bombard me, rob me of my joy, steal away the Light that I hold so dear. I have allowed the enemy to penetrate and cause me to forget who I am in Christ.

But I cried out to God.
And others cried out on my behalf.

And this morning God said, "Break forth into joy and sing, you waste places of Nan, for the Lord has comforted you and redeemed you. Nan, I have rolled up my sleeves to fight for you and take you back from the enemy."

God has rolled up His sleeves for me and for you.
That's what the phrase, "The Lord has made bare His holy arm" means! Can you see that mighty image? Our Father God loves us so completely - so powerfully - that He fights passionately to uphold, preserve and sustain His children.

Praise His Name!

Beloved, are you like me? Have you forgotten to drink from the fountain of Living Water? Have you become complacent with the most important relationship in your life - that of the Lord your God?

Then confess your sin to Him.
Cry out for deliverance from the clutches of the evil one.

And fall on your knees in thanksgiving and praise.

Father, I do praise You! Thank you for Your faithfulness to hear the cry of Your children. Thank You for Your faithfulness to deliver us from the snare of the fowler, to set us upon Your high places where we are safe under the shadow of Your wing. You are a mighty God, a powerful warrior. Your love is amazing. Thank You, Lord.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Whose Reflection is in Your Eye?

"Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings."
(Psalm 17:8)

The apple of Your eye...I have always loved this concept. As a young girl, family friends often told me that I was the apple of my Daddy's eye. I didn't fully understand what that meant, but I knew these words warmed my heart with the knowledge of my Daddy's love.

I think of my Daddy when I hear these words.
King David thought of his Father, also.

You see, I believe David knew the Lord his God as a father
- intimately, honestly, with a pure heart and love. Pure? Yes. Not because he was free of sin, but because he daily bared his soul before his Heavenly Father. David did not play games with his faith.

I have learned that apple of your eye means, little man of the eye. In Hebrew it is written Ishone Bat ayin. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians & Jews explained this beautifully in a recent Holy Land Moments devotion. He said, "The apple of your eye or, the little man of the eye, refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils. To be the apple of someone's eye clearly means that you are being gazed upon and watched closely by that person. Your very image is dancing in the eyes of that person!"

Isn't that precious? Can you imagine walking so close with God, the Father, that your reflection is found upon the pupil of His eye as He watches closely over His child? How comforting and reassuring this image is!

Oh. I just thought of something. If we walk closely with the Lord and gaze upon HIM, can others see His reflection in OUR eyes? Hmmm...I think so.

Now, that is food for thought.

Father, keep us as the apple of Your eye. Hold our hand as we walk closely with You, as we seek Your face and look into Your lovely eyes. Your love is amazing. Open our hearts to understand You as a Father. A father's love is unconditional, protective, honest and true. Help us be aware of Your Presence in a much deeper way. We desire to love You more, to know You more. We desire to walk humbly with our God. Bless You, Father!