Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Have Called You Friend

"For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end."
(Hebrews 3:14)

I have returned to this Scripture three times today and finally I said, "Okay, Lord. I give." Now, to find out what He wants to show us...

The first thing that jumps out at me is the 'if' word. I have studied the Scriptures long enough to know that this little word carries a lot of weight. What is its purpose in this verse? "For we have become partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end."

IF we hold - adhere to, cherish, cleave, cling to - our confidence in Christ, steadfast through ALL things, THEN it can be said that we have become PARTAKERS of Jesus Christ. IF!

Whew! That's a mouthful, but chew it slowly. This is a very important statement concerning us.

What does it mean to be a partaker of Christ? In Greek, the word for partakers is metochos (met-okh-oss) meaning "a participant, associate, partner, companion." To me, this screams relationship!

If we are to become a partaker of Christ we must realize that our faith is much more than a one-time experience. As glorious as our moment of salvation may have been, it doesn't stop there. There is so much more.

Becoming a partaker of Christ requires relationship.

It requires endurance.
It requires understanding that not only is He God of the mountaintop, but He is God in the valley, as well.

Becoming a partaker of Christ means loving and trusting Him, even though...

Steadfast. Unwavering faith.

And what is the reward? The reward is becoming a companion of Jesus, not just an acquaintance or benefactor, but a companion, a friend.

Jesus said, "I have called you friend." (John 15:15)

Imagine that...

Lord, This is such a precious Truth to take hold of. Above all, You desire relationship with us. You desire companionship, friendship. Wow!! I am humbled by this. I know that a friend loves at all times. That's the kind of friend I want to be for You. A faithful the end. Bless You, Lord.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arise. Cross Over Your Jordan

"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying: 'Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them - the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.'"
(Joshua 1:1-3)

Moses has died and now God is commissioning Joshua, Moses' assistant, to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Can you imagine what Joshua must have been feeling? Can you imagine the thoughts running rampant through his mind as he considers what the Lord requires of him?

Whoo-eeee!! I would have been shaking in my boots and, like Moses, I can see myself arguing with God about His selection of personnel for this enormous task.

But look at how God speaks to Joshua. See if you can hear His Father's voice. I can almost see the Lord placing His arm around Joshua's shoulder as they walk together. The Lord says, "Joshua, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land I am giving you."

"...go over this Jordan..."

This is interesting. The Jordan River is typically about 100 feet wide. It is calm, shallow and very easy to cross. But, in the spring it swells to almost a mile in width and becomes a raging torrent!

This raging torrent is what Joshua is seeing. But God, in my imagination, says, "Joshua. This is nothing. Come, go over this Jordan. I am with you. Do not be afraid. Trust Me. You have to cross over - get to the other side - in order to enter your Promised Land."

And then God tells Joshua, "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses."

The Hebrew word for tread is darach (dah-rahch) which "suggests a more forceful activity than walking" (The Spirit-Filled Life Bible commentary). It is thought that marching most accurately describes darach - treading. When I think of marching I immediately think of soldiers marching into battle.

The Promised Land didn't come easy to Joshua and the Israelites.
The Promised Land doesn't come easily to us either.

But do you see what the Lord is saying? He says, "March! You've got your marching orders, now march! Every place the sole of your foot will tread upon (as you march) I have given you.'

Not, "WILL give you."
Not, "MIGHT give you."

God says, "I HAVE given you."

God fights our battles - He goes before us in victory. I think we need to approach the path He has for us as a soldier - not meandering, not tip-toeing through the tulips, but MARCHING - intentionally going forth - knowing that we have been made more than conquerors through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Knowing that we are not alone. And knowing that we have a job to do.

Would you do me a favor? Close your eyes and imagine the Lord placing His arm around your shoulder and walking with you to the edge of your Jordan. Can you hear Him speaking to you? "Arise. Come go over this Jordan"

I'll pray for you if you'll pray for me. That Jordan still looks a little scary...

Lord, You are so awesome. Thank You for showing us Your Father's heart. We need courage, Lord, to conquer the land You have given us. Help us get that mindset - the one that tells us the battle has been won, the land HAS been given to us. I ask for Your perfect love that casts away all fear. You tell us that it is "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit". Make that a reality in us, Lord. Help us to walk in that Truth. Thank You, Lord.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dwelling Between His Shoulders

"The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; and he shall dwell between His shoulders."
(Deuteronomy 33:12)

I love that word.
The beloved of the Lord is you.
The beloved of the Lord is me.

I needed to hear those words today. I have felt restless and irritable - not very sanctified, to say the least.

And then I read the sweet words of God, "The beloved of the Lord..."

Beloved. Adored, cherished...dearly loved.

Because we are His beloved, we have the honor of dwelling safely in Him beneath His shelter, His refuge...His hiding place. Oh, thank you Lord! I especially love His hiding place. Do you suppose His hiding place could be "between His shoulders?" These words immediately bring to mind the picture we often see of Jesus carrying the baby lamb wrapped around His shoulders, safe and secure and loved - dearly loved - held in the Shepherd's arms.

Or perhaps "dwelling between His shoulders" is referring to the heart of God. What a lovely thought. Isn't that where we hold our loved ones? In our hearts? Just imagine, if only for a moment, the love God has for you, His child. The Scripture tells us His love is from everlasting to everlasting. His love does not fail. It reaches to the highest heavens and stoops to the lowest valleys to embrace His children. God's love is amazing.

The beloved of the Lord. Adored, cherished...dearly loved.

What a blessed thought.

Lord, I love you. Thank You for Your love. I know that we cannot begin to contain it, to express it adequately, but thank You, Lord. I find great comfort in Your love. I find great comfort in Your hiding place. Is it between Your shoulders? In Your heart? That's where I keep my love for You. Praise You, Father

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Aspire to Lead a Quiet Life

"That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing."
(1 Thessalonians 4:11,12)

"That you also aspire to lead a quiet life..."

Someone I have come to admire in the literary world spoke of this verse in his blog a day or so ago. His name is Chip MacGregor, agent extraordinaire. I have never met him in person, but I know I have seen a glimpse of his heart as I study his blog for writers each week. Chip is a very busy man - busy and successful. The world might say, "A self-made man."

And yet he humbled himself before El Elyon, the God Most High, and recognized God's voice calling to him through the quagmire of endless days.

"That you also aspire to lead a quiet life..."

A quiet life.
These are the words the Holy Spirit impressed on Chip.
And these are the words Chip responded to. He is listening as the Lord reshapes his focus. He is allowing the Lord to fine-tune the purpose of his life's work.

I admire Chip for this.

My own spirit echoes the call for quietness. Not idleness. Certainly not a life laced with laziness and complacency.

A quiet life.
A focused life.
A life reflecting the love of God to a world that knows Him not.

"In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Lord, thank You for people in my life like Chip. He has honored you with his obedience. I desire to do the same, Lord. I desire for my life to reflect Your love, Your peace and Your grace. I am so thankful that Chip's words screamed out at me, that You got my attention through someone I admire. Bless him, Lord. And bless my readers as each of us listens for Your gentle whisper hidden beneath layers of noise in our souls. Open our ears that we might hear Your wisdom, your direction and the assurance of Your Presence in our lives. Bless You, Father.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Breaking the Chains That Bind

"For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. I will set My tabernacle (My dwelling place) among you and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I AM the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright."
(Leviticus 26:9,11-13)

I love the imagery found in the last sentence: "I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright."

Can you see it? It is the slave set free! The chains of bondage broken by the power of Almighty God!

And the child of God? God's precious child walks upright, no longer bent over by the unbearable burdens of the world. Why? How can this be? Because our Father God has looked favorably upon us. He has entered into COVENANT with us - eternal relationship - because of His love. Why oh WHY would we want to go back to Egypt, the land of bondage, our life before Christ? Why?! We all struggle with this. Before now, we may not have understood it in terms of Egypt and Moses and God's deliverance. But, metaphorically, it is the same. Egypt calls to us from our past.

But, dear one, God has set us free!! No longer are we slaves to a fallen world. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His promises made to His children in Leviticus are available to us today. We have been grafted in to the seed of Abraham through the Blood of Jesus.

Do you feel overwhelmed?
Do you feel as though you will suffocate from the stress of today's world?
Do past sins still haunt you and cast their stone of guilt on your new-found freedom?

Beloved, you have been set free by the Blood of Jesus
. He has clothed you in the robe of righteousness, the garment of praise so that sin, no more, can have its evil way with you. You are in Covenant with Almighty God - you and the Lord belong to one another.

You need only to walk in His love. Take God's hand and walk upright in the power of the Holy Spirit. Walk upright in the knowledge that you are a child of the Most High God. You ARE somebody!! Not because of who you are but because of Whose you are.

And see the image of the chains that bind you, the yoke that burdens you, falling away and setting you free.

All because of Love.

Lord, You are awesome! Your love and Your power continues to amaze me as I consider Your ways. Thank You for making a way for Your children to walk in freedom. Forgive us for the times we are tempted to return to Egypt because of the deception in our hearts. How could we so easily forget the goodness of the Lord? How could we think that chains of bondage are better than the freedom we have in Christ? Father, forgive us! Forgive us for hurting You and for not appreciating Your freedom. We love You, Lord. Your longsuffering means a lot to us!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is Hidden He Brings Forth to Light

"He overturns the mountains at the roots. He cuts out channels in the rocks, and His eye sees every precious thing. He dams up the streams from trickling; What is hidden He brings forth to light."
(Job 28:9-11)

"What is hidden He brings forth to light."

As I read these powerful words I couldn't help but think about the many ways God removes obstacles in our path in order to fulfill His purposes.

Think about it.

"He overturns the mountains at the roots (or the base)."
The MOUNTAINS! Are you facing a mountain of debt? A mountain of bitterness? Maybe your mountain looks like years of self-doubt and fear.

God takes that mountain and overturns it at its root cause.

Our Father cuts out "channels in the rocks" that obstruct our journey.
How do you suppose He does that? I believe it must be by His Living Water. After all, the Grand Canyon was carved by a river!

But it must be a steady flow.

His Living Water must be constant in our lives.
When we drink of God's Living Water - Jesus - and we do so with consistency and fervor - a path, or channel, is carved out that keeps us traveling on that straight and narrow way.

What is the next sentence? "And He sees every precious thing." Every PRECIOUS thing! He sees the obstacles, the barriers. He sees our hearts, He knows our thoughts and the things that bind us. He KNOWS what keeps us from becoming a dynamic force for Him.

And sometimes, "He dams up the streams from trickling." Why? Why would God dam up a stream in our life? Maybe because it is only "trickling" as a stream rather that flowing as a river. Hmmm...Maybe He brings that little trickle to a halt so He can get our attention. His Word says, "What is hidden He brings forth to light."

Sometimes we have a hidden secret or attitude or fear that is blocking the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We may think it is only a "grain of sand" but, that one grain can collect another and another and suddenly, there are sticks and stones lodged in that sand, preventing the flow of God. Our river becomes a trickle.

And God says, "Hold it! We are going to remove that tiny piece of hidden sand that started this entire obstruction. I am going to shine my Light on your darkness, remove the clog so that you, dear child, can flow like a mighty rushing river carrying My life and love to a hurting world."

And THAT is the love of God!

Praise Him!

Bless You, Father. How we love the righteous work You perform within us - not necessarily the process of righteousness, but definitely the end result. You are loving and kind, merciful and compassionate. Thank You for seeing who we really are when we cannot see past the failures and inadequacies. Help us to surrender our fears to You as You expose our "clogs" to Your Light. We desire to surge and swirl and flow endlessly with Your love and purpose.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is Anyone Out There Hungry?

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from the days of eternity."
(Micah 5:2)

Isn't this awesome? Seven centuries before the birth of Christ, Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. I love it!

I was curious about the word, Ephrathah, which is attached to the name, Bethlehem. I learned that it names a place comparable to what we would call the county in which a town is found. So, in a contemporary world it would read Bethlehem, in the "county" of Ephrathah. Interesting, isn't it? Who knew?

Now the REALLY good part!

Do you know what Bethlehem means? It means, "House of Bread". What an appropriate name for the birthplace of the "Bread of Life", Jesus!

God thinks of everything, doesn't He?

In John 6:48 & 51, Jesus says, "I am the Bread of Life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

In the book of John, Jesus used the saying, "I am", seven times. "I am the Bread of Life" was the first.

Consider it this way, "I AM the Bread of Life."

Remember? God revealed Himself to Moses as "I AM WHO I AM" as His covenant Name. "I AM whatever you need me to be." Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant with the Great I AM!

Jesus, the Bread of Life - the life-sustainer for all who believe - was born in Bethlehem, the "House of Bread." Do you think there is a message here? Yes! To believe in Jesus means to partake of Him. "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." I don't think the Lord is referring to a "warm a pew on Sunday" kind of faith. We are to be CONSUMED with Him.

Listen to the words my Roget's Thesaurus associates with partake: "be a party to, be in on, be into, consume, devour, engage, enter into, feed, get in the act, ingest, participate, savor, take part in."

Jesus said, "I AM the Bread of Life." And to think, He came from the "House of Bread"!

Is anyone out there hungry?

Lord, You are fascinating! Thank You for continuing to show us Your mysteries, Your complexities. I absolutely love to see the pieces of the puzzle come together. How truly amazing You are. The longer I serve You, the sweeter You grow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

But By Grace

"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
(James 5:19,20)

Several thoughts come to mind as I consider this verse, not the least of which is why does the Lord want me to write about this particular verse. Hmmm...

First, I sense a strong fragrance of love - God's love for the one who has wandered. I feel His heartbreak for His wayward child.

I also sense grace
and immediately the verse that comes to mind is, "But, by the grace of God, go I." I try to live by this verse. It keeps me centered, and reminds me that we all fall short of God's grace.

I found an interesting definition of the word, "sinner". The Greek word used in this verse for sinner is hamartolos (ham-ar-toe-loss) meaning "a traveler leaving the familiar road and taking twisted paths that cause him to lose his way."

Isn't that sad? I know people who have left the familiar road and lost their way. This definition gives me the image of my friend or loved one lost in a dark wood, surrounded by dangers, alone...forgotten. It is by God's grace that I haven't done the same from time to time.

It's by God's grace that, perhaps, you haven't either.

We are to be compassionate toward our brothers and sisters who stray, not judgmental, not critical. Certainly, not gossips. But, we also need to realize that this is serious business. We are talking about someone who is separated from God because of their sin. They have left the intimate relationship of their Savior. They have wandered off the familiar path and are probably living their worst nightmare.

Galatians 6:1 reads "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual RESTORE such a one IN A SPIRIT OF GENTLENESS, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Let us be about our Father's business of reconciliation.
Listen to His sweet whisper leading us to show kindness to someone we deem unlovely.
Help a fallen brother or sister realize that they are, indeed, worthy of God's love.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind, but now I see.

May we never forget how lonely and frightening the twisted paths away from the familiar road feel. Reach out your hand and bring your brother or sister home.

Lord, Open our ears to hear your voice, our hearts to sense Your Spirit's leading. It is so easy to stray and so easy to judge the one that does. But Father, You long for Your wayward child to come home to Your embrace. Show us how to love them back into the Kingdom. Remind us of how we felt when we were chained to our sins. And remind us of the grace you extended to us in our time of need. You are precious, Lord.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Walkin' the Talk

"For all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God forever and ever."
(Micah 4:5)

What a glorious declaration! "BUT WE will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever!"

What is the alternative? Walking in the name of another god. Or, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Now that's an interesting thought for another day...

What does it mean to walk in the Name of the Lord?
It means we identify ourselves with Him. It means we represent Him to our world. Like my father-in-law used to say, "You might be the only Bible someone else will ever read." How true!

When we walk through this world as a Christian, not only is OUR reputation on the line, more importantly, the Lord's reputation is at stake. He depends on us to represent Him correctly. That is a tall order, one we cannot achieve in our own strength. But.

BUT, His grace is sufficient.
BUT, the power of God transforms us, as we yield to Him.
BUT, as we choose to put on the garment of Salvation, we choose to put on Christ.

Colossians 2:6 reads, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him."

1 John 2:6 reads, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

And lastly, Colossians 1:10, "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

We must walk worthy of Him.
We must walk in a manner that pleases Him.
We must bear much fruit in all we do.
We must increase in our knowledge of Him.

And then, we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God forever.

Lord, this is a tall order. Help us to understand that "it is not I that lives, but Christ that lives in me." There is no way we can walk in perfection. In fact, you don't require that of us. But, You do expect us to take our relationship with You seriously and to not play the religious games that ensnare us. Set us free, Lord. Set us free to worship You. Set us free to love You in a way that walking in Your Name becomes second nature. You have given us an honor - a duty. Lord, cause us to be worthy of such a high calling.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And Yet He Remains Faithful

"Even when they (the Israelites) made a molded calf for themselves, and said, 'This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt,' and worked great provocations, yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness, the pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell."
(Nehemiah 9:18)

As I pondered these words, I became overwhelmed with thoughts of the mercy of God. How easily His children let Him down - His ancient people as well as us. We blatantly disobey Him. We disappoint Him with our attitudes. We speak unkind words, think despicable thoughts or become selfish with the gifts He has given us.

Yet He remains faithful.

"Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, and said, 'This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt..." Even THEN, the Lord did not forsake them in their wilderness. Unbelievable.

"His mercy is new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord our Father!"

I think we forget to consider the heart of God.
We tend to keep Him distant, sitting on His royal throne surrounded by Cherubim. And certainly this image correctly represents the holiness and majesty of God.

But, we have learned that another aspect of the Lord's character is that of our Heavenly Father. Imagine how hurt He must have felt when the Israelites made that calf and declared that IT was the god that delivered them from Egypt. That must have broken His heart. What about the times we asked Him for the impossible and He provided, only to find out that we were too busy to thank Him? Remember, the Bible clearly tells us that He experiences anger, jealousy, love. God is the creator of emotions. Obviously, He feels the things that we do.

When it comes right down to it, I don't believe any of us would intentionally HURT the Lord. But, I don't think we typically think of our behavior in these terms.

Am I correct? I think it is far too easy to think of God as intangible - as a concept or someTHING, rather than SOMEONE.

I think the first step in making change is becoming aware.

Ask the Lord to open your eyes that you might see.
Ask Him to open your heart to love Him more.

Lord, forgive us for taking You for granted, for not considering how our decisions impact You. You are not a God of distance, untouched by the human experience. You dwell within us. You love us as a Father - with hopes and dreams, expectations and boundaries. Help us in our quest to make You personal, to make You our all in all. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glory is Just Around the Corner

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
(1 Peter 4:12,13)

I don't know where we ever got the idea that becoming a Christian means life suddenly becomes a bed of roses, a field of dancing lavender or a powder puff of luxurious comfort. I know, I'm being dramatic, but I want to make a point.

Without a doubt, life with Jesus is precious, transforming, secure. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But that does not mean life is suddenly easy. It is COMPLETE - but not easy.

If you think about it, all the folks in the Bible that we ceremoniously place on pedestals as perfect individuals, ALL faced difficulties in their lives.

Yet they knew the Lord their God.
They trusted the Lord their God.
And they believed the Lord their God.

And the focus of their journey was to get to the Promised Land.

Through their trials, God revealed Himself to them
. He parted the Red Sea by holding back gargantuan walls of water to allow safe passage. He killed a giant with a mere stone...He loosed Paul's prison chains with an earthquake and, as a result, a jailer was saved along with his family.

In the fire we learn Who God is
. We gain an understanding of the suffering Jesus endured for us. We discover an intimacy and a trust in our relationship with Him as He reaches out to comfort, to shelter or deliver us.

In our trials, we begin to understand His faithfulness.

AND, we begin to see life through new eyes. We begin to use new concepts like "eternal purposes". We begin to see things through the lens of eternity. And suddenly we realize that our days are but a twinkle in God's eye. He is preparing us to live in the Light of His glory and love forever! And forever!!

I love the way The Message translates 1 Peter 4:12,13 ~ "Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner."

I am looking forward to that glory part! I can only imagine...

Lord, if we could only see life through Your eyes. We are so consumed with the here and now, and You are consumed with the forever and ever! I am thankful that You take delight in caring for us. You do not want us to worry about what we will eat and drink and wear. But, ideally, You want us to spend eternity with You. That is what concerns You more than anything. Now that I am beginning to understand this, I think it is awesome. Such love! Such grace! Thank You Father. I love You.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Name!

"O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your Name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!"
(Psalm 8:1)

Lord, how EXCELLENT is Your Name!

The Name of the Lord represents His character, His power - the essence of Who He is.

The Hebrew word for name is shem (shem), meaning "name, renown, fame, memorial, character." The Name of the Lord is SO important that His Name, Yahweh (Lord) is often referred to by the Jews as ha-shem, or The Name!

This intrigues me.

Do you see how powerful this is? We could refer to the Lord as hashem, meaning The Name, and its meaning would embody Who our God is and what we need Him to be at that moment. We must not take The Name of the Lord lightly! Whichever Name He reveals to us at any given moment is vital to understanding Who He is.

In Genesis 13:4, "Abram CALLED on the Name of the Lord."

When Moses was speaking to the Israelites about obedience versus disobedience, he very clearly said, "...that you may fear this glorious and awesome Name, THE LORD YOUR GOD." (Deuteronomy 28:58, the Lord capitalized it, not me.)

Consider some of these Names of the Lord:

El Shaddai - The All-sufficient One
El Elyon - The God Most High
El Olam - The Everlasting God
Adonai - Master
Jehovah-Jireh - The Lord Will Provide
Elohim - The Creator
El Roi - The God Who Sees
Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord Who Heals

And my all time favorite, "I AM THAT I AM"; "I AM everything you need Me to be."

Is our God magnificent, or what?

Just to speak The Name - hashem...

O Lord our Lord how EXCELLENT is Your Name!

Adonai, Your Name truly is excellent! It is to be exalted above all the earth! Your Name is a tower where we can run and be safe. It is THE Name - hashem - above all names. We love You, Lord. Thank You for opening our eyes that we might see. Praise You, Father!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grab a Shovel & Start Digging

"I will declare the decree; The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.'"
(Psalm 2:7,8)

By now, you know how much I love finding Old Testament scriptures that directly supports a New Testament verse. This passage does just that!

Psalm 2 is considered a Messianic Psalm, meaning it proclaims the coming Messiah. Several times, this Psalm is referred to from a New Testament scripture depicting the life of Christ. God's plan of salvation did not deviate. The Old Testament prophets foretold Jesus long before He arrived. I hope to stir up fascination in you as we take a closer look at the wonder of it all.

The first New Testament verse fulfilling the statements made in Psalm 2 is Matthew 3:17, "And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, 'This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.'" These words were spoken by God as John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Notice, these SAME words were spoken by God in Psalm 2 in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

"You are My Son, today I have begotten You..."

Here's another example.

Psalm 2:8 reads, "Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession."

This verse will lead us to the Great Commission (by way of cross-references), but before we go there, you might want to read John 17. The first few words in Psalm 2:8 are, "Ask of Me..." In John 17, that is exactly what Jesus did.

The Great commission is found in Matthew 28:18,19, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'"

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on eart
h..." Sound familiar? Yes, that is what God said in Psalm 2!

And one more...

Daniel 7:13,14: "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."

Wow!! This was a prophetic dream about the Messiah, about His authority, given to Daniel (in the Old Testament!). Do you see how everything lines up? I absolutely love the complexities of God's Word!

Do you know how I came across all of these corresponding Scriptures? By cross-referencing. In the margins of your Bible you will find listings of other Scriptures pertaining to the one you are reading. Turn to that corresponding verse and most likely it will lead you to another. It's kind of like planting an assortment of bulbs in the fall to see their glory in the spring. They are planted in layers, especially when you want a sweep of magnificent color.

The Scriptures are like that, too. When you start digging, you will discover layers of God's Word, all working together for a beautiful sweep of His glory.

Line upon line. Precept upon precept.

What are you waiting for, friend? Grab a shovel and start digging.

God is waiting for you...

Lord, thank You for revealing Your mysteries to us. You want us to KNOW You. You want us to be established in our faith. You want us to hunger and thirst after Your Word. Stir our spirits within us. You, alone, are God. May we never forget that or take it for granted. Your Word is our inheritance. Your Word leads us to Your glory. Bless You, Father!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is There a Better Way to Start the Day?

"The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green pastures, He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength. He leads me on paths that are right for the good of His Name. Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid, because You are with me. Your rod and your walking stick comfort me.

You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil on my head; You fill my cup to overflowing. Surely Your goodness and love will be with me all my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."
(Psalm 23, the Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado)

I threw you a curve, didn't I? I did it on purpose.

I venture to say that Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved Scriptures ever written. It is filled with comforting words of protection and provision. It is filled with the promises of God.

But, it is WAY too familiar
, I know, because I am also guilty of treating it as something mundane, not intentionally, BUT Psalm 23 quickly flows from our lips by rote. We glaze over it like we are reciting the alphabet. We lose its power, its love.

We lose its reflection of Almighty God.

That's why I copied it from Max Lucado. I wanted to rock your world and cause you to really think about these beautiful words. I wanted each of us to consider the Truths found here the next time we find ourselves PROUDLY saying these words from memory. (Oooo, there's that self-righteousness again.)

Can you think of a better way to start the day?

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need..."

Lord, You are so patient and kind with us. Did I mention longsuffering? Forgive us for taking Your awesome Word for granted. I pray that you would help us break the curse of "familiarity" and pour excitement into our bones as we consider Your Word. Thank You for Your Word, Lord. You are mighty and worthy of our praise!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

But Now My Eye Sees You

"Then Job answered the Lord and said: 'I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?" Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, "I will question you, and you shall answer Me." I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.'"
(Job 42:1-5)

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You."

Let's read that again, maybe out loud this time.

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW MY EYE SEES YOU!"

Oh my goodness! Job's heart-knowledge of God has been born of his sufferings! Although he knew of the Almighty, believed in the Almighty, walked "blameless and upright, feared God and shunned evil" (Job 1:1), Job's knowledge had come from others, by "the hearing of the ear", if you will. But NOW, at the end of his intense trial of suffering, Job says, "now my eye sees You" (verse 5).

Job now has personal knowledge - personal revelation - of the majesty, the sovereignty, the actual REALITY of El Shaddai, God Almighty! Job has obtained heart-knowledge - faith, faith that is more precious than gold.

What allowed Job's suffering to produce personal revelation? He engaged the Lord God throughout his ordeal. He questioned God, some might say Job challenged God. I believe Job trusted God enough to be honest with Him. Job didn't play the religious games. He didn't promote his own self-righteousness.

Job presented his arguments before the Lord (Isaiah 41:21) and then he humbled himself and waited for God to reveal His purposes to him.

I don't like suffering anymore than the next person, but I have learned not to be consumed by the hard times.

Suffering has taught me Who God is.
Suffering has caused me to run and hide beneath the shadow of His Wing.
Suffering has taught me how powerful God is and how powerful I am not.

Through very difficult times, I have begun to understand the mysteries of God.

Many of you are suffering. I know this. Realize that you have been given an opportunity to KNOW the Lord God intimately! How many people can say that? Could it be that He knew your heart so well, He knew that you would choose to love Him, regardless of the pain? Ask Him to help you find His Light in the darkness. Ask Him to comfort you - not generically, "Oh dear God, please be with me..." No! He IS with you. Ask Him to allow you to know His Presence, to FEEL His embrace!

Ask Him to open your eyes to see His lovely face.

Praise You, Father! This is such an important lesson. Thank You for the powerful insights You have given me through my darkest moments. I am so thankful that You have revealed Yourself to me in such personal ways. Lord, there are no words to express my gratitude for this. I ask You to grant glimpses of Your nature to my friends who seek You. Teach them to look for Your treasure. Awaken their hearts to know You more. You are awesome, Lord. You are beautiful beyond description.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Longing For Zion in a Foreign Land

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!' How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? If I forget you O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth - if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy."
(Psalm 137:1-6)

The subtitle for this Psalm is "Longing for Zion in a Foreign land." This spoke to me deeply this morning - not because I'm having a bad day. Not because I'm upset about anything. No, it spoke to my SPIRIT as I imagine it will speak to you.

We are living in difficult days, perilous times. Our faith is on the line. God is calling His children to a deeper level of trust and knowledge.

And there are times that I feel like I am a foreigner - a sojourner - in this world. I suppose that's a good thing because God's Word teaches us that we are to be IN this world, but not OF this world. I am thankful that I know the God Who holds me in the palm of His hand. I am thankful that He knows me by name.

But nevertheless, life on this earth can be very challenging. We can feel like a prisoner in our own skin, as our spirits yearn to be free.

Let us be mindful of Zion,
our true home. No matter how overwhelmed we may be, no matter how frustrated or fearful, anxious or even giddy with joy, let us never forget Zion, our forever home.

The Psalmist says in verse 6, "If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth - if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy."

Set your mind on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Long for that day when we shall gather around His throne, singing His praise face to glorious face.

Set your mind on things above.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus...come.

Yes, Lord, come quickly. We long to see You face to face. We long to worship You in spirit and truth for the rest of our days, the days which are too many to number. You have clothed us in Righteousness, bathed us in the Blood of the Lamb. You have filled us with Your Holy Spirit. Make us mindful of You. Awaken our spirits to love You more and to anticipate the Day when You come to take Your children home. Oh what a glorious day that will be!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Carried On His Wings of Love

"He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him."
(Deuteronomy 32:10-12)

These verses are found in the Song of Moses, written and sung by the Israelites as a witness of their understanding of the covenant they held with Almighty God. Verse 10 begins with, "He found him in a desert land..." When put in context, Moses is saying, "God found him (Jacob or Israel) in a desert land."

God found Israel in a desert land, a wasteland, a howling wilderness.

God found US in a desert land, a wasteland, a howling wilderness!

Think of your life before your salvation. Did you live in chaos, confusion...maybe fear?

The original Hebrew word for wasteland is tohu (toh-hoo) meaning "a formless, chaotic mess, a waste, a worthless thing, for no purpose, for nothing...sheer emptiness."

WOW!! Does that describe your heart before you knew Jesus? It does mine. I never went through outward rebellion like many of my friends, but I was a mess on the inside - tohu. I had no self-esteem. I was painfully shy and I was scared of my own shadow! I felt sheer emptiness.

But then I met Jesus and my little world began to change.

Like Israel, God found me there in my wilderness. He circled me, gave me instruction and has kept me as the apple of His eye.

Just like Israel, my Heavenly Father has nurtured me as an eagle cares for its young. He has committed Himself to me, carrying me upon His wings, as I grow toward maturity in my faith.

Isn't this a lovely picture? Take time to picture yourself in His nest, nestled, cared for and, when its time, carried upon His wings of love.

Now, THAT'S a picture!

Lord, I love You and I love the imagery You have given me from the Song of Moses. It is beautiful. Thank you for finding me worthy to receive Your love. Bless You, Father.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our God is an Awesome God!

"And God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.'"

"Then the Lord said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.'"
(Genesis 6:13 & Genesis 7:1)

These two verses are the perfect illustration of how the different Names of God represent His many attributes. I hope to clarify this concept for you and stir up excitement about the richness of God's Word.

Okay, here we go. Same story; two different Names for God.

In Genesis 6:13 the Hebrew Name for God is Elohim, "And Elohim said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come...'"

Elohim refers to God's justice
. It literally means "The Creator." As Creator, Elohim is Sovereign over all the universe. Think of it this way, "The scope of His rule not only includes the entire physical universe, but it exceeds it. He existed before all creation, He expands beyond it, and by virtue of having begotten it, He encompasses all that it is." (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible) >Elohim is the King of His creation. All power and authority comes from Him.

Elohim's creation had become a mess - a land of corruption and lawlessness - and there was nothing for a Holy God to do except destroy it. Make no mistake, God will not be mocked.

But now, look at at Genesis 7:1, "Then the Lord said to Noah..." The Hebrew word for Lord is Adonai which reflects His mercy. "Then Adonai said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household...'"

Do you see the contrast? Elohim was used to demonstrate God's authority, but Adonai was used as the flooding began and Noah and his family were tucked away safely in the ark. Adonai reflects God's compassion in the midst of His wrath.

David expresses this sentiment beautifully in Psalm 103:11-14, "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 has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."

What do you think made the difference for Noah and his family? Yes, God saw them as righteous before Him. The blood of Jesus makes US righteous before Elohim. His blood places us in covenant with the Lord God. Adonai covers us with His feathers during the storms. He saves His children from impending doom.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him."

Our God is an awesome God, the King of Creation!

Elohim, we recognize Your power and Your authority. We understand Your justice but, goodness, are we thankful for Your mercy! Your compassion never fails for Your children. You created us Lord. You know our frame and remember that we are dust. Thank You, Lord. You never cease to amaze me. Thank you for teaching us about Who You are.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God Cannot Deny Himself

"This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
(2 Timothy 2:11-13)

I think this is SO interesting. This passage is contained in a letter to Timothy, written by the Apostle Paul. Paul is teaching Timothy that as a soldier of the cross, suffering - trials - can be expected, but future glory can be greatly anticipated, also!

This particular "faithful saying" found in 2 Timothy is from a hymn sung by the early New Testament Church. That, in itself, thrills me. Knowing that Believers 2000 years ago sang these words to our Lord, just like we do today...WOW!! Can you see that picture? I love it!! We have a rich, RICH heritage!

Now, consider this...

Pay attention to how the words are juxtaposed:
We die - we shall live.
We endure - we shall reign.
We deny Him - He will deny us.

But, look at the last statement. Suddenly the rhythm changes, the core message shifts. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." (verse13)

There is no give and take here. God will remain faithful, no matter what. He MUST remain faithful because His Word - the Word that represents Him in totality, the Word that IS Him - His WORD proclaims His faithfulness.

Numbers 23:19 reads, 'God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"

Our God cannot lie.
Our God is faithful.
Our God will never leave us nor forsake us.

On this you can depend.

Father God, I could never thank You enough for Your faithfulness. I learned a long time ago that I could depend on You to keep Your Word. I appreciate it so very much. I ask You to show Yourself strong in the lives and hearts of my friends who hunger and thirst after You. Open their eyes that they might see and their ears that they might hear Your whispers of love and peace. We praise You, Lord.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Therefore Know That Your God is God

"Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God Who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments."
(Deuteronomy 7:9)

I was thinking today about how faithful my God is, how I've learned to trust Him and place my hope in Him. I looked up the word "faithful" in my concordance and was immediately drawn to this beautiful verse in Deuteronomy 7:9. What is it really saying?

Therefore KNOW that YOUR God IS God.
Therefore KNOW that He is faithful.
Therefore KNOW that He keeps His covenant and is merciful to those who love Him.

Mercy - chesed (cheh-sed) means unfailing love, tenderness, faithfulness.

Those words comfort me enormously. I love to think of the tenderness of my God, His unfailing love and faithfulness. I think the key to understanding His mercy and faithfulness is found in KNOWING Him.

This requires spending time with Him, studying His Word, giving Him praise.

It also requires learning to take God at His Word - daring to Believe Him! Our Father loves to show His power to His children. He delights in giving us the desires of our heart. He is the Creator of the entire universe, and yet He knows you by name! Amazing!!

But this level of faith requires relationship.
KNOWING born of relationship.

And to KNOW Him is to love Him.

Amen? Amen.


Lord, I do love You. Thank You for loving me and for giving me knowledge of Your covenant and mercy. You amaze me Lord at how tender You are and yet how incredibly powerful and mighty You can be. Thank You for being my God. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus, Who makes our relationship possible. I am forever grateful, Lord.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Remember This...

"Remember this, and be men, take courage; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I AM God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning and from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
(Isaiah 46:8-10 (NIV)

The Lord is speaking to the people of Israel, reprimanding them for considering the idols of Babylon as objects of worship.

How easily their hearts deceived them.
How easily their sin of idolatry beset them.
How easily WE fall into the same trap.

Our God is a jealous God.
He wants to be number one in our lives - our first love. Our gods may not be named Baal, but believe me we are tempted to serve other gods (idols) as much as God's ancient people. It is the same struggle. The two idols I wrestle with the most are named food and television. I am constantly aware of their seductive whispers to control me.

Take a moment and consider those things that consume your heart and your time.

The Lord says to us, "Take courage and remember the former things I have done for you."

Remember His faithfulness when you needed provision.
Remember His tenderness when you were hurting.
Remember His power when the enemy sought to destroy you.

Remember that He is El Elyon, the God Most High and there is none other like Him.

Lord God, You are the One True God, the Great I AM!! My spirit renounces the idols in my life, but my flesh - my wretched flesh - struggles to rid myself of their power. Set me free to worship You, and You alone. I love You, Lord. I desire to be all that I can be for You. Strengthen me in these areas of my life. Give me victory through the power of Your Holy Spirit living within me. Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Know Jesus is to Know God

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
(Matthew 13:45,46)

This parable is nestled in a series of parables Jesus used to teach the mysteries of God. But, before we explore the parable of the Pearl of Great price, as it is called, I wanted to share something I had not noticed before.

Did you know that Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables to fulfill an Old Testament scripture? I KNOW! I didn't either.

Matthew 13:34 & 35 tells us that Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 'I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.' (Psalm 78:2)

And then in verse 36, "Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house, and His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable..."

I had never realized that some of these parables were given in an intimate setting with His disciples. I love that!!

Jesus wants us to come to Him for understanding. James 1:5 says, let him who lacks wisdom ask of God and He will give it to you liberally. We only need to ask Him. I often pray, "Lord, open my ears that I might hear and my eyes that I might see." And then I sit quietly before Him listening, looking at His written Word.

So, The kingdom of God is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who found the perfect pearl, the one of great price. When he found this pearl, there was no need to keep searching. It held such value that the merchant sold everything he had in order to buy it. He found a great treasure - and he knew it!

Jesus is the perfect pearl - He holds all the mysteries of God.
To know Jesus is to know God.

I love what the cross-reference over to Proverbs 2:1-5 says, "My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her (wisdom - a pearl of great price) as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."

Seek and you will find.
There is no greater treasure than the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Him, all the mysteries of God are made known.

Lord, Open my ears that I might hear and open my eyes that I might see!! I want to know You more Lord. I don't want to wait to get to heaven to understand the depth of Your love. I want to gain understanding and wisdom now. Help me to unravel Your mysteries. Help me to hunger and thirst after Your Word, to search for the hidden treasures. You are awesome Lord. I love You.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Dwelling Place of God

"Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture (in Isaiah 28:16), 'Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes in Him will by no means be put to shame.'
1 Peter 2:4-9)

These words present such a beautiful visual for the Body of Christ. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, His Tabernacle, built of living stones! We are a holy priesthood, set apart to minister to our Lord.

No longer are daily blood sacrifices needed for the atonement of sin. Jesus' death on the cross, His shed blood, offers us atonement once and for all - we need only to believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Because of Jesus we can approach the throne of God boldly. He is our Righteousness.

So what are the acceptable spiritual sacrifices Peter is referring to that we, as the priesthood, are to offer up to God through Jesus? There are many aspects of our lives that we can offer to God as a sacrifice, but let's consider two.

The first one that comes to mind is praise. We are taught to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Have you ever thanked the Lord and worshiped Him even though your heart was breaking or your world was falling apart? THAT was a sacrifice of praise.

What about an offering of faith? Have you ever prayed and believed and believed and prayed about something with fervency only to have a totally different outcome than what you expected? Afterward, did you humbly say, "Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord"? THAT is a sacrificial offering of faith.

Such offerings are holy and acceptable to the Lord.
We glorify Him with our sacrifices.

Picture yourself as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Understand the honor you have of ministering to the Lord, serving Him with your whole heart.

I love the description found in Ephesians 2:19-22, "Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

A dwelling place of God. Just imagine...

Lord, this concept is so far beyond our comprehension. Please open our eyes that we might see the wonder of this Truth...You, the Creator of the Universe, the Lord Most High dwell in us!! The same power that raised Christ from the dead, that same power -the Spirit of God - dwells in us!! Unbelievable. I think if we took hold of this Truth in the way You intend, we would be set free from the chains that still try to hold us back. We would understand the completeness we find in You. Make us aware of the things in our lives that you desire as an offering - a sacrifice - holy and acceptable to You. Thank You, Lord.