Thursday, December 1, 2011

His Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30 CEV If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. 29 Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. 30 This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.

This past week, I saw this passage in a devotional of some sort and I don't want to try and reiterate it without giving credit. Instead, I recognize that the Lord is speaking to me about His yoke because I read it again in my morning scripture time. Many times when I hear something more than once within a short time I see that I must pay attention because apparently I didn't get it the first time.
This morning as I read the scripture, it came with a new light. My family had a very difficult decision before us a few months ago to move to another town and accept a new job for my husband. We had several options at the time and wanted not just do the most lucrative thing, but what God was telling us to do. It is not an easy thing to make a decision of this magnitude. My response was to rest in Him. I immersed myself in worship and the word and just tried to remain in His presence through the whole process. In the end, our whole family was in unity about the decision and He gave us peace. Even though we liked a few of the other options, we knew in our hearts that we were doing His will.
In that experience I saw the fulfillment of Matthew 11:28-30. Without making little of the decision we were to make, I would say it was easier to give Jesus the decision burden than it is now to give him the labor burden. We are preparing our house to sell and packing for our move in just over 2 weeks and I am overwhelmed. Not just with work, but emotion of the work.
This is the only home my children have ever known. As a child I moved frequently and I've lived here for essentially 14 years. I've grown in our church family and in many ways, they know me more than my birth family. I love our kids' school and friends and community. I've invested my heart into the prayers for transformation of this area. There are many reasons that sound good to stay, but I trust that we made the right decision.
Now the work I must do physically to sell our home and move is before me. Actually, I've kept at a good pace and that in itself should not be overwhelming. I caught a nasty virus that has ailed me for about 10 days now and a few days, I was so drained that a walk across my house tired me and I would fall asleep wherever I ended up. During the height of my cold, I didn't read the Bible, I didn't turn on any music or sing, I just slept and survived.
It is beginning to sound like I'm blogging to complain about my woes, but if that is all that is conveyed, I've messed up or the reader has missed the point. The last few paragraphs explain all that I have taken upon myself. I've given Christ some of my burdens. The rest I've had recently was exhausted rest and not rest in Him. I am seeing as of this morning that God wants me to give all of these woes to Him. It is my burden that He has offered to share. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Lately I've believed a lie that I don't have time to devote to Kingdom things because I have a lot of physical preparations to make. Oh I have time alright, and I've wasted a bunch of it on other things. The "stress reliever" game that I play on my phone is not a burden reliever. Even as I felt compelled to share this revelation on a blog this morning, my mind told me that I don't have time to devote to this, but I would at least get it started. As soon as I opened the blog, my phone rang to postpone one of my morning obligations. Even typing or writing in a journal about His revelation is time meditating on Him and giving Him the burdens. If I give Him my time, He will give me the time I need to complete each task ahead without the weightiness it formerly had.

Matthew 6:25-26 CEV I tell you not to worry about your life. Don't worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn't life more than food or clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don't plant or harvest. They don't even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth more than birds?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Lesson from My Garden

John 15:1-2 GNB I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit.

As my tomato plants began to grow, I was able to watch them and trim back some of the branches. I know that the pruning process is beneficial for plants and this really helped with early production of tomatoes. Once the plants began to produce, I held off the trimming. Hot temperatures and little rain slowed everything down and I didn't follow up with the pruning.
When we returned from our vacation this summer I found a lot of itty bitty tomatoes on a few branches and the ones that didn't produce were trimmed again. I've been home for over a month now and haven't trimmed again. My plants are loaded with green tomatoes and the branches have run amok. I got so excited about the quantity of fruit that I neglected to concern myself with its quality. So far, the tomatoes that are ripening are only half the size they should be.
I have discovered that pruning must occur not only during the early growth phases, but in latter as well. I want to bear enduring fruit and good fruit. If I want my fruit to continue to grow to fullness, I need to carefully prune each branch or I will have to settle for tiny tomatoes that will fall off my sandwiches if I slice them. Then I ask if quantity is better than quality. Well I guess that depends on who you are or how you look at it. I would rather have 5 pounds of large tomatoes that are good to the taste than 5 pounds of tiny tomatoes that are have a weak taste and texture because of a lack of fullness. Fullness.
Jesus follows up with: John 15:8-9 GNB "My Father's glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples. 9 I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love." Much fruit, much fruit. Well that sounds like my tomato plants right now. They have much fruit. While the translation is not clear as to quality or quantity, I choose to believe that good fruit is His goal. If we are to show Father's glory by our fruit, I don't see it as being small and dull.
I see several situations right now where it seems as if the pruning is too much and sometimes it even seems as if good things are cut off. I needed to be reminded that God's glory is to be reflected in the fruit. So when I feel as though I've lost a valuable part of me like confidence and it was lopped off, I may then realize that it was really pride. He must become greater and I must become less. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Only Way

John 10:1-5 1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
There are many who cry out to God asking Him to save them, but they deny His son.  Jesus is the only way to the Father.  There is no other way.

John 10:6-9 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Life Hidden in Him

I remember hearing of David Wilkerson years ago and read The Cross and the Switchblade in my youth.  My heart grieves for his family and rejoices in his meeting Jesus face to face.  As far as I know, this man's face was not plastered over the covers of books, newspapers, magazines and television.  Oh sure he may have been on a magazine or two, but his name was not commercialized and yet his obedience to the Lord has rescued numbers beyond my imagination and impacted even more.  I've gone with my parents when the ministered at Teen Challenge and saw the transformation of lives.
Last night in prayer, I was challenged by the Lord about my motives.  When I clean the bathrooms at church, do I go about telling everyone what I've done?  If I do, I am lifting my own name up.  That doesn't do anything for anyone, not even me.  Jesus said that if He is lifted up He will draw all men unto Himself.  It's all about Jesus and His Kingdom.  David Wilkerson was so radically changed that He couldn't help but lift up the Name of the One who transformed his life.
It's all about a wedding to come.  There is a royal wedding about to take place and not the one in England.  It is the one where the Bridegroom King is coming for a pure and spotless bride.  The bride must lose her own identity to take on His name.  She will not only take on His name, but she will bear it in all ways.  Her former identity will be hidden in Him as they become one.  Are we ready?  Getting ready isn't just cramming for His appearing at the last moment, but changing our ways.  Until I change my ways, I am not truly changed.  I must die to self and hide myself in Him now.
Lord, may everything I do be as unto You!

David Wilkerson Killed in Car Crash

David Wilkerson Killed in Car Crash

Friday, April 1, 2011

Random Reflections

Genesis 27:34-36 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob ? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”
When we speak we are unable to take back our words.  Even when we speak in error, the words have left our mouths, so we must be mindful of our words.  In Esther, the kings decree had already gone out and could not be repealed.  They had to write another decree to have any hope.  My friend just shared with me this week about Jesus and the fig tree.  When He cursed the fig tree, it did not immediately shrivel up, but at the moment the words left His mouth, it was done.  The evidence came later.
I'm finding that there is merit in controlling my mouth.  Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.   This controlling of my mouth is from idle words, misplaced blessings and curses, foolish words, gossip, and other words.  The Lord has really been ministering to me and I'm finding that holding my tongue is often times better than if I were to speak.
What comes out of my mouth is obviously an issue, but the Lord has also been dealing with what I put into my mouth.  I have eaten without restraint.  It wasn't until I began to document what I should eat and compare it with what I do eat that I was amazed.  In just a few days of restraint on what goes in, I have lost weight.  I began limiting what I eat and making sure that it is nutritionally balanced.  The interesting thing is that I am satisfied with smaller portions when I get complete nutrition.  Obesity is not of God!  Even Daniel and his colleagues proved that eating right is good.  Instead of the "choicest" food from the king's table, they ate vegetables.  They proved wiser and surprised the king.  Wow, what goes in my mouth and what comes out of it both need to be bridled.
Another thing that has really been on my mind since I heard it was a comment from a wonderful Christian whom I believe is following God wholeheartedly.  The comment was something like, "Well, it has nothing to do with the ministry that God called me to do, so I really have nothing to do with it."  It was spoken in regard to another Christian entity.  I've heard similar comments before.  Isn't this His Kingdom?  Shouldn't we be in unity?  If your gift is evangelism, does that mean you pay no attention to the prophet?  If your gift is prophecy, does that mean you pay no attention to the gift of helps?  I remember when the previous pope passed away.  I am not catholic, but I felt compelled to pray for the incoming pope that God would place the right person in that position.  I shared this with a few other believers who share much of my understanding of the Bible and one of them made some comments that I don't remember clearly except that the tone was unkind.  They felt that the pope had little importance, possibly because he wasn't over our church.

Mark 9:38-41 38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,40 for whoever is not against us is for us.  41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly be rewarded.
Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through Him, and that is key.  If your church offers another option to go to heaven by some other means, then reexamine.  Jesus warns that there will be those who come claiming to be the messiah, and those are false messiah's.  If you are going in Jesus' name and knowing that He is the ONLY way, then you are considered the church.  When Jesus said that we are many parts, but one body, He wasn't just telling each congregation that they were a body, but the church as a whole is one body, His body.  If the only spiritual food we receive is from the pulpit on Sunday morning, open His Word and invest time into the knowledge of his Word.
Now what if a church/congregation/denomination is doing something morally wrong?  Unfortunately, that comes from the fall of man.  Man runs the church under God and man can be wrong.  We shouldn't send out bulk emails or run our mouths about the sin of another church.  In the book of Revelation, God speaks to 7 churches about their individual problems.  Apparently, He already knows about the problem.  Am I surprised?  No.  If I am not surprised that God knows and He is in control, then I shouldn't have reason to gossip about it in the form of a concern.  Neither should I discount the ministry of a megachurch or a small church or a certain type of ministry because of its category.  I should judge each by the Word of God and pray for issues that may come into the light.  My own church has had to make course corrections because we've done things wrong.  I pray that corrections happen across the body of Christ when mistakes are recognized. 
This leads to the final reflection for the day.  Even as I type this, I have people, and churches and examples in mind as I'm sure any reader may have.  This is not directed toward them.  God is changing my heart even today.  He has ministered to me in ways I have never before thought necessary.  He keeps asking, "Do you trust Me?"  Similar to when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  My answer is, "Of course."  He keeps asking me, though.  He then showed me that in the same way He is dealing with me, He is dealing with His bride.  I believe that this is a time of awakening for believers everywhere and it is not what I say or think about someone that will change them.  His kindness leads us to repentance.  He is dealing gently with each of us right now.  This is seriously important.  I have no idea the conversations that anyone else is having with God right now and I cannot presume to.  He has all things in His control.  My interjections are not going to change things for those I am concerned about.  My prayers, however, will.  If He gives me words, then I will go and speak, but my fired up opinions and words are like stones in my hand.
Father, guard my mouth.  Guide what I put into it and guard what comes out of it.  Guard my mind and my thoughts that they may be directed only toward you.  Help me to love your people.  Help me to not misrepresent Your word or think more highly of myself than I ought.  Help me to take my place in Your body and support the rest with my eyes open.  Help me to trust You to complete the works that you've began in all of us that You have called Your own.
In Jesus' Name,

Any scripture quoted here is from the TNIV c 2005

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Plank... really?

Matthew 7:1-4  1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person’s eye.
Usually when I feel upset, my first response is to call someone who will understand the situation.  I really am concerned for someone that I love and I call a mutual friend to get their take on the situation.  My flaw is easily seen in those 2 sentences.
Instead of making my first call to God in prayer, I contemplate the situation and run scenarios through my head.  I plan and scheme what I should do, then I call for a second opinion from a friend.  When I finally get around to talking with God, I get an answer that I am not always prepared for.
I appreciate this friend of mine because he speaks truth in love.  While we did rant a bit, he finally said to one of my comments: "You know that really is not any of our business."  Wow, that is true.  And, his first comments were, "I have noticed too and it bugs me, but I don't know what we should do.  All I can suggest is that we pray."  Right again!  We chatted for a while and then signed off.
I finally took the matter to the Lord.  He brought to my memory some of the answers that I recently received when inquiring about other situations recently.  On one hand, I learned that I am jealous of others.  OUCH!  I also heard that I need to take care of my own issues and He will take care of everyone else's personality issues just as He is taking care of mine.  Even as I made the recent phone call to discuss my "concern" for another, I kept hearing this song from a Bible Man DVD of my son's.  "I'm the Queen of Gossip."  I know people who are a lot worse than me in jealousy and gossiping and the other thing is that I really am concerned about my friend.
The point of this all is that I have not put my trust fully in God to handle certain situations in my life as well as those I love.  When I hung up the phone, I distinctly heard in my spirit, "why concern yourself with the speck in someone else's eye when you have a plank in your own."  You've got to be kidding me!  I surely don't have a plank in my eye, do I?  Apparently I do have a problem.  It is a trust problem.  He want's me to trust Him and I need to do just that.  There are some things that I need to just lift to Him.
I know that most of the things that I've been putting as major are just things.  Francesca Battistelli just released a new song called, "This is the stuff."  Really, this is a song that ministers to me in the midst of my stuff.  So I conclude with a portion of the lyrics.
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world
Oh Oh Oh

More lyrics:
All about Francesca Battistelli:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Missed Opportunities

I just started doing yet another time-wasting activity.  It is Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.  Today as I was playing the Lord showed me something that I often do in life.  I miss an opportunity for the best.  There are chances for me to let the game line up 5 + gems in a row which would be a great score, but I am busy trying to hope that my little line-up will amount to something.  I arrange what I think I can, to prepare for what could be and not what will be.  Shortly, something falls down on the other side and breaks up my plan and then I see where I should have been looking in the first place.
How many times do I make plans to do my own thing in life and miss out on the plans God has for me?  I try to make something work that isn't going to work no matter what I try.  Jesus didn't even do His own thing.  He waited and watched Father and did only what He saw Father doing.  He left His place of glory to dwell among man.  While He was fully God, he was also fully man.  A paradox I will not understand in this lifetime.  He could have tried to line things up differently as he prepared to go to the cross.  He KNEW that is what had to happen for me to see Father and He chose to go through with it.  His words in the garden were, "Not my will..."  That is amazing.  He chose to endure that temporary separation from the Godhead and even cried out, "why have You forsaken me?"  The torment of his flesh at that moment caused this cry even though He knew the truth.  He was following through with the plan He and Father and Holy Spirit devised from the beginning to redeem His beloved bride.  He never missed an opportunity to do Father's will.
Father is doing much in this day and in this time.  I don't want to miss it!  I don't want to lose out on an opportunity to bring glory to His name.  I have failed time and time again to do what is right because I was trying to line the wrong sequence up.  I want to be aligned in His ways and watch to see where He is moving.  One of the hardest things for me to do is say, "I will wait for You to move."  Not just that I would say that, but truly wait on Him.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Freely Give

Matthew 10:7-8   7 "As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."  Jesus shared this with His disciples just after calling them.  So many times I have heard this in my head or somewhere in a teaching.  The part I hear is freely you have received, so freely give.  I didn't give it much more thought.  I took it for a generosity scripture.  Jesus was commissioning His disciples to go out in His name.  The context is not just in possessions, but I'm sure that is not completely wrong to think of it in that light.  The items listed in vs 8 are signs and wonders.  Tell them the Kingdom is at hand and then go out them and perform miracles.  You have received them, so give them away.  
It is His desire that we follow Him and do what He does.  He did what He saw Father doing.  These verses tell the what while the following verses tell the how.  Jesus expected His disciples to succeed and He gave them a demonstration and a few chances to get it right.
This is something I've pondered into this night.  I've made up excuses of why this doesn't pertain to me today, but they are just excuses.  Again I say, "I am Yours, God.  Do with me as you wish."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inner Beauty

Jesus, you are beautiful!  We sing this line in many songs and using different phrases that mean the same thing.  I then hear the argument that "Jesus was nothing to look at."  If that is so, then why do we sing songs and say things about the beauty of the King?
The reason that one will say Jesus is not physically attractive comes from Isaiah's prophecy about Him.  Isaiah 53:2 CEV " Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, the servant grew up obeying the LORD. He wasn't some handsome king. Nothing about the way he looked made him attractive to us."  I have long struggled with this verse.  Jesus is the Son of God, how could he not be beautiful?  Isaiah 53 also goes on to describe his appearance at crucifixion.  I have wondered if verse 2 actually spoke of that day after he was beaten.  Today the context to me seems to point toward even as he grew up there was nothing attractive about him.  Regardless of how I take this scripture, Jesus explains something to His disciples that gives me a different level of understanding.
Pharisees accused Jesus of wrong-doing by not making his disciples do the ceremonial hand-washing before eating.  Jesus used the Word to rebuke them.  Tradition blinded them to truth.  Jesus quoted Isaiah, Matthew 15:8-9 NLT "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'"  They were more concerned about their ceremonies and show than with true worship.  The disciples didn't understand why Jesus said that to the pharisees.  They were still stuck on physical understanding and the outward appearance of godliness and not purity of heart.  Jesus then explained, Matthew 15:17-20 NLT "'Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.  But the words you speak come from the heart - that's what defiles you.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.  These are what defile you.  Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.'"
What does this have to do with Jesus being beautiful?  The list He gave in Matthew 15:19 is what makes one ugly.  They include: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander.  Jesus did none of these.  What was in his heart came out of his mouth.  Love flowed from Him.  Jesus even blessed the pure in heart.  Absolam was said to be physically beautiful.  Saul was said to be remarkable in appearance.  Jesus had a beautiful heart.  It was not defiled.  He went through temptation and stayed pure.
If I were to log all the words that come from my mouth, I am sure I would be ashamed.  I want to be beautiful.  I will never attain the physical beauty of a movie star or be asked to model the newest fashions, but I strive to be one that attracts people.  I don't desire for them to be attracted to me, but to Jesus in me so that they can delight in His love for them as much as I delight in it.  Guard my heart, Lord, and guard my lips.  I want to be beautiful on the inside.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Prayer for Our Government Leaders

Most Holy Heavenly Father,
We recognize You first and foremost as the Great King, The Mighty One, and Your  Son, Jesus, the Captain of the Hosts.  You have ALL authority in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  Through You and by You all things were created.  You said of Your Son that the government would be upon His shoulders and we stand now in agreement with Your WORD.  We recognize that it was no accident, and that this plan was Yours from the beginning of time.  All authority was put into place by Your appointment, authority and permission.  Now we lift up to You, those who You have called, “For such a time as this.”  We stand beside them now in intercession as Aaron and Hur; who stood beside Moses and held his weary arms up.  We lift them up knowing that You will give them supernatural strength to stand when they have nothing left to rely on but You.
Many are holding an office, Lord, for the first time after running on the principles and foundation that You alone placed within their spirits.  I pray that you line each official up with another who will keep them accountable to the direction that You set forth before time began.  Equip them to serve You, their leaders, each other, and those who depend on their service.  Open their ears to hear Your voice.  Open their minds to remember Your words.  Open their hearts to receive Your love.  Open their spirits to the awe of who You are.  With all of the voices that call out to them right now, give them the supernatural ability to focus on the voice of Truth.
Help them to pay attention to what You say, to turn their ears to Your words and not let them out of their sight and keep them in their hearts.  For Your words are life and health to them; to their whole bodies.  Above all else, show them how to guard their hearts.  Help them to make a covenant with their lips that no perversity or corrupt talk will come from their mouths.  Let their eyes be fixed on You.  Looking straight ahead may their eyes not wander when confronted with the vile and wicked things of this world.  Let them fix their gaze directly on You and keep their minds pure.
Be the light to their paths.  Shine brightly and keep their feet firmly planted in Your ways.  Let them choose each step with wisdom and when in doubt let them not forget to call upon Your name for direction and clarity of vision.  Let them not turn to the right or to the left, but straight ahead.  Keep their feet from evil.  Holy Spirit, come, be their caution.  Father, give them strength to follow through, to heed the caution of Your Spirit and boldly proceed in the calling, in the path that You have set before them.
Finally, Lord, I pray for Your abundant blessings upon them.  May they lift their eyes up to the mountains and know that is where their help comes from.  Their help comes from You, O Lord, and You alone.  They cannot finish this holy assignment without the Maker of heaven and earth.  Let them feel Your presence and know these truths.  You will not let their foot slip.  You who watch over them will not slumber.  You who watches over Israel will neither sleep nor slumber.  Let them feel Your presence and know these truths.  You watch over them and shade them at their right hand.  The sun will not harm them by day nor the moon by night.  Let them feel Your presence and know these truths.  You, O Lord, will keep them from all harm and watch over their lives.  You will watch over their coming and going from now until forever!  Sustain them with Your Word.
In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fish Rescued Jonah

Much of my growing up years, I lived with an understanding that God sent the fish to swallow Jonah as his punishment.  In Jonah 1:17 after Jonah was thrown into a raging sea and it grew calm the Word says, "Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and nights."  Jonah was right when he told those on the boat that the storm was his fault.  The sailors feared God when the storms calmed. 
I think they must have realized the storm was supernatural before Jonah "fessed up" anyhow because the lots were to find out who was responsible for the calamity.  As sailors, they must be able to read the sky and know when a storm pattern is brewing.  When this storm raged from no where and kept getting worse, they became desperate.  They didn't want to be responsible for Jonah's death and they tried to avoid throwing him in the sea, but God knew what He was doing.
Jonah 2:5-7 "The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.  To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.  But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.  When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple."
It even seems by the order of the text that Jonah didn't pray this prayer of thanks to God until he'd been in the fish for 3 days and nights.  The last phrase of the prayer is quoted and then verse 10 says the Lord commanded the fish to spit him out.
It is by God's providential hand that Jonah survived this ordeal and God put him in this ordeal.  It makes me wonder if Jonah pouted for 3 days and finally realized that God rescued him and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving.  I'm only thinking that because I see a pattern of him pouting. 
Regardless of why we experience the things we experience, whether it be rebellion, sin, or just God's sovereignty, we need to look to God for the answer.  Sometimes, the trouble we seem to experience is actually our salvation.  I've been there.  I hated a situation I was in, but if I never experienced it, I wouldn't have been able to come into the place I am right now.  God provided my discomfort to rescue me and I believe rescue my children. 
It's all in perspective.  I need to remember to pray for God to let me see from His perspective when I face what I face.  Unfortunately for me it usually takes me longer than 3 days to figure things out.
Romans 8: 28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Have you no shame?

Jeremiah 3:3b "Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame." 
As I read this yesterday, it really struck me as I am in a generation that no longer blushes.  We have become so hardened in our worldliness that we are beginning to not blush, and even those of us who are called by the name, Christian, are the ones whose actions are shameful.   I certainly have told my share of vulgar jokes and laughed at others' telling them.  My behavior has warranted Heavenly Father speaking to me in this tone as well.  When I join in unwholesome conversation with unbelievers, I in a sense am giving them permission to continue.  If I blush at their jokes, they will more likely feel conviction.
The context of the scripture is God's speaking to the nation of Israel as they have chased other gods.  It is interesting that He points out that those from other nations who worship other gods do not exchange their gods for another and yet Israel has the true God and turns from Him.  They dig broken cisterns when they have the spring of living water right in front of them.
God's plan for us is to be set apart and worship Him only.  He wants us to love Him which is the first and greatest command.  To show love to Him we must honor and obey His commands.  He has set us apart, so we must act like we belong to Him and not to the world.  He loves me enough to allow me to take His name in a relationship of betrothal.  I want to wear his name as His bride and not as one who would easily trade Him for a stone. 
Shame was not something intended for the Bride of Christ.  After creation, man was in the garden naked and unashamed.  A toddling child runs around without clothing and is not aware that it is inappropriate.  He must be taught that clothing is a standard.  Some children become embarrassed to kiss their parents in front of their friends as they grow older.  Some even begin to feel shame for their relationship with Jesus at a certain point.  Why, then does the Word say, "... and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame." in Romans 9:33 as well as several other places?  I believe the answer lies in context of time you live for.  If you live for today, you may be ashamed of simple things that really have no lasting merit.  If you live for eternity, and you hope in the Lord, you will not be put to shame. 
If my eyes remain fixed on the Bridegroom King, I will not indulge in shameful actions.  When I stand before my Maker in eternity, I will not have a life worthy of shame.  Even if I have committed shameful acts, He will wash away any shame if I ask Him too.  There will be no reason for me to hide my eyes as He embraces me in eternity.  When I live for eternity, the things that the world told me were shameful will melt away in the waves of His love for me.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jeremiah's Calling

There is a word that I've heard and have always had mixed emotions about.  The word is DESTINY.  When I am not doing what I know to be right, I often feel I am a failure and was never destined to do anything good because blah, blah, blah...  Other times I know that I am destined for good.  I know that I have a purpose and I've struggled most of my life to define who I am.  I've read back in past journals and found that I've asked that question over and over again.  I know that I have a purpose.  I know that I have a destiny!  If nothing else, I am destined to give God glory in one way or another.  So as I began reading Jeremiah a few days ago, I was stirred. 
Jeremiah 1:1-10 NIV The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.  The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
"Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.'  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you." declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.  Se, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
There is a lot in just those first 10 verses.  What I hear loud and clear is DESTINY.  It is funny because I am reminded of a quote from the movie Bolt by the hamster named, Rhino.  "Ring, ring! Who's there? Destiny? I've been expecting your call."  I've even jokingly said it a few times with my children when we play.  If you watch that movie, though, you will realize that Rhino wasn't sitting around waiting for the call.  He was actually chasing after the one who was his ultimate hero.  At the point of this quote, he was being called into a higher purpose.
In Jeremiah's case, he was not following a worldly icon, (god, idol) but was communing with Jehovah God.  He was called as a young man.  No matter his actual age, Jeremiah felt as though he were a child when God spoke to him.  Even if Jeremiah were a child at the time the word of the Lord came to him, he was first called before he was even conceived.  He was called as a prophet of the Lord, Most High. 
Jeremiah's first response to Sovereign Lord at first seemed whiny to me, but as I read it and consider it, I realize that it was a statement of humility.  He did not have confidence in himself.  This is a perfect place to be when called to a higher place.  Start with your head in a lower place.  If Jeremiah were eloquent in speech, he would have put his confidence in himself rather than continue to speak the words of the Lord.
The Lord gave him words to speak.  He reached out and touched his mouth.  This action reminds me of Isaiah 6 when Isaiah asks the seraph to touch the coal to his lips.  There are similarities in the commissioning of a different "sent one."  Most of the time our words are insufficient.  Sure we use a lot of them, but His words are perfect.
Because of his calling, response and obedience, Jeremiah was appointed over kingdoms and nations.  God already knew his character.  He already knew his response.  Is that why he had a destiny as such?  God knows all and this was just the beginning of a long time of ministry. 
God is still in the business of calling and appointing people over nations and over families and over churches.  How long has he been trying to have this conversation with me, with you?  Are we willing to put our head lower than our pride to allow his words to enter our lips for his glory?  If my destiny is just to walk through this life as a testimony of His glory and I obey, it will be enough.  I know He has more in store for me.  I suspect He has more in store for you, too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Were you born in a barn?

I've heard this question several times in my life.  Usually when one leaves the door open when entering a building, the question echos out.  We've just finished the season when many celebrate the Nativity.  My family watched 2 movies, "The Prince of Peace," an animated film and, "The Nativity Story."  Jesus was born in a barn.  I have been inspired by these stories.  The telling was a bit different in each film, just as any retelling of a historical event.  This year was like most and I really am overwhelmed by the whole sequence of events.  This year it is even more striking to me to hear that he was born in a "barn."
It wasn't enough that He became man, but He humbled himself to the lowest of lowly for mankind.  For our salvation He came!  He left the most glorified position.  He even mentioned it in the prayer to Father before His crucifixion. 
John 17:5 LITV  And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the existence of the world.
He gave all of it up to come and become like us.  To be humbled, to be spit upon, to be a sacrifice for our salvation.  His own people did not believe that He was/is the Messiah.  They had been waiting for Him.  Even scholars from the East knew that His coming was imminent and the heavens gave a sign.  It is much easier to believe that a young girl was promiscuous than that a virgin would give birth.  No one would believe today that she was a virgin, but at least she wouldn't likely be stoned to death which would have been her fate if Joseph had not believed and intervened. 
I am still blown away by the contrast and this remains in my spirit.  Jesus chose to leave splendor beyond my wildest imagination to be humbled lower than low and be born in a barn.  Why?  So that you and I can join Him in His glory in the end if we choose rightly!