Sunday, October 31, 2010

Be Happy

“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil — this is the gift of God.“ Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NIV

Christianity is a joyful way of life. People who have not studied the Bible, do not seem to get this concept. God wants us to be happy—to experience joy. But notice what it says next in the above scripture. We are to do good and find satisfaction in our work. Since the concepts of work and happiness are so closely tied together in this passage, one has to assume they go together. God did not make us to sit back and be served by others. He did not plan for us to retire to our easy chair or to pursue a life of personal pleasure. We are to roll up our sleeves and get busy working. It is God’s gift to us to enjoy our efforts earning a living and serving others.

I no longer have a paid career. But I have work nevertheless. I am maintaining my home and caring for my mother-in-law. The care of my mother-in-law is quite confining and at times very labor intensive. But I am not finding her care a burden. God has given me this task, and he is giving me joy as I perform it. I do not understand how God does it, but he can make even the most onerous tasks palatable if they are tasks he has assigned.

So no matter the desirability of the work, if God has given it to you, take joy in it.

Lord, thank you for giving me productive work and for the joy of knowing I am performing it well.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


It is too much! I cannot go on! I cannot do this! I have reached the end of my rope! These are the comments which come out of my mouth when the stress has become too much. I vent. Often my words are unkind and self-serving. God has been convicting me of my sin--not only for putting too much emphasis on the wrong things in my life but also for my responses to stress. I have been working on techniques to get my emotions back on an even keel in a manner which is pleasing to my Lord and Savior.

1. My first response to difficulty is to do something. I want to make it better—to fix it. I barge forward with what I think should be done. My ideas are usually good but my methodology is wrong-minded. I think people should see and understand things the way I see and understand things. When they do not, anger can start to set in. Often I have buried anger and let others not jumping on board be the trigger to let it loose. If anger is not in the picture, then I fret over what might happen. God has tailor-made a verse for me. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:7-9 NIV) I am learning to stop and pray first. It is much more productive. It calms my need to do something. It slows me down so I can see the correct God-given response.

2. Sometimes I try the escapist route. I grab a fiction book I have been wanting to read, fix a pot or coffee, and head to the basement where I will not be bothered. I just want to be away from people. At times like these, it is a good idea for me to get away from people because my patience is nonexistent and a good book is a wonderful way to escape, but the better way I have found is to grab my Bible and do as Jesus did. “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12 NIV) Giving my concerns and frustrations to God is so much better than a cup of coffee and a fiction book.

3. When life seems to be pressing in on me but nothing is really that bad, I turn to nature. I sit on my deck taking in the birds, squirrels, and flowers in the yard. I go to a local nature trail and relax as I walk through the trees and prairie grasses. Or I head for some water and fish. I love to rig up the fly rod and calmly cast the fly. I revel in the thrill of catching a gorgeous trout or bass and the joy of turning it back into the water to swim to safety. God has made nature for us to enjoy and preserve. “God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:28,31 NIV)

When life has been moving on at a hectic pace and things have not been going as I desired, the very best way for me to calm myself is to bathe myself in God. God is shaping me. I used to always turn to myself when my life situation was causing me stress. Now I am learning to turn to God and it works. I do that in several ways. Each method I use has a place and a time for when it is most appropriate.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:1-2 NIV

So if I truly want to have peace and calm during the times of turmoil, I must turn to God first.

Lord, make me aware of the times I try to solve life stressors using my meager human skills. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, show me your way.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Does My Speech Say?

Have you ever spent one full day examining everything you said? I tried it because I have become convicted by the teaching in God’s Word that states what comes out of our mouths is an accurate reflection of what is in our hearts.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV

So today I paid close attention to everything that came out of my mouth. Today was selected for this little experiment because I was not as busy as I usually am. Most of what I said was okay. Some of it was actually thoughtful and kind. But some of it sounded a bit selfish. Some of it was a bit impatient.

I was not so shocked at what came out of my mouth as I was surprised with what I censored. I did not say the blatantly self-serving impatient thoughts. That is good. But if I had these thoughts on a relatively relaxed day when I am paying close attention to my speech, I wonder what I am saying a hectic day when I am not concentrating on the quality of my comments. What is of greater concern is my heart condition. Why am I having selfish-insensitive thoughts?

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8 NIV

So I cannot tame my tongue because my heart is not totally given over to God. My words and thoughts are uncontrollable as long as I try to monitor and manipulate them using my power. My selfish, sinful nature will not allow that. But the creator of all things can give me the power through the Holy Spirit to change my heart. The dissatisfaction, insecurity, and selfishness can only be eradicated by the miraculous surgical skills on the condition of my heart by my Lord and Savior.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

So what does my speech say about how much of my heart is given over to my Lord and Savior?

Lord, pour your peace out into my heart. Mold it like the potter molds a fine vessel. Make it so I do not have to censor my speech—so that my unguarded speech is as full of your love and caring as my closely monitored speech.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who Is In Control?

I like to be in control. It makes me feel safe when I am calling the shots for I will do only what is good for me. Right? Well maybe not. I do seem to have a problem saying “no” to chocolate or ice cream. As a result I am carrying a few extra pounds and my triglycerides are a bit high. My circulatory system is being compromised because of my insisting on control of my eating. In addition, eating as I please may affect how well my mind functions because of damage caused by strokes caused by high blood pressure.

Okay. Okay. So I know I do not always behave myself when I am in control. Caring for my invalid mother-in-law has caused me to rethink some of my eating and exercise habits. This is the third night I have spent in the hospital with her. Even though I know my current behaviors can have an effect on my future functioning, it seems so far off. Surely I will have at least twenty more years of healthy living. Or maybe not.

I had my annual mammogram Thursday and received a call which said they had found something suspicious. They wanted a repeat mammogram using a more sophisticated machine. My first thought was that I cannot have cancer now. Ray’s mom is living with us and requires twenty-four hour care. My mom depends on me for transportation, running a myriad of errands, and companionship. My great-niece spends her after school time at our house. I cannot be seriously sick. Or can I?

Those were the thoughts which run through my head. I reassured Ray that this is precautionary and that I did not have a diagnosis. But the fear of being out of control of my body was real. Both of us prayed. Ray prayed that it was a malfunction of the equipment or an inaccurate reading of the image. I prayed that God cure me and just remove the growth. I contacted a trusted friend who is a breast cancer survivor and asked her to pray that the images today would show no disease.

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12 NIV

Today they took four images of the area where the suspected growth was located. NOTHING. I have no way of knowing if God answered Ray’s prayer or mine. Or maybe God chose to answer the prayers of my friend. The result is the same. I do not have the dreaded disease. What I do know is that it is an answer to fervent prayer.

Every since the call Friday telling me I needed to have another more definitive mammogram, I have been hearing from God that he is in control, not me. God wants me to rest in his peace and follow his lead. I am to stop barging ahead as if I am indispensable and indestructible. Those are qualities of God, not me. This scare was a notice from God that I need to change my mindset.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 NIV

So, I must give up my imperfect control and willingly give God total control of my life.

Lord, show me when I start to barge ahead of you. Make me submissive to you at all times in every situation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Are You Waiting For?

This is the challenge Pastor presented as part of his sermon Sunday. He was challenging us to devote daily time to prayer. And that we should be doing. For how can we develop a relationship with God if we are not praying? How can we develop a relationship with God if we keep ourselves occupied with desirable activities? How can we develop a relationship with God if we are not spending time studying His Word? How can we develop a relationship with God if we are too busy for Him because we are determined to live our lives the way we want.

I do not like the sound of that last sentence. I am not that selfish. I give my time to church work and good causes. I do nice things for others. I help with meals at church. I put money into the offering plate when it is passed. Doesn’t that count?

The answer is no. Those are all works under my own power. Nowhere in that litany is there a mention of God. God may call me to do those things, but I am to do ONLY those things he calls me to do. God has never called his servants to do it all. From the time God formed us in our mother’s wombs, he had special tasks for us, and he gave us the attributes and talents to do those tasks perfectly. If I try to do it all, I am assuming a job which was meant for someone else that God has specially designed to accomplish it well.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.” Psalm 139:13 NIV

This is one of the lessons God has been teaching me this year. I tend to take on more than I am to do. I see something that needs to be done and jump right into the work. I am a “doer” then I pray for God’s blessing on what I have already started. But I should be a praying first then be a “doer” if it is God’s will for me to do. God has taken me out of almost all of my previous religious activities. He has made it clear that the only reason I am still in the current spiritual activities is because of his provision. God has made it obvious and continues to make it obvious that if it were not for his miraculous intervention, I would not have these ministries in my life. God is abundantly blessing me through these ministries—much more than when I was working at everything that came along which needed doing. Another thing I have noticed is that now that I have stepped back, others are doing and being blessed. Praise the Lord.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

"Such twentieth-century pressures produce the exhausted society of which we are part--a society too tired to pray. Ask God to show you how to simplify your life all you can by setting your priorities and putting him first...We do not need to cram our lives so full of activity. We can relax, be still and hear him guide us more in what is best for us to do. We allow God to protect us emotionally and physically." The Love Exchange by Margaret Therkelsen page99

So what am I waiting on? I am waiting on instruction from God. I am studying His Word. I am spending time in extended prayer. I am waiting on God’s timing and his direction for He is my Wonderful Counselor.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, keep me in your will.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What a Friend

“In him [Jesus Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12 NIV

I love the old hymns. Today “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” has been running through my head. Jesus is my friend. He listens and shares in my tribulations. He was with me every moment of my difficulties yesterday. He is with me today even though today has been a pleasant experience. My favorite passages of this song written by Joseph Scriven bring me comfort.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:41 NIV

It seems that no matter how hard I try, there is always something happening to make my life difficult. Things do not go as I expect or want. Or worse, I am torn between what I want to do and what is the right thing to do. Too often I give into the temptation. If only I would pray first!

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18 NIV

The most difficult things which have happened to me in the past couple of years have been with relationships. Longtime friendships unexplainably fell apart. People I thought I could trust and would be there for me were not what I believed them to be. Unfortunately I was not the friend they expected, and I feel I have been betrayed and misled. None of this is unique to me. But I did not always handle the problems well because I did not take it to the Lord in prayer as I should have.

Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise." James 5:13 NIV

I am convicted. Too often and for too long I have seen God as my request granter. And that he is. In James 4:2b it says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” But my requests should not be all I offer up to God. I must also praise him.

So I should be treating Jesus as my most valued friend. I should be frequently and sincerely communicating with him through prayers of concern, request, thanksgiving, and praise.

Lord, you are the only true, perfect, forever friend. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Today about 10 a.m., Satan defeated me. The morning had gone well until about 7:45 when a text message upset my morning plans. I was immediately ill at ease because arrangements would have to be made that would cause inconveniences for several people. One of the persons has been a bit “hard to take” recently so I knew immediately that I would have to work on my frame of mind. I gave myself a little pep talk, and I thought I was ready to face the day. Wrong. I made a strategic error. I took things into my own hands under my own power. I thought I could fix my attitude. I overestimated my ability and underestimated the ability of Satan. I did not pray for guidance and power from God.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 NIV

The morning progressed somewhat smoothly until about 10 o’clock when I lost it. One well orchestrated, perfectly timed phone call kick-started the anger and hurt. My temper flared. One short sentence later Satan had his victory.

"’In your anger do not sin’": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

I know most of the time my anger stems from hurt pride and frustration with myself. Today was no different. Today I recognized it quickly and removed myself from the situation to allow me time to cool off--to get control of my emotions. Was I wronged? Yes. Did I handle it rightly? No. I lost round one of the match between me and Satan.

After sulking a few minutes and shedding a few tears, I realized that Satan was probably really enjoying his victory. Now I have a stubborn streak, and I do not like letting Satan revel in his cunningness. So I prayed. It helped some. But to my consternation, my emotions did not settle down as I expected they would. This is probably because my prayer was not offered up when it should have been. This morning about 7:45, I should have been on my knees. I should have been giving the situation over to God to handle in his way on his timeline.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Jesus taught us about the importance of intercessory prayer. Jesus prayed so Simon would be able to withstand Satan’s deceitfulness.

I realized I needed for my trusted Christian friends to pray intercessory prayers for me. A little after 2:30 I sent text messages to a couple of “prayer warrior” friends who immediately offered up prayers. By shortly after 3, I had experienced a miraculous calming and had a clear understanding of how I am to proceed—how I am to handle the situation.

I’d like to say all is perfect and difficulties are resolved. They are not. God allows us to suffer the consequences of our sins and sin I did. Yes, I have confessed and know I have received forgiveness from my Savior. Now he is shaping me at the heart level to be more loving, merciful, and humble.

So this morning I was defeated by Satan. But tonight, through the power of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, Satan is defeated.

Lord, thank you for the difficult lesson you taught me today. Make me more like Jesus during each moment of my life. Sanctify me, Lord.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Is Your View?

I take God for granted. I know he is there, has been there, and always will be there. Whenever I need him, I know that I can call on him. How do you see him? Is your view similar to my view of God? Is he pleased with it?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV

God created everything. It is mindboggling to know that he spoke the earth, vegetation, animals, man, and the universe into being. As scientists make new discoveries (both physically large things like a new galaxy or very miniscule like a new part of a cell), it is impossible to comprehend how one being could do it all. But he did.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

I know God created me the way he did and put me on earth when he did for his purposes. He had plans for me. Wow, isn’t that something! Truly amazing that my God created me special. So how do I repay that love? I pray, sing praises, and read his word. But I also tend to do as I please, how I please, when I please. I am sure my actions are not always pleasing to him.

“… I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’" Isaiah 6:1-3 NIV

The angels have a high view of God. They worship him continually. Should I learn something from them? Isaiah changed his view of God after seeing God and witnessing the angels worship.

"’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’" Isaiah 6:5 NIV

God allowed Isaiah to see him sitting on his throne because he had a special mission for Isaiah which would require him to have an unusually strong and tenacious faith. Today we gain spiritual power through the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ resurrection, God sent the Holy Spirit to miraculously work in us—to give us insight and strength to serve him.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

So what is your view of God? Is he a holy creator who will provide you with the strength you need to do the works he has prepared in advance for you to do? Be honest.

Now that you have thought about your view of God, what would those who know you best say your view of God is? Does your professed view of God line up with your actions—the way you live your life each moment of each day?

Lord, I love you. I kneel in awe. Only you are holy and worthy of being worshipped. I confess that I do not always live my life as if I believe these words. Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit make my words and actions express worship and love for you at all times.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What I Believe

“This is what I believe.”
“This is how I feel.”

Have you been in a conversation with a person about religion or church and had them state one of the above? Have you made one of these comments yourself? I cringe any time I hear either. Why? It does not matter what I believe. It especially does not matter what I feel. What matters is what the Bible says.

True, you can get the Bible to say almost anything you want it to say. That is an easy task. Do a word search using any of the modern Bible software programs. Lift the verse out of context. I am always careful to read the context of a verse before choosing to use it in my writing because the Bible warns against those who manipulate what the Bible says. Beware, Satan is very good at such manipulation and is thrilled when he gets us to wrongly use the Word of God.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.” James 2:19 NIV

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 NIV

Never, never, never try to discern Bible truths from verses taken out of context. Always read verses in the context of the verses around it, the chapters before and after it, the book in which it is found, and the whole Bible. Learn a little bit about literary techniques employed. Check out Bible maps. Study the history of God’s chosen people. Then you will begin to appreciate the literalness of the message in God’s Holy Word. The best way to understand a biblical truth is to read. Yes, read. You cannot learn what is in the Bible by just attending church although that will probably help. YOU MUST READ THE BIBLE if you want to know what it really says.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves… In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up…” 2 Peter 2:1, 3a NIV

When someone tells me she feels that ___ is right, I just want to slap her to shock her out of her stupor. Feelings are soooo fickle. They are up and down—all over the place. It is absolutely idiotic to base one’s life on feelings. Life is a roller coaster of emotions. When ones bases religious practices on unstable feelings, it is nonsensical.

“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5 NIV

So it is imperative that we base our spiritual faith in the God of the Bible not the god of our feelings or verses taken out of context.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

Lord, reveal your truth to me as I study your word.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Not Fair

It is not fair! I work hard. I am polite. I compliment. I encourage. I have only good intentions. I get insulted. I get rejected. I feel defeated. Life just is not fair.

God never promised that life would be fair. Actually, many passages of scripture tell us exactly the opposite. Paul is one example. Over and over again he did the right thing yet he was maligned by those who did not agree with the gospel message.

“I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.” Acts 20:19 NIV

Even though he was physically mistreated many times, Paul still taught humility and service to others.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

But how do you do that? How do you consider the interests of someone who is being unfair and mean to you?

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NIV

Now that is one tall order. Surely I cannot be expected to forgive someone who has repeatedly insulted me. Yet I have rejected and insulted God when I was unwilling to be a public witness for him. Not to mention the times I just plain refused to behave myself—like the times when I questioned my faith and refused to pray because I was "too sophisticated."

Forgive others as God forgave me? That is a tough one. I tend to nurse my hurt feelings—to not let them go. I do not want to be forgiving to those who have purposely done things which I find insulting. I definitely do not want to treat them with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience! But I must because that is what God has told us to do.

"’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5b-6 NIV

So to be humble like God calls us to be humble is not the position of a weak person. It takes a very high level of spiritual strength to stand firm in the faith as a gentle, compassionate, patient person when we find ourselves in unfair situations.

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make my faith strong so that I can be your humble servant in all situations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Inch Deep

A mile wide and an inch deep. Are you one of these Christians--a good person doing good works but lacking indepth knowledge of God? If so, you do not get it! You are missing an amazing relationship with our God. Correction, you have a relationship with God, but you do not have a deeply satisfying relationship. You have settled for second best. You are an inch deep.

What do you believe about God? Is he a benevolent being which answers requests? Is he “love”? Is he the source of all good things? Is your attendance at church most Sundays and a bedtime prayer all he wants from you? Are you an inch deep? What is your view of God? Does it align with what is taught in God’s Word—The Bible?

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

Paul wants the church at Philippi to grow in knowledge and depth of insight. In other words, Paul is telling them to intentionally learn about God so they will be able to figure out what is right. They will only be an inch deep without depth of insight. Except through studying the teachings of our God, how else will they know about him and be able to serve him? Without accurate knowledge, people tend to mold God into a god. They make him what they want him to be, not who he is. They choose to make God into a politically correct deity or one they find personally satisfying. They do not know God because they have a view of him like Paul states in his letter to Timothy.

“…having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Timothy 3:5 NIV

God’s Word is our guidebook. It is to be read for truth and to be read in context. Who are we to rewrite it? Isn’t it a bit arrogant for us to tell God we know better than he about how to live rightly? Isn’t it very presumptuous to tell the creator of the universe that he needs to conform to what we want to believe?

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

Yet too many of us are very shallow in the depth of our spiritual lives because we have a wrong view of God and his word.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16 NIV

We do not rely on the true God because we do not know who God truly is. We are unwilling to give up a few minutes of the time we spend each day on television or our favorite pastime to get to know God better.

So do you study the Bible? Do you read verses in context to ensure accurate comprehension of important truths about our God? Do you desire to have a deep and rich relationship with him?

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

Lord, I desire to know you better. Through Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit, reveal yourself to me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Be Still

Very, very tired. Not enough sleep. My mind just cannot clearly sort things out. God has given me a topic to write about, but I cannot get it started. The words just are not coming. I have tried, but the words are a jumble in my head. The Bible truth God revealed is clear to me, but it will not move from my head to my fingers to my computer.

Is it my human failure? Is it Satan keeping me mute? Is the blog idea not in God’s timing? Right now, I do not know which of the three it is. All I know is that the words from my heart are a muddled mess when they try to express themselves on the written page.

In times like these, I am learning to seek God’s direction. Tonight a verse from Psalms was given to me.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Psalm 37:7a NIV

I do not know if I am to not communicate this idea because I am exhausted (always a good idea), or I am to be still because God is telling me to develop the item he has placed on my heart more before putting it in print. Either way, I must submit.

So rather than push forward in my power, I am requesting and waiting for God's power.

Lord, thank you for giving me times of silence. It is such a relief to quietly seek you during a part of my noisy, busy day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I saw a couple of interesting discussions on Facebook tonight.

The first was based on this quote. “Never ever make someone your priority when they only make you an option.” My first response was definite agreement. I have just come through a time of trying to hold together a crumbling relationship because the other person, in my opinion, took me for granted and basically considered me a convenience. I felt like I was disposable. It has been extremely hurtful because for several years I had considered this person a dear life-long friend.

After reflecting on this Facebook quote a bit longer, I realized that it is only true if you do not have a biblical perspective. Humanly, I agree with the quote one hundred percent. But I cannot find that attitude in scripture. What I do find over and over again is that man is fallible and sinful. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart, disappointed and let down people who depended on him and believed in him. Uriah was a trusted military leader but David ordered him to a position in the battle which would ensure Uriah’s death because David coveted after Uriah’s wife. Joab, the commander-in-chief of David’s army, must have been greatly disillusioned with this command because Uriah was one of his best officers.

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.’" 2 Samuel 11:14-15 NIV

So even great men who fear God can disappoint because of sin in their lives. Even godly men may wrongfully treat others as disposable if it suits an uncontrolled sinful urge.

I saw another Facebook post by a person who is very dear to me. It said, “Seeing in black and white the hurtful things that someone else ‘says’ about you is very eye-opening (& hurtful!).” When someone maligns you behind your back, in print, or through modern electronic media, that person considers your relationship disposable. Her heart is consumed only with herself and her immediate wants.

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' Matthew 15:18 NIV

So deliberately unkind comments, whether verbal or written, actually demonstrate the condition of the speaker’s heart. The person who says or texts hurtful things is letting the world know her heart is not right with God.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

So whenever we make hurtful comments or consider friendships disposable, it is sin and we must ask forgiveness. Anytime we get our eyes on people, things of the world, or circumstances, we will be disappointed because our world is full of sinful behaviors—some blatant and some subtle. The only person we can rely on never wounding us is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, show me when I treat others as disposable. Show me when my words are unkind and untruthful. Give me the courage to admit I am wrong and to seek forgiveness from the persons I have wronged.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Send Me

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8 NIV

When confronted with the idea of God calling me to a particular ministry, it is so easy, as I am sitting in my recliner with a warm cup of oolong tea, to say of course I would do as God asked. But would I? Honestly, it would depend on what the ministry job happened to be. Did I just say that? Did I just admit that I might choose to reject God’s call into ministry? Yes I did because I know how selfish and weak I am. I know how accustomed I have become to my comfortable surroundings. I like having friends close by who encourage and help me. God does call workers for comfortable ministries, but as I study my Bible, often those he calls experience great difficulties.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Hebrews 11:7a NIV

Noah did not have an easy task. He built this huge monstrosity to protect himself and his family from a flood during a time before God had allowed it to flood. Noah was not wicked like the others of his day. So I am sure he withstood some feelings of being ostracized. However, once Noah started building the ark and collecting animals, I can only imagine how cruel the comments of his neighbors must have been. But he dutifully followed even the strangest commands given by God. Truly amazing.

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’" Exodus 3:11 NIV

Even a great biblical hero such as Moses couldn’t believe the job God gave him. Moses had fled Egypt in fear and shame. He was exiled in Midian tending sheep. Now God wanted him to go to Pharoah and tell this powerful leader of Egypt that God wanted him to allow over a million of his slaves to leave Egypt. No wonder Moses felt inadequate. I cannot imagine doing such a thing, but God equips those he calls. Through Moses’ leadership, the Israelites were not only released but the Egyptians gave them a bounty of gold, silver, and other valuables to go away quickly. Truly amazing!

”But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.’” Acts 9:15 NIV

The man talked about in this passage is Saul--the main persecutor of Christians. Saul was an arrogant, legalistic Jewish religious leader. He was feared by anyone even interested in learning more about the Christ followers. But God dramatically called Saul to become Paul the apostle. God’s way does not always make much sense to us humans. Why would he call someone responsible for the torture and death of Christians to become one of his most influential and effective apostles? Once he was called by God, Paul did not let anything stop him from doing exactly as God directed him to do for the rest of his eventful life. Paul gave up power, influence, and wealth for impoverishment, danger, torture, ridicule, and imprisonment. Truly amazing.

God called Isaiah to bring a very unpopular message to Judah. Isaiah was a man of privilege and wealth. He had access to the king’s court. He could expect to live the good life during a time when the Israelites were experiencing much prosperity. But instead, this good man had an encounter with God which forever changed his life. God gave Isaiah a glimpse of himself. Isaiah immediately recognized how sinful he was.

"’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’" Isaiah 6:5 NIV

Immediately, Isaiah was willing to give up his dreams, luxury, and power for the opportunity to bring a very unpopular message of severe judgment to Judah.

So once we get an accurate view of God, we are willing to do anything he asks—even if it is unpopular or dangerous.

Lord, give me a correct view of you, equip me, then send me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Mouth

I cannot believe I just said that! Why did I let myself get drawn into that conversation? If only I had kept my mouth shut! Why do I talk so much? My mouth seems to be my major problem. It gets me into so much trouble. If I am not just rambling, I am complaining.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing,” Philippians 2:14 NIV

It does not surprise me that the Bible says I am not to complain. That is not the problem. The problem is that I cannot get myself to stop complaining. I do not want to but I continue to.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts…” Matthew 15:18-19a NIV

So when I am complaining, I am really announcing to my listeners that I am harboring evil in my heart. I am displaying how sinful I am. If I truly desire to not complain, I have to remove the sinfulness from my heart.

“Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” Deuteronomy 10:16 NIV

I am to cut the sin out of my life. How? I have tried to clean up my patterns of speech and failed.

“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,” Colossians 2:11 NIV

So I am to turn my sin over to Christ. Christ sent the Holy Spirit to teach me how to live a life pleasing to God.

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 NIV

So I am to study Scripture, pray, and actively cooperate with the Holy Spirit as he shows me my sin and how to overcome it.

Lord, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV)

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It seems like everyone I know is busy. When we greet each other, we talk about how busy we are. When we talk on the phone, we talk about how busy we are. When we plan our days, we tell ourselves how busy we are. We are a busy people in our culture. It is as if we think it is the only socially acceptable way to be—BUSY. But what are we busy doing? God’s work? I doubt it. At least in my case, I know I am awfully busy, but I cannot say all of my busyness is bringing glory to God.

So how much of your busyness is bringing glory to God? How much time are you spending watching TV, frittering away time on frivolous self-indulgent activities, engaging in something you know is not pleasing to God, or doing anything except what God is calling you to do for the moment. I am guilty. Been there. Done that.

For as long as I can remember, I have taken great pride because I am so busy. But is being extremely busy what God is calling us to do? Well, I know God wants us to be productive.

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV

It says we are to work and lead a quiet life. That doesn’t sound like it is advising us to have a life full of busyness. We are to work but lead a life which is peaceful. Since I tend to engulf myself in activity and since I have struggled with the concept of being quiet, I wonder what else the Bible says about being quiet.

"Be still, and know that I am God; ..." Psalm 46:10a NIV

So if I desire to know God better, I must have times of quietness—of being still. I must be focused and quiet as he reveals himself to me.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

So when I am going through some of the unpleasant stuff life seems to regularly throw at me, the solution is to turn to God because he will quiet me. What a promise!

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes...For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7, 9 NIV

So if I wait patiently, God will punish evil men and reward those who are quiet before him.

Lord, I confess my sin of impatience. I want everything now. I surround myself with activity. I repent. Starting today, I commit a time of quiet before you daily because I desire to grow closer to you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What If

What if today had significance for eternity? What would you do differently? Would you watch TV, visit with friends, or go shopping? Would you pray, apologize for a harsh word, or clean your house? Would you go to a ballgame, work a puzzle, read a novel, or study the Bible? What would you do?

For the Christian, today is a day in eternity with eternal importance. Everything we do as a believer is significant. Our endeavors either advance God’s eternal glory or they do not. We are working for the temporary or for what lasts forever.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

This does not mean that we are not to do the things that are seen. We have to provide for our physical needs. In Proverbs 31 the Godly woman is described. She is a woman who takes care of earthly business with diligence.

“…she provides food for her family…She sets about her work vigorously;…She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes…She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:15a, 17, 24a, 27 NIV

The Bible does not tell us that we all have to earn our living doing religious tasks. As a matter of fact, the Bible states that individual believers have different talents and functions as members of the Body of Christ.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts;…But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12a, 18, 24b-27 NIV

It just would not work if everyone was called to be a preacher or a missionary. What the Bible does tell us is that we are to strive for excellence in any task God has called us to do. More than that, we are to show as much love and respect for those who have been called to the less desirable tasks as we do to those who have been called to the more prestigious jobs.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

So what do you need to change in your mindset to realize that you are living for eternity now? The Bible says you have eternal life—not that you will have it.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 NIV

So what if you live each day as if it has eternal consequence? It does. What must change?

Lord, direct my every action so you will be eternally praised and glorified. Fill me “with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11 NIV)

Friday, October 8, 2010

What Does It Matter?

Sometimes I’d like to be able to shrug off difficult situations. I’d like to put no importance on hurtful remarks or perceived slights. I’d like to be able to say to myself, “What does it matter?” and let it go. But instead, I nurse the hurt. I think poor me. I analyze what happened from my selfish perspective. I know that to remain emotionally healthy, dwelling on the negative is not advisable. Spending too much time thinking about how unfair something is leads to bitterness, anger, depression, and feelings of helplessness. Then, knowing this, why do I do it? Why cannot I be more like Paul, who faced much worse than I will ever endure?

“But what does it matter?” Philippians 1:18a NIV

This is Paul’s response to people who were telling falsehoods and doing things to undermine his ministry behind his back when he was powerless to defend himself.

“…supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” Philippians 1:17b NIV

Paul’s only concern was that the gospel message be presented.

“…The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice…” Philippians 1:18b NIV

So my selfish pride issues should not be driving my attitudes and behaviors. My focus should be on whether Christ is being made known. I make Christ known both through my words and my actions.

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10 NIV

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, take my focus off myself. Show me how to love my brother and proclaim Christ in words and behaviors.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big Mouth

I hate my mouth. It is uncontrollable! I mean to say only positive uplifting things, but criticisms and grumblings erupt from it at the most inappropriate times. Why can’t I control my tongue?

“…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." Matthew 12:34b, 36 NIV

So my words are a reflection of my heart. Scary! I like to think I am a good, kind person; however, during a couple of five minute periods this afternoon, my words reflected an unforgiving heart. I resolved this morning to not say anything negative today. I resolved that I would not complain. Oops! Broke those resolutions. I really want to have kind speech so why can’t I just accomplish this feat?

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:15, 17-20 NIV

It is somewhat comforting to know that Paul also had a problem with controlling sin in his life although I am relatively sure he sinned very little. Even though the Romans passage is reassuring to my human nature, it is troubling to my spiritual self. Apparently it is the sin living in me which causes me to overtly do wrong. It goes right back to the Matthew passage. What is in my heart? If it is sin, it will express itself. If my heart is in submission to and love for Jesus Christ, that too will be made evident.

I feel like Isaiah when he had an encounter with the Lord Almighty.

"’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips’…Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’" Isa 6:5a, 6-7 NIV

The purification of the lips of Isaiah signifies the guilt for his sins being removed. If his mouth is purified, then his heart is purified. With a cleansed heart, Isaiah could speak God's words. Oh that my heart be purified of all sin so my lips would only speak what is pleasing to God.

So if you want to know how sinful you are, check out what comes from your mouth for a day. I have and am ashamed.

Lord, out of my mouth comes grumbling and prideful words. Purify my heart, Lord, so that my mouth can only speak what is pleasing to you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Is Important

What is the most important thing in your life?

Now that you have answered this question, what do your actions say it is? On what do you spend the majority of your time, energy, and money?

Today my nephew was in a plane accident. The small plane was completely destroyed by the fiery crash. My nephew and one passenger survived. One mother of two small girls did not survive. She was a Christian who is now with her Lord and Savior. In seconds the lives of three families were radically altered.

My question is this. If you knew that tomorrow you were going to have a dramatic change in your life, what would you do differently today? Not a single one of us knows if we will be alive or dead by the end of today, yet we live as if we have all the time in the world to do the right thing. We let trivial earthly pursuits take up most of our time. We let unresolved difficulties with others go on and on because it is too difficult to work them out. We frivolously spend our money on impulse instead of being good stewards of the resources God has given to our care. We seek to be involved in the popular leisure activities whether we really gain true satisfaction from them or not. Let’s face it. We live our lives as if what we do here does not matter for eternity. But it does.

You may think I am talking about life and death only. I am not. It is entirely possible that because of an accident, illness, or uncontrollable economic crisis our lives will be totally altered in just moments.

This time the question is different. No matter what happens, are you prepared to witness for and praise God? Or is when things are going well the only time you praise God? Are you seeking God as a top priority for your life?

“In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established…and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, …He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’…" Isaiah 2:2-3 NIV

We are living in a time which many Christians believe to be the last days. According to Isaiah in the last days many will seek God so they can please him. Are you seeking God? Are you setting your priorities in such a manner so as to glorify God? Do you have the attitude Paul expressed in his letter to the Philippians?

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” Philippians 1:21-24 New Living Translation

So the Christian should be looking forward to eternity in Heaven but actively living for eternity while still on Earth. How sincere is your devotion to Christ? A short prayer daily and a couple of hours on Sunday? Or do you aim to bring God glory in everything you do each and every day?

Lord, forgive my selfishness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, draw me closer to you throughout each moment of each day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No More Games

How serious are we about God? It is so easy to say we believe in God. But do we put our faith and trust in him? Or do we follow long held and cherished sinful patterns of behavior and thought? We know what is right if we have spent even a minimal amount of time reading the Bible. But for some reason we do not always choose to behave rightly. Even the early Christians, many who would have actually heard Jesus preach needed a reminder that they knew what is pleasing to God.

“I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” 1 John 2:21 NIV

Most of us do know what is right, but we purposely chose to do as we please. We rationalize that what we want to do is okay just this once. We tell ourselves it won’t hurt anyone. So we seek the immediately pleasurable activity or one which we perceive will make us popular with people we want to impress.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;” 1 Peter 1:14-15 NIV

This passage is very clear. Do not give in to sinful tendencies. Do not even dare to rationalize and excuse sin.

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Isaiah 5:21 NIV

So we are to recognize our desire to sin, repent, and quit it. No more playing games. No more rationalization for our sinful practices.

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make me aware of when I am tempted to rationalize my sin. Give me the strength to resist the temptation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bad Things Happen

Have you had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? No matter how hard you try or how right you are, the results are hurt, disappointment, and criticism.

As I was meditating on the first chapter of Philippians tonight, I was struck by Paul’s attitude about his hardships. When something bad happens to me, especially if it is unfair, I become angry. Not Paul.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Philippians 1:12 NIV

This attitude by a true Christian saint is so contrary to the prosperity gospel which is prevalent today. Even though Paul was doing God’s will, he suffered severe persecution. At this time he was in prison because he preached the gospel and wouldn’t compromise its content. How would you respond if you had been thrown into prison for truthfully telling others about Christ? Paul’s response was to tell his friends that his preaching had been successful because his current condition was spreading the gospel more than otherwise possible! Amazing!

Paul goes on to say that some of his contemporaries were preaching about Christ for wrong motives—motives to cause Paul problems. One would expect that Paul would be upset. No. Here is his response.

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:18-19 NIV

One would expect to hear Paul lament. “Poor me” statements should be bursting forth from Paul’s mouth. It did not happen. Paul prayed for courage so that no matter what came about, Christ would be worshipped.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20 NIV

So our response to unfair treatment because of our witness is to be one of courage and joy that the gospel is being preached.

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, create in me a desire to obediently witness even if I may be ridiculed. Give me courage to be obedient to you at all times.

Whatever It Takes

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV

It started off soft and melodic. The female vocalist sang clearly and the words could be easily understood. It is not the type of song I generally hear sung any more so it immediately had my attention. Because of the soft volume I had to listen intently. But that did not detract. In fact it intensified the effect. Even though the vocalist was very poised and seemed at ease performing, I could sense an intensity—a desire to get the message of the words across to the congregation. As the song progressed I became so convicted by the words that I jotted down a few of the phrases.

Take my house and lands, change all my dreams and plans.
For whatever it takes to draw me closer to you.
For whatever it takes to make me more like you.
That is what I’ll be willing to do.
To trade comfort for pain.
Whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes for my will to break.

As she walked down into the auditorium, she passed by where I was sitting. I felt compelled to extend my hand and tell her I was moved by her song, but my quickly and quietly spoken words inadequately expressed the impact of the performance.

I watched her slip in a pew beside her husband as the Scripture reading progressed. She pulled out a Kleenex and dabbed at the tears I had seen forming in her eyes. The tears which were threatening me came forth also. I do not know how God was working in her life, but I do know that God had orchestrated the words, instrumentation, and the vocalist. He had a message to be presented and it was done with obedient passion. I saw her love for God displayed.

My mother told me that the vocalist seldom sings solos because she prefers performing in choirs or small ensembles instead of putting her voice on individual display. This fact makes her solo performance all the more inspiring. God gave her a song with a powerful message, and she obeyed his call. God used it to powerfully speak to not only those who listened but also to her.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

Lord, whatever it takes to draw me closer to you, I will gladly bear. Whatever it takes to make me more like you is what I am willing to do.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Doom to You

Have you read Chapter 5 in Isaiah? I call it "The Chapter of Six Woes". Even though I prefer using the NIV Bible translation, I like the way The Message Bible states the first five woes. It says “Doom to you” instead of “Woe to those.”
1. Doom to you who buy up all the houses and grab all the land for yourselves — evicting the old owners, posting No Trespassing signs, taking over the country, leaving everyone homeless and landless. Isaiah 5:8
2. Doom to those who get up early and start drinking booze before breakfast, who stay up all hours of the night drinking themselves into a stupor. Isaiah 5:11
3. Doom to you who use lies to sell evil,… Isaiah 5:18a
4. Doom to you who call evil good and good evil,… Isaiah 5:20
5. Doom to you who think you're so smart, who hold such a high opinion of yourselves! Isaiah 5:21
6. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. Isaiah 5:22-23 NIV

God’s Word is very plain. God hates sin.

So why do we continue to excuse our sins, especially our favorite vices, instead of sincerely repenting to God. Yes, he loves us but God hates our sin.

Lord, show me my sin and through the power of the Holy Spirit give me the ability to overcome my sinful practices.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Patience Needed

Today I needed patience. Nothing especially bad happened, but everything trying seemed to happen.

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NIV

The day started off being a challenge. I did not even get to make my bed until—well I guess I didn’t make it. It collected the freshly washed but unfolded laundry. The laundry didn’t get folded until Ray needed it off the bed so he could go to sleep for the night. I hate not having my bed made and laundry on it most of the day. Grumble. Grumble.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Okay so I am thankful my dear husband recognized that I had a trying day and folded the clothes on his own volition. What a blessing such a thoughtful husband is.

My mother-in-law who is usually very agreeable was downright testy all day. Grumble. Grumble.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 NIV

I was being selfish because I was concerned about how she was being unreasonable. In actuality I should have been more patient and less self-centered. I should have been focusing on her needs. As I later realized, she was not physically feeling well. I should have been more compassionate.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

So I am to focus less on my wants and my needs. This means not only am I to assist others as appropriate, but also that I am to have a compassionate attitude about what I am doing.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing,” Philippians 2:14 NIV

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make my attitude right. Every time I want to complain, make me aware of my sin. Then show me the action you desire for me to take. Mold my attitude so it will be pleasing to you.