Monday, December 29, 2008

A Test of Trust

Work went well today. We did quite a few format/re-installs today in order to be more productive. I've been working on fixing a website for another company as well. It is a little bit of a pain, but I am learning quite a bit. :) This evening, something upset me a great deal... probably more than anything has ever before. This is not at all a common occurrence, but I was truly upset. Part of it was probably selfish, but I know that much of it wasn't. I'll be honest, my first reaction was to come to the computer seeking someone to pray for me. Thankfully, there wasn't really anyone online. I say thankfully not because I don't need prayer support. I absolutely need prayer support, but I need Him most of all. He chose to not allow others to be available so that I would turn 100% to Him. He gave me Jeremiah 17. I started to read... not remembering what was in there. Verses 7-10 were exactly what I needed to hear.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

After reading this, I couldn't help but play the song, "Give Me Jesus" by Fernando Ortega. In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus... when I am alone, give me Jesus... when I come to die, give me Jesus... you can have all this world, but give me Jesus. I sat here in my chair and just wept. I don't tell you this because it's not often that a guy cries. I tell you this because He gives overwhelming peace and help in time of need, and I must not keep it to myself. He completely turned my heart from being completely upset to wanting nothing other than Him. He is all that any of us need!

Friday, December 26, 2008

His Leading Amazes Me

I'll be honest... there are sometimes that I feel like He is no where to be found, and other times where I feel like HE is guiding each and every step. I know that it isn't because He is changing... because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So either it is me, or He is choosing to use that sense of separation to draw me closer to Himself... regardless, His character is unchanging. A few days ago, God laid an old friend on my heart. I hadn't seen him for probably 4 or 5 years. I decided to search for him on facebook. I wasn't able to locate him on there, so I prayed for him and then gave up trying to find him. Well, I saw him at In N' Out today. Honestly, I wasn't sure if it was him or not, but I felt the Lord leading me to go and talk with him. I knew I should even though I might really make a fool of myself. Anyway, I did go and talk with him and it was him. :) I'm really not sure where he is at spiritually, and I don't know when we will get in contact again, but it was such an amazing thing to see how God had prepared my heart to be ready to go and talk with him when otherwise, I probably would have not talked with him if he didn't come and talk to me. It is such a huge blessing that we serve a God that is alive and active. He leads us wherever He chooses... and His ways are best! All of this to say... when He nudges your heart, listen and obey!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It has been our family tradition to open our gifts on Christmas Eve with my grandparents... which we did this afternoon. :) I was thinking about why we celebrate Christmas. We are celebrating the fact that He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man. What an incredible gift of love. It is fun blessing each other with gifts and all, but all of this stuff is going to burn someday. At the end of the day, He is all that matters. Yes, I love the tripod that my older sister got me, but there is more to life than that stuff. It reminds me of Matthew 16:26.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The fact is that we could literally gain everything the world has to offer and lose everything in the end. One question I like to ask myself (especially during the Christmas holidays) is, "Is God really all I need?" The obvious answer is, yes... but am I living in the in the reality of that? If He really is all I need, why do I want this stuff? Is He the center of my focus? To be honest, much of what I want is really quite self-centered. I would encourage you to consider the gifts you get as tools to help you do what He has called you to do more effectively. I'm not saying that I don't think God wants us to have fun and enjoy life. He commands us to rejoice, but it is important to keep an eternal mind-set even in these things.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am a College Graduate!

Well, I have finished my last final this morning. :) As I was driving to school this morning, I was praying that He would help me on my exam. After I asked Him for His help, I starting thinking about how amazing it is that I don't even deserve to live, no less be able to ask for His help on something as small as an exam and Him help me, yet He chooses to bless me with both life and help in the small things. It is incredible! I really can't fathom it. His love far exceeds what I can even imagine. I was talking with a friend about Psalm 40 this evening. Take a look at verses 1-5.
I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD. How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.

God's faithfulness is so constant. I have so often turned my own way. I am prone to wander from Him. To often, my heart seeks what I desire rather than what He desires. Oh, that I would trust the Lord and turn away from pride and falsehood. I need Him more than ever. The head knowledge that comes from graduating is great, and I know that the many hours of school was not wasted effort, but I also know that knowledge brings pride with it. I pray that He would keep me humble when my heart starts to be prideful. I need Him more than ever.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When things don't seem to be working out...

Church was awesome this morning. It is such a blessing to have continual Biblically-based teaching from the pulpit. :) Yes, it is how it should be, but it seems to be rather rare in today's culture. We have been studying Exodus and we are at the part where the Israelites are trapped by the Egyptian army. Take a look at Exodus 14:1-12.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. "For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the
heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

The first thing I notice here is the providence of God. God has the people turn around so cause Pharaoh to think that the Israelites don't know where they are going. He does this to show everyone that He is the Lord! Now think of this from the Israelites perspective... walking all day... or several days... and then being told to turn around and go right back where you came from. It would be a bit disheartening for sure. No doubt it's hot out there and walking in the middle of the desert isn't the funnest thing ever. Now notice the incredible reaction of Israel when they get scared... they cried out to God! This is a great example for us when we face hard times. We must realize that He is in control. However, immediately after this, they go back to Moses and complain. Not only do they complain, but they wish they were back in Egypt. Remember that first Passover night?!? It is like the greatest night in all of Israel's history, and the people want to go back! Do you remember what was in the pillar of clouds (by day) and pillar of fire (by night)? It was God Himself! Not only were the Israelites wanting to leave Moses, they would rather choose slavery in Egypt and life than being with God. This is a very sobering thing. How often to I quickly go to my own ways to figure out how to solve problems? The initial thought of dependence on the Lord is great, but when the rubber meets the road, is my heart longing for Him, or am I trying to figure out things on my own? Contrast this with Philippians 1:21 where Paul says, "to live is Christ and to die is gain."... or Psalm 63:3 where David says that God's lovingkindness is better than life. I think it is something that all of us need to think about continually. Is He really all we need, or are we depending on our own strength when the tough times (or easy times) come?

Friday, December 12, 2008

School is almost done!

I can't believe that it's been over two weeks since Thanksgiving. Time flies when you are having fun... or having finals. ;) I can't say enough how amazing it is that God brings me through some of this stuff. Sometimes there is too much to do for the little bit of time that I have, but somehow, God makes a way for it to get done. He blessed me with 100% on my software engineering final. He blessed me with a C in discrete math. Yes, that blessing was a painful and humbling one to accept, but He knows what is best. I almost didn't get to take that class at all, so even though I had to learn it on my own and the teacher didn't fully understand it, I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to do it. God is good! I have yet to receive my other grades, but I think they are pretty decent. :) I have one last final next Thursday in Linear Algebra, but that one shouldn't be too bad. A day without school today was absolutely wonderful. I actually got to spend some more time in the Word. I was able to spend time learning things that I want to learn rather than things I have to learn. Don't get me wrong, school is important and challenging. We will not always get to do what we want to do, and it is important to learn how to do well in the things we don't really like to do. All the same, it was refreshing to not have that for a day. :) This seems like a rather empty post, so I must include a little of what I am learning in James 4:1-7.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives a greater grace Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

There are so many things that we want. Let's be honest here... we are naturally very self-centered people. Yes, we aren't committing murder (at least I hope we aren't), but we are full of self-centered living. We generally don't ask Him for things that we know He wouldn't give us, so we try to use our own ways to get those things. If we have the guts to ask Him, we already know that it isn't what He has in mind for us. We simply can't desire the pleasures of the world and live for God at the same time. In all this, it is an unbelievable blessing that He chooses to give us grace. I am thankful for that C, because I am prone to be proud. It serves as a reminder to me that He is in control of everything. That 100% is His; that C is His. The results belong to Him. God is opposed to the proud, and I am thankful that He blessed me with a C in order to keep me humble. He is good!