Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not Too Much... Not Too Little

It's been a great week of fun with the family. We have had a lot of wonderful time together from going up to the mountains and playing in the snow/hiking (and falling on rocks while protecting the camera and cell phone in each hand). haha This is pretty much my first time off since starting the new job back at the beginning of July... and it has been very nice and refreshing. One thing that I have often prayed is that God would not bless me beyond what I am able to handle, because I have seen how I am prone to self-dependence when things are going well. I ran across this passage in Proverbs 30:7-9 the other day that I completely forgot about.
Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.
I think these two things are the source of most of the "hard times" we face in life. We either have too much, and our hearts are turned from Christ to the love material things or feel self-sufficient... or we have too little... and because of that, we don't trust His sovereignty in providing for us. I have gone through times of both of these things this year. While having too much seems like a good problem, it is hard to continually trust the Lord when He has blessed so abundantly. It is not at all a lack of His work that makes it hard to trust Him, but the temptation is for us to depend on ourselves... to rest in the security of our jobs or our future plans. How many times has He taken your plans and changed them? How many times has He taken the very thing you depended on away from You? May I suggest that this is the amazing love of the all-wise Father. We see a pattern in the lives of the Israelites, and if I am honest, I can see much the same pattern in my own heart even if it doesn't show on the outside in the same way that it did with the Israelites. God blessed them abundantly... they turned their own way... God made their circumstances so that they had to depend on Him... they turned from sin and trusted Him again... He blessed them... they turned their own way... etc.

God, these words... Your words in Proverbs 30 are so wise. I do not desire a life of ease. I am scared to pray that, but I want more than anything to walk with You all the days of my life. I ask for Your amazing love and grace in always providing what I need. I don't ask for more than that, though You have given much more than what I need. I ask for Your help to continually depend on You now in this time of plenty... and ask for Your help in the times where I don't feel like I have enough. Plant Your Word deep inside my heart so that my response, whether I have much or little, is that of contentment in Your perfect plan. Teach me dependence and trust in You so that my heart is not one that is wavering based on circumstance, but rather a heart of steadfastness in trusting and living for Your fame.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's time for a confession... I have never really cared for Christmas music. The reason for this is that so often unrealistic things are mixed in with the theology of the song and it just annoys me. I guess I don't like to sing about things if that isn't how it actually was. This year, I ended up leading the choir at church for practicing Christmas songs, so I decided to make more of an effort to like Christmas music... to take the good for what it is and let the rest go.

There really is more good in Christmas music than I had previously seen. I feel bad even admitting this since everyone I know seems to love Christmas music, but I think you'll survive. There has been a few songs that have caught my eye this Christmas and so I thought I'd take the time to share a couple of those and really think through them.

Check out these verses of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
It is sad that I haven't really taken the time to think through these Biblically-grounded words. I love how this song describes different aspects of God and shows our desire for Him to come and work out His plan in our hearts. I don't want these to be just words that we sing, but truly the desire of our hearts.

Verse 2 of What Child is This? caught my attention.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
This is packed with truths from John 1, Isaiah 53 and Philippians 2. Oh that we would hear "the silent Word pleading"... His call to come and die so that we might live.

The song that stood out to me most by far was O Holy Night.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need—to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
Do we feel His worth? Even more than that, do we know His worth? Does the hope of knowing His worth give us this "thrill of hope"? What a gift!

Are we walking by faith? Do we realize the humility in which the King of all kings came? Do we realize that He has called us His friends? Do we realize that He understands our every weakness? Does this reality cause us to be like Him and humble ourselves before Him in awe and worship?

He has taught us to love... but are we truly loving one another? Are we making ourselves of little reputation for the sake of others? Are we esteeming others more highly than ourselves? His commands are not burdensome! They come from the very heart of love. His Gospel is the absolute only way to have peace with God. He has come that we would know Him, be like Him and know the hope of His coming... and that in knowing this hope, we would purify ourselves and watch as He looses the chains of sin and death. If that isn't a cause for hymns and songs of joy, I don't know what is! Let all that is within us praise His holy Name! Christ is indeed the Lord... we must praise His name forever!

God, forgive me for singing these words so blindly. Thank You for these powerful words of truth. Cause my heart to overflow with the joy of Christ. Cause both my words and actions to praise Your name as long as I live. Thank You for sending Your Son to take on frail human flesh so that we could know You. Let the wisdom that You pour out continually guide my every action. Guard me from turning to the right or to the left. You who order all things in a mighty way, lead me to the full joy of walking in obedience to You. May my heart proclaim Your glory.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Good Name

It has been a pretty relaxing week at work... the schools are out for Christmas, so the phones almost never ring. It has been fun getting to work on more exciting projects and less on customer issues, though I do greatly enjoy interacting with different customers. It is nice to have a little change for a week or two all the same. My boss pulled me into his office a while back (I thought I might be in trouble for something, though I didn't know what)... he showed me an email that he had received regarding how grateful one of our customers was for some things that I had done. The reason I mention this is because I was reading Proverbs 22 this evening... verse 1 says:
A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.
I was reminded of this incident when I read these words, but maybe not how you'd expect. The things I had done for this customer were small. Yes, I was nice, yes, I was helpful, but these things were small. I am glad that they were thankful, but an email does not define "a good name". A good name is not based on a couple things that you do, it is based on your life... your character... who you are at the core. Yes, I enjoy the emails from people that have never met me that are happy about something I did, but I so much more want to really have a good name.

It glorifies Christ when we have a good name because we are representing Him. Someone recently pointed out to me that Daniel and Joseph in the Bible never had anything bad said about them. They had good names. But, look at the results of this "good name" that each of them had... it was the glory of God! When Daniel makes it clear that it is God that both gave and revealed the dream, the king responds, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery." It is with this intent that we must live--to glorify Him in all things. He exalts [gives a good name to] the humble, but He is opposed to the proud. In the case of both Daniel and Joseph, they had small challenges at times and big challenges at other times, but in each case, they responded with full submission and obedience to the ways of the Lord... honest, faithful, of highest integrity, no compromise, steadfast, immovable, wise, courageous, gracious, strong, etc. May He grow us in these areas as we pursue a good name for His glory.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living to the Fullest

Christina and I had the blessing of getting to hang out with a young couple that moved out not too long ago. It is such a blessing to see two Godly individuals wholeheartedly desiring to serve Him together. It was a great time of fun and fellowship... definitely some much needed refreshment.

I was praying as I was jogging up the stairs to the office on Monday morning something that I pray quite often... specifically that God would teach me to number my days so that I would present to Him a heart of wisdom. I don't know how many days He has given me. He may call me home tonight... now, I don't sense that that is His plan, but I need that constant reminder so that I am living life to the fullest for His glory. I was reading tonight in Psalm 39. Take a look at verses 4 and 5.
Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
It is not until we get to the "end of ourselves" that we can truly cherish Christ. Life is not about me... even if I live that way at times. Life truly is about Christ. I am one of the millions of people that has the privilege of serving Him with this moment. I have a choice... I can serve me in this moment, or I can serve Him in this moment.

God, I ask that by Your grace, You would bring me to the end of myself. Would You humble me and show me how small I am so that I would cherish You how I ought to. Help me to cherish this moment and use it to serve You. You even give to Your beloved in their sleep. It is a humbling thing to have to sleep! It means that life goes on without me. Thank You for the reminder of this each and every day. Remind me of my dependence on You. Give me a God-centered urgency about eternally significant things. Would You not have told me the number of my days if it was best for Your glory? Use the uncertainty of the future to stir within me a greater passion for Your glory. Make me a servant like Your Son.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Proof of Trust

You may remember the song that most of us have sung many times... "Trust and Obey". It is such a simple song and yet the truths of it and really quite profound. Obedience is a result of trust. When we were little and mom said, "Don't go in the street", we obeyed out of trust... at least those of us that lived. :) She told us this because she had good intentions for us. She wanted us to be safe. In the same way, the commands of God are not a limiting thing. In the words of John, "His commandments are not burdensome". Yes, His commandments are limiting... and yes, that is a good thing! I have just been pondering these things much over the last few days because I so much want to trust Him with all of my heart. I wish I could say that I trust Him with all of my heart, but my lack of full unselfish obedience leads me to the conclusion that I must come to--I really don't trust Him! I have taken the lies of Satan as the thing to depend on. I say it that way because I need to hear it... and it is absolutely true. Disobedience is simply trusting Satan more than God. We love how lenient Satan is... don't we? We love that added freedom... to do what we please... don't we?

You may have not even noticed that I used very Biblical terms to describe the center of our sinfulness... "love"... "freedom". We were once slaves to sin, but now we are free in Christ. Satan takes these very important parts of our life in Christ and turns it around making us feel like His commandments are burdensome... that we are "in bondage"... etc. We are not.

I am thinking of 1 John 2:15-17.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Elsewhere it states that God has come to destroy the works of the devil... and He says that he who sins is of the devil. Do we really want to work in such a way that God will come and destroy us? Do we not realize that God is no respecter of persons? Yes, He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place, but let us not lose sight of the fact that He has come to destroy some of the things that we have a "love" for. Let us lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us! He is the author and finisher of our faith. We will reap if we do not grow weary in doing good.

God, you know of my lack of trust in You ever more than I do. You know all the ways in which I have loved the things of this world. You know the lies that I have believed. I am not telling You something new. You did not make sin desirable. Your Word is so full of reasons to not sin... and yet, I do. I can't even "surrender all" to You if I want to. It is Your Spirit that enables any kind of good thing to come out of this heart. I do surrender all, not with my own strength, but through Christ who gives me strength. I ask that You would strip from my heart any love for the things that You have come to destroy. Give me Your heart about the things of this world... give me Your heart about eternally significant things. Tear down any walls that keep me from trusting You fully. Cause me to bear the fruit of obedience. Make Your will my most passionate desire, my deepest love and my strongest foothold.

Friday, December 03, 2010

His Wisdom

As a family, we used to read a Psalm and a Proverb every morning... we have now ventured out into many other books (currently Ephesians). But, it has been a little while since I have really spent time in Proverbs. I am in great need of His wisdom these days and so I thought I'd read Proverbs again after my minor prophet detour the last few weeks. Anyway, I ran across this excellent section at the beginning of Proverbs 2 that I really needed to hear.
My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.
This also reminded me of Philippians 4:6-7...
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It brings such peace knowing that if we lack wisdom, we can ask Him and He will give it. The true knowledge of Christ will guard our hearts and guide us in His ways. It is when we diligently seek Him with all of our hearts that He promises to be "found by us".

God, You have said that if anyone lacks wisdom, they can ask of You and You will give it. I definitely lack wisdom and so I ask, knowing that You will provide it. As I seek Your guidance in prayer and in Your Word, I ask that You would lead and guide me... that You would guard my heart and mind... that You would lead me in "every good course"... that my soul would find Your wisdom to be pleasant... that You would humble me so that I would truly seek Your wisdom and see my own for what it is... that You would provide Your grace so that I would not lean on my own understanding... that I would know You and Your ways and not just know, but understand and live according to Your will. Strip anything away that is not of You and unite my heart to fear Your name.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Just Another Thanksgiving

I was thinking this morning about this day we call Thanksgiving. I was thinking about how I don't want to get lost in just going with the traditions... eating turkey, being with family, having fun, and miss the purpose of Thanksgiving. This thanksgiving, my focus of thanks has been mostly centered around the people God has placed in my life to "strengthen my hand in God" as Jonathan did for David.

God has given many abundant blessings... actually, life being one of those. Having had a somewhat close call with a punctured lung a few weeks ago was a reminder of just how frail my life is. The Lord's faithfulness has been so real this last year... seeing Him provide everything plus some for the mission trip to Mexico... seeing how He protected there and caused everything to run smoothly... seeing how He took me out of the job that I was kind of stuck in and moved me to a more long-term (Lord willing) job... seeing how He prepared me for the challenges of this new job... seeing how He has provided for our family's needs on a day by day basis... etc. There have been countless more ways that God has been faithful to me over this last year... in fact, God defines faithfulness. Anything that He does is faithful. It is impossible for Him to be unfaithful... even when I am completely unfaithful.

I was thinking this evening about how important thankfulness is. I did a search earlier today and read more from it on BibleGateway... I was just searching for the word, "thanks". I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but the concept of giving thanks is absolutely central to our daily life. Something I hadn't noted before is that they actually had people set up specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to God. How cool would that be? "What do you do for work?"... "Oh, I give God thanks." Okay, now I have be honest and admit that I didn't study it to the point of knowing how much time they spent doing this, but it was important enough to set specific people in charge of giving thanks to God. If it was that important to them, it ought to be just as important to me. My life ought to be centered around Him... and as it's centered around Him... seeing His continual faithfulness, it ought to overflow with giving of thanks for His unending faithfulness and love.

One of His acts of faithfulness to me is bringing many godly people into my life to "strengthen my hand in God". To those that have made such efforts, I cannot tell you how much it means to me. Thank you.

God, I am so thankful for Your unending faithfulness, yet, I am not nearly as thankful as I want to be. Would You, by Your grace, give me a heart of thankfulness. Do not allow me to credit myself with the blessings that You pour out so continually. It is not because of my faithfulness that Your bless, but truly, only because of the righteousness of Christ on my behalf. So, help me not lose sight of that. Help me never to grow weary of giving thanks to You. May it not be just another act of lip-service, but an accurate reflection of my heart. Help me be more thankful. Help me love You more. Thank You for the cross.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Repetitive Prayers

I have been thinking about prayer quite a bit lately. This may sound strange, but I am kind of more scared to pray now than every before. Perhaps part of it is that I am praying some "scary" things... things that require a trust in Him that is beyond what I feel like I can handle, yet I know that with His strength, He can and will enable me to do anything that He calls me to do. I know that fear (as in being afraid) isn't the proper response to answered prayer, but I have to be honest and say that when I am praying things that I am scared to pray... knowing full well that He will answer it... it kind of scares me! I trust Him, but my timid heart fears how He might answer it. He has never once failed me in any way... so I don't know why I fear His next plan. It is a constant battle to fully trust Him with all of my heart.

I have also been thinking about praying the same kinds of things over and over again. I was telling God on the way home from work all the different things that I am tired of praying for and He graciously reminded me of the following passages.
Luke 11:1-8
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
Luke 18:1-8
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Genesis 32:24-32
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.
God, would You give me Your grace and help to come boldly before Your throne. Strip away the self-centered fear that my heart is so prone to and fill me with a desire to do nothing other than Your will... no matter what it costs. Fill my heart with Your desires. Help me not grow weary in prayer, but to press on in faith just how You instructed us to pray--with Your will as my focus, and with much perseverance. Conform my will to Yours alone. Give me courage to take the next step. Glorify Yourself in me... no matter what it takes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


My thoughts have been all over the place the last couple days. It seemed like I had thoughts about everything with a resolution to nothing. I'd start to pray and find myself thinking, perhaps even worrying, about one of the many other things I had on my mind. Last night, I decided that it had to stop and spent some time on my knees in prayer... all of which was extremely unfocused. It was a battle, but a battle worth fighting. He must continually be at the center of my thoughts and actions. I set an alarm earlier this morning in order to pray some more, and He graciously helped me in focusing more on Him. Church also helped in the refocusing my eyes on Him. I am so thankful for His help.

I was reading this evening in John 6 and blessed by Peter's response to Jesus asking him if he was going to leave Jesus along with the others that had left Him.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
These words ring so true in my heart right now. Who have I but Christ to depend on? In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

His Joy

I was just thinking today about the incredible joy that He has given. My boss and I went to deliver test materials to four schools today and had them in the back of his truck and it started raining. We pulled off and attempted to throw the main boxes inside trash bags and others on my lap. If it strikes you as weird, that's okay... because it does to me too, but truly, I couldn't help but enjoy it. It was one of those times that nothing can irritate you because of the overwhelming joy in Christ. At one of the schools (that was just letting out), this little boy shook the tree right when I walked under it... making me about twice as wet as I was. I found it quite hilarious (totally something I'd do). My poor boss was pretty frustrated by the whole thing, but it was neat to see how some of that joy rubbed off on him by the time we got back to the office. I kind of feel like I am learning to be a kid again... but one with a much larger understanding and more of a conscious choice concerning joy... taking joy in the little things... a healthy carelessness about things that don't ultimately matter. I am truly finding that His joy is my strength. This evening as I was thinking over the activities of the day, I was reminded of Psalm 89:14-15.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.
This verse reminded me of Proverbs 29:2...
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
So here is the question... who is ruling our hearts? Are we groaning? If we are, why are we groaning? Is the Author of all righteousness on the throne? Is His love and truth penetrating our hearts? Are our ears hearing the joyful sound of redemption?

God, cause your love and truth to run before You so that Your children, whom You redeemed with Your precious blood, would walk in Your ways out of sheer joy. It is not because of any lack of provision from You, but because of our hardness of heart that I ask that You would break through with Your unfailing love and truth into these hearts of stone and grant us full joy in You once again. Make us dependent on Your joy for strength. Pour it out in abundance so that we would serve and glorify You.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How Much Does It Cost?

This is one of the blog entries that is not fun to share. It exposes my heart and it's sinfulness... but, I care too much to not share it. I fear for my own heart that somehow I will find pride in "doing what is right" when this is nothing to be proud of.

God, give me Your grace to accurately express these things with the humility that You have implanted in my heart. I cannot even express these things without my sinful heart getting in the way were it not for Your grace.

Over the last several weeks, I have been praying specifically that God would reveal to me any areas of sin in my life and give me the grace and courage to deal with them. I had asked several godly young men to pray this for me as well. God answered those prayers. It all started last night when I was praying and God reminded me of some music that I had recorded illegally several years ago. I didn't know it was illegal at the time and hadn't listened to it in years, but God brought it to mind and so I decided that now was the time to deal with it. I spent 35 or 40 minutes going through all my music and making sure that all of that stuff was gone. God was gracious... and this was easy. I wasn't in any way attached to it. I thought that was it. After praying some more, God reminded me of something I had ignored for a few months. The copy of Microsoft Office that I had was from the company that I worked for previously. This was completely okay while I was working for them and I just never bothered to uninstall it once I stopped working there. It would be one thing if I just didn't realize it, but I admit, the thought crossed my mind a couple times and I quickly threw it out. I "needed" Microsoft office... and they did give it to me... they would even say it was fine for me to keep it if I were to ask (just wouldn't be legal)... no one would know... etc. I had all the justification set in my mind for why I should be able to keep it. But God graciously reminded me that it is no longer mine and so I uninstalled it last night. I wish that I could say that it didn't hurt at all to part with this, but honestly... it was painful. Without needing to pray any more, He reminded me that I had the software that I develop other software with... this is extremely expensive... but this too, I got from the company that I used to work for. I quickly threw out any thought of turning back and uninstalled it. I was reminded of what Jesus told the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22-23.
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
As much as I'd like to say that I am not like this rich young ruler, it hurt to part with these things. It truly is only an act of His grace that He empowered me to do these things. It was a test of trust... how much do I value Christ? After spending much more time in prayer and trying to think through everything I have, I couldn't think of anything else that was displeasing to Him. Knowing the sinfulness of my heart, I am sure that He will reveal more things soon, but He has given me a new courage to do whatever He asks regardless of what the cost may be... for my life is not my own! There can be no dollar amount assigned to Christ, He is of infinite worth... what a pitiful thing it is that my heart was clinging to these things. The fact that I had ignored these things and that they didn't even come to mind when I was trying to think of sin in my life speaks to just how desperately wicked my heart is.

I share these things not because they are fun to share, but because Christ is of too much worth for me to hide for the sake of me "looking good". The greatness of my sin points me to an even greater Savior. He is all sufficient and of infinite worth. God forbid that such small things would steal any part of my heart from being completely His. The call is to come and die so that I might live.

God, help me to value Christ so much that the idol factory of my heart turns into ruins. By Your grace, not only strip away any idols that are in my heart, but break down any desires to create them. Thank You for Your unending faithfulness and the forgiveness which comes from Christ alone. I am in no way deserving of it, but I am forever grateful. Take all of this heart of mine and continue shaping it into the image of Your Son for Your glory.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Mind of Christ

One of the songs that I listen to quite often on the way to work and back is called, "The Mind of Christ". It talks about living a life of sacrifice... putting others first regardless of what they do... to give grace... to never quit doing right... to give all without regret... to have the mind of Christ. It is one of my favorite songs to meditate on as I roll into work in the morning because it helps me focus on the things that matter. Honestly, today was not an easy day. It was one of those days where a coworker was trying to frustrate me (and succeeded, though I didn't show it). Usually during such days, I am able to refocus during lunch break, but I ended up not really taking a lunch break... and it was just a struggle to keep my heart fixed on Him. I am thankful for His grace and help in helping me to respond correctly, but I know that my heart wasn't matching my actions. I so much want to have the mind of Christ, so that it is not just my actions that are following Him, but my actions are following my heart... a heart that is fixed completely on Him. I was reading tonight in Romans 12 and found great encouragement in verses 14-21.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay", says the Lord. "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I don't think I'd call this "persecution"... or that he is my "enemy"... but it still very much applies. I am to have an understanding heart... rejoicing with him in his successes, bearing his burdens in his failures... to make peace, to overcome any bad intentions he has with giving of myself for his benefit. Oh, how little such an act of grace is compared to the grace of Him who died for the sin that I commit against Him every day. I need that constant reminder of the gospel so that my heart would be fixed on Him. These are such little things, but I so much need His help. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. God, help me to live in the reality of the gospel. I want to love how You love. I want Your heart and your mind. Transform me more into the image of Your Son that others would see You through me. Strengthen me with Your Spirit and the joy that comes with true fellowship with You. Cause Your Word to run free in my heart, stripping me of my selfishness and pride and longing to see You glorified.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Fruit That Doesn't Hide

This last week, I had a bit of a change at work. I was asked to code several parts of one of our newest reports. I have also been given the responsibility to fix the bugs in our software as I find them. For some of you, this may sound like a bad thing, but I actually really enjoy it!

Thus far, my programming has been limited to mostly in-house programming and other tasks anything from running a huge printer and organizing thousands of test booklets into boxes to entering pages of numbers into databases to delivering boxes of tests to schools. I was just thinking today about the work that God has done in my heart over the last several months through these things. I love programming... really everything about it! The Lord saw fit for me to do very little of that in these first few months at work. He gave (through my boss) me many different jobs and responsibilities... many of which I would have said that I do not enjoy at all! Yet, through these things, He has showed me that the joy of the Lord is not based on circumstances. It is not based on my job, the people I work with, the tasks I'm asked to do, how my car is running, if life is going "as planned", etc. The joy of the Lord is based strictly on knowledge of His complete faithfulness and full contentment with what He has given. I am very thankful for His wisdom in not just giving me exactly what I wanted right away, but rather using these circumstances to make my joy a little bit more complete in Him.

True joy in the Lord is not something we can fake. It comes from the heart... and it just flows out in abundance. One of the days at work, I was "stuck" running the printer all day. This job is extremely boring... pressing "print", loading paper, and stacking test booklets. It ended up being one of my favorite days at work... I got to sing to Him almost all day (since no one else was in that office)... got to spend much time in prayer and thinking through things. When was the last time that you had 8 hrs to just think, pray and sing... and got paid to do it!?! The key to this joy is not "just trying harder"... it truly is a work of His grace in my heart to find lasting joy in Him regardless of the circumstances. It starts within the heart and from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks! I see just a glimpse of what Paul was saying in Philippians 4:11.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I wish that I could say that for myself, but He is constantly revealing to me areas in which I am not content. I need His continued work in my heart to give me lasting contentment in His grace and faithfulness so that the circumstances in which He places me don't matter when it comes to my joy. His joy will be my strength, for I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Friday, October 01, 2010

His Temple

I was reading in Psalm 29 the other morning and the phrase at the end of verse 9 caught my attention.
And in His temple everything says, "Glory!"
Immediately, that well-known passage in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 came to mind...
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
... and 1 Corintians 10:31...
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
These passages served as a great challenge to me to really think through everything I do... is it saying, "Glory!"? If it is saying, "Glory!", is He the object of that glory? God, would you help me to live no longer for myself but for You who died and rose again on my behalf so that I would truly be Your temple, that everything within me would say, "Glory!" You are infinitely more deserving of the glory that I can give, but help me by Your grace to use all that is within me to glorify You. I want You to have joy dwelling here, in Your temple.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving Forward

I was reading in Joshua 1 this morning along with a few other passages and the phrase "be strong and courageous" is an obvious theme throughout Joshua 1. Something that I hadn't really noticed before is that when the Lord spoke to Joshua in verse 2-3...
Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.
After telling him several times to be strong and courageous and promising to be with Joshua, it is really cool to see how Joshua responds.
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.
He did not delay at all! He listened to the Lord speaking to him, had confidence that He never fails and proceeded with immediately following His direction and leading the others to do the same. Three days is pretty quick after waiting so many years... but when God says "go"... you go! It is also neat seeing how God had worked in the people's hearts in order to respond to Joshua correctly.
They answered Joshua, saying, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. "Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. "Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous."
Talk about taking this seriously... to put to death anyone that was disobedient to his lead (knowing that ultimately it was the Lord leading). God also spoke through these people to Joshua to be strong and courageous. It is such a blessing that not only does God give us encouragement through His Word, but He speaks through people as well to spur us on to obedience and submission to His ways along with leading in the ways that He would have us lead.

God, may we be strong and courageous in following Your ways. Give us no peace and no courage to move outside of Your boundaries, but help us by Your grace to run boldly in the path that Your Word is lighting for us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Manning Up

In the last post, I talked about Eli and his lack of taking responsibility as a father to his sons and how important it is that we take full responsibility when it comes to sin. Eli definitely messed up in a big way, but Eli also was willing to "man up" and take God's judgment for his lack of responsibility. Take a look at 1 Samuel 3:10-18.
Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." The Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. "In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. "For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am." He said, "What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you." So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him."
I was reading in Galatians 6 earlier today which talks about how we reap what we sow. Eli was no exception to this, he sowed irresponsibility and God severely punished him for it. At the same time, Eli humbly realized his fault and even though he did not do anything about it, he was willing to accept God's perfect will... which in this case was judgment. The first step is to take responsibility, but the reality is that we all will fail at times. In these times of failure, it is essential that we humbly confess our sin of irresponsibility to the Lord, start taking responsibility while accepting whatever punishment the Lord brings our way knowing that it is best for us.

David was called a man after God's own heart. Take a look at how he took recognized God's sovereign hand working through someone else in 2 Samuel 16:5-11.
When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. Thus Shimei said when he cursed, "Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! "The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!" Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head." But the king said, "What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, 'Curse David,' then who shall say, 'Why have you done so?'" Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him.
God says that we are to honor the king, so this was clearly not something that Shimei should have been doing; however, David recognized the extent of his own sinfulness and that he was completely deserving of the things that Shimei was saying. Rather than having Abishai cut off his head (which he could have done), he spoke humbly, knowing the reality of his own sinfulness and that he was deserving of far more than just these insults being cast his way. David's sin was great, but he humbly "manned up" and took responsibility for his sin without shifting it to others (even if they were wrong in what they were doing). May God give us hearts of humility to "man up" or "woman up" and take responsibility for our own sin regardless of what others are doing. May our sin cause us to realize how great our savior is!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taking Responsibility

This week has been a good one, but challenging as well. It felt like I was constantly battling to trust the Lord fully. That is not by any means a reflection on His faithfulness, because He is altogether faithful and has given me no reason to not trust Him; yet, I still struggle to do so fully. I am so thankful that He is not done working on me yet! Today was a good day of refocusing. I am ready for a new week!

A couple of my friends are leaving, one for school, the other off to the army. Both of these young men are guys that I care much about... and in some regards, it is hard to see them go, but I know that God does all things for His glory in His perfect timing. May God's faithfulness be their standing place regardless of where He puts them.

I was reading tonight in 1 Samuel 2 and was thinking through what it means to really take responsibility.
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? "No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating. "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death. ... Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh's house? 'Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? 'Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?' "Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever'; but now the Lord declares, 'Far be it from Me--for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 'Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 'You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 'Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. 'This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 'But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.
God used people to tell Eli that his sons were doing things that were very displeasing to the Lord. He did what most of us would do and went to his sons and confronted them about their actions. However, when his sons didn't respond, Eli obviously just let it slide. First off, Eli probably knew about his son's actions before people told him and had chosen to ignore those actions. Second, Eli didn't take his responsibility as their father and take action. God said that he honored his sons over God Himself! God will be glorified regardless of if you and I do it or not. I don't know about you, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" So often we like to ignore the sin of those around us to avoid conflict, but be careful that you are not honoring that person over God! Friendship with the world is enmity toward God. Light does not mix with darkness. We must take full responsibility for not only our actions, but also the actions of those God has placed within our sphere of influence. I am not advocating that you go point out every sin that anyone you know has ever committed, but I urge you to not ignore your sin nor excuse the sin of others, because God most definitely does not! He is a God full of compassion, but we must walk as His children in obedience!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Persevering in Prayer

We read Luke 11 this evening in family devotions and this isn't the usual account of the Lord's prayer that I read. I usually read Matthew, but the surrounding context caught my attention. Take a look at verses 1-13.
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
This is kind of a different blog post in that it is something that I don't really talk about, but it very much fits in with this passage. I don't really like to pray out loud in a group setting. I should rephrase that... I love to pray at any time, but I prefer to pray alone, out loud, with just me and the Lord. I was praying the other night and saying something to the effect of, "God, I feel like I am wearing You out with saying the same kinds of things over and over again. You know what I desire far more than I do, yet I ask again, not because You need to hear me ask again, but because it is good for my heart to keep asking You." I hadn't thought of this passage when I was praying, but I find it interesting that God wants us to not give up when it comes to praying for things that honor Him... the biggest of which is that He would fill us with His Spirit. Prayer is a mystery to me. I don't know exactly how it works... I can't comprehend how He is able to hear me and everyone else at the same time... and how His thoughts about me out-number the grains of sand... yet all these things are true. Prayer is extremely powerful. Do you ever pray for big and scary things? Perhaps things that you aren't even sure about, but you pray out of faith? The kinds of things where you literally tremble as you pray them? I do not always pray this way... in fact, far from it, but He is slowly teaching me to pray. For myself, I have found that praying starts with the knowledge of Him and His character... praising Him for those things and committing to fully believe Him and obey Him because of those things. From there, praying things that I know are His will with absolutely no doubt that He will answer because He has already said it's His will really builds my faith. They are things I know in my head, but with my lack of faith, I need to see it. I'm not saying that we should be the kinds of people that "ask for a sign" when we don't believe, but rather... believing what He has stated is true... for example, I know it's His will that I grow in the grace and knowledge of Him... so I pray specifically for that. I know it is His will for me to grow in humility and patience... so I pray that. I know it's His will that I love Him more... so I pray that. If you don't pray Biblical prayers, I'd challenge you to do so. There are more things than you could pray for in a life-time from scripture... so start now! Commit to be obedient... and pray these big things for His glory in your heart. After I pray these things, I generally bring my requests to Him... the things that I believe are within the boundaries of scripture... things that I believe would glorify Him, yet I do not know if they are part of His perfect plan. I bring these things to Him, "coming boldly before the throne of grace"... to a point that I am often scared to pray. Sometimes I even tell Him that I am scared of Him answering my prayer request... but I trust that He will provide the grace necessary to glorify Him in all things knowing that His plan is perfect and I want nothing other than THAT plan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

God, My Exceeding Joy

It's been a long day... woke up at 5:30 or so and decided to go back to bed until 6:30 but still felt tired. I'm thankful for the strength that He provides throughout the day. It was a great day... had a good time in the Word, had a good hard-working day, played some volleyball with the family, and now I'm here ready to hit the sack once again.

It looks like God may be re-opening the doors with team handball. When my team in LA started practicing on Sundays, I pretty much stopped playing. I figure if God wants me to continue, He is going to have to make it clear. They recently moved practices back to Saturdays (though it is like a solid 2 hrs away). Anyway, long story short, I am headed for a 4 day camp for preparation for the Pan American Games. The coach is my favorite coach... really neat encouraging but challenging guy. I love his coaching style. I don't know what God has planned, but He opened this door and so I am walking through it and trusting that He will lead either way. May He strip away any desire to make a name for myself and replace it with a desire to glorify Him alone.

I was reading in Psalm 43 this evening and verses 3 and 4 caught my attention.
O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
It is so essential that we are spending time in His Word so that we are being lead by the truth. Emotions and feelings are not good things to go by... especially considering He has given us His Word to guide us along with every spiritual blessing in Christ! It is then that we can have confidence that we will be drawn toward Him. I love the phrase in verse 4, the commitment to go to the alter of God because God is my exceeding joy. I truly can say that God is my exceeding joy. He is everything that I need. I don't need another breath if I have Him! The hard part is living in the reality of that. It is so easy to distract myself with the things of the world when truly all my true joy is found in Him. In Him we live, move, and breathe! May all be done for His glory... out of joy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Lord Will Protect You From All Evil

Yesterday morning, I received an email from my handball coach (from the national team) and he said that he and his family were at the park by their hotel out in London and they got mugged. He, of course, had all their money on him... credit cards... cell phone... etc., but not passports, so basically, they were having trouble leaving the country because they had to pay for the hotel but had nothing to pay with. He was born in Europe, so it wasn't surprising that he was out there. Their plane was leaving in like 2 hrs, and I really didn't want to loan him $1,800, but was reminded of the verse in Psalm 112:5, "It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgement."

I told God that it is His money and that I would go ahead and do it. I asked my coach to call me really quick... as I was headed out to work at that very moment. He said he couldn't call until he got to the airport. So, I tried to send him the money via westernunion or whatever it is. It failed for some reason. So, I told him... hey, sorry, but it didn't work and I'm at work... am the only one in the office at the moment and I just can't leave right now. (I usually don't check my normal email at work, but made an exception for this). He replied asking if I could perhaps send someone to do it for me.

So, after some more people got into the office... and thinking of James 2:16, "And one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what is that?". I got permission to leave for a bit. I probably would have just not done it expect for the fact that I said I would pray for him... so I kind of locked myself in. haha Anyway, went to print his email, and the printer failed. Ended up having to print to a different printer. At this point, with everything not working, I was sensing... that perhaps it's not God's will for me to do this!

I called mom (should have done that way sooner), asked her to call the handball office and check into it... and I went to the bank to check some things with them. Both came to the conclusion that it indeed was a scam. I have seen these things many times before, but it is always from a junk email address... this was actually from his real address with his real signature. It annoyed me greatly that he couldn't call me, and looking back, I was pretty unwise, but so thankful for His grace and protection. I'm reminded of Psalm 121...
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.
I am so thankful! :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wisdom From Above

I have neglected this blog far too long. Life has been so full these last several weeks... in a very good way... but full all the same. God has continually been working in my heart and I wish that I had written more here for my own sake (to remember everything), though I think it would challenge you all as well. Anyway, my Bible study has been exceedingly random these last several weeks, but very productive. I am continually amazed at how God can speak through really any part of His Word directly to my heart. One thing I have been focusing on is trusting Him. He has continually proved Himself faithful and trustworthy. As I pursue His wisdom in all the choices of life from the small day-to-day ones to the big life-changing ones, it is such a blessing knowing that not only does He know what is best... He created me and knows me better than I know myself, but He has promised not to withhold any good thing from those that walk uprightly. There is such security in trusting the Lord. The peace that comes with having absolutely no doubt that God's absolute best will indeed happen is a blessing beyond words.

I was reading tonight in James 3 and verses 17 and 18 stuck out to me.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Knowing that I am prone to seek my own will rather than God's, I love passages like this which differentiate between true wisdom from above and my wisdom... (or the lack thereof). This is down-to-earth and practical... "reasonable" is one of the characteristics of wisdom that comes from Him. Obviously, our reasoning can be off (and often is), but reasonable in combination with being without hypocrisy (meaning completely true and in no way fake), pure, full of mercy and good fruits (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) shows us what true wisdom from the Lord looks like. As I seek His wisdom daily (because I lack wisdom), I need His work of grace in my heart to truly differentiate between my "wisdom" and the true wisdom that comes only from Him producing these good fruits. May He show me the foolishness of my "wisdom" and plant within me His wisdom not to puff me up, but to help me pursue Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Taking Responsibility

Life has been busy with the new job, but I am greatly enjoying it. God has been very gracious to me. I am really starting to get into the swing of things at work and am getting to do some things that I really like a lot. God has been teaching me much about taking joy in the "not so fun" tasks at work... truly, those things can be enjoyed. There was probably 30 mins today where I was able to pray during work... and get a whole lot done at the same time. Those "mindless" tasks can be an incredible blessing.

My pastor mentioned Nehemiah 1 the other day and so I read it this evening and was blessed by Nehemiah's example of taking responsibility. Take a look at Nehemiah 1:5-9.
I said, "I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father's house have sinned. "We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. "Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.'
This is a great example of how to pray... he comes humbly before God recognizing God's greatness and his position as God's servant... and he comes before God to take responsibility for not only his sin, but the sins of the people around him. He is praying God's Word back to Him with both the good promises of blessing and the consequences of living unfaithfully to God. God desires to be glorified in bringing His people to the place of His dwelling. To be honest, I can't remember the last time that I have come before God, taking responsibility for the sin of someone else. Yet, I truly believe that God is looking for men like Nehemiah to stand up and be men... take responsibility and action according to His will. I need Him so much to teach me to be a man of responsibility... that loves Him and desires others to do the same so much that I am willing to humbly come before the Lord confessing not only my sin, but the sin of others... pleading that God would strip it away and draw all men to Himself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Blessed Controller and Owner of All Things

God has been blessing abundantly these last few weeks. Work has been challenging in some regards, but God has been more than faithful. I am learning much about what it means to serve others unselfishly. Many of the tasks I'm assigned to do are not things that I enjoy doing necessarily. I am working hard at automating test processing and such so that I am more free to work in more enjoyable ways, but I have learned to take joy in the tedious tasks, realizing that I am working for the Lord and not for men. I could use prayer that God would continue to strengthen me and give me a heart to "do all things without complaining." He must be glorified in me every moment of every day.

I was reading in Mark 8 this evening and two things really caught my attention... verses 16-21 and 31-33. Take a look at 16-21.
They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? "Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." "When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?" And they said to Him, "Seven." And He was saying to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
It is so easy to lose sight of the fact that God is the creator and owner of all things and He lacks no power to provide for our needs, yet we so often are tempted to look elsewhere when things aren't as we expect them to be.

Also, take a look at verses 31-33.
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
These things may seem a bit unrelated (and they are), but I think there are also many similarities. In this case, Peter expected Jesus to take up an earthly throne and was ready to fight to the death (as we saw at Jesus' crucifixion) in order for that to happen. Like Peter, we often have preconceived ideas as far as how things are going to happen, but God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). We must humbly come before Him knowing that He is the sovereign God... the One who owns and controls everything. We must have our minds and hearts fixed on Christ and His perfect plan regardless of what He calls us to do and trust that He will do what is best. We so much need Him to strip away our hearts that are prone to wanting things done in our way in our timing. We cry out to God because He isn't giving us what we want... yet, what would have happened if Jesus would have set up His earthly kingdom right then and there? We all (including Peter) would have died in our sins! God, give me a heart that not only is submissive to Your perfect plan, but one that desires it above all else. Help me by Your grace to trust You fully even when I don't see or understand what You are trying to do.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The First Week

The first week of work at my new job is now over. God certainly blessed the week... I learned a lot about different things I am/will be doing already, got a fair amount of things done, learned much about my coworkers, etc. It looks like it will be a position that will challenge me to continually learn new things... and where there are people, there are ministry opportunities, so I look forward to those as well. I was reading this last week: "A man's fingers should be accustomed to working in the soil of the human heart--the hearts of those he serves and loves--that he might accomplish some of the most valuable and important work of this life." Great things to be thinking about as I enter this new work environment. I was also reminded of Ephesians 6 earlier this week and it has been a great passage to meditate on during this first week of work (especially with my boss being on vacation). Verse 5-8 stood out to me.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
God, you have given me this job to honor You through my words and actions. I commit my time at work fully to You and ask that You would continually fill my heart with big Biblical thoughts about who You are and my practical day-to-day applications of that knowledge at work. Would You rob my heart of the desire to please men and fill me with the desire to please You above all else. Strip away the desires to be "cool" and make me into a humble but godly leader in this new work environment. Grant me wisdom and guidance. Help me be productive for the sake of those I am serving. Take away any hint of the "love of money" from my heart and help me to depend fully on You during these blessed times just as much as in the times where I had no choice but to trust You. Mold me into who You want me to be and glorify Yourself in my heart so as to make me a reflection of Your Son to those around me. Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

By His Grace

God has been good and faithful beyond what I can even express. He has opened the door for a good job developing software quite close to home. Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. It was a hard four months without work, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. God has done so much work in my heart through teaching me to trust Him more fully. I pray that learning to trust Him would not be a lesson that needs to be relearned all the time, but rather that I would continually trust Him more and more. He has never failed even once. I have no reason not to trust Him fully. Oh for grace to trust Him more!

I was reading in 1 Corinthians 15 this evening and I loved the example of Paul's heart in verse 10.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

Whether we live in the reality of it or not, we are here only because of the grace of God. Any good in us is because of His grace. Oh for a heart that would work harder than anyone I know for Christ's sake and yet fully depend on Him knowing that it is only by His grace that I am able to do live, move, and breathe. I am so prone to take credit for things that only He has done. I pray that He would not allow me to depend on anyone or anything except for Him and His infinite grace. I can identify so much with those lyrics by Laura Story... "My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused. I see the things You do through me as great things I have done. And now You gently break me, and lovingly You take me, and hold me as my Father and mold me as my Maker. I ask You how many times will You pick me up, when I keep on letting You down. Each time I will fall short of Your glory, how far will forgiveness abound? And You answer child, "I love you, and as long as You're seeking My face, you'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Setting Standards

It is looking like God may be opening a job opportunity for me in the near future. I am excited about this and yet trying to maximize the end of my pre-job time to be as prepared as possible to enter that job and live in light of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

To have the mind of Christ is my highest goal. I want His love to control me... and by His grace, I am free to live for Him because He died for me to do so. I know that when I get out there in the workplace, some of my standards will be pushed and probably broken. How I respond to that is dependent fully on how hard I am leaning on Him... through time in the Word and prayer, reflecting in my day-to-day decisions. The communication of my standards will be tough since we are aliens and strangers in the world (1 Peter 2:11-12). It will not make sense to others... it will probably sound legalistic. I am continually amazed at how God speaks through my pastor directly to my heart. He spoke on this very issue on Sunday. It is impossible to live in this world and be holy without having standards based on His Word. Our standards are not things that depend on who we are with... it defines who we are. These standards must be determined carefully, prayerfully, and Biblically... and yet we must be humble about our standards. It is a difficult balance to "stand firm in the faith" and yet be humble and listen to others, but if our standards are based on our view of God, they will be centered around His character. The goal of having "high standards" is not for attention or to look good in front of others, but because we must live holy and blameless before Him in a world full of perversion.

God, I desperately need You to control me with Your unending love. Help me be fully submissive to You. Give me the grace and wisdom needed to stand firm in Your ways with humility. Give me a passion for You that is so strong that the evil things of this world are not in any way attractive. Strip away any false humility that I have, show me the sin of my heart, and help me to live no longer for myself, but for You--every moment of every day.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Moving Forward!

I find it increasingly amazing just how busy you can be without a job! However, that is soon to change. :) The Lord opened the door for me to have an internship with a local city (in the city hall). I start tomorrow morning and am quite excited about it. It is not a paid internship, but I see it as great practical experience... plus they have lots of connections. I had a surprise interview yesterday. This was the first time that I had received a call from one of those job placement companies. I was beginning to think that they didn't actually exist... but apparently they do! Today I had the blessing of getting to help a friend out with an excel spreadsheet macro. I totally didn't expect to be paid, but that was a great blessing. I received another call today for a second interview for a company in the area on Friday. God has been so good!

Yesterday, my sister and I went out for a few hours and passed out fliers for the new church that our church is planting this fall. God opened several doors for me to talk with people. I have found it such a joy just to pray for the people in the houses that I am putting fliers on as I do so... praying for opportunities to talk with people about Christ... etc. He has a way of turning what could be a boring and somewhat uncomfortable task into sheer joy in serving Him.

I have been thinking a lot about the different areas of my life and how I can press forward in a Christ-like manner within those. It is a continual battle to not grow stale. I know that I gravitate toward the easy path and desperately need His continual grace in pushing me to continue to "learn what is pleasing to the Lord." He has been growing my faith a whole lot these last couple weeks especially... just seeing Him come through time and time again without fail as I have trusted Him. Oh how I wish that I would never again lean on my own understanding! I just finished studying 1 John and chapter 5, verse 3 really jumped out at me.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

As He has been gently teaching me to trust and obey Him, this verse has rung truer and truer in my heart. I long to obey Him fully... and it is not a burden, it is a joy to love Him in this manner! I think of how James talks about faith being dead without works... it is so true! The rubber meets the road when you are forced to get beyond talking about trusting Him... and actually being obedient when it's hard... and it feels like it's going to hurt you. His ways are always best, let's obey Him... it's not a burden, it's a joy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

His Compassion

It's been a full weekend! I had an interview Friday afternoon and got stuck in traffic forever... good time of worship! Saturday, we headed up into the mountains for the day to be with our church for the church camping trip. We played horse shoes, baseball with the kids, ultimate frisbee, etc. We also had a great time of worship... singing of Christ with one another and mixing that in with sharing what we want God to do in our heart. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. Sunday, we visited a friend's church because we had to be out by the beach for my cousin's graduation. It was fun to be part of a completely different church service. I find that we can get so stuck into the pattern of going to church and doing what we normally do that we lose sight of the One we do it for. It's always a refreshment to get away from the "normal church service" for a Sunday and remember that it is all about Him... and the specifics [most of the time] really don't matter that much. Having said this, I love my church and what we do, but it is good to remember that worship comes from the heart. We celebrated with my cousin for his college graduation and got home Sunday evening. Today, I applied for several more jobs, studied for the interview tomorrow, played volleyball with the family, enjoyed devotions with the family, etc. It has been a full weekend, but a good one.

I was reading this evening in Matthew 9 and verses 35-38 jumped out at me.
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

So often we think about how we ought to be telling people about Christ but we just aren't. Perhaps we feel like the harvest is not plentiful... or fear rejection. God has been working in my heart to see people more how He sees them. I am not gifted in the area of evangelism... mom most definitely is. However, this does not free me from the responsibility of loving and having compassion on people. Look at the example of Christ! First of all, He saw these people... how often do we not even think about the people we "see". Once He saw them... He saw that they had no direction... no one to lead them... they were lost and desperate for help. When He saw them in need, He felt compassion for them.

I am reminded of those cars that I see every once in a while driving down the street about three or four times (going opposite ways each time)... and finally I walk outside figuring they are lost and will probably ask for help if I make myself available. How much more should I care about their eternal destiny? Am I so caught up in my life and what I am doing that I don't notice those that have no direction in life? In the least, I need to pray that God would be gracious to these people and send someone to do His work... to be His hands and feet to these individuals. While I feel that most of my personal ministry is in the area of ministering to Christians, I am still called to proclaim the gospel. I am called to have compassion on the lost. I believe that we must have compassion on the "lost"--saved or unsaved! For those of you wondering, I won't beat around the bush, I believe in eternal security. Having said that, there are some Christians out there that are very very lost! They lack godly people in their lives that are willing to go out of their way to have an impact on their life. I don't want to live my life and have no impact. God, give me eyes that are aware of the lost around me, give me a heart of compassion for them, give me a spirit of boldness to lead them as Christ would have me lead, and help me to point them to the ultimate Shepherd that leads them beside still waters and restores the soul.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Have, I Give You!

These last several days have been difficult ones. I am not one that likes to make huge decisions, but I know they are not to be avoided either. I was looking at the possibility of moving a long way from home and everything I am comfortable with. After many nights of prayer, God graciously worked in my heart to the point where I was willing to go if He made it clear that it was His will. I haven't sensed a strong leading in that direction although that may come. I eventually got to the point where it was occupying my life. I decided to take a day off of thinking about it and just focus on Him. There is nothing like the peace He offers in the midst of huge decisions. It was a process of once again releasing every aspect of life to Him. He is so faithful and patient with me.

I was reading this evening in Matthew 19, specifically verses 16-26.
And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

As I was considering the events of the last couple weeks and my need to depend on Him for those big decisions, I was reminded of how much I have here. God has blessed me far beyond what I can even imagine. I often wonder why it is a continual process of releasing thing to Him. The easy conclusion is that I am not only tempted to grab hold of things that don't belong to me... I am actually doing it. I could identify with this young ruler... going away sadly. Jesus was referring to eternal life here, but sometimes we are called to "follow Him" where He leads... and that may mean leaving everything. Why was it a struggle for me? Because I am rich. God has blessed me... and rather than praising Him for those blessings, I grew close to them. I held on tightly. He needed to gently peel my fingers off the people and things that I had grown close to in order to be able to say with all my heart, what I have, I give You... where You lead, I will follow... no matter where that may be.

While I don't think He is going to lead me away soon, I am thankful for His work in my heart over these last weeks. He is so gracious and kind. He reminded me of the many blessings He has poured out continually on me. I pray that I will never take those for granted or grab hold of them with a death grip, but rather cling fully to Him thanking Him for those blessings but completely ready to let them go if He chooses to take them from me. His will be done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Trust in You

Preaching was a good experience. It was challenging. There were several times as I was preparing that I asked myself, "How do pastors do this every week?" There were many times where I was absolutely exhausted... times where things weren't coming together as I expected them to... times where I struggled to remember what chapter I was able to look up... times where I was absolutely not excited about the most exciting thing in the Bible--redemption... etc. But, God is so faithful! When He calls you to do something, He always provides the strength to do it. He graciously allowed me to see my physical weakness in preparing to preach the Word. I will say that I spent a lot of time pouring over the Word and thinking through things; however, it was His strength sustaining and His hand guiding. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to preach the Word--it was good for me, good for my heart, good for my dependence on Him, etc. It gave me a whole new perspective on what a pastors job actually looks like. It gave me new insights into how I can be praying for my pastor during the week as he studies the Word. Thank you for praying for me.

As I am back to the "normal" things of life this week, I am continually reminded of that phrase in "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"--His faithfulness, my standing place. I am dependent on Him, yes. What I don't often realize is that I am much more dependent on Him than I seem to think. The moment I seem to think I don't need to depend on Him, He is faithful to show me just how quickly I can stand no longer. His faithfulness is my standing place--truly. I am reminded of Psalm 143:8.
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.

I am in a place where I really need His guidance... in a more specific sense. I am so thankful for His guidance through the Word and through the godly counsel of others, but I really could use some specific guidance. God, Your compassions never fail, your mercies are new every morning. I trust You! Your faithfulness is my standing place. I trust You! Show me where You want me to go. I trust You! I know without a shadow of a doubt that You do what is best and that You never fail. I trust You! But, I don't trust you like I should. I believe! Help my unbelief! Give me a tender heart for Your ways, a heart of full submission and obedience, a heart that needs only the slightest nudge to run in the direction You guide me without looking back, a heart that trusts You.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Preaching the Word

Over the last several days, I've been spending much time studying in Isaiah in preparation for preaching for the first time on Sunday. I didn't really imagine the time it takes to really study and understand the Word to a point where you feel "prepared". God must be the one speaking. That means lots of time and hard work trying to see what God is trying to say... why He inspired that part of scripture... and why did He put it where He did? I'm sad to say that I have never poured myself over scripture like I have in these weeks preparing to preach. It gives a whole new light to "being ready in season and out of season". It's hard work. I often found myself exhausted, but amazed by His sovereignty in that. I was at a point where I read the wrong chapter like three times... each time, the Lord had guided me to that passage that I accidentally read in order to be more clear on other parts of the message. I am so thankful for His lead.

I'm excited--thrilled really, to have the opportunity to teach the Word in church, but it's a sobering responsibility. Teaching His Word my way is not an option... it must be His Word speaking through me. I find myself even more thankful that He is the ultimate teacher and that He will speak through His Word regardless of "how well I do". I am simply an instrument to communicate His message. I still have much work to do in making it "flow", but I need to be careful to not make it flow so much that I miss what He wants me to say. Dependence on Him is a must! His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I'd appreciate your prayer as I continue to work hard at communicating His message of Redemption in Isaiah.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Those Over-Used Verses

If you are like me, sometimes you'll receive that birthday card that has a verse in it... and quite honestly, just ignore it because you know what it says. I know that's really a dumb thing to do in that it is probably the most important part of the card, but I think it would be ignorant to assume that most of us actually take the time to look up what the verse says. I generally do if I don't know it, but if I do know it... I often don't even think about it. Lately, I have been trying to break that habit by reading passages that I "know so well" that I tend to ignore. Proverbs 3:5-6 is probably the most common graduation verse... and it's graduation time, so I figured I'd take a look at Proverbs 3:1-7.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

What a great portion of scripture! Think of what you have learned (the good things that is)... the things you learn from the Word, the things you learn from your parents... from your pastor. Don't forget those! Keep them at the forefront of your mind. Apply them to your everyday life. Make them a reality in your heart. It will give you a good reputation first and foremost, in the sight of God, and secondly, in the sight of man. Remember how a good name is to be chosen over gold and silver? Ever wondered how to have a "good name"? Read those instructions again! Don't forget what He has taught you! Let Him mold you from the inside out through the instruction He gives us through the Word. Trust in the Lord with all your heart... everything within us must be continually pointing us to trust Him more fully. He is the only One that we can trust fully. Do not lean on your own understanding... we are prone to live out our sinful/selfish desires. We need to be constantly reminded just how sinful we are--desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)! Are we going to put our trust in a desperately wicked heart, or are we going to trust the Lord? In all your ways acknowledge Him... everything we do must have Christ at the center. Think of the last time you consciously sinned... did you acknowledge Him as your judge? Your ruler? Your Lord? Your Savior? Your Redeemer? etc. right as you were sinning? I don't think so! We must keep Him at the center of our lives... we would avoid such a huge amount of harm. Our path would be straight! If we are finding ourselves confused by the path He is taking us on, perhaps we aren't acknowledging Him in all our ways! Again, we must humble ourselves realizing that the only wisdom we have comes from God. We must fear Him. We must turn from evil!

May I never grow cold to the truths of scripture no matter how many times I've read it! I need Him to pour out His grace and renew my Spirit with a stronger desire to listen to the truths of His Word... over and over again. Remember the beginning of Proverbs 3? We are commanded to not forget what we have learned. It doesn't matter how many times we've heard it. Let's dedicate ourselves to continually learning from Him so that we are not forgetful hearers. We must be doers of the Word!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When He Blesses

This week has been a full one... preparing to preach in another week or so... applying for jobs... following up with previous job applications... etc. To be honest, today didn't feel that profitable. I felt like I wasted hours looking for jobs that were not there. I wanted to get the lawn mowed, but it was raining. I'm sure I could have used my time a bit better today. I think I spent too much time "thinking" and not enough time "doing". Had a great time in the Word throughout the day today, but found myself frustrated by the lack of things that I actually got done. I'm thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

I was reading in Deuteronomy 6 earlier and verses 5 through 12 really caught my attention.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

This command to love God with all our heart, soul, and might is well known. It's simple and straight forward, but is it reality? Are we letting those words slip by our minds and leaving them on the "to do someday" list, or are we striving to do it now. This command is to be central to everything we do. We are commanded to teach this command diligently to those we are responsible for. We ought to be considering this when we are hanging out at home, when we are in the car or walking around, when we go to bed and when we wake up. This command is to be so central to our daily living that we post it places where we will see it all the time. Do you know why it is so important? When He blesses us beyond what we can imagine, we naturally forget Him. We take the credit for the blessings... we love the creation rather than the creator... we forsake Him. God commands us to continually put reminders in front of us to love God with absolutely everything in us so that we live in a Christ-centered manner regardless of how much He blesses us. I am confident that this is one of the lessons He wants me to learn before He blesses me with a new job. I must love Him with with all my heart... no more battles between the things of this world and Him... He must win in my heart! With all my soul... every thought, attitude, action must be a reflection of my love for Him. With all my might... absolutely every ounce of strength I have must be used to love Him. I can live daily life, doing the normal daily tasks and still love Him in this way. It is completely do-able... He commands it! By His grace, I will love Him with all that is within me.