Saturday, August 27, 2011

Making Him Glad

Today was a packed day starting with getting some work done here around the house and then helping someone load up a moving truck. We had an Awana meeting this afternoon. I must say that I am absolutely excited about the group of guys that I am going to be working with this year. I get to work with the junior and senior guys this year (my brother included). :) I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in the lives of each of these young men.

I had the blessing of going to a wedding reception tonight. The Lord blessed with so much fellowship! Sometimes these kinds of things can be fun but empty... but it seemed like everywhere I went in mingling with people, God was continually brought to the center of the conversation. I believe that is what God intended these kinds of activities to be like. I left refreshed and encouraged in the Lord. God is so good!

I was reading in Psalm 104 tonight and got thinking about this phrase:
Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works.
One of God's works is His work of creating us. I must ask myself the question... is the Lord glad that He made me? We read in the times of Noah that God was sorry that He made man. In fact, God says that He was grieved in His heart that he made man (Gen. 6:6). I think we (myself included) take His grace far too lightly. We live in the "age of grace", yet God is unchanging. I believe that our sin causes Him to grieve. In fact, Eph. 4 commands us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. May it be that He is glad in His work of creating me. May it be that He is glad in His work of creating each of us. He is completely deserving of all of our praise. It starts with obedience so as to not grieve Him, but it is so much more than that. When we take joy in Christ, we cannot help but praise Him. I believe it is in obedience and joy in Christ that we make God glad. Let's live each moment asking ourselves... "Does this make you glad, Lord?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I went for a couple mile run the other night. My younger siblings and mom were going to walk around the lake the opposite way and we were going to cross paths at some point. I got about 90% done and there they were... all lined up to race me to the end. I was in no way ready to race to the end... I was tired after the previous 2 miles and just not ready to sprint it out at the end. I determined to keep my pace regardless of what they did. I always like to finish strong, so for the last 100 yards or so (uphill), I decided to sprint up that last hill. I had some "beat the little brother" motivation in there as well. ;) Just for the record, I found it quite humorous. :)

One of the things that I think about most while running is the life applications to running. It takes endurance. It takes planning. If I was to start out too fast, I wouldn't be able to finish. The world around us is full of every kind of instability... finances jump up and down... friends come and go... etc. I am reminded of that passage where Jesus is telling His disciples to count the cost of following Christ. The sermon on Sunday was about faithfulness to the end... even if that means death for the sake of Christ. That is endurance. That is planning to finish strong. The pace is living today in such a manner that I am ready to die for Christ if that be His plan. It is living every moment of today as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God. To be holy is to be without blemish. True holiness can only be found in Christ, but He calls me to be holy as He is holy. This is the pace of being victorious over sin. Finishing strong comes when death is conquered by the glorious uniting of us with Christ at the resurrection.  Death is swallowed up in victory through Christ.

Death is a split moment out of our entire life.  We can't add or take away a moment from our life.  God determines how long we have here on earth and so it is our job to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus who is both the author (starter) and finisher of our faith.  He hems us in behind and before in the sense of running the race.  I think of those marathon runners with the police cars all around them the entire way... they are hemed in and protected.  That is a small example of what God is for us.  He protects us along the way.  He doesn't make it so that we don't need to run, but He is right there guiding us toward the finish and then finishing with the victory over sin and death at the cross.  The battle comes in the running.  I was reading in James 5 today...
We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
I can't think of a single person that had a tougher trial than what Job had. I'm sure there have been... but Job had it tough: his wealth was stripped away, his family was killed, his health was very bad, and his wife and friends were less than encouraging. Yet, looking at James' commentary on Job... this actually proved that God is full of compassion and mercy! God blesses those that go through trials. He is not bound to it, but I believe He takes joy in blessing His children just like earthly fathers take joy in blessing their children. God lets us walk through the trials of life... actually, I think we can say Biblically that He absolutely plans the trials of life for His glory and for our good.

God, help me to be faithful. Help me to endure. Help me to run with my eyes fully fixed on Christ.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are You Rich?

I'm not sure why this passage had never caught my attention before, but I was reading 1 Timothy 6 tonight and verses 17-19 jumped out at me.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
I feel like the church as a whole has not done a good job of instructing those who are rich as He commands. We have this idea that there are "missionaries" and there are "senders"... and I guess there is some truth to that, but 99% of us want to be the rich one that God enables to be a "sender". I know I am exaggerating, but you get my point. We are all called to be disciples and somehow we have decided that being "rich" enables us not to fulfill that command. In the name of "seeking to please God with our riches", we are actually fixing our hope on the uncertainty of riches! Our giving is rarely sacrificial... it is out of the abundance that He has given us. Sin is so often disguised by some kind of seemingly God-centered idea. We need His grace and help to uncover the areas in which we are not pleasing Him.

On the flip side, I have also found a large crowd... well at least the 1% in the church that are committed to missions (again exaggerating a bit) that see riches as evil. The truth is that most of the time the riches cause us to love money which indeed is the root of all evil, so they are right in many regards. However, it is unbalanced... if we all committed to reading the Word and doing what it says: fix our hope on God realizing that He supplies all things to us for us to enjoy, be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share (bringing more joy) for things of eternal worth... that would really solve a lot of our problems. It's interesting that we are to be "ready to share". This means that we are saving money for that purpose... to share! He gives us these things for us to enjoy. He even says that! It is not wrong to enjoy the things He has blessed us with... He loves to give His children good gifts and see our satisfaction with His gifts. Yet, I think one of the ways we can enjoy His gifts the most is to share them. One of the ways God has lead me to do this is by actually putting different spots in my budget for "sharing". I don't claim to do it the "right way". I'm not sure that there is a "one size fits all" for this kind of thing. But I know for myself, I dislike spending money and so if I don't specifically plan to share, my natural tendency is to store up treasure for myself which is of absolutely no eternal value. I have found that one part of my budget the most joyous.

I think it important that whether we have much or have little, we are applying these truths. If God is gracious to me and I am fixing my hope on the uncertainty of riches, He will strip away those riches for my good so that I will fix my hope on God! Just because you are poor doesn't mean that you don't trust the Lord and just because you are rich doesn't mean that you do! It simply means that God knows what is best for you at this time and He wants you to be faithful with what He has given. I often think about the rich young ruler and how he went away from Christ sad because he had great wealth. May God in His grace strip away my earthly possessions completely before I walk away from Him to pursue my own riches.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life--A Gift

It's been a great birthday:
  • Stayed up late talking with my mom and sister.
  • The blessing of sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 10 days.
  • The surprise of cookies in my car that my sister baked for me.
  • Getting emails and texts and facebook messages throughout the day filled with encouragement and memories of friends.
  • The reminder that life is a gift and our days are numbered as I saw an over-turned car on the freeway on the way to work.
  • The blessing of spiritual food and the overwhelming love of the Father in Hosea 2.
  • Exhortation from 1 Timothy 6 about fighting the good fight.
  • A great prayer from the end of Ephesians 1.
  • The blessing of having and out of the ordinary day at work with traveling around to different schools and being able to listen to the Word being preached and worship in singing.
  • The blessing of my brother going out of his way to BBQ an amazing roast and make milk shakes.
  • Etc.
The Lord has been so good to me in this short 24 hour period... and His goodness doesn't change, even though I fail to recognize His blessings so often.  The Lord has been so good to me this year.  The reality is that I am not guaranteed tomorrow or even the next hour here on earth.  Five individuals were crushed under stage equipment in Indiana where I was less than a week ago.  I don't know how long I have, but what I do know is that I need Him to teach me to number my days so that I present to Him a heart of wisdom.  I love the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards and was reminded of the one that has stood out the most to me:
Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
Life is an interesting thing.  We must live in the moment.  As Jim Elliot says and I wholeheartedly agree, "Wherever you are--be all there."  At the same time, we must have eternity in our hearts.  We are eternal beings.  What I eat today doesn't matter for eternity.  What does matter is that I do all (even the mundane things like eating) for the glory of God.  It comes down to living 100% in this moment for the glory that is to be revealed in Christ for eternity.  I fall so so short.  That is what makes Christ so real to me.  The guilt of my sin satisfied by the love of Christ in taking that guilt upon Himself so that I could be declared not guilty before the throne of God Almighty.  My sin is great, but my savior is greater still. 

God, take this year of my life and use it for Your glory.  You deserve nothing less than all of me.  Take all that You have given me, time, money, possessions, etc. and use it how You deem best.  Gently peel my fingers off anything that I am holding onto as my own that is really Yours.  Cause me to be a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You this year.  Give me a heart of vision for eternal things and a heart a wisdom in how to apply that knowledge in every "this moment" of this next year.  Make me Your prized possession... not because I deserve to be, but because You deserve all of me.  Rid my heart of anything that holds me back from being fully Yours.  Thank You for this year.  I love You.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Obey Him!

I sense that God blessed the time in Atlanta. I may not be chosen... and honestly, I kind of hope that I'm not. It would simplify my life in a lot of ways with work and all; however, if God opens that door, I will consider it prayerfully. I really just want to honor the Lord. He is going to have to make it clear... and I know that He will because shepherds do not hide from their sheep. They make themselves seen and they lead with wisdom. I am depending on Him to come through as I know He will. I look forward to whatever He has in store.

I was listening to a sermon on the way home today about how our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It very much fit in with these verses from Jeremiah 7 that I read this evening.
Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the Lord. “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you." But this is what I commanded them, saying, "Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you."
I am thankful that God does not just let us sin without causing us to really consider the impact of it. It is such a blessing that we have the Holy Spirit living within us to convict of sin and righteousness and judgement. He sees all. None of our thoughts, actions, or motives are hidden from Him. I don't like to hear those words from Him, "I do not hear you.", but I must take all sin seriously. His grace is far greater than all my sin, but it must be taken seriously. It must turn me to love my Savior so much more than I already do. He tore the veil that separated me from Him so that I could come boldly before His throne of grace to obtain help in time of need. I think that must be why Paul says to pray without ceasing... I am never in a place where I don't need His help.

God, Your grace is truly amazing. The reality of You not being able to look on sin would be instant death were in not for Your grace and Christ taking the full weight of my sin on Himself. Thank You for these Old Testaments pictures of what it is like to be separated from You. I need these reminders so that I love You more. Thank You for showing me so constantly how much I need Christ. Let me never try to do life without You. I cannot do without You. I must know You. Teach me full submission and humility. Do the heart surgery that needs to be done in order to refine me. Make me Your prized possession. I need You to strip anything out of my heart that is not of You. Put in me a completely pure heart. I want Your motives. I must have them. By Your grace, do not allow me to take the glory that belongs only to You. Take any blinders off my eyes that may be hindering me from seeing You and Your ways clearly and give me the heart to follow. I know You will do that work because it is Your will. I love You. Thank You for Christ. Help me to live no longer for myself, but for Christ Who died and rose again on my behalf. Make Your glory central to everything I do.