Monday, November 28, 2011

Healing From Faithlessness

I have been reading in Jeremiah a little bit and found myself so humbled and yet so encouraged by the words of the Lord in chapter 3, verse 22.
I will heal your faithlessness.
I am so faithless at times. It never ceases to amaze me how I can know the incredible truths of God and yet choose not to trust Him fully. I see so much of my own heart in reading about faithless Israel. God's calling to them is also His calling to me... to return to Him, to call Him My Father, to not turn away from Him. It is so humbling to kneel before Him and see my faithlessness in the light of His faithfulness. Even tonight as I was pouring out my heart, the Lord was convicting me of my lack of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. God has blessed me with several hours of driving tomorrow and Lord willing, I will be able to spend that time listening to His Word. I need so much more of His heart-penetrating words to judge the thoughts and intentions of my heart. God, thank You for Your grace in revealing my faithlessness. Cause faith to rise in my heart as I call to mind truths of who You are and Your greatness. Speak to me as I sleep. Fill me with the joy of the knowledge of Christ once again. You alone can heal my faithlessness. Thank You for being faithful. Make me more like You, Lord.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wholly His

The sermon yesterday was about having our hearts in the right place so that our offerings of thanksgiving would be honoring to the Lord. I was humbled so much in reading Psalm 51 by my self-centered view on the forgiveness of God. Pastor Tim challenged us to meditate on it all throughout this week so that when Thanksgiving comes around, our hearts would be prepared to offer a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. You know... I have so much to be thankful for, but God wants my heart. My praise and my thanks will come out of that... but ultimately, He wants my heart--all of it.

As I consider the greatness of my sin, I must humbly confess that it is the Lord that I have sinned against. He is right and just to judge my sin. He owes me nothing. The fact is that I am not only sinful now, I was born a sinner. I was never "good". God's desire is for the truth of my heart to be laid open before Him. I realize that the truth is always what God sees, but He desires us to be painfully truthful as we come before Him. Sin is a separator. It stains us to such an extent that only God can wash us white as snow.

You know... it is an incredible blessing that we cannot do something to earn the purification of the Lord... that washing from Him that makes us white as snow. Every other religion is based on some kind of works that must be done in order to be holy before the Lord. The joy comes when we realize that we cannot do anything to be holy before the Lord--Christ has done it all. This is why we do not joyfully sing of our own righteousness... we sing of Christ and His righteousness.

This incredible gift of the righteousness of God in exchange for our sin is not something to take lightly. I was reading in 1 Peter 1 this last week and again reminded of verses 17-21 and my responsibility as a child of God.
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Yes, this is a huge responsibility to fear the Lord in our actions and words, but we must not lose sight of that ending statement... "So that your faith and hope are in God!" All the good works in the world would not honor the Lord if our faith and hope are not in God. It is the realization of having been purchased by the precious blood of Christ that drives us to righteous living. What a joy it is to serve the One who already gave all for me! He has purchased my freedom from sin and death and I can think of nothing more honoring to Him than for me to embrace that freedom and live in it. My sacrifices are meaningless if my heart is not wholly His. God, make me wholly Yours... then I will offer my thanks to You and You will be pleased.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lord, You Know

I was praying this evening about a friend who is having a rough time with job circumstances and just seems to be struggling with everything that comes his way. In the midst of it all, he is continually finding things to be thankful about. God is clearly at work in his heart and I am really blessed by the Lord's work in his heart. As I was praying, I was reminded of that short phrase from Ezekiel 37:3.
O Lord God, You know.
Ezekiel knew enough. He knew that God knew. There is great peace in knowing that God, who created all things, who is gracious, abounding in love, the ruler, the mediator between God and man, the living Word, the great I AM, our redeemer, the faithful Father, our guide KNOWS. Whatever burdens I might try to bear on my own, He knows them already and is pleading with me to take His yoke upon me because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He longs for me to find rest for my soul... true rest in understanding that He knows all things. O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. God, may we ever be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. You have seen. You have heard. O Lord God, You know.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Boldness in Honoring the Lord

Today was one of those days where God seemed to speak directly to me through everything... church, Sunday school, and Awana. Sunday school really stood out to me. The message was from Daniel 5.

Take a look at verses 18-24.
O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father. Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him. He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes. Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.
God had given Daniel the opportunity to interpret the writing on the wall for Belshzzar. It would seem so easy to let the words of the king puff him up and then in pride, make known the interpretation to the king right away since no one else could do it. Daniel was not in a rush to get this answer out. Rather, he took his time to speak truth about God to Belshazzar with great boldness. He did not hide the truth about sin and its consequences. He gave absolutely all the credit to God.

This is such a challenge. Our modern day examples of this that most people think of are people like Tim Tebow... putting a verse in the eye-black or kneeling to pray after a touchdown. I respect him much for this and really appreciate the leadership I've seen from him and how he has dealt with some rather difficult issues. I don't want to make light of these things because God judges the heart and holds people responsible for the position that He puts them in, but I do think that we pick role models that don't really challenge us... or perhaps do things that don't apply to us. What God calls us to do is to do all things for the glory of God. I may not be interpreting handwriting on the wall or making touchdowns in front of 50,000 fans, but the Lord has given me [and each of us] opportunities to glorify Him. You know... God can be just as honored through me at my work place with just a few co-workers and boss as he is with Daniel standing in front of the king who could have taken his life and told him all about God and how He reigns. God looks at the heart and He controls the outcome. He wants faithful men and women. He is looking for men and women that will fully submit to His ways and just obey Him. What could God do if just 10 of us were completely faithful to Him? Do you ever dream of what He might do through you? Are you in a position of leadership? Do you ever dream of what God could do through those you have the privilege of leading?

I find (at least for myself) that I can easily miss opportunities to honor the Lord if I am not looking for them. My heart is naturally selfish and self-glorifying... that is my flesh. But God has given me a new heart, one that loves Him. It is only in dependence on God that I have the desire to glorify Him. May God give each of us the grace to see glimpses of what He might do through us and give us great boldness in honoring Him with both our words and our actions. If God be for us, who can be against us? The righteous are as bold as lions! God, help me to be faithful in honoring You with boldness.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Fearing the Lord

I had some travel time today because I was giving a presentation at a school district about 80 miles away. That is probably the biggest thing I miss about going to school... the drive time. Such fellowship can be had with the Lord when it is just Him and me in the car. An added blessing was that I was able to visit grandma after the presentation and have dinner with her. :) She spoils me!

On the way home, I was listening to some sermons that were on the radio... it took forever to get home because of traffic, but the sermons were really exactly what I needed to hear. One of them was on the story of Joseph and how God used the butler who forgot about Joseph... whom Joseph wouldn't have met were it not for the Lord putting both of them there in prison, to place Joseph over all of Egypt. Sometimes I think the waiting periods of life are unending, but my waiting is like... 5 months without a job, but still getting paid unemployment and living in a nice house and getting to spend time with my family, etc. Joseph's waiting was for 2 years in prison for fearing the Lord rather than men.

There is a very common view out there that God will make your life easy if you just obey Him. While the life of the obedient child of God is indeed free of the consequences that sin bring with it, God's promise is not a life of smooth sailing. His promise is that He will work all things together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose. I'm not sure why we attempt to translate this to mean "smooth sailing", because "smooth sailing" is so often not His best. Our plans get frustrated because we want to cram God's will into our own idea of "good", but God is so wise and so gracious in not letting us get our own way. It's kind of like a parent feeding only candy to his child... the child may think this is awesome, but the parent knows that it will actually harm the child. I often lose sight of just how infinite His wisdom is and just how infinitely small mine is. I am so thankful to the Lord for not doing things my way in my timing. Were He to give me all I want, I would be a huge mess! Rather, He gives me what is good as only the most Loving Father can do. This gives me reason to love Him. To obey Him. To trust Him. To fear Him.