Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Yet I Will Rejoice...

                                          Though the fig tree does not bud 
                                       and there are no grapes on the vines,
                       though the olive crop fails and the field produce no food, 
                     though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 
                     yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  
                                        The Sovereign Lord is my strength; 
                                     He makes my feel like the feet of a deer, 
                                      He enables me to tread on the heights.  Habakkuk 3:17-19

Preparation day has come and gone.  Boot camp is over.  This is our time.  He has made us ready.  We cannot trust our feelings.  We cannot rely on just what our eyes can or cannot see.  We WILL rejoice in the Lord.   We WILL man the lifeboats and rescue those who are drowning in doubt and fear.  We WILL hold tightly onto Him so that they can hold tightly onto us.  He is stronger than this enemy we face.  He is wiser than all the wisdom of men.  He is loving and compassionate with His children.  He WILL carry us through this season.

And when we are on the other side (and we WILL be)......

We WILL praise and glorify the One who walked us through.  

We WILL lift high the Name above all Names.

We WILL look back and remember...He is faithful!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Unfinished Business

"And say to Archippus, 'Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you."  Colossians 4:17

Do you have some unfinished business with the Lord?  

Is there something that you and He have talked about - maybe even wrestled with, that needs to be done or submitted to?  Perhaps there is someone you know you need to share Jesus with but you have been hesitating.  Maybe there is a fractured relationship in your life and God has been speaking to you to take the first step in making things right and forgiving.  Do you need to follow the Lord in baptism but you've been putting it off?  Could it be that the Lord has been speaking to you about tithing for awhile and you've been ignoring His voice?  Maybe you are called into some specific type of ministry and you have been running in the other direction like Jonah...

It's very uplifting to read through the last part of Colossians 4 and notice how Paul is sending encouraging words and greetings to those in that church from mutual friends including Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and several others.  At the very end, however, he has a special message for one individual in particular.  He says to make sure that they say to Archippus, "Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you."  

Hmm.  I wonder what that "ministry" was and why Paul felt so impressed about it that he actually mentioned Archippus by name?  Scholars have differing opinions on whether this was a gentle rebuke or simply a work of encouragement for Archippus to stay true to his calling.  Either way, it certainly warrants some reflection.

What ministry has the Lord given you?  You don't have to be called be a pastor or a missionary to have a ministry.  If you know Jesus you have a calling, a ministry, a mission if you will.  No sideline spectators in this race.  If you are on the team then you are in the game.  Don't tell God what you 
will do.  Instead, ask Him what He would have you do.  Be willing to surrender to His call whatever that may be.  There and only there - is true fulfillment and joy.

Unfinished business?  Today is the perfect time to wrap it up.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hanging Hope

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain."  Hebrews 6:19

Hope.  Where do you hang yours?  When the storms of life catch you unprepared or the rising pressures seem to have the single goal of pulling you under, where do you turn?

It wasn't too hard to choose a life verse for 2019.  Hebrews 6:19 won hands down.  The twists and turns of 2018 were constant reminders that I needed that comforting and familiar anchor called "Hope".  No matter how strong the storm, if our anchor is securely fastened onto that which will not be moved, we are safe and secure.

My anchor is called Hope and it is forever chained to the One who gave up everything for me.  Thank you Lord Jesus.  I am blessed and humbled by your constant love and comfort.

Hope.  Where do you hang yours?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hijacked Heart"

"Above all else guard your heart for it affects everything you do." Proverbs 4:23

"Lord, I just want my heart to be right."  Ever prayed that prayer?  I have--but not nearly often enough.  Honestly, much of the time I don't pay very close attention to where my heart is or what's going on inside of it.  I guess you could say I allow my heart to get "hijacked" more often than I would like to admit.

Hijack.  The dictionary definition says it all - "to illegally seize in transit and force to go to a different destination or use it for one's own purposes."

If my heart isn't surrendered and dedicated to my Lord then guess who has the easy opening to hijack it?  To whom have I given the power to seize it and force it to a different destination?  To whom have I handed over the power to use it for his own purposes?

This scripture reminds me that my heart is so fragile, so precious that it needs to be guarded.  Why?  Because the attitude of my heart affects every area of my life.  I must be deliberate about where my heart is and who has control of it.  It's my choice.

"Lord, I really do want my heart to be right..."

Friday, January 26, 2018

Starting Over

"The steadfast love of the Lord never cease, his mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

It's that time again.  New year, new goals, new outlook, and if you know Jesus--new mercies.  Aren't you glad that God invented starting over?  It was His idea.  That's why Jesus came.  He came to live a sinless life and suffer and die on that cross so that we could start over--every single day!

There is no other person, group or institution I know of that allows you to start over again...and again...and again. Why would they?  I mean let's think about it.  If you need to keep starting over it's because you keep messing up.  Keeping someone around who continues failing isn't very practical, or easy or cost effective.  In fact, it's down right stressful!  Honestly, how many times can one person say "I'm sorry" and turn right around and stumble and fall down again? What would make anyone tolerate that kind of behavior let alone be patient and long-suffering with someone like that?  

In Romans 8:38-39 the Apostle Paul gets ahold of the wonderful truth that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God:

        "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither
         the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
         else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
         Jesus our Lord."

Thank you, Lord for your unwavering love for me and for always receiving me with open arms when I'm ready to start over....

Monday, July 31, 2017

Standing For Whose Rights?

"I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flash I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 ESV

Ever found yourself shouting in a moment of defensive passion, "I'm standing for my rights.  I want justice!"?  Click on an online news site or open the pages of your local newspaper and chances are it won't take you long to find someone doing just that.  It's kind of in us as westerners (and especially Americans) to stand up for ourselves and assert our rights as citizens, isn't it?  

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Even the Apostle Paul asserted his rights as a Roman citizen when he was being mistreated in Acts 16.  But when it came to his rights as a christian, a believer, a servant of Jesus Christ, he willingly surrendered any real or perceived rights.  He reminds the believers in Corinthians that they are not their own:

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself for God bought you with a huge price.  So you must honor God with your body."  1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT

I often wonder if our independent spirit, stand up for yourself attitude, many times actually puts us at odds with our Redeemer.  How often do I stand up for me and totally forget to stand up for Him?  Is pushing my agenda overriding the passion and compassion that should cause me to want to surrender to His agenda?

I am struck by the stark visual that is reflected in Exodus 21:6 in the description of a servant willingly surrendering to his master for life.  Traditionally in this period, a slave was given his freedom after 7 years.  However, if the slave declares his love for his master (and his family) and does not want to go free, then his master must present him before God and the following had to take place:

"Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl.  After that, the slave will serve his master for life." NLT

What a humbling expression of a servant's love for his master.  No rights exerted or demanded there.  All authority surrendered.  No turning back.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Do The Math

"Do not be deceived.  God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
                                                                                                                             Galatians 6:7

Some things need little explanation.  Some spiritual truths need none.  They just say it.  There.  The words from Galatians 6:7 fit into that category.  No explanation necessary.

In my limited attempts at planting a vegetable garden I found an amazing truth that never changed--what I planted was ALWAYS what came up.  Imagine that!  I never had to wonder.   When I planted peas, I got peas.  When I planted pumpkins, pumpkins I got.  When I planted tomatoes--you guessed it!  I got tomatoes.  Never failed.  What went into the ground is what came back up in a few weeks 100% of the time.

We are accustomed to hearing this truth paired with financial blessings and there is certainly plenty of evidence and encouragement in the Word of God to firm that up.  But there is much more to receive from this chapter and the preceding one in Galatians.

Paul is reminding the Galatian church (and the contemporary church as well) that if we sow to our flesh (our sinful nature, selfish desires, judgmental attitude, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc...) then that is exactly what we will reap.  Why is it so hard for us to show grace to others when grace is what we need for ourselves?  Can we not see it?  Why is patience with our neighbor such a difficult thing to have when we need and receive patience in daily quantities from the Lord?  Why must we hold onto the offenses from the past when Jesus daily marks paid on our sin ledger?

Maybe self is the real issue here.  Whenever I spend way too much time thinking about me I always end up in a place that doesn't work.  I don't belong there because I have grieved the Holy Spirit that lives in me.  He thrives in the areas that I surrender completely to Him.  Just because I don't "feel" like surrendering doesn't mean I shouldn't.  My feelings so often lie.

Lord, please continue to remind me that when I sow to the Spirit I will receive the fruit that the Spirit offers...."love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control".  

It works every time.