Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Must-Read

Rarely will you ever me blog about something like this, but I have to tell you...The Imitation of Christ is one of the best books I have ever read, other than the word of God itself. Rarely will I ever recommend a book on Christian-living because I am somewhat choosy, but this writing is incredible. I have never read a more challenging book. If you can...read it. You may have to struggle through some old-english, but its worth it. It amazes me at how deep the insights are and it was written in the 1300's!!! Its very practical. Read it. Here are some quotes:

"There is no reality in anything except loving God and serving Him alone. Our highest wisdom is to seek the kingdom of heaven, rejecting the things of this world. You are only pursuing an empty phantom if you strive for riches that cannot last, and pin your hopes on them; if you canvass for honors and acquire distinction; if you obey your natural appetites and desire things which must bring punishment later; if you hope for a long life and care little for a good life; if you think only of this present life, and never give a thought to what comes after it; if you set your heart on things which pass away so quickly, and do not press on toward that place where lasting joy remains." (p. 38)

"A really great man has great love. A really great man is humble in his own eyes, and considers all distinction and honor worthless. A really wise man treats all earthly things as refuse in order to have Christ to his credit. A man who has really learnt something is one who does the will of God and abandons his own will." (p.42)

"The reason why you are so often angry and upset is because you are not yet completely dead to your own interests and separated from all that is earthly. There is nothing that pollutes and entangles the human heart so much as an unpurged love for things that have been created. Only if you refuse outward comforts will you be able to glimpse the things of heaven and often know the inward joy." (p. 86)

Read it. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Knowing Jesus

Nothing is more satisfying, humbling, touching, and truly wonderful than encountering Jesus Christ and knowing Him. There is so much revealed about His characer through His word and just taking His word for what it says. Before Jesus was betrayed, denied, and abandoned by His closest friends and His own people, He did something that speaks louder than words...
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." John 13:3-5.
Can you picture this scene in your head? God incarnate kneeling down at the feet of men, washing the dirt and mud off of their feet to be the example that He asks us to be. Jesus had hands of flesh with which He touched some of the most dirty things, including lepers, diseased people, the sick...and the feet of His disciples. He washed them and dried them on the towel that He wrapped Himself in. The Creator of the world, humbling Himself and serving those whom He created. He did this knowing fully what the next hours held...that none of His disciples would stick with Him... that no one understood what He was doing for the world...and that He would become sin and the Father would forsake Him. He was serving His disciples hours before darkness would overtake Him...and He did it in love. "...Jesus knowing His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end..." John 13:1 Even in the betrayal while Jesus was being arrested in the garden He loved and protected His disciples, "Therefore He again asked them, 'Whom do you seek?' And they said, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' Jesus answered, 'I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way...'" John 18:8
I want to encourage you to know that Jesus has served us by not only washing our feet, but washing our hearts. Every stain and imperfection He has removed from us...and He did it in the flesh. He bore it in His body on the cross. His salvation is personal...and He humbled Himself greatly that we might be called friends of God. What a Savior that we can know! "So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord..."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

His Delight

In midst of a culture of rebellion, idolatry, abandonment, and deceitfulness in the nation of Israel the tender words of the voice of God speak of life, love, hope, and victory though they are also surrounded by words of judgement. I just finished the book of Isaiah and am now going through the book of Jeremiah. I am overwhelmed at times by the words of judgement that God spoke to Israel--and I am also overwhelmed at the evil and wickedness that was so prevalent in God's chosen people. The words of judgement can be heavy but the word is living and active. In Hebrews it says, "For those whom the Father loves, He disciplines..." Praise God that He loves us enough in our short-comings and failures to correct us and lead us down the path of life.
The book of Isaiah was a blessing to read, difficult at (many) times, but so filled with the love of God. Even in the prophecies of judgement against the nation of Israel, His actions came from a deep love for His people. Not only does He love His people, but they are His delight! "But you will be called,...'My delight is in her,'...For the Lord delights in you...And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.'" Isaiah 62:4,5 And, "Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place, and other peoples in exchange for your life." Isaiah 43:4. And finally, a word from the prophet Zephaniah, "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing," Zephaniah 3:17.
The Lord takes great delight in His people...The Lord takes great deight in you! Praise His name!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Christ Alone

I just want to share the words of this song...may we proclaim the truth of these words to the world!

In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstong, this Solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love! What depths of peace!
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righeousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied--
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth, in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me!
For I am His, and He is mine--
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand.


Friday, September 25, 2009

He's Not Ashamed...

I am deeply blessed by the truth that "He (Christ) is not ashamed to call us brethren..." Hebrews 2:11. Jesus is not ashamed of us... What powerful words these are to the guilt-filled, sinful soul. How many times do we feel ashamed of ourselves before God because of our own sin and guilt? But Jesus is not ashamed of us...He has personally cleansed those who put their faith in Him from all their iniquity. When I think about all the things that Jesus must see in me...it makes me shudder sometimes. He knows EVERYTHING about me. He knows my heart more than I do. He sees our true intentions, our true motives, our true ambitions, our thoughts (every one of them), every sin we commit, and our hearts. Just as it is stated in Genesis, " every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually..." Genesis 6:5. Yet, He chose to endure the cross for us...so that He could wash our sins away. How loving He is toward us! He chose to be forsaken by the Father so that He could "make His abode" with us. And after all His suffering from the hands of sinners (us), it is still written that He is not ashamed to call us brothers. I am truly blessed by this and I pray that you would be as well. May the fruit of our lips be a pleasing sacrifice to Him...give Him praise!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Refining...Submitting to God in All Things

The Lord is good and He teaches us in various ways to know Him, His ways, and the discipline of a life that follows Jesus. I just want to take a minute here and say how valuable it is to understand and know the Lord...it is worth more than anything else this world has to offer. In fact, knowing the Lord Himself IS eternal life..."This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent," John 17:3. Proverbs 16:16 says, "How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver."

With that being said, I will share with you how the Lord taught me wisdom from a practical life lesson yesterday. With moving and a whole bunch of other things going on in my life right now, I have been stressed out and overwhelmed. Being scheduled to work yesterday, I began to panic thinking about how I was going to get everything done that I needed to. I decided that calling off work was a good idea...I hardly ever do it. Everybody else does it. I just needed time. So I called off and was ever so slightly misleading in my reasoning for calling off. After I hung up, I immediately felt no relief and wished I hadn't called off, I felt dishonest. But everyone else does it all the time, I told myself. The Lord stirred my heart...its still dishonesty. But I deserve it! Its totally okay! The Lord stirred..."consider your ways..." Hmmmm. I thought if I ignored my thoughts, I would feel better and forget about it...no big deal. (Note to reader--If you are trying to not feel bad about something you have done wrong, DO NOT try to distract yourself by reading the bible...it doesn't work). I went outside to spend some time reading my bible as I do every morning. And this is what I read: "He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility." (Proverbs 15:31-33). So much for trying to ignore my thoughts!!! The Lord was convicting me to be disciplined by Him, to humble myself, and to honor the Lord first in my life.

What happened next involved me humbling myself to call my work back and confessing that I had been misleading, and apologize that I did not hold myself to the standard that I usually place on myself. Talk about swallowing my pride...but I felt amazingly better afterwards even though my co-workers probably think I am insane. A couple valuable lessons have been learned for me--to humble myself is choosing to be wise, choosing to be disciplined is wisdom, and when I fall short and sin..."Against You and You only have I sinned..." (Psalm 51:4). What I hope others can learn from this is...christians DO make mistakes, but when we do...it is to be an example to show the greatness of God, His mercy and love, and that we forsake all things to live a blessed life for Him. If we are not faithful in the small, insignificant things in life...how can we ever think we will be faithful to Him in the big things???

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Call to Prayer

I know I keep writing about distractions, but I believe it is one of the most powerful tools of the enemy to keep us from living the will of God. May the Lord stir up the hearts of His people here and all over the world to pray...to pray that His glory may be seen all over the earth, that God would be exalted in the church, that the tactics of the enemy may be thwarted, that His Kingdom come and His will be done, that the islands and the coastlands would hear of the love of God come down from heaven, and that when Christ returns He WILL find faith on the earth. Amen! May the burdens of God's heart be placed on ours and that He will move His people to pray. Some powerful lyrics to a Jason Upton song called Teach Me How to Pray says,
"Mommy, I hear a baby crying
Help me, are the words she's implying.
Where've I been while my world has been dying?
Lord, teach me how to pray.
Daddy, I can hear Jesus crying.
Help me, are the words He's implying...
Am I sleeping while my Savior is dying?
Lord teach me how to pray..."
I cannot imagine how Jesus felt when He was struggling in the garden, asking His disciples to pray...and they slept. Their spirits were willing, but their flesh was weak. Centuries later, we find ourselves in the midst of a fierce battle that wars against the spirit and souls of people and are we falling asleep because our flesh is weak? Praise God we don't have to and we can fight the weakness of our own flesh! The power of the Holy Spirit within us can stregthen us and change our hearts to be mobilized for Him...but will we choose to be changed by God?
On the road to the cross a large crowd was following Jesus, crying and mourning for Him...and His response is astounding. Jesus says,"Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children...For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?" John 23:28,31. Jesus is speaking directly to the Jewish people, their crucifying their own Savior, their blindness to the truth, and the scary future of their nation. But what implications can we draw from this passage to apply to us and our current condition in the world today? Can we possibly be witnessing a dry time for the church in America? Are we weeping over the church in prayer? What do you think?

"For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
Isaiah 56:7