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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Times of Refreshing

This world is a draining place to exist: Work, eat, sleep, think about going back to work, take care of kids, clean, maintain the house, groceries, pay bills, pay taxes, pay mortgage, exercise, cook, travel here, travel there, drink lots of coffee, watch the news, get scared, ignore the news, laundry, fold laundry, put away laundry, groceries, what is stinkin' up the fridge?, wash dishes, put away dishes, yada, yada, yada...time to do laundry again. **sigh** How is it that we are supposed to not be distracted by these things and focus on more important matters...the Kingdom of God? I think it's a matter of the heart...
Is it possible that in our human natures, we can put these things on the back burner and return to God as our number one priority? YES...with man, this is impossible, but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!! Praise be to God that all that is required of us is obedience and He wills and works in us to be sanctified and conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
I think the remant of Israel had a similar, draining world to exist in: eat, sleep, try to rebuild the temple, get yelled at by the foreign neighbors, milk the cows, feed the camels, do laundry by hand, walk here, walk there, pick all the crops by hand, get threatened, he said she said with Darius King of Persia, get discouraged, yada, yada, yada. The word of God came to the Israelites who had returned to Jersalem to rebuild the temple through the prophet, Zechariah "'Return to Me, 'declares the Lord of hosts, 'that I may return to you, says the Lord of Hosts," Zechariah 1:3. They had physically already returned to Jerusalem, but they hadn't returned in their hearts to the Lord because they had stopped doing the work that the Lord had called them to do-rebuilding the temple. And the word of God speaks to us today in the same way...we must return to the Lord with all our heart and cast off all the things that are distracting us. I am not saying to stop doing all the things that are necessary...but we must serve the Lord first and foremost. In your heart come to the same realization as the apostle, Paul who said "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." Philippians 3:7-8. May the Lord be merciful and grant us the wisdom and understanding that nothing matters compared to knowing Him. This world is passing away and the lust of it, but the word of the Lord stands forever. Give Him our time and our days...give Him our daily tasks and choose to bless Him in being diligent even in the monotony of life. Seek to know Him during your day. Prais and appreciate how He cares for us as you care for your families. Think of Jesus...having no place to lay his head, giving all His time to preaching the word and to the Father, and ministering to the lost while raising up disciples for the Father. Praise Him for who He is...that He has provided. Praise Him continually Focus on Him as the center of life because He is!
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Humility of Christ

There is nothing more humbling, challenging, and loving as the humility of Christ. I have been reading one of my favorite books again called Humility by Andrew Murray which I highly recommend. Here is a quote from his book, "It was because this humility was not only a temporary sentiment--wakened up and brought into exercise when He thought of God--but the very spirit of His whole life, that Jesus was just as humble in His fellowship with men as with the Father. He counted Himself the Servant of God for the men whom God made and loved," (Humility, p.25)

It's one thing to think about being humble before God...because God is Holy, worthy, perfect, good, love, faithful, trustworthy, and many many other things. Of course being humble before Him is completely conceiveable! However, when we think of Christ being just as humble with and before men...this is where our flesh must be crucified because we just don't get it. Humble before all men? That's what Christ was...that's who Christ IS and that's what Christ DID. Here are some passages:
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve..." Matthew 20:28
"If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, so you also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:14
"The greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 12:11

I love the questions that Murray leaves for thought at the end of chapter 3:
"Brother or sister, are you clothes with humility? Ask your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness (which you possibly have never yet tasted) can come into you."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Consider His ways!!!

I have been thinking a lot about my own ways that I blogged about yesterday and spending some time in prayer about that when the Lord stirred my heart to consider His ways. I (we) do need to consider my ways and correct them through the power of the Holy Spirit and it is biblically a very important spiritual discipline, but introspection can also lead us down a selfish and dangerous path. We cannot linger too long on ourselves because we are not the focal point of our own lives. As I was sitting in the presence of the Lord, the word of God came to me from Hebrews 12:2, "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..."
As my heart was drawn to focus then on Jesus, I began considering His ways realizing that mine should be conformed to His. Let me leave you some passages that spoke to me of the ways of Christ. Consider His ways!

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Matthew 5:44
"...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28
"If I then, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet you ought to wash one another's feet..." John 13:14
"I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..." Luke 22:15
"Jesus wept." John 11:35
"In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:7-8
"...Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously..." 1Peter 2:22-23
"...who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:6-8
" 'Yet not My will, but Yours be done." Luke 22:42

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Consider your ways!!

At our church we have been hearing a series of messages on the remnant of Israel in the old testament that had been exiled out of Israel and returned to rebuild the temple. The prophet Haggai spoke to these particular people regarding the way they had been brought back to Jerusalem and after much opposition and apathy they stopped rebuilding the temple...and it remained in shambles for 12 years after the remnant had been brought back. The remnant got discouraged, probably afraid from the opposing nations, and complacent in their own personal, individual lives and slowly drifted away from the cause that had brought them back to Jerusalem. Haggai writes,"Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Consider your ways!'" (Haggai 1:4-5).
So I ask the question...have you considered your ways? We live in a time not too different than the remnant of Israel. We find ourselves in the era where the church has been established and is being built and we await the coming of our Savior (for us, its the second time!). When we look at the remnant and we look at ourselves, we must realize that we have a lot in common. Are our paneled houses more of a priority than the house of God? Do we say in our hearts that we know how important the church is, but there are just other things that need to be done first in our lives? What do our lists look like? What is number one on our priority list? How we spend our time and what we do with it is a clear indication of where our heart is and what is most valuable to us. I believe with all my heart that the remnant in their hearts cherished the idea of rebuilding the temple and desperately wanted to see it accomplished...but the outworking wasn't there. It's not enough just to love the idea of growing closer in our hearts to God, or knowing in our hearts how important it is to spend time with Him. It's not enough to talk about how much we love the church and desire to see the lost evangelized. We must have the outworking. We have to submit and give our all to Him and do what He has called us to do. Here is my prayer for myself and for the Church:
"Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You." Psalm 119:36-38