Let’s Party!!

The Israelites were very good at celebrating.  They partied when they wanted to remember things, they partied when they wanted to forget other things and every accomplishment was worthy of a celebration.Sept 23 2014 Let's Party

In Ezra 3, we read of them getting out their trumpets and shouting their praise to the Lord as they finished the foundation of the new Temple of God.

Sunday morning worship often feels like a celebration to me.  It sometimes can feel like quite a big accomplishment to get through another week of pushing back against the darkness and lies of our culture.  Spending time with my church family reminds me that there are other people who also love God and other people on this journey of faith with me.  I’m not alone.

Living a life faithful to God yet in the trenches of our society can feel like a never-ending battle.  What a privilege it is for us, as believers of God, to gather together.  We get out our trumpets, guitars and pianos so we can sing and shout praises to our God.

We celebrate the fact that God has already won the war!

And he will give us victory each day as we ask, listen and obey.

Thank you, dear Father!

Amazing!

God moved in the heart of Cyrus, the pagan King of Persia, to set the Israelites free from captivity and exile.  King Cyrus also paid for the rebuilding of the Temple of God in Jerusalem.Sept 23 2014 Amazing

Amazing!

God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, right?!

Nothing is impossible with God!  He can make anything happen!

If God can move a pagan king’s heart to this extent, how much more can he move and grow the heart of someone who really loves him?  Someone who wants to show him how much they love him?

Someone like me?

Someone like you?

Dear Father God, We love you!  We love your Word to us!  We love this journey towards the Truth that we are all on together!  We want to know your Truth – please open our minds, Lord.  And move in our hearts so that our obedience is also amazing so that others will believe.  In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

 

They Couldn’t Do It!

They tried to find something to charge Daniel with but they couldn’t do it.  They found him to be trustworthy, without corruption or negligence.Sept 22 2014 They couldn't do it

This reminds me of the prayer Jesus prayed for us.  In the garden, he prayed for ‘those who would believe’ because of the disciple’s obedience in spreading the Good news.  That’s us! He prayed that we would live in unity with him and with each other.

Jesus prayed that the world would look at us and then be able to believe in him.  He knew we weren’t going to be perfect.  But he also knew that, after his sacrifice on the cross, we were going to be redeemed.

And there should be obvious proof of that redemption in our lives.

We have been forgiven and now we can forgive others.

Our Father God lavishes his love on us and now we can love others.

We have been richly blessed and now we can bless others.

Yes, we are redeemed!

And the people around us should be able to tell it because we forgive, we bless and we love.

Thank you, dear Jesus.

The Writing On the Wall

Have you ever heard someone use this phrase?  Or have you used it?

I will often use it when I’m talking about a situation where what’s coming next is pretty obvious.  I can see the handwriting on the wall.

Several years ago I discovered that this phrase comes from book of Daniel.Sept 21 2014 The writing on the wall

King Belshazzar was having a party with all of his friends.  He ordered his slaves to take out the gold goblets that his armies had taken from the Temple of God when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem.  Then everyone at the party used the goblets to drink their wine.

Suddenly, the fingers of a hand appeared and wrote on the wall near the king.  The king turned pale and was scared.

But the king couldn’t understand what the message said and neither could any of his enchanters, astrologers or diviners.

The queen finally remembered that Daniel had interpreted these kinds of things before so they called for him.  When Daniel arrived, he bravely told the king that the writing said that God had judged how he was ruling the people as king and found him not acceptable. He had learned nothing from his father – Nebuchadnezzar – who had constant issues until he acknowledged the most High God, who is sovereign over all.  King Belshazzar’s misuse of the temple goblets was the last straw.   So God was bringing the king’s reign to an end.

And King Belshazzar died that night.

What handwriting on the wall do we see for us through this story?  We don’t need an interpreter to understand that God expects us to learn from others’ experience.  In the first chapter of James, God offers to give wisdom to everyone who asks.  He expects us to use this wisdom so we don’t have to make the same mistakes as others have made.  He wants us to learn from their mistakes.

God expected this from King Belshazzar and he expects it from us.

Please give us your wisdom, dear Father.

 

Get Me Out of Here!

I really enjoy reading this chronological Bible – it reads more like the continuous  historical story is was rather than skipping back and forth over hundreds of years.

Right after the recounting of Job’s suffering and restoration, this Bible inserts Psalms which were written by Israelites who were exiled and in captivity.  These psalms are full of ‘whys’ and ‘get us out of here’ along with confessions of the sins that brought them to this place.

How often do we experience this same thing?   We make bad decisions, we make wrong choices, we do what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do and our actions take us to a place in our lives that we don’t like.  This is not where we want to be.  We don’t want to stay here.  Why am I here, God?  Get me out of here!

Just like the Israelites, we need to confess our disobedience and turn back to God.  We need to stop the rebelling and let God help us start moving in the right direction.  It won’t happen overnight….but it will happen.  God has promised that he will work it all out for those who love him.  But we need to listen and obey – that’s our part.

When we really trust God, our hearts can be full of praise – in any situation.  We see that with the Israelites as praise to God sometimes broke through all of the questioning and complaining – like this part of Psalm 44.Sept 18 2014 questions and Complaints

Let’s join them in praising our Father God today!

You are our King and God who has given us victory from generation to generation!

You give us strength to push back our enemies!

Because of your power in our lives, we can trample the darkness all around us.

We don’t put our trust in our own strength or in our own wisdom – they will not bring us victory.

Only you, dear Father, can win the battles for us.

Only you can beat out the forces that we fight each day – both seen and unseen.

We want to boast about you all day long!  To everyone!

We will praise your name forever!

We love you, dear God!

It Explains So Much!

He is roaming the earth…going back and forth on it.

He has a very large team of spirits who watch us….figuring out when we are weak so they can whisper lies and temptations into our ears.Sept 8 2014 it explains so much

They tell us just enough truth to make it sound good and then they twist some lies into it.

These evil spirits help us rationalize away our sins of our lives.

They help us blame others instead of taking personal accountability for what we say and what we do.

They make bad things look ok (as long as we don’t think about it or pray about it too much).

By appealing to our rebellious side with its sinful desires, they can make darkness look like light and selfishness look like self-preservation.

When we read the book of Job, we get a front row seat to the spiritual battle which is going on right now in the heavens.  It starts to make sense that several of the angels who are mentioned in the Bible by name are leaders of the heavenly army.  They are in a constant battle for us – defending us and pushing away the darkness.

I’m sure Satan doesn’t like it whenever we read the Bible but especially the book of Job.  We read how he challenged God directly and was SO WRONG about Job.  I’m sure Satan loved the parts where Job’s friends were so confused.  They thought this was all happening to Job because of unconfessed sin in his life.  Wrong!

And Satan really liked it when Job’s wife gave up, told Job to curse God and die.

Satan won a couple of battles but he lost the war.  And that pattern will be repeated over and over until the end of time.  We see evidence of Satan winning some battles today – child pornography, homelessness, human trafficking, starvation and terrorism, etc.

But he will not win the war!

Because Jesus has already defeated Satan!

Jesus is victorious!  And through faith in him, we also become victorious!

When we are obedient to him, he can help us win our day to day battles with Satan’s team.  Through our obedience, he is also able to continue the process of transformation – turning our sinful desires into a stronger desire for the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

When we put our trust in Jesus, we are in a win-win situation!

Thank you, dear Jesus!

Temporary Insanity

The God who created all of the universe holds it in his hand right now.  It all stays together giving us light and breath because he wants it to.

He created the gravity that keeps us walking upon this earth.  We know why the sun is just the right distance from the earth.  God made it that way so we have heat and light but we don’t become a big ball of fire.

He is a God of order and reason.  The sciences and mathematics were created by him – that’s how he works.

There are no mysteries to him – he knows it all. Sept 7 2013 Temporary insanity

And this all-powerful God wants to have a personal relationship with us.  With me.  With you.  That’s why we were created.

He wants to lavish his love on us.  He desires to give us the best this life has to offer.

So why do we rebel?  Why do we choose to do our own thing while turning away from the best the God of All Things has for us?

It must be temporary insanity.  That’s the only thing that makes any sense at all.

In the 4th chapter of Daniel, we read about King Nebuchadnezzar going temporarily insane.

But when he lifted his eyes toward heaven, his sanity was restored.

This sounds like a very wise idea.  When we’re lost in confusion, doubt or despair.  When we don’t like the place we’re at or the road we’re on.  Let’s life our eyes to God and ask him to restore our sanity.  Ask him to be our light.  He promises he will always be there for us.

Thank you, dear Father!

God Made You Special….

and he loves you very much.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading these words to my granddaughter, Eden, from a Veggie Tales book we own.  She is a fabulous 5- month old :)

Eden loved the book.  She was cooing and kicking her legs – really enjoying the pictures along with the little song it plays with the same words.Eden 5 months

And I began to think about how she had just come from God.

She had recently felt his hands molding her in her mother’s womb.

She had felt his power move inside of her when her tiny heart began to beat.

God had just designed her sparking blue eyes and her surprisingly deep and loud laughter.

He had recently combined a calm spirit with a sweet attitude to give her a personality that makes her fun and easy to take care of.

One of my goals in life is to make sure she never forgets how special she is and how much God loves her.

Because we can easily forget how much God loves us, can’t we?  When did the joy and excitement of anticipation  morph into adult worry and stress? As our responsibilities  and concerns grow into adulthood, it’s sometimes hard to remember that God made us special and he loves us very much.

Some of the other words of this Veggie Tales book are – ‘when you look in the mirror, you’ll see his touch.’

So…..go look in the mirror.

See his touch.

Remember how much God loves you.

How special you are to him. Today.  Right now.

We love you, dear Father.

Living Our Faith Out Loud

Think about the top official person of whatever you’re really interested in – the President of the United States, the Governor of your state, the Mayor of your city, the Commissioner of the National Football League :).  Imagine this person on TV announcing to everyone that ‘We are here today to give praise to the God of (your name).  (Your name) trusted in God and he came through for them.  So I am passing a new law that no one anywhere can say anything against this God.  For no other god can do what he did.”

This is bringing glory to God in a big way!  And this actually happened after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego put their lives on the line in order to be faithful to God.Sept 7 2014 Because We Trust him

Very few of us get involved in a such a dramatic test of our faith.  But we have little tests all of the time.  Someone asks us a question where we could bring up God or not.  What to we do? Avoid the subject?  Not bring it up?  Or bring it up?  Let people who that we love God.

What do we choose?

As often happens when I write a blog like this, God challenged me 2 days ago about this same issue.  I was ordering a salad in the café in the office building where I work…I was in a hurry…lots of people I didn’t know standing around.  I often talk to the manager and he was taking my order.  When he was done, he asked me what plans I had for the weekend.

My plans this weekend were to be a group leader in an all-day discipleship training at church yesterday and go to church again today.   And fit in some time to get my hair done.  I was going to sound pretty ‘churchy’ if I shared my real plans, wasn’t I?  In front of all of these people?

I had already started this blog and I was immediately convicted about my second thoughts on sharing what I was really going to do.  So,  I told him the truth.  And he smiled and said he was planning to go to church Sunday, too.  How nice!  Now we have something more in common.

Little tests.  Small unexpected challenges to share what we’re REALLY doing or how we REALLY feel.

Please help us grow in being able to always live our Christian lives out loud, dear Father.

He Will Deliver Us

“God will deliver us” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar when they refused to worship the King’s gods or the gold image the King has set up.

They were confident that God was going to take care of them.  First, they said God will save them from what the King wants to do to them – throw them in the fiery furnace.

And then they said, “But even if he does not”, they still refused to worship anything but God.Sept 5 2014 Because we trust him

Even if he does not – because sometimes God’s deliverance of us is to take us out of this world.

We struggle with death because our perspective is so different from God’s.

When the people we love die, we feel grief and separation.  We sometimes wonder how God could let this happen.  When great Christians and missionaries die, we sometimes wonder why God ‘let’ this happen, they were accomplishing such great things for God!

God’s perspective is very different.  When those who love him die here on earth, they are alive with him in heaven – forever.  He ‘delivers’ them from the pain and brokenness of this life into a perfect life with him.  They receive the prize.  It’s not something he ‘lets’ happen, it is all done according to his will.

A year after my mother went to heaven, I got 12 blood clots that went to my lungs and 5 doctors confirmed that this should have killed me.  But it didn’t.  God told me right away in the emergency room that I wasn’t going to die from this – he had already taken care of it.

As a result of this experience, I got a very up close and personal new understanding of God’s omnipotence.  All of the scientific facts said that I should have died.  But God said ‘No’ and it didn’t happen.

God’s total and complete omnipotence gives me peace about my mother’s death, my own death when it happens and all death.  Death happens when God says and not before.  God ‘delivered’ my mother at his designated time.  And that was the right time for her.  I wouldn’t want anything other than God’s best for her.

He will ‘deliver ‘ me at the right time for me.  It’s already determined.  He has already decided and it will happen.  Until then, I need to fulfill the purpose he has given me.  It’s the reason why I’m still here.

Amen!

Hallelujah!