A Desolate Wasteland

Empty…

Deserted…

Dark.

There are times when our souls feel like desolate wastelands.

The light is gone.

The joy is gone.

Why did I wake up this morning?

God promises in Jeremiah 33 and many other places in his Word that he can restore our joy and gladness.  He can make us prosper again… when we turn back to him and let him guide us where we should go.August 22 2016 a desolate wasteland

He has promised, so it will happen when we do our part.

And then we will add our voices to the voices of the Israelites thousands of years ago as they brought their thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying,

“Give thanks to the LORD Almighty,

for the LORD is good;

his love endures forever.”

Thank you for giving us your eternal love, Abba Father.

Our Heart Condition

What’s the condition of my heart?

Is it soft?

Is it big?

What’s the condition of your’s?

Writing about the size of our hearts reminds me of one of the Glasser Family’s Christmas traditions.  We watch ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” every year.  The Grinch was very concerned about the size of his heart so he often measured it.  He wanted a small heart so he wouldn’t feel anything or care about anybody else.

What about us?

Do we want a small heart?  A hard heart?August 16 c 2016 Heart Conditions.

God talks to us often about the condition of our hearts.  In Ezekiel 11, God promises restoration if we will repent –

  •  if we will turn from focusing on what we want,
  • if we will turn away from our need for control,
  • if we will turn away from the things that keep us so busy that we don’t have time for God,
  • if we will turn away from whatever is holding us back from loving God with all our heart, soul and mind.

When we turn to God, he promises he will give us an undivided heart – a heart centered on him and his love and his grace.  He promises he will bring a new wind of his spirit into our lives – giving us purpose and meaning.  He promises to replace our heart of stone which is rebellious and self-centered with a heart devoted to obeying God.

When we do this, we are his people and he is our God.

When we’re committed to God, our hearts are big and open to things God loves and cares about.

What is the condition of your heart?

Please grow our hearts, Abba Father.

Full of Radiance

We all like to hear good news.

A baby is born.

We got a raise.

Our child got an A in school.

Good news.

There is not better news than the Good News Jesus brought to us when he came to earth.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life.” John 3:16.

Great news!  News that needs to be shared!

Jesus tells the disciples and us several times in the New Testament that he came to make us fishers of men.

That’s why we’re here.

Jesus’ last direction to us before he went home to heaven was to Go!

Go and make disciples.

Of people of all nations.

Teaching them everything he has taught us.

And he will be with us through the end of our life here on earth so he can walk with us into heaven.

Amen!

Towards the end of every service at my church, the Good News is shared. Everyone hearing this Good News is given the opportunity to accept God’s gift of salvation.

During this time, I can feel the cloud of God’s presence filling our church.

Yes, God is there all of the time.

But, as his plan for saving us from eternal death is explained, I can feel an extra sense of his presence.  I feel God’s blessings coming down, covering us with his approval as his Good News spreads out over my church family.

Ezekiel describes something much like this in his 10th chapter. “The cloud filled the temple and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD.”August 16 2016 c filled with grace

The Good News of God’s grace radiates through my church family every service.

Redemption.

Salvation.

Love.

Purpose.

The glory of the LORD is never more evident than when we are doing what he has called us to do.

The Good News.

Who can we share it with today?

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

 

In the Darkness

What are the things we do in secret – when no one is around to see?

What do we do when we’re sure we won’t ‘get caught’?

How often do we lie to ‘cover-up’ something we did but we don’t want to held accountable for it?

These are the things – and there are many more – that we do in the darkness.

Always bad choices – that’s why we do them in the darkness, in secret.  We hope these things never come out into the light.

But God sees.

He knows everything that is done in the darkness.

God reminds us of this in the 8th chapter of Ezekiel as we read the account of how God supernaturally brought Ezekiel to Jerusalem to show him the elders of Israel who are standing in the darkness as they worship all of their small gods.August 17 2016 in the darkness

Who did they think they were fooling?

Then they say, “The LORD does not see us and the LORD as forsaken the land.” (vs 12)  )

They knew better.  Who were they trying to convince?

The LORD saw it all.

He had not forgotten about them.  He never forgot about them.

They were the ones who had turned away from God to worship these worthless idols made by man’s hands.

And they chose to do this in the darkness.

They knew it was wrong so they tried to blame God.

But blaming God just doesn’t work.

He is perfect.

He is God and we are not.

He sees all the things we do in secret – all the things we do in the darkness.

And he loves us in spite of all of it.

He has forgiven it all for all time through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are forgiven and we are redeemed from the darkness.  We still might wander sometimes, but God is always waiting and wanting us to turn back to him.

God has placed us on this planet to help him push back the darkness, not to be part of it.

God never leaves us.

And he sees everything.

What would our lives look like if we stopped tiptoeing into the darkness?

Thank you for the gift of your grace, Abba Father.

How Did I Get Here?

Calamity upon calamity.

Rumor upon rumor.

Wealth that does not satisfy the owner’s hunger.

Lost crowds of people seeking peace in vain.

Cities filled with violence.

Are these today’s headlines?

Yes.  And they are also the headlines that Ezekiel prophesied for the people of Israel as they faced destruction and exile.August 16 2016 then they will know

The plans and schemes of men had brought them to this place and now they were experiencing the consequences of their decisions.

Just like we do

  • when we choose to do things our way.
  • when we rebel and disobey.
  • when we are too stubborn to repent and turn back to God.

But then we don’t like the results.

The calamity.

The lack of fulfillment.

The absence of peace in our lives.

If we’re wise, we figure out the absence of peace in our lives is a result of the absence of a real relationship with God.

When our choices have taken us to a place we don’t want to be, there is only one good choice left.

To choose God.

To turn away from ourselves and turn to him.

Then we will find him.  And know him.

And we’ll like the consequences of this choice – real peace and real love and real forgiveness.

We just have to make the choice.

Thank you, Abba Father.

We Miss the Blessings

How often do we decide to make a positive change in our lives – and then we don’t follow-through?  We change our minds.  It gets too hard so we give up.

How often does this happen?

All of the time.

How often are we convicted by the Holy Spirit to make an adjustment in order to better line our lives up with God’s will?  And, after we try, we give up.  When it gets tough, we go back to our old habits.

We are very fickle.

When it gets hard, we opt out of the hard changes that are needed and decide to go back to being comfortable.

In Jeremiah 34, we read about the Israelites doing this same thing.  The Law of Moses had restricted how long Hebrews could be slaves.  When Jeremiah pointed out that fact that the Israelites had not been following this law,  they saw that they were doing this wrong thing.  And they let their slaves go free.august 14 2016 we miss the blessings

“But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.” (vs 11)

We are not told the details of why the Israelites changed their minds – but we can read between the lines.

Life got hard.

The Israelites had to get their own water and cook their own food.  They had to clean and do all of the dirty work the slaves had been doing.

Obeying the law was just too hard so they decided to disobey and go back to the comfortable life they had before they were convicted of their sin.

And they missed the blessings that come after we obey.

God blesses obedience.

He has blessings lined up, waiting for us……if we’ll go through the tough part of obeying.

When we actually do the things that the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do, we are going to feel the satisfaction that comes with participating in God’s plan.  We will experience his blessings.

The blessings that only come after we obey.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Trusting in Lies

Our culture is full of lies.

We are constantly barraged with wrong information, manipulated ‘facts’ and skewed perspectives.

We truly can’t just believe what anybody tells us.

This is why I am so determined to build my life on the truth of God….and not what people/the media tells me.

I need to read and hear the truth from God through his Word myself.

As we read through Jeremiah, we see him dealing with many false prophets.  These prophets are saying they have heard a word from God but God tells Jeremiah that he didn’t send them.August 2016 trusting the lies

The reality is that our pastors and religious teachers can do the same thing.  They can tell us ‘truth’ in the name of God but it isn’t from God.

This is a scary thought.   How do I know if my pastors and teachers are speaking God’s truth?

I’ll know if its God’s truth when I know what God has said in his word.

Everything we hear – even from our pastors and teachers – needs to be put through the filter of what we know to be God’s truth.

We know it because we read it, we study it, we memorize it, we meditate on it and we pray in line with it.

I need to know the truth so I don’t believe the lies.

What about you?

Please open our eyes to your truth, Abba Father.

 

We Stop Too Soon

We love reading God’s promise that he has a plan for us – plans to prosper us, to give us hope and a future.

Awesome!  We’re feeling great as we read this in Jeremiah 29.August 11 a 2016 we stop too soon

But, if we stop there, we stop too soon.

Because God goes on in the next verses to tell us HOW he is going to do this.  He goes on to tell us our part of this plan.

He tells us that, when we call on him, when we come and pray to him, he will listen.

When we seek him with all of our hearts, we will find him and he will fulfill his plans to prosper us.

He will give us hope.

He will give us a future.

God has a part in this plan and we have a part.

Too often we focus on God’s part and fail to do our part.

Or we can just become lukewarm about doing our part……and then wonder why we have such a unfulfilling relationship with God.

Let’s ask ourselves a tough question today – are we faithfully doing our part of God’s plan?

What would our lives look like if we were seeking God with all of our hearts?

Are there changes that need to be made?

Please open our eyes, Abba Father.

 

So Many Mysteries

We are surrounded by mysteries –

things we don’t understand.

Some of them we can figure out…..

and others we will forever remain a mystery to us.August 8 2016 mysteries a

Daniel calls God the ‘revealer of mysteries’.August 8 2016 mysteries b

How appropriate!

God knows everything.  Nothing is a mystery to him.

As we grow our relationship with God by studying his word and talking with him, he begins to reveal some of the simpler mysteries to us.  We can begin to understand more of why he created us.  His purpose for putting us here on earth becomes more clear.

And – a big one – we gradually figure out who is really in control.

Not us – no matter how hard we try.

God is so huge and unfathomable that we will never understand all of his mysteries.

Its comforting to know that God knows and he’s in charge.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Not Everybody

It may seem like everybody’s morals and ethics are disintegrating today.  It may seem like nobody has any respect for anyone anymore.

If you feel that way, you are probably watching too much “news” on TV and on-line.

What you are hearing about and seeing is not ‘everybody’.

There is a solid core of people in our country that still have morals.

And respect for others.

And integrity.

In Jeremiah 35, God tells us about the Rebakites who were obeying all of the commands of their ancestors while, all around them, the general culture of the Israelites was rapidly decaying into idol worship and disobedience.August 7 2016 not everybody

The Rebakites were standing their ground and refusing to jump on the popular band wagon of rebellion and selfishness.

The unfaithful.

The faithful.

Which group are you in?

Please give us wisdom, Abba Father.