400 years of Silence

I can’t imagine it – God being silent for 400 years.

That’s the amount of time between the Old Testament and the New Testament.   So it is said that God was silent.

But was he?  Really?

It’s hard for me to imagine that my Father God who loves us and cares for us so diligently each day would be quiet for 400 years.  I think it’s very possible that he was speaking and interacting with people at that time but none of it was meant to become part of his revelation to us so it was not included in the Bible.

When I think about how much I need God each day and knowing that there were some faithful people during that time as well, it doesn’t make sense that he was actually silent for 400 years.  It doesn’t sound like something he would do.

But we know that there were 400 years between the two parts of the Bible.  For some reason, God put in a significant break before he begins the account of his greatest Gift of all time – salvation through his son, Jesus Christ.

Mark’s account starts with, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the son of God”.

John’s account starts, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

The Light of the World was arriving – we would never be the same.

Amen.  Hallelujah!

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s Hard to Wait

When we want something to happen,

when it’s going to be good,

when today isn’t that great.

But we have to wait.  It’s hard.

The Old Testament ended on a high point of the Israelites turning back to God, listening to his Word and trying to obey.  Then came a 400-year break in God’s Word to us.

We know the Israelites continued on with their lives during that time.

They were waiting….

expecting the Messiah to show up.

How long were they going to have to wait?

I’m blogging through the Chronological Bible which means it is re-organized so it resembles the actual timeline that things happened.  And it’s October.  So 3/4 of the Bible is the Old Testament.  If three-quarters of what God wants to reveal to us is in the Old Testament, then I’m very glad I read and study the Old Testament every year.  After spending 3/4 of the year reading the Old Testament, I have a better understanding of how badly the world needs Jesus.  My anticipation of the coming Messiah rises as I read over and over again of the Israelites turning away from God, getting lost in idol worship, paying the consequences and repenting.  Then they get their spiritual act together – but just for a short time until they start wandering again.

Oh, how badly they needed a Savior!

It was hard to wait.

You and I live under the New Covenant with God.  The Messiah has come.  There is no more waiting.  Jesus was sent to earth to offer free salvation to everyone who would put their faith in him.  And it’s really clear right now that our culture needs saving just as badly as the Israelites did.

The last 1/4 of the Bible is so much easier to read than the Old Testament because Jesus’ love, grace, truth and light shines out of the New Testament.  Jesus is our role-model for how God wants us to live our lives here on earth.

A smile spreads across my face as I begin to read the New Testament for the 10th time.

No more waiting.   The Messiah has come.  This is the really good stuff.

Thank you, Jesus.

It was loud!

When the wall around their city was finally finished, the people of Jerusalem rejoiced because ‘God had given them great joy.” Nehemiah 12:43.

Everyone celebrated!  All the men, all the women and all of the children were happy and they showed it.  We read in the Bible that the sound of Jerusalem’s celebration could be heard far away.

That’s really loud!!  They were so filled with joy that they couldn’t keep quiet.

And this is not unusual in the Bible – God’s people celebrated a lot!  They had joy!  They worshipped God!  They were loud!  When thousands of angels filled the heavens, singing for joy and praising God, they were very loud!

So where do we sometimes get the idea that our weekly church family celebrations and worship should be quiet?  There is certainly a time and place for reverence and meditation when we get together.

But there are also many reasons for joy and excitement and celebration as we worship together and are blessed.  Our traditions should enhance our worship, not restrain it.

Thousands of years ago, God’s people showed us how to express our joy, celebrate and worship God.

And it was loud!

Please give us joy, Abba Father!

I’ve Got Your Back!

When we want to accomplish something big, it takes a team.  One person can only do what one person can get done.

But when a group of people join energy and brainpower to tackle a goal together, unexplainable synergy happens and their efforts are multiplied.  Success rolls in when a team of people are engaged, committed to working together and helping each other achieve a goal.

And when God’s involved – there is a supernatural factor that is truly astounding to witness.  Projects turn out much better than planned.  Blessings pile up.  We see our faith growing as, together, we experience the power of God in our lives.

Has this happened to you?

I’ve experienced this many times and its exciting every time it happens.

As a result, I love reading the historical account of Nehemiah leading the Israelites in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  The Jews were being attacked regularly by their enemies who didn’t want them to complete the wall.  They were very discouraged.

Nehemiah refused to stop building.  He knew that he had been sent back to Jerusalem to lead this project so he couldn’t stop.  He organized the men into teams – half of them did the work while the other half watched the worker’s backs with spears, shields, bows and armor.  They protected their brothers with everything they had.

Working together,

protecting each other,

they accomplished the goal together.

They could not have done it without each other.

Our Spiritual family is like this.  We need each other.  Each one of us needs to use our spiritual gifts in order to build each other up and fulfill our purpose of reaching others for Christ.

We watch each other’s backs – loving and forgiving each other in supernatural ways.

And we love those who don’t know Jesus yetblue-blob-ive-got-your-back

while our Spiritual family supports us and cheers us on.

We can do this, because He first loved us…

and He has our backs.

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s Impossible!

When  the path right in front of us looks like its straight up hill.

When the issues confronting us are big

and confusing

and heart-breaking.

When we are threatened on all sides by more problems, more sadness, more darkness.

please-strengthen-my-handsThe answer is to turn to God and pray Nehemiah’s prayer, “Now strengthen my hands.”(6:9)

Nehemiah had groups of powerful people plotting against him as he led the Jews in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  His enemies were trying to frighten the Jews so their hands would become too weak to continue to work on the wall.  But God answered Nehemiah’s prayers and the wall was eventually finished.

Is there something in your life that looks like its impossible to accomplish?  Impossible to fix?

Give it to God.  Ask him to strengthen your hands and then trust that he is answering.  He may use you like he did Nehemiah to actually orchestrate the answer.  Or  he may have a very different plan which he has already put into place where your role is to pray and wait and trust.

Either way,  God’s got this.

Please strengthen my hands, Abba Father.

 

The Time is Now

“For such a time as this”.  God challenges me with these words as I read the story of Esther in the Bible.

Now.  This next step.  Today.

Esther’s story is a very good example to me of how God orchestrates opportunities and invites me to be a part of what he is already doing.  Queen Esther faced the possibility of being killed if she stood up for her people, the Jews.  Mordecai, her uncle, told her, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (vs 4:14)  So Esther asked all of the Jews to pray and fast with her for three days before going to the king.  God gave her the wisdom and courage to risk her life and save her people.

For such a time as this.

I would be missing an important point if I thought this is the only opportunity God ever gave Esther.  There were many more, this is just the one he told us about because it’s a significant example of how he worked to complete his will through her.

And how he works to complete his will through me.

And through you.

Today.

For such a time as this.

Today I will be given opportunities to partner with God in what he is accomplishing in this world.  He has made it clear to me that this blog is one of my assignments.  So I continue reading the Bible every year, listening to him and sharing with you what he says.  And I’ll do that until he tells me to stop.

Recently, God has started sharing with me insights into how he is pursuing some of the people in my life who haven’t chosen to accept his free gift of salvation yet.  It’s very interesting to watch him work.  I know he’s opening my eyes so I am more aware of my role and better prepared to plant a seed of God’s truth when the ‘time’ comes.

There is a reason I’m still breathing today.

There’s a reason you’re still breathing.

For such a time as this.

Open our eyes, Abba Father.

Telling My Story

I have so much to be thankful for!  God is good and he loves me with a never-ending love.  God tells me in Psalm 107 that I need to tell my story.  And you need to tell your story.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” We all have a unique story to share.

Some of us have wandered, looking for a place to belong. We were hungry for love, starving for a purpose. When we cried out to God, he drew us closer to himself – to the place where we belong. He gave us a purpose to get up every morning.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Others of us lived in darkness, bound by chains of rebellion, stumbling through life with no help in sight. But we cried out to the LORD and he brought us out of the utter darkness, breaking all of our chains.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Some of us made very foolish decisions and were suffering through the consequences of those to the point of thinking that death might be an option.  But, instead, we turned to God for help and he healed us, rescuing us from the living death we found ourselves in.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Others of us have experienced violent storms in our lives as huge waves of pain and grief washed over us. When our courage and strength were gone, we finally cried out to the LORD and he “stilled the storm with a whisper”, calmed the waves and guiding us home to him.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

My story is that I have known Jesus as my Savior my entire life but I decided to wander in my young adulthood – trying out all the ‘fun’ things the world had to offer. It seemed great at first but gradually my life because very empty and filled with darkness. So I called out to God who made it very clear to me that he had never left me. When I turned back to him, I found him waiting for me with open arms.

God has been gradually drawing me closer to him as I daily travel this Journey towards the Truth. I have left the emptiness and darkness behind, finding meaning and light as I put God first in my life. 

I will continue to tell my story for the rest of my life, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Carefully Consider

My priorities are important to God.  When he tells me, “love me first”, he means it.  If I miss that, I can expect consequences.

God explains this to me in Haggai when his people had their priorities messed up. “Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much but harvest little.   You eat but never have enough.  You drink, but never have your fill.  You put on clothes but are not warm.  You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

God’s people were selfishly putting their own work in front of finishing God’s temple and they were paying the consequences.

Painful consequences.

I don’t want these words to describe my life so I need to carefully consider my priorities.  I need to choose God first and prioritize his purposes and his plans.  That’s the only way I’m going avoid harvesting little or feeling like I never have enough.

When I can change my self-centered thinking to God-centered thinking, it’s not hard to stay in line with his priorities.  I know he loves me with a perfect love.  He wants the best for me and nothing is impossible for him.

After careful consideration, I choose God.  I choose his priorities.

Amen, let it be so, Abba Father.

Nothing is Impossible

I have to smile.

God tells us in the beginning of Ezra that he ‘moved the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia.’  I love this because Cyrus was not a believer.  He was a pagan king.  But he moved when God moved his heart.

Cyrus released the Israelites to go back to Jerusalem so they could rebuild the temple of God.  The king was also gave back 5400 articles of gold and silver that had been taken from the temple of God before it was destroyed.

God moved the heart of a pagan king who then orchestrated and sponsored the rebuilding of God’s temple.

That’s my God.  He uses everyone and everything to accomplish his will.  Even those who don’t believe in him are under his authority and direction.

His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And I want to make sure I’m right in the middle of that – don’t you?

Nothing is impossible for you, Abba Father.

Do You Feel It?

What does it feel like when God ‘moves’ my heart?

When I understand something I never knew before as I read his Word, I can feel God moving my heart.  When I have an idea or motivation I have never felt before as I read his Word, I know God is moving my heart.  When I see a situation more clearly today as I read his Word, I realize God is moving my heart and giving me insights I never had before.

All of these and more describe experiences I have had as God moves my heart to more closely align with his.

While reading the story of the people of Israel  in the book of Ezra as they prepare to end their exile and go back to resettle Israel, the words, “everyone whose heart God had moved” jump out at me.

God had chosen those who he wanted to go back to rebuild his temple in Jerusalem.  And they knew it.

They felt it.

And they obeyed.

It wasn’t going to be an easy task but they had been picked by God to do something big for him.  So they went.

Because they were listening and watching, they knew when God moved their hearts.  That’s what it takes to hear God and be a part of what he’s doing in our world.

God has a purpose for me today.

He has a purpose for you today.

Please move our hearts, Abba Father.