So Undeserved

I have worked hard.

I have more than paid my dues.

I’ve planned and struggled and persevered.

I can feel like I’ve earned it – everything.  I deserve it.

But what I have really earned from our perfect and holy God is eternal separation from him.  My rebellion, sins and lack of so-underservedconsistency deserve condemnation by my Father God.  And you aren’t off the hook, either.  We share this tendency to sin and rebel, don’t we.

A re-enactment of Sodom and Gomorrah – that’s what we deserve.

But that’s not what God offers us.  He offers us salvation through this son, Jesus.  He offers us an unwarranted gift of grace and mercy.  He offers us unconditional love for today and unconditional love for all of eternity.

As I trust in Jesus to lead me through my life here on earth, I receive peace and joy and strength and purpose.  I am so undeserving of all of this.

In Deuteronomy 6, we read the list of things God was planning to give to the Israelites –

cities they did not build,

homes filled with good things they did not provide,

wells they had not dug,

vineyards they did not plant.

The list was long.

And Moses went on to tell the Israelites ‘when you eat and are satisfied, be careful you do not forget the Lord.’

I have a very long list of things that God has given me.  I know you also have a long list.

Let us be humbled by how undeserving we are.

Let us not forget our Father God who gives us everything we have.

The best and most important thing he gave us was Jesus – our salvation and our role-model for life here on earth.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Keep Watching…..

Every morning,

looking….

What’s in store for me today?

Do I move?  Do I stay?bike-path

I’m imagining what it was like for the Israelites as they began their journey through the desert.  When the Cloud of Guidance covered the tabernacle, they stayed.  When the cloud lifted above the tent, the Israelites packed up and moved on.

There were times they stayed in the same place for months and other times when they were moving again the next morning.

Every morning, they would look to the tabernacle to determine their direction for that day.  Everybody could see it – not just the priests and the leaders.  God made this visible to each person – he wanted all of them to be able to see that he was the one leading them.

What would our lives be like if we had that clear guidance for each day?

I think God still wants us to look to him each day just like he asked the Israelites to do.

He wants me to look to him before I stay or go….

Before I agree to something….

When I’m trying to choose what words to say in a conversation about a difficult subject….

As I take steps forward on my journey.

Because I have to keep moving forward.  We all do.

And we’ll find what we’re looking for when we move forward with our eyes focused on God.

We’re watching you, Abba Father.

 

It’s A Struggle….

the journey..

the heartaches….

the joys…

the pain…

the uncertainty…the-struggle

the many twists and turns of life as the earth revolves each day.

You struggle…. I struggle….

We struggle just like the Israelites struggled on their journey of 40 years through the desert.  It’s one of the reasons why I like reading Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The Israelites battled unbelief,

lack of control,

wanting more than they had,

wandering away from God’s truth,

fear of the unknown,

self-centeredness and more.

Any of that sound familiar?

It’s a struggle.

But that struggle becomes easier when I keep my eyes focused on God.  His truth is the solid ground I stand on every day.  His love heals the hurt in my heart and fills the empty places.  His purposes fuel my efforts and give me strength.  His total control helps me give up mine.  His faithfulness that has no end reminds me to be faithful.

Yes, it’s a struggle.

I have a choice.  I can grow through the struggle or I can become bitter and stuck.

I choose to grow and move forward.

What are you choosing?

We love you, Abba Father.

Does It Make a Difference?

Do I act differently?

Do different words come out of my mouth?

Do I look different?

Is there an obvious difference in my life – other than going to church – because I’m a Christ- follower?

There should be a difference – right?  It should be all different – how I act and speak and look.  God is in the process of transforming me  – a big religious word for this is sanctification.

Believing in God, trusting in Jesus and obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings and guidance should change my life from what it would be without God.

I’m reading in Exodus that Moses’ face was radiant after he met with God.

What would it take for my face to radiate after meeting with God?  What about your face?

I know Moses actually went inside the tent and ‘met’ with God but don’t we also meeting-with-god‘meet’ with God every time we read and study his word?  We meet with him when we have a conversation with him in prayer.   And when we worship him.

What would it mean for us to genuinely radiate God’s love and mercy and truth in our lives?

Please open our eyes and our hearts, Abba Father.

Mediocre

Unexceptional.

Uninspired.

Unexciting.

Unremarkable.

I have been told that the definition of mediocre is inconsistency.  I agree – a lack of consistency will get you mediocre results every time.

If I had to use one work to describe the Israelites after they were freed from Egypt, I would use inconsistent.

We read in Exodus the dramatic account of God dividing the Red Sea to let the Israelites go through on dry land – a wall of water on their right and a wall of water on their left.  Wow!

Then God drowns the Egyptian army right in front of their eyes.  That’s exactly what should have happened to the Israelites!  But it didn’t.

We’re told in Exodus 14 that the people “feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”

For awhile.

They actually trusted God and Moses for just a very short time before they started grumbling.  Right after their song of praise to God, we read they are complaining that they were going to die out in the desert.

Inconsistent.  “I believe” one day.  “Oh, maybe I don’t” the next.

Mediocre.

Is our faith like that?  One day we’re trusting God with everything and the next we’re grumbling and doubting?

This really challenges me because I don’t want to have an inconsistent, mediocre faith.  I don’t want to have the same ‘on again, off again’ response to God that the Israelites had.

That kind of faith will not stand strong through the trials that keep coming my way.  A mediocre faith will sink under the waves of frustration, anger, sadness and pain that wash over me as I try to deal with all the ‘stuff’ life throws at me.

A mediocre faith just won’t cut it for me.  So consistency is one of my goals.

I have found that this helps – when I feel doubts and questions starting to surface, I he-is-alays-faithfulremind myself of the many ways God has blessed me in the past.  I remember all of the promises he has kept and all of the mercy he has shown me through the years. Remembering his faithfulness to me helps me continue to be faithful back to him.

Consistent.

Not mediocre.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Where’s the Light?

Evil thrives in the dark.

Greedy, selfish hearts.

Angry, bitter souls.

Cruel minds crawl out into the dark – looking to harm the innocent.

In Exodus, we are witness to an epic battle between Moses and Pharoah – actually God and Pharoah – and Pharoah is losing badly.

By chapter 10, God had sent 8 plagues causing wide-spread disease and hardship for the people, death and destruction for livestock and crops.

And the intensity of the plagues continued to grow.

It’s significant to read that the 9th plague – worse than the other 8 –  was darkness.

Darkness spread across Egypt for 3 days.  It was so dark, they couldn’t see anyone else around them.

Pitch black for 3 days.

Can you imagine the depression, anxiety and fear?  This plague affected their minds – it was worse than the rest.  Because we can’t go somewhere else to get away from our minds.   We can’t avoid thinking.

They couldn’t stop feeling the oppressive darkness – the void where light and warmth used to be.

Pitch black for 3 days.

I love the fact that there was light where the Israelites lived.  I visualize a huge spotlight shining down from heaven onto the Israelites.my-people-live-in-the-light

The light of God’s love.

God’s care.

Light for God’s favorite people.

Bright, warm, good.

Those of us who trust in Jesus live in that light every day.

The light of God’s love and care – his favorite people.

God wants to transform any darkness in my life into light.

He  wants to transform your darkness into light as well.

He wants to fill any voids in our lives with warmth and goodness.

His spotlight of grace, strength and wholeness shines down on me everyday, filling my mind and heart with his love.

I feel it.

Do you feel it?

Thank you for your light, Abba Father.

 

Use It!

What do we already have?

A car?

A house?

Education?

Experience?

Passions like sports, food, teaching and mentoring, or music?

God asks us to use whatever we have to serve him and grow his kingdom here on earth.  So how does this apply to me?

My house is used for a small group Bible study.  It is also used sometimes for meetings about the Women’s Ministry I serve in.

My car has been used to bring neighbors and friends to church activities.  It is also used to pick up women I am mentoring as we go have lunch and talk and grow our faith.

God gave me an education and experience so I could have a great career.  I use those same assets as I serve in church.

God gave me passions for teaching and mentoring and music and he has given me opportunities to serve him in all of those areas.

During the discussion at Moses’ burning bush, God told Moses to go to the elders of what-is-in-your-handIsrael and tell them that God was going to bring them out of the misery in Egypt.  Then the elders were supposed to go with Moses to ask Pharoah to release the Israelites for 3 days to go into the desert to worship God.  Moses replied, “What if they don’t believe me?”

And God said, ” What is in your hand?”

Moses already had the tools, experience and passion he needed to obey God.  He just needed to use them.

Moses had his staff in his hand and, when he threw it on the ground, God turned into a snake.  I would believe God was in the middle of what was going on if I saw that, wouldn’t you?

Just like he did with Moses, God intends to  use what he has already given me for his purposes.

He intends to use what he has already given you to help grow your faith and  to grow his kingdom here on earth.

God is asking us, “What is in your hand?”

Thank you for all of the things you have already given us, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

So many decisions…

its hard to figure out our next steps.

A lot of options.

Why can’t we get a burning bush like God gave Moses?  It was big.  It was dramatic.  Moses couldn’t miss it.  If we got one of those, then we would listen and follow, right?burning-bush

In my life, God gives me what I would call burning potted plants.  They are a lot smaller than a bush but when I’m reading God’s word, praying and listening, God will set fire to the next small plant – lighting the way to my next decision – and then my next.

Here’s how it works – I’m regularly reading God’s word and listening to how he want to me to apply it to my life.  I pray – expecting God to move and answer but keeping my mind open knowing that God can answer in a way that’s much different that what I could be looking for.

I watch.

And he lines up my circumstances, one step at a time.

He will also add confirmations along the way.  Godly people around me will say something that reinforces a recent burning plant.  And it’s not unusual for my pastor on Sunday to say something that confirms my direction.

When God knows I am watching and listening, he can work through all of these things to make my next step clear to me.

I have found that I don’t need a burning bush if I’m paying attention.  My small burning  plants work just fine:)

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

We like to ask ‘why’?

I like to ask ‘why’?

And then I read about Joseph’s trials in Genesis and the answer is pretty clear.  A long list of bad things happened to Joseph and God worked to bring good  out of those bad things.  Joseph’s faith and wisdom grew as he trusted God through it all.

I don’t believe that God caused all of these bad things to happen to Joseph or to you and me.   Some of them happened because we live in a world where we all sin.  We pay the consequences for our sins as well as other people’s sins.  And Satan is working relentlessly to entice people to sin.  He is creating a lot of our trials.  I don’t understand why some people get mad at God when bad things happen – they should get mad Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop them.  But we choose to sin.  Other people choose to sin.  There are consequences for that sin.  When we get to where we’re going (heaven) we will no longer sin and there will be no more consequences.

you-intended-to-harm-meHere on earth – when God is with us like he was with Joseph – he can use these consequences so that something good comes from them.

This truth makes the account of Joseph’s life very important to me.

His brothers sold him into slavery but – wait.

Then he’s put in charge of the top Egyptian official’s house.

The official’s wife lies to get Joseph in trouble and Joseph is thrown in jail.

But – wait.  God was with him and he was put in charge of the prison.  Joseph helped the Butler and Baker get out of prison – good news for the Butler, bad news for the Baker.  The Butler forgot about Joseph for 2 years until Pharoah had a dream and Joseph was called out of prison to interpret it.  Pharoah was so impressed that he made Joseph 2d in command, right under Pharoah.

From that position, Joseph was responsible for saving the lives of a whole nation.  A serious famine was coming and God spoke a warning through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream.

God was with Joseph through all of the bad things that happened to him, making sure that he ended up exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

Joseph also saved the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  What the brothers had done was evil, but God used it for good purposes.

Joseph’s story is a great one to read when I’m wondering how God will use the recent tragedy in my life.  Joseph could never have predicted the part he was going to play in the huge famine that was coming.  God knew.

And he was with Joseph every step of the way.

Just like he is with me as I go through my trials.

Just like he is with you when you experience trials.

Thank you, Abba Father.

What’s the Truth?

It’s hard to tell.

It’s difficult to believe any ‘news’ because I’ve seen so many half-truths and false things being spread around like they are facts.

It used to be that we could trust a picture but now faces are being switched and pictures are constantly being used out of context.  We are often told that a picture was taken at a certain time but it was actually taken at an entirely different event.

Lies, deception, and trickery – our culture is filled with them.lies-and-decption

Sadly, this is not a new thing.  As we read through the Biblical account of Abraham’s family, we see a disturbing legacy of lies and treachery.

So much distrust.

So much cheating.

A lack of integrity which was passed on from generation to generation.

The consequences of their lies caused years of separation, anger and unhappiness. They could have avoided all of this if they had been truthful.

One of the bright spots in this story is – in spite of their weaknesses and sin – God still used them to fulfill his plans.  They weren’t perfect.  They made quite a few very bad decisions and God let them pay the consequences of those decisions.  But he still loved them and had a purpose for them.

Great news for you and me!

Because we’ll never be perfect.  We’ll never ‘have it all together’.  We have flaws.  We have weaknesses.

But God can and does still use us in his big plan to offer redemption to everyone.

God has a purpose for me.  And for you.  He has a plan for our lives, a reason why we’re here.  And its easier to figure out what that purpose is when we’re reading his word, praying and obeying.

Don’t forget that last step. 🙂

Thank you for the purpose you give us for our lives, Abba Father.