An UnDivided Heart

So many voices.

So many priorities competing for the minutes of my day.

So many distractions.

So many different paths.

It’s hard to stay focused on what’s really important.

God tells Ezekiel that, when the Israelites turn back to him, he will give them ‘an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them.’ (11:19)

That’s what I’m asking for, Abba Father.  An undivided heart.  A heart committed to knowing you and loving you.  

Please help me filter out the other voices so I can hear yours.  Guide me in organizing my priorities so I’m spending my time on the most important things.

 Take my eyes off the distractions around me and lead me on the path you have prepared for me.  

Help me stay focused on you, Father, so my heart remains faithful and strong in your truth.  In the powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Hope and a Future

Hope that everything will work out.

Trust that this journey ends in my heavenly home.

A future that has a lot of success and joy in it.

We love to quote Jeremiah 29 because God promises that his plans are to give us prosperity, hope and a future.

God’s prosperity is not about money, although money can be a part of it.  God’s prosperity includes things like peace and purpose and love – the things money can’t buy.

Too often, we hang on so tightly to the first sentence of this promise that we miss the rest.  The next sentence tells us ‘how’ God is going to do this.

When I call on God and pray to him, he will listen and answer, fulfilling his plans to prosper me.  When I seek him with all my heart, I will find him and he will give me hope and a future.

If I miss the ‘how’ of his promise,  I’m going to miss the whole thing.

God is clearly telling me that I have a part in making this promise come true.

When I’m diligent in going to him, praying and seeking him with all my heart, I can be confident that his plans for me are going to happen.

That’s my part.

You have got a part, too, if you want this promise to be true in your life.

Let’s not stop at the first sentence and miss what God has planned for us.  The second sentence is the key.

Thank you for your promise, Abba Father.

Revealer of Mysteries

I don’t understand everything I read in the Bible.  I will never understand everything I read in the Bible.  So it’s very interesting to watch God point out different truths to me each time I read it.

Daniel calls God the Revealer of Mysteries.  He tells the king that God unveils the mysteries when we need to know something.

Mysteries like –

why am I here?

why is this happening?

what am I supposed to do?

should I go through this door?

When we trust that God has all of these answers and will reveal them when we need to know, we are focused in the right direction.

I’m moving down the right path for me when I’m heading towards God.  I’m on the right road when I’m trusting that he will explain what I need to know when I need to know it.

As my trust in God grows, I have found that the number of mysteries in my life shrinks.  He is always speaking to me – loving me, guiding me and pointing out my next step just at the right time – not a day early.

The Revealer of Mysteries proves over and over that he has it all under control.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Hearing the Truth….

And responding to the truth.

Both of these actions are equally important.

I need to know the truth.  And I’m not going to know the truth by listening or reading the national news or reading ‘news’ on line.  The idea of objectively reporting the facts has disappeared – there is always an underlying message that the media is supporting.  They actually leave out facts that don’t support their message.

I can’t believe pictures anymore – faces are changed, locations are changed and they are used out of context.  Again – to support the message.   We’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Now a picture can be worth a thousand lies.

I don’t want to hear and respond to the half-truths and lies of our culture.

So how do I know what is true?

One of the reasons I love reading God’s word is I know its the truth.  As God speaks to me through his word, I know its right and good.

So I can respond.  I can open my heart and let God transform my mind with his truth.

I am encouraged by the story of King Josiah in 2 Kings.  Josiah reigned in the middle of a string of very evil kings.  When he heard the truth, he turned away from the bad example of the other kings and led his people in a huge spiritual revival.  His people got rid of all of their idols and tore down the high places where they worshipped other gods.

A whole nation turned back to God because Josiah heard the truth and responded.

Now it’s our turn to hear the truth and respond.

Thank you for the truth, Abba Father.

Circumcism of the Heart

God is not impressed by what I look like on the outside.

He looks inside – at my heart.

What do I really care about?

What are the things that break my heart?  Do I get upset over petty things other people say and do?  Do I spend my time worrying and fretting over all the things I have no control over?

Or is my heart broken for the poor and lost people in my world?

Is my heart concerned about injustice and the mass confusion which defines our culture?  Is my heart focused on God’s direct command to care for orphans and widows?

Do I care about the things God cares about?

That’s what he’s hoping to see when he looks at my heart.

When my heart is circumcised like God describes in Jeremiah 9, I can turn away from my self-centered existence and live out God’s calling on my life.  God cuts away the part of my heart that is hard and stubborn and rebellious – the part that separates me from having a heart like his.

When my heart is circumcised, the change begins on the inside and eventually shows on the outside.  The transformation of my heart is a miracle that only God can perform.

How does it happen?

Loving God and loving others.  The two great commandments.

I want these to be my top two priorities.

What are your top two priorities?

We love you, Abba Father.

Which Way?

Standing at the crossroads – looking in each direction, wondering which way to go.

I’ve been there.

You’ve been there.

Sometimes these are small decisions that will not having a lasting affect on my life.

Other times, I am standing at the crossroads of 2 very different journeys and my decision on which road to take will determine the main direction of my life for many years to come.

What should I do?

God tells me in Jeremiah 6 to ask him for direction, listen to him, and then walk in the path he chooses for me.

Then I will find rest for my soul.

Thinking about this, I realize that I often ask……

I can walk around for days asking and asking and asking….

but then I forget to listen for the answer.

All the voices and noises of the world around me make it very hard to focus,

it’s very hard to be still long enough to hear.

Do you have this same issue?

If I’m not careful, the loudest voice in my head is my own –

what I think,

what I want.

My will be done.

And then I find myself on the same road as the Israelites who didn’t listen to God.  As a result, they couldn’t please God.  They stumbled around in the darkness of their own making.  They refused to listen.

That’s not the path I want to choose.

Please help me hear and obey, Abba Father.

Great Faithfulness

We are not consumed by our sadness…

or our problems..

or the chaos in our world.

Because God is always loving and caring for us.

One of my special joys in reading through the Bible every year is when we read words that were used in the old famous hymns.  I was raised in a musical, conservative Christian home so these hymns bring back precious memories.

We read in Lamentations 3 that God promises to be faithful to us.  August 30 2016 Great Faithfulness

And, as the sun rises each morning, I am reminded of his promises.

His compassions never fail – we receive more grace and love every morning.

He is never late ( even though it can sometimes appear that way to us).

He is never tired.

He is never distracted.

Whenever doubts about God enter my mind, all I have to do is look back.

And I see God’s faithfulness to me day after day, year after year.

Even when I wandered, God never left me.

He never stopped loving me and caring for me.

Just like he cares for me today.

And I know I can count on him to love me and care for me all of the rest of the days I walk on this earth…and on into heaven.

Great is your faithfulness, oh God, my Father!

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.