Hold Loosely

Stuff

Boxes of stuff.

Rooms of stuff.

Garages, sheds and basements full of stuff.

Stuff we’re not using but someone else would use it – if they had it.  Stuff that hasn’t fit us for many years but we still can’t give it away.  Stuff that’s broken and we’ve never found the time to fix it but we still keep it because we can’t part with our stuff.

God never meant for us to keep all of our stuff for ourselves.

God told the Israelites that their 50th year in the Promised Land was supposed to be a Year of Jubilee.  “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all inhabitants.  It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.”  Leviticus 25:10. During this year, all of the poor people who had sold themselves as slaves were supposed to be freed and all property which had been sold was given back to the original owner.  It was intended to be a year filled with redemption and freedom.

Does it surprise you that my research shows that there is no evidence that the Year of Jubilee was ever observed as God intended?

I’m not surprised.  Many of us like to hold our belongings and our stuff very close. A lot of us don’t want to give stuff away – if it has to go, we sell it.  We worked hard for these things.  We earned them.  Some of this stuff might be ‘worth something someday’.

Well, a lot of our stuff could be worth something to someone else who has less than us today if we could just loosen our grip on it and give it away.  Some of our stuff is broken and worthless and shouldn’t even be given away.  The bottom line –  we need to be able to let go of it.

The Israelites couldn’t do it, either, so they lost the chance to see God work in a supernatural way in their lives through celebrating the Year of Jubilee.  They didn’t experience the joy and freedom of having open hands when it came to their ‘stuff’.

God wanted the Year of Jubilee to be a holy year for the Israelites where they would see his provision for them as they gave the property back to the original owners and set the slaves free.

But there’s no evidence that it ever happened like it was supposed to.

I have been a semi-minimalist all of my life.  I don’t like clutter and I have developed a goal of trying to give away as much stuff as I buy so that things don’t accumulate.  But I’ll never forget being personally challenged by my ‘stuff’ many years ago when my husband and I decided to sell the house we lived in for over 14 years and go into Apartment Life ministry.  This meant we were moving to an apartment from the 4 bedroom, two-story house with a pool where our two children grew up.  We knew God was calling us into this ministry so it had to happen.

I remember walking through my big house packed with awesome memories and full of stuff crying with my hands open, asking God to help me hold all these things loosely.  We sold and gave away whole rooms full of ‘stuff’ and moved into the apartment where the small amount of things we had left fit very nicely.  What a great lesson about how much I had that I didn’t need!  Since then, my hands hold onto people and God tightly but I hold onto ‘things’ very loosely,

It’s a great way to live.  It’s awesome to see God obviously working in my life as I have more time and energy to spend loving him because my ‘stuff’ takes up less space in my life.

If your stuff owns you to any degree, take the challenge – start holding on to God tightly and holding on to your ‘stuff’ loosely today.

Please help us have ‘open hands’ for everything that is not about loving you and loving others, Abba Father.

You May Have Heard of It

You may even have felt that you were one –

a scapegoat.

This is where someone who is innocent is punished for something someone else did.  I know I have often heard this term used when a big corporation is sued for something they did and they fire a person with a relatively minor role in the situation who was just doing what their bosses told them to do.  The corporation does this so it looks like they took action to remedy the issue.  This minor player is a scapegoat – taking the blame for everyone else who had a hand in the bad decision.

Did you know that this term comes from the Bible?  Thousands of years ago the Israelites actually had a scapegoat.  God started this ritual in order to temporarily deal with the sins of the Israelites.  He told the head priest to lay both of his hands on the head of a goat and ‘confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion and sins of the people of Israel.  In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat.’  Leviticus 16:21

Then the scapegoat was driven into the wilderness, carrying all the people’s sins with it.

Until the next time they sinned.

You can see how temporary this was.  I think God used this process to help make the people aware of all of their sins and to visually show them their sins had to be paid for and taken away.

This is a very clear message about how much you and I need a Savior.  Something had to be done about our sins.  You and I can’t rebel and disobey over and over again while having a personal relationship with a Holy God.  Someone had to paid the price and provide a way for us.

And his name is Jesus.

He is the Way.

And the Way is open for everyone.

Jesus paid the price for our sins – once and for all.  We are saved from the penalty and condemnation of our sin by recognizing our Savior and putting our faith in him.

You and I don’t need a scapegoat anymore.

We are saved through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross – erasing our past, present and future sins from God’s sight.

Thank you, Jesus.

This is How It Works

Do what is right and good.

I am reading the entire Chronological Bible for the 11th consecutive year and I know there is a group of you who are reading it with me. It’s February so we’re still in the beginning of the Bible but God highlighted a phrase to me that we have already read several times, ” Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may be well with you.” Deut. 6:18.

I definitely want things to ‘go well’ with me and I’m sure you are on that same page. God is telling me – and you – that he wants to guide us. He wants to light up our path. He wants to walk beside us when the trials of life on this planet try to overwhelm us.

The part you and I have in this is to do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight.

That’s my goal. I’m not perfect- no one knows that better than my Father God. It’s very clear to me that God doesn’t expect perfection, he desires that I admit my mistakes and sins to him with a humble heart and turn away from them.

I have found that it is much easier to do what is ‘right and good in the Lord’s eyes’ when I am reading God’s Word each day with my eyes and heart open to what he is saying to me. I am also finding a huge benefit from reading the entire Bible – not just a verse here and a chapter there. Reading God’s Word in Chronological order has helped it make sense to me. I tried one of those reading plans where you read parts of the Old Testament, New Testament and then a Psalm or Proverbs. It didn’t keep my attention. I lost my motivation. What I was reading didn’t tie together into a bigger picture.

The Daily Chronological Bible has kept my attention for 11 years. Because it is a Daily Bible, it has dates on the top of the pages which help give me the structure I need to keep going. I sometimes get ahead and other times I get behind but I keep moving forward. This Bible is not good for studying verse by verse because chapters are condensed and combined. But it is a great reading Bible.


Because I am consistently reading his Word, God is consistently talking to me, guiding me and teaching me his truth.

There’s no question in my mind that this is ‘right and good in the Lord’s sight.’

Thank you for your awesome Word to us, Abba Father.

The Transformation Continues

Reading.

Studying.

Listening.

Memorizing.

God has been seriously re-shaping my heart since I became a committed believer about 30 years ago.  When I was young, I had a close relationship with Jesus but it got lost in a season of rebellion and confusion about the truth in my young adulthood.  Six years of that messy time taught me how empty my life was without God.  I discovered that all the ‘fun’ and partying and working extra hard for ‘stuff’ was meaningless and a dead end.

So I re-committed my whole heart to God and I’ve been on this journey toward the truth ever since.

God tells us in Deuteronomy, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” Deut. 10:16.   Looking back, I see evidence that God is working on my heart, cutting away the parts that need to change –

  • He cut out the rebellious part of my heart.  Now, no matter what happens, my heart submits to God’s will.  He knows best.
  • God cut out the stubborn part.  I translate “stiff-necked” as being stubborn and God has softened my heart towards everything that is about him and comes from him.
  • God cut out any parts of my heart that were unbelieving.  I don’t have to understand it all to believe.  If God says it, it’s true.  God has taught my eyes to look beyond what is in front of me.
  • God has been working on the parts of my heart where I want to be in control.  I’ve gotten so much better at trusting God – no matter what’s going on around me.  I know who is in total control and it’s not me.  Whenever I feel myself leaning into ‘control mode’ again, I know I need to step back and trust God as he orchestrates everything for my good.
  • My heart was shattered into a million broken, mangled pieces when my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police Officer was killed in the line of duty.  I can feel God molding a new heart inside of me out of the debris.  This heart is stronger with a much clearer focus on my forever home.

Circumcising my heart sounds painful but it has actually set me free from the lies and worries and fears that the world around us tries to impose on us.

And the transformation continues…..

Thank you, Abba Father.

What Came First?

Did I love God first?

Or did he love me first?

God’s Word is very clear that he loved me first.  Before I was a tiny newly-fertilized egg inside of my mother, God knew me and loved me. 

As I read the words Moses said to the Israelites in one of his last addresses to them before his death, I am reminded of how this verse changed my life.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:5.

God challenged me over 30 years ago to put him first in my life.  I was what I would call a ‘cultural Christian’ at the time.  I went to church, served at church, gave to the church and said I loved Jesus.  But there were things in my life – like my family, my career and what I wanted –  that had a higher priority than God.  When I hit 30 and I finally reached all my goals of what I thought I should have and own at that age, I was surprised to find that I felt empty.  Over worked and over stressed.  And very empty.

Then God opened my eyes to this verse and challenged me with it.  I knew something had to change so I did some heavy-duty thinking.

What would it feel like if I loved God with all my heart?  What did I need to change so I could love God with all my soul?  What would my life be like if I loved God with all my strength?  How could I ignore the distractions of this world and the strong desire to do what I want to do so I could love God first?

The emptiness was eating me up so I took the challenge.  One step at a time, God showed me how to change my priorities and put him first.  I gradually put him first in every area of my life and I learned the huge lesson that the commands God gives us are for our own good.  As I moved closer to God, I watched him help me be a better wife, a better mother, a better employee, a better friend, a better neighbor, a better sister, a better daughter…you get the idea.  Everything was better because he was in the middle of it.

Is there an empty place in your soul that God is longing to fill?  Are you just checking the boxes in your Christian life or do you have a daily, intimate relationship with God?  Have you made the decision to put God first in your life?

God desires to be first in our lives because he wants to give us strength, peace and purpose for our journey.  And he helps us with all the rest.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Bigger…

and stronger.

As the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land, Moses tells them that God is going to “drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you.” Deut. 3:37.

The Israelites were going to be fighting against enemies with huge armies of men who had built tall walls around their cities.  And God was going to give them victory.  He was headed into battle with them – there was nothing to fear.

God is saying this same thing to me today –

and to you.

You and I have some big battles coming our way.  If we aren’t in the middle of one now, we probably don’t have long to wait.  That’s just how it is on this broken planet.

God promises those of us that believe in him that he will go with us and guide us through.  In some situations we will see a clear victory when we on the other side of this struggle and other times it’s what we learn and how we grow through the battle that makes us a winner.

But, with God, we always win because we are on the winning side.  God, our Father, has already won the war for us.  Jesus defeated sin and death for us.

As a believer, I know how this story ends for me.   When all of my trials and struggles are over here on earth, I’m going to my perfect ‘forever home’ in heaven.

Happily Ever After.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I Can’t

I can’t – it’s too hard.

I can’t – it’s too much.

I can’t – I don’t know how.

I can find a lot of reasons why I think I can’t do something that’s going to be difficult.  But I have learned if God wants it done there is no “I can’t”.  “I can’t” just doesn’t apply when the Creator of the Universe wants to do something through me.

Have you learned that yet?

The Israelites obviously hadn’t figured that out yet when the spies came back from the Promised Land and said, “We can’t attack those people, they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31.   They didn’t get it.  God had said he was going to give them the land, he was going to give them victory.  “We can’t” was true but God could.  And he promised that he would.

Joshua and Caleb got it.  Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”  Numbers 13:30

Yeah, Caleb!  He was so right!  Yes, they could certainly do it because God had promised and he always keeps his promises.  And we will see later how God richly blesses Caleb for his trust in him.

It’s not about us having enough strength or enough money or enough time.  God enables us to do the things he wants us to do.  Do you believe that?

So I have to ask myself – are there any “I can’ts” in my life that I need to change to “I can’s” because God wants to do it through me?

What about you?  Any “I can’ts” where you need to trust God and step out in faith because “God can”?

Thank you for being our God of the Impossible, Abba Father.

Never Too Short

There are times when I am tired and discouraged and other days when I am sad and feel a little lost.   I also have hours of impatience and frustration.  So I pray.  And then, sometimes, I start wondering –

When is God going to do something about these things that are discouraging me?  When is he going to take care of this struggle?

How can God possibly work this out for my good?  I just don’t see how he’s going to do that.   Maybe it’s not going to happen.

Then God responds to me like he did to Moses thousands of years ago, ” Is the LORD’S arm too short?” Numbers 11:23.

I just have to smile.  This really sets me back in my place.  Because – of course, God’s arm is not too short.  He is the Creator of the Universe, the Great I AM.  He spoke the world into existence.  He sees and knows everything.  Nothing is impossible for him.

When God said this to Moses, Moses was doubting that God could provide meat for all of the Israelites for a month.  The people had started grumbling about eating manna everyday and God responded by saying, “Tomorrow you will eat meat.”

As the leader of these complainers, Moses thought he had to ‘help God’ by figuring out how to get this done.  But he just didn’t see a way to make this happen.   It was impossible!

Yes, it was impossible for human hands.  But there are no limits for God.  His arm is never too short – it reaches across universes that we don’t even know about yet.

So we should not be surprised that the Israelites ate meat – they ate meat until they were sick of it.

God’s arm is not too short but sometimes our faith can be too small.  My faith can be too limited.

Do I really believe that God’s arm is never too short?

Do I really trust him?

Please grow my faith, Abba Father.

I’m Watching

Every morning,

looking….

What’s in store for me today?  Do I move?  Do I stay?

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 estimated 2.4 million 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 time they stopped, they set up the tabernacle right away because God wanted his presence known first and foremost.

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 everybody – he wanted all of them to be able to see that he was the one leading them.

What would your life be like if you had that clear guidance from God for each day?  What would it feel like to know for sure you were on the path God had designed for you, confident of God’s presence beside you each step of the way?

Great news!  This is all available to you and to me.  God’s guidance through his Word is available for us each day.  It’s much easier to feel his presence when we’re reading his Word, letting it soak into our heats and minds.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.

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

he wants you to check with him on a decision you are making to ensure that’s its going to be the best for you…

he wants me to look to him for help when I’m trying to choose what words to say in a conversation about a difficult subject….

and he wants to be our leader on this journey towards the truth.

I know I need to keep moving forward, growing in my faith and trust in God.  And I’m confident that I’ll stay on the right path when my eyes are focused on him.

I’m watching and I see your light, Abba Father.

It’s Finished.

Complete.

All the weaving, measuring and hammering was done.  Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and put up the curtain to the entrance.

Done.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34

Awesome!

There are times during the praise part of worshipping God with my spiritual family when I visualize a cloud billowing into the room.  As I watch in my mind, the glory of the LORD fills the space around me.  God’s word tells us that he ‘inhabits’ the praise of his people.

God is always beside me but there are two places in my life where he feels most near to me –

  • the first place is right now with my Bible open in my lap and my ears and heart open to what he wants to say to me.
  • the second is when I’m joining with God’s people in praising him.  This is especially true for me when a praise song includes pivotal truths that have been game-changers in my life.  This last Sunday we lifted our praise up to God because he fights our battles and he walks with us through the darkness that surrounds us. Tears streamed down my face because my battles since my son died are huge and the darkness often tries to smother my joy.  I felt a cloud of God’s grace and love filling the room and my heart.  God is good, he loves me and always wants the best for me even when I can’t see it.  These are all facts that have gotten me through the last 5 1/2 painful years since my son was killed.

Do you know what it feels like to have the glory of the Lord fill your heart?  If you want to get closer to God, read his Word daily, listen and obey and spend time sincerely praising him with your spiritual family.  Open your heart and mind to him and he will fill you with his love and grace.

Thank you, Abba Father.