What’s the Goal?

Where do I want to be next year?  What do I want to have achieved?

Where do I want to grow in my life?

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my years on this planet is that I need to feed what I want to grow.  I can’t just wish it.  I can’t sit frustrated because nothing is changing if I’m not doing something to change it.

I need to take action.  There must be forward movement – one step at a time – towards my goal.

I need to feed what I want to grow.

And I am encouraged as I read King Hezekiah’s story in 2 Chronicles of his vast and successful religious reformation of his nation.  One step at a time, working with the priests, he took his people who were far from God and led them back into obedience.  This is a great role model for us if our goal is to grow closer to God and grow in faithfulness.

Hezekiah’s first step was to cleanse the temple.  They purified everything in the temple and consecrated it.  What would this look like for you and I?  Stop habits that are not good for our minds and souls.  Stop reading articles, magazines, books that don’t feed what we want to grow.  Change our favorite channels on TV, our favorite music channels and our most visited websites.  Cleanse our minds and souls by controlling what we’re feeding them.

Then Hezekiah had the people gather together to use the temple as it was meant to be used – sacrificing to God and worshiping him.  For us, this means committing to meet with God’s people regularly – studying God’s word and growing together.  It also means making sure we are in line with God’s directions on tithing and giving of our time.  The Israelites gave so much back to God that they had plenty to share with their neighbors who needed help.

Next, Hezekiah invited Israel and Judah to come to the temple together to celebrate the Passover.  He invited his neighbors – just like God wants us to ask our neighbors to come with us to church or our small group or watch the worship on line together.

Then Hezekiah told his people, “Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the LORD…”  Do you and I have any people in our lives that aren’t good influences?  Do we need to pick different friends?  Different role models?

They attacked their idols – destroying them and getting rid of the distraction.  What are our idols?  What things in our lives make us too busy to spend time with God personally and with other believers?  We need to feed what we want to grow.

We read that God blessed Hezekiah and his people as they grew more and more obedient.  God gave them unity of mind as they all looked to him for wisdom and guidance.

I know I want God’s blessings in my life.  I want unity of mind, wisdom and guidance.  One of my main motivations for reading the entire Bible every year for these last 9 years is making sure I’m on a steady path of knowing and loving God more.

I know that I need to feed my relationship with God in order for those things to grow.  And God will be faithful in helping me – he always is.

Thank you, Abba Father.

For Us

I love how accurate Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah were even though he spoke them 700 years before Jesus was born.  This shouldn’t surprise me – God knows everything and is in control of everything – including my future.

One of the things I doubt I will every understand this side of heaven is how God is not bound by time.  He is in the past, present and future all at the same time.  I am a created human who is linear – 3 comes after 4, 5 comes after 6.  That makes sense.

God is not linear.  That might be hard to understand but it’s not hard to believe when I read the prophecies in the Old Testament – especially the prophecies concerning Jesus – and see how they were fulfilled.

Isaiah’s prophecy in the 9th chapter of his book as now become our truth –

People who were walking in darkness saw a Great Light.  Lost in deep darkness, they saw the Light as it dawned.  This Light gave them success and joy.  They celebrated the Light just like they celebrated a great harvest.  They celebrated just like warriors who are dividing the plunder after a victorious battle.

This Light’s name is Jesus.

He forever shattered the yoke of sin and shame in our lives.  There is no need for war in his kingdom.

For he came to us as a child, the Son of God.  And we call him –

Wonderful,

Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

He is reigning forever victorious and there is no end to the peace he gives to those who put their faith in him.

He reigns in justice and righteousness –

now and forever.

The LORD Almighty has done it all for us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Lay It Down

I need to remember this…

God is reminding me again today that this is important.

One of my favorite historical accounts in the Old Testament is when King Hezekiah received a letter telling him that a gigantic Assyrian army was coming to destroy his city, Jerusalem.

Hezekiah had only a very small army.  No contest.

But King Hezekiah had faith in God.   So he took the threatening letter to the  temple and spread it out in front of the LORD.  King Hezekiah knew who held the real power in this world and it wasn’t the Assyrian king with his huge army.

Do I need to tell you how this story ends?  God took care of it and the King of Assyria had to take his much smaller army home without one arrow being shot at Jerusalem.  The next day, the king’s sons murdered him.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you and I lay our concerns down at God’s feet and leave them there.  When we go to him, trust him and let him handle it the way he wants to, he works it all out for our good.

He has promised….

and he always keeps his promises.

Your will be done, Father.

Peace

He will be our peace.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Prophet Micah gave us a prophecy about  the birth of Jesus saying that a ruler would come from Bethlehem, “And he will be the source of peace.”

Notice – it doesn’t say ‘a source of peace’.

Jesus is ‘the’ source of peace.

Do you feel that in your life?

I do.

Because I don’t find peace in the things that people here on earth seem to value so much.

I have not found peace with money and success.

I have not found it in relationships other than my relationship with God.

Buying things has definitely not given me peace since things break and grow old – no longer shiny, no longer ‘the latest’.

I have not found peace in education and achievements.

I love to travel and experience new things but that is not where I find peace.

Jesus is my only source of real Peace.

I can trust him with everything and he has a perfect love for me.  He has proven his love for me over and over in my life.  He who never sinned became sin for me on the cross so that the price for my sins was paid and I can live with him forever.

My eternal life with Jesus has already started on this earth –

as he fills my life with the peace only he can give.

Thank you, Jesus.

Blessed

This is what I hear from God as I read Isaiah 30:18-22 –

The LORD waits for me to come to him so he can show me his love and compassion.  The LORD has always been faithful to me and I am blessed when I wait for his help.

My Father God gives me grace when I ask for help.  He always responds to my cries. 

Although there is adversity and suffering in my life, he walks beside me each step of the way – teaching me, opening up my eyes, opening up my ears.  I hear my Father right next to me say, “This is the way you should go.”

When I stay on the path where God leads me – making him my first priority – I am blessed.

Thank you, Abba Father.

His Hand

“The LORD’s hand of blessing will rest on Jerusalem.” Isaiah tells us.

Wow!  I want God’s hand of blessing to rest on my life!  How about you?

This is the 8th year in a row that I am reading through the entire Bible and I am excited that, once again, my bookmark is over halfway through God’s book.  I took a picture of it for you and included the view I have had from my balcony these last two weeks as God has blessed me with some relaxing and cool beach time in California.  A great escape from the 115 degree temperatures in Phoenix where I live.

On this 8th time through the Chronological Bible, God is confirming the same message I get everytime.  God wants me to focus on two things –

Loving him – which includes listening and obeying.

Loving others.

When I am consistent and dedicated to these two things, God’s hand of blessing rests on my life.

That doesn’t mean my life is perfect – as evidenced by my son being killed in the line of duty 3 years ago.  This doesn’t mean everything is easy.  It doesn’t mean I don’t pay consequences for bad choices I make.  It doesn’t mean my checking account is never empty.  It doesn’t mean I never have to say I am sorry.

What it means is that God walks beside me through all of the pain and muck this world brings my way.  It means he gives my life purpose and meaning.  It means that God gives me peace and strength when the storms of life crash into me.

It means that he is working things out for my good just like he promised.  I have a story to share with you.  You may remember one of my blogs a couple of weeks ago where I shared that I was really frustrated about something that I was trying to make happen for many months and it just wasn’t happening.  So I – finally – gave it to God and asked him to do what he wanted which included nothing if this wasn’t supposed to happen.  I kept my eyes open in case he was going to show me that I had a part in what he wanted to happen.  Every time I thought about it and started to fret, I would pray, laying it back at God’s feet.

Last week, God unfolded his plan which was – of course – perfect.  And he took care of it in 3 days.  Start to finish.  Done.  Better than I had imagined.  In his timing with the people he wanted to be involved.

This is what happens when God lays his hand of blessing on my life.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Psalm 146, 2019

I praise you, God!

Everything in me praises you, LORD!  I will praise you as long as I am alive.  I will be singing your praises, Father, when I breathe my last breath.

I don’t put my trust in people who have money – they will not help me when I really need it.  When they return to the earth as dust, all of their plans will die with them.

Those of us who trust in you to help us, God, find hope and joy.

You are the Master Creator of heaven and earth and everything in them.

You always keep your promises.  You give food to the hungry and justice to the oppressed.

You have freed me from the guilt of my sins and you are opening my eyes to your truth.

You, oh God, lift me up when the cares of this world weigh me down.  You are a Good Father to all of us who love you.  You protect strangers among us and care for orphans and widows.

You mess up the plans of unbelievers.

You, my King, will reign forever, throughout all generations.

I lift my praise to you, Abba Father.

 

Psalm 121, 2019

When I need help, the only place I look is to my God, the Creator of Everything.  He does not let me stumble.   God watches over me all day and all night – he never sleeps.

How great is the LORD who stands by me all day and all night!

I know that God watches over my life –

as I come and go –

both now and forever!

Thank you, Abba Father.

Psalm 1, 2019

I know the joy of not following the advice of unbelievers,

refusing to spend a lot of time with those who do not honor God,

and not being part of a group which has no respect for God.

I delight in God’s Word.  When I am focused on my relationship with God, I am like a tree planted along the riverbank, fed each day by the Living Water.  Jesus grows fruit in my life as he gives me love, joy and strength.

This is not true of those who rebel against God.  Their lives are scattered by the wind – they will be judged and condemned by God.  Unbelievers will be forever separated from the One they refuse to believe in.

Each day, God watches over all of his children,

but the path of those who don’t have faith in Jesus leads to destruction.

Amen, Abba Father.

The Guilty Will Be Punished

God tells us that those who do Satan’s work for him will experience his wrath.

We may never see it.  It probably won’t be a lightening bolt coming out of heaven – although that could happen.

God tells us through Nahum “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power.”  The vengeance of God usually doesn’t happen immediately…..but it will happen, make no mistake about it.

“The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.”

Yeah!  The bad guys are going to get it!

But – wait a minute – you and I are also guilty, aren’t we?  We have said mean things, we have done other things that are wrong.  We have rebelled – following our own hearts, not God’s.

And – this one really gets me – we have NOT done all of the things we should have done.  I know I haven’t.

But, as believers, we can still smile.  Because this is where God’s grace steps in.  When I accepted Jesus, he saved me from God’s wrath.  Jesus paid the price for my sins and rebellion, making me right (righteous) in God’s eyes.

Jesus did this for me and for you.   Each of us just needs to accept his free gift of grace.  Then God’s anger turns into love and acceptance for us.

I need God’s love and grace every day.  I feel God’s love and grace every day.

Do you?  If not, accept Jesus as your Savior today and live free in the light of God’s love and grace.

Thank you, Jesus.