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.

It’s Hard

Very tough.

When someone you love dies, the emotions are strong, the grief is heavy and the loss is extremely painful.  After losing my son, my mom and dad, my oldest brother, along with all of my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles as well as some friends, I feel like I’ve experienced a lot of death for someone who isn’t old enough to get a social security check yet.

Each one is different.  Each relationship is different.  My son being killed in the line of duty 2 years ago when he was only 34 years-old has been the most difficult – by far.  I think one of the things that makes this loss so huge is how young he was.  We lost so much of his life.  I will not be surprised if I’m still saying his was the toughest one if I live to be 90 years-old.

So I’m very interested when God starts talking about why the righteous die in Isaiah 57:

“No one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”

I believe that this is true.  God knows the future and sometimes he spares his children from bad and evil things that would happen to them if they stayed on earth.  I believe that my son completed his purpose on earth so God took him home.  No more evil will be done to him.

God sees our death on earth as a reward because, as believers, we get to go home to be with him. “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

Their bodies remain here on earth but their souls are free and filled with joy as they walk hand-in-hand with Jesus into heaven.

Thank you for the truth in your word, Abba Father.  Please comfort those of us who are left behind.

How Beautiful……

on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.  Isaiah 5:7.

How beautiful it is when I share the Great News of Jesus’ redeeming love and gift of salvation!  How beautiful it is when you tell others about how much God loves them!

For God so loved the world……how beautiful!

Have you noticed that people are starving for love?  It actually explains a lot of the craziness in the world.   People are searching for acceptance and forgiveness just like we were before we accepted God’s grace.  There is a Godspot molded into each one of us that is empty – and it feels empty – until God’s Spirit comes to live inside of us.  The best thing those of us who have found the answer to this emptiness can do is share it with the people in our lives who are still searching.

How beautiful!

I think many of us got turned off by evangelism ‘techniques” we were told to do.  I know I was.   I have discovered that talking about Jesus and his love doesn’t have to be ‘in your face’ and regimented by steps.

I started what I call ‘living my faith out loud’ and it works for me.  This means mixing my faith and my beliefs into regular conversations – not waiting for someone else to bring up God.  My faith is a big part of my life so it should be a big part of my conversations, right?  It’s not just reserved for Bible study group or church people.

I have learned to talk about my beliefs, my experiences, my love for God honestly and naturally – just like I live it.  I bring up examples of real people from the Bible when it relates to something that is happening today.  I share the truth I have learned from reading God’s word or hearing a sermon.

There are no steps – I just include God and my faith in my regular conversations and it opens up that topic for other people to discuss.   When ever someone starts asking questions – even negative ones – I know God is moving in their life.  Something exciting is going on.   I’ll say a quick prayer in my head, ” Father, please give me the words.” and I’ll keep talking about my faith.  My life.  My experiences.  No one can dispute what I say about my own experiences – I’m the expert.

If anyone asks me a question I don’t have an answer to, I refer them to various books I have researched where the authors are reputable.  It’s even better if I have one of those books to hand them.  I don’t have a lot of the technical answers because I like the fact that God is too big to understand.  He is more awesome and more powerful than my 3.5 pound brain can comprehend.

How beautiful!

I’ve also bought a lot of extra Bibles in my time because I love to hand Christians Bibles when they start asking me questions that are answered by God in his Word.  He wants to make his Word come alive for each one of us, individually, as we read it and study it.

God calls each of us to share the Great News – what he has done for us.  We can just talk about gift of grace he offered to us naturally, as part of our conversations.  We can include how he redeemed our lives and has given us a purpose worth living for.

How beautiful!

Please give us the opportunities and the words, Abba Father.