He Knows

How often are we on ‘auto-pilot’ when it comes to our relationship with God?

Just going through the motions?

In Isaiah 29, God tells his people that their worship was meaningless because it was based on human rules but their hearts aren’t engaged.  They are saying the right words but they didn’t mean them. “The LORD says: ‘These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Isaiah 29:13.

God can tell the difference.  He knows when I are focused on him with all of my heart.  He knows my thoughts and intentions. He knows when my thinking wanders away from him – even if my Bible is laying open on my lap. He knows when I am just saying things I have been taught to say but there is no passion and love behind them.

My love for God shines bright when its authentic. When its real. When its based on a personal relationship, not just traditions that I have been taught by others.

God sees right into my heart and he knows. He knows if I’m serious about my faith.

There is no ‘faking it’ with God.

Please help me worship you and love you like you want me to, Abba Father

He Loves Us This Much

Seven hundred years before he was born, Isaiah spoke a stunningly accurate prophesy about Jesus.

Here’s my 2021 response to parts of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53: 2-6 –

Jesus was not a good-looking man.  The pictures we have of him where he looks like a movie star are totally inaccurate.

People despised him but he was used to pain and sorrow – that was his life.  A lot of people ignored him and avoided him when possible.

Yet he took on more pain – the pain that was meant for us.  He paid the price for our rebellion and selfishness and anger – all the sins of all the world.

Some people were confused when they saw all the problems Jesus had – they thought God was punishing him.  Their eyes just weren’t open to the truth.

The truth is that Jesus loves us so much that he took all of the punishment that we deserved…

so he could be our Savior…

so we could have peace…..

so we could be healed.

You and I have sinned.  And we keep sinning.

Have I said anything out of frustration or lack of patience today?  Not yet – but it’s early.

Have you thought of anything unkind or unforgiving today?  God also knows our thoughts – that’s a tough one.

Jesus paid the price for all of our sins for all time….

so he could offer us salvation.  For free.  For eternity.

Thank you, Jesus!

He is Not Like Me

I am created in the image of God,  I am like him.

But he is not like me.

I have found this to be a crucial truth to get straight in my brain so that I have the correct expectations of God.

God tells me through Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

God is perfectly holy, perfectly just, perfectly loving and always right.

I am farrrrrrrr from perfect.  I cannot judge God’s actions – whether they are right or wrong – based on what I think.  My thinking is very flawed.  It is self-centered, self-seeking and severely limited.  I don’t think like God.  I will never think like God.

So I submit to his will.

I am totally confident in God’s goodness and his perfect love for me.  I know to the depths of my spirit that God wants the best for me.  Even though I will never understand how he thinks and why he has permitted a painful tragedy to happen in my life when my son was killed, I will trust God.  His ways are not my ways – his ways are perfect.

In response to this truth, I have decided that my way is to walk in faithfulness and trust the rest of my days on this planet.  I have decided to live in gratitude for God’s free gift of redemption through Jesus.  I don’t question what God does or doesn’t do.  I don’t try to judge if he is right or wrong – I know he is right.  I know he is always walking beside me, loving me and caring for me, even when he is not doing what I think is best.  He knows better.

I trust you, Abba Father.

This is Not My Home

This place is not where I belong.

As I read what God is saying to me in Isaiah, I realize that I am in exile from my real home.

Watching the violence continue to erupt each day in cities across the US,  it becomes increasingly clear how far away I am from home.  Seeing the bold lack of respect for authority, law and order confirms for me that this confused and evil world is not for me.

Witnessing the general lack of values and personal accountability in our culture makes me feel very uncomfortable – like I’m in a foreign land.

A couple of days ago I read that the state of California was letting thousands of criminals out of the prisons onto their streets early, not caring about the innocents who live on those streets.

This is not my home.

I could go on but the list is too long…

too discouraging.

Then God reminds me through Isaiah that he has not forgotten the exiles.  “I will not forget you.  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

And God assures me that, some day, my exile will end.  On that day, he will lead me out of this foreign place into my forever home where he has prepared a place for me.

I will finally be home, where I belong.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Passing Through, Isaiah 43

When I am passing through the waters of grief…

*of disappointment…

*of disillusionment…

*of pain….

God is with me.

When I am passing through a river of tears…

*pierced by the shattered pieces of my broken heart.

*trying to figure out how to live with a huge hole in my life…

the tears do not sweep over me.  God is with me.

When I am walking through the fire of anger…

* filled with ‘whys’…..

* trying to understand….

I am not burned.  God is with me.

I am passing through.  I’m not getting stuck in these places.  Everything that happens in my life has first gone through the hands of my Father God.  He has a purpose.

So I will trust him as I pass through the water, the river and the fire.

Thank you for walking closely beside me, Abba Father.

 

When It’s Big

And bad.

There have been times in my life when huge dark clouds have rolled in and  completely filled the sky over my head….actually, they have been in my head.  And they don’t move.  They don’t let any light shine through.

What do I want to do when this happens?  I want to worry, get anxious, and try to figure out how to fix it myself at 3 am in the morning.

What should I do?

When King Hezekiah received a letter from of the King of Assyria telling him that he was going to destroy Hezekiah, Hezekiah went to the temple and spread the letter out before the LORD.

God heard Hezekiah’s prayers and send an angel to kill a hundred and eighty thousand Assyrian soldiers.  When the King of Assyria saw this, he ‘withdrew to his own land in disgrace.”  God won – of course.

Hezekiah knew it would be impossible for him to win the battle before him on his own.  So he laid it down before God.

How many of us have an impossible battle before us right now?  It’s too big.  It’s too hard.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do this on my own.

I’m there.  When my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty 4 years ago,  I entered a battle with grief and loss that I’m going to be fighting the rest of my life and I cannot possibly be successful if I try to do it by myself.  I need to take Hezekiah’s lead and lay it down before my God who is all-powerful.

Lay it down before my God who wants the best for me.

Lay it down before my God who is in control and can bring good out of every dark cloud.

As I’ve grown in my relationship with God on this journey, I’ve gotten pretty good at laying it down.  But, if I’m not careful, I’m also good at picking it back up.  Are you with me on that?

I need to lay it down….

and leave it at the feet of my Father God who fights my battles for me and who has already won the war.

Here it is, Abba Father.

 

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t be discouraged.

“There is a greater power with us than with him.”

King Hezekiah said these words to his army thousands of years ago and today God is saying them again to you and to me through his Word.

Do you need to hear this?  With all the crud swirling around in our culture, I know I need to be reminded.

You and I are being threatened in all areas of our lives – health, finances, spiritually, relationships.  God is telling us today to ‘be strong and courageous’  because he is the greater power.

I have put my faith in Jesus so I know that God is with me.

He is for me.

He is fighting my battles.

He is working all things out for my good.  He has a purpose for everything.

He has greater power,

greater love,

and greater forgiveness

than I can ever understand.

There is no reason to be afraid or discouraged.

Wow!  Thank you, Abba Father.  I needed to hear this again today.

No More

Have you ever wandered away from God?

It’s easy to do – there are so many distractions.  It’s difficult to keep God at the top of our priorities when long lists of other things clamor for our attention.

So we wander.

I used to wander away from God pretty regularly.  I wouldn’t even it realize it until something bad happened so I would look to God – surprised at how far I had drifted away from him.

I stopped wandering when my spiritual habits became the foundation of my life.  Reading and studying God’s word daily has moved from a ‘if I have time’ thing to something that is not optional.  Talking with God and listening to him as he helps stay in line with him is not optional in my life.  Worshipping and serving God with my spiritual family is also not optional.  Tithing my time and treasures is not optional.   Others things have to be taken out of my schedule if my time with God is not happening.

When my life became grounded on my spiritual habits, the wandering stopped.  I am experiencing the blessings Isaiah told the people of Judah they would receive when they turned back to God –

God is gracious to me and always answers my call.  He has walked closely beside me in all of the tough times he has permitted to happen in my life.  He blesses me during these times – guiding me and teaching me.  Whatever is happening, I hear his voice in my head saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

I have given God first priority in my life and he provides everything I need each day.  I am confident that he will take care of me until the end of my days here on earth.

Thank you, Abba Father.

My Highway

I can visualize it.

Isaiah tells us that when God comes to save us, “he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution.”

“And a highway will be there.”

This highway is called the Way of Holiness.  I can see it stretching all the way up to heaven.  Only those of us who walk in the Way of our Savior will use it.

Those who don’t believe will not be able to travel on it.  The wicked and the foolish will not go on it.

There will be no danger when we – the redeemed – walk home on this highway.  As we return to the LORD, we will be singing praises.  There will be no sorrow or sighing – only everlasting joy.

Thank you, Abba Father.

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.