Isaiah 9, 2019

Dear Father,

I ask that the people who walk in darkness today would see your great light.  Shine your light of love and grace on all those who are now living in the land of deep darkness.

Enlarge your kingdom on earth, Father.  We rejoice before you for you have broken the yoke of our slavery to sin.  You have lifted the heavy burden of guilt and shame from our shoulders through the death and resurrection of your son.  You have removed the oppression brought into our lives by our disobedience and rebellion.

For a Child was born to us, you gave us your son, Jesus.

We call him Wonderful,

Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

Those of us who have accepted your ‘saving grace’ have placed Jesus on the throne of our lives where he rules with justice and peace for all eternity.

You have made all of this happen.

Thank you, Father.

Wasted Time

I only have so much time here on this planet – I shouldn’t waste it.  If there is one lesson that has been engraved on my mind these last few years, it’s ‘Life is short”.

I truly never knew how extremely short life can be until my son was killed.  One moment he was here and the next he was gone.

My life flipped upside down in that one moment.

Life is short – I have no time to waste.

Just like Jonah – he had no time to waste.  So it’s a little frustrating to read about Jonah going through his big drama of disobeying God’s direction to go to Ninevah.  Jonah decided to go the other direction, got caught on a ship in a big storm, was thrown overboard by sailors and spent 3 days in a huge fish at the bottom of the ocean.  It was there that he repented and reached out to God. (bottom of the ocean, end of our rope – sound familiar?)

God ordered the fish to spit Jonah out on the beach.  And then Jonah finally decided to obey God by going to Ninevah and doing what God has asked him to do in the first place.

That whole first whale trip was just a big waste of time and energy!

Wait a minute – do I do this?

Do you do this?

I have to admit that I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past disobeying God.  I ignored what I knew was right.  I did want I wanted to do and gained nothing from it.  It was useless – a waste of time.

One of my life goals now is to obey God the first time.  I want to stop wasting time and energy while disobeying.

I want to avoid getting hit by the 2×4 that eventually comes our way when we ignore God.  The issue or problem doesn’t go away when we disobey – it grows.  And it continues to grow until it’s too big and bad to ignore any longer.

Have you ever been hit by God’s 2×4 for your disobedience?

I have.  It’s a wake up call.  An enormous red flag pops up and starts whipping through my life.  It seems like everything starts going wrong at the same time but, in reality, this issue has been gradually building steam while I prioritized other things.  Because he is a good Father, God doesn’t ignore me when I’m trying to ignore him.  He lets the consequences of my own actions grow until it’s just like getting hit by a 2×4.  By then, the issue has become too enormous and too awful – I cannot continue to look the other way.  Newsflash from God – attitudes and behaviors and priorities need to change – and they need to change NOW!

I got it, God!  I have learned my lesson and I intend to obey right away from now on.  No more 2×4’s in my life if I can help it!

I have also learned that obedience up front, the first time, brings additional blessings of peace and strength that come from being in line with God and in step with the Spirit.

Obeying right away is never a waste of time.

Thank you for teaching me this important lesson, Abba Father.

Be Still and Watch

It’s hard for me to be still and watch.  I’m a doer.  I’m an achiever.  I spent over 34 years of my career “making things happen”.

So I like to skim over all the situations in the Bible where God tells us to “be still and watch”.  And God says this often.  You probably don’t notice how often he says this unless you’re trying to ignore him when he says this – like me.

In 2 Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat tells his people not to be discouraged by the huge, combined army that is marching toward them. “You will not even need to fight.  Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory.”

After saying this, the king and all the people bowed before God with their faces to the ground and they worshipped God.

This creates a great visual picture in my brain because they were acting like they had already won!

Because they had.

Early the next morning, they marched out to their positions singing praises to God.  They were not afraid – God was going to fight for them.

And he did.  The huge enemy army became confused and started fighting each other – killing everybody in their own army.

God’s people won without raising any weapon except their trust in God.  It took them three days to gather up all of the supplies and valuables left behind by the dead army.

Wow!  God is saying to me and you today that there are battles coming at us which he wants to fight for us.  We just need to trust and be still and watch.

I have something in my life that I’ve been ‘battling with’ and God just reminded me yesterday that I need to give it to him. (I actually should have given it to him a while ago).  Today he is confirming that through his Word to me.

I’ve been trying to make it happen but it just hasn’t.  Frustrating!  So now I’m going to be still and watch.  I know I don’t really want it to happen unless God also wants it to happen anyway, so I like this plan.  Everytime I think about it, I’m going to send it up to God in a prayer, “Do your will, Father.”

I trust that he wants the best for me so I will be still and watch.

Thank you for reminding me and confirming this for me, Abba Father.

His Whispers

If I’m not careful, I’ll miss it.

I’ve missed it before.

God speaking to me.

Just like with Elijah in 1 Kings, God doesn’t speak to me in a terrible blast of flying rocks or in an earthquake or in a fire.

God often speaks to me in a whisper – a faint breeze of truth and light that flits through my mind.  I have to stop, concentrate and reach out to catch it.

If I’m not careful, it’s gone.

If I’m not purposefully opening up my spiritual eyes and mind, the spark moves on.  And I’m left wandering, ‘When God is going to answer my prayer?   When will I see him move?’

When I am quiet,

when I am focused,

when I don’t let distractions derail my time with God, I hear him loud and clear.

God’s Word is alive – he will underline passages (you wouldn’t see it but I do), he will change the font of a sentence to bold or he will read the words to me in my head to make sure it’s his voice I hear, not my own or anyone else’s.

There are situations where he simply opens up my eyes to how he has already answered my prayer.  He has taken care of the issue and moved on.  Keep up!

That’s when I realize how much I miss when I’m not quiet,

when I’m not ‘zoned in” enough to hear the whispers and feel his breeze of truth ruffling the pages of my Bible.

Please open my eyes, open my ears, Abba Father.

Meaningless

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, ” completely meaningless.”

Do you ever feel that way?

Obviously this emotion is spreading rapidly through our culture today as we see the suicide rates and mass shootings multiply.  To many people, tomorrow seems to be meaningless and not worth sticking around for.

“What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? ” asked King Solomon, the Teacher.  He was the wisest man who ever lived and he wrote Ecclesiastes.

“I observed everything going on under the sun and, really, it is all meaningless – like chasing the wind.”

Pretty depressing, isn’t it?

The futility of pleasure – fleeting and never gives us lasting  contentment.

The meaninglessness of work –  we put so much effort into work that we leave behind to others who have not worked for it.

The injustices of life – evil is very real.

The futility of wealth – those who love money will never have enough.

The limits of human wisdom – “wisdom is difficult to find.”

Death comes to all – “the same destiny (of death) awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad.”

Solomon’s final conclusions are that we should enjoy life while obeying God – real freedom and happiness come exclusively from him.  Evil and injustice will always in a part of life on earth.  We should live in faith knowing God wins in the end and will judge all things.  We are responsible for our own actions in relation to the evil of this world.

Meaning and purpose will only be found by being faithful to God.

That alone is not meaningless.

Thank you for giving my life meaning and purpose, Abba Father.

Satisfied

Am I ever satisfied?

Are you?

We live in a culture where it’s very difficult to be satisfied because there is always bigger and better.  There is always more.

How do I find satisfaction when I am surrounded by all of this?

God tells me through King Solomon in Proverbs 3 how find contentment in my life.

  • Never forget what God has taught me.
  • Be loyal and kind.
  • Trust in God – be dependent on his understanding, not mine.
  • Make fulfilling God’s will for my life my goal.
  • Keep on the path God directs me to take.
  • Turn away from evil.  Respect and honor God and never get too impressed with myself.
  • Honor God with my time and treasures.
  • Accept my Father’s discipline.  He loves me and wants the best for me.
  • Ask God for wisdom – it is precious and nothing else will bring me satisfaction.
  • Hang on to my common sense and discernment – they will help make me safe and secure.
  • Encourage others.
  • Don’t make a big deal out of small things.
  • Don’t envy violent or wicked people.  At first, I would say that I would never envy violent or wicked people.  But then, I think about some people I know who have ‘gotten away’ with things that were not right but it brought them pleasure or financial gain.  Did I ever wish that was me?

That’s a great list!  It’s interesting to me that things like ‘get an education so you can get a good job and make a lot of money’ aren’t on here.

There’s nothing on this list that tells me that buying stuff and owning things are going to bring me satisfaction.

This list is all about me and God working together to grow my faith, grow my character and grow my wisdom.

Amen.  Let it be so, Abba Father.

How Happy!

Have you heard about the Queen of Sheba?  She is pretty famous in ancient secular history so its interesting that she also shows up in Biblical history.  In 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, God tells us about the Queen of Sheba’s visit with King Solomon.

King Solomon’s reputation as the wisest man on earth had spread over the known world so the Queen of Sheba came across the desert with her huge entourage to test him. (I can’t imagine what this journey was like)

She asked Solomon all of the questions she could think of and he answered them all.  Then she said, ” How happy your people must be!  What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day listening to your wisdom.”

How happy!

This makes me think about how happy I am when I’m around people who care about honesty, good character, loving God and loving others.  Being positively influenced and encouraged by them feels good.  It’s a privilege to be around people who stand for doing what’s right and use God’s word as the one true compass in their lives.

How happy!

I am reminded of one of my ‘mom lectures’ to my son and daughter as they were growing up in this confused and crazy culture we live in.  I told them (several times) that peer pressure is not always a bad thing.  There is such a thing as positive peer pressure – encouraging and challenging those around us to be better, to do what is right and focus on making our world a better place.  That’s the kind of peer pressure I expected them to have on the kids around them.

That’s the kind of peer pressure God expects me to have on the people around me.

We all have influence on the people we touch in our world.

Is it good?  Positive?  Based on God’s truth?  Helpful?

Or not?

It’s our choice.

Please help me have a positive influence on the people in my world, Abba Father.

Soften My Heart

Isaiah 6, 2018:

Help me hear and understand you, Father.

Help me see, Father.  I want to see more than just what’s on the surface.

Soften my heart towards the things you care about.

Open my ears, Abba.  Open my eyes to your truth.

When I am close to you, I see you.  I hear you.

I open my heart to you now, Father

I am turning to you.

Heal me, make me whole.

It’s Not Okay

I’m surprised at how often I find myself doing it – rationalizing.

Making up excuses for bad choices.

Telling myself that something is ‘not that bad’.

Do you do this, too?

Do you tell yourself “everyone’s doing it” or “no one will ever know” when you think about doing something wrong?

God’s words through Isaiah are very clear about our tendency to rationalize away bad decisions.  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”.

Woe to me when I call evil good…..or call evil okay…..or call evil just easier.  These words echo through my head as I recommit to stop rationalizing things.

I need to be discerning – don’t accept evil as good, don’t call shades of darkness light.

I need to be wise – this doesn’t mean I go around judging other people.  God is their judge.  I’m focusing on my behavior and my values and my choices.  I’m focusing on calling good good and calling evil evil in my life.

Stop the excuses, stop the rationalizing.

Please open my eyes, Abba Father.

 

What If?

What if our sin and rebellion showed on the outside?

I’m reading in 1 Chronicles how God gave King Uzziah leprosy because of the king’s unfaithfulness.   Everyone could see the king’s sin.

On second thought, I think our sins also show on the outside.  We don’t have leprosy but some of us have broken relationships that are easy to see.  And these relationships broke because of our lack of forgiveness and patience.

Others of us have very difficult situations on our lives that are no secret and are direct consequences for bad choices we made.

Many of us have anger and frustration because of our selfishness and lack of self-control.  Those of us who ignore God or fail to live our life by faith, can be filled with fear because we trust other things like money, careers and relationships to give us security.  This stresses us out because we know – deep inside – that these things are not secure.

Yep – all of this shows on the outside.

But it begins on the inside  – with our heart.  That’s why God starts his transformation on the inside.

God has brought his love and light and truth and grace into my heart – transforming me one step at a time.  And – gradually – it begins to show on the outside.

God wants to do the same transformation for you –

will you let him?

Thank you for your transforming love and grace, Abba Father.