This is the Key

Some people spend their whole lives searching for the key to life.  And many of them never find it.

It’s extremely sad that a growing number of people are choosing suicide as an alternative to living an empty and hopeless life.

And yet the key to having a full and meaningful life is readily available.

It’s soooo awesome that Moses said it thousands of years ago and it’s still the answer today.

“Oh, that you would choose life…  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him and committing yourself firmly to him.  This is the key to your life.”

This is the key to my life.  I know that.  I have tried filling my life with other stuff as I moved through different phases of my life.  I know the lack of contentment that comes from chasing after material belongings like cars and houses.

I know how it feels to being consumed by meaningless rounds of parties and partying friends, trying to fill the void.

I also know the ache that comes from putting my career first before everything else in my life.  When I achieved success and recognition at work, my reaction was, “Is this all there is?  Why do I feel so empty when my career is going so well?”

All of these worthless, meaningless, empty feelings went away when I committed to put God first in my life.  My experience matches up 100% with the advice Moses gives us – God is the key.

I’m so glad I found the key.

I hope you have, too.

I choose you, Abba Father.

I’ll Never Know

I’ll never know all of the things God has done for me.

I’ll never know all of the ways he has protected me and guided me.

I don’t see it all and I don’t always recognize what he is doing.  Much of what he does is subtle – a whisper here and there in my ear…

I try to stay aware of his movements but the cacophony of the world around me so easily drowns God out.

While preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land without him, Moses said, “For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister or swell.”

Looking back on their last forty years, the Israelites could see how faithful God had been.  Forty years and their clothes didn’t wear out?  What an obvious act of God – and very practical.  As they continued to move across the desert, replacing clothes would have been difficult.  So God took care of their clothes as well as their feet.  A massive crowd of people walked through the dry, hot desert for 40 years and didn’t have problems with their feet?  Only God could do that.

As I read this, I am comforted to know that God is taking care of issues like this in my life as well.   Every once in while, God gives me a glimpse of a potential problem that he has taken care of in my life and it reminds me of how much more he blesses me and watches over me each day.

When I look back, the distractions of today drop away and I can clearly see God’s faithfulness in my life from before I was born.  I can come up with a very long list of  little problems and huge issues that God has handled – caring for me and loving me through it all.

And he hasn’t stopped.

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s Amazing!

Hard to explain,

but easy to see.

I’m talking about the supernatural power of God.

Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land with the Israelites so, before his death, he spoke to all of them to remind them of everything God had already done for them.  (This reminds me of how easily I forget all the things God has already done for me.)

Moses say to his people, “Do not be afraid of the nations there (in the Promised Land), for the LORD your God will fight for you.”

God was fighting for them –

and he is fighting for you and me right now.

Today God has my back.  He is orchestrating good things for me.  He is arranging circumstances to help me move in the right direction.  God is fulfilling his purposes on earth through me – today.

The same can be said of you if you are a Christ-follower.

Right now, God is saying to us,

___________, (fill in the blank with your name) ‘ Do not be afraid of __________(fill in the blank with what keeps you awake at night) for I, the LORD your God am fighting for you.’

Thank you, Father God.

Blow Your Trumpet!

I don’t know how to blow a trumpet….do you?

So what is God trying to say to me as I read ‘blow the trumpets” in Numbers 10?  Thousands of years ago, God was directing the Israelites to blow their trumpets when they went to war to let their enemies know they were coming.

Then God said, “Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too.”

And ‘blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings.”

The Israelites didn’t have God’s Spirit living inside of them like we, as believers, do today.  Blowing their trumpets was a loud, obvious way to acknowledge God’s presence and participation in what they were doing.

I don’t need to blow my trumpet but I do need to acknowledge God’s presence and participation in my life – every day.  I have found the best way to do this is talking with him.  You might call it praying – I consider it more of a conversation because he talks back.

I talk to God about the fears and worries that can fill my head when it’s dark.  Just the other night, my little grand darling, Eden, was staying overnight and she had a cough left over from a cold.  I gave her cough medicine before she went to bed and then woke up at 3 am hearing her coughing again.  After giving her some more medicine, I continue to hear her cough.  Poor baby!  It’s really hard to listen to little ones coughing in the night.  So I talked to God about it, asking him if I should get up with her?  Was there something else I should do?  And he assured me he had it covered.   A short time later the coughing stopped and she slept peacefully until the morning.  And I went back to sleep knowing ‘God’s got this’.  Thank you, Father.

I ask God to join me in the battle when I’m feeling the flaming arrows of the Evil one begin flying at me. (BTW, Satan really hates this blog.)  Please keep me on the path you have prepared for me, Father.

I share my glad times with God who is the Father of Light for all the good things he sends down to me from heaven.  ‘Every good and perfect gift’ is from you, Father. 

I praise God with my offerings of my time, talents and treasure.  You have blessed me with all of them, Father God.  Thank you. 

Many of us have the tradition of asking blessings over our food as we gather together to eat.  I love this moment of gratitude for God’s provision for us as we look at a table full of food.  It’s a great time to acknowledge God in our day – even when we’re in public.  Why not?

It’s time to blow our trumpets!

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Fear

It makes me anxious.

It makes me worry.

It makes me focus on ‘what if?”

My fears usually center around situations that I have no control over.  There is nothing I can do to get rid of these thoughts that fill my mind with dread –

except trust God.

He is in control.  He loves me and wants the best for me.  I believe that with all of my heart and soul.  He has proven it over and over.

When I remember to trust God with all of it, the fear goes away.  Confidence in my Good Father wipes out the anxiety and worry.  I say to myself, “What if I just let God handle this?” and the dread of what could happen disappears.  I know that, no matter what, God is going to walk beside me through it.  He has always been faithful in the past, he will always be faithful in the future.

The spies who Moses sent into the Promised land seriously missed this trusting in God idea.  They were scared – the people living in the Promised land were big and powerful.  Their towns were large with high walls around them.

The spies spread their fear through the rest of the Israelites until they became so scared that God tells us in the Bible that they cried all night.

Caleb and Joshua were two of the spies and their report was much different from the rest.  “Let’s go at once to take the land.  We can surely conquer it.”

What?  The people of Israel were trembling in fear and Caleb is saying they must go ‘at once to take the land’?  How could the response of Caleb and Joshua be the opposite of what the rest of the spies were saying?

The difference was that Caleb and Joshua trusted God.  It was not about the Israelites doing this on their own.  God had promised to give them the land, so God was going to do it.

They trusted God so they were willing to obey him in spite of how the situation looked.

How good am I at trusting God in those kinds of situations?

How trusting are you?  Have you been anxious or fearful lately?

Please help us trust you with all things, Abba Father.  Take away our fears and anxiety.

You 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 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.’

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.

I know that Voice

Has this happened to you?  I’m in a crowded place where many people are talking and then one lone voice clearly sticks out of the noise.

I know that voice.

It’s somebody I know and I instantly recognize it and turn toward it.  In the past this voice has often been one of my children or my husband or a close friend.

That is also how it is for me with God’s voice.  His voice pierces through all the other voices around me.  Because I know him.

Little Samuel was just getting to know God in 1 Samuel so when he heard a voice in the middle of the night, he thought it was Eli, the High Priest.  So Samuel would run to Eli every time he heard this voice and Eli would tell him he didn’t call him.  The third time this happened, Eli realized that God was calling to the little boy.  Eli had heard God’s voice often so he told the little boy what to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”

And God spoke.  Samuel obeyed.

After that, God became Samuel’s constant companion as he grew up.

Have you heard God’s voice?

In my life, the more I study God’s Word and know what he says, the easier it has become to hear him.  I have heard him teach me and reveal truth to me for many years as I have read and studied the Bible.  I know his voice.

I have also been seriously memorizing chapters in the Bible for several years so I have God’s Word etched on my brain.  When he wants to give me direction and wisdom, he will highlight some of the verses I have written in my mind and speak to me through those verses.  There is no doubt who is speaking to me when he’s speaking God’s word.  And I know it’s the truth, not some whispered lies of Satan.

There are occasions when a person is speaking to me about something in the Bible and God will say in my head, “You know that’s not true.  You have read my Word and you know this is not what I have said.”  Sometimes God will give me an opportunity to ask where this person has read this in Bible so we can discuss it and sometimes I don’t get a chance to ask.  Either way,  God is helping me keep in line with his truth.

There are situations where God does the exact opposite.  Someone I’m talking with will share a new understanding or experience they had with God and it will immediately ring true in my brain – that’s  God!  And then I get to celebrate with this person because they are getting to know God better and they will continue to have more and more of these experiences when they stay on this path.

A critical part of creating this open communication with God is what happens after he talks to me.  I need to obey.  If I don’t listen and obey, I will not hear God as clearly next time.  Just like Samuel, I need to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  And then I need to do what God says – that’s how it works.

God’s voice is the most important voice in my life.

I know his voice.

Do you?

Please open our eyes and ears, Abba Father.

I’m Waiting

I know what I want for myself and for others.  I know who is in control of everything.

So I pray to the Creator of the Universe.  My dad.

Right?

And God responds – yes, no or wait.  I like the ‘yes’. I don’t like the ‘no’.  And the ‘wait’ is the hardest answer of all.  I’m not good at waiting, are you?

Why wait?  Did he really say ‘wait’?  Is he ever going to change his answer to ‘yes’?

Hannah was in this same situation in 1 Samuel.  She was in misery because she had no children and she wanted a son.  Women at that time were looked down on if they had no children.  What’s wrong with her?  Other women picked on her.  And “this went on year after year”.

It sounds like Hannah was consistently ‘pouring out my soul to the LORD.”  “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”  Lots of conversations with God.  She didn’t give up.  She kept asking.  “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.”

It might have seemed like God was saying ‘no’ to Hannah because it took years.  But he was waiting for the right time.

God knows the right time – I don’t.  So I have to wait.

This time of waiting is not wasted.  When I am faithful and tuned into him, he uses this time to grow my faith and grow my wisdom and grow my understanding.  I see that with Hannah – God was preparing her while she waits to be the mother of Samuel – a great man of God.

So I will wait.  I will pray for God’s will to be done in my life.  I will trust that, at the right time, he will give me what is best for me.  He has always been faithful in the past, he is faithful today and he will be faithful for eternity.

Thank you,  Abba Father.

When It’s Big…

and bad…

and scary,

even people who don’t love God will turn to him, pray to him, cry to him.  Because our souls know who he is even if our minds won’t acknowledge it.  He created us and the heart he molded inside of us cries out to its maker when we’re in significant trouble.

In Judges 10, the Israelites are on one of their downward spirals of sin.  They have stopped serving God and have started serving Baal…..again.  So God let the pagan kingdoms who also served Baal crush them and oppress them.

It was bad.

So the Israelites cried out to God and he replied, “Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen.  Let them save you when you are in trouble.”

Sometimes, as a Good Father who wants to teach us life lessons, God says that to us today.  If we have placed things other than God as our top priority, they are our gods.

There are situations where God lets us learn the hard way that money is not our security.  It disappears, it turns into a nightmare when we use credit, and the stuff we buy with it only makes us happy for a little while.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Relationships – people are flawed.  Unconditional love only comes from God.  My husband, my wife, my friends, my children cannot be my first priority.  God didn’t create it to work that way.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Careers – money, recognition, power, prestige often distract us from God.  Sadly, tragically, we can find that we were struggling so hard to climb a ladder that was up against the wrong wall.  At the end, there’s a huge, disappointing fall.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Anything we put before the One True God in our lives becomes a false god as we serve it and love it and focus on it.   These false gods will be no help when the bottom falls out of our lives.   Then our hearts will cry out to their Creator God just like the Israelite’s hearts did.

The Israelites had been taught well and they knew exactly what to do to get back in line with God.  They repented and got rid of their false gods.  And God responded by helping to deliver them from their enemies.  They still had to fight and struggle (consequences for their bad decisions) but God gave them victory.

God has told us he is a jealous God and he will not tolerate his people serving other gods.  When its big and bad and we need help, none of these false gods are going to of any use to us.

Have you and I learned this yet?

You are the only God in my life, Abba Father.

With Me

Every day…

Every situation…

Every trial…

The Spirit of the LORD is with me.

In the Old Testament, there were times when God would give his Spirit to someone when he had a tough assignment for them.  We read in Judges 9 that Caleb’s little brother, Othniel, became a judge for the Israelites.  God raised him up to deliver the Israelites from slavery to the King of Aram Naharaim.

“The Spirit of the LORD came on him” and he led the fighting men into war.  God’s Spirit made Othniel strong and courageous.

As believers today, we live under the New Covenant with God.  Now, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of each of us when we accept the salvation Jesus freely offers to each of us.

God’s Spirit is with me every minute of every day.  His Spirit wants to make me strong and courageous, too.

And loving,

joyful,

peaceful,

patient,

kind,

faithful,

gentle and self-controlled.

All of this is inside me – I just need to let God’s spirit have his way in my life.

If you are a believer, all of these great things are inside of you, too.  It’s time to nurture them and let the Spirit show.

Thank you for the awesome gift of your Spirit,  Abba Father.