Lay It Down

Spread it out.

Leave it there –

at the feet of the Creator of the Universe.

That’s what I visualize myself doing when I pray.

I take my praises, my concerns, my dreams and my questions….

and I raise them up before my loving Father in Heaven.

I lay them at his feet.

And I really try to leave my concerns and my worries there.  I try not to pick them back up.

Because he is in control…

and he wants the best for me.

I trust him.

I love reading about King Hezekiah in 2 Kings.   He received a letter telling him that the huge enemy army of Assyria was coming his way.

To crush him.

To crush all of his people.

And Hezekiah didn’t have enough fighting men or resources to stop them on his own.  So he went to God and he spread the letter out before him.  He begged for God to deliver his people.

God answered with ‘yes’.  He saved the city – the King of Assyria left in disgrace.

How hard that must have been for Hezekiah!  Facing annihilation, he gave it all to God and left it there – even as the huge army advanced towards him.

He knew that God was his only answer so he stayed focus, he remained faithful.

How good am I at staying focused?  Remaining faithful?

I’m pretty good at spreading my concerns out before God but it’s really hard to leave them there.  Not to worry.  Not to fret.  Not to let a million concerns roll around in my head in the middle of the night.

How good are you at giving your worries to God and leaving them, trusting that he’s taking care of them?  Or do you take them back?

Please help us grow our trust, Abba Father.

 

2 Chronicles 30, 2017

People of the United States of America, return to the LORD, the God of our Founding Fathers,

and he will return to you.

Do not be like those all around who have been unfaithful to the LORD.

Don’t be stubborn, as many people are.  Submit to the LORD.

Seek him out.

Serve him.

Live in the light of his love.

If you return to the LORD, you will discover how gracious and compassionate he is.

He is always ready and willing – just turn back to him.

Thank you, Abba Father.

He’s Got This

I’m on a separate path.  Not the same as everyone else.

God is telling me in Isaiah 8 to look at what everyone else is afraid of and……

don’t be afraid.

If you’re a believer, he’s telling you that, too.

“Don’t fear what they fear.”

We have so much we could be afraid of –

disease,

accidents,

rejection,

betrayal,

failure,

loneliness,

and so much more.

When we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we don’t need to be afraid of those things.  Jesus is walking right next to us, guiding us through everything that happens to us – working it out for our good.

Dying can be a constant fear hanging over our heads like a big, black thundercloud.  This ominous cloud sends down lighting which strikes us – often by surprise and  without reason.

But those of us who trust in God don’t need to fear our own deaths.  In God’s eyes, death on earth is life is heaven.  His son or daughter comes home – leaving behind all of the pain and sin in this world.

No more tears.

No more trials.

God tells us we have nothing to fear – not even death.  He’s got this.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I Have Seen It

He has modeled for me what my life should be like – what is required of me.

Micah tells me this in the Old Testament and its one of the main reasons I study the New Testament so intently.

Jesus showed me how I should live –

To act justly,

To love mercy,

and to walk humbly with my God.

How can I act justly?

Today that looks like living a life of integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is watching and no will ever know.  I need to use God as my compass as I navigate the treacherous and ever-changing waves of life which often try to sweep over me and draw me away from him.

How do I love mercy?

Mercy is undeserved compassion. My world is full of confused and broken people who don’t need my judgement, they need my compassion and help.  It’s not my job to help everyone.  But God has given me passions – things I really care about – in order to find the places where I need to help and serve and make a difference.   If everyone would give $20 and a couple of hours of their time in the area of their passion, we would all be surprised how much things could change.

And I am called to walk humbly with my God.

Each day.

Submitting to his direction for my life.

Staying strong in my belief that God is good.

Sharing my journey with others who haven’t accepted the Great News yet.

Covered by his grace.

Held steady through the storms by his loving hands.

My eyes fixed on him.

He has shown me what is good.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Looking For It……

but peace is hard to find.

The world rushes around us.  We’re always in a hurry.

I retired 6 months ago and I’m still trying to re-train myself to stop rushing from thing to thing. It’s not easy – everyone is doing it.  And it’s especially hard to find peace and calm with ‘screens’ screaming and blinking everywhere I go.

I’ve discovered that real peace can’t be found in my environment.

It’s just not there.

True peace only comes from God.

Thousands of years ago, Micah prophesied that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and he would shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD.  Micah said the Messiah would give us security because his greatness would reach to the ends of the earth.

“And he will be our peace”.

Jesus is our peace.  The Holy Spirit who lives inside every believer brings us peace.

I will not find true peace anywhere else.  Everything else is fleeting – here today, gone tomorrow.  Unpredictable.

Peace can’t be found with money – although its easy to get lost in that direction.

And it won’t be found in any other relationship other than my relationship with God.

Jesus has come to world.

And he offers us the only true place to find peace – in a close relationship with him.

Thank you, dear Jesus.

Hearing…

Understanding.

Being aware.

Soft-hearted.

Eyes Open.

Do these things describe me?  Do they describe you?

If not, do we want these things to describe us?

Isaiah tells the people of Judah that they don’t hear and understand.  They don’t see the truth and they aren’t aware of what’s happening around them.  Their hearts are hard and their ears are closed.

Because – Isaiah tells them and us as we read this today – if they saw and heard and understood the truth, they would turn back to God and be healed.

Please help us hear and understand the truth, Abba Father.

Growing Good Grapes

He planted a vineyard on a fertile hillside because he knew a hillside was the best place to plant good grapes.

He cleared the stones and planted only the choicest of vines.

He built a watchtower so he could watch over the vineyard and care for it.

He prepared a winepress in anticipation of making a fine wine with the good grapes.

He is our Father God.  And we are the grapes.

He has placed me right where he wants me in this world and he has a purpose for me here.  You have been placed here for a purpose, too.

He has prepared this place for us.  He has prepared you and I for this place and he watches over us with love and care.

He has planted us in a fertile place where we have the opportunity to grow – if we want to.

God tells us in Isaiah 5 that he did this same thing for the nation of Israel.  He prepared a place and planted them.  But when he looked for good grapes to make the wine, he couldn’t find any.

There was only bad fruit.  Because they didn’t choose God.  They didn’t choose to grow in the fertile ground he had prepared for them.

The same is true for us.

God desires to make a fine wine out of the good grapes that he will grow in our lives if we let him.

What kind of grapes are we growing?

Thank you for your love and care for us, Abba Father.

Stumbling…

Making a wrong choice.

Turning in the wrong direction.

Saying something that’s not right or should not be said.

I do it.

You do it.

We stumble.  It happens.

The big question that makes a significant difference in my life is – how often do I stumble?

Is making a bad choice a rare thing in my life?  Or does it happen pretty regularly?

Do I learn from my mistakes so I don’t do it again?

Or do I keep doing the same thing over and over?

There’s a big difference between an occasional stumble and being a regular ‘stumbler’.  And that difference will be pretty obvious in the amount of negative consequences we have to deal with in our lives.

God points out this truth to us very directly in Hosea 14 – “The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

Rebellion.

Doing what we want.

Not obeying God.

Putting ourselves on the throne of our lives.

Rebellion is a mindset that will cause us to stumble – regularly.

So, in reality, I choose how much I’m going to stumble when I choose my level of obedience to God.

Please help us obey so we can avoid being a regular ‘stumbler’, Abba Father.

Jehoshaphat’s Prayer, 2017

LORD, the God of our ancestors, you are the only God in heaven.  You are King over everything.

Power and might are in your hands – no one and nothing is as powerful as you.

Our God, you have always been on our side.  We know whatever problems and trials come our way, we just need to turn to you.  When we stand in your presence – crying out to you –  you hear us and save us.

We come to you now because we have more problems and new sorrows.  So we cry out to you, our God, to take care of them.  We cannot face these issues on our own.

We have no power.

We don’t know what to do.

We fix our eyes are on you, LORD.

We trust you, Abba Father.

 

 

Get Off the Teeter-Totter

I’m feeling good…

walking closely with God.

Hearing him.

Seeing him move.

Got a new Christian song rolling around in my head all day.

It’s all good.

And then something happens.

Big or little – it doesn’t have to be a major thing.

And life is suddenly a struggle again.  The things rolling through my head are not the most positive things.  I start wondering – where is God?  What is he doing?  It’s like a dimmer switch has turned down the light in my life and everything becomes darker…colder…..sad.

I know this happens to you too.  This is how it is here on our broken planet.

As we read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings, we find that it’s been like this for thousands of years.

First, Elijah is up on Mount Carmel, trusting God who shows up in such a powerful display of omnipotence that all of the Baal followers fall on their faces to worship the One True God.  Wow!

And then we read that Elijah went away to crawl into a cave to hide because he didn’t trust God to save him from his enemies.

Up!

Down.

Up!

Down.

It’s not easy to have a long-term, consistent relationship with God.

Life gets complicated.  Emotions start rolling.  Stuff happens.  And we find ourselves going up!

Then down.

OK, going up again!

Then down.

I have found a key that helps me avoid some of this ‘I’m not having fun’ time on the teeter-totter.  And that key is to follow God’s direction to me to trust and obey him – all the time.

Trust and obey – it works on the mountaintops when everything is great!

And it works in the valleys when I want to crawl in a cave.

It doesn’t take all the emotion out of the ride up and down but it helps limit the bad choices I could be making if I was reacting to all of these fluctuating feelings.  When I remember how faithful God has always been in the past, I can stand firm knowing that he will also be faithful today and in the future.

It’s not easy, but it works.

Thank you for your faithfulness, Abba Father.