Branded

The truth is etched onto my brain,

it’s written on my heart.

God’s truth has forever changed me.

You and I are the ‘created ones’.  God is the ‘Uncreated One’. He was here before the beginning and he will be here forever.  He created us to live in a relationship with him but that was broken by our rebellion and sin. That’s one of the reasons why the Old Testament is filled with so much violence and gore.  That’s why there was continual conflict and strife between God and humans in the Old Testament.

Sin was in the middle of everything – messing it up.

But before the beginning of time, God already had a plan to deal with our relationship problem.  He was sending Jesus, his Son, to pay the price of all our sins for all time.  Because of what Jesus did through his death and resurrection, those of us who accept salvation through him can now have a personal relationship with God which begins here on earth and extends into eternity.

In Jeremiah, God describes the New Testament relationship that is coming – the New Testament relationship with him that we now have the privilege to choose.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31: 33.

When I put my faith in Jesus, his Spirit came to live inside of me. I hear the Holy Spirit talking to me, guiding me, correcting me. When the Holy Spirit challenged me to get serious about memorizing scripture, I told him I would try but he was going to have to do the main work because I have a terrible memory.

I saw the Spirit move in my life every day as I got out my index cards with the whole first chapter of James written on them. Yes, I have a terrible memory – except when it comes to God’s Word. It took a couple of years but I eventually memorized James 1 and 2 and now have begun to work on James 3.

I never understood why memorizing scripture was so important to God – until I got serious about it. Now I understand. He talks to me all the time using his words that I have etched upon my heart. This has been especially important when a crisis happens and I need guidance ‘right now’! There are other times when I’m having an important conversation with someone who is seeking God and I don’t have a Bible handy or time to look something up. God speaks in my brain – reminding me of scriptures I have memorized.

I’ve had Christians tell me they don’t tell other people about their relationship with Jesus because they are worried that they won’t have the words. I can tell you for a fact, if you memorized scripture you would have the words. The Holy Spirit highlights the words I need in my head so I can share them.

My life is branded by God’s truth.

I am God’s.

Thank you, Abba Father.

After, Not Before

How often do I decide to make a positive change in my life- and then I don’t follow-through?  I change my mind.  It gets too hard.

How often does this happen?

More often than I like.  What about you?

How often are we convicted by the Holy Spirit to make an adjustment in order to better line our lives up with God’s will?  And, after we try, we give up.  When it gets tough, we go back to our old habits.

We are very fickle.  When it gets hard, we opt out of the difficult changes that are needed and decide to go back to being comfortable.

In Jeremiah 34, we read about the Israelites doing this same thing.  The Law of Moses had restricted how long Hebrews could be slaves.  When Jeremiah pointed out that fact that the Israelites had not been following this law,  they saw that they were doing this wrong thing.  And they let their slaves go free.

“But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.” (vs 11)

God doesn’t tell us the details of why the Israelites changed their minds – but we can read between the lines.

Life got hard.  The Israelites had to get their own water and cook their own food.  They had to clean and do all of the dirty work the slaves had been doing.

Obeying the law was just too difficult so they decided to disobey and go back to the comfortable life they had before they were convicted of their sin.

And they missed the blessings that come after we obey.

God blesses obedience.  He has blessings lined up, waiting for us……if we’ll go through the tough part of obeying.

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When I do the things that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to do, I feel the satisfaction that comes with partnering with God in his plan.  I feel the contentment and satisfaction of living my life in line with God.  I also experience with wonder of God’s supernatural love and strength and peace.  These are blessings from God.

The blessings that only come after I obey.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Don’t Miss It

Confidence that everything will work out.

Trust that this journey ends in my heavenly home.

A future that is successful in God’s eyes.

We love to quote Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the LORD, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future .”  We hang this verse on our walls and we write it on our coffee cups.

I want these things in my life, especially because I know God’s prosperity is not about money, although money can be a part of it.  God’s prosperity includes things like peace and purpose and love – the things money can’t buy.

Too often, we stop at verse 11 and we miss the rest.  The next sentence tells us ‘how’ God is going to fulfill his plans.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12.

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If I miss the ‘how’ of his promise,  I’m going to miss the whole thing.

God is clearly telling me that I have a part in making this promise come true.  When I’m diligent in going to him, praying and seeking him with all my heart, I know that he will make his plans for me happen.  A confident hope and a great future are mine when I follow his directions.

That’s my part.  It’s your part, too, if you want this promise to be true in your life.

Let’s not stop at the first sentence and miss what God has planned for us.

Don’t miss the ‘how’.

I’m praying and seeking you with all my heart, Abba Father.

Maybe

Maybe we will all understand.

Maybe we will turn away from our next bad choice and turn back to him.

This is what God wants for us. This is what God wanted for the people of Judah when he had Baruch write down all of the words he had given to Jeremiah.  “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.”

God wants to forgive us.

He wants us to know him

– to feel his love.

– experience his peace.

– live in his joy.

– rely on his strength for each day.

– and anticipate all of the good things he has planned for us tomorrow.

God wants all of this to happen in our lives.  That’s why he had his wisdom and guidance for us written down in the Bible.

I believe that God does not ‘inflicts disaster’ on those that have put their faith in Jesus. But God does let us pay the consequences for our bad decisions hoping that we will learn to turn away from bad behavior. He also lets us experience the negative things that happen from living in a broken, sin-filled world. It’s a great reminder that this is not our home. God walks beside us through all of our negative consequences and situations, loving us, teaching us and helping us mature in our faith.

As my Bible lies open on my lap with my mind actively seeking God, his truth is soaking into my soul, changing me, renewing me. He is helping me make make better choices. He is guiding me through the mess and the lies of the culture around me. His Spirit is alive inside of me, filling the ‘God spot’ within my soul and making me whole.

God hoped that the people of Judah would understand. Maybe this would help them decide to turn away from their sin and turn back to him.

God wants this same thing to happen today.

Right now.

For you and I.

As we read and respond to his Word.

Please open our eyes, Abba Father.

Revealer of Mysteries

I don’t understand everything I read in the Bible.  I know I will never understand everything I read in the Bible.  It’s very interesting to watch God reveal different truths to me each time I read it. Was that always in there? How did I miss that before? When God does this, I have discovered that is usually an answer to a question I have asked him.

Daniel called God the Revealer of Mysteries.  As Daniel started to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream for him, he said , “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.” Daniel 2:29.

There are many mysteries in our lives that we would like to have answers for, aren’t there?

Why am I here?

Why is this happening?

What am I supposed to do?

Should I go through this door?

I have discovered that God has all the answers to these mysteries. When I trust him, he reveals what I need to know when I need to know it. If I’m feeling like I need an answer right now and I don’t have it, I focus all of my attention on God and he always responds. Often I realize that God was trying to give me direction but it was so different than what I expected that I had overlooked it.

I know I’m moving down the right path when I’m heading towards God.  I’m on the right road when I’m trusting that he will explain what I need to know when I need to know it.

As my trust in God grows, I have found that the number of mysteries in my life shrinks.  He is always speaking to me – loving me, guiding me and pointing out my next step just at the right time – not a day early.

The Revealer of Mysteries proves over and over that he has it all under control.

Thank you, Abba Father.

He Found the Book

The Book of the Law. Moses’ book. God’s words.

God tells us an encouraging story about King Josiah in the second book of Chronicles.  King Josiah knew it was time to repair the temple of the Lord.  So he made it happen.

While they were cleaning and fixing the temple, they discovered “the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses.” 2 Chronicles 34:14.  The book was read to the king who immediately tore his robes and asked the prophetess Huldah to tell him what God wanted to say to him.  Her message from God could be boiled down to three words, ‘disaster is coming’.

The king reacted immediately by having the Book read to all of the people and then leading them in renewing their covenant with God.   The king cleared out all of the idols from the temple and destroyed all of the places for idol worship and altars. He also had to get rid of the priests who were leading the people in their worship of idols.  He did away with all the mediums and spiritists along with all other ‘detestable’ things.

When everything was done, they celebrated the Passover which had not been celebrated properly for hundreds of years.  Great job, King Josiah!

So what about me?  What about you?  Is it true that some of us need to ‘find’ the book of the Lord?

Are there ‘things’ in our lives that we put a higher priority on than our relationship with God?  These are our idols.

Do we look at sources other than God for our guidance and direction?   How often to we check with Google on important things rather than checking with God?   These other sources are our mediums and spiritists.

Is our Bible sitting on the shelf more than its been sitting open on our lap?  We need to read it and know it.

And let God transform our lives through it.

I cannot think of a time in my lifetime that it was more important for me – and you – to know the Word of God for ourselves. Almost daily I hear stories of pastors and religious leaders who are not teaching the whole truth found in the Bible. We must know the Word ourselves so we can compare what we are being taught to what we know is the truth.

King Josiah’s cleansing of the land of Judah was a high point in their history.  He heard God’s word, he listened and he obeyed.

King Josiah found the Book.  The book led him to God.  God led him to renewal and celebration.

Is it time for some renewal and celebration in your life?

Maybe its time to REALLY find the Book.

Thank you for revealing your truth to us in your Word, Abba Father.

I am ‘Becoming’

I am ‘becoming’ something.

We are all on the path to ‘somewhere’. I decide what I am becoming and where I’m going by my choices each day. I am going one way or another – I’m not standing still.  If I’m not doing anything new – not growing – then I am moving backward as the world moves forward around me.

When I put my life in my Father God’s hands, he is able to mold me into the person he created me to be.

Isaiah is very clear about this, ” Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.” 64: 8.

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When I let God change me and transform me, I become a beautiful work of his hands.

I have seen God work in my life – gradually changing my thinking and perspective so it more closely lines up with his.  I have been reading the entire Bible each year for the last 10 years and I continue to reap the rewards of committing this time and effort to my relationship with him.  The better I know his Word, the easier it is to hear God and let him mold me.  I look forward to many more years of God continuing to refine me – I am confident that his goal is to create a unique masterpiece of my life.

Our lives – created by God.

Will we be molded  and shaped by the Master’s hands?

Our choice.

I choose you, Abba Father.

May My Roots Go Deep

“They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,

a planting of the Lord,

a display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61: 3b.

I want to be an Oak of Righteousness.  A planting of the Lord.

May my life display even a tiny portion of his splendor!

God points out to us in Isaiah 61 what it means to be an Oak of Righteousness.  As I read this, it relates directly to our culture today.

Today, God’s Oaks of Righteousness are leading the way in their own spheres of influence in helping to reverse the tide of moral decay of our culture. They are working to strengthen our families and are sharing the love and truth of God to the people around them. They are so dedicated to God’s work that they refuse to get distracted by the mess and confusion of the world around us.

God is calling each one of us who are serious about our faith to rise up and be an Oak of Righteousness where he has planted us.

Yes – I can point fingers at politicians and lawmakers.  That’s the easy way out – the blame game.

Sure – I can get upset.  I can say all kinds of things about how bad our culture has become – complain, complain.

But what part of this do I own?

And what am I doing about it?

How often am I talking to God about it, asking him to point out my next step in making a difference?

As we obey, we become this solid planting of the Lord with our roots sunk deep into His truth.  God hates wrong-doing and injustice.  He righteously fights these battles using us when we are in line with him.

God promises that our obedience will bring us double portions of his blessing and everlasting joy.    He extends these blessings to our children (awesome) and tells us that we will be acknowledged as ‘the people the Lord has blessed’. (vs 9).

Amen, let it be so, Abba Father.

It’s Not a Waste

Sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time today – or last week – or last year.

How much time did I waste watching TV? How much time did I waste worrying about tomorrow? Worrying about things that never happened? How much time have I wasted looking at my phone or IPad?

What about you? How much time have you wasted lately?

But there is one place in my life where no time is wasted. I know this for fact – when I sit with my Bible open on my lap reading God’s word, studying God’s Word, and listening to God as he helps me figure out how to apply his word to my life, not one second is wasted.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater; so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55: 10-11.

This is great news for all of us and especially ‘achievers’ like me. It is so awesome to know when God’s word goes into my mind, it achieves the purpose God has for it. Of course, I have freedom of choice so I have to choose to listen and I have to choose to obey.

It’s a huge confidence-builder for me to know that when I choose to open my eyes and heart to the word of God, he promises that he will accomplish his desires through me.

I can count on it.

I love knowing that I’m not wasting a second of my time when I spend it with God.

Thank you, Abba Father.

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. I have to apply this every day to my relationship with God so I can avoid frustrations and confusion.

God tells me through Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Isaiah 55:8.

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, his plan, his purpose.

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 trust and faithfulness to God for the rest of my days on this planet.  I have decided to live in gratitude for his free gift of redemption through Jesus.  I don’t question what God does or doesn’t do.  I don’t try to determine if he is right or wrong – I know he is right.  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.