Change Happens

I don’t understand people who tell me they don’t like change. Change has been constant in my life. How about you? Anything change lately?

I realized that change was going to be one of the few constant things in life pretty early on in this journey of life so I decided I was going to learn to like it. I adopted a perspective that change is good. Maybe not all good, but there would be parts of it that I was going to like.

When things changed, I also realized that I usually got rid of some of my least favorite things in my past situation. Nice!

I remember reading Isaiah 42:10 about 10 years ago when I was facing a big change. ” Sing to the LORD a new song,” God spoke to me, telling me he was giving me a new song to sing through this upcoming transition. My daughter had just announced her engagement so my family was changing – again. After their wedding, she and her new husband were moving to Sydney, Australia for a job opportunity.

So my new song was filled with gratefulness to God for her happiness, asking for blessings on their marriage and requesting help in growing my trust in his care for her as she moved so far way.

Then, before the wedding, my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and my new song to God was full of concern and questions along with words of confidence that he is always in control and nothing is impossible for God.

Since then, God has given me many ‘new songs’ as the seasons of my life have changed.

Most recently, my husband and I moved out of Arizona to Denver. Once again, God is giving me a new song filled with gratitude for being able to live close to my daughter and her family, praises to God for the beauty of the mountains and requests for guidance with all the new beginnings.

As my life continues to change, I am grateful to my Father God for the new songs he gives me.

The Only Way Out

I’ve been there – a place where there’s no way out.

When there is nothing I can do to even try to fix it.

A total dead end.

This is when the only way out is up.

King Hezekiah knew all about this place thousands of years ago when a huge Assyrian army came to Jerusalem and camped right outside the city walls.

The Assyrian King told Hezekiah that the LORD had told him to destroy Jerusalem.

What?

King Hezekiah was wise enough to recognize a big lie when he heard it so he went to the prophet Isaiah to get the truth. The Lord told Isaiah that King Hezekiah should not be disturbed by what the Assyrians were saying –  God was going to move against them himself.

Next, the Assyrians send a letter warning King Hezekiah that he should not be deceived by God’s promises to protect him.  (There were serious mind games going on here.) The Assyrians had been completely destroying everyone in their path and that’s what the Assyrian king was planning to do to Jerusalem.

King Hezekiah knew that was exactly what the Assyrians had been doing – destroying everyone and everything and no one had been able stop them.

So Hezekiah took the Assyrian’s letter to the temple and spread it out before the Lord.  He laid out his concerns to God and asked him to rescue them so that all the nations of the world would know that he was God.

I visualize Hezekiah on his knees spreading out this scroll full of scarey and deadly threats.  Then he totally lays himself down on the floor in front of the scroll as he asks God to save his people.

How interesting – he doesn’t summon the commander of his army.  He doesn’t consult with anyone.  He and his people are facing annihilation and he prostrates himself before God.

I’ve been there several times in my life – when there is no way out but up.   Faced with massive issues that were extremely beyond my control, I have laid it all out before God and asked him to take care of it.  I didn’t know how he would do it and I told him I didn’t care what he did – I was just placing it all in his hands and trusting in his promise that he is working all things out for my good.

It worked for me just like it worked for Hezekiah thousands of years ago.  God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and took care of the situation. God always hears my prayers and he answers by orchestrating situations in his way with his power to benefit me.

I have discovered I don’t have big issues for long when I have a huge God.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Dedicated

Purifying the temple

Consecrating the articles of the temple.

Sacrifices of sin offerings.

When we read about these things in the Old Testament, we can easily think “What does any of this have to do with me? How can God speak to me through these parts of the Bible?”

The fact is that God speaks to us through all parts of the Bible. The Holy Spirit can make it all relevant to our lives today ….. if we open our minds and listen.

I am reading 2 Chronicles about all the religious reforms King Hezekiah made when he became king. He purified the temple. He consecrated the articles of the temple and he led the people in all types of sacrifices and offerings. When they were done, he told them, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 29:31.

As I read, God talks to me about consecrating my life since Jesus’ death and resurrection has made me a temple of God’s Spirit. This means cleansing my life – taking anything out that is not helping me grow my relationship with God. One of my favorite phrases – ‘what we feed, grows.” This might mean changing channels on the TV or changing sites that we check out on our computers. It could mean stopping magazine subscriptions or avoiding the types of the books we used to read. Maybe we need to change the kind of music we listen to? There might be people in our lives that we should give less time and less influence.

Consecrating and dedicating my life to God also means laying my desires and dreams down before my Eternal King and letting him take control.

I want to live my life your way from now on, Abba Father.

God’s Math

God has a supernatural math when it comes to our generosity with our money and time in supporting the work of his kingdom.

His math is not like our math where 1+1=2.

God’s math makes 1+1=100.  Or 1000.  Or 1,000,000 if he wants it to be.

God’s blessing + our giving = everybody wins.

When we give to God, we don’t have less.  We have more.  Don’t ask me to explain it – it’s just the truth.  I’ve experienced it many times.  We truly cannot out give God.

God’s math has been true for thousands of years.   In 2 Chronicles, after the Israelites started  to bring their contributions to the Temple of the Lord, they found that they had plenty to eat with plenty to spare.  God multiplied their generosity by giving them back more – a lot more.  “When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps (of contributions), they praised the LORD and blessed his people Israel.” 2 Chronicles 31:8.   The king built large storerooms for all of the leftover contributions and put the Levites in charge of distributing the gifts in other towns.

See how God’s math works?  Their generosity just kept multiplying and spreading.  Now their neighbors were being blessed.

God does the same thing today.  If you haven’t personally experienced this, test him and see.

Thank you, Abba Father.

How Many Jars?

How big is my God?  How much does he want to bless me?

God stopped me today as I read the story in the Bible of the widow whose son was going be taken as a slave because her husband had debts he didn’t pay before he died.  She asked Elisha for help saying she had nothing left except a small jar of  olive oil.

Elisha said, ” Go around and ask your neighbors for empty jars.  Don’t ask for just a few.  Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” 2 Kings 4: 3 – 4.   She did exactly what Elisha said and she just kept filling the jars until they were all full. The oil stopped flowing when her last jar was full.  Then she sold the oil to pay her debts and had enough money left over to live on.

Now that I know the end of the story, my automatic response is – too bad she didn’t get more jars!

Did you go there? It was great that she had enough money to live on but how much more did God want to give her?

And then I wonder how many times God was willing to bless me abundantly but I didn’t bring enough jars?  I didn’t bring enough faith?  Enough trust?

How often do I short-cut God’s attempts to lavish love and care on my life because I don’t ask?

The message I’ve been consistently receiving lately from God is that there are some mountains he will move if I will boldly ask.  He’s stirring up a wind of his Spirit that he is inviting me to take part in if I will ‘bring enough jars’.

Nothing is impossible for my Father God so I will acknowledge that by boldly asking and watching expectantly for his answer.

I’m getting a lot of jars lined up, Abba Father.

Great Love!

Do you feel it?

I do.

I see it in the gorgeous sunrise as God once again declares his faithfulness to me with the start of a new day.  I feel it in my 2 year-old granddaughter’s hug.  I see it in the smiles of my friends.  I feel it in the ‘love you’ from my husband of almost 40 years.

It’s the great love God has lavished upon me.

God tells me that I am a precious child and he proves that by showing his love for me in a multitude of ways, every day.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.”  1 John 3: 1a

It’s very encouraging to realize that the closer I get to God, the more love of his love I feel pouring out over me.  As I’ve been consistently memorizing God’s scripture these last 5 years, I also feel his wisdom pouring out from his Word.  More knowledge.  More understanding.

I am his child!  How much more love and wisdom and knowledge and understanding does he have available for me?

There is no limit!

As 2020 comes to an end, God is revealing his goals for me in the new year.  Yesterday he started the list with fight the battle well,  hold onto the faith, hold onto a good conscience.  Today he stopped me with, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:11.

Love other people.  In my experience, the only way I can genuinely love people is to get close to God and let his love flow through me to others.   As I open up my heart to God, he fills it with so much love that it spills over into the lives of people around me.  It’s all about God, not about me.

I’m looking forward to the opportunities God is going to give me in 2021 to love others with the love God gives me.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Best-Selling Book of all Time, By Far

“If it’s from God, you will not be able to stop these men.”

Gamaliel was a smart man.  As a religious leader, he took part in the debate about how to get rid of Peter and the other apostles after Jesus left earth and returned to heaven.  The apostles were creating a growing threat to the established religious authority.  They had be ‘dealt with’.

I can see Gamaliel now.  Frustrated by the lack of insight into what has really been going on with Jesus, he stops the debate, “Leave these men alone!  Let them go!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:39)

It is now over 2000 years later.

And we know the answer to Gamaliel’s question, don’t we?  Christians make up almost thirty percent of the global population.  It is estimated that more than 5 billion copies of the Bible have been sold.  It’s the best-selling book of all time in the entire world.  No other book is even close.

No one has been able to stop the spread of the Gospel because it comes from God.  It is not ‘from human origin’  like all the other religions.

The Truth has come from God and his name is Jesus.

Thank you, Abba Father.

How Far?

How far away from God am I?

What about you?

Jesus had many confrontations with the Teachers of the Law while he was here on earth.  They were legalists and held the word of God over people’s heads like a hammer.

You did that wrong – Bam!!

You did that wrong – Bam!!

Jesus was all about grace and truth and many of the teachers and leaders at that time were about power and personal agendas.

Sound familiar?

So it’s very interesting to read about a positive conversation Jesus had with a Teacher of the Law the book of Mark.  The Teacher asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important – they had over 600 at this time.  Jesus told him that loving God and loving others were the top two.

The Teacher then agreed with Jesus saying, “You are right”.  And Jesus said, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  (Mark 12:34).

Translation – “You got this!”

In the middle of all the other Pharisees and Sadducees and Teachers of the Law who hated Jesus and wanted to kill him, here was a man who understood.  He believed that loving God and loving others were the two most important things.  Everyone around him was off track as they spent their time and energy on the less important  laws.

This teacher got it.

And I want to be like him.  As the world around me gets more and more confused, angry and judgemental, I plan to stay focused on these two things –

loving God,

and loving others.

My goal is to continually grow closer to God and live my life less and less like the messy culture swirling around me.  I’m moving closer to the Kingdom of God.

I invite you to come with me.

Thank you for your truth and guidance, Abba Father.

How Much More

She knocked….

and knocked……

and knocked….

on the door of an unjust judge.  Until he gave in and gave her justice.

How much more will my Father God, who loves me, give me when I ask?

How much more does he have waiting for me when I pray and never give up?

The parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18 changed my life.  It’s the answer to the question, “What am I supposed to do?” when I’m stuck, when I’m frustrated.  What am I supposed to do when all of the wrong answers are swirling around in my head?

Now, I know.  When I’m in those situations, I remember the Persistent widow and it reminds me that God has all of the right answers.

I just need to ask.  And keep asking.  And keep asking.

I ask knowing he will answer.  I ask knowing that he will guide me in the next step.  I ask knowing that he has determined the right path for my life.  I ask because I know he has chosen me and he has great plans for me.

As I persist in seeking God…

asking….

believing….

knowing….

he always answers.  Always.  Because he loves me and only wants the best for me.

When I have something big going on – something scary – something overwhelming….I pray.

And I keep praying.

I have had some very memorable days in my life which started in despair and fear and confusion but ended in peace with a plan and a smile because God answered my 200+ prayers that day.  He didn’t change the situation.  He changed my thinking, my perspective, my goal.  He reminded me that he is in control.

When I persist in turning to God for wisdom, direction and strength he gives me all that I need and much more.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I want to be…

like the Samaritan Leper.

He came back to Jesus after Jesus healed him.  He came back praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  He was one of ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17 as he travelled to Jerusalem.  Jesus healed them all and this man was the only one that came back to say thank you.

Jesus had redeemed the leper’s life from pain and death.  And the leper came back to show his gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.

Jesus has done the same thing for me.   He redeemed me from hopelessness, death and eternal separation from the only source of good things in this universe – our Father God.

After reading this passage many years, ago, I decided to start all of my prayers with thanking God for who he is and what he has done for me.  I still do this today and I find it puts me in the right mindset to have great conversations with God.  He has already done so much for me – lavishing his love on me, forgiving my rebellion and self-centeredness, pouring his blessings down on me, giving me purpose and peace…..I could go on.  So starting every prayer with ‘thank you’ helps me avoid the trap of treating him like Santa Claus and going down my list of ‘prayer requests’.

For the rest of my life here on this planet, I will be like the leper who came back to say ‘thank you’.  I will live my life in gratitude to God.

Thank you, Abba Father.