His Breath

Tired.

Dried out.

Lifeless.

Ever feel that way?

Do you feel that way now?

Good news!  God tells us through Ezekiel that he can bring us back to life.  He is able to breathe life back into our souls so that we can become alive in him again.

I know this is true because I’ve experienced it.

In my late 20’s I was what I call a ‘cultural Christian’.  I had loved God and believed in Jesus my whole life but my personal relationship with God was pretty non-existent at that time.  My family went to church and I sang in the choir.  I sat in the congregation on Sunday and commented on what a great sermon it was but I rarely remembered it past the parking lot.   I prayed – but I never listened.  I never watched for God’s answer.

I was too busy with all the other things I thought I wanted.  I had a great husband, two awesome kids, a good start on career, nice cars and our first house.  Everything was great, right?

Then why did I feel so anxious and lost and stressed all the time?  I had everything I thought I needed but my life still felt very empty.  If this is all there was, I didn’t want it.  It was all wayyyyyyy too much work.

My husband was going through a similar angst and he began to be discipled by a very Godly man.  As I watched, I was amazed to see my husband gradually find the joy and fulfillment that I was looking for.

Wow!  I never even considered that a relationship with God could be the answer to my emptiness.

So I opened up my heart and mind to God.  One of the pivotal steps I took was to become a member of a small group who was studying the Bible and getting serious about their relationships with God.

Through studying God’s word and experiencing the power of small group Bible studies, I started to hear God.  I began to know his voice.  And he challenged me to seriously put him first in my life.

No Way!  That was a crazy idea!  I already had a husband, kids, career, family, friends and church on my plate.  I was struggling every day not lose ‘me’ in all of that.

But I knew I had to try something.  I realized that my lack of purpose and joy wasn’t going to work long term.  The cracks that were starting to show up in my life were going to break wide open if I kept running on empty.

So I gradually started to put God first.

As I read and listened and opened up my heart to God, I began to feel the hole in my life start to fill up.  He breathed a fresh wind of his love and grace and strength into my soul.

I discovered that God wanted me to put him first in my life so he could help me with all the rest.  He has made me a better wife, a better mother, a better boss, a better sister and a better friend.  That’s what he does when we put him first.

God’s love has filled my life to the point that it overflows onto the people around me.  The two greatest commandments – loving God and loving others – are accomplished in our lives by doing the first one.   When we really love God with all our hearts, we experience so much of his love that it naturally runs over into the lives of the people around us.

All orchestrated by God as he breathes life deep into our souls.

There are no dry bones here.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Stumbling

Who is wise?  They will realize these things.

Who is discerning?  They will understand that God’s path is the right path and they will walk in it.

The book of Hosea ends with this truth – But those who rebel stumble.

How do they stumble?  They spend many hours on things with little or no ultimate value.  They spend a lot of money on things that provide little or no satisfaction.  They spend much energy looking for something that will complete them and give them a purpose when the Provider of these does not live on this earth.

Those who refuse to acknowledge God as Creator and Savior will stumble.  And they will continue to stumble until they submit to God and get on his path.

Meanwhile, God opens the eyes of the wise so they can walk with him.  There are still small stumbles but they know how to get back on the right path.

How do we walk right with God?  By loving God with our whole heart, mind and soul and loving others.  Simple……..yet profound.

When we walk with God, he completes us and gives us a purpose.

He also gives us joy.

Thank you, 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.

Celebration = Loud

When the wall around their city was finally finished, the people of Jerusalem rejoiced because ‘God had given them great joy.” Nehemiah 12:43.oct-13-2016-celebration-loud

Everyone celebrated!  All the men, all the women and all of the children.

And we read in the Bible that the sound of Jerusalem’s celebration could be heard far away.

That’s really loud!!

They were so filled with joy that they couldn’t keep quiet.

And this is not unusual in the Bible – God’s people celebrated a lot!  They had joy!  They worshipped God!  They were loud!

Can you even imagine how loud it was then the heaven’s were filled with thousands of angels singing for joy and praising God?

So where do we sometimes get the idea that our weekly church family celebrations and worship should be quiet?

There is certainly a time and place for reverence and meditation when we get together.

But there are also many reasons for joy and excitement and celebration as we worship together and are blessed.  Our traditions should enhance our worship, not restrain it.

Thousands of years ago, God’s people showed us how to express our joy, celebrate and worship God.

And it was loud 🙂

Please give us joy, Abba Father!

Psalm 30, 2016

I just can’t stop praising your name, today, Lord!

You lifted my problems and worries off of my shoulders.

I called your name and you healed my soul.april 16b 2016 psalm 30 2016

My spirit was dead and you saved me.

Sing with me, all believers!

Praise our Holy God!

His anger is focused on the Evil One.

We, the redeemed, are already living forever with him.  We are his favorite children!

Yes, we still have struggles and trials while we live on this earth.

But, through them all, our Father God walks closely with us and gives us joy.

Most of the time, I feel secure.  “I will never be shaken.”

But – sometimes – I feel far away from God.  I feel alone and afraid.

So I cry out to you once again – end my loneliness!  Get rid of my fear!

Pour out your grace upon me.

Help me, oh Lord.

Yes!  You turn my wailing into dancing!

My sadness is removed and I am filled with joy because I can sing your praises!

Lord, my God, I will praise you forever!

No More Dry Bones

You have breathed life into us, dear Father.Sept 2 2015 no more dry bones

Your breath of love has filled our empty and hurting hearts.

Your breath of forgiveness has removed our burden of guilt and shame.

Your breath of redemption has given us a new hope…a new purpose.

You give us strength.  Your power lives in us through the gift of your Holy Spirit who guides us and speaks truth into our hearts and minds.

You have clothed us in new robes of righteousness which we did not earn.

You have released us from our slavery to sin.  We celebrate our freedom to gladly serve you!

You have given us joy.  You have given us peace.

Through you, we have been reborn!  Thank you, Abba Father!

We are no longer dry bones.

Under Seige

Do we ever feel like we’re under siege?  Lots of things going wrong?  New problems piled on top of old problems with no end in sight?

In Jeremiah 32 we read that the siege ramps were built up around the walls of Jerusalem and the Babylonians were coming up over the city walls on these ramps attacking the Israelites on all sides.cropped-eedsc_03962.jpg

God said to Jeremiah,” I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?” (vs 27 )

In the middle of the battles, God promised restoration and healing to the Israelites.  Just like he promises restoration and healing to us today.eeeeeecDSC_0452

God told the Israelites that their joy would return.  And he is telling us that today.

As we look at our own situations, these promises of God might be hard to believe.  We just can’t see how God will heal our situations.  We don’t feel like our joy is ever going to return.  How can it?  Look at what’s happening in our lives!

God is asking us today – “Is anything too hard for me?”

Our answer to that can change our whole perspective on our situation.

God is in total control of it all.  He can do anything.  He loves us and wants the best for us.

If we believe this, then we need to live like it.  We can face today because God is here and he will be faithful to his promise of healing and restoration.  We can face tomorrow because we trust that God is there and he has promised that our joy will return.

Nothing is too hard for God!

Thank you, Abba Father.

(Pictures are from my visit to Jerusalem last year.  The second picture is of a model of what Jerusalem looked like when Jesus was there)

Do We Want Success?

Do we want things to work out well for us?

Do we want to have purpose and meaning to our lives?

Do we want success that is not defined by how much money we have?  June 20 2015 do we want success

Do we want success that is defined by how much faith and wisdom we have?  How much joy?  And peace?

We read the same formula for success over and over in God’s word.  It can’t be said any clearer than in 2 Kings – as long as Kind Uzziah sought the Lord, God gave him success.

All REAL success comes from God.

As we seek him with all of our hearts, he gives us the desires of our hearts.

It’s that simple.

And it’s that hard.

Because we’ve got this sin thing going on that distracts us.

Sin tells us that it’s all about us.  We get confused and we think we can do anything if we try hard enough – focus on it – give it everything we’ve got.

Sin tells us that we make our own success.  Sin gets us wrapped up so tightly with our own achievements that we miss the main player in this drama –

God.

God is the writer, producer and director of the movie of our life.

When we look to him for direction, we’re going to find success.  The movie will be a success.

His kind of success – success that money just cannot buy.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Psalm 16, 2015

When I am close to you, I feel safe, my God.

You represent everything that’s good in my life, dear Father.April 29 2015  Psam 16 2015

I love to spend time with people who love you, God.  Those who are too busy running after their own desires will never find their security in you.  They will only suffer the consequences for their choices.

As for me, I refuse to consider anything in my life to be more important than you.

You are everything I need, dear Lord.

I can rest in you.

I want to be exactly where you want me to be.  That is where I find joy.

Thank you for teaching me your truth.  I am writing your words on my heart so your truth can guide me day and night.

With you, I have nothing to fear.

So I sing praises to you, secure in your love and grace.  I know you will never abandon me.  You walk close beside me every day.

I am filled with joy knowing that you are with me today, tomorrow, forever.

Thank you, Abba Father.

The Best Exchange

It sounds daunting.  Nov 3 2014 the exchange

It sounds challenging.

It sounds like it’s too hard, too much.

We must deny ourselves….

– summit our will.

– decide to do what God wants instead of what we want.

It’s not natural.

Not normal.

It’s normal for us to look out for #1.

It’s natural for us to be self-centered and Captains of our own Universe.

But Jesus came and turned our universe upside down – inside out.

He tells us to deny our sovereignty over our space and submit to him in order to save our lives.

By denying ourselves and letting God reign as King of our Universe, we gain it all!

All of the important stuff.

The stuff that counts.

Forget the big houses, new cars, and money……that’s just stuff.

We’re talking about the most important things like ….

purpose for your life…

and peace…

and love….

And how about joy?

How much joy do you have in your life?

Everything good comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights. (This is one of my favorite verses from James 1 that we’re eventually going to memorize in our Sword Fighting Class)

So we exchange our frustrating, disappointing, heart-breaking attempts to control of our life for God’s control of our life and he makes his dreams for us come true.

I love that exchange!

Don’t you?

Thank you, dear Father.