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.

Unity

“The hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind….” 2 Chronicles 30:12.

Unity comes from God.

When we are all well-connected to God, we can hear his directions for us.  He gives us insight and understanding. He tells all of us the same thing so that we can move together, as his united people.

If I am not well-connected to God, following my own desires can cause disunity.  When I put what I want in front of what God wants, I can create dissension. 

Do you ever find yourself being stubborn? Determined to get your way? God calls this being “hard-hearted.   When we are focused on making ourselves happy rather than making God happy, we become part of the problem, not the solution.

Over 40 years of being married to a Christian man who is the polar opposite of me has taught me a lot about how God provides unity.  My husband and I have significantly different perspectives on the world and extremely different ideas about how to make decisions and determine next steps.  So I have learned to let God provide the unity.  When I am listening to God and my husband is listening to God, God directs us onto the same path.

If there are big decisions to be made, I’m usually the instigator of the conversation between my husband and I but, when we run into a wall because we process things so differently, we take some time to pray about it individually and eventually God tells us both the same thing.  Done.  It’s much easier to move forward together when God confirms the direction to each of us.

God does this in relationships and in businesses and in churches if people will turn to him and listen. I’ve seen it happen.

God desires that we have unity so he will make it happen –

if we let him.

Thank you, 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.

What Does He Want?

Have you heard anyone say something like, ” I just can’t figure  out what God wants from me?” or ” I really don’t know what God wants me to do?”

Statements like these confuse me because I think God is amazingly clear and to the point about the ‘main things’ that need to be the focus in my life.

The only two commandments Jesus gave us are to love God with our whole hearts and love others.  Jesus tells me that obeying these 2 commandments fulfills ‘all the law and the prophets’ which includes the original 10 commandments from the Old Testament.

There used to be 10 commandments – now it’s 2.  God knows we need simple and clear directions.

As I read the 6th chapter of Micah, I am again amazed at how direct God is as he tells me what he expects from me. ” And what does the LORD require from you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.

Which part of that is unclear?

Act justly – do the right things. God tells us what is right in his Word.

Love Mercy – forgive others.  Give people a break especially when they don’t deserve it.  Help others.

Walk Humbly with God – develop a close relationship with God understanding that he is a supernatural combination of Creator of the Universe, the Holy and Perfect One and my Abba Father.

Micah told us this thousands of years ago.  I have discovered that, if I am serious about doing the things God has already told me to do, he fills in the other details at the right time.

It’s time to stop asking God what he wants us to do and focus on the directions he has already given us.

Thank you for how clearly you guide me through your Word, Abba Father.

Real Love

Love is a choice. It’s a decision.

Many people get confused when they think love is something they feel – or not. Real love is not an emotion, its a commitment.

God has so much real love for us that he made us in his own image and he gave us free will to make our own decisions. He could have made us love him – but that’s not love, is it.

The arms of God are full of grace and compassion and they are wide open to each and everyone one of us. We have a choice to make – are we going to love him back?

God chose Jonah to go tell a group of people, the Ninevites, to stop their wickedness. Jonah didn’t want to do it so he tried to run away from God. Did you know that it’s impossible to hide from God?

Jonah ended up in the belly of a whale for 3 days where he repented, was spit out and ended up going to Nineveh anyway.

After Jonah spread his message throughout Nineveh, everyone – including the king – stopped the wickedness and rebellion. They repented and God did not punish them.

This made Jonah very angry. “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4: 2.

Why was Jonah so mad? He did not think the pagan Ninevites deserved God’s love and grace.

The fact is that none of us ‘deserve’ God’s love and grace. We can do nothing to earn it. We can never be ‘good enough’. If we’re honest we know we have all rebelled and ignored God while doing things the way we want them done putting ourselves at the center of our universe.

When we place our faith in Jesus, he saves us from the eternal death we have ‘earned’ because he is more than ‘good enough’.

Unfortunately, people who decide not to love God and put their faith in Jesus are choosing eternal separation from God’s grace and love. God doesn’t want that to happen to anyone but he won’t make this choice for us.

If you have not chosen Jesus yet, today is the day. Only Jesus can save us from getting what we truly deserve.

Thank you, Jesus.

I’m Sinking

If Jonah was writing his prayer (the second chapter of Jonah in the Bible) to God today, it might sound something like this

I’ve hit rock-bottom, God and I have decided to call out to you. I know you will answer me.

My choices have taken me to a deep, dark place in my life, far from you.  But I’m confident you still hear me when I pray.

I tried to run from you – a very bad decision.  And now you’re letting me pay the consequences as waves of darkness and regret wash over me.  I feel like you are very far away, dear God.

Even so, I am looking for you, watching for you, calling out to you.

I keep sinking….

down,

into the cold,

deep,

sadness.   This is where my choices have taken me.

But I know you are here, Lord God.  And you will lift me back up into your arms.

I was lost and dying, LORD, but now I am turning back to you.  I’m not like those other people who idolize money, success or fame.  I praise you with a joyful heart, my God!

I am here to do your will.  I will do what you have asked me to do. I will tell everyone that ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.”

I’m listening, ready to obey, 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.

I’ll Step In

I’ll step up.  I’ll make the first move in faith.

I often ask God to direct my steps.  My prayers regularly include requests for him to open my eyes to the opportunities he gives me to do what he wants me to do.

Because I’ll do it – I just want to know that its his direction and his timing.

And God responds.  Right before my eyes, he will give me an opportunity to do something he wants done or say something he wants said.

Every time one of these opportunities presents itself, I have to take the first step of faith forward, not knowing where my next step is and never knowing how this is all going to work out.

I just have to take that first step and obey.

So the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land is significant to me.  God told the priests carrying the Ark of the LORD to go first.  God told them he would make a way for them but, first, they had to step into the Jordan which was running at flood stage.

The overflowing water of the Jordan river was roaring down its path…..

and God told them to step in.

An act of faith.  An act of obedience.

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.  Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water  from upstream stopped flowing.  It piled up in a heap a great distance away…” Joshua 3:15.  The priests had to take the first step of faith and then they saw God respond.  They watched as God opened up a path for them to the Promised Land.

It’s important for you and I to understand how this process works.  Too often we want to see God move in our lives but we haven’t stepped out in faith.  We want the blessing first and then we’ll move but that’s not how it works.  We want God to invite us to do great things but we haven’t stepped up to the plate on the things we already know God wants us to do.

For example, Jesus told us clearly, “Love God and love others.”  These are the two main things I need to be about – I already know that.  No question about it.  I don’t need to ask God if he wants me to do this – he’s already told me to do it.  I find that when I’m focused on doing these things God has already told me to do, I see God part the waters for me.  He blesses my steps – one at a time.

But the first step of obedience is mine.

Where is God asking you to take that first step of obedience?  Go ahead – step into the water and watch it part in front of you.  It will be worth it.

I believe, Abba Father, so I’m stepping in.

I’m Stepping In

Stepping up.

Making the first move.

I often ask God to direct my steps.  My prayers regularly include requests for him to show me an opportunity to do what he wants me to do.

Because I’ll do it – I just want to know that its his direction and his timing.

And God responds.  Right before my eyes, he will give me an opportunity to do something he wants done or say something he wants said.

Every time one of these opportunities presents itself, I have to take the first step of faith forward, not knowing what the next step is and never knowing how this is all going to work out.

I just have to take that first step and obey.

So the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land is significant to me.  God told the priests carrying the Ark of the LORD to go first.  God told them he would make a way for them but, first, they had to step into the Jordan which was running at flood stage.

The overflowing water of the Jordan river was roaring down its path…..

and they had to step in.

An act of faith.  An act of obedience.

As soon as the priest’s feet touched the water’s edge, the water stopped flowing.  They had to commit and then they saw God respond.  In the middle of a rushing river, God opened up a path for them to the Promised Land.

It’s important for you and I to understand how this process works.  Too often we want to see God move in our lives but we haven’t stepped out in faith.  We want God to invite us to do great things but we haven’t stepped up to the plate on the things we already know God wants us to do.

For example, Jesus told us clearly, “Love God and love others.”  These are the two main things I need to be about – I already know that.  No question about it.  I find that when I’m focused on doing these things I already know I need to be doing, I see God part the waters for me.  He blesses my last step and reveals my next step.

But the first step of obedience is mine.

Where is God asking you to take that first step of obedience?  Go ahead – step into the water and watch it part in front of you.  It will be worth it.

I believe, Abba Father, so I’m stepping in.

Choose to Obey

God asks you and I, “Do you want to be blessed?”  He tells us how in Leviticus 29.

If you are careful to obey my commands, I will shower my blessings upon you.

You will be fruitful and prosperous.

I will keep you safe.

I will bless you with peace.  You will sleep well – not fearful of anything.

I will remove all threat to your safety from your life.  Your enemies will fail.

Don’t worry about being outnumbered by the evil ones – I am on your side.  I will look upon you as my favorite child – providing for you and always being faithful.

My blessings will overflow in your life – one on top of another.

I will walk with you and live with you.  I will be your God and you will be my child.

I am the Lord your God who sent my only son to die for you so you might believe and live with me forever.

I gave you freedom so you can choose to stand faultless before me.  You can choose to walk closely beside me everyday.  You can choose to love me and listen to me.

You can choose to obey.

Thank you, Abba Father.