Wasted Time

I only have so much time here on this planet – I shouldn’t waste it.  If there is one lesson that has been engraved on my mind these last few years, it’s ‘Life is short”.

I truly never knew how extremely short life can be until my son was killed.  One moment he was here and the next he was gone.

My life flipped upside down in that one moment.

Life is short – I have no time to waste.

Just like Jonah – he had no time to waste.  So it’s a little frustrating to read about Jonah going through his big drama of disobeying God’s direction to go to Ninevah.  Jonah decided to go the other direction, got caught on a ship in a big storm, was thrown overboard by sailors and spent 3 days in a huge fish at the bottom of the ocean.  It was there that he repented and reached out to God. (bottom of the ocean, end of our rope – sound familiar?)

God ordered the fish to spit Jonah out on the beach.  And then Jonah finally decided to obey God by going to Ninevah and doing what God has asked him to do in the first place.

That whole first whale trip was just a big waste of time and energy!

Wait a minute – do I do this?

Do you do this?

I have to admit that I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past disobeying God.  I ignored what I knew was right.  I did want I wanted to do and gained nothing from it.  It was useless – a waste of time.

One of my life goals now is to obey God the first time.  I want to stop wasting time and energy while disobeying.

I want to avoid getting hit by the 2×4 that eventually comes our way when we ignore God.  The issue or problem doesn’t go away when we disobey – it grows.  And it continues to grow until it’s too big and bad to ignore any longer.

Have you ever been hit by God’s 2×4 for your disobedience?

I have.  It’s a wake up call.  An enormous red flag pops up and starts whipping through my life.  It seems like everything starts going wrong at the same time but, in reality, this issue has been gradually building steam while I prioritized other things.  Because he is a good Father, God doesn’t ignore me when I’m trying to ignore him.  He lets the consequences of my own actions grow until it’s just like getting hit by a 2×4.  By then, the issue has become too enormous and too awful – I cannot continue to look the other way.  Newsflash from God – attitudes and behaviors and priorities need to change – and they need to change NOW!

I got it, God!  I have learned my lesson and I intend to obey right away from now on.  No more 2×4’s in my life if I can help it!

I have also learned that obedience up front, the first time, brings additional blessings of peace and strength that come from being in line with God and in step with the Spirit.

Obeying right away is never a waste of time.

Thank you for teaching me this important lesson, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

I know God is in control.

My entire life, I have experienced the goodness of God and his faithfulness.

I trust God’s promises that he is working things out in a good way for me.

It’s just hard to see the good sometimes.  It’s difficult to understand how God will accomplish his plan through the circumstances he has orchestrated in my life.

As I’m reading through Acts 10, I just have to stop and underline, “While Peter was wondering about  the meaning of the vision.”

Peter had just seen a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven containing all kinds of animals which Jewish law forbade him to eat. “Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”  Peter responded that he had never eaten any of these unclean animals.  And the voice replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened 3 times before the sheet was taken back up to heaven and didn’t appear again.

What was that all about?  The law about not eating unclean animals went way back to Moses’ time.  Surely God wasn’t changing the law after hundreds of years?  What was going on?

I’ve been there.  I am there.  I know God is working his purposes out in my life but I see things happening that just don’t make sense.  Then I’m left wondering about the meaning of what just happened – just like Peter.

And, while I’m wondering – just like Peter – God starts to reveal his purposes.  While I’m wondering, God opens my eyes to the next step of his plan.

One of the next lines in this scripture is “while Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs.  Do not hesitate to go with them for I have sent them.”

Do not hesitate.

I have experienced the Holy Spirit actually talking to me in my mind – explaining what is happening.  More often, he will direct my attention to what’s happening in a way that opens my eyes to what God is doing and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The Spirit told Peter, “Do not hesitate.”  That takes a lot of trust.

This account of Peter’s experience encourages me.  God was changing the law and he was accomplishing it through Peter’s immediate obedience.  God was teaching Peter very important lessons regarding his plan for the Gentiles.  God was flipping Peter’s religious world upside down, making him lead the way into this new and controversial area.

Peter obeyed.

And the Holy Spirit poured out upon the the Gentiles through Peter’s words.  Everyone believed and was baptized.

Peter would never be the same.  He didn’t know any of this was going to happen when he started getting the vision.  He just hung in there, believed, trusted and obeyed.

Just like I need to do when I’m left wondering what God is doing.

Just like you need to do.

Please help me be obedient, Abba.

Don’t Take the Credit

Sometimes we take too much credit –

for our marriages,

for our children’s accomplishments,

for success in our careers.

We get focused on us and starting thinking we did this – how great are we!?

The truth is, God gives us everything we have and every success we experience is a direct gift from him.

God made a point of teaching the Israelites this through their unusual ‘attack’ on Jericho.

They walked around the city for days, blowing their trumpets.  Really?  That’s not how you conquer a walled city, is it?

On the 7th day, they walked around 7 times and added a loud shout at the end.

And the walls of Jericho crumbled down.

I read an article a long time ago from a scientist who said he could prove that it was actually the pounding of thousands of feet and the piercing sounds of the trumpets which gradually broke down the structure of the walls.  So, when they added that last shout, the walls had become weak and they collapsed.

Possibly.

Our God invented science so he could have used it in this situation.

Either way, he made it happen.

It’s clear that God wanted the Israelites to start their conquest of the Promised Land with an entire week where they didn’t do any fighting.

They just obeyed.

They may have even felt pretty silly – big, strong warriors who had been preparing for this battle for a long time.

All dressed up for war.

Marching around the city.

Not doing anything they usually would do in this situation.

God was in control.

They just needed to do their part by obeying.

And God brought them victory.  He gave them success.

God wants to do the same for us.

He wants to give us victory.  And success.

When we do our part.aaaDSC_0310

Two years ago God have me the privilege of going to the Holy Land and I visited the new Jericho.  According to God’s command, the old Jericho was never rebuilt.  Archeologists have found the old city of Jericho’s ruins only a few miles away from the city that is now Jericho.

It’s a beautiful city – lushly green.  Not far from the Jordan River.  The picture attached shows Dr. Woodrow Kroll who was our tour guide reading to us from the Bible about Jericho as we overlooked the city.

aaDSC_0307The things God did in the Old Testament are very real.  We need to not get hung up on the ‘story’ part.  Jesus talked in parables that were not real in the New Testament but God’s interactions with people in the Old Testament were very real.  This is not folklore.  These places exist and there is tons of evidence which back up the events of the Bible.

God was in control them.

He is still in control.

Most of us have some kind of Jericho fortress in our lives that is keeping us from being everything God created us to be.

These are a wide variety of things.

My Bible study small group talked about perfectionism this week.  A lot of us spend much time and effort focused on trying to be perfect – and never making it.  Because it’s not going to happen this side of heaven.

We can lose sight of our purpose here on earth when we’re loosing sleep over every small detail.  Perfectionism can be a fortress in our minds which God wants to help us conquer.

And he can.

When we ask.

And when he gives us victory, we can give him all the credit.

Please give us victory, Abba Father.

The Support Team

In every situation, there are people in the lead roles and then there are those whose job it is to support them.  We don’t hear as much about the supporters because they stay in the background, helping those in the lead roles to complete their tasks or purpose.Feb 8 2016 supporting cast a

I have a couple of favorite support team members from the Bible whose actions and loyalty resonate with me.  If I lived at that time, these are the people I would want to be like.

Caleb is one of these people.  Everytime we read about him in the Bible, he is being faithful to God and supportive of Joshua who had the lead role at this time.

Caleb was one of the spies God sent into the Promised Land and, when the people were afraid to go because of the other spies’ report, Caleb joined Joshua in pleading with them to go ahead and claim the land.  “The Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14: 10)

Unfortunately, the people listened to the other 10 spies which made God very angry and resulted in 40 years of wandering around in the desert so that their generation could die off.  They had walked through dry land in the middle of the Red Sea, they saw the Egyptians defeated, they ate quail and manna every day in the middle of the desert but they still didn’t trust God.  As a result, the older generation never got to see the Promised Land.

The 10 spies died right away from a plague.Feb 8 2016 supporting cast b

After the 40 years of wandering, Joshua would lead the way into the Promised Land with his faithful supporter, Caleb, at his side.  They would be the only ones from their generation and older to see God’s promise fulfilled because they had believed God would do what he said and they were willing to stake their lives on it.

God commended Caleb by saying, “he follows me whole heartedly.” (vs 24).

Most of us aren’t given the lead role in our faith communities.  We are the supporting team.  The encouragers.  Standing strong and faithful next to those who are called to lead.

S0…….how well are we doing?

Thank you, Abba Father.

Paying the Consequences

It happens to all of us.

And we don’t like it.

We end up paying the consequences for our bad decisions.

It’s not a happy experience but it can be a growing experience when we learn from our mistakes.  Its a good choice to grow from our mistakes – otherwise we’re just going to keep making them over and over.  And the consequences pile up.

Even when we’ve learned from our consequences and we don’t do it again, we can still pay the price for that first mistake, that in-the-past decision, for a very long time.Jan 31 2016 Paying the Consequences

We see Moses paying the consequences in Exodus 32 for his lack of faith way back when he was standing by the bush that was burning but didn’t burn up.  That was where he was making excuses about not speaking well.  So God added Aaron to Moses’ leadership team.

Now we see how well Aaron leads the people on his own.  He flunks out by buckling under popular pressure and forming a golden calf for the people to worship while Moses is up on the mountain with God.

Moses is able to appeal to God’s mercy and save the lives of the people who didn’t worship the calf.  But when Moses came down the mountain, Aaron didn’t even want to own up to what he had done.  He blamed the people.

Bad leadership.

Bad decisions.

Bad accountability.

Bad consequences for Moses.

Fortunately, our consequences don’t lead to thousands of people getting killed.  Our consequences often cause:

– broken relationships.

– children in trouble.

-lack of income.

-addictions.

-pain

-sorrow.

Our perfect Father in heaven lets us pay the consequences for our actions in order to give us the opportunity to learn and grow and thrive.  He doesn’t protect us from these lessons because his desire if for us to become wise and mature.

God never leaves us alone – he walks through these trials with us.

Guiding us – if we’re listening.

Transforming us – if we’re obeying.

And forever loving us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Sword Fighting Class- Preserve Sound Judgement

It’s amazing to see what God can do when we review his scripture day after day.  He writes it on our hearts.  And he talks to us through it….constantly…..guiding our days through these words:

“My child, do not forget my teachings but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the site of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruit of all your crops. Then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine. My child, do not despise the Lords discipline and do no resent his rebuke because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father, the daughter he delights in.

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, who gains understanding. For she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies, nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all of her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her – those who lay hold of her will be blessed.Proverbs 3 to verse 25

By wisdom, the Lord laid the earth’s foundations. By understanding, he set the heavens in place. And by his knowledge, the deeps are divided and the clouds drop their dew.

Great job!  God is so awesome!  Here are our next verses:

“My child, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight. For they will be life to you, an ornament to grace your neck. “

Dear Father, we desire sound judgement based on your truth.  We want to be able to discern what is from you and what is a lie.  We ask you to remove anything in our minds that is not true and replace it with your words.  We want your words to guide us, your truth to be obvious in our lives – so obvious that it’s an ornament that graces our neck.

We pray these things knowing that we will receive them because they are in your will for  us.  Thank you, Father.  In the awesome name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

Its Not Complicated

The night of his betrayal, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15.

How often do we say we love Jesus?

How often do we show that by keeping his commands?

It’s not complicated.

But it’s not easy.

Because we get in the way.November 14 2014 If you love me

What we want.

What we think.

When we truly put God first in our lives, it’s not nearly as hard.

Because he helps us.

And he keeps us on track.

He keeps our thoughts focused on where they need to be.

He helps us submit our desires and thinking to him.

And it all works.

The seven simple words of this verse changed my life.

I realized that, if I wanted to truly love Jesus, there were strings.

And I’m accountable to my Father God for those strings.

He wants me to obey him because that is the best thing for me.

It’s not complicated….

but it’s impossible without God in the middle.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Sword Fighting Class – The Best is Yet to Come

In our Sword Fighting Classes, we are memorizing God’s word together.  God commands us over and over in his Word to store his commands in our hearts, to write his words on our minds, to never forget his teachings.  We are being obedient as we review our verses daily and God does the hard part of engraving them on our minds.

With God’s help,  we have memorized James 1 and Proverbs 2 so far.  Isn’t that amazing!  God is now pointing us to Proverbs 3….more wisdom.  Let’s get started with verse 1 and 2:

My child, do not forget my teachings but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

How appropriate that God starts out again with his command about not forgetting his teachings.  It’s really hard to forget his teaching when it’s etched on our brains.  Its part of how we think, how we feel.

God tells us that his teaching will prolong our lives many years.  I have been reading a lot about God’s teaching about food this last year and I believe, if we follow his guidance on this, it really will prolong our lives.  Lower our blood pressure.  Take us out of the danger zone for other diseases.  Help our heart to be more healthy.

God promises us that his teachings will bring us prosperity.  His form of prosperity is not the empty prosperity taught by the world where we never have enough…never content.

God’s prosperity comes in the form of things money can’t buy – peace, and purpose and love and completeness and more.

Much more.

You are more than enough, Abba Father.

Audio file of me sharing the verses I’ve memorized so far in Proverbs 3:

 

Sword Fighting Class – Walk in the Light

As we go over and over the words of Proverbs 2, we are realizing that a supernatural thing is happening.  God is writing his words onto our minds and into our hearts!

We used to say that the reason we didn’t memorize scripture was that we didn’t have a very good memory.  Well, we still don’t have a great memory – except when it comes to scripture.  We’ve got whole chapters of the Bible memorized!  Because God is faithfully doing it. We’re doing our part and he is doing the amazing part that we can’t do.Proverbs 2 1st page - this one

God is blessing our obedience to the words he used as he started out Proverbs 2:

My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and you will find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.  He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair, every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose ways are perverse.”

Great job!  Here’s the next verse:

“Who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways,”

Jesus is the light of the world.  He brought light into a dark and broken world.

When we choose to think and act like Jesus wants us to, we are walking in the light.

When we choose to rebel and disobey, we are choosing to walk a dark and crooked path.Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

This path just leads us farther and farther away from the light.

The Good News is Jesus will always accept us back.  We just need to repent and turn  around.  We must choose to come back into the light.  Get back on the straight path.

This is the path God has prepared in advance for us through his love and grace.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Audio file of Proverbs 2:

 

Psalm 119 (aleph), 2015

You bless us when we make decisions and choices that are in line with your word, oh God.

You bless us when our actions are guided by your truth.May 3 Psalm 119 aleph 2015

You bless us when we seek you with all of our hearts.

When we follow your directions to us, we are right where you want us to be.

You have given us all the guidance we need.  Now its our turn to do our part – and that’s to obey.

I want to be obedient, dear Father!

Then I will have no regrets.  No shame.  No guilt when I read your word and realize the difference between my behavior and how you want me to behave.

I want to be able to praise you with a heart fully committed to living my life according to your plan.

Please help me live a life of obedience to you!

Amen, let it be so, Abba Father.