400 years of Silence

I can’t imagine it – God being silent for 400 years.

That’s the amount of time between the Old Testament and the New Testament.   So it is said that God was silent.

But was he?  Really?

It’s hard for me to imagine that my Father God who loves us and cares for us so diligently each day would be quiet for 400 years.  I think it’s very possible that he was speaking and interacting with people at that time but none of it was meant to become part of his revelation to us so it was not included in the Bible.

When I think about how much I need God each day and knowing that there were some faithful people during that time as well, it doesn’t make sense that he was actually silent for 400 years.  It doesn’t sound like something he would do.

But we know that there were 400 years between the two parts of the Bible.  For some reason, God put in a significant break before he begins the account of his greatest Gift of all time – salvation through his son, Jesus Christ.

Mark’s account starts with, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the son of God”.

John’s account starts, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

The Light of the World was arriving – we would never be the same.

Amen.  Hallelujah!

Thank you, Abba Father.

400 years of Silence

I can’t imagine it – God being silent for 400 years.

That’s the amount of time between the Old Testament and the New.   So it is said that God was silent.

But was he?  Really?

It’s hard for me to imagine that my Father God who loves us and cares for us so diligently each day would be quiet for 400 years.  I think it’s very possible that he was speaking and interacting with people at that time but none of it was meant to become part of his revelation to us so it was not included in the Bible.

When I think about how much I need God each day and knowing that there were some faithful people during that time as well, it doesn’t make sense that he was actually silent for 400 years.  It doesn’t sound like something he would do.

But we know that there were 400 years between the two parts of the Bible.  For some reason, God put in a significant break before he begins the account of his greatest Gift of all time – salvation through his son, Jesus Christ.

Mark’s account says, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the son of God”.

John’s account says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

The Light of the World was arriving – we would never be the same.

Amen.  Hallelujah!

Thank you, Abba Father.

What would I benefit?

Jesus asks us in Luke 9 to give up our lives in order to save them. It doesn’t make sense……..or maybe it’s the only thing that makes sense?

As we look around, we see crowds of people working really hard trying to find happiness and looking for a purpose for their lives. Jesus tells us that we won’t find meaning for our lives in possessions and things we can accomplish on our own. What do we benefit if we chase these things our whole lives and still end up empty?

I was caught up in this at one time in my life. I was willing to do almost anything to advance my career including working 80 hours a week and travelling 3-4 weeks out of the month. I was working extremely hard to move up the ladder of success and, thankfully, God made it clear to me one Sunday that my ladder was up against the wrong wall – my priorities were all messed up. What a disaster it would have been to devote my life to getting to the top only to find that I didn’t want to be there! I would have gained the whole world but lost the things that are now the most important to me.

Thank you, dear Father, for showing me that putting you first in my life is really the only way to find meaning and happiness.!

Our Child’s God-sized Hole

It’s clear that God thinks it’s the job of Christian parent to teach their children about God.  In Deuteronomay 11, he tells us to teach our children about the truth in the scriptures all of the time – when we are at home or travelling, when we’re going to bed and when we’re rising.

All of the time.

It’s great to bring our children to church and Wednesday night programs and Vacation Bible School and youth groups.  That’s all good.

But it isn’t a substitute for parents being serious about spiritually training their children. 

I’ve been amazed lately at all of the programs and paraphernalia being sold to parents who want to potty-train their child.  Don’t get me wrong – potty training is important 🙂  Do we take the spiritual training of our children as seriously?  Or do we generally abdicate that responsibility to others?

The scariest part of this is – if we don’t fill the God-sized hole in our children with the truth, it leaves them wide open to whatever false teaching comes their way.  Why not believe in evolution if you’ve never been taught the truth?  I will never forget the eye-opening discussion I had with my daughter when she came home extremely confused because her teacher was teaching  evolution.  My daughter knew it wasn’t true and this was the first time she came face -to-face with the fact that teachers were not always right.  It was good – it was time for her to be more discerning about what she was being told.

She knew that evolution wasn’t true because she had already taught the truth – by her parents.

Dear Father, we want to take this responsibility of training our children and our grandchildren more seriously – please guide us in teaching them your truth.

It’s a Trap

Lending money to someone can become a trap.

You lend it to them wanting to help them out but then it often becomes a source of conflict in your relationship.  After you’ve lent someone money, suddenly you notice how they really aren’t very good at handling money.  They are buying things and going places instead of paying you back.  It becomes a ‘no win’ situation.

My husband and I got into that situation a couple of times before we did a financial Bible study and read Luke 6:15.  As always, God nailed it!  When we changed our perspective and ‘gave’ the money away, we never got into this negative situation again.

When we ‘gave’ the money away, we weren’t expecting it to be paid back so we had no reason to watch how they were spending any of their money.  We gave it to them and we hoped it would help but we didn’t need to start watch-dogging their finances.  Our relationship with them was fine because we did what we thought we needed to do – we weren’t expecting anything in return. 

 I think this attitude is what Luke is referring to in this verse when he talks about ‘truly acting as children of the Most High.”  Getting into arguements about money with family and friends does not reflect well on our Father God and hurts our witness to them.

Another good part of this is it made us do some extra thinking up front on the request.  We had to be willing to ‘give’ the money to them.  If it was too much or we didn’t feel like God was asking us to help this person, it was easier to say no.  I know this kept us from making several bad decisions in this area.

It’s interesting, too.  We adopted this attitude but we never told anyone we lent money to that they didn’t need to pay us back.  Generally, we believe that people asking for loans should pay it back and we didn’t want to reinforce any bad habits that they may have.   When we started mentally ‘giving’ the money away, we always got it paid back – without ever asking for it back.

Maybe God was blessing the fact that we would give our money away to help someone else?

Dear Father, we are so grateful for all of the many blessings you have given us.  We ask you to continue  to nurture a giving spirit within us.

When ‘Wait’ becomes ‘Yes’

God never ignores us.

He always listens to our prayers.

And he always answers.

Always.

Sometimes his answer is yes.

Sometimes it is no.

And sometimes it’s ‘wait’.

So often with us, the only answer that ‘counts’ is yes.  When God answers our prayers with a ‘yes’, we feel like he listened.  Because he’s doing what we asked.  I call this the ‘Santa Claus’ syndrome.  We’re treating God like Santa Claus with our lists of requests.  We know we’ve been good so we’re expecting him to do the things on our list.  If the answer isn’t an immediate ‘yes’, we wonder if he’s ignoring us.

Meanwhile, he has probably already answered us with a ‘no’ or a ‘wait’. 

I hate the ‘wait’ answer, don’t you?  I’m not good at waiting…for anything…especially something I want to happen….especially something that I really think should happen right now……and then I remember I’m not God.  I’m not in control.   And I believe that God has the best planned for me…..so, I’ll wait for his timing.  I’m sure it will be better than my timing.  It’s just that waiting is hard.

I just experienced this in a BIG way this week.  God knew I was writing about this so he decided to give me a GREAT example 🙂  The church we’re attending is hosting  a trip to the Holy Land and about 2 months ago I heard a strong message from God that he wanted me to go on this trip.  It’s part of the ‘fresh wind’ that he’s blowing through my life as we all take this Journey through the Bible together.

I discussed this with my husband who wisely pointed out that our bank account is still in recovery mode from our daughter’s wedding last year.  The timing is not good.  I regretfully agreed but continued to wonder why I felt that this was something God wanted me to do.  So I talked with God about it.  If he wanted this to happen, I needed him to show me how.   And I waited.  Just last week I mentioned to a friend of mine that nothing was happening so the timing was probably just not right yet.

Then this week I won a big award at work – an award I didn’t even know I had been nominated for.  It was a huge honor!  The award came with a check and – you probably guessed it – the check equals the cost of the Holy Land trip.  

I think it’s a special blessing when a  ‘wait’ answer from God becomes a ‘yes’ – it’s so obvious.  This reminds me once again that God is working things out for my good – while I wait….when it looks like a ‘no’.

So I’m signing up for the Holy Land trip and I’m really excited to see what God has planned!

And I’d really like to be a better  ‘waiter’ next time I don’t get an immediate ‘yes’.

Dear Father, I know there will be a next time.  A next time where I need to be reminded of your faithfulness to me.  A next time where I need to be reminded of your promises to me of  love, hope and joy.  Please help me remember….next time.

When it Doesn’t Make Sense

Can you visualize it?

Simon, the professional fisherman, has been fishing all night (when you’re supposed to fish) and hasn’t caught anything.  Jesus, who is a carpenter, not a professional fisherman, tells him to put his nets out now (during the day, when you’re not supposed to fish if you want to catch anything).

The first part of Simon’s reply sounds like it may have had a teeny touch of ‘attitude’  🙂

But then he says the magic words – ‘if you say so’.  He does what Jesus asks and they catch 2 boats full of fish.  Sudden success!  Fisherman’s lottery!  How many more boats can we buy?  More boats will catch more fish….we’ll be rich!

Right?

Visualize Simon surrounded by piles of fish – a sudden windfall.  And yet he immediately steps away from this success and leaves everything to follow Jesus.

When Simon said ‘if you say so’, he meant it.  None of it made sense, and yet Simon was ready to do whatever Jesus said.

In my life, I have found that God’s directions often don’t make sense.  They are not what I had planned and  they are not in line with where I thought I was going.  It’s actually become a verification for me – if it’s not something I would have ever thought up on my own, it must be from God. 

I’ve learned that, if I’m obedient at these times, I will get to experience the blessing and joy he had planned for me.  But blessings and joy always come later, after the ‘if you say so”.

Dear Father, please help us always say yes to you, even when it doesn’t make sense.

What It’s Not About

He hadn’t started his ministry.
He hadn’t healed anyone, he hadn’t done any miracles.
He hadn’t DONE anything yet…..except be who he was.
He was Jesus….God’s son.

And God opened up the heavens at Jesus’ baptism so he could tell everyone that this was  his dearly loved son who brought him great joy.  Without doing anything.

This story became one of my favorites when I realized that Jesus hadn’t done anything to ‘deserve’ God’s love at this point. He just was.
And God was pleased with him.
It’s important for us to remember this whenever we get stuck in the mental trap of trying to be ‘good enough’ for God. We will never be good enough on our own – only through Jesus.  We can get so weighed down with guilt and busyness and obligation that we miss the point.

The point is having a close relationship with God.  Jesus, as our Savior, makes us good enough. We please God because we believe and we are his children.

That’s what it’s all about.
Dear Father, we thank you for saving us. In gratitude for all you’ve done, we give our hearts and lives back to you.

Dishonesty

I was slapped in the face with a truck load of dishonesty last week. Unbelievable. Surprising. Unwanted.
Reading Proverbs 11: 5-6 felt like balm to my burned soul. God’s words explain how the godly want to be honest while the wicked fall flat under their heavy load of sin.
Meditating on this turned my anger at the dishonest mess into compassion for people who are so lost under the weight of all of their sin. They are trying to carry it all by themselves and this makes them bitter and angry and untrustworthy.
Meanwhile, I have a Savior who has forgiven all of my sin already and loves me enough to die for me. His spirit lives inside of me giving me hope and peace and love enough to see the darkness that my ‘enemies’ are entrapped in.
Dear Father, I pray for all of the people around us who are still lost in the darkness of sin and who are so loaded down that they do bad things to others. Please help them find your light and your love.

I Recognize My Rebellion

David is such an interesting person to study in the Bible!  He loves God and he truly wants to be a man of God.  But he strays and he sins and he does some pretty horrible things.

He always returns to God after he strays.  Psalm 51 is a great example of a repentant heart.  I love that David starts out asking God to have mercy on him ‘because of your unfailing love, because of your great compassion.”

David gets it – God’s mercy comes from love and it can’t be earned.  None of us can ever do anything to earn it.  David did a lot of good things in his life but he knows God’s mercy is his because of God’s love.  It’s a free gift.

We can often have a very hard time really accepting God’s grace.  We think we have to earn it.  So we get lost in busyness of serving God or even in the obligations of serving God.  We forget to just recognize our rebellion and call out to God asking for his mercy and compassion.  Just like David did.

Dear Father, we thank you for your free gift of grace.  We ask you to help us live in that grace every day,