The Struggle

I don’t want it.

I don’t like it.

But I feel like I’ve earned my Doctorate in Struggling these last 4 1/2 years since my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty.  My struggles before his death all pale in comparison.

If I got a doctorate in this area, my thesis would be, ” As we persevere with faith through our struggles, we grow, we mature.”

God tells us through James this morning that we can become wise through our trials.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”  James 1: 5 & 6. 

Its a fact – God gives a generous amount of wisdom to all of us who ask but we need to believe we have received it.  Too often we ask for wisdom but then doubt that God has given it to us.  So we don’t use it.  We don’t accept that we can now make a wiser choice.  We ignore the wisdom God has given us and continue to make the wrong decisions, going down a crooked path which often takes us to more trials. 

This is not what God wants for us.  This is not what he wants for me.

I have asked God repeatedly for more wisdom as I deal with the explosive tragedy that blew my world apart when my son was killed.  And God has given it to me.  He also revealed to me how he had prepared me for this tsunami beforehand by drawing me to himself through his Word.  He has taught me that the only way to survive – and thrive – through the struggles with loss and grief that are now a permanent part of my life is to stay close to him. 

I have learned just how dependent I need to be on God.  I can’t do this on my own.

And that is very wise.

Thank you, Abba Father.

How Can I Know the Way?

How do I figure out my next step?

How do I know who to believe?

How do I decide which way to go?

These are all tough questions with important answers.

Thomas asked Jesus this same question after Jesus told him he was going away to prepare a place for the disciples.  Thomas replies, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

Jesus replied, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Jesus is the Way.

I’m not going to choose the right path without him.  I’m not going to know what to believe unless I know the Truth.  I’m going to wander and end up places I don’t want to be if I don’t follow the Way.

It’s just that simple –

and that complicated.

I need to commit each day to following him,

commit each hour to believing in him,

and I need to commit each minute to trusting him if I really want to know the Way.

Please guide each of us in the right Way, Abba Father.

Would You Like to Get Well?

Is anybody feeling sick?

Lonely?

Angry?

Confused?

Empty?

Sad?

Stuck in a dark place?

I have been in all of these situations.

When Jesus says, “Would you like to get well?” to the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, I can relate.   Several different times in my life I have needed healing. (picture is from my visit to the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem) A couple of times it was physical healing but more often it was mental, emotional or spiritual healing.  So I asked and Jesus healed me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some physical issues like compressed disks in my neck.  God must have a different plan for those because, no matter how many doctors I see and how many times I have asked, God has not healed them.

Looking back, I can see that Jesus has been in the process of healing my spiritual, mental and emotional issues ever since I put him first in my life.  One step at a time.  Perseverance in running this race of faith is the key – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Every once in awhile God throws in some of his special ‘magic’ where he opens my eyes to something big – I call those epiphanies.  I will have a sudden deeper understanding of a significant truth or God will show me how he is already working out something in my life.  That’s always an exciting experience!

Anytime I feel lonely, unhappy, angry, confused, empty or stuck, I know I need to spend some significant time with God.  He reorganizes my thoughts, straightens out my emotions and calms my soul.

Sounds like healing, doesn’t it?

Thank you, Abba Father.

What Does It Mean?

It all connects.

Choices I make today result in consequences I have to deal with tomorrow….

and 10 years from now….

and 20 years from now.

My decisions are important.  I have to figure out ahead of time if my choices are going to take me to a place I want to be.

I need wisdom, right?  Some of this stuff is hard to decide.  So I go to God.  In James 1, God has promised to give me generous amounts of wisdom whenever I ask.  I just have to believe I have received it.  I need to trust him and get rid of any doubts.

How can I be so sure that it’s God talking to me and guiding instead of myself or  – even worse – Satan?  I have studied God’s word for many years and, when I am listening, I recognize his voice.  I know what he would say.  I know his truth and that’s what he uses to guide me.

It’s so much different that the lies of this world.  It’s easy to discern.

I love the story in Daniel of the human hand that appeared and wrote a message to King Belshazzar on the wall in the middle of his big party.  It was a warning.  The bad consequences of his choices had piled up and the King was going to pay the price with his life.  He died that night.

I obviously want to make better choices that King Belshazzar did.  So I go to God early on in my decision-making.  And – sometimes – he writes a warning on the wall in my mind.  “Don’t go there, you won’t like what happens.”  “Don’t do that, you won’t like the consequences.”

I love these warnings because he is always right (of course).  I really don’t want to go there.  I definitely don’t want to do that.  I need to make a better decision now so that I don’t end up in a place I never wanted to be.

It all connects.

Please give us your wisdom, Abba Father.

Stop! Don’t Do It!

Where I decide to go matters.

Who I hang out with matters.

How I use my time matters.

Where I spend my money matters.

When I make good choices, even better things come by way.  When I make bad choices, I experience the negative consequences.  And that is never fun.

It’s interesting to me how God forgives my sins but he doesn’t take away all of the negative consequences of my sins.  He is a good Father and he wants me to learn from my mistakes – so he doesn’t take away the bad consequences but he helps me deal with them.

Why do you think he tells me to ask for wisdom in James 1?  Because I really need it!  Please give me more wisdom, Father! 

I have paid the consequences for some of the my bad decisions for a very long time.  And I have learned –

I have learned that there is a direct correlation between bad choices and bad consequences.  It’s not luck.  It’s not someone else’s fault.  I did it to myself.

I have learned how quickly bad decisions can become nightmares which can follow me around for a long time.

My mistakes remind me just how bad my choices can be and they keep me more humble.  No one is exempt.

Lot’s story in Genesis 13 has me wanting to yell, “Stop!  Bad Choice!  Don’t do it!”

Abram (later renamed Abraham) and Lot were nomads travelling around together at this point with their families and their herds of animals.  Their group got too large for the amount of food and water available so Abram talked to Lot about splitting up.  Abram gave Lot first choice of land.

Of course, Lot chose the fertile ground of the Jordan valley leaving the less desirable hill country of Canaan for Abram.

Bad decision, Lot!  Lot settled his family and flocks by Sodom which was such a wicked city that God later rained fire on it and destroyed it.  Lot’s decision to live there eventually caused him to have to flee, losing his wife along with everything he owned.

On the surface, it looked like an easy decision to live in a great location.  But the consequences of this decision were monumental.

It shouldn’t have been that easy.  There were lots of flags telling Lot that was not the best place for him.  He either chose to ignore them or didn’t even think that hard about it.

Lesson learned – many of our decisions should not be as easy as we think they are – especially if we want to avoid the negative consequences of a bad decision.

Please give us wisdom, Abba Father.

How Can I Know the Way?

How do I figure out my next step?

How do I know who to believe?

How do I decide which way to go?

These are all tough questions with important answers.

Thomas asked Jesus this same question after Jesus told him he was going away to prepare a place for the disciples.  Thomas replies, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus replied, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Jesus is the way.

I’m not going to choose the right path without him.  I’m not going to know what to believe unless I know the Truth.  I’m going to wander and end up places I don’t want to be if I don’t follow the Way.

It’s just that simple –

and that complicated.

I need to commit each day to following him,

commit each hour to believing in him,

and I need to commit each minute to trusting him if I really want to know the Way.

Please guide each of us in the right Way, Abba Father.

Where Is It?

Where can I find it?

Where can you find it?

Wisdom.  Understanding.

I could spend a lifetime searching for wisdom – trying to understand.

But I would never find it.  Because I’m not going to find it on TV or the Internet.  Twitter and Facebook will not help me grow wise.  Human knowledge does not bring wisdom.

God tells us through Job – “No mortal comprehends it’s (wisdom) worth, it cannot be found in the land of the living.”

S0 – where do wisdom and understanding come from?

“God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells”.

And God tells us, “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding.”

This fear means to respect God and submit to his will.

Respecting God and obeying him makes me wise.  Turning away from evil and avoiding it brings me understanding.  I don’t have to look any farther than my relationship with God to find wisdom and understanding.

I love how clearly God speaks about these very important items…..

when I’m listening.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Get Ready!

Be prepared!

Know that it’s coming.

Stand up and do what needs to be done!

God gives these directions to Jeremiah as he begins his prophetic ministry.  God also gives these directions to us each day as we go about our lives – loving others and speaking truth into their lives whenever God gives us the opportunity.

God tells us that he will give us strength for the things he asks us to do.

I can’t do it on my own.  You can’t do it on your own.

Sometimes we feel powerless, don’t we?  I know I do.

Then I realize I feel that way because I am forgetting to plug into my power source –  God.  I forget to ask for and receive his help.  No wonder I feel powerless!

I need to remember each day to ask for his strength..

for his wisdom….

for his peace.

“For I am with you.” declares my LORD.

Please help me remember to ask, Abba Father.

Wisdom

Insight.

Understanding.

I’m looking for more of these in my life.

How do I get them?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” Psalm 111:10.

Wisdom comes from God.  Insight comes from studying his word and obeying.  Understanding comes from honoring God and being devoted to loving him first.

When I trust him and obey him, I begin to understand him.  Then I gain insight into his plans and purposes so I can join him.

It’s pretty clear how I can get more wisdom, insight and understanding.  Now I just need to choose to put myself on that path.

What path are you choosing?

Thank you, Abba Father

Its Time to Act

Accept God’s Word as truth.

Memorize God’s word.

Open your ears to his wisdom.

Work to understand God’s word.May 16 2016 time to act

Call out to God for insight.

Cry out to God for understanding.

Look for insight like it was a pile of silver.

Search for understanding like it was a hidden treasure.

THEN, you will understand and know God.

Are you serious about growing your relationship with God?

Are you willing to invest time and energy into knowing God better?May 16 b 2016 time to act

Proverbs 2 begins with this awesome call to action for serious Christ-followers.

Does this list describe you and  your relationship with God?

If not, this a great list of actions to help you get started.

Right now.

We are crying out for wisdom and understanding, Abba Father.