Friday, September 30, 2011

Unwarranted Grace

For 9/30 I'm going to use a passage from the Message translation of Romans 9:30.  As the Message often does, in this instance it uses several verses surrounding one particular verse to bring a story to life.  See Romans 9:20-33, below.  As one who did not deserve God's grace - I found it anyway.  That's because He graciously made it available to me.  I hope you find yourself in the story, as well. 

Romans 9:20-33 MSG:
Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
they're calling you "God's living children."

Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled "chosen of God,"
They'd be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn't count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
like Sodom and Gomorrah.

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can't get around. But the stone is me! If you're looking for me, you'll find me on the way, not in the way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Take it to the Lord in Prayer

It's 9/29....National Coffee Day!  Grab a cup and enjoy it with me today.  I'm going to talk about one of my favorite things - prayer.  I touched on this same passage a few days ago, but it deserves being repeated.  Today's verse is Mark 9:29, "Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer."  NLT

Prayer is essential if we want to have a relationship with God.  Through prayer, we thank Him.  Through prayer, we praise Him.  Through prayer, we worship Him.  Through prayer, we acknowledge Him.  Through prayer, we petition Him.  Through prayer, we experience Him.  Through prayer, we hear Him.  Through prayer, He draws our hearts to Him.  Through prayer, He intercedes for us with the Father. 

Prayer...what a marvelous and magnificent gift.  It's ours to utilize, if we choose to do so.  Suffice it to say, I am thankful that God allows us to pray.  I am even more thankful that He hears us when we pray.  He answers according to His good and perfect will and His perfect timing.  I have to trust that He's still God and will always be God.  No one fills that position better than Him.  Do you have anything to be thankful for today?  Take it to the Lord in Prayer.  Do you have any concerns today?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Do you need His comfort today?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Is your heart heavy today?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Are you happy or sad?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Is life good or bad?  Again....Take it to the Lord in prayer! 

The Maker of Miracles is waiting patiently to meet us in a sweet time of prayer.  He can handle the "this kinds" in our lives.  He's just waiting for us to turn them over to Him.  Today is a great day to take it to the Lord in prayer!

An Uncommon God

The daily verse for 9/28 is from Nehemiah 9:28, "When peace returned, they sinned again, and again you let their enemies conquer them. Yet when they repented and asked you to save them, in heaven you heard, and time after time you rescued them in your great mercy."  GNT

As the leaders of the Levites called out to their people, they praised the Lord and recounted how He had provided for and blessed their ancestors time and time again.  Their praise was focused on One whose love, mercy, and grace were common denominators of an uncommon God.  He loved their ancestors, and them, despite themselves.  They kept messing up, yet He kept showering His mercy upon them.  Every time they turned back to Him, He was there to receive, forgive and bless them.  How uncommon!

This is the same God who receives, forgives and blesses us when we turn to Him.  He is such a God of love, mercy, and grace.  He loves us despite ourselves.  He remains the same and I love our uncommon God!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Within Reach

Today is 9/27 and the verse of the day is from Mark 9:27, "But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up."  NLT

Appearances can be deceiving.  Jesus had cast an evil spirit out of a boy, but he appeared to be dead.  People started writing him off; giving up on him.  Then, wouldn't you know it, Jesus reached down and took him by the hand and helped him to his feet.  With Jesus' help, the boy finally stood up.

It's like that with us, you know.  People give up on us, and we even give up on ourselves.  We think we've gone too far or done too much.  We think we will never rise above our circumstances.  But, help is within reach.  Jesus has never given up on us.  He reaches down for our hand and He wants to help us to our feet.  It's amazing that His help can really change everything.  He can help us stand when everyone else has written us off.  He's always reaching out His hand to us.  So, what are we waiting for?  Help is not on the way...He's already here...reaching for us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Show and Tell

Luke 9:26 is the verse of the day for 9/26, "If people are ashamed of me and what I say, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes in the glory that he shares with the Father and the holy angels."  GW

Jesus did not mince words in this statement.  The meaning is pretty clear.  It should make us examine ourselves and see how we're doing in this respect.  Personally, it makes me want to pray that God will show me how I can be the kind of follower that pleases Jesus.  I pray that He will make me wise and bold in His truth and give me the courage and discernment to show and tell others just who Jesus is; how great He is, and how much He loves us. 

Dear Lord, help us to never be so influenced by the world, it's ways, and it's people, that we become ashamed and embarrassed of You and your truth.  Help us to stand on that truth and boldly proclaim our trust and faith in You.  Help us not to be deceived by the enemy and by this world.  You are the Lord God Almighty!  Yes, I pray that I will forever show and tell that truth to others.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Prize

Today is 9/25 and the verse for the day is from 1 Corinthians 9:25, "Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever."  GNT

Athletes know that discipline is required to be the best at their sport.  If they don't train, practice, condition and keep healthy, they will not be very good at their sport and they will have little or no chance of winning.  The ones that are really disciplined are focused on the prize; they really want to win and are willing to put in the time, effort, and sacrifice to do so.

The verse above references how an athlete is training for a prize that is only temporary.  On the others hand, as Christ followers, our discipline goes beyond earthly rewards; it is so much more meaningful than that.  It's important to run a good race, but when we cross the finish line, we will spend eternity with our Savior in Heaven.  No race is more worthy of running.  No discipline will yield such rewards.
I'm not much of an earthly runner, but I want to keep running this race toward heaven and I want to run it well.  When I cross the finish line I will embrace my prize.  His name is Jesus.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Kind

Today is 9/24 and the verse for today is Mark 9:24, "The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"  NLT

This verse comes in the middle of a story about a man who has brought his demon-possessed son for Jesus to heal.  He had asked Jesus' disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they could not.  His plea to Jesus was, "Do something if you can."  Jesus response?  "What do you mean, "If I can?  Anything is possible if a person believes." 

Jesus had seemed a little perturbed when He said aloud, "You faithless people!  How long must I be with you until you believe?  How long must I put up with you?  Bring the boy to me."  I think His disappointment was in His disciples, those who had been with Him and could testify to His power and greatness.  Even though they had witnessed Him perform miracles, they still lacked the faith to use the power He gave them to do likewise.

Later in the story, Jesus answered his disciples' question as to why they could not cast out the evil spirit.  He told them that "this kind" could only be cast out by prayer.  Do you know what that tells me?  It tells me that when we doubt - and we all do from time to time - that we need never work in our own strength and power.  God may give us power to overcome evil, but He never expects us to use it on our own.  He expects us to bring it to Him and ask for His help.  Prayer is consulting with the King.  Prayer is listening to the King.  Prayer is accomplishing, through Him, what God has appointed us to do.  Prayer is powerful friends!  He will empower us and He will move in power, in answer to humble earnest prayers that are surrendered to His will.

Have you ever had any "this kinds" in your life?  If you're like me, you certainly have.  Can Jesus heal us, deliver us, protect us, provide for us, and bless us?  I have no doubt that He can.  And if you're not there yet, He can help you believe.  How can you get there?  You can take it to the Lord in prayer.  He is always willing to meet us there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Keep Looking Up

I know I'm not playing by the rules of delivering "A Verse Each Day" when I combine verses and days, BUT when I think about the fact that I am the one who made up the rules, I find it easier to break them.  I always pray that God guides me on the daily choices I make, so I am okay with being flexible every now and then.  All this to say....sorry I missed posting yesterday....and today I am posting an excerpt from the Message translation of a passage in Numbers that I really love.  It's several verses, but it is pretty self-explanatory.  I want the kind of obedience to God that makes me keep my eyes on Him daily, watching to see where He leads me and being obedient to follow. 

See how the Israelites were dependent on God for their daily needs in the following verses of Numbers 9:17-23, "When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. The People of Israel marched at God's command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored God's command and wouldn't march. They stayed in camp, obedient to God's command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment God issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference—when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God's command and they marched at God's command. They lived obediently by God's orders as delivered by Moses."

I've always loved clouds.  I take pictures of them often because I am in awe of their beauty.  I view them as God's artwork and I love to see the pictures He paints daily.  More importantly, I like that they remind me of being obedient to God, of focusing on Him daily.  The clouds keep me looking up in expectation and that's exactly how I want to live.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Crescendo

The verse for 9/16 is from Exodus 9:16, "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."  NIV

In this verse the Lord is instructing Moses to say this to Pharaoh.  In layman terms, I can imagine the Lord saying something like, "Hey look, Buster, the only reason you're still around is because I've allowed it!"  Pharaoh thought he was all that, but he was really just a means to an end.  And the end of God's people being enslaved in Egypt was in process.  I love the way God created an epic saga of events that crescendoed into a rescue so spectacular that no one could deny the glory of God. 

I mean, really!  It seems like God was just toying with Pharaoh when He used an onslaught of things like blood, frogs, a variety of bugs, cows, boils, hail and darkness to persuade him to let the Israelites go.  He knew Pharaoh would resist.  In fact, God even hardened Pharaoh's heart so he would not give in and let His people go.  Why would God do this, you might ask.  Well, I'm not completely sure, but I've watched Charlton Heston and the Ten Commandments many times and I have to tell you that the parting of the Red Sea was spectacular, beyond monumental.  God made a way for His own people to cross over safely to freedom and when Pharaoh's army tried to follow suite, they were completely swallowed up as the waters came crashing in.  Victory!  No one, other than Almighty God, could have delivered His people with such power and glory. 

I think we are in our own kind of saga in today's society.  Prominent people have come to think they are in control and their hearts are hardened toward God and His people.  I can truly envision God finally getting fed up and saying, "Hey look, Buster!"  The same God that saved and delivered the Israelites is still in control.  He will not be mocked forever.  In case we've forgotten, He knows how to deliver His people in magnificent fashion.  I've no doubt that He will continue to show His power.  Yes, His name will be proclaimed in all the earth...a crescendo that will proudly declare His glory!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Too Wonderful for Words!

The verse for 9/15 is from 2 Corinthians 9:15, "Thank God for His Son - a gift too wonderful for words!"  NLT

In context, this verse is the conclusion of a chapter wherein the Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthians about how the grace of God inspires generosity in people who are godly.  His words remind me that a harvest of good results from trusting God and being authentic in our faith.  When we are obedient to God, we are generous in love and deeds to others and we glorify God in the process.  In essence, we become examples of the Good News and love of Jesus Christ when we are sensitive to the needs of others. 

Paul knew that Jesus and His grace is the gift that keeps on giving.  That inspires me to follow Him with passion and authenticity.  He is undoubtedly too wonderful for words!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who am I?

The verse for 9/14 is from Job 9:14, "So who am I, that I should try to answer God or even reason with him?  NLT

Job was in a bad situation.  His friends were making judgements about him and his dilemna.  None of their ideas were good ones.  Job didn't have all the answers either, but he stood up pretty well under all the accusations and suggestions of his so-called friends.  I like his comment to them in the verse above.  It reminds me of the sovereignty of God.

In today's culture, we've come to a place that has all kinds of distorted views of who God is and how He should act.  Many people feel like we should say whatever we like, whenever we like, to the God who created us.  To me, that's like a rebellious child being disrespectful and disobedient to a loving parent who has their best interest at heart.  Yet, I do know that our God has incredible patience with us.  He allows us to question Him when we don't understand and He shows us much love, grace and mercy in our ignorance of who He is and how much He really loves us. 

We don't know why evil people hurt innocent people or bad things happen to good people.  But we know that it has something to do with the fall of mankind and the sin that has separated us from God since we were created.  People make bad decisions that hurt other people and, sometimes, bad things just happen.  But, like Job, I'm going to defer to God.   He is so much wiser than we are and He gave His own son's life so we could be with Him forever.  The choice as to whether we accept, or opt out, of His perfect plan for us is still entirely up to us.  But the obvious remains.  He is God and I'm not.  So, who am I that I should try to answer God or even reason with Him?  I'll just trust Him and leave the results up to Him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Matters of the Heart

It's 9/13 and the verse of the day is 2 Samuel 9:13, "And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, moved to Jerusalem to live at the palace."  NLT

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Why in the world would anyone choose this kind of verse as a daily verse?"  I'm so glad you asked!  I found this obscure verse in this obscure chapter in the bible - if there is such a thing.  The story encouraged me, as I hope it will encourage you.

The entire 9th chapter of 2 Samuel is a magnificent story that paints a picture of King David's character and compassion.  Before his friend Jonathon died, King David had promised him that he would show his family kindness.  Jonathon's father, King Saul, had relentlessly pursued David and tried to kill him, so one would almost understand if David chose not to follow through with such a promise.  Yet that is not what happened. 

One day, King David asked if anyone from Saul's family was still alive.  It turned out that one of Jonathon's sons, Mephibosheth, was still alive, but was crippled.  King David had him brought to him and he told him he was honoring a vow he had made to his father.  He gave him all the land that had once belonged to Mephibosheth's grandfather, Saul.  But he didn't stop there, he invited him to live in the palace with him, just as if he were one of his own sons.  In essence, because of a promise he had made a long time ago to a dear friend, King David adopted this crippled man.  What a guy! 

I love the mercy and faithfulness King David portrays in this story.  He was faithful to the promise he made his friend and he was merciful to his crippled son.  We can all learn valuable lessons from such a great example of integrity.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all kept our promises and honored others?  And what if we went out of our way to take care of the disadvantaged and helped them whenever we could?  

Sometimes, showing kindness to others blesses us way more than it blesses them.  Why do you think that is so?  I think it's because such behavior makes all of us better people.  It's no wonder King David was a man after God's own heart.  He certainly had a big heart himself.  And speaking of hearts, he sure makes mine smile:)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Doctor Referral

For 9/12, I've picked Matthew 9:12 as the verse of the day, "On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."  NIV

When the Pharisees began to ridicule Jesus for being in the company of sinners, He had a few choice words for them.  They were so well-versed in their laws and tradition that they missed the big picture. Their religion had become an elite club that cared more about dotting the I's and crossing the T's than it did about taking care of the needs of man and introducing them to their God.  It seems to me that these religious elitist were arrogant and prideful.    Something had gone awry!  Somewhere along their selfish way they had taken their eye off of God and represented something far removed from Him.

Lest we think we have arrived, let's be sure to check ourselves and our motives as we identify ourselves by a "religion".  I've often heard it said that religion is man-made and not what God intended for His followers.  He is looking for a relationship with us.  We should be careful not to let denomination or religion identify us, but to let our belief in Christ define us.  We are His.  When we act like it, people see Him in us.  They don't see a religion, they see a Savior.  They see how He has changed us.  Knowing Him changes us from the inside out and our relationship with Him becomes evident. 

I'm convinced that Christ wants us to reach out to those who need Him and to represent His love and mercy.  We cannot do that through religion.  We can do that by inviting them into our world and going out and telling them what He has done for us and can do for them.  We can represent what a relationship with Jesus looks like.  They need a doctor.  Let's refer them to our Great Physician...the One who loves to make house calls.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Forever God

Today is 9/11.  The day has great significance to many of us.  Anyone who was around on 9/11/2001, and old enough to know what was going on, remembers where they were and what they were doing when terrorists attacked our country via four hi-jacked airplanes.  The aftermath was horrific and the losses still grieve us. 

Personally, I have an additional reason for remembering 9/11.  My dad passed away one year after the terrorists attacks, on 9/11/2002.  I miss his presence here on earth, but it is a sweet blessing to know my daddy is with the Lord and that I will see him again some day and spend eternity with him in heaven.

My prayer for the survivors and the loved ones of 9/11 victoms is that they may have the peace of Jesus to give them the same hope and future that my dad is now experiencing.  Death, nor man, cannot rob us of eternal life when we have placed our hope and trust in Jesus Christ.  It is that hope that gives many of us the joy and strength to face an uncertain world, yet rest in a certain future with our Lord.

Today's verse reminds me of the power of the awesome God who rescues us and brings victory out of death for believers in Christ.  It comes from Nehemiah 9:11, "You divided the sea for your people so they could walk through on dry land! And then you hurled their enemies into the depths of the sea. They sank like stones beneath the mighty waters."  NLT

This verse reminds me that the seas of life will roar, but if God is for us, then the victory is already ours.  He gives us safe passage to the other side and defeats our enemies, even in death.  Life on earth is limited, but life in heaven is our eternal reward.  That's the kind of God we have...a Forever God! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Praise Him Daily

Today is 9/10 and I have a few scriptures that stand out to me.  I'm going to share three verses today.  They all speak of the greatness of our Lord. 

Job 9:10, "He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.  NIV

Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.  NIV

Proverbs 9:10, "To be wise you must first have reverence for the Lord. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding.  GNT

If I were to encapsulate what the verses above speak to me, I would paraphrase this way:
"Our great God is beyond human comprehension, but not beyond human reach.  He has always rescued us and continues to be our Deliverer.  Even when we feel like we cannot reach Him, He reaches out to us and lifts us up.  When we trust Him, we are never left to our own devices, for His Spirit is with us - ever guiding us in His ways.  How do I know this?  He has shown me these truths repeatedly so I could learn to live in His promises.  He promised that He would give us knowledge of Him when we place Him above all things.  Knowing Him is the greatest knowledge one could ever attain.  It goes beyond human effort and intellect.  What a beautiful thing that simple surrender makes us the wisest people on earth.  Yes, He's given me an honorary PHD.  What do I do with such an honor?  I offer it back up to Him and Praise Him Daily."

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Place at the Table

Today is 9/9 and Matthew 9:9 says, "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him."  NLT

I love what this verse represents.  It represents grace and acceptance.  People were not hanging out with Matthew.  No, Mr. Popularity he was not!  His job did not lend itself, or him, to an honorable status.  Most people would not give him the time of day, much less offer him a place at the table.  But Jesus wasn't just anyone - He was the Messiah!  He gives grace to the unacceptable in our society.  He gave that grace to Matthew.  And God bless Matthew....he was drawn to the Savior.  He "jumped" at the chance to leave his sorry circumstances and follow Jesus. 

Matthew ended up sitting at the table with Jesus, breaking bread with Him.  Jesus gives us that same opportunity to have relationship with Him and to follow Him, to have a place at the table.  That's the way of our Lord.  When society looks down on us, we can still look up to Jesus who accepts us and forgives us and offers us grace - no matter where we are, or where we've come from.  He gives us the same grace He gave to Matthew.  And, like Matthew, I'm jumping at the chance to walk with Him!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Conceited vs. Wise People

The verse for 9/8 is from Proverbs 9:8, "Never correct conceited people; they will hate you for it. But if you correct the wise, they will respect you."  GNT

I like this translation of this verse because it uses the word "conceited".  Conceited means having an excessively high opinion of oneself.  In other words, correction toward a conceited person will fall on deaf ears - they will hate you for it.  Do you know anyone like that?  I thought so!

When correcting someone in love, we hope to make them aware that their behavior or choices can have negative effects on themselves or others.  A lot of people call that judging.  I have to agree, but with a caveat.  In 1 Corinthians 5:12, believers are given permission to hold other believers accountable for sinful behavior.  Most people like to overlook this part of scripture because, frankly, they're conceited.  They don't want anyone telling them they need to change their behavior.  People will rationalize their behaviors and choices to the moon and back and consider you the bad person for calling a spade a spade.  I guess I should have read this proverb before trying to correct a few people.  I discovered it's wisdom the hard way....a little too late.

People always go back to the "log in the eye" scripture in answer to being held accountable.  Many times, they are justified in doing so, but other times they just need to own their actions and their situation.  That's not easy for most of us to do.  Today's verse indicates that there are those who just won't receive a correction well and will be offended by anyone who could ever have the nerve to call them out on it.  But the verse goes on to tell how a wise person reacts to correction.  It says that the wise will receive your correction and respect you for it. 

I've come to realize that people have to learn to know, believe and obey God's Word for themselves. When they do, their wisdom will lead them to respond accordingly.  Until then, well, let's just say that I'm asking God to give me His discernment on when to open my mouth.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It All Depends on Whose Hands It's In

The verse for 9/7 is 2 Corinthians 9:7, "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."  NLT

As humans who are born of the flesh, we have a hard time getting our minds around the concept of giving.  By nature, we are selfish and tend to think of ourselves before others, and even before the God who created us.  The bible is full of parables and verses about giving vs. greed.  God wants us to get this one right.  He wants us to see that what we hold in high esteem has control of our hearts.  If we are greedy and only look to profit ourselves, we sow our thoughts, our treasures, everything we have, into our flesh for self-promotion.  On the other hand, if we want to bless God and others, we give ourselves and our treasures away more freely.  It's all kind of counter-cultural isn't it?  I think that's why God talks about it so much.  He knew we would be bombarded by the world and it's attractions, that our flesh would want to feed our earthly desires.  He wanted to make His truth available against a culture of lies.  If we can grasp it, we can learn how to live by God's Spirit, not by our fleshly desires.

What this entire subject really exposes is attitude.  What is our attitude about what we have?  Do we feel like we are responsible for and can do whatever we want with what we have?  Or do we realize that everything we have is a blessing from a good God?  Do we give out of an obligation to obey the law or do we give out of worship and gratitude to a God who has provided for our needs?  Do we hold onto what we have tightly or do we offer our treasures back to God and ask Him to multiply whatever we have given to bless others and honor Him?

These are hard questions, but I think they really get to the "heart" of the matter.  Our willingness to give ourselves and all that we deem as ours to the One who blessed us with it to begin with, is very telling about whether we are sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit.  Our lives will reap whatever and wherever we sow.  The harvest is up to God.  He can do so much more with it than we ever could on our own.  The value of what we give all depends of whose hands it's in.  In our hands it has mere earthly value, but in God's hands it has eternal value.  With that, I cheerfully offer whatever is in my hands into the hands of God. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All we need is YOU!

The verse for 9/6 is Nehemiah 9:6, "You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you."  NLT

As the priest Ezra led the city of Jerusalem in revival, by preaching the long-forgotten word of God and leading the people in worship and celebration, people began to confess their sins and called out to other people to join them in praising God.   The verse above is a portion of their praise to the Lord.  What strikes me is that the praises remain true and we can sing the same praises to the same God.

That is what we are doing as a church right now.  We are calling out to the Lord.  We are confessing our sins and asking Him to bring us back to the heart of worship.  We are praying and praising and waiting.  We are reminding ourselves and reminding our God that He is, by character, faithful.  God wants to bring us back into covenant relationship with Him.  We have been reminded that this is exactly where we need to be - in His presence, in His will, and in His likeness. 

Revive us, O Lord, for we are more in need of You than anything You could ever do for us or give to us.  All we need is YOU!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our august God!

Sorry for not posting the last 3 days friends.  To make up for it, today's comments will encompass 3 verses.  In Daniel Chapter 9, Daniel had just read what the prophet Jeremiah had written about the Lord saying that Jerusalem must lie desolate for 70 years.  Things are looking dire for him and his people.  So what does Daniel do?  He prays! 

Let's take a look at Daniel 9:3,4,5: "I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God: 'O Master, great and august God. You never waver in your covenant commitment, never give up on those who love you and do what you say. Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable. We've done evil things, rebelled, dodged and taken detours around your clearly marked paths...'"  MSG

I had to look up the definition of august, as an adjective, above.  I've always thought it was just a summer month:)  To my great pleasure, I found that it means "marked by majestic dignity and grandeur."  How fitting that our Lord be called an august God!  It looks like we could learn a thing or two from Daniel in how He addresses an approachable, yet Holy God.  He first humbles himself and extols the virtues of a faithful God.  He then takes responsibility and owns up to the sins he and his people have committed.  The prayer goes on, and we will look at some later verses as the month goes on.  But, today, I just want to look at the example of Daniel.

As a church, we have been going before the Lord, seeking His face, for the position we have found ourselves in.  We realized that the hearts of our people needed to be united as one, in total commitment to our august God.  As we have met Him in prayer, daily, we have found that, like Daniel, we are  relying on God, alone, to come to our rescue.  We are seeing, more and more, that He is faithful.  But, more importantly, we are seeing that our confidence in God comes from our communication with Him.  He wants us to seek Him, to talk to Him.  When our eyes are fixed on Him, our hearts follow suite.  When our eyes are fixed on Him, it is far more difficult to go in the wrong direction.  When our eyes are fixed on Him, we leave the results of our prayers in His hands.  Our august God is more than able!

As the chapter continues, it reveals how God responded to Daniel's prayers.  God sent the angel Gabriel to give Daniel insight and understanding about what was to come.  He told Daniel that the moment he began praying a command was given.  He also told Daniel that God loved him very much.  We can have that same assurance, I believe, because the same God that responded to Daniel responds to us.  We eagerly wait for His insight and understanding and we believe that He has given a command on our behalf.  We are trusting in our faithful august God.  Oh how He loves us!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Down in my Heart

The verse for 9/2 is Psalm 9:2, "I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name, O Most High."  NLT

This passage is pretty clear.  It speaks volumes on it's own and rings oh so true to me.  True joy comes from knowing God.  It's that simple.  And, like David, I can't help but sing praises to such a wonderful God!  I guess one could say that I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart...and I'm forever grateful to the One who put it there!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Will!

It's the first day of September, 9/1.  I'm choosing Psalm 9:1 for today's verse: "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done."  NLT

It is no wonder David was a man after God's own heart!  David was a deliberate worshipper.  He purposed to praise God.  I love the way he prefaces this Psalm with his intentions, I will praise...I will tell."  His words were not hollow.  They rang true and heartfelt. 

I echo David's words in this Psalm.  I think sometimes the Lord blesses me just to see my reaction:)  Or maybe He knows I won't keep my mouth shut...I'm sure to tell others the marvelous things He has done!  But, more probably, He wants to use me to bless someone else.  He knows that if they see and hear what He has done for me, they may know that He will do just as much for them.  They may begin to realize that God is real, that He is good, and that He loves them.  That's beyond exciting to me. 

When we realize our blessings are not so much about us, but more about the goodness of God, I think we will become more and more like men and women after God's heart.  I doubt if any of us will be able to keep our mouths shut.  We will praise Him and we will tell all the marvelous things He has done!