Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Quotes to Share

This week I found the following in my readings from "Praying God's Word Day by Day" by Beth Moore.

The first I'd read before and remember being struck by, but apparently didn't put it in a place that I'd continually pondered it.

A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abdundant, effective, spirit-filled life God planned for him.

As I read it, I was struck again by the power of the definition. I needed to share it, but I also want to place it where I can be reminded of it often. (I think you'll see it on the sidebar soon!) Think this quote over a bit. We think we're free. We resist any idea that we could be slaves of something aside from God. BUT we are often recaptivated...not by God, but rather by things that hinder us. Things that keep us from the life God has planned for us. What a plan! It's a life that's abundant, effective and spirit-filled. I can invision that life...I want that life...and yet, sometimes I trade in that life so easily to be captive to my silly notions, my shortsighted solutions, and my prideful self. I want the life God has planned for me...what about you? Let's remember that we are free indeed (thanks to the blood of Christ!) and stay that way!

The second quote newly struck me, but my wandering heart loves it.

Obedient lives are not perfect lives. Obedience does not mean sinlessness, but confession and repentence when we sin.

I've often wondered how King David could be called "a man after God's own heart" after all he did that showed his shortcomings and sin. I guess I've connected having a heart like God's to having a heart that pleases Him. I think this quote helps to show how a heart that sometimes turns and is far from perfect could please God. God loves a heart that obeys Him, that delights in hearing His Word and doing it. But in our flesh that obedience falters. We fail. I fail...and often miserably. BUT God wants us to turn around and return to Him as soon as we fall. That's the key to having a heart that pleases him. May I be quick to obey and even quicker to return if I don't!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tent of Meeting

As I approached God in my quiet time today, I was aware of my need to not be flippant or take this time in a light-hearted manner. It's so easy to draw close to God and then go coasting along and suddenly realize that you're not really LOOKING for Him, you're just going through the motions. So, I wanted to take things seriously. My daily readings have been from Exodus, and just the other day I was reading about the priests being dedicated. Coming before God was a special and unique privilege and required preparation. With this thought in mind, as well as gratitude that I'm covered by the blood of the Perfect Sacrifice, I humbly asked God to meet with me.

God is so good, because meet with me, He did! I got to camp out a bit in Exodus 33 and find all sorts of things to fill my mind with.

Exodus 33 begins God telling Moses that he will not travel among the people of Israel because they are a stubborn and rebellious people and he would surely destroy them along the way. May I quickly repent from my own stubbornness and rebellion, because where would I be if God did not travel though life with me?

Next, there is a flashback which gives us some information about how God did travel among his people. Moses met with God at the Tent of Meeting. In vs 11 it says that "the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend." How wonderful is that....Moses talked with God as a friend. What intimacy is suggested by this? The great God of the universe, bends low and abides with Moses for a while to talk. I found myself desiring to have that same fellowship.

But after a while, I began to think about this more. I am a friend of God. Thanks to Christ's sacrifice, God does have a friendship with me and is able to fellowship with me. But I'm also more than a friend. I'm also God's child....his very own adopted daughter. A daughter who's adoption papers are paid for with a great price. This is even greater than being a friend, because although a friend has great access to another friend, there are still barriers. But, as I've found since having my son, a child has unlimited access to a parent. AND that access is tempered with great love. What joy is ours!

After more mulling on the subject, I also realized how great is our privilege to not meet with God in a tent....but in a way to BE that very tent! God's Spirit indwells us and meets with us whenever we tune in. We are the ones who decide how frequent that is. AND one day that tent will be folded up Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 5 and we'll finally be with God in glory. What a day!

Later in the chapter verse 13 struck me. It's a verse in which Moses asks for something that I, too, desire. He says, If it is true you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor." Moses wants to understand God more know Him. And in the conclusion of the chapter Moses requests seeing God's glorious presence and is granted the opportunity to experience all of God's goodness passing before him and hear God speak his own name. That's getting to know God in a special way.

There's one more precious thing tucked away in this chapter. When Moses is asking God to be sure to go with them from this place, Moses asks God, "How will anyone know that you look favorably on me- on me and on your people- if you don't go with us?" (vs 16). Then he adds, "For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all the other people on the earth." It's God's presence that made Israel so different. What about me? Does God's presence set me apart in a way that others can see? Or am I very much like the world I live in, but still wanting the favor of God.

I want God to go with me. I want to know Him. I want to meet with Him. I want others to meet Him when they see me. What about you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A meal with God

Today I was reading from Exodus 24. The leaders of Isarel meet with God to confirm the covenant. I was caught by something I read in verses 9-11. It says that Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain and saw God. It says the nobles gazed upon God and He did not destroy them. Here they saw him in glory. Curiously, the only thing recorded about what they saw is his feet and what seemed to be under his feet. An article I later read suggested that the elders were gazing up at God who was enthroned above them and so they only viewed his feet. This would seem to be supported by other descriptions of seeing God on his throne (Ezekial and Rvelation) and the fact that anyone who saw God's face would die (Remember even Moses had to be covered by God's hand and only saw his back (Exodus 33). Can you imagine how that experience would change one's life? How often do we wish we could REALLY see God in a tangible way? But not only did they see God, they also ate a covenant meal within his presence. When two parties entered into a covenant, a sacrifice was made, and a meal was often shared using part of the sacrifice. That would be a pretty amazing meal.

But while thinking on that, I was suddenly aware, that we too share a meal with God- a covenant meal when we eat the Lord's Supper. It's during this meal that we remember the New covenant. It's a meal that reminds us His very body and blood fulfilled the demands of the covenant. Now, that's an even more amazing meal.

As I pondered this the questions then came. So, how am I living after having been in God's presence and eating from His table? Do I live differently? Am I marked by the New Covenant in anyway? Or, like the elders of Israel, do I quickly descend from the mountain and soon set up altars to a god that I make and seem to forget the whole thing.

May you meet with God and remember the covenant He's made with you. AND may this make all the difference in the world!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Recently I came across I Corinthians 13 in The Message. Talk about a fresh reading of some familiar words. See what you find.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Did anything stand out to you? Aren't you glad that God loves us with this kind of love and ALSO gives us the power to love like this. My prayer today is that I would put love into action and love in such a way as is described above.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When God speaks, He says a mouthful.

As God has been speaking the last few days in my life, He's been saying a LOT, but I've been having some trouble bring order to it. Maybe as I write, He'll help focus the big picture and share something with you as well.

I've been working on memorizing Isaiah 33:6 (yes, for those that know's an Isaiah passage and I LOVE it!) The verse says, "In that day He will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure." The verse has become dear to me for several reasons. To begin with I love that God is described as my sure foundation. He certainly is. I can't build anything without Him being the basis, and I'm so glad I can be SURE of Him!

Then I love what He so richly provides: salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. I'm intrigued about the order of those words. I always feel that God is VERY intentional about His Word, so I'm wondering what significance I should see here. Salvation makes sense to be listed first- where would we be without salvation? It's the very first thing He does for us when we seek to build a relationship with Him. But I've always thought that knowledge would come before wisdom, since I've often defined wisdom as the application of knowledge. Any ideas? Regardless, I'm glad that He provides a rich store of wisdom. Oh, how I need it and pray for it daily!

The verse concludes with "The fear of the Lord will be your treasure." That's the phrase that has been hitting me most. I know that the fear here is better thought of as reverence. This is SO critical in my relationship with God. I need to revere God- to place him in his rightful place- to see him as Most High. I know this is important since the verse calls it my treasure. Why my treasure? I think it must be a key in living a life with God. If I revere God, I see him as He should be. That means I'll also see issues and problems in comparison to the mightiness of God. If I revere God I will make better choices because I'll want honor Him and won't make gods of other things. If I revere God I won't take Him for granted or make light of Him. If I revere Him worshipping Him comes naturally. It makes sense then that fearing God is a treasure.

The idea of fearing the Lord has also appeared in my study of He Speaks To Me. This study examines I Samuel 3 as a key to being prepared to hear from God. Samuel was a boy when he heard from God and had childlike simplicity. He apparently had a proper fear or reverence for the Lord. The link was then made that we show our reverence for God by obeying him.

Which brings me to the next topic that God's been speaking to me about. Obedience. Our Pastor said something that struck me on Sunday. He said, "Knowledge brings with it the responsibility to obey." He pointed to James 4:17, which reads, "Remember it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not to do it." Ouch! When I know something, I need to be sure to live in a way that carries out what I know. When I know I should speak a word of encouragement, I need to speak. When I know I should do something to build a relationship, I should do it. When I know I should serve and carry out an action with humility, I need to do it. And, didn't that verse in Isaiah say that He would give me a rich store of knowledge. oh, boy! And why am I supposed to obey? Because I revere God. It's not because I'm trying to earn something or look good, but because He is in the place of authority and I respect Him.

So, what has God been talking to you about? Any thoughts about fearing God, wisdom, knowledge, or obedience? I pray that you are learning and growing in God's grace! Keep serving!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Duh, we're on the same team!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just want to shake your head and go, duh? God certainly must look at my life sometimes and think..."That girl! She just doesn't see it does she? I better give her a clue!"

I'm thinking He's saying that recently. See, while I've been learning about servanthood, I've also been thinking about my role as a wife. Sometimes, I don't have the respect I should have for the great man God has given me as a husband. Oh, he's human,....but then again so am I! I'm called to be his helper. I have a God-given ministry to my husband -to serve him and help him. That's pretty special.

AND yet, sometimes...I can be so critical, sharp, and unwilling to serve. A recent example: My dear husband came home from work after completing about a 14-15 hour shift. He was hungry. I thought maybe he'd have grabbed a bite, so when he says he's hungry, I give him two choices snd grudgingly warm up some leftovers. Of course, I need to make the comment that this means he won't be ready for supper when the rest of the family is and that the kitchen must always be open.

A little while later it hits me....Um...Hey, he and I are on the same team? Why am I getting short with him? What am I doing?

This thought has been tossing and turning in my brain since that happened. I want to be a teammate...a helper that puts our team forward. I want to encourage him, not discourage him. I want to lighten his load, not add to it. I want to honor him, not dishonor him. I remember how it was when we were first dating and falling in love. I so easily overlooked things and saw the good. I was eager to accomodate and willing to help in anyway. I couldn't wait to spend time with him, and I'd certainly put aside anything for him. Why should that really change? I want to an attitude more like the one I had then, with all the strengths that come from walking with a person for years.

Who has God put you on the same team with? Are you treating them like a teammate? Where are you performing strong and where can you make improvements. Let us not give up doing good as long as it is called today!