Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Get Shot, Give Praise!

Question for today...

You and 49 other people are in a bank. A robber comes in, fires, his gun once and you get shot in the right arm. Are you lucky or unlucky?


Ok, friends, this awesome question was posed by Pastor Charles Stock. It got me to thinking about CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) a type of therapy I use for my patients and myself. We interpret a particular situation using our mind. With our thoughts, we judge situations to be "good" or "bad," "lucky" or "unlucky." 

 I am NOT attempting to minimize the traumas that we all have suffered. What I am trying to say is the thoughts we think about those traumas will affect our brain chemistry. Powerful neurotransmitters are released in response to our thoughts, good or bad. These neurotransmitters affect our emotions, which in turn affect our behavior. 

 Back to the question. We all can agree that getting shot wouldn't be on most people's bucket list. But the types of thoughts we think about that "bad" situation can make us "feel" better or worse. Pastor Stock mentioned some responses. 

"Out of all the banks and all the days I could have gone to, the bank I choose is the bank a robber chooses. That's unlucky." 

 "You mean I am the one who gets shot when there are 49 other people in the bank. How unlucky." 

 Do you hear the negativity in these statements?

 How about these?

"Wow, I could have been shot in the head and been killed. That's lucky!" 

 My favorite response, "Wow, I stopped the bullet. Someone else could have been killed. I'm a hero! That's lucky!!!" 

We can apply this to our real life with real heartaches and real traumas. When we meditate on difficult situations with a "woe is me attitude," neurotransmitters, which can influence the development depression are released. When we face a situation for what it is whether hurtful or traumatic with a positive attitude, we stimulate our brain to release neurotransmitters, which induce peace and joy. 

God knows how He designed our brains. That's why the Ultimate Counselor tells us to keep our thoughts fixed upon Him and to think on things, which are pure and lovely. Friends, I am learning to keep my eyes upon my Abba, no matter what situation presents. The fiery darts of the enemy fly, sparking thoughts and emotional responses, but we don't need to allow the barrage. We can stand up with our shield of faith and stamp out the negative thoughts replacing them with praise! We can reach our hand out to others instead of being focused on our own problems. 

I am learning. You can learn too. Holy Spirit, empower us to keep our eyes on Jesus. During this Passover/Easter season, let us remember and be thankful for He did for us!!! He saved us. He is saving us. He will always save us! I am so thankful!!! I love you guys!!!


Amplified Bible (AMP)

8 For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].


Hebrews 12:2
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46-48: The Great I Am

The chapters listed in the reading for today speak of God's discipline against the Gentile nations of Egypt, Philistia, and Moab.  Jeremiah had the "privilege" of delivering a word of discipline from the Lord against these idolatrous nations. 

I've been mediating on these chapters for a few weeks now.  Often, I receive insight applicable for right here, right now.  

In short...

  • Don't worship idols.

  • Don't disobey God's direction.

  • If you do, there are consequences.


I think if those Gentile nations had had an encounter with the Living God, the Great I Am, they wouldn't have turned to their own ways, serving gods of metal, wood and stone.

I think if we have an encounter with the Living God, the Great I Am, we wouldn't turn to our own ways, serving gods of money, power, and self.

"Great I Am" is one of those songs with such a strong anointing, that I can feel it breaking chains.  The Great I Am pours out His grace on us to stand firm against temptation and gives us resolve to continually give ourselves to Him.

Feeling the Great I Am, God Almighty touch my soul causes the draws of this world to dim.  Suddenly, a holy power fills my heart causing me to dance supernaturally.  There is no idolatry in this place, no temptation, only angel voices singing.  Now I am passionately worshipping along with heaven  for One alone!!!

Friends, this is where we go to insulate ourselves from sin and temptation!!!

I have a long drive to work, and use that time to worship.  This morning, I thought about this song and pictured myself dancing for Jesus.  Guess what song played as I drove home tonight?
 
 
 
I love the way you love me, Great I Am.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jeremiah 41-45: Man Pressuring or God Calling

One of their own had heinously murdered, Gedaliah, the governor the king of Babylon had set over those remaining in Judah.  The people were afraid, afraid of how King Nebuchadnezzar would avenge Gedaliah's death. 
 
Jeremiah 41:18
Amplified Bible (AMP)
 
18 Because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land [and whose death the king could avenge without much discrimination].
 
The people came to Jeremiah asking him to seek God's counsel, but the people already had their hearts set on a plan...go to Egypt and hide. 
 
Jeremiah 42:3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 [Pray] that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing that we should do.

 
Jeremiah warned the people that God wanted them to stay put, but they would not listen. 

Jeremiah 43:2-3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

2 Then Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the proud and insolent men said to Jeremiah, You are not telling the truth! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, Do not go into Egypt to dwell there temporarily.


3 But Baruch son of Neriah is setting you against us to deliver us into the hands of the Chaldeans, so they may put us to death or carry us away captive to Babylon.

 
God knew that if His people would go to Egypt, they would been drawn into idolatry again, and that is exactly what happened. 

Jeremiah 44:8
Amplified Bible (AMP)


8 Why do you provoke Me to anger with the works (idols) of your own hands, burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt, where you [of your own accord] have come to dwell temporarily, that you might be cut off and become a curse and a reproach (an object of reviling and taunts) among all the nations of the earth?
 


Just before going to bed tonight, I asked the Lord to give me a dream of encouragement and direction.  I awoke with "Man pressuring or God calling."  I thought about how man often can make a determination about a situation by natural means, by the hearing of physical ears.  I then thought about the remant of Judah who had their minds set on doing what they thought was best.  They didn't hear God's call because they succumbed to man's pressure.  These poor, frightened people ended up worse off in Egypt then they would have been if they had just followed God's call and stayed in the land of Judah.

I love the way the Holy Spirit uses an ancient story to direct and encourage me right now.  Well meaning men may pressure with their words because they see in part and have a partial understanding of a situation.  Their heart is right, but what they have heard in the physical has influenced their hearing of the Lord. 

My response, Holy Spirit search my heart.  Is there any wicked way in me?  Show me Your ways and Your heart.  Empower me to hear Your call and not be pressured by man, even a man with a good heart.  Lord, I trust You to save and deliver.  I trust You are hearing my prayers.  You have repeatedly said, "Watch and see what I will do."  I am watching, Lord.  I am waiting for Your intervention.  I will bring my petitions and tears to You, because You love me the best and have my life's story written.   You are so good to me!  Watching for You, my King!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Habakkuk: Hind's Feet For High Places

Habakkuk 3:19

Amplified Bible (AMP)
19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!


 Progress in the midst of trouble...interesting thought.  None of us desire a trouble-filled experience, but troubles are a part of life.  If we rely upon God to be our Strength then, grace is released into that trouble-filled situation. 

Keeping our eyes open to God's acting on our behalf stimulates bravery.  As we watch the Almighty God take a stand for us, courage arises.  Suddenly, we aren't crouching down, curled up in a cringing ball of fear, but we stand and stand tall, knowing, seeing that the Lord is for us.  Who then, can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Amplified Bible (AMP)
31 What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]


Keeping our eyes fixated on God reveals the interaction of His angel army warring on our behalf.  Why should we ever waste time fearing?  Every detail in our life can and will be used for our own good.  Troubling times.  Devastating emotional or physical suffering.  Overwhelming responsibility.  These challenges don't need to be stumbling blocks.  ALL of these can be the stepping stones to receiving the "hind's feet" necessary to walk upon the high places (mountains of adversity).


Abba, thank You for Your Word of encouragement!  I have personally experienced Your empowerment to walk upon the high places in my life, and I am grateful!!! 

Grace, grace, grace!!!  I speak grace over myself, my family, my friends reading this post.  Grace is the reason we stand and walk in all circumstances.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for leading and guiding us on the path You desire.  In Jesus' name, AMEN!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36: Return to God!

These passages emphasize the importance of hearing and obeying God's voice. The chosen ones had been blatantly disregarding God's direction through His prophets, and He was not pleased! The consequences were invasion and captivity.

The invaders destroyed God's temple and either destroyed or carried away the instruments used in worship.

 

2 Kings 25:13-15
Amplified Bible (AMP)


13 The bronze pillars in the Lord’s house and [its] bases and the bronze Sea the Chaldeans smashed and carried the bronze to Babylon.

14 And they took away the pots, shovels, snuffers, dishes for incense, all the bronze vessels used in the temple service,

15 The firepans, and bowls. Such things as were of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver [he took away] as silver.


Looking at these verses symbolically, I hear the Lord reminding us today. Blatant disregard for His instructions results in an assault of the enemy. This definitely has the potential to negatively affect our relationship with God. He never leaves or forsakes us, but we can turn away from Him. In effect, our "instrument of worship," our being, is carried away or possibly destroyed by the evil one.

Friends, listen and obey God's voice. The consequences of disobedience can be devastating!

 BUT, don't lose hope!

 Like the prodigal son who squandered his father's inheritance, when we come to our senses and return to our Father, He will run to us! We can never mess up badly enough to negate God's love.

He's waiting! Turn back! Repent! His arms of restoration are open!!!


 
 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Blessings of a Relationship with God

While driving to work yesterday, I was soaking in the gorgeous sight of snow-covered trees. 
 
 
 
I marveled how the weighty snow caused the tree limbs to sag and bow. To me snow represents the grace of God. Then I felt like the Lord revealed how His weighty grace causes people to bow in humility. Then snow fell from the trees hitting my car as I passed by them. It is like that with people and grace.  People saturated with God's grace bow in humility and that bowing allows the grace to "slip" off them and "hit" those people who pass by. Let's be people so saturated with grace that humility is apparent and God's grace is given to others as they pass by us!

 

While driving to work, I was listening to K-LOVE and singing (praying) this song. I told Jesus, "Thank You for being the anchor of my soul." I thought about all the stormy experiences in my life and I was filled with gratitude. I looked up and there was a billboard with a huge anchor on it. I felt like the Lord was hearing and confirming what I had just prayed. I really had a wonderful time driving to work yesterday!!! I love You, Jesus!!!

 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jeremiah 38-40; Psalm 74 & 70: Day or Night, He Illumines Our Path


Psalm 74:16
Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have established the [starry] light and the sun.

 


God's people were about to enter a seventy year season of darkness as captivites in Babylon.  The people were in denial about what was about to occur.  They didn't want to face that what they had been doing, how they had been living was not acceptable to their heavenly Father.  They wanted only to listen to the prophets who preached peace and rest, but that is not the way of the seasons and cycles on earth

It's true Israel/Judah brought the dark, night season upon themselves, but that is not always the case.

All of us have times of day when all seems to be going our way, doors are opening, blessings are evident and peace in body and mind prevails.

We also have times of night when conflict and turmoil are evident.  Blessings can be difficult to identify during this time of diminished visibility.

No matter if we find ourselves in a season of day or night, whether we caused it or not, God is always with us, and He always provides the light we need to stay the course along our path.  During the day, light is provided by the sun, but the night has the stars and moon to cast light as well.

Just as we expect the sun to rise each morning signaling daybreak, so we can expect positive life experiences to follow difficulty.

The reverse is also true.  "We have as much reason to expect affliction, as to expect night and winter." Matthew Henry's Commentary


Lord, You always are with us and never forsake us.  Whether times are pleasant or whether challenging.  You always provide just the perfect amount of light to illumine our path.  Thank You!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jeremiah 35-37: You Choose: Ignore It, Burn It or Embrace It

Jeremiah 36:22-24
Amplified Bible (AMP)


22 Now it was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and a fire was burning there before him in the brazier.

23 And [each time] when Jehudi had read three or four columns [of the scroll], he [King Jehoiakim] would cut them off with a penknife and cast them into the fire that was in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier.

24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments—neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words.



The scroll referenced in verse above refers to the prophetic word given by Jeremiah.  Obviously, the king had little regard for what God had to say through Jeremiah.   
 
Can you imagine cutting pages of the Bible apart and tossing the shreds into the fire? Although Jeremiah's word had not yet been "canonized" into what we now know as the Bible, it still was God's Word.  Before we go and criticize King Jehoiakim for committing sacrilege, let's search our own hearts.

How many times did we hear God's word through a dream, but ignored it chalking it up to eating pizza the night before.  Why do we do that?  Is it that what God has to say steps on our toes?  Or does the reality of an all powerful, omnipotent Being interacting with His kids scare us?  

 God loves us!  Of course, He will correct our missteps. Of course, He desires to be involved with our lives. 

I am learning to pay attention to God's voice in whatever form it comes.  We need to learn to embrace what our loving Father has to say.

I had a very awesome experience with hearing God's voice this morning while the pastor prayed, "The life of God is in you."

Immediately, I remembered the dream I had last night, which had caused me to awake with a yelp.

A man's voice repeatedly told me "You're going to die and you will be alone in the dark. There is no heaven.  The light people see as they are dying are the neurons of the brain firing for the last time.  After death, there is nothing but darkness."

Pretty intense, huh?

I love how Abba handled this apparent assault of the evil one as I slept...I couldn't remember the dream.  Abba was protecting me!!! 

Because the Lord sometimes warns through dreams, I prayed, "If there is something You want me to know then make it clear." 

To be honest, I had forgotten about the dream and my prayer until the pastor's prayer.  When I heard the words, "The life of God is in you," suddenly, I remembered the dream.  Instead of the fear I felt last night, I felt overwhelming confidence and life!  God, the God of the universe, His life is in me!!!  If my body lives, He lives in me!  If my body dies, I live with Him!!!

I felt like the Lord said that He wanted me to hear His life word first, before He restored the memory of my dream.  I'm thankful!!!

When God speaks a word through a dream or a pastor or the Bible, we have  choice.  We can ignore it, burn it or embrace it.  Remember, even hard words from our loving Father bring life!!!

Father, help us to hear Your voice alone.  Empower us to embrace Your words.  The evil one may attempt to scare or intimidate us, but we won't listen to the voice of a stranger.  We hear.  We obey.  We follow You.  In the name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jeremiah 32-34: The Timing of Destiny's Tapestry

Jeremiah 32:27
Amplified Bible (AMP)

 27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?


This verse jumped out to me this morning. 

I have been pondering the blessings the Lord has given me and my family.  Many doors are opening for us, and I don't believe in coincidence.

Father knows what we need and when we need it.  Nothing is too hard for Him!

I've experienced answers to prayer over and over again, and I am thankful!  Yet, some prayers and questions remain unanswered.   My heart wonders why? 

No, nothing is too hard for my God.  It's not the difficulty of the request or the complexity of the question that blocks fulfillment.

TIMING!

We may be asking for a good thing with sincere motives, but the answer doesn't come or the petition remains ungranted. Could the timing be out of sink with God's plan? 

God weaves a tapestry of destiny for us, but that tapestry contains more than just our unique thread.  The threads of many other unique beings are woven together with mine.  My destiny, your destiny, is intermingled...one thread twisted around another and another.  The result is colorful and beautiful and holy.

Jeremiah is telling King Zedekiah of Judah everything he doesn't want to hear.  I do understand why the king would be irate.  Zedekiah will not escape the captivity of the Chaldeans.  It doesn't look good for him. 


King Zedekiah asks why Jeremiah is speaking like this?
 

Jeremiah 32:3-4
Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had locked him up, saying, Why do you prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;

4 And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye;



The tapestry of destiny for God's own Israel and Judah depend on this difficult but necessary captivity.  The unique threads of the captives will be woven together in the midst of captivity and the future tapestry will be beautiful. 

Sin had marred, but the blessing of captivity will remove that spot and iron that wrinkle.

God's timing for His people's restoration is in the future.
 

Jeremiah 33:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)

6 Behold, [in the future restored Jerusalem] I will lay upon it health and healing, and I will cure them and will reveal to them the abundance of peace (prosperity, security, stability) and truth.


Isn't the promise worth the spot removing, ironing process of captivity?


Abba, give us the courage to wait for You.  Meanwhile, we will allow You to remove our spots and iron our wrinkles.  Our glory will be a reflection of You!  In the name if Jesus, AMEN!!!
 

 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jeremiah 30-31: Stuck in Sorrow or White as Snow?

Jeremiah 31:13
Amplified Bible (AMP)

13 Then will the maidens rejoice in the dance, and the young men and old together. For I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice after their sorrow.


We are not destined to stay stuck in sorrow.  Father has promised that mourning will be transformed into so much joy that dancing would result.  Many verses in the Bible encourage, but this verse is personal.

Ephraim (Israel) had turned their back on God going their own way, doing their own thing, which resulted in the discipline of Father.  How many times have we done things or held onto attitudes that we know are contrary to what our Father desires?

We are disciplined just as Israel, suffer the consequences of our misdeeds (sins) and sorrow follows.

 As a little girl, I remember being sorrowful after my parents disciplined me for disobeying, BUT I didn't stay sorrowful.  My parents didn't hold a grudge against me.  In fact, they continued to love and care for me even in the midst of my deserved punishment.  I soon returned to the playing and singing and joyful expressions of a child.  My parents didn't seriously remember my misbehavior.


Jeremiah 31:34
Amplified Bible (AMP)


34 And they will no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me [recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Me], from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will [seriously] remember their sin no more. (emphasis mine)

My heavenly Parent taught my earthly parents well.  Abba does not hold our sins against us!!!  I am so grateful!!!

A certain amount of godly sorrow will result from committed sins, but it is NOT God's intent that we stay stuck in sorrow.  God intents to restore us to our rightful place as sons and daughters with all the privileges and benefits of sonship!

We can then receive the joy that Holy Spirit pours out...we can dance, dance, dance.

A trick that the evil one plays is that we must work to redeem ourselves from our missteps.  WE CAN'T WORK OUR WAY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!

Jesus is our righteousness!!!

Thank You, Jesus, for being our Mediator!  Thank You, Abba, that when we misstep, we can immediately repent (turn away from that thing or attitude) and be restored to You.  We don't need to stay stuck in sorrow.  Our souls are FREE!  We may continue to live in the consequences of sin, but our soul is white as snow!!!  All praise and honor and glory to the One called Jesus!  AMEN!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jeremiah 26-29: A Thankful Captive


Jeremiah 27:5
Amplified Bible (AMP)

5 I have made the earth, the men, and the beasts that are upon the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I give it to whomever it seems right and suitable to Me.



We have a great deal to learn about God's ways!

Jeremiah is prophesying about the impending captivity of his people.  God gave the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon the authority to enslave His people for a time.  God goes as far to say, "any nation or kingdom that will not serve this same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, says the Lord, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, until I have consumed it by [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand."  (Jeremiah 27:8)
 
My post "Good Figs, Great Blessing in Captivity" outlines God's rationale and promises to His people while captive.  By resisting the captivity of Babylon, God's people would effectively be resisting the growth and blessings God was attempting to bestow on them.

This line of thinking is contrary to what most Western Christians imagine to be a "blessed state." 

Could it be that while in bondage we learn things about ourselves and others, that we would never be able to discern otherwise? 

I think about the times in my life when I have felt "captive." During those times, God proved that His dealing with me is very similar to His dealing with Israel and Judah of long ago.

During those times, He revealed Himself in ways I couldn't have imagined.  I am thankful!  Although I'm not a big fan of heartache, I am a big fan of getting closer to God!

Several years ago, I wrote this poem during a particularly difficult season.  God will use the tools He feels are best to transform us.  Let's not resist Him, thereby, disregarding opportunities for growing our relationship with Abba.


Besiege My Heart
Beautiful Grace

June 14, 2005

Besiege my heart, Holy Spirit of God.
I give consent to Your overthrow.
Incapable am I to rule it
For deceitful and wicked it is.
No man can know.

You, oh Conqueror, of base desires
Know the art of subjugation.
You war against fallen desires
Which block the full reign of Kingship of one heart.

You employ methods far too wonderful for comprehension
In accomplishing Your goal.
Trials become a chisel,
Whittling away self-love.
Self-love seeks protections from life’s inflictions,
But Love’s King has said, “embrace them.”

Allow Love to make you into the vessel of His chosen type.
His Love, holy, selfless and true, refuses to allow undoneness.
Be not hesitant to embrace Love’s power,
God’s depths are found there.


“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.” James 1:2 & 3

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jeremiah 23-25: Good Figs, Great Blessing in Captivity


Jeremiah 24:4-7
Amplified Bible (AMP)


4 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.

6 For I will set My eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.

7 And I will give them a heart to know (recognize, understand, and be acquainted with) Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.



What jumps out at me is that those people, symbolized as "good figs," are exiled and taken captive right along side of the "bad figs."  God goes even farther by explaining that captivity in "the land of the Chaldeans" was "for their good."

Captivity generally is viewed as undesirable, but in this case captivity results in awesome benefits...

*God is watching over them for good.

*He will eventually bring them back to their inheritance.

*He will build them.  I understand this to mean personal growth.

*They will be planted.  Their roots in the Lord will grow deeper.

*The most awesome promise of all is that God will give them a heart capable of knowing Him!!!

Maybe we need to redefine our thoughts on captivity!  No matter what physical state we find ourselves, God IS with us!  A person whose heart is drawn to the Lord is free even though they are a captive!

God's ways are difficult to comprehend and we often cannot understand the things He does or allows in order to make us into the people that He desires.

He is God and we are not!!!

Father, all of us have felt captive to circumstances in this life.  Open our eyes to see deeper.  Give us a heart to know You and faith to trust that You have the best plan for our lives.  Help us to remember that this earth is not our true home.  It is the training ground for eternity.  All for the love of Jesus and in His name, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jeremiah 18-22: A Vessel of His Choosing


Jeremiah 18:1-4
Amplified Bible (AMP)


18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

2 Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he was working at the wheel.

4 And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make it.



God is making us into vessels, but like Israel, we too can be "spoiled in the hand of the potter."

To be honest, reading the book of Jeremiah feels uncomfortable.  This unsettled feeling is the result of remembering just how "stiff-necked" we can be.  Doing things our own way, living as though we are the masters of our own destinies, trusting in men to save and deliver us rather than God are all symptoms of stiff necks.

Our Father, in His mercy, has given us the ability to choose His ways over our own, yet how often do we purposely close our ears to His guiding whispers?

It is a good thing to feel uncomfortable and unsettled, because in that state we are being convicted by His Spirit.  Where the Spirit convicts, there is also empowerment for change. 

Holy Spirit, thank You for Your whispers.  Thank You for empowering change.  Thank You, Jesus, because without You all hope would be lost.  We cannot, we will not be a stiff-necked people.  We will open our heart and listen.  We will not only hear, but we will obey.  We will trust in You to form our lives into the vessel of Your choosing.  Empower us for You!  In the great and awesome name of Jesus!!!  AMEN!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Jeremiah 14-17: Never Cease Yielding Fruit

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)

7 [Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.

8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.



Even in the midst of God's displeasure with His people's behavior, encouragement is found.  Believing, trusting, and relying on the Lord, having hope and confidence in Him no matter what circumstance, this person will be watered.  His roots will spread, his leaf will be green, and his soul will be free from anxiety and care.  Fruit will be evident in this person, continually!

I want to be this person.  Faith, even a little faith, will cry out to God for grace.  God's grace is a prerequisite to overcoming the trials of this world while continually manifesting fruit!

What does "yielding fruit" continually look like?


Galatians 5:21-23
Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,

23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law
that can bring a charge].

Yielding fruit looks like praying for those who have misunderstood your heart and pass judgment.

Yielding fruit looks like lightening the atmosphere during a tumultuous situation.

Yielding fruit looks like stillness of soul during a difficult diagnosis.

Yielding fruit looks like bearing with someone who is having difficulty comprehending.

Yielding fruit looks like holding the door open for someone behind you.

Yielding fruit looks like ministering to others.

Yielding fruit looks like standing by someone no matter what the situation.


Yielding fruit looks like preferring others.

Yielding fruit looks like zipping the lips when God has said "Be silent."


GRACE!  GRACE!!  GRACE!!!
 

We require His grace!  Grace is imperative!  We need His Spirit! 

Jesus, You came to this earth and set us free from the consequences of all our missed marks and all of our wrong attitudes and actions towards others! Reveal the way to access the grace You have so loving and generously provided.  We will yield fruit continually and people will recognize You in the process!  AMEN!!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jeremiah 10-13: Just Say, Jesus!

Jeremiah 10:5

Amplified Bible (AMP)
 
[Their idols] are like pillars of turned work [as upright and stationary and immobile as a palm tree], like scarecrows in a cucumber field; they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it possible for them to do good [and it is not in them].
 
IDOLS.
 
We read a great deal about how God's people fall into idolatry.  Because the Bible addresses this practice frequently, we would do well to pay attention.
 
Abba is angered by idolatry!  Most of us don't bow down to a carved piece of wood or chiseled rock, but do you realize that each time we choose to do things our way instead of God's way, we practice idolatry?

Please, have mercy on us, Lord!

I was planning to write about how idols are demons in disguise, but I'm not going to do that.

Maybe it's the dreary, damp day or maybe memories fill my thoughts of how things should have been...

Idolatry ruins!  Relationships and hearts break because we do things our way, not God's.

No wonder God hates it so much!!!

Idols don't have any more power than what we willingly give them.
   
*Gossip*    *Anger*    *Jealousy*    *Fear*    *Self-centeredness*

These empower idols.  We are all guilty of empowering idols!

There is no way to deliver ourselves.  Jesus is our only Rescuer! 

There have been times I have fallen asleep whispering "Jesus."  I have been driving along and suddenly shout His name, "JESUS!"



I don't know the way out, but He does.  Just say, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jeremiah 7-9: Personally and Practically, Discerning and Recognizing

Jeremiah 9:24
Amplified Bible (AMP)

24 But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.



It seems unfathomable that a mere human being could know God "personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing [His] character."  However, God says that this is not only possible, but that He delights in those that know Him in that way.

Personally and Practically

In order to know, really know someone, we spend time with them.  Personally, I prefer face to face interactions, one on one, but in my life, it is not usually possible.  The Internet has been a blessing by allowing contact with others through email, Facebook, Blogger, Skype, etc.  

However, how do we get to know God, Most High, on a personal level?  

First, we must personally accept Jesus as our Savior, our Master, our Friend. It's as simple as just admitting our inability to save ourselves, to wash ourselves clean, asking for forgiveness and empowerment to hear and obey.

Second, spend time with Him.  PLEASE, I'm not talking about attending a church service (although that's good) or performing some godly task in service or others (also good).  I'm speaking of keeping your heart open to hear His whispers.  Talk to Him as though He is right there with you (He IS with you).  Think about Him, ask Him for His advice, and receive His Spirit to empower you to walk through life victoriously, no matter what earthly circumstances may present.

He will reveal Himself in the midst of your day.  He will whisper His heart while in the darkest situation.  He will bestow His courage to the most fearful, fainthearted of children and demonstrate His power through those whom the world counts as tainted or immature.  

God practically reveals Himself in our situations as we personally contact Him!!!


Discerning and Recognizing


Hebrews 5:14
Amplified Bible (AMP)


14 But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.

Discerning and recognizing God occurs by practice.  We must constantly judge situations and our thoughts in light of the fact that God is Good, period.  If the situation or thought isn't good, then it is not God!

How do we know if something is good or evil? 

His Word is the best place to start, although we must read and understand the written Word with the assistance of His Spirit or we may fall to making our lives into some sort of religious expression of rules and regulations.  

God is GOOD!  God LOVES us!  

He is not some megalomaniac Who is waiting for us to break His laws so that He can punish us, NO!  He woos.  He instructs.  He pleads for us to live in the way He has prescribed for our own good.


He knows that sex outside of marriage damages the soul!

He knows that allowing fear to reign in our thoughts, will damage our body!

He Knows that those who seek after worldly possessions, often forget about Him and eternity!

He gives us instructions, so we don't have to pay the price of disobedience. He cares about our body and our soul and our spirit!!!


Lord, You have proven to be my most trusted Friend.  You have revealed Yourself personally and practically and are teaching me to discern and recognize what is You (good) and what is not (evil).  On this last day of the year 2013, I ask for a deeper revelation of You.  Teach me by Your Spirit that I might know You in an even greater measure!   In the Name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jeremiah 4-6: Ask For the Eternal Paths

Jeremiah 6:16
Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it!


God's chosen people had once again turned away from Him. Their faces had become "harder than rock." (Jeremiah 5:3) A face is symbolic for one's heart. Abba's children had hardened their hearts towards Him. How could this happen?

Idolatry. But something must have been going on inside the hearts of the people before turning away from the God that had proven Himself repeatedly.

I think about our natural bodies. What causes a callus to form on our skin?

According to Medical News Today, "a callus, or callosity, is a section of skin that has become toughened and thick as a result of friction, pressure or irritation."

Now apply that knowledge to the soul. When constant pressure and friction is applied to the soul though trials, tribulations, disappointments and traumas. A callused heart (hardened heart) may result.

I think about Proverbs 4:23 where God is commanding to "keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life."

Guarding our heart should be more important to us than guarding ALL else! It occurs to me that no matter how much we attempt to guard our hearts, we cannot do it apart from His Spirit giving us direction about what guarding actually looks like as we walk through life.

Guarding our heart manifests internally by guarding our thoughts in relation to a person or situation. As a psychiatric nurse, I can tell you that thoughts really do influence our "heart" or more plainly stated, our emotions. Human science has shown that thoughts actually affect the neurochemical balance within the brain. Neurochemical imbalance is a current theory of the origins of mental illness. Emotions are moderated by these powerful brain chemicals, which then affect our behavior. Knowing this is only the first step. Doing requires the power of His Spirit. He is the One Who empowers us to manage our thoughts.


Isaiah 26:3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.


The Lord is commanding, "Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

But the only way to do that is by maintaining a softened heart, but what if a heart has already been hardened, calloused. THERE IS STILL HOPE!!!


Ezekiel 11:18-20
Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 And when they return there, they shall take away from it all traces of its detestable things and all its abominations (sex impurities and heathen religious practices).

19 And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God],

20 That they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.


Yay, God!!!


Holy Spirit, I know You are calling me to "Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is;" I will walk in it, and I will find rest for my soul. You have showed me Your will for 2014. Soul rest 90% of the time is not what You desire for Your beloved. Lord, I receive Your call to "Go back to the start" where I first fell in love with You. The good, old way, here I come!!!