Friday, September 28, 2012

Our 28th Anniversary, Dear Strongman! :)

This day (28 years ago on September 22nd), 
I married my friend, 
the one I laugh with, 
live for, dream with, Love. 

Twenty-eight years later, 
we've have done all of that and more...

we've cried together, came to terms with our polar opposite differences, 

had arguments, served each other, 

and supported each other in pain-emotional and physical. 

Srongman, we have grown up together
and continue to grow. 

We have learned and are learning
persevering love. 

Happy Anniversary, Dear!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jonah: I Don't Wanna, Daddy!

Jonah 1:1-3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying,

2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.

3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord [as His prophet] and went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading places then known]. So he paid the appointed fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord [as His servant and minister].

Jonah was instructed by God to deliver a prophetic word of judgment against the city of Nineveh.  It's a very difficult assignment to tell a city or even one person that what they are doing is wrong.  I can understand completely what it feels like to be hesitant to deliver a word of correction, even if that word of correction turns a person from the world to God.

Jonah did not desire to put himself into the position of being thought of by man as "the bad guy."  Instead of obeying God immediately, he ran away from his assignment and his God.

As a young girl, I remember working with my dad.  One memory was helping dad mix cement.  It was strenuous and tiring, and I'm pretty sure I whined something like, "I don't wanna, daddy!"  My father, being a gentle and gracious man, didn't force me to do something I couldn't or didn't want to do.  Instead, he probably took me to Reed's Inn for lunch or a snack.  My father understood that I was a little girl.  That I was not strong enough or mature enough to complete the work of an adult.

I loved hanging out with my dad. 

Today, my Abba understands my areas of immaturity and weakness.  He may ask me to do or say something that I just don't wanna.  But like my earthly dad, my heavenly Daddy is full of gentle grace.  Be assured, I'm not speaking of the disobedience of sin.  Abba, does not tolerate sin! 

Abba knows me better than any other.  He knows my heart wants to be all that He desires.  He also knows that a child needs to mature in his ways.  I am learning to trust my Father when He tells me to speak or that He will give me the grace that I need to accomplish His directive.  But, I still miss His mark at times, cave into my immaturity, and may even whine, "I don't wanna, Daddy!"

Abba doesn't get angry or punish me for an immature heart, because that heart isn't intending to be disobedient.  That heart is just too immature to comprehend.  

Instead, my Abba calls me to come and hang out with Him and dine with Him at His banqueting table.  He knows that in His Presence I am changed; I am matured.  He knows that from glory to glory to glory, I am transformed into His Image.

I love hanging out with my Daddy (Abba).

Just like Jonah, I have a great mission.  Abba calls me, matures me, equips me.  He understands my immaturity and weaknesses, just as He understood Jonah's immaturity and weaknesses.  

However, Abba doesn't allow me or you to continue in immaturity.

My destiny is too great! 

Your destiny is too great!

Abba may send a modern day whale to transport us to the place of our assignment.  It may feel scary.  It may feel lonesome, but ultimately, Abba has only good in mind for us!

Abba, help us to trust and rely on Your grace when You ask us to say or do something that feels scary.  You are good always!  You love like no other!  Thank You for not allowing us to stay in our place of immaturity.  All for You, AMEN!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25: Find Yourself in a Battle?

King Amaziah, king of Judah decided it would be a good idea to build up his army. He assembled the men of Judah and Benjamin, 300,000 of them and proceeded to hire Israeli mercenaries for 100 talents a piece.

2 Chronicles 25:7-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)

7 But a man of God came to him, saying, O king, do not let all this army of Ephraimites of Israel go with you [of Judah], for the Lord is not with you,

8 For if you go [in spite of warning], no matter how strong you are for battle, God will cast you down before the enemy, for God has power to help and to cast down.

We can be assured that if follow God's lead, He not only helps us in the battle, but that battle belongs to Him. But sometimes we find ourselves in a battle, which the Lord did not command us to fight. It's a hard word, but God can't help us when we choose to do things our own way.

Christians who desire to be pleasing to God seek the Lord for the direction of their life, which ultimately leads to the battles we face. If we follow God's lead, we can be assured that God is with us in the battles of this life.

But what if we decided to go our own way?

This is where it gets a little sticky. From personal experience, the times when I missed the mark or misheard direction from the Lord were the times that led to battles resulting in great heartache. Yet, I never felt like the Lord left me to fight on my own during these times. I think it's because my heart was searching for God, His direction, and the right thing to do at the right time.

It was in some of the darkest seasons of my life, that the Lord revealed Himself to me with the most beautiful and powerful displays of His love. And some of these dark seasons were initiated by a decision to do what I wanted to do, rather than follow the direction of God.  I was immature and ignorant.

There are consequences for disobedience.

But in those consequences, we have a Father Who lovingly leads us back to the path He has preordained. If we humble ourselves in the midst of battle, God is so merciful and so loving, that He turns to hear our cries. He executes justice for those oppressed.

Psalm 146:6-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)

6 Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, Who keeps truth and is faithful forever,

7 Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets free the prisoners,

8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the [uncompromisingly] righteous (those upright in heart and in right standing with Him).

The distinction is not made whether the oppressed person has been obedient or disobedient. The cause of the oppression is not mentioned.  I think of how God's mercies are new every morning. To me, that means if I messed up the previous day, God is longingly waiting for me to accept His mercy the next.

Lamentations 3:22-23
Amplified Bible (AMP)

22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

An oppressed person, whether by willful choice or not, is not consumed because God's tender compassions fail not!!!

This is the God I serve.  He is not One Who points a finger or disapprovingly scolds saying, "I told you so."  He is the One Who fights for the oppressed, loving calling and interceding, desiring for that one to receive the mercy and empowerment available to be set free from that oppression.

Yes, battles do come.  It's a part of living, but with God by our side we will ultimately be victorious!  And in the process learn, that God is God and we always need to follow His lead!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24: Never Fall Away

2 Kings 12:1 & 2
Amplified Bible (AMP)

In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zibiah of Beersheba.

Joash did right in the sight of the Lord all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

2 Chronicles 24:17-18
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now after the death of Jehoiada [the priest, who had hidden Joash], the princes of Judah came and made obeisance to King Joash; then the king hearkened to them.

They forsook the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for their sin (guilt).

King Joash did what was right in the sight of God as long as Jehoiada, the priest was alive to guide him.  Once Jehoiada died, Joash fell into idolatry.  

God was not pleased.

Joash was blessed to have a godly priest encourage him in the ways of the Lord, but it seems apparent that Joash didn't have a personal relationship with the Lord or the death of Jehoiada wouldn't have resulted in Joash falling into idolatry.

As Christians today, we may have men who encourage us in our walk with the Lord, and that is a true blessing.  But, what if we don't have an earthly someone to encourage us?  

Will we fall away into idolatry just like Joash?

It is imperative that we place our trust in the Lord to guide us through this life.  We must build our own relationship with God.  Relationships built vicariously won't stand the tests of fire that inevitably will come as we live on this earth.  Merely attending weekly services won't empower us to walk through this life.

Personally, I have learned that even the most encouraging, godly man is still just a man and therefore falls short sometimes, just like me.  Even though that was a hard lesson to learn, it was a valuable lesson.

Please hear me.  I'm not saying to disregard the input of godly men/women in your life.  I am saying that we must learn to hear the Lord for ourselves, get our marching orders from Him.  Yes, listen for God's voice through men, but learn to hear His voice apart from man as well.

Trials come.  Temptations abound.  Heartache is as much a part of living as joy, but God's Spirit holds our hearts 24/7, something man is incapable of accomplishing.

Lord, build a relationship between You and me.  Allow me to hear You clearly and not fall away if man is unavailable or incapable of encouraging me in my walk with You.  Give me ears to hear and eyes to see.  All the days of my life, I give to  You.  Empower me.  In Jesus' name.  AMEN!

Monday, September 10, 2012

2 Kings 9-11: Homocidal Grandmother

2 Kings 11:1-3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

1 When Athaliah the mother of [King] Ahaziah [of Judah] saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal descendants.

2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, [half] sister of Ahaziah, stole Joash son of Ahaziah from among the king’s sons, who were to be slain, even him and his nurse, and hid them from Athaliah in an inner storeroom for beds; so he was not slain.

3 Joash was with his nurse hidden in the house of the Lord for six years. And Athaliah reigned over the land.

I cannot comprehend an evil so great that it would induce a grandmother to seek out and kill her grandchildren.  I think of the idiom, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Athaliah was power hungry, and it corrupted her absolutely.  She wanted to reign as queen no matter what the cost even if that cost was her son's children!

I think about people who are power hungry and wonder what about the root of this unhealthy desire.  These are my thoughts.

Fear seduces people into acting out evil.

Fear can sometimes cause people to act in ways that hurt others, ultimately injuring themselves in the process.  Athaliah lived during a time when the norm was for the reigning monarch to kill all those in line of succession.  

When Athaliah ordered the death of her progeny, could it be that she afraid for her own life?  Was she afraid that the next person to ascend the throne would have her murdered?

Although she did everything she could to protect herself, the thing she feared is the thing that eventually came upon her.

Job 3:25
Amplified Bible (AMP)

For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid befalls me.

2 Kings 11:15 & 16

Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of the Lord.” So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.

I have been writing this post for some time now, never seeming to be able to put my thoughts into writing.  Today, I feel it is imperative for myself and others to recognize the temptations of the spirit of fear.  

Fear desires to separate.  

Fear longs to cut off destinies.  

Fear seeks to muzzle into submission.  

Fear is a spirit we cannot tolerate.  It separates.  It muzzles.  It controls.  But it has no power where Peace reigns. 

Reign in us, Prince of Peace!  AMEN!!!