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!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jeremiah 1-3: He Gifts Us to Minister to Him

Jeremiah 1:11-12

Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter].
12 Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.

These verses hold personal significance in my heart.  In the post, A Branch Shall Bear and Grow Fruit, I recounted a visual experience, which the Lord gifted me.  In that experience, He revealed my primary calling, to minister to Him.  

When the Lord Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and Earth calls us to minister to Him, He does not leave us empty-handed.  He gifts us with abilities to walk out our call.  

What does that look like? 

God has specifically promised several characteristics...

  • Empowerment of His Spirit
  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel
  • Might
  • Knowledge
  • Reverential and obedient fear of the Lord

Isaiah 11:2
Amplified Bible (AMP)

2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—

Interestingly enough, the characteristics He gives us looks like tools we would use to minister to others. Could it be that ministry to Abba, not only occurs as we sing and dance and pray and submit ourselves to Him, but ministry to God also occurs when we minister to others?

Writing a blog, posting on Facebook, speaking life to patients, serving my family...ALL of it is ministry to the Lord and ALL of it requires His gifts to flow through my being.

This life is about choosing to lay down selfishness and jealousy and the "I want" or "It's not fair" or "They hurt me" attitudes in order to pick up the awesome gifts the Lord has provided.  Our own heart wounds often are preceded by allowing our eyes to turn inward towards ourselves, rather then outward toward others. 

One of the coping skills I encourage my patients to try is to get their eyes off themselves and look for someone they can help.  Ministry to others, ultimately ministers to the Lord, which releases healing balm into the soul!

Father, we desire to serve You with ALL of our heart and soul and strength. Empower us to minister to You by ministering to others.  In the great and awesome name of Jesus, AMEN!