Monday, July 25, 2011

A New Friend

"I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope." Romans 15:13 CEV

Do you understand where hope comes from? Do you think its something that you can just make up on your own? Hope, true hope, cannot be conjured up by man's effort. No. It is God's gift to us by His Spirit.

And while we need hope, we are not saved by hope. We are saved by faith. But with salvation comes hope.

The cool thing about the trinity is this--that even though there are three distinct individuals, each with their own strengths and roles--they can also be squished into one--one AWESOME, complete God.

As hope sustains us in trials and tribulations, the Holy Spirit helps us when we pray. Have you ever have a relationship with someone that was so close that there was times that you didn't even need to actually speak words, yet you knew what the other was thinking? Well, that's how the relationship between the Holy Spirit and God our Father and Jesus the Son is. Their relationship is so close that their prayers to each other need not even to be spoken out loud. They just know.

Does the thought of the Holy Spirit scare you? It used to me. But now, I am slowly developing a whole new sense and appreciation of it. You see, The Holy Spirit is a part of God. It is one of the bridges between Him and us. Jesus was the other. And Jesus isn't scary so why should the Holy Spirit be?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Thorny Situation

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG

How many times have you've been there? Begging God to take away your "thorn?" When I as young, I read about Paul's thorn. Immediately an image of a sticker--like a foxtail getting stuck in your sock--sticking in his side would come to mind and I found myself cringing.

But lately, I'm getting to the realization that it's the little things that can become a thorn, not just the big things. It's not the big "sin", it's those little, every day irritates that can be just as much as a deterrent to your walk as anything. And it saddens me about me.

How many times do I let the little stuff steal my joy? How many times to I let Satan get my self-esteem by allowing little comments from others to make me insecure? How many times to I let my judgements of people keep the ones that need to feel God's love the most, at arms length? Too many.

If I believe, truly believe that Jesus died for ALL of us, then I need to accept ALL. If I believe, truly believe that my God has my best interests at heart--then I need to release the thorns. For you see, a thorn released is a situation to rejoice in. For each time I release a thorn, I grow a little more into what I desire with my whole being to be--made in the image of Him who formed me.

What about you? Have you come face to face with your thorns? And when you have, what will you do with them? It's the attitude that makes it a thorn or a blessing. Bring your thorns to your Father. As it states above;

"My grace is enough, it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own with your weakness."

He will be more than glad to help you make them vanish forever. You will not be judged. You will not be belittled. You will not be turned away. You just need to trust Him. Do you? Paul did.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Power of a Wing

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,
because I come to you for safety.
In the shadow of your wings I find protection
until the raging storms are over."
Psalm 57:1 GN

This morning I was out early watering my vegetable garden. I heard this piercing cry in the sky. I looked up and tried to find the source of the sound. All of a sudden there it was--this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk.

I just stood there, enjoying the sense of freedom and beauty that this hawk was experiencing. You could just tell by the way it was gliding with the breeze that it was at peace and experiencing pure joy. It would tilt it's wings a little to the left, its body would glide left. Tilt it to the right, it would glide right. It's shadow was dancing across the ground. It was a total God moment for me. From deep in my soul, I heard, "What an AWESOME God I have!"

This verse reminds me of that experience. He's like that Red-tailed Hawk--soaring over us, keeping His eye sharp, looking for anything that may come and harm us. When He sees something--swoosh!!! Down He goes and gathers us into His strong wings with the soft under feathers. We are so blessed!

Take today and thank Him for all He is, and for all He does. Can you imagine life without Him?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do I Need a Bath!

"'I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You'll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!'" Ezekiel 36:25-28(MSG)

Here's a question--when you sin, do you feel dirty? Do you wish you could just wash the bad away? That if you wash hard enough, if you use enough soap, that you will be finally clean?

I remember when I was young and I would lie. When my mother would catch me in it, (which was every time because I was not a smart liar), I would have to have my mouth washed out with soap. It was horrible! To this day, I can't really stand to use a bar of Ivory soap without thinking of my past sin.

You see, my mother was trying to keep me from enjoying my sin. She was trying to keep me clean, so she made the aftermath of it distasteful--and boy it did! And so that is what the Lord was saying to the Israelites--to us. That He is there to wash us clean. He wants to bring us home to Him, wash off all the sin and dirt that we have committed and gathered along life's path and wash it completely away.

Why? Because if He kept it there, if He ignored it, He couldn't stand being next to us. Our sin would start stinking so much that no amount of Fabreeze would be able to make Him bear to be close to us.

Sometimes He may be able to do it gently, caressing the past away with soft, little strokes, warm soapy water and a scrunchy. Other times He may have to use a firmer technique--like a Brillo pad--to make sure that the sin doesn't ever come back.

For you see, God is free to judge and He is equally free to be gracious. His stern judgements on us ultimately reflects His grace. Sometimes He allows us to get really dirty, so dirty that we are just overwhelmed by it--so that He can give us a renewed life, a changed heart and spirit. Then His presence in us will be seen clearly as a blessed gift.

God is the ultimate Father. And He loves us enough not to let us stay in our own filth. It may hurt us when He has to help us deal with it--but you know what? I feel blessed to know that He does love me that much. How about you?

Do you need a bath? Go to your Heavenly Father. He has the water running.

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Nation, Under God

"9 But you are (A)A CHOSEN RACE, A royal (B)PRIESTHOOD, A (C)HOLY NATION, (D)A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you (E)out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 (F)for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY." 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASV

Last night I was watching the fireworks at the fairgrounds. Our oldest son was in the color guard with his boyscout troop. We said "The Pledge of Allegiance" and a young gal sang, God Bless America, and then with all the brilliance of fireworks and the patriotic songs playing in the background, I was struck with the thought that we are so blessed and felt lead to praise my God for the gift of our country. Then, when I got home, I was feeding our dogs and looked up at the night sky, and boy, the stars were out! My spirit spoke to me. The man made fireworks were beautiful, but even in all it's brilliance, it could not even begin to compare to the infinite beauty that the Lord's night sky held every night. And I felt Him wash over me. I praise Him!

Today is our nation's birthday and I think we should celebrate. Celebrate that God created this great land for all of us. Rich, poor, middle class; man, woman, child; white, black, yellow, brown, olive, red; old, young, middle aged or newborns--it truly doesn't matter--at least to God. He created this land for All of us. For us to live in a free world that we can serve Him and worship Him anyway we choose. Think of all the beauty and opportunities we have over other nations! The grand parks, the beauty of the seasons, the animal life; the grand bodies of water; the sunrises and the sunsets--the blessings are too numerous to list--but do you get the picture?

Sometimes if all you remember is what you hear on the television or on the radio, or read in the papers or magazines--you could be very depressed. And yes, there are many things that are not right with the world--but is that God's fault? No. Don't we have the gift of freewill? Yup, we do. Have we used it wisely? No, not always.

We can't fix the world all at once. But you know what? If each of us took a part and opened our Bibles, read and prayed for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our town, our county, our state, our nation and then our world--we could. It starts with us. We need to take back our role as Christians.

Our founding fathers fought for this land so that they could worship their God, not the King of England. They created the laws of the land on the Holy Bible. So, as they use to say, "we do have good bones" or in other words, our foundation was built on solid ground. We, as a nation, have gotten lazy and surly.

So, what do you say? Let's say the Pledge of Allegiance today, but let's say it as a prayer, and not a song. And let's pray as we say the verses so that they become real to to us.

I pledge allegiance
To the flag
Of the United States of America,
And to the republic,
For which it stands,
One nation,
Under God,
With liberty
And justice for all.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of my country. Amen

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A New Name

"He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: 'Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?'

He said, 'Who are you, Master?'

'I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next.'"
Acts 9:3-6 (The Message)

Saul, who we now know as Paul, was as bad as they get. For some reason, he just hated the Christians and in that hate, did many horrible things.

I don't know about you, but if I was God, I wouldn't have wasted the time of day on Saul. I would be so angry, so hurt--that I would have turned my back on him. Thankfully, God isn't like me.

There are two things caught my attention in this passage. Did you catch them? Look closely. The first thing is this, where Saul asks, "Who are you, Master?" In other translations, it says, "Lord". Whether "Master" or "Lord", it doesn't change the fact that Saul knew that he was with God. He knew the signs--a voice from heaven, bright shining lights--he knew. He knew he was in the presence of the very God of the Christians he was making a career out of prosecuting.

Does that tell you something? Does it show you that even when we are at our worst, we know Him. Our spirits just know. It's liken to how flowers know how to bloom, birds know how to nest--it's just an instinct that is planted deep within all of us.

It also tells us another thing--God will come to us. Good or bad--if we are meant to be His--and we all have the chance and choice--He will call to us.

The second attention getter was the last line--where Jesus tells Saul who He was, acknowledging to Saul that He knew what Saul was doing, and even with that knowledge, He, Jesus, had a mission for him once he got to the city.

Wow! Did you catch the main 'wow' behind the act of Jesus? Here was the man that was prosecuting His church, going to Damascus to get papers to be able to persecute more of His church, and Jesus, stops him in the middle of the road, comes to him personally, speaks and tells him that he, Saul, is to go to the town and not do what he was intending to do, but to wait for more of Jesus' instructions. Jesus was going to talk to him again! And what did Saul do? Go the other way? Say No? No. Saul went!

Granted, in the process of all of this, Jesus does blind Saul and in three days, sends a disciple named Ananias to Saul to fulfill a vision that Jesus had given Saul, when Saul was praying--praying! And so it was done, Ananias went and did as Jesus asked and the scales fell from Saul's eyes.

We could go so much deeper, but what I feel that I am supppose to share with those of you who feel that you are so bad, that you feel there's no hope for you. There's hope. That if you feel that whatever you have done in your past or maybe are even still doing now, God can't and wouldn't want to have you in His family. There's room. That there is no use for you--ahh, but there is.

If Jesus can use Saul, with all of his bad behavior and past, to further His kingdom--what more can He use you? You were born to be His. Just like Saul. But what you do with it is your choice. If you can just turn and come to your Father, asking for forgiveness, asking to be brought back into His heavenly Family--He would have you there so fast your head would spin. It is US that keeps us away from Him--don't you see?

So come. Come and let Jesus give you a new name--if Saul can become Paul--won't it be exciting what name Jesus will give you?