Monday, February 28, 2011

The Power of a Whisper

“'Go out and stand before me on the mountain,' the Lord told him.

And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. was not in the earthquake." 1 Kings 19:11-13 NLT

We serve such a powerful God don't we? With that in mind, we tend to think that that is all He is about, power, strength, "a bull in a china shop" concept. Oh, at times He can be, but He is also so much more. He has such power that at times--He needs to only whisper-- to be His most powerful.

He only has to whisper life into something, and it is alive. We yearn for love, He whispers into our hearts and we feel it. We cry for strength, He whispers it to us. We beg for wisdom and help, He whispers it to our minds. We humbly whisper our sins to Him and ask Him to come into our lives and He whispers into our spirit that He's already there and we're forgiven.

So, when there are times that you feel that you have to be this big "bully", that you have to go around and make a lot of noise so that people think that you are this big, strong whatever you want people to think that you are big and strong about--just remember--it's the still, quiet voice that has more strength than you can measure. That gentleness has a strength all of it's own.

So while there is a place for boldness and bravado, there is also a time for gentleness and whispering. Pray to God today for the wisdom to have both and to know when and how to best use it to further His Kingdom and to be a faithful servant to Him--to represent Him, your Father--in the best light possible.

"'What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!'" Matthew 10:27 NLT

"'Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" Matthew 11:29

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living in Exile

10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel,’
declares the LORD.
‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.
11 I am with you and will save you,’
declares the LORD." Jeremiah 30:10-11 NIV

Do you ever feel afraid? Isolated? It's easy to get to that place. God understands that.

God gave me these verses today to give to a friend that feels that she is living in exile. No, she's not in a foreign land, in fact, she and her family are living in one of the most beautiful places God has blessed the world with. But you see, to her, it is exile.

We all have our own experiences of exile. That is one of the amazing things that I get so blessed by whenever I read the Bible. That God, even in the Old Testament, can have a prophet, write down His words that meant something to the people of that time, and it can still mean something to you, to me--all these years and worlds away. Isn't that just mind-boggling awesome?!

God wanted my friend to have these verses, I think, for the purpose of giving her hope by letting her know that He has her where He needs her now, and--since she is being a faithful servant--He will bring her back to where she truly feels more involved. And the same hope goes for you during your exile--does this make sense?

Our God is an awesome God. He may take us out of our comfort zone, but He never leaves us alone. If we listen, truly listen, He will always leave us with words of comfort and wisdom. He will always protect us and keep us safe.

Are you experiencing your own exile? Your own feeling of isolation? Understand, it doesn't have to be a physical place, it could be emotional or spiritual. Your God wants to have you share those feelings with Him. He is there beside you, always.

“‘So you will be my people,
and I will be your God.’” Jeremiah 30:22 NIV

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Ultimate Love Story

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us, but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that." Ephesian 5:1-2 The Message

Did you know that every day with the Lord is Valentine's Day?! Yes, where we as humans may or may not show our love to the ones in our lives that we have been blessed with, God--every single day--shows His unconditional love to us, to you.

How? Just the fact that you woke up is a form of love from Him. The rainbows, the flowers, the sunrises, the sunsets--our list could go on. If you ever doubt His love, the best place to be reaffirmed is by these two places--1.) on your knees praying to Him--talking to Him, and 2.) by reading His Holy Bible. Did you ever look upon the Bible as an on going love story between you and your heavenly Father? Well it is. It is the greatest love story ever written. And it was written just for you.

We were up at Old Sacramento last Saturday and there was a t-shirt vendor on one of the streets. Of course there were a lot of secular t-shirts, funny t-shirts and then there was this one. I know that I have seen this saying before--not on a t-shirt--but it always gets a lump in my throat when I read it. This is what it said; One day I asked Jesus, "How much do you love me?" He opened His arms and said, "This much." and died on the cross.

What you and your Heavenly Father have is a true everlasting love. You don't have to earn it. You won't lose it if you make a mistake. Please remember that when you feel that no one loves you or if you are sad that you don't have a significant other on this day of "Love". Whether you have a earthly love or not, you will ALWAYS have a love that is greater than anything--your Heavenly Father's. It's the same yesterday, today and all the tomorrows.

"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us..." 1 John 3:16 NKJV

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 NLT

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Measuring Up

"As the Scriptures say,

“No one is righteous—
not even one...

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

He declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus."
Romans 3:10,21-25,26 NLT

I can't tell you how often I hear people say that they wonder if they deserve God's love, acceptance, and forgiveness. "Do I measure up?" I have asked this before. The answer is a simple; "yes" and "no."

On our own merits we never will measure up to the standard of righteousness that God requires. We spend a lot of time and energy doing all sorts of things to make us acceptable to God, and forget grace. This either leads to self-righteousness and false security, or a sense of failure and hopelessness. On our own we are without hope.

The good news is that Christ Jesus met God's standard for righteousness and paid the penalty for our sins. He made us right with God. When we believe the good news, repent of our sins, and confess Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive the grace of God. This grace brings us forgiveness and salvation. Strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

The challenge for many of us is that we trust in God's saving grace, but forget about His sustaining grace. We must constantly walk in the grace of God, avoiding self dependence and self condemnation.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 NIV

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Shoe Obession?

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT

I was getting breakfast ready yesterday and I overheard one of the "Today" show hosts announce that after the commercial, they were going to be talking to an expert that would explain why women have such an obsession with shoes. With shoes! That was the next hot topic.

I caught myself thinking, how sad. Have we, as a society come to this? Maybe I'm just different. Oh, I like a good pair of shoes, but ask anyone that knows me, I spend half my time barefooted. Shoes are not my thing.

But what has been my thing the past year or so, is this burning desire to be a woman that isn't so concern with her outward appearance, but with her inward appearance. I am being genuine here. I know what I look like on the outside. To be honest, I truly don't like to look at myself in the mirror. I have an imagine in my head of what I look like and then I catch myself in the mirror and I cringe.

But the Lord is showing me, slowly, that it's the inside that matters most to Him. (And I say slowly not because my God is slow in showing me, but I am slow in able to accept this idea.) To Him, it's your spirit that He looks at. It's the condition of your spirit that He wants you to work on.

Please don't get me wrong--we need to honor God with taking care of our full bodies--inside and out. But we are not all going to be a size 6, with no fat cells and a perfect face. We are what we are. We are God's child and even if--to the world--we are not what is considered "beautiful"--to Him, we are the most beautiful creature in the world.

Wouldn't it be lovely to have had them say that we come back from the commercial they would have an expert talk about why we as a society are obessed with the book of Proverbs, or with tithing or with serving in our spiritual gifts?

To me, the beauty of this verse is that it put into words what the Lord has been revealing in my spirit and even though it may seem that I am talking a lot about me this morning, I got a sense that I needed to share this verse with you. Because man or woman, we all have the same challenge to become the best that we should be, to our Father. We all need to be reminded of the true beauty and of what really matters in the long run. When we die, our spirit is the beautiful thing that is going to go up to our Father's home, not whatever our body happens to look like.

You are the top jewel in your Father's crown--shine with that fact and humbly accept His unconditional love and acceptance of you. All you need to do is be in constant prayer for His guidance, continually be in His word and surround yourself with other beautifully grounded Christians.

Has anyone told you lately that you are beautiful? Well, you are!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What a Deal!

"Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Philippians 2:12,13 NLT

The Good News is Great News. The fact that even though we were born into sin, God would lay down His life for us. He not only pronounced the sentence, He paid the penalty. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God wipes the slate clean and gives us eternal life. But, we still have to work out our salvation, not for it, but because of it.

Working out our salvation can be very difficult. Our sinful nature, our culture, life's hardships, and our enemy Satan, all fight against us. Sometimes it can seen overwhelming. But there is more good news. No, it's great news! God is working in you. He gives you the desire and the power to please Him and do His will.

Self dependence leaves us short. Dependence on God gives us success. I exchange my self reliance for God reliance, and get the victory. What a deal!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To Be or Not to Be?

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:4-5 NIV

Despite what the world says, we cannot ever earn God's love or forgiveness. You may have been told that in order to get that promotion, or to get a better spot on the baseball team, to make friends, to become popular in school--you need to "do" things. If you "do" enough, you can earn favor.

But you see, with your Heavenly Father, you don't need to do or earn. You just have to be. You need to be open to see that you even need to have a relationship with your Heavenly Father. You need to be open to admitting that you aren't perfect. You need to be OK with the fact, that even though you aren't perfect, God loves and yearns to have a relationship with you. You need to be able to ask for forgiveness and to truly accept His mercy, love & forgiveness.

His grace is enough. His mercy, forgiveness & love is what makes you perfect--don't you see that? Please don't let your pride, self-esteem, your preconceived notions--keep you from the love of a lifetime. He wants to bring you close and hug you with a love that is pure and perfect--it's there for the asking--will you ask?

"O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!" Psalm 25 1-2 NLT