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Showing posts from August, 2010

Blacklisted - NOT!

1   God , who gets invited to dinner at your place?    How do we get on your guest list?     2   "Walk straight,   act right,   tell the truth.     3-4   "Don't hurt your friend,   don't blame your neighbor;   despise the despicable.     5   "Keep your word even when it costs you,  make an honest living,   never take a bribe.   "You'll never get b lacklisted  if you live like this."  (Psalm 15) David is an amazing guy - totally open with God in his communication of things he wants to really understand well.  As he takes pen to paper to record what God has showed him about always being welcomed into the presence of a holy God, I find it amazing how "free" he is in his communication with God.  He doesn't have a lot of preconceived pretense in his "discussions" with God - he is conversant with God in a casual, relaxed manner - allowing God to reveal things to him as he would see fit. David asks a question that had probably

It so happened....NOT!

17 It so happened that after Pharaoh released the people, God didn't lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, "If the people encounter war, they'll change their minds and go back to Egypt." 18 So God led the people on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea. The Israelites left Egypt in military formation.  (Ex. 13:17-18) Should it amaze anyone that God knows exactly what we can handle?  Yet, it does!  Moses and the people if Israel are being led out of captivity to a wicked Pharoah in Egypt.  They are enjoying the leading of their Mighty God - going before them, preparing each step along the way.  We pick them up on the other side of the land of Pharoah's rule, beginning a journey of a lifetime.  That is what our walk with God is - a journey of a lifetime. It so happened...not by accident, but exactly by God's purposes.  We often attribute things to fate that we rightly should be

Me, God?

1 God said to Moses, "Now you'll see what I'll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he'll send them out free; with a strong hand he'll drive them out of his land." (Ex. 6:1) You cannot resist the powerful hand of God on your life.  It is impossible to escape his plans.  Even the hardest of hearts can be tamed and softened under his mighty hand and by his awesome plans.  Moses was coming to realize that the God he served was the "El Shaddai" - the Lord Almighty.  Not just "one" of the gods of the land, but the mighty God of all - creator of all that exists.  When you begin to come to a revelation of the one true God in your life, there is no denying his power or his ability.  God never forgetshis covenant with his people - there is a deep sense of his peace that should accompany that revelation in our lives.  Even slavery is not a thing God will leave us in for long - because he is a God of deliverance - he delights in bringing freedom from

Leadership Essentials

10  A good leader motivates,    doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit.  (Proverbs 16:10) This proverb contains a wealth of advice for those who are fulfilling some role as a leader.  Now, before you stop reading, think about this - you are a leader in some capacity in your life.  You may not be the "boss" at work, or the "pastor" of the local church, but you do lead by the example you set, the vision you create, etc.  So, let's look at what the writer has to say about some characteristics of leadership that will make us better "leaders" in the world where we have influence. The first aspect of leadership brought into focus is the ability to motivate others.  When we imply that someone is able to 'motivate' others, we are indicating that that individual possesses the traits that bring out the desired actions in those they are leading without coercing them and in a non-threatening manner.  There is an ability to provide some kind of incenti
2  Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;     God  probes for what is good.  (Proverbs 16:2) I find it amusing just how often we humans "settle" for the first thing that comes along - something or someone appears to be whatever we think will fulfill our immediate need or emptiness of spirit.  God's hope is that we will learn to be a little more discriminating in our choices.  His desire is that we would come to use the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit to move us toward what truly matters and away from what only holds value for the immediate moment. Look closer at what our writer says:  We settle - God probes.  God searches deep into a matter, investigating all the possibilities prior to taking action.  Look at how many examples we are given in scripture of God's examining hearts, looking deep for ones who are committed to following hip.  He could "settle" for a run-of-the-mill half-hearted belief, but he probes deeper to find the commitment

Ego-centric or God-centric

  32  An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;    an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.  (Proverbs 15:32) A disciplined life is characterized by self-control, orderly and prescribed conduct and exercise in things that produce solid moral character.  Most of us would associate ourselves with some other 'title' than 'disciplined'.  If we have mastered the art of living disciplined lives, it is usually in some area such as our finances, health, exercise, etc.  The type of discipline that is required to produce a 'spacious life' encompasses these types of 'disciplined living' and much more. The self-willed man is one who directs attention to his own needs without considering the outcome as it relates to his overall character.  In other words, if it feels good, gets me what I think I want, or makes me feel better about the situation, I direct my attention toward those things.  The will is that which we exercise that reveals choice, appetite and pass

Crazy Cracked Pots - Part III

The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. (Galations 3:11-12) Embracing requires that we take something up readily or gladly. Embracing is an active process – it is more than dispassionate rule-keeping. It is a process of participating in what God has arranged for us – not trying to do it our own way all the time. Paul sees it as an arranged life. It is not what we arrange – it is what we have presented before us by an all-knowing God and our willingness to participate in it. Participating without having to know all the details before we begin down the path – simply trusting in the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. (Galations 3:11-12) Paul is using the covenant name of God – Elohim. He is describin

Crazy Cracked Pots - Part II

Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? (Galations 3:5-6) Paul knows for sure that God lavishly provides for his children. He is not a selfish, scrimpy provider – his provision is not “measured out” in limited, small, or short quantities. His provision is full, complete, and capable of meeting every present need, not to mention every future need. Paul knew in his own life that provision comes by trusting, not by striving. God’s method of provision is exactly opposite of the world’s. The world would tell us that if we want something, we have to pull out all the stops to pursue it, even at the sacrifice of other things that require our attention. God’s method is to ask us to submit to his leading and see what he will do – plain and simple. As we obediently lay down our wil

Crazy Cracked Pots - Part I

Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. (Galations 3:1) Clear focus is a challenge for even the most dedicated believer. Paul is calling the Galation church to evaluate their focus because he sees that they no longer have Jesus set before them clear enough to remain on track. They have allowed something else to fill the center of their focus that only Christ should be filling. Focus is the position in which something must be placed in order for clarity of perception to occur. If we change that position even minutely, the clarity of our perception is directly impacted. Spiritual focus is impacted by: Changing the distance at which we hold Christ in our daily lives - we distance him anytime we neglect daily times of praise, prayer or worship. A simple change of distance, although quite small in our minds, makes a huge difference in the clarity of our purpose and direction in our daily walk. It allow

Take and listen

21  We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,    but  God 's purpose prevails.  (Proverbs 19:21) How silly it is to think we have the solutions to the things we face on a daily basis, all tucked away in our arsenal of thinking and reasoning.  It is a pretty common fact that many of us spend more time focusing on the potential solution to a problem than we do in seeking God for direction.   At best, we may have a couple of ideas, options that we consider viable solutions to the problem, but our insight into the true nature of the problem is limited by our knowledge, position, experience, and influence.  When we 'opt' for a solution, we are choosing to take a path that we see as only one alternative - we choose it as what we believe to be the "best" alternative. Options are the various 'scenarios' of the solution - the 'what if'.  A plan is a method for achieving a particular end.  It is perhaps more deeply thought out than an option.  A pl

No longer frittering away life

6  The lives of God-loyal people flourish;    a misspent life is soon bankrupt.  9  A life frittered away disgusts  God ;    he loves those who run straight for the finish line. (Proverbs 15:6, 9) Three concepts are presented in our passage today:  1)  God-loyal people find themselves flourishing; 2)  A life frittered away is not pleasing to God; and 3)  God's kids will do well to run toward the finish line without veering off-course.   God-loyal people thrive because they are 'planted' well - they are in a place of balance that affords them the ability to withstand rough times when they come.  A tree that is planted well can flourish because it has all that it needs in its planting that will both sustain life and encourage growth.  As a result, the tree is able to be in a state of constant production.  God-loyal people are in a state of constant production, as well.  Their lives are filled with meaningful activities, not just the pursuit of active movement.  They are a

Patient persistence - gentle words

15   Patient persistence pierces through indifference;      gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses. (Proverbs 25:15) Patient persistence - almost an oxymoron for American society - takes on very different meanings for each of us.  Persistence is the ability to continue in the face of opposition in a way that shows your commitment to whatever you are involved in.  Considering the attitude of society toward most ventures, including relationships, I think we have lost the "art of persistence" in our culture today. Within relationship, both the character trait of patience and that of persistence play a very important part.  When we are both patient and persistent, we display an attitude that elevates the value of the other person.  It is this very characteristic of relating that makes the other person keenly aware of the investment we are making within that relationship. The perception of our "investment" in the relationship is one of the key factors cited in divor

Crops first - then the barn

27  First plant your fields;    then build your barn. (Proverbs 24:27) Okay...seems simple enough, doesn't it?  But how many times do we get caught up in just the opposite?  We start "counting our chickens" even before the eggs hatch!  What amazes me about our heavenly Father is that he has an ORDER to all he does! Even nature has an order about it that was perfectly thought out when he created the world in which we live, the universe surrounding us, and all that we have come to take so much for granted.  Without that "order" being maintained, the world in which we live would be absolute chaos!  Think of a world without the wind to circulate the seeds, gentle rains to moisten the soil, and exactly the right balance of sun and shade to allow the gentle shoots of life to spring forth!   As often as we have probably heard the old adage of "putting the cart before the horse", I wonder if we have ever used it as a means of evaluating what we are doing,

Nothing clever here

2  We justify our actions by appearances;    God examines our motives. (Pr. 21:2) We spend a lot of time working to show ourselves as good, or as justified in what we do.  We want to be free from blame or guilt that might be associated with our actions and our thoughts.  The problem with us justifying, or declaring a person's actions as "right" is that we do it by nothing more than what we see on the outside.  We evaluate the activities of man, thinking we know the motives based on the actions that we see revealed.   The problem with this type of a judgment on our part is that actions do not always align with motives.  God looks closely at the motives of our heart.  Our motives are those inner drives, or impulses, that lead to all action on our part.  God knows the specific reason for our actions - man does not.  So, the lesson for us:  Don't rely on appearances!  We may find ourselves in a position of mis-judging someone and then be guilty of forming very incorrec

I call nobodies!

 I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;         I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.      In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"         they're calling you "God's living children." (Rom. 9:25-26) Paul is quoting from the book of Hosea as he recounts God's miracle in making a wayward people his own.  If you were to read this entire chapter, you'd catch the idea that God's promises and purposes of salvation take priority over any genetics or family origin.  The Book of Romans is clear about one thing - salvation is not a thing of the flesh, but of the spirit. God's plan is not a hit or miss thing - it is not dependent on what we do or don't do.  In fact, it is a sure (certain) thing determined by his decision.  Adoption is God's choice and a settled thing.  God calls nobodies.  He calls the unloved and he calls them by name.   It is as we embrace God that he embraces us - in the embrace, he go

Secret Gardens and Open Highways

7-9   The revelation of   God   is whole   and pulls our lives together.   The signposts of   God   are clear   and point out the right road.   The life-maps of   God   are right,  showing the way to joy.    The directions of   God   are plain   and easy on the eyes.      God 's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,   with a lifetime guarantee.   The decisions of   God   are accurate  down to the nth degree.  (Psalm 19:7-9) There are times in our lives when we just don't feel like God is getting through to us or we are getting through to him.  Some of us may even feel that the attempts we make to draw closer through his Word are so unrewarding that we have grown weary in trying.  As we examine this passage from the Psalms this morning, I want you to catch what our Psalmist is saying:  The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes! I often think that we make God's Word harder to understand than it really needs to be.  We buy the translation that another believer