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Showing posts from April, 2011

Point of no return

I'll run the course you lay out for me
      if you'll just show me how. I long to obey your commandments!
      Renew my life with your goodness. (Psalm 119:32, 40)
Renewal or revival is really a process of bringing something back to life again - it has been withered under the weight of time, pressures of experience, or dismay of disappointment.  With revival comes a "re-infusion" of freshness and the possibilities of something new coming forth.  I have been guilty of neglecting my houseplants for a period of time, only to realize it once I see the leaves limply hanging in protest to my neglect!  In the only way they know how to communicate with me, they are drawing attention to show me their need - for that which will bring them revival - water!  God expects us to be as transparent with him - calling out to him with our need for revival.
Revival involves us sharing our plans with God and allowing him access to the things we think we have "lined up" as the nex…

Learning to reflect

How can a young person stay pure?
      By obeying your word. (Psalm 119:9)
When we are seeking answers, God is the one who keeps watch over what we are searching for - he guides us to the answers.  Our passage today may be familiar to some, yet new to others.  The neat thing about God's word is that no matter how many times you read it, you can find new encouragement for today.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we really don't know how to keep our lives on track 100% of the time - we have a tendency to "drift" into stuff that is convenient, easiest, etc.  These things that are most convenient are seldom the best for us - what comes too easily is often something that will have the least benefit for our lives.
That is exactly why some struggle with the study of God's word - it is not always easy to find the meaning in the message!  It seems "veiled" or kind of difficult to  fully grasp.  Yet, David writes that a person desiring to have a…

Joy in the following

1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.
5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!
6 Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
7 As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
8 I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1-8)
A man or woman of integrity follows hard after the commands of God - searches with all their heart and obeys with a willing submission.  To follow implies that we look toward a leader.  One who follows has the vantage point of seeing the one who has set the course before them.  The follower falls into step with the leader and anticipates every movement of that leader.  For this reason, it is important to have the correct leader before…

As common as the person beside you

13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Temptation is not a word commonly used in our communications today.  We might say we are tempted to eat something we should not, or to make a purchase that is probably not the wisest.  Temptation is really to be lured into something.  It might begin with a little bit of what we call "fascination" with something we really should not indulge in, but then it becomes something that we have a great deal of resisting.  Why is it that the simplest "fascination" can have such a big "pull" on us?  Simply put, it is because we don't learn to manage the invitation.
I get tons of advertisement each week in the mail.  In fact, if it was not for the advertisement, I think my mailman wo…

I am a character! (cont)

So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
   Mind you, don't despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
   the same hand that hurts you, heals you.
From one disaster after another he delivers you;
   no matter what the calamity, the evil can't touch you... (Job 5:17-19)
Sometimes I think we hope that God will be swayed, that he will change his mind, about the need for discipline in our lives.  He is not swayed by our resistance to change.  Obviously, the response he expects is submission - that we will yield to the discipline and then grow strong in our walk.  In reality, most of us simply don't embrace discipline with open arms - we revert back to the argumentative state of the "why me" mentality.
It is one thing to see God "lop off" some branch in our life that really wasn't bearing any fruit, or was like a "sucker" on a tree, taking valuable time and energy from us that would have …

I am a character!

Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
   so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. (Job 5:17)
Character is the ultimate goal of God's "formative" work within us.  All that gives us our "make up" and distinguishes us from the next person is what God is at work doing within us in our daily walk.  Character is sometimes described at the sum of our mental and ethical traits - that which we think and that which we come believe as our basis for our choices.  At other times, we sometimes refer to character as our reputation - that which we see as moral excellence, or the lack thereof.
It is sometimes kind of hard to "persevere" in the times of discipline.  We want to throw in the towel because the "going gets tough".  Character is what we are - what we are made of. Perseverance is what we do with the character we have allowed to be formed within us.  When our character has built upon Christ, we will have the power to endure even in the midst o…

I am God!

Be still, and know that I am God... (Psalm 46:10)
Those three words, "I am God", carry so much meaning.  In those words, God declares that he is our refuge, strength, conqueror, and redeemer.  This is an expression of his love, his might, and his grace.
As our refuge, he is our shelter, or our place of escape.  There are always going to be times when we just need a "safe" place of repose and renewal.  When under attack, we have hopes for a place of covering - that is what God is for us.  When we are without resources of our own, we hope to find a place that will provide what it is that we need - that is the place God prepares for us.
As our strength, he is all that we need in order to endure.  In his wings, we find the provision to endure.  He is the one who gives us the ability to resist the forces that are against us.  As our strength, he is also the one who gives us both our potency and our intensity for life.
As our conqueror, he is the one who removes obstacles tha…

The best meal ever

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." (Matthew 5:6)
There are various types of hunger and desire.  We have "appetites" for different things at different times in our day.  We don't necessarily want a bag of M&Ms for breakfast, but by our two-o'clock slump we might fancy them.  There are times we eat just because the clock says it is time to eat, or the opportunity is before us.  There are other times when we work so intently, caught up in the task at hand, only breaking to find nourishment when we finally realize an intense sense of hunger and fatigue in our bodies.
APPETITE:  An inherent craving.  A preference.  A taste for something.  That which we strive after.
HUNGER:  A craving, or urgent need, for that which satisfies.  A longing.
THIRST:  An ardent desire.  To crave urgently.
CRAVING:  Something that you earnestly desire.  That which you yearn for.  A stron…

The trumpet call

1-3God spoke to Moses: "Make two bugles of hammered silver. Use them to call the congregation together and give marching orders to the camps. When you blow them, the whole community will meet you at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting..." (Numbers 10:1-3)
The instructions to Moses were to make two bugles (or horns) of hammered silver.  These were to be used to communicate with God's people that it was either a time for worship, warfare, or to move on to their next place of occupation.  Whenever the horns were sounded, Israel was to hear clearly the instruction God was giving.  Depending on the sounding of the horns, the people would be "clued into" God's will for their lives at that moment.
Today, we don't have such a "clear" example of "hearing" God's will for our lives, but the three "calls" of the horns still apply to us.  The first "sounding" of the horn was a call to worship - a call to assemble together as …

The power of a memory

7For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... (Proverbs 23:7)
There are all kinds of things that "vie" for attention in our mind.  The "loudest" voice is often the one heard the best.  Just as much as there are things that demand our attention in our thought life, our emotions are constantly being "played" by the events of our days.  Depending on what it is that is running through our thoughts at the moment, the emotions can be manageable or completely out of control.  Therefore, learning to "manage" our minds goes a significantly long way in learning to live with an emotional "balance" in our lives.
Our mind really has two "sides" to it: the conscious and the unconscious.  The conscious side of our mind is pretty evident to us - when we are actively thinking on something, it is easy to see that our actions follow that thought pattern.  The unconscious side of our mind is not as easy to see, so we often don't equate our pres…

The search is on

The one who seeks good finds delight... (Proverbs 11:27)
I read a book once called "The Search for Significance".  The basis of the book was in finding out what it is that we really have "need" of in our lives.  We have lots and lots of "wants" that we often confuse as "needs" in our life.  Sometimes it may be something like desiring a better job instead of being grateful for the one we have.  The desire is a "want", while the actual job we have meets the "need".
The title of the book grabbed my attention.  I guess that is what the author intended - because we often are drawn to a book by its title or cover.  This morning, I'd like to focus on two words from that title:  Search and Significance.
Search basically has three definitions: To look into or over carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something.  The idea is this "thoroughness" of examination that we put something (or someone) through befor…

The true you

3-4You didn't think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he's such a nice God, he'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change. (Romans 2:3-4)
An amazing truth about God is how immensely patient he is with his children.  He gives us space - to make our own choices.  He gives us time - to come to our own conclusions.  He gives us these things because he knows that in order to have our heart, he must have it yielded willingly.  God is infinitely patient in his waiting for us to turn from our sin - but he will not wait forever.  Sometimes, he gives us gentle nudges to cause us to see our sin.  When he does, remember that it is out of his immense love for us that he has done so.
We often want to take t…

Right standing

16-17It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives." (Romans 1:16-17)
Paul starts his letter to the Romans with the idea of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead.  Why does he start there?  Simply to start at a place of "proof" - proof of the authority of Christ as the Son of God.  He was emphasizing that this one that the Jews had come to know as the Son of Man was more - he was the one and only begotten Son of God.  
Paul also emphasizes the calling, or mission, we each have in Christ.  It is simply the privilege to proclaim the truth about Christ.  We do this "proclamation" from a position of authority - because of the resurrecti…

Inflow determines outflow

14-15"Listen now, all of you— take this to heart. It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it's what you vomit—that's the real pollution."   20-23"It's what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution." (Mark 7:14-15; 20-23)
With today's incessant emphasis on diets, new and improved probiotic-infused foods, and custom-designed daily vitamins, it is a wonder that we know what matters anymore.  So many times we focus more on what "goes into" the body and completely miss the importance of what it is that "comes out" of that same man or woman in the form of action, attitude, and exemplified values.  Jesus is speaking to that very thing in this passage.  He and his disciples have just been criticized for not "wash…

Who's playing you?

8-9"Don't think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment...  12-13Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits. (Mark 6:8-9; 12-13)
The disciples are being sent out in pairs to begin to reach out to those in need.  Their goal is to preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand and to heal the sick - setting the captive free.  Before they go, Jesus takes a moment to give them their "marching orders".  The first thing he focuses on is the human tendency to tell God we don't have what we need to accomplish what it is that he is asking us to do.  Jesus tells them not to be concerned about the "equipment" to perform the tasks ahead - letting them know in no uncertain terms that THEY are the equipment God needs and plans to use.
This is an important message for u…