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Forever

I've heard many times before the song "Forever" by Chris Tomlin. I've joyfully sang the upbeat tune, knowing the depth of God's faithfulness to me. But as I sit here typing and remembering my recent journey through Jeremiah's writings, I can almost feel the depth of His love, that no matter what I do or where I am, He will be here with me. (Lam 3:23)

OUR THANKS

Give thanks to the Lord
Our God and King
His love endures forever

I am so thankful that I began my walk with the Lord before I had any real problems. Sure, I became a Christian when I was 13, but really didn't start walking with Him until ten years later. Sometimes I think we take for granted how faithful God's love is to us. I know I have before.

OUR FAITH

Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us
Forever and ever


I know that God is forever faithful, forever strong and forever with me, but how strong is my faith? Do I have the faith that God can move my "mountain"? Most of the time, I think I have that kind of faith, but sometimes I admit I have my doubts. That is why God tells us in His word to put on that "whole armor of God" in Ephesians 6:10-17. We cannot forget our "armor" each day, "above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." (Eph 6:16 NKJV).

"Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Eph 6:10 NKJV)


Lost and Found

As a child, I grew up learning the concept of "fairness". My parents made sure that my brother and I always got equal treatment at Christmas, birthdays, etc. and we were always encouraged to watch out for people that would take advantage of our generosity (giving of our time, etc.).
Consequently, in reading Luke 15 and the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son, I can't help but have "flashbacks". I am amazed at the concern Jesus has for the "lost" in each of these stories. Wouldn't it be cool to have that kind of compassion?

My favorite is the parable of the lost son - no, not because of my brother :) , he's always been a good guy - because of the wonderful picture of grace to the repentant sinner who humbly comes back to God (Luke 15:11-31). Think of how much inner strength it took for the father in this story to forgive his son for squandering all of his inheritance on worldly pleasures and welcome him back with open arms. How often do we see this sort of compassion and forgiveness displayed in our world today?


Deliverance!

No, I'm not talking about that old movie, nor the fact that I finished Jeremiah yesterday and Lamentations today, but the fact that only God can restore our souls to peace and joy.

Reading through Lamentations this morning and through Jeremiah this past month has really made me think about God's grace to both me personally and to people in general, believers and non-believers alike. After all of the "destruction" in our lives, whatever the cause, God is there each morning with His unfailing compassion, mercy and faithfulness (Lam 3:23).

God alone can restore our strength if we only would focus on Him instead of ourselves and our lots in life. "Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old" (Lam 5:21). I pray that more people would realize the power they have through God for restoration in their lives and that they would tap into it. Just think how many lives could be changed if more people really internalized this concept and sang a "new song" of praise to God.

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me , and
heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry
clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our
God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.


Promises, Promises

Finally I have completed my journey through Jeremiah. It definitely has been more enjoyable this time through it since I've been taking a few others with me with this blog.

Today, I read through two whole chapters (50-51) focused entirely on describing God's judgment against Babylon. I find it interesting how at one point in history God had used Babylon to punish the people of Judah/Jerusalem only to destroy Babylon later because of their idol worship and pride (don't worry, I'm not focusing on pride this time!).

Isn't it great how God always keeps His promises? Back in Jeremiah 25:11, it is prophesied that Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem would serve Babylon for 70 years. However, after that 70 years, Babylon would be punished (Jer 25:12). The God I serve will never forget about me, even if He has to correct me from time to time. (Jer 51:5).

Wouldn't it be cool if God would give us timelines (I'm thinking of months here, not 70-year timeframes) of when our lives would change just like He gave to Jeremiah? But I guess then that would affect our learning of patience and we would be proud that we knew His plans! :) God sure knows how to work us, doesn't He?


Oh Lord, Its Hard to Be Humble

...but are we really doing the best that we can? I remember that old song by Mac Davis entitled "Its Hard to Be Humble". I believe that if the Moabites could have known that song, they would have been singing it in Jeremiah 47-49. I'm sure God gave them a new tune later after His judgment upon them was fulfilled.

Pride. The bane of human existence. We know that God hates it because he says it numerous times in his Word. From Jeremiah 49:16, God says:

Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord.


How high is your nest? I'll end with this. Pride can also be one of the most subtle sins to those who are prideful. I'm not sure that we even recognize it in ourselves most of the time. Consider this quote from chapter 7 of Andrew Murray's "Humility":

Let all teachers of holiness, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, and all seekers after holiness, whether in the closet or the convention, take warning. There is no pride so dangerous-because there is none so subtle and insidious-as the pride of holiness. It's not that a person actually says, or even thinks, "Keep to yourself. I am holier than you." No, indeed, the thought would be regarded with abhorrence. Unconsciously, however, there grows up a hidden habit of soul that feels self-satisfied with what its attained, and which cannot help seeing itself as beingfar in advance of others.

Believer, let us beware! Unless in each advance in what we think is holiness, we make the increase of humility our study, we may find that we've been delighting in beautiful thoughts and feelings, in solemn acts of consecration and faith, while the only sure mark of the presence of God, the disappearance of self, was all the time lacking.


Lip Service

Does anyone out there like it when someone says they will change or will do something, but in their hearts they really had no intention of doing what they said they would do? I doubt it. Surprise! God doesn't like it either.

In Jeremiah 42:1-3 the people pleaded with Jeremiah to pray to God for them and then to tell them what they should do so that they could obey God's Word. Can you guess what happened? Jeremiah spoke against what they had already made up their minds to do (they wanted to go to Egypt) and consequently, the "proud men" called Jeremiah a liar (Jer 43:1-3). Then, God threatens them again in the next chapter. Same story, different day.

Why were the people in Jeremiah's day so stubborn? I think that we all know the answer to that question. At least I know I do ... and the answer is "pride". For some reason, we ask God for help after we have already made up our minds what we are going to do. In our prayers we pray for God's will, say we will do it, and then when the time comes for action on our part we "conveniently" forget that we said we would accept God's plan.

Is anyone else ready for me to stop reading out of Jeremiah and the prophets? I'm ready for the New Testament! :) Until next time...


Not to Us

Week 2 of my song reflections. It has actually been pretty cool the past week to really meditate on and put verses to the words of the songs we sing. I haven't done this since I was in the choir! Today, the song that really stood out to me was "Not To Us" by Chris Tomlin. The first few times I heard the song, I wasn't too crazy about it, but like always for me, once I really examined the words, it became my prayer. Now I actually like it!


Our hearts unfold before Your throne
The only place for those who know
Its not for us
Its all for you.

How often do we humbly go to the throne of God to worship Him by telling Him how glorious and worthy of praise He is? If we are going to sing this song as a prayer to God and really mean it, we need to understand that for us, the most blessed place we can be is to be at our Master's feet. I doubt that any of us go to His feet often enough.

Not to us
But to Your name be the glory

Worshipping God requires that we understand who He is. Since God is the only One capable of creating anything from nothing, He alone is worthy of glory. Revelation 4:11 says "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created. (NKJV)

"He has made the earth by His power,He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. When He utters His voice there is a multitude of waters in the heavens and He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasures. (Jer 10:12-13 NKJV).

Hmmm...God has quite a resume. Who am I to take credit for anything? (I Cor 10:31)


How Well Do You Know Him?

As I read Luke 13 (see vs 22-27) today and thanked God that I knew Him and He knew me so that He would let me into His presence one day, I thought about how well I really knew Jesus. I mean, I know Him, but do I know Him like I would know my best friend?

Anne Graham Lotz, one of my favorite Christian authors and speakers has spent her lifetime pursuing an intimate knowledge of Jesus. In the introduction of her book My Heart's Cry (page xii-xiii), she says the following:

Like John and the other disciples, I have known Jesus personally. Their knowledge was face to face while my knowledge is by faith, but mine is a personal, direct, experiential knowledge nonetheless. And it has increasingly grown, from the time I was a little girl when I confessed my sin and asked Him to be my Savior, to the time as a teenager I made the commitment to live my life for Him alone, to the time I drifted from Him in the busyness of being a young mother and returned to Him through the disciplined study of His Word, to the time I answered His call to teach a weekly Bible class, to the time I stepped out in faith to follow him in an itinerant international ministry, to the time I picked up my pen and wrote my first word to be published, to the time when my heart's cry - under unbearable pressure and pain- has been, just give me Jesus!

Yet somehow, like John, I feel that all this time in His presence, all this devotion to His service, is just not enough. I have concluded that it will never be enough until my faith becomes sight and I know Him as fully as I am known by Him. Until that day, I find that my yearning for Him is ravenous, and it has once again led me to immerse myself in the pages of His Word - in particular, the eyewitness account of His life and ministry that was recorded by the disciple with whom I most identify: John."

Do you have a heart for Jesus like that? Anne Graham Lotz is inspiring in her pursuit for more of Jesus. After reading her book and seeing her speak, I'm now reading the gospels in a new light - in pursuit of really knowing Jesus..


What Will Make Us Hear?

Truthfully, we are no different today than the people of Israel and Judah back in the times of Jeremiah. How many times do we hear the truth of God's Word, either in a sermon or spoken in love to us by a friend, only to cast the words aside in our minds and go our own ways? I know I am guilty at times.

In Jeremiah 36, Baruch the scribe reads a scroll of Jeremiah's prophecy to the king only to have it thrown in the fire. In the next chapter, Jeremiah is thrown in prison because king Zedekiah doesn't like what he says. I have to admire Jeremiah's perserverance here in speaking the truth. I know that he didn't like prison! In chapter 38, Zedekiah gets scared enough for his own personal safety that he secretly drags Jeremiah out of prison to meet with him. Finally, he listens to and heeds the words of God.

So what is it that finally causes us to listen and do what God asks of us? And why is it that all of us in our own ways at times, tend to prefer the hard way instead of God's way? Thankfully, God waits for us to turn back to Him. And thankfully, as we grow in our spritual maturity, we start listening for God's voice sooner than later.


Fear Not, Little Flock

God touched my heart today in a little verse in Luke 12. Although I could write about hypocrisy, priorities, worry or leadership responsibilities from this rich chapter, I cannot get my thoughts off of one statement said by Jesus:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Can you hear the compassion and love in Jesus' voice as he says "Fear not, little flock"? I think it is the term of endearment 'little flock" that touches me. I've mentioned it before, but I am still awestruck to think of the depth of God's love for His little lambs like us. We purposely stray, we wander around aimlessly sometimes, we get consumed with our own wants and desires, but yet God still finds pleasure in blessing us.

What am I doing to bless God this week? After all, He wants to give ME His kingdom!