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June 2005
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August 2005

If You Want To Be Blessed . . .

...then "hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:28).

Sounds so simple doesn't it? Honestly, the hearing part is easy but that keeping it part is another story. This verse reminds me a little of all of the schemes out there to get rich. We can buy many different books that tell us how to make money and truthfully, if we followed them, we just might make our fortune. But, following a plan takes discipline and effort and thus, we fall short.

God tells us how to be blessed many times in scripture and the ones that stand out to me the most concern our love for God's word. We have been given the roadmap to "riches", but those little obstacles of discipline and effort get in the way.

Questions to think about:
1. Am I following people or God? (Psalm 1:1-3)
2. Do I meditate on God's word day and night? (Joshua 1:8)
3. Am I seeking God with my whole heart? (Psalm 119:2)


Trading In Our Sorrows

I got a bright idea yesterday (look out!) that I was going to take a break from posting my daily reading excerpts on Sundays to bring you some of my reflections on the songs we sing in Sunday worship. To me, true praise through song occurs when I know what I'm singing about and can honestly sing the words back to God as a prayer to Him. Here I go.

Trading My Sorrows

I'm tradin' my sorrows,
I'm tradin' my shame,
I'm layin' them down for the joy of the Lord.

Psalm 30:5 says that "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning". Just as the song says, we have a promise from God that our sorrows won't last forever but will be replaced by joy. I thank God for that promise, but God also requires something from us in order to fulfill His promise. We must be willing to give our sorrows and problems to Him.

"...Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto
Jesus..."(NKJV Hebrews 12:1-2).

Why is it so hard for us to truly turn over our problems to a God who loves us so much that He gave His Son for us? Is it fear of change, even a good change, because we have gotten so accustomed to living in our familiar circumstances that we don't want to leave them? Is it lack of understanding of who God really is and how NOTHING of ours is too big for Him to fix? (Jer 32:17).

I pray that we all can overcome our obstacles in trading in our sorrows for God's joy. May we seek God and be able to sing with confidence the words of "Trading My Sorrows":

I am pressed but not crushed, persecuted, not abandoned; struck down but not
destroyed.

I am blessed beyond the curse, for His promise will endure
That His joy's gonna be my strength.


Think Before You Speak

Jeremiah 28

Whew! Now this one will make a person think about what they say. Hananiah, a prophet, spoke supposedly good news to to the people. Apparently, it wasn't true and he was subsequently told by God through Jeremiah that God would cast him "from the face of the earth (NKJV-v16)" within the year for teaching rebellion against God.

I wonder, did Hananiah know that he was teaching rebellion or did he speak with a clear conscience?

MORAL OF THE STORY: Think before you speak or things may just turn out bad for you.


Same Story, Different Day

Jeremiah 26. Once again I feel as if I'm reading the same things again and I guess that actually I almost am as this chapter is very similar to Jer 7:1-15. Our friend "Jer" is not making the people of Judah happy by his words from God once again and this time his life is threatened by some quick-speaking princes. He is saved from death by his own defence and the reminder of an elder to the people that maybe, just maybe, Jeremiah might be relaying God's message after all.

There are lots of lessons to be learned here. Aside from the common theme in this book of "change your ways or you will be destroyed", I have noted the following:

1) God doesn't really want to punish His people (including us). Otherwise why would He keep warning us to change our ways? See v 26:3 for God's hope that we will change so He doesn't have to act.

2) Who are we listening to for guidance? Discernment is key in what advice we take. Just because someone is telling us what we want to hear, doesn't mean they are right! 26:7-10.

3) Older may be wiser. We need to value the life lessons learned by our "elders". They have valuable information that may save us from a lot of unnecessary challenges if we will just listen and learn. 26:17-19.


Choices

We have so many choices in this life - what we eat, what we drink, how to spend our money, how to spend our time, etc., etc. But do we always make the right ones and if we don't do we accept responsibility for our decisions?

The one verse out of my reading today that stuck out to me was the following:

Jeremiah 25:7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

Hmmm...what a concept in today's society that sometimes the works of our own hands can cause hurt to ourselves! That reminds me of the people that have sued fast food companies for their health problems. When did we as a culture stop taking responsiblity for our own actions?

Well, I could go on and on here, as you can tell. For me personally, I just need to weigh carefully the good and bad of each choice I make and how it can affect both myself and the people around me. We need to start with ourselves first.


Today's Judgment, Tomorrow's Mercy

I resumed my reading in Jeremiah today and decided when I read the first chapter (21) that I would continue reading until I had something pleasant to report. Fortunately, I came to chapter 23 after two more chapters of warnings and more warnings to the various kings of Judah. I didn't have time today to read to the end of the book! :)

In Jeremiah 23:1-8 (note: I stopped at v.8 because after that came warnings to the prophets!) we see some end to God's judgment upon Israel/Judah as He declares the following:

Jer 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking saith the Lord.

I am so thankful to God that no matter how many times we disappoint Him or have disappointed Him, we still get that extra chance to return back to Him and be blessed (see Deut 30:1-10).

I wonder how many people forget this and continue living their lives in regret rather than accepting God's gift of mercy and pressing forward?


Who Am I, Really?

I have always been amazed at how much God, the Creator of the universe cares about what I am doing here on earth when I am seemingly so small in the scheme of things. (Ecc 5:2) I guess that is why in my study of Psalm 8 tonight, my favorite passage was this one:

Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

I still sometimes look up at the stars at night and marvel at God's creation and my place in it. David must have been doing that when he wrote this Psalm.

Following is a link to a commentary on a Chris Tomlin song about how indescribable God is that I thought was pretty cool.

Indescribable - by Chris Tomlin

Happy reading!


More Real-Life "Samaritans"

Luke 10:2 Therefore he (Jesus) said unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send labourers into his harvest.

What a verse! Although we as the body of Christ need more able-bodied workers to accomplish all that needs to be done for the "harvest", we need to remember to be thankful for the few laborers we do have. I thank God for the men that helped my mom and stepdad move this weekend. You truly were a blessing to both myself and my family. Being God's hands on this earth is what life is all about.

I know this post was short, but it has been a long weekend! :)


Real Life "Good Samaritans"

Another day, another post to the blog. This is kind of fun now that I got started! Today, I took another break from Jeremiah and continued on my New Testament path at Luke 10.

I just love the stories about Jesus and the stories that Jesus tells. Once again, I am amazed at God's timing of how He brings passages to our minds to remind us how cool He is. I had just had some plans postponed because a friend of mine needed to tend to the needs of a hurting "sister", so I sat down to do my daily reading. I know, it wasn't first thing in the morning, but it got done! :) And, wouldn't you know that my reading was about the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37?

If we just look for them, there are good examples everywhere of what it is like to act like Jesus. Jesus, tells us to be like that Good Samaritan (v37), but how many of us have too much packed into our lives to be able to cherish God's interruptions and be a blessing to someone in need?


Shooting the Messenger

Well, I'm back to Jeremiah today in chapters 18-19. One of the things that stuck out to me today was that even though Jeremiah was saying what God wanted him to say, the people didn't like it and rather than heeding God's warnings, they chose to plot against Jeremiah. (Je 19:18).

How many times when I have been told what I didn't want to hear by either a friend or by God did I just not listen and choose to continue in my own ways? It is not always pleasant to hear the truth sometimes, but we need to remember that we are the clay in the Potter's hands and not the other way around.

How many times have I been the "Jeremiah" and told someone the truth in love only to be pushed aside? I'm sure we've all been there too. Standing for God isn't always easy, but it is definitely a must and is always worth it in the long run.