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Wasted Goods

Continuing my break from Ezekiel - (sorry, God, but I needed some "love" from the New Testament) - I read today about the parable of a rich man and his steward in Luke 15:1-12. It was a bittersweet reading because while I'm thankful for the responsibilities God has entrusted to me now with the women's ministry of Grace Church, it reminded me of times past where I used the gifts I have been given just enough to get by. Wasted goods. Not enough prayer, not enough study, not enough application. Have you wasted your "goods"?

I am thankful that God is patient with me even though sometimes I'm not so patient with Him. He gives me abilities and then He waits, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11) for me to decide when I'm going to use them totally for Him. And when I decide to go His way, He waits some more to make sure that I'm serious and then blesses me more than I deserve. What an awesome God we serve.

It is hard to say how much each one of us should give to God because we are all so different. Only I can truly know what my best effort is and when I am not being wasteful of the gifts I have been given.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsover thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Things to think about:
1) If you are waiting to step out for God, ask yourself what you are waiting for. I bet you have some abilities from God that you don't even realize are there.

2) If you have already stepped out for God, ask yourself if you are giving it your best.


"But I Ate in Your Presence. . . "

I took a break from Ezekiel this morning. Yes, this morning - it is now 12:11 am and I was trying to get to sleep, but I think that God had other plans for me. So...I opened my bible to my "New-Testament-I-need-a-break-from-the-prophets" place and I found lots to think about in Luke 13-14.

Since it is late (or early), I'll stick with Chapter 13. I find it very interesting how people back in Jesus' day could still not believe in who He was when they were in the presence of miracles and God in the flesh every day. But I suppose I really shouldn't be surprised because after all, we as human beings really just want to believe in our own reality anyway. We want to be right, even if it is to our detriment, which leads me to the passage about the narrow gate in Luke 13:22-27.

Luke 13:22-27 (NKJV)

22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

How would it feel to have lived your life in the presence of Jesus (through church, friendships with Christians, bible studies, etc.) only to find out when it was time to walk through the "gate" into eternity, that God says to you "I do not know you...Depart from me..."? It saddens me to think of how many people this will actually happen to because they do not know Jesus personally. Like the people in the passage knocking at the door, many people in our culture think they are on the right path. How can we right this wrong and introduce more of them to Jesus?

Questions I think about:
1) Am I doing all I can do for God's kingdom?
2) What can I do to connect more people to God and to other Christians?
3) How can I encourage others to join in God's work?


The Power of Your Love

The Power of Your Love
By Geoff Bullock

Lord, I come to You, let my heart be changed, renewed,
Flowing from the grace that I found in You.
Lord, I’ve come to know the weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away by the power of Your love.

Hold me close, let Your love surround me.
Bring me near, draw me to Your side.
And as I wait I’ll rise up like the eagle,
And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love.

Lord, unveil my eyes, let me see You face to face,
The knowledge of Your love as You live in me.
Lord renew my mind as Your will unfolds in my life,
In living every day by the power of Your love.

Hold me close, let Your love surround me.
Bring me near, draw me to Your side.
And as I wait I’ll rise up like the eagle,
And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love.

As I pray the words of this song while I sing, I realize that the only way I have ever seen or will ever see positive, sustained renewal in my life is by drawing close to the One who loves me so much - the One who loves me for exactly who I am, and for who He will make me become. Looking into the mirror of God's Word, sometimes I don't always like what I see, but always, I know that God can make me strong where I am weak by the power of His love if I just get myself out of the way.

Friends, I pray that God holds you close this week and that He makes each of you aware of His presence, soaring with God.
NOTE: No, we did not sing this song at church today. It is just such a powerful song that I thought I'd share.

Why Should We "Die"?

Human nature loves to assign blame. And when we are not assigning blame or passing off the responsibility for a consequence occuring in our lives we are rationalizing our actions. Aren't we a mess? :)

In Ezekiel 18, I find God teaching the nation of Israel about the proper use of a proverb relating to this very thing. From v. 2, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge", I believe the people were construing this proverb to mean that they were being punished for the sins of future generations and were thus feeling hopeless. After all, if they thought they were going to be punished anyway for something they didn't do, why behave, right?

God spends the rest of the chapter explaining to them the true meaning of the proverb, that while we have to live through the consequences of the sins of those before us, we will only "die" for our own sins. That is a comforting fact.

My favorite part of the chapter was at the end where God tells us that He really doesn't like to exact His judgment on us.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 NKJV
"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord God. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord God. "Therefore turn and live!"
Why should we die? God doesn't want us to and gives us the power to change if we would just seek Him for help and guidance. What a simple concept! Do you need a new heart and a new spirit?


Let The Worshippers Arise

Today in my reading I saw how Ezekiel 16:10-14 figuratively depicts the "gifts" that God has given to His people of Jerusalem. How quickly they forgot that their prosperity was given to them from God and that it did not come from the works of their own hands. Actually, I wonder if they ever gave credit to God in the first place. Hmm....

This made me think of my own talents and abilities and how much God expects from those who have been blessed with various gifts. God has given each one of us spiritual gifts (Ro 12:6, Eph 4:11-12) to use to build His kingdom. Jesus told his disciples that "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required." (Luke 12:48 NKJV) Could that be the "line in the sand" as mentioned in the following lyrics to a song by Phillips, Craig & Dean entitled "Let the Worshippers Arise"?

Father I see that You are drawing
A line in the sand
And I want to be standing on Your side
Holding Your hand.
So let Your kingdom come, Let it live in me
This is my prayer
This is my plea

Chorus:
Let the worshippers arise
Let the sons and the daughters sing
I'm surrendering my all
I surrender to the King


I don't know about anyone else, but I want to be on God's side of the line in the sand, holding His hand through this lifetime. I pray that I can live up to His expectations of me here on this earth. Do I give my all, all of the time?

For the rest of the church body - ours and others across the globe - I do pray that the "worshippers arise". What would happen if every believer lived in total surrender?


Persistence: A Bad Thing?

Usually I think of persistency as being a good trait to have because so many people give up when things in their lives get difficult. However, in my reading today, it was pointed out that being persistant (could this be a synonym for "stubborn"?) can also not be such a positive attribute.

In Ezekiel 14:13 and 15:8, God speaks about the seriousness of "persistent unfaithfulness".

Ez 14:13-14 "Son of man, when a land sins agains Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord God.

Ez 15:8 Thus I will will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness, ' says the Lord God."

God must get furious and rightly so with His people who consistently and persistantly lead powerless lives when all they really need to do is seek God for the answers. Once again, I am reminded of how thankful I should be that God is also loving, and forgiving.


Of Hearts and Hope

Thank You, Lord, for the reminders that You give me in Your Word no matter where I am reading. Once again, when I was weary of reading about judgment, You came through with hope for new beginnings, even in the 11th chapter of Ezekiel!

Newsflash: God can change anything. Anything. Did I say "anything"?

Nothing is too hard for God to change, including our hearts and the hearts of those we care about. (Gen 18:14, Jer 32:17, Mk 10:27) I believe that deep down in our hearts, we do believe that God can change anything. So, why do we forget? I wish I had the answer to that question. If anyone does, please feel free to let the rest of us in on it. However, I do know that if God can change and restore the hearts of the people of Israel, He can surely do a makeover on yours and mine if we want Him too!

When God's people decide to actively change their ways, God responds! (Pr 16:3) Read what God says He will do after His people remove the idols from their lives:

"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God." -Ezekiel 11:19-20


To change our ways, requires a change of our heart. Again, I'm glad that God reminds us that in addition to parting the sea, and wiping out large groups of people, that He can do delicate "heart surgery" as well.

P.S. The fine print so as not to emphasize the negative, but if we don't try to change our ways...well, I think you can guess what happens. For the short version, just read Ez 19:21. Otherwise, I'm sure I discussed it from Jeremiah in my post entitled "Choices" on July 14.


Sing to the King

Sing to the King - Passion

Chorus
Come, let us sing a song
A song declaring that we belong to Jesus
He is all we need

Lift up a heart of praise
Sing now with voices
raised to Jesus
Sing to the King

In the following passage, David, our Psalmist declares his "song" to us in how he worships and relies on God for strength. I wonder what this would sound like put to music?

Psalm 138: 1-4

1 I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

Reflecting now on the words I sang today, I thought about the "song" of my life. Do I live a life that fully declares to whom I belong? Is my lifestyle always one of praise to my King and my Redeemer? Is Jesus all I need? ALL?

Regrettably, I can't answer "yes" to the above questions 100% of the time. Thankfully, all God asks of me is that I give my best effort to become more like Him every day. What is your song?


"They Shall Know That I Am the Lord"

Sixty-five.

Sixty-five times in the book of Ezekiel God tells His people that the reason for His actions is so that they would know that He was the Lord. Sixty-five. Is God trying to tell us something? Apparently He is of the opinion that we often put other things, people or thoughts before Him. Hmmm..... Brian Gann in his message last Sunday asked us what we worshipped and challenged us to take a look at ourselves in that area. Obviously, this is not a new problem for mankind.

Here's what God had to say about the idolatry of Israel in Ezekiel 8:6: "...Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary?..."

Do we really want God far from us? I want Him close to me, but since I am His temple (1 Cor 6:19) how close will He want to get if I am too focused on the cares of this world?

Challenge: Do a time journal for a typical week. See what is really occupying your time. I did this once long ago and it really revealed some things to me. I'm afraid to do it again! How much time are we really spending alone with God?

Dust in the Sunlight

I just finished "Humility" by Andrew Murray today and thought I'd share one of the coolest quotes in the book from the last chapter:

It is only in the possession of God that I lose myself. It's
in the height and breadth and glory of the sunshine that the littleness of the
dust particle playing in its beams is seen, and it's by humility that we take
our place in God's presence to be nothing but a speck dwelling in the sunlight
of His love.
What a beautiful picture of what we can be if we submerge ourselves in His presence!