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August 2005
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October 2005

It's All About God

Isn't it awesome to serve a God who is totally fair, honest, and true to His word? Okay, maybe it is not so fun sometimes to be on the "fair" side of God's discipline for us, but at least we know that He loves us and is doing it for our own good.

In Ezekiel 36, God finally has some good news for Israel in that He is going to restore them.  Again, I note that the reason for God restoring them to the promised land and promising to wipe out their enemies is not because they had been so wonderful.  (If you need a refresher, just read Isaiah, Jeremiah & earlier in Ezekiel).  He restored them for His name's sake!   See Ez 36:22-23 (NKJV) below:

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord," says the Lord God," when I am hallowed in you before their eyes."

I thought of how Jesus died for me and cleansed me from all my sin even though I didn't deserve it when I read this passage. Titus 2:3-5 tells me as a woman to behave in a way that is holy so that I don't make God look bad - so I don't blaspheme the Word of God.

Lastly, the good news is that we don't have to try to live perfect lives on our own power.  Through Jesus, we have access to the ultimate Power Source - God.   Here's what He told Israel:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesth.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Thank You Lord, for the reminder that I do not have work at this holy life in my own strength!  It is truly all about You!

A Plea for Shepherds

"Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" - Ez 34:2

Another principal of leadership and our responsibility as people of influence to impact others' lives.  In Chapter 34 of Ezekiel, God is irritated with the shepherds of Israel because they are not tending to their flock.  Let's se what God says:

6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

(now that you get the point of why God was upset...)

10 Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand...11 ...Behold, I even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out.

I think it pains God to see His people (the flock) scattered around becoming prey for Satan to attack them. As leaders (or potential leaders currently "sitting on the bench"), we need to be like Jesus and search for those who are not connected to the church body.  I believe that God commands us to do this and when we don't, he is obviously displeased and takes matters into His own hands.

Challenging thoughts:

1) Who are you "shepherding"?

2) If you aren't "shepherding" someone, why not?

3) Who has God placed in your life that could use your positive influence?

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I Love Thee.  What a powerful old hymn we can sing upward to Jesus.  Even when sung in a contemporary fashion, the meaning is still the same.  Did you realize that the song tells a story?  It's words show us the prayer of an ordinary sinner who recognized his need for a savior, realized the cost of that salvation, and pledged his life as service for Christ.  Let's take a look.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

Jesus is ours for the taking, if we surrender to His Lordship and accept God's gift of eternal life.  He is our gracious redeemer.  If you know Him, are you still living a life of surrender?  This is one of those songs, a vertical song to God, where I believe to fully be worshipping God while singing it, I really need to check my heart attitude.  To sing the words "For Thee all the follies of sin I resign" really requires self examination.  Otherwise, why sing?

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

Jesus, thank You for loving me even when I don't deserve it...for loving me before I even knew You.  (1 John 4:19) Thank You for taking those stripes and for wearing those thorns - all for me.

I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
"If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."

What a statement of service to God here.  To love God through all facets of life, including the suffering, takes spiritual maturity and the realization that God is in control.  I think that the apostle Paul said it best, that His life was being lived for Christ, but to die was gain.  As a Christian, to die means that we will finally receive all that God intended for us.  What a glorious day that will be, to be in heaven with our Savior!

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
"If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."

Slow to Believe

I'm still on my break from Ezekiel.  I just had to read something a little more uplifting than all of the words of woe to the people in Ezekiel's day.  Did you know that He is risen? Have you smiled about that today?

As I meditated on Luke 24, I kept coming back to the words that Jesus said to the unbelieving disciples on the road to Emmaus:

"...O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" -Luke 24:25 NKJV

Jesus must have felt disappointment, anger and sadness when He saw their sadness over His death.  I wonder how I would feel if I came back to visit my close friends after a time away and they didn't even recognize me?

I think that even today, although we Christians know that Jesus is still alive and powerful, we live lives of defeat because we are also "slow to believe".  We have the power of Christ at our fingertips through faith that He can change our lives, but our prayers are not always that convincing.  I know that I'm guilty at times of not praying  with the kind of faith that can move mountains.

Things to think about:

  1. Do I believe that God is who He says He is?
  2. Do I believe that God will do what He says He will do?

1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Treasure of Jesus

What can I do, How can I live
To show my world the treasure of Jesus
What will it take, what could I give
So they can know the treasure He is

And if I can sing
Let my songs be full of His glory
If I can speak
Let my words be full of His grace
And if I should live or die
Let me be found
Pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The treasure of Jesus

-by Steven Curtis Chapman, The Treasure of Jesus

I listened to this song last night and thought about how much the faith community has helped the hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast.   I thought about how our church came together and provided some assistance of their own.  Then I listened to the song again and prayed it to God for myself and wondered what would happen if every Christian would ask themselves what they could give to their neighbors, friends and co-workers to show them the treasure of Jesus. 

They Know Not What They Do

As I read Luke 23 this morning I had lots of thoughts running through my head.  Thoughts of anger, sadness and disbelief, to name a few.  It was hard to read about the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus.   After I stopped thinking about Jesus' death, I started thinking about the acts of the people - the leaders, the citizens, and the friends of Jesus - leading up to that event that changed history forever.

I could have titled this post "Leadership - The Good, the Bad and The Ugly", but I'm not sure I saw any good leadership here.  I ask myself, why today, when I read this passage, am I stuck on leadership? Perhaps it is the time in my life. Perhaps it is because I've been watching too much of the "blame game" with the Hurricane Katrina coverage.  Whatever the reason, this is proof that the Bible is alive and speaks to each of us differently each time we read it. 

Hot potato

On to my point about the bad and ugly leadership displayed in this chapter.  First of all, no one wanted to make a decision.  Pilate didn't want to condemn Jesus to death but didn't want to make the decision so he passed Jesus off like a hot potato to Herod, who agreed with Pilate, but passed Jesus back to Pilate.  Why then, if the leadership of the day didn't believe Jesus should be condemned to death, did they let Him die? (I realize that they were "victims" of prophecy, but that is not the point I'm making here).

Peer Pressure

I almost think from reading the passage that Pilate might have released Jesus had it not been for the peer pressure of the crowd. I haven't studied the judicial procedures of biblical times, so maybe Pilate did need the "popular vote" to release Jesus.  However, I think the key principle stands clear:  Large emotional groups that do not have all of the facts should not be forcing their leaders to change their well thought out decisions that were made with all of the facts.

Any thoughts?

Satan Wants Us

Did you ever stop to think about how angry Satan must get when we do things for God?  As I was beginning my day today, I was having those thoughts as I reflected on all of the christians across our country giving of their time and resources to help those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Satan must be "hopping" mad!  Hee...Hee...

While I rejoice over the awesome things going on, it is still sobering to realize that there really is a spiritual warfare out there.  And it is real.  In my reading this morning, I saw where Satan entered into Judas Iscariot to get him to betray Jesus. If that wasn't bad enough, I read on to see that Satan also wanted Simon Peter (see Luke 22:31).

So, why didn't Satan get Peter?  Because Jesus prayed for Him.  Jesus knew that spiritual warfare was real and covered Peter in prayer so that Peter's faith wouldn't fail. 

Luke 22:31-32  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Satan will do anything to stop us from doing things for God.  I know that I have felt his attacks lately. But the good news is that prayer can restore us from being "beaten" down.  Peter never left Jesus, he was just overcome by the circumstances surrounding him - Jesus' persecution - that caused him to deny his Lord and temporarily fall.  I loved the passage above because not only does Jesus pray for Peter, but I'm reminded that He also prayed for me (John 17:20-23). He knows that I will grow weary at times, but like Peter, I will rise up again and use the experience to help strengthen my "brethren".

Thank You, Lord, for not giving up on Your children.  For not forgetting me.  I love You.

P.S. Check out the following song by Michael W. Smith from his album "I'll Lead You Home".  I'll Lead You Home . We just need to leave our problems to God and He will lead us home.  Enjoy.

Cry Out to Jesus

I happened upon this post regarding a new song released by Third Day entitled "Cry Out to Jesus".  They are releasing the song early to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Click here to view the song lyrics as well as to find a link to download the song for free.  Until next time...

True Sacrifice

The hurricane relief efforts are now underway and there are lots ways we can individually help.  Our church is also getting involved in providing aid.  I heard a short comment from a local news anchor last week as she was reporting from her station's fundraising call site that a  little girl called in and donated $1.25 to help with the relief efforts.  Does this remind anyone about the story of the poor widow who gave her two mites to the treasury?  I just read the story this morning in Luke 21:1-4.

What is important to remember is that I can't compare myself to others, I just need to do the best I can with whatever I have in the place where I am.  God looks at what I can give Him, whether it is money or my time and determines whether or not I am giving all that I have. From Luke 21:3, Jesus says:

Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of there abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.

Once again, God looks at the heart.

God's One Motive ...

...that we shall know that He is God.

Why do you think that is? Is it that we human's tend to always put other god's before the one true God? Seems to me that this is so. I believe we all struggle with this from time to time, whatever the little "god" is. My reading in Ezekiel today made me think of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Ezekiel 32:15 When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the LORD.

Do the people caught in the wake of Hurricane Katrina know that He is God? The destruction there is so sad and unbearably hard to watch at times. My heart and prayers really go out to them. However, do you think that now the people in New Orleans know that God is GOD?

My husband and I just visited New Orleans last spring. Did you know that the city claims to be "America's Most Haunted City"? They were so proud of the Mardi Gras and of Bourbon Street. Voo doo ("hoo doo") shops were everywhere. Could it be that the hurricane could be God's message to say "Look at Me. Look for Me."? It is a reminder to me to look at my own life for God's messages to me.

Finally, I do not know for sure (or even at all, matter of fact) that God chose to send a hurricane to New Orleans. And again, I am saddened by the destruction. What I do know is that God will use even a disaster for His glory and for His good purposes (Romans 8:28), and for that I am thankful.