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Is There a Storm Coming?

As I was driving home from meeting with a friend tonight I drove through a large line of thunderstorms and torrential rains. It reminded me of a newsletter article I wrote almost a year ago that referenced the same. I do love storms...not necessarily the storms in my life though. But even though I might not like them, I know that they do some good after all.  Happy reading!

Is There A Storm Brewing in Your Life?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved thunderstorms. I like the power they display, the sudden way they appear and how short they last. As the many storms made their way through the metropolitan area this week, I stopped to think about how they picture our lives.

Storms, like our lives, consist of many parts. Although each component by itself is harmless, the right combination of elements causes instability. When individual parts interact with each other and become unstable, a storm arises.

And so it is with our lives. We have so many different priorities interacting at once that inevitably a "storm" will pop up in our lives in the form of anxiety, burnout or exhaustion, to name a few. We get so busy doing things for God within our priorities that we neglect the time to just be with God.

Early this week, I found myself in such a busy situation. In my daily Bible reading, God gave me these verses out of Isaiah to remind me how important it is to take time to consistently seek the only thing that can truly satisfy our souls – time with God.

Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live;…

God wants us to make time out of our schedules to be with Him so He can delight our souls. When I think of His promises of peace and abundance for those who seek Him through His Word, I can’t help but wonder how many "storms" I would prevent by just slowing down, being still and resting in His presence.

Further reading: Isaiah 55:6-13, Psalms 1:1-3


Filled to Overflowing

One of these days I am going to be organized.  I will let you know when that happens, for now just know that today is not that day.  However, there is joy in the office cleaning sometimes.  As I go through papers listening to my praise music I sometimes come across some treasures.  I found an old journal entry I had written almost a year ago today and I hope that it encourages you that your personal quiet time with God is probably the most eternally rewarding thing that you can do. (Note:  This entry has been modified to protect the innocent.)

Today I read Luke 6.  Jesus is doing things on the sabbath in my opinion, just to test the Pharisees.  He and his disciples ate from the cornfields (v1) and on another sabbath He taught and healed the withered hand of a man (v7-11).  Then...He preached.

Two things I liked the most out of the chapter were what Jesus said in His preaching about the fruit and foundation of our lives. 

1.  The Fruit

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Our teaching, mentoring, counseling, etc. needs to come from an overflow of God's Word in our lives - from that "abundance of the heart".  When I think of the times when I have not been so positive or uplifting and I realize that in those times I have probably not been filled up to overflowing.

2.  The Foundation

If we don't have a firm foundation to stand on in our lives, when times get tough, we will not get going but instead fall down under the pressure.  When troubles come we need to seek God and hold on to the foundation of Jesus in our lives so that we will not be shaken.

Luke 6:46 And why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded up on a rock.

I thank God for Jesus, the Living Word, the rock and foundation in my life.  Lord, help me cast the vision to those in my life and in my ministry, that through Jesus and God's Word, they will be able to live victorious, fruitful lives.


Sweet Sacrifice

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1

Have you ever thought about how much brainpower it must have taken to devise all of the different types and means of sacrifice that are mentioned in the Old Testament?  The specifications for the construction of the tabernacle were amazing, but still weren't good enough to reconcile the children of Israel to a holy God.  Sacrifices must be made.

Sacrifices.  That is of which the first 3 Chapters of Leviticus teaches.  Okay, I think there is more later, but I stopped today at chapter 3.  God loves a barbeque!  How fitting for today, Memorial Day, with its tradition of grilling out (along with remembering our deceased loved ones), that I would read about this.  :)  Where was I?  Sacrifices.  They are of a sweet smelling savour unto God.  Take a deep breath and imagine the smell of the cooking meat on the altar.   Six times in Leviticus 1-3 does God mention that the offerings were a sweet savour unto Him (Lev 1:9, 13, 17; Lev 2:2, 9; Lev 3:5).  Do you think He is trying to tell us something?

We are to be sacrifices to God as well.  Our lives and thoughts should and can be sweet smelling to Him if we keep our focus on Him and do His will day by day.  As we are tried and purified by the fire of God in our attempts to set our lives apart to God, our "offerings" will be a sweet smelling aroma to God.

Looking at Romans 12:1 above, it is our reasonable service to live our lives as a living sacrifice to God.  Reasonable service.  That term always smacked me.  But Lord, I want to be outstanding to You, and not just average "reasonable"!  Maybe that is why we need to live by the mercies of God, asking Him to help us in becoming good servants of Him over and above the reasonable.   

Questions to think about:

1) Am I giving God "reasonable" service?  Am I truly offering up my first-fruits, my best, as an offering to Him?

2) What can I sacrifice to God that I'm hanging on to that would give even more back to Him?

LORD, help me to see where I am weak.  Help me to see where I have failed You in my "sacrifices" to You.  Give me the desire to seek Your ways over my ways and live my life wholly, not partially, sold out to You.  Amen.


LBY 9-Gentleness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  Gal 5:22-23 NKJV

A brief description of the above, according to Beth Moore, is the following:

  1. Love never fails.
  2. Joy cometh.
  3. Peace rules.
  4. Patience waits.
  5. Kindness tenders.
  6. Goodness does.
  7. Faith fights.
  8. Gentleness bows.

This week was deep.  I wonder if anyone else I know, upon examination of this verse on the fruit of the Spirit, has ever taken the time to get to the root of gentleness the way we saw in this study.  I sheepishly admit that I've never taken the time to dig deep into the meaning of the word, always just glossing over "gentleness" because I already thought I knew its meaning.  Not so.  My only hope is that Beth Moore uses a different dictionary than I.  :)  But then, I did admit that I've glossed in my study.  Oh well.   Today is a new day.

Gentleness

meekness, mildness, forbearance.  Primarily it does not denote outward expression of feeling, but an inward grace of the soul, calmness toward God in particular.  It is the acceptance of God's dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.  However, praotes (the Greek for gentleness) encompasses expressing wrath toward the sin of man as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus....This meekness does not blame God for the persecutions and evil doings of men.  It is not the result of weakness...but the actiivity of the blessedness that exists in one's heart from being actively angry at evil...That virtue that stands between two extremes, uncontrollable and unjustified anger, and not becoming angry at all no matter what takes place around you.

What a definition, huh?  You might want to reread this one.  The bold represents my emphasis of what really spoke to me.  I'm still digesting it. 

Gentleness is an inward grace of the soul ---- not being mad at God for the situations He has placed us in.    So gentleness really is more than not killing bugs!  :)  Just kidding.  Gentleness takes submission, humility and a teachable spirit.  Is anyone else feeling a little bruised from this study this week?  I'll break down my thoughts on these items:

Submission - the foundation of gentleness.   After all, how can we accept God's dealings with us peacefully if we aren't submitting to His sovereign will for our lives.  I heard Jill Briscoe speak one time about "unpacking".  She said that if we are ever in a difficult situation beyond our control that we needed to accept it, "unpack our bags" and just live there because we were in God's will.    "Unpacking" is like giving up control to God.

Humility - the Greek word for humility "encompasses the idea of arriving at a correct estimate of ourselves...Humility is the correct estimation of ourselves which results from a correct estimation of our God."  Again, once we remember that God's ways are higher than ours, we will stop throwing our little temper tantrums and just submit with gentleness.

Teachability -  How can we be teachable if we are too busy fighting God to get our own way?  I guess that is how teachability ties into gentleness.  We must have a willingness to learn from where we are, realizing that God has placed us in our specific circumstances for a reason.  "To miss God's Word in our circumstances is to miss God.  To miss God is to miss the point."

In summary, I'll quote Beth again from day 5:

God commands that our teaching comes from "an inward grace of the soul" that He refers to as "gentleness"...teaching with humility...with an attitude of submission...with an awareness of our own sins and a forgetfulness toward the sins of the flock...leaving condemnation to God and conviction to the Holy Spirit, God's teacher is the vessel while God's Word packs the punch.  Does gentleness mean weakness?

Lord, give me a teachable, submissive, humble Spirit....a gentle spirit, with that inward grace of the soul.  I do want that, even though the learning is hard sometimes.  Help me to never question You or Your plans for me, knowing in my heart that You are truly good, all the time.  Amen.


Show Me Thy Way

Are you seeking direction for your life?  I think that most people are whether or not they are content in their current situations or not.  Seeking God's direction is a continual process. It sure was for Moses!  Look at his prayer:

Exodus 33:13 Now therefore I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

Do you see how much Moses desired to do God's will and how much he yearned to know God better?   Do you have that same desire to find grace in God's sight, to know Him, and to seek His ways?  Seek and you shall find, ask and it shall be given to you.  If you want to know God more, ask Him to give you the desire to know Him better.  He will answer your cry.   God answered Moses by saying:

And he said, my presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.  (Ex 33:14)

God will give us rest. Not the rest of lazyness and spending our days on the sofa in front of the TV, but peace inside our souls.  A peace and joy of knowing that we are right in the middle of His plans for us and that He is right beside us through them.    Anymore, I don't want to do anything without God at my side.  Moses probably practiced this more than anyone. 

And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. (Ex 33:15)

Moses did not want to go anywhere without God.  No wonder.  God did wonderful miracles for Moses and he knew of God's power and protection in any circumstance.  God is still in the miracle business today in your life and mine.  If you don't believe it, I challenge you today to remember some times when good things have happened to you, big or small.  I bet He was there.  He wants to be beside us to protect and guide us through the work He has for us to do.   Doesn't this make you want to get out there and get to work?  It does me!!


Will I Meet With God?

I wrote a post a few days ago entitled "I Will Meet With You" regarding how much trouble God went through to make a way to meet with us.  His holiness precludes an easy meeting with us sinners.  In Old Testament times there were many rules to be followed and sacrifices to be prepared.  Only the priest could be in God's inner courts.  Now though, we can have direct access to God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.    We have it so easy now. 

God is apparently not finished with me on this topic as I heard it loud and clear as part of a sermon on Sunday.  Consequently, I pose the question:  Now that God has made it easy for you to meet with Him, will you?  Will you really meet with Him?  Not just in a church setting.  Not just in your hurried devotional time.  But will you really let your mind stop and your own ideas about how things are supposed to be stop overtaking and just sit and meet with Him?

As I've said before, I don't write anything down to challenge anyone else with unless I've been slapped by God with it myself.  Once again, I've found how easy it is to get so busy in doing things for God that I don't spend enough time being with God.  (Note: I believe that even doing a bible study lesson may not be truly a time where we meet with God, due to distractions, etc.).   

Remember that God wants desperately to meet with us as evidenced by all of the preparations He has made to make it possible.  Do you remember what it was like to meet an new person, enjoy their company and look forward with anticipation to getting back together with that person because they may become a new friend?  Do you think God thinks that about us?  Do you think He is just waiting for our next meeting with Him?  I think that He does. 

Not only does He want our friendship, but He wants to make us the best people we can be.  He wants to take our burdens from us, no matter how heavy they are.  What a true Friend we have in Him.  One that is waiting for us to come meet with Him, no matter the circumstance.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When was the last time you really met with God and set your troubles at His feet?  He will give you rest.


LBY-Week 8 Faith

I love the fact that because of my blog's devotional nature, I can essentially write about what I've learned in the  "Living Beyond Yourself" any time I want.   It seems of late that the two bible studies I'm doing, my daily reading, and our Sunday church sermons are all converging upon me with the same message.  A message of faith.    Actually, I already posted a little about faith in this post last week from another study.  Check it out if you like!

I'm not going to post a summary of the week's lesson to speak of here as I usually do.  You see, I've also recently started Jennifer Rothschild's "Walking By Faith" study with a small group I lead.   So I've been hit on by God with faith lately, most of which I'll save for my post tomorrow.  As for now, let's look at this verse:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

To me, this verse is the key to our Christian lives.  After all, aren't we supposed to be all about doing all things for God's glory? (1 Cor 10:31)  Isn't that pleasing to him?  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  And without first having faith we won't be able to get more faith.  Wild. 

First of all, we can't please God if we don't believe that he is for without that belief in a higher being we will never know His son Jesus and thus will never be reconciled to Him.   We can't please God if we aren't even able to have fellowship with Him because our sins have separated us from Him.   Once we believe, we will receive the Holy Spirit of God inside us who will empower us to have more faith, a fruit of the Spirit. 

But without exercising our faith, it will not become stronger.  It would stand to reason that based on my key verse above (He 11:6) that the stronger our faith, the more pleased God will be with us.  So is anyone ready to "exercise"?  We exercise our faith by stepping out of our comfort zones and trusting God to guide us through the dark one step at a time.    We must trust in His promises and be motivated by His words to us that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

I've mentioned stepping out in faith to do new things for God.  But the "through" faith Beth Moore speaks of in the vide also provides some opportunities for us to please God.  As we work through the difficult times in our lives, trusting that God has a blessing for us on the other side of the trial, we will also please God.   Through the trials, God will make us conquerers, not quitters, and allow us to be better soldiers for Him.  As Beth said, faith fights.

Easier said than done you say?  Of course.  Diligently seeking God does not come about without intention on our part.  We must know what God's Word says to us so we can know what promises He has for us.  We must know what God's Word says so we can truly get to know who God is in order for us to be able to trust  Him.  Then, as our hearts intertwine with God's, we will understand what He is calling us to do.  Only then we can confidently step out in faith for Kingdom work, fighting the good fight.

Addie Heather* Carol
M Rach Jeana
Jenn Amanda MamaB
GiBee Boomama Maria
Blair Heather Nancy
Janna Flipflop Robin
Sherry Patricia Tara
Lauren HolyMama! Faith
Christy Eph2810 Karin
Leann Rachel Janice
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

I Will Meet With Thee

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

Do you feel chosen by God?  Do you feel like you have escaped your darkness to live in God's marvellous light?  The great thing about having God's heart, soul and mind in our bibles is that we don't always have to feel to believe.  When we forget about God's love for us and our importance to Him, we can just pick up the written word that never changes.  We are chosen by God specifically for a purpose God has for each of us.  As I mentioned yesterday, God went to great lengths to have fellowship with His people.

Continuing in Exodus yesterday, I noticed how many times God mentioned meeting with Moses and the people of Israel (Ex 29:42,43; 30:6, 36).  Remember that God wanted to dwell with them and made the provisions to do so through purification of the priests.   That just touches me so...how much God wanted to be with us and that I can actually minister to God.     After all, the priests ministered to God back in Moses' day (Exodus 29:44) and we are also members of the priesthood.   We can minister to God.  We can meet with God directly because God has made a way for us to do so.

Like Aaron and his sons were sanctified by the blood of the ram being placed on them and sprinkled on their garments (Ex 29:20-21), we are sanctified by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.   Isn't that a fascinating picture of how we too, are sanctified by Christ's blood as believers in Him?  Because if we are believers, God sees us as pure and we too can meet with God in His holy place.  And He wants us to.

Lord, the more I get to know You, the more I am amazed at the sacrifices You made to meet with me.  The more I am humbled by how much You love me and want a relationship with me.  Thank You for not wanting to be alone because I don't know what I would do without You as my Friend. Amen.


God's Heart

I love it when God "speaks" to me in a passage where I'm not expecting it.   I'm sure some of you can relate to this.  As I started to read this morning starting through Exodus 26, my main thought was "I just want to get through all of this boring detail regarding the tabernacle so I can write about Israel's idol worship while Moses was on the mountain."  Well, I think that God had other plans for me this morning.   Yes, I got through most of the tabernacle detail.  No, I didn't get to the part where Moses came back down from the mountain.  God stopped me at the following:

And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God, And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell amoung them: I am the LORD their God.   (Exodus 29:45-46)

I wonder if God ever feels lonely.  Think about all of the trouble He went to in telling Moses how to build a temple, prepare sacrifices, make special clothing for the priests, etc., just so God could dwell among His people.  God is so holy and pure that nothing imperfect can even come near Him yet He still wants to live among His people.  He still wants to live with us.   Reread the passage above.  Can you sense the longing in God's voice that He just wants fellowship with us?  He wants us to remember the good things He has done for us and for us to know His character so that we will know His goodness.  God created us for a relationship - a friendship - with Him.

Christian, is your heart pure enough to enter into God's inner circle?  Have you come clean before Him through confession of your sins and a determination to live life fully for Him once again?  Other friends, those who have not believed on Jesus as their Savior, do you want to become a friend of God?  Do you want to join in God's inner circle of friends?  He wants to be our Friend.  A true Friend. 

Questions to consider:

  1. What do I need to change to be a better friend to God
  2. When was the last time I thanked God for bringing me out of my "Egypt"?


Can You Handle the Blessing?

Are you impatient with God?  I would bet that most people would answer "yes" to that question.  And...if they haven't been impatient lately, they will be again at some point.   It is just a matter of time.   It is sometimes hard to swallow, but God's timing really is better than ours. 

In Exodus 23, God promises to send his Angel before the people to drive out the current inhabitants of the land as they journey to the promised land.  However, God also tells them that He would not drive them out in one year, because the Hebrew nation wasn't yet big enough to take over the land.  God didn't want the land to become desolate and overtaken by beasts in the absence of human inhabitants.  (Ex 23:29). 

So how does this apply to me?  Well, in my ministry, I want to see the fruit of my labor now.  In my relationships, I want to see the fruit of my efforts now.  Am I ready for all of this "fruit"?  Possibly not.  I may get it and it could rot on the ground because I don't have time to pick it up.  Our church, after a recent move into a first-time-ever building of our own, may or may not get the rapid growth that we desire or expect based on statistical information of like-kind situations.    What "fruit" are you waiting for?

Instead of being sad about our wait for our blessings, whatever they may be, we should be thankful for God's protection.  In time, God will dole out His promises to us, when we are ready to handle them.  Look what He told Israel:

By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land.  (Ex 23:30)

In the New Testament, we also see that God, through the Holy Spirit, waits until we are ready sometimes even to teach us something new.  Jesus told this to His disciples, but it applies to each of us as well:

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  (John 16:12)

God has some driving out to do.  Maybe that "driving out" is in us to get us ready for His blessing?  One day we will be ready to take over ALL of the "land" that He has promised us.  It just may be that we haven't grown enough to be effective yet.