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August 2006
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October 2006

Our Emotional God

I'm sure we've all said the phrase "This hurts me more than it hurts you!", haven't we?  I know as a kid I've heard it from my mom and dad before a spanking.  I've never spanked a child - because I don't have any children - but I have spanked my dogs and have had the thought cross my mind.  It is surely no fun to have to be the disciplinarian is it?  The same goes for in the workplace.  Reprimands, I believe, are definitely harder to give than to receive, if done in the spirit of love and not in anger.

Reading through Judges 10 today, I saw once again how much Israel grieved a God who loved them beyond measure.  The children had once again started serving other Gods (10:6) and God was irate (10:7) ! In fact, God was so mad that He sold Israel into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the children of Ammon.  Consequently, Israel was oppressed for 18 years.   Now that is quite a "spanking".

Finally, Israel came crying back to God in repentance - 18 years after being sold.   My first thought is "I can't believe it took them 18 years to repent".  Then, God reminds me to look at my own life and rethink that thought.  Can anyone relate?  What was interesting to me is that Israel had a short dialogue with God before they changed their ways:

  • They acknowledged their bad ways and idol worship - v. 10
  • God reminds them of His past miracles - v. 11-12
  • God tells them they have forsaken Him and will not deliver them anymore - v 12-13
  • "Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen" - God v. 14
  • Israel whines a second time & displays willingness to accept God's discipline - v 15
  • Israel puts actions with their words, removing the gods and serving THE God. - v 16

Once God saw the sincerity of Israel's "heart", He was grieved for their misery.  Let's take a look:

And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. (Judges 10:16)

God didn't want to punish His beloved people.  He did not like to see them in pain.  Here's another verse in Isaiah to reference the same emotions of our God.  Again, He is pained because of their problems, even though Israel's trials were well deserved for their bad behavior.

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

My heart just melts with compassion when I think of God's lovingkindness to His people.  My friends and family surely don't give me that much grace when I mess up! Time and time again, we break God's heart.  Time and time again, he grieves for us and with us, and lets us come back to His loving arms. 

Thank You, God, for Your longsuffering with me and with all of us as Your children.  Forgive is for making your heart break and show us how to live in ways that are pleasing to Your sight.  I want to make Your heart smile. Amen.


Seek God

Like it was yesterday, I hear the words from a friend saying to us:  "Seek God", through tears on his face.  I can remember the time, the place, the situation and the people around us.  However, most of all, the words he spoke resonate through me even now over a year later.  What do you do when a difficult decision arises in your life?  Do you seek God first for answers or do you seek the advice of others?  Do you know how to seek God?

The bible says in Jeremiah 29:13 that

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV)

Aha.  Once again we see mentioned how much God wants our attention.  The only way to find God is by putting our own ambitions and solutions for the problem aside.  We can't let  them occupy our minds and hearts and expect to get an answer from God that is not tainted by our own opinion if we don't, now can we?  God wants our full attention before He reveals His plans to us. 

How do we seek God anyway?  After all, He is not really something that can be found, right? He is never "lost" is He?  He is invisible but yet everywhere.  All powerful but yet quiet.  Where do we look?

We can find God in a variety of ways, but for starters, we need to look in the pages of God's Word to us - the Bible.  If Jesus was "the Word" and Jesus is God, wouldn't it make sense to start there to find Him?

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was god.  2 He was with God in the beginning. (NIV)

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling amoung us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

God promises in James 4:8 that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.  Try this out.  Find your bible. and take it in both of your hands.  Close your eyes and tell Him how much you love Him and how thankful you are that you can hold Him in Your hands.  Tell Him your biggest fears, your disappointments and your concerns and ask Him to reveal to You what He wishes You to understand.  Now, open your bible to your daily reading spot and start reading slowly until God speaks to you in a verse or two.   God has now most likely come closer to you as You have sought His face.  I hope that you are blessed by this exercise. 

Friends, God is just waiting for us to come to Him for help and guidance.  When we come to Him without our own solutions, seeking His ways and only His ways, I bet that His heart smiles.  Getting close to God doesn't require us to be spiritual giants, a pure and humble heart will suffice.

To think about:

1) What am I holding back from God in the attention I'm willing to give Him?

2) Do I know God the way that I might know my spouse or closest friend? 

3) Am I reading my bible enough so that I can really get to know God's heartbeat on every circumstance?


Walk By Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  - Hebrews 11:1

Life is a grand adventure is it not?  I think it is even more so for Christians who are striving to follow God's path for their lives.  The road changes shape and direction and leads us to places we can't imagine.  When we look back we sometimes can't believe from where we've come but yet are even more intrigued with where we are going.  Relying on God's plan is never boring if we constantly seek His face for our road map.

The lyrics to "Walk By Faith" by Jeremy Camp have really ministered to me of late.  I don't necessarily know what path I'm taking in this journey of life, and I certainly find it hard to believe that God has brought me along to my current place, but I will continue to walk forward one step at a time.  I pray that the words of the song minister to you as well.  May God bless you on each of your journeys.

Walk By Faith - by Jeremy Camp

Will I believe You when You say
Your hand will guide my every way
Will I receive the words You say
Every moment of every day

I will walk by faith even when I cannot see
Because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me

Help me to rid my endless fears
You've been so faithful for all my years
With one breath You made me new
Your grace covers all I do

I will walk by faith even when I cannot see
Because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me

Well I'm broken but I still see Your face
Well You've spoken
Pouring Your words of grace

I will walk by faith even when I cannot see
Because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me


Are your Eyes Open?

Do you ever wonder how much you don't see going on in the world around you?  I do.  I'm not talking about the things that go on behind the closed doors of peoples' homes or in businesses, etc.  I'm talking about the things that are right in front of our very eyes that we don't see.

I was walking on morning through a local park on an unseasonably cool morning this summer.  It was a gorgeous morning and when I started out, the sun still had not risen completely.  There was some fog and a lot of dew still remaining on the ground.  But the thing I saw as I was walking that day that still sticks in my mind was all of the spider webs.  As I looked across the field, the light from the barely rising sun struck probably hundreds of little spider webs made across the tops of the tall grass and weeds in this field. The dew was on them just enough so that each one could be seen.  I pondered this as I walked the path.  Those webs were probably always there (moral: don't walk through a field - you don't know what is really out there), however I had never seen them in this light before.  Maybe I had never been really looking.

So I wondered further how much our surroundings are like this field.  I believe that when we have a close relationship with God by praying, reading our bibles and applying His word to our lives, we can see these things that we might not necessarily see in a less spiritual state of mind.  To Christians, God has given His Holy Spirit to live inside of us to guide us in our lives.  As Jesus said:

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear to hear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  (John 16:12-13 NKJV)

The closer we are to God, the more we will see things through His eyes and not our own.  He can give us wisdom if we ask for it (James 1:5) so that we can see the things we might not see without Him.  I don't know about you, but I want to see all there is in my life.

To think about:

1) Am I seeking God's wisdom continually throughout my day or am I relying on my own strength?

2) How much do I pray for God to give me direction and discernment in every area of my life?


In Everything Give Thanks

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  - Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

What is the state of your heart?  Worried, stressed, heartbroken, afraid?  All of the above?  Life gets tough sometimes and we may find ourselves feeling a multitude of emotions all at the same time.  Left unattended, they can be paralyzing.  However, with God, we need not fear change.  With God, we need not worry about survival.  We need only to trust in our compassionate Lord who loves us more than we can imagine and has everything under control.

This is easier said than done though, isn't it, not letting our emotions get the best of us?  The bible doesn't say it is easy though, but in its pages, we do find the answers for navigating those storms of life.  In Philippians 4:6-7 we see the means to surviving the storms.   No matter what circumstance or circumstances we find ourselves in, we need to remember to pour our hearts out to God, not being afraid to dump everything at His feet.   Everything.  The anger.  The frustration.  The heartache.  The tears.  If we do this while seeking His ways and not our own, knowing that no matter what, God has our best interests in mind, we will obtain peace of mind. 

Peace of mind.  Rest for our weary souls from the worry and the strife.  That is what we all want really, isn't it?  A life where there are no twists and turns or bumps in the road.  While God doesn't promise us the smooth ride in the physical realm, He does promise us that peace of mind, but it does take discipline to achieve.  We must develop a habit of telling God about our problems and trusting Him to fix them.  Rather than talking to ourselves, going down that mental parade of worry, we must always remember to take our problems to God.   He may not fix them, but He will fix us, through the power of Jesus Christ in us.  Now, that is something to be thankful for, don't you think?

Thoughts to ponder:

1) How quickly do I go to God with my problems?  Do I tend to dwell on them or do I immediately talk to God about them?

2) Do I really trust in God's goodness, that everything I'm going through is for my benefit?

3) Am I too proud to go to God with my problems by thinking I've got everything under control?  Am I willing to go to Him every hour, every minute if I need to to obtain peace? 


The Patience of Jesus?

I didn't post a lot last week because my husband and I were out of town on somewhat of a golf vacation.  For those of you who like to play golf, you would be jealous of the course I played on for three days and the weather where we we staying.  We went to Camdenton, a little town in Missouri near the Lake of the Ozarks and played on Old Kinderhook Golf Course in sunny 75-85 degree weather.  Perfection. Except for my golf game at times.  So what does this have to do with the patience of Jesus, as this post's title suggests?  You see, golf tries my patience.  Waiting on slower players.  Waiting on myself to get my act together and hit a decent shot.  These things try this Type A personality's patience!

Did you realize that Jesus' patience was tested all of the time?  I never really thought about it until tonight as was reading Beth Moore's "Jesus the One and Only".  In the 19th chapter of the book, she is writing about a time where Jesus resurrected a dead boy's body in the city of Nain (Luke 7:11-17).  In this instance, Jesus saw the mother of the boy in her grief and reacted in compassion and resurrected him.   The interesting point that Beth Moore brought out was how Jesus didn't always heal the sick even though He probably wanted to because of His compassion for the hurting.  She points out on p. 118-119 that:

Jesus ran into a woman in hopeless despair and just reacted with what came most naturally to Him - healing mercy.  Oh, how I praise Him!  I believe we possibly have a small glimpse into what christ would do in every one of our despairing situations if a greater plan was not at stake.  I believe what comes most naturally to Christ every time He encounters need is to instantly fix it.  Is it possible He exercises great restraint to work any other way in the face of devastation?  I think so.

A plan of profound importance exists that sometimes overrides the miracle we desparately desire.  I am comforted to know that instantaneous healing and resurrection power come even more naturally to our Christ than waiting and working through long but necessary processes.  The biggest reason why I can trust in the sovereignty of God is because I am so utterly convinced of the sweetness of God.

What does this say to you?  It makes me want to love Jesus all the more when I think about how His first reaction is to relieve our suffering.  As Beth says, God must be sweet. It must hurt Him when He knows He must wait to help us because of the larger plan in the scheme of life.   To me, that is true patience.

Challenge:

Read through the gospels with the sole purpose of getting to know our Jesus better, rather than just understanding the history and the stories He told.  Look for His emotions and try to imagine what He was feeling in each circumstance.   Your view of Jesus will never be the same.


Abounding in Hope

Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13 NKJV)

Does anyone else get tired of hoping?   When we have something in our lives that stays the same, or appears that it stays the same because positive changes are taking place at a snail's pace, it is easy for our hope to fade.  At least that is the way it works for me.  However, God's word says that we can abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

abound 1 to be plentiful; exist in large numbers or amounts 2 to have plenty; be filled; be wealthy (in) or teem (with)

So we can have plenty of hope.  By ourselves?  No.  That is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in.   We will lose hope in our circumstances if we are relying on our own strength; if we forget that God is there waiting for us to ask Him for help.  Let's take another look at the last part of our verse in Romans 15:13:

...that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hmm...see, it does say that we abound or have abundant hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But how do we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit?  The answer is always the same: through prayer and reading God's word.  I was feeling hopeless about something this week and through a bible study I've been working on God gave me a measure of renewed hope through His word.  As I was studying about the prophet Jeremiah and his prophetic words about the destruction of Israel due to their sin, God gave me the following:

Jeremiah 32:17 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.'

Isn't it funny how words of hope were just not what I was wanting at the time of my study - I was having a pity party - but yet God saw fit to work His way into my private time!  What a good Lord we serve.  Here is another:

Jeremiah 32:27 "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard for Me?"

Then another...

Jeremiah 32:39 "then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them."

God is in the heart changing business.  He can change mine.  He can change yours.  He can change those around us.  He can change them and us to fear Him and love Him.  Believe it.   We can abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit if we just seek Him through His word and prayer and do what He asks of us.  He will give us the hope.  We don't have to manufacture it ourselves.

Questions to ponder:

1) What is the one thing that I need the most hope for?

2) Have I given it over to God so He can provide me with hope?  Do I need to talk to God again about the situation?


And So Joshua Did

As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did.  He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.  (Joshua 10:15 NKJV)

Isn't it nice to see examples of such obedient servants of the Lord?  While they certainly weren't without their mistakes, because after all, leaders are people too, Moses and Joshua ultimately did their best to do all that God demanded of them, no matter how difficult.  Because of their obedience, they were also rewarded by God.  In Joshua 10, we see listed the conquests of Moses and Joshua and see that even though God hardened the hearts of the rulers of the lands (Joshua 10:20) to rise up against Joshua, the peoples of these lands could not be victorious over Joshua because God was with him.  It is interesting to me that God would go to the lengths He does to prove He is God - even changing peoples' hearts so that they are against Him and worthy to be conquered.

I want to be like Joshua & Moses, doing all that God has commanded me to do, finishing His work.  But what exactly is that?  Is our work ever really finished?   What is God asking you to do in your life right now?  Finish the task, or start the task, whatever the case may be, knowing that God will be with you to the end.


The Sun Stands Still

In my last post we left Joshua and the Israelites after they had just erroneously made a covenant with the Gideonites to allow them to live in their land.  Remember that the Israelites didn't ask for God's guidance in the matter, they relied on their own wisdom and thus ended up disobeying God's orders.  It must be remembered however, that God did not reprimand them for a mistake.  After all, this time they didn't purposely disobey.

We find in Joshua 10 that five different Canaanite kings decided to band together and attack Israel.  To me, this would be a pretty scary time to be living, especially as an Israelite when everyone is out to get them.  But God delivers Joshua & Co. once again from destruction:

And the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand, not a man of them shall stand before you."  (Joshua 10:8)

Have you ever "heard" God say that to you?  If you haven't heard Him before, I bet you were not listening very carefully.  God loves to deliver His people to show His glory to the world.  Look at verse 10:

So the LORD routed them before Israel... (Joshua 10:10)

God is moving all of the time, just like He was back then in Joshua's day, routing the approaching armies into the direct path of waiting Israelite soldiers. God facilitated the victory!  (See also 10:19, 25, 30, 32, 42).   God delivers on His promises when we are obedient to His ways.  He also listens to our prayers and cries for help just as He did that day when the sun stood still.

And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.  (Joshua 10:14)

The Lord heeded the voice of a man.  God listens.  Still.   

To think about:    Is there an area in your life where you desperately need victory?  When was the last time you fervently asked God for help in that area?


Pray Before You Act

Does anyone remember the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites from Joshua 9?  The Gibeonites were a people living in the land of Canaan who deceived Joshua & Co. into making a treaty with them.  The Gibeonites were afraid of Israel because of all that God had been doing for them and sent a group of men all dressed down (they put on old clothes, brought moldy food, etc.) so that Joshua would think they had travelled a long distance.  You see, Israel was allowed to make treaties with peoples from far away lands, just not from this in their own "back yard".   To make a somewhat long story short, Israel made the treaty with the Gibeonites and then found out that they were deceived and realized the mistake they had made.

Here is the key.  The people of Israel did not pray for God's guidance before they made their decision to make a pact with the Gibeonites.   Aha!

Joshua 9:14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions, but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. 15 So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

The one thing to note is that God did not reprimand Israel for their mistake.  In the following chapter we see more victories by the people of Israel.  While their decision wasn't the smartest one they could have made and it wasn't God's intent, God did not punish them for not asking His opinion on the matter.    I believe God gave them grace because while they forgot to consult God, they weren't willfully disobedient.  After all, they were deceived by the Gibeonites.

When was the last time you entered into an agreement, a ministry, a job, etc,, without praying to God for guidance?  We all have done it.  We just remember in the future that asking for God's advice might keep us out of "trouble" and help all of us busy ladies be less overcommitted!     :)