Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rest Stop

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It was a long car ride in the mountains of California, and Mother Nature was calling. The highway sign marking a rest stop ahead was more than a welcome sight!

God is calling us to a regular rest stop, even when we don’t think we need it. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. (Psalm 37:7)

That command is one of the most difficult for me to obey: Slow down. Stop. Rest in God. Be patient. Let Him be Lord.

I understand what all of these words mean, so why do I instead get agitated, impatient and rush off to do things in my own strength?

It’s because either deep down I believe I can handle life myself, or I don’t think He will actually show up if I wait for Him. I should know by now that my striving gets me very little. Why am I striving for what I want anyway? If it’s for the wrong reason, it will all go up in smoke in the end.

To be centered in His Lordship is the key. What does He want of me today? What does He want for me today? God will fulfill His purposes for me — if I let Him. (Psalm 138:8). That is much easier than trying to fulfill God’s purposes in my own strength, even with the best intentions!

I am pretty certain that God is waiting on me a lot more than I am waiting on Him. He is waiting for me to settle down my mind and heart, to rest in His love, to expect to hear His voice. When I humble myself that way, that is when I can hear my Lord and His eternal words that make all the difference.

 

 

God’s Love Language

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God’s  love language is quality time. Or, at least that seemed to be Jesus’ love language when He was on the earth.

When He visited the house of some dear friends of his — two sisters and a brother named Martha, Mary and Lazarus — he refused to allow Mary to be moved from her position of sitting at his feet and spending time with Him. (Luke 10:38-42)

It looked like Mary wasn’t accomplishing anything in the busy household; (there were at least 15 hungry mouths to feed and a rabbi with celebrity status was staying with them).  But Mary was accomplishing the most important thing there was to do right then: sit at His feet. Jesus said that Mary had chosen what was better, and it would not be taken away from her.

The best thing for our lives is not always the most “important” thing we think we have to do. To maintain our position of being at Jesus’ feet,  we will often have to fight for it. If we don’t make it the highest priority, it will easily get eclipsed by the urgent.

Martha was looking at things from  a purely natural standpoint. How much food was needed and how quickly she could get it on the table. All hands were needed on deck. Why was her sister lounging in the other room?

Perhaps Martha would have liked to hang out with Jesus, too, but she knew her responsibilities. Sitting at Jesus’ feet would have to come later, if at all. She felt the weight of being a good hostess. What she was doing was good, but  it wasn’t the best. There was another course of action that was better, and that was what Mary had chosen.

Whenever we choose the better, we will not be disappointed, but there may be a price to pay. For Martha, that price would have been being considered a poor hostess in a culture where hospitality was everything. For Mary, it was being misunderstood and criticized by her sister and probably the disciples as well.

Only Jesus sided with her.  Isn’t He the only one that counts?

Sometimes we think that we don’t have time to be at Jesus’ feet, but that usually isn’t true. What is true is that we haven’t made the hard choice to say no to something else highly legitimate and important to us. To know God and talk His love language will mean foregoing something else that is important in exchange for what is the best.

 

Mighty Hero

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The Lord will be our Mighty One. He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy ship can sail upon. (Isaiah 33:21)

Every person needs a mighty one — a hero. God will be that for us, if we let Him. The picture the prophet gives us is God as a wide river of protection, prohibiting any enemy ship from entering the waterway.

How do we access this protection? We trust our Might One more than we fear our enemy.

The passage goes on to say: For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver and our king. He will care for us and save us. (v. 22) He has all power, but he is not corrupted by it. He uses His power to help those who are weak and helpless.

We can expect our powerful God to use His power on our behalf, especially when we are powerless. We can trust Him to be a protection against the enemy.

When fear tries to engulf us, we can imagine our God as a an impassable stretch of water that cannot be forded or traversed by anything harmful or dangerous. We can stand on the distant shore and be unmoved by what rages at us across the sea.

What a good, powerful and benevolent Father we have to take care of us!

 

Trust Tests

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How much do I trust God?

Here are a couple of ways to measure it:

How much am I waiting on Him for the answers I need and for direction in my life?

How much am I pouring out my heart to Him?

If I am trying to keep it all together and doing the best I can with what I know (in my own limited understanding), I am basically trusting in myself and hoping for the best.

If I believe God is my source of hope and help, I will get in His presence and wait for His wisdom.

If I trust Him, I will hold nothing back that’s in my heart. I will pour out my worries, fears, anguish, doubts and complaints to Him, and I won’t be concerned about Him rejecting or reproving me. I will know He is a safe place to go with everything that I’m  struggling with.

Here is how the psalmist David put it:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone.

He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Healing Love

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The reason God came to earth was to save us, heal us, deliver us.

Most of us aren’t even sure what we need to be saved from, healed of or delivered out of! We might have a good beat on our physical problems, but we have become so accustomed to our dysfunctions that our soul sickness seems normal.

We all have holes in our souls. Here is one way to find out what we need to be healed from: whatever it is that I do that makes me want to hide from God (shames me), those are the areas I need to be healed in.

Those things that we want to hide actually hold the keys to our healing. If we will let those instances turn us toward God and allow the Physician to take up our case, He will prescribe abundant amounts of His love and truth to heal us.

We need His love to drive out fear and let us know we are not alone, no matter how shameful we feel. We need His truth to correct our misbeliefs — the thoughts that are keeping us trapped in a cycle of hurting ourselves and others — so we can think about ourselves the way He does.

The good news is: We don’t have to hide any more! We can come out into His light and love and be healed. God can and will heal us from our sicknesses and sins, no matter how chronic and debilitating they are.

God has come to save me. I will trust in Him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; He  has given me victory. (Isaiah 12:2)

To Be Understood and Known

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Everyone wants to be known intimately. Not by the whole world, but by a few people who matter to us. In the same way, we want to be understood. To be misunderstood and misjudged is one of the most painful experiences we have as humans.

We get these desires from God. He wants to be understood and known. Probably no human has been as misjudged as God has been. Because He is God, He wants the whole world to know and understand who He really is.

“But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth,  for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:24)

The Lord Most High wants us to know and understand Him as one delighting in love, kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth. Which one of us does not delight in the same? Isn’t that what our hearts really long for — love rather than hatred, kindness rather than cruelty, justice rather than injustice, and uprightness rather than lawlessness?

If we experienced these things, it would be like heaven on earth! Right now, we see these things in scarce quantity, but that is not a reflection of God’s will or character.

He wants, even longs, to be understood and known as a God of lovingkindness, a God of justice, a God of righteousness who wants good for the people of the earth. Let’s get on His side and work for these things in the areas we have influence. Not only will it bring heaven to earth, but it will help us to understand and know Him in truth.

Night Song

But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life.
(Psalm 42:8)

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The song I heard God sing over me last night: (I believe He wants to sing it over all of us)

I love you, I love you, I love you.
I love everything about you because I made you.

I made you for My pleasure.
I made you for my delight.

I love you, I love you, I love you.
I want to shower you with blessings.
No father wants to bless his daughter as much as I want to bless you.

I love you, I love you, I love you.
Will you allow me to bless you?
Will you stop trying to deserve what I give you?
Will you allow Me to shower you from My grace?

Let Me love you with My grace.
Let me love you with My grace.
Let me love you with My grace.

 

Get Wisdom

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Wisdom is not so much about how I think, but about what I do.

Divine wisdom is God’s creativity in action, springing from the deepest part of us and released to bless the world and glorify God.

Wisdom always aligns with God’s highest purposes. We first see the word used in a biblical reference about the people who possessed wisdom to know how to create the furniture and designs for God’s tabernacle.

Wisdom has an output. What we create through wisdom will bring us prosperity and honor. People will come from far and wide to see the results of God’s wisdom coming through us.

God created everything that we see out of His wisdom, and He imparts that same wisdom deep within us  because of our union with Christ.

It’s the most important thing we can seek in this life. Along with knowledge, it brings our lives stability.

So how to get it? We cry out for it. We walk in humility and expect God to reveal to us the creativity that is within. We get out of our heads and  into our hearts. Our union and communion with Him causes us to tap into His wisdom and it naturally flows from us and out of us into this world.

Who Do You Bow To?

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Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan to shortcut his agony and the cross and still inherit the kingdoms of the world that Adam had lost.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-10)

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” (Luke 4:5-8)

Satan tempted Jesus with the kingdoms of the world, their splendor, their glory. Satan said it had been handed over to him and he could give it to whomever he wished. Did he know that Jesus was on a journey to regain the lost kingdom? Why did he tempt Him in this particular way?

Perhaps Satan was just using the same old tricks on humanity as he always has — lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. This temptation would fall under lust of the eyes. He knew this One before him was sinless and he knew that he had to get Him to sin so that he could rule over him. He knew he had to make his best offer to entrap this Perfect One whom had just been affirmed as a beloved Son by the heavenly Father when He was baptized.

What would have happened if Jesus would have bowed down to the enemy? He would have lost everything. He would not regain the kingdoms of the world as the Son of God because he would have compromised and would be subservient to Satan. He would have had no authority to rule and reign.

Think about the power of worship in these passages. Satan said that all Jesus had to do was worship him to gain everything that Satan had. Satan craves worship, because once someone bows to him, they become enslaved to him. To worship is to put yourself below someone else, to put yourself under their rulership.

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

When we worship God, we are voluntarily putting ourselves under His rulership. God asks us to worship Him because that is our proper place in the universe. If we bow to Him, then we are not bowing to other things that want to enslave us. If we are below God, then we are above everything else —  demonic activity, the lusts of the flesh and the world, sin and darkness, even death.

There was only way that Jesus could legitimately rule over the kingdoms of the earth and that was for Him to defeat Satan’s rule on legal grounds and become the undisputed ruler of the universe.

And He did!

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

When Jesus died for the sins of the world, including Adam’s initial rebellion, and He was declared justified, along with all of mankind with Him, then Satan’s hold was broken. Satan’s power was in sin, which separated mankind from God. Once sin’s power was dealt a death blow, Satan’s power became null and void.

Jesus has the keys of hell and death and He shares them with us! It’s time to act like we are overcomers, ruling and reigning with Him. Halleluiah!

Are You Offended? (Part 3)

When we are offended, when we feel an injustice has been done to us, no matter how large or small, we feel emotional pain.  

It’s  not imaginary. The pain is real.

How will we rid ourselves of the pain? Usually our thinking goes along this line, “If I can get that other person to ‘pay’ for what they did to me, I will feel better.”

So we wait for the payment. And wait … and wait. 

And the pain deepens.

The longer there is no payment (whatever we decide that is), the deeper the pain.

The person who caused the pain may not even know it! Or, that individual might be intending to harm us and have no intention of offering “payment.”

Let’s say, though, they the transgressor is a good person who wants to make it up to you. How can they pay the debt? What kind of emotional currency is needed to erase the pain someone has caused?

An apology is a good start, but it cannot fully take away the pain. Here is the reality: If someone causes you emotional pain, they do not have enough to “pay you back” fully or erase that pain completely. Only God can heal us of our emotional pain.

So if we don’t want to live in emotional pain the rest of our lives, we have to allow God into the situation to heal us. The way we open the door for that to happen is through forgiveness.

When we make a decision to forgive and let go of the debt, God can begin the healing process.

If we don’t do this — we are stuck in pain to some degree — for the rest of our lives!

Here is a story Jesus told about how this works: 

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (490 times!) Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:21-27)

The king represents God in the story and the servant represents us, who owe an impossibly large debt. Ten thousand talents would be millions and millions of dollars today. One Bible commentator said that it probably was more than the national revenue of Israel at that time, so Jesus was stressing exactly how un-payable the debt was. 

Remember that the gap between the debt and the payment causes the injured person emotional pain. Does God feel emotional pain because of the sin and injustice we have committed against Him? Yes! We didn’t even know we had a debt to God, and most of us were not trying to make it right. We caused Him immense pain.

Even when we became aware of that debt, there was no way we could pay it because the gap is as big as the universe. Jesus said it was so large it was impossible to be repaid.

There would only be pain between us and God for all of eternity, EXCEPT that He forgave us our debt. Completely! He closed the gap, he took away the pain through Jesus bearing our sins and dying on the cross.

We are brought near by the blood of the cross. Now there is no more pain between us and God because of what was done by Christ. The un-payable debt has been paid and we get to go free, if we accept God’s payment for our sins. There is no greater news than that!

But Jesus didn’t stop there with His parable:

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matthew 18:28-35)

Unbelievable as it may seem, Jesus goes on to tell about a person who has been graciously forgiven a crushing debt but was unwilling to forgive a tiny debt, in comparison, against his fellow man. 

Jesus has read our mail. That is what we do! We have been forgiven a crushing, un-payable debt against God Almighty, and yet we hold on to the debts that other people incur against us.

It’s sobering to note that the person who refused to forgive the debt also ended up in prison — being tortured. 

What is the answer? Even as God forgave us because of what Jesus did on the cross, so we must no longer look to the offending person to pay us back and heal our pain, but we must look to Jesus’ cross for the payment.

When Jesus died on the cross, he died for the sins of the whole world. His justice took care of my sins, but it also took care of the sins done against me by others.

That is the only payment that is enough.

When someone offends me or sins against me, the reason I can forgive 490 times, as Jesus said, is because they cannot pay the price for their indebtedness, but Jesus can! Jesus’ sacrifice covers 490 offenses committed by the same person each day. That’s why I am compelled to forgive; if I don’t, I am saying that His sacrifice wasn’t big enough to pay for that person’s sin.

If I don’t believe that Christ’s sacrifice covered their sin, then how can I believe it covers my sin either?

We have to stop trying to make people pay the debts they owe us spiritually and emotionally. They cannot do it.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to acknowledge when we offend others and try to make it right as best we can, but even if that happens, it really isn’t enough to cover another person’s emotional pain. Only God can do that, as we open to the door to forgiveness. 

God has made a way for us to go free. It’s called forgiveness. We release them from their debts to us because Jesus has paid it for them.

You can make a decision right now to start the healing process in your heart if there is offense there and emotional pain. Jesus said if you stand praying and if you have anything against anybody forgive them so that your heavenly Father can forgive you. (Mark 11:25-26)

Jesus forgave them and you can appropriate that forgiveness that covers EVERYTHING.