Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Devotional -Snapshot 24 - Prayer

"The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not normally look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in." Joy C. S. Lewis

"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."
1 Peter 4:7

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self controlled . Why? So we can debate Christ with the unbelieving world; so we can be better examples of Christ; so we can love better? No! The answer according to this scripture is so we can pray.

Just a moment ago when I decided to come over to the church and pray the thought struck me: "What a waste of time." That was a demonic thought! The facts are just the opposite! Warfare and work for the kingdom are best done in prayer. Not a waste, but a necessity! Not a waste, but a privileged opportunity! Not a waste, but a joy!

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16

If some of you ladies are into scrapbooking, why not make a prayer album? Get pictures of those you want to pray for. Find a verse to write under their picture. Pray that verse into their life. Decorate as much or as little as you like. I have found it so helpful to stay on target and not to wander when their face is right in front of me. The verses help to keep my prayers word centered and ministers to me as well.

Devotional -Snapshot 23 - Grandpa Letter

July 4, 2000

"The world is not necessary to God in the same way God is necessary to the world." William Temple Devotional Classics

"...that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." Philemon :6

Dear Granddad,

I had a disturbing dream last night. I was visiting you in the hospital. You were sick and weak.

You did not want to be in a room so you were lying on the floor in the hallway with only a sleeping bag for padding. There was a plain wooden shelf at your feet. Besides the bare walls and the passing nurses, that's all you had to look at.

"At least," I thought, "I can put something pretty on the shelf - a bouquet of flowers, pictures, something to brighten up your dreary spot."

Now mind you, you did not seem that perturbed by your surroundings. You were rather disinterested except to make some sort of a grumpy comment here or there which nobody really listened to.

The next day I came back to place some fragrant flowers on your book shelf and it was gone! Someone had taken it and now you lay alone in the hall staring at the ceiling. Hopelessness and sorrow overwhelmed me for you. I sat down beside you and began to cry.

You touched me and said, "What's the matter do you miss your church?" I was startled that you were making contact with me. I did not think you were aware of my presence. Your voice had tenderness and compassion in it. I was moved by your question and it dawned on me that all those years of witnessing to you was just talk about another nice religion, a social club, a moral way to live, a code of ethics --not Jesus - my life, my friend, my salvation, my very breath, my joy, my purpose - the living Jesus, my God Almighty.

No, I wasn't missing church, I wasn't even thinking about it. I was weeping for you because you were dying alone and without Jesus!

"Oh Granddad," my throat constricted and my tears flowed freely, "Oh Granddad, you need Jesus." I cried over and over again, "You need Jesus."

When I woke up from that dream, real tears and a heavy heart greeted me with the sun rise. I wanted to take you in my arms and hug you tight and tell you I love you ... but yes, it is true, you need Jesus.

It is never too late to become a child of God, to ask Christ to forgive you for your sins, to tell Him you believe in Him. He is both kind and severe. Kind to those who have received His love and mercy, who have believed on His name; severe to those who reject Him. Romans 11:22

It's not about church, Granddad, it's about Jesus.

Write down some things God has done in your life. Pray for boldness and opportunity to share these with someone. Or is there a letter you need to write?

Devotional -Snapshot 22 - Serve with Joy

"If our children saw us doing 'heartily as unto the Lord' all the work we do, they would learn true happiness." Keep a Quiet Heart Elisabeth Elliot

"Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you." Deuteronomy 28:47-48

Lord, I have been in a state of refusal to do a certain work at the church. My feelings on this are so fogged with my own self will that I have no idea what Yours is. It could be that you truly desire a change of place for me - on the other hand you may desire a change of heart.

I believe the above verse warns me that my grumbling about the job God has given me to do is like walking around with an iron yoke upon my neck. And the above quote by Elisabeth Elliot reminds me people are watching my attitude.

Lord, help me to do your will and to do it graciously. Help me to joyfully submit to you.

"Fulfillment is not a goal to achieve, but always the by-product of sacrifice." Keep a Quiet Heart Elisabeth Elliot

Each of us has something dreary to do in our lives. God knows it and can enable you to do it cheerfully. Even to a slave, Paul, in the inspired book of Colossians wrote: chapter 3: 23, 24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

What task do you need the Spirit's help in order to do it joyfully?

Devotional -Snapshot 21 - Joy

"We are nowhere forbidden to laugh, or to be satisfied with food, or to annex new possessions to those already enjoyed by ourselves or our ancestors, or to be delighted with music, or to drink wine." John Calvin

"Joy is the serious business of heaven." C.S. Lewis

"Blessed are you poor... Blessed are you who hunger... Blessed are you who weep... Blessed are you when men hate you... exclude you... revile you... For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven..." Luke 6:20-23

Blessed means happy. Jesus commands, demands our happiness, our joy. Matthew 5:12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven...". He wants us to think about heavenly rewards, because He Himself mentions it several times. He reminds us of it. Keep it on your mind. This is the reason why you can go through mourning, poverty, hunger, persecution because Jesus reminds us of heavenly reward.

It must be absolutely fantastic, marvelous- for that hope to sustain and produce joy in times of severe trial. "I rejoice in my sufferings for you..." Colossians 1:24. "...who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:2. "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials..." James 1:2. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

In what do we rejoice? In God's great mercy. He gave me new birth, He gave me a living hope. Because of Christ's resurrection, I have an inheritance that can never perish. I am shielded by God's power until He comes again.

"...rejoice in the hope of the glory of God... also rejoice in our sufferings..." Romans 5:2,3

For a moment lay aside your suffering , your worry, your sadness and list your blessings. I know when you are in physical pain or emotionally depressed this is easier said than done. So I pray for the Lord's mercy on you right now, that He will lift your spirits and ease your mind and help your pain to go away. In the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Devotional -Snapshot 20 - Salvation

"You will not know how to get to heaven simply by eavesdropping on the conversations of the members of the Church." Charles Spurgeon Devotional Classics

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering..." Romans 8:1-3

They still don't get it. They have sat under Biblical teaching for half a century. They have rubbed shoulders with born again Christians, watched them live out their convictions, been at the receiving end of their love, eavesdropped on their conversations. Every time the church door is open they are there. But they don't get it....salvation, sin, Savior....Jesus! They don't get Him, they don't have Him. Even though it has been preached they don't believe a loving God would create hell. They hear the Word of God like a foreign language - needing interpreting by their well trained humanist mind.

And so, they stand condemned. Christ does not dwell in them. They say they believe in God but reject the God as portrayed in the Bible (a loving God would never ask Abraham to sacrifice his son!). They say they love Jesus but deny that He is God. They say there is no hell, but certainly heaven. They feel as good as the next guy and better than most.

This matters to me! I know them personally. I have prayed for them, given them books, read the scriptures, shared the reality of Christ in my life, shared my testimony. They don't get it. They are members of my family and they don't have Jesus. Help, Lord!

2Corinthians 4:4 "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

John 12:37 "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him."

And yet, I must not stop praying. He ordains my prayers and He may choose to answer "yes" for their salvation. The Lord must draw them and open their eyes. As long as they breathe there is hope. In Christ there is no condemnation. May they find it true for them.

Who's salvation are you praying for?

Devotional -Snapshot 19 - Pride

"They do not draw attention to themselves. ...They love you more than other men do, but they need you less... They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from." Joy C. S. Lewis

"It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor." Proverbs 25:27

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips." Proverbs 27:2

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12

I catch myself using "I did this" or "I did that" when talking to others. Sometimes I feel ashamed because I know in my heart I told them in order to build up my own image.

I need to remember the above verses when I want to brag, or feel hurt by some overlooked thing, or begin to feel urgent at promoting the talents or gifts of my husband and children. Someone else got the credit for something I had done while working in the hospital and because of "privacy laws" I could not say anything. It has to be enough that God knows. Leave it in His care. "Self" wants to show off. But my new nature whispers 'leave it alone.'

"The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and exalts." 1Samuel 2:7

What is it you need people to notice? Is it well behaved children, your hard work on the job, your cooking, your sewing, your craft, your punctuality, your lawn, your organizational skills, your flexibility, your sacrifices, your musical abilities, your art, your husband's title, athletic ability....on and on. All these are good things but can be a source of pride. Spend time with the Lord about this. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you whenever you are bragging.

Devotional -Snapshot 18 - Routine

"Since God knows our thoughts even before we think them, isn't it absurd of us to hesitate to tell Him the straight truth about ourselves?" Keep a Quiet Heart Elizabeth Elliot

" perceive my thoughts from afar... You hem me in... All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:2,5,16

I see how little I love You and Your people when I think sorrowfully about getting back into all the usual church programs in the Fall. I am dreading my weekly responsibilities since my summer has been so carefree.

Has the summer been devoid of service to You? Definitely not! But it has been spontaneous and daily delivered as I am led: letters of encouragement, carrot cake to a neighbor, meals for my friends, prayer, e-mail communications, instruction to a missionary on the judgments and sovereignty of God, relaxed conversations with my husband and children, swimming, cycling, exercising with my daughter, coffee/study hour at any time of day.

Now it is time for the routine, back to the scheduled commitments. I am aware You use the weekly program. It is stable, sure, consistent. Help me to love You enough that I will joyfully serve You in the daily routine.

I praise You for the "hedge" You place around me. Your "hemming in" protects me and guides me. It teaches me to trust You for my need of spontaneity and joy to live out the "daily". All my days have been fashioned for me and Your thoughts about my life are precious and wonderful.

"...for the worse my state the greater the need of my Father who loves me." George McDonald

What difficult tasks do you need God's help for? What daily commitments do you have that are wearing you out? Child care, housekeeping, job responsibilities, daily pains, church programs, aging parents, etc.---give it all to God. Ask Him to renew your joy. Thank Him for the dailies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Devotional -Snapshot 17 - Prayer

"Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to pray to Him, and despairing of yourself to say this, 'Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours..." Martin Luther

"Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." Colossians 4:12

Reading the struggles Elizabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael (missionaries and authors) had with prayer encourages me. They thought the exact same thoughts as I ... "I pray so poorly, too much time for prayer, does it really work better than action, past sin, tiredness, guilt over tiredness, distraction, distraction." With the same thoughts given to all of us one wonders if the author of those thoughts is not Satan himself? He's not creative, therefore he discourages all mankind in the same way. We should be quicker to recognize the liar.

Amy Carmichael: "...he is much more afraid of our prayer than our work."

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." Ephesians 3:20 So, Lord, I wish I would pray more than work. In my heart I know this is right, but my head is busy getting the outer done instead of accomplishing the inner.

"In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." Ephesians 3:12

Here are some ideas to help keep prayer lively. A blank page journal can be used to record requests and answers. Recipe boxes with 3' by 5' cards can hold the name of one you wish to regularly bring before the Lord. Place their name at the top and the date. Maybe you have a favorite verse to pray in their life. Write it under their name. I add a picture of the person I pray for. It helps me to focus on them and not get so easily distracted. If you are a scrapbooker, make yourself a prayer album instead of an event album.

Devotional -Snapshot 16 - Discipline

(Re: Romans 8:28, 29) "The "good" for which all things work is not the immediate ease and comfort of God's children (as is, one fears, too often supposed), but their ultimate holiness and conformity to the likeness of Christ." Great Grace J.I. Packer

"I will punish their sin with a rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness." Psalm 89:32,33

"I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him,.." 2Samuel 7:14,15

God seems to say He can harm us, hurt us and still love us . He can refuse to hear our prayers because of unconfessed sin, turn His back on us and still love us.

Like a father to his son, like a mother to her daughter we discipline for their good. So our Holy, Just God does what is necessary to bring about heavenly results in our lives. He can and will punish us but His love will never be taken away. He loved us from the beginning and will love us to the end.

This unconditional love though is for His children. You must receive Christ as your Savior, submit to Him, repent of your sins and trust His death and resurrection as canceling out your debt to God. John 1:12 "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed on His name, He gave the right to become children of God --" Talk to Him about your salvation now.

Devotional -Snapshot 15 - Suffering

"...let us rid our minds of the idea that things are as they are because God cannot help it. God 'works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will' (Ephesians 1:11), and all things are as they are because God has chosen that they should be, and the reason for His choice in every case is His glory." Great Grace J.I. Packer

Suffering is God's will and it is His will that I continue to do good while suffering. "For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. ...But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." 1Peter 2:15,20

God will make His grace abound so that I can do whatever His will is. All suffering has an end. All suffering glorifies God - whether I suffer for doing good or evil. God can use it for His glory.

Who of us does not suffer sometimes as a result of our own evil behavior, but even here God receives glory. "You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." Genesis 50:20

God is gracious. His grace is sufficient to meet any need. He has called me for glory and it will be forever. So expect suffering. It brings joy! It has a glorious end! It is part of God's plan and glory! It shames the wicked and encourages the righteous! It brings restoration and comfort from God!

"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10

Can you look back and see God's hand in even your suffering?

Devotional -Snapshot 14 - Pruning

"But God, who always has his eye on tomorrow as he deals with us today, never spoils his children, and the lifelong training course in holy living in which he enrolls us challenges and tests us to the utmost again and again." Great Grace J. I. Packer

"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8

I am to abide in Christ, remain in Him. He prunes my life so I can bear more fruit. It is His will that I be fruitful for it honors and glorifies God. The pruning process may be uncomfortable but it has a good result. Does He prune to keep me humble, sad, fearful, worried? ..."No". Instead that I might bear more fruit --more love, patience, gentleness, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, self control; more sensitivity to the Spirit's leading that I might become all things to all men that so that the gospel of Jesus Christ is displayed.

While in our public library I overheard two grandmas. "I told my granddaughter it was time for a nap and she put up such a fuss. 'No, no, I don't wanna lay down.' I finally gave her a swat and put her into bed with me. She lay there crying: 'I'm not going to sleep. I'm not going to sleep.' She said it only twice and promptly fell fast asleep." The two women were laughing as they walked out the door.

Just as the child needed to rest in order to enjoy the remainder of the day, so our Father knows what we need in order to enjoy the reality of His presence. Thank you , Lord, that You are in the pruning business with your beloved branches. "...every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2

I used to think My husband and I could only do small things because we were a small, sinful, insignificant people. But God's plan is that we bear more fruit and He's working on us to see that happen. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." vs. 16

Ten times in John 15 Christ says "remain in Me" - remain in my love, remain in the vine, remain in the Word. There is a responsibility, I must abide in Christ. Stay close. Be near. Daily receive nourishment. Let the Son rays warm me. Talk to Him. Believe.

Vs. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

Is there some pruning going on in your life? Don't fight God in the work He wants to do in your life. Submit to Him and repent.

Devotional -Snapshot 13 - Children

"Though hostile forces rage and chaos threatens, God is King; therefore His people are safe."
Great Grace J.I. Packer

As I leave my children in your care today, with all it's temptations for sin, I pray You would strengthen them by the power of your Spirit to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. 1Pet. 2:11

"Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life... To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy." Jude 21, 24

You are able to keep them for eternal life. You are able to teach godliness to them. If they fail, your grace and mercy covers today. You redeemed them from all wickedness and are making a pure people for yourself.

I, too, sin and mine are no less than my children. Your mercies keep me and so they will keep My children. I must trust you today and let my children make their mistakes and learn of Your wonderful love through it all.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11

Pray for your children or someone else's children.

Devotional -Snapshot 12 - Depend on Him

"It is wretched work for a believer to try and live without his Savior." C. H. Spurgeon

"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." Ps. 50:14,15

I'm learning more and more how God takes delight in my weakness, not my strength; for then I'm more apt to come to Him. That's what He wants! I would feel critical of myself coming to God for every little problem; and yet it appears that's exactly what He says.

"I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need ...for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows upon me in the day of trouble..."

He wants my thankfulness, my obedience, my dependence. My dependence! Imagine that! Being dependent on Him honors Him, glorifies Him! It even says when you call on Him in your day of trouble "He will deliver you, and you will honor Me". Get that through our heads that when we are weak, we are strong. When we admit weakness we bring praise to God Almighty.

This is too wonderful, the more I lean , the less I worry, because it's in His hands. The happier I keep my heart in Christ, the less I experience fear, because I know Him who is fearless. God is glorified! No worry, no fear, no sorrow, all can be mine now as I depend on God.

"He who sacrifices thank offering honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Ps. 50:23

"And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breathe and everything else." Acts 17:25

How do you demonstrate your need for Christ?

Devotional -Snapshot 11 - For His Glory

"He saved us and left us here because He has work to do-very specific work." Beth Moore

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:3-10

In God's great plan of goodness He decrees the use of us to carry His goodness, good deeds, about. The world is blessed by God as Christians act. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:16. God ordains our good works for His glory. ...Awesome!

On our anniversary trip we went into stores with paintings. Some drew us in. They were beautiful, nostalgic, peaceful. Invariably we discovered they were Christian. Thomas Kinkade - the quaint cottage scenes and wonderful display of light and color. Another painter - children portraits: playing by the sea side, sitting on mother's lap, tea party with dolly, sunlight streaming through the window bouncing off the golden hair. On the back of every picture "for the glory of God". William Phillips - an era gone by, the 1930 and 40's, a well-lit home at dusk, a 4th of July celebration, picnics, a snowy road. Underneath his name we see a cross. T. Dubois - dramatic depictions of Noah's ark: multi-colored animals and birds flocking to the massive boat, a sun beam streaming through the expansive build up of clouds. The storm is coming "But I am still with You."

This reminded me that God is being glorified through the hands of men and women around the world. I was ministered to by these artists. Their good deeds were ordained. Imagine people around the globe buying their works and hanging them on their walls ...a little glimpse of God. Their paintings were prepared beforehand in the mind of God.

So my friend Margo's career, Debbie's support of her husband, Jan's hospitality, Abby's crafts, Sue's cookies, my children and even my laundry ...all ordained and part of His great plan to display His goodness to the world. Thank you dear Jesus!

List some of your abilities that God can use for His glory. Pray for other people whose talents you appreciate.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Devotional -Snapshot 10 - Fear

"We have one, and only one, reason not to fear---the presence of Christ in our circumstances; but He is more than enough reason." Beth Moore Living Beyond Yourself

"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Matthew 14:22-27

What do I fear? I am afraid of man's opinion of me and I am afraid of failure. As I keep my focus on Christ He can help me not to be afraid of failure in job, as a friend, as a parent, as a wife. With Christ ever present I can handle the distance of misunderstandings or differences. Not everyone has to like me in order to be happy. Jesus cries out to His men: "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Why should the disciples not be afraid in so great a storm? Because their Lord, their eternal friend, the Creator of the storm was near.

Notice Jesus was "walking" on the stormy sea. There was no hurry or worry to His gait. What must that have been like? If I was unafraid, I would have walked leisurely also, to soak in all the majesty and power of the moment. I love the dark and rumbling clouds, the wind whipping my hair back, the spray of water on my face. The dark swirling pool beneath my feet and the great swirling sky above. I imagine the water felt soft and padded around Jesus' feet. He walked because He was enjoying His creation, because the storm was His will, because He had a purpose which was being worked out to the smallest degree.

Remember this when I am tempted to fear.

What do you need to remember when you are afraid?

Devotional -Snapshot 9 - Wait on the Lord

"If He had energy enough to speak the worlds into being according to the Father's will and the Son's Word, He has the energy to carry you through your burden." Beth Moore

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and, not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa. 40:31

So why am I teary, why did I argue with my daughter and say things that hurt her feelings? Why did I worry about money? Because I had not, for a week, waited on the Lord. I had not renewed my strength in Him, therefore I was not mounting up with wings as eagles but flopping around on the ground like a headless chicken; I was not running without weariness, but wearily running; I was not walking, but fainting.

Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope." I need regular time in the reading of the Bible. This is where I get God's perspective. His perspective always brings wisdom and strength. In His word I hope, on His word I wait.

What does it mean to wait upon the Lord? Read Psalm 130 or Psalm 40. What verses stand out to you? Write one down to memorize. Don't be afraid of scripture memory. You can do it. We've memorized our social security numbers, dozens of phone numbers, our kid's birthdays, you can do it. God gave us a brain big enough to pile a lot more information into it then we do. When the Word dwells in your heart it helps to keep our way pure as the good Book says...Psalm 119: 9-11

Devotional -Snapshot 8 - Trust

"Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." Ruth Rosen - Jews for Jesus

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.
Yet He too is wise and can bring disaster; He does not take back his words. He will rise up against the house of the wicked, against those who help evildoers.
But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.
This is what the LORD says to me: "As a lion growls, a great lion over his prey-- and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor-- so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights." Isaiah 31: 1-4

I love this section! A clear, powerful reminder of the foolishness in trusting the power of man instead of God - foolishness of fearing man who are but flesh over the mighty God who is spirit. Foolishness of worshipping gold which hands have made over the living God who has no beginning and no end.

Don't let the many take precedence over the One. Don't let the very strong strike fear in me over the Great Omnipotent. Don't let the created consume my thoughts over the Creator.

vs. 3 "Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit."

Woe to those who seek help from man and rely on man. Our help comes from the Lord. Our reliance is on Him.

Thank you, not only can I rely on You, it is required of You. It is not a weakness, but an obedient stand I take when I lean on You, need You, take every burden and decision to You.

vs. 5 "Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it."

Write down five things you need to trust God for.

Devotional -Snapshot 7 - Fear

"...he who does not ...anticipate future evil till it comes, suffers it but once, while he who is always anticipating it, suffers it as many times over as he thus thinks upon it." John Angell James Evangelical Gleanings

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:7-12

I am in Portland, Oregon on a strange highway in a borrowed car. Was supposed to find the 242 exit, but missed it. As I traveled east the river grew broader and closer to the road. The trees loomed higher and closer together, sweeter air, more country, less houses, less exits off the road, and I could enjoy none of it because I was lost.

How would I ever get turned around? Headed to "who knows where"? (The last sign said Mt. Hood - 46 miles)

Finally a travel center information sign said left lane. So left lane I went. The travel center turned out to be only boards with maps on them, no official, but people were everywhere. I began asking strangers directions. They assured me to head back west and I would find my way.

Okay, that's all I could do. But I paused to look around. So many people, the roar of water. Then I saw a glimpse not too far away - gorgeous waterfalls rushing over the mountain side - only a brief walk. It would by silly to stumble on so beautiful a place and not stay long enough to look.

Multnomah Falls - one of Portland's attractions! I followed the path so many others were sauntering on. The closer I got the more spectacular. I walked to the rail and peered up, up, up. I felt the spray of cool, moist air on my face, listened to the roar of water and happy chatter of people around me. A peace settled on my fragile, fearful heart as the Lord spoke: "See, I take care of you in the detours."

Over and over I pondered those words as I rested in the beauty of God's creation. I am never out of God's reach, God's care, God's plan.

"If I ascend into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." Ps. 139:8-10

There was a very big lesson to be had in my lostness. One I will need to remember again and again. I'm always trying to stay safe; safe with people, safe in traffic, safe on planes, sure and safe in God's will. But even in wrong turns, bumps in the road, a missed exit sign, an unexpected detour, I am safe in God's care. My life should have no place for fear. The Lord says: "See, I take care of you in detours."

Confess your fears and ask God to make you able to trust Him more.

Devotional -Snapshot 6 - Anger

"God measures us by the character of our inner being, not by what we accomplish or what we do for Him." Jim Sheard

"Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven." Psalm 148:13
"For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation."
Psalm 149:4
"Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!" Ps. 150:2,6

I was out of the house by six in the morning. Walking about a half a mile I found a coffee shop to have my devotional. Beautiful big glass windows facing the Boulder, Colorado Flat Iron mountains. The sun is hitting the dark cliffs as clouds float low over its top. The cinnamon, chocolate smell of a variety of coffees usually puts me in a mood, but not today.

I should be rejoicing, but feel shame from sin, because I got mad at cards last night. How silly! How immature! How so like God to expose my sinful nature.

I had just said to my partner "don't worry its only a game." Then I treated our loss like a thermometer of my worth. "Loser", my mind called me. I gritted my heart. "Loser", I said to myself again. I responded with sarcasm as the opposing team said "did you take a hundred off your score?" "Yeeesss", Iiiiiii diiiiid," I replied smiling sweetly, but a tinge of sourness in my tone.

"What's the final score?" my husband asks. I toss him the paper to see for himself , refusing to add legitimacy to my "loser" status by announcing the disagreeable numbers.

So now I'm here at this beautiful coffee shop, with the great windows, facing the mountains. Nostalgic music is being piped perfectly around the airy room while my dark, creamy coffee steams from its cup ...and I feel miserable.

However big or small, sin stains the day.

Then Your word... "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" ..."Rejoice in your Maker... be joyful in your King"... "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation."

Your Word, the Logos, the Beginning and the End takes a small stained heart and beautifies it with salvation. Instead of the "loser" label; I confess: and am labeled "pleasurable". To the Mighty Creator of the universe I am one who brings pleasure! Unbelievable! Yet true!

How can you not praise! My heart is renewed and if the people silently, properly, sitting around me wouldn't call the police I would burst into a croaky song of thanksgiving.

"Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness." Ps. 150:2

Write down your prayers of praise to this God who forgives.

Devotional -Snapshot 5 - Contentment

"My purpose in life is to know God at any cost, to pursue Him." Wally Armstrong

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
Psalm 34:8-10

Verse 9 says "those who fear him lack nothing." Oh the great unhappiness for a restless soul. Constant yearnings that color today with dissatisfaction. A deep hungering for things of the world that though received, leave one hungrier still. The nagging drag on a heart when one wakes up each morning to think only of what one does not have.

My children have problems, my marriage is in turmoil, my sins are clinging to me like burrs on my socks, another bill to pay with not enough, yearning for beautiful things that others have, loneliness that no one understands ...want, want, want.

Then God's word speaks. There is no want to those who fear Him - to those who reverence, stand in awe, adore, take seriously His commands and lives by them. No want - no nagging guilt, no yearning for things, no burdensome worries, no loneliness beyond His reach.

No want to those who fear Him. Because contentment, submission to His sovereign will, joy and praise for today, trust that He is at work in our marriages, our children, our sins, our needs, our singleness, our poverty, replaces want.

That is why the Psalmist cries out: "O, fear the Lord, you His saints!"

What are your "wants"? What keeps you from feeling content? Read any of the Psalms and write down the verses that describe the desirability of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Devotional -Snapshot 4 - Suffering

"If the affliction should come, it will bring its own support with it." John Angell James

"Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips. ...O LORD, I say to you, "You are my God." Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy. O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle..." Psalm 140:1-3,6,7

I think of the Jews during the Holocaust. How I would have been pleading this Psalm over and over. I would have felt desperate to live - did they? The fear that would always surround me - how did they sleep? The plots and plans of wickedness were winning over the millions of Jews who died.

David cries out: "Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men! Preserve me from violent men who plan evil things in their hearts. ...Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked..."

Not every Jew was kept or preserved in history, nor will every Christian be. I weep for the suffering of man, I fear for the future. Even now God's beloved are dying. They are hungry, they are poor. They are rejected, they are tortured. God protected David as he made supplication to God,- but not every Jew, not every Christian.

We are not promised painless living we are promised His presence. It is enough.

"An affliction sanctified is better than an affliction removed." John Angell James

The Psalm ends with confidence in God. I look back at history or read the biographies of persecuted believers and can I still cry out with confidence: "You are my God! Hear the voice of my supplications! You are the strength of my salvation! You have covered my head in the day of battle!"?

My prayer is You will teach us to be that confident in You for the battles ahead.

Pray about your pain or an other's.

Devotional -Snapshot 3 - Accept/Submit

"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD."
Psalm 139:1-4

I am hungry from fasting, angry at my husband and maybe I am angry at You, my Lord. I am angry at myself. I do not understand my anger. At this moment I cling to those verses, that You know and understand me when I do not. You've searched me. You know me, You understand my thoughts, You comprehend my path. You are acquainted with all my ways. You have sovereignly hedged me in at this juncture in my life and I am fighting it.

There is no higher plane of living if I can not live higher here. There are no greater women of inspiration than the women You have placed right here in front of me. The grass is not greener nor the sky bluer in Maine or Hawaii than in Kansas. Beauty is here.. now, and if I miss it here, I will miss it there, too.

Before I was even born, You wrote every day in a book, fashioned it as a novel, my personal novel written by God. Why be concerned about what I am accomplishing in life? God has it all written down. It will happen, or not. Whatever He wills.

Can I accept that? Sometimes "no". I bristle instead of submit. God will have to break my pride and I fear the pain of it.

In verses 23 and 24 the Psalmist invites God to probe his innermost thoughts and feelings. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." He submits himself to God's correction and direction. Oh, that I might be willing to do the same. Would You do it in spite of me?

I don't know what wall I've tried to build between You and me, God, but can You break it down and come in? Can You clean me up? Correct me, Lord.

His mercy endures forever.

What areas of correction might God be working on in your life?

Devotional -Snapshot 2 - Failure

"Just because we fail doesn't make us a failure." Darlene Ankerberg

" Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant...
I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all deep places." Psalm 135: 3-6

Disappointed a friend who accused me of treating her like a project. I didn't know what to say, don't know what to do different. I do love her but I feel sorry for her and she must sense it and hate it.

I apologized, but it feels lame without me changing somehow.

I go to Your word and it reminds me to praise You. Even now in my failure - I praise You. You are great and good. And to sing praises to You "is pleasant"....

"For I know the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does..."

So do Your work in her life and in mine. Her tears may be Your plan to drive her to You instead of friend, or job, or music, or men. You, O Lord, deserve our praise.

I praise You now.

Failure, whether intentional or accidental, can weigh you down. Praise Your Lord anyway right now.

Devotional -Snapshot 1 - Trust and Dream

"What He is after is us - our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts." The Sacred Romance

"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore." Psalm 131

This is what I see in Psalm 131 when the Psalmist cries out: "O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever."

This is all I can do. Lord, I have dreams but am not even sure what they are. I do not know if You would approve of them or if they would be good for me.

I give You my heart because I do not know what it needs. Only You, my God, can figure it out. I must trust You, hope in You. I have no other. You alone know how to unravel my confusion. You alone can stir me to move in the right direction. You alone can satisfy my need for beauty, for change, for a vision.

You alone can refresh me and cause me to be renewed in the inner man. As I hope in You, I become stilled and quieted.

Whether old or young, married or single, write down your dreams and pray about them. Now quit your fussing and lean on Your Lord. He knows what He is doing with your life.