Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Devotional 89 Christmas Obstacle

"When you get up on the wrong side of the bed, choose the wrong route to work, or push the wrong button, be ready with a word of worship. Sovereign Lord, do whatever You like. You are in control." Secret Strength by Joni Eareckson Tada

Daniel 2:20, 21 "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons.."

Psalm 31:15 "My times are in Your hand..."

I have a little automated toy mouse - furry and gray. When wound up it races across my wooden floor twirling its black tail and making clacking noises.

My great niece who is a year and a half is afraid of it. At first I tried to get her used to it, to tell her it would not hurt her, it was just a toy. But then I thought I could use this to my advantage.

I do not let her go in my laundry room because my husband stores his art paints on the floor. I would invariably forget to shut the door because I use it so often. And she would invariably discover the open door and find it a great source of entertainment to get Aunt Carol to chase her out. So one day I placed the little furry mouse in the door way.

Voila! I could go in and out with laundry but my niece would not step foot across that door way. She would stand several feet a way staring at the mouse and complain until I came out.

That was an obstacle I put there by my decree with a purpose that was good for both of us. Now my niece did not feel like it was a good purpose. It was keeping her from something she wanted. But in my mind it was keeping her safe.

So are the obstacles that God places in our lives. They are always for a purpose. Our times are in His hands. If a change needs to be made in our schedule, our job, our finances, our family, God can bring about obstacles that get us moving and looking in the right direction.

If things seem to be going wrong this Christmas----not enough money for the gadgets, not all the family will be able to gather, weather does not cooperate, a flat tire on the day of travel, to ill to enjoy the holidays, a death, or a quadriplegic as Joni Eareckson Tada was---do as Joni suggested in the quote at the top. Worship! Because your Sovereign Lord is in control of even this.

May Christ be your joy this season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Devotional 88 Christmas Resolve

"I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. ...I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C. S. Lewis calls their 'divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic' existence." Clyde Kilby, professor at Wheaton College...Oct.22, 1976

Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork."

The above quote was from a lecture given at Wheaton College by Professor Kilby who actually gave 10 resolves that he was determined to live by. This was resolve #6. This is the one resolve I wish to practice for the month of December.

I resolve to pause each day and look at the beauty of Christmas. To see in it the divine magic and wonder of God coming to earth.

When I have been busy cooking and cleaning, I will stop for a moment and go outside (whether raining or snowing, blowing wind, or frosty sunny) and I will breathe in the crisp air and look up and thank God.

On days I spend playing with a child I will look at their sparkly eyes and rosy cheeks and kiss them and thank God for such a creation as babies and children. For our Great God and Savior was a child.

When I hear Christmas music while busily shopping I will stand still for a moment and really listen to it even as others whip around me. For Psalm 100 says "Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God;"

When I light my candles I will say: "Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the world, come to save sinners such as me."

When I rub shoulders with friends and family and enemies, I will (as the quote above suggests) see them with a little more terrifying, ecstatic, divine magic as a creation of God for a purpose. Just as in the Christmas story the shepherds, the wise men, and even Herod played a decreed, divine role given by God.

So I resolve to pause, look, and listen. Will you do that with me? In your busy schedule will you allow for a little magic? Today the heavens are declaring the glory of God!

Luke 1:46 "My soul magnifies the Lord, and spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Devotional - Snapshot 87- Death

"The Bible speaks of two ways of dying. The people of God...die in faith, and enter that place God has prepared for His people from the foundation of the world. The only other way one can die is to die in one's sins...and the worst calamity that could ever befall a human being is to die in that state." R. C. Sproul

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15

On September 23, 2011 my mother died. It was a glorious moment for her as she left her labored body and entered into the beauty, peace, joy of heaven. Jesus, whom she trusted as her God and Savior on May 3, 2011 at the age of eighty, was there to wipe every tear from her eyes.

Our son sang a song at the funeral--"It Is Not Death To Die" by Bob Kauflin. Here are some of the verses.

It is not death to fling aside this earthly dust,
And rise with strong and noble wing, to live among the just.

It is not death to hear the key unlock the door,
That sets us free from mortal years, to praise You evermore.

O Jesus, conquering the grave.
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

So my, dear sisters, there are two ways to die...with Jesus or without Jesus. I tell you the truth, your mind can not conceive what awaits you when you die trusting Jesus as your Savior. To die is to gain!!! One dies to live! The grandest, most glorious home is ready for you and I. Joy unspeakable, love most divine, no insecurity, no guilt, no fear, no worry will be ours in the presence of Christ. For those of us who believe, it is not death to die.

But wait, if you do not believe Jesus is who He says He is ---fully God and fully man, the great I AM, God come in the flesh---you will die in your sins. And that will not be pretty... but terror unspeakable, gnashing of teeth, weeping and crying for eternity.

As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15 "Choose you this day whom you will serve! But as for me and my house we will serve the LORD!"

My husband and I thank you for all your love and support at this time, but we are not weeping as the world, for mother has Christ. Do you?

Devotional - Snapshot 86- You are You

"Just remember, no matter how cool you think you look, everyone will be laughing at that picture of you in ten years." Chris Brooks, Student Life Camp Pastor

"For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13, 14

My mother had just come to live with me. I had guests over for Sunday dinner and she asked to help. "Yes," I said, "you can put the silverware on the table."

I was whipping around the kitchen putting the final touches on the meal while my friends leisurely chatted. I opened the oven door to get the meat out and forgot Mother was standing there with the silverware drawer open retrieving the necessary utensils. I never do anything slowly, so "CRASH!" went the oven door against the silverware drawer. Mother gasped, the guests grew quiet. I turned and looked at Mom and I perceived she was angry, though she said nothing. I told her I was sorry and then I sheepishly looked at my guests and said, "I move too fast."

They continued their conversation, Mom resumed her task, but a wave of inner shame came over me. My mind began to recriminate me. "You move too fast!" "You are making your company uncomfortable." "Why do you do that?" "You are not a good hostess." "You are an embarrassment."

I brought the meat out on top of the stove, holding back tears. I couldn't shake the bad feeling I had about myself at that moment. The negative thoughts were coming fast and furious swirling around my head. Then a still voice began to intrude---"I made you fast."

"What?" I silently whispered.

"It's okay, Carol, I made you fast."

A settled, sure peace washed over me cleansing me of the dirty, muddied thoughts about myself. God had seen and heard and had intruded in my thoughts. "My frame was not hidden from You...Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, ..How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!" Psalm 139: 15-17

Isn't it wonderful the wide range of temperaments, personalities, gifts, weaknesses, appearances, God has made in each one of us. What you don't like about someone may be the very thing God put into them to display His diversity and love. Oh sure, I do need to be sensitive to how my personality affects another, so I can moderate myself for Christ's sake that Christ might be glorified. But we shouldn’t feel shame for moving fast, or moving slow, or speaking with a squeaky voice, for laughing loud or never laughing, or being organized or scattered, being spontaneous or liking predictability, being a planner, being a thinker, being a doer, liking hymns or contemporary music, comfortable raising hands in church, not comfortable, being shy, being a talker, seeing the big picture, seeing the details. We could go on and on. The list is endless because God's creative energies in us are endless. To feel shame for being Carol or for being you is to not appreciate God's workmanship.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

"Lord, help us to see ourselves and each other with eyes of creative wonder in You."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Devotional - Snapshot 85- Children are not First

"The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things; awe-struck apprehension of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life." Future Grace ....John Piper

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:37, 38

Be extreme for God! To love Him with all your heart, and mind, and strength...this is the first and greatest commandment.

I believe God wants you to put your children not only second, but third--- God, husband, children. A man of God came to Eli in 1Samuel 2:29 and said: "Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and HONOR YOUR SONS MORE THAN ME..."

We are not talking deserting your children or husband, but loving them better by placing the commands of God over the desires of your children.

Wouldn't it be radical instead of football and cheerleading, dance and basketball you had Bible study and scripture memory lined out on a daily basis for your kids and the neighborhood kids? Might you follow Jesus more closely by doing less, slowing down, not attending every school event, having a blackout time on TV; instead dance with your family to praise music, take a walk and talk about God's wonderful creation, read about the fascinating sacrificial lives of missionaries, teach your children to see serving Christ as the greatest job ever!

Guess what? I think we need to teach children that Christians suffer and die for their faith everyday. Some of my friends think that is wrong, but I think it will help to build stronger and braver young people to go anywhere our dear Lord asks them to go. We are weak because we do not teach the hard things. Corrie Ten Boom (a writer, speaker, survivor of the Holocaust) said "America is not ready to suffer, because they are too soft." I want to get a generation ready to suffer. Even children can be tougher in Christ.

No one has a full life apart from Christ. We cover up our emptiness with more busyness. We rationalize our over involvement as our witness to the world, when in reality it is too hard to sit and listen for God's direction on a daily basis. We are afraid life will pass us by if we do nothing, if we get quiet, if we pause. We are afraid people will think we are bad parents if we don't do,do,do and go,go,go. So we just stay busy. And we miss Him.

May the Lord bless you in your struggle to work out with your own particular situation what it looks like to love Him best and most!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Devotional -Snapshot 84 New Covenant

"God gives a fixed order to the natural creation, and it is just as impossible for the new covenant to cease as it is for the natural order to cease." ESV commentary

"Behold the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah....I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people...Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar- the LORD of hosts is His name; If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, than shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever."
Jeremiah 31: 31, 33, 35, 36

As I sat on the beach of Maui these verses had a particularly powerful meaning. I watched the faithful, persistent, sure crash of the waves against the shore. God says as the stars and moon dependably light the night and the ocean waves steadily roar so surely is His promise to bring a new eternal covenant.

Easter is over, but the lingering promise is that He will always be our God and we will always be His children because of the eternal forgiveness that is possible through Jesus. And once forgiven, forever forgiven. As sure as I count on the next wave to slap the shore so confident I am that God can save me and keep me. The way to heaven is through Jesus and all who trust Jesus can rest in the covenant keeping God.

We thank You, Father, for making a new covenant with us and for saving us. Though we are faithless, You remain faithful, because You cannot deny Yourself. 2 Timothy 2: 13

Devotional -

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Devotional Snapshot 83 - God loves God

"God's love offends us because the greatest object of God's love is God, not us."
The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love by Jonathan Leeman

Romans 11:36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

The statement above by Leeman surprised me in two ways. First, offended by God's love? Who would be offended by God's love? Second, God loves Himself supremely!

Let's talk about the second first...God's love for God. When God looks at the world He sees His beautiful creation and He calls it good. When He looks at us He sees those He has redeemed and He calls us children - John 1:12. But when He looks within the Godhead, God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit see within their gaze the most, glorious, holy, pure, majestic, powerful being that has no beginning and no ending. There is no one greater to love than God. God would commit idolatry if He loved anything more than or as much as Himself.

The Father declares, "This is My Son, whom I love.." Matthew 17:5. Jesus says before He dies "the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." John 14:31

Everything is for God, about God, because of God. It's not about me.

When we read that, does a little voice say..."Hey, wait a minute. I'm important, too." Here is where the first surprise came in. I realized that I was jealous that God loved someone else more than me. I was offended that the world did not, after all, evolve around me.

And yet, this is a great comfort to me.

He doesn't need my love to be contented, because He is totally complete in the joyous, rich love in Himself. God is fulfilled by God. I do not have to worry about disappointing God. He is not up in heaven wringing His hands over what I am about to do. I don't have to fear failure. His happiness is not disturbed by it.

Most certainly you and I experience God's love! But it streams first out of His love displayed in the Trinity. "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39 The love of Christ for us is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than we comprehend. (Ephesians 3:19)

Years ago, after a busy day with people, my seven year old daughter came to me and said, "Do you have enough love left for me, Mommy?" I could grow weary, I could fail to love. But God can never run out of love for you because His love is so satisfied and complete within the Trinity. He will for eternity have enough love left for you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Devotional Snapshot 82 - Trouble

"There are always some who are going through sharp trial, and who will fail unless they remember whom they are following - not a Christ at ease, but the Christ who was crucified." Thou Givest...They Gather by Amy Carmichael

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...Consider Him who endured...My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12: 2,3,5,6

Would it be accurate to say that all of my troubles are because of sin --either someone else's or my own? Even if my trouble is illness it, too, dates back to sin-- the day the Lord told Adam that if you eat of this tree you shall surely die...Genesis 2:17. Would it be accurate to say that all of my trouble is also from a loving God--either for discipline or testing?

So as my 'fav' author, Amy, would say we must, at times like these, remember our Christ crucified, not our Christ at ease. We must fix our eyes on Jesus who has begun our faith and just as He promised He will complete and perfect our faith. He, blessed Savior, knows how to bring me safely to Heaven, not without divinely planned bumps and bruises.

This life is temporary. It's not our real home. It is preparation. Move on! Go on! Endure! Repent of today's sins and get up! Look up and fix your eyes on Him who died for you today. And don't be surprised by the means He uses to get your attention. There are times His love is punishing according to scripture, but you are His! Always and forever, His.