Thursday, October 30, 2014
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, revising the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
I love to run early in the morning when most people are still in bed and the streets are dark. I wear a headlight around my waist, so I can see the ground and carefully tread without tripping over rocks or potholes. I use my jogging time to mull over the day, deal with issues that confuse or upset me, and spend time with God. This time of quiet with God invigorates me and brings clarity to my confusion. I have viewed some of the more beautiful sunrises while running. The heavens truly do declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. In the sunrise, God reveals His glory to my heart. The beautiful visage is like a champion rejoicing to run his course. The swirls of vibrant color in the heavens are like God's voice speaking to me. God can talk to us through "inaudible noise." He can speak to us through the beauty of His handiwork. In Romans 1:20, Paul writes: For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Sometimes our concerns and the hectic of our lives keep us from seeing and hearing the beauty of God that fills the earth. As we enjoy the beautiful fall colors and cool air, we can remember what the psalmist says - The Lord and His Word revive our souls. His ways are trustworthy. He can fill our simple minds and give us His knowledge. His justice and truth will bring light to our eyes. God's ways are righteous. His law warns us and keeps us on a straight path. His Word calls us to repent and returns us to God who restores and rejuvenates us.
I ask you to find someplace quiet to enjoy the beauty that God has created and to respond to God's revelation to you. And, may the words or our mouths and the contemplation of our hearts please God who is our Rock and our Redeemer.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
What is happiness to you? Does your happiness include God? I happen to be a grumbler who often finds things to be disappointed with. Rarely does a situation meet the expectations of what I think it should be. I wonder if God wants us to be happy, and if so, what should this happiness consist of? I recently read that another definition for the word, blessed - makarios in Greek, is happy. Scripture tells us the following will make us happy:
Happy are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2: 12)
Happy is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalm 32:1)
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)
Happy is the man who makes the Lord his trust. (Psalm 40:4)
May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be happy in him, all nations call him blessed! (Psalm 72:17).
We have every reason to be happy! We, as Christians, are grafted into God's family. We are adopted sons and daughters:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)
We are made new in Christ!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13)
Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! (Romans 8: 38-39)
Why do we grumble? We are blessed indeed!
Thursday, October 16, 2014
David, after having defeated Saul and his army, settled into the palace in Jerusalem as the new king. After having hidden in caves while Saul's men tried to capture and kill him, the Lord gave David rest from his enemies (2 Samuel 7:1). Yet David realized, as he rested in his beautiful home, that the ark of the covenant still had no home. David said to Nathan the prophet, "here I am living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent" (2 Samuel 7:2). David wanted to do something for God.
That night, the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
"Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling...Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed (8-10). "'The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you; When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (11 b-13).
God had not chosen David to build him a temple. This task would be given to Solomon, David's son.
Have you ever wanted to do something for God? Maybe you went to great effort to bring the plans to fruition only to encounter road blocks and detours. I know that much of my desire to have a daughter was selfish, yet God used this desire to bring my daughter home from Vietnam. However, even the process of bringing her home was filled with frustration, corruption and delays. I did not have to hide in a cave and run for my life, but like David, I had to learn to wait on God before I could rest.
God's message to David, when he wanted to build a home for the ark was a bit shocking. "Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?" God reminds David that He would appoint someone to do this job in His timing and in His way. We are repeatedly reminded by God that we need to wait on Him. Even if our plan is grand and would bring about some good work for His kingdom, He is able to make things happen and His plans are always right. As we learn to wait on the Lord, we grow in faith and are strengthened by God. Isaiah 40:31 tells us: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
We should not stop making plans for God's kingdom. However, God may have a different means of bringing about the outcome than we, and we must pray and entrust our plan to His guidance.
Dear God, I often make plans without bringing them first to You. Your ways are good and right. When I wait on You, I am strengthened by your supernatural strength. Help me to entrust my thoughts and fears to You. In Christ's Name. Amen.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that one in five Americans in 2010 suffered from mental illness; 5% of the illnesses were severe enough that they affected the ability of these Americans to study, work and or maintain healthy relationships.
I have friends and extended family who have suffered from various mental illnesses,and have, therefore, come to understand that it is not a quality that should bring out condemnation but rather demands compassion from the Christian community.
Parents of children who suffer from mental illness experience shame for the behavior and symptoms expressed by their children. Likewise, children whose parents suffer from mental illness carry the confusing sense that they are somehow responsible for their parents' problems. The weight of the sickness bears heavily not only on the one personally afflicted but also on friends and family of the loved one. As Solomon wrote,
A man's spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)
Whether the illness is situational or biological, God's love is not conditional. Regardless of mental state, we are loved with an everlasting love by a God who does not condemn us. Even in mental illness, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I pray that You would watch over my friend/family member who struggles with mental illness and those close to him/her. Be with them as they attempt to understand the illness and seek treatment. Please guide him/her and those who provide council and assistance. You are our light in darkness. Through Your love, we are more than conquerors.
In Christ's Name. Amen.
Conley, M. (2012, January 19). 1 in 5 Americans Suffers From Mental Illness. Retrieved October 8, 2014 from: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/01/19/1-in-5-americans-suffer-from-mental-illness/
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.
When we rely on our own wisdom, it is so easy to fail. We search for ways to bring about our own desires and forget to depend on the wisdom which God will provide us if we only ask. Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
When we spend time in the Word, submit to His authority and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have confidence and hope. The riches and blessings that result from faith in Christ are true and lasting gifts in contrast to wealth, material possessions, notoriety, and the daily barrage of values the world tries to feed us.
We also look to others or trust in our own abilities to give us strength when things don't go our way. Yet, as believers, we have been given a strength to endure hardship through our faith in Christ. We have a wisdom that is foolishness to the world. We have a hope that the world cannot understand. And, as adopted sons and daughters of Christ, we have an eternal inheritance awaiting us, and we belong at this moment to the kingdom of God. God is good and has blessed us greatly!
I pray that You would give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may indeed know You better. Open the eyes of my heart and fill me with Your hope. Help me to understand the riches with which I have been blessed and to experience Your strength and power through my faith in You.