Monday, August 31, 2015

His Word, My Fish

"Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it: for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." Jonah 1:1-3

God sent Jonah to Nineveh. It was that simple. He did not ask Jonah's permission to see if it was okay. He did not say to Jonah, "if you wouldn't mind, could you go to Nineveh?" It was simple, clear cut command, "Arise, go to Nineveh." Jonah knew it was a command but he must have thought if he could run away from the presence of the Lord, then he wouldn't have to go. But what he didn't realize was that he WAS going to Nineveh. He could just surrender to God's will and go or he could take the 'scenic route' of a mighty temptest on the sea, being thrown overboard, then being swallowed by a great fish to spend 3 days and vomited back up. After Jonah's trial at sea God once again told Jonah to go to Nineveh. "And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh..." Jonah 3:1-2a This time Jonah followed the Word of the Lord and just went.

How many times has God told us to come up higher? How many times has God called us to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with him? How many times has He called us to minister to the hurting, the lost, the broken? How many times has he said, "Arise and go?" But we don't really want to go. We do not really want to put forth the effort of going deeper. We don't really like the thought of having to devote so much time and energy into a ministry, especially when we are doing good just the way we are. But God didn't ask us. God didn't get our permission. He said, "Come up higher and eat the meat of the word" and that is exactly what he meant. It is our choice though. We can simply surrender to his will or we can take the scenic route. As with Jonah, the scenic route is full of hurt, loss and despair.

Surrender or the Fish, what will your choice be?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

His Word, My Trust

"Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:3-5

Trusting in our Lord and Savior. Why is it so hard? Why do we struggle so much with whole-heartedly, without wavering, believe His promises? Over and over again in the Bible, God tells us to trust him. Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding." Yet every time we do not understand how God is working or understand His timing, we fail to trust. We weep and plead with him to do the work that he promised and all the time He says, "My child I am doing the work. Just trust me." Trust is the assured reliance on the character, honesty, ability and strength of someone or something. Since we trust that God created the world then we can trust him to meet our needs. Since we trust that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, we can trust that he will bring us out of our bondage. We can trust that Jesus died on the cross for our sins then we can assuredly trust that he will redeem that which is lost. Jesus does not lie. (Numbers 23:19) God can do the impossible. (Luke 18:27) God truly, without a doubt, is trust-worthy. (Psalm 25:3)

So when the promise seems so far away and it appears that God is not doing the work, just "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and he SHALL bring it to pass." There is no need to worry or fret because God truly is in control.

Friday, August 28, 2015

His Word, My Peace

Mark 4:35-39
"And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we preish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."

There are times in our life that we feel like we are tossed to and fro like a ship in a storm. When we seek encouragement or direction from our family or friends, they might use the phrase "when you have done all then just stand." We might get a little frustrated with that because we feel that we do not have any solid ground to stand on as our life seems to be in complete turmoil. We speak to anyone looking for someone that will be able to speak a word of peace in our life or give us understanding as to why we are in such a trial. Perhaps someone might be able to relieve your anxiety for a while but once you are alone, you realize that your world is still unsettled and you feel like you will drown in this storm. It is especially frustrating and despairing when you feel that you are in the situation because you were being obedient to something God told you or because you stood on Biblical principles. There are times when you are in this type of storm that you feel too spiritually/emotionally paralysed to even pray. Today I want to give you a Word from the Lord. "Peace Be Still" When we fill our hearts and mind with the Word of God, it is the equivilent of having Jesus in the hinder parts of the ship. When fear comes, we bring out II Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" When sickness comes to our home we can bring out I Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: BY WHOSE STRIPES YOU WERE HEALED" When worry comes knocking we can use I Peter 5:7 "Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you."

It does not matter what the situation is, His Word says:"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." So seek His Word and His Peace is yours to claim.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

His Word, My Heart

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sancified thee..." Jeremiah 1:5a

I believe that God cares about every aspect of our lives. Many times we seek God about the big things in life, such as our ministry, our finances, our housing, etc. but fail to seek him for daily direction. My belief is that if it concerns us then it most definitely concerns God.

Several weeks ago I felt very strongly that God told me to deal with my issues. These are issues that He has repeatedly dealt with me about for years. He has convicted me, chastised me and lovingly spoke with me about changing BUT I would pay it lip service, make a small attempt, and when not successful, just give up. This time though He was serious. To get my attention, He took from me the blessing that I purely loved and I was completely devastated and heartbroken. He reminded me, "I told you years ago to deal with these issues. NOW DEAL WITH THEM!" In the face of such a heartbreaking loss and concerned how bleak the future would be if I did not obey God, I asked God to help me. Now there are things in our physical life that we must change, that though not easy are at least tangible so you can wrap your mind around how to do it. If God tells you to quit smoking, though not easy, it is a concept that can be understood and help to be found. Same thing is true with drinking, gambling, stealing, etc. But matters of the mind and heart are another thing altogether. It is easy to say, "don't hold a grudge" or "you shouldn't be bitter" or "you must forgive if you want forgiven" but the reality of not holding a grudge, being bitter or forgiving is a concept that sometimes is hard to put into practice. It isn't like we can hold a grudge in our hand and take it to the trash can and release it. So wrapping my mind and understanding on how to deal with the heart of the inner man has proved to be tough. But God has assured me time and time and time again that I am not on this journey alone, he is always with me. When I start letting my mind focus on the negative, he brings a word that chastises. When I find bitterness growing, he brings a word that reminds me to kill it before it starts. When I find myself not wanting to forgive, he asks me if I want to be forgiven. Yesterday, while at work, God reminded me of Phillippians 4:8-9 "Finally, brethern, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." So when my heart is hurting or my mind is racing thinking about the injustices, I must change my thinking. I must turn my heart to the pure and the lovely. Changing the inner heart of man will not be an overnight process but by the help and grace of God I will be victorious.

Do you find yourself struggling with bitterness and anger in your heart? Do you give the excuse, "well I am just bull-headed/hot tempered/intolerant and that is the way I have always been." I submit that God is calling you to a deeper walk that requires you to cleanse your heart and soul (and your actions) of anger, bitterness, lust, stubborness, unforgiveness and other strong emotions that defile your soul. Take some time today to ask God to reveal to you anything in your heart that He doesn't want there and ask him to help you remove it. It may not easy but be assured God is right there with you. He does truly care about your heart.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

His Word , My Lamp

On my way to work yesterday I was listening to Pastor Phillips from Cookeville, TN. He said something that I probably knew in my heart but not in my thoughts. He said that if we really love God as we profess then we would love his Word. I am sure that I will not be able to do his thought justice but I am going to try. :-) In John 1:1 it states "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God" From that scripture we see that we cannot separate the Word from God so it goes to reason that if you are seeking to follow after God then we should be seeking to follow after His Word also. When we pick and choose what we verses and chapters that we are going to follow or reject, we are making the dangerous decision of putting words in and taking words out of the mouth of God. If we really love God as we claim to love him then we would love His Word enough to read it, study it, put it in our heart and apply it to our life. When was the last time you took a bit of time to read the Bible? When was the last time you sought the answer to your problem in His Word? When was the last time you studied His Word enough that it convicted and humbled you? Your actions show your priorities and when we do not find time to study and reflect on the Word of God, that shows us that God is not really our priority. So my questions to you are: Do you really love God as you profess or is it just words that you say because you are a Christian? Do you love Him enough to talk with Him and to allow Him to speak to you through His Word? Do you love Him enough to love His Word?

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ending and Beginning Again

Today I was reminded of my long absence from my blog and also of the small bit of writing that I used to do. I also realized that when God speaks, it isn't relavent just that one time but even 4 years later. His Word is like that too. Even though it was written over the course of 100's of years and is 1000's of years old, it is still relavent and meaningful today. Even today it gives faith, hope and even a bit of chastisement.

As I start, if not a new chapter, at least a new paragraph, I am reminded how God is so faithful and so true. It is through my impatient patience and need for control that I find myself in a place that God never intended. God even gave warnings but for some reason I didn't hear. Over and over again He said to me, "Delight thyself also in the Lord;and he shall give you the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4) and "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understand. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path." (Proverbs 3:5-6) When we make the conscience choice to put God before our own desires and even our own needs, that is when we will see God move in our lives in a way that we could not have imagined. It is through purposeful dedication to prayer an His Word that we will walk in His paths and have the desires of our heart. Those things do not happen by chance but through purposeful devotion.

The last couple of years I may have gotten a bit off track but God is faithful and very willing to guide me back into His ways. The last few years haven't been for naught and I did learn how to focus, how to strive for and to complete a project, and that I am more capable than I previously thought. So as I start this new paragraph in my life, I do kind of wonder where God is going to take me but am confident that as long as I put Him first I will not be disappointed wherever it is.