Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Forgive Me

Sometimes I hate being human. I react too quickly and open my mouth when I should keep it closed, particularly when I'm offended or hurt for someone else. The Holy Spirit quickly convicts me, reminding me who I am. I am a child of God. And all that I do and say I do as a representative of Him. When I'm at my worst I dishonor Him.

This morning I did just that. And I know of no way to retrieve my words. Once spoken they can't be undone. An apology may be helpful, but the damage is done.

Like all mankind I'm plagued by sin--plain and simple.

Paul understood all of this well. In Romans 7:14-16 he said, "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual,sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."

Forever on my knees--that is where I find myself, seeking God's forgiveness. I suppose I should be thankful that at least I know when I've done wrong. There was a time I wouldn't have recognized my sin. I am growing in Christ, but sadly I have a long way to go. I'm guessing we all do.

Don't give up. When you do or say something that dishonors God or hurts another seek God. He will forgive. And after you've done that, do your best to correct the wrong done or seek forgiveness from the one you've wronged. They may not forgive, at least not right away. Give them time. If it doesn't happen, go on but never forget the consequences of sin. Lean hard on God for strength, compassion and love for we are to love even our enemies.

We will never achieve perfection while on this earth, but when we place our whole selves in God's hands we can be assured that we will grow and become more like Him. And the more we're like Him the more people will see God. And that can change the world.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, May 23, 2011

TOPIC OF THE DAY: Just Another Saturday?

It's been all over the news -- Judgment is coming. It's true. But it didn't come last Saturday. Only God knows the time and day. Even Christ said He didn't know. It's foolish for man to believe he can figure it out. My heart aches for those who believed and prepared, some giving up everything. And then they waited and there was no return. It really was just another Saturday.

What was I doing last Saturday? I was living. And because of that Saturday wasn't JUST another day. It was special, filled with love and laughter. I watched my two eight-year-old grandsons play baseball. And I loved every minute of it. It was most definitely not ordinary.

Though I wait for Christ's return, He tells me to live and to love and to share His love with others. And then at the right time, He will return. My job, as it were, is to follow Him and be an ambassador for Him. I read and study His Word. I pray and worship. But I also spend time with the people I love and meet new people and pray that one day I will be able to share the good news of Christ with them.

Being at that baseball game was part of a bigger picture. I chatted with my daughter, husband and neighbors. We cheered for the kids out on that field. They were learning about discipline, sportsmanship and about having a good time. I saw a lot of smiles, leaps of joy, expressions of surprise and comradarie. Those kids were having a good time and they blessed my socks off.

I encourage each of you to look and wait for Christ, but while you do remember that as you go about your every day tasks enjoy God's gift of life and share His truths with others.

I thank God for grandsons and for baseball, for every good thing. And I look forward to the return of Christ, but until He comes I don't plan to waste the days given to me. There's so much to be done, so much to enjoy.

Treasure every moment.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- If No One Shows Up

We've all heard the question, "What would happen if there was a war and no one came?" That would likely be a good thing, but I got to thinking about the concept, only in the context of church. What if the doors of the churches were open and no one came? If statistics are accurate that's where we're heading. Attendance is down, the 20 and 30 something's are staying home. There's a spiritual war going on and we need to be ready to battle. But first we must be prepared.

I love church so showing up is usually easy for me. Christ told us to gather together. And when He speaks we need to listen. He means what He says. There are important reasons for us to attend church. Sadly many people choose not to go. Others show up, but they're not really there. They are simply filling space, doing what's expected. If we claim to be followers of Christ what does it say about us when we can't give our Lord a couple of hours once a week?

Let's be honest. Sometimes Sunday morning comes and we've got other things to do that don't include God. Maybe we've got a garden that needs our attention, or a fishing trip planned. Sometimes all I want to do is plunk down on the sofa, with a blanket wrapped around me, a cup of coffee in hand and a movie running on my television. Occasionally that's how I spend a Sunday morning.

I don't want to get legalistic about church attendance. Sometimes we miss church for good reason. And God doesn't stomp on us if we decide to go fishing on occasion or do some gardening or even watch a movie. But I think our Heavenly Father is grieved when His children refuse to make time for Him. They don't understand that He wants to meet with them. Getting together with God happens in all sorts of settings, and church is one of them.

When I choose to remain home wrapped in my blanket I miss out. I miss out on worship, on fellowship, and on the teaching of God's Word.

Corporate worship lifts my spirits and helps me see God. Sometimes when I'm surrounded by the voices of other believers I know my Lord is there.

My pastor works hard to prepare and share lessons from God's Word. It is spiritual nourishment. Without it we will starve. Starvation destroys lives. But when we know the treasures hidden within the heart of God life is so much sweeter. How amazing it is to know that He speaks directly to us through His Word. And though we do not see it, a spiritual battle is being waged. We cannot win that war without the armor of God. Only in His Word will you discover the armor you need to fight and win.

At church we spend time with our Christian family. Consider how we feel when long periods of time pass without seeing our husband or wife, our mother and father, our children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. Time spent with family refreshes our soul. Sunday means family time.

Gathering together is a gift. Be there.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: Submit?

How many of you like the word SUBMIT? Come on, be honest. I admit right here in front of God and everyone -- I don't like it. I understand its importance. And even when I'm living a submissive life, rebellion niggles at me.

Why? I'm always asking why. When I was a child, I'm sure I drove my parents mad with all of my "why" questions.

God is good and He understands my need to know why. I can count on Him. He always answers me. Just this week, during Bible Study the topic of submission came up. God's way of addressing my "why" question? Possibly. :-)

The world has distorted the meaning of the word SUBMIT. The enemy is at the core of this distortion. He tosses lies at us and in the barrage we must know the truth if we're to recognize the lie. Like many others I've accepted distortions, including this one.

During our study time on Tuesday I was reminded that throughout his life Christ submitted to The Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His arrest, Christ set before us a perfect and exquisite picture of true submission. He fell to the ground and prayed, "Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." Christ knew what awaited Him at the hands of those who hated Him. He understood not just the physical torture he would endure, but the spiritual weight of the world's sin that would be placed upon Him as well the separation between Him and His Father that must occur. He and the Father are one. How excruciating that one and only time of separation must have been. Yet, Jesus said yes to all that was required of Him. He submitted to His Father's will.

SUBMIT is a word of excellence. God's divine imprint. Christ submitted to His Father, the Holy Spirit submitted to the Father and the Son. The Church honors and submits to its leaders. A wife submits to her husband (who is to love her as Christ loved the church), and children submit to their parents. We submit to the authorities. God's imprint is everywhere.

What happens when we refuse to submit? The world tells us that life is all "about me". Me. Me. Me. Take a look around. How do you think that's working out?

God's divine imprint is all about relationship. The kind of relationships that honor God, family, friends and leaders. Submission brings order and peace. And our Father is the God Head whom we submit our lives.

Honor Him. You'll like it. I promise.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, May 07, 2011

Topic of the Day: Work

In today's economy, finding work is on the minds of many Americans. Living without a job is something far too many American are well acquainted with. Most are willing to take whatever they can get--they just need a job. Our area has been hit hard. In fact,not long ago while reading the classifieds in our local paper I was stunned to see only one job opening listed--one. Unbelievable!

Yesterday, while reading from "My Utmost For His Highest" the final line said something amazing, although it disturbed me at first. Oswald Chambers wrote, "No one has any right to demand where he will be put to work." My mind went to the previous night's news cast and its dismal jobs report and I thought who is demanding these days. But of course my wandering mind had moved out of the context of the devotional. Context is critical if we're going to understand the true meaning of a statement.

Mr. Chambers was not talking about "jobs", but rather discipleship. When God chooses men and women to build His Kingdom He goes to those who love Him, people who have a close relationship with Him and who are passionate about their devotion to Him. Disciples desire whatever God desires. However, we are just human and so we don't always stand up and cheer when we discover our "job" description. But those who seek God's will above their own step out in obedience even if they sometimes do so with fear and trembling.

When we hand our lives over to God, His desires become ours and even if we set out upon the path of His choosing with dismay and uncertainty we will discover joy and fulfillment. God knows the beginning and the end and His design for our lives is always best even when it's not what we would have chosen.

Working for the Master Builder means following His way, doing His work and finding peace and contentment in the work--no matter what that work might be.

And to those of you who are without a job, God knows and He sees. He will not desert you. And He may bless you with a job that is also placed upon the path He has chosen just for you. I pray you're needs will be met as you wait for His will.

God doesn't let anything in our lives go to waste and no life that is dedicated to Him can ever be a waste.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: What Is

Last weekend I attended a church retreat. I love retreats! They are good places to connect with old friends and to make new ones. There is time for rest and for fun, and it seems God always has something new to teach me. This retreat was extra special because it was my first trip away from home since I hurt my back in August. I left home with some trepidation, but all turned out well. Praise God!

Our speaker this year was Judy Dippel. What a special woman--she's fun and wise and she had good stuff to share with us ladies. At the end of the weekend, I left with a lot to think about.

One of Judy's statements really stuck.--"Think about what is, not what isn't." When she said that, I felt it right in my gut. I spend too much time thinking about what isn't. I miss my old life (before my back went bad) and I admit here and now that I long for the person I once was. But the plain and simple truth is, I can't change what happened. And no good will come from pondering on my loss.

I decided to make a list of what is and what isn't. I hoped that having a visual comparison would help me see the truth. Here's a little part of my what is list.

God created me.
I am His child.
His Son, Jesus died for me.
God has blessed me with a loving family and good friends.
Tomorrow is filled with hope.
God's Word is true and can be trusted.
God will never forsake me.
My eternity will be spent in the presence of God.
God hears my prayers.
He has blessed me with a home in the midst of His creation.
My husband loves me, even after forty years of marriage.
My children bless my life.
I lack for nothing.

I'll stop there--I have a long list of what is.

I'm left with a question -- With all that I have to be thankful for, why does my mind often go to what isn't? I cringe at what I see. Self. It's all about me.

Life's challenges can drag us into a whirlpool of self pity. And seeing what others have--their successes or their possessions drag us into the sin of covetousness. Once caught up, we go around and around, unable to break free. But God loves us too much to leave us there. He'll use something or someone to remind us how much He's given, how full our lives are. And that we have a Holy and merciful God who loves us even when we forget Him. Our lives are secure and full of promise in His capable hands. The possibilities are endless. Tomorrow is another day filled with potential.

Make your own list. See what is and be thankful. God promises us hope and a future.

Get excited about WHAT IS!

Grace and peace to you from God.