Created For

We were created to be carriers of His presence, to sow seeds of faith and water them in love.

Marching On

 So, did you hear that the Christian life was easy and a bed of roses? Yep, me neither! And I don’t read it anywhere in scripture either. So what motivates us to keep marching on, pressing  forward, to have perseverance and persistence?  Is it the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, or having an intimate relationship with Holy Spirit? Maybe it’s being a friend of God (can we really fathom that), the gift of salvation, and eternity. Or perhaps it’s that personal relationship with our Creator that satisfies us like nothing else can and living our life with purpose. Perhaps it’s all the above, and God’s promises, plus more?

   Paul, one who certainly suffered much for the sake of following Jesus, ran with passion to know Jesus, his goal was to be like Jesus, and to reach the purpose Jesus Christ called him to fulfill. What an example for us in not letting anything get us off track. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus helps us in challenging times.

   I’m certain we all have things we could offer as reason to no stay put or be distracted by. The world’s gone crazy; COVID counts are going up and the stock market down; the governments’ running amuck; the Egyptian army is behind us – the sea is before us; there are giants in the land. We are good with our reasoning and Satan likes to go on a rampage when things are difficult and giving us more reasons. When we take time to be still and listen to the gentle voice of God, can we hear him say, it’s okay – trust Me – march on.

    When the Israelites were to cross the Jordon, the waters didn’t part beforehand as when they crossed the Red Sea. Hmm, sounds like they may have had a good reason to not continue moving on into the Promised Land. However, this time the water parted once the souls of the priests’ feet, who were bearing the ark, rested in the water. They had to march on, press forward into something they had not done before, before they saw the way through.

      2 Samuel 5, recounts the story of Philistines going to search for King David. David inquired of the Lord on what he should do and was successful. When the Philistines came again David didn’t just go out to fight figuring he knew what the Lord would say; David again inquired of the Lord. This time the Lord had a different strategy for David to follow; there was success as he followed the plans.

   When we face an enemy or difficult situation, we, like David, need to inquire of the Lord to know His plans, strategies, wisdom, and proper timing, so that we can persevere, stay strong, move forward, and have success.

…live your life empowered by God’s free-flowing grace, which is your true strength,

 found in the anointing of Jesus and your union with him! 2 Timothy 2:1 TPT  

Raise the Bar

   Raise the bar and set it high. If we have a low expectation for our Christian walk we might easily achieve it but deny ourselves what could have been.

   Apostle Paul said his goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ had in mind for him to be. Paul makes several claims in Philippians 3 (TPT).

   v9 “My passion is to be consumed with him…”

   v10 “I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus more fully and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me.

   v12“I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me to make me his own”.

   God knit us together in our mother’s womb. When someone knits it’s with a purpose in mind, maybe it will be booties or a blanket to snuggle in. They pick the type of yarn, the colors, and the pattern depending on who it’s for and the purpose of the creation.

   Likewise, when God knit us together he picked certain traits and features, added abilities and gifting’s, certain likes, and motivations.  Can you just picture God picking out your 23 pairs of chromosomes and 10,000 plus genes that make you unique? He then lovingly knit them all together into a person called you.He did it with a purpose in mind.

   Paul didn’t depend on his own strength to accomplish fulfilling his purpose or discovering what it was; it came from time with God. Paul couldn’t go to the library to check out a book titled DISCOVERING PAUL’S PURPOSE FOR DUMMY’S and neither can we. We only get if from one source, our Creator, He alone holds the blueprint for our life.

   Paul further states “I have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead”.

   Paul didn’t literally forget his past, but he turned his back on his old way of life to face the future. He left behind things that would take his focus away from Jesus or keep him from his purpose.

   Like Paul, in Jesus, we have a new future. Yet our past was not in vain; it is now our testimony of God’s grace for what He has done. God can use the bad in our past for good in our future.

   Consider Paul, he called himself a chief of sinners, and he went on to write a good chunk of the New Testament.

   If your like Paul saying, I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing but I want to run with passion into God’s abundance so that I may reach the purpose that he has called me to fulfill and I want to discover it…..today  is a good time to begin that discovery.

   Let’s raise the bar of our expectation.

The Power of Love

When I think of unity and agreement – I think of love. When I think of love – I think of unity.

   The power of love, unity, and agreement is a powerful tool and weapon God has given to us as believers. Our love, unity, and agreement should, and needs to be, based on God’s word. This is not speaking of mindlessly following what someone else thinks or says, but with our individual personalities, quirks, and gifts, be in agreement or cooperation with the body of believers.

   1 Corinthians 12 talks about a variety of Spiritual gifts given to different people, but all from the same Spirit. A variety of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. They are all for the common good. Our physical bodies have many members yet it works together as one body. The church has many members but we should also work as one body.

   Love helps strengthen our cohesiveness, our unity or ability to be in agreement. Love for God and love for one another. So much comes from love. For example: love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, it is not proud; it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; love never fails.

   So, if we want patience, instead of just praying for patience, should we simply pray to love – as patience comes with love, plus so much more? How about this Valentines and through the year, we pray to love, to love as God loves? After all, isn’t love the greatest gift?

   “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthian 13:1-2  

   And as we seek love find unity and agreement as well…“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”Philippians 2:1-5

A Rambling Thought…God wrote us a love letter called the Bible. What love letter will we write to Him with our life?

Where is god?

 As they abandoned their home surrendering it to the encroaching flames, the husband exclaimed, “Where is God!”, and the wife prayed. Listening to fire reports they knew the house they built by hand twenty years earlier was gone; the shock and not knowing what next began to set in, after all – they were no longer young and able to rebuild.

   There are lots of things that may be concerning us right now: fires, loss, COVID, racial tension, political division, isolation, air quality, distant learning, etc. So much to talk about; my goodness, where does one begin? Genesis states “In the beginning God…”, before the earth was – God was, before the fires – God was, before COVID – God was. On the positive side of our situation – there is God! He was with us before it began, he will be with us through it all, and with us on the other side of it; whatever the “it” is.

   A few days after the ravaging blaze moved through, my friends received a call from a Park Ranger they knew. The surrounding properties were destroyed, even the trees plus other items on their own land burned – the house remained untouched; the Ranger stated it looked like their home had been covered with a blanket. We celebrate the good news yet it leads to the question; why theirs and not others. Is it because they are a believer and the neighbors were not; but then why did other believers homes or a church burn instead of being spared? Some questions in our moment in history are a mystery.

   The song “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane (can be found on YouTube), contains the lines:

“And though You slay me ­

Yet I will praise You

Though You take from me

I will bless Your Name”

“Though You ruin me

Still I will worship

Sing a song

To the One who’s all I need”

“Though tonight I’m crying out

Let this cup pass from me now

You’re still more than I need

You’re enough for me

You’re enough for me”

   Trying times reveal what is inside us, sometimes we like what we see, other times we don’t. When we don’t like what is seen it simply lets us know areas we need Holy Spirit to help us in.  

   Can we strive to, like other heroes of the faith throughout history, now in our present point in time – face what is before us with courage, steadfastness, in faith and surrender, giving worship and praise to God, who has allowed all the concerning matters before us? Can we say as we cry out for this cup to pass from us, nevertheless not my will but Yours’ O’ Lord – and mean it?

   In difficult times may we have strength equal to the challenge; may we find encouragement from Gods’ word, His promises and those around us. May we see from heavens’ perspective and dwell on things that are good.

Stickability

  I have a variety of postage stamps bearing different denominational values. Though the price of the stamps was paid for, they are of little value if I just let them stay hidden in a dark drawer. Their value is not realized until they are used for the purpose they were created for. Each stamp, like us, has a value and purpose.

   A first class stamp on a postcard is functioning beneath its intended purpose. It can easily do the job, the postcard will be delivered, yet the stamp was meant for more. Likewise, if a first class stamp meant to send an envelope were placed instead on a package, it’s not likely to succeed in seeing the packaged delivered. Like stamps we need to understand our value and assignments.  Sometimes an individual stamp is all that is needed, other times it needs partnered with others in order to accomplish a task.

   A postage stamp also needs “stickability”, a stamps true value, or usefulness, is only realized based on its ability to stick to its assignment, an envelope, until it has been delivered. As Christians we also need stickability, which is a person’s ability to persevere with something; having staying power. In tough and uncertain times we need to be able to stick to our faith unwaveringly; to stick to reading the Bible, to prayer and times of devotion. In the face of persecution or opposition, do we have stickability to our convictions?

   Hebrews 10:19-35, is a call to persevere in faith “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings”…”Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”…”Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

   Let’s be like stamps – have stickability to our God, faith, purpose and assignment – to the end!

For Such A Time

worshi - onlineWho knows but that for such a time as this you are here?  We all have a reason for being. God has plans for each of our lives.

   In the midst of her fears and a desire to remain silent, Queen Esther was challenged to take action in dire times, by the words “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14. Rightfully so, Queen Esther was scared; after all, she remembered what happened to Queen Vashti when she stood her ground.

   What would the Lord say if we sat down to ask “What time is this Lord, and what would you have for me to do?”  Let us imagine the scene, a loving Father looking at his beloved child with a proud Papa’s heart, taking delight in our willingness to ask tough questions and willing to act. Would He begin with…

Live, live life, live it to the fullest, let your light shine before men, live without fear of them. Let your life draw others to me. Be a source of encouragement and love. You can speak truth in love; you do not need to be silent for fear of offending people. They need what you carry; the peace you walk in that only comes from me. I have blessed you, be a blessing to others. Be vigilant in prayer. There is a spiritual battle being waged. The fervent prayers of righteous men (and women) avail much. Prayers turn the tide, the inflow of evil is pushed back; like saltwater entering into tributaries is pushed back by the outflow of fresh water, prayers push back the evil tide. Where fresh water is – life flourishes.

   What else would Papa say as we intently listen on?

   What questions could we ask? In such a time as this – what have I come into the Kingdom for?  If I had no fears, what would I being doing in this season of life? What is God stirring within me and what has He placed in my hands to use?

   For such a time as this we are here!  God has plans for our lives.

Good Student

Bible PicAre children the only ones who need to be learning? One might think it a silly question as we are always learning throughout life, though not always in a formal classroom setting. Our learning doesn’t just include what we need to know to live in the physical world, but also the spiritual one – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) tells us “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said with exasperation and dramatic flair while flopping onto the bed or back in the chair. This is a statement from my grandson now that schooling has transitioned to home;  where he would rather be playing video games or with his dog. So, anyone ever tell the Lord you want to be a good student and ask for help with tendencies to be distracted by other things? If so you’re not alone, the prayer just happened to be mine as I began daily devotions. I have such good intentions to study or be in prayer when I am suddenly bombarded from various angles. The cat wants attention, the phone rings, the birds are chirping, thoughts pop in of things to be done or remembering this and that.  Yikes! Where does it all come from? Does it lurk in corners like dust bunnies just waiting for opportunity?

Back to topic, after asking for help in this area I go to read; what do you think the first scripture my eyes see is… Hebrew 12:11 ESV, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hmm, is this my day for instruction? Discipline seems painful…but it yields…to those who have been trained. So do I discipline the lurking dust bunnies (distractions) or myself in how to deal with them?

I think there may be wisdom in going into a closet (figuratively speaking) to pray (Mathew 6:6), besides private prayer time, a closet also blocks distractions, it shuts the world out. When time for schoolwork it makes my grandson unhappy when I put the dog out of the room and close the door. He likes the dog with him but he’s a big distraction; running in and out, barking at anything that moves outside the window, chewing on toys, or nuzzling in for attention.

The only way for undistracted study (or prayer) is, for a time – to be separated from distractions.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Nope…perhaps it’s another reason we are admonished to – be still and know that He is God. When we are quieted before Him, is it not easier to hear and learn?

Lord, I want to be a good student of yours, help with my tendencies to be distracted. I want to be disciplined that I might know the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Amen

Clearing Focus

The stars, clear and bright, twinkling in the night sky as I gaze through the window; what a delight. To put things into perspective, I live in city, though small, the lights and some pollution do not give the best of views. I have become accustomed to the way I normally see the night sky so having a clearer view is a delight. I see more stars than normal with a blacker backdrop for them with the absence of haze.

   Having this time of rest (aka quarantine) can allow us down time for reflection and refocus. How often do we get caught up in the busyness of life or the journey we are on, rushing here and there – for this or that, that we do not see other things around us as clearly as we ought?

   I was thinking of the Wise Men following the star, we read in Matthew 2 where they stopped in Jerusalem to ask “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East”? After hearing from King Herod “they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” Why did they stop in Jerusalem, did they lose sight of the star they originally saw in the midst of their journey? Why after a time of rest in Jerusalem, while waiting for the answer, did they once again see the star which took them where they wanted to go?

   I don’t want to suggest anything into the Wise Men’s story beyond what is intended, just comparing it to some of my own journeys where I started with focus only to lose sight of it along the way, then needed down time to gain proper focus again. Some of those times were not of my choosing, caused extra frustration in the beginning, none the less it was needed and the Lord worked it out for my good.

   I’m certain during this time in our history we are all – all over the place, from time home alone, to being extra busy with children out of school, to a wide range of emotions, missing normal socialization, birthday and celebration gatherings. A question to consider – Lord, what do you want me know, to learn, in this time? Who do You want to be to me, or for me to know You as, in this situation.

   Like the night sky which is clearer and stars more visible, possibly due to decreased vehicle traffic, are we able during this time with decreased activities also see more clearly what is before us? Is this a good time to evaluate life, family dynamics, relationship with the Lord, activities, what we can live with or without, where are we headed from here; what do we want to change? How are we letting the Lord use this time for our good?

Daily Strength

Bible PicThe Lord will be our daily strength as we draw on Him.