Thursday, November 30, 2006

And He Will Make My Path Straight

I have switched my devotional source for now. I was following a recommended devotional path in my Bible, but it seems like the first group was good, while the rest... not so much. Right now I'm using a devotional called Proverbs and Parables, and it ties the two together. Should be interesting reading for a little while, and will help me read more than one chapter a day.

Today I read Luke, chapter 15. This chapter is the home of the very familiar Prodigal Son parable. Today what I want to talk about is The Path... we all are on a path. The path in this instance can stand for all the choices we make in life. Every day we make different choices and I can't imagine what kind of choices I'd be making if I didn't have God and his direction. And there are times where I certainly choose the wrong path, but then God is still there at the end, and he forgives me for steering off course. I think about my late teens/early twenties, when I'd decided that I wanted to do my own thing, and do everything that I knew was not what God wanted me to do. I like to think that God was watching, and patiently waiting, because he knew my frivolity wouldn't last long, and just like the Prodigal Son's father, he was waiting for me to come back, and once I was back, we had a party, and it was like I'd never left. The bad path forgotten.

Proverbs 3:5-8 has this to say today:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.

8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

That first verse- Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. How often I need to be reminded of this. I can't lean on my own understanding- meaning to me that I don't know everything, and I can't always control a situation. It's up to God to help us through- as long as we place all our trust and all of our hearts in his care, he will see us through, and make the path we must take clear to us. Instead of a windy path with all kinds of twists and bends, he will make the path straight- it will have a clear path, and we will know without a doubt which way we should go. And then there's verse 7: do not be wise in your own eyes. That is humbling to me. You know that proud feeling you get when you make a good choice, or a good decision, or figure out the right way to go? Do not be wise in your own eyes. If I think that I am wise, then I'm not turning to God in times of need. That feeling needs to be kept in check.

Proverbs 4:10-27 also has to deal with paths, and avoiding the paths of the wicked. To me, the paths of the wicked seem like the easy way to go- it seems like the path with the least resistance, and the most appeal at the time. Look at this verse:

But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

They do not know what makes them stumble. What seems like a good idea can actually be a stumbling block, and you may not even know it yet. That's kind of scary. I have to think about my very first experience drinking. It seemed like a good idea- even a great idea to eat Jello infused with vodka. It seemed like a great idea to play drinking games and see whether or not I could keep up with the guys... It wasn't until several hours later throwing up that I realized it was all a bad idea. Stumbling blocks can be like that. They can be appealing at the time, and we don't realize that they are going to cause us problems down the road. And often times, those stumbling blocks lead the way to a repeat performance. Once you've travelled down a wrong path a few times, it gets easier and easier to do it again.

Verses 10 and 11 though are very encouraging,

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.

11 I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.

He guides us! He leads us along straight paths, and the paths of the Lord are not clouded in darkness, full of unknown stumbles. They are straight and true, and as long as we stay on it, the years of our lives will be many! It can be discouraging sometimes to find yourself strayed from the right path. Sometimes, it isn't even intentional, but God is always there for us, he's always there to help us get back on the right path. That's the path HE wants us on. As long as we accept Jesus as our savior, and accept God's standards as our own, we will be rewarded with a winning path- the path straight to Heaven. That's the path I want to be on.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let The Wise Listen

Today I read Matthew chapter 7. Matthew 7 is full of great teachings by Jesus! Today though, I want to focus on verses 24-27.

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

With Christmas coming up, I am reminded of how many times I rush forward in putting a toy together. How many times do I tear open a package for one of my children and blindly try to assemble all the parts. It isn't very often that I can get it all together without going back to consult the directions. So why don't I consult the directions first? Fortunately, with a toy or a game, the consequences of not consulting the directions are minimal. Eventually it will get put together correctly, and the kids will have a blast with it.

The consequences though of ignoring God's directions are far more serious. A fool lives life with no regard or fear of God. They forge ahead doing whatever they feel like doing, however they feel like doing it. But the wise person listens carefully to God, obeys his word, and then experiences the benefit of following God's direction. Proverbs 1:7 says "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." I certainly don't want to be the fool. There are serious consequences for ignoring God's word and his instructions. Check this out in Proverbs 23-27:

23 If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.

24 But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,

25 since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,

26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

That says right in verse 26 that God will laugh at our disaster! Wow! There is a reward though for diligence. God gives wisdom to those who desire to follow his word. He will also give knowledge and understanding, and he will act as a protector in times of need. That's wonderful to think of. While a child always wants to do the will of their parents, a reward sort of sweetens the deal. It rewards the positive behavior and reinforces it, making it even stronger. In the same way, God's rewards for faithfulness are reinforcing to us and our walk with him. That is so encouraging, that the more I seek his will and follow his word, the more likely I am to be like the wise man who built his house on the rock.

I will end with some more encouragement from Proverbs. Chapter 2, verses 1-11 offers encouragement to those who are willing to follow God's direction.

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,

2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,

3 and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

6 For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Trusting God without fear!

Doesn't that sound cool! Being able to trust God and not have any fear. David wrote just that thing in Psalm 56. Verse 11 says " I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals doto me." Indeed! When we place our complete trust in God, we can take those risks he wants us to take. And when we trust, yet still expect disaster to occur, we can be shown God's glory when the disaster is averted. God is trustworthy whether we trust him or not, but he wants us to trust him! He wants us to trust him so that we don't have to be worried. He wants us to trust so that we do not feel fear. What a great God! He doesn't want us to feel worry or fear- so what are we worrying and fearing?

I think on this, and I think about sending my beautiful daughter to school. That is such an act of trust on my part. I have complete trust that God will keep her safe while she is at school. That was very hard for me to do, let me tell you. Especially when you hear every other day on the news about school violence, it gets increasingly more difficult to send Abigail to school. Yet she needs to go to school. Every morning as she walks away from tht van, I say a quick prayer that she will have a wonderful day and will stay safe. I imagine that feeling is only going to get worse as she gets older. The kids will get more violent at school, and then eventually there will be college, marriage, etc. Yikes! As a parent I find my trust in God tested every day, whether that will be with their safety, or with the choices Abigail makes at school when I am not there to guide her.

Trust in God. Oh how grateful I am for such a gracious God. His grace is my daughter's keeper when I am not with her. Wow. What a great thought to start out my day.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Part of today's reading was a trip down memory lane. The very first passage of the Bible I ever memorized was Psalm 23. I memorized it for a girl's group at church when I was 7 years old, and it has stuck with me ever since. There have been times when this chapter has been a comfort to me. Here, I'm going to paste it here in the King James Version- there just isn't a better translation than the traditional one.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I love that. Let's talk about verse 6 today, shall we? Right there at it's very beginning- "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." It says surely! It doesn't say maybe or perhaps, or if I behave it might happen. It says that surely God's presence will be there every day for the rest of my life. You know how some days you just don't feel like God's hanging out with you at all? That's the devil taking the opportunity to creep in and plant some doubt. We can trust that our God will be with us on ALL days. His presence is what makes great days even better, and keeps the bad days from getting any worse. This isn't a promise that all our days will be rosy and perfect, but rather more like a marriage vow. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, as long as I shall live. It's a promise!

And when we believe this promise and trust in this promise we bring God's presence smack dab into our problems. It is not a promise of maybe or hopefully, it's a promise of surely. Whether Our Shepherd leads us through dark valleys or high hills, he is there every single day. And as each day that trust grows stronger, so does that trust. And look at the reward for that trust in God! We get to dwell in his house forever. I can dream of an estate here on earth, but nothing can beat that eternal reward in God's house forever. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Into The Lions Den

Daniel, chapter 6 is the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. This is one of those stories that you first hear in Sunday School as a young child. There is even a Veggie Tales cartoon about Daniel. There are so many lessons that us as adults can take from the story of Daniel being in with the Lions.

The first lesson here is the importance of prayer. It was clearly important to Daniel. He prayed 3 times a day, every day. That prayer time was important to Daniel, so important, that he was willing to risk his life over his three prayers a day. Praying to God became outlawed, here we see in 6:10 what Daniel did about it: "But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God." In those days, the Jews would open their windows to pray, and Daniel continued to do that- regardless of who might see him participating in the outlawed prayer time.

We can learn from Daniel that we must pray- no matter what. Prayer is our link to God in a world that is constantly challenging our Faith. God can keep us safe in all situations- the lions in our life may not go away, but God can help us get through and will stay the lions for us. Prayer can help us grow in our faith and trust in God- and it can also be a great example for others. Allowing others wot witness our prayers can help them to grow in the Lord as well. The King saw Daniel's example and destroyed the decree against praying to God. Now that is an example!

Can we be like Daniel? Do I practice my prayers daily with determination and persistence? I could certainly do better. I am thankful that I have Daniel as an example of how to be diligent in my prayer- and also to see that there is a reward for diligence. Because of Daniel's diligence, a King proclaimed God the Lord of all. Who can I be an example to today because of my prayer life? Something to think on today.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hidden Resources

Today's reading is 2 Kings, chapter 4. Verses 1-7 specifically, but really the whole chapter is a wonderful passage to read. It is a great reminder of the Glory of God through man.

In verses 1-7, we meet a widow. She comes to the prophet Elisha, begging him for help. She has two sons, no income, and debt collectors threatening to take her sons into slavery to repay the debts she owes. Elisha asks her what she has in the house, and she replies “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Elisha then gives her instructions to borrow as many jars as she can from her neighbors. He says she should pour olive oil out of her flask and into all of the jars. She did as she was told, and before long, she had jar upon jar full of olive oil. She was then able to sell the olive oil and repay her debts, plus have enough left to support her and her sons.

This passage is a wonderful reminder to me. It can be very encouraging in times of need and times of trouble. It makes me think that there are times when God lets us get to the end of our resources in order to show us how he can provide. And sometimes, that provision can come from an unexpected, or hidden resource. God often shows us the practical ways out of our dilemmas. I am reminded of our recent scare of Andy being laid off. I have no doubt now that God is providing for us by keeping Andy employed, but it was also, for us, a wake up call to better manage our finances. And for us, the hidden resource was our computer and a financial program that we never used. Had we not begun to keep track of every single penny, we would have never known that we could afford to purchase Andy a reliable vehicle.

God works in mysterious ways sometimes. Sometimes the answer to a problem can be right in front of us- can be our little flask of oil. Look around and see what you have in front of you. God can use that to help you through a rough patch. As you pour out your oil, God will surely keep you flowing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Today I want to share a link for a website that I visit often. I have no idea who this woman is, but her name is Laine, and she writes beautiful letters. Today I have linked here to one on Thanksgiving. It is a remarkable post, and one for great reflection. I will also share the link to her letter box at the bottom here today. Her letters are geared towards women, so if there are any gentleman lurking here, it may not be as wonderful for you.

I hope you'll enjoy Laine's Letters as much as I have.

And with that, I want to pray for a wonderful Thanksgiving for all my friends here. Each and every one of you is so special to me. Thank you for your comraderie with this adventure, and may God bless your socks off this Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In The Middle

This morning when I woke up I immediately began thinking about all the work I needed to get done this morning. It's going to be a busy day! And one of the thoughts I had was that maybe today I needed to skip my devotional and blogging time. I adequately scolded myself as I was reminded of the 5 or 6 times I've decided to take up exercising. It only takes missing one day to throw me off my rhythm. One day to throw the whole program out the window, and once I skip once, it's much easier to skip a second or third time.

Then I read Mark chapter 6, and the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. I can imagine that that was a very busy day for Jesus. He had been preaching and teaching with his disciples, and after a long day, they sought to get away for a while. That was not to be. The gathering crowds followed them, and ended up all sharing in the miracle of 2 loaves and 5 fish feeding 5000. As soon as everyone ate, Jesus made his getaway. Verse 46 says "Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray." Even Jesus needed to take a break and reconnect. He was an example for the busiest of person, that despite how busy and hectic your days become, you still always need to take that time out for God. Our job is to first manage our time with God, and then the rest of the time will be managed accordingly. And amazingly, we also may find that the hectic time runs much smoother.

If we want to make sure that our life is of maximum worth to ourselves, our family, and those around us, then we need to start by giving the maximum time possible to God. We need to make going to God daily a habit. In addition to that though, we also need to remember that sometimes we need to "go out into the hills ourselves". Right in the middle of our hectic day we can stop, take a break, and spend time talking with God. There are studies out now that a short nap of 15-20 minutes every day can help workplace productivity. Just imagine how recharged you can feel during a busy day if instead you spent 15-20 minutes talking with your Heavenly Father. By getting the priorities right, the rest of the hustle and bustle will work itself out.

After Jesus spent his alone time with God, he went and proceeded to calm a storm and walk on water! Now that's a recharge! Let's use him as our example over the next few busy days- and remember to take that time out. We will be a whole lot better because of it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

There Can Never Be Enough Thankfulness

Psalm 138

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord,
for all of them will hear your words.
5 Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways,
for the glory of the Lord is very great.
6 Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble,
but he keeps his distance from the proud.
7 Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.
8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

"I give you thanks O Lord, with all my heart." It doesn't say part of my heart, or just a piece of my Sunday morning. It says ALL of my heart. And why not? God gives me everything, he gives me all of his heart, at the least I can return the love. Thanksgiving started as a celebration to celebrate the harvest- to thank God for providing. Something we can remember this Thanksgiving, is that though it has become another commercial holiday with pilgrims and turkeys, this is a holiday to Thank God for providing in every area of our lives. And while we can thank God for providing food, money, clothing, a home, what we need to remember most thie Thanksgiving is to thank him for eternity. Thank him for sending his son to die for us. That's the real reason for celebrating Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Praise Opens Our Eyes

Our duty is to glorify God in all that we do. We glorify God when we praise him and worship him. The more we know God, the more we will want to praise God, and in turn, the more our eyes will be opened to who God is and what he wants from us. It's a full circle.

Today I read Psalms 50. The Psalms are a great place to turn to when you are feeling a little down. They tend to be joyful and a great reminder of how wonderful our God is. Chapter 50 is no exception. It ends with a bang though. Verse 23 says, "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God." Giving thanks is a sacrifice to God. Along the lines of yesterday's posting, God still wants our thanks at all times. When we have nothing to be thankful for, quite blankly, when we have nothing, we can still give God our thanks. Our thanks for who he is and who his son is and what they have done for us. We must give thanks in all situations, for God considers our thanks a sacrifice, a gift unto him.

Simply by contemplating what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we can find ourselves praising God and giving thanks. Notice how praise and thanks go hand in hand. And by following God's direction, by praising him, and thanking him, our eyes can be opened. Our eyes can be opened to WHO God really is.

Last night Zander crawled into bed with us (as he does most nights) and he had a bit of a cough. He has asthma, which means when the coughing gets out of control it's hard for him to breathe, and he needs treatment through a nebulizer. Well, his prescription for the nebulizer makes him excited. It's necessary, but it gives him a bit of a rush so I really try and not give it to him at night or before bedtime. (Of course, sometimes that can't be helped.) So last night, he's lying next to me, coughing, and I can hear his little lungs struggling, so I wrapped my arms around him and held him and snuggled him (cause he was about to get his dreaded air treatment) when I felt the urge to pray for him instead. Remembering yesterday's lesson, before I asked, I thanked. I thanked God for the beautiful little boy he has blessed me with, and I thanked God for helping him to get a good night's sleep. I went on to pray for his breathing last night, and the whole while I was praying for him, I would continuously thank God. It was an experience for me... and wouldn't you know it. Five minutes later, my little boy was sound asleep, breathing normally, and I don't think he had another cough all night long. Praise God!!!! God cleared up my little boy's lungs so he could get the sleep his little body needed. Thinking on it this morning, all I can think is, wow! God cares about the smallest of children! He cares about my son and my daughter. I just imagine Jesus bending over the bed last night and kissing Zander on the forehead, taking the bad breathing away with a kiss.

It's a great morning, and my son is especially sparkly this morning. Praise God for helping me to open my eyes further to who he is.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lord of ALL

Before we look at our benefits and responsibilities that come from called God Adonai, I want to let you know something I was reminded of today in Sunday School. Many of the examples of God's names and character are from the Old Testament, during the Old Covenant. We are now under the New Covenant, sealed by Jesus' blood. Now, although this doesn't make God's character void just because it was revealed during the Old Covenant (or even before!) it is good to recognize that God's character is also revealed in Christ. Just look at what His Word tells us about the relationship between Jesus and God:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation...For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." Colossians 1:15,19

So, what describes God also describes Christ! And we are to strive to be like Christ...which means we are striving to be like God! To be His image...what we were intended to be, for He made us in His image!

Okay, now to the Word for more about Adonai!
Psalm 89:50-51 : We can ask God, as His servants!, to remember our reproach for His sake, remember our suffering.

Psalm 141:8-10 : This is great! We focus our eyes on Him, our Master, our Adonai. As our Master, we take refuge in Him for our defense. He protects us and allows safe passage.

Psalm 119:125 : How great is this, we are His servants but He gives to us...understading to KNOW Him...His testimonies. Just ask!

Judges 6: 14-16 : This is just after God has told Gideon to go battle the Midianites. He is afraid and God basically tells him this: Isn't I who have sent you? So, don't you think I'll be with you? GO! He's not going to desert us, especially when He has sent us. We must obey!

Who is God Lord over? Is He Lord over everyone? Is He Lord over only those who have accepted His forgiveness and mercy? He tells us!

Deuteronomy 9:26 - He is Lord over His people, the Israelites.
Psalm 2:1-4 - He is Lord over the nations, kings, and rulers.
Psalm 8:1, 6-8 - He is Lord over all the earth. He has given man control over all things He has made, but He is Lord.
Psalm 37:12-13 - He is Lord over the wicked and the righteous.
Psalm 97:5 - He is Lord over the whole earth, even the mountains which melt in His presence!
Psalm 114:7 - Once again He is Lord over the earth, the earth that trembles before Him!
Psalm 135:5 - He is Lord over all other gods...woah!
Psalm 136:3 - He is Lord of lords...we are to ive Him thanks for His lovingkindness.

I know that's a lot. It's a lot for me! Guess what...theres more to come!

Being Thankful

In the spirit of the beginning if Thanksgiving week, I turned to Leviticus 7 today. In the Old testament days, the Israelites made all different kinds of offerings to God. There were the burnt offerings, guilt offerings, ordination offerings, Thanksgiving offerings, and peace offerings. Each one served a different purpose, and God gave very clear instructions for each of these at the time. While they were following instructions, at the time, these offerings were all acts of worship.

It's hard to enjoy worshipping the Lord sometimes. There are times where we may be feeling guilty about something, or we struggle to Praise God because we're having a particularly bad day. But a big part of worship is to be Thankful at all times. God commands us to be thankful! Psalms 100:4 says "Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise." Paul says in Colossians 3:15 "Always be thankful" and then again in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." Sometimes we struggle with discovering the will of God for our life, but this is one area where we already know God's will for us- and that is to always be thankful.

The Israelites frequently brought Thanksgiving offerings to the Lord in addition to their guilt offerings and other offerings. But how often do we take God our sin and our guilt in our prayers? We must also remember to always add our thanksgiving. Even when we don't feel thankful because we're struggling with something, God tells us to be thankful anyways! So what can we be thankful for? We can be thankful simply for the ability to thank God. We can be thankful that God knows us and cares about us, and we can be thankful that he will see us through whatever our struggles are. God knows the reasons why being thankful can be difficult for us at times, and we can thank him simply for knowing. We can also know that if we bring our sin and our guilt to God, he will forgive us, and we can be thankful for that!

Paul said "be thankful". He didn't say "feel thankful". Being thankful is a command from God that I really think that I can obey. I can be thankful every day for the gifts that he has given me, and I can also be thankful for the opportunity of a new day. Especially this morning, as the sun has just come out after being hidden for many, many days. How wonderful to see the sun again. Thank you God for your command to be thankful, it is a wonderful reminder of the grace we have every moment of our lives.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Pleasure

Genesis 6 is the beginning of the story of Noah. In this chapter we learn that Noah was a pleasure to the Lord, while the rest of the world was a pain. "5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain." It broke God's heart that the world was wicked, and he regretted even making man. Imagine how bad it must have been back then! Noah was the ONLY man on earth to have a relationship with God. Think about that for a second. Think of how life must have been like for Noah who was surrounded by sin and bad deeds. He most certainly must have been some kind of outcast to society, yet he still continued in his relationship with God. God found favor in Noah and decided to spare him from the coming destruction.

How can we find favor with God? How can we make sure that we are a pleasure to God, and not a pain? That's not a distinction I want to particularly have. So how do we please God? God takes pleasure in our right behavior- the behavior we have, even when no one else is looking. Our lifestyle and our mind set should bring pleasure to God. Proverbs 12:22 says "The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful." As a Father, he delights in us when we do what he wants us to do.

How often do we actually celebrate our relationship with God? We turn to him in times of need, and we rejoice when he provides. But what about those in between times? We should rejoice in his presence just because of his presence, not just because of the great gifts he has bestowed upon us. Noah was God's friend, even though everyone else around him had befriended the devil instead. Noah always tried to conduct his affairs as though God was with him right there, he was pleasing to God's eyes. He followed God's laws and God's commands. He pleased God with everything he did. Do we care more about pleasing God than pleasing others or ourselves? That is how we ensure that we are a pleasure to God and not a pain. We please him first before ourselves and before others.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


When I was in high school, Avalon was a popular Christian singing group (they may still be). I loved one of their songs called Adonai. I knew that Adonia meant "Lord," but I don't think I really understood what that meant/means for me. Even now that I do know what it means, my actions don't always show that. When we accept the gift of God's forgiveness, we give our lives to Him! Yes, the give He offers is free and holds no catches, but when we reach out and take that gift, we are/should be filled with such gratitude and love for Him, that we want to do whatever He commands. We surrender our all to Him. This makes Him Lord (Adonai) of our lives.

When He becomes our Lord "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). HOwever, just calling Him Lord, doesn't make Him Adonai. Jesus said in Luke "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, LOrd,' and do not do what I say?" (6:46) and again in Matthew "Now everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'" (7:21-23). You see, Adonai indicates a relationship; it indicates God's possession of me, His child and MY submission to Him as my Master. Does this mean that I will never mess up, never do what I want instead of what He wants? By no means! But that is what I should strive for. My actions everyday are to be directed to His will.

The first time Adonai is used is in Genesis 15:2, before El Shaddai was used. You see, before God can be our All Sufficient One, He must be Lord. "Only a servant can be totally dependent upon his master to meet all of his needs (Kay Arthur)." With slavery being common at that time, Abraham surely understood this. When He called God "Adonai" he was acknowledging God's lordship over his life. This took faith on Abraham's part. It is no different with us...acknowledging God as Lord of your life takes faith, great faith! But remember, He is All Sufficient and provides what we Him to provide you with the faith to surrender to Him (I have to do this DAILY!) and give Him lordship in Your life.

There is more to learn about Adonai. Next will be some words straight from God's letter to us telling us what responsibilities and benefits we have when He is Adonai, Lord, in our lives!

Without Charge

Have you heard the saying "There's no free lunch?" Or how about the saying "The best things in life are free." Everyday in my inbox I receive several e-mails claiming to have free things for me. Join here and win money! Click here and you can receive a free computer! Do this, this, and this, and you can receive a gift card to the store of your choice. They all have a catch. Whether the catch is a virus for your computer or permission to receive even more of those unwanted e-mails.

Unlike all of our possessions and worldly things, salvation is without a catch. Salvation from our sins is 100% free- guaranteed. "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17. See that! God says salvation is a free gift! Eternal life in Heaven is without charge- for all of us! It is free for you and me, for the neighbor lady, for the town mayor, and for the convict serving consecutive life sentences. It's 100% free for all of us. Why is that? It is free because our admission has already been paid. Our tickets have been signed for by none other than Jesus Christ himself. He paid the ultimate price so that we might spend eternity in heaven. When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and savior, God charges up our sin to Jesus's account and it disappears for good. We become debt free with our Heavenly Father because Jesus paid the price on the cross. Jesus paid our debt in full!

Isaiah 55:1 says “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink;even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk;it’s all free!" would you turn down a free drink? Or a free meal? How about a year free of living expenses? Would you take that? Salvation is yours for the taking! We can stop trying to pay the debt Christ payed ourselves. No amount of good deeds or random acts of kindness will get us in the doors of Heaven. All we need to do is accept what Jesus as done for us personally and recognize him as our Lord and Savior, and the doors will be wide open to all of us. Wide open! Let's look at that verse again- Revelation 22:17 "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life." Come to Jesus and drink freely for all eternity.

Here is a simple prayer that you can pray right now to accept the price Jesus paid for you.
"Lord, I'm coming! I'm coming to Christ. I'm coming to say that I'm sorry thatyou had to die to pay for my sins- sins you didn't commit- my sins. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Lord, I'm coming to say that I'm done trying to buy my way into Heaven. I'm bankrupt without you Lord. Jesus, I've come, and here I am! Forgive me for my sinful life, come into my heart, enter my life, and give me eternal life. Thank you Lord Jesus! Amen."

Welcome to Heaven.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Saved From What?

What does it mean to be saved? And what do we need to be saved from? Today I read Romans, chapter 5. This chapter gives a very unique comparison between Adam and Jesus. And to answer our questions today, we need to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

When God created the world, he created everything to be perfect. Everything was perfect. God made a perfect environment for his perfect man and perfect woman to spend time with him. Adam and Eve and God would walk through the garden together and talk and spend time together. It was a perfect world. One of the things that God gave to Adam, Eve, and all of man, was the free spirit. That free spirit meant that Adam and Eve could make their own choices about what they wanted to do, as long as it pleased God. And there is the catch. A free will to do what pleases God. And in order to please God, Adam and Eve simply had to obey him. They needed to show him that they acknowledged him as Lord over their lives. They had only one rule- and Satan moved quickly to exploit that one rule. He used Eve to tempt Adam, and they both broke God's rule. They broke the only rule God had made for them, and proved that they could not have the perfect relationship with God. God is perfect, and he could no longer fellowship with un-perfect man and woman. Adam's sin affected the entire human race. A divide sprang up between man and God. Ever since Adam sin, we all have been born with a sinful bias. It is human nature to sin.

Thankfully, Jesus Christ changed all that for us. Romans 5:15-17 says this:
"15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ."

Because Jesus is the perfect Son of God, he was able to take our punishment for sinning and pay the penalty himself. He took our punishment so that we would be able to have a personal relationship with God once again. Salvation is the bridge between our sinful nature and our Holy God. Jesus died so that we who are dead in sin can be alive again! God wants to give us this salvation, he wants us to accept the bridge that Christ has provided for us and take those steps towards him. Our life of sin can be forgiven and we can be new again, if we are willing to accept it. Would you accept the salvation that God wants to give you? Up next, how to accept the free gift of salvation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Seeing The Light

Acts chapter 9 is on my mind this morning. In this chapter of the New Testament, we find the man Saul, travelling on his way to persecute Christians. He was hunting them down, planning to bring the Christians back to Jerusalem and the waiting priests for judgement. And while Saul was travelling, Jesus appeared before him as bright light, here are verses 3-19, they are just too fun to not read.

3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.
11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Obviously, Saul "saw the light" in a very big way. Saul was one of your more unlikely candidates to be saved and do God's work in that time. He was basically a good person in character, following the law and being morally sound, but he lacked the knowledge of Christ. If I had to compare him to someone alive today, the first person who comes to mind to me is Tom Cruise. Here is a modern man who is basically good- in the public eye a lot, but he is clearly not saved. Imagine what the common person would think if Tom Cruise suddenly began preaching the gospel! That is very much what it was like for Saul in that day and age.
When I think about Saul and his dramatic rescue from a life without God, I tend to find it a little hard to relate to. I didn't have that drama. I grew up in a Christian home, so there's never been a time that I didn't believe in God. There was a time where I maybe wasn't "devoted enough" I guess. Following my own path and my own desires according to what I wanted. Just as there are so many people today who are basically good people, we all still need to "see the light" in our different ways. Being "good enough" is not going to get anyone to heaven. We all still need to accept that Christ died for us, and confess our sins so that we may receive forgiveness. Whether we can relate better to Saul and his conversion, or the simple apostle Ananias, we still have all sinned. Jesus himself said that every person must become like a child, see the light, and turn from sin, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Once we are willing to change our ways, we will find ourselves with a childlike trust in God, and he will help us to be the great people on Earth that will get us to eternity in Heaven.<>
The beauty of this all is that God can forgive us for not being "good enough". He can make us the best people we can possibly be- all we need to do is ask him. Ask him to enter our lives and help us to defeat sin. It doesn't get easier than that. We only have to ask.

Monday, November 13, 2006

El Shaddai - again

I know that Erika has already talked about what she learned about God as El Shaddai, but it never hurts to revisit and learn more about our God. When God first revealed Himself as El Shaddai, He was making a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. You see, Abraham was 99-years-old. Just a bit past fertility (for him and Sarah, who was 89). However, Abraham reconized God as God Almighty, the All-Sufficient One and fell on his face before God! God was Abraham's answer.

As mentioned before, "El" refers to diety and literally means might or power. The root of Shaddai isn't as clear, but Andrew Jukes of The Names of God gives this description, which I think is pretty awesome:

He tells that the root of the word Shaddai comes from the HEbrew word "Shad" meaning a "woman's breast." How did this word come to mean Alimighty in the description of our God? Okay, here's the neat part. When a baby is crying and restless, nothing can quiet it but the mother's breast (Okay, think like a Hebrew woman prior to formula, technology, etc!). Without the mother's breast, the baby starves. The breast provides life and nourishment - power over the outcome of teh child. This is what El Shaddai is for us - He nourishes us, provides life - He pours Himself our for us! "Come unto me and drink," "Open thy mouth wide and Iwill fill it." Even in the Lord's supper we see a picture of this as we "Eat His flesh and drink His blood." What a wonderful picture of Jesus Christ pouring everything out for us!

You see, in Abraham's weakness was God's power shown; He was revealed as Almighty God, the All-Sufficient One. "I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1).

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (1 Corinthians 12:9-10). This is my prayer tonight!

Knowing God

We can't get to heaven without knowing God. And you can't get to know God unless you go through his son, Jesus Christ. Today I read John, chapter 17. This is a beautiful chapter. The entire chapter is Jesus praying to his father. It's so personal! And it shows that Jesus truly cares. Reading this morning, I just was overwhelmed with a sense of how much Jesus loved his disciples. He loved them and was praying earnestly for God to watch over them once he left their presence. It is the same with us. Jesus did not just die for the disciples and his followers at the time. He died for us. He dies for you and me. When Jesus was praying for his disciples, he was also praying for us. How awesome is that!! 2000 years ago, Jesus was praying for me!!

Verse 17:3 says "This is the way to eternal life- to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth." The path to heaven, and to living forever is through the cross, and what Jesus did for us. We need to recognize what he has done for us, and thank him for what he has done, and accept that he did do that for us. People can walk around pretending it didn't actually happen, or discarding that it happened, but it doesn't change that fact that it did happen, and God wants all of us to recognize that fact. Once we've accepted Jesus's sacrifice for us, we can begin the wonderful process of knowing God more.

Knowing God doesn't involve knowing everything about him. If we did know everything, we'd pretty much have to be God ourselves. Fortunately for us, there are several ways that we can know a little bit about God and be saved by him. The first way is through nature. Romans 1:20 says, " For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." Nature itself is the perfect example that God exists. He created such a wonderful world! Just look at the natural world around you. The trees, the animals, the hills, the oceans. It's all a miracle that God himself created for our enjoyment. Here's another example from Psalms 19: 1-4

1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
Another way that we can get to know God is through our conscience. God has placed in all our hearts a natural understanding of right and wrong. A few days ago I discussed this as the Holy Spirit being our conscience. Here's what Hebrews 10:16 says about our conscience, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” he helps us to naturally know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.
The third way that we can know God more is through the Ten Commandments- and I'm not talking about the movie version. These commandments are clear and precise, and can be found here in Exodus 20:1-17. They tell us exactly what God expects from us and our behavior. We can see from these commandments that following them will please the Lord, and breaking them will cause him great heartache. Read verse 6: "But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands." Wow! He lavishes unfailing love. Think on that for a minute. Think about lavishing another human being. If money were no object, and you could lavish anything and everything on the ones you love most, that would be a tiny smidge of what God will bless us with if we follow his directions. That verse is proof of how God enjoys being pleased by people.
With that verse, I will take a break until tomorrow. Knowing God is so wonderful that I want to take two days to explore how we can know him better and know him more. In the meantime though, you can scroll back and re-read some of the names of God- another way to know him more.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Seeking God

Let's all sing together now... "Zacchaeus was a wee little man..." Today's reading was Luke chapter 19:1-10, the story of Zaccheus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who happened to be a short man. On this particular day, Jesus was walking into Jericho, and Zacchaeus could not see him. So Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree simply to get a glimpse of Jesus. When Jesus came by, he called up to Zacchaeus and said "Zacchaeus! Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today." And when the crowds saw this, they were unhappy with Jesus because he was planning to spend the day in the home of one they thought a sinner. Immediately, Zacchaeus told the Lord that he would share his wealth with the poor and will re-pay anyone he had overcharged. Then Jesus compared Zacchaeus to Abraham and said "I the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost." (Vs 10.)

God is a bridge builder. When humanity's relationship with God was ruined so many years ago, God began to work on building a bridge that he could use to save us all. That bridge was his own son, Jesus Christ. God loved us so much, John 3:16 says "that he gave his only begotten son." Just for us, to save us from our sin. When we sin, we can feel ashamed or saddened, and sin can make us want to hide from God. Fortunately for us, our God is a seeking God. He sent us Jesus to "seek and save those...who are lost."

While Jesus was on Earth, he told several parables about "lost" items. There was a parable about a lost sheep, that when it was found, it's owner rejoiced. There was a parable of a woman who lost a coin, and she rejoiced when it was found. And one of the most familiar parables- that of the prodigal son, showed a lost son, who'd father rejoiced when he'd been found. In the same exact way, there is great joy in heaven every time the Heavenly Father finds a lost soul.

When I think on all the people who are wandering around aimlessly without even realizing that they are lost! How many people on earth are like the coin, or the sheep, and don't even realize that they are missing, and that God wants to find them, and save them. And God wants to save them! He wants each and every one of his sheep to come home. He wants to throw a party for each and every one. According to Luke 15:10, the angels rejoice every time one sinner comes to know Christ!

May God show me the lost coins in my life. How wonderful it would be to help find the lost and show them the way to go. Help them to find that bridge that God built, and cross safely into eternity. There is a party coming that everyone should attend!! We all are invited, and each and every one of us is the guest of honor.

This week I am going to try and do a series of devotionals that would help lead someone to Christ. Then once it is complete, I will add some links to the sidebar for easy reference.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

He Sees!

Have you ever felt alone, like no one sees what's happening it you, like no one cares? Like you did what the person wanted and now they don't want or need you, you've been left out for no reason? I have. But guess what...God sees! He is El Roi! He is omnipresent, never closes His eyes. "He who keeps you will not slumber" (Psalm 121:3). He is aware of everything that is going on.

Genesis 16 is where this characteristic of God is first described. Guess who discovers it...Hagar! The slave of Sarai who slept with Abraham (after Sarai's command) so that he could have a child. After she did this Sarai "treated her harshly," so Hagar fled. When she fled, the angel of the LORD found her. He told her to return to her mistress and submit to her authority (this is a lesson in itself! God has given authority and we are to submit to it unless it brings harm to His name). He then told her that God would greatly multiply her descendants. She was to name her child "Ishmael, because the LORD has given heed to your affliction." (If you look in verses 11-12 you see that this is where the conflict between Israel and Palestine originates.) Then she declares that God is a "God who sees".

You see, Hagar's problem came after she obeyed her mistress. She was scorned by Sarai after her obedience. It appeared that no one cared for her. But she learned that God sees what is going on and is taking care of her, even in the times when it may seem that He is not there. In fact, He is there and sees ALL, nothing is hidden from Him.

"Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to the heaven Thour art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of teh dawn, if I dwell in th eremotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, the light around me will be night,' even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee." Psalm 139:7-12

So, God has seen. If sin was committed against you, He knows. If I committed a sin, He knows. Thank the LORD, there is forgiveness. However, for those who do not receive the Lamb who takes away sins, there is judgement. This is righteous because God saw it all (2 Thes. 1:5-10). And remember, he sees but He also allows things to happen in HIs sovereignty. We must trust Him in everything and remember that He does not leave those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10). So, run to the One who is sovereign and who sees everything. Trust in His name and rest in it!


Today I read two passages. The first one suggested was Joshua, chapter 2, which was the story of Rahab hiding the spies in Jericho. Rahab was a common prostitute in Jericho, and the people of Jericho were very afraid of the Israelites. When Rahab was confronted by the people of Jericho to help them find the men, she told them they were gone, and hid them on her roof. When she went to get the two spies out of hiding, they made a bargain with her, that she would be saved from the coming destruction to Jericho. A common prostitute. And because she believed them, and believed that God would save her, she was given a second chance at life, and even became a descendant to King David, and subsequently Christ.

In order to live and be spared, Rahab needed to hang a scarlet rope from her window. We can also hang a red rope from our windows. If we accept God's forgiveness for our sins, and apply the blood that Christ shed, we too will be saved from God's coming judgement on our sin. And God will be true to his promise to save us, just as Rahab was saved from death.

The second passage I read today was 2 Samuel 16. This was a lesson in being spared from the consequences of sin. In Numbers 32:23 God says "You may be sure that your sin will find you out." There are so many examples of this in the Bible, but today I read how this applies to King David. King David thought that he could cover up his sin with Bathsheba. David committed adultery against his wife by sleeping with Bathsheba. God did not let David get away with it though, and David confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness. While he did receive forgiveness, it did not change his actions. He was sorry about the whole thing, but being sorry would not bring back Bathsheba's husband Uriah from the dead, and it would not heal Bathsheba's broken heart at the loss of her husband either. God can forgive, but often there are still consequences. Being sorry and forgiven for murder doesn't bring someone back form the grave. One by one, Things went wrong in David's life that could very well have been a reflection from his sinning.

When we've brought trouble to ourselves from our own bad choices, there is a way out. We can confess our sins to God, and he will give us our way out. Our God is a God of forgiveness and reconciliation, and he promises redemption and restoration from any who seek him. I love reading John 8. At the very beginning of the chapter, a woman is being accused of committing adultery, and the people want to stone her. Jesus showed mercy and asked "let those who have never sinned cast the first stones". And then told her "go and sin no more." Go and sin no more is where our new life begins. No matter how badly we fail in our quest to please God, Jesus Christ will always give us the help we need to go and sin no more. It is through him that we can hang our our own red rope and receive God's mercy and forgiveness.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sin- When Trouble Troubles You

One of my favorite movies ever, despite the horrific acting is the original Ten Commandments. Maybe it's seeing a minor translation of God working on the screen that attracts me to it, or maybe it's my love for old movies. Either way, this is one of the best. And today's reading led me to Exodus, chapter 10. Moses is smack dab in the middle of trying to bargain the Israelites out of Egypt. The Egyptians have already seen the plagues of frogs, gnats, livestock, boils, and hail. We join in here with Moses pleading with Pharoah one more time to release his people. Of course, Pharoah refuses, and God sends the plague of locusts. The locusts ate every speck of green in Egypt. Every fruit, seed, plant, and vine was eaten by a locust. And when Pharoah saw what happened, he feared for himself and pleaded with Moses:

"I confess my sin against the Lord your God and against you, " he said to them. "Forgive my sin only this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this terrible plague." vs. 16-17
(Can't you just see Yul Brenner saying that!) Yet when Moses spoke with God and the locust were driven away, Pharoah hardened his heart again and refused to let the people go. It was like that every time. A plague would be upon them, and Pharoah would begin to be afraid and ask Moses to intervene with God on his behalf.

Sometimes sin is like that. Sometimes bad things happen to us that help us come to our senses and realize that we need God. And often we are at the end of our rope with a situation, and we will pray and earnestly repent our sins and thank God for delivering us from evil. Yet sometimes, we can become like Pharoah, and repent in the moment. We can get caught up in the fear of the moment and repent our sins and turn to God, and as soon as the bad is over, we go back to our worldly ways. Why is that? Well, sometimes, it may actually be a challenge from God. Repeatedly in the trial between Moses and Pharoah, it was God who hardened Pharoah's heart against him.

Pharoah was given many opportunities to deal with his sin and repent. All he had to do was acknowledge the Lord and imagine the possibilities for the Pharoah of Egypt if he knew the Lord! Yet Pharoah hardened his heart repeatedly, and eventually, God had enough, took over, and hardened it for him. God himself has warned us that his Spirit will not always "put up with" us as people. If we resist his Spirit over and over, and continue to do what is wrong, and not recognize our sin and our God, there may come a time for us when it is too late.

So is trouble troubling you? If God has allowed trouble to trouble you, perhaps it is because you need to take a minute and let the Spirit do some work in your life. Maybe it's time to reflect on God and seek his guidance. I know when we encounter trouble sometimes we don't turn to God right away. Sometimes we try and fix it ourselves. One if the biggest area there for us is our finances. It's easy to sin with our money, to treat it like gold and spend without a care in the world. And then we hit a bumpy patch and remember that God wants us to be smart with our finances and take care of our tithing and our debts before anything else. Trouble troubles us when we need it. Even though it sounds scary, it's something to be thankful for. I am thankful that God sometimes gives us a second (sometimes even a third) chance.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just a Thought

Tonight we had friends over for dinner. One of the things we talked about was Ted Haggart. That is a really sad situation. Justin mentioned that he had read the letters that Rev. Haggart and his wife wrote to the church. In her letter, Mrs. Haggart wanted to assure the congregation that her husband believed everything he had said and taught them, his words were not fake. Justin said that he was really encouraged by that because he often felt the same way. I think I have to agree. Sometimes, I say things to encourage other people or in a form of instruction, things that I really believe; but then I go and do the opposite of what I've said. That doesn't mean that I don't believe what I've told someone else. I guess it just shows that I, on my own, am very weak and can't even do what I believe sometimes. Kind of like Paul when he said that what he hates he does and what he wants to do he cannot. I pray that my mis-steps don't hinder someone else from calling on God for salvation, that I'm not a stumbling block. Thank God that He is forgiving and has provided a way to fellowship with Him, even when we do fall! I want to do what I believe.

The next name to take a look at - El Roi, the God who sees!

Holy Spirit- Who He Is

Our Counselor and Advocate.

The Holy Spirit has many roles in our lives. He wears several different hats, and actually works with Jesus for us. Today I read I John, chapter 2. Verse 27 says "But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things and what he teaches is true- it is not a lie. So continue in what he has taught you and continue to live in Christ."

The Holy Spirit is very much like the idea of a conscience. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that it is the Holy Spirit who acts as our conscience- even before we have met Christ personally. He helps steer us in the right direction. He's that voice in the back of your head that tells you something is wrong before you do it. What verse 27 is saying to me is that with the help of the Holy Spirit, I don't need someone else to tell me what is right. I need to pay attention to that voice in my head that says to make amends with someone, or to turn the channel when something unwholesome comes on the screen.

In this way, the Holy Spirit can be likened to a counselor. The root meaning of the actual word counselor is "one who is called alongside to help." Schools today have at least one counselor on staff at all times. These counselors are there to help. If a student has a problem at home, with school, with peers, or a different sort of problem, they can turn to these counselors to help guide them. So it is with Christians and the Holy Spirit. He is there to help us whenever we need it. Whether it be direction in a decision, help in dealing with another believer, or help to endure a crisis. The Holy Spirit is our counselor in times of need, and in times of peace. What a comfort to know that we have him there when we need him!

Another term for counselor could be an advocate. An advocate is one who is called to one's side to help against an accuser or a judge. We hear about advocates a lot in the court system today. The Holy Spirit is there to help us plead our case and defend our beliefs to a non-believer. The Holy Spirit helps us by being an advocate for Jesus. He shows us the direction we need to head to understand Jesus's role in our lives. He helps our minds and our hearts wholly accept what Jesus has done for us, and shows us that the only way is through Christ.

And just as the Holy Spirit is an advocate for Jesus, Jesus is our advocate with God. I John 2:1 says " There is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely." The Holy Spirit puts Christ in the forefront of our minds, and Jesus in turn, gives us the direction we need to take to get to God. And that is through Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. It's amazing to see how all three beings of God work together. And even more amazing is that they all work together for me! They want me to be happy, and they want me to spend eternity with them. Wow!

Tomorrow we'll begin 5 days about sin... stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Holy Spirit- Who He Is

Conversion, John chapter 16.

We cannot live the Christian life without Christ. Thankfully, it's the Holy Spirit who makes life with Christ ours for the taking. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. So often when we think about the word "sin" we think of the ultimate sins, like murder and theft. Sin means much more than that. We sin in so many ways possible... even our stray thoughts sometimes can become sin. Thank the Lord that he sent someone to help us in the ever-present battle with sin. This is where the Holy Spirit is a star! It is through the spirit that we are able to identify foul behavior, and the Spirit that gives is the tools we need to beat sin out of our lives.

It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the conviction that Jesus is the only way to go. We may have heard the words from someone else, but it is the Spirit that wraps himself around our hearts and helps us to truly believe. The Holy Spirit uses other people sometimes to tell us the truth in many things. I have an example of this today. :-)

Andy and I have been struggling with a few things as of late, and one of the things that I've been wondering is if it isn't time for us to move on. Maybe it's time for us to move to a new town and start over with new friends and a new church- the logic being that we'd move closer to Andy's work. Every once in a while, that is a major thought in my mind. And while part of me knows the answer is not to run away from problems, part of me has also been thinking that maybe all this disagreement has been a nudge for us to get our butts moving. So last week, I totally gave this feeling to God. I said that if we are meant to move, to please give us some clear direction and help us find where he wants us to be. And I kid you not. On Sunday at church, a woman comes up to Andy, asks him how he's doing, and out of the blue, asks if we're thinking about moving closer to his work. And she comes right out and says how she truly hopes that we are not thinking of moving, because we do so much here... Almost verbatim what I asked God... and let me tell you, that was most definitely the Holy Spirit working through this woman. So while the feeling that something needs to change for us is still there, it is no longer a feeling that we should be moving elsewhere, and if that feeling were to creep back, I have ultimate assurance that the Holy Spirit will be there to shoo it away.

It is amazing. Simply amazing to watch the spirit at work. When Andy told me exactly what this woman was saying... my jaw literally dropped. You can't get much clearer than that. And sometimes, when we're not paying attention to the internal dialogue with the Spirit, he uses other people to get the message across. Today I thank God wholeheartedly that he brought this woman into our church and our lives. I am going to pray for her today, pray that she has a great week, and pray that I can find a way to thank her.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Most High

So God is sovereign. Over everything...even Satan? Satan boasted that he would take his throne to heaven, above the stars of God, that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14). But what does he really believe and how does he act. Let's look in Job.

In Job 1 (6-12) Satan approached God and God asked him where he had been. Satan answered that he had been roaming the earth. Then GOD asked Satan if he had considered Job, His blameless and upright servant. It was God who brought Satan's attention to Job and God who gave him permission to try Job. This happens again in Job 2:1-10. God brings Satan's attention to Job, suggests that he test Job's faith. However, in BOTH instances God sets the boundaries as to what Satan can do to Job. Surprise, surprise...what does Satan do...HE OBEYS! Even Satan recognizes and respects God's sovereignty. Satan fears God.

Why is it comforting that God is sovereign over the "bad" in our lives? He also sets the boundaries. He has us in His hands and no one can take us from them. He sifts what comes upon us. Our knowledge of His sovereignty should make it easier for us to obey His command to rejoice in all circumstances. This doesn't mean to be joyful that it is happening to us, necessarily; but it does mean to be joyful in our knowledge of who is in control and who has saved us! In fact, God tells us to "be filled with the Spirit (look at that Erika! :-) )...always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Eph. 5: 18,20) and the same is said again in 1 Thes 5:18. Nothing can happen without His permission! No one or thing can stop God's plans.

Understanding God as El Elyon is essential to understainging how "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Joseph understood this and never complained or held a grudge during his trials OR after. Jesus understood this as He stood in condemnation for OUR sins, while He was spotless. May I remember this the next time I feel wronged. Instead to complaining, may I thank God for who He is and that He is Supreme over all!

Holy Spirit- Who He Is

Come and Drink!

In John chapter 7, Jesus presents himself to a group of people as the Messiah. Here's verses 37-38: On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within." The living water that Jesus was referring to here was the Holy Spirit. If you believe...come and drink. Not if you believe, and do good things, you may drink. Or if you believe and give lots of money to others, you may drink. Just simply, if you believe, come and drink. It's free. A free gift from God, for us, is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can be compared to an inexhaustible fountain of life in Christ. We can put in our dipper for a cool drink of water whenever we want or need it. At anytime, we can fill our buckets with blessings from within. And even better! We can share this fountain of life with the world! Everyone we know can also be filled, we just need to share it with them. Isaiah 12:3 says With joy we will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation. With joy! Joy is such a wonderful feeling! Every day I am filled with joy as I look upon my sleeping babes. It's almost overwhelming to think of what wonderful gifts they are from the Lord. I liken the Holy Spirit to that feeling I have every day for my children. Without joy, our fountain may become bitter, and how can we share that then? No one wants to drink bitter water, and if we walk around bitter and complaining and sour from life, people will run from our good news. Why would someone want to partake in that which makes us sour?

There may also be times where that fountain may feel like it is running dry on us. Occasionally something may happen with someone else where you feel as though someone has dumped dirt all over your fountain. All we need to do is ask. Ask the Lord to re-open your well, to remove the dirt and crud and the dry feelings we have. Ask him to pour out the Holy Spirit, and he will eagerly give him to you. Again, as seems to be a recurring theme these days, all we need to do is ask. Ask, and it shall be given. Jesus spoke of such a beautiful experience, that all who are thirsty may believe and drink. And even better, when we put in our bucket to draw from the fountain, we can share that bucket and the refreshment of the Holy Spirit with others. Why would you stand at a fountain and hoard the water to yourself? It needs to be shared! It must be shared, and the Holy Spirit will be there to give us the courage when the time does come to share. All we need do is ask...

Monday, November 06, 2006

El Elyon - God Most High

This is one of my favorite names of God. It reminds us of His power over everything, He's the ruler of the entire UNIVERSE, ALL that is, was, and is to come! He rules over all of man's affairs, He delivered Abraham, He redeemed His people (Jews and Gentiles!). His sovereignty has even been recognized by pagan/unbelieving leaders (Nebuchadnessar (Daniel 4:34) and the centurian at the cross, for example). "For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and HIs kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off HIs hand of say to Him, 'What hast Thou done?'" Daniel 4:34-35!!!

What is GOd sovereign over? Well, let's see what He tells us!
-an everlasting kingdom, no one can stop His will from occurring (Daniel 4:34-35)
-what He plans happens just as He intends it to happen (Isaiah 14:24,27)
-no one else is like Him; He sets a purpose and brings it to pass (Isaiah 46:9-11)
-wisdom and power belong to Him (so He is really our only source of these!); He establishes kings, gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (this is how I survive medical school!), He reveals hidden things, He knows what is in the light AND the darkness. Basically any changes that occur, He authorized or caused (Daniel 2:20-23)
-He has control over all things pertaining to the growth, success, and safety of HIs people (Isaiah 5:5-7)
-There is no god beside Him. He gives life and puts to death. He wounds and heals. BUT "there is no one who can deliver from My hand."!!!!!!(Deuteronomy 32:39)
-He opens and closes the womb. (I Samuel 1:5-6)
-He kills and makes a live; He brings to Sheol and raises up. He makes rich and poor. He brings low and exalts. The pillars of the earth are HIS! "He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail. (guidance)" He shatters and judges. He gives strength to His king and exalts His anointed. (I Samuel 2:6-10)
-He forms light and creates darkenss. He causes well-being and creates calamity. He does ALL! (Isaiah 45:6-7)
-He gives earthly authority, even to those leaders we would call evil:
"Pilate therefore said to Him, 'You do not speak to me? Do You not konw that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?' Jesus answered, 'You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin." (John 10:10-11)

Although most of these references are from the Old Testament, they still have relevance to who God is and to our lives. Even before Christ, eternal salvation was based on faith! Those who will be in heaven had faith that Christ would come and ACTED in that faith daily (see Hebrews 11). This is a lot to take in about our God! In the book I'm going through, this encompassed 2 days! So, I'm going to finish this awesome name tomorrow...remember, God is in control of all that happens but has you in His hand and NO ONE can take you from Him!

Holy Spirit- Who He Is

The Fullness of His Glory.

I'm not going to pretend here. I just want to get that out. Of all of the parts of the deity... the Holy Spirit is the hardest one for me to grasp ahold of. And I have to admit, that today's reading kind of stumped me a little, so I am going to combine two days into one, in order to better understand what is trying to be said.

I turned to Ezekial 9 today. Just reading this chapter is something to read! In this chapter, God has become disgusted with the Israelites. He sends a man to mark the people who are good and hate all the evil going on in the city. Those who have not been marked are killed. This is God's justice being carried out! Ezekial falls to his knees and cries to the Lord, asking if anyone will be spared his wrath. And here is what God says in verse 9: "The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very great. The entire Land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying 'the Lord doesn't see it! The Lord has forsaken the Land!' So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done."

In the Old Testament, the presence of God was a physical presence. He manifested himself as a cloud- a cloud of glory. That cloud resided in the temple. In Ezekiel 9:3, "the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the temple." God had enough. The people are full of sin, and he has decided that it is time for his presence to be noted. Now, while Jesus was here on Earth, he showed Peter, James, and John a glimpse of God's glory when he was transfigured in front of them. That Glory of God becomes a part of our lives today, through the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus as our savior, the Holy Spirit sort of moves in and resides in us. He is always there to help us when needed. He is our assurance that someday we will share in God's Glory. In order for that to happen though, we need to "let the Holy Spirit fill and control" us. (Ephesians 5:18) Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process- it's not a "do it once and it's done" sort of thing.

In John chapter 3, a religious leader named Nicodemus comes to Jesus. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again, and must be born of both water and spirit. He then compares the spirit to the wind. Just as we can't hear the wind, or see where it comes from or where it is going, so it is with the Holy Spirit. While we cannot explain how people are born of the Spirit, we can certainly see where the Spirit has been. Has God's "wind" changed our lives? Or are we living the same life we always have? It's with the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to change our lives for the better, and live for God. It is the Holy Spirit who touches our hearts and helps us to see temptation for what it is. I thank God that he sent us the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us. I , for one, would certainly be lost without him.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jesus- Who He Is

Following Jesus' Example- John chapter 14.

How do we follow Jesus' example? We certainly can't do what he did! We can't stretch out our arms and die for those we love (well, we could in some situations, I suppose). Today I want to briefly touch on a couple of examples that Jesus gave us on how to be more like him.

First of all, Jesus was a wonderful teacher. He followed his own teachings, and to be more like him, we need to obey his teachings. Fortunately, he can help by giving us the power to follow his teachings. We cannot simply live the Christian life, we need to have Christ's help to do so in the way that he wants us to. We simply cannot be neutral about Jesus. John 14:6 says "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." He also said that he and the Father were actually one. And as humans, we cannot follow his teachings without believing what he tells us in the first place. There is truth in every word he said, and we have to take that to heart and believe it is so in order to follow his teachings. Thankfully, we were sent the Holy Spirit to aid us in that belief and to help us sort fact from fiction. Tomorrow we will begin to learn about the Holy Spirit and who he is, and how he ca help us.

Secondly, Jesus live to please the Father. He didn't live for himself or even for other people. He lived specifically to please God. When people attack us, we must in turn, bless them and show them God's love. We need to always focus on our Heavenly Father. Our lives are not meant for our pleasure or for our needs. Our lives are for him! We need to seek him daily to see how he would have us use the life that he has given us. Jesus did this- even while dying on the cross- he followed the will of God right to the end of his time here on Earth.

And thirdly, Jesus depended on God. He depended on God to provide him with the power to heal and the power to mend. Jesus even depended on God to raise a man from the dead! And if God can provide that power- imagine what he can provide us, if only we ask him. John 14:12 is our key verse today. It says "Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works." Let's think on that. If we believe in Jesus, we will believe that God is our provider for everything, and through Jesus, we will be able to do great works. Just imagine what great works are in store for us! I think that one of the problems confronting Christians today is that we don't ask. If we are facing a problem, all we need do is ask the Lord for help, and believe that he will provide the help we seek. Just as Jesus lived his life here on earth by the power of the Father, so can we.

I'll end today with John 6:57. "I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me." Can there be a better example for us to follow than that of Christ himself?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Jesus- Who He Is

The Father's Business.

Today's reading was Luke, chapter 2. A very familiar chapter- even to non-Christians, as this is Luke's account of the birth of Christ. I love reading the Christmas story when it is not Christmas. It always fills my heart with joy, as it reminds me of the most joyous time of year. The focus though, of today's devotional is at the end of chapter 2. The following passage is from the King James Version, as I think it best represents my point today. Check out especially the part in bold.

41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
50And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Now imagine being a parent of a 12 year old. Imagine yourself being in a busy shopping mall at the Christmas shopping time. It is extremely busy, and while you don't see your son, you assume that he is with other family members or friends. It isn't until much later that you realize your son is nowhere to be found. How do you feel? You feel frantic and worried and concerned for the well-being of your child. This is how Mary and Joseph must have felt for 3 days while they searched for Jesus. And when they finally find him, he almost chides them for being worried. It's amazing to really think on what Jesus said to them when they found him. "I had to see to my Father's business."

Jesus was becoming a man at this time. 12-13 is a coming of age for a young man, and even though we know very little of what life was like for Jesus growing up, I have to think that he was pretty much a normal teenager. And that 12 years old was the beginning of that confusing time for a young man. I am also certain that he loved his parents very much and was an obedient young man. Yet here, in the presence of all who were there, he was telling his beloved parents that there was something more important than them. He was saying that there was a relationship more important to him than with that of his parents.

Can we say that? Can we say that there is a relationship more important to us than anything else? Can we honestly say that God comes first? Jesus set us the perfect example that day in his Father's house, and if we want to be like Jesus, we need to follow suit. God deserves no less from us. If we think on all our plans, decisions, hopes and dreams, do we really put God first? I know I surely don't, and I fall short of that mark most days. What a wonderful thing though to have the perfect example in Jesus Christ! I thank God today that I have such an example. Something to strive for as everyday I try to put God first.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Elohim - The Creator

This is the first name used for God, Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth." This comes from two Hebrew words, "el" and "him." El means "mighty" or "strong" and is used when referring to any god. "Him" is a plural ending. How neat is that?! God's name indicates the trinity, even though God is one at the same time (Deut. 6:4, "The LORD (Jehovah) is our God (Elohim), the LORD is one."). I don't understand it but, praise God, I don't have to. I must simply believe in Him as Savior, as my Sacrifice, my Redeemer, the Way to Heaven.

Now, if God is the Creator, then He created YOU! YOU are uniquely made by God in His image. In fact, each of us if "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:13-14). This was so important to me as I thought about all the children who people view as mistakes or disfigured, those who are outcast; God made them as well (Exodus 4:11)! He made them BEAUTIFUL! May I always treat them as a creation of God. He made everyone so that His works might be displayed! So, remember that God created you uniquely and beautifully and wonderfully!

Now that we know that God created us, WHY did He create us? In Isaiah 43 (I LOVE this passage!) He gives us precious words. Although my book didn't reference them all (only 1, 3-4, and 7) I'm going to do all of 1-7 because it is so encouraging!

"Thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (WOW!! He calls my name and I'm HIS!)
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
"For I am the LORD you God (Elohim), The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.
"Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
"Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west.
"I will say to the north, "Give them up!" And to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth,
"Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.'"

There is SO much in there! But, in reference to why we were created...for His glory! But what does glory mean. I think this is SO neat and visual...the Hebrew word for glory means "to give a correct opinion or estimate of." SO, when we live to honor God, we are to live in such a way that gives a correct estimate of presence of others AND when we're alone! Oh, I'm talking to myself. I fail at this so often but thank God for His forgiveness and mercy! Revelation 4:11 also tells us that "because of [His] will [we] were created." Apparently, the KJV uses the word "pleasure" for "will." That was so neat to me...I was created for God's pleasure! FOR HIS PLEASURE!!! YOU were created for His pleasure!

So, why were we created? For His glory and for His pleasure. I am to live in such a way that I show the character of God to the world...that I show His love, HIs grace, His mercy...all that He is! I pray that I do that, but I know that without Him I cannot! Lord, thank You that You provide strength for all I do and forgiveness for all my failures!