Wednesday, September 23

Truly, Madly, Deeply

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.
    I thirst for You;
    my body faints for You
    in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water...
    My lips will glorify You
    because Your faithful love is better than life.
    So I will praise You as long as I live;
    at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 63:1-4

Do you feel this way about the Lord? Do you truly long for Him, feel faint without Him near? Do you really feel that His love is better than life? Do you desire Him as much as you'd desire a big drink of cool water after nearly thirsting to death trekking across the desert? Sometimes I do. But not enough. Not nearly enough. I do love Him, and I do follow Him, but He loves me in such a deeply passionate way. I don't want to give Him crumbs of my leftover love and time and energy. I want to fall truly, madly, deeply in passionate love with Christ.  As with anything, I'm just not capable of this on my own, but with Him, I can love Him that way.

Monday, September 21

Cast Away

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is His faithful love
    toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has He removed
    our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:11-12

Lately I've been dealing yet again with consequences of past sin. Even worse, someone I love dearly has been experiencing consequences of my sin. In the midst of that, it's easy to forget that God has forgiven me. This verse above is a favorite of mine, for just that reason. His love for me is greater than I can begin to fathom, and He has taken my sins and cast them far, far away -- from me and from Himself.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: With such great love as He has shown me, how can I not love & serve Him with all my heart!?!

Wednesday, September 16

Psalm 100

Shout triumphantly to the LORD,
     all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God.
He made us, and we are His —
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
     and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures through all generations. 

Shout, serve, come acknowledge, enter, give, praise. All to Him. And do it triumphantly, with gladness, thanksgiving, praise. He is God, He made us, He is good, He is love, He is eternal, He is faithful.

Thursday, September 10

The Courtyard of God

"Planted in the house of the LORD, they [the righteous] thrive in the courtyard of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green."  Psalm 94:13-14
When we were in Africa recently, we had the pleasure of having lunch with a local family. The home was enclosed by a concrete fence, with a gate at the entrance to the driveway. This created a wonderful courtyard, and the husband had meticulously planted beautiful flowers and trees to create a true oasis in the midst of the dry and mostly barren areas we'd driven through all around the city. This would be a lovely place to be planted, if you were a plant. Everything there was thriving. Gardens like that don't happen by accident in the midst of the Kalahari desert.
Yesterday I read the above verse, and immediately thought of that courtyard in Africa. If I'm planted firmly in the presence of the Lord, I will thrive. This doesn't mean I'm promised riches or an easy life, but it means I will produce fruit. Not just for a season, but for as long as I live on this earth. 

Monday, August 3

Living in a Chaotic World

Yesterday contained two sermons in one. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek one first, titled "Finding Personal Comfort in a Chaotic World." The main bullet points of this one:
  1. Limit your exposure to the needs of the world. Keep those blinders on, folks!
  2. Wait for lost, needy people to come to you. We have a big, pretty church. They know where to find us.
  3. Stay in your comfort zone. It's safe and comfy here. 
  4. Make sure the pursuit of Christ doesn't interfere with your pursuit of the American Dream. Yes, God wants you to have that big house, the boat, the fancy car, even if it gets a little in the way of following Christ.
  5. Wait for God to give you a specific calling for ministry before you do anything to serve Him.
  6. Minister in ways that aren't messy. Stay a safe distance & don't ever get mired up in the muck of other people's messes.
  7. Face facts that one person just cannot make a difference.
So that's the have-it-your-way sermon. This leaves us with a very comfortable life, but such an empty, unfulfilling one!

The REAL message is that we're called to take up our cross and deny ourselves daily! Coming to Christ and trusting Him for our salvation does get us to heaven but we can miss out on so much of the purpose He has for us on earth. If He had no purpose for us, then we'd be transported straight to heaven at the moment of our salvation. 

So here's what we really ought to do (as opposed to those bullet points above):
  1. Confront the reality of our fallen world. 
  2. GO into the world! Take the church beyond the boundaries of our walls!
  3. Live like comfort is not an issue. Get way out of our comfort zones!
  4. Don't let the American standard of living interfere with the pursuit of Christ! 
  5. God calls us ALL to be involved in ministry. We're all given certain gifts and talents, but there are some general commands in scripture we should all obey, like sharing the gospel and caring for those less financially blessed than we are, etc...
  6. Join God in the messiness. He reached down into the mess of our lives to save us from ourselves, so we should do that for others as well!
  7. You CAN make a difference!
We can ask the Lord to show us the needs around us, and find out what He would have us do. 

Thursday, July 30

One Anothering

Our most recent lesson in Sunday school has got me thinking: how am I doing in regards to treating others the way scripture tells me to do? How well am I "one-anothering"? Here's what the Word tells us we should be doing...
  • Accept one another (Romans 15:7)
  • Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Build up one another (Romans 14:19)
  • Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Confess faults to one another (James 5:16)
  • Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10a)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Greet one another (Romans 16:16)
  • Be honest with one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Honor one another (Romans 12:10b)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Love one another (Romans 13:8)
  • Members one of another (Romans 12:5)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Be of the same mind with one another (Romans 15:5)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

Wow. I could do a whole post on every one of those! (Hmm... not a bad idea; I'll have to ponder that possibility further.)

So, how are you doing on the "one anothers"?

Friday, July 17

Navigating Life

"You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures."
Psalm 16:11
God shows me what to do, which way to turn, how to prioritize my days; He teaches me everything I need to know to navigate this life. Real joy, the kind that is not dependent upon circumstances, comes from spending time alone with God, knowing Him, and having a relationship with Him. He is the source of all true treasures. We tend to worry so much about temporary pleasures that we forget that eternity begins now, not when we arrive in heaven.

I'm asking the Lord to reveal the path of life for me in all things, specifically right now as I'm planning our upcoming homeschool year. I want Him to guide me as I choose exactly which books to purchase, what outside activities to participate in, what our budget should be, how to best organize our school room, as well as showing me the particular bent of each child, and how best to parent and teach them. We've made the decision that our house serves the Lord, and that includes our homeschool. I never want us to get so caught up in busyness, buying into the illusion that more (activities, etc,) is always better. Keeping our priorities in order, most especially putting a relationship with the with Lord above all, is key to maintaining joy in our home.