Poetic Passion

GOD is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout;
My mountaintop refuge,
he saves me from ruthless men. 2 Samuel 22: 2-3 MSG

I wonder: Do we see God as he really is?
Do we acknowledge or recognize his magnificence in a true and proper way?
When we get a little glimmer of His glory, do we embrace it or run away?

Are we in awe of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings?

Or when we come to Yahweh, are we so full of us that we can’t seem to see Him?

Giving my Castle and Rescuing Knight some extra consideration today.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching–for what are you thankful?  Why do you think its so often hard to see God for who He really is?

Bible Love

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

The B.I.B.L.E. Yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God. The B.I.B.L.E.

hqdefault

Have you ever wished you knew how to interpret the things you hear about God, things that seem easily understood by others at church? Turn to the pages of your Bible.

In the Bible you will find all kinds of stories and historical facts that explain God and his amazing love for his children. Read the gospel accounts and see how Jesus lived while completing His mission here. Understand how important poetry was when expressing emotional responses to God in the Psalms. Dive into the Old Testament to learn about God’s character, his faithfulness, and His plan for one little nation to carry a message to humanity that would bring hope to all nations on the earth for all time.

Wow! Amazing!!

Did you know that as a believer in Christ you are personally linked to all the blessing God made to the children of Abraham? You are!

The Bible is a sacred document, yes, but it’s also an essential guide meant to show us how to live rightly before God. It explains the human condition in all its faded glory, and shows us how to improve our lot and live holy lives. We are flawed, marred by sin’s stain and corrupted, but through Christ’s blood God chooses to forgive all that and bring us into intimate relationship with Him. Read about it today.

It really is amazing how much one book can teach us about our God, our Jesus, and our lost condition without the Lord.

Begin to learn the real deal about redemption today. Open your Bible and drink it is! This, too, is for you!

Do you own a Bible?  Have you ever read it with another knowing person?

pure

Today I came across a new word: Inculcating. Fancy, right? It means to “instill (an attitude, idea, or habit), by persistent instruction. To teach.” Perfect! No one is better at teaching than our Lord, and no one is more in need of a message on purity than God’s children. We are called to live pure, holy lives in the light of God’s wisdom, but man, some days it’s hard.

Why is it hard? Because we have free wills, and when our wills choose to act counter to God’s restraints what we end up with is sin.

Thinking impure thoughts.
Saying impure things.
Doing the impure!

It’s not our fault that we fall into bogs of eternal stench now and again, but it is our fault if we wallow in them.

How can we escape the impure thoughts, deeds, and lifestyles we so earnestly want to deny? Here’s an idea. “…let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” Hebrews 13:15.

What I’ve found is that the simple act of praising God and acknowledging that He has ownership over my mind, body, and soul has provided me with enough power to fight back against impurity.

Jesus has all power to remove every stain from our lives. More than enough! Today, let’s ask Him to deal with any thought, action, or tendency we might have to work against His glory.

Where are you finding yourself caught up in impure thoughts, deeds, or behaviors?  How could you cooperate with Jesus to clean up your language, thought life, or habits today?

Monday Devotions

I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 NKJV

Encourage one another… 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Jesus made his mind up long before the day he first stepped into public ministry that he would set the Lord always before him. Because God was right there, literally and figuratively at Christ’s right hand, our Savior was not moved in his determination to finish strong on this third rock from the sun.

What are a few of the things that Jesus consistently and doggedly did that fed into his determined stance during his mission years? Just these…

He loved both the lovely and the ugly.
He spoke truth, no matter what it cost him personally.
He didn’t coddle, but he did love, unendingly.
He invited others to share in his mission.
He came alongside those who society labeled throw-away people and restored them.
He spoke when words were needed and remained silent while fools raged.
He always, always, always had time for prayer and meditation.
He refused to play the blame game.
He viewed pain as a part of the life cycle and not a bad thing, if it accomplished God’s will.
He never stopped praising God, honoring Him before others and turning to him for help.
He refused to assassinate the character of those who sought the Lord.
He forgave, over and over, and over, and over again. 70 x 7x 1 million and more.

If we’d choose but a few of the habits the Messiah practiced during his ministry years and sought to develop them in our lives today, what might we achieve in three years? Who might we be at the end of that time? How might we have advanced the kingdom and blessed others?

Can we change? Absolutely?

Should we change? Undoubtedly.

Will Jesus help us? In every way!!!

Let’s be about our Father’s business today. We can make a difference, if we choose to, so let’s choose to–let’s pray.

Casting Pride Aside

always_stay_humble_jackie

Cast your cares… Psalm 55:22a

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Psalms 55 teaches that God will never let the righteous be shaken.

Is that true?

It is, but it’s one of those promises that includes work for us.

Living a righteous life requires us to first surrender our souls to Jesus, then develop a habit for casting away from ourselves anything that doesn’t please God, isn’t provided by God, or makes it impossible for us to fully trust God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

This humbling habit is the part of casting that we stumble over, isn’t it?

We have trouble…

Humbly admitting our wrongs.

Humbly asking for help.

Humbly waiting on God.

We struggle with…

Humbly thanking those who have rescued us.

Humbly asking what we might do for an other.

Humbly assuming our place, when it fails to be lauded, praised, or even recognized.

Humbly sitting down and letting others speak…that’s one uberly difficult habit to learn for anyone who has a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality.

We are a prideful people. So were the ancients. All their pride made them susceptible to attack by the opposition. Pride still makes us susceptible today.

Be alert and of sober mind (1 Peter 5). Why? Because your enemy the devil prowls…looking for someone to devour.

Should we be afraid? No. But we should be actively casting away from ourselves all those things that strangle or choke out God’s light and will in our lives.

How do you define humble for you?  What more do you need to cast off to develop this habit for being humble before God and your fellows?

Pondering suffering

…God teaches men through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes. Job 36:15 TEV

No matter what you’re going through today… no matter the hoops you’re being asked to jump through…

The pitfalls.

The hurdles.

The raggedy edge of emotional cliffs.

God is still working. He’s still loving you, more than you can imagine. He’s still ruler and still in charge.

Believe it!

Trust Him!

He’s good, and even though I would prefer to learn through gentle nudging and tender mercies, I know that being tender with me when what I need is a stern presence, yeah, it’s not so helpful.

job

Sometimes I have to learn my lessons, as we say, “the hard way.” And although I hate to admit it, those hard lessons are the ones that have stuck with me over time. The Scriptures are right when they teach us that God uses suffering for good.

I have learned through suffering and distress!

I have also used what I’ve gleaned in the tough times to course correct for the future, for my good. But not for my good alone. Others have benefitted from those course corrections, too. They’ve been helped by the things I’ve learned, too.

God has used distress to open my eyes!

Today, it may be that God is using distress in your life, to open your eyes and shake things up in your life, or to point you to a conclusion you never would have seen had it not been for the pressure bearing down. Know this: It’s for your good that the pressure is being applied. It’s getting you where you need to go, and it’s fortifying you for the future. Every weight lifter, distance runner, or athlete of any kind will tell you it’s when the pressure is on that they’ve been stretched, strengthened, and able to build muscle.

What I’ve found most helpful in the suffering times is praise.

Praise turns things around.

Praise changes my perspective.

Praise gets my mind and heart in the position to receive from God.

Praise enlarges my territory and helps me see that for now suffering may be painful, but tomorrow I’ll be glad of it.

Today I’ve made a decision to be grateful through the hard. To be thankful for God with me, Immanuel. To be used by God to gift another with perspective. To realize that everything God does, he does for my good. He loves me, more than I love myself. I might not allow me to be touched by suffering or grief, had I my druther. God will allow it, because of how it changes me. How it molds me. How it shapes me. How it helps me be closer to Him and more holy.

Is it worth the trade-off in my life: suffering for glory? It is. Is it for you? You have to decide. Truth is, you won’t be able to keep suffering from you for all your life, so why not learn from it and be made like Jesus?

What are you thankful for today? How has gratitude and thankfulness brought you closer to God and made the tough times seem worthwhile?

 

 

I came broken

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Peace Prayer, St. Francis

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35 NIV

How did you come to Jesus?

Many of us came feeling like we’d been given a raw deal in life. Our parents didn’t give us the attention we needed as children, or our siblings treated us cruelly. Our marriages were in turmoil, or our friends had betrayed or abandoned us in our time of need.

Our bodies broke down too early, and our lives were a mess.

We sought peace with God in our desperate times, and he led us to church.

Within the church walls, we began to grow in the company of others, who like us, had been mistreated by the world. During worship, we noticed a new serenity in God’s presence and although our circumstances didn’t change a lot at first, our attitudes did. Accepting hardship as His pathway to peace, we made the choice to surrender ourselves fully to God, even though we didn’t know what that might mean. We trusted in His goodness above all things, and in doing so, we found love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.

If you came into the church broken, know that you are in good company. Once there, you have a decision to make that is bigger than ever before:

Will you give love and understanding as you have received it?

Will you surrender your plans to God’s purpose for others?

Will you serve, help, love, give, and care for them in the same way you have been cared for, understanding that they are injured and in need of patient care?

Blessed missions always begin with prayer. Let’s pray for new mission fields today.

What did you find when you came to Jesus? Was there more you discovered once you began worshiping with other believers in an environment that revealed a loving and nurturing Savior?

Holy Spirit Fire

Last Sunday, those in the lil corner room read from Acts 2 and discussed together Holy Spirit fire.

It was of great interest to me that the Holy Spirit, as it manifested itself to the faithful at Pentecost, appeared first as a single unit and then broke off into smaller tongues-mini fires of grace that came to rest on individuals.

What an amazing sight it must have been to see it happen–see the Spirit of Prophecy and Grace come to dwell with men in this way.

Undeserving men.

Previously: unholy, salty, selfish guys, and wanton women.

Now: sanctified, set aside, focused, devoted, prepared, waiting…

I found a You Tube video of a fire tornado yesterday and it made me think of our discussion.  Granted, the fire in this clip is generated and controlled my men, and it is beautiful, but imagine what it might look like if it were God’s fire.

God’s flame.

God’s Spirit in their midst.

The Bible says the Holy Spirit is like fire, but also like the wind.

Unpredictable.

Blowing wherever it wishes.

Not to be controlled by men.

Where will it blow next? Who will be blown over by it?  When has the Holy Spirit of God touched your life and left you singed by His glory?  

Holy Week

We are doing the impossible for the ungrateful.

We have done so much for so long with so little,

we are now qualified to do anything with nothing!

I came across this quote in my devotional reading last week.

Have you been there?

The biggest hurdle I face when working with the ungrateful is trying not to become embittered.

Jane Seymour says that if I will keep my heart open, love will find a way in.

I’m trying, Jane. I’m trying!

Today, it seems like I’m working to do the impossible for the ungrateful, but is that really what is happening, or am I simply uncomfortable with life on life’s terms?

Is this thing I’m feeling just a feeling, or is it reality?

Am I a slave to the ungrateful these days, or am I free?  And if I’m free, what do I need to do to feel free?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a time for reflection.  A time when we are reminded of what an ungrateful people did to their servant God and how He refused to retaliate, but instead redeemed them all.

Amazing Love, how can it be that you, my God, should die for me?

Some things are plain broken.  Some people are bent.  Some are bruised to the point of hopelessness.  Some have blinders on, or are so hurt within themselves that they cannot conceive of how true love works.  You can’t fix them, Lori.  You can try to put a band-aid on a gaping wound, but you cannot stitch up a shredded heart or repair a broken mind or spirit. That kind of recovery is in God’s purview alone.

Enter Holy week.

A last supper.

Betrayal.

An ear cut off, then restored.

Thirty pieces in a linen bag.

Corrupt leaders.

Whips, thorns, cross bars, blood.

Insane crowds.

Evil at the ready.

Open flesh. Open mocking.

Spikes, hammers, rope, searing sun.

Dark clouds.

A Face turned away.

Sorrow, spices, sadness, darkness.

Disappearance.

Fear.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!!!

The stone.

The hole.

The garden.

The woman and the angel; the message.

The Risen Lord.

Hallelujah!!!

Wait for it…

EASTER!!  EASTER!!  EASTER!!!

Do you ever feel like you’re pouring yourself out for the ungrateful?  What is your favorite part of the redemption story?

Predicated on bad behavior

If you’ve ever had to make the choice to walk away from a friendship or work relationship that’s gone sour, you might find comfort in the following verse:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.   Psalm 1: 13 NIV

Of course, in order to feel good about the decision you’ve made, your choice would have to have been predicated on the very bad behavior of that one you left behind.  

Some people will say I’m mean-spirited for making this assertion–that there is a time when walking away is the most appropriate thing to do.  We all know people who stick it out, stay connected and generally do whatever they can to make a bad situation better, no matter what.  They are to be applauded for their work, when it is God’s will and not a devise of their own guilt or misdirected conscience.  Still, there are some who worship at the altar of a god named Peace-At-Any-Price, or PAAP.  To my way of thinking, these unfortunates see abuse as the dues that must be paid to perform their duty as “good” Christians.  I think they misunderstand scripture and have fallen into the ranks of those who think God is love, all the time.  Rubbish! 

God is love and He is loving, but he’s not that PAAP deity we hear about in the world; a god who looks the other way and takes no account of bad behavior.  Rather, He is a vigilant father who knows where his children are and what they are doing at all times.  Is he merciful?  My, YES!  Is he forgiving?  You bet!  Does he cast our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (once we admit to the bad we have done and spend enough time with him to confess it from a humble heart)?  Yes, he does.  What he doesn’t do is turn a blind eye, or make my bad behavior somebody else’s problem.  The buck stops at His door, and He has all the power He needs to deal with me and my misdeeds, swiftly, firmly and finally.

What I think the first recorded Psalm is talking about in its thirteenth verse is MY responsibility to make good decisions with regards to relationships I pursue and friendships I keep.  

If you’ll read Psalm 1:13 again, you’ll see that it begins with blessings and ends with prosperity-two promises that come to the woman who discriminates in her choices and refines her relationships based upon the wisdom God gives from his own Word.  Between those promises lie instructions for each of us, particularly those who have allowed bad or abusive relationships to bloom and/or blossom in their lives.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning divorce or suggesting you drop your wayward friend like a hot potato as soon as you read this verse.  What I am suggesting is that you take another look at that person you’re spending so much time with, asking yourself, “Is this someone God approves?”

“Bad company corrupts good character,”  says 1 Corinthians 15:33.  The Standard International Version puts it this way:   “Wicked friends lead to evil ends.”  Could any statement be more true?

Perhaps you’ve recently become a Christian and you’re wondering, “What does God want from me right now?”  Psalm 1:13 provides you with an answer.  God wants all of us, His beautiful women, to do the right thing, limit our exposure to miscreants and take a stand against anyone who would mock God or detract from his ministry of change in your life. 

Our God wants us to delight in his plan, meditate on his ways, be trees planted by streams, pulling up all the nutrients his river of joy gives out and sharing them with thirsty and dying souls.

Today, if you find yourself living in close proximity to a someone who is thumbing their nose at your God, stand up and move away.  It’s never too late to make a change!  Trust God to show you how.