Archive for September, 2007

Standing “In Hannah’s Place” – Day 13

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”  I Peter 1:2 

Oh Dear Father, we have once again been eyewitnesses of Your glory!  You showered us with Your grace and with Your peace in a precious way last night on the football field.  A place that we would never have chosen to be but a place You had chosen for us.  Oh Father, thank You that You don’t take us where You aren’t going to keep us.  And You kept us once again.  What a beautiful evening – a display of Your glory – no doubt!  The autumn sky was cool and crisp and the moon was waning just a little – a reminder to me of the little piece that was missing on this earth but that was kept in heaven with You.

As we stood with 30 beautiful young senior ladies and their father escorts, it came to me that we were standing “in Hannah’s place.”  This was the place she would have stood last night if she had still lived on this earth.  She would have been crowning the 2007 Dorman High School Homecoming Queen.  As we walked across the 50 year line, we stood amazed again and spoke of last year’s Homecoming when Hannah, on her Daddy’s arm, walked all the way across the field and back again.  She had not walked that far in months but she was a very determined girl with a definite purpose and goal in mind that evening – to make it back across the field – and she did.  It was a most amazing picture of Your grace and strength at our very weakest.  Just two months previously she had breathed only because of a ventilator and we had been told that she would go quickly.  The evening of Homecoming we had arrived home from the hospital at 4:30pm and had to be checked back into the hospital by 12:00am.  The next day we were to learn that her tumor had doubled in size, was not responding to the treatment and there was nothing else they could do.  I am reminded once again of Your word in Psalm 33:11  “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”  We will do it Your way – and Your way is always best.

What a blessing and an honor for us to have that privilege last night.    Oh Dear Father, raise these young ladies up to the praise of Your glory, use their precious lives in amazing ways and allow them with “determined purpose” to know their God.   What potential their lives have – potential to influence the world in the places You have chosen for each of them individually.  Several of them spoke to us about how quickly this “senior year” had arrived.  A year they had looked forward to for so long and now here it was and the reality of that was beginning to settle in.  Maybe it is about that time in our lives that we begin to recognize the brevity of our lives or maybe at least our “high school” lives. 

Father, we stood there only by Your grace mercy and we all know that!  Thank You for meeting us exactly where we were last night.  Many of these precious girls have things going on in their lives that we have no idea about.  One precious girl received a message from her father who is serving our country in Iraq.  The depth of our need is great but the depth of Your grace and mercy is greater – meet each young lady at the point of their need.  Thank You for that experience – it will be written on the tablets of our hearts forever.

“And there was evening and there was morning. . .”  Gen. 1  Thank You Father for the new morning, the new day, the new opportunity You give us each sunrise to once again experience Your grace and peace.  I accept it for this day and confess my need for You and Your mercy and grace.

Day 13 – Worship That Pleases God

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  (NIV)  Mark 12:30  She has highlighted the word “all” four times in that verse.  “God doesn’t want a part of your life.”  “He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.” 

“Worship must be genuine and heartfelt.  You must mean what you say.”
“The best style of worship is the one that most authentically represents your love for God.”   “You don’t bring glory to God by trying to be someone he never intended you to be.”  You know, Father, it is a great blessing that You have created us all individually with an individual purpose and plan.  We, individually, are responsible to fulfill the plan and purpose You have chosen for us.  We need not worry about Your plan and purpose for another.  Just keeping me where You want me to be should be the focus of my purpose. You know, Father, it is a great blessing that You have created us all individually with an individual purpose and plan.  We, individually, are responsible to fulfill the plan and purpose You have chosen for us.  We need not worry about Your plan and purpose for another.  Just keeping me where You want me to be should be the focus of my purpose. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”  Romans 12:1You know, Father, it is a great blessing that You have created us all individually with an individual purpose and plan.  We, individually, are responsible to fulfill the plan and purpose You have chosen for us.  We need not worry about Your plan and purpose for another.  Just keeping me where You want me to be should be the focus of my purpose.

Romans 12:1“You cannot exalt God and yourself at the same time.  You don’t worship to be seen by others or to please yourself.  You deliberately shift the focus off yourself.” “The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.”
 
“God wants all of me.”
 You know Lord, last year’s Homecoming was a picture of these truths Hannah has highlighted in the pages of “The Purpose Driven Life” today.  So many times I have thought that if it had been about Hannah, she could very easily have refused to go with swollen legs, suit jacket that wouldn’t button, a wig on her head . . . but it wasn’t about Hannah – it was about You and about how You desired to reveal Yourself through her life.  Thank You for allowing her, by Your grace, to be a reflection of Your glory.  Oh Father, today, help me be a reflection of Your grace and glory.  In the name of  Jesus I pray, Amen.

“I’m As close to You as I want to Be” – Day 12

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Lord, You awaken me early and have me in the pages of “The Purpose Driven Life” – Day 12 – “Developing Your Friendship with God.”  You know, Lord, one of the premises of this chapter is our being open and honest before You.  It is really quite comical that we would be anything less.  How hilarious of us to ever think that You don’t know the “gut level” us anyway.  I bet we crack You up with our facades.  You tell us in Your word that “our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked” Jer. 17:9 – I would say that pretty much covers it.  You know, I am so glad I can be “gut level” honest with You.  I don’t scare You one bit.   In fact, it has been refreshing this morning to look at Your truth about Your desire for us to be “gut level” honest with You.  You know, I suppose, the only relationship where I can really be “gut level” honest is with You – You are safe, Lord.  And the neat thing is, You can sort through all my stuff and cut right to the bottom of the motives and intentions of my old heart, can’t You?  I could probably get myself in huge trouble if I spilled my “gut” to anyone else.  You know Lord, this place You have put me in hasn’t been “all easy.”  Like any place You ever put us is easy.  I have second-guessed myself many times and have wondered what in the world You are up to.  Last night I had the opportunity to “share” at the Anchor Club Induction at Dorman.  Your word has become such a part of who I am I can’t help it.  I don’t want to help it.   I spoke Your word.  You tell us Your word never returns void.  Your word is the only word that can be said of.  I pray I will never be separated from that.  That is who I am.  The other night I shared that during this journey that I couldn’t go to sleep and I couldn’t wake up unless You sustained me and spoke to me from Your word.   That is the truth and we both know it.  I won’t ever get over that – don’t want to.  So when I speak I share what You have “engraved” on the tablets of my heart.  That is what I have to share.  And every time You give me the opportunity to speak, I tell You that if this is the last time, that is ok with me but that I just desire to be faithful to share You and Your truth in the opportunity You have given me at the moment.  It sure would be easier to just “go back” to life like normal but I can’t and in the deepest recesses I don’t want to “go back.”  I have way too much invested in my relationship with You and I think You have too much invested in Your relationship with me.  This isn’t about me – this is about You – this is about the glory of Your name – it sure isn’t about the glory of mine.   If it had been, I would have figured out a different way than this. 

 

So Lord, speak to my heart again – uncover the “hidden places,” bring to light those “secret things” and create in me a clean heart for this day.  Use this chapter and the things You “wrote” on Hannah’s heart to speak truth over my own heart.  Today is Homecoming – a day “charged with emotion” and intense memories.   Homecoming – what a precious thought – one day we will every one experience our ultimate “Homecoming” – the place we will reside in forever.  I know I can’t even imagine it. 

 

“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to You.”  James 4:8 (NLT)  Oh Father, what a precious scripture.  To think that You, the Creator God of the Universe, would stoop to “draw close to me” is an amazing thought.  Oh thank You Father that You draw close to us.

 

“You are as close to God as you choose to be.”    Boy, is that a statement.  Your instruction is that we draw close to You, You will draw close to us.  The closer we draw to You, the closer You draw to us.  That is pretty amazing.  You don’t need us – we desperately need You.

 

“It takes desire, time, and energy.”    Like every other relationship we have on this earth, the growing of our relationship with You doesn’t “just happen.”  We will have to “seek You” with all of our hearts.  “Seek and you shall find” You tell us.  We have to decide if it is worth the effort, worth the trouble.  However, if we chose anything less, we will never know and experience on this earth the “unspeakable joy” You tell us about in Your word – living in fellowship with You.

 

Hannah has written and starred at the top of her page, “God wants us to share our honest opinions and feelings!”     Why wouldn’t You want us to?  You know our hearts anyway.  It is very freeing to be honest with You.  We can’t “go on” until we are honest with You.  Only after we confess our struggles and weaknesses can we possibly hope to receive Your intervention and help.  “Confessing our need” is half the battle we’ve heard.  On down the page, Warren cites the scripture in Job 42:7b where God rebuked Job’s friends for not being honest.  God told them, “You haven’t been honest either with me or about me – not the way my friend Job has . . . My friend Job will now pray for you and I will accept his prayer.”  Honestly is big with You, isn’t it?  Allow me to be more and more transparent.  And again, she has starred, “God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does insist on complete honesty.”    You know, Lord, I suppose the saying, “honesty is the best policy” got its root in You, didn’t it?

 

“Genuine friendship is built on disclosure.” 

 

“God uses everything for good in our lives. . .”
 “Bitterness is the greatest barrier to friendship with God.”    Oh Father, You know I saw that with the children of Israel this week at the bitter waters of Marah.  You desire to exchange our bitterness and make it sweet.  That is what You accomplished and completed on the Cross of Calvary.

  Oh Father, You know I saw that with the children of Israel this week at the bitter waters of Marah.  You desire to exchange our bitterness and make it sweet.  That is what You accomplished and completed on the Cross of Calvary. 

David said, “I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.  For I am overwhelmed.”    You know, Lord, I guess if David poured out his complaints to You, a man after Your own heart, that I can pour out mine also. 

 

“. . .  obedience is a condition of intimacy with God.”  We are going to have to “do this thing” Your way, aren’t we Lord?  Obedience is big with You too, isn’t it? 

 

“We obey God. . . because we love him and trust that he knows what is best for us.”  Always back to that “trust and obey” thing, isn’t it?  Do we really trust You? 

 

“True friendship isn’t passive; it acts.”   Lord, I thank You that I am Your friend and that You are my friend and that both of us act because of our friendship with each other. 

 

“Actually, God is more pleased when we do small things for him out of loving obedience.”  It is the little things, isn’t it Lord?

 

“The more you become God’s friend, the more you will care about the things he cares about.” 

 

“David passionately desired to know God above all else; he used words like longing, yearning, thirsting, hungering.”
 “My determined purpose is that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.”  Phil 3:10  Oh, Father, I just have to tell You that it blesses my heart to see that Hannah had discovered that scripture in that translation.  You have just recently shown me that one in a new light.  How powerful – our purpose is to know You!!!

  Phil 3:10  Oh, Father, I just have to tell You that it blesses my heart to see that Hannah had discovered that scripture in that translation.  You have just recently shown me that one in a new light.  How powerful – our purpose is to know You!!! 

“Pain is fuel of passion. . .”  Boy, Lord, You know what?  I think that must be true – why else would I be up, sitting here in the dark, typing these words and seeking You so desperately?  You have made me hungry and You have used pain to do that.

 

“When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”    Jer. 29:13  I love that word – what a promise!

“There is nothing  – absolutely nothing – more important than developing a friendship with God.”   That is the long and short of it, isn’t it?  Relationship with You – above all else.

 That is the long and short of it, isn’t it?  Relationship with You – above all else. 

And once again at the bottom of the page, “I’m as close to God as I choose to be.”
 Help me Jesus today to choose being close to You.  In Your name I pray.  Amen.

Help me Jesus today to choose being close to You.  In Your name I pray.  Amen.

A final word…Dress for battle

Friday, September 28th, 2007

As Paul closes his letter to the church at Ephesus, he warns them of who the real enemy is. I like how the New International Version starts verse 10, “A final word…” How many times do we as parents say, “Let me say one more thing and that’ll be it” or “One more thing before you go out the door”? That’s what Paul was saying. He was wrapping up his teachings and he wanted them to get this one last point. That last point lasted for about 10 verses. If the church members at Ephesus were anything like Caleb, they were probably saying, “I thought you only had one more thing to say.” But those 10 verses validated his last point.

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

The next 6 verses break down the armor. I urge you to read this passage so that you are clothed appropriately every day. Paul’s final word can be summed up much like this: Individuals (co-workers, disgruntal neighbors, fueding family members, etc.) are not our enemies. We are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood. Our enemy is Satan and his evil helpers. How can we possibly stand up against them? By dressing for the battle every day. Verse 13 tells us to use every piece of the armor to resist the devil so that after the battle we are able to stand firm. Our armor:

Sturdy belt of truth; Body armor of God’s righteousness; Shoes are the peace that comes from the Good News; Shield of faith; Helmet of salvation; Sword of the Spirit.

Paul uses phrases throughout this passage like “so that you will be fully prepared”, “stay alert”, “be persistent in your prayers.” There’s much to be said about showing up prepared for the battle!

My final word to you for the week is…dress for the battle. Oh, and another thing…(just kidding). Have a great weekend.

Hope

Homecoming…

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Late Tuesday evening my sister, Teresa (a.k.a. “Cissy”), her husband, Buddy, my mother and I left for Jacksonville, FL and returned late last night. Cissy’s son, Jordan was returning to Mayport Naval Station from a 7-month deployment at sea. We could not miss that homecoming! How proud we are of his dedication, commitment and sacrifice to serve our great country. The band was lined up on the pier and many moms, dads, wives, husbands, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children were waving small American flags welcoming the sailors home. I watched as that huge ship came around the bend and listened as the shouts and trumpets exclaimed, “Welcome home!” What an incredible experience.

Then I’m reminded that this Friday night Mickey and Deb will walk across the Dorman High School football field and they will represent the 2006 Homecoming Queen, their beautiful daughter, and they will crown this year’s Homecoming Queen. There will be lots of family members there, fans, football players, a band – and there will be much fan fare as a young lady proudly takes the crown that once donned the sweet head of Hannah Sobeski. Clay and I had made reservations several weeks back for Myrtle Beach this weekend to take Caleb and a buddy to celebrate Caleb’s 16th birthday. We did not know at the time that this weekend is Dorman’s Homecoming game. Last year the game was in mid-October. But when we found out the date, it was a no-brainer for Caleb that we cancel our trip and be at the game to support Mickey and Deb. He didn’t think twice. In his words, “Think about it, Mom. This is going to be a very big deal and we need to be here for Mick and Deb.” Another Homecoming we don’t want to miss.

Then I’m reminded of Hannah’s ultimate Homecoming on November 9, 2006. I know there was a dear great-grandmother that was waiting on Hannah, Gramma Nita. And there was a great-aunt, Jenny Hall that was standing on the pier shouting for joy. And there were several other family members, friends of the family that have gone on. And somewhere among the attendees of the celebration there was a sweet little baby that Clay and I lost during a pregnancy back in 1999 that was anxious to be held by its first cousin, Hannah. I know there were many shouts of, “Welcome home, Hannah!” and there was much fan fare. But can you imagine the joy that Hannah experienced as she met her Master, the One who died for her? The One who provided the peace and the comfort and the strength and the great faith that Hannah possessed. Only through Him could she have lived such a life worthy of heaven.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7 & 8 ).

Hannah has experienced the ultimate Homecoming. A Homecoming no one wants to miss.

Hope

“What God Says” – Day 11 – A Friend of God

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

“From the fullness of His grace, He has given us one blessing after another.”  John 1:16  You awaken me with that scripture on my heart and mind this morning, Lord.  The fullness of Your grace – what a thought!  A grace so full it is amazing!

As I have been pondering further the truths of Day 10 in Purpose about “The Heart of Worship” being surrender, You have brought once again to my mind the words of Eighth Day’s Song – “What God Says.”  It is interesting how You always seem to weave all the pieces together and that song is the epitome of the meaning of the word “Surrender.”  It is talking about Abraham and the sacrificing of his son.  Maybe You brought that to my heart and mind because I was reviewing that story in Genesis last week.  The words are powerful and worth a listen this morning.  The song is entitled, “What God says”

“God told Abraham to rise and take his little boy To a lonely place they call Moriah’s Hill.   And God said there you’ll sacrifice your precious proud and joy, But you’ll be blessed in ways you cannot tell. He said, “Lord, I trust your perfectness as you rule from up on high.   And though this trial is pressing us this is how I will reply.” 

“If this is what God wants, If this is what God Says Then who am I to doubt and try to figure out the circumstance  If this is what God chose for me In all His majesty, Surely I trust I can trust and lean on what God says.”

“Sometimes the storms we face in life are not what we would choose If we had the power to choose them for ourselves We would take the “easy road” thinking there’s no way to lose   But we’d miss the blessing of the Father’s will So we must trust His perfectness as He rules from up on high  And when those trials are pressing us this is how we should reply

If this is what God wants, If this is what God Says Then who am I to doubt and try to figure out the circumstance If this is what God chose for me In all His majesty, Surely I trust I can trust and lean on what God says. 

If this is what God chose for me in all His majesty Surely I trust I can trust and lean on what God says.   God says. . .God says. . .”

 

Abraham – his point of surrender – his son Isaac – the son he had waited on for years – Abraham was asked to take Isaac’s life – he passed his test Lord – and indeed now as we know the rest of the story He was blessed in ways he could not have possibly imagined. 

Surrender, Lord – it is the place of blessing, peace and unspeakable joy.  Thank You for reminding me of those words this morning. 

 

Day 11 – Becoming Best Friends with God

“Almighty God yearns to be your Friend!”   Hannah underlined the word “yearns” in addition to the pink highlight.   It is amazing Lord, that You would yearn to be our friend.  And yet everything You have done since the creation of the world has been to draw us into friendship and relationship with Youself. 

“He is passionate about his relationship with you.”  Exodus 34:14  In the NIV Lord it says, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”  You want us for Yourself, don’t You?  And You know, that is the only place of  joy for us. 

“He wants to be included in every activity, every conversation, every problem, and even every thought.”   That is the “dailyness” or “momentnous” we talked about yesterday, isn’t it Lord?    Being in continual fellowship with You – the Mighty God of the Universe.  And nothing we come to You with is insignificant – we can’t scare You away with our anger, bitterness, or fear.  You can take it all and You “repackage” it -wrapped in Your grace.

“Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God’s greatest pleasure.”   Because You know it is for our greatest good, don’t You Lord?.  Our greatest privilege – Your greatest pleasure.

At the top of the page she writes, “ The God of the universe wants and desires to have a personal relationship w/me!  Wow!”   That is an amazing truth – “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend” – the song says.  Friends with the Creator, Sustainer of the Universe. 

“Everything you do can be “spending time with God” if he is invited to be a part of it and you stay aware of his presence.”    You desire for us to learn, Lord, that our lives are not compartmentalized – an hour for You, 8 hours for work, 1 hour cooking, etc. Our entire “comings and goings” are to be lived in the light of Your presence – practicing the presence of God. 

“Your goal is not a feeling, but a continual awareness of the reality that God is always present.”   Oh Father, we live in a “feel” age, don’t we?  If it feels good, do it – is the philosophy.  But Oh Father, we cannot live our lives based on our feelings – we would be in a mess.

“It is impossible to be God’s friend apart from knowing what he says.” We must build our lives based upon the eternal truth of Your word.  A friend shared a statement with me this week that I just love regarding our faith, “The measure of the strength of a man’s faith, always, is ultimately the measure of his knowledge of God. . . He knows God so well that he can rest on the knowledge.”   Oh Father, the knowing of You is of utmost importance – our feelings will fail us, our knowledge of You will not.  Oh Father, help me know You more. 

“God wants to be my best friend.”  Thank You Father, for being my best friend and for being Hannah’s best friend.  Thank You that her hope in You did not disappoint her – she now lives with her best friend.  I anticipate living with my best friend more than I ever have before!  Allow me to acknowledge You more and more in every circumstance in my day.  In the strong name of Jesus, I pray and Amen

“From Now on – Give us This Bread” – Day 10 – Surrender

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Oh Father, what a powerful word this morning.  You meet us in Your power every time we come to You for a word.  You delight to pour out Your truth over our lives to meet our need for the day – one day at a time.  And oh, how You have written anew upon my heart through my experience and again through Your word the necessity of “dailyness” in my relationship with You.  It’s got to be drawing upon You – daily.  And Lord, I think even “momently.”  Is that what You meant when You told us to “Pray without ceasing?”  That we would be in constant communication with You.  We have a desperate need to be fed by You daily for our spiritual lives to grow and be healthy.   We will dry up quickly and fall if we aren’t partaking of Your “manna” for the day.  You draw us to look upon Yourself when we come to Your word.  We look past ourselves and our circumstances and You put our feet on a firm foundation as we look up and You show us Jesus and His sufficiency. 

You have taught me so much about Your manna, Your provision, this week.  You have taught me so much about it this last year and a half.  I knew, without question before, that I needed Your daily manna.  But You have carved that on the tablets of my heart in a whole new way the last 16 months – the reality that I am desperate for You and for Your truth over my life.  You are life, Your word is life, and You pour life into these dry bones and quicken my spirit through Your word.  You bring healing through the truth of Your word.

As I have had the opportunity over the last several days to review the books of Genesis and Exodus in preparation for looking at the tabernacle, You have taught me new things again.

Through every circumstance and situation the Israelites (me) found themselves in, You had one purpose in mind for their lives.  You wanted them to “know You,” to
”acknowledge You,” to “recognize You.”  Over and over You tell us that:

In Genesis chapter 15, You say, “Know for certain.”  I love that!  Know Your God for certain.   We aren’t playing games on this one – we got to know!  You got to know Your God.  And the amazing thing is that You want to be known by us.  In chapter 22 of Gen. You tell Abraham, “Now I know that you fear God.”  Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son on the altar of obedience.  You want to know that “we know” You and “fear You.”  We aren’t playing games, are we?  And over and over and over in Exodus this week, we read “I will,” “I will,” “I will.”  You will too.  You will accomplish and You will complete that which You have purposed to accomplish and complete.  And when it hurts and is hard, You will reveal Yourself to a new depth of understanding. 

Exodus 7:17 “By this you will know that I am the Lord.”  8:10  “so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God.”  8:22 “so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land.”  9:14 “so that you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.”  9:30 “so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.”  10:2 “and that you may know that I am the Lord.”  14:18 “The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”  16:8 “You will know that it was the Lord”  16:12  “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  Knowing You – the purpose of our lives.  And the more we come to know You, the more we understand how much we don’t know You.  You are vast.

New understanding about the manna today:  The people were to gather it “each morning” because when the sun grew hot, the manna would melt away.  Oh Father, how many times do we let much of the day “melt away” before we go in search of our “manna.”  We have got to come early to be strengthened for the day.  We will grow faint during the heat of the day if we have not been properly nourished from the start of the day.  Sometimes when that happens, we just want to go to bed so we can start over with new mercies and grace for the next morning.  Teach us to “seek You early.”  Psalm 5:3  “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

The other thought that struck me was that they were instructed to “take an omer for each person you have in your tent.”  Ex. 16:16  I need You desperately myself and so does “everyone in my tent.”  You desire to “fill me up” so that it spills over on the “people in my tent.”  Oh Dear Jesus, there isn’t anything in this world any more important to me than “the people in my tent.”  I want to be so full of You that Your fullness spills over into their lives.   

Another thought that has struck me this week was that when You gave the instructions about the “gathering of the manna,” You said that You were going to test the people and see whether they would follow Your instructions.”  Ex. 16:4   You instructed that they gather enough for each day.  In 16:20 “However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.”  Obedience is big with You, isn’t it?  You really want us to do what You tell us.  How too funny is that.  Sounds like us with our kids – sometimes with the same response.  And again, in 16:25 the people are instructed to gather manna for six days, but on the seventh they are told there won’t be any.  In v.27 “Nevertheless, (got to love those words – however, nevertheless) some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions.” 

Your instructions are – that just like the Israelites in the desert with daily manna, so it is that You give us Yourself, the Living Bread, for – one day at a time.  What powerful words in John chapter 6 Beth took us to:

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”  “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” 

Oh Dear Jesus, from now on give me this bread.  In Your strong name, I pray and Amen.

Lord, You are too funny.  Earlier this week I ran across the scripture, “Open your mouth and I will fill it.”  Mick just came in the door and said that we needed to go to Dorman right now to do an interview with DTV News about Homecoming Friday night.  I had just been pondering all these truths about Your daily sufficient manna and because I had eaten Your manna for this day, You were able to fill my mouth and it just spilled over.  I think the lesson You are desiring to teach me even now is that if I will eat my daily manna, You will do everything else.  There is no burden here.  We have cast our burdens on You and You gladly take them.  That was a quick fleshing out of the newest truths You are writing on my heart. 

 Lord, I am pretty full of teaching for today but I would imagine that You might have another word for me through Hannah today.  So here goes. . .Day 10 – Purpose Driven

“Give yourselves to God. . .  Surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.”  Romans 6:13 (TEV)
  “The heart of worship is surrender.” 
 “We give ourselves to him, not out of fear or duty, but in love.”


  “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.  This is the true worship that you should offer.”

 
“True worship – happens when you give yourself completely to God.” 
 “taking up your cross, dying to self.”   God wants your life – all of it.” 
 
What it means to surrender:  “sacrificing your life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed.”
 
  “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.   What an incredible truth.

“Suffering is best demonstrated in obedience.”   Oh my goodness child, obedience is it, isn’t it? What an incredible truth. In the margin she writes, “We have to trust God knows the best for our life.”   “Surrender is best demonstrated in obedience and trust.”   There’s a statement that will preach. 

Trust and Obey, the song says, for there’s no other way; To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” 

“Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems can be defeated by Christ when given to Him.” “Victory comes through surrender.  Surrender doesn’t weaken you; it strengthens you.” 
 “You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.”
 
“Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live.  Nothing else works.”
 
“Surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.”  Romans 6:13 (TEV)


 
Surrender, Trust and Obey – words that don’t seem to make sense from our earthly perspective but from Your eternal perspective they make all the sense in this world and in the next.  Oh Jesus, help me live in surrender -  trusting and obeying You.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

Nip it in the bud!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

In continuing my reading in Ephesians 4 this morning, I came across verse 26:

“And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT).

The King James Version says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.”

Isn’t it funny how God joins opposites together? Clay and I are very opposite when it comes to dealing with our arguments, or should we call them “differed opinions.” He gets quiet and wants to “sleep on it” over night and then wake the next morning as if nothing were wrong. That drives me crazy! I, on the other hand, want to discuss it, and discuss it, and discuss it until I know that everything is okay before I rest my head on my pillow. My Daddy used to drive this verse home to us all the time. He’d say, “Don’t go to sleep mad at each other. You never know when one of us might not wake to see the new morning.” That stuck with me and I still try to practice it. But calm, assured Clayton on the other hand wants to stay quiet and sleep on it. Urrgghh! Grant it, when he wakes he’s over it, but I’m still wanting to talk about it. I want to nip it in the bud in my own heart so I can move on.

Are you harboring anger or bitterness or some misunderstanding and allowing it to stew? Nip it in the bud! Don’t let the sun go down before you’ve taken care of your end of the problem. You can’t fix others and you can’t make them forgive and move on; but you can take care of your own heart. On down in Ephesians 4 Paul encourages us to be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven us (verse 32). Aren’t we glad God doesn’t stew and allow His wrath to fester? He forgave us through the death of His Son. So we should forgive others in brotherly love.

In summation, I leave you with a quote directly from my all-time favorite character, Barney Fife, “Nip it in the bud!”

Hope

Sufficient Manna for the Day – Day 9

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Jesus, You have given me the most amazing privilege over the last several days to be immersed in Your word and it has been GLORIOUS!  Oh Father, the depths of Your truth and the application of Your word to our lives leaves me speechless!  The way You meet us exactly where we are, the way You know the deepest desires, hurts, longings of our hearts blows my mind!  I never want to get over “being in awe of You!”  I don’t want to get comfortable in my relationship with You, I don’t ever want to take You for granted!  Beth Moore said, “May God usher me home before I accept an ongoing lifestyle of spiritual mediocrity!  Nothing sounds an alarm in my soul like a nagging feeling of distance or cool-heartedness.  I run as fast as I can back to the fire of His presence.”  Oh Jesus, that is my heart also!  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would not be standing this day if You in Your grace and mercy hadn’t literally held me up.  I don’t want to settle for anything less than knowing You in all of the ways You desire for me to know You.  You have ignited a passion in my heart and soul for You and You have met me and You have sustained me in a most amazing way.  My heart is open, fill it Lord and allow the overflow of my heart to spill forth to the praise of Your glory!

Oh Father, You are a God of great provision – You give us exactly what we need measured out exactly for the day we need it!  You have spoken to my heart this afternoon regarding the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness.  You have from the beginning of this journey written upon my heart that we would have to live everyday – one at a time!  We still cling to You one day at a time!  We were never going to get past Your daily sufficient grace – we were learning to cling to You for one day at a time and it was Matthew 6:34 that You early wrote on my heart.  What a beautiful picture the manna You provided paints for us that teaches us of Your daily sufficiency.

The manna was provided for each day – one at a time.  They could never take enough for tomorrow’s day lest it spoil.   What they each took was exactly what they needed for the day – never too little – never too much – exact provision.  Moore says, “Our ratio of mercy matches our present need.  When the time arises and the need escalates, so does the grace required for us to make it!  God is always sufficient in perfect proportion to our need.  Every morning He has already set aside the omer for our daily need.”

The part that so challenged and continues to challenge my heart that I have learned to be truth is that I must gather the manna for the day!  That is my responsibility!  His grace, His sufficiency, His strength is available but I must clothe myself in Him and His righteousness!  Nothing else on the face of this earth will satisfy  – only Your daily provision of Yourself for me!  I am so hungry, I am so desperate, I am so in need of You  – let me never forget how desperate I am!  You want us to totally depend upon You for everything and if we are not, You will get our attention to make sure we are because You want us to know You!  I anticipate what You will teach me tomorrow!

Day 9

“The smile of God is the goal of your life.”  What a goal – the smile of Almighty God – to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter in!”  It couldn’t possibly get any better than that!

“Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”  Eph. 5:10 (MSG)   “I don’t want your sacrifices  – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.”  Hosea 6:6  There it is again, Lord.  You want us to know You!  “He longs for you to know him and spend time with Him.”  I know in my own life, Lord, that the joy does not become any more unspeakable than when I indeed spend time with You.   That is the reason my heart is so full even this moment – You have allowed me to come to know You more even this day!

“What God wants most from you is a relationship!”  Relationship is Your highest priority, isn’t it?  You sent Jesus because of Your desire for relationship! 

“Because Noah trusted God he had an intimate relationship.”  Hannah writes on a green sticky note.  “Trusting God completely means having faith that he knows what is best for your life.”  We have to trust You know what is best even when we can’t figure it out. 

“Trusting is an act of worship.”  Wow, Lord, that is a great statement – we worship You when we trust You – when we worry and fret and don’t trust You – we are not worshipping You!

“Noah obeyed God wholeheartedly.  That means doing whatever God asks without reservation or hesitation.”   “Understanding can wait, obedience can’t.”   You know, Lord, it won’t be until You unroll the canvas that we will fully understand but our mandate now on this earth is to be obedient. 

“Partial obedience is disobedience.”  Boy, there is a kicker!  If we try to halfway obey You, we are disobeying You.  You have a high standard – You are a holy God!

“When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy!”  Lord, You are continuing to teach me that every day.  I will not ever forget Sal Barone exhorting us as we left on the KY Mission Trip to keep “pouring out, pouring out, pouring out, giving ourselves away – that is the key to unspeakable joy and life fulfillment!  It makes no sense from a human perspective but from Your perspective it is the only way!

“We enjoy what God has done for us, and when we express that enjoyment to God, it brings him joy – but it also increases our joy!”

“God enjoys watching every detail of your life!”  Every human activity, except sin, can be done for God’s pleasure is you do it with an attitude of praise.”
  “Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God’s wisdom and sovereignty in creating you.”  That is such a place where maybe especially young girls struggle – with accepting themselves exactly as You have created them.  You tell us in Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful and You desire for us to see ourselves as such.  That is such a place where maybe especially young girls struggle – with accepting themselves exactly as You have created them.  You tell us in Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful and You desire for us to see ourselves as such.“More than anything else, however, we want to please Him, whether in our home here or there.”  II Cor. 5:9  It continues to amaze me, Lord, the way You were preparing her for her home there or maybe it is me that You desired to speak to through her “Purpose” book.  You probably were working on both of us, if I know You.

  That is such a place where maybe especially young girls struggle – with accepting themselves exactly as You have created them.  You tell us in Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful and You desire for us to see ourselves as such.  II Cor. 5:9  It continues to amaze me, Lord, the way You were preparing her for her home there or maybe it is me that You desired to speak to through her “Purpose” book.  You probably were working on both of us, if I know You.“How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?”  The question at the end says, “Since God knows what is best, in what areas of my life do I need to trust him most?”

She writes, “With my parents; and thinking that I’m always right.”    Oh, baby, who He is really teaching to trust Him is me.  You don’t have to trust Him anymore.  Your trust is sight now, isn’t it? 

Oh Father, thank You for continuing to teach me!  In Jesus name, Amen! 
   

 

Equipped to do His work…

Monday, September 24th, 2007

We had an incredible day of worship yesterday at Cudd Memorial and my heart was challenged to “do my part.” Pastor Danny brought the message from Ephesians 4 entitled, “Core Values: Equipping.” Each of us has a part in making up the body of Christ. It is important that we know what our part is – and that we do our part. Otherwise, the body will not function to its fullest.

Recently Clay and I were discussing gifts, talents, etc. Clay made the comment that maybe part of our problem is that we take an arm and put it in an eye position. An arm wasn’t created to be an eye! If you’re an arm, fill an arm position. I’ve always said, half in jest half not, that if your spiritual gift is not singing, please do us all a favor and don’t sing! I can assure you that you do not want me heading up the Craft Night at Cudd. Crafty and creative I am not. I’ll be thrilled to hum you a few bars if you need me to but don’t make me fill in as an eye because I’m an arm.

So with all that mumbo-jumbo, I say to you to find your part. Know what your gift is – and then be willing to use that gift for the glory of God. Your church needs you. If you’re a pinky, be in the pinky spot. The hand is crippled and cannot work to its potential without the pinky. The other day I was using the straightener on my hair and somehow I got my hand caught in my hair and closed the straightener on my lower thumb area. Before I could figure out what I had done and how to get out of the mess, I had fried the mess out of my hand. It really hurts! So I’m functioning with just a small handicap and I realize the importance of that part of my hand. When I attempt to put my hand in my pocket or reach in my purse to pull out something or immerse it into dish water or whatever – I say, “ouch!” Now while this is a pretty ridiculous act that I did and quite “blondish” if I must admit, nonetheless it is painful and it works for a good illustration.

Here is the scripture that Pastor Danny shared yesterday. May we not be like children falling for every thing that comes our way. Hold to the truth and know your part. Then fill your part!

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

We have been equipped to do His work…get busy!

This is my last week to work from home. I will move back into my office next weekend as I will be approaching the 8 weeks recovery date at that time. I have enjoyed working from home but am ready to get all my stuff out of my dining room and into my office. I feel great and am for the most part pain-free. Only when I lift or pull am I reminded, “Oh yeah, I’m not suppose to do that!” Thank you for your emails and prayers. I’ve received lots of medical counsel and wisdom, and accept and appreciate it all. God bless all of you and I pray you have a blessed first week of the fall season.

Hope

“Bend the Knee” – Day 8

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Good morning Lord!   I am not really sure why You have awakened me so early.  It seems that several nights recently You have awakened me because there were things You wanted to write on my heart.  You are working on me and I really thought that this night I had worked through enough that I might get to sleep all night but once again You have awakened me and so here I am Lord.  Speak to me.

Yesterday will be written on my heart probably forever.  I have just this week received the book and DVD for “A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place” – a Beth Moore study.  This was one of the things You had to work with me on last week.  The “Shattered Dreams” study didn’t make and so I was seeking Your direction for the fall semester.  I thought at first that maybe You were just desiring for me to be still and in Your word and study by myself.  Two different ladies called to invite me to this study and I am trying to be very careful not to “do good things” without Your leading me.  I wanted no part of it unless I knew that was Your plan for me.  So we wrestled one night last week.  You have so much to teach me.  Early the next morning I submitted to Your will and knew in my heart that was the place You desire for me to be right now – with the ladies from our church. 

You began a deep hunger in my heart and life during the fall of 1984 – 23 years ago – for Your word that remains in my heart to this day.   I love Your word – it restores my soul like nothing else.  Jer. 15:16  “When Your words came, I ate them.  They were my joy and my heart’s delight.”  Psalm 119:103  “How sweet are Your words to my taste – sweeter than honey to my mouth.”  The only way we could ever have journeyed these last months was the ability to stand upon Your word.    Our music minister’s wife from our Southern Baptist Church invited me to a – Bible Study Fellowship class in Tucson, AZ.   They were studying the book of Matthew.  At the time I thought “the book of Matthew” – I’ve read that many times but it seemed like a “good thing” to do while Mickey was very busy with his graduate work at the U of A. 

Wow, did You open my eyes that year!  You began to show me that I had no idea about the “book of Matthew.”  You began to give me a little taste of just how big my God is.  You whetted my appetite for Your word in an amazing way.  When You brought us to Spartanburg I rode with two ladies to the Greenville BSF class and studied “Israel and the Minor Prophets” and once again You opened the Old Testament to me in a way I never dreamed possible.  Your word is so rich!!!!  I know now that You knew I would need Your word desperately to carry me and You, in Your mercy and sovereignty began many years ago to give me a love for consistent disciplined bible study and I bless Your name for that!  Nothing compares to the richness of that experience in my life – there is nothing I would trade for the years You allowed me to be in BSF.  Hannah was able to go with me for four years and I know that You began the foundation for her faith during those years. 

You knew I would come into this new study a week behind.  You have taught me so much through the years about the spiritual benefit of being disciplined in my study.  We always get out of the study what we put into it and I don’t take the opportunity for granted.  I want to do “the thing right.”  I want to hear from You in the study and I want to be committed so I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied to just “skim over” the first chapter.  You were calling me to do this and You were going to have to give me the time to do two weeks of study in one week.    So, yesterday was the day You had in mind for week 1.  I had taken Andrew and 5 of his buddies to play “Ultimate Frisbee” on a practice field at Dorman.  And You just blessed my heart out!  At one point, You brought to my heart and mind a poem.  I was thinking, “What are You doing, Lord?”  I’m an accounting major for crying out loud – I don’t write poems.  And I know now that I didn’t write this one either but I was amazed at what You had written when I finished.

As You move the sun across the sky,

I move my white blanket to remain in the shadow of the Magnolia tree.

The brightness of Your sun moves me.

I am immersed in the study of Your word and

You delight my soul and fill my heart with joy unspeakable.

The blueness of the sky

The white puffiness of the clouds

Reveal Your glory to me yet again

As does Your written word.

My son plays on the field adjacent to my blanket

Running and throwing a Frisbee with his friends.

I stand in awe of You.

You have broken me of more of myself and my foolish pride today

And shown me yet again a little more the reasons for my sometimes “troubling encounters.”

You are desiring to bring all hearts to Yourself

To make Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Please don’t allow me to stand in Your way.

And You continue to carve on the tablets of my heart

Your plan and purpose which will not be thwarted from Isaiah 46:9-13

“Remember the former things, those of long ago;

I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me.

I make known the end from the beginning,

From ancient times, what is to come.

I say: My purpose will stand,

And I will do all that I please.

From the east I summon a bird of prey;

From a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.

What I have said, that will I bring about;

What I have planned, that will I do.

Listen to me, you stubborn hearted,

You who are far from righteousness. 

I am bringing my righteousness near,

It is not far away;

And my salvation will not be delayed.

I will grant salvation to Zion,

My splendor to Israel.”

You are an amazing God

And You show me from the Hebrew

That meaning of the word “bless” means to

“Bend the knee.”

Thank You for continuing to show me Your glory

And drawing me to Yourself.  Allow me to

“Bend my knee.”  Amen.

And from Day 8, Lord, You continue to teach me from the pages of Hannah’s “Purpose Driven Life.” 

“. . .he chose to create you for his own enjoyment.  You exist for his benefit, his glory, his purpose and his delight.”  And in the margin, she has written, “I am not here for me.!”
  “If we fail to worship God, we always find a substitute, even if it ends up being ourselves.”
 
“Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”
 “Worship is far more than music.”  I think that is so interesting, Lord, that she would highlight that statement because she loved music and was very gifted musically.  Thank You for showing her deeper truths regarding worship.

I think that is so interesting, Lord, that she would highlight that statement because she loved music and was very gifted musically.  Thank You for showing her deeper truths regarding worship.“Worship is not for your benefit.”  “We worship for God’s benefit.  When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves.”  “Our motive is to bring glory and pleasure to our Creator.”  “God’s heart is not touched by tradition in worship, but by passion and commitment.”
  “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  Is. 29:13
 
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Cor. 10:31 “. . . do everything as if you were doing it for Jesus.”
 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  Col. 3:23
 

“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering.”  Romans 12:1
 “This is what real worship is all about – falling in love with Jesus.”
 
Under point to ponder – “I was planned for God’s purpose.”
 Question to consider:  What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus?  She writes, “My schoolwork, piano practice.
 
Question to consider:  What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus?  She writes,  Oh Father, I am glad You know how much sleep I need and I know You will give me just that amount.  Thank You for waking me up and speaking to my heart!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Question to consider:  What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus?  She writes,  Oh Father, I am glad You know how much sleep I need and I know You will give me just that amount.  Thank You for waking me up and speaking to my heart!  In Jesus name, Amen.