Archive for April, 2009

Stick with the stuff…

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

seattle-waI’m continuing to dig deep in to Hebrews 9 and 10 and have had great opportunities to share these truths with the couple that I’m with here in Seattle. I woke up this morning at 4:30 Seattle time because my body time was 7:30. I did not want to get up that early and thankfully was able to go back in to a slumbering sleep. Then one of my sisters who forgot I was 3 hours behind her called so I decided I might as well get up. The truth of Hebrews 10 that took hold of my heart and mind this morning is that the same God Who saved me from my sins when I was 8 years old is still right here actively at work in my life. I was so sure of myself as a new Christian. All those truths are still the same! Nothing has changed! It’s still a sure thing. And I must stay true to the plan, I must stick it out. I must not waver in my beliefs and I can be bold as I share that belief.

Yesterday I sat across from a very handsome, fit, extremely intelligent man in his mid-sixties who will tomorrow face extensive surgery to remove an oral cancer in the back of his throat. The past two days and again today I have had the privilege of getting to know him on a personal level and he is so much fun! Very full of life, has an incredible outlook and a zeal that is hard to top. As I type this he is at the University of Washington hitting baseballs in the batting cage. He decided he’d take all of his frustrations out on the balls rather than on us, and we’re glad for that! Last night as I tucked myself deep into the covers of this luxurious hotel that his family has put me in, I prayed so desperately for him. I can’t figure him out. We had a very long, deep conversation just the two of us yesterday and he was open with me – to a certain level. Then he’d just sit back and grin at me, not saying anything. My frustration is that I don’t know where he stands with my Heavenly Father. And God has burdened me greatly for his soul. With all of this heavy on my heart, I read Hebrews 10 and I realized that although I don’t have all the answers – I do have THE answer, and it’s Jesus Christ. This truth is a sure thing and I plan to stick with the stuff even when God’s plan is a complete contradiction to the way I think things should go. I’m praying for just one more opportunity to be one-on-one with this man who has captured my heart as if he were my own daddy. I told his wife this morning that I did not plan to fly across the country to give a part of my heart to this man. I don’t want to hurt for him as if he were my daddy. I’ve already been there done that! But God has placed a burden on my heart for this sweet man. I want to be sure he knows the Man who gives us courage and strength and peace to stick with the stuff and survive, trusting all the way. Even if our “survival” lands us in heaven sooner than we planned to go. That’s not a bad thing!

Here are the verses in The Message…

“Remember those early days after you first saw the light?…don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. We’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way” (Hebrews 10:32, 35, 36 & 39).

I don’t know what you’re going through today or what someone the Lord has put in your path is going through. But know what you believe, firm it up in your own heart, and share it with boldness. Stick with the stuff! Because it is the good stuff and it will land you an eternal residence with God the Father some day!

Hope

Now what?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I’ve been talking to you a lot about God’s plan, His will for our lives. So you submit to His will every morning and things still seem to go awry. You just want to throw up your hands and say, “Okay, Lord, now what? I’ve done what You asked, I submit to Your plans, I trust You with my life. And everything is falling apart. Now what?”

When there is absolutely nothing left to do but trust Him, just trust Him. Continue in your day to day walk, focus on things that are important to you, keep your heart in tune with the Father by reading His Word and talking to Him, and before you know it You will be slap dab in the middle of the “what.” You’ll wake up one morning and you’ll no longer say, “Now what?” but rather, “Oh, this is the what!”

Are you at a hard place in life right now? Are you tempted to sarcastically say to the Lord, “Well this is just great! Now what?” Hang in there and keep the faith. He will continue to guide you to the what that He has planned.

water-fall“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5 & 6).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13).

Hope

The Burger King Mentality

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Hold the pickles
Hold the lettuce
Special orders don’t upset us
All we ask is that you’ll let us
Serve it your way

Remember that old jingle? I thought this morning how we should be this easy on the Lord. “At your service, Father! Hold the fun times, Hold the easy fixes. Special circumstances won’t upset us as long as we’re serving You Your way!”

Sometimes He special orders circumstances so that the end result will be for our good. Allow God to have His way in your life today and don’t buck Him. Have the Burger King mentality!

“I’m here to do it your way, O God…” (Hebrews 10:7 The Message).

I’m updating from the airport. My friend, Marty and I are on our way to Seattle, WA to be with her brother-in-law as he undergoes extensive cancer surgery. Please pray for him.

Much love to all my web friends!

Hope

Put down your sword…

Monday, April 27th, 2009

swords“Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’ Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. ’Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’” (Matthew 26:50-54).

Last week I talked about the will of the Father in the life of Jesus. That same Father wants to have His will in our lives as well. But so many times we react as Peter did. We draw our swords and kick in to the natural defensive mode. We want to take things in our own hands. Sometimes we must put down our sword and allow things to happen, good things as well as bad, in order that God’s plan may be fulfilled.

Peter was real quick to defend Jesus to the point of cutting off a soldier’s ear. Jesus scolded Peter and reminded him that all of this was in God’s plan so that scripture may be fulfilled. So it is in our lives. Sometimes things must happen to us, circumstances and situations that cause us to want to fight back, to defend, to put a stop to. But Jesus wants us to put down our swords and trust the Father so that He can do a work in our lives. A work that will prepare us and fit us for eternity.

What sword have you drawn as a source of defense? Put down your sword today and allow God to work.

Hope

Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I never hear this cliche that I don’t think of a guy who we used to go to church with, bless his heart. (You know in the south you can talk about anyone as long as you end it with, “Bless his heart”. That rights any wrong intended.) One day this gentleman, a really a good guy but, well you know, bless his heart, was speaking in church and said, “You know the good book says where there’s a will there’s a way.” Several of us looked at each other with the puzzled look that asked the silent question, “Can you give us chapter and verse for that?”

While reading in Hebrews 9 my attention was caught by the section on the new covenant that Christ gave to us through His death, burial and ressurection. A covenant is a will. And in order for a will to be any good at all, someone has to die. Otherwise it’s not worth anymore than the paper that it’s written on. The same with this new covenant that God gave to us. Had Jesus not carried through with His assignment, had He backed out of the cross and refused to die, that new covenant would not have been worth anything to us.

“In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood” (Hebrews 9:16-18).

“For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26).

So I thought today, using a little play on words here, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there’s the will given to us through Christ’s death, there’s a way to heaven for us all. Praise the Lord! So maybe that guy was not so clueless after all? The good book does say that in a way. Maybe he was using a play on words and didn’t even realize it!

hannah-clayI hope each of you have a blessed weekend. My hubby’s coming home tomorrow night and I can’t wait! He’s been gone two weeks and I’ll be soooo glad to see him. Here’s my favorite picture of him and Hannah. She loved her Uncle Clay and he loved his Hannah.

Hope

Why the blood?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Our Evangelist challenged us to read Hebrews 9 on our own. Not that I had not read it at some point in the past, but I had never really focused on the content. I love the detail of this in Hebrews 9. It is so easy to understand! It answers any question we may have as to why blood was the remission for sin.

Why did we need “payment” for our sins? Because sin is a blatant affront to God’s plan for our lives, to God’s holiness, to God’s sovereignty – to God Himself! The only payment for sin is the death penalty. In the old covenant, pre-Jesus, God allowed the blood of a lamb, the cream of the crop, to be sacrificed. The High Priest would take the blood into the tabernacle, behind the curtain into the Holy Place, and he would sprinkle the blood all over the ceremonial “things” as remission for man’s sin. But that payment wasn’t final. It had to be done every year.

jesus-crossThen God provided a once for all payment, the blood of His only Son, Jesus. Jesus shed His blood to pay my death penalty. And the best news is that it was a one time act! When Jesus cried, “It is finished” on the cross and hung His head in death, the curtain to the Holy Place was torn in two and we gained full access to God, via Jesus. We can go to Him anytime, not just annually. We don’t have to go through any ritual, nor do we need a High Priest to represent us. We have Jesus Christ acting on our behalf at all times! Something or someone had to die in order for this to be. Jesus took care of it for all of us.

One Holy Lamb washed my sins away! Why the blood? To pay for my sin, and for yours.

“…the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance” (Hebrews 9:7).

“He (Christ) did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

Hope

Help!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18).

One point that I walked away from Revival with last night is that Jesus is always right there waiting to bail us out. And He can do that because He Himself suffered when He was tempted. I had not grasped the truth in this verse before last night! Jesus suffered when He was tempted – in other words, it wasn’t easy for him to overcome temptation, either. He can relate! It was a painful process for Him. For that reason, He is able to help us – to come to our rescue. The Evangelist shared a story from his childhood. He was always picked on by the neighborhood bully. One day the bully approached him and he glanced up the street and spotted his own older brother. He shared that he wasn’t a bit too proud to yell, “Help!” and his brother came to his rescue. His words were, “We took care of Scott (the bully)”. And then he reminded us that all we have to do when we’re tempted is to drop our pride and yell, “Help!” Jesus is faithful and He is able to help us, to rescue us from that temptation.

What is tempting to you? Maybe it is the “big” stuff like alcohol, sex, drugs, prescription drugs. Or maybe it is what we consider the “small” stuff like unbelief, discouragement, gossip. Whatever you are being tempted with, please don’t be too proud to cup your hands around your mouth and cry out to Jesus, “Help!” You’ll find that He’s Jesus on the Spot. He’ll rescue you.

Caleb, bless his sweet bones, is notorious for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another episode this weekend that has left him wishing he could change his circumstances and hit the re-do key on a few things. I asked him after Revival last night how he felt about his relationship with the Lord. He answered, “Me and the Lord are just fine, Mom.” Then he raised his hand and said, “But I am spiritually weak” (that’s from Sunday night’s message). And as he walked to his bedroom to turn in for the night, he called out, “Help!” I cried as I walked to my bedroom to turn in for the night.

my-45th-birthday2And I thought this morning how temptation will be a thorn to us as long as we’re on this earth. But I’m so thankful that Christ has provided a way of escape. All we have to do is call, “Help!”

This is one of my favorite pictures taken just a few months ago in our breakfast area. I love this kid!

Hope

“Though Your Footprints were not seen. . .”

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

“Though Your footprints were not seen, You led Your people like a flock. . ..” Psalm 77:19-20

Oh Father, I love Your eternal word! I love it because I can so identify with its pages and its truths in my life today. I can see myself in the same situations the psalmist found himself in many times. My scripture for prayer time this morning was the 77th chapter of Psalms. The psalmist was crying out to You and he didn’t think You were hearing him. In the Message it says he was yelling to You, his God! Sometimes Father, we just desperately need to know that You are hearing us and that You care!

You bring to mind a conversation I had yesterday with a mother whose heart is burdened for her child. What mother doesn’t have a burdened heart for her children? We desperately desire for our children to love You with all of their hearts, with all their souls, with all their minds and with all their strength! We desperately desire for our children to know You right now at this point in their lives like we know You – and deeper and fuller and more than we know You. We want them to “get it.” We want them to “really get it.” We don’t want them to miss it! We don’t want them to make mistakes. We want them to make good decisions. We want them to make right decisions. We want them to stay on Your path following You step by step.

And yet we confess, Lord, that we constantly need You so that You can keep us walking step in step with You. We confess that we don’t have it all together. We confess that we make mistakes. We confess that we don’t always make good and right decisions. We confess that we don’t always walk step in step with You. So there You go, Lord. We need You as desperately or more so than our children. The 77th Psalm seems to speak to my heart this morning in a new way and You, once again, encourage my heart that even when I can’t see Your footprints – You are leading me – just like You led Your people by the hand of Moses and Aaron. And Lord, You also remind me that the Israelites didn’t always get it the first time – just like me.

“I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might. I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.” You always listen when we cry out to You, don’t You Lord? You always listen. We are Your children! You delight to listen to us – even when we are whining and yelling! “I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,” I didn’t believe a word they said. I remember God – and shake my head. I bow my head – then wring my hands. I’m awake all night – not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together.” Wow, he sounds like me Lord!

And I ask You with the psalmist, “Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will He never smile again? Is His love worn threadbare?” Have You just had enough, Lord? “Has His salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten His manners? Has He angrily stalked off and left us? “Just my luck,” I said. “The High God goes out of business just the moment I need Him.” Oh Father, this is so funny and so real and so like me!!!

And then the psalmist turns a corner – he decides that he can’t see the path ahead but he is going to stop and take a look back to where he has been and where You have brought him!

“Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders, I’ll ponder all the things You’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at Your acts.”

“O God, Your way is holy! No god is great like God! You’re the God who makes things happen; You showed everyone what You can do – You pulled Your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.”

Okay, Lord, I see what You have done in the past when I pause to look back! I can see Your faithfulness!

And then the psalmist speaks of Your creation and how Your creation acknowledged You and responded in cooperation! You know, Lord, I bet sometimes it is much easier to work with Your creation than it is to work with me!

“Ocean saw You in action, God, saw You and trembled with fear; Deep Ocean was scared to death. Clouds belched buckets of rain, Sky exploded with thunder, Your arrows flashing this way and that. From Whirlwind came Your thundering voice, Lightning exposed the world, Earth reeled and rocked. You strode right through Ocean, walked straight through roaring Ocean, but nobody saw You come or go. Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron, You led Your people like a flock of sheep.”

“Though Your footprints were not seen, You led Your people like a flock.”

Oh Father, when I can’t see the path ahead, will You allow me to take a step back and look at the places from where I have come? Will You allow me to recount Your great faithfulness of yesterday so that I can trust You anew and afresh for today? Will You write upon my heart again that You are completely trustworthy and that when I cry out to You, my Father, You are hearing me? Will You allow me, when I can’t see, to realize again that You led Your children through the dessert? Will You allow my heart to take courage to move forward and trust You and not be paralyzed by fear? Will You allow me, again today, to give myself to You to be used for Your eternal purposes? Will You use the lives of my children today for Your eternal purposes? Will You speak loudly to them – even yell at them, Lord, about the reality of who You are and who You desire to be in their lives!

Thank You Father, that Your word is so applicable to my life today! Thank You that the psalmist could identify with my heart cries! Thank You Father the even though Your footprints were not seen, You led Your people like a flock! Thank You for yelling the reality of who You are into my spirit this morning! Bless You Father, Thank You Jesus! Amen!

What do you need to trim away?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

We are in the middle of Revival services at our church and last night the Evangelist preached from Matthew 25. He spoke about the ten bridesmaids who took their lamps to wait for the bridegroom. They were expecting him sometime in the night. 5 of them took oil for their lamps, 5 did not. They fell asleep waiting for him. Verse 7 says that when the announcement came that the bridegroom was arriving, they all jumped up and trimmed their wicks. The 5 without oil were unable to light their lamps and had to run out to buy some. While they were gone the bridegroom arrived, the wedding banquet began and the doors were shut. No one else could enter. His message was on the importance of having oil in your lamp, being ready for the bridegroom.

Several of us went out to eat after the Revival service and my friend Tommy said he was working on some thoughts on the “trimming the wick” part. I didn’t ask him any questions because I was preoccupied at the time, but when I got home I re-read Matthew 25 for myself to see what I thought about the wicks. That’s when the Lord gave me this devotional.

What do I need to trim to get ready for Christ, the Bridegroom’s return? Is my wick trimmed and ready or have I allowed discouragement or disappointment or heartache or confusion or grief or pain or anything or anyone to mess it up? Do I need to trim some things away so that my lamp is burning bright and I’m ready for the Bridegroom’s return? I have oil in my lamp, I know I do because I’ve accepted Christ and He filled me with the Holy Spirit “oil.” But is my lamp burning for Him or have I allowed circumstances to put out my fire? Do I need to trim some things away?

How about you? What do you need to trim away so that your lamp burns bright for Christ?

oil-lamp“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps” (Matthew 25:6 & 7).

Hope

He is the Sure-Jell that keeps us fresh…

Monday, April 20th, 2009

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble” (Psalm 143:11).

Now don’t think for a minute that I’m broaching this subject based on any experience of my own. I’ve never canned anything much less preserves. However, I remember my Mom making homemade preserves when we were growing up and I can still visualize the box of Sure-Jell that she used. I’m not sure exactly what Sure-Jell does unless it is what causes the consistency and “preserves” the preserves. I’m basing that assumption on the name. With Sure-Jell, your jelly is sure to jell. I could do an advertisement for them!

That is what God does for us. With Him in our hearts, we are sure to jell. He alone can preserve us. He is our protection, our safeguard, our defense. And He does this not so we can boast of anything, but for His name’s sake. He gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He has much at stake here! It is His righteousness that keeps us from trouble. Nothing we can do in our own strength. He alone is the Sure-Jell that preserves our lives, the keeps us fresh. And He does it for His benefit, not for ours. He desires a personal relationship with us. If we trust in Him, He will preserve us, and we’ll always be fresh in Him!

We had a great time taking prom pictures. It was a beautiful day and the kids absolutely had a blast. I gave Caleb a little lecture before he left. He hates getting his picture made so I have very few pics of him actually smiling. I told him how important pictures are to girls and that he might as well make this a pleasant process. The moms won’t quit snapping until he smiles. He said he decided, “Why prolong this agony?” thus he was the clown of the party. He had everyone snickering and giggling and slapping on him. The moms were loving him! “Whatever!”, I thought to myself! Here’s a good picture of him and Keltci. Sweet, sweet kids.

Caleb & Keltci

Hope