Friday, September 07, 2007

Something I Read This Morning

I read this and it was very moving to me. It actually came from Mikey's Funnies which I have subscribed to for years. Usually there is a hilarious story or joke that comes into my email every day, but every once and a while he'll publish something that is not funny, necessarily, but meaningful.

Thus this piece by Michael Halleen

"By faith (Moses)...persevered because he saw him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27)

Abraham Lincoln, depressed and disgusted at the lack of progress Union forces were making during an especially low point of the Civil War, was asked why he did not resign and just leave these fools to their own devices. He replied sadly, "If I resign, they will perish." He had looked down the years and seen a united country standing tall, an inspiration to all humankind. Moses also had faced that question three thousand years earlier. He too saw the fate of a people as depending on his ability to endure, and he went to a mountain top, on retreat, to be strengthened and refreshed in his vision of God's purposes.

Sometimes success — or even survival — is a matter of endurance, of sticking it out. There are times when the road seems to wind uphill all the way. There are passages difficult to get through—days of illness, hours of worry, sleepless nights of concern, weeks of ordinary following hum-drum. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, in his book "The Worst Journey in the World," said, "All we could do was put one foot in front of the other because we believed that the journey was worth it." Many know that journey. The way to make it is one step at a time.

Along the way, occasionally we catch a glimpse of what the journey is for. Mist may cover the mountains most of the time, but once in awhile, just briefly, the clouds are lifted and the snow-capped peaks can be seen. A Robert Browning poem portrays a man seeking a city so surrounded by swirling fog that he feared he had lost his way. For just a few seconds the mists opened and he saw the towering spires of the city of his desire. Then...

..the vapors closed again,
But I had seen the city, and one such glance
No darkness could obscure; nor shall the present—
A few dull hours, a passing shame or two—
Destroy the vivid memories of the past.

ABBA, the Swedish pop music group of a generation ago, had a line in one of its songs that said, "And my destination makes it worth the while pushing through the darkness still another mile." Moses had been to the mountain top. Lincoln had seen the city's spires. Persevere. Your destination may be shrouded in uncertainty right now, but it awaits you nevertheless. Though invisible at the moment, it is worth putting one foot in front of the other.

Friday, August 31, 2007

LIving By Faith, Not By Sight

I'm changing my format a bit -- since I've started a new method of personal devotions myself.

This has been a difficult week for me. We, personally have had some challenges, but it has been more about hearing about other families and their challenges in adoption that have been so difficult. It is definitely a difficult road -- lots of challenges and frustrations and battles to fight. So when I read this this morning it really hit home.

It's long, but worth reading -- From First Corinthians 4:16 through 5:7 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.

Amazing words. We cannot focus on the now -- because we will get discouraged. We have to focus on they way that God is going to work in us and refine us so that we can become better people. We need to realize that even when things on the outside seem to be impossible and we are literally wasting away, that God can renew us inwardly.

I feel like I am detracting from the passage by even trying to talk about it. It's such a powerful one.... I think I'll just leave it as is and state that I really needed to hear these words today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 38:17-22 Esther 2:1-18; Romans 8:20-33

Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Deuteronomy 10:14 (NASB)

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

When we look at your world, mighty God, we see how wondrously it has been wrought. When we look for your kingdom, we find that we have not lived as you and your Son Jesus have taught. Help us to create a kingdom on earth where unconditional love prevails. Amen.

The title of this devotional comes from a short verse found in the second half Romans 8:31. It is preceeded by the often memorized verse of Romans 8:28, "all things work together for the good." But are either of these verses ones we really believe?

God's on our side. It isn't a debatable issue. We have God working on our behalf at all times. And that means everyone else, as the kids would say, is going DOWN!

When we get all wrapped up in troubles and feel like people are coming at us from every side, we need to remember that God is for us. He's cheering us on. But not only is he involved in our lives, he has the power to change things -- something nobody else posesses.

Lord, help me to remember that nobody can be against me if you are for me. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Running to God When we Feel Like Running Away

Psalm 37:34-40, Nehemiah 12:44-13:14; Romans 7:7-20

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long. Psalm 71:15

Paul wrote: The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:18 (NIV)

O God, we rejoice and celebrate what you have done for us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Make this day a truly joyful day as we pray and forgive those who may have hurt us. As we feel our own pulse and realize how alive we are, we are glad to give you the glory! Amen.

Do you ever feel like you want to run away, or at the very least, crawl into bed, put covers over your head, and hide from everyone?

In reading through the Psalm 37 passage this morning, I came across these words that are ones that I have to continue to return to time and time again.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

The Lord can be our refuge when we feel like running away, but the key is in our running to Him instead of running away. God is a place of safety and the only place we should head.

it's our tendency as humans, I think, to go to God AFTER we've tried everything else. When nothing else is working, then we pray. When all our other options have been exhausted, we turn to him. When nobody else can meet our needs, we finally decide to try God.

Instead He should be our first thought -- and running to Him our first idea. Just like attached children run to a parent the moment they skin a knee or bruise and elbow, we should run to God the moment we feel a need. And unlike any human being, God will NEVER fail to meet our needs and deliver us.

Next time I feel like running away, I gotta remember to run to God.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Being Just is More than Just Being

Psalm 37:27-33, Nehemiah 12:1-43; Romans 6:17-7:6

Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. Psalm 143:2

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18

O God, you have placed us in this world. There is a rebellion going on against your standards of righteousness. We all join that rebellion and alienate ourselves from you, from others and even from ourselves. We thank you for Jesus Christ who reminds us to live righteous lives. Amen.

The Psalm passage contains this verse:

For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Here are some of the definitions of just:

used especially of what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting;

equitable: implying justice dictated by reason, conscience, and a natural sense of what is fair to all;

fair: free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; or conforming with established standards or rules;

good: of moral excellence;

We know that God loves all of us. But it appears that the Lord makes a point of declaring that He loves the just.

But does being one of the "just" mean simply being a good person and being fair to everyone? Is "just" a being word or a doing word?

It seems to be me that being a just person would automatically lead to doing just things -- to battling injustice in whatever form it presents itself, to making a difference in situations where life, or the world, or our culture, are unjust.

Lord, help me to not only be a just person but to promoting justice throughout my world today. Amen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reverent Submission

Psalm 37:23-26 Nehemiah 10:28-11:36; Romans 6:5-16

My God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you. Psalm 42:6

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

We thank you, dear God, for those who felt life so deeply and expressed themselves so strongly through the psalms. They knew you were present and did not hold back their cries for relief and adoration. Inspire us to express our feelings through their words and know that you always hear us. Amen.

Interesting things to note from the verse in Hebrews:

Jesus cried out to the ONE who was able to save him from death;
He cried out loudly and with tears
He was heard
The reason he was heard was because of his reverent submission.
He didn't get the response we think he probably desired.

How differently we do things. We cry out to everyone else first, whining and moaning.
We often hide our tears from God.
We do not approach God in reverent submision.
When we don't get the desired response, we assume we were not heard.

But it is the very reverent submission that Jesus came to God exposing that led him to the place where he could accept God's answer. "Not my will but thine be done" was his heartfelt prayer.

May God help me to come in reverent submission to cry out loudly with tears and then to truly be accepting of the response.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Erring in Spirit and Grumbling

Psalm 37:1-6 Nehemiah 6:15-7:73a; Romans 4:13-25

Those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction. Isaiah 29:24

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses. Acts 1:8

O Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Equip us to live and express the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. May others sense that your Spirit indeed dwells in us, guiding people to the Savior. It is by your Spirit that we gain power and humility. Amen.

Wow, what a promise. "Those who err in spirit will come to understanding and those who grumble will accept instruction." I sincerely hope that the prophet was referring my children. Or even me for that matter.

Me, err in spirit? OK, I confess. I don't always have proper motivation. I don't always do things with a pure heart. I don't always feel like doing what I do.

And grumbling? I do it way too often. I find myself whining about many things..... Apparently all of us do, necesitating the concept of a complaint free world.

And teenagers? Errors in spirit and grumbling are their modus operandi.

But there is a promise that we will all come to understanding and we will all accept understanding. Thanks for a great promise.

Monday, February 12, 2007

All Things

Psalm 22:22-26
2 Chronicles 16,17; Acts 21:5-16

I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 39:18

Paul wrote: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Lord our God, we thank you for daily protection and guidance through the Holy Spirit. Keep our hearts in tune with you through prayer, so we may discern your will for our daily walk with you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

I can do all things. Nothing too tough, nothing to hard. I can do all things. But not in my own strength, but in Christ's strength.

Yesterday in church I had just completed one of the toughest mornings of my life getting into an endless control battle with a son who was quite out of control. I felt defeated, week, undisciplined, and tired. I wasn't sure I could face the next hour, much less the rest of my life. When you're facing the kind of challenges I was yesterday and the child is only 11, there are so many hard years ahead... we know this by experience because we have already parented three children almost to adulthood, and the years from 11 on did not get easier but harder.

Our first hymn of the morning was "Jesus Calls Us" and it begins, "Jesus calls us o'er the tumult of our life's wild restless sea." I thought to myself, "that's my life! A wild, restless sea." And I asked myself, "Can I hear Jesus calling?"

And his call? "Christian, follow me."

I realized then that the answer is not in me. The answer is in following Jesus and in looking to Him for my strength. My situation probably isn't going to change. It may not, probably won't be, easier. But it is ME who can change.

I can do all things... but not on my own. Following Jesus, day by day, relying on His strength.