The Ruling Baby King

colorfulparties-co

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, God conquered our hearts and saved us.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 9: 6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Don’t be fooled – this King baby will reign.  Despite the enemy’s attempts to destroy Him, God’s plan stood firm.  Despite a supposed defeat by ultimately being crucified, He rose from the dead and is coming again, only this time to reign.  For spectators of a movie, this story is difficult to watch – the injustice of the wicked seemingly destroying the Holy One and His plan; the Almighty God coming in perceived weakness.

The Jewish people were looking for their King to come and rule – now – not in the future. But God’s ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, God came as a babe so we could understand His salvation more than a God far away.  Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, He conquered our hearts and saved us.  He is our LORD, our Wonderful Counselor, to Whom we can come daily and moment by moment.  His rule is righteous and just.  His rule trumps every other ruler or government in this world.

In those moments when the wise men, shepherds and onlookers gazed upon God as a babe, how filled with wonder they must have been.  How humbled to see their Creator coming in such a form.  The most hardened heart was surely softened by such a gift.  May we have this same awe in reflecting on our Jesus, coming as a babe to rule our hearts.

Lord, You are all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God!  Holy and humble, perfect One!  I worship You and thank You for ruling in my heart and opening my eyes to see.

Day 23: Exploring Hope – Making Sense in a Fallen World

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Salvation (3).png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

While the tragedies of this life do not make sense to our fleshly finite minds, God’s word illumines our minds and hearts and helps us to see everything this life brings in light of eternity.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 1:18-19

18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength.”

Living in a fallen world, we can get lost and become hopeless. There is no hope in a world without Christ, but in Christ we have discovered a new kind of hope.

As we have processed our grief and sought to understand the heart of God in our struggles, we come to a place where we apply this new hope in this broken place we live.

Looking over the rugged landscape ahead of us, we learn to apply all that we have learned as we have sought to not just restore our hope, but have a living lasting hope.

Our Compass. At the core of this new reinvented hope is viewing the world through a biblical lens. The old default method of letting feelings and thoughts rule our mind is taken captive and we search the word of God for guidance in the bumps and blessings we encounter.

While the tragedies of this life do not make sense to our fleshly finite minds, God’s word illumines our minds and hearts and helps us to see everything this life brings in light of eternity.

Trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it well – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. 6 Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.” This new hope cannot be based on our own understanding. When we trust the LORD with moments of life that don’t make sense, we experience an abundant joy and a peace that the world can never remove. He is trustworthy.

Expectations.  The expectation of the righteous is joy, but that does not mean a problem-free life. “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:8). Our new reinvented hope never ends. Breathe that truth in. It is not based in this earth, nor in anyone or anything but God alone and He has no beginning or end.

Lord, thank you for providing a hope that is secure and lasts forever.

Thoughtful Thursday: Treasured Treasure

treasure

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Something might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially.

Scriptures of the Day:

Proverb 2:1-5

“My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment – raise your voice for understanding –if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity – every good way. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you. 11 Discretion will protect you, understanding will guard you, 12 to deliver you from the way of the wicked, from those speaking perversity.”

The thrill of the hunt is the height of our pursuit, until we find that precious treasure we were hunting for. Once we have found what our hearts longed for, we have peace and satisfaction – until another treasure calls our name.

When we lose something dear to us or something we needed to function in this life, everything else suddenly pales until we find that thing. It might not have even been precious to us previously, but the absence of it makes its value increase exponentially. It is in this moment of revelation that we are grateful and realize we took for granted the treasure we had.

With each each quest for treasure is a burning need for what we are searching for and at the same time a sense of our status of being unworthy of receiving the gift of the treasure in the first place.

If life is about going on one treasure hunt after another and never being fully satisfied with that treasure once we find it, then it is in vain that we pursue such a temporary pleasure, yet an inward craving for something more urges us on.

But there is a lasting treasure that calls out to those who will listen. It’s jewels never fade and the treasure hunter never ceases to discover new beauty within the treasure trove. It is the treasury of wisdom.

For me there is a delight in learning. The discovery of knowledge that was before hidden from my understanding is a delight to my soul. But it does not compare to the sheer ecstatic joy I feel when reading God’s word and the inward burning in my soul imparting truth deep in my heart.

Some walk right past wisdom and don’t recognize its value. Walking in His wisdom, we understand our purpose on this earth and don’t waste our days with temporary treasures. When we don’t understand, wisdom teaches us the value of fearing God so we live in a way that pleases Him. Everything is suddenly viewed through the lens of God’s perspective. When this crazy world tries to distract us, wisdom guides us to God’s deeper purposes and sets our hearts at ease.

This insight from God’s word is not just knowledge stuck on a shelf. It is our very life and a constant companion in all of life. Understanding the God of this universe is the highest treasure we could ever receive – even if it is only in part, for His vastness is far superior to any learning we could ever obtain and there is no end to the limitless wisdom of God.

Lord, thank You for the treasure of You. Help us to chase after You and never tire of seeking You. You are beautiful and our heart’s desire.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Worshipful Wednesday: The Context of God’s Purposes

Abundantblessings

Abundantblessings

Jeremiah 29:10 – 14

10 “For the LORD says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. 11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 14 I will make myself available to you,’ says the LORD. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the LORD. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’

Jeremiah 30:11, 15-17, 24

11 “For I, the LORD, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished. 15 Why do you complain about your injuries, that your pain is incurable? I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much 16 But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged. 17 Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the LORD, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for. 24 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you will come to understand this.”

 

Possibly one of the most well-known promises of God is found in Jeremiah 29:11.  This promise is perhaps popular because we want to believe that our good is God’s goal.  But there is a higher purpose than our comfort and blessing.  God’s glory and a right relationship with Him far exceeds the value of our lives being perfect on this earth.

Rarely have I heard this precious promise considered in the context in which it was made.  It was a promise of restoration and healing in the midst of impending doom being spoken to Jeremiah for God’s people.  God was preparing to discipline His children in captivity to Babylon for seventy years, but gave them hope that He was going to use that captivity to ultimately set them free.   God’s purposes are always good, but the processes we go through in those purposes are not often valued in the eyes of man.

If relief from suffering is our goal, we miss the jewel in the midst of suffering and what it can produce.  From a place of suffering some of the most sincere worship is found.  It is in the dark places that we finally cease to rely on self and cry out to our heavenly Father.  Our eyes are opened to our need for God’s cleansing in our lives and suddenly our focus becomes clearer.  We see Him as our life; nothing in this life could ever satisfy us more than Himself.

We are easily deceived during times of blessing and of trial.  Blessing lulls us into a state of being lukewarm and God loves us enough to wake us up and show us what really matters.  The enemy uses hardship as an opportunity to create doubt in our hearts about God’s character.  

Within our Christian culture there can be lies of prosperity being all that God has planned for His people.  But we do not want to be guilty of what the false prophets were in Jeremiah’s day.  They counseled rebellion against the LORD by insisting that the hardship Jeremiah prophesied was not from God.  If we ascribe to the philosophy of only blessings for God’s people, we become spoiled children only wanting what we perceive as good gifts from our God. 

Accepting hardship as discipline from our loving God and praising Him in the midst is where our greatest gift really lies.  His purposes truly are only good, all the time.  How truly marvelous that our God would go to such lengths to convey His plan and hope to us.  In His mercy, God exposes our hearts and reveals that we have worshiped at the god of comfort and of self.  We are set free when we trust God in all seasons and worship Him in the fire as well as in the times off peace.

Even though it can be difficult to understand why God allows suffering in, God promises we will understand His purposes when we seek Him with all our heart.  His purposes are often hidden deep within our circumstances, a gift to be discovered by those who are willing to lay down their own agenda and seek His will.  It is in our fervent worship that we begin to see His purposes far surpass our understanding.  It is in laying down our desire for a problem-free life and yielding to His plan rather than fighting it or merely surviving that we begin to see through the eyes of eternity.

What a good God to inject hope when His people were under siege.  God knows we are fragile and tend to see only what is right in front of us.  His promises are amazing, but not meant to be our joy – He is our ultimate joy and satisfaction in this life.

Lord, help us to find our real purpose and joy in this life – You.  Help us to worship You through every purpose and plan You have for this life.

Weapons of Warfare

Photo Credits: covenantpromises.org

Photo Credits:
covenantpromises.org

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

Thoughtful Thursday: Perspective

Photo Credits latinegro.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
latinegro.wordpress.com

Psalm 41:6-7

6 When someone comes to visit, he pretends to be friendly; he thinks of ways to defame me, and when he leaves he slanders me.

Psalm 39:1-7

39:1 I decided,  “I will watch what I say and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.  I will put a muzzle over my mouth while in the presence of an evil man.” 2 I was stone silent; I held back the urge to speak. My frustration grew; 3 my anxiety intensified. As I thought about it, I became impatient. Finally I spoke these words: 4O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life!  Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 5 Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective.  Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.  6 Surely people go through life as mere ghosts.  Surely they accumulate worthless wealth without knowing who will eventually haul it away.” 7 But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying? You are my only hope! 

Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

David was acquainted with suffering.  Even on his sick bed his enemies were plotting against him.  But David’s hope was not in the present – it was in the future.  He had dealt with people being jealous of him and attacking him.  Life’s joy was seemingly sapped from him, but He held on.  He held onto something greater.  God alone.  God granted him perspective to realize how brief life was – but not before David cried out for this understanding.

Jesus knew the agony of betrayal and what it was to have even his closest friend kiss him in the very act.  He cried out to God the Father, as well, and gained all of our souls with his suffering.  He knew the prize for obedience was far greater than momentary suffering.  Perspective makes all the difference.

Ever feel like the world is against you?  The world abounds with jokes and suggestions at comforts that can appease this pain, but the only real relief comes from being immersed in Jesus and His Word.  Searching His Word brings perspective to the sincere seeker.  Running to God in prayer grants peace that the world knows nothing about.

Instead of wanting deliverance from the enemies, David wanted understanding.  Instead of wanting deliverance from the cup He was about to drink, Jesus sought obedience as far more precious.  Only God can change our hearts and minds and give us His perspective.

When our expectations meet God’s perspective, we are undone.  Where were our expectations formed?  God’s Word clearly describes troubles we will have in this world, but our flesh desires peace and comfort.  Peter knew troubles, too, and expected them.  Knowing the purpose of life’s challenges makes our perspective of trials even clearer.

Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see that Your purposes are far greater than our understanding.  Help us to seek Your glory in all things and to trust You, even when our perspective is a little blurry.

41:7 All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another; 19 

they plan ways to harm me.

The Goal of Selflessness

Photo Credits: followpics.co

Photo Credits:
followpics.co

Genesis 44:33-34

“So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers.  For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”

Philippians 2:4

“Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”

2 Corinthians 6:3

“We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”

What a beautiful picture this is of selflessness.  Although Judah had spared his brother’s life before by suggesting they sell Joseph into slavery rather than killing him, Judah had finally seen that his former jealousy hurt others.  He had robbed his father of a son and was now willing to take the place of another brother, rather than see his father suffer anymore.

Jealousy is an ugly thing.  Striving for favor instead of being content with what God has provided is prideful.  Condemning others as if we hold the one correct view is sinful, yet we do this even in the body of Christ.  Why?  Self preservation. Defending self when we have been unfairly judged is understandable, but is it really the highest goal?  I know, I know. More death to self.  Ugh.  I feel it, too.

Don’t worry – dying to self does not mean we do not matter.  Biblically, we are to be concerned about our own lives, as well, but not myopically focused on self alone.  Deference hurts, especially when you have been wronged, but ultimately not one of us is always in the right.  Seeking God’s glory in the matter is paramount and helps to clear up our vision.

As we all want to have people believe the best in us, so must we extend this grace.  The church is a place where people should not be condemned for being imperfect, for we would all be condemned then.  As Christians, we cannot think that we are better than our fellow brother or sister.  No, we are all in the trenches side by side, working out character and sharing the Gospel.  Instead, humility and grace lived out and generously bestowed is demonstrated by loving one another in the face of rejection and hurt.  God help us to do so.

This weary world always has some new drama to unfold; someone who is not happy with you, or someone wanting “our” position.  But when we see everything we have as not ours in the first place, we have no need to defend self or hang onto anything.  Since we are hidden in Christ, He is our Defender and ultimately the harm others do to us is not to us at all.

Lord, help us to seek the best for others and favor them above ourselves.  May we be sensitive about Your Name being glorified by how we live and not as sensitive about ours.  Everything You have given us to do is about You. 

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!

Christmas Countdown Day 8: The King Baby Rules Our Hearts

Photo Credits hikeoflife.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
hikeoflife.wordpress.com

Isaiah 9: 6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Don’t be fooled – this King baby will reign.  Despite the enemy’s attempts to destroy Him, His plan stood firm.  Despite a supposed defeat by ultimately being crucified, He rose from the dead and is coming again, only this time to reign.  For spectators of a movie, this story is difficult to watch.  The injustice of the wicked seemingly destroying the Holy One and His plan.  The Almighty God coming in perceived weakness.

The Jewish people were looking for their King to come and rule – now – not in the future.  But God’s ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, He accomplished in His coming as a babe more than He could as a God we feared.  Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, He conquered our hearts and saved us.  He is our LORD, our Wonderful Counselor, to Whom we can come daily and moment by moment.  His rule is righteous and just.  His rule trumps every other ruler or government in this world.

In those moments when the wise men, shepherds and onlookers gazed upon God as a babe, how filled with wonder they must have been.  How humbled to see their Creator coming in such a form.  The most hardened heart was surely softened by such a gift.  May we have this same awe in reflecting on our Jesus, coming as a babe to rule our hearts.

Lord, You are all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God!  Holy and humble, perfect One!  I worship You and thank You for ruling in my heart and opening my eyes to see.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

… and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. 9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. 11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned

Romans 1:18-25

18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19 because what can be known about God is plain to thembecause God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.  24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

The enemy of our souls will one day meet his demise – simply by the LORD’s presence – but not before he launches a vicious campaign, trying to deceive the whole world.  God is so good to warn us of the enemy’s attacks, but mankind can be deaf and blind to them.  We do not have to be surprised; though we will not know the very hour, we can know the season. How is it, then, that people would choose death and destruction?  Why would we ever choose to accept lies instead of God’s truth?  Can we blame the enemy who deceived us?  Eve tried that one, too.  No, we must realize that we are given free will and the opportunity to choose life or death, which are before us.

Some may question our culpability when reading the rest of this passage from Thessalonians.  God influenced them to believe the lies – but not before they first chose to.  They cannot say they did not know, because the passage above in Romans clearly shows how mankind knew the truth and suppressed it.  These verses humble me to walk in the fear of the LORD.  There is nothing in me that would make me right with God, save His grace alone.  I am forever grateful that He chose to open my eyes to understand His Word and to know Him.

The scripture above says that the cause for the people’s perishing is because they “found no place in their hearts for the truth”.  Why was there no place for God in their hearts and what did they make room for in their hearts?  Things that did not matter for eternity; lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life filled their hearts and minds.  Our hearts, too, can be crowded and burdened with all that beckons to distract us from the One thing needful – a relationship with God.  We must rule our hearts and prepare Him room.  But our very hearts are deceitful – what then (Jeremiah 17:9)?  Where is hope when we are surrounded and occupied by an enemy (our flesh) inside?  It is this very knowledge that can free us.

Knowing the truth about our hearts can set us free.  Placing confidence in God and His word, not our flesh, not our hearts, is making Him room.  Choosing to believe the One Who is truth personified, versus believing the One Who is known as the Master Deceiver, is the path to eternal life.  Seems like a simple choice, right?  But our heart of flesh can be strong and we will often have to go against very persuasive feelings which betray God’s Word.  Although satan’s deceit is powerful to twist the truth, God’s truth is all-powerful to change hearts, and illumine the truth to our eyes.  Today we have a choice set before us . . . make way for the Messiah!

Lord, help us to daily, moment by moment, to seek You first.  May our lives not become too crowded, lest we forget our real life’s purpose – to know You and glorify You.  Our hearts are all laid before You, Master.  Help us to turn others from the path of deception toward an eternal life with You!  Amen.