30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 17 – Relationship

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Sometimes we can become hardened in a world of busyness that threatens to undo the essential need at the core of our humanity. Relationship. We were made to know and be known. Our value does not come from our accomplishments (which are really God’s) or from our function in this life. It comes from Being. In. Relationship. With. God. And. Others.

Yes, I know that last sentence is incorrect. But I, too, wanted to pause and soak those words in. I get busier than I should be and need the same reminder to be still before my God and to make time for people in my life.

Abiding is not an easy thing. The natural thing is to drift away from God and others and to allow sin to separate us.

We were not made to be isolated, not made to be an island. We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life. All too often relationships can be difficult as pride and self are on the throne more than people or honoring God in those relationships.

Christ exemplified perfect relationship with God the Father. He and the Father are one. He told us to be the same.

So how do we relate to a Holy God when we are unholy? By the mercy of God alone. How do we relate to people when we are different from one another? By God’s grace.

God has given us access to Himself though we did not deserve it. So often this access is not utilized and we can take this amazing reality for granted. God wants us to be in a relationship of dependence upon Him, where our needs are met by Him and we can enjoy His presence. He wants us to seek His will and understanding, constantly reading His love letter to us – His Word – and praying to Him. This is where we find our greatest peace, when we are living as God intended.

Religion is the complete opposite of this privilege of relationship we have with God in Christianity. Religion is man-made, dead, focusing on a performance mentality of doing good works. Sadly, for the one pursuing religion, they will never arrive at their goal or achieve real relationship.

In our relationship with God, it has all been done. This truth causes us to worship the One Who set us free so we could know Him. It also causes us to realize that we need to relate to one another in a way that God intended.

Do we see the people in our lives as precious gifts from God? Even the thorny relationships that bring us to our knees? How can we relate to one another in a humble, others-centered way? It might mean dying to our own agenda, building others up instead of ourselves, and pausing long enough to think, serve and pray for others.

In the end, relationships with people cause us to go deeper in our relationship with God. When relationships of this world fall short of our expectations, our God helps us to pick up the pieces and to be like Christ, Who laid down His life for others.

When Christ is at the center of our human relationships, it is a beautiful witness to the world of what it means to know God and one another and still be accepted and accepting.

Lord, thank You for drawing us near to You that we could know You – our God and Creator. Help us to never forsake this amazing privilege and to love others as You have loved us.

Sabbath Reflections: Nation on its Knees

Prayer Can Move the Heart of God and Man

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Scriptures:

Psalms 99:4

“The King is strong; he loves justice. You ensure that legal decisions will be made fairly; you promote justice & equity in Jacob.”

Proverbs 21:1

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.”

As we near the culmination of a lively political race in just a little over a couple of months, the LORD reminded me while I was praying for both candidates that He is much bigger than our election. He not only controls the outcome, but is our great, sovereign God over all. He rules the entire universe, every government, every people, every land – and is able to affect the heart of our next President. It is to that end that I will pray.

Our nation needs more now than ever a people committed to pray for her. May we fill the next eleven weeks with intercession for our nation and for both candidates to turn their hearts back to God. Will you join me? We each play a key role in the next election – praying – and prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Oh God, this great land is Yours and Yours alone. Help us to not forget that truth. Help our people to turn from sin and to see Your worth is far above the worship of lesser things. Please draw our nation back to You and cause our leaders to bow to no other God but You. Move in the hearts of our Presidential nominees and help them to see their need of salvation. Your will be done. We trust You, Lord, to place Your person in office.

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s in a Name?

Whats in a Name.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

There is None like our God.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 13:18

“The LORD’s messenger said to him, you should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.”

Genesis 32:29

“Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.”

When the God of the universe says we should not ask His name, the only response we can have is complete awe.  In a culture that screams familiarity and a lack of reverence, it is perhaps foreign to consider that there is One in authority Who has the right to permit and prevent access to whatever He desires.

I don’t like secrets.  My flesh does not want to be left out of knowing things – especially if it is something important.  The Name of God is esoteric and yet revealed in part to His children.  We see His Name by observing His character, and yet we cannot fully know Him.

I might not understand this boundary fully, but when I consider how He is Spirit and I am flesh, He is Holy and I am unholy, then I contemplate the miracle that we can know Him at all.

I am thankful that God has established in His Word that He is so far above us and yet demonstrates unconditional love and lets us – frail man – get a glimpse of just a fraction of how awesome He is.

Manoah offered a sacrifice right away when he realized He was in the presence of the LORD’s messenger.  Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock when the glory of God passed by.  When we, God’s people, have the indwelling Holy Spirit – the very presence of God – within us, how then should we respond?

Oh God, You are Holy!  You are far above anything I could ever imagine!  Thank You for Your mercy!  Help us to know You more and to never cease to be amazed by You, our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, King of kings, Omniscient One, Righteous, Holy Savior and Creator of All.

Holy Week: Palm Sunday Irony

Palm Sunday

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes salvation comes in a way we least expect.

Scriptures:

Zechariah 9:9, 11

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep. 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Isaiah 46:16

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Exodus 24:8

“Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Happy Palm Sunday!  I confess I have missed blogging and look forward to blogging each day this week after taking an unannounced spring break.  🙂

I brought a liturgical element into our worship service this morning, palm branches for Palm Sunday.  Ok, let’s be real.  The palm branches ended up being limpy leaves, not branches.  But burdening my heart was a desire to help the worshipers at my church get a sense of the awe the people must have felt, waving palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  500 flimsy leaves did not quite capture that emotion for me.

Nonetheless, I pressed on in Scripture and chose songs that would hopefully evoke the rich symbolism of these leaves representing victory.  What victory were these people hailing?  Though they thought He was coming to conquer world governments, instead He captured our hearts and ultimately achieved victory over death.

Christ’s entrance was a fulfillment of the prophesy spoken 500 years earlier by Zechariah. How amazing that God would communicate to His people how He would come into the world.  He did not want them to miss it.  Even though they could not understand fully God’s purpose in coming to them at the time, the groundwork of God’s covenant promises laid a path toward this salvation.

The blood covenant could not be paid by an animal or an ordinary person.  God had to bear the transgression of His people, Himself.  This Savior, their King – came humbly – riding on a donkey.  This manner of salvation appears so foolish to man – that a King would come riding in on a borrowed donkey – to die – rather than in a majestic array of splendor as a hero riding in to demonstrate incredible power.

He owns everything, yet He borrowed a donkey.  He lacks for nothing, yet He chose to lack. He is All Powerful, yet God chose to come in weakness.  This does not make sense until we see that He became weakness, infirmity and sin and chose the place of suffering to bear it all in our place.  He did not save us while He himself sat in a lap of luxury.  He spared no expense or detail, but simply rode in humbly.

These same fickle people who praised Him passionately as He entered Jerusalem, begging Him to save them now (Hosanna), would kill their Savior by week’s end.  Christ’s mission might have seemed like a failure, but the very people He came to save brought about their salvation unknowingly, by condemning Christ to His death.  The wordplay is hard to miss in the Scriptures above.  God inscribed His people on His palms and His people waved palm branches to their Savior.  Ultimately it would be nails driven into his palms (wrists) that would forever set His people free.

Lord, thank You for Your salvation, offered freely to sinners.  Thank you for showing us how to live and for providing for a debt we could never pay.

 

Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.

Worshipful Wednesday: Determined Praise

Proverbs 16:28

“A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip separates the closest friends.”

Psalm 108:1-3

1 “A song, a psalm of David. I am determined, O God! I will sing and praise you with my whole heart. 2 Awake, O stringed instrument and harp! I will wake up at dawn! 3 I will give you thanks before the nations, O LORD! I will sing praises to you before foreigners!”

Psalm 109:1-4, 21, 26-30

1 For the music director, a psalm of David. O God whom I praise, do not ignore me! 2 For they say cruel and deceptive things to me; they lie to me. 3 They surround me and say hateful things; they attack me for no reason. 4 They repay my love with accusations, but I continue to pray. 21 O sovereign LORD, intervene on my behalf for the sake of your reputation! Because your loyal love is good, deliver me! 26 Help me, O LORD my God! Because you are faithful to me, deliver me! 27 Then they will realize this is your work, and that you, LORD, have accomplished it. 28 They curse, but you will bless. When they attack, they will be humiliated, but your servant will rejoice. 29 My accusers will be covered with shame, and draped in humiliation as if it were a robe. 30 I will thank the LORD profusely, in the middle of a crowd I will praise him…”

If you have ever been talked about, it is not much fun.  Inner turmoil is a possibility, but it does not have to be our reality. David was bugged by people spreading false rumors about him.  He told God about it, but what is so beautiful is how He rested in God as His Defender.  He did not need to refute the lies.  He just trusted that His Daddy would take care of it for him.  Even more amazing was that He knew that falsehood spread about him hurt God’s reputation because His child was being spoken about in a hateful way.  David was jealous for God’s glory and wanted His reputation cleared.  People were jealous of David and wanted his reputation marred.  David just cried out and rested in His loving Father’s acceptance and love.

We do not know fully what the attacks were on David, but He defeated it with prayer, faith and worship.  In His prayer, He uses the future tense – He had already decided and determined that He was going to praise God and He was confident that God would move on His behalf.  That is the place of peace and sincere worship.  When people attack, whether it is due to jealousy or presumptions, we are not accountable to people’s perceptions, but we are accountable to God.  In that place of suffering, a catalyst for drawing nearer to God is formed.

Our response at such times can bring Him glory, or can drag us down into the mud with the mudslingers.  Not much decision there.  I confess that when I have been in similar situations, I am hurt but I do not wish for people’s demise as strongly as David did.  I just wish people could believe the best and be all about God’s glory instead of finding things to be bugged about. The time is short and we need to be upset about things that really matter … like Christians persecuted and murdered for their faith, or a nation that is falling from within.

If we are honest, we have all spoken about others at one time or another.  We have also probably been the recipient of such treatment.  This ugly behavior even enters the church.  Although it can be painful to endure when people attack us for no reason, it is a beautiful tool in the Master’s hands, freeing us from the fear of man and stirring up fervent praise.  He is worthy at all times!

Lord, thank You for helping us to have Your perspective and for bearing all of our burdens.  I worship You, Lord, and thank You that You are our Defender.  May You be glorified in our moments of blessing and in challenging times, as well.

Worshipful Wednesday: Owner of the Nations

Psalm 82:8

Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth! For you own all the nations.

psalm-83-confederates

Psalm 83:4-6

4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation! Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.” 5 Yes, they devise a unified strategy; they form an alliance against you. 6 It includes the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites,”

Psalm 83:16-18

16 “Cover their faces with shame, so they might seek you, O LORD. 17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified! May they die in shame! 18 Then they will know that you alone are the LORD, the sovereign king over all the earth.”

As I read from my Bible plan this morning, I could not help but see the Scriptures above as being fulfilled right now during our time.  Upon examination, looking into the history of each people group mentioned as enemies of God’s people, it is amazing to see how small choices can impact families, people groups, nations, the world and all eternity.

Esau and Ham were both cursed for a moment of weakness indulging their flesh.  Esau was the favored son of Issac, but he was lazy and and took for granted his position… all over Lentil soup.  I am thinking it would have taken some more prized food than that to tempt him away from leaving behind his identity in Christ.  Tricked out of his birthright, he ended up an enemy of God’s people.  It hardly seems fair, and yet God knows the heart and His choice was Jacob.

Noah knew his son’s heart, and though it was a moment of indiscretion and mockery, Ham was foolish and not who God’s promise would be through.  His descendants apparently did not learn a lesson from their ancestor regarding walking in wisdom and restraining the curious sins of the flesh.

Lot just dumbfounds me.  He was spared by God because of the faithfulness of Lot’s uncle, Abraham, and his prayers on his behalf.  Yet his descendants became enemies of God’s people.  He surrounded himself by a godless people and grew comfortable there.  Given a choice as to where he would live, he inched closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah until he was smack dab in the middle of a fleshly, lustful environment.  He even offered his own daughters up to wicked men as potential sex slaves when the wicked men of his city wanted to molest the angels who were visiting Lot.  No wonder his daughters did not know right and wrong and opted to inebriate their father and bear his children.  Moab and Ammon resulted from their sin and are also modern day enemies of God’s people.  Keeping ourselves unpolluted is not enough. Our children need to be taught what it means to fear the LORD.

Enter the Hagites and Ishmaelites, who come from Hagar, who was Sarah’s backup plan when it seemed like God was taking too long to fulfill His promise.  The root from Sarah’s and Lot’s daughters’ decisions was impatience and a lack of trust in God.  What if they had not acted on their desires and just waited on God?  We will never know.

What a mess.  Oh how the heart of God grieves over the sinful choices man makes in His attempt to rule himself.  The consequences for decisions made outside of God’s will are painful and long lasting.  Distrust in God and impatience for the unfolding of His plan will not produce blessings, only hardship and pain for those who come behind us.  The motivation for acting outside of God’s will is idolatry – our desires become our god.

But what intrigues me the most are the Assyrians -they were not who I expected to be the enemies of God.  Surrounded by lands who worship false gods, the modern-day Assyrians are Christians in a land we are familiar with, that was once Ninevah.  Jonah’s obedience still paying off, perhaps?  How is it that Christians, who were grafted in to God’s promise to Israel, could ever be an enemy of Israel’s?

Ultimately, all of the enemies of God’s people are enemies of God.  They do not remember that He is the Father of all nations, the One Who made us all.  They want the favor of God their way and the fruit of their deeds goes before them and will be judged by the God of our universe.

Be ready.  The pieces are moving into place and the nations surrounding Israel think their plan is firm, but the One Who owns it all has a plan and it will stand.  Isn’t He amazing?  He gave us free will and we made a mess of things, but in the end He will work everything for good, because He can!

Lord, I am amazed at You.  Our hearts can fear when we see the circumstances in the world today, but to know that You are sovereign and in complete control is our source of everlasting comfort.  Have Your way, LORD, and defeat the enemies, as David prayed, that they might seek You and know You as the One true King who rules over all.

Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

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.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us to be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Worshipful Wednesday: Lessons from the Past

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Photo Credit: cover of book edited by Jon Quinn & Warren Berkley

Psalm 78:2-7

2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.  3 What we have heard and learned–that which our ancestors have told us– 4 we will not hide from their descendants. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done. 5 He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them.  7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands.  8 They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Romans 1:25-27, 32

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.  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

We are living in a historical time – the “un-Christianizing” of our country.  Well, truly this has been ongoing since the beginning of time in every culture; the fight by mankind to suppress the presence of God from our midst.

Leaders of our culture can make laws to justify the demands of their flesh, remove memorials that testify to God’s commandments, but they cannot remove them from our hearts.  His laws are written in our consciences, convincing our souls of what is wrong and right.

All of time testifies to those in the present – beckoning us to not allow the lessons learned by those who have gone before us be lost.

If today we wonder if it is permissible to practice homosexuality, we have Sodom and Gomorrah to look to as a reminder from God.  If we wonder whether it is alright to pursue racial superiority and denounce another race, we have Hitler’s example of evil extermination and Jesus’ example of righteousness in the New Testament – talking with a Samaritan woman – shameful in that day to those who demeaned that people group and gender.  If we think we have the right to slaughter innocent children, we need only to look at the examples of wicked rulers who did the same to innocent infants and ask ourselves if this is right in the eyes of God.

The Word of God is our mirror and all of history testifies to His sovereignty and wisdom in the precepts and laws He gave to free us.  Boundaries and limits were set to bless us, but man, tempted by the enemy to pridefully think he knew better, supplanted God’s truth and replaced it with lies.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.

Worship God today that He uses the past, adorned with mistakes and triumphs – to instruct us.  We can look to cultures in the past and see what transpired when they denied God’s existence and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator.  We can also see the blessing of God upon those who chose to walk uprightly and established righteous laws for their people.

Whether we were left a legacy of faith or of wickedness in our personal lives to emulate, each day His mercies are new for us to consider how we might spur one another on toward godliness.  We must prove faithful to pass the torch of righteousness to those who come behind us.

God’s purposes are interwoven throughout man’s sins and obedience.  Praise God that we can look to the past not just for our sins and failures, but to be inspired to walk uprightly by the many examples of the faithful who did not bow their knee to the false gods of this world.

Lord, You are so awesome – outside of time and yet you care and are watchful over each of our moments.  Help our nation to fear You and to establish once again a righteous foundation for Your glory.

Manic Monday: Trusting God in Your Calling

Photo Credits: amayesing-life.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
amayesing-life.blogspot.com

Genesis 32:9-12

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, you said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will make you prosper.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the faithful love you have shown your servant. With only my walking stick I crossed the Jordanbut now I have become two camps. 11 Rescue meI pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, as well as the mothers with their children.12 But you said, ‘I will certainly make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand on the seashore, too numerous to count.’”

Jacob had fled his past troubles years prior to God calling him to go back from whence he came.  At first blush, he was walking in obedience when he did what his parents expected and left his household to marry a believer. Truthfully, his momma wanted her son protected from the older brother who had threatened to kill him for his deceit and cunning.  Isn’t that like us all?  We want to be right with God, but sometimes try to achieve that position by placating our mistakes with an instance of obedience.  Perhaps the right we do will outweigh the wrong.

Jacob wrestled toward the calling of God on his life, tried to make it happen in his own timing and way.  Jacob’s striving backfired big time, yet God was not going to retract that calling.  He uses imperfect people and His calling is irrevocable. Thank God for His faithfulness, despite our mess ups.

A calling is a funny thing.  Burning inside us is this relentless urging, and yet we are so fallible, we doubt that this calling is really from God.  It is the stepping out that confirms the calling.  It is in the authentic moments of acknowledged weakness that our calling is strengthened.  It is in our frailty and failings that God is glorified, if in those moments we fall prostrate at His feet and take no pride in what He is accomplishing in and through us.

We were never chosen because we are all that.  We were never chosen to be esteemed or to receive glory.  We were chosen in His sovereignty and for His purposes.  We may never understand why.  Facing our failures is what enables us to see God’s purposes and plans for our lives fulfilled.  That is what Jacob did, shaking in his boots (ok, maybe sandals), he went to face the one he had offended – because God said so.  God was positioning Jacob (now Israel), where he wanted him to be.

Sometimes we want God’s calling to be comfortable, but instead sometimes He has us ministering before an unappreciative people, or encountering many roadblocks or discouragements along the way.  Jacob understands.  But in the midst of all the turmoil and drama, he became Israel.  He answered the call and God was glorified by imperfect Jacob, scrappy and daring, but in the end a follower of the one true God.  His pride became humility, His hope became God’s promises and His greatest joy was God.  He was not defined by his failures, but by the great God He followed and who called Him.

Lord, help us to not focus on the calling, but on You, the One Who calls us.  When we are discouraged or doubt Your ability to use us, help us to be obedient and to never tire of seeking your glory in our lives.