Saturday, February 20, 2010
I was reading in First Samuel and came to that part where David and his men had just arrived home; found their city burned to the ground, and their families gone. They wept until they had no more strength to weep.
In addition to that, it says in First Samuel 30:6, "Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters. [Wives were mentioned in the previous verse.] But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God."
How did David do that? Well, simply put, he prayed. (Then, after getting the assurance that the Lord was with them, he and his men rescued their families and possessions.)
At this same time, other portions of scripture came to my mind that address the storms of life.
The first was the parable of the house built upon the rock vs. the house built upon the sand; Matthew 7:24-27. We can see that the wise man planned ahead. We are told here to strengthen our foundation by hearing the words of God and doing them.
The second was the parable of the seeds; Mark 4:3-8. The seed sown on stony ground withered away when the sun scorched it. In verse 17, Jesus interprets the scorching as tribulation or persecution. So, we need deep roots.
The third was in Proverbs 6:6-11, which starts by saying, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways...", and ends by saying, "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep-- So shall your poverty come upon you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man."
So, we see the secret to weathering the storm is all in the preparation. When the storms come, (and they most certainly will, for Job 5:7 says; "Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.") there will be no time to build a defense.
So how do we prepare?
1. Get yourself into the Word of God (the Bible) and get the Word of God into you. That sounds trite, but it's absolutely true. Meditate on it. Ponder it. Memorize if you can. Most people can. It will change you. Pay very close attention to the promises in the Word, especially so if they come alive to you. If they come alive to you, write them in your journal.
2. Get close to the Lord Himself. Seek His face, His beautiful face. How? (I'm speaking to those who have established a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ already.) "Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I will say, rejoice." Philippians 4:4. "Always" here means always, even when circumstances are ugly. This is said another way in First Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice evermore (always), pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Singing is a very useful tool in enabling us to rejoice in the Lord. Whatever method you use, whether it be verbal praise, song, or dance, do it with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
3. Review your journal. Remind yourself of all that the Lord God has saved and delivered you from in the past, how He has answered your prayers, and how He has shown Himself strong on your behalf. This I call "witnessing to yourself".
4. Spend a good amount of time with those people that will build you up in the faith. We need to receive strength from each other. We need to hear brothers and sisters share their stories of God's goodness, His grace, and His deliverance. Also, they need to hear us tell of the blessings we have received from the hand of the Lord.
OK now, you get to choose. It's up to you to prepare for the storms of life. Choose life.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
16 February 2010
What is God like? Look at Jesus Christ and you will know what God is like.
Hebrews 1:3 says this about the Lord Jesus Christ:
"who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person ..."
Colossians 1:15 says this about the Lord Jesus Christ:
"He is the image of the invisible God..."
John 8:58 says, 'Jesus said unto them, "Most assuredly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM." '
In John 10:30 Jesus says, "I and My Father are one."
In John 14:9, Jesus tells Philip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father; ..."
Why is this important?
The Lord God is exceedingly good. This is foundational. Psalm 106: 1 says:
"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Nevertheless, hurts, pains, and disappointments come. No one seems immune. When this happens we are tempted to think, "Where is God right now, when I need Him?" And some people have blamed God for their misfortunes.
When God is blamed for something, barriers go up between that person and the Lord God, making praise, worship, and intimacy either very hard or impossible. "If God speaks, I don't think I want to hear what He has to say", they say.
But we know what Jesus was like while He walked on Earth.
He wept with Mary when her brother died - and then raised him from the dead.
He ate dinner with anyone, even those the establishment condemned.
He did not inflict any pain on anyone, except for some of those in the establishment.
He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
He healed all that came to Him.
He had mercy on the people that hung Him on a cross.
He was compassionate, approachable, and tender.
Jesus demonstrated what God our Father is like!
And why is this important?
It's important because we are needy people - all of us. We need to come before the Lord God to ask for salvation, deliverance, grace, mercy, and help. We need an approachable Father God. And since our Father in Heaven and Jesus the Son are one, we have an approachable Father God!
Hebrews 4:14-16 says:
14. Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Another reason this is important concerns our personal spiritual growth or development, that is, whether we will be transformed into His likeness or not. We become like whom, or like what, we worship. We become more and more like the Lord God in His presence. We enter His presence as we worship Him.
If we feel alienated from the Lord God, we will have no appetite to draw close to Him, or worship Him, or seek His face - and we will not become more and more like Him. We will remain carnal and behave as "mere men", as it says in First Corinthians 3:3.
And finally, it's important because we need to hear and get to know His voice.
There is a growing interest in hearing the Lord God speak to us, fellowshipping with Him, experiencing Him, moving well beyond theoretical knowledge (as good as this is) only.
And why is that?
Because relationship implies two-way communication and even interaction. We will not pursue a relationship with one who causes us pain and is difficult to live with.
So what is God like?
He is our lover. ---
"Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away,
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell,
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!" (from Song of Solomon 2:10-13)
He is our shepherd. ---
In John 10 we read:
3. To him [the shepherd] the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
14. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
27. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
He is our dear friend. ---
And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.
He is our peace. ---
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Over a decade ago, I asked my three (at the time) grandsons, "Who's my favorite grandson?" Rebecca, their mom, knew this could be a dreadful mistake if I picked one, for then I would be rejecting two.
But the answer to the question was, "You all are!", so Rebecca breathed a big sigh of relief.
As time went on, this question was expanded to include all of the cousins, with the answer always remaining the same.
A couple of years ago, I asked the same question, and the kids must have been getting a bit tired of it, because this time my precious smart-aleck grandson, Chris, (whom I love dearly) said, "I am!" and his older brother, Joshua, said the same thing. This gave me pause, but then I found I could say, "That's right, you are, Chris. And so are you, Josh, and so is Jonathan."
Now at the end of every visit with the grandkids, as I'm hugging each one and saying "Goodbye", I whisper in each one's ear, "You're my favorite." And sometimes then the hug gets a little tighter, even though each one knows I'm telling all the others the same thing.
Oh, but that's not logical. That's true, it isn't. But so what? It delivers the message I want to convey. I want each of them to know how precious they are to me.
OK, now in Luke 15:4-7, did the shepherd who left the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep have a favorite? He had one hundred favorites, since he would have gone searching for any one of them. It didn't matter which one. But at that time, it seemed like he had just one favorite. And that lost sheep was (or is) you! You are His favorite!
The Lord Jesus wants you to know how precious you are to Him - even if you wander away and ask for your share of the good life, as the prodigal son did.
God's love is faithful and constant, to the point of being irrational. Parents know what this is like. Klingons and Pharisees don't. But you're not a Klingon or a Pharisee. The Spirit of the Lord has entered (or will enter) your inner most being and has given (or will give) you a new heart. You can know and experience that love.
Father God wants you to enjoy His presence. Rejoice in His presence!
It's a blessing to be one of God's favorites. Hallelujah!