Friday, December 28, 2012

"Harness the Wind" - ‎12/28/12 - Revelation 7:1-10:11

"Then he told me, “These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve Him day and night in His Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch His tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.” (7:14-17)

What is tribulation?  It isn't the same for each person. What one may breeze through, another may not be able to lift one foot for many days to overcome.  God knows each of our hearts better than we do.  He knows what is a trial and tribulation for each of us.  And He is in control. 

At times when doubts about His being in control seep in, His Word again confirms that He is.

"Immediately I saw Four Angels standing at the four corners of earth, standing steady with a firm grip on the four winds so no wind would blow on earth or sea, not even rustle a tree." (7:1) 

We are able to utilize the wind, create a false wind, thinking we are in control with our abilities. 

But, only He is able to produce and harness it. The wind - an unseen force - yet He has His angels stand steady in the power of it while they hold it back with a firm grip. He knows we need His help to overcome. He wants us to rely on His strength, not our own to prevail - to become stronger in Him. For others to learn from. To lead. To be teachers. 

How can I doubt that He is able to bring me through the tribulations I will encounter when He is able to be in total control of the wind?

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Willing" - 12/21/12 - Hebrews 13:1-25, I Peter 1:1-2:3

"This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God." (I Peter 1:25-2:3)

It isn't a coincidence that as I have been cleaning, organizing, getting rid of stuff in our physical home, He has also been helping me clean my spiritual home - me - my heart.  Our bodies are the temple that He lives in when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  His Word has/is helping me see how I have neglected His temple over the years.  I have added to it stuff that only served the purpose of junking things up and collecting dust.  It took away from the beauty of His temple. 

Some of the "stuff" I had housed in the temple were malice, pretense, envy and hurtful talk.  I had to be willing to throw it out - God won't come in and force His way - He wants our hearts to be willing to live His way.  He will show us things that we need to be rid of, but it has to be our free choice to do so.  Otherwise, we will look past Him, out the door to the stuff in the dumpster, clinging to it and wanting to bring it back into the Temple - our hearts. 

Our hearts have to want to be free of the stuff.

As I walk through this world, there will be many times I have the choice to respond with a Christlike attitude or lower myself and respond as the world would.  He keeps a quote from a book I recently read run through my brain, and changing my heart, "regardless of the type of actions toward Christ, He always - always - responded in kindness".  This has become my guide to the trials and tribulations I will walk through.  I also stand on His promise that the truth will prevail.  When I am living my whole life "in" His truth, when it does finally prevail - I will not have moved.  I no longer have to worry about defending my actions, my thoughts, my way of living.  He is in control. 

His Word is also helping me to see that for each of us "cleaning house" is on our own time schedule.  Just because I am getting my "temple" in order, doesn't mean everyone else is.  So, I am also keeping that in mind.  If I go in and "make" someone get their "temple" in order, they will only hide the things they aren't ready to throw out.  And eventually everything we have hidden in our hearts, our temple, come out into the open.  It is seen in our faces, our fruits, our responses. 

In preparation for the coming week when our family is under one roof I am letting go.  What will be - will be.  Because I am throwing out the "stuff", His beautiful furnishings are able to shine.    How my heart does sing!  I have at the ready, not having to dig to find them, all the fruits of the Spirit. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." (Galatians 22-25)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Just passin through" - 12/20/12 - Hebrews 11:1-12:29

"Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them." (11:13-16)

When the leaves have fallen from the trees, the underbrush has died back, we can view our neighbors to the south.  They are all hanging around, there on the hill, we only know two or three of them.  Actually, they are very good neighbors - never loud, not in your business, no guilt about spending time with them, they pretty much keep to themselves.   Their current address is St Anthony Cemetery. 

I am kind of wondering if things will be different tomorrow.  According to the Mayans the world will be ending.  I am in a dilemma regarding shopping for groceries and presents.  And how exactly did they predict the ending?  Is it a big bang?  Does everyone suddenly die?  Will those of our neighbors who died in Christ, come shooting out of their graves to meet God - right before I take off ? 

Wonder if they'll wave and throw out a "hi neighbor"? 

Talking and joking with some people about tomorrow, I thought about how many go about their business while living here and forget that one day God will return.  How some find the whole God thing a major joke and haven't time to take Him seriously.  His coming again isn't something to joke about. 

My heart has changed so much over the years.  I really do feel like a transient in this world.  It used to be that I was so focused on making a living, growing the business, obtaining a home, driving a nice vehicle, etc.  And now...........God has blessed me with so much materialistically, and I am very appreciative of it all.  It just isn't what my heart is set on.  It isn't what I find my worth in.  The world's measuring stick is no longer the one I use.

My life is about my faith in Him.  "It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him." (11:6)  This faith has grown my heart to draw closer to Him.  It has caused me to live my life wanting to please Him, live for Him, become more Christlike with every breath I take. 

I know I could not continue to live without this faith.  It has gotten me through so much in my life and will continue to do so.  It doesn't matter if tomorrow is the end of this world.  What does matter is that I live each today as though it were my last day.  That all who He has me to encounter - they meet Him through me.  That I stand in my faith knowing no matter the situation I am in, His glory will shine and His way will prevail. 

"God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours." (11:40)

What a blessing and how neat it is knowing that those who lived in their faith before me and me in my faith,  are part of His plan - working together -  passing Him on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

‎"Bestest" - 12/19/12 - Hebrews 8:1-10:39

So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body." (10:19-21)

I love that I can crawl up into His lap at any moment.  That He is always inside of me.  Always right by my side.  I am so thankful I belong to a Daddy that is everywhere all at once!  There is not any place I can go that He isn't there.  I love that He "desires" me to be with Him. 

Desire - to wish or long for; crave; want.

His desire is for me.  For you.  For all of us. 

This is why He gave us Christ.  He desires that we "walk right up" to Him.  That He becomes and stays our "bestest" friend.  He desires that He is our whole life.  That He is the first, last, and in between thought throughout our days.

Is He?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"With both hands" - 12/18/12 - Hebrews 4:14-7:28

"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek."   (6:18-20)

"Never let go".  Yet, how many of us end up doing so?  Or hang on with one hand while holding onto the world with the other?  How often do we decide to put our own mix into God's plan and totally mess it up?  How often do we chose to hold on to something that is "breakable" rather than the "unbreakable" He provides?  How often do we serve self rather than Him? 

Each and every time I decide to do things "my" way rather than His.

And then there I am again, "running for my very life to God".   How thankful I am that my Daddy knows me, the times my choices will become consequences that create storms.  How blessed I am that my Savior has "run on ahead of me" to be my "unbreakable spiritual lifeline".  How His grace and mercy rain down upon me, turning the icy, cold storms of life into a gentle, warm spring rain.  A rain that I can stand in, my face uplifted, my dry, parched soul drinking in His nourishment. The Holy Spirit living within me helping me to hang on tightly. What comfort there is in knowing that even though I do "let go with both hands", He knows that in my heart of hearts I so desire to please Him, love Him - to not let go. 

Yet I do.

Why?  Bottom line is that I have made the choice to serve self.  I have decided that I am more important than Him.  That I know what is best.  That the temptations of the world are what I want rather than Him. 

And that is another reason I am so thankful for His Word.  It is His plan that He has given me for the storms of life.  For the times I serve me rather than Him.  It is my road map to getting back into "holding onto my lifeline with both hands".   It is my own personal love letter from Him that ensures no matter what, He will never - never - stop loving me.  He will never - never - yank away His lifeline.  It isn't my Daddy prying away my hands on that lifeline.

It's me letting go. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Christ"mas - 12/17/12 - 2 Timothy 4:19-22, Hebrews 1:1-4:13

"And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience."  (Hebrews 4:8-11)

How different the holidays are for each of us.  Some are filled with wonderful memories - others the opposite.  My heart is so sad as I think of the future Christmas' for those in Sandy Hook and other places that are suffering.  How very thankful I am that as I journey through this world, I have the gift of Christ for eternity.  The gift that draws my focus off the "why" and trust in Him.  The gift that tells me that He is in complete control, even when my eyes are trying to convince me the opposite.  It is so essential to take advantage of the turmoil of evil and offer His peace to those without the gift of Him.  I pray that each of us will seek out and give that gift to all He puts into our path - always - until we are at "rest with God".

Often in the celebration of Christmas, we forget the reason of why He came to be among us as a human.  That Christ left His place with God to journey as we do through this world.  He resisted each and every temptation, He experienced each and every emotion we do - and He never, ever took His focus off of His Daddy - our Daddy.  When I focus on His death and resurrection, the part that puts things into perspective is that Christ chose to be my sacrifice, He chose to separate Himself from God - totally - for those three days.  Because He loved me that much.  And I then wonder - who am I not to love all others as He loved me?  To forgive as He forgave me?  To make giving the gift of Him an essential part of my journey here. 

How easily I make "self" my number one priority. 

So, I pray that I may not get caught up in the drama of Christmas.  I pray that I will turn over to Him and not take things personal.  That I will focus on the gifts from Him and not the attacks from satan.  And there will be attacks.  The family getting together to celebrate Him - how satan hates that!  I am so thankful for His Word that speaks to me and prepares me for my journey towards my rest with Him.  That even though I will fail, I will stumble, I will stand and wallow in the mud puddle of self pity - I do know without a doubt - I will "get over it", readjust my focus onto Him, and carry on. 

How very thankful and blessed I am to carry "Christ"mas with me always. 

And that "Christ"mas carries me - always.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Shaped up" - 12/16/12 - 2 Timothy 2:1-4:18

"Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us."(3:17)

One of the things I am learning about faith is that as it grows - fear diminishes.  As faith grows - sin doesn't have as many footholds as it once did.  Fear used to be ever present in my life.  Because of my past, I have always been afraid of anger.  Of conflict. 

It used to be when I was out in public and someone across the store was arguing, I would be afraid that they would turn to look at me, blame me for their predicament.   I was always afraid that I wouldn't measure up, be able to do the task at hand.  It was too easy to beat myself up over a situation, to lack confidence that I was good at something. 

This is one of the greatest gifts I have gained from being in His Word.  He has "put me together and shaped me up - for the tasks He has for me".  He has prepared me.  Equipped me.  Designed me.  Put me where He needs me to be.  He has given me an instruction manual.  I am not walking blind or confused.

 Instead of walking in fear - I walk in excitement.  I look forward to what is around the next corner.  I walk hand in hand with Him as we celebrate this journey together.  He is giving me comfort and encouragement in seeing that, although I am not perfect, there are quite a few successful tasks behind me. 

And all because of Him.  Of Him using me as a vessel for Him.   In our marriage, our children, our relationships with family, friends.  In our business.  In all of my life. 

So, when the time comes that I doubt, focus on fear, He reminds me that I can stand firm in His Word - on and in Him.  He has promised me I am prepared for that task. 

No matter what that task is.

Monday, December 10, 2012

"‎Pass Him on" - 12/10/12 - Philemon 1:1-25, Philippians 1:1-2:11

"Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, “Oh, thank you, God!” I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers."(Philemon 1:4-7)

How will I be remembered?  How am I known now?  What will I pass on?

Perhaps it is because I am now on the downhill run of life  I find myself thinking about death more than I used to.  It has become a reality, rather than some far off event that doesn't have much to do with me.  The sweet ignorance of youth.

There are times that I seem to be standing in the center watching while life is swirling about me.  I see that my g'ma is nearing the end of her life here, my parents remind me of my grandparents more and more.  Last Sunday we had to take my dad to ER and in my minds eye when I see my Curt supporting him to the car it looks more like my grandfather than my dad.  Our Adam will be 28 this February - only two years from 30. 

30 - wow. 

Because of Adam, Nichalas, and Amber's places of living, we only see each other two times a year.  It causes the changes in them to be more evident.  It causes me to see more clearly that we have two adult sons - no longer children. 

Too fast - too soon.

So in my thoughts, my death does come to mind. 

How do people see me?  What will be remembered about me?  They say that we are only one generation from being totally forgotten.  With a sense of urgency I wonder more about what I am passing on to the generations that will not even know my name.  My time here is so fleeting compared to the generations to come.  I am only one small ripple in the lineage that I am in.  How very thankful I am that His Word, in which we have raised our sons, is alive and will continue to live on.  That they are in an intimate relationship with Him, and it is my utmost prayer that they too will carry on His teaching to their children.  I pray that they will be the spiritual leaders in their families with God as their role model - training those to come.  

I am so very thankful that God helped Curt and I break the cycle.  That even with all our mistakes and flaws, His glory has shone through and continues to do so.  That we are part of the legacy that belongs to Him.  That is hope for the future of those that do not know Him. I don't know if we will watch from above the future generations, but how exciting to think about those they will touch in the future because He used us today.   When I think about my death, I don't think about it being an ending, but rather that of readying me for my next leg of my journey.  Of my going "home". 

I pray that if there is one of my future generations that is into genealogy, who happens to be standing at Curt and my headstones years from now, it will be said, "they were my great, great, great, great, grandparents who walked intimately with God. 

Because of them, we know Him."

Monday, December 03, 2012

‎12/03/12 - Acts 21:37-23:35

"Get up and get yourself baptized, scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God."(22:16)

I am so thankful that I am in Christ - scrubbed clean of all those sins. 

No matter how I try - I sin. 

It is with such thanksgiving that I know His blood has set me free from eternal separation from God. 

I am so thankful that I am intimate with Him.  That our relationship grows each moment, each second, each breath I take. 

I love that He is my Abba, my Daddy, my bestest friend. 

I love the life I gain from being in Him. 

I pray that I may draw others to Him - so they also will know.