He Forgave

He said "Don't," but I did.
He said "Do,", but I didn't.

He said "Stop," but I kept going.
He said "Keep going," but I stopped.

He said "Give," but I kept.
He said "Keep," but I spent.

He said "Go," but I stayed.
He said "Stay," but I went.

He said "Louder," but I stayed silent.
He said "Be quiet," but I shouted.

He said "Now," but I waited.
He said "Wait," but I did it anyway.

Over and over I sinned.
Over and over He forgave.

And that is "Good News"!

The Great He Is

At the burning bush Moses asked God to identify Himself. God replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) In that same verse he directed Moses to tell the Hebrew people the “I AM” sent him. Our assignment as God’s children and servants is to tell people HE IS!

HE IS the truth.
HE IS the one who forgives sin.
HE IS the only path to eternal life in heaven.
HE IS the wisdom we need to succeed in this life.
HE IS  the final victor in the battle between good and evil.
HE IS the creator and sustainer of the universe.
HE IS  the one who gives us joy and peace.
HE IS our protector from temptation.
HE IS our refuge. 

HE IS
and it is our privilege to tell everyone we meet!

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 17

To fully benefit from having God as my Father, I must admit that I need him as provider, protector, counselor, guide, comforter and savior. I must admit "I can't," acknowledge "He can," and believe "He will." Only then can I know the full value of having been adopted into his family and having the privilege of calling him "Abba Daddy."

John 5:1-18 tells the story of a crippled man. When Jesus asked him "Do you want to get well" he replied that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool. He knew of only one way to get healed. Sometimes I limit God the same way. I say "Lord, I can't be happy unless ____." Then I get discouraged and disgruntled if my specific request is not granted. I need to be willing to say "Lord, do whatever you think is best in my life and I'll be happy no matter what you provide."

Should I view Jehovah as a god of joy (and praise him) or a god of responsibility (and serve him?) Of course the answer is "both," since worship is defined as "recognizing and properly responding to God." Service is part of that proper response. Too much emphasis on the joy part can cause a turn inward, always looking for the next bit of spiritual excitement. Too much emphasis on the responsibility portion can result in guilt and lifeless attempts to minister. Our challenge is to find and retain the joy that comes from fulfilling responsibilities.

Bit & Pieces, Odds & Ends…16

A craftsman is someone who does accurate, skilled work with tools. He values his tools. He uses them, but never abuses them. He uses them correctly and properly. He repairs them if they are damaged and keeps them in good repair. He cleans them after each use and stores them properly. After all, his reputation is based on the quality of work he is able to do with those tools.
If I am letting God use me as His tool, will He treat me any differently.
                                                       **********

There is no record that Jesus ever hurried or worried. If I am successful in becoming more like Him I will do less of both. He said "Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew ll:28-30)This is for saved people as well as lost people.
     Come reminds me that I must take some initiative. I must take action to go to Him.          
     Me tells me I must go to Jesus, not some church or religious leader.
     Give indicates that rest is a free gift and cannot be earned.
     Rest includes the ability to not fret, worry or fear.
                                                       **********

      I have asked God to "show me your face." I have said to Him "Help me to know you more fully."
     His reply seems to be "Why should I? The knowledge you already have of me is not being consistently and effectively shared with others. Are you asking for your own comfort and gratification or so that you may be a better witness?"
     Isaiah saw God in a new and glorious way (Isaiah 6:1-9) But God's revelation of Himself has a purpose beyond Isaiah's spiritual growth. God was preparing him for a mission.
     God knew Isaiah would obey. Do I have a core of disobedience that keeps God from further revealing himself to me?

Christians and Social Media

Has Twitter replaced prayer? Has Facebook replaced intimacy with God? Have cell phones replaced prayer closets?

The attraction of social networking comes from the fact that we all want to feel needed and need to feel wanted. We are comforted when we believe (accurately or not) someone is interested in what we like, where we go and what we do.

We want to “reach out and touch” across the city, state, nation and world. Our sense of worth is enhanced if we have a lot of “friends.” We value the fact that we can express our feelings, fears and victories to people who are significant to us. We hope they read our messages, understand our feelings and respond with sympathy and support.

For the Christian an intimate relationship with God provides all this and more. We can reach out to Him from any place, any time, across any distance. Prayer is that 24-7, no-limit, instantly received Tweet to the best friend we can ever have. We are never in a “no-service” area.

Our spiritual Facebook includes the friend that loves us like a brother and has the love and power to solve our problems. When our need for earthly relationships becomes greater than our need for God we are missing the joy, peace and power that Jesus, our best Friend, died to provide for us.

Repentance and Forgiveness

God offers to both forgive and forget our sins so we may be restored to a right relationship with Him. This offer comes as a free gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it.

Before we can take advantage of this gift we must have an attitude of repentance toward our sins. We play no role in the offer of forgiveness, but we must do our part in the application of it to our individual lives.

We cannot repent of our sins unless we are aware of them. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit creates such an awareness within us and shows us our need of repentance He is not trying to crush us under a load of guilt. He is trying to help us reach a position where we can receive the Father’s forgiveness.

The prodigal son (Luke 15) and the adulterous woman (John 8) were each aware of their sins and thus each received forgiveness through God’s grace. The prodigal’s older brother and the woman’s accusers remained unforgiven until they recognized and repented of their sins.

So when a passage of Scripture or a sermon causes us to feel guilty, we must refuse to be angry and resentful. We must not start the internal rationalizations that blame others for our shortcomings. Instead, we must praise God for his efforts to further sanctify us by allowing us to travel down a hallway called Grace through a door name Repentance into a room labeled Forgiveness.

With gratitude and humility we need to make this journey every day.

God’s Firm Grip

Recently received this from David Martin. He gave me permission to use it.

Well, it finally happened.  Violette, our granddaughter, took her first steps.  They were halting and unsure, but still independent.  She was so proud of her little self.  Even though she has a few dozen independent steps under her diaper, she still needs our assistance almost 100% of the time to get around on her own two feet.

As I was making the umpteenth lap around the house yesterday holding her chubby little hands, I realized that the death-grip she had on my fingers was not at all necessary.  I had a firm grasp on her hands that would not allow her to fall.  But that did not lessen the need she felt to hang on tightly to my forefingers.

All too often that is how I treat God.  I think I must hang on to Him with all my might, grasping his hands as tightly as possible.  My ability to hang on to God with my strength is so insignificant as to be worthless.  It is His grasp on my hands that keeps me from falling.  

Isaiah 41:13  For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;  it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." 

His children can rest in the fact that it is El Shaddi, God Almighty, who holds our hands to keep us safe and upright.  How thankful I am that I am in His hands.     



Gratitude for the Privilege of Prayer

When I start to pray I am being granted entrance into the very throne room of heaven, into the presence of the Creator of the universe. I have the undivided attention of the Almighty.

I am not worthy of such a privilege even once in my lifetime, let alone every moment of every day.

What if God limited the times I could pray to Him. For instance, what if I could pray only one hour per year, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on my birthday. Would I then enter His presence lightly, with scattered focus, interrupted thoughts and glib phrases? I don’t think so.

If such were the case, my prayers would be intense and organized and full of passion. I would be aware of the tremendous responsibility and privilege, determined to make the best of my hour with God.

Why should my current prayer times be any different? Even though my Father grants me constant entrance into His presence, I need to be always aware of the magnitude of this privilege. I should not enter His presence without the proper respect and gratitude simply for the privilege of going there.

This should be my attitude even before I make petitions and receive blessings.

My Protector

I recently received this from my Sunday School teacher, David Martin and wanted to pass it along.
As I have shared with the class before, I am a world-class worrier. An anxiety expert. A virtuoso of vexation. While I have gotten better in this area over the years, it is still an on-going battle. So you can only imagine where my mind drifts during this pandemic. 

Last night I was engaged in another worry war. Coronavirus numbers grow. Quarantines abound. Even toilet paper is being hoarded, for crying out loud! These are target-rich times for all of us worry specialists. Wednesday night as I started to engage in a festival of foreboding, God led me to Psalm 35:1-3.

1 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!
3 Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers!
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”  ESV

When David wrote these verses he was most likely being pursued by Saul who wished to put David to death. Now, I have never been stalked by a spear-yielding Israeli king, but unfettered worry is an enemy that can cause physical, emotional, and mental harm.

What spoke to me in these verses was the power and action and aggressiveness. David is asking the Lord to fight his fight for him. He was crying out to JEHOVAH TSABA* to go toe-to-toe with his enemies. Whoever messes with David, is going to have to deal his Father. My Dad is bigger than your dad. 

David is pleading with God to bring his holy weapons to the fight. "Take hold of shield and buckler**/Draw spear and javelin." Just imagine the God of the universe taking hold of shields, spears, and javelins all on our behalf against our enemies. As Mr. T used to say, "I pity the fool."

My most thoughtful, well-reasoned, and insightful worry-reducing ploys and tricks pale in comparison to what God can bring to the fight.

When I read the last two lines, I wanted to shout it out loud.  David  acknowledged that God is his salvation. Not the Israelite army. Not his warriors. Not man-made weapons. But God alone.  Even David, a man after God's own heart, needed God to speak that reassurance to him.

Look at how David punctuates the last line. It is not a mere period, but an exclamation mark. It is meant to be shouted.  Celebrated. Declared from the mountain tops. God is our salvation!

Will this completely obliterate worry from my life? Not likely.  I have spent many years honing the craft of consternation. But Psalm 35:1-3 will certainly be a powerful tool in my battle against worry.

*JEHOVAH TSABA:  The Lord our Warrior
**A buckler is a small shield.

Be Still and Know God

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite verses. This is strange because it is one of the most difficult commands for me to obey. I long to know God more intimately, to spend time communicating face-to-face with Him.

I understand that Bible study will increase such intimacy, as will time spent in active, joyous praise. Listening to God-based teaching and preaching will draw me toward Him.

But “be still?” I don’t understand! When I try to do that I keep hearing my to-do list and should-have-done list and why-don’t-they-listen-to-me list and what-am-I going-to-do list rolling around in my brain. When God saved me He did not intend for me to sit and do nothing, did He?

But maybe “be still” is not an end in itself. Maybe “be still” is part of the larger process of becoming like Christ. Maybe it is no coincidence that three of the world’s major religions were born in desert areas where stillness and solitude are the norm.

Help me, Father. May your Spirit increasingly control my mind and lead me beside still waters for your name’s sake.