The lit up path

So I’m sitting on a plane and just took off, the sun isn’t up yet so it’s still pretty dark outside and we’re taxiing towards the runway. The taxi ways are just lit up enough to see but then we come to the runway and it is really lit up.

I think God’s holy Spirit is like that. We can wander in the dark but God’s Holy Spirit will be clear to us in the darkness. It may not be loud or flashy, but it will be clear.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord , for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord , but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11‭-‬12

God told Elijah to stand on the mountain in His presence, then God proceeded to perform incredible acts through wind, earthquake and fire. He created those acts but was not in them. The more amazing act was God speaking in a still small voice, as the King James version says.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Acts 9:3‭-‬6

Paul on the other hand was a very different encounter. Bright light clear, loud voice. Even the men with Saul heard the voice.

God certainly speaks to us in different ways. I know God has spoken to me through His peace and also through music. At times we need to quiet ourselves in the chaos of life, take our eyes of the things ariund us, so we can truly hear God speaking to us. I believe we can be assured that when He does speak, regardless of the means, it will be clear and we will know it is Him. It’s up to us to choose to be looking and listening for God’s voice and presence as we walk each day.

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Finisher

I don’t know about you but I can’t stand leaving tasks undone. I took a personality test of some kind several years ago and being a finisher was one of my traits. God is the same. He is a finisher, completing the task and mission and purposes He has established and set out to do through Jesus and our lives.

Jesus came to this earth on a mission to save us from our sins. That mission included things like healing, caring for the poor, giving hope who didn’t have any and being tempted as we are tempted but ultimately standing in our place of judgment so we could be in the presence of God Himself. When Jesus was in His most dark hour, God sent angels to strengthen Him to complete the task at hand.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22:42-44

Jesus then went on to die a horrible death for our sake, in His last breath giving up His spirit to God and proclaiming His mission on this trip to earth complete.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44‭-‬46

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28‭-‬30 NIV

Jesus came to live in our hearts so we could be made perfect in His eyes. He was the one and only sacrifice that could make that happen.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Hebrews 10:11‭-‬14

But yet, He’s not quite done yet. He promises to come back one day to take those of us believers back to Heaven with Him if we’re not already there.

The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
Revelation 22:6‭-‬7

In the time between we must trust that God continues to work as His promises say. As hard as things can be at times, He is carrying out His promises, promises that we can trust in for our good.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10‭-‬11

The Bible is God’s Word, He sent it out through ancient prophets and disciples to you and me with a desire to accomplish a purpose for it, to read it and try and get a glimpse of His love for us and draw near to Him so we may dwell in His presence for eternity.

We make the choice whether or not to accept His love and Spirit. He doesn’t force us, because that wouldn’t be love. It’s up to us to make that step toward His open arms.

If any…

As I was in my quiet time this morning I was reflecting on the chaotic nature of the environment of tucking our kids in bed last night and the strife and arguments being had over a petty issue which quickly grew from talking to not quite shouting but loud firm words.

My reading led me to Philippians 2, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Well I can honestly say that I was not comforting, tender and compassionate in the heat of the moment.  My own desires to get our kids in bed and myself in bed right after was my goal.  So, in my quiet time this morning I prayed for forgiveness for mis-handling the situation and told our kids I was sorry when I came home from work today.

As the earthly shepherd of my family, I should be giving them a glimpse of our heavenly shepherd.  I should be the safe place my family can come to in time of need.  Unfortunately there’s that whole sin nature thing inside me and its only through constant prayer, discernment and being in the Holy Spirit can I not let me emotions get the best of me.

Jesus was the ultimate example of humility and put our needs and interests ahead of His.  And its only when we humble ourselves and realize that we need Jesus and the Holy Spirit to overcome our sinful nature and realize the God is God and we are not, do we really put others needs ahead of ours.  I remember taking a spinning class many years ago and the instructor would work us out pretty hard.  Parts of the workouts included some sprints on the bike and as we were all breathing hard he would tell us “Your lungs will recover, keep going, just keeping breathing”.  I think Jesus is like that too, saying “trust Me, keep going and it will all work out”.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining forward to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14.

I hope and pray this encourages you to keep going, pressing on following the calling God has called you for.  Remember the time when things get unpleasant and we turn to Him for strength is when God can do amazing and awesome things.

This is how I fight my battles – Michael W. Smith

Are we really any different?

As I was reading my morning devotional the other day I realized that I don’t think were any different than ancient Israel. The devotional was based in Exodus 20:25, If you make an altar if stones for me, do not build it with sreased stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. The point is that God wanted any altar built by the Israelites to be untouched by them and only by the work of God. If they did used dressed stones then the Israelites could take credit for some of the work in creating the altar and make it look how they wanted it to look.

So, how different are we today when we take God’s Truth in His word and interpret it to suit our needs or wants or desires? Unfortunately we only want to hear the good part of God’s Word anymore. We don’t want to hear about the fact that we are sinful and need a savior. We don’t want to hear that it’s only because God’s grace and mercy and completely faithful love for us that we are allowed into His presence.

We so easily justify our salvation through what we perceive to be good actions and intentions. God’s Truth is not always the easiest to hear, especially when it impacts the way we live and our worldly desire to live the “good life”.

Does God need to our good deeds and sacrifices? No. He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Humbly, humility, understanding who God is and who we are.

God gives us His word and Holy Spirit to guide us and speak His Truth into our lives. But it’s only because of His love for us that we can be in His presence and have the opportunity of eternal life. He loved us first.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:9‭-‬10

See, God’s wrath was unleashed because of our sin, but it was Jesus was took the wrath for us, it was Jesus, God’s most precious Son, who stood in our place so that we could enter into God’s presence.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4‭-‬5 NIV

I’m not saying we should stop doing our good deeds and serving others, because this is how we can love others and show them who Jesus is, but we can’t depend on our good deeds for our salvation. We can’t justify our sinful nature through our good acts. We have to follow Jesus and be tuned into His Holy Spirit every minute of our lives, not just on Sunday.

Pride and fear

This Sunday in our bible study class we were studying Proverbs 6:12-19.  We got to discussing pride and why we have pride.  It got me thinking that I believe part of it is because of fear and that if we have pride maybe we’re afraid of giving God total control of our lives and having the mindset that we think we know better and actually have control over our situations and circumstances.

Its easy for us to use our logic and reasoning to think through our situations and reason why things are happening.  But in reality, as Oswald Chambers writes, its God who really engineers our circumstances.  The part we play is that we have a choice to trust in God and the Holy Spirit to guide us through the situations and follow His lead and will or to follow our own reasoning, logic and desires.

God has our best interest at heart and we don’t always see what happening in the big picture, but we can be assured that what He has planned for us is better than what we can plan.  In some ways its like following our GPS when we know there are different routes we can take.  A few months ago I was traveling for work and had about a 2 hour drive back to the airport.  About 30 mins into my drive the highway patrol was forcing all traffic off the road and causing us to take alternate routes.  As a result, I started worrying about making my flight back and trying to figure my own way back.  I eventually made it back but shortly before the flight left but made it.  Turns out there was a person driving a truck swerving at other cars for whatever reason and wielding a machete in the process.  The news reported seven different local and state authorities were involved in responding to the incident in some fashion.

See, the authorities new the situation and were protecting travelers.  God is like that, He knows the plans and sees the situations far better that we can and He has angel armies looking out for us along with His Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God can do more for us that can ask or imagine, we just have to let Him work within us.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:9 that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, or mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.

It’s us who allows fear to creep in.  2 Timothy tell us “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and of self-discipline.”  With our hope and trust in Jesus we have nothing to fear.  1 John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love.  but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made in perfect love.”

Give God the reigns and let Him guide you through all the situations and circumstances you face.  Walk by faith and not by sight.

Being active

I was reading my Morning by Morning devotional yesterday and read from Psalms 40, but specifically came read verse 16

But may all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted.”

It reminded me that we need to be actively seeking God in all things we do and all aspects of our life.  Psalm 1:1-2 says Blessed is the one, who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

As we become believers we enter into the process of sanctification.  This must be a process we actively participate in.  Its not just a decision we make and ride out whatever happens.  I enjoy exercising and working out.  But I have found that as I get older, if I take days off, I lose what I have gained from the days before.  Our spiritual walk is the same.  Charles Spurgeon says “If I neglect prayer, even for a short time, I lose the level of spirituality I had achieved, and if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old grain in my storehouse will quickly be consumed by the famine raging in my soul.”

He goes on to say “The only way ll my days can be like the sleek, “fat cows” is to feed them in the proper pasture and to continually immerse them in the Lord – in His services, His fellowship, His reverence, and His will.”

We have to be intentional about it though, its a choice we make.  We are always listening to something and walking in some direction.  At work I listen to Christian music while I work as a constant reminder that its Jesus I should be focusing on.  He will bless the things we do if we keep our focus and eye on Him.

Jesus died on the cross and went back to heaven to prepare a place for us.  But while we are here, God is “preparing” us for Heaven.  In all circumstances we face and things we go through, we are being prepared.  Spurgeon also says “All this is Christ’s work, for each individual believer is being prepared, polished, and made ready for his place in the heavenly temple by the prep-work of the Lord’s own hand.  Even our afflictions and difficulties will not do their work of sanctification without being used by Him for that purpose.”

Jesus never promised it to be easy, He told us that we would have trouble, but yet He also prayed that God would not take us out of the world but that God would protect us.  God protects and blesses those who seek after Him, in all things.  If you truly seek God and ask Him to speak to you He will.  I find that to be more and more true through my morning quiet times.  And a lot of times He speaks of something I’m not expecting, He knows what we need before we do.  I love spending time in God’s Word, going to worship and even just praying over God’s Word.  The more we do it the more we get a glimpse of God’s character, who He is and His love for us.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Are you a friend or just a fan

Well, it happened again, God spoke to me very clearly this morning while listening to Focus on the Family again.  Leslie Vernick was essentially speaking on living with humility in a self seeking world.  But what struck me was the question the host John Daly asked, funny thing is I have asked the same question before as well.  When life gets really hard, the question can be, what is the purpose of this life?  If we’re supposed to find joy in living a Christian life, why is it so difficult and why are there so many struggles?

He goes on to say that part of life is being crushed, but its good because God can save those with a crush spirit.

Psalm 34:17-18 says

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

If we are right with God (righteous) He will deliver us from all our troubles, not just some.  The troubles we face, the sufferings we endure, help us grow and makes us realize that we need God in all aspects of our life, not just some.  Again we’re back to Romans 5, as we persevere, we build character, and character builds hope, and because of the Holy Spirit, we won’t be disappointed by the hope we have.

What really struck me though was Leslie refers back to Peter’s confession of Christ, when Jesus asks Peter who the people say He is.  She says that a lot of people are probably fans of Jesus but not friends of Jesus.  It got me thinking, am I really a friend of Jesus?  I can tell you that I have prayed for Jesus to take over my life, I have been baptized and truly believe He hears my prayers and He has worked in my life and answered prayers, not always the answer I want, but has answered, but am I truly and wholeheartedly obedient to His will? When Jesus called the disciples He said come and follow me, come do what I do.  So do I do what He does?  Do I love without expecting anything in return from the other person?  Do I see everyone I come across as God’s creation?  Do I reflect the character of Jesus to those I come in contact with?  I heard a question one time, I believe as part of the Henry Blackaby Experiencing God study, which asked, if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  We can read in Matthew 7:21-23

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

I think, until we really accept Jesus as a friend, we’ll struggle to find that true joy He wants us to have.  the disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus.  There was no plan B.  We read in Luke 9 more of what it means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Living a Christian life is a daily walk, not just some days of the week, but all seven.  Jesus is truly our friend, one that will draw near in our time of need and whenever we call on Him.

Sidewalk Prophets – I Want to Live Like That

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. Psalm 34:7

I truly hope those of you who read this are encouraged.  I pray that this is truly the Holy Spirit speaking through me and that this goes out and does not return void.