Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28

Psalm 146

Unlimited God vs. Limited Man

As I was reading through this Psalm I couldn't help but notice how the Psalmist captures the magnitude of God's greatness.  He recognizes God as Creator and Redeemer, with the ability  to feed people and set prisoners free. Not one person on their own has the ability do that. By His design, we are limited. Perhaps the Palmists was given a vision of The Messiah.  Fast forward into Ephesians 6 and we see Paul recognizes God's power in raising The Messiah from the dead, and makes it very clear that He is far above any ruler, authority, power, leader, not only in this world, but in the Olam ha-zeh, and in the Olam ha-ba.  Translated from the original Hebrew that means this world, and the world to come.  Everything is under His feet.  If we look at our lives, our issues, or our circumstances,  and place our trust any where else aside from Adonai, it is easy to see how one might lose hope.  "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob whose hope is in the Lord his God" (v.5).  The Psalm points to the eternal kingship of the unlimited God. So as we all get ready to face the day with all the issues that await us, our challenge remains, where will we place our hope?  My memory verse for the day is "The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations" (v.10)  I pray for all of us that the eyes of our our hearts may be enlightened, so that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what is the richness of His glorious inheritance in the Kedoshim, (the saints...that's us), and what is His exceedingly great power toward us who keep trusting Him (Eph. 1:18-19)


Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26th blog post

Wholehearted - What Lies Beyond the Spiritual To Do List

I love lists!  Whenever I have a task or things to accomplish I love to make a list.  It helps keeps me organized, on task, and moving forward.  As I finish things on my list I check them off as done which helps me to have a quick visual of my successful accomplishments.  Did I mention I love lists?

I think Jehu, the newly anointed King of Israel, may have liked lists as well.  We read in 2 Kings how he was a man with a hefty list of things to accomplish in order to rid the land of Ahab, his descendants, his followers, and to remove all of the Baal worship.  With a declared passion of obedience to the Lord he set out to complete his list.  He was successful and accomplished everything on his list.  Ahab dead: Check!  Ahab's descendants and followers dead? Check!  Baal worship abolished in the kingdom? Check!  I imagine that Jehu sat back and felt good that he had done what the Lord told him to do with great success and was satisfied. 

But this is where the problem came in and often does.  What happens after the to do list has been checked off?  2 Kings 10:31 tells us that after the to do list "Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all (not part but it says all) his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam..."  Jehu got comfortable in where his relationship with the Lord was.  His check list for the Lord was done.  He was so successful and had accomplished so much that it seemed to blind his heart from further opportunities to grow in the LORD and to serve the LORD.

I am no different than Jehu at times.  I have my spiritual to do lists; read my bible each day, pray each day, obey the 10 commandments (at least the ones I can remember off the top of my head), be in a small group, go to church; and do my best to live my life as a light of Christ.  Check, check, check, check, check and check!!!  But God is bigger than a to do list.  My relationship with him can not be confined to accomplishments checked off as done.  God desires my whole heart, not a divided one or distracted one, he wants it all.  God wants the best of me not my left over time and attention.  God wants to be first, middle and last in my thoughts, words and actions, in my life.  He wants all of me not just some and done.

When Jehu had finished his to do list for the day that was enough for him.  He didn't return to the Lord and ask to be shown, given wisdom, in how to rule his kingdom.  He didn't ask if there was anything within him that God wanted/needed him to remove.  He didn't ask how he could serve the Lord.  He seemed to be satisfied with where he was and thought it was enough.  He had given the Lord part of his heart and it caused him fall into a false security that it was enough.

I am guilty of having this same attitude all to often.  I read my daily bible and I pray and I feel good about my relationship with the LORD.  But when I wake up each day is my heart and mind set on the Lord and his will, his tasks for me or on my planned out day ahead?  Do I live eager to serve the Lord with my life the way he will call me to serve or do I start out with my own agenda?  Am I satisfied with the place my relationship with the Lord is at or do I desire to take it deeper and for it grow more that day?  Do I take the time to really listen to what the Lord is saying, trying to show me, to see him revealed in my day or do I think I already know, I've already heard or already have seen?  Am I truly all in with all my heart every day?  Do I see my relationship with the LORD as a chore, as time consuming, or interfering with my day at all?  Even just a little bit?  Honest questions that can be hard to answer.  Honest questions with answers that can often times be hard to swallow.

I am a work in progress. I don't want to be a half-hearted to do list child of God.  I want the LORD to grow me, teach me, guide me, reveal to me, live in me wholeheartedly all day and every day of my life.  I want a relationship with the LORD that is passionate, important, and constantly growing.  I know that the first step to this is making sure that I start with prayer.  Prayer for God to give me an undivided heart.  Prayer for God to reveal in me that which hinders his spirit from flowing and what keeps me from growing.  Prayer for constant wisdom and passion for the LORD and his word.  Prayer for guidance and for the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me.  Prayer that I never get comfortable with where I am.  Then I need to remember to never stop praying these things.  They are not a to do prayer list that I check off but a constant daily part of my life.

I want to be an all-in, wholehearted child of God.  "LORD let today be the start of my wholehearted living...."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 25

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening" Acts 16:25

I have an 80 lbs black lab that is afraid of the hair dryer. Every time I blow dry my hair, she runs to the furthest corner of the house, and sits there in panic. I'm slightly annoyed by her behavior. I can't understand, how could she be so afraid, of something as trivial as a hair dryer. I wish she could relax, and trust, that I won't let anything bad happen to her. Why can't she get it?

Reflecting on my own life, I have to say, that sometimes I react very similarly to my black lab. Recently, I went through a tough situation with my parents. They were both very sick and I'm very far away, not able to help. Even though I knew that God is good, that I needed to trust, I gave in to fear. I tried to fix and control the situation by calling almost every hour, and trying to force solutions. I was in a state of worry and fear. The situation became like a black hole that swallowed everything around me. I was so engulfed in the problem, that everything else was secondary, including God. After a week of playing God, I was completely exhausted and totally depleted emotionally. Things were getting worse in spite of my best efforts.

Acts 16:25 reminds me, that there is a different way to do things. When faced either, with a Red Sea situation or a " blow dryer" situation, we are to run to the Lord, in prayer and worship.  I can only imagine how exhausted and beaten up, Paul and Silas were. Instead of dwelling in self pity or anger, they choose to run to the Lord. They didn't sit around trying to control or force a solution. They trusted the Lord. Prayer should never be a Plan B, but the very first thing we do. We need to trust that God is good and He has our best interest in mind. (Jeremiah 29:11). Only by trusting God we can experience the "peace that transcends all understanding". (Philippians 4:7).

In today's day we are bombarded with so many options. Wherever we go, we face a multitude of choices. However, I think it all comes down to one choice. Am I choosing God, the One, who came so that we "have life, and have it to the full" or the one, who came only to "steal and kill and destroy". (John 10:10).  Our true safety is in God, "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance"( Psalm 32:7). Everything else that promises security, is an illusion, a lie…

Lord, you are my safety net! Help us to trust you and follow you!








Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24: Of Spiritual Blindness and the Cure

2 Kings 6:1-7:20
Acts 15:36-16:15
Psalm 142:1-7
Proverbs 17:24-25

"Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see."

Have you ever noticed how much what we believe is dependent on what we perceive?  Thomas was a good example - remember what he said when told Jesus had risen?  If he couldn't see it with his own eyes, he could not believe it.  In his case, and in many other bases in the Bible, it seems to be such a limitation - one Elisha clearly understood, when he made the prayer above to God in behalf of his servant.  

In today's reading we see a few other examples of this: the laborer saw that the ax head was lost.  The servant saw the army arrayed against them.  The King of Israel saw the siege and the famine, and the mother demanding her counterpart give up her child to be eaten as they had eaten hers.   And they each felt fear and anguish.  

Elisha saw things differently - because of his relationship with God, he saw that the ax head could be made to float; saw that army of heavenly hosts arrayed for battle in their behalf; saw the end of the siege and the abundance of food that was to follow.  And so it seems troubling circumstances - even a famine - didn't trouble him. 

The laborer, the servant and the king of Israel were all afraid.  Elisha wasn't.  Who would you rather emulate?

If you're like me, the answer will be obvious...but getting there less so.  How often have I believed my problems were bigger than God?  How often have I succumbed to worry and fear?  How often have I doubted Him, simply because the circumstances He'd chosen for me weren't to my liking? Can you blame me?  I love my kids, and the world they are growing up in seems so much more troubled than the one in which I was raised.   And so I find myself sitting in fear, when all I need to do is come to Him in prayer, because He always answers prayer.  The psalmist tells me what I can do: "When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way...I cry to You, Lord; I say 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living'".  He asks God to set him free from prison, to rescue him from those more powerful than he who are pursuing him.

I might add another prayer - that very simple one of Elisha - "Open my eyes, Lord, so that I may see."  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22


"A cheerful heart is good medicine,
   but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

This proverb shares a key truth:  that the conditions of our spirits spill over into our physical and emotional well-being.  Spiritual wholeness promotes health in our minds and bodies.  Put another way, God has created us and endowed us with an integrated body, mind, and spirit.

Have you ever wondered, like me, why God allows us to reach these points of being "crushed in spirit"?  Why not just give us an easy road?

According to Romans 8:28,29, God ordains the happenings of our lives for our good and that we might be conformed into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He even uses the challenging moments and stretches in life to draw us closer to Him.

How may we draw closer to God during our tough moments?  I have had a few recent opportunities to practice these thoughts myself and to share them with others:

1) Give thanks to God for His obvious blessings in your life.  You might give thanks for salvation, health, friends, family, His presence, or the beauty of nature.  Take some moments to reflect on His goodness and concern for you.

2) Take on the challenge of trusting God on a moment-by-moment basis.  Are you able to trust Him for a moment?  How about a second moment?  A third?  Pretty soon, you've trusted Him for an hour and then a day.  It reminds me of running.  A five-mile run is exhausting, but we can  make it more manageable by breaking it into smaller chunks.

3) Put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18). The evil one is crafty and attacks our vulnerabilities.  God's armor shields us, and the Word of God equips us to fight back against his lies.

4) Find joy in living for Him during those tough moments.  "I know my Redeemer lives... "

"The Red Sea Rules" expands on this topic quite well.  These ideas have been particularly effective in getting me to think "all for the glory of God."

Lord Jesus, guide us to walk humbly with You during our tougher moments.  Thank You that Your grace is sufficient for us and that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.  Show us how we may respond with faith during our trials.  Deepen our trust in Your character and provision. Make us into mighty warriors for You so that we may live all for the glory of God.  In Your Name, amen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21

Acts 13:46-48

As I'm reading through Acts, I'm remembering  so many conversations on High Holidays like Passover and Yom Kippor being told "we are God's chosen people".  Being young, the next natural question was "chosen for what?"  That question remained unanswered until I began to read the Bible and the Holy Spirit brought to life the truth of my identity that rests in my Jewish heritage.  In Acts 3:25-26 we were reminded that all the way back in Genesis 12:3 God promised Abraham that He would bless His descendants, the Jewish race from which the Messiah would come.  I certainly can't speak for God, but I believe His intent was that the Jewish nation be set apart and holy unto Him so that the Jews would introduce the Messiah to the world and carry out His work. Paul and Barnabas boldly reminded the Jews that by rejecting Jesus, they gave up their mission to be a light for the Gentiles and bring the salvation to the ends of the earth (v. 47).  Paul took up his cross and recognized the great responsibility God had given him and when he too was rejected by the Jews, he turned to carry the message to the Gentiles who honored the word of the Lord.  To some of you who are reading this, it might be hard to understand that a simple, innocent question asked over 50 years ago by a little girl who longed to understand could be found in the Word and answered by the Apostle Paul who, like me, grew up in a Pharisee home and later on in life had an encounter with Jesus, the One true living God. What I've come to realize is that the only reason my question as a little girl wasn't answered was because no one in my family knew the answer.  So now that I understand what we've been chosen for, I pray I can speak God's truth boldly like Paul, with the gentleness of the Fruit of the Spirit as God has commanded. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)


Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18


"His love endures forever." Psalm 136

The word, enduring, is defined as: unceasing, abiding, imperishable, lasting, permanent, long-suffering, patient.

"God cannot not love His people." God loves us with an enduring love. What an amazing truth! The question is- how can I hold on to that love, no matter how shaky things are around me? How do I live loved? What does God's enduring love tell me…

-God promises a love that lasts forever, a love that exceeds even the classic "until death do us apart". He loved us before we were born, He loves us now, and He will love us through death, and the life after. There is no end to His love. Whatever stage of life we're in, His love endures forever. What a relief, I don't need to beg for love, I don't need to people please, nor be afraid of death. I am forever loved!

-No matter where we are, location wise, God's love is always there. I can be at home, at work, in the gym, shower, in my bed, or on another continent, there is no space limitation for His love. His enduring love is with us, wherever we are. (Psalm 139, 7-12). I can now be less afraid of change whatever form it takes or wherever it will take me!

- His love endures, even when I want to give up, when I beat myself up, or when I want to hide under the covers. "That Sunday evening, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them!" (John 20, 19-20) His love passes through the locked doors of our beings and meets us in our hiding places. His love never fails. There is such a relief to know, that I am loved, no matter how much, myself, others, and life circumstances try to convince me that I am unlovable or that I need to perform in order to earn love.

-As Christians, we are never alone. God's love for us endures forever. Who is this God? The Lord who is good, the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the One who does great wonders, who made the heavens and the earth, who made the great lights, the sun,  the moon and the stars, the One who divided the Red Sea, the One who freed us. (Psalm136, 1-26). How can I ever feel lonely when I am loved with an unfailing, everlasting love by such a God? We have the God of gods on our side. Who could stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

- His love that endures forever frees me from worrying about my loved ones. He loves me with an enduring love, but he loves them the same way. I don't need to worry about their journey. I can relax, trust, and remember, that they are deeply and forever loved. I can use the time spent worrying, on doing something else.

 His love endures forever!