Fish and Focus

August 28, 2009

Before bible study I had decided to try my hand at fish on the grill, it was a disaster. When I was done I had a huge pile of half cooked fish and the rest of it was stuck to the grill. Fortunately my family was gracious to me and enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches instead.

This is like what happens in life when I try to do things on my own. I make a huge mess of things. I was so frustrated and I got down on myself. I was thankful for our time of study which pulled me back on track and revealed that my thoughts had not been of the best things like Phil. 4:8 – 9 says.

This week as we read our first scriptures from 1 John 1-2, God began to do a work in my heart. We read about light and darkness and the love of the world. I was convicted when I realized that a lot of my thoughts center on worldly things. I made an adjustment in my thinking (repented) about the will of God verses my will. I saw it as all or nothing, in order for his will to be done my will has to completely die. I love how the Holy Spirit comes with his sweet conviction to keep us on target. He is reliable and I can trust him.

In reading Ephesians Chapter 3, I saw something I’ve never seen before; the prayer that Paul is offering on behalf of the people is so powerful. Verse 12 in particular revolutionized the way I will pray from now on. I can come with confidence and freedom to the very throne of God with every thought. As we were reading, John 10: 7-9 came to mind and I realized that I must pass through the “Gate” to get to the throne room. Because of Jesus, the “Gate,” I can have direct access to the Father’s attention.

It was amazing to me as I thought about this path to the Father in my prayer time. I felt very close to God and I had confidence in my prayers rather than just putting them out there somewhere. I had focus and joy filled me. I know without a doubt that the Father heard me. This isn’t some magic prayer formula but it did help me to visualize my position in Christ as I prayed.

As we went on I was so encouraged by Judges 6 and the story of Gideon. I can relate to him. He just wanted to be sure that God was with him and he was doing God’s will. In my own life, I have the same desires. I’m not interested in just being out there doing my own thing. I used to be very independent and I made a total wreck of my life.

Through my recent experiences with my daughter I’ve found that my heart has been changed to one that waits on the Lord in everything. In my experience, I’ve seen that if I wait on him instead of running ahead and doing my own thing he works situations out for me.

This doesn’t mean that I do nothing, I just do what he tells me and I don’t sweat the rest. Most times I think God works in spite of me. My goal is to be totally surrendered to him and be content in all aspects of life and this is all the work of the Spirit in me not because I can do it on my own.

I don’t always get it perfect as the first paragraph or so of this blog clearly points out. Finally, Philippians 4:4-9 sums up how I am to live life, rejoicing, praising, being thankful, prayerful and allowing only good things to consume my thoughts which definitely take constant power from the Spirit. I am not capable of this kind of living without Jesus.

So many days, I sit here and wait upon him hanging on every word. Or, I go about my day doing things around the house or working in my office always with a listening ear to the Father. I just want to do things to please him. He has brought my heart to this point. Sometimes I don’t realize he has been speaking to me until later when I have a “duh” moment, but the Holy Spirit is faithful and he wants me to “get it,” to understand and hear.

Jesus wants to give all his disciples understanding and he wants our eyes and ears focused on him constantly. We must remain in him at all times, this is how I have been challenged this week and I hope you have been too. God Bless

Believe Me

August 20, 2009

As I was walking through the park today, I was praying to the Lord asking him what it was he wanted me to do about a certain situation I’m facing. The Lord’s answer to me was that he wanted me simply to believe him, believe that he could handle the situation and that he could provide. The scripture Matthew 6:24-35 came to mind as God gently reminded me that he knows what my needs are and that I am valuable to him.

When scripture is tucked away in your heart God has the ability to bring it to your remembrance at any time for his use and our benefit. What a powerful tool that cannot be taken away from us. I said to the Lord, “Well, if I’m not supposed to worry about all that, then what am I supposed to think about?” This was a dumb question but God was merciful to my pea brain and Philippians 4:8 rose in my heart. And I heard, “think about me!” Duh! Of course, thoughts of Jesus would be the perfect place for my mind during the day and Philippians 4:8 describes him to a tee.

I posed more questions to the Lord, “How do I believe? Am I doing it right? What does it look like to believe?” A picture came to my mind and I watched God reach out his hand to me, slowly I lifted my hand and cautiously placed my hand in his. “This is what believing me looks like,” he said to me, “you’ve done it many times, just put your hand in mine when you begin to doubt or fear tries to take over your thoughts and I will help you.”

What an awesome answer to my questions! I’m simple and I work best with pictures so that’s what God often uses to help me understand. He’s so kind and gentle. I wanted to share this today because I know that I am not the only one who struggles with believing God. Yet, this is vital to our walk with him. We must believe and have faith or the word says we won’t be pleasing to him.

Thank you for your kindness to me today, Lord, and for helping me to understand your ways and your heart in a deeper way. I give you praise, may this word help someone today. Amen

Direct from the Spirit

August 18, 2009

As I thought about the comment from the last blog and my answer to the question posed about another site two other scriptures came to mind.

In John 14:26, Jesus says "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you." In his passage from John 14:15-26, Jesus is reassuring us that we can rely on the Holy Spirit.

Also, 1 John 2:27 says, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him."

The Holy Spirit is real and he is faithful to teach us all things. We can and should rely upon him for every issue of life. He won't lead us astray. We can trust him to make things clear. I wonder what his opinion would be? Interesting thought, I think I'll ask him! :}

Week 8 Predestined People

August 17, 2009

Whew! We’ve had a busy weekend with the kids doing last minute family fun things and getting them ready for school. Thursday was wonderful as usual, we sat out on the patio and enjoyed the beautiful weather as we broke the bread of the word together.

We began with Deuteronomy 6 reading about how God expects us to love him and teach our children to love him. God encouraged the people to write the scriptures everywhere even to tie symbols of them on our foreheads and hands. God wanted the people to think about his word constantly from the time they got up to the time they went to bed and even as they lay in their beds.

God told the people that he would provide for every need but that the people needed to be obedient to his laws. Everything must be done God’s way, there is no gray area where he’s concerned and no compromise. I’m thinking about the way he provided for us during our time last year with Danni, we constantly went to him on everything. He was and still is the framework of our lives. Everything revolves around God and his purposes.

When my focus strays a bit to the right or the left he is there to say, “Just look at me.” It is almost like I’m walking a tightrope over a vast expanse and if I look down I lose my balance. This is the way we should live our lives, without him we perish and die. Deuteronomy 6:5 shows us what God should be everything to us.

James 5 talks about the dangers of hoarding wealth in the last days, we don’t realize the times we are living in and the importance of being able to hear the Spirit speaking to us. Wealth cannot be relied upon. Money is fleeting and a cruel task master if you let it be. This is a time to be following the Lord with patience as James 5:7 says, standing firm in what we believe.

It is a time to examine what it is we believe and know why we believe those things. It is a time to be praying and living by faith and not by what we see. Jesus is coming quickly, we must be prepared and alert!

Nothing is out of God’s control, everything happens for his plan and purpose and our good if we love him. Luke 2 was all about the predestination of the life of Jesus. Everything about Jesus’ life was predetermined by his Father for the purpose of the redemption of God’s people. Everything about the lives of Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna was also woven together for God’s purposes in his intricate plan.

Why do we think that our lives won’t be the same? If there are those of you that think that God doesn’t care about the little things of life, just look around. Look at the detail in nature and then say that God doesn’t care about the little things. Every detail is planned and right on schedule.

Ephesians 1& 2 pounds predestination, nothing is by accident! These scriptures are power packed and worth reading several times. I especially like chapter 2 verses 8 & 9, it makes it very clear that we had little to do with our salvation but that it was all about God and his choices not ours.

It throws a beacon of light into our very thoughts and heart motives; NOTHING WE DO GETS US SAVED. WE ARE SAVED BECAUSE GOD WANTS US TO BE! This is a process that comes from God through us not from us pushing works out of us. Even the works we are to do are predestined for us (see Eph.2:10)! For everything God calls us to do, he will provide everything we need. No worries!

The last part of Ephesians 2 shows us how we have become one with the Jewish people by the power of Christ’s blood being built together as one house for God to dwell in. Even Luke chapter 2 verse 32 echoes these words as Simeon prophesies over Jesus as an infant that he would be “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” God has a plan and a purpose; our job is to believe and trust in him and he will take care of all the details.

I recently had a picture in my mind of me climbing a ladder, one rung at a time and God was behind me encouraging me to keep going up and up. At one point I began to get tired and he said to me, “ Lean back into me,” and as I did he held onto the ladder around me giving me rest.

God has our back, he is in control but we must be sensitive to his Spirit and be obedient and fully committed to doing things his way. These are precarious times in which we are living and we know from the word that things will become progressively harder. He’s teaching me to lean on him, trust in him, and believe him when directs my heart. I believe this is something he wants to do in all of his children’s lives, so if he calls to you today, make time for him…your life will depend on it.

Week 7- Who are We in Christ?

August 8 2009

This week the study began in James 1 and it was appropriate that it began with words of encouragement not to doubt and but to persevere under trial. We learned that God doesn’t tempt us but he will use the enemy to test us even as he did Job.

In verse 21 it is clear that we “… must humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Could it be that when we doubt and don’t believe that it is our pride getting in the way? We discussed the fact that either ALL the word is real and it works or we might as well scrap the whole thing. I remember facing this question in my own life when the mountain of brain cancer was before us. We must humble ourselves and believe.

Verse 22 gives a warning that we must not be ones who just hear the word and go on with life, no, the word is there that we should be obedient to it in its entirety! You can’t pick and choose because this is a form of doubt which this chapter says will make you double-minded and unstable in all you do. Either you believe or you do not believe… no gray.

Then we moved on to Matthew 7 which instructed us not to judge others, have persistence when in prayer, and believe. It’s easy to give up too soon but God wants our full attention and he will wait until we get serious with him. Verse 12 is put with this prayer section for a reason; how we treat other people is important to God and our prayer/answered prayer process.

We learned that “…narrow is the road …and only a few find it,” I have recently heard of a mamby pamby “gospel” that says there are other ways to eternal life and that God wouldn’t let so many people go to hell. This is trash from the pit of hell. Jesus says in John 14:6 (NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me…” This is clear! Don’t be deceived! God doesn’t want anyone to perish but he is holy and righteous and things must be done HIS WAY! JESUS!

This led perfectly into the next few verses about how to tell a false prophet by his fruit. We need to be very aware especially in these days. Don’t just take what someone says to you as gospel! You have direct access to the throne of God, USE IT! Think for yourself and take everything to God for confirmation. Use the word as a ruler and if what’s being said doesn’t match up, chuck it! It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop letting all the voices of the world and the cunning adversary tell us how we should believe or that we can’t believe. The Word of God is the moral absolute and without it we will compromise our souls.

Listen, if we don’t know the “Rock” and we haven’t built the house of our lives upon him, we will never make it through the storms of life. This is what Matthew 7:24-27 is all about. We must be building our relationship with him little by little every day! You may not think that the word is doing anything in your life until you are faced with insurmountable circumstances…then you will see what God’s word has done! Persevere, keep reading and studying and praying and asking and believing because this is for a time in the future when you will need everything that you have learned so …LEARN WELL…you’re spirit and others may depend on it.

I know this is a long one but hang in there; it’s worth your time. Next we went to Romans 2:17-28; who are the Jews became the question of the hour. Paul addresses the “better than thou” attitudes of the people and shows them through this passage that the people who called themselves Jews were Jews by race but not by heart and that the whoever believed and had the flesh taken away from their hearts by believing in Jesus were the true Jews.

Paul is also clear to point out that it is by the Spirit that all this comes in a person’s life not by the do’s and don’ts of religion. So through all this we discovered that if we have received Jesus as Savior and he has changed our hearts then we are the Jews, God’s chosen people.

We then went to Romans 9 to discover who the Israelites are and who Abraham’s children are. Verses 6 -26 would have been bold words at the time and really they still are today. Paul sheds light on who’s who pulling all people together to God giving the explanation that it is because God is God and he is in control that he can do what he wants and thank God he does! Again this has nothing to do with race but it is all about the heart.

All this gave us a new perspective on reading the bible, you have to know who you are in Christ and that none of it comes because you wanted it or because you do such great things but because of the work of the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ which we gained through HIS death and resurrection and NO OTHER WAY!

We then read Ephesians 1: 4-13 to find out the truth about who we are and the assurance of the salvation which we have obtained through believing in Christ. These are not empty boastful words that I speak but scripture, it is the truth about who we are in Christ and it’s time for us to believe it and walk in it.

Last but not least we returned to Romans 8, read the entire chapter if you want…its all good but we started in 18 and read to 27. This talked about our groaning world and bodies that long to loose from the bonds of decay. It also brought “hope” into clear view. Verse 24 clearly states that because of the hope we have and (vs. 23) because of what Christ did on the cross we WERE saved. (Hey, I’m just quoting the word; God said it I believe it no doubting involved.) The word “were” indicates that it has already been accomplished. (Go back to Romans 9 1-5 and you’ll see what is ours and who it came by).

We discussed that if it is raining you can’t say I hope it will rain. That is no hope at all because it’s already raining! (End of verse 24) I like the way verse 25 is put in the Complete Jewish Bible version, it really brings it into focus, it says, “but if we continue hoping for something we don’t see, then we still wait eagerly for it, with perseverance.”

When I planted my watermelon seeds I believed they would grow but I didn’t see the growth so I waited eagerly for them to pop through the ground. This is the same kind of expectancy we wait with (only WAY MORE INTENSE) for the return of our Messiah and the fullness of all he will bring. Hallelujah!

Hope this helps, have a great rest of the week!