Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dancing On My Daddy's Feet

Well, I'm sure that's an odd title but I'm not sure how else to describe it...

I've been struggling lately. The frantic pace, the pressure (much self-imposed), worries of this life... in the midst of it all, I lost my joy - and I missed it! As I talked with the Lord yesterday morning, I told Him that I longed to feel like a little girl again when I would wrap my arms tight around my daddy's waist, stand on his feet and let him dance me around the room. That was fun! That was safe! That was secure! That was living...

I cried out to my Abba. He has promised to be the father to the fatherless. I asked Him to place me on His feet, to wrap my arms around His waist and to dance me wherever He wanted me to go yesterday. And He did.

Yesterday, joy erupted out of nowhere! It filled me up and spilled over on those around me. I was full of gratitude for the many blessings that seemed to dazzle me everywhere that I looked. Though nothing special changed in my circumstances, everything was different. Life was abundant and free! It had been awhile.

I was asked what had made the difference. What Truth had the Lord used to set me free? I couldn't answer. All I knew was that the Lord had reached down from on high and took hold of me. He drew me out of deep waters. He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.

I awoke this morning with a slight sense of dread. What if my joy were gone again? How could I face a day like that again? I did a quick check on the day before. Had I done anything so awful as to separate me from Him? Oh, how fast those lies can fly in! I have never done anything that could earn my Father's love nor can I ever do anything that will separate me from it! (see Romans 8)

I asked my Father what had He done to set me free yesterday? What lies had I been listening to? Once again, we talked of dancing as a little daughter with her daddy. A little girl trusts her daddy. When she steps on his feet and wraps her arms around his waist, she is delighted to go where he goes. She knows that there is nothing quite as wonderful as the safety and security and thrill as her father swirls her and twirls her across the room. He's got her and that's all that matters.

Yesterday, the Lord just did that for me! There was no conscious decision to trust Him. He just rescued me - plain and simple. Today, I choose to dance with my Daddy. He's the Best! He cares for me. I'm wrapping my arms tight around Him and putting my feet on His feet. And you know, as the day has started spinning, I think I'm going to throw my head back and enjoy the ride!

Dancing With God (author unknown)

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.

The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender,
willingness, and attentiveness from one person

and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw "G: I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.
My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies be upon you
on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God as God abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you
through each season of your life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!
The time is drawing near
when we will stop to celebrate
the night You were birthed here.
But, I have to tell You, Jesus,
I'm feeling quite ashamed.
I've been so busy working
I've barely pondered why You came...
Or how much You set aside above -
the King of Creation - crucified for love.

O my Lord, what can I do?
There must be something
I can give to You...
I have not myrrh, frankincense or gold
like the wise in days of old,
no political clout or worldly fame...
I have nothing that You would gain.
But, I humbly give myself to You -
my sins, my love, my gratitude
for all You graciously gave for me
the day You died on Calvary.

My Lord, You are my most treasured gift,
the Answer to my every wish.
Merry Christmas, Jesus!
There's nothing I need
but for more of You, I longingly plead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More Lessons on the Art of War

I LOVE the Lord! He is so gracious to me! He is my Rescuer! My Deliverer! The Only Wise God who knows exactly what I need! He knows that we gain strength as we lean on Him and find Him Strong!

These last few weeks, obstacles have been allowed on my path that I am powerless to move. It has been a fresh reminder each day of how desperately I need my Savior. Some days, I have fallen to the temptation to look at the size of the mountain in the way and shrink in fear and discouragment - but that's not the Lord's plan! He wants me to be able to rejoice in Him always and give thanks in all circumstances. This is His will for me in Christ Jesus and if I don't want to put out the Spirit's fire in my life, I need to take to heart what He's saying. He's been teaching me valuable lessons that I thought I would share with you. May we grow strong in His strength as we apply His Word to our every situation.

1. Give Up Trying to Play God and Humble Myself!

Jesus lived a sinless life upon this earth offering us His perfect example to follow. In Philippians 2:5-7 we read, "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God[possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being."

These verses spoke to me in a new way. You see, the obstacles I have been facing have not felt fair. I have caught my thoughts swirling with things like "I don't deserve...", "I DO deserve..." or just in general complaining to the Lord about my plight. These are all such symptoms of pride! If the Lord never did anything beyond saving my soul it would be worth serving Him forever and yet all too often, I can be found putting myself onto the throne of my life - basically telling the Lord, "if I were God, I would do things differently." Jesus WAS and IS God and yet He humbled Himself and submitted to the will of the Father.

2. Crucify My Sinful Notions!

The passage goes on to say, "...He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!" (verse 8). If I am going to follow Christ's example, I need to be willing to live the crucifed life. Selfish ambition, thoughts of getting even and complaining against my Maker are no way to live!

3. Recognize the Name and Authority Jesus and Bow the Knee.

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (verses 10-11). May I trust Him - every moment - as Lord over all and desire to see His will be done in my life as it is in heaven.

4. Live Out My Salvation with Reverent Trembling and Vigilant Obedience!

"... work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)" (verse 12). Salvation is completely a gift of grace but in light of the unfathomable price that Christ paid to save me, may I live my life cultivating the ground for His work in me to grow. May I purposely work to remove the weeds that would discredit His Name.

5. Praise the Lord! He Gives the Strength!

God never asks us to do anything that He does not give His strength to carry out! These directions are not too difficult. "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you, [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (verse 13).

6. So Stop Grumbling and Start Trusting!

The end of verse 13 reminds us that everything that God is working out in and for us is according to His GOOD pleasure. So I will endeavor to "Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting..." (verse 14).

7. I Can Rejoice in the Day that the Lord Has Made!

Before telling us to rejoice in the day that the Lord has made, Psalm 118 gives us 23 verses worth of reasons of why we can do exactly that! The Psalmist even reassures us that God knows that it is hard but "in the Name of the Lord" we can be triumphant! Lord, may this be what people see when they look at me. "... in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse]..." may I be "seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose" (Philippians 2:15-16).

Lord, this isn't an easy lesson to learn but I praise You that You haven't given up working on me! May I acknowlege with my actions what I profess with my mouth - that You are Lord of my life this day. You are trustworthy! You are my Strength! May I live Your way. In the profoundly gracious Name of Jesus... Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Learning the Art of War

I don't like battles. There's nothing about the heat of the battle that I find appealing. I sometimes think that I want an easy, boring life - but that would be a disaster! Because then I would mistakenly think that I have a little, boring God. He is anything but! You see, it's the heat of the battle that drives me to my knees and to His Word and that's where I learn the vastness of His victories and His limitless grace and mercy when I succumb to defeat. It's as He trains my arms for war that I know, that I know, that I know that He is alive and an amazingly awesome God!

I "stumbled" upon a really interesting passage recently. Judges 3:1-4 says, "Now these are the nations which the Lord left to prove Israel by them, that is , all in Israel who had not previously experienced war in Canaan; it was only that the generations of Israelites might know and be taught war, at least those who previously knew nothing of it. The remaining nations are: the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites...They were for the testing and proving of Israel to know whether Israel would listen and obey the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by Moses."

God had left a handful of warring nations in the Promised Land that He had given to Israel - on purpose! He intended to prove the Israelites by them and I believe to prove Himself to the Israelites by them as well. You see, the generation that had seen the miracles of the Lord as He redeemed the people of Israel out of Egypt had passed away. The generation that was left had heard the stories but they needed to see the Hand of God in almighty action and they needed to learn that victory comes only through listening and obeying the commands of the Sovereign God.

We live in a sin-filled, fallen world. And we can study all we want and have an intellectual knowledge of who God is, what He can do and what we can do through Him but if we never practice what we've learned, we never actually know if what we've learned is true. Soldiers need to train and practice so that they can be proved on the battlefield.

In God's great mercy, He hasn't declared this war over. He still has children that haven't chosen Him and He's giving them every opportunity. He could shield us from every trouble and let those who have put their trust in Him have an easy, boring life but what kind of testimony is that to those that are still making up their minds? What does that show them about God? It's the way believers can come through the battles that proves God genuine. So how are you doing at listening and obeying?

Flip the page to the next generation of Israelites in Judges 4 and 5. The battle was looming. The Israelites had enjoyed 40 years of peace yet in that time they had turned to idols. Judges 5: 8 reads, "Formerly they chose new gods; then war was in the gates. Was there a shield or spear seen among 40,000 in Israel?" The Israelites had gotten soft and forgetful. They had laid down their weapons and forgotten where they were. They had forgotten their All-Powerful God.

Now war is at their gates. Verses 15-18 of chapter 5 say, "And the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar was faithful to Barak, into the valley they rushed forth at his heels. But among the clans of Reuben were great searchings of heart. Why Reuben did you linger among the sheepfolds listening to the piping for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead remained beyond the Jordan, and why did Dan stay with the ships? Asher sat still on the seacoast and remained by the creeks. [These came not forth to battle for God's people.] But Zebulun was a people who endangered their lives to the death, Naphtali did also on the heights of the field." Let me ask you, when war is at your gates, do you rise up in obedience to the command of God or are you like Reuben who lingers about considering but never engages? Perhaps you are like Gilead and Dan, afraid to leave your home and your things? I have been all three.

But Zebulun... which reads to me just like "but God..." in His limitless power took Zebulun, who was willing to go - probably in fear and trembling but obedient all the same - and raised them up to be mighty warriors! Up until now, "Zebulun, formerly known only for its experts with the ciphering-pencil, had now become a people courageous unto death." (F. Davidson, ed., The New Bible Commentary.)

Don't you want to be strong and courageous? Does it help to know that there is a purpose behind the battles that God allows us to face? Are you allowing yourself to learn and be trained in the art of war? The battle plan is simple but not easy - listen and obey. It requires practice. How's your listening? Your obedience? Your testimony? Remember, God is in the business of making you into a mighty warrior. He's looking for those willing to answer the call and follow Him. He's not stressed about the victory. It's already His. He's already won the war! He's looking for those He can train and prove genuine in battle. Will it be you? Will it be me?

Lord, I so often run and hide when war is at my gates. I enjoy times of peace only to find that my eyes so quickly turn aside to other things. Thank You for leaving some areas in my life that train me for war. Thank You that You prove Yourself way bigger, way smarter and way more powerful each time I see You in action! Thank You for keeping the battle plan simple - listen and obey. Please tune my ears to the slightest sound of Your Voice and stop me when I'm tempted to just contemplate going with You but never rise up to follow. Please help me to hold my home and possessions loosely. I want to be close enough to You that I see Your miracles! Please take the head-knowledge that I have of You and allow me to experience Your awesomeness! For Lord, I know, that I know, that I know that You always prove genuine!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Extreme Obedience

There are many things that I love about the Lord but one thing that never ceases to delight me is how when I ask a question - even ones that I've forgotten I've asked - He doesn't and He is faithful to answer in His time!

I am reading Philippians in the Amplified Bible right now. It's one of my favorite books! I like to dialogue with the Lord in the margins. Sometime over the past three years, I had written in the margin of Philippians 2:8, "Lord, what does extreme obedience look like?" and then, no doubt, went on with my day. This time, the Lord revealed the answer like it was jumping off the page!

Just like Jesus "humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!" extreme obedience for us is humbling ourselves and dying to our selfish desires and ambitions or, as some have put it, living the crucifed life. Now as I sit here in the mornings, it is my desire to live wholly for Jesus. Many times in the moment of choice, I don't walk that out but I truly do want to bring God glory by living His way. So He teaches me. This is what I learned through the early verses of Philippians chapter 2...

Stop Trying to Play God!

(vs. 6-7) Speaking of Christ Jesus, "Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being." Jesus had God's credentials to His Name yet He set them aside and obeyed the Father as God. I try playing God of my own life all too often and the messes that I get myself into prove my credentials are sinfilled! If I want to walk like Jesus I have to stop acting as God of my life.

Remember Who it is That Is Speaking to You!

(vs. 10-11) That in (at) the Name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." How many times in my day, do I hear the mind of Christ telling me how to think and act and yet dismiss it the very next second because I did not stop to acknowledge Who it is that is offering direction? All too often, the dialogue in my mind has me responding "yes, but..." or "maybe later..." without ever pausing to realize that the One who loves me most is holding out to me the best path. It is absolutely critical that we become aware of our thoughts and acknowledge Who it is that is speaking to us through the power of the Holy Spirit! Once we realize that, it is easier to confess Jesus as Lord and bow our wills to His.

Actively Participate in the Process - Much is at Stake!

(vs. 12b) "work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). There is a wealth of knowledge in this verse that far exceeds my mind but let me scratch the tip... In light of the awesome gift of salvation (see Ephesians 2:8-9) through Jesus Christ and the many blessings that God has instore for His children (see Ephesians 1:1-12), let's choose to cooperate in the process of our sanctification (becoming more like Christ). Let's quit trusting ourselves and be cautious, watching for temptation and shrink away from the things that might offend God and discredit the Name of Christ. The blessings that the Lord desires to pour out upon our every step of trusting obedience are so vast and the natural consequences of the sinful alternatives so unsatisfying!

He Is Faithful to Complete His Work!

(vs. 13) [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. We can learn lessons the easy way or the hard way. Often, we find things hard because our desires are at war within us. We desire to choose right and yet we're tempted to choose wrong. God is constantly at work on our desires, helping them fall in line with the things that are for our best and our blessing. You can trust Him to energize you and give you the power to walk in obedience to His desires for your life and you can be assured that His will for you is good, pleasing and perfect. (see Romans 12:2)

An Additional Thought...

(vs. 14) Do all things without grumbling and complaining and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves]. As a parent, I can appreciate this one, though my behavior can sometimes be childlike. Obedience accompanied by grumbling and complaining doesn't make us a fun companion for anyone.

Receive this blessing in your spirit...

Spirit... be blessed in the name of the One who is life. Your Father is pleased that Jesus His Son lives in you and His Spirit makes His home in you. Choose the abundant life of Jesus in you (John 10:10)... God pledges the full faith of His great Name to you. His Word says in 1 Samuel 12:22, "For the sake of His great Name the LORD will not reject His people, because the LORD was pleased to make you His own." You have the pleasure of the Lord. He is pleased that you are His. You belong to Him. You are precious in His sight. You are a divine choice. Celebrate your chosenness. You are an expression of the embrace of the everlasting love of God. By His grace, seize your opportunities every day to choose life, to be life, to give life. Choose against what distracts you, confuses you, and puts in jeopardy the life of the Beloved in you. Choose to life from the heart of your Father.

Spirit, be blessed in the encouragement that comes from being united with Christ. Receive comfort from His love. Be blessed to choose fellowship with the Spirit. Bask in His tenderness and compassion. Make His joy complete by receiving His unshakable purpose for you in your Father. You have not read the final chapter of His plans for you. He has written a future and a hope for you. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This verse was written to people who were exiled and captive ina foreign country for seventy years. god kept His promise, and they returned to the land He gave them. blessed with hope for your future in Him who chose your lfie. Choose to believe in hope that He who called you is faithful. It is your choice. Spirit, be blessed with trusting His thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, for your good an not for evil. **

Be blessed in the Name of the One who humbled Himself to extreme obedience on the cross for you that you may die to self to really live in Him! Amen.

** (c) 2008 Sylvia Gunter, "You are Blessee in the Names of God", pg. 33

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Becoming a Wife of Valor

I was reminded this morning about the incredible responsibility that we have as wives. When I truly walk as a godly woman, I can be an unbelievable blessing to my husband but when even the best of intentions are misguided, I can become a source of unspeakable pain to the one that I have sworn to love. As much as I hate to admit it, this is a lesson that I have learned by experience. Not that I always get it right now, but praise the Lord He's teaching me!

Proverbs 12:4 says, "A virtuous and worthy wife is a crowning joy to her husband but she who makes him ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."

The Hebrew word that is translated here as virtuous and worthy is Strong's 2428 chayil. It was often used as a war term. It refers to a force of means or other resources, strength or power applied. In all three cases where it is applied to wives (Ruth 3:11, Proverbs 12:4 & Proverbs 31:10) it is a force applied for good. It comes from the Hebrew root word chuwl (Strong's 2342) which means to dance OR writhe in pain, to bring forth or to fall grieviously.

Oh women! We have such HUGE responsibility in our marriages! We can cause our husbands to dance with joy or wound them painfully! A noble wife goes to war for her husband - not against him. I am so grateful for the prophet that the Lord sent to rebuke me. I didn't know! Young wives and mothers, let me share some of the lessons that I have learned so that you don't have to learn them the hard way!

Read, re-read then read again the words of 1 Peter 2:18 - 1 Peter 3:9. Take it from the Amplified Bible which puts "teeth" to the instructions to us. Like it or not, we, as housewives, are household servants! Submission - God's way - is not the end of ourselves but the key to such freedom in our marriages!

As we wives start to walk closer with the Lord, the temptation is so prevalent to preach at our husbands and tell them how to do it. They rebel, we get frustrated, discouraged and complain. How miserable we can become. Rather, we need to be their number one cheerleader! Cheer them on! Proverbs 16:24 says that "pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." Thank and acknowledge them for the good things they are doing and allow the Holy Spirit to convict them of the things that need to be transformed. I can't tell you the benefits that I can personally testify to from such a little change! Try it!

Camp out in 1 Corinthians 13. You may be amazed by the record of wrongs that you've kept in your mind. Forgive them as you want to be forgiven. Start praying that the Lord would enable you to love according to His prescription. What He asks of you He will enable you to do when we die to self and live by His Spirit.

Start a record of "rights". Somedays it may be hard to see them so keep a record of things that he's doing well. Remind yourself of things that attracted you to him in the first place. Share your list with a good friend who can help you to remember when you're tempted to be discouraged. Remember that our friends hurt when we hurt and they often tend to commiserate with us rather than point out the positives. You need to tell them to help you dwell on your husbands good qualities.

Moms, are we serving our children and trying to change our husbands? That's wrong! Let's serve our husbands and train our children. It's Biblical. It's God's way and He blesses each feeble step we take in that direction.

Follow the command in Nehemiah 4:14 and remember the Lord who is great and fight for your husbands and home and your children. Fight for them on your knees! There's no more powerful position. Remember the Lord is the One who is able to do exceedingly abundantly - more than you could dare to ask or even imagine! That's your Commander and Chief.

Please don't allow the enemy to discourage you from this. Don't try once and give up. Proverbs 18:19 says, A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Why am I so passionate about this? Because I am living a miracle! I had given up but God hadn't! I thought that fighting and dissension was what I would survive the rest of my life. When I thought that I couldn't stay for another day, God asked, "can you stay for today?" And He began giving my husband a new wife - and it was me! And you know what? I have a wonderful husband! I love him dearly! He's my friend. I love to spend time with him. I enjoy his company. And tucked away in my drawer is a reminder of where we've come from. A tear stained piece of paper on which I wrote the Word of God in 1 Peter 2:18-3:9 so that I could pray them though I didn't believe them possible. Friend, God's Word is Truth! Let Him show it to you.

O Abba, You are the Almighty God! You are the Creator of all things - even amazing love from cold embers. Ignite belief in the hearts of those that need it. May they remember Your greatness Lord and trust what You are capable of and longing to do for and in them and fight for their husbands and their homes and their families. Grant them spoils of battle to leave as an inheritance for their children. In the precious Name of Jesus... so be it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rose Colored Glasses

I have just come through a real season of rebellion. I hate to admit it but it's true. Areas of my life where I know the Truth and have walked in freedom before were bombarded with temptation and whether because of fatigue or whatever, I just didn't have the strength to stand. As I write that, truth be told, I realize that though I wanted to live in freedom (there really is nothing like it), I also was enticed by the temptation.

God's Word puts it this way, "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:13-14) God also says that if we look with longing towards the place that He has brought us out of, we can find constant opportunity to return to it. (see Hebrews 11:15) I did and the result was anything but pleasant. When we rebel against what the Lord has taught us and walk in disobedience, the result is a dampening of the Holy Spirit's fire within us and we speed towards sin having a stranglehold on our lives. Those chains are heavy!

Praise God! He once again broke through this vicious cycle. Humbling myself, I cried out in desperation for forgiveness and He heard my cry! So where do the rose colored glasses come in? In my dialogue with the Lord and my own struggle to forgive myself, He led me to Ephesians chapter 1. Verse 4 says, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." "Oh, Lord," I cried, "that really is how You see me! I'm so glad that You wear rose colored glasses!"

Now, can I just tell you that I LOVE that the Lord will never allow us to walk in freedom from a lie! No sooner had I voiced the words to Him then He replied, "I do NOT wear rose-colored glasses! They are blood red! The blood of My Son is sufficient for you." You see, God is Truth and He cannot bear lies. He cannot look on my sin and just disregard it to see me as holy and blameless but the blood that Christ shed for my sins on the cross was - and is - enough to pay the penalty of my sin. When my Heavenly Father looks at me, He sees me through the precious blood of Jesus Christ and that beautiful robe of Christ's perfect righteousness has been placed over my rags. Praise be to God!

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. (Colossians 1:19-23a)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lord, I Want to be Like a Tree!

Okay, at first, that may sound like an odd request but the Lord often relates our lives to the growth of a tree. There's Psalm 1 that says when we meditate on the Word of God and trust His counsel He blesses us as a tree planted by streams of water - healthy trees - bringing forth fruit in season. Or there's Isaiah 61:3 that says that the Lord came to make us into oaks of righteousness, a planting for the display of His splendor.

I LOVE both of these passages! What an awesome picture! I even have a favorite tree! I like to tell the Lord that I'm so glad He planted it just for me! It is magnificent! It towers over other trees, that if seen on their own, look pretty amazing themselves. The trunk is so sturdy and strong and its' leaves offer such wonderful shade and shelter. I love it! The Lord has used this particular tree to teach me many things over the years, especially during life's strong winds and storms. Often, He has reminded me to choose Him and His Word and that when the winds once again subside, I'll be stronger... because I'm rooted in Him.

This week, one of the passages that I was taken to was Ephesians 3:16-21.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I praise the Lord for new layers of understanding! We were challenged to draw a tree and consider its' roots. How far did our roots go down into the LOVE of God? The Lord took me on a google tangent... He wanted to show me some more about roots. It shouldn't surprise us that young, immature trees send out their roots just under the soil. They require consistent rain to water them and they are greatly influenced by the elements. Their roots act as tethers but they will never grow into grand, mature trees if they don't develop sinker roots. A sinker root plummets deep into the soil of the earth. There were a fair amount of interesting facts listed in various research papers but one phrase struck me profoundly. Sinker roots enable the tree to avoid drought not endure drought!

Life happens. Storms come. Winds blow and seasons of drought are inevitable. My roots need to be anchored deeply into the love of God for me. When I know - really know - that His love for me is unconditional and that nothing can separate me from that love, I can weather the elements because in Him I can be lavishly nourished and soul-satisfied! Praise His Name! Now that's a love worth expending energy grasping! Wouldn't you agree?

Just Thoughts...

A couple of different verses have been wafting through my mind these last weeks and as I've been turning them over, they have begun to resonate in new ways.

The first verse is...

I will call upon the LORD, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:3 Amplified)

It has registered that I'm to call on the LORD when I'm pursued by the enemy, but somehow, that simple phrase in the middle and the accompanying "so" had escaped my attention. "Who is to be praised" is telling me how to call. When the enemy is pushing in on me, when I'm feeling hard-pressed on every side, I'm to call upon the LORD in praise! I thought on that a little more. When I choose praise, I am choosing to acknowledge that He is God - I am not - and I can trust Him to save me in His time and His way. Praise lifts my eyes from the enemy to the Savior.

The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

This verse has also taken on new meaning, especially in light of Psalm 18:3. I've practiced that when I realize my thoughts are contrary to what the LORD would want them to be, to call upon the Name of Jesus. It has helped me a lot but once again, I have come to learn that I was only applying a portion of this Word of God. "The righteous run to it" and are safe. When my thoughts are going astray, it's a great start to call upon the Name of the LORD, but then I need to follow that up with acknowledging where I am in relation to where He is and then RUN to Him! That's where the safety lies! It's not enough to just call out His Name. When we see that He is wanting us to go one direction and we've taken a look, or steps, down another, we need to get moving in His direction! Add the two verses together and we see that as the enemy pursues us, we need to stop, call out, acknowledge His way, command, direction is Sovereign and then make haste to follow in His footsteps!

I think this is what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. We live in a fallen world and the enemy and our own evil desires seek to entice away but at the first realization that trouble approaches, call upon the Name of the LORD, acknowledging His Lordship and Sovereignty and then, no matter what our emotions, desires, or earthly pressures might be pressing on us, RUN to His position and way of thinking as He outlines in His Word. That's taking our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ. Calling out without further action is only the first step in the process.

LORD, I hear You say that whoever has Your commands AND OBEYS them, he is the one who loves You. I desire to love You with all of my heart, all of my mind, with all of my soul and with all of my strength but sometimes pressures push hard in the opposite direction. Please help me to remember that Your Name, Your Word and the power of praise are powerful weapons available for victory. No matter what I may feel or desire, may I run to You and follow in Your footsteps for in them, there is great safety! In YOUR NAME Jesus, I ask it... Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

God is NOT Late!

Are you tired of "waiting" on the Lord? Does it seem that, though you've told Him you need Him, He is late coming around? Does it even feel like He's not coming? We all have experienced this at one time or another. I was reminded that despite how it may appear to our finite minds, God is never late!

In John 11 we read the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. It is clear from the passage that Lazarus was dearly loved by the Lord Jesus (vs. 3, 5) yet, when word came to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, Jesus did not immediately go to him. Instead, the Lord stayed where he was for two days longer though it is also obvious that Jesus was aware of the severity of Lazarus illness. In fact, the Sovereign Lord knew that Lazarus was dead (vs. 11-14). So why didn’t He drop whatever He was doing and go to His friend and heal him?

Consider the following verses…

When Jesus received the message, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it.” (John 11:4 AMP)

Jesus was already accomplishing His plan, to the glory of the Father, but the plan included a purposeful delay.

Therefore [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was. (vs. 6)

“Therefore” refers back to verse 4 and Christ’s purpose to bring the Father glory. Jesus brought greater glory to the Father by waiting 2 more days to reveal the His power.

Then after that interval He said to His disciples, “Let us go back again to Judea.” (vs. 7)

Christ acted according to His timetable.

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews only recently were intending and trying to stone You, and are You [thinking of] going back there again?” Jesus answered… “Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep.” (vs. 8-9a, 11b)

Christ will not be detained. He is not afraid of the circumstances. All authority has been given Him in heaven and on earth. Whatever comes to pass must first pass through the hands of the Almighty God.

And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him. (vs. 15)

When Christ “delays” it is to help our belief. There will be a time for Him to act.

So when Jesus arrived, He found that he [Lazarus] had already been in the tomb four days. (vs. 17)

There was a prevalent belief in that day that the spirit of a dead person hovered close for 3 days. By waiting until Lazarus had been dead 4 days, he was DEAD in the minds of the people. Christ waited until the people could not dismiss His work as anything less than a miracle!

What areas or situations in your life does it seem that God is late showing up to? Is there a specific issue or part of you that feels “dead”? Like Martha in verse 21, do you feel that if God had just shown up sooner…? Is it possible that Christ is purposely delaying in order to bring greater glory? Not that we must know but what greater glory might He have in mind?

Jesus said to her (Martha), “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone, and Jesus… shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And out walked the man who had been dead. (vs. 40-41a, 43b-44a)

Believe Him when His Word says that He wants to do the miraculous in your life. Listen to His voice when He calls you to “come out!” He is not scared away or offended by the stench of our dead places. Rather, that’s why He came - that we would have life and that to the full! (see John 10:10) Will you trust Him and obey Him as He resurrects your life – in His ways and on His timetable?

Lord, I pray that I would not be so set in my mind and heart as to how You should work and when You should show up that I miss the fact that You are ALWAYS at work - for my good and Your greater glory! In the Name of Jesus, the Raiser of the dead, so be it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mother's Day: Blessed to be a Blessing...

I was privileged to be able to speak at a local area church this past Mother's Day. The link will be available for a couple of weeks. If you miss it, please contact me and I will make it available to you.

May the Lord bless you richly as you in turn, bless others. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Prescription for Peace or Prescription for Disaster!

I am working through the Breaking Free study by Beth Moore. Today, the lesson started with a discussion on peace. We took a look at Philippians 4:6-7 which reads...

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps you have read those verses a hundred times, maybe even memorized them. Well, I wasn't prepared for the exercise that followed. Try rewriting or paraphrasing these words BUT ONLY IN THE NEGATIVE! Why don't you give it a try before you read any further...

Do not be calm about anything, but in everything keep grumbling! Whatever you do, don't pray! Don't ask the Lord for His help in anything! And anxiety galore - fit for every circumstance - will ensure that your heart and your mind are unprotected and exposed - apart from Christ Jesus...

Now, I'm not suggesting anyone follow that prescription! What a prescription for disaster! When you see it put into words and in black and white doesn't it just reveal the lunacy of our actions on so many occasions? Why do we do that? We DO do that! Isn't it true that the times when our insides are tied in knots the most are when we can't quit grumbling and complaining - playing out all of the "what if's" long enough to even see straight to pray, let alone do so with thanksgiving. I'm convinced that we often even mistake our complaining tongue and wagging finger for prayer because we're telling it to the Lord.

The way to peace is through a life marked by knee prints! Ones of bended knee to Christ's Authority and time spent often waiting with Him in prayer. I recently read a quote on another blog ( that asks the question how can we appeal to Christ's Authority when we don't submit to His Authority. The prophet Isaiah foretold of Christ coming as the "Prince of Peace" and that the government would be upon His shoulders. Let me ask you this morning, how's your peace? Where's the government of your life today? Is it resting on your shoulders or His?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Knowing the Rest of the Story

As I was driving to work this morning, my heart was full of joy! I was singing, at least on the inside, as I was celebrating the glory of Easter Morning (a few days early)! What an amazing and awesome knowledge - I know that my Redeemer lives! Then I thought back two thousand years and thought what was my Lord experiencing today...

Today was the day that Jesus had His "Last Supper" with His disciples, the 12 men that He had spent nearly every moment of the previous three and a half years with. He knew that this was the last time that they would fellowship over a meal together before He died. Today was the day that Jesus served His disciples the bread and the wine of Passover knowing full well that it was merely the prelude to the True Bread and Wine of His body and blood that He would serve for all mankind the next day.

Today was the day that Jesus took His friend Peter aside and told him that he would deny Him, not once, but three times. His heart was full of compassion as He told Peter that He had been praying for him. Today was the day that Christ told Judas to go and do what he had to do even knowing that it was to finalize the arrangements for His betrayal. Today was the day that His betrayal would be with a kiss.

Today was the day that Jesus could have used some faithful friends. Today was the day that His three closest friends were too tired to watch with Him awhile. Today was the day that my Lord cried out in such distress to His Father that He sweat drops of blood. Today was the day that Jesus asked the Father if there was another way. Today was the day that Christ willingly submitted to the will of the Father and said, "yet not My will but Thine."

Today was the day that Christ performed one more miracle - and for an "enemy". Today was the day that Jesus healed the servant of the High Priest whose ear Peter cut off in panic and rage. Today was the day that my Lord went willingly with those who would beat Him, mock Him and spit upon Him. Today, the Lord went without sleep. Today was the day that everyone deserted Him and fled! Today the Lord was alone.

Today I was tempted to feel guilty for my joy...

And what about tomorrow? The events of today were "bad" enough. What about the events we mark tomorrow? A crown of thorns thrust into His head, stripe upon stripe carved into the flesh on His back, nails piercing His hands and feet, suffocating to give those who will receive it His breath of life, blood running down a wooden cross while those He died to save ridiculed Him. My mind shys away from such horrors. It's too much for me to bear. Yet...

Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (emphasis mine)

Jesus, the One who authored my faith, endured the cross because of the joy He knew would be His as He paved the way for us to live in relationship with Him. He endured so that He could provide me with the very joy I was tempted to feel guilty for. I know joy today because I know the love that the Lord has for me. He proved it 2000 years ago. Joy overflows from within me because I know the rest of the story. Three days later He arose and now He sits at the right hand of the throne of God and intercedes for me!

Lord Jesus, today I am filled with joy because of Your love displayed for me. Today I stop and remember the price that You paid. Today I praise You for living, dying and rising again for me! Today is the day, just like yesterday and just like tomorrow, that I gratefully choose to live my life for you.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Awesome in the Insignificant

I woke up discouraged this morning. You know those days that when you get right down to it, either the Lord just isn't doing what you want Him to do or the answers to your prayers just seem to be taking too long. We talked about it this morning and He was so gracious to remind me that He knows it's hard sometimes but I can trust Him. He IS working. His plans are for my good. His timing is perfect.

I was reminded of Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. The LORD told them that as soon as the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stepped into the river, He would stop the water. Well, the priests obeyed and stepped out in faith and the LORD answered at that exact moment and stopped up the water... approximately 16 miles upstream! It has been calculated that the priests stood in the river, with the water rushing against them, for 7 1/2 - 12 1/2 hours before they saw the results of God's working. That's where the LORD has me right now... persevering in faith though sometimes I'm ever so aware that the waters of life are rushing against me. You can read about it in Joshua 3.

I accepted that Word and then proceeded to say, "But, Lord, it's hard..." I am so glad that His loving-kindness endures forever, that His mercies are new every morning! He took me to one of my favorite passages - Psalm 118. In verses 10-11, He seems to say, "I know that the enemy seems to be compassed about you. I know they surround you on every side BUT in My Name you will cut them off." It's as if He hears me still say, "it's hard, Lord." Once again, I feel Him say, "I know. It seems like bees swarming or a fire blazing through the underbrush BUT in My Name you will cut them off!" I can once again echo the words of the psalmist who said, "my adversary thrust sorely at me that I might fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my Strength and Song and He has become my Salvation." (Psalm 118:13-14 Amplified) The Lord enabled me to greet the day with a song in my heart and my hope renewed!

So off We went - my Lord and I - grocery shopping. Now you might think that I'm crazy but I love to go grocery shopping with the Lord! I am learning to really trust His provision and He seems to delight in surprising me with good gifts. Today, He showed His awesome care for me! He cares about the needs and desires that seem huge as well as the absolutely insignificant! I wanted some Glade plug-in airfreshners. I was given a number of the refills but didn't have anything to plug them into. We're really trying to honor the Lord with our finances and trust Him in big decisions and small, so as I was looking at the little gadgets, I asked Him if I could have one. It was $5.99 for one plug-in and refill. He told me that it could wait so I left it. I finished in that store and then had to go to another to get cream for our coffee. As I walked to the dairy aisle, there was a clearance display with a bonus pack of Glade plug-in airfreshners on for 50% off! For $4.99, I got TWO plug-ins and TWO refills! The Lord knew what He had already reserved for me just a little farther down the road!

I love the Lord! I sang, "He loves me too! He loves me too! I know He loves me too! If God so loves these little things, I know He loves me too!" Those words are from an old chorus called "He sees the Little Sparrow". I couldn't help but wonder about the circumstances that prompted the disciples to record those words. Can't you just see Jesus, stooping down to pick up a tiny sparrow that fell from its place of security. Can you picture Him cradling the tiny bird, quietly speaking words of reassurance? Doesn't it just make you stop in wonder? Who is this Jesus that He cares for the things that the world doesn't stop to see? He's the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Sufficient Savior and He's caring for our details! Thank You, Lord!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Such Reason to "Fear Not"

Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. Yes, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

How can you not love words like that? I read them, memorize them, remind myself of them and they are such sweet words of life to me! Can it get sweeter? Praise His Name (which I discovered is Elohim in this passage) it can!!

I spent time in this verse this morning. I pulled out "Strong's Concordance" and dug into the original Hebrew words. I am constantly amazed at how limiting the English language is. Despite our many words, we only paint in water colors the awesome brilliance of the Word of God. Consider these definitions and how much more depth they cast in an already magnificent masterpiece.

"Elohim" - The Supreme God of gods, the Sovereign Authority Who mightily created all that is, the Triune God Who spoke (or perhaps sang) the world into being.

"with" - The Hebrew word is 'im (5973). It means to accompany, as long as, beside, before and (from 6004) to associate or to overshadow by huddling together. How profound!

Fear not for I, the Creator of all, am with you, accompanying you as long as you are. There's no reason to be afraid. I am beside you, before you, overshadowing you as We huddle together!

"dismayed" - Hebrew sha'ah (8159) meaning to gaze about (for help), as one looking around in amazement or bewilderment.

Don't gaze about you in bewilderment. Your help is right here. I spoke the world and all that it contains into being with just My Words. I am your God!

"strengthen" - 'amats (553) which means to be alert physically or mentally, to be courageous, stedfastly minded, strong, stronger, fortify and prevail.

"help" - 'azar (5826) to surround, protect, aid.

"uphold" - tamak (8551) to sustain, keep fast, help, follow close, retain or hold up (with a reference to 8543 - just as He did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that).

My God will make me physically strong and courageous. He will cause my mind to be stedfast. I will be fortified and I can prevail! He has promised to come to my aid and protect me. He reminds me again that He surrounds me. He will sustain me and keep me held fast - just like He did yesterday and the day before that. Hindsight always gives me a truer picture of the incredible strength and dexterity of His righteous right arm!

O Creator God, these words give life to my heart and soul! You have proved them true to me over and over again! You say fear not because there is nothing to fear! You've got me covered. When I look back at who I used to be and the situations that You have sustained me through, I see Your mighty strength everywhere! As You remind me of that, there is no need to gaze about for help. My help comes from You, O Lord, and I feel Your courage well up within me once again. Thank You for the precious gems in Your Word. Thank You for challenging me to mine them! I love You, Lord!

Friday, March 6, 2009

More on Precepts and Statutes...

If you haven't read "Precepts, Statutes and Other Awesome Stuff!" yet, skip over this entry until you have...

This blog entry is all about my core values and priorities that the Lord has been impressing upon my heart. These are the priorities that govern my time schedule and tasks. These are what I use to help me choose between good and best. For those of you that know me, these are the things that I want to be remembered by to the praise of the Lord's marvelous grace!

Karrie Smyth - Core Values
I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, He will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Therefore, by the power of His Spirit in me:

1. Above all, I will seek intimate fellowship with the Lord.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
If my people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
2. I will live a life of worship and therefore a life of joy.
“If He never did any more for me than save my soul, it would be worth praising Him forever!”
I beseech you therefore, brethren, in light of God’s great mercies, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [spiritual act of worship]. (Romans 12:1 KJV [NIV])
Jesus declared… “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection]. (Psalm 97:11 AMP)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

3. Because I know the Master, I will have integrity with my time, talents and treasure.
The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:20-21)
Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise [sensible, intelligent people] making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31-32)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21)

4. I will bring honor to my husband as I serve him.
The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil… Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. (Proverbs 31:11, 23 AMP)
[You who are] household servants, be submissive to your masters with all [proper] respect… in like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. (1 Peter 2:18a, 3:1 AMP)

5. I will bring blessing to my children as I train them.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers… (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

6. I will honor God with my body.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
But [like a boxer] I buffet my body…discipline it…and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. (1 Corinthians 9:27 AMP)

7. I will love others as Christ commands.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire this love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts)…since you are so eager and ambitious to possess spiritual endowments and manifestations of the [Holy] Spirit, [concentrate on] striving to excel and to abound [in them] in ways that will build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:1a, 12 AMP)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

8. I will be a seeker of the lost, a teacher of disciples and an equipper of leaders.
[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality. (Jude :23)
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you… (Matthew 28:19, 20a)
Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)
I encourage you to sit quietly before the Lord and work out values based on His Word for your life. It has been one of the most life-changing exercises that I have ever done. My values are bigger than what is taking place in my life at any one moment and have been only minimally revised in the years since I wrote them. Many years ago, I wrote a personal mission statement but I struggled greatly to know how to live it out. If these are my values, they are going to place requirements on my time. If these are my values, they lead to specific goals and extend to the day to day details of my task list. The Lord gave me an amazing friend who specializes in teaching women how to determine and live out lives of purpose. If you would like more information on how to do this, leave me a message and a way to reach you and I will get you further information.
Now, by the grace of God, may I "finish the work so that my eager willingness to do it will be matched by my completion of it according to my means." (see 2 Corinthians 8:11)

Precepts, Statutes and Other Awesome Stuff...

I have enjoyed the discipline of daily Bible reading for a number of years now but on January 4th, 2009, when Beth Moore issued the challenge to be "steeped" in the Word of God, the message resonated deep within me. She called us to wonder what the Lord might do in and through those that would give Him a year and take a deep dive into the Word. So, with anticipation and excitement, I plunged in!

Beth had read from Psalm 119 and I decided that this was the perfect place to start. After all, I wanted to know what the Lord required of me concerning His Word and what He promised concerning His Word. Psalm 119 is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet, each section divided into 8 verse sections. I started by reading 1 section a day in the Amplified, King James and New Living Translations. On day 2, I decided to look up key words in Hebrew using the Strong's Concordance. I was immediately stunned by just how limited the English language is! When I stop to consider that I am an English speaker merely looking words up in basically an English/Hebrew dictionary, I can't tell you how much I wish that I were Hebrew speaking and understood more of that culture and tradition! However, the Lord is so faithful! I have learned so much! And with each new lesson comes new excitement! I thought that I would share just a few of the highlights with you...

Precepts... The Hebrew word used many times in Psalm 119 as precepts is "piqquwd". As simply as I can define it, it is the collective mandates of God. The Merrium/Webster online dictionary suggests an authoritative mandate especially of a superior to an inferior as well as an authorization to act as a representative. Before this, I always thought that the words precepts, statutes, commandments and testimonies were basically interchangeable. Although I see much overlap, there is specific and significant unique meaning to each word. As I've sat at the Lord's feet and been taught by His Spirit, He's shown me some valuable applications to my life. Not only do God's collective mandates for me include the Ten Commandments and to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself (see Mark 12:30-31) but they also include the values and goals that His Word has inspired and even the priorities and tasks that spring from those. Over the past couple of years, the Lord has been impressing these on me and we've been working through them (I'll post them under their own heading). Through my study of Psalm 119, I've come to consider the Lord's precepts as His "pre-sets" for my life. I am to "do no willful wandering" from them (vs. 3), "observe them diligently" (vs. 4). I can ask the Lord to "make me understand the way" of His precepts. The word understand is to cause me to recognize intelligently, discern spiritually and even feel emotionally (see Strong's 995 "biyn"). I am to seek and inquire for His precepts for they will cause me to "walk at liberty and at ease" (vs. 45)! Does it get any more promising than that?! I am merely scratching the surface but if it's by His precepts that I am quickened, repaired, made whole, given the promise of life... I WANT them!

Statutes... The Hebrew word for statutes is "choq" (Strong's 2706). (Forgive me for not knowing how to type in the appropriate accents in the transliterations). These are enactments, hence appointments of time, space, quantity, labor or usage. The Lord God of the Universe has the right to set appointments upon my time, my space and personal environment, my labor, what I use, to set up tasks - whatever with me! Though I have found 3 distincitively separate words for "teach" in Psalm 119, I think the one used in verse 33 regarding statutes is my favorite! "Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I will keep it unto the end." That word "teach" or "yarah" is showcased in 2 Chronicles 26 (especially vs. 15) when young King Uzziah was "marvelously helped til he was strong." The Lord taught this young 16 year old King of Judah and he won victories, fortified the kingdom, harvested and even manufactured inventions. I want the Lord to teach me about using my time, space, labor etc. to produce a maturity in me like that! I can count on Him to teach me His statutes. The word translated "teach" in verse 26 implies that He will do it through discipline if He has to. I have to say, "Praise God"! Do what it takes!

Testimonies... Hebrew 5713 "edah" is the Lord's witnesses (within me). I am to keep them (vs. 2) for they are my "delight" and my "counsellors" (vs. 24). When I "cleave" to the witness of His Spirit within me, I will not be put to shame (disappointed or delayed, confounded, confused or dry) (vs. 31). How wonderful! You know those checks that we sense in our spirit when we are about to do something we shouldn't or the confirmation we sense when we have chosen obedience. "Listening" to the witness of God's Spirit within me definitely takes awareness and practice and I don't claim to have mastered it but it is so precious to us that the Lord likens it to "enough riches" in verse 14! How much is enough for you? No debt! No needs! No wants! Would you rejoice in that kind of material substance? "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as [much as] in all riches." O Lord, please bring me to the place where I understand the depths of that!

I'd love to tell you about the Hebrew word that we translate "way" or "ways" or how awesome it is that "all my ways are [fully known]" before the Lord. Check out the Hebrew word "derek" (Strong's 1870) for that! Or how the word we translate as "walk" implies practice. Or the word "turn" (vs. 59) how it reminds us that God knows He's going to have to come and fetch us home "again and again". Praise Him! I could go on and on but that would rob you of such a blessing as you search for yourself.

There is one last thing that I want to share. It's an answer to a prayer that I forgot that I had prayed. (I'm so thankful that our God doesn't forget!) On January 1st, 2009, the Lord was showing me that He was going to do a new work in my life (Isaiah 43:19). He is leading me on a path that I haven't known (Isaiah 42:16). It's His pleasure to magnify instruction and revelation (Isaiah 42:21) and was I not going to "give heed" to it (Isaiah 43:19b)? I wrote in my journal "How, Lord? Show me how to heed!" Perhaps the most profound definition of all came just 6 short days later...

The Hebrew word translated "heed" and in other places as keep and obey is "shamar" (Strong's 8104). It means to hedge about (as with thorns), to be circumspect (360 degrees), to protect, to attend to, to keep (oneself), to mark and to save. I want the Word of God to be so involved in my life as to be a hedge of thorns 360 degrees around me to guard and protect me, to attend to and save me from the tempting dangers of our world! Now that puts new meaning to our conscience being "pricked" as we are tempted to wander from the life-giving witness of the Sweet Spirit of God as He reminds us of God's collective mandates (or pre-sets) for our lives, the Lord's rightful appointments as to our time, space, labor, tools of usage and whatever else the Lord asks of me - for my own good!

Do this new work in me, Lord! I love the way You are magnifying Your instructions! Steep me in Your Truth! And since I am absolutely positive that I am completely incapable of doing this work on my own, I am especially grateful for the reminder that You gave me yesterday...

"Blessed be the Lord, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise... that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His precepts which He commanded... that He may maintain the cause and right of His servant and of His people Israel as each day requires." (see 1 Kings 8:56, 58, 59b)

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I recently had the pleasure of watching two little girls - identical twins - learn to walk. Though they were born only moments apart, Maggie was decidedly braver at trying out her little feet than her sister Amara. With wobbly legs, Maggie would stubbornly put one tiny foot in front of the other, progressively running one, two, three... steps together while her mom and I cheered her on. Though there were many, many falls it was exciting to see her progress!

Amara, on the other hand, was timid. Each time we would set her upon her feet and encourage her to try, she would eventually opt for sitting on the floor and crawling to her destination. After all, crawling was what she was used to and it was safe. It was obvious to me that both girls had the balance but only one had the courage to step out in faith. At one point, I saw Amara, out of the corner of my eye, sitting on the very edge of the bottom step clearly trying to muster the nerve to get up and walk. I called her. I coaxed her. I offered my arms wide open for her to step into and once - just once - she took two steps before returning to crawling.

By the time I left for home, Maggie was running short series of steps together and Amara was playing with me on the floor. I had the BEST time! It was so much fun! Who knew that I could have so much delight just watching both precious girls mature - one baby step at a time!

Those were God-ordained moments. In His Sovereignty, He knew exactly what would resonate with me. The very next morning in my quiet time, I was studying Psalm 119:1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. My way didn't seem very undefiled. In fact, there seemed to be nothing in between. I was convinced my options were either defiled or perfect. I don't need to tell you which I categorized myself under. I immediately compared myself to many people that could walk this life out better than I was. Then the Lord spoke. "Do you love Maggie more than Amara?" No. Why? "Because Maggie can walk better?" No. I had enjoyed every moment with both of the girls and I knew that Amara could do it. She just didn't believe it yet. That's how it is with our Lord. He knows what we are capable of and He keeps encouraging us and spurring us on through the next step. Not because He's going to love us more as we accomplish it but because that's what babies are supposed to do. Grow. Mature. Walk. That shows health and it gives the child a whole new world to explore. And doesn't our Father's world offer so much to explore?

So, I sit on the edge, look to my Father for strength and courage and then, in faith, put one foot ahead of the other while His arms open wide! Walking is a process. I'm becoming more and more proficient at it each day and my Father is the best. He cheers me on and catches me when I fall.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25

By the way, you should see Amara go now!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Promise of "But God" Forever...

I began the New Year reading in Isaiah. I love the book of Isaiah. I can see so much of myself in the Israelite people. They want to serve the Lord their God and yet it takes so little to derail them. Oh, how I can appreciate that! I desire, with all my heart, to serve the Lord and walk obediently to His commands and then I find myself doing the very thing that He's instructed me not to. As I read the promises, the warnings, the failures... I began to notice an element in the pattern that I had overlooked before. "But God..." These two little words kept popping up. Every time I was tempted to feel overwhelmed by the rebellion that I could all too easily identify with, a verse would begin with "but God."

Take a look at these examples:

...Was it not the Lord, He against Whom we have sinned and in Whose ways they would not walk, neither were they obedient to His law or His teaching?... BUT now thus says the Lord... "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." (Isaiah 42:24, 43:1)

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. BUT GOD shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)

I could go on and on. There are many examples throughout the scriptures. I challenge you to take a look. They are precious, precious promises! For me, the icing on the cake is that we are promised a "But God" forever. Psalm 73:26 says, My flesh and my heart may fail BUT GOD is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion FOREVER!

It doesn't get any better than that! Thank You, Lord!