Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day...

     I've been thinking a lot about Boxing Day.  What an odd name for a day.  I wondered how it came to be called that.  Turns out, no one really knows for sure how "Boxing Day" got its' name.  Some think it dates back to the 10th century and "Good King Wenceslas", who was Duke of Bohemia.  He was moved to compassion by a peasant gathering wood and boxed up food and supplies to give to the peasant.  Another possible origin might be the Church of England which collected funds in boxes which were broken open on December 26th and used to help the poor.  Still another possibility is that historically, the aristocracy would give gifts to their servants the day after Christmas as a sort of annual bonus.  (Read more:,8599,1868711,00.html#ixzz2GGfO3JU7)

Which is correct?  I don't know.  Neither does Time Magazine whose article is referenced above but one thing I do know is that there's very little resemblance to any of these in our consumer driven culture.  We tend to use it as a day to shop and indulge our wants.  Sometimes we use it as a day to box up the lights and ornaments that we've used to decorate our homes and tree, but I fear it has become a day when we box up Jesus and return Him to the shelf until next year.

You see, there is still an element of society that remembers that Christmas is supposed to celebrate Jesus' birth but we forget (or don't slow down enough to think) that He came to earth to be our Lord and Savior, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings!  Don't we need a Savior every day?  Just five minutes of the news and we are forcibly reminded how desperately we need peace!  This is the gift of God to us.  Sin and evil surround us.  Let's face it, there's enough of that in us.  Christ came to save us from our sins.  If we looked to live as Jesus did, wouldn't we have more peace?  But it's not going to happen if we box Him up - out of sight and out of mind - ready to live 2013 as we want.  It's not even going to happen if we pay God's gift lipservice over the next 12 months or take Him and leave Him at our whim.  No, it's only going to happen if we allow Christ to be King over our lives!

It's been challenging me these last 24 hours.  As I set goals for 2013 and think about what's important, as I take out my daytimer and consider how I will spend my time, or my budget and how I will spend my money, will I make Him King? 

I pray that I will.  I've tasted and seen that God is good.  His mercy and grace are fathomless and His love defies description!  Yes, I pray that I will.  It's going to take practice - surrendering my stubborn will to His which is infinitely better.  I'm going to fall short, sin, stumble - but I will not box Him up!  Never!  The gift is too priceless!  What about you?  What will you do?

Monday, December 24, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about gifts this week but not the kind that you put under the tree.  No... I've had a different perspective... you see, eight days ago I underwent surgery.  I'm back at home and healing nicely but it wasn't how I planned on spending Christmas.  If I had chosen, this wouldn't have been the time.  There's so much that needs to be done.  Finish the shopping, then the wrapping.  Do some baking and some cleaning.  Take in some events.  Finish planning others.  Instead, my hectic, fast-paced Christmas season came to a screeching halt and my world became still.  At first glance, I wouldn't have called this a gift - at least, not a nice one.

It's amazing how our point of view changes when we become still.  In the quietness, we appreciate things that we have barely noticed from high gear.  Things that normally provoke stress can be consumed by prevailing peace and even enjoyed.  Case in point - decorating the Christmas tree with my children.  As I was resigned to sit and watch rather than control, it was amazing how beautiful the whole scenario could be.

I guess that's when I began to really recognize this surgery and period of recuperation - over Christmas - as a good gift and not an intrusion.  In the stillness I found peace from the frenzy, joy in the little things and savored Christ in Christmas.  I almost missed it.  The packaging wasn't what I expected. 

God gives good gifts - all the time.  We are either just moving to fast to see them or we dismiss them because they don't come wrapped in the packaging we expected.  That's what God did with Jesus.  The people were longing and waiting for the arrival of the Messiah - the King.  But, they weren't expecting Him to be born of a peasant girl - in a stable instead of a palace.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey some thirty years later, they expected Him to set-up His earthly kingdom, not lay down His earthly life.  God's ways are much higher than our ways.  When we expect Him to act like just a better form of us, we are going to miss Him entirely. 

I wonder where you're at this Christmas... Do you find yourself longing and waiting for something?  Someone?  Are you craving peace?  Stillness?  Hope?  Joy?  Perhaps you didn't recognize the packaging.  These things cannot be found in the bright, sparkling things of the world.  Oh, the wrapping might be enticing but inside the package is empty.  These things that we are really craving can only be satisfied in Jesus! 

Has an unexpected package arrived in your life?  Maybe it's the very thing that will cause you to stop and look and see...

Romans 6:22-23

The Message (MSG)

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

God, thank You for the gift of really living today and the promise of endless tomorrows.  Thank You for sending Your Son - the King of kings - born of a virgin peasant girl to pay the pension for my sin.  Thank You for interrupting the busyness of my life and helping me to see all over again.  Thank You for loving me so much that You sent me the gift of stillness - wrapped up in stitches and gauze - so that once again I could see Your great love for me!

Friday, December 7, 2012

He's Got You Surrounded!

I've searched all over this morning for a picture that matches the one in my mind's eye.  Over the last few days, the LORD has been painting a picture for me through His Word and oh, how I wish, I could show it to you!  I pray that as I show you the scriptures that the LORD has shown me, His Spirit would delight and encourage your heart as He has done with mine...

Psalm 125:1-2 says, "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore."  This caught my attention.  Though I've never been to Jerusalem, I could picture being surrounded by mountains but what did it look like to be surrounded by the LORD?

An old commentary on the Psalms by E.C.Olsen sent me to Job, chapter 1.  I may often forget that the LORD has placed a hedge around about me, but satan never forgets!  "Does Job fear God for no good reason? Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?"  I like that!  From the rest of the story in the book of Job, I know that if something gets through that hedge of protection the LORD has placed around me, it's not because the enemy broke through - it's because God allowed it - and will ultimately use it for my good and His glory!

That's good to remember, yet the LORD knows me so well... He knows that I am a visual learner and when He gives me a picture of specific truth, I am way more apt to remember it.  This morning, I was reading Psalm 139.  It opens by affirming just how well He knows me.  He knows when I sit and when I rise.  He discerns my thoughts from afar.  He's acquainted with all of my ways.  He hems me in, behind and before me... Ding, ding, ding!  The truths from Psalm 125 and Job 1 come rushing back to my mind.

Once again, I pull out the commentary by E.C. Olsen.  This time, he contemplates John 10:28-29 side by side with these words from Psalm 139.  John 10:28 tells me that those who have trusted Jesus for eternal life can be found in His hand.  I literally pictured myself resting bodily in the palm of that nail-scarred hand.  That seems like a pretty safe place to me but just in case I was doubting, Jesus goes on to say that His Father is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I was still mulling that over when I turned back to Psalm 139.  Listen to these words from verse 5, "You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me."  (emphasis mine)

Picture this!  If you have placed your life in Christ's hands, you are held, cradled in the palm of His hand.  As if that weren't enough, the Father takes His own hand and lays it over you.  You are completely surrounded by the Hands of the Almighty!  Nothing can snatch you out!  The hands that formed the universe, put the stars in place, lovingly hold you and you can rest there.  What else could I possibly want?  But our God is a God of abundance.  There was one more brush stroke left for Him to paint me today.  It comes from Psalm 32:7.  While I am there, cradled in that hiding place for me, He preserves me from trouble; and if I am listening - truly listening - I'll hear His mighty voice as He surrounds me with shouts of deliverance.  "Selah" - pause and calmly think on that!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Action! It's More Than Wishful Thinking!

The LORD knows me so well.  This morning He brought me back to a lesson that He taught me earlier this year through a scripture that I have read many times before.  It is a wonderful prayer of David - steeped in hope - and full of truths!  And nestled within familiar words is a profound reminder and challenge to me...
I will call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words.  Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at Your right hand.  (Psalm 17:6-7 ESV, emphasis mine)

Seek refuge!  How often have I read this passage and others like it and missed the implication of the word "seek"?  Seek is much more than hope for - more than wishful thinking!  The Hebrew word translated here is Strong's # 2620 "chacah".  It means to actually "flee for protection, be confident in, put trust in"!  (see  Isn't that so much more than hope for protection to be found?  In fact, there are 37 occurrences of this word in the Old Testament and only one time is it translated to have hope in!  Every other time, action is implied!  Jesus is the Savior of those who believe and then act on that belief!  We are to flee for protection - get moving - to the refuge we have at our God's right hand!

Words fail me at how to really bring this phrase to life but the LORD is showing me this passage in light of what I shared yesterday in "My Dad" (  If I am acting on the hope that I have that my Heavenly Father is going to provide refuge from all of my adversaries, I am going to run to my Father!  I'm going to clamor up onto His knee and tell Him everything that I am thinking and feeling!  And then, when He tells me what to do, I'm going to take my stand on His words - because no one messes with my Dad!  That's seeking refuge! 

Abba Father, You have been helping me know by experience the difference between wishful thinking and acting on what You have said!  If is profound!  Thank You for the reminder today.  Please help me to choose to seek refuge in You and no other. In Jesus' Name... Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My "Dad"

I love the view of God as my Father.  I was blessed with a wonderful earthly Dad who would gather me on his knee, hear what I had to say and help at any cost.  That has helped me appreciate my Heavenly Father over the years.  When I became a parent myself, that added a new dimension to how I viewed more difficult things like discipline.  This past few weeks, though, the Lord has been painting a new picture for me that is renewing in me a childlike faith. 

Picture your child, running in the door and you can tell by one look at their face that something is wrong.  Immediately, a parent's heart is stirred with compassion.  You ask what is wrong and you give your child your full attention as they explain - as best they can - what has transpired.  It doesn't really matter what the scenario is, there are really only three ways we respond.  We either help them see from a more accurate perspective, we tell them how to deal with the situation and give them everything they need to do that, or the "mama bear" wells up in us so fast and we assure our child that they can just step aside and we'll handle it!

Why do I not automatically rest in that same parental concern in my Heavenly Father?  When I start to look at each trying circumstance of my life from that perspective, a new childlike faith emerges.

When the situations I face get me down, God knows.  He can tell by one look at my face!  Actually, He can tell by one look at my heart and my mind.  Psalm 139:1-2 says, O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away (New Living Translation).  God knows!  He sees me and He sees the big picture.  When I come to Him with my every concern and allow Him to gather me up on His knee, sometimes I merely need Him to give me a new perspective.  How often do we see the situations we face with such a limited understanding?  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (New International Version).  In ways which transcend all understanding, He gives me peace.  (see Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes, I find God gives me clear advice as to what I should do and then He follows it up by giving me every resource that I need to follow through.  Psalm 32:7-8 tells us, For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory... The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you (New Living Translation).

The other option is that our Heavenly Father tells us to step aside and let Him handle it!  Isaiah 49:25 gives us full assurance of that!  For thus says the Lord:  “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you... (English Standard Version).  King Jehoshaphat received just such an answer from the LORD in 2 Chronicles 20:15 & 17!  He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (New International Version 1984). (to read the complete story: Chronicles+20&version=NIV1984)

So you see, if we as fallible parents, would be moved with compassion for our child... If we would give them a better understanding of the situation or advise them how to handle it under our mindful eye... Or if we would be so stirred up with indignation that we would say to ourselves "you just messed with the wrong child" and gently tell your offspring to "stand aside!  Momma's gonna handle this!" how much more our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we could ever fathom?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this new picture of how I can trust You to handle anything and everything that comes at me!  Help me to remember how quickly that mamma bear instinct wells up in me and remember that it originates in You.  Help me to recognize how desperately my arms ache to hold my own children and soothe away their hurts - even when they brought them on themselves.  Help me to be quick to scramble up on Your knee and talk things out with You and then listen to hear You tell me how we're going to handle things because NO ONE messes with my "Dad"!  Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV'84)

As I sat with the LORD this morning on this Thanksgiving Day, it was very easy for me to give thanks to Him.  The house is cozy and quiet... my family is all snuggled into their beds... there's a gentle pitter-patter of much needed rain falling outside my window... all of the trimmings for a thanksgiving feast are ready to be put together and I look forward to a leisurely day with those I love.  Life is good.  I pulled a book by one of my favorite authors off of the shelf.  She always has a way of challenging my thinking and pointing me to God's Throne.  Today was no exception.

I resumed reading from where I had left off the last time I had picked it up.  As the LORD so often does, the theme of the chapter was right in line with what He and I had been talking about.  The book is "31 Days of Drawing Near to God" by Ruth Myers (previously released as "The Satisfied Heart").  Her challenge was giving thanks to the LORD for and during the trials - just as much as for and during the good times. 

The LORD and I have been talking about that these last 24 hours.  I found out yesterday that one of the families in our church lost their 18 year old nephew to a hit and run accident this weekend.  A young man, full of promise tragically killed while crossing the street - and on Thanksgiving weekend!  There is NO day of the year where an accident like this does not completely devastate all those touched by it but there seems an added injustice when it's on a holiday that is supposed to represent everything but.  It didn't take many minutes for my mind to race to another family whose world was turned upside down by a very similar accident 11 years ago. 

Carole Lewis and her family were celebrating Thanksgiving 2001, when their daughter Shari was getting ready to back out of their drive way and was hit by a car speeding out of control.  In a moment, she was gone.  My mind raced to Carole's story so quickly because it was as I listened to Carole share of the greatness of God and His care for her during the moments, days and weeks following Shari's death that I committed to getting to know the LORD like she knew the LORD.  As I listened to Carole on the simulcast that day, she said many other things but I am absolutely convinced that if she hadn't testified to God's greatness even in her grief, I would have walked away unchanged.  I was greiving.  (Carole Lewis, author of "a thankful heart - How Gratitude Brings Hope and Healing To Our Lives"

Since then, the LORD has brought it about that I would meet Carole several times and now call her friend.  I never celebrate Thanksgiving without giving thanks for her and her willingness to share that day.  I am a life radically transformed by God, due in no small part, to her courageous testimony.

So, I think of the family of this 18 year old young man.  I have to wonder how the LORD will use even this situation.  Only time will tell - and even then, maybe not until heaven will we really know.  There's a challenge in all of this for me... Do I give thanks in all circumstances?  Notice how the LORD says "in" all circumstances.  He's not saying "for".  It's funny how I find it easy to be thankful in the good times - like today.  I can even express gratitude for some of the darkest times of my life - at least now in hindsight - because I learned so much about who God is during them.  But I very often fail to give thanks "in" unhappy, stressful or trying circumstances.  I have to face it - I often fail to give thanks just when I don't get my own way!  Forgive me, LORD. 

Ruth Myers put it this way this morning.  "Without trials as God's platform for revealing Himself, might we fail to experience the incredible greatness of His power in our personal lives?  Just by reading about it in the Bible?  That is essential.  It gets the concept into our mind.  But when we're caught in an impossible circumstance and cry out to Him and He answers with deliverance, then we know on a deeper level: Our God truly is powerful!  Apart from difficult circumstances, how earnestly would we seek Him?  How deeply would we know Him?  I'm sorry to say this, but isn't it true that you and I would soon be distracted and often forget Him if everything always went smoothly?"  (Day 10, "31 Days of Drawing Near to God", copyright 1999, Multnomah, a division of Random House Inc.)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 merits repeating...

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

For a further look at this command, visit

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Understanding...

The LORD woke me early this morning.  I needed to spend time with Him.  Life has been chaotic lately and quietness in body and soul have been sporadic.  I felt Him beckon me out to see the stars.  They were AMAZING!  The sky was a pitch black background for a million (or more) little pin pricks of light.  Some were so bright that they looked like I could reach up and touch them!  The moon was a sliver, hanging heavy in the eastern sky and I could see 180 degrees of sky!  The constellations were jumping out at me like I was sitting in a planetarium - only brighter!  I kept turning around and delighting in each new vantage point.  I can't remember ever having a moment quite like it - when something in me almost expected to hear His audible voice!  I even woke each member of my family to come out and see the vast display.  Each one said, "Wow!" "Awesome!" "Oooh!"  It was completely AWESOME!

I poured my coffee and sat in my "spot" with the Lord.  I enjoyed my morning readings in the Psalms but my mind kept picturing the (I can't seem to grasp an appropriate adjective) dazzling display!  I went outside again... Just the tiniest tinge of pink starting to mark the horizon of the eastern sky... The words of Job 38 began running through my mind...

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding. (I don't, LORD) Who determined its measurements - surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together... Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth...Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?  Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?  (I could go on and on - each time the answer was "No")

Then the LORD brought to mind, "then why do you keep leaning on your own understanding?"  I have no idea.  It makes no sense to me now.  The God of the Universe - Whose fingers placed the stars and the moon into place (Psalm 8:3), Who manages the paths of billions of stars and they never collide, is mindful of me and what I will face this day.  Certainly HE IS ABLE!  I choose (anew) to trust Him!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart (even all of my emotion) and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (just like He does the stars) Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Awake My Love and come away,
  come away before the day.
Let Us watch the sky unfold
  and talk of wonders to behold.
Let Us hear creation sing
  and ready for what this day brings...

LORD, You have wooed me to here.
  Creation's song rings in my ear.
You've brought me to that big, old rock.
  It's peaceful here and We can talk.
The moon hangs full.  Two stars still shine.
  Your Presence's here.  Our hearts entwine.

Speak my LORD.  i'm listening now.
  My soul is still.  My head is bowed...

Come, My child.  Hear mercy cry.
  Do not listen to this world's lie.
I sing for you of My great love.
  I WILL give you eyes of a dove.
You do not have to earn Me here.
  You CAN just rest - there's naught to fear.
Just as I've hung that star that shines
  and lower the moon at the proper time,
I can handle all your cares.
  Listen now and I will share...

You hear the lie "you can't be free!"
  but that is not the Truth with Me.
Reject it now in Jesus' Name.
  No child of Mine need walk in shame!
Turn your head and lift it high.
  The new day dawns.  I've heard your cry.
Salvation belongs to Me alone.
  I bless you now out on those stones
To walk in Truth that man might see
  freedom comes from Me indeed!
Trust Me now.  I am your Shield,
  and just as I've led you in that field
I lead you now through this new day.
  Listen to Me.  I know The Way...

LORD, You are so good to me!
  You show me what i fail to see.
You bless me with the sun's first rays.
  You're familiar with all my ways.
You know when i have hung my head.
  You fill my heart with Truth instead.
You are my Strength for each new day.
  i trust You now to show The Way.
Let freedom ring!  Please help me now
  to bow the knee to Your Awesome power.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Guilty - Part 2

If you haven't already read part 1, I invite you to do so as it is the frame that holds the picture for this verse today. 

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him... Colossians 1:21-22 ESV

Now, if you remember, we were looking at Zechariah 3 and a vision that the Lord gave to Zechariah of a scene taking place in the throne room of heaven.  At first glance, it might look like the frame and the picture are an odd pair or mismatched, but let me show you what the Lord showed me.

The words "above reproach before Him" made me think of standing before the Lord, in His courtroom.  But what does above reproach really mean anyway?  "Above reproach" or as the King James Version puts it "unreprovable" is Greek # 410 in Strong's Concordance of the Bible.  It means unaccusable!  It comes from G #1458 which means to call in for charges or debt, to lay accusation. 

I couldn't believe what the Lord was showing me!  The enemy tries to make me believe that it's about works, that if I just do this or don't do that... He knows that I'm going to provide ample failures for ammunition and then he seems to haul me before the Lord and throw accusation after accusation in my face - charges that I cannot deny - a debt that I could never repay!  And before I know it, I'm feeling like I'm standing condemned.  Do you remember how Zechariah 3 showed us that the Lord doesn't even let satan talk?  He declares him wrong before he even opens his mouth and so should we!  This verse is like our legal paper that we can wave in satan's face to shut him up!  Because of what Christ did in "His body of flesh by His death", I am unaccusable when I am called in for charges or debt!  No one can lay accusations upon me!  God says!

What about the word "blameless"?  How awesome!  I am without blame, faultless before God because of Christ!  Zero, nada, zilch... NO blame, NO fault!  Praise God!

There was one more word that the Lord brought to my attention.  "Reconciled."  Strong's Greek #604, puts it as reconciled fully.  I like that!  It comes from the Greek words #575 meaning separation, cessation or reversal and #2644 which means to change mutually (a difference), like exchanging currency or as in persons changing from enmity with God to friends with God. 

So let's put this all together... Once I was alienated from God, separated from Him.  When I listen to satan's accusations, he makes me feel that way all over again.  But when I tell myself the Truth and listen to the words of the Judge of all mankind - the highest authority in heaven and earth - I can "behold" (remember that word from Part 1?) that I have been reconciled fully.  A mutual exchange took (and takes) place.  I relinquish the debt of my sin.  That debt that I could never pay and receive Christ's righteousness!  What an exchange!  I now stand without blame, completely faultless before God because of Christ!  And God has declared my case closed!  He will not stand for any more accusations from my enemy.  I am forevermore unaccusable before God!  Wahoo!  And just for our sake, a few verses down He says it again!  Behold...

When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross. God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.  Colossians 2:13-15

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not Guilty - Part 1

Oh my goodness!  The Lord showed me something this morning that was the New Testament picture of one of my favorite Old Testament scenes!  I've known it to be true but it was like He took me back to envision it anew!  I couldn't wait to blog it!  Then I realized that I had never written about the original Old Testament scene!  So here goes... Old Testament is Part 1, New Testament will be Part 2!

One of my favorite "pictures" in Scripture is from Zechariah 3. I first noticed it as I was reading in the CEV (Contemporary English Version). It's a vision that the LORD gave to the prophet Zechariah. In the vision, he saw Joshua, the high priest, standing in front of the LORD's throne.
...This time Joshua the high priest was standing in front of the LORD's angel. And there was Satan, standing at Joshua's right side, ready to accuse him. But the LORD, said, "Satan, you are wrong. Jerusalem is my chosen city, and this man was rescued like a stick from a flaming fire." (Zechariah 3:1b-2)

What an opportunist! It strikes me that wherever we are, satan is standing ready to accuse us - but, glory to God, the LORD doesn't even let satan get a word in. He knows why satan is there.  He calls satan the "accuser of the bretheren" (Rev. 12:10) He immediately cuts satan off and tells him that he is WRONG!

I love that! For so many reasons, I love that! So why do I so often hear him out? When satan presents to me all of the reasons why the LORD must be ready to give up on me or how I'll never change, why do I listen to - and worse still - dwell on his accusations? But our accuser is clever. Sometimes his words sound like they come through our voice.

I love that it was Joshua the high priest. He was God's man and God had his back. And, I love that the LORD didn't give satan a chance to voice his case!  Satan was simply declared wrong.

The vision continues...

Joshua's clothes were filthy. So the angel told some of the people to remove Joshua's filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, "This means you are forgiven. Now, I will dress you in priestly clothes." (vs. 3-4)

How beautiful!  Even the high priest is shown in filthy rags yet receiving grace and robes of righteousness!  We are ALL in need of grace!  No matter how much "good" we have done (or try to do) it is all still filthy rags in comparison with God's perfection (Isaiah 64:6).  When we stand in the courtroom of heaven, they don't measure up!  They are not enough!  BUT GOD, made provision and is willing to redress us!
Now, there is more... something profound in verse 4 that isn't evident in this translation.  The English Standard Version reads this way...
And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (emphasis mine)

Do you know what that word "behold" means?  It means to "advise oneself, behold certainly, consider, discern, (make to) enjoy, have experience, mark, perceive, gaze upon."  (Strongs # 7200, Hebrew)  Many consider this angel of the Lord to be the preincarnate Christ.  Awesome! Regardless, in the court of heaven, Joshua was being told to advise himself of this... his sins were forgiven.  An exchange was being made.  His unrighteousness for God's righteousness.  Mark this transaction!  Why?  I believe because the enemy of our souls will try and accuse us again and we need to know we're forgiven!

Read it for yourself!  The scene even continues from here and Joshua is told that if he will walk in the ways of the Lord, he'll have immediate access to the Throne Room of heaven!  That's what we have when we pray!

So where are you?  If you found yourself standing before the Holy God today, have you traded in your filthy, sinful garments for His robes of righteousness?  Have you ever let Him dress you with the robes that He provides?  Have you given Him your sin?  If not, today is the day!  We have no guarantee of tomorrow.

If you have already done that, are you living like it?  Are you living with the security and peace that comes from knowing the Lord does not condemn you?  Or are you listening to lies that leave you discouraged and shamed?  Behold...

O Holy God, Judge of the courtroom of heaven, thank You for the day that You took away my sin and gave me Your righteousness!  I can't fathom the depths of Your love for me - the depths that You went to to provide robes of righteousness for me but I gladly accept them!  Thank You for not even allowing satan to open his mouth against me!  Help me to do the same when he comes to throw my sin back in my face.  I'm forgiven!  I have marked that transaction - and it brings me great joy!  In the Name of Jesus, my Savior, Amen!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A New Picture of God's Faithfulness to His Promises

Well, I've never done this before but I wanted to share a post that I put on my other blog  I hope you appreciate the lesson that I recorded there!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If You Knew...

I was listening to John 4 in the car last night and something struck me that I couldn't wait to dig out this morning.  Jesus and His disciples were travelling from Judea to Galilee and passing through Samaria.  It's around noon and the disciples leave Jesus to go and find some food in the nearby village.  Jesus is sitting by a water well when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water.  Jesus asked her for a drink and she is shocked.

I have heard and read this passage many times.  I have heard it preached but something registered for me as never before.  Verses 9-10 say, "The Samaritan woman said to him, 'How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?... Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you; 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." (emphasis mine)  So what did she know?  Her reality was that she had had her 3 strikes and she's out!

First, she was a Samaritan.  To us, those may be just words, but in Jesus' day, the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other so much that a Jew would never condescend himself to speak to a Samaritan!

Secondly, she was a woman.  In that culture, women held very little worth.  For a man to address a woman was not the common practice.

The third strike hasn't been disclosed to us by this point but you can be absolutely assured that it was ever-present in the woman's mind and we're told later (vs. 17-18) that Jesus Himself was completely aware of the details of this woman's life.  This woman had had five husbands and the man she was with at that point was not her husband!  Even by today's standards, that would cause some eyes to roll.

Does that help you understand her shock at being addressed by Jesus?  Now hear what He says to her... If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you... you would have asked him... These are the words that captured my attention!  If you knew the gift of God...  What is the gift of God?  It's the Good News of grace!  This woman's reality to this point was condemnation.  She had 3 strikes against her and the people she encountered had written her off.  Grace was an unknown commodity, but then, she had never met the Savior before!

Do you hear what the Savior is saying?  No matter who you are, where you're from, what you've done and how the world views you, He is like no one you have ever encountered before!  Grace - undeserved favor - getting a gift we don't deserve - is His specialty!  And if we could get our minds wrapped around this truth, we'd be running to Him and asking Him for that living water which satisfies our deepest thirsts and makes us truly live!

Romans 3:23-25 (ESV) says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Here's the same passage in plainer words... Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (The Message)

Lord, no matter the apparent reality of who I am and how I've messed up, may I recognize that I've never met anyone like You before!  You know everything I've ever done and yet You extend to me that precious gift of grace!  May I continually receive it from Your nail-scarred hand!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Who Said It Would Be Easy?

I am coming to the conclusion that a lot of discouragement could be avoided if I changed my expectations.  Not lowered them.  Not raised them.  Just changed them to be in line with truth and not buying into subtle lies.  I was reading in 1 Timothy 6 the other day and was struck by these words...

But as for you,  man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called..."  1 Timothy 6:11-12a

Note the words that the Apostle Paul used... flee, pursue, endurance, fight, take hold...  None of those are passive words!  Each one demands action and energy!  So why do I seem to live with the expectation that if I am living in accordance with God's will that life should be easy, blissful, without struggle?  This is not biblical!  I don't know how it happened.  I know this with my head but somehow I lost track of this truth in my emotions...

Why are we told to flee unless there are going to be things that try to take hold of us?  Why pursue if godly traits were going to characterize us without effort?  Who needs endurance unless they feel the urge to give up?  Why about fight or take hold?  Friends, we are told that each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). We're told that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood - but we do wrestle (Ephesians 6:12)!  We are told to press on toward the goal, straining towards what lies ahead (Philippians 3:12-14).  That assures us that we are going to experience resistance pushing against us!  Expect it!  Be alert for it and don't be discouraged!  We are told to "take heart" Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33)!

Father, thank You for showing me that I was discouraged because I was listening to lies.  I fell into the trap of believing that You were somehow letting me down and that I was failing because walking on the narrow way was difficult.  Father, when I think that way, my eyes tend to fall from You and put all of the pressure on me.  When I try to live this Christian life apart from You, I do fail, but when I trust You with all of my heart and not lean on my own understanding, You bring me through victoriously!  And Father, please help me to remember in all of this, to not listen to lies on the other extreme.  You really do have good plans for me.  Plans to prosper me, not to harm me.  Plans to give me a hope and a future.  Thank You that I can always take You at Your word.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Transform Me

O LORD, You're not at all like me.
Your ways - they pure and holy be!
O LORD, I'm not at all like You
So full of grace and mercy too!
O LORD, I need Thee every hour!
I need Thy great transforming power.
Please change my heart and thinking too
Until, O LORD, I look just like You!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Get Up and Go!

By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you..."  Genesis 12:1

I don't know if you're like me, but I am the type that really likes all of the details before I make a decision.  I want to see the whole picture, consider all of the possible scenarios, weigh my options... You get the picture.  I know that the LORD made me with a contemplative, cautious personality but He's also calling me to new depths of trust.  Unreserved trust.  Lately, He's been painting a picture of Abraham's journey for me and He's helping me to obey and go, even though I don't know exactly where I'm going.

Abraham trusted God.  He believed.  I imagine the LORD telling Abraham to leave all that's familiar and "go".  I can almost hear their dialogue...

"Where would you have me go, LORD?"

"Head southwest."

"To where, LORD?"

"Just start out in that direction.  I'll show you as you go."

Can't you just imagine God telling Abraham to follow that mountain range as it heads south?  When Abraham came to the land of Canaan, God could refine the directions... now head to Shechem.  And as Shechem approached, head to the giant oak of Moreh.  From here, Abraham "proceeded to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east."  We're told that "there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD."  I wonder if he worshipped the LORD for the ways that He led him...  I wonder if he called upon the name of the LORD asking if this was where he was to stop or were they continuing on from here...  And "Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev."

Isn't it awesome!  If the LORD had told Abraham back in Haran to head to such and such a tree or such and such a mountain, Abraham would have had no frame of reference.  It's as those things appear on the horizon that we can appreciate where the LORD is directing us.  My tendency is to want every direction, every turn, every landmark before I ever set out!  But He's teaching me!  The more I know Him, the less I need to know where I'm going.  He is faithful.  He has a plan.

I like Paul's description of genuine faith in 2 Timothy 1:5.  The Amplified Bible puts it this way...

...your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness)...

Joyce Meyers puts it this way, absolute trust and confidence in His power to be able to do what needs to be done, His wisdom to know what needs to be done and His goodness that He works all things together for my good.

Dear LORD, please help me to lean my entire personality on You no matter when or where you ask me to go.  Help me to know You more every day because when I remember Who You truly are, it's so much easier to put absolute trust and confidence in You.  Forgive me, LORD, for holding back my obedience because I want to have all of the details.  In Jesus' Name... So be it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Offering...

LORD God, You are so dear to me,
more dear than any else could be
and yet i often fail to show
this love that i profess to know.
i fail to live like one set free
by Your sacrifice upon that tree.
i tend to try to balance the scale
and live by works - oh, how i fail!
But You continue to draw me near.
You wake me early and speak to my ear.
You tell me that You love me still.
You loved me first.  You always will.
You forgive as i confess.
You lead me forth, correct and bless.
You alone are worth all praise!
i surrender all my days
into the Hands of the Three-in-One,
Beloved Father, Spirit, Son...