Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Word is Alive

Today marks the six month anniversary of this blog. To be honest, I didn't realize that as I was finishing my Bible reading and mulling over some thoughts being tossed around in my mind. But, the realization of the significance of the day really goes along with the primary thought that has emerged from my Bible reading. God's Word is perfectly appropriate for today. I look back over the challenge post and realize how much God has used whatever I was reading for that day to greatly impact my life and growth in Him. As I've spent these last weeks reading and studying Isaiah, I've seen how there truly is nothing new under the sun - some of the things we are seeing in our Western society were going on thousands of years ago as well. And yet there are still days when I wonder if there is any relevance for me. How can I even think such a thing? God has proven His Word to be alive over and over and over again. The challenge that is impressed upon me today is to act like I truly believe in the powerful pertinence of God's Word. Instead of sitting down to a Sunday school lesson and saying, "Wow, how in the world am I going to teach this?" instead I need to say, "Lord, I'm so excited to see how Your Spirit guides us through this passage!" God is powerful. His Word is powerful. And His Word is pertinent and appropriate. Always and without fail.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Best Desire

Nor let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." For thus says the LORD, "To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, to them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off." Isaiah 56:3b-5 (NASB) I am having a hard time putting into words why this passage stood out to me so greatly this morning. As I read it, I wondered how many times I have realized that a desire of mine was not in line with the will of the Lord. I've surrendered it to Him, but also have clung to the sadness of letting that desire go. In doing so, I have lost some of the joy of the gift that is greater than any earthly desire fulfilled - the gift of salvation. God gives me the absolute best. And yet so often I still pine after these earthly desires just as a eunuch might have pined over the fact that he could never bear children to carry on his name. I am challenged to grow in this - to decrease my pining for desires of this earth and increase my joy and delight in the Lord Himself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

God's Incredible Word

If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction. Psalms 119:92 (NASB) Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Psalms 119:11 (NASB) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NASB) Psalm 119 is a treasure-trove of praise for the Word of God. I used to dread it because of its length - now I devour it. It awakens in me new passions each time I read it. Today was no exception. Verse 92 was the only verse of these three in this morning's reading, but as I mulled over it, verse 11 came to mind. Then as I was preparing for tonight's Bible study I saw how the 2 Timothy passage fit in. God's Word is so incredibly powerful. It prepares us for everything we could possible face in life. But, the problem is that so many times we wait until we're in the middle of a need before we seek the wisdom of God's Word. These three verses all seem to indicate that we just might be doing it backwards. The indication here is that when the need arises, we are prepared because we already have the Word within in - we already have a familiarity with its wisdom. Oh how often I fail on that account. I stumble and struggle because I have not been open to God's teaching through His Word in the calm times. The more I get into the Word, the more I see that I have so much yet to learn. It's easy to get overwhelmed and wonder how in the world I will ever succeed in learning it all. But, the truth is that God gives me everything I need when I need it if I will just heed His teaching! So, I'm motivated anew to learn, to truly dig, and to listen oh so intently. His Word is amazing!

Monday, April 27, 2009

His Presence

You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalms 16:11 (NASB) It's confession time. I might be the only one who does this, but there are times when I go through the motions of being in His presence without actually getting there. I diligently have a morning devotional time. I read, I pray, I journal - I do all the right things. But, I don't truly move into His wonderful presence. God's presence is the only place I should want to be. All of the things listed in this verse about His presence are so very true, and I experience them every time I break down my defenses and truly enter His presence. So, why are there times that I willingly allow myself to just go through the motions instead of surrendering fully to His presence? I don't know. I'm just wacky, I guess. I'm ready to stop going through the motions. It's time to be fully in His presence, to rest in His right hand. That is what I'm created for, and that is where I need to be.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Acceptable Words

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalms 19:14 (NASB) This verse has been either on my heart and mind or coming up in various conversations a lot over the last few weeks. My thoughts and words are so often not acceptable in the Lord's sight. I falter a lot. I guess that's what comes from being someone who greatly uses words, both spoken and written. There are oh so many opportunities to mess up! As I go into this day at church and this week with my family, this verse is my prayer. I want to be completely submissive to Him in my thoughts and words such that I heed His direction to cease and desist any time I begin to falter.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Forthcoming Promises

I've been studying Isaiah 54 for Sunday school this week. As the Lord has been pulling the lesson together in my mind, something has been standing out. Prepare. God is working. He's always working. His hand is moving and His plans are falling into place. Sometimes when I can't see what He's doing, I tend to "forget" the promises He's made rather than acting upon them. It's almost like being in those last few weeks of pregnancy. The truth is that the precious growing baby will make his or her appearance in due time, and that time is very soon. So, the waiting parents have to make sure the space is ready to welcome their new one home, the bags are packed for the hospital, and the arrangements are made for the older kids to be taken care of. When I choose to not live like I believe God's promises are forthcoming, I am acting like an expectant mother who is convinced that the baby will never come - that the stress of the last days and weeks of pregnancy will go on forever. I don't prepare a room, pack my bags, or make arrangements. I just sit around moaning and complaining about my current circumstances. God's promises are true, and I am challenged to live each day as if I truly believe them! I am challenged to live like I truly believe Jer 29:11. I am challenged to walk each day rejoicing in His promises and knowing that He is working His plan with love, compassion, justice, and authority. How amazing and incredible that this God calls me His child and that I can walk in His victory!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Clear Conscience

A question has been whirling about in my mind all morning. The question is this...Do I have a clean conscience? In Psalm 112:5-9, the psalmist talks about being able to stand firm in what we say and do even when those things are challenged. Why? Because we said and did them in the wisdom of the Lord and with a clean conscience. Several other verses have been brought to my remembrance as I have dwelt on this thought this morning. Heb 13:18 1 Tim 1:5 2 Cor 1:12 Acts 24:16 Am I a woman of integrity? Even when I mess up, can I honestly say that I have made things right with the Lord and stand in good conscience before Him and man? That is my prayer and my goal. That is my desire. Right now - today - I am seeking to be clear in all I do before Him. I am asking Him to show me if there is any area in which I cannot stand before Him with a clean conscience. When adversity arises, I long to be able to examine my words, actions and motives, and then present myself as clean before the Lord and the people with whom I interact. That is my heart. That is my goal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

His Words

Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have taught you today, even you. Prov 22:17-19 NASB

This morning I must confess that I was very distracted as I was doing my Bible reading. Doug is coming home today, Angie's dentist appointment is today, and there was a lot to do to get everyone ready this morning. I had been reading almost without comprehension, going through the motions. Then I hit this passage.

God's Word is too wonderful and powerful for me to just ho-hum my way through the day's reading! I must be attentive! God intends to use what He teaches me through His Word, but how can I be useful if I'm not listening in the first place?

Then I read that last phrase - God has taught me! Little ole me! If He is going to teach even me today, I think it's worth my while to listen!
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Pleasing Meditation

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. Psalms 104:34 (NASB) My thoughts wander...a lot. I go through my day thinking about all sorts of things - everything from prayer requests to relived conversations; from daydreams to an ongoing novel being written in my head; from agitations to enlightenments. So, the question is, are my meditations pleasing to Him? Do my thoughts express that I am glad in the Lord? The renewal of my mind according to Romans 12:2 is not a one-time occurrence, but an ever present striving. Some days seem more victorious than others, but Ps 104:34 and Phil 4:8 and other similar verses give me very concrete goals to reach toward - very specific ways to renew my mind on a daily basis...and be pleasing to my God.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. Psalms 102:18 (NASB) So many times in Scripture, the Lord reminds His people to make a memorial or to record words specifically for the purpose of encouraging children to ask about them. Much effort was made to pass down tradition orally, but sometimes there needed to be concrete, visual reminders that encouraged the children to specifically ask. How many concrete, tangible markers do I leave about? Growing up, there were a couple of songs I really liked and was drawn to. One was "For Future Generations" by 4HIM and another was "Believer in Deed" by Petra. Both talk about the visible legacy of faith we are leaving behind for those who come after us. Just a few days ago, I read a post by a friend that stirred many of these thoughts up again. And then today I read this verse from Psalm 102. My children - and all those who watch me - will remember things that even I don't remember. They will see moments in my life, read things I write, listen to words I say, and watch my actions. I leave markers all the time. What do they say? Do they encourage my children and others to ask questions, or do they speak loudly on their own? Either way, do they actively point to Christ? I am challenged to intentionally and actively live my life in such a way that others may be incited to follow and praise the Lord because of me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just a Tool

A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern. Prov 16:11 (NASB) I read this one yesterday, but it has continued to stick with me and thoughts have formulated in my mind as I've mulled over it. I get really irritated with injustice. I rant and rave and want to give the unjust a piece of my mind! Sometimes I act like I really need to help God maintain justice on this earth. Two things struck me in this verse... First of all, justice is important to God. He is concerned with whether or not things are just, and He is paying attention! I don't have to remind Him of His responsibility or try to step in and make right what I think He's forgotten. He never forgets! He's always aware! Secondly, justice is God's concern. In other words, I must live justly, but I am not responsible for whether or not the world is just. When unjust things happen in this world, I must be obedient to what He's called me to do in response, be a willing vessel in His hands, but also be sure to not try to do His job for Him. Dealing with injustice is His job, and I am just a tool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Better than the Mighty

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Prov 16:32 (NASB) To be honest, I kind of had to chuckle at this one. I think that's why it stood out this morning. It just made me laugh! Why? Well, sometimes my kids and their shenanigans seem awfully "mighty." And sometimes it seems that trying to keep order in my home is like trying to capture a rebellious city. Go ahead...chuckle along with me. Some of you can even identify, can't you? The problem is that so often I am not slow to anger and I do not rule my spirit. So, naturally, I am not always victorious in managing this household in a godly manner. I can truly say that I have grown in this area over the years, but I can't stop growing! I have so far to go, and I am determined that not only will this year be better than last year, but today will be better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. I am challenged to continually grow in being slow to anger with my children. I will continually grow in ruling my spirit. Fortunately, I don't have to do it on my own. The Holy Spirit within me is powerful!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wise Speech

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. Prov 15:2 (NASB) As I read this verse this morning, it dawned on me how many times I greatly long for my words to make sense to people. Whether it is to my children while I am trying to teach them, to my Sunday school class while I am trying to expound on a passage, or to someone I am talking to on a day-to-day basis - regardless of the situation, I simply want them to hear what I have to say. According to this verse, wisdom works wonders! But, so often I speak out of my rashness rather than out of a quiet wisdom. Whether it is with my children or with others, I must discipline my tongue to speak from the wisdom of the Lord rather than from my own opinion. When it's from the Lord, it will be acceptable to others and what I say will truly make a difference in lives.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

United Heart

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalms 86:11 (NASB - emphasis mine) This is so simple! Paul talked about the struggle within him between what he knew he should do and what he actually did. I see in this verse that David felt that same struggle. His prayer is so very simple...Lord, unite my heart! That very same war rages within me, and when it does, I am challenged to pray this prayer - Lord, unite my heart!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ever Praise Him!

How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Psalms 84:4 (NASB) This verse seems to full of longing - so full of a passion to dwell in the house of God and to be in continual praise of Him. 1 Cor 6:19 tells me that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. This passage is referring to keeping my body pure and from sin, but I think it fits just as much with what I should do (see the end of 1 Cor 6:20) as with what I should not do. The Holy Spirit dwells within me! Dwelling in the house of God refers to remaining in His presence at all times and if the Holy Spirit truly dwells within me, then I am in His presence at all times. I am dwelling in His house. I have the privilege to ever praise Him! Do I take advantage of that privilege? Or do I praise Him at certain times of the day and then move on with my day? That's where I long to be - ever praising Him. I doubt I will ever be to the point where I feel I am praising Him adequately because He is worthy of so much more than I could ever give. But, I long to be constantly growing in my praise of Him - constantly praising Him more as I grow. I dwell in His presence! May I ever praise Him!

Friday, April 10, 2009

No Room for Doubt

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. Matt 28:17 (NASB) This verse has disturbed me all week as I've worked to prepare this week's Sunday school lesson. It doesn't bother me so much that some of Jesus' followers doubted. Why? Because I have to try to put myself in their shoes. Would I really believe the incredible story that Jesus had risen? Would I really be able to dredge back up some of the things He had said and said, "Oh! So that's what He meant!" The verse bothers me because it's so true for so many of us. How often do we pick and choose which of His promises to believe? How often does our doubt kick in right when we should be simply reminding ourselves of what He's told us? I would be lying if I said that I never doubted Him. But, I do not want my doubt to be legacy. If someone were to review my life, I would want them to see an example of faith and trust. I would want them to say that I stood firm in my God, even when every circumstance around me suggested that He was not to be found. I want to believe and not doubt!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passion in Prayer

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; my voice rises to God, and He will hear me. Psalms 77:1 (NASB) As I read through the Psalms again, I am greatly struck by the passion with which the psalmists seek God. They cry out. They raise their voices. They earnestly seek Him. They are so exceedingly and incredibly passionate. Where is my passion? As I begin the morning with praise; as I work through my prayer lists; as I seek the Lord's voice through Scripture reading - in all of those things, am I truly passionate? When I'm struggling do I truly cry out to my God? When I'm joyful do I act like I'm ready to jump out of my skin in exaltation of my Savior? When I'm repentant, do I truly put my heart into confession? When I'm in the mundane, average, every day sameness of life am I still passionate about lifting petitions, praises, and thanksgiving to Him? I am challenged to learn from the psalmists to truly express my passion for my Lord as I grow in communion with Him. My personality tends to create lists and check them off. But, prayer is not a checklist of how great He is, how repentant I am, how much I need, and how thankful I am for how He has met my past needs. Although I never consciously approach prayer that way, sometimes I do tend to slip into that mentality. Prayer is a passionate interaction with my Savior, and I am challenged to make it a conscious effort to maintain that passion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Active Waiting

What is being impressed upon my heart today is a thought that has been developing as I have been reading various passages of Scripture lately. It's something I've been impressed with before, but as I was reflecting this morning, I realized the Lord has been reminding me of it over the past week or so. The thought is waiting. I tend to be a person who sees something coming in the future and is ready to take action upon it right now. When God has begun to tell us to make a move, I've wanted to go find a place to live, get all of the details lined up, and get everything ready while I wait for moving day to actually arrive. When there hasn't been anything to do, I've gotten restless. In those times, the Lord has had to remind me to wait. But, He's also had to remind me that waiting is not just sitting around doing nothing. As I've read through my Scripture readings in Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs, and various other places through God's Word, I have seen clear reminders that waiting involves several things...constant prayer, thanksgiving, pursuit of wisdom, pursuit of peace, and continual glorification of God. I am challenged to see a long-term change in my mentality of waiting. I don't have to have earthly busyness during the waiting. I have to have eternal diligence to actively wait. It's something I've been able to do off and on through my life, but now I am feeling challenged to discipline who I am such that my mentality of waiting is God's way every time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Prayer is to You, O Lord!

But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, answer me with Your saving truth. Psalms 69:13 (NASB) This morning this verse stood out to me as I read Psalm 69. Usually when a verse stands out to me, I can identify why pretty quickly. This one wasn't like that. I had some ideas regarding its relevance, but it wasn't necessarily anything relating to a challenge. I was washing the dishes and mulling over totally different things, trying to pray through them, when the Lord brought me back to this verse. David prayed this in the middle of being oppressed by other people. I'm not oppressed. I'm far from it! But, there are some things I've been mulling over that seem so desperate, at least to me. The challenge the Lord brought to me this morning was to stop mulling and return to praying. Return to following the command of Phil 4:6. Instead of playing them over in my mind, I must ensure that I am lifting them up to the Lord. My prayer must be to Him, and Him alone. Not mulling in my mind, not "discussing" with others - just presenting to the Lord. I am so far from a disciplined mind, but this verse is just one more reminder that I must continue to exercise it until that discipline is strong...until I come to the point that my only action is to lift my prayers to my Father.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves steemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4 (NASB) Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4 (HCSB) As I read this verse in a couple of different translations this morning, a thought began to form in my mind. When sin entered this world, it brought with it all sorts of terrible consequences. Many of them are things we live with day in and day out, sometimes without really even thinking about them. The truth is that they all come down to sin. Not necessarily individual sins, but the sin that presses down on this earth like an oppressive blanket, leading the whole planet to ultimate death. The further truth is that Christ came to bear that oppression. All of it. I focus often on the fact that He died for my sins - the things that I've done wrong. But, He took it all upon Himself! Not just the sins, but the nature of sin in this world. When I am told to be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6), to cast my cares upon Him (1 Pet 5:7), and to take His yoke upon me (Matt 11:29-30), He is reminding me of the fact that He took the entire burden of sin upon Himself. Walking in this dying world is not an easy thing, and if I follow in Christ's footsteps I will suffer while I'm here. But I am challenged to constantly remember that I'm not bound by that suffering. I'm bound to Christ who has already taken it all upon Himself! No wonder Paul called our sufferings light and momentary (2 Cor 4:17)!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Delayed Reward

The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor. Prov 3:35 (NASB) I was always a perfectionistic people pleaser who hated to upset people but loved to make them proud. I've somewhat eased off of that - in a good way, I hope - and tried to lean more to the idea of pleasing God instead. One thing that stood out to me as I read this verse, though, was that sometimes the biggest sign that I'm walking in the wisdom of the Lord might be the lack of immediate reward. It might be that people don't respond well to what I say and do. To inherit something indicates a delay - a bestowal at a later time. That can be hard for me, because a lot of times I feel the need for reinforcement that I'm truly saying and doing the right thing. I must not seek that reinforcement in honor bestowed by man. I must seek that reinforcement in the more abstract - the peace granted me by my Father when I am walking in Him. That in and of itself is my confirmation, and the reward will come when I am able to live for eternity in His presence.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Active, not Passive

1 My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. Prov 2:1-5 (NASB) I love James 1:5. There are so many times, especially in the journey of parenthood it seems, that I long for just a morsel of wisdom. God promises that all I have to do is ask, and it will be given to me. What a comfort! As with so many things in Scripture, though, we take that so passively. "If I'll just ask, then all I have to do is sit back and wait and He'll give it to me!" We even take James 2:6-8 passively, thinking that we can just avoid doubt and we'll be fine. But, if we combine the verses in James with these verses in Proverbs, we see anything but passive requesting. We see words like receive, treasure, make, incline, cry, lift, seek, and search. Those are action words! They are outlined in this Proverbs passage to show that work must follow the request. Even once the wisdom is given, we are told to use it to be active in our use of it - to discern and discover. I'm asking for wisdom today. As I ask, I must dig into God's Word, actively open my eyes and ears to take note of wisdom showing herself all around me, and then put that wisdom into practice when it is revealed to me. I must act on my request. And, I'm just feeling the excitement right now as I realize that this activity is energized by the Spirit Himself. Wow!