Monday, August 31, 2009
I think today I am challenged to really be transformed in a specific way of thinking. I was finishing Micah, and I came across Micah 4:9-13. It is not so much that those verses jumped out as me as that a concept jumped out at me. God is telling His people, through Micah, that He is about to bring the worst calamity on them they have ever endured. He is about to allow them to be conquered and carried away from the land He gave them. Total devastation. Total destruction. Total removal from their very way of life. I have always been a little depressed when reading through some of the prophets and their words of doom and destruction. But, this morning even as my heart broke for the grief, it soared as well. Mixed within those words were promises of restoration, and somehow I felt it. I felt a joy and peace - a sense of "this is finally it - after this your hearts will be Mine. This is the moment when all that you have been taught will suddenly become a part of your hearts." A lot of really crushing "moments" seem to be going on all around me in the lives of so many people. I am praying hard and grieving over each one. But, this passage today just filled my grieving heart with soaring joy - no, the grief is not gone, but the joy is making the grief beautiful and giving new life to my prayers. When in the lives of believers there comes a moment when all seems to be lost, we must hang on to hope. Beauty is coming. He sees what we cannot. And what He sees is beautiful.
Posted by Ann at 8:49 AM
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Surely I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man. Neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One. Prov 30:2-3 (NASB) I read these verses every month, and they are good for me. Why? Because each month I learn a little more and I grow a little more. But, then I get to Proverbs 30 and I am reminded how little I know. I am reminded how much I have left to learn. I am reminded that, really and truly, I have barely scratched the surface of what is available to me here in this life, much less what awaits me in eternity. In a way it seems that these verses would be discouraging and would tear me down, but the truth is so opposite. These verses increase my hunger and drive. They make me want to know more and more about the incredible God described in the pages of this precious Book. He loves me infinitely more than I could comprehend, and I want to know Him. I want to acknowledge His ways. I want to be more equipped daily to share His incredible love with everyone around me. So, being reminded of how little I truly know is a good thing. Being reminded that I have far to go is wonderful. Day by day, step by step, little by little, I will continue to grow and learn. And then one day, I'll be in His immediate presence and I will be able to spend eternity learning and praising even more.
Posted by Ann at 6:56 AM
Friday, August 28, 2009
The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Prov 28:1 (NASB) According to the Word, I have been made righteous through the blood of Christ. According to this verse in Proverbs, I am bold because of that righteousness. Do I live with boldness? A lion is quite bold. It is at the top of the food chain. It has very little to fear from its fellow creatures. Yes, there are threats to the lion, of course. We live in a fallen world. There are threats to every form of life. But, when I think of a lion, I think of great boldness and very little fear. That is the type of boldness I am to have. I have to admit - I do not live out that boldness in my daily life. I am timid. I am insecure. I hold back. I cannot live that way anymore. Lord, help me to live out the boldness that You have given me!
Posted by Ann at 9:48 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
"Had it not been the LORD who was on our side," Let Israel now say, Psalms 124:1 (NASB) This is the introductory verse to a rather short Psalm expressing thanks to the Lord for all of the things He accomplished - all of the ways He brought salvation and protection to His people. This one little verse really made me stop and think this morning. Do I give proper credit to the Lord? Had it not been for the Lord...oh, how many things I could put after that! And, I do not just mean big things. I mean little bitty mundane things. Had it not been for Him, I doubt I would have slept at all last night. Had it not been for His nudgings, I would not have gotten out of bed this morning. Had He not been on my side (and disciplined me because of it!), an incident with the kids this morning would have led to a horrid day. And then there are the big things... If I would adopt this phrase into my vocabulary - make it a habit - then rejoicing could not help but flow from my mouth.
Posted by Ann at 9:29 AM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Prov 26:12 (NASB) Proverbs 26 is a chapter full of discussion of fools. It is pretty intense discussion. Then comes verse twelve. How many times have I felt that I was wise? How many times have I honestly believed that I knew best on my own? I'm not talking about the times when I have shared the Word of God and stood on its truth in firmness. I'm talking about the times when I have given my opinion and insisted that it was the only true answer. According to the Scripture, with that attitude I am worse than a fool. There is not a lot of hope for fools, according to Proverbs 26. I have learned much through the years. I still have much to learn. I desire to be used to impact others through what I have learned and experienced, but it cannot be because I think I am all that. It has to be because the Lord does it. All of it. I am not the only person He can work through. I have not learned and experienced it all. Besides, none of it is my wisdom anyway. It is all God's, and the sooner I acknowledge that, the better!
Posted by Ann at 8:26 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Prov 25:2 (NASB) As I read this verse this morning, Jer 29:13 began rolling through my mind. A train of thought began in my mind that definitely wouldn't "preach" from either of these verses, but I think it's related. The thought was this...it's not so much that God wants things of Himself hidden. It is more than He wants us to earnestly seek - to truly show that we want who He is and what He has to offer. That seeking, yearning, and hungering makes it all so glorious because we see we truly want Him. We no longer want stuff from Him. We no longer want just to see Him work. We want Him. How gloriously beautiful! I'm so very ready to search...
Posted by Ann at 9:31 AM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Israel is a luxuriant vine; he produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the sacred pillars. Hosea 10:1 (NASB) I was very convicted by this verse this morning. I was convicted of the reality of all that I invest in things that don't really matter. The more I have, whether it's time, money, energy, or whatever, the more I invest in my interests and desires. I have no personal interest or desire that is worth what I invest unless that interest or desire is totally bound up in God's glory and furthering His kingdom. I can give no less than my all - all my time, energy, money, attention, efforts, and very life - to Him and His purposes. That must be my daily - even hourly - goal.
Posted by Ann at 7:42 AM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I don't know that I can really pinpoint a challenge for the past couple of days, other than a great impression on my heart. I have been reading Psalm 67 this week, and it is really impacting me strongly. I will probably blog more about it later on the thoughts blog, but what I want to share of the challenge is this... This Psalm was written for a nation that was not evangelistic. The Israelites were God's chosen people. There were laws for accepting foreigners into the assembly, but, other than a few prophetic messages, there wasn't really an edict to go and tell the world about the one true God. Yet this psalmist was passionate about just that - passionate that the blessing of God's people would show the world that their God was true and would bring salvation to the ends of the earth and put God's praise on every tongue. So many of us as American Christians are so apathetic about our faith that we could care less who else hears. We don't want to admit it, but it's true. I am challenged this week to change that in myself. I want to be contagious. I want to be so sold out for the Lord that His work in and around me brings praise to His precious Name!! I want every breath of my passion to be about God's work! Every breath! This is where I am being challenged right now, and this is how I long to grow.
Posted by Ann at 9:32 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing. Prov 20:4 (HCSB) I read the wrong chapter in Proverbs today. I don't know why I thought it was the 20th, but I plugged along, happily reading. And, so many things stood out to me. It wasn't until much later - when I was sharing something with Doug - that I realized I'd read the wrong chapter. But, with all that stood out to me, maybe it wasn't "wrong" after all... I've always seen the verse above in terms of diligence in practical aspects of life. But, this morning the spiritual side struck me. It's probably a thought that has struck many others many times before, but for some reason today was the first time I ever thought of it this way. I have greatly noticed that God will teach me a principle, and then something will come along later than tests the reality of that principle in my life. It is much like growing a crop - like planting seeds when we have plenty only to see the harvest come in just as we are running out of stores of food. In the same way, I need what God plants in me to grow and develop so that when I need the nourishment and the reminder in a time of challenge, it's right there, ripe for the taking. So many times I have put off learning a truth, thinking that the lesson is not really relevant for me at that moment. The problem is that when the challenge comes along to make it relevant, it's often too late to learn what I need to deal with the challenge. I have to learn it when God puts it in front of me so that when the challenge comes, all I have to do is reap the crop of knowledge and wisdom. That's why I journal. That's why I blog. That's why even when I can't really put my finger on why something stood out to me, I still make note of it and ponder and pray over it. God knows, and I have a great desire to be completely open to Him as He plants His truth in my heart!
Posted by Ann at 9:40 AM
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established. Prov 16:3 (NASB) Quite a few years ago, I was introduced to the story of George Muller. I had read about him and his life and heard many tales, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that the impact of his life really began to hit me. His biography was included in our school curriculum that year. As I read his life story with my girls, I almost couldn't get through a day's reading without tears and conviction. This past year, we read several other stories of great faith. We read the amazing story of missionary to China Gladys Aylward, the strong testimony of Joanne Shetler's work among a head-hunting tribe in the Philippines, and the powerful impact of the work of Joy Ridderhof and Gospel Recordings. In all of their stories, there is a common theme - they trusted God in all things. They had their desires. They had their plans. But, they lived out their wholehearted belief that if their plans were of the Lord, He would pave the way. Fully and completely. If they weren't of the Lord, His plan would be much better! I don't live this way. First of all, I have a lot of selfish plans. It's about me, not about the work of the Lord. Secondly, I do a lot of conniving, trying to make my plans fall into place and trying to engineer the provision for those plans. Oh, how much I miss!! This is how I want to live. He will work. He will provide. He will be glorified. I want every aspect of my life to be bound up in that.
Posted by Ann at 8:09 AM
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. James 3:13 (NASB) As I have studied and read James 3 this week, this verse has really stuck with me. Gentleness of wisdom. I don't know that I have thought of wisdom in terms of gentleness before. If God has granted me wisdom in something, do I express it with gentleness? I have not quite grasped all that "gentleness of wisdom" entails, but my challenge is to learn and grow in this. I want to truly learn what this means.
Posted by Ann at 8:03 AM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous; the LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD! Psalms 146:8-10 (NASB) Did you notice something in this passage? Did you notice how many times "the LORD" is mentioned? Did you notice who does all of these things? Yep, the Lord!! As I was praying over some things this morning, I was a little discouraged. There are some things that I see the Lord wanting to do, but there are also a lot of obstacles to hurtle to see those things accomplished. Then, once again I realized that I was trying to figure things out myself so that I could pray just the right way or make sure I did just the right thing. But, guess what? It's not my problem!!!! Yes, I am responsible to pray. Yes, I am responsible to obey. But the Lord removes the obstacles. The Lord deals with hearts. The Lord moves those mountains. He is so amazingly and incredibly powerful, and oh, how I love to see Him work! He really does have it all figured out, and He doesn't need my input. That's a struggle for me, but it's also a relief. He's powerful! He's perfect! He's sovereign! And, He's fully capable! Praise the Lord!
Posted by Ann at 9:17 AM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, 'Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the LORD.' They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them." Ezek 33:30-32 (NASB) There is a picture here of people truly seeming to be interested in listening to what the Lord has to say. In fact, they gather one another together to make an actual effort to go hear from the Lord. It's like a community that wants to make sure everyone is in church, because everything goes better for us when we regularly come together to fellowship with one another and hear the Word preached. But, there is also a great rebuke - they don't do anything about the message they hear. They listen with joy, but they are unchanged. I'm reminded of the admonition in James 1:22 to be more than just hearers of the Word, but doers also. I truly love the Word of God. I love to read it. I love the way the Holy Spirit illuminates it as I study. I love the way it is alive and active in the life of the believer. But, I wonder how many times this rebuke should be directed toward me. How many times do I excitedly receive the Word, only to do nothing with it? How many times does my day continue on as every day before with no real growth visible in my life? If I truly love the Lord and His Word, I will not just crave to hear it, I will desire to live it.
Posted by Ann at 11:37 AM
Monday, August 10, 2009
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable , full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17 (NASB) Reading through Proverbs every month, I'm getting a pretty solid dose of the instruction to seek wisdom. I think that is what made this verse in James stand out more than it ever has before. As I read this, I realized that there are times when I think I'm chasing after wisdom, but it doesn't necessarily reflect these things. You'd think I would automatically know that it wasn't true wisdom. But I get muddied vision sometimes because I listen to the world's standards of wisdom. A couple of verses back, James calls the world's standard of wisdom earthly, natural, and demonic! Ouch! I could have done without that last word. I mean, really. Earthly is obviously not heavenly, but it's not all that bad, right? Natural - well, we know we're supposed to put to death the natural self so that Christ can shine, but natural isn't so bad. But, demonic! Wow, demonic puts a whole new spin on "earthly" and "natural" doesn't it?! As I seek wisdom, I am challenged to make sure the wisdom I seek holds up to the test of James 3:17. My decision-making skills might grow just a bit if I will commit to hold to this!
Posted by Ann at 3:56 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. Psalms 146:3 (NASB) How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, Psalms 146:5 (NASB) The entirety of Psalm 146 grabbed me this morning. I had actually flipped to that section of Psalms to read Psalm 145 again, but my eyes kept drifting to 146. So, I read it. I wish I could put into words the fullness of what went on within my heart as I read it. I was encouraged, challenged, and convicted all in one instant while being filled with awe and praise. His Word is so powerful! The conviction and challenge came through these two verses in particular. As I pondered the words, I realized that I frequently say I trust in the Lord without truly living that. The Lord began to reveal to me one situation after another in which I have convinced myself I was trusting in Him, but was really depending on the responses of man. In fact, I looked back over the past week and realized that He has been working on me in this area all week. Reading these two verses brought all of the teaching into focus, helping me realize the exact areas I needed to change. There are such layers of habitual reliance on man existing in my heart. I peel away one layer, but there are so many more beneath. This week I have had to begin to peel away the next layer. How many are left, I do not know. But, I am sure the Lord will continue to reveal them to me. Maybe for the rest of my earthly life. And I am challenge to be faithful to complete peeling, no matter how painful it may be.
Posted by Ann at 8:13 AM
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I have mixed feelings about God giving me practical application for the lessons He teaches me through His Word. I love that He's teaching me, but application can be hard, and I don't like things to be hard. This week I haven't had many new challenges to share because, well, He's making sure I'm "getting" what He's been teaching me from His Word lately. Let's suffice it to say that I believe God's Word totally and complete. I believe that what He says is true. I believe that when He says He'll do something, He will do it! I don't have a problem with any of that. What I have a problem with is keeping my attitude in line with those beliefs. I just get agitated because I want His hand to move now. And, that agitation is wrong - it's what He's challenging me to change. We are dealing with some things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt will be taken care of in the appropriate time. But, as I live in the here and now before it's all smoothed out, I am fighting frustration, impatience, and irritability. The Bible says to rejoice. Even in times like these. Especially in times like these. It's a command. The irritability has to go. The rejoicing has to come in. And that's where the challenge is this week...
Posted by Ann at 2:26 PM
Monday, August 3, 2009
I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever. Psalms 86:12 (NASB) The moment I read this, one of my favorite verses jumped into mind. Phil 4:6. Then another thought occurred to me. When I'm presenting my requests to God, do I just give up a token thanks to make sure my request is heard, or am I really giving thanks to God with all my heart? Ouch! So many times when I pray, I think, "Okay, let me see...how can I be thankful in this?" Then, once I express my thankfulness, I'm done and ready to move on and finish my request. That's not how it works! Being thankful with my whole heart means putting so much more into thankfulness than just polishing off a request! It involves living and breathing that thankfulness! It involves rejoicing when there seems to be nothing to rejoice in! Today alone there have been many ways God has challenged me in this very area. It's not easy, that I can guarantee. I'm struggling with it greatly! But, I want to grow in this. And, I'm so thankful - yes, with my whole heart - that God doesn't call me to grow in anything without providing the full strength of His Spirit to accomplish that growth. Thank You, my Lord! Thank You!
Posted by Ann at 3:16 PM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Prov 2:10 (HCSB) I know I've dealt with this before, but it came before me again this morning. What delights my heart? There are so many things that I allow to delight me. Earlier this week I wanted nothing more than to chomp down on a huge greasy cheeseburger. Oh, what delight that would have brought! And, yesterday I really wanted to go out and spend money. I could have gone on a great shopping spree and had such fun! But, it doesn't take much more than a quick thought to remember that those things would have only brought temporary pleasure, not true delight. I am thankful to say that the Lord helped me resist those temptations. It was a struggle, but I rested in Him. And He gave me true delight! I must find my delight only in the things of my Lord God - in His knowledge, wisdom, and teaching. He is my one true delight! He is my joy! I must live out that truth!
Posted by Ann at 8:38 AM
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD. Lam 3:39-40 (NASB) How many times do I complain? Certainly on a daily basis! I suppose that's why these verses impacted me so strongly. I backed up a bit, rereading Lam 3:32-38, and I was reminded that everything God does in our lives, whether it seems good or horrible, is done out of lovingkindness. The whole purpose is to show us our sinfulness, help us to turn from it, and help us to be more like Christ. Meanwhile, how often do I sin? Do I truly go through a full day without a single blemish in my thoughts or behavior? If I were to succeed in that, then maybe I just might have a right to a teensy weensy complaint. But, the truth is, I am so far from unblemished. I struggle day to day, hour to hour, sometimes even minute to minute. I have no room to complain. About anything. I do it so often, but I have no right. I am so ready to remove complaint from my heart, mind, and life! I am so ready to trust that God has good plans for me (Jer 29:11) and to not fuss over the little inconveniences of life. I must stop complaining.
Posted by Ann at 8:14 AM