Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Construction Zone

"A voice is calling, 'Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God'" (Isaiah 40:3).
The wilderness is the place where roads and highways are made for God to travel.  In my experience, our greatest spiritual growth occurs in the wilderness.  When we reach the end of our means, we are most likely at the beginning of God's.

We can apply a few things to our lives in regards to roads and how they are built.

#1--Road construction takes time.  Construction zones sometimes last for many years.  The work that God is doing in our lives could take a while to accomplish.  We might as well learn to enjoy flashing yellow lights and the sound of heavy machinery.

#2--Road construction requires major change.  Rocks and hills are sometimes removed and valleys have to be filled in.  Old roads are torn up and favorite exits are closed.  God's work in our lives will not be convenient.  Change is often painful.  It usually gets worse before it gets better as traffic slows into one lane and the highway is temporarily replaced with narrow detours.

#3--Road construction makes us slow down.  75 becomes 45 and fines are doubled.  Our agenda gives way to the man standing in front of our car holding a stop sign.  We can get bitter...or we can get better...it's a choice...but we will will have to slow down and maybe stop regardless.

#4--Road construction results in a better road...eventually.  We can flip a u-turn, we can find an exit, or we can press on, believing that a better road lies just ahead.

"The road to success is always under construction" --Arnold Palmer

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Wilderness

The wilderness is the desolate place where we sometimes find ourselves--the place where nothing grows and water is scarce.  Jesus was led by Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted without food for 40 days (Luke 4:1-13).  The prophet Elijah spent some time in the wilderness when he fled for his life from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-18).  It seems that many of those whom God used spent some time wandering in the wilderness: Moses, David, and more.

Genesis 16 tells us about Hagar's time in the wilderness.  The story goes that Abraham and Sarai had no children together even though God had promised descendents numbering like the stars in the heavens.    Sarai suggested that Abram sleep with her servant Hagar in order to obtain offspring.  When Hagar conceived, Sarai began to despise Hagar and started treating her harshly.  The result was that Hagar fled into the wilderness.

"Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  He said, 'Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?'  And she said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.'  Then the angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.'  Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count'" (Genesis 16:7-10).

A couple of things jump out of the text. #1--The angel of the Lord found her.  Let me suggest that we cannot go so far into the wilderness that we are out of God's sight.  The angel found her and he will find us too.  You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. 

#2--The angel asks, "Where have you come from and where are you going?"  God is interested in your past and your future.  And, most likely, your past and future are connected.  Understand where you come from and you will have insight into where you are going.

#3--Hagar is to return to the source of her pain (Sarai) and submit to her authority.  God's purpose is not necessarily to release us from pain--but to release us from fear and frustration.  God uses pain and sometimes bitter people to ground us and grow us.

#4--God promises blessing to Hagar.  She wasn't going to feel blessed submitting to Sarai but God had promised it nonetheless.  It's not about "feeling" but "faithing". 

"Father in Heaven, bless my fellow wilderness-wanderers.  May today be a a day of love and life.  Open our hearts and minds to receive your Word.  Bless us today to be blessings to others.  In Jesus' name--Amen!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015

As we stand on the verge of another new year, allow me to suggest seven worthy resolutions that will make your life richer and your church stronger.

I will meet together with my church family to worship God, to share my life, and to grow in ways that would never happen alone.  "And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together . . . " (Hebrews 10:24-25).

I will experience prayer every day.  "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 1:17).

I will minister in the way that God has gifted me as needs arise.  "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10).

I will bask, bathe, and bury myself in the Bible each day.  "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

I will enlarge the Kingdom of God by sharing God's good news. "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

I will resource the church through my tithes and offerings. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house" (Malachi 3:10).

I will sense the supernatural activity of God. "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19).

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”  ― Brad Paisley

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Write it Down!

"Write down for the record everything I have said to you" (Jeremiah 30:2).

I don't like to write.  I like to talk. I like to pass along new information.  I like to teach. I like to inspire life-change.  I  just don't like to write.

The one exception to my reluctance to write would be journaling.  I have been writing a spiritual diary for many years--more regularly at times.  The purpose of the journal is to record impressions from the Bible that I pick up on during my prayer-time.

When I read the Bible, I am listening for God's perspective on my life. I am listening for direction and for understanding of the events of my days.  I am listening for promises. I am listening for rebuke and correction.  I am listening!  Writing what I hear seems to force me to listen a little more closely--to pay attention to what I'm reading.  My attention to the discipline of being in the Word is enhanced by the expectation that I need to find something to write down.

Write it down!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Love

"The purpose of my instruction is that all the Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith." --Paul (1 Timothy 1:5)

Think about the early part of that verse for a moment, Paul says, "The purpose of my teaching is that Christians would be filled with love". Remember, Paul wrote around 2/3 of the New Testament. With that in mind, the purpose of the New Testament (at least 2/3 of it) must be that Christians be filled with love. Now my question is this, "Are Christians today known by their love?" And is the church known by its love?, or rather by what and who it's against?

Let's work on it today. Find a need and meet it! Find a lost soul and share from your abundance. Live the Good News: God's not angry with us any more!

If you want a recipe for love, then Paul shares it. Love comes from a "pure heart", "a clear conscience", and "sincere faith". The ingredients are just a prayer away. Go ahead! Try it!