Thursday, March 25, 2010

Choose this day...

I was going to wait and post this in a couple of days but after reading where some other friends are being lead, today is the right day.

I had a conversation the other day about how tired I was...that I felt "all used up".

When I said that, I got the picture in my mind of a woman with slumped shoulders, hard lines on her face, lipstick bleeding into the smoke lines around her mouth and eyes that wearily looked out at everyone. This word came to my mind, "Used by the world". I then got a picture of the same woman with no lines on her face, strong shoulders, eyes filled with peace and an expression of joy that wanted to burst forth from beautiful lips. The word that came with this was "used by God".

Immediately my heart jumped as this question was placed - "who will you choose this day to serve?"

I pondered on that and realized that I do daily have to choose. Do I serve God today or do I serve the world? There is no autopilot answer that you can do day after day - it is a matter of the will to truly choose to serve God...and even if I am "working" for God, if I do not choose to serve God, it will be a self serving response in futility that will exhaust me at the end of the day.

As I looked for scripture, I remembered what Jesus said, "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me." (Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23.) Did you get that...DAILY we must pick up HIS cross and follow Him. I am smiling as I type this...but wouldn't it be easier to see and acknowledge each other of WHO we are serving this day by the Cross we carry on our shoulder...hmmmm!

The scripture verses that I used first are from Joshua and it is interesting that he does mention other gods. The last part of the verse will be familiar.
Joshua said, ""Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-16)

We do have to choose to throw away anything else in our life we are serving and choose God...daily...everyday.

This is not meant to be a recipe for religion and additional steps to peace with God. There is one way and only one way to peace with God and that is through Jesus. Without Him you are truly lost and there is no hope. Unless you have acknowledged Jesus as your Lord and Savior and repented this will be meaningless to you. If you have walked away from God in the past and are not with Him now just turn back now.

But it all comes down to this...

No matter what anyone else chooses or does, I choose to serve God. Today. Tomorrow I will declare it anew.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walking it Out

The last week or so, but especially the last couple of days, has been somewhat of a challenge. I have come face to face with things that I thought were gone and dealt with. I have been offended, had a panic attack, and felt down.

Now, this is in no way a cry to have anyone pat me on the back and say, "it's going to be alright." On the contrary, I am just slightly miffed at me and at the same time relieved. Miffed because they are old lessons still unlearned and relieved because it is an opportunity to have victory and give God the glory.

You see, as long as I live here in Houston, or rather this earth of ours, there will be things that will be faced. Right now, this means learning to renew my mind. I am reading scripture, learning to memorize it, and replacing wrong thoughts with scriptures. In essence, I am putting "feet" to my faith and leaning on God by realizing that He has ALL the answers.

So what were the answers for the things I am walking through. Here is what I found:

Fear I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Great peace have they who love your law,and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Offense A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25

Depression But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
Psalm 30:11

God is more than able to walk me through anything I face. I am so thankful for His strength and His peace that surrounds me. This time, my path is straight because His map is my guide.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three Questions

Very simply...just three questions...

1. Who do you believe in?

2. What do you believe about who you believe in?

3. What are you doing about your beliefs?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happily Ever After...

I grew up reading all the fairy know the ones - the princess/beautiful girl finds herself in peril and the prince/handsome man comes and saves her. Didn't matter which story it was, they ended with , "and they all lived happily ever after".

As I got older, I graduated to Harlequin Romance books (embarrassingly admitted). In these, it was the beautiful damsel in distress tormented by the evil and dastardly villain and then rescued by the dashing duke (hows that for a run-on?). They ride off into the sunset in his horse drawn carriage and "live happily ever after".

I know that for guys, it may have not been the books but the sports pages that gave them hope. Talented young man living in total despair in the backwoods of Mississippi who is discovered by a brilliantly lucky sports agent from any of the sports associations with initials and is rescued from obscurity and raised immediately to the level of professional right out of high school...and he lives happily ever after until the next draft.

In high school, I read the poem The Road Less Traveled. I remember making up my mind that given the same choice, I also would choose the road less traveled. Somehow in my mind it was very romantic to see and do things that most people don't see and do. I did not take into account how hard it would be.

As a Christian, I have come face to face with my own "happily ever after" mindset. If I do the right things, good things will happen to me. When troubles have come in times past, I vainly stood with fist raised heavenward and asking, "Why! I have tithed, I have sang for You, I have chosen not to drink or yell at my kids too much!"

I have walked the way that leads to disappointment in God when things do not work out the way I wanted them to. In times past I ran down the path of my choosing hoping that God was with me and not once considering if I was with God. I have been in the places where I find myself wondering and wandering.

I now know that no matter what I face, God is good. He never promised me a "happily ever after" here on earth. He did promise His peace and strength and provision enough for each day. He did promise an abundant life.

I know He is big enough to love me despite my being dismayed by His silence and loving enough to love me through when I have been angry with Him. God is Good. I mean, He is really GOOD!

The realization that no matter what - "He is for me" - frees me. His word promises it - the very essence of His character guarantees it - Jesus' blood paid for it. I am learning to walk much slower and with my ears tuned carefully to what my Master says. I know that the walk ahead will not always be easy but I also know that He will give me strength to endure, hope to continue, and faith to be heartened. It also means that I do not choose the path - He does.

I could grieve for times that have been vainly wasted, but I know that during those times I have learned much. He has been with me in every place to bring me forward to this day. I am grateful for that. I am changed and am so glad.

Be encouraged! God is Good! He is for you.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coupon Wisdom

I was going through my purse the other day and came across several old coupons. They were wrinkled and wadded up. One was for $2.00 off a product, one was .50 and could have been doubled and the other was a .10 one that could have been tripled. I say could have because unfortunately all of them were expired.

I got to thinking about the words "value" and "redeem" and "worth" and "potential".

A coupon has a posted value printed on it's face. This value is a potential one that is not realized until it is redeemed and then it's full worth is realized in savings to the user.

Then it hit me, we are much like coupons...let me explain.

In God's eyes, He knows our value. He has identified our potential in His kingdom and has provided a way for every person to be redeemed. Our worth is realized when we realize our need for a Savior, are redeemed from the world, and the costs have been counted.

Let me break it down...

Valuable - "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27"

Worth - God's word says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:5-7".

Potential The Word says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14".

Redeemed - "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I, whom you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23" and "1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, Psalm 107:1-2"

So with the Word saying it - why do we have so much problem accepting how valuable we are to Him. Yes, some of us are a bit worse for the ware, frayed around the edges and run over by life. Some of us have old ads written on our backside that keeps showing through. However, as long as we are redeemed by our Creator before our expiration date, our value is realized for the glory of God.

That brings up the last point, we do have an expiration date. Unlike coupons, we do not know when that day is. Once it is past, you can not be redeemed and are forever away from the presence of God. Your value and potential for God's purpose in you is never achieved.

God has a greater purpose for each of us. There is no purpose too small that brings Glory to Him who created us. Everything we do points toward the event that all of time has been waiting for. Redeemed and unredeemed both will kneel and confess that He is Lord.

If you are redeemed and can say so - give a shout and say amen. If all of this is foreign and unknown, be encouraged. Because you are reading this, it is not too late. Simply pray, "Lord Jesus, I need You. I acknowledge I am sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please save me. From this day forward I serve You as my Lord and King. Amen." If you prayed that prayer, call someone and let them know.

Be encouraged - God is good. His purpose and plans for us is good no matter what.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Chinese Parable

A Parable:
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man as poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed. “We told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. Your are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?” The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.” The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought that he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man and still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away in the forest. Not only had he returned, he brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.” The old man responded, “Once again you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge. You read only a page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?” “Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But
down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild
horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments. “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who know if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk to you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this. Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

(From: “In The Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado)