Saturday, October 30, 2010

Endurance, the Challenge

What makes it hard for you to endure?

For me, it's fatigue, ignorance, or self-reliance. Sometimes in this spiritual race (Hebrews 12), I think I'm looking to Jesus, but I'm running as if I am the one who has to do it all.

Of course I get tired. Of course, I want to chuck it at times and say it's not worth the daily persistence.

I've been living with scriptures on "faith" by prayerfully researching and meditating on those scriptures, and God is teaching me more about trusting Him in hard times.

Patient endurance is not passive resignation. It is actively trusting the energy which God supplies when you are weary, bruised, or flagging in commitment. 

Since I am glaringly aware that it is beyond my natural capacity to excercise that kind of faith, I  journal, pray, and obey with the Holy Spirit's power. Not my own.

So, join me in asking these questions. How can we endure or run with patience this race set before us? How can we look to Jesus who both authors and perfects this faith He has powerfully seeded in us?

We can endure when we realize the important focus is JESUS -- not ourselves nor our issues. Even when we fail (in our eyes or others'), we have to get up, dust off our knees, and refocus and keep running.

Want to be transformed into a woman or man of character? Meet the challenge to endure by looking persistently to Jesus!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Did God Really Say?

I have noticed that when I am forging ahead with some idea God gave me, and I encounter repeated obstacles, a seductive voice whispers, “Did God really say for you to do that?”

When that siren voice sings, I have to call all resources on deck to keep me on course. I have to be on guard against doubt that relishes a slippery deck and rubbery knees.

Maybe what I thought was God’s instruction was really my wish—merely a pipe dream—and not a worthy plan. I wonder how my boat can handle these choppy waters.

So it’s a good time to check the boat, my motivation and my destination.

If my initial check and double check with God’s Spirit and word has been confirmed by other sources, if I had no vested interest in the destination, and if I keep my communication open and current with the Captain, then I can trust all will be well… rough seas or calm.

What God says, God will do. When white waves throw salt water in my eyes, I wipe them off by faith.

Trusting what God said helps us ride our waves. The storm may rage, but Christ is in our boat.

As we listen to our Captain, His infinite wisdom speaks saving grace one word at a time. Hold on to those words already spoken into your mind and heart, then choose to keep thanking our able Captain for what you already know to be true.

(Genesis 3: Reference to Eve and Adam’s temptation to distort God’s instructions and choose their own desires over God’s.)

What has God already told you that you need to remember?

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you a scripture promise to meditate on and to transform your situation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Extravagant Love

Our daughters drove 20 hours around the clock to Indiana to surprise their Dad for his birthday. They arrived tired but jubilant to give him their love gift.

Through the corner of his eye, he saw them sitting quietly on the stairs waiting for his eyes to find them. They were out of context and his sensory input didn't make sense. It prompted a quick second look and we all went into peals of laughter. We hugged and laughed some more.

Sometimes God's extravagant love comes to us in overwhelming surprises. The first look may not make much sense, until we realize the gift has already been given, the cost paid, and it is waiting for our readiness to receive. Follow up attention and open armed embrace are the doorways to benefit from the gift, allowing us to make time to examine, talk, listen and enjoy.

Those rare occasions punctuate the mundane with exclamations of God’s lavish longing to bless us. Love picks us up and twirls us around in joy.

All because our Creator loves us lavishly and wants to bless us.

No performance required -- only the willingness to receive.

See 1 John 4:19; Jeremiah 32:38-41 and John 3.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NLT).

Take some time to think about the kind of love that sent God’s only Son to die for you.

Though you might recognize that God’s extravagant love is directed to you personally, do you act as if you have to earn it?

What makes it hard to receive and enjoy Jesus Christ's love for you?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Under Authority

Jesus stayed tight with the Father: always listening and doing what the Father revealed. Elijah did the same,and his prayers demonstrated the power of God's authority.

There are some unusual events in 1 Kings 17 that God "commands." I expect God and Elijah had been discussing the altar for Baal that King Ahab had set up in the temple before Elijah told King Ahab that God would stop all rain until He gave further word.

That the rain stopped for three years affirms God's commandment that would create hardship for many. For Elijah to have such powerful confidence in God's commands, he had to be a man under authority -- a man of faith.

The word of the LORD came to Elijah again and directed him to leave and go hide in the Kerith Ravine. There God had ordered the ravens to feed Elijah. Ravens! Dirty (unclean) birds! To feed one of His choice prophets! (Surprise, Elijah!)

The LORD gave further directions to go to Zarephath where God had commanded a widow to supply Elijah with food.

Gathering sticks to cook her last meal with her son, she had to have been afraid of the future -- perhaps even depressed. Elijah assured her she need not be afraid for, if she would do what God asked, the God of Israel would provide flour and oil for her till the famine broke.

She had to trust God's word ... and sacrifice her plans. She was to give Elijah the first cake of bread before she prepared a meager meal for her son and herself. Her adherence to the word of the LORD through Elijah saved their lives. Obedience was her doorway to blessing.

But obedience does not guarantee smooth sailing. Her son got ill and died.

Responding to Elijah's passionate plea that the boy's life be restored, the LORD commanded life to return to this young lad. The result was the mother became assured that Elijah was a man of God whose words were truth.

What lessons might we learn? As we stay under authority by trusting, listening, and obeying God's word, we get to be conduits of God's good purposes so righteousness can come to our land.

For Your Consideration

In addition to 1 Kings 17, see the story of Jesus and the Roman centurion, a man under authority, in Matthew 8: 5-13.

Obeying God may take you to uncomfortable places. How can you make sure that you keep current with God is showing you?

Do you have confidence that God cares about your walk with Him? Or, that God loves to give you what you need and reveal His righteousness?