March 21, 2013

Clinging to PROMISE

The Shummanite woman we read about in 2 Kings 4 experienced both the heights of extreme joy when God gifted her with a son and the gut wrenching grief and despair when what was given to her was snatched from her grasp when he suddenly died.

She did not ASK for a son.  In fact----when Elisha asked her in vs 13 "What can we do for YOU."  She replied, "Nothing.  I am secure and satisfied."   She had need of nothing more than what she already had.  She was at peace.  She was satisfied.

And yet still-------she had not asked for it--------but God blessed her with a son.
When he died I can't even imagine the grief that gripped her heart.  If it was GOD'S gift to her----his PROMISE------HIS BLESSING...............then why this?  It doesn't appear that she spent much time grieving or questioning.  Scripture does not show her response as being angry or shaking her fist at God accusing Him of being unjust.   What it DOES show us-however-is that though she may not have understood why such a thing could have happened-----there was an unrelenting feisty tenacious spirit of hope that was in her very being.  Deep in her spirit something took over---------She could have sat in that room holding her dead son but I imagine her seeing him lying there cold and lifeless.  When what was once ALIVE and full of life was now DEAD and I can hear her say, 'Oh, NO you don't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Notice what she does.
She doesn't waste a moment.
She doesn't spend any time with idle thoughts or doubting.
She RUNS.
Without hesitation.......with HOPE driving her.
To find the man of God who promised her this gift that was now taken from her.

When Gehazi (Elisha's servant) stops her and asks her if everything was okay.....her response was simply, 'All is well'.  "Everything is all right."

I don't know what she expected when she came face to face with Elisha.  Did she expect him to perform a miracle?    We don't know what she was thinking.
I only notice her response.  What she DID next.

She chased down the man of God----------------------------------when what was PROMISED to her was taken away she went to find him.  "ALL..................shall be.................................WELL." 
I just have to find Elisha.

She hadn't even ASKED for a son----but now that God has GIVEN it to her-----she's not about to give it up without a fight.  


And of course---we go on to read how this precious gift of God, this boy, was brought back to life once again.

This is a story of PROMISE.........FAITH, HOPE and PEACE.
There are times when we just don't understand.  We have no answers.  There's NOTHING we can DO but stand on the Truth of what God has said.  Clinging to what He has promised to us.  With tenacity.  Putting all our hope in the TRUTH of His word.  Refusing to give it up without a fight but RUNNING to Him without doubt or hesitation.
.... KNOWING "ALL SHALL BE WELL".

When the very thing that appeared to be DEAD was brought to life again........
What was robbed from her..........was restored to her again.......
I am reminded of that restoration HOPE given to US because of Calvary.

He is Life Himself.
The grave couldn't keep Him.
Death couldn't defeat Him.
Hell couldn't HAVE Him.
He defeated death, hell and the grave.
To the GLORY of God the Father.......................................
That He might be glorified in it all.  All of it.

Whatever seems to be dead---void of all hope and LIFE.........a dream, your heart, your marriage, your finances.....we can remember that which God has promised us. 

John 11:25  I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live;"

..............when He passes by

Bartimaeus seized upon a chance opportunity.  Jesus was passing by.

There were crowds and crowds of people who needed Jesus.  Begging for His attention.  Wanting a miracle.  Wanting Him to do something for them.  Perhaps Bartimaeus simply let him walk by...............would Jesus notice Him and heal him?  Perhaps yes.  But maybe no.  But Bartimaeus wasn't about to be left unheard.  Unseen.  Unnoticed.  He SHOUTED.  "SON OF DAVID HAVE MERCY ON ME".  The people asked him to be quiet. 
But ..............HE.  SHOUTED.  ALL.  THE.  MORE.

                            Jesus restored the man's sight and he became a follower of Jesus.

Jesus didn't just do miracles as a means to an end.
The man needed his sight.  Yes.
But there was more to it.  In John 14:10 He tells the disciples that the Father in Him was doing the work.  Every witness to Jesus' miracles.  Every recipient of a miracle saw EVIDENCE of a God at work.  He did it to glorify His Father.  That all men might come to know Him.

What is it you are seeking?
What do you have need of?
Are you seeking to know the Father?  God will show Himself mighty on your behalf.
But not for the sake of your needs.
Not just for your healing.
Not just for the miracle you are seeking.
He will do it.  But for a greater purpose.  That HE might be glorified.  And that all men might come to know Him.  That there would be tangible evidence testifying to the very real, very present, very near to you God who wants to do great things.  That you would really and truly know Him.

When He passes by will you seize the opportunity and with tenacity and boldness take hold of that thing which you have need of?

Pilgrims Headed Home

The Israelites found themselves living in incredibly insecure ever changing circumstances.  Just as they would settle and find a place to pitch their tent and catch a breath.....the cloud during the day would move them forward or the fire at night would have them pack it up and move it out.  Always moving-----towards Canaan.  It seemed very unpredictable at times and yet Moses says, "though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations"

To everything.....there is a season....and a time and purpose for everything under heaven.  There is a time for living....but also a time for dying. A time to tear down...and a time to build. A time for crying and a time for laughing.  A time for mourning and a time for dancing.  A time for planting and a time for reaping a harvest of things you have sown.  A time for staying still.  A time for moving.  A time for talking and a time for being quiet and listening.

 If you find yourself placing confidence and security in earthly circumstances....you will find yourself shaken and unsure of your footing when the seasons change.  That is not where our confidence and hope lie. Our confidence and Hope is a sure and steady thing because it is found in something that cannot be shaken.  So steady that when the seasons change, the wind blows, the storm rages

.....you. will. Be. Found. In. Him.

No matter where you find yourself one thing remains.  The hope and the calling that lie within you.  It is this steady gyroscope in the center of your being that

........keeps you on course
 .....maintains your orientation
.......keeps you grounded

Keeps you focused and your footing sure.  

Every step will be a confident one because you've placed yourself in the sovereign hands of God.  Keeping your eyes on Him.   HE is the One thing that remains.  When you awaken in the morning....you will find Him there still sustaining you.  Loving you just as always.  Faithful to the end.  Your hope may wane.  Your joy may falter.  Your faith may be shaken.  But you will find Him there still.  The Rock of Ages.  We are pilgrims in this world...but let's not fix our eyes on what is temporary.  Fix your eyes on what is eternal.  God's relentless love and pursuit of YOU.  He never rests His protective watch over you.........until the day He brings you HOME.
  
He Is Your Life.  He is your HOME.
 It is in HIM that we LIVE. and MOVE. and HAVE OUR BEING.

March 20, 2013

Your Mission Field

What's YOUR mission field?
*YOUR LEVEL OF OBEDIENCE WILL DETERMINE YOUR LEVEL OF INFLUENCE*
We tend the think that the most influential people are the ones standing at the pulpit, working in the media, performing as musicians, or missionaries who travel to exotic and never before reached places in the most remote parts of the earth. *YOUR* area of influence is right inside your four walls. Your area of influence GROWS as your step outside your DOOR. Your area of influence permeates the environment as you take advantage of the Divine opportunities throughout your day to be salt and LIGHT, love and peace, HOPE and JOY to those whom God has given you TODAY. You ARE on the mission field. Your CHILDREN are your mission field. Your HUSBAND is your mission field. Your WIFE is your mission field. You are GIFTED and CALLED to do the things YOU do that only YOU can do the way that YOU do them!!!....to reach the people in YOUR corner of the world.
Go into *ALL* the world and preach the gospel.

Go into your SCHOOLS, your place of BUSINESS, your grocery store.....you see it? Your mission field. :) You don't have to be holding a Bible and standing in the hallway like John the Baptist shouting, "PREEEEEEEEEEEEEEPARE YEEEEEEEEEEE THE WAAAAAAAAAAY OF THE LAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Just be YOU:) Just be LOVE. Just be KINDNESS. And allow the Kindness of the Savior to show the world there's something MORE to this life....in the place where YOU live!

Going back to Egypt

It's interesting to me that the Israelites (facing the Red Sea) would have rather hauled it back to Egypt, subject themselves to slavery once again, rather than face change and uncertainty. One roadblock. Albeit.....an enormous (*seemingly * insurmountable roadblock) and they are ready to pack it up and go back to the familiar pain and suffering and strongholds and bondages of Egypt. That's what they knew.  But we can see what they couldn't. The whole story from beginning to end. All that they had was a small snapshot. 
Miracles have a way of riding in to save the day. 
Faithful God shows up and shows OFF. He moves in and when it will have its GREATEST impact and He will get the GREATEST glory.....
He ceases silence and in His sovereignty does the unthinkable, unimaginable and makes a way where there IS no way! 

When faced with the impossible we jump to conclusions and allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear but God is ALWAYS at work. He knows the story from the beginning through to the end. The journey out of Egypt, the way through the dessert, the path through the sea and into the Promised Land. Our job is to listen, TRUST and MOVE. Going BACK to Egypt is not the answer. He's moving you BEYOND yesterday and into TOMORROW. Into PROMISE and BLESSINGS. All we have TODAY and what we face in this moment. But you can TRUST Him in your story. He'll work out in the details. He's the Author and He's already got it all figured out! Psalm 139:16 all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Forgiveness is Costly

Forgiveness is costly. One of the verses that comes to mind when I think of forgiveness in the face of what might be your greatest disappointment and your deepest hurt....."In doing so you heap burning coals on their head". I used to think that was some malicious, back-door, underhanded, hidden-agenda-way of paying someone back who has (what we perceive as) "unfairly" wronged you. A righteous indignation. But that's what turns servant into martyr. That's what turns forgiveness into something with an ulterior motive----instead of forgiveness just for the sake of forgiveness. ***with no strings attached*** Heaping burning coals on their heads means....surprising them with goodness. (sharing the burning embers from YOUR fire when you're enemy's fire has gone out.)

Forgiveness means....not needing an explanation, an apology, an act of remuneration or any sense of JUSTICE taken place on your behalf. It means letting go of any expectations, resentment, bitterness, ill feelings and all offenses with no promise of it ever being made right. Forgiveness means understanding and GRACE in the face of what might be your deepest hurt. Forgiveness doesn't require your feelings and emotions to agree. Forgiveness requires OBEDIENCE. The FEELINGS will follow your FAITH and obedience when in faith you do what He's required of you. And that is to forgive.


King David said "I can't give to God what costs me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24) I've thought of that verse many times. On many occasions. For many reasons....sacrifice, giving (not just speaking dollars and cents) is NOTHING if it hasn't cost you something FIRST. Forgiveness at times can cost a great deal when we're the ones who were hurt. It costs us our right to be angry. Our right to hold a grudge. Our right to see justice done on our behalf. Our right to an apology. our right to have the last word. How hard that is!!! So do the hard thing. What you will receive in return is something far greater than what it is you're letting go of.

March 2, 2013

Who's Holding the Scales?

Instagram. Picasa. With all the photo editing software and apps there are out there I am surprised how many people do not edit out the background clutter in their snapshots. While I do believe that we should not be persuaded by what others may think of us and still on the other hand I DO believe we should always present ourselves in a good light....... (Consistent both ON camera and OFF camera ;)) I wonder how many live the same life OFF Facebook as they do ON. I know we all have a tendency to put our best foot forward. It's human nature. We want to win the popularity vote. We WANT to have our act together or at least appear as though we do. I am guilty as charged. We all have been there at one time or another. Or we fall to the far other end. Not care at all and that too is a mark of pride. We are either afraid to show our faults and mistakes. We feel ashamed that we are actually----FALLIBLE. BROKEN. Make mistakes.                                                                       
                                                                                    
........
We are HUMAN.

We live in this imperfect flesh. Pinterest. Facebook. While it's all so very brilliant:) (if used with wisdom and discretion).....it all presents an opportunity for comparison and a FALSE sense of reality. If you're not Betty Crocker, June Cleaver, a famous preacher or have not a single CREATIVE bone in your body you fall SHORT. But to WHO'S standards? WHO'S got the scales? Who's making the comparisons!?!?!
                               Certainly not GOD.
And when have we come to this place that those things are more important than living a life with consistent character, integrity and diligence!??!?! Being faithful with what's in front of us to do, being good stewards and raising our children to fear God and love and serve man?
Or that we have to be or at least to appear to be SO perfect that the smallest mistake or FLAW RENDERS US USELESS to the kingdom of God and those around us?!?!?!?!

I am reminded of the Pharisees: The Great Pretenders. I can only imagine that people pretended as much around the Pharisees as the Pharisees pretended themselves. The Pharisees had to be some of the LONELIEST people on earth. NOTHING they stood for. NOTHING they represented was in light of REALITY. The Pharisees sacrificed a LOT to maintain the image they held dear. They sacrificed relationship. No one could relate to them. They were out of touch with any sense of reality that most people faced day in and day out. Presenting a sense of perfection not only generates fear in our OWN hearts....it creates an intimidation in others. They cannot relate to us. We have a bunch of nice, out of touch with reality, fake relationships and nobody knows who we TRULY are. How often we do that with God Himself and His Son. We worship with a sense of pride and spirituality. We honor God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him. Matthew 15:8. It stings my pride to think of it, it breaks me, it humbles me. We who WORSHIP Him must worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH. How can we truly worship Him unless we do so with an honesty and a transparency. If there's something that cannot be revealed....we might as well not worship Him at all. We must worship in TRUTH. HONESTY. Just as we are. And when we come face to face with GLORY and with the KINDNESS of a SAVIOR in light of WHO we truly are!??! We are forever changed.

AUTHENTICITY. That's where we grow. In the MESSY soil of our imperfections. Our flaws. The frailty of HUMAN NATURE. It's REAL. How can He redeem it and restore it unless we are first HONEST with who we ARE?

Authentic before GOD. Authentic before MAN. Can we not just admit we make mistakes? We NEED each other. We NEED our pastors. We NEED a SAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!! We. Are. HUMAN. Not a single one of us has it all together. Maybe some of us have figured things out sooner than others. That's only because they are in touch with the wisdom from the word of God and have learned to discern the heart and voice of God instead of allowing their thoughts to be weighed against the judgment of others.

It's your HEART He's after. In all of its transparency. We come "broken to be mended, wounded to be healed, desperate to be rescued, empty to be filled, guilty to be pardoned......and welcomed with open arms".....JUST AS WE ARE.

If we would only treat one another with that same kind of GRACE and UNDERSTANDING maybe so many people wouldn't feel the need to hide who they really are. The BIBLE is FULL of stories of men and women who were just that.....IMPERFECT. Those were the people Jesus reached out to. Those were the people He singled out. Where KINDNESS met imperfection. Where GRACE collides with HUMANITY. And in that same story we see MIRACLES, REDEMPTION and RESTORATION take place that otherwise couldn't happen unless they first were honest with GOD and with each other.

What a great thing technology is. But let's not lose sight of reality. And let's not be so lost in this virtual world we lose sight of the people around us.

.............on second thought keep your clutter or allow God to clean it up but don't pretend it's not there.