He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, July 31, 2017

God Can Work In This Place

         A friend of mine faced a battle of low self-esteem for years.  She was convinced she could do nothing right and found herself hiding from the reality of life.  She wanted to run away and hide; walk away from all that seemed torture to her, but no one knew about.  Even with the “world” she lived in, she wanted to have a ministry in the church she attended.   Yet even here, she doubted.  She was certain God could not work within the bad place she found herself. 

            I think we all do that sometimes.  We make a bad decision and find ourselves in the middle of something we’d rather not deal with.  Sometimes it isn’t even a bad decision, but circumstances beyond our control.  Regardless, we attempt to figure out our worth based on our situation and ways we can fix our problems.  It often just seems an impossible state of affairs, causing an already frustrated person, to feel depression and despair!  In the process of all this discouragement, we miss the most dynamic answer to our problem: ----including God in the equation.

            That seems to be the human way.  Even the disciples wrestled with these feelings when Christ asked them to feed the large crowd of people who had gathered to hear Jesus speak.  They knew they couldn’t provide food for the crowd, and only thought of their incapability and weakness at that moment.  They weren’t considering that God could work in that place.

            If Believers can feel like this, an even greater likelihood of this self-doubt burdens the non-Christian, who is sure they’ve led such an awful life, God can’t possibly forgive them! 

            What keeps us from considering God’s power as the primary means to accomplish anything?  What makes us believe God’s “arm is too short,” or that the location is just too tough a setting for The Lord to work in, through or from!?

            Sadly, when this happens we are demonstrating faithlessness.  In a world that seems to have turned on itself with a seemingly deliberate act of violence, hate, injustice or understanding, it’s easy for Christians to stand aside quietly without rebuking the evil and go along with the crowd, even when their heart is breaking and conscience quaking, because they barely recognize their vulnerability.  Over time our senses are dulled, as we inadvertently conform to the world, rather than standing strong in the Lord.

            It’s not a deliberate act of disobedience, but our “store of faith” is depleted as we attempt to fit in our individual circles.  In addition to this element, add our work and career demands, along with family responsibilities, and it seems to leave very little time to reach for security in Christ through His Word or through prayer.

            Our priorities are skewed and it affects every area of our lives…..even the testimony of our faith life.  I encourage you to look beyond “the place you find yourself.”  Know, without a doubt God can work in this place---no matter what the 'place'!  Open your heart and mind to Him and watch your world take on new meaning.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Where Do We Find Our Energy?

I watched a movie recently where the faith and trust of a woman was tested. Her marriage was suffering, even as her and her husband’s career were flourishing and moving ahead.  Bad choices were made by the husband, which cost him his job.  The woman learned that prayer was her life line. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn, however. Offering forgiveness and grace come hard, when there is so much anger and frustration.

This movie resonated with me. There have been times when I’ve been right where the main character was.  I was sad and wanted to “fix” my problems and I couldn’t.  I was not in control and it took much prayer and submission to recognize that!

I have been described as moving like the “Energizer Bunny.”  It seems I almost never stop!  From the time my feet hit the floor until I crawl back in bed at night, I am usually doing something – and the more productive, the better.  Still life has a way of causing knees to buckle, creating a need to slow down, re-evaluate and sometimes even change direction.

When our knees buckle in prayer, as our hearts meet with God, we can find renewed energy, even in places we hadn’t expected!  What is even better is when our “renewed energy” is a direct gift from God, who leads because we’ve opened our minds to His voice.

The Bible talks about being renewed every day.  But to be renewed every day requires a commitment to meet with God because we want to, not because it’s in our schedule.  I admit, those little devotionals that have a scripture and application message are easy to use and wonderful.  I’ve both used them and contributed!

Yet, there is a drawback. Because we sit down for three minutes, open to the right page (given they are usually dated), read the message and prayer, close the booklet and go on our way.  Done deal!  But is it?  What have we done?  We’ve done nothing more than allow another person to do our “work” for us.  We’ve likely not even opened our personal Bibles.  We’ve spent three minutes with the Lord without ever “giving of ourselves.”  There is hardly even a time sacrifice. 

Can you imagine having that kind of relationship with your spouse?  What if in the morning you simply picked up an index card, read whatever the message said to your loved one and then walked away without another word or thought all day?  How long would your relationship last?  It wouldn’t!  Yet, as Christians, very often that’s exactly how we treat God. 

How can we expect God to energize, grow, or even direct us when we don’t take the time to spend time with Him?  The Bible says he “walked” with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  He spent time with them and they with Him.  They had a ‘perfect relationship’ before the fall.

Are we walking with God?  Are we moving in God’s energy?  If not, where do we draw our ability to sustain our thoughts, actions, behaviors or attitude?  Likely it’s from the world, because that is the only alternative. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

God's Word Is Profitable

        I watched on TV recently one of the old Westerns my husband enjoys, and the storyline included getting an education. This concept could not be understood by some of the parents and certainly some of the students, when the school teacher approached a family about going to school.  The mind-set was, “I haven’t needed to read or write; there’s no reason my son will need to.” While the son responded with, “Why do I need book learnin’?  I’m going to be a farmer like my Pa and he can teach me everything I need to know.”

            Recalling my own education, I couldn’t understand why on earth I needed to learn Algebra!  I’d never have reason to use it.  All it did was muddle my brain!  Or in history class, learning all the dates and places of wars long forgotten.  I didn’t mind the information on the people and even the places, but war details; Really???  And an even greater distaste, was the need to learn the element table when I was positive I’d never need such Scientific information!

            My mind was not considering the whole picture of knowledge to make a well-rounded, productive citizen.  The good came from understanding the processes of how we have gotten to where we are, the mistakes made, as well as, the victories accomplished.  To know this information enables me to have intelligent conversation, while using the brain God gave me!

            I heard a Pastor say once that we are not only responsible for those things we know in the Bible, but for those things we don’t.  I was dumbfounded at the thought and it niggled my mind to no end!  I completely understood that knowing God’s Word was important and I’d read a good bit of it, but even so, not nearly all of it.  There are some books of the Bible that just seem hard to read. 

            But when I look at the whole picture, knowing those stories and information in between those covers is serious business!  It is after all, God’s Word.  If he hadn’t thought it important enough to include, he would have left it out!  The fact that he did include it, makes it valuable information for me to learn, and learn from!

            The idea that I’m supposed to know and that I’m accountable for knowing….  Even those things I don’t think I need to know, is mind boggling and a little intimidating!  I have much to learn!  I can’t have the perspective like the pioneer boy who did not feel he would need an education because he’d just be a farmer anyway….or even my own immature perceptions of what was important or not in my own education.  It’s the whole concept of learning what is there!

            God gave us His Written Word.  It’s up to each of us to know the material.  I’m not just talking about reading it for the sake of reading it, but for the sake of knowing it.  We are accountable for what we know……  and all we do not know.  How will we answer when God asks why we didn’t read and study the very words He gave us?