Saturday, November 24, 2012

Where to Take the Impossible

Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. Genesis 25:21 (New King James Version)

I have not faced the heartache of infertility but I have known some who have. The longing to have children and not be able to conceive can be excruciating for a couple going through it. They have no way of knowing if this will be a permanent situation for them or if eventually they will experience the joy of pregnancy and giving birth. It is a time when their longing is matched only by the fear of that longing not being fulfilled.

For Isaac and Rebekah, this uncertainty marked their first two decades as husband and wife. It was not a matter of simply giving it time. It was a matter of Rebekah being physically incapable of bearing a child. I cannot begin to imagine her sorrow during a time when a woman’s inability to conceive a child was viewed with such a social stigma. The impossibility of her situation made the sorrow all the deeper.

It was within this context that Isaac prayed to God on behalf of his wife…pleaded with God. Surely he recalled the account of God intervening for his mother when she was beyond the age of childbearing. His own conception came into the realm of what was physically impossible. Perhaps it was that piece of personal history that gave him the initiative, motivation, and confidence to pray for God to intervene once again. Isaac prayed, God granted his request, and Rebekah conceived. Impossibility is always the backdrop of every miracle and God Himself is the source of every miracle.

This is a biblical account that encourages my faith. Why? Because I know that I will face impossibilities from time to time and this reminds me where to take those impossibilities. Will God grant every request I bring to Him? No, but anytime He doesn’t will be met with grace and a fresh awareness that His ways and thoughts are higher than my own. His character is such that He always acts out of love and always does what is best for me. He knows my desires and needs in this life. I am free to bring those to Him and free to accept His answers to my prayers. Will God grant some of my requests? Absolutely! I have experienced such answers in the realm of finances, heart changes, job seeking, and various other arenas. Most recently I am witnessing His ability to shift my dependency off people and on to Himself. In my book THAT is something only He can do and impossible without Him.

Father, the examples of faith-walks in Scripture are numerous and lessons abound. Help me to live out of the truth of each. Amen.

What Faith Can Do - Kutless

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Not Knowing Ahead of Time

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Numbers 20:12 (New King James Version)

Moses’ disobedience led to dire consequences. The disobedience? Failing to glorify God in the eyes of the nation of Israel. The consequences? Not being allowed to lead that nation into the promised land. Had Moses known this would be the case when God first called Him to be Israel’s leader he would not have been ready to hear it and most likely would have declined even taking the first step toward that leadership. But when the time came for Moses to see the later picture, God had brought him to the place of being ready for it. I am reviewing Bible characters in my mind and seeing that outside of Jesus Himself, none of them knew ahead of time the full scope of what they were getting into at the start of their journey. They were not told ahead of time but when they finally were told they had been fully prepared.

Several years ago, I accepted the invitation to join a friend in an accountability relationship. When I look back at what it was like at the start I am amazed at how much the Lord has transformed it over time. What it looks like now does not even resemble in the slightest what it looked like then. The reason for that is simple…..I would not have been able to handle knowing what was coming. The ground work had not been laid. Trust had not been established. God knew that and built that into the process. Over the course of several years I learned the necessity to be honest and I learned this was a safe person. In the beginning I needed lots of assurance and encouragement. I still do to a point. My emotions were fragile and my trust was shaky. They still are but not as much.

Yet, last night I experienced a confrontation of truth I needed to hear. While I was told I was wrong I was assured I was loved. I was given time to process what I had been told and time to let down my resistance to change my attitude. When it was all said and done, I experienced the joy of looking this individual in the eye and thanking her for nudging me to take a step toward emotional maturity. This morning I rejoice that God had me ready when it came time to know. He also had my friend ready to take the uncomfortable step of being the confronter. It is not a role she would have gladly embraced at the start. He graciously helped us both to turn a relationship corner and I trust Him to continue to do this time and time again……as He makes us ready.

Father, get me ready for each moment of truth and for each truth teller who will speak it. Amen.

Please Come - Kathy Troccoli

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Still Miss Her

In March of 2000, I sat in the balcony at my church and took in the fact that I would soon be facing my first Mothers' Day without my mom.

She had been killed in a car accident after suffering a heart attack the previous February. I still remember the profound ache and extraordinary loss that enveloped me. Physically I felt like someone had taken a piece of barbed wire and shoved it into my chest...then proceeded to twist it. My mom who was so full of life. The one with whom I could laugh the hardest. The one I took after in so many ways. The one with whom I enjoyed Christian fellowship for the last 14 years of her life. The one who over came her alcoholism but struggled with depression. The one who loved me and cheered me on in life. The one who adored my children. Gone. Heaven held her and I couldn't get to her.

It was that day in March when the Lord gave me a poem which I would like to share with all of you. Written with my mom in mind, I now dedicate it to all of you who have lost your mothers or know someone who has....whether years ago or recently. While my personal pain and sorrow have subsided and good memories have replaced them, my heart goes out to any who face a difficult Mothers' Day this year. God bless you and may His presence be your comfort.

I Still Miss Her

It seems like only yesterday
I sent a Mother’s Day card away.
I didn’t think it would be the last,
I signed it with love and mailed it fast.
Now that she has gone away,
It doesn’t feel like Mother’s Day.
There are no more chances to send a card,
To ship some flowers, to make a call.
There’s no more thanking her for all she’s done.
No more visits,
No more fun.
I cannot hug her or kiss her cheek.
I cannot even share a laugh.
It all too quickly became the past.
I took each visit with her for granted.
I thought there’d always be more to come.
The camera lies still now
From her use and mine.
All the pictures have been taken,
All the memories have been made.
All the words have been spoken,
All the letters have been mailed.
The thing I miss the most of all
Has got to be her voice
Whether on the telephone or talking face to face.
I’d wish for one more conversation either here or at her place.
I know I’ll see her again some day,
We’ll share the sights of heaven.
We’ll talk, we’ll laugh, we’ll hug,
We’ll kiss….it’ll be Mother’s Day once more.
But until then I’ll be a mom for Mother’s Day instead of
Being a daughter.

Pam Shattuck
March, 2000

I Sure Miss You - Crabb Family

I welcome your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Upon What Does It Hinge?

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! Psalm 32:1 (New American Standard Bible)

David reveled in God’s forgiveness of his sins because he took God at His word that sin would and could be forgiven if brought to Him. In Old Testament times a sin offering was brought in the form of a lamb or goat and upon the shed blood of that sacrifice forgiveness was promised (Leviticus 4:20). Jesus Christ later became that sacrificial lamb on the cross of Calvary. It is His shed blood that becomes the premise for God’s forgiveness today (1 John 1:9).

So what exactly IS God’s forgiveness? It is a pardon. In legal terms it means the forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty. While we may still be subject to the earthly consequences of our sin, the eternal penalty in Hell is cancelled. It means when sin is forgiven it is no longer held against us and we are no longer viewed in light of that sin. It is gone!

If that be the case, why do so many of us live as if the sin is still hanging over our head and God is reluctant to actually give the forgiveness He has promised? I have been asking God that question this morning and He has been quick to bring the answer. It has to do with that upon which I think forgiveness hinges. God is letting me know that my own pre-conceived ideas are getting in the way of me receiving His extravagant offer. While He says the price has been paid and forgiveness will be extended each time I bring the sin to Him, I stand entangled in the following thoughts:

*God withholds forgiveness until I am no longer sinning in that area.

*God does not take my confession seriously because I still fail.

*I have no right to ask His forgiveness if I have not come to the place of victory over the sin.

*I am an exception to His grace because I am not sinless yet.

I was stunned at how much was hinging on my behavior. I am no different than the person who says they will come to Jesus for salvation when they get their life together. Sort of like the person who cleans the house before the maid shows up! God is helping me to see that His forgiveness is not contingent on how good I do afterwards. It fully rests on the payment that was made by Christ on the cross. I never have deserved it and never will deserve it apart from Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace.

Father, I have been hesitant to take You at Your word, yet You have never withdrawn Your hands that offer such a gift as this! Change will come as a result of Your forgiveness not as a prerequisite for it. Amen.

What Sin? - Morgan Cryar

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Serving Two Masters

No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely). Luke 16:13 (Amplified Bible)

Dare to take this verse further than the love of money and it will change your life. Serving two masters is done anytime something or someone is in competition with God for our heart. It could be money and it could also be relationships, job status, financial security, success, bitterness, refusal to forgive, prolonged grief, or any other person or thing we view as necessary for our own survival. Just as our minds can only think of one thing at a time, our hearts can only embrace one thing at a time. It is God or ____________ and each of us would do well to identify what is in the blank. If nothing comes to mind, ask God to reveal it to you. He is an expert at showing us the things to which we are blind.

I have often said, God does not reveal truths to us about ourselves to shame or condemn us but rather to heal, restore, and free us. If I have a master other than God that I am holding to and serving, my freedom will only come as I acknowledge it and release it. Depending on the strength of its hold on me the process of letting go may involve a lot of time. I am learning that the quicker I deal with it the quicker the freedom will come.

It is not easy to release what depicts security and value to us. That which we treasure in our heart and view as necessary for our life will be the hardest to relinquish. But unless we are willing to release our grip, our hold will be on the wrong source. I speak as one who has known the full impact of having my “second” master be a person, an attitude, a passion, a position, an addiction, and a loss. Yet none of those things could or should be to me what God desires to be to me.

None could say, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” None could love me with an everlasting love. None could die for my sins and secure a place in Heaven for me. None could create me with a purpose and move Heaven and Earth to bring about that purpose. None but God. When it is He whom I serve, He whom I love, He whom I am devoted to, and He whom I stand by I am in the right place in my life. That is when there is true peace, joy, and delight in living.

Father, You offer me so much when You offer me Yourself. Help me to choose You above all others every minute of every day. Be my only Master. Amen.

Be Thou My Vision - David Arkenstone: Celtic Hymns

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God's Way of Doing Things

Let all things be done decently and in order. I Corinthians 14:40 (King James Version)

I appreciate the fact that God leads by example. He faithfully demonstrates the very things He commands, demands, and expects of me. He is definitely not like many parents who say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” With God it is always “Do as I say and as I do!” I look back at the account of creation and I see things being done decently and in order with specific creation on specific days.

I am currently reading the book of Numbers and what started out as repetitive and seemingly boring details quickly gave way to seeing God set up tabernacle worship and the placement of His people in a decent and orderly fashion. When I look at the vast number of Israelites in the wilderness (over a million) I realize the necessity of God doing things decently and in order.

But the words of I Corinthians 15:40 are taking on a new dimension for me. I am resting in the fact that what God does in my life is being done decently and in order as well. His daily plan for me is being carried out with precision, dignity, and individuality. There is design and purpose in the things He has me do, the people He has me meet, and the way He interacts with me. I am gaining a new appreciation for the way He orchestrates my life… day at a time.

There is a sense of security and peace when I take in the words of Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way. The word ‘ordered’ comes from a Greek word that means to set up, establish, fix, prepare, direct, fashion, ordain, perfect, prepare, and provide. Talk about significance! Seeing God’s watchfulness and detailed ordering of my life is the reason I can then delight in His ways. It is a delight He revels in as well.

I may not always understand God’s choices for my life but in this truth I choose to live…..God is faithful, good, loving, attentive, involved, and in control. His Word is filled with examples of that! Nothing He does is haphazard or half-hearted. Who better to arrange my life than the very One who created and sustains life?

Father, I feel cared for by You! I joy in the fact that whatever You have planned for my day as well as my life will be done decently and in order. Thank you that I need never expect anything less! Amen.

Ppotter's Hand - Hillsong

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Confident and Specific

And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” Esther 5:3 (New King James Version)

Four times King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), voiced these words to Queen Esther (Esther 5:3,6; 7:2; 9:12). He ruled over 127 provinces, so when he said, “Up to half the kingdom” it was an extravagant offer! Each time, Esther was ready with specific requests which she had thought through in advance. She stated those requests with confidence because of the king’s words to her. In essence, he was saying, “Ask and it will be given to you!” He wanted to know what was on her mind and he wanted to give her what she desired. What love and what risk! He had no idea what she was going to say and yet he made a radical promise….and KEPT it! Each and every time!

Jesus has spoken the same words to us. He said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened on to you.” He also said, “Ask anything in my name, and it shall be given unto you.” But one of the differences between Ahasuerus and Jesus is that Jesus already knows what we plan to ask even before we ask it!

So I am asking myself this morning whether or not I approach Jesus with the same confidence as Esther approached Ahasuerus. Am I as specific? If not, why not? I believe my answer lies in the fact that I realize God does not always give me what I ask for. It is time to look at that aspect of prayer and see the reasons He would say, “No.”

I must embrace the truth that God is able to do ALL things and that His ways are above my ways. His “no” often means, it would not be good for me to have what I am asking Him for, He has a better plan, He desires to work in a different way, or He knows what is best. It can also mean there is sin that needs to be dealt with first. In the midst of it all, He invites me to trust Him with abandon and not depend on my own understanding. As I pray I must review the character and heart of God. If God’s denial of my request leaves me with thoughts of not being loved or cared for then I am buying into lies. The truth of the matter is that Jesus has invited me to ask and that gives me confidence. His sovereignty and wisdom gives me peace.

Having said this, let me also say that I believe Jesus intends and desires to do so much more than I dare to ask. I have to wonder what would happen if I received Christ’s words in the same way that Esther received Ahasuerus’ words. May I find out!

Father, help my prayers to be both confident and specific. There is much about prayer that still eludes me but I want to learn. Lord, teach me how to pray! Amen.

Draw Me Close - Kathy Troccoli

Getting into God's Word and letting God's Word get into me one truth at a time.