Devotions

December 17, 2016

“This is the way, Walk in it

 

The words “Our God is specific” are constantly flowing through my mind. As believers, we are always faced with questions of “What does the Lord have for my life” and “How do I know what he would have me do, how am I to act.” Everyone, if they were honest, would say they have at one point struggled with really believing that their God would answer them in there most desperate moments or with the simple mundane decisions of everyday. The Lord is more than willing to take us by the hand and lead us, but I am convinced that we are blinded by our own self-seeking ways. We say we want God’s will, we want to please His heart; but we cannot seem to throw off our own flesh to actually hear what the Lord may have to say to us. Let’s dig into the Scriptures to see what the Lord would say to those who know and trust Him.

Our source of guidance comes from God’s Word alone. In 1 Timothy 3:16-17, the word says, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” We have to immerse ourselves in the Word of God if we want to know what he expects out of our lives. If you want to be equipped and trained in Righteousness, dig deep into His Word and let Him teach you His ways. The Lord declares in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you!” Will the Lord not be true to His Word? Can we throw off what we think is right and hold to that promise? He will show you how to behave, act, walk all throughout this life. Jehovah God is supreme above all things and yet He says to us, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

The Kingdom of God should consume our daily lives. We let the daily pressures of money, jobs, relationships, the thought of persecution swerve us away from surrendering ALL to Jesus. If your hearts desire is to have financial security, you will never know how to walk in His kingdom power when He simply says, “Trust me”. In John 16:13 Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” If we are rooted and established in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. If we are filled with the very substance of Jesus that means we carry the Kingdom with us everywhere we go. Our lives were not meant to be weighed down with the cares of this world; we were called to walk in the power of Jesus and bring His Kingdom to earth! When this is your mindset, will He not speak with you personally and direct your every step?

Seek the Kingdom that is to come and the Lord will never fail to lead. Isaiah 30:20 says, “And though the LORD give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.” Drink whatever cup the Lord places in your hand. Our hearts desire should be to know the Lord and for him to be our joy and portion in this life. If he is our joy, then it will not matter if we daily eat the bread of adversity and drink the cup of affliction. Jesus has wonderful things in store for us and He has promised to guide us.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

September 10, 2016

For The Joy

Whenever a new season of life happens, I feel that the Lord is always faithful to reveal Himself. Sometimes it will be a new revelation and others it will be a Truth you already know but He so graciously continues to reveal it so that you will diligently cultivate that truth in your heart. Recently, my family and I have been in that season where change is all around us but His Truth, Character and Love remain the same and He is being faithful to make Himself known to us.

This summer we have been trying to get some outdoor house projects finished. We have a backyard patio but it is completely surrounded by gravel and hard, rocky soil. It looks more like a patio in the middle of a driveway rather than in a luscious, green yard. To help with that problem, my husband came across a deal with some sod so yesterday he went and picked it up. After he returned home with a trailer full, he had to leave quickly to take our oldest rock climbing. While he was gone, I laid the younger kids down for nap and decided I wanted to help with the sod laying process. Our biggest predicament though was our ground needed to have all the gravel removed. One of those electric tillers would have been amazing but of course we do not have one. So I began to rake and dig our yard so that when he returned home it would be all ready for him to get to work. While I was eagerly working, I just kept picturing how excited he would be when he saw how much I accomplished and was hoping he would be thrilled that I had saved him some time. Now this was no easy task that I got myself into but once I started I was determined to finish. As I was raking in the hot sun and as blisters began to form on my hands, I felt the Lord speak to my heart and say, “See, this is what I have been saying to you.”

During the past weeks in church and discipleship class, we have been studying the different Jewish feasts. Each feast is powerful but the Lord keeps highlighting the feast of first fruits to me. There is something so glorious of how the children of Israel would give back to the Lord the first of their harvest with such joy. As I continue to study this common truth, I feel the Lord calling me to a life that gives my first and best to Him and Him only. Of course this mindset rages war with our human reasoning and flesh. How will I pay all my bills if I give the Lord the first of my income? How will I have energy at the end of the day if I wake early to spend time in His presence? What happens if I have nothing left to give to the ones I love dearly if I am continually pouring into others? But though these fears and worries scream at me, the Word of God echoes down deep in my soul. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who FOR THE JOY set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

You see, we all want the beautiful, lush yard without the work of tilling the hard, rocky soil. We all want to hold the beautiful baby in our arms without enduring the labor that brings them into the world. We all want well-behaved and godly children without having to discipline and instruct them and do so consistently. But as Jesus, who FOR THE JOY endured the cross, we are called to live a life that continually and willingly gives our first and best every time. We can rest in His promises because He is faithful who promised and walk out this Truth with joy to our King, the author and perfecter of our faith!

 

September 6, 2016

A Submissive Response to Mercy

Consider the mercies of our God. What is it that we have done to receive mercy from Him? The truth is God’s mercy is not as much a response to something we’ve done, as it is an action on His part in accordance with His very character. Daniel 9:18 says: “For we plead with you (God) not because of our own righteousness, but because of your compassion.” And Titus 3:5 says that God’s salvation is not because of our own acts of righteousness, but because of His mercy. Our God is merciful!

 Every worshipper of another god finds himself hard at work all the days of his life in hopes to, upon his final breath, find his slave-driving deity mercifully disposed toward him because of his efforts. While all other gods (or demonic powers) have appealed to the fears of their subjects, offering false promises of a mercy they cannot give; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has won our hearts and purchased our freedom with an earth-shaking display of mercy. While others are hopelessly holding out for it, we have received it!

As worshippers of the great and only God of mercy, what is a fitting response from us? Paul gave a crystal-clear answer to this question in his address to the Church in Rome. But before we look at his answer, we should consider a passage from the Torah in Exodus chapter 34.

In Exodus 32 the people of Israel have been recently freed from their bondage to Egypt and are camped in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. Having become impatient with Moses’ 40-day meeting with God on the mountain, they give themselves over to gross idolatry and sexual immorality in adoration of a golden calf. It is a chapter later in Exodus 33 when, having seen their sin, God is near to wiping out all of Israel. Moses intercedes for Israel’s sake, appealing to the very character of God Himself. Moses finds favor with God, and in verses 5-7 of Exodus 34, God makes an unforgettable proclamation to an awe-stricken Moses. Verse 6 says:

ADONAI passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed: YAHWEH! Yahweh is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth

 Acting perfectly in accordance with His character, God chooses to show Israel mercy by sparing them from His righteous wrath and continuing with His age-old plan for them. What is Moses’ response to this mercy? Verses 8-9—

At once, Moses bowed his head to the ground, prostrated himself and said, “If I have now found favor in your view, Adonai, then please let Adonai go with us, even though they are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our offenses and sins; and take us as your possession.”

 

The nearly petrified Moses, in the presence of God, responds to this mercy with submission–an offering of the people of Israel to be God’s own possession. Those who were once the enslaved property of Egypt are now the possession of YHWH God. What then follows is clear instruction from God to His people, teaching them how to walk in a manner distinct from all other peoples of the earth. He gives them commands to obey and guidelines to follow so that they will not be contaminated by the cultures of the nations around them. Because they are now His own, He is setting them apart from the rest.

With this story of Moses at Sinai fresh on our minds, let us look at Paul’s answer to the question we asked—As worshippers of the great and only God of mercy, what is a fitting response from us? Look at Romans 12:1.

I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God…

 If we were to continue to read on in Exodus 34 and 35, it would not take us long to notice a connection here. Paul is telling the Church—lovers of Yahweh God and followers of Jesus Messiah—how they should live their lives in response to God’s mercies. And what is he saying other than what was already spoken of the people of Israel by Moses? “You have saved us and shown us mercy; now take us as your possession!”—“In consideration of the mercies of God, set yourself apart, completely for Him!”

The rest of Romans 12:1 goes on to say this:

“…offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please Him; it is your logical ‘Temple worship’ (or spiritual worship, or reasonable service).”

 That last phrase is to say that it is only fitting that those who have received God’s mercy should fall before Him in worship, and with grateful submission, offering up their lives in response to Him. Paul does not stop there but, much like the LORD God in Exodus, continues with instruction to the Church on how they ought to go about living lives of sacrifice in response to their merciful God. Let’s read Romans 12:2.

In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the present age. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.

 It is not my purpose to expound on all of what lies in this particular verse. However, I will say that it is life altering when the follower of Christ cries out in submission to the Spirit, seeking to not only abstain bodily from that which is carnal but to also submit his mind—thought patterns and the busyness of his mind—to know and dwell on what is the very will of God for his life. This is to renew the mind, and so be transformed! To walk in this transformation is to walk with the bold humility of Christ. It is to know what is the will of God and attest to its goodness by carrying it out. Signs and wonders will accompany the gospel life, and the world will know that there is one God—and all because ordinary men and women rightly understood and responded to the mercy of God.

In Exodus 34:10 God says to Moses,

“Here, I am making a covenant; in front of all your people I will do wonders such as have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation. All the people around you will see the work of ADONAI. What I am going to do through you will be awesome!”

 Remember, this is part of a conversation between God and Moses that started with a display of God’s mercy and a response of submission from Moses. Through a people fully submitted to Him, God wants to display His power to all nations.

God does not change. As He did then, so He does now. He grants mercy. And when we respond with full submission of our lives to Him, He does the unimaginable. When His people set themselves apart for exclusive service to their merciful King, what He does through them is awesome!

At the end Moses’ life in Deuteronomy 30, the people of Israel have set themselves to serve the one true God and have declared, ”All that is written (in God’s Law) we will do!” But, in the light of God’s mercy, Moses wants them not to forget the severity of God. He tells them, “I am setting before you life and death. If you obey your God and walk in the way He has commanded you, you will live long in the land that He has given you to possess. But if you forget your God, and go after the gods of the peoples around you, and neglect what He has commanded you; you will not live long in the land that he has given you.”

As it was for Israel then, so it is for us now. There is a way we can spurn the mercy of God. He shows mercy at great cost to Himself in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. We stand in a dangerous place should we choose to deny Him the response due the mercy that we have so readily received—should we refuse Him any part of ourselves to take for His own possession! To hold anything back is to give nothing at all; and “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).”

Praise be to God, who is the only merciful God! And we who love Him and are ever giving ourselves to Him have nothing to fear. For we serve not a god with false hopes for mercy. But we serve a God in response to a mercy we have already been promised in Christ Jesus!

August 27, 2016

Love…so much more than a four-lettered word!

Hanging pictures on a wall is a big deal, at least for me it is! There are several steps that go into hanging them. One of the most important and hardest steps is choosing the right pictures. Taking family pictures is a big ordeal, and takes time to arrange and orchestrate. I have one particular wall in my house that is filled with family pictures. The pictures that I have hanging are some of my most favorites and most treasured. Everyone is looking at the camera, wearing coordinating outfits, smiling at the camera, and just plain loving on each other! In the center of all the pictures are two powerful New Testament scriptures, both pertaining to love.

Love is far more than just a four-letter word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines love as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. 1 Peter 4:8 states, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Colossians 3:14 states, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” As I stand back and look at my wall full of pictures, I am in awe at how much love I have for those that are pictured, and smile at how much those that are pictured love one another.

1 John 4:19 states, “We love, because He first loved us.” The love that our heavenly Father bestows on us, fills us up and overflows to those around us. It allows us to experience what true love is, and to live out that true love each and everyday. Love is what holds families and binds hearts together.

I found it quite ironic that the two New Testament love scriptures hanging on the wall were centered among our family pictures. Love is the center and is what holds us together. The love that I have for the ones pictured on the wall would have me do anything for them. I would go to the ends of earth if I needed too! That is the love that our heavenly Father has for us, but forever multiplied! My heart is so full, and I could not imagine loving my family anymore than I do. I can’t even comprehend and process how much our heavenly Father loves us! It is so sweet that we get to experience love, and so precious that we get a taste for what our heavenly Father’s love is for us!