Monday, August 29, 2011

Character

"Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by many years of compromise and rationalization. The only testing ground for the heroic is the mundane. The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life is those hundreds of self-defining seemingly insignificant decisions made in private. Habit is the daily battleground of character." - Senator Dan Coats

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wait for the Lord

Psalm 106:13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
~~~
The story has been told and retold.  The back and forth, the loyal then disloyal, the ever-wandering Israel.  Loving God one minute and despising Him the next.  Worshiping God when things are good but turning to the nearest idol when things are tough.  We read and are baffled.  How can a people who ate manna from the ground, drank water from a rock, and followed a cloud for direction be so ungrateful and forgetful?  God was literally right there with them!


Psalm 27:14 reminds us to wait on the Lord.  Too often we get impatient and antsy "waiting" for God.  We aren't satisfied with HIS timing and we selfishly demand our own timing.  We become Israel... wandering, disloyal, fickle, Israel.  Breaking God's heart!  All because we don't want to wait for HIS plan to unfold.


Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Training

I've been training for a marathon.  You know, the kind where you run
and run and run.  The kind that seems impossible to anyone who's not a
runner. Where you sweat, push through pain, get cheered on by people
on the sidelines, and, at times, wonder if you will make it to the end
without the cruel hand of death knocking you onto the pavement for
good.

Now before you start to praise me too much or get the idea that this
is a physical marathon I'm going to run, let me set the record
straight.  My marathon is all of those things, only it's completely
metaphorical.  Yes, I run, and yes there have been times that I was
convinced I would slip right under that treadmill and disappear, never
to be seen again.

This marathon I've been training for is a spiritual one.  And the last
two months have been full of intense training.  Hebrews 12 has become
so very real to me.  God has taken away everything that hindered me
from running this race to which He has called me, and while that was
painful at the time, I have never been more thankful.  It's been two
months of discovering God's mighty power, his loving hand, and his
clear guidance.

My marathon is a life of service to Him.  The finish line is heaven.
And my trainer is my Creator and the Savior of my soul.  He runs
beside me every step of the way and when I feel like I can't go any
further, He picks me up and carries me.  God's calling for my life has
never been more clear.  And it's the same calling no matter where I
work or where I live.  He tells me in Luke 9:23... Whoever desires to
be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

I'm running the race and when I finish, the reward will be far greater
than any medal or earthly accolades.  My reward is to live with my
precious Jesus in heaven for all of eternity.  And that, dear friend,
makes every single step completely worth it!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Immeasurably More

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us... Ephesians 3:20
~~~
God answers prayer, people, it's a fact. He really truly listens and he really truly changes lives. I have had the privilege of praying for a friend for months, and today I saw God answer my prayer with more than I could have imagined. Too often, we put our almighty God in a tiny little box and ask for things with such a lack of faith that we should really be ashamed. But thank God he can see beyond our finite imaginations and give more and more and more... Do NOT give up. Pray continually. And when He answers, it will be obvious that only He deserves the glory.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you AND WAIT EXPECTANTLY. Psalm 5:3

Persevere

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything
~~~
What a counter-intuitive thing to do... Taking JOY in the bad things that happen.  But James tells us that we should.  Let's break it down.


First of all, pure means "free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind."  This means that our joy shouldn't be tainted by worry, fear, anger, frustration, or uncertainty.  It's pure.  It's complete.  


Also, James says we will face trials of many kinds.  We aren't promised that things will be easy in the Christian life; actually, quite the opposite.  We're promised that life won't be a bed of roses!  Things WILL go wrong; they WILL be tough.  And our faith WILL be tested.  


WHY?


Why would God allow bad things to happen to His children, whom He loves?  


Look at the next part.  The testing of our faith creates perseverance.  Perseverance is "resolute and unyielding holding on in following a course of action."  Unyielding.  Never giving up or giving in.  No matter what.  So when our faith is tested, and we rely on God to keep us strong, we gain the ability to endure!


And finally, this makes us mature and complete in the faith, NOT LACKING ANYTHING.  Does that mean we will have everything we want?  No!  It means God can make us into the people He desires us to be.  Wholly devoted to Him only.  To be anything less is to be incomplete and greatly lacking life.  And God knows this and wants complete and abundant life for His followers.


So, when tough times comes, we are called to thank God for what He's about to do in our hearts and lives, and we are to rely completely on Him for whatever we will need to endure...to persevere.


And remember, "The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he WILL NOT FALL, for the Lord upholds him with His hand." (Psalm 37:23-24)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Willing

Luke 1:37- "For no word from God will ever fail."
~~~
Imagine her sitting alone, minding her own business, when suddenly an angel comes to her with a message.  He clearly tells her that she's been chosen by the most holy God to carry the savior of the world.  I'm sure she had a moment where she had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.  Then, once she realized this was really happening, I wonder if she was terrified.  In her culture, she could be stoned for having a baby without being married!  No one would understand.  No one would believe her.  She would be the outcast of the town.  


Yet... in spite of the culture, her friends and family, her betrothed... she was willing.  Her response?  "I am your servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled." (v.38)  We aren't told of a ten-minute discussion with the angel about why God should choose the married woman down the street or about how young she was...  There was no screaming or whining or begging.  Her response was simply this:  Yes, Lord.  


How was Mary about to respond in such a way?  Faith.  Mary truly believed, in the deepest part of her heart, that "no word from God ever fails."  She knew that God had the perfect plan and that He uses willing and faithful and pure people to fulfill it.  


I wonder if she knew, truly knew, the magnitude of this calling.  Do any of us ever really know?  Pray that God will open your eyes to the work of His hands.  And be willing to say yes.

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