Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Living Under the Influence

I told the ladies in Sunday School this past week that at age 57 I am still living under the influence of two Christian grandmothers, both of whom passed away many years ago. I believe I still benefit from the prayers they lifted up on my behalf, the love they bestowed on me, and the many lessons I gleaned from their daily walk of faith. I well remember the first Bible verse I committed to memory, Psalm 122:1--"I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the LORD". My MawMaw Woodard was driving me to church; she repeated the verse for me; I memorized it immediately and have never forgotten it. She also went on to teach me many other verses such as, "What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.", Psalm 56:3. These ladies shaped my life and I remain truly grateful for their influence.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Bible--God's Amazing Story!

Note: I wrote this little post back in February of this year but just now adding it to the blog.

The more I read the Bible the more I want to read it. And the more I read the Bible the more in awe I become of our Almighty God. Right now I'm reading through Exodus, but having just finished reading the book of Revelation in December, I am totally amazed at how verses toward the beginning of this great library of books directs us to verses in the last book.

Exodus 15, (my favorite verses here are 1-3, 11, 13, 17-18), "Israel's Song", is reminiscence of the worship of the One in the throne room of heaven and indeed, Revelation 15: 3 says, "They sang the song of God's servant Moses and the song of the Lamb..."

Exodus 28 tells that Aaron and his sons are to be set apart to serve the Lord as priests. Their priestly attire would include turbans and on the turbans a gold medallion engraved with the words, “Holy to the Lord”. Fast forward to 1 Peter 2 where we read believers in Christ are a royal priesthood who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, (v.5). Fast forward again to Revelation 22, verse 4 which says, “They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” (His name on our foreheads; how cool is that?!)

Today I read in Exodus 33, verse 33, “The LORD replied to Moses: “I will erase whoever has sinned against Me from My book.” Revelation 3:4-5 tells of those who “will walk with Me in white, because they are worthy…and I will never erase his name from the book of life…”
The Bible, God’s Story; Amazing! Be a part of it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stop! Wait! -or- Out of the Mouths of Babes

“Make Your ways known to me, LORD; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5, HCSB

This past weekend I took two of my grandchildren to a local park. My grandchildren and I decided to walk to the park bridge, turn around and walk back. The walk to the bridge was uneventful. Claire, the four-year-old ran a little ahead of me, but close enough that I felt I was within a safe distance of her. On the return trip however, Claire began running and getting farther and farther ahead of me; in fact, so far ahead of me that I was concerned for her safety. I kept calling, “Claire! Stop! Stop running! Wait!” Instead of doing as I asked, she rebelliously looked back over her shoulders while in mid-stride and shouted, “I can’t hear you!”

I quickly phoned my husband who was waiting for us to return. I told him to come back to the trail and stop Claire’s all out dash to who-knows-where.  Thankfully, disaster was averted—my husband made it back to the trail and Claire stopped running when she got back to the spot where we had started our walk.

Later, contemplating Claire’s little misadventure, I thought, “How guilty am I of doing the same thing in my spiritual life?”  I ask the Lord for guidance, but then I find myself running ahead and rebelliously looking back over my shoulders shouting to the Lord, “I can’t hear you!”

Very recently I was faced with a big decision. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to step down from a leadership position within an organization where I am a year-round volunteer. But truthfully, I did not want to step down—I was rebelliously refusing to listen to what the Holy Spirit was speaking into my life.

What happened? Within just a few months of saying I would continue in the position, I became ill and was unable to work. I had to step-aside for what I thought would be a few weeks. In that short hiatus, I began to ask myself if the Lord had allowed this situation to come into my life in order to get my attention about something in particular.  I’m a big fan of praying the Scripture so I began to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

As I considered that perhaps my season of serving in that particular position has passed, I also thought surely the Lord did not mean for me to give up a position I valued so much! Because, after all, if I didn't do the job, who would? Within that unguarded moment, I caught a glimpse of my lack of faith and my pride. I was ashamed and repentant.

Anytime we refuse to follow God’s will and way for our life, we literally say to the Almighty Sovereign God, “I know best.” (I’m horrified even as I type that statement). How dare I? How dare I run rebelliously ahead, at my own peril, to who-knows-where, and look back over my shoulder to say, “I can’t hear you”—which translated means, “I am not going to listen to you because I don’t want to do so!”

Out of the mouths of babes…sometimes the Lord speaks to us through the circumstances around us and the actions of others…even four-year-olds!

“Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with Your majesty. Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:1-2, HCSB

In the Name above all other names, I thank you Lord for loving me; thank you for Your grace, Your mercy, and Your love. Thank You for teaching me Your way; thank You for Your faithfulness even when I am not faithful.

Note: I stepped down from the leadership position but the Lord has blessed me by allowing me to continue to serve in this particular ministry as a team member. The Holy Spirit also brought to my attention other areas of my life where I have not been obedient. I'm so thankful for the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit as I listen, repent, and obey. (Thank-you Lord!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Reason For My Hope

"But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." 1 Peter 3:15, HCSB

Constantly fearful—that’s how I describe my life before trusting Christ. The fear was an overshadowing, consuming fear that enveloped and surrounded me; it was my constant companion.

I was no stranger to church as a child and had actually "walked the aisle" at six-years of age. I had no idea what I was doing. It was only as I grew older and the Holy Spirit began to deal with me and convict me of the sin in my life did I realize something was missing. I had no inner peace, joy or hope in my life. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit I began to realize I was desperately in need of salvation.

As I moved into adolescence, my family’s church attendance became sporadic. But when a new pastor and his family came to minister at a church near my home, my younger sister became friends with one of the pastor’s daughters. My sister began to attend church regularly and I followed her lead.

The summer I came to know Christ as Lord and Savior I was 15 years old. That summer my sister and I attended a church camp in East Texas. I remember all week long the weather had been terrible; one severe thunderstorm after another. The stormy weather just served to exacerbate my longstanding anxiety.

One night in particular during that week I was deeply convicted of sin. My pastor’s wife stood beside my bed, counseling me and praying over me. As she walked away from my bed that night I begin to pray, very urgently, "Lord, I know I’ve done wrong things; I know I’m a sinner. Please forgive me, Lord. I need You. Please come and live inside my heart forever."

I don’t recall if the weather cleared but I do know this; the storm within me disappeared. When I gave my life to Christ, the peace that passes all understanding came into my heart and life, (Philippians 4:7). I gained inner peace and joy that I had never experienced before. You too can know the hope, peace, and joy that only Christ can give. Won't you invite Him into your heart today?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Song

This year I’m reading through the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. It’s a great Bible, full of commentaries, cross-references, word studies, maps, charts, etc. In fact, it is so full of study aids and helps; I don’t think I’ll make it through the entire Bible this year.

Last week, in my reading, I came to the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon. It is a very short book but it is accompanied by tons of commentary in the HCSB Study Bible. But still, I dug into it and came away with a revelation I had not noticed before when reading through the book. God is so good and I’ll get to that part of the story in just a moment.
As many of you probably know, the Song is a love poem between Solomon and the Shulamite maiden, who was believed to have been Solomon’s first wife. The Song is a celebration of romantic love, as God intended it to be. Much later the writer of Hebrews, in chapter 13, verse 4, would pen these words: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
Also, from the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”, NKJV. In the same vein, the Song of Solomon is thought by many to be an allegory of God’s love for Israel and/or Christ’s love for the church. The HCSB Study Bible comments in the introduction of the book say that it “reflects God’s desire to form within us a pure and a devoted love…that there is a bliss in married love that is reflective of the greater love believers experience as the bride of Christ”.
Reading all this has given me a new appreciation for the Song of Solomon. However, what touched me greatly when reading through the book this time that I had never noticed before was the revelation that the Shulamite maiden who married the great King Solomon, was a commoner, an obscure nobody. The maiden worked in the vineyard for her brothers who had rented the vineyard from Solomon (1:6 and 8:11).
Why is this so exciting and beautiful to me? You think I’ve lost my mind don’t you? But dear friends, this is a reflection of us—Christ reaches out to us in divine, perfect love. We are nobody! We have nothing with which to recommend ourselves to the King of Heaven! Yet in His grace and mercy and love, He seeks us out; He reaches down to us in the muck and the mire; our own righteousness as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Who am I that Christ would notice me and love me? Who am I that God would love “the world in this way: (that) He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life”, John 3:16, HCSB.
Dear friends, I am nobody but somebody that God loves and furthermore, “We love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19. Is that not beautiful? Now can you get excited with me about that? I am nobody but somebody that Christ loves and so are you! If you haven’t already done so, open your heart to Christ today. Confess your belief in Christ; repent of your sins; invite Him into your heart to live forever and become a child of the King.
If you do know Christ as Lord and Savior, then celebrate with me that, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 5:4-6, NKJV.
God bless!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Prayer of Jesus

Recently I was reading John 17, which I absolutely love. This is the real “Lord’s Prayer” as opposed to the model prayer which Jesus taught His disciples (Matt. 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4). Jesus’ prayer in John 17 can be divided into three parts—Jesus’ prayer for Himself in verses 1-5; His prayer for His disciples in verses 6-19 and His prayer for future believers in verses 20-26.

In verses 17-19, Jesus is praying about the disciples and speaks of sanctification. "Sanctify them (the disciples) by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
John MacArthur's commentary (The MacArthur Daily Bible) on the verse 17 says sanctification means the setting apart for a particular use or purpose. Jesus was set apart—He was in the world but not of the world. And if the disciples hadn’t realized it before, they would learn quickly following the death and resurrection of Christ that they were in the world but not of the world too. They would learn the world hated them just as it had hated Jesus.
Believers learn through the process of sanctification that we are in the world but not of the world—Jesus says we are set apart by the truth of the word of God. The apostle John would write in chapter 20, verse 31, “but these (words) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Yes, set apart because of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Of course, I love the verses in John 17 where Jesus is praying about me—verses 20-26. Just think, all those many years ago, Jesus prayed about me—and not only me but also about all future New Testament believers. He prayed, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (the disciples—re-read John 20:31 above); that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have love Me."
Wow; perfect unity with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and other true believers. Now that makes my heart sing with joy! And I sincerely pray that it makes your heart sing too!

Friday, May 18, 2012

King Jesus

“And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16, NKJV

This morning I was reading in the book of 2 Samuel 7. If you are a Bible scholar, (I am not), you should automatically think, “Davidic Covenant”. The Davidic Covenant is God’s irrevocable promise, (all God’s promises, are, of course, irrevocable!) that a king from the line of David would rule forever. This king, King Jesus, would later be described by the prophet Isaiah in these way:
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7, HCSB
Reading this makes my heart jump within me! Can you imagine how David must have felt when Nathan, the prophet revealed to him the Lord’s words? He was excited; he was humbled; he was awed; and he was thankful. 2 Samuel 7:18-28, NKJV, tells us that “King David went in and sat before the Lord” to pray.
David begins by saying, “Who am I, O Lord my God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” What humility! David recognizes that man is not able to make such promises, only God, who is Sovereign, can make such promises. Further, David recognizes the blessings of God in the revelation, itself, of the promises.
Then the praises begin! “You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, nor is there any God besides You.” “You redeemed for Yourself”, Israel, for “Your very own people forever” to show Your “great and awesome deeds.” “So let Your name be magnified forever.” “O Lord God, You are God and Your words are true”.
What a wonderful passage and the blessing revealed is beyond comprehension—King Jesus! “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, HCSB
Do you know Him? If not, do not delay…He’s waiting for you, right now. EVERYONE (that includes you) “who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
God bless!