Did you see God?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  Did you stand there and tell him all the things that troubled you?  Did you expressed your frustrations about circumstances, people, your current situation?  Did you tell Him about how the world seems to be going crazy; that people are doing things that hurt, harm and injure one another and themselves?  Or did you tell Him how sorry you were for doubting Him; or for what you just did that was wrong?

Did you see God today?  What was it like? Did you just sit there?  Did you cry out to Him or say nothing at all?  Did you smile and thank Him for your life, your home and family?  Did you express appreciation for another day; for the sunshine, rain, clouds, or for holding this world in His hands?  Did did you say?  What did you do?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  Did you bask in the glow of His love, or fall to your knees?  Did you feel His amazing love, and experience the warmth of His embrace? What did you do?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  Did you look in the face of a stranger, loved one or friend and say there is the image of God before me?  Or did the sight of them bring anguish, and not joy?  What did you do?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  Did you see hope in the midst of the storm?  Could you utter the words, “Peace, be still” knowing His incomparable power was at your command?  What did you do?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  How did you feel?  Was He hiding in that regret, that pain, and suffering, or triumphant victory?  Was He in the burning bush, in the silence of indecision, or unanswered prayer?

Did you see God today?  What was it like?  Did you see Him in all His glory; the Mighty God, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Creator of Heaven and Earth?  What did you do?

Did you see God today?  If you didn’t see Him, look again?  He is there.

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Staying the Course

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.

You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.” Psalm 119: 1-2 [MSG]

It is easy to get distracted by challenges, situations, circumstances, interruptions, or just life in general.  It can be downright difficult.  Staying the course results in reward.  If you desire the reward, you must understand what staying the course means.  First, it means discovering the road God revealed, not your road, but His.  Second, understand why you are on the road.  It is to discover the word, which is the ultimate expression of God’s mind and reasoning.   The word keep you steady in spite of all those distractions. It also point you in the direction of the one who created the road.   Third, follow His directions.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are Gods’ workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”   God already prepared the way for us.  He already revealed the course, the instructions, and the roadmap.   If we stay on the course, understand the process, and follow His direction, then we are the recipients of the blessing.  Ultimately, we get to do what He prepared us to do.  Wow!  As we stay on the course, we discover purpose, receive blessings, and find God.  What could be more wonderful?

Order with Peace

This meditation by C.H. Spurgeon is powerful.  I am being lead to share it with you this morning.

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path.” Joel 2:8

“Locust always keep their rank, and although their number is legion, they do not crowd upon each other, so as to throw their columns into confusion.  This remarkable fact in natural history shows how thoroughly the Lord has infused the spirit of order into his universe, since the smallest animate creatures are as much controlled by it as are the rolling spheres or the seraphic messengers. It would be wise for believers to be ruled by the same influence in all their spiritual life.  In their Christian graces no one virtue should usurp the sphere of another, or eat out the vitals of the rest of its own support.

Affection must not smother honesty, courage must not elbow weakness out of the field, modesty must not jostle energy, and patience must not slaughter resolution.  So also with our duties; one must not interfere with another; public usefulness must not injure private piety; church work must not push family worship into a corner.  It is ill to offer God one duty stained with the blood of another.

Each thing is beautiful in its season, but not otherwise.  It was to the Pharisee that Jesus said, “This ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone.”  The same rule applies to our personal position; we must take care to know our place, take it, and keep to it. We must minister as the Spirit has given us ability, and not intrude upon our fellow servant’s domain.  Our Lord Jesus taught us not to covet the high places, but to be willing to be the least among the brethren. Far from us be an envious, ambitious spirit, let us feel the force of the Master’s command, and do as he bids us, keeping rank with the rest of the host.

…let us see whether we are keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, and let our prayer be that, in all the churches of the Lord Jesus, peace and order prevail.”

Amen.

Breaking Bad

After my prayer and meditation I began writing in my journal about a family whose father’s health is declining rapidly, and the situation did not appear hopeful.  I wrote, “This is a hard time.”  Then I was struck almost immediately by the word “hard,” and I thought how often  we label something bad, or look at painful images.  “It’s a bad day;  This is a bad report; I got up on the wrong side of the bed; I’m having a bad hair day.”  Or we watch shows like, “Breaking Bad, Desperate Housewives (I know it’s been cancelled), Basketball Wives, Revenge, Scandal, Hell’s kitchen, I Hate My Teenage Daughter”.  Our language is sprinkled with words that pull us down, and not lift us up.  We say, “This is horrible!!” with exaggerated gestures and raised voices.  It is no wonder our attitudes and behaviors reflect the current culture.   We are like that double minded man who is unstable in all his ways, because he is being tossed around by everything around him.

I’m not saying we should not define tragedies.  I am saying our daily language needs some refinement.  Philippians 4:8-9 asks us to meditate on the things which are of good report, and the God of peace will be with you.  Peace of mind will evade us, if we constantly bombard our minds and speak language that does not reflect the God of peace.

I challenge you to avoid using those words that do not reflect the God of peace, and only use words that lift up the name and character of our Lord Jesus Christ for one day.  Let’s go for “Breaking Good, instead of Breaking Bad.”

Bring the Light

Keep the altar of private prayer burning.” C. H. Spurgeon

Is it quiet where you are?  Your home peaceful and secure?  Does your mind, body and spirit reflect the light and presence of God?

If not, then perhaps your sanctuary and private altars has not touched the throne of God.  It is easy for our minds to become confused, our thoughts twisted, our passions aflame with wrong desires and emotions.  Our thoughts, desires, passions must not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing our of minds daily with prayer.  The flame of prayer purifies our thoughts, and as it does the mind is clear, and we can hear from God.

It’s a beautiful day.  Enjoy it, but don’t forget to go to the altar and pray.  The light of your prayers will cast a heavenly glow for someone desperately searching for the it.

Burden-bearer

“Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others.

Give me a believing heart to cast all burdens upon Thee, O Lord.” 

 John Baillie

Read the quote above again.  Do you see the difference, dear friend?  Baillie asked the Lord to give him a stout heart to carry his own burdens, and a willing heart to carry burdens of others.  There are two different types of burden-bearers.

First, I am to carry my own burdens with a stout heart.  Stretch my spiritual muscles, and lift those cares He wants me to carry as I work out my soul salvation.   Yes, we can do all things, however we still need to know which burdens to carry, how many and for how long.  Carrying burdens brings pressure, and that pressure, or the attention caused by the burdens may keep our minds on the burdens, and not on Christ.   Also, additional strength may be required due to the weight of these burdens.  So, you and I need to be fully aware of the weight of those burdens, the limitations and the risks involved in carrying those burdens.

Oftentimes, we are tempted to carry too many things at the same time, or carry the wrong things.   We need to stop, and drop some things before moving forward.  God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek him“. [Hebrews 11:6]  Stoutness of heart requires not only strength, but wisdom also.   James wrote God gives wisdom liberally to those who ask for it. It is through a sound heart encased with wisdom that we learn the amount and types of things we are to bear.    Carrying our own burdens as directed by the Holy Spirit, turns us into effective witnesses of how to carry burdens, and also demonstrates the power of Almighty.

Don’t carry someone else’s burdens, no matter how tempting.  Don’t do it!   “Each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:5 tells us everyone has his own burdens to bear.  Stop trying to rescue everybody, or fix everything.  Prevention can be worst than the cure.  Some will have a Job experience, others a Jonah.  But each person has to carry their own load.   There is a Damascus Road encounter awaiting.  Don’t be like Sarah who created Ishmael, instead of waiting for the promise Isaac.  She tried to carry the burden of giving Abraham a son, instead of allowing God to complete the divine plan.  People stretch their spiritual muscles from carrying their own burdens.  They also learn to trust God if allowed to grow through the experiences.  Rushing in deprives them of the Damascus Road experience.  They need to meet the Lord, and learn from Him how to carry their own load with a willing heart.  Let them grow. Let them learn to trust the Lord and seek Him.  They must pick their cross daily and follow Him.  Besides, if we are burdened down with their load, then we will be unable or unwilling to successfully carry our own.

However, look at the second sentence in the above quote, “Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others.” Seems like a contradiction from what I just wrote. But it really isn’t.  God wants to bear the burdens of others, but by doing it His way.  Some believers’ spirits are being crushed by emotional and physical distress. They need us to fulfill the divine law by sharing God’s love.  However, sometimes, we are unwilling, or go overboard.  That is our lesson.  Ask God for a willing, and discerning heart to know when and how to bear another’s burden.   We must understand what it means to be a burden-bearer.   Show Christ to others with a willing heart, and as we do, we demonstrate His commandment to love one another as Christ loved the church.  The whole experience strengthens everyone, including ourselves, and brings Him glory.  Remember, the key is a willing heart.

Finally, with a believing heart bring ALL the cares to Christ, the Power that calmed the raging seas, gave sight to the blind, and healed the sick, and gave us new life.  In spite of our stoutness and willingness, we still need to bring all the cares, all the burdens to Him – our ultimate burden-bearer.  

So don’t hold those burdens.  Give them to Christ, and rest in the knowledge that He is fully capable of carrying all things, according to His perfect, divine plan far better than we ever could.

Hymnal

A hymnal is a collection of songs meant to worship or praise God, or express His relationship in human affairs.   Hymns growing up as a child were just songs we had to sing before the minister got up to preach.  “Jesus loves me this I know” was the first song I remember learning.  It was a cute, simple tune.  The congregation often smiled in approval, and an occasional “Amen” could be heard if we got it just right.  As I grew up I thought it was too cute to be sung by anyone.

As we grew older, we sung songs like “A Mighty Fortress“, “Rock of Ages” and “Blessed Assurance.”  I often thought why sing these old songs, doesn’t the preacher know anything modern?  Sunday after Sunday, we pulled out those hymn books, and turn to a page and begin singing as a church-one song-one voice.  Expressions on the faces were mixed. Some smiles, tears, blank or disinterested looks. I’m sure at times my face projected these same looks.  It was the words that struck me though.  Where did they come from, who wrote them and why?  It wasn’t until I got older and been through the storms of life, faced my fair share of challenges, gone down in defeat, battled the enemy, and felt the precious hand of Jesus did those old hymns become real to me.

Finally I understood.  Words to a song like “Amazing Grace” meant something.  These were expressions of love; of thanksgiving; of hope; of desperation; of grief and sorrow, frank and earnest conversations with Our Father which Art in Heaven.  And more importantly when sung now, within a community of believers, words such as “saved a wretch like me” are more profound.  Now when we sing them, we (the community of believers) become the hymnal.   We’re the praise, the thanksgiving, the love song to God.

Look at the pages of any current or past hymnal, and we are there, on every page and in every note praising God from whom all blessings flow with every song of tragedy, triumph, hope and redemption.  Yes, hymnal are a collection of songs, but as time passes they become so much more and so do we.

The Power is On

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

Power on, power off. Storms have wrecked havoc across our state.  People are coping, but it has been a challenge.  Anytime the power is off communications, recreational activities, emergency services, and basic living conditions can be negatively impacted.  However, when it is running smoothly life move forward.  The same is true for us.  When we’re connected to the right power source, our lives flow at the right tempo.

God urges us to call him, and He will provide answers to those “great and unsearchable things.”  Answers to the “Why is this happening?” Answers to What do I do now?  Questions about Who am I and Why am I here, and Can I really be forgiven are always available through our power source-God the Father.   There are lots of other power sources out there, but they have faulty wiring and cannot be trusted.  Those other power sources will shut off, or go down at a moment notice.

Isn’t it reassuring to know the Great Power of the universe will never be off? 

To receive answers to questions, and directions for our lives, we must be connected to Him. 

The Power is On.

Are You Prepared?

A couple of blogs ago, I asked the question what should be in your Emergency Preparedness Kit.  I did not receive any responses, so I thought I would share with you what I would pack.

Beloved, we must be prepared each day for the multiple assignments given us.

First, I would get ready with prayer for myself, family, leaders, the lost, wounded and hurting, and those of the household of faith. Packing prayer gives insights.  Prayer also provides peace which passes all understanding, and the power to stand against the enemy.  My clothes would consist of the whole armor of God.  His armor carries the light of His glory.  Preparation requires commitment, and the courage to stand;  firmly rooted in the hope which comes from our relationship to Christ. The other essential items for our Emergency Preparedness Kit are referenced in the Book of Ephesians.   Ephesians 6:10-17 cf [NIV] tells us … “Finally, be strong in the Lord  and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,  so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,  against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation  and the sword of the Spirit,   which is the word of God.

Our God wants us prepared like the five wise virgins whose lamps were ready for the arrival of the bridegroom.   Are you packed and ready for today’s journey?  If not, review and re-pack your Emergency Preparedness Kit.  You’ll be glad you did.

Peace and blessings.

Staying Connected

John 15:5 states,  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

God is not in the business of making those who are strong stronger, rather He takes the weak and makes them strong through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.   And how is this accomplished?  How do we become instruments for His plan and purpose in this world?  By staying connected to the true vine.   No movement, growth, development takes place without staying connected to the power source of the universe-God.  We can’t bear fruit [His fruit] without Him.  We try, and fail miserably.  There is ample proof of that.  But when our lives are devoted to Him, when our hearts seek Him, when our eyes are fixed on Him, we become stronger, more creative, more loving, more giving, we become more like our Christ.  But we must stay connected to the vine.

One of the ways to stay connected is through prayer.  How is your prayer life?   John Bunyan wrote, ” Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.”  The Holy Scriptures encourages us to pray, and provides many examples of how to pray, and answered prayer.  In fact, we are obliged to pray. It is our duty to pray, and it is a blessed privilege to engage in prayer.  Think of it, we mere confused, hurting, sinful mortals can speak to God through Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.  The Bible tells us God wants to hear from us and speak to us, because of His great love for us.   We also discover through prayer there is great power, great wisdom and great love.  We learn how to better manage our bodies, minds and spirits by staying connected.  All the issues; and “the personal, pertinent, and all-important questions for every soul” brought to Him in prayer are effectively, and efficiently dealt with. Enemies are defeated, grace and favor is applied.

You have an amazing day and life ahead of you.  Don’t waste it.  Don’t get side-tracked or distracted. Draw closer and  stay connected to Christ today, and experience the amazing and miraculous.