Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Following Him

Our home group had a great discussion last night. What struck me was the thought provoking question, “how do you feel when others take up your cause?”

In our Lord’s perfect timing, He gave two specific examples earlier in my day so that I could immediately use what He wanted me to learn. Each of my kids was offended in some way yesterday, although they did not seem to feel offended. To rephrase this, I consider what they experienced to be offensive. My immediate reaction was to “take up their cause.”

Keep in mind that my kids are 17 and 21 and are not at the age where they want or need their mamma jumping into their situations. I’m happy to say I did not jump in, but I certainly vented and had animated conversations with them. Unfortunately, my level of frustration did not bring a solution for either of them. (I would sure love to know at what point a Mom loses her control and influence!)

As I continue to ponder this morning, I land in John 21. Jesus appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias and pulled Peter aside for an intimate conversation of restoration. Seeing John following them, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about Him.” The reply of our Savior: “…What is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22 NIV)

I know, I know. This is an unusual jump through Scripture. But while I am tempted to react, wondering how everyone else was feeling, planning how I could improve each situation, and questioning why their friends acted in such ways, Jesus reminds me through His Word: “What difference does it make? You follow me.”

Paul’s wise words to the Philippians bring further light: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14 NIV)

Yes, I see, Lord. I am to keep my eyes firmly fixed on you and encourage my kids to do the same. What surrounds us is a mere distraction and our ultimate goal is to follow where You lead. The battle is yours and the victory is won.

Oftentimes the act of letting go and fully surrendering our lives to Him brings peace. Praise His holy name!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Joy in His Presence

When we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. God’s word makes this promise in Proverbs 8:17 and Jeremiah 29:13. Revelation 3:20 tells us that Jesus stands at the door and knocks, and that He will come in and dine with whoever opens the door to Him. Isaiah 7:1 4 and Matthew 1:23 portray Jesus as Immanuel – God with Us. 2 Timothy 1:14 teaches that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

What does this mean? Jesus Christ desires a relationship with us. He delights to have us in His presence and promises repeatedly in scripture that there, in His presence, is where we find joy.

So what does it take to tap into this source of joy? What must we do to enter the presence of the Holy One? In simple terms, we must seek Him. Practically speaking, we seek Him in His Word, in prayer, and in worship. As with any relationship, the key is spending time together and Jesus meets us, anywhere we are, when we simply turn our eyes toward Him. He has made Himself fully available to us and stands ready and waiting to draw us closer to Himself.

I challenge you this week to purposefully reach out to Him. Seek Him in some respect starting today and continuing for 7 consecutive days. Spend time with Him in prayer, in worship, and in His Word and give Him your full attention as you do so. It doesn’t take hours; in fact, even a few minutes can make a big difference.

This challenge is not meant to be a magical formula to get “in touch” with God. These practices are intended to help you build a habit of spending quiet, devotional time with the Lord and to take the first step toward a life-long habit of knowing and loving Him. Once you have finished this 7 day assignment, examine yourself to identify how your life has been different since you began.  

Here are my suggestions for the week:

Day 1: Read Psalm 63 aloud, slowly and with affection as if you are reading it to the Lord. Praise Him in a heartfelt manner using the words of the Psalmist.

Day 2: Read Colossians 1:9-14 and pray this prayer for yourself, substituting the word “I” (or appropriate pronoun) anytime Paul uses the word “you,” referring to the Colossians. For example: “Lord, I ask that you fill me with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”

Day 3: Read John 14:15-26 and complete the following exercise:

  •  List the facts of this passage
  • What do these facts mean to you personally?
  • How can you walk out what you have learned through the passage? (ask yourself how effectively and consistently you are doing the will of the Father as revealed in this passage).
Day 4: Read John 15:1-11 and complete the same exercise as Day 3.

Day 5: Spend devoted time in prayer today focusing on:

a) praising Him for Who He is
b) thanking Him for what He has done or is doing in your life
c) asking specific forgiveness for ways that you have fallen short of pleasing Him
d) interceding (presenting your “wish list” for others and for yourself)

Day 6: Read Ephesians 1:3-14 with the sole intention of knowing God more. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you and make a list of His characteristics as found in this text.

Day 7: Read Psalm 34 and complete the same exercise as Days 3 and 4. Next, Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you and make a list of His characteristics as found in this text.

Experts say it takes 21 days to create a habit. If this exercise has blessed you and if you are beginning to find joy in God’s presence, consider continuing for two more weeks! Ask the Lord to show you which passages of His Word to use.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Joy of My Salvation

Our church just started new Sunday school curriculum and our women’s group is using God’s Word to help us find joy in the journey of life. Yesterday’s focus was on the joy of our salvation.

As I prepared to lead the class, I wondered if I was alone in sometimes taking my salvation for granted. It is hard to even type those words, but if I am honest with myself, it is something that I do. I know that my salvation is secure, and that the Holy Spirit sealed me for the day of redemption. Nevertheless, the blessings of my salvation sometimes seem to be far off… for my distant future… and will not begin until I make it to heaven.

During my time in the Word last week, however, the blessings of salvation that I can experience right now came to the forefront of my mind. Today I enjoy fellowship with my Savior and know that He is constantly present, always by my side, and will never leave me nor forsake me! Today I can find joy in knowing that I am a child of God and that He pursues a deeper relationship with me! I am learning to rely on the fact that when I have nothing to offer, He will work through me with great power for His glory. When I am weak, it is then that I am strong through Christ. Moment by moment, I can tap into a source of great joy when I simply remember and reflect on what He gives me now, as well as what He promises for my eternity.

I pray today that you may find joy in your salvation and remember the security that you have in Christ.

Luke 10:19-20 (NASB): “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but I’m filled this morning (afternoon) with a sense of renewed hope, renewed enthusiasm, and renewed JOY! Woo Hoo!

Maybe it’s sleep (no, we did not make it to midnight). Maybe it’s turning my calendar page to a new year, maybe it’s that I’m about to start teaching again and that most certainly gets me off my heels. But here’s what I really believe is the source of my renewed self: I believe that my Lord Jesus Christ is about to do something new and great in our lives! Can you feel it too?

You know what? I have no idea what the new thing will be, but honestly, it just doesn’t matter. If it comes from my Lord, I want it and I eagerly await it! Maybe it will be BIG! Or, maybe (and quite likely), it will be something small and mighty. I can’t wait to see what He has for me!

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB): Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

You’ve been a rather quiet bunch of readers so far and I invite you to begin to offer comments, questions, etc. to what I affectionately call my “budding blog!” Please share with me!

I would love to know what steps you will purposely take to grow in the Lord this year. Notice I’ve stopped short of calling this a resolution – I read yesterday that most resolutions fail after just 13 days! No, I’m asking you what you will do on a consistent basis to follow Jesus more closely today than you did yesterday.

This is my number 1 goal: I’ve acquired a scripture memory partner and together we plan to memorize 2 verses each month this year! Our focus will be verses that help us combat worry and fear in our lives. We’ll strive hard to equip ourselves to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ! (2 Cor 10:5)

My secondary goal (again) is to read the Bible all the way through. I have a deep desire to have the full Word of God inside of me, whether I retain much of it or not. As I study the Bible, I enjoy going deep. With this goal, however, my intent is to go W-I-D-E! Wide doesn’t replace deep, but for 2011, I’m trying to bring wide alongside deep. I created a free account on, clicked on Bible Reading Plans (scroll way down – it’s close to the bottom of the home page on the right hand side). Here, you can select a personalized reading plan just for you!! I selected the chronological option. It’s a great tool! Give it a try!

Hee hee – I just re-read that paragraph and I’ve made it sound like I’ll read the Bible through again for a 2nd or 3rd time. Nope. I’ve never done it. I have tried many times but haven’t accomplished it yet. So, the “again” part means that I’m trying it again!

What will you do? Please share!! There is something about sharing your plans with others and putting them in writing that helps us take the steps to accomplish them! I invite you to take the first step of faith and “put it out there!”