Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HIS Beautiful Reminder To Us

As my husband and I were driving through a long stretch of desert highway, on our way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I decided to open up my Bible and begin reading where I had previously left off. I would like to share with you the scriptures I read that are a beautiful ode to love. I was happy to see that God went before us and "happened" to place these scriptures for me to read at this special time of our marriage.

I could not have planned or picked a better time to read these beautiful words. But God, who is the Author of marriage, planned that at my next scripture reading time - these words would be included in my devotions as a beautiful reminder:

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

"Love suffers for a long time. Our modern "throw away" society encourages us to get rid of people in our lives who are difficult to get along with, whether they are friends, family, or acquaintances. Yet this attitude runs in complete contrast to the love described by Paul. True love puts up with people who would be easier to give up on.

Love does not envy. If our love is directed towards others, we will rejoice in the blessings they receive rather than desiring those blessings for ourselves. Fundamentally, selfless love that God calls us to does not involve pride or glory. It does not parade itself and is not puffed up. In fact, true love does not seek its own. If we truly love others, we will set aside our own plans, agendas, and entitlements for the good of the other.

Love is not provoked. That is, love is not easily angered or over-sensitive. When we truly love others we are careful not to be touchy concerning other people's words or actions towards us. Love never gives up, knowing that God can change lives for the better.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. The godly love described in this chapter has nothing to do with evil, but everything to do with what is right and true. It believes all things and hopes all things. This does not mean that love is blind and naive. When we love, we may recognize failures and problems in people, but we do not lose faith in the possibilities of what people might become. Love never gives up, knowing God can change lives for the better.

Finally, love endures all things. Love accepts any hardship or rejections, and continues unabated to build up and encourage. The love described by Paul in this "love chapter" means determining what is best for another person and then doing it. This is the kind of love that God shows us." Commentary

FATHER, Thank you for reminding us that this kind of love is a love based on deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved. It is only through the power of your Holy Spirit that we can exhibit this kind of love. Thank you that you are willing to give us all the grace, mercy and power to love like You!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

His PASSION Towards Us!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

The other day as I was driving to an appointment, I heard a song on the radio. As the artist began singing the song, the beauty of the words and the melody of the song captivated my heart.

As soon as I returned home, I did some research on  the song. I wanted to know more about the heart of the writer. I knew that no one could write a song with so much heartfelt emotion without having had experienced the touch of God.

I discovered that the singer and songwriter was named Terry Clark and here is a little bit of his testimony and his experience of being touched by an all knowing and all loving God.

During his time in the military while serving in Northern Thailand near the border of Cambodia, he went through some real traumatic changes that he described as “a breaking inside”. The traumatic things that he saw and experienced caused him to “check out”. 

He explained that he was totally humiliated and embarrassed that he was a human being. The things that he saw humans do and all that he himself participated in caused him to “check out as a human”. 

Soon after his decision to “check out” he said that the "authorities" came and took him away to a hospital and checked him into the mental ward.  After they tested him the doctor’s diagnoses for him was “no hope”. They concluded that he saw death too close and cared for bodies that were too close to him. The doctor’s further concluded that all that he saw and all that he experienced, caused the traumatic turn he made in his thinking and that we would never recover.

Here is the part that shows the love of his Savior and my Savior and your Savior – Jesus Christ. Terry Clark said that Jesus spoke the following words to his heart after the doctors said that he would never recover. I have quoted them below:

“Terry, I know how you feel. I have seen every thing human beings have ever done. But I want you to understand the difference of our response of that. You’ve decided not to be a human being and I decided to become one.”

After hearing Jesus speak to him  - Terry said this:

And then he took my emptied out shell and flooded me - drowned me in how he felt towards human beings. It crushed me - it drowned me and I figured it was probably just a glimpse of how He felt toward human beings  - but it was enough to almost kill me - just from His passion towards us as His prize creation  - His family - His children.”

Terry went on to say this, “But needless to say - that day - the doctors issued a new diagnoses and where it said no hope – it said – recovering satisfactory.”

One touch from God, one word from Him can take a hopeless situation and transform our life's – from “no hope” to “all hope”!

Jesus’ love for us is so immense that if He let us experience it in full vent, it would overwhelm us – it would crush us – it would kill us.

This Easter, celebrate His great, great love for you! 

Celebrate the hope He offers all who know Him and follow Him! 

Celebrate that you are His prize possession! 

Celebrate that He, “Disarmed the powers and AUTHORITIES, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15

In Terry's case, the physical authorities took him away to the mental ward. However, Jesus Christ disarmed ALL powers and "authorities", both physical and spiritual, triumphing over them by the CROSS!

Below, I have attached the Terry Clark song that captivated my heart, "I Am Yours". Enjoy!! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Crooked Paths!

"The Lord will fulfill HIS purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever." Psalm 138:8

Yesterday evening, my daughter asked us to join her at the “Dream Event” at Mariner’s Church. It was an event to encourage people of all ages and walks of life to pursue God’s purpose for their life. 

The speaker caught my attention when he said, “Nothing happens in straight lines.” Boy did that resonate with me and I am sure that it resonates with some of you as well! It is true that a straight line will get you there quicker, but the road that has the most twists and turns may be the road that we need to journey, in order to prepare us for our destiny.

The speaker talked about the life of Moses. As many of you know, God had a purpose for Moses’ life. He was going to be the one used by God to deliver the people of Israel out of slavery from Egypt.  But before that was to happen, God was going to take his life on a journey that would have some serious twists and turns!

From the moment Moses was born, to the end of his life, his journey to his life purpose was definitely not a straight line!

Moses was born to Amram (the father) who was a Levite and Jochebed (the mother) who was also a Levite. Moses had an older brother, Aaron and an older sister, Miriam. (Numbers 26:59). Moses was born to a family who were enslaved in Egypt.

About the time Moses was born, Pharaoh made a decree that all male Hebrew children were to be killed (Exodus 1), but his mother was able to hide Moses. When she could hide him no longer, his mother made a floating basket, which could hold Moses, and asking God to protect him, she placed him in the Nile River.   

While the daughter of Pharaoh was bathing at the river, she found the basket with Moses in it. Pharaoh’s daughter heard him crying and she felt compassion for him and realized it was one of the Hebrew babies. 

Miriam, Moses sister, approached Pharaoh's daughter and asked her if she would like to have one of the Hebrew women nurse the child for her. Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Yes, go.” Miriam went and got Jochebed! Pharaoh’s daughter asked Jochebed if she could nurse the child until the baby grew older.  When Moses grew older, Jochebed took him to Pharaoh’s daughter who then adopted Moses as her son. God used Jochebed’s courageous act of saving and hiding her baby to begin his plan to rescue his people from Egypt!

The first 40 years of Moses's life were spent in Egypt learning from Pharaoh the skills needed to run Egypt. One day when he saw one of his own people, an Israelite, being beaten, he took things into his own hands and killed an Egyptian. Because of this impulsive act he had to flee in fear for his life from Egypt and from Pharaoh to live in Midian.

Moses’ life took a significant turn from the powerful position in Egypt to a very lowly position as a shepherd. Moses spent the next 40 years working as a shepherd in the desert for Jethro in Midian.

When Moses was 80 years old God spoke to him and told him to return to Egypt as God was going to use Moses to free the Israelites from slavery!

In each of Moses’ life changing events, God had a purpose for developing Moses’ character for what God had ultimately planned for his life.

The first 40 years of his life the Bible says that, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” (Acts 7:22) He would have been schooled and prepared to one day become the ruler of Egypt. This gave him many skills that God would use later in his life to lead His people out of Egypt.

In the desert as a shepherd, God taught Moses patience and trust as well as provided him the tools that he would use to deliver his people. Moses was no longer being schooled by the wisdom of Egypt but instead he was being schooled by the wisdom of God!

“What a contrast between Moses’ life as an Egyptian prince and his life as a Midianite shepherd! As a prince he had everything done for him; he was the famous son of an Egyptian princess. As a shepherd he had to do everything for himself; he was holding the very job he had been taught to despise (Genesis 43:32; 46:32-34), and he lived as an unknown foreigner. What a humbling experience this must have been for Moses! But God was preparing him for leadership. Living the life of a shepherd and nomad, Moses learned about the ways of the people he would be leading and also about life in the desert. Perhaps Moses couldn’t appreciate this lesson, but God was getting him ready to free Israel from Pharaoh’s grasp.” Commentary

When Moses was 80 years old, God’s purpose for his life had come full circle and he was now ready to begin the steps to realize God’s purpose for his life! 

Where are you in your life story? What purpose and dream has God placed in your heart? Don’t be discouraged if you feel your life is at a dead end or in a dry, dry desert with what appears to be no resources or options.  It is at these times, when we feel we are out of options, that God does his best work! 

Many times the men and women who have made the biggest difference in this world, have experienced significant set backs and disappointments only to find out later that it was God’s ordained twists and turns to prepare them for their life purpose!

Be confident of this: The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Believe, Trust and Obey!

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Romans 4:18-21

I am so inspired by the scriptures above and I hope you are too!  I don’t know what you are facing today but I do know that NOTHING is too hard for the LORD! (Genesis 18:14)

The Bible says that Abraham, against all hope, seeing that his situation was as good as dead, did not waver through unbelief but instead was strengthened in his faith!! Abraham was fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He said He would do!

For 24 years Abraham had heard  - and believed – the same promise: One day he would become the father of a son who would found the nation of promise. When Abram was 99 years old, God spoke to Abraham and made the promise plain that he had promised years earlier: “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Genesis 17:21

The father and mother were named, the child was named, and the time was named! Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born!

“When Abraham was physically beyond any hope of having a child, he based his hope on God’s promises instead. He believed that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens, because the All-Powerful God had promised it.” Commentary

“Abraham never doubted that God would fulfill his promise. Abraham’s life was marked by mistakes, sins, and failures as well as by wisdom and goodness, but he consistently trusted God. His example of faith was strengthened by the obstacles he faced, and his life was an example of faith in action. If he had looked only at his own resources, he would have given up in despair. But Abraham looked to God, obeyed Him, and waited for God to fulfill His word.” Commentary

How about us? What are we basing our hope on? Is there a situation in your life that seems as good as dead and is against all hope?

Let’s ask ourselves this question, “Am I only looking to my own resources or am I looking to God, obeying Him, and waiting for God to fulfill His Word?”

“Within God’s unconditional promises, God made demands. He commanded Abram and Sarai to leave their home and their extended family to go to a new land (Genesis 12:1). He commanded them to be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2), to walk before Him and be blameless (Genesis 17:1), and to circumcise the males in their household as a sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:10). Although God’s promises were unconditional, Abrams’ temporal participation in God’s blessing was conditioned on his faithfulness and his obedience to God’s commands. Abram withstood the test – he believed and obeyed (Genesis 15:6; 22: 1-18).” Commentary

Let’s be encouraged! Let’s be faithful to what God has called us to do no matter how hopeless the situation may be and/or no matter how long the wait!  Let’s be fully persuaded that nothing is too difficult for God! 

May we receive the reward that comes when we are fully trusting, obedient and fully believing in the His Son Jesus Christ!

"For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Romans 4:3