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Archive for July, 2011

What mom (or anyone else for that matter) doesn’t need rest?

I’m not talking about the kind of rest that comes from taking a break, an afternoon nap, or getting a good night’s sleep.  Although of course we need that too!

I’m talking about internal rest.  That place of peace, letting go, and the sense of internal well-being that we all desire.

Yesterday we talked about Hebrews 3 and how to get out of the wilderness.  As I continued to read this morning, my heart is heavy.  You see, I know what it’s like to have lost perspective and sight of who God is and what He’s done and wants to do.  It’s no fun to be in that place.  Inner peace is replaced by turmoil.

The essence of sin is when we refuse to trust God.  That is when we make bad choices.  We get impatient because we haven’t received an answer and we take matters into our own hands.  That never works.  And yet we think we know best.  We convince ourselves that we have the answer even though it goes against what God says.  Or, we grumble and complain and allow ourselves to slip into a hard, untrusting place that eventually leads to a sick heart or rebellion.

We run around like rebellious teens who refuse to believe that a parent has their best interest at heart.  If you’ve been there as a parent, you understand how God feels.  The Israelites provoked and irritated God according to Hebrews 3.  Sometimes I think we believe that because God loves us nothing we do matters.  But it does!

Just like any good parent, there will be consequences for our choice to trust or not trust.  Trust is not a fairytale feeling that we’ll all live happily ever after.  It’s a conscious choice to act on the confidence that God’s direction and promises are for our good and will be worked out.  It is an open heart that is willing to become all He has designed us to be rather than expecting everyone else to be all we need them to be.  It is relationship…..us and God, compliant child and loving Father.

According to Hebrews 3:18 and 19, those who refuse to be compliant or persuaded will not be able to enter His rest.  It is a message of what unbelief does to our hearts.  When we are unwilling to trust, rely and adhere to God’s ways and words.

Where are you not at rest today– Your marriage, your children, your relationships, your finances, yourself?  Stop and think about what God has already done or has promised you.  What does He say that you have been unwilling to believe?  What can you let go of or embrace to begin to trust Him again?

Whatever is causing your inner turmoil, the answer is to be persuaded that God’s direction and promises are for our good and we can rely on Him.

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As I read Hebrews 3, I find a lot to think about.  After the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, it’s hard to believe that the children of Israel caused themselves to wander in the wilderness for 40 years!  Why?  Because they couldn’t or wouldn’t see God’s character and believe that He truly cared for them.

Sound familiar?  I have to ask myself, How many times have I not believed that God really loved me and would take care of me?  How many times have I resisted His love?

The Israelites weren’t exactly compliant people.  They wanted God to take care of them and then constantly ignored His direction for their lives. They thought their way was better and convinced themselves that they were right.

Sometimes that’s what we do in the wilderness too. When we are tested or delayed, we often make a bad choice to keep us in the wilderness.  Then, we blame God or someone else for our wilderness experience.  Even when God shows His hand of provision which includes direction for the way out, we ignore it and harden our hearts.  We treat God like He is a fairy godmother who will just wave a magic wand and fix everything for us.  Then when because of our choices we are stuck, we get mad at God and others.

The more we do that, the more we become acquainted with a hard heart and fail to acknowledge the ways of God according to verse 10.  We create our own vicious circle of wandering, rebellion, and bad outcomes.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do or how to do it in these moments, it’s that we’ve set our will ahead of God’s ways.

God was grieved by the Israelite’s  behavior.  He is grieved by ours as well.  He gives us the right to choose above all other things and won’t  prevent the consequences of our actions.

If you find yourself in a journey that leads you to wander in the wilderness season, you may want to ask yourself if you need to adjust your will.  Are you listening to God’s direction?  Do you believe He loves you and will care for you even if you are asked to do something you don’t want to do?  Where has your heart become hardened to God’s desires and ways?

The answer to those questions and taking the action to correct them, just might lead you into the promised land.

 

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I just reached an impossible goal in our home-business.  It was amazing to watch what happened after I became convicted that it could and committed to working until it did. There were so many times when it looked like it would not happen, but in the end, it came to be.

Life is like that.  Sometimes we have lofty and good goals but what is happening or what we are seeing makes us think it is impossible.

I love II Corinthians 5:7-9.  Here’s my paraphrase:  We move in life by faith.  Our lives and our behavior is regulated by our conviction and belief  about God’s relationship with us and the divine things He’s promised.  We accept those with trust and holy burning desire and therefore we don’t walk by what we see or what appears.  We have confident courage no matter where we are at.  We are constantly ambitious as we work earnestly at pleasing Him. 

One of the reasons I do this blog is because I want every person to really understand and experience a PERSONAL relationship with God.  I know the more personal that becomes the more we understand God’s love for us.  The more we understand how much God loves  the more we will do what pleases Him.

Here’s a few keys to that relationship and a life of blessing.

A. If you need a behavior change, it starts with your belief about your relationship with God.  How seriously do you take what God says?  How strongly do you believe His principles and trust that He will do what He promises?

B.  A life of faith requires burning desire.   What is more important to you–your own desires or what pleases God?  When we have a burning desire to pursue the principles  of His kingdom rather than our own way, we will experience a life of faith and blessing.

C. A life of faith requires ambition.  When I reached for my business goal, I gave it all I had.  I left every ounce of energy on the table and at the end, I was spent.  That is what ambition looks like.  What could change for you if you determined that you were going to pursue God and strive to please Him more than anything else in your life?

I dare say, we would have better marriages, parent better, experience better finances, be more satisfied in our work and play, have better relationships and a greater circle of influence if we would live a life of conviction and belief about God and His relationship with us.  We would take it seriously.  We would understand that life is sacred and we would work with everything that is in us to establish and grow His kingdom on earth and strive with all we have to please Him. 

 

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Psalm 17:3 says:  “You have proved my heart: You have visited me in the night: you have tried me and find nothing (no evil purpose in me.): I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. ”

A proven heart is essential to the blessing of God on our life but what is it?  Here are my thoughts.

A proven heart is about our true intention, our conscious decisions, and our commitment.

When our true intention is to please God and live a life according to His principles, our conscious decisions will reflect that, and we will make a decision to follow His plans.  It doesn’t matter what the issue we are facing is–marriage, parenting, business, identity, purpose, etc…… it is all about a proven heart.

It’s about whether we value good or evil, whether we choose good or evil, and whether we commit to the actions that produce good or evil.

This is the kind of life that produces happiness and well being no matter what the circumstances around us are.

Think about the thing that concerns you most today.  Ask yourself:

What is my intention in this matter?  What do I really want?  What is my heart set on?

Does what I want line up with God’s principles?  Will it bring good or bad results?

What can I commit to, in order to follow God’s plan for this area?  What action can I take that will eliminate something that is not acceptable to God or bring something that has God’s blessing into this problem?

A proven heart starts with thinking about our intention, making a choice for good, and following through with our commitment to live by God’s principles.

 

 

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Christians talk alot about hearing God and God hearing us.  My heart was stirred this morning as I read Isaiah 10:17-18.  These verses reveal God’s heart and what His ear is tuned in to.

When I am talking to God, often it is about me trying to gain something for me.  Maybe it’s direction, answers, healing, etc.  All good things to pray about.  Sometimes I hear clearly and other times not.

What could happen if I began to ask to hear as God hears rather than for God to hear me?

I can only imagine.  Not only would I know what I should do, but I’d be able to make a bigger difference.

I would be tuned into those who are oppressed and minister to those who are fatherless or burdened down with life.

The enemy of our souls wants nothing more then to destroy us by bringing hopelessness, fear, and despair.  There are so many people who are longing for just one word or one action that will begin to bring them out of that pit.  True justice is reversing the sentence on someone who has experienced injustice.

Many have lived through something that was not because of their choice and would have chosen a much different path had they been able to.  When you really think about it, all of us have experienced things that are unjust.

I am freshly challenged to desire God’s ear and be a minister of His love and justice.

Teach me to hear with your ear, O God.

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Ever felt like your heart(mind, will, and emotions) were a tangled mess?  That inner battle is a difficult one but I want to encourage you that untangling them is possible.

There are so many things that can cause uncertainty, insecurity, and confusion in our lives.  For me some of them were:  the idea of fairytale love, my childhood hurts and experiences, my misconceptions of God, and some of the things I had been taught incorrectly. Because of all those other things, I also was not able to see or move toward my purpose and I gradually moved toward a season of hopelessness and despair.

And then there is the women problem of hormones! At least once a month I could count on that tangled mess of emotions and believe me it did wreak chaos.  No matter how much I should have recognized it, I would forget that was why I was feeling bad.

I was not happy for sure and it began to effect everything–my marriage, my relationships with people, my finances, my ability to reach my goals, my children, and my faith.  Not to mention I had very little influence on others or the world around me because I had gone to that inner place where everything was about me.

But praise God, He untangled the mess.  He will do that for you too.

If you are without hope, hope in this.  Nothing you have done is unforgivable and nothing you are facing is unfixable.  First, Isaiah 44:22 tells us He has blotted out our sins and trangressions like a thick cloud!  He goes on to say “Return to me, I have redeemed you.”

The first step to untangling, is returning.  And why wouldn’t we return to someone who loved us enough to forgive us by sending Jesus!  Just like you can’t untangle your hair without picking up a comb and a brush,  you can’t find make sense of your tangled mess without accepting the truth of redemption and forgiveness.

The second truth is in Isaiah 45:2.  Understand that God never expects us to untangle the mess alone!  Here’s what He promises.  “I will go before you and level the mountains (to make the crooked places straight).  I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron.”  Whatever the mountain or door that is keeping you from your destiny and calling, if you come to God, He will destroy the obstacles in your path.

And I LOVE VERSE 3!!!!  “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I the Lord, who calls your name.”

Wow!  Do you get that?  If we return to Him, He will take the dark places and give us the treasures in them!  And we will find our true identity because we will know He calls our name!

I’m doing cartwheels inside right now.  I pray that you get this truth!   Don’t live in a tangled web of confusion any longer.  God is right there to untangle You if you come to Him.

 

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Remember the line from A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise asks Jack Nicholsen to tell the truth on the stand.  Jack, vehemently looks at Tom and says, “Truth?  You can’t handle the truth?”

Throughout the years, truth has been debated.  It’s no different today but as an “older” person, it seems to have changed into a time when all “truth” is what we say it is.

As a Christ follower, what God’s word says is important.  Scripture is not something to be used to beat someone up with but it is the roadmap for a life well lived.

James 1 paints two very different portraits of the way people handle the Word (the truth of God).  There are two camps of people.  The DOERS and the LISTENERS.

In James 1:21-24, a listener is compared to a man who looks in the mirror, sees himself and then goes away and forgets what he looks like.  Mmmmmm, I wonder if doing has anything to do with knowing who we are.  What do you think?

The problem with listeners, is that they are not living authentically. Instead of obeying the truth, they make excuses and try to reason with it.  Verse 22 says they betray themselves and fall into deception.   It’s kind of like a teen-ager.  Ever known one who told you where you were all wrong, while making excuses for their own behavior?

Think about the TRUTH, (God’s way).  If we say we are Christ followers, then we have to follow Christ!  We must ask ourselves:  Am I walking in His way in my marriage?  Am I parenting my kids like He says?  Am I following His principles in my job or business?  Am I handling my money, my health, my relationships the way He directs me too?

I think the biggest question of all is, “Am I trying to reason with God and His principles and commands to justify my choices?

We can’t truly say we are followers of Christ and ignore a life of true worship.  True worship is expressed in the outward actions of our inner lives.  A blessed and authentic life is one that handles God’s truth by acting on it!

 

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