Monday, October 11, 2021

Forgiveness

Years ago, one of my daughters got caught doing something bad. We had a conversation and she said, "I'm sorry, will you please forgive me." 

I replied, "Of course." I hugged her and kissed her then I returned to my work singing a song to myself. 

A few minutes later, I hear her feet coming down the hall. "Mommy, where did you learn to forgive?" 

I turned around, called her to my knee and said, "From my Heavenly Father. He has forgiven me of so much, how could I not forgive? He says He'll not call to memory again what He has forgiven. How can I do any less?" 

Satisfied, my daughter went on to play, and I sat in my chair in awe. I wasn't angry with my daughter. I didn't hold a grudge for what she had done. The fellowship had been broken between her and I, and it was restored by a simple act of confession on her part and forgiveness on mine. The act did not change her status. She was still my daughter and would always be my daughter. I love her, but I know she'll likely commit the same wrong again, and yet I am greatly pleased when she comes to me truly repentant, which usually happens in a flood of tears. She is so much like me. 

My Heavenly Father is the same way with me. He forgives each time I ask even though He knows I'll fall again. And He will always love me. I'll always remain His child. 

But He is pleased when I work to restore my fellowship with Him by confessing and repenting, keeping my heart right before Him. He'll always forgive because He promised to and because He loves me. 

I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

The Apostle John just finished saying that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from ALL sin. Still, he writes in I John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". 

We are cleansed from all our sin. We still sin, but Jesus' blood covers our sin debt...it is on the altar before God forever. Death has no more hold on us. 

 

For one of our trips to Disneyland, I set up a journaling app on the iPad for each of the girls to record their vacation. The app would allow them to put pictures and music to each day along with whatever notes or 'stickers' they'd like. 

I drove (I always do) and coming from the back of the van I heard the song, "The Blood Is Still There." I'd heard it several times already on the trip, so I asked, "Who is playing that song?" 

It was my youngest. She was adding it to her journal (I think she must have added it for each day we were there). She said that it was her favorite song. When I asked her why, she just shrugged her shoulders and said that it was comforting. I'll never forget that. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

After God's Heart

"...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." Acts 13:22b

Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David? Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David?

Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.
"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.


David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. His heart was after God's. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

Through my life I've come across many people. Some of them great, some of them small. So with plenty of self-confidence. And some pridefully ashamed of themselves. In studying these two men in the Bible I've asked myself who do I most closely resemble? I suppose I have a bit of both in me.

One thing I do know, I burn inside to know God more. Like Saul, I live in this flesh, but praise be to God, through Jesus Christ, I live by His faith, and I am a new creature.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17.

I now have a heart after God. My passions, my affections, the essence of my understanding of life, my determinations and resolutions, all these parts of my inner person are after God, desiring to please Him. That is the new creature. That was David's heart.Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David?

Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.
"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.

David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. His heart was after God's. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

Through my life I've come across many people. Some of them great, some of them small. So with plenty of self-confidence. And some pridefully ashamed of themselves. In studying these two men in the Bible I've asked myself who do I most closely resemble? I suppose I have a bit of both in me.

One thing I do know, I burn inside to know God more. Like Saul, I live in this flesh, but praise be to God, through Jesus Christ, I live by His faith, and I am a new creature.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17.

I now have a heart after God. My passions, my affections, the essence of my understanding of life, my determinations and resolutions, all these parts of my inner person are after God, desiring to please Him. That is the new creature. That was David's heart.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.

"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.

David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. He desired the things that God desired. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

The main difference between truly godly people and people who are religious, is their relationship with God. A godly person is one who worships God while enjoying the presence of God. A religious person worships God while enjoying the presence of other men. 

Godly people put their intimate relationship with God ahead of other people. Religious people are concerned with the outward appearance of their faith.

Godly people enjoy fellowshipping with God and prefer to maintain that fellowship over following the crowd. Religious people desire to have the appearance of a relationship with God, will worship to appease or to appeal to God, but fellowship is not attained because the adoration they owe God is placed on the act of worship or on an object of worship other than God. God will not give His glory to another.

"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me." Psalm 63:3-8


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Dressage and My Walk with the Lord

 Psalm 51:9 "Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities." 

I accepted God's gift of salvation as a child of about seven or eight. I don't remember exactly because it was around my birthday. However, I do remember having a great sense of urgency to be sure I was saved. At that young age I hadn't committed murder or adultery or any of those big sins. Yet, I was aware that I was a sinner in need of saving. 

Through my life I kept fairly close to God. Yes, there was times when I listened to the tempting songs of the world and danced to its tune, but in human measurements, I was no wretched sinner. 

And yet, I am. 

But I am a sinner saved by grace. 

There have been moments of great chastening in my life. I look at those spots in shame and humility. I knew better. I grew up in a Bible-believing family with Godly parents and attended church on a regular basis. Even at a young age, I began reading and memorizing Scripture. You'd think that I should have lived a perfect life. But I still live this life in the flesh. 

I know to some people I seem rigid, legalistic, without grace. But those people are blind to the work God is doing within me. Those people do not hear my prayers, "Oh God, I love You. Help me to love You more. Help me to serve You with all of my life. Help me to please You, Lord. " 

They can't see taped on the wall above my laptop are these verses: 

"Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face." Psalm 5:8 

"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." Psalm 27:11 

"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5 

"Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?" Psalm 77:13 

"Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." Psalm 77:19 

I love dressage, the fine art of horseback riding. At its highest level the rider and horse meld together to perform the perfect dance. I love the feeling of that dance. I love the feeling that this 1500 pound beast is submitting to the slightest contraction of my pinky finger muscles or my calf muscles or my abdominal muscles. 

When I ride a horse I've trained to the highest level it can attain, I immerse myself into the movement of the horse, feeling each step, each contraction and stretch of its back muscles, abdominal muscles, jaw muscles, neck muscles, leg muscles...To reach perfection a constant communication and submission must be maintained between myself and the horse.  

  

I strive for the same relationship with God. 

When my mount stiffens its jaw, I need to react with correction to restore the smooth and beautiful movement. When my mount takes a step off pattern, I must redirect it back to the course, sometimes with crop or spur. Sometimes I must ask my horse to lengthen its stride or shorten into collection. Each of these require the horse to listen to my leading. If it doesn't respond with the lightest of touch, then I must increase the "volume" of my leg or hand or weight...sometimes using the touch of a spur or whip.  

  

In my walk with my Lord I sometimes stiffen my jaw. Doing so creates an unpleasant feeling between God and me and steals the beauty of the movement He is asking me to perform. 

Sometimes I become distracted and step off pattern. God often gently puts me back on course, but there have been times when I've refused to go, and He's had to use a "spur" or a "whip" to put me back there. 

But when we are moving together, the picture is beautiful, the feel of union incredible....and that is why I work to rein in my desires that are not consistent with God's will. That is why I willingly submit to correction by Him. That is why I am quick to confess and repent of my faults, because I want to give God that perfect ride. 

I'm still in training and I'm doing my very best to feel the quiver in God's pinky finger on the reins or the tightening of His calf muscle or the tension in His abdominal muscle so that I can perform the pattern of life He has asked me to perform. 

"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Romans 13:14 

Just had to share one more video (because this is so neat).  

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"Thy Life Shall Be for a Prey unto Thee"

 "For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 39:18

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian, had heard the prophecies. He knew what would happen to Jerusalem. He would see firsthand what starvation would drive men to do, what war and death would look like at the hands of the Babylonians. The horrors of living in a besieged city and the collapse of that city would one day destroy a nation. But Ebedmelech had received a promise from God through Jeremiah because he trusted the LORD.

The prophet Jeremiah had been cast into the dungeon for prophesying against the king. Ebedmelech the Ethiopian spoke to King Zedekiah on behalf of Jeremiah, and the king had Ebedmelech rescue Jeremiah, though the prophet remained in the court of the prison. These were the actions of a man of faith. This faith God would reward.

In Jeremiah 21:9 and 38:2, the LORD promises to give those who go with the Chaldeans out of Jerusalem  "his life for a prey, and shall live." 

The pain of hunger, the grief of the death of loved ones, the shame of what one may have committed when under the pressure of the siege (robbery, cannibalism, deceit), and the spiritual grief that their gods nor the LORD Jehovah would not rescue them, would weigh heavy on the survivors of Jerusalem's fall. Some may even wonder why bother to live?

But God, in His great mercy, gave them hope: "Thy life shall be for a prey unto thee." 

God, in this statement, not only promised Ebedmelech that he'd live, but that in living, he would have opportunity to gather the spoils of life, to experience the good things, the valuable things of life here on earth.  It was up to Ebedmelech, and also those individuals that went with the Chaldeans, to make the most out of the life God was mercifully giving back to them. 

Not only did God tell the people there would be some who would be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon, He told them:

"Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished." Jeremiah 9:5-7

God's plan for these people, who had chased after other gods and had worked wicked and evil things, included humbling them at the hands of the Chaldean army, but then to have them prosper and live in peace in Babylon.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

I hear a lot of fear-mongering going on in America today. I see people put their trust in a man, in a government, in a cure, in almost anything but Who can really save them. I hear of Christians planning for some apocalypse by storing up guns and food and medicines. I hear of others hiding their faith for fear of retribution. But rarely do I hear "Trust God".

The Jews were sent into captivity because they had sinned against God by worshiping other gods and committing all the atrocities such worship would cause them to commit. God would humble them because they would not humble themselves.

I hesitate to say that Christian Americans are like the Jews in 590 BC, when the King of Babylon and his army would destroy their homes. However, I do think we should take note of what happened to the Jews at that time so that we can turn away from the sin brought the Jews to their demise and live as God intends us to live. 

We were created for the sole purpose of worshiping God and bringing Him pleasure. This is what we should seek to do in every area of our lives. Even the apostles told their churches to humble themselves (I Peter 5:6) to live peaceable lives (II Corinthians 16:11), to live quiet lives (I Thessalonians 4:11), to not suffer for doing wrong (I Peter 4:15), and to not fear what we will suffer (Revelations 2:10).

I think we are to follow the advice God gave to the Jews going into captivity: build our houses and live in them, plant our gardens and eat from them, give our daughters and sons to marry and have children, teaching them how to worship God in truth and in Spirit. Let God take care of the rest.

"Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." Jeremiah 29:12-14   

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Why Live a Life of Suffering?

 "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." II Cornithians 11:27

When I read this passage this morning, a slight smile flickered on my face. I thought how this described the cancer journey and the treatments and doctor appointments all endured for the one goal of being cancer-free. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

However, Paul here was not describing a life of cancer but his life as an apostle. Yet, I could not help but see the parallels. Jesus Christ presents to every person the cure for the disease of sin which leads to death. The Apostle Paul offered people the cure, but evil would rise up against him to prevent the cure being received. He would endure great suffering in order for another to receive that cure.

In my most selfish and weak moments, I find the hardest concept for me to comprehend is that life here on earth is to be seen as preferred (for a period) to life in heaven with God.

The struggle, if I am honest, is that I no longer want to suffer, whether from physical illness or emotional pain caused by my selfishness or another's words, actions, or attitudes toward me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suicidal, but I will admit to pondering the point of life if there is nothing but suffering and pain.

I understand the concept of suffering for the name of Christ and the glory that comes from it. God gives the true believer power and grace to endure such sufferings and to actually glory in it. A study in the martyrs over the  centuries will demonstrate that. 

If I truly love God, then I should see my life here as a blessing and should see the potential, not by my will or hand, but of God's power.

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." II Corinthians 4:6-7

Here on earth, we can glorify God in our struggle. Again, it is not about us, but about God.

In II Corinthians, Paul goes on to describe the trouble he had: persecution, perplexation, being cast down, being whipped, thrown into prison, being shipwrecked, suffering perils in every place and under every circumstance, and even physical ailments. 

"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience, and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:2-5

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Sometimes it is hard to see the glory of God, but that is what we are to look for. The hope that is eternal life actually lives in the present as well as the future, because the Holy Spirit is in us.

"The hope" lives in us when we seek God's glory even in times of trouble, pain, sorrow. But the crux is if we don't seek it, we can't find it and can't experience it.

When we are seeking to worship God even in our times of pain, suffering, trouble, hardship, etc. we will discover God's glory and when we see His glory, we are living in the present hope of eternal life.

God is not bound by time, what He says will happen He sees happening in His now. So, you can trust what He says is and will be true. When He says, in present tense:

"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" Ephesians 2:6

we, by the power of His glory and the presence of the Holy Spirit are indeed seated in heavenly places while our  physical bodies are still on earth. Our heaven on earth that enabled Paul to say:

"...but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18

When we worship God in spirit and in truth, we dwell in His presence. In His presence all the cares of the world diminish to the point of appearing extinguished. 

We can only experience this power of God's glory while here on earth worshiping Him. For it is His power over darkness and the ilk that comes in darkness. 

When we worship Him, in the safety and care of His Presence, we can surrender our weaknesses to Him and enjoy Him for the great and holy God Almighty that He is.

Why live a life of suffering? To experience the power of God's glory here on earth.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Your Marching Orders Are not Mine

 

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have..." I Samuel 15:2-3"And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue...And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all." I Samuel 30:8

When I was fourteen our Sunday School teacher had us write our life plan. I don't remember the purpose or the lesson, but I do remember my plan because it had been my dream since I was old enough to ride a horse. I would raise horses and travel to rodeos and horse shows from Texas to Canada, and wouldn't get married until my late 20's. The only part I accomplished was not getting married until I was 29.

A few years ago I spent time visiting family in Alberta. I sat on the banks of the Bow River, looked around at the vast prairies stretching for miles. No people. No cars. No trees. No noise. No concrete. Just the beautiful expanse God created both in the heavens above and the earth below. I marveled that I could ever have left.

Going home creates a cluster of cumulus clouds inside me. On the one hand, I desire to stay to enjoy the tremendous freedom found in the Canadian prairies. On the other hand, I know that God has other plans.

Four years after that Sunday School lesson, I picked potato beetles off plants for a company a few miles from home. Each morning I'd take a jar, walk through their garden, and pick beetles and other bugs until there were none left. Then I would spend the better part of the day mowing lawns, trimming, painting, and whatever else they'd have me do. I had plenty of time to think, pray, and meditate on Bible verses while I worked. Seeds God planted earlier in my life took root, and His desires began to blossom in my heart. Little did I know in a couple of years I'd be leaving my beloved Alberta prairies.

God's purpose supersedes our own desires and dreams. He gives to one person one order and to another a different.

Both Saul and David fought the Amalekites. God sent Saul to destroy all that the Amalekites had because of what they did to the Israelites hundreds of years earlier. Saul was not to keep the spoil.

After the Amalekites raided Ziklag, God told David to pursue and recover all.

Different orders. Both instances of vengeance.

Have you ever wondered why? God had a different purpose for David than for Saul. Saul and David were also different people with different faith.

Why was Saul not allowed to keep the spoil? Was this simply a test of obedience?

Concern for what others thought often became the catalyst for Saul's actions. He didn't stand up for what was right and rarely consulted God on his own. He had less concern for his relationship with God than he had for public opinion.

The incident where Saul disobeyed, keeping the spoil after fighting the Amalekites (and then blaming the people) revealed Saul's character.

David took the spoil, obeying God, and spread it to the elders of Judah (I Samuel 30:8). David's character revealed.

God doesn't always give everyone the same marching orders, and we need to be careful not to judge another whose orders are different than ours.

At times, we turn our preferences or our own convictions into laws we expect others to abide by, looking down our noses at them for not living how we think they should--not realizing that perhaps God gave them a different order.

As a child, I though all people growing up in the city were dumb, because they didn't know anything about farming or living in the country. For a period of time, I lived as a city-dweller. God has  sense of humor.

After living in a variety of places and having experienced a variety of cultures, I realize we can all be 'dumb' when we are outside of our known habitat.

Perhaps some of the greatest distancing I have felt from others has been when they feel they must raise their experience in life above my own--not knowing me or my life. And I am ashamed to say I have done the same from time to time.

God gives each of us unique experiences, and we need to respect that. He knows our characters. He knows what we need to go through in order to grow or to humble us or to reveal Himself to us in a way we'd never considered before. The reasons for our individual paths are as vast as He is.

If I had set out to accomplish the life plan I wrote at the age of fourteen I would be most miserable, because I would not be living in God's will. God had other plans for me.

My life journey is completely different than my sisters, both who stayed in Alberta and farm. Their lives are no less nor greater than my life. God's marching orders for us were different. He designed our lives to be different. He assigned them to us because He knew each of us inside and out. Yet, all three of us can attest to God's blessings, goodness, mercy, and grace.

Lord, thank you for knowing me and taking me on this amazing adventure that is so much bigger than I had planned.

"Every way of a man is right in his owns eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." Proverbs 21:2"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Forgiveness

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