I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Monday, October 25, 2010

(Part 1 of First Things First) - An Amazing God

This year I have had the privilege of speaking at two different women’s retreats.
I am not a natural "speaker". Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit has been leading me to share with other women the truths of God’s Word.
I will post over the next few weeks what I have been sharing as a foundation for our walk in Christ. The posts may seem a bit choppy because I am typing them from my notes.

Focal Scripture:
Matt. 6:33- “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 22:36-38 – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Watch the video before you read any further…please.

Taken from Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Speechless? Amazed? Humbled?

When I first watched those images I was completely humbled to the point I said to myself …”Who do I think I am?”

It’s wild to think that most of these galaxies have been discovered only in the past few years. They’ve been in the universe for thousands of years without humans even knowing about them. They were not created for us. They were created for God’s glory.

R.C. Sproul writes, “Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.”

Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is?

He didn’t have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile in the Amazon jungle, but He did. How about the way plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into their stems and veins? Did you know that when you get goose bumps, the hair in your follicles is actually helping you stay warmer by trapping body heat? I could go on and on and have a science class but I will stop with those very few examples.

Whatever God’s reason for such diversity, creativity and sophistication in the universe, on earth and in our own bodies, the point of it all is HIS glory not ours. He didn’t even really create it for us. We are privileged enough to be a part of it.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,”

No matter how many pictures we see of His glory in the galaxies and His creation... No matter how many sunsets we see... We still forget. How awe struck we should be of the Creator. We are suffering from amnesia: loss of a large block of interrelated memories; complete or partial loss of memory.

I need to let you know of a spiritual amnesia that is going around and none of us are immune to it and it is caused by our own human and sinful nature and the enemy.

Most of us know that we should to love and fear God; that we should read our Bibles and pray so that we can get to know Him better; that we should worship Him with our lives. But actually living it out is challenging. I think the biggest problem is not remembering whose we are.

This is where keeping First Things First comes into play. I am convinced only because it is in God’s Word that if we focus on the First Things in God’s Word will we truly experience all God has for us.

You know what? It is hard to keep that in focus. It confuses us when loving God is hard. Shouldn’t it be easy to love a God so wonderful? When we love God because we feel we should love Him, instead of genuinely loving Him out of our true selves, we have forgotten who God really is. Our amnesia is flaring up again and we need a cure.

We have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.

We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, instead of being content with what we do have. We are bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or more at peace. This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God. If we are a follower of Christ and have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior then we already have everything we need in Him. We just forget that.

We absolutely must entertain the magnitude of God’s grandness and greatness on a regularly basis because it will fuel how we act, speak and respond to the ones around us and to Him.

The first question to ask is...How Big is God to me?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sacred Decorum (Part 2)

In the previous post Leslie Ludy described what I have heard a lot lately. It may have been described under different circumstances but the underlying dilemma was the same.

The reason for our dilemma is, “But we don’t abide with Him moment by moment throughout the day.”

Most of us are familiar with the word “abide” but I thought it was interesting to look at the actual definitions to get a better understanding.

Abide: (1) to wait for (2) to endure without yielding (3) to accept without objection

Wow! To accept without objection.

We must read His Word and do what it says to have the kind of abiding that is defined!

Each of us will have moments or days that we complain about how far away God is but in all truthfulness He is not far from anyone who actually seeks Him.

Acts 17: 24-27 The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men,that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

One more excerpt from Set-Apart Femininity~

There is a sacred decorum of set-apart femininity, a pattern for daily living that marks a young woman as a true daughter of the King. When it comes to our clothes, words, actions, thoughts pastimes, and pursuits, we must be, as Amy Carmichael put it, “dead to the world and its applause, to all the customs, fashions and laws of those who hate the humble Cross.” We must be consumed with honoring Christ far above meeting our own selfish desires. Not out of duty, but out of delight. Loving Him with such ardor that we relish the opportunity to lay everything we possess at His feet.

Sacred Decorum (Part 1)

This post is an excerpt taken from Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy

She said it better than I could.

Last week I opened a letter from a distressed college student named Jennifer. “I just can’t seem to have intimacy with Jesus in the beautiful way you describe it in your books,” she wrote. “I’m sick of living this half-Christian, half-worldly life. I go around saying that I am a Christian, but my Christianity is not based on a passionate relationship with Jesus. I want to find Him, but I don’t know how.”

How many countless thousands of young women echo Jennifer’s despair? Our Christianity is based upon an idea of who Christ is, not upon an actual, personal experience with Christ. We may have moments of intimacy with Christ-like during a worship service or reading an inspiring Christian book. But we don’t abide with Him moment by moment throughout the day. We don’t even know how. And if we were totally honest, we’d admit that we often feel frustrated with God because He makes Himself so distant. We pray, and He seems not to hear us. We read the Bible, and it is just a blur of spiritual-sounding words. Why, we wonder, does He make being a Christian so difficult? If He really wants a relationship with us, why is He so hard to access?

Christ Himself gave us the answer. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

Jesus Christ reveals Himself to those who follow in His steps. He draws near to those who build their entire lives around His pattern. If we feel far away from Him, it is very likely that we aren’t truly building our entire existence around Him; that we are living far more for self than for the glory of His name.

Follow up post to come….

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meander, No More!

Over the past few months I have picked up a new habit. Thankfully it is a habit for my good. I have started running. I do mean physically running. That may shock some of you who know me. It has not been easy especially when I first started. I literally thought I would pass out after running a minute and a half. Thankfully, I didn’t stop that first day out. I saw some results with my endurance and energy level fairly quickly. Since that time, I finished my first 5K race and I plan to continue running even more.

I wanted to write about something that happened during the 5K race and maybe you can relate even if you are not a runner. The race started later than anticipated because the police who would direct traffic had not arrived on time. I was already nervous and that just prolonged it. All of the runners and walkers had some extra time to stretch and warm-up so I guess that made up for it. Once the police arrived we were off. I was in the back of the pack. I started with my running and continued to follow the path laid before me. There were a few more hills than I had anticipated but I pressed on. As I came running towards the finish line I saw my husband and kids waving and cheering for me. I was really surprised once I saw I had made it with relative ease. I even questioned if it was really the finish line. I ran through it and finished in great time.

Now I need to share the outcome of the 5K. Once all the runners crossed the finished line we were all told over the speaker that the race had been a ½ mile short of a full 5K. The lead runners had turned down a wrong path and guess what the rest of us did? Followed.

I was disappointed but I didn’t ask if I could run an additional ½ mile to make up for it.

God’s Word is full of many, many verses about “running the race” While they are all wonderful the Holy Spirit prompted me to write about Hebrews 11:39-12:2: And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was getting old and was settling into the world. They were starting to drift through life without focus, without vigilance, and without energy. Their hands were growing weak, their knees were feeble. It was just easier to meander in the crowd of life than to run the marathon. Chapters 2 through 5 speak repeatedly about the coasting mode the believers had settled into.

When the book of Hebrews approaches chapter 12 it is clear what the writer is saying, RUN!

Run the race set before you! The path is laid out. Don't stroll, don't meander, don't wander about aimlessly. Run as in a race with a finish line and with everything hanging on it.

Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

This is a command to look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes. Do not be easily led down a path that turns your heart toward the things of the world.

As a follower of Christ, we must seek hard after Him! We are not to be lackadaisical in our walk or should I say run with the Creator and Savior of the world. He will not lead you down the wrong path. You will finish the race!