Monday, April 30, 2012

Yesterday, Today and Forever

Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday, today, and forever. 
Hebrews 13:8

When everything around me is swirling
and it seems like I can't count 
on anything to stay the same, 
I am grateful for this great truth.
"On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand..."

When Jesus said that He was the 
Way, the Truth and the Life,
He was announcing a new grid for viewing the world.
His worldview is based on the stability of His nature.
Because Truth is a Person who doesn't change--
not a concept or a philosophy that is ever evolving-- 
we can navigate through life on solid ground.
There are many ways we can view our world;
our responsibility is to call nothing true 
until we are confident it lines up with His word.
It is always easy to be a modernist; 
It is always simple to fall; 
there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, 
only one at which one stands. 

To have fallen into any one of the fads 
would indeed have been obvious and tame. 
But to have avoided them all 
has been one whirling adventure; 
the heavenly chariot 
thundering through the ages, 
the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, 
the wild truth reeling but erect.
GK Chesterton
The angle which keeps one standing 
is rooted in the unchangeable nature of Christ. 
The "wild truth" never changes.
Time doesn't alter it.
We don't change the compass because it is outdated.
We don't change the compass because, really,
everyone should determine north for themselves.
Truth is the same yesterday, today and forever. 
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
Yesterday, today and forever.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Options and Exits

Temptation comes from our own desires,
which entice us and drag us away.
James 1:14
Whenever we get away from God's word,
away from His promises to us,
away from growing and maturing our spirit man,
our own desires can entice us to leave the road.
The Greek word for entice is deleazomenos, 
a hunting term meaning "bait and trap."
This bait is placed there to trap us
and drag us away from our God-ordained path.
It doesn't look like we are being dragged;
bait is offered to satisfy a need.
it looks like we are making our own decision.
This bait takes many forms,
but they all begin as thoughts.
We can feel frustrated, tired, offended, impatient,
hopeless, sad, disillusioned, alone.
These feelings give way to thoughts that
can take us off the course God has marked for us.
We see an exit sign and decide there is 
a lot to offer at that exit.
We must realize there is a battle raging for our lives.
Our enemy is forever wanting to get us 
off the course that the Lord has set for us.
"Take this exit," the enemy whispers.
And so we begin to think about it.
Looks like it might be a nice road,
with interesting things to offer.
Not sure why I need to stay on that other road.
Compromise just a little.
Sell truth just a little.
What map?

When we are presented with 
options in our thoughts,
we need to remember to check our map.
We need to get in the Word and 
remember what God has said.
It may look like just what we need, 
but it may just be the bait 
designed to entice us off our course.
We must take the exit marked on the map.
Every other way is not the Way. what is right for the glory of God. 
Romans 7

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Faith Inherits Promises

Be imitators of those who inherit the promises 
through faith and perseverance.
Hebrews 6:12
This is a season where God is planting 
deep seeds of faith in our hearts,
that we might stand in the midst
of challenge and testing
and not waiver.
It is through faith that we inherit.

God has been helping me see that I must expect
to hear His words of promise where ever I go.  
 His goodness follows me.
Surely His goodness and mercy
follows me all the days of my life
Psalm 23:6
He has been giving me words of faith
everywhere I turn.
He spoke a word to me on Thursday 
about being one who attracts the promises of God.
On Friday two different people
gave me a word of promise from the Lord.
That is just not a normal occurrence--
unless He is establishing a new norm.
Or helping me see that it should be the norm.
I need to carefully listen for His voice 
and carefully shut out evil reports
and contrary opinions.
Be careful what you listen to 
for the standard you set 
will be measured to you.
Mark 4

I want to carefully listen to Him
so that the standard I set 
will be measured back to me.
My currency is faith and, 
to those who have, He gives more.
Lord, You are always speaking.
I want to hear Your goodness 
that follows me every day of my life.
You are extravagant, Lord, 
in Your goodness.
Abiding faith attracts promises.
I want to inherit all that You have for me
so that others might see Your goodness
and You might get all the glory.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Single Focus

I lift up my eyes to You,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves 
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave 
look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until He shows us His mercy.
Psalm 123
This comparison to the slaves looking
to the hand of their master
must be seen in the fullness of the word "slave."
The word for slave here means "bondservant."
Bondservants were completely dependent 
on their masters for all their needs.
They couldn't look to family members;
they couldn't get a second job.
Everything came through the hand of the master.
The psalmist says he is like the slave--
his eyes are on the Lord because
he is completely dependent on His hand.
There is a single focus.
I lock my eyes on the Lord until...
I am not tempted to make my own way,
nor am I tempted to find my own provision.
My eyes are locked on the Lord until...
The word "until" implies a time
when a specific event will happen.
It is different from the word "if."
It is not, "I will lock my eyes on the Lord
to see IF..."
The psalmist summons himself to lock his eyes
on the hand of the Lord UNTIL.
I need to summons myself to fix my eyes.
In everything I am hoping for,
fighting for and trusting for,
my only option is to lock my eyes on His hand.
It is not wrong to look to His hand.
As long as I intimately know His face.
This undistracted lifestyle 
limits all its options.
Until His hand moves on my behalf.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Be Renewed

Put on your new nature, 
and be renewed 
as you learn to know your Creator 
and become like Him. 
Let the message about Christ, 
in all its richness, fill your lives. 
And whatever you do or say, 
do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus. 
Colossians 3:10,16, 17

Be renewed!
Impacted by this command today.
We wouldn't be commanded to be renewed
if it were second nature to live in our new nature.
We are in this process of learning to know Him.
The more we know Him, the more we want
to devote ourselves to the beautiful process of 
becoming like Him.
Let the message about Christ
fill your lives!
Another command.
We will be filled with a message.
We have to let the message 
"about Christ" be what fills us.

Do everything as a representative of the Lord!
Another command.
We are only commanded to do 
that which isn't natural.
Our natural state is self-representation.
These verses command us 
to change our natural orientation.
"It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me."
It is imperative that we live the Word of God.
We have to "put on," "let," and "do"
according to our knowledge of Him.
We must be an accurate representation.
It is the only answer to the devastation
caused by the idolatry of our cultural gods:
pride, power and pleasure.
These ancient gods continue to bring
emptiness, perversion and hopelessness
to those who worship at their thrones.
We confront them by allowing His light
to shine in the darkness.
To be an authentic representation,
we have to live His message.
Father, would Your grace flood me 
that I might live this life in to bring You glory.
Help me to change my natural orientation today
and live according to Your commands.
It is through Christ;
it is for Christ.
It is the highest privilege.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grace and Mercy

"Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly 
draw near to the throne of grace, 
that we may receive mercy for our failures 
and find grace to help in good time for every need, 
appropriate help and well-timed help, 
coming just when we need it."    Hebrews 4
I have this picture over the fireplace in my family room.
When we remodeled about 10 years ago, 
 I wanted red walls.
I saw this picture before we were near finished, 
and I knew it was coming home with me.
The red was the perfect color; 
the picture was the perfect image.
When we are intimate with Jesus, 
mercy and grace shelter us from the storms of life.
The woman is clueless 
that the rain and wind blow about her.
She is in the arms of the one she loves, 
and all is well.
When we draw near to Jesus,  
there is mercy for our failures and grace for every need--
appropriate help just when we need it.
I look at this picture every day.
Fairly confident the artist did not have this in mind
when he painted it. He calls it "whimsical."
But to me, it is a constant reminder
that every day, 
grace and mercy are my well-timed help.
I need them all day long.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Stop Short

Patient endurance is what you need now, 
so that you will continue to do God’s will. 
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:35

Yesterday I went out for a run.
It was one of those Seattle sun days and 
it was the middle of the afternoon, and it was hot.
I was on the last stretch of the run, 
going up the eternal hill by Bothell Home Depot.
When I am really dragging, I will run 
to the second driveway up the hill 
and walk for just a bit.
I was really hot and I came to the first driveway.
Thought to myself, 
"It's a driveway. Good enough."
The Lord said to me, 
"That is not the second driveway."
Oh dear. 
I wanted to argue just a bit. It was really hot. 
It looked just like the other one.
"If you stop here, you will go home 
knowing you stopped short. 
The second driveway."
I knew we were talking principle here;
I put my head down and kept running.
"Never stop short of where I ask you to go
or what I ask you to do. 
No matter how small it seems to you.
It has to be the ending I show you.
The last push is almost always costly.
It is not over until I say it's over."
So many applications for this--
I can't stop short of getting the complete victory.
I can't stop when it looks good enough, 
"kind of" what I was going for. 
Like the first driveway.
He wants me to keep fighting until it really is
complete victory and He tells me to stop.
I need patient endurance 
so that I continue to do His will.
That second driveway. 
It really was not all that far away.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eternal Denial

If any man would come after Me, 
let Him deny himself. 
Luke 9:23
True victory over our "selves" 
is the victory of Christ in us.
It is the glorifying in our weakness
and crying out for His strength to 
fill that place.
It is not a striving of self,
which produces self-satisfaction,
but an obedience of will,
which produces peace.
"God's eternal denial of Himself,
revealed in Christ--
who for our sakes in the flesh
took up His cross daily--
will be developed in man.
Man's eternal rejoicing will be in God,
and in his fellows, before whom he will cast
his glad self to be a carpet for their walk, 
a footstool for their rest,
a stair for their climbing."
George MacDonald
God's eternal denial of Himself,
His willingness to suffer and hold nothing back,
is revealed in His Son.
The denial of self, the willingness to suffer
(for us, often our flesh feeling the pain 
of being told "no" )
and reconciling the cost to be everything...
these are the grand principles of a life hidden in Christ.
And the ones we are continually being tested and tried
that we would come forth as gold.

May God grant me the grace
to deny the demanding, pitiful form of all life
outside of Christ.
Because in all its deceptive appearances,
there is no real life outside of His.
He came that we would have life
and have it abundantly.
It is His life,
the victory of Christ in us.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Want to be True

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, 
Psalm 51:6

Truth in my innermost being
means that my actions line up with my beliefs--
and I am at peace because I am true.
Each day is an opportunity to see how far apart
my faith and deeds can be.
I can give way to fear, doubt, resignation, 
or whatever comes along,
despite all the Lord has shown me 
and all I claim to know.  But grace. 
I want to be true. I want to walk in integrity--
the unity of thought and deed.
He is so faithful to show me where I am divided 
so that I can repent and cry out for even greater grace.

To love the truth is a far greater thing than to know it--
act-truth as opposed to fact-truth.
A man may delight in the vision and glory of a truth, 
and not himself be true.
The man whose vision may be weak, but who,
as far as he sees, does the thing he sees,
is a true man.
George MacDonald
It matters little if I know truth or speak truth;
if I don't live truth, I live a lie.
Father wants honesty and truth in my innermost being.
And He gives me the privilege of crying out 
for His grace and mercy
that I might become more like Him.
As I obey His voice as it comes to me today,
my integrity increases. 
My thoughts and deeds become more united.
Jesus, I want to see Your face and hear Your voice today.
You desire truth in my innermost being,
I have to want what You want. 
I want to be true.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wells of Goodness

What makes the desert beautiful 
is that somewhere it hides a well. 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Poetic truth is beautiful; 
it leads me to the echo in the Word 
that I might go there and sit a while.
These lines remind me today that He is good,
and I can find springs of His goodness where ever I am.
The LORD will guide you continually, 
giving you water when you are dry 
and restoring your strength. 
You will be like an ever-flowing spring. 
Isaiah 58:11

His promises are His wells of goodness.
He has given me many words to stand on,
and when I don't know which way to turn, 
I go to one of His promises
and I stay there until I am filled with faith.
The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Isaiah 35:7
Lord, Your presence satisfies where ever I am.
The desert is a beautiful place 
because I find You there.
You remind me that I am filled with springs of living water 
because I am a carrier of Your presence.
When I feel shallow and empty, 
You always lead me into the depths of Your love
and bring peace to my anxious heart.
Your promises are always yes and amen.
I sit at these wells of Your goodness; 
I find You here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Will Find Rest

Come to me, all of you who are weary
 and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, 
because I am humble and gentle at heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy to bear, 
and the burden I give you is light.
Matthew 11

Daily I need to come that He might give.
Every time my soul picks up a burden,
it becomes heavy.
Every time I allow my flesh to rule,
it makes me weary.
The command is to "come" that He might "give" rest.
This is a rest that we have nothing to do with.
He gives; we receive.

Every moment holds rest.
This is the revelation I have to live in.
It is after I receive His rest 
that I take His yoke and find rest for my soul.
There really are only two choices:
the yoke of oppression or the yoke of His love.
It is not just about my being in a yoke;
it is about my being in the right yoke.
I can so easily go through my day feeling heavy,
the enemy pressing on the yoke
until it becomes more than I can bear.
I become overwhelmed. Again.
Definitely not the right yoke.
Jesus tells me to come to Him, to His heart, 
and receive His crazy free gift of rest.

This Scripture talks about two rests:
the one He gives and the one we find.
We cannot find our rest without receiving His.
With His yoke in place, I work with His strength.
The rest that He gives isn't for idle living.
It is for living a life of purpose. His purpose.

Today, NOW, I receive Your rest, Lord,
and I take the yoke You give me to bear. 
I recline on Your promise
that You give true rest to all who will come.
It is a confident, faith-filled, triumphant rest.
And I believe it is mine.
It is for Your glory.