Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30,000 PROMISES

There are said to be thirty thousand promises made
 to the child of God, but they are of no more value 
to us than statements in the newspaper if we 
do not personally appropriate them.
J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Maturity

PROMISE #1

I came across this sentence about two weeks ago and it has resurfaced in my thoughts again and again.  Yesterday I calculated that if I found 4.5 promises every single day I could find all 30,000 if I lived to be 80 years old.  

How many promises support our lives every single day?  I don't know the number, but wouldn't be surprised if it were in the hundreds.

Promises that reveal God's:
  • PERSON
  • PLAN
  • PRESENCE
  • POWER
  • PROVISION
  • PURPOSES
  • PROTECTION
  • PATIENCE
There are literally thousands of promises that reveal His NATURE, LOVE, GRACE, MERCY, and FORGIVENESS.

We, His children by faith, are supported and graced by the promises God has given us.

Every day I want to find as many promises as possible. 
I believe my faith will grow and be strengthened by these promises.
I want to thank God for them and share them with you.

PROMISE #2


PROMISE #3
PROMISE #4
PROMISE #5

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
2 Peter 1:3-5

Being a Christian in this world isn't easy.  
I know I need constant reminding of God's love for me.  I blow it so often that I am fed up with myself and 'feel' that God must be as well.  But, when I turn to the word I find that 'He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness'.  Another truth that cheers me is this:  He knows our frame, that we are just dust.
His expectations were more reasonable than mine given His more realistic understanding of me!

In her little gem of a book on Ephesians Ruth Paxson divides the great Epistle to the Ephesians into three categories:  
The Wealth of the Christian
The Walk of the Christian
The Warfare of the Christian

This list of PROMISES falls under the first, The Wealth of the Christian.
Speaking of the WEALTH she describes it in terms of a bank account saying,
"He has placed a deposit for us in Christ of unsearchable riches that can be drawn upon according to our need and our desire".

Think of His promises as spiritual currency.  
He has filled the Scriptures with the resources He knew we would need.
Let's not live in need when all we require for life and godliness is found in these great and precious promises.

http://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Walk-Warfare-Christian-ebook/dp/B006FOUPAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375127542&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Wealth+Walk+and+Warfare+of+the+Christian


The most important promise to me was the promise of eternal life.  
I found peace with God through His Son Jesus Christ.  I read John 3:16 and faith entered my heart.  I have sinned, but Jesus paid the penalty for my sin and gave me eternal life.

I'm not special.  He wants to do that for everyone who will believe.
If you wonder about life after death, and especially about your own life after death, I want to encourage you to read the Bible.  Start with the Gospel of John.  You'll find the truth about God and about yourself.  That's the truth that sets us free!

I may not live to be 80, so if you'd like to add your promises to the list post them in the comment section.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

THE POWER OF GOD

An Everyday Cross



1 Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The cross.  
What comes to mind when you think of the cross?
Jesus.

How about ourselves?
Do we ever think of ourselves in connection with the cross?

This verse in 1 Corinthians made me think about this today:

In what way is the cross the power of God in my life?


“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”

The cross is the beginning of salvation and new life in Christ.
But God intends that the cross be His power in our lives.

What does that look like on a daily basis?
As I thought about that I remembered something I'd read once in a Tozer book.
You know how a thought just kind of hangs out on the edge of memory, but you can't really get your hands on it?

So I dug out the Tozer books and voila---there it was in The Pursuit of God.
In chapter 3, Removing the Veil, Tozer says,
"It is never fun to die.  To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful.  Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free."

His prayer at the end of the chapter includes this request,

"Show us how to die that we may rise again in newness of life.  Rend the veil of self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple.  We would draw near in full assurance of faith.  We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there."

The cross is never the end.  
It's the beginning of new life.

Jesus endure it looking forward to the joy that was set before him.

What joy is before you?
What part of self stands between you and that joy?

Let the cross be the power of God in your life that moves you past self and on toward joy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A HEART CHECK-UP

A DIVIDED HEART




What's going on in your heart today?

One of the many benefits of a Quiet Time, or a Morning Devotion, is the opportunity it gives us to hear from God about our heart condition.  According to Paul, all of us suffer from Chronic Heart Disease (Romans 7:23).  As Christians we are each a new creation in Christ, but we still live in an earthly body and are subject to the influences of our fallen nature---which Paul calls, the OLD MAN.


This morning I was slogging through Hosea 9-11 in my daily reading.  
It's a little depressing reading about the spiritual failures, the whorings, of Israel that resulted in their captivity and ruin.
BUT---it is also instructive.

Proverbs 4:23 has some excellent advice for each of us:
 Keep your heart with all vigilance,  for from it flow the springs of life.


When the Bible talks about our hearts it doesn't mean the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies.  It means that part of us that is the repository of our thoughts, affections, and volition (our will---the part of us that makes choices). 

Vigilant means, keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
So Proverbs is telling us to be vigilant about all that influences our thoughts, our affections, and our choices.

Here's a little section from my reading this morning:

Israel empties his vine;

He brings forth fruit for himself.
According to the multitude of his fruit
He has increased the altars;
According to the bounty of his land
They have embellished his sacred pillars.
 
Their heart is divided;
Now they are held guilty.
He will break down their altars;
He will ruin their sacred pillars.
Hosea 10:1-2

'Their heart is divided' sent up a red flag.  
That's the point of real spiritual danger for you and for me.

This world---it's philosophy and it's temptations will always be appealing to our OLD MAN.   

Israel's downfall can be traced back to greed.  
They weren't satisfied with what God had given.  
They began to worship the idols of those around them who prospered.
God said they had gone after gain on every threshing floor.  

We know from the story of the Temptation of Christ that Satan has control over worldly prosperity and success and can give it to those he chooses.

The ease of prosperity and the seductive power of man's approval are just so attractive to our OLD MAN. 
It's the stuff his dreams are made of.

Jesus gave us a little advice about our hearts in Matthew 6:21-22
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine 
eye be singlethy whole body shall be full of light.

The idea of a single as used here is also undivided.
Having just one thing in view.
Having your eyes on just one thing.
A single focus

Elijah pointed out their heart problems to the people of Israel when he had the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.


1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

  • A single focus
  • A solid choice
  • An undivided heart

Every morning you and I get a chance to answer.
Every morning we get a chance to tell God He's the one we believe.
He's the one we choose.
He's the one we love.

Every morning we have a chance to let God search our hearts and know our anxious thoughts and see if there's any wicked way in us---and lead us in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24


You and I made a choice, maybe long ago, to turn away from the stuff of the world and follow Jesus.  Sometimes, though,  we look back and see little parts of that life through rose colored glasses.  We rewrite our own history and edit out the unwanted portions all the while clinging to things that we once decided to forsake.

Two things come to mind this morning:

  1. Remember Lot's wife.  This woman will forever stand as the example of one rescued by God's grace who just couldn't let go of the desire for her old life.
  2. The invitation from the Lover of our souls.  My beloved spoke, and said to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  Song of Solomon 2:10











Saturday, July 20, 2013

PARENTS AS TEACHERS

COMING SOON


Recently I've spent some time with my daughter and other Moms who HOMESCHOOL. 
I admit I've had mixed feelings about Homeschooling.  

Here's a short list of my previous concerns:
  • Could or would kids learn from Mom or Dad as well as from a Teacher in a classroom setting?
  •  Are they receiving competent instruction from current curriculum.  In other words,  is this really an equivalent education?  Or, will they be unprepared for high school or college level work?
  • Will the child strive to excel without any 'competition' with classmates, stars on charts, and recognition from their peers?
  • What about socialization and learning to get along with others?
There are several Teachers among this group of Moms.  
I know one who has a few of the questions I have had, but two others, who both homeschool, have given me lots of reason to believe that homeschooling can be very advantageous for kids.  For many parents the primary motivation to Homeschool has been shielding their kids from the corrupting influences that seem to be increasing daily in American culture.  

Years ago in a discussion with new parents a Lay Minister, who happened to be a College Professor and Guidance Counselor, made this observation, "You want to be clear about your intention as parents.  You want to remember that you are trying to raise INSULATED kids---not ISOLATED kids.  Give them what they need to see and perceive the world through the prism of Christian Faith.  Don't make them afraid, just equip them to see things as God does and make decisions that are run through the filter of God's revealed truth".

WOW!

That advice is more timely than it was 40 years ago when I first heard it.

So let's look at the potential UPSIDE of HOMESCHOOLING

  • As a Parent Teacher you know what your child is learning at school.  This means you can find lots of ways to talk about it during non-school hours.  Fractions are useful in cooking.  Geography in planning a vacation or praying for Missions.  Reinforcement increases learning and retention.
  • Theoretically you will have more time for extra-curricular activities like Music and the Arts.  These have both been cut from most Public schools due to time and budgetary pressures.
  • You can join with other parents in a co-op for specific subjects and your kids get the benefit of friends and another parent's teaching skills and style.
  • You are much more involved with your child throughout the day and this gives you an opportunity to teach character development almost continually.  Study habits, personal discipline and time management skills can be applied to school work as well as chores.  
  • You will see your child's academic and personal strengths and weaknesses.  This gives you a clear advantage as a parent.  You are in a position to 'personalize' instruction to help you child master subject matter or personal character issues.
  • Your child can move at a completely personalized pace.
  • If you manage your time well and choose curriculum wisely  you may have enough time in the school year to expose your children to a much broader scope of subjects that are personally interesting to them. 

God obviously thought parents were qualified to teach about the most important subject of all.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

So I'm adding my SUPPORT to the efforts of those parents I know who are  HOMESCHOOLING by praying for them.  
It's an epic undertaking, like all parenting, but the results can be life-changing for the parents and the kids. 


What are your feelings about HOMESCHOOL?
What do you see as benefits or possible disadvantages?




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NO ONE ALIVE WHO IS YOUER THAN YOU

How much time do you waste thinking thoughts you know can't be true?


But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves 
with one another, they are without understanding.  
2 Corinthians 10:12

If we were together having tea this morning I would ask you, "does God love you?".  
And because you're a Christian and you know your Bible, you'd say, "Yes".

But this morning that very thought came to me with a deeply peaceful and liberating strength.
God does love me.
I am His much loved child.
Am I perfect?
No, not even close.
Is that a problem for God?  
Does it frustrate and limit His love for me?
No it does not.
He made me as I am.
Unique.  
One of a kind.
He's not into mass production.
Every one of us is a divinely designed and handmade original.

Whatever my failings, my inadequacies, my limitations, they are known to God.
Yet, He has a plan for my life that He is able to carry out by His own resources, His own abilities, and His own unlimited wisdom, power, and strength.

After Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus God spoke to a disciple named Ananias and gave him a job to do.  He was reluctant, but God urged him on to his mission. 

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
Acts 9:15-16

I'll bet you haven't wasted a day, not a moment, wondering why you don't measure up to Paul.  
Why your ministry and gifts aren't just like his.

Why is that?  
Because you get that Paul had a special unique calling on his life.  
God had chosen him and designed him for the job.

So why do you compare yourself to others?  The other Moms you know at church.  The other wives you see at Soccer practice.  The nurse who's in charge of your floor at the hospital.  That woman walking in front of you in the Grocery Store.  

Two Reasons:
  • You don't know her unique calling.  That thing God is planning on doing through her life, and her life only.
  • You've taken your eyes off Jesus. There is only one person by whom we can ever measure ourselves.  Becoming like Jesus is the goal of the Christian life.  
The urge to compare usually springs from our insecurities, or oddly enough, from our pride.  Think of the Pharisee praying next to the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

Conviction of sin and insecurities are not the same thing.
One is clear and concise because it's a call to repentance and renewed fellowship with God.
The other is vague and generalized and its author is your adversary. 
He'd like nothing better than for you to spend your time focused on yourself.
Or on others, but not in a good way.  Not in a, "how can I serve her, how can I encourage her?" sort of way.  
He's happy if our focus is, ' how can I be more like her and less like me'.
He's happy as long as my focus isn't Jesus.

Take some time today to thank God for His unique design of you.  
Jesus shines through you in a way He couldn't through anyone else.  
Don't waste time critiquing His creation and comparing it to others He made.
Gaze more on Him and less on yourself.

And above all, think on His love for you.




"Today you are You, that is truer than true.  
There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Dr. Seuss







Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Getting Out of the Self-Help Aisle

Before Borders broke my heart and went out of business I used to happily wander through the Literature aisle, the Fiction aisle, and my very favorite, the Self-Help aisle.

Self-Help.  As if.
Read a book and change your life.
I wish it were that easy.
I wish it were that easy for each of us to just identify the habit, thought, or event that triggers the train wreck before it happens and then change it.

I'm trying to organize my Home Office.
So now you know one of my areas of weakness.
I have a little OCD and a streak of perfectionism that makes me want to collect and hold on to any and all information that might be useful in the future.

Sound like conflicting traits right?
They are.
One motivates me to research EVERYTHING to death and curate all I find.
And then my OCD kicks in and I go crazy trying to categorize, organize, and Dewey-decimalize it all so it's easy to access and neatly hidden away in the file cabinet.

Simply put---never gonna happen. 


You'll Find it Under Self-Help
Photo © 2013 Kelly Grace
I've been cleaning and organizing bookshelves. 
 A few of these are business or writing books, but more than a few are Self-Help titles.
My favorite is the bright yellow one entitled:  59 seconds---Change Your Life in Under a Minute.

Really?

Let me tell you a story of change that took less than a minute.

When I was a young mother with toddlers I was also a young Christian.  One morning things got out of hand at the breakfast table and ended in a huge mess that covered the dining table, chairs, and floor.  Bowls of cereal, glasses of milk and juice (there were no Sippy Cups back then), and plates of scrambled eggs all oozed together across the table like a mud slide and then cascaded over the edge like Niagara Falls.

Have you ever wished for a rewind button in life?
I snapped.
In a fit of rage I slammed the kitchen cabinet and the door bounced back and hit me in the forehead.
The sharp edge of the corner made deep impact.
It drew blood and hurt more than anything I'd experienced other than childbirth.

And in that moment the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, spoke to me.
" Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools".

Comfort?
Actually yes.

That moment, less than 59 seconds, was the catalyst for some needed change.
I began that very morning studying all the scriptures about fools and anger.
It took me a week with my old green Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, but I finally wrapped my head and heart around what God thought about anger.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Photo © 2013 Kelly Grace
And through the years when I get angry---even if no one else knows I'm about to lose it---I find those verses coming back to faithfully CURB my response.

I've come to love and appreciate Ephesians 4:26.
Be angry and sin not:  don't let the sun go down upon your wrath.
I can have the physiological response of anger, yet not give in to the temptation to respond in word or deed.

Am I sinless in this area now?  No.  But, I have been taught by God.  
His word showed me the reality of my foolishness.
He taught me that control is not only possible, but required.
His take on my anger and outbursts has informed my thinking and my actions.

There are no short cuts and instant cures, but there is divine transformation.
God is completely on board with our becoming more like Christ.
Whatever your own area of weakness, I guarantee you that God has a remedy.
Your job is to find it.
Do you really want to change?
Do you really want what Christians of old called victory over sin?

  • Give your 'weakness' a name and look it up.  You'll find out what God has to say about it and that truth will become the agent of transformation in your life.
  • We only commit the sins we love.  The secret is to learn how to change our minds about our sin.
  • Change your mind and your thoughts and behaviors will follow like sheep.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Peter 1:3-4
. . .as His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to glory and virtue:  whereby are given unto us great and precious promises:  that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

If you know Jesus, you have all you need to change.
His Holy Spirit indwells you and talks to you about your sin.
His word enlightens you and instructs you about how to stop sinning and have a godly response instead.

Ask God to show you where to begin.
The goal isn't perfection.
The goal is growth toward maturity in Christ.
The goal is to be pleasing to God as we carry His love and message to our own little sphere of humanity.
The goal is to be more like Jesus with every passing day.














Sunday, July 7, 2013

School for Sinners


Vermont Countryside
Photo © 2007 Kelly Grace
Psalm 25:4-10

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
 He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

School is always in session for the Christian.  Paul said so.
 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

God Himself is the teacher.
He designed the course and wants to personally help you to master the content.


Lesson #1
Do you want more answers to prayer?
Then ask God to do the things you already know He wants to do in your life.
He wants to help you know His ways.
He wants to teach you how to stay on His chosen paths.
It all begins with being schooled in His truth.

I didn't think David had much to regret about his youth, but he still asks God to remember to be merciful and loving and to please forget the sins of his youth.
For me personally I'd add, oh yeah, while you're at it, forget the sins of all the days since my youth too!
Hallelujah, in Jesus our sins are forgiven and forgotten.
He remembers them no more.
Now if I could just do the same.
Did you ever have an awesome teacher?                                                                                   

  • The kind that has a comprehensive grasp of all the course content and a burning passion to impart it to others?  
  • Possessing superb communication skills and a genuine care for His students. 
  • Willing to take all the time you required to master the lesson.
What better teacher of the Christian Life Course than God Himself?

Lesson #2
What kind of student gets the most out of class?
The one who is teachable.
The one who knows that the teacher knows more than she does.
Meek=marked by modesty, not arrogant or prideful.  Also showing patience, humility, and compliance.

Lesson #3
You'll be tested on all the material.
Every Quiz is a Pop-Quiz.  You won't know it's coming until it's on your desk.
Every test is OPEN BOOK.  You just have to keep the text close at hand.
You can repeat each lesson as often as you like.  Or need.
Your teacher is always available for one on one tutorials.