Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time For God

Smart phones are quite complex. We can send and receive emails, text, pictures, tweets, work on our calendars, to do lists, and more all while playing games and paying attention to the latest comments in the social media such as Facebook. Is it any wonder that many people have a hard time sitting down and getting quiet before God? The potential for distractions is huge in all areas of our lives. For me, even simple sounds like a button hitting the side of a clothes dryer can affect my thought processes.

While all of these are excuses, none of them are valid reasons for neglecting spending time with God. In the busyness of our days maybe we should not only look for those times that work best and those places that are most suited, but we should even go so far as to determine in advance that we will take advantage of them. Whether that is taking extra time before you ever put a foot on the ground in order to spend time waking up with God, worshiping Him for who He is, thanking Him for what He has done, and bringing those people and issues that are on our heart before Him, and submitting even what lies ahead in our day to His sovereign direction.

Then we can set aside some time to spend in His word. Some days it may be a brief devotional which we meditate on throughout the day. Other times it is a lengthier reading and time of consideration of His word. We all enjoy snacks, but the meals are really what are intended to keep us going. Spending time in God’s word and talking with Him about it as we read and consider it is essential to our spiritual growth and health and even to discerning His direction for our lives. For as we read about Him and who He is, of how He moved in one person or how He moves in general, then we grow in our trust and we can ask Him how He would want us to respond to the issues in our lives.

And as we move through the day and thoughts pop into our minds or things tug on our hearts, do we take them to Him even if briefly to praise Him and even ask for help or wisdom or right words? As we encounter others, whether they are Christians or not, do we bring them before God and seek His leading for how we engage with them? This might mean giving a hand or speaking encouraging words to one who is struggling, sharing the good news of salvation in Christ to someone who doesn’t know him, praying and/or studying the word with another believer and especially those who are close to you. The options are unlimited.

And then as we go to bed do we spend time with Him reflecting on the day just passed and thanking Him for His goodness and His faithfulness throughout it.

Sarah talks a lot about the Presence of God in her devotional, and moving through our days in this way is an example of how we can live in His Presence. Today she talks about not being rushed. A key part of this is re-prioritizing our relationships, and making sure that God is central to all of them. But beyond that it is purposely setting time aside to spend with Him.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/30)

Time with Me cannot be rushed. When you are in a hurry, your mind flitters back and forth between Me and the tasks ahead of you. Push back the demands pressing in on you; create a safe space around you, a haven in which you can rest with Me. I also desire this time of focused attention and I use it to bless you, strengthening and equipping you for the day ahead. Thus, spending time with Me is a wise investment.

Bring Me the sacrifice of your precious time. This creates a space around you – space permeated with My Presence and My Peace.

Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. Psalm 119:27

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sent To Share

There is absolutely nothing in this world so significant that it supersedes the fact that our Creator God has personally reached into our lives and given us new life, that our Sustainer God is continually working to make it so that we can stand in the midst of any circumstance, and that our Healer God has committed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to renew us to the image of Christ and to lead us into eternal perfection.

Our God does not go on vacation. He is not fickle. He is not impotent. He is the all-powerful, all-seeing, everywhere present, always in control, compassionate, merciful, long-suffering, just and loving God (the list could go on and on) who has made Himself known to us. He encloses us before and behind. He holds us with His strong right hand, and He is intimately acquainted with absolutely every big and little thing about us (Psalm 139). This is the God who we are to look to for everything, and He absolutely will not fail.

So, while the world wishes things would get better and tries as best it can to put in place policies or humanitarian efforts, the end result might only be making eternal death a little less painful to approach. As children of this most incredible God we have real hope, a hope that we can share and a hope that when we engage maybe in those same activities that the world does that we can do so pointing people to the God who cares deeply and has the power to do something about their deepest needs. This is real hope, and it is not limited to us who already know.

In our mid-week Romans class we worked our way into Romans chapter 10 where last week we look at what one must do to be saved, which is really very simple. Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Many children’s ministry programs use the ABC’s to talk about salvation where “A” is admitting that we need God’s help and that we have sinned against Him, “B” is believing that Jesus is who he claims to be and that He indeed did die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day bringing to us new life. And “C” says that we confess or call on Him with our mouths, which really means we talk to God and simply ask Him to do what He said He would do. To this Romans 10:13 says, for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It’s really that simple, as simple as A,B, C. We also read in Scripture that this faith that it takes to believe is itself a gift that God gives us (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But, as we are looking at this week, there is a hitch. And that hitch is getting those who need to know the information. In Romans 10:14-15 Paul asks, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” These are some important questions, and before we scramble searching out for one of those sent ones, we should also know that we are them. In Acts 1:8 we read, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Then in Acts 8 we read of the persecution of the early church leading to the believers being scattered everywhere. Of them verse 4 says, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

We live scattered all over our world and all around us are people who we can share the good news of Jesus with, realizing that it is God who does the work in their hearts. I learned a definition of witnessing a years ago in college when I was involved with Campus Crusade. It goes like this, “Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”

Monday, May 27, 2013

Clothe Yourself With Christ

Today Sarah writes about putting on Christ. There is much said in Scripture about being clothed in righteousness and putting on that which is indicative of our living in a relationship with Jesus.  In John 15:4-5 we read, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

This is really what “putting on” is all about; living in constant dependence on Him with a constant awareness of His presence, His lordship in our lives, and His direction for our steps. In Ephesians 4:22-24 we are told to put off old things in lieu of the new as we come to understand God’s truth and His direction for our lives. In Ephesians 6:10-18 we are told to put on the full armor of God (Jesus Christ) so that we will be able to stand firm, realizing that our ability to live victoriously rests fully in being dressed and equipped fully in Christ and His Word.

In Galatians 3:27 we are told that if we have been baptized into Christ (saved) that we indeed have clothed ourselves with Christ. In Luke 24:49 we even read the instruction of Christ for his followers to remain until they are clothed with power from on high (the Holy Spirit), and in Galatians 5:16 we are told that if we walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the desires of the flesh. And this clothing we also read will keep us sealed (Ephesians 1:13) until such time that we are clothed with our building made in eternal in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

Scripture is rich with teaching concerning our relationship with Christ, the constant working of the Spirit, and the power of the Word. Integral to all of these passages is how we walk in dependence on Him. It is here that we find fullness, direction, blessing, and even reward. It is here that we are pleasing to our God who gives us so much. One of my favorite passages describing this relationship and how this abiding relationship works its way out in our lives is Colossians 3:9-17:

Colossians 3:9-17 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/27)

Seek My face at the beginning of your day. This practice enables you to “put Me on” and “wear Me” throughout the day. Most people put on clothes soon after arising from bed. Similarly, the sooner you “put Me on” by communicating with Me, the better prepared you are for whatever comes your way.

To “wear Me” is essentially to have My mind: to think My thoughts. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your thinking; be transformed by this renewal within you. Thus you are well equipped to face whatever people and situations I bring your way. Clothing your mind in Me is your best preparation for each day. This discipline brings Joy and Peace to you and those around you.

When You said, “seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Untangled Knots

I use Dragon Speaking talk to text for some of my typing, and when I was speaking today’s reading from Sarah Young and got to Psalm 34:19 this is what I got, “The righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from THE MALL.” (emphasis added to show typing variation)

The world we live in has so much going on and there are so many pressures pushing in and there are even our desires grasping out. In all of them there is a great potential for becoming anxious. Whether it is wanting to do something and being unable, or not wanting something but being required to deal with it. There are plenty of times in all of our lives when ability and opportunity don’t come together, just as there are times that permissibility may not match with right or best.

Today Sarah writes about how all of this stuff can tie us into anxious knots, and how we need to bring all of these things to God and surrender them to Him as He gives us the ability to endure, respond, make choices, and rest.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/25)

The world is too much with you, My child. Your mind leaps from problem to problem tangling your thoughts in anxious knots. When you think like that, you leave Me out of your world-view and your mind becomes darkened. Though I yearn to help, I will not violate your freedom. I stand silently in the background of your mind, waiting for you to remember that I am with you.

When you turn from your problems to My Presence, your load is immediately lighter. Circumstances may change, but we carry your burdens together. Your compulsion to “fix” everything gives way to deep, satisfying connection with Me. Together we can handle whatever this day brings.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:7

The righteous man may have any troubles, BUT THE LORD delivers him from them all. (emphasis added) Psalm 34:19

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Joy Of New Life

Today our third grandchild, a third granddaughter, is being born 300 miles away, and while we can’t be there in person we know that our God is. This is an amazing thing. Yes, the birth of a new child is indeed an amazing thing brought with great joy. But it is more amazing to know that our God who created man and woman and who intended them to come together and add to those numbers is the God who is present with us in the process and whose strong hands are wrapped around the parents and the precious new baby.

Sarah writes about that extra spiritual dimension that goes beyond our three dimensions of space and the fourth of time. In this spiritual dimension we have a relationship with the God who created time. It is also in this spiritual dimension that our God can be fully with us here in Grants Pass while He is fully present in Longview, Washington. We look forward in hopeful anticipation of holding this little girl, and being able to do this is itself governed by us being in the same place at some point in time. This is the way it is because our God created us in time and space, while Himself abides outside of it.

But when we needed His great help He sent His Son into these dimensions to also be born as a baby, raised as a son, grown into a man, and die as our Savior. But it didn’t end at the cross, because in laying down His life for our sins He also took it up again on the third day, and with that we also have been assured of eternal life. Yet while we await eternity and joining His presence, He asked the Father to send another – the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and actively participate in our growth and our relationship with our God whom we cannot see.

As parents await the birth of their child and to see his or her precious little face and hold that wonderful little life, so we as those who have believed in Jesus Christ for our salvation await that day when we shall see Him face to face and enjoy Him forever.

New life is an incredible gift from God, both the new life of a child and the new life that comes from knowing God. And this knowing happens in a dimension that we largely can’t touch. Just as parents in their spirits experience this great joy, so we in His Spirit can know our God. This extra dimension which we can’t measure or touch is the one that touches us most.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/24)

Bring Me your mind for rest and renewal. Let Me infuse My Presence into your thoughts. As your mind stops racing, your body relaxes and you regain awareness of Me. This awareness is vital to your spiritual well-being; it is your lifeline, spiritually speaking.

There are actually more than four dimensions in this world where you live. In addition to the three dimensions of space and one of time, there is the dimension of openness to My Presence. This dimension transcends the others, giving you glimpses of heaven while you still reside on earth. This was part of My original design for mankind. Adam and Eve used to walk with Me in the garden, before their expulsion from Eden. I want you to walk with Me in the garden of your heart, where I have taken up permanent residence.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

Blessed are those who have learned to a acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. Psalm 89:15

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hope In Our God Who Doesn't Change

All day I have been awaiting the result of a vote at the national membership meeting of the Boy Scouts of America where they were deciding on a new policy for membership opening the doors to openly homosexual youth. They claim that it is only about the boys, but most reasonably informed individuals know that this is only a first step in opening membership to leadership as well. This is something which some on the executive board tried to accomplish earlier in the year but were unable to bring to pass. This time it won't happen by board action or even a vote, but by the hands of a judge.

I've been a part of Scouting for nearly thirty years as they stood for values that paralleled those I found in Scripture. Though many of the units are chartered by churches, Scouting itself is not a Christian organization, but rather one has held that one must merely have some belief in God. As we know there are many who profess to believe in God, but who live as if He doesn't exist or as if what He says in His word is only advisory at best. For them, right is what they determine in their own eyes, and from them we should not be surprised by the vote today which changed Scouting in the most radical of ways. 

As a result of this vote there are some who are coming together to consider forming a new organization which more tightly defines and controls its values, one for which faith in God is not a thing but a reality. There are others who are seeking legal means to protect their beliefs and their charter organizations, yet remain with Scouting. For us, today’s vote, short of a major development, will likely lead to our stepping away by the end of this year. Going to a meeting tonight and seeing the excitement in the boys, yet knowing what is going on at the core of Scouting has made this a very difficult thing for us to watch, but God...

Today Sarah writes about hidden treasures in our day, some of which are intended to shake us free of things and some which are intended to bring joy by their sheer presence. This change to Scouting is one that is a trial in which many will have to kneel before God and ask how He would want them to move forward. But regardless of what happens to Scouting nothing has happened to our God, His Truth, and His Plans. Scouting is not my life, but merely an opportunity to be used by Him to build into others. And if not Scouting, then I know He has something even better.

In this people can become greatly distressed and panic or they can go before God and find hope. The same is true for anything that we are a part of or which we treasure. When those things become so big that changing them rocks our world, then we need to step back and refocus on those things in light of our God. Yesterday I used the word “ominous” when referring to those things of the world pressing in. A friend of mine told me that reading it sent him on a nice journey as he reflected on his omini-God. Here is what he had to say: “It took me to 4 ominis: His omini presence, potency, science and loving. You put those all together and they stand up against all of this world’s ominous actions.”

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/23)

Approach each new day with desire to find Me. Before you get out of bed, I have already been working to prepare the path that will get you through this day. There are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way. Some of the treasures are trials, designed to shake you free from earth-shackles. Others are blessings that reveal My Presence: sunshine, flowers, birds, friendships, answered prayer. I have not abandoned this sin-wracked world; I am still richly present in it.

Search for deep treasure as you go through this day. You will find Me all along the way.

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:6

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

From Disappointment To Trust

Robin read “Jesus Calling” to me today, and I acknowledged its message without much comment. Sometimes there is something that speaks in such a way that you just have to step back and think; think of the positive ways in which you have responded to the content and even the times when you've responded not so positively. Not knowing whether or not I would get back to it, I chose to post it earlier without comment. After spending some time meditating on the content and reflecting on God’s strong hand of provision and direction particularly over this past year, but even today, I chose to come back and write something down. 

We all have hopes for how things will go and there are times when those hopes aren't realized exactly as we had envisioned. The problem with this may not be so much that our hopes were wrong or even wrongly placed, but that we look to the future with limited knowledge and even limited control. It is for this reason when we plan that we are to do so with the understanding that God is sovereign over every aspect of our lives and that He will work all things for good for those who love Him and who are seeking after His purposes (Romans 8:28). 

One passage that I've come back to over and over again over my years as a Christian is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” But along with this there are so many other passages which speak of God’s hand and His watch care over us, that when stuff doesn't shape up as I had hope, and I am tempted to get disappointed and down, it is then that I have to purposely choose to refocus on just who My God is and what He has promised He would do. He never promised to make things easy. He did promise to bring me through it, and I must choose to trust Him in this.

At the same time, doing this also frees me to be able to rejoice in seeing His blessings shown of others. Even as we have engaged in the process of seeking a place of ministry this past year I have seen a number of churches make wise choices uniting themselves with wonderful pastors, who along with their families, have been brought together to grow together in His service. It has been a pleasure and even a joy to pray along with them in their searches, and rejoice with them in their conclusions. I can’t deny that I had hoped in many of the instances that I would have been selected, but I also know that my God is the one directing their steps as well as mine, and in that I am content to search and wait on Him.

How are you doing with the situations in your life right now? I know there must be some painful ones and some that seem very ominous. But at the same time I know our God is capable and trustworthy to handle them. Won’t you place them in His hands? After all it is His hands which enclose you before and behind and He is the One who knows absolutely everything about you. 

Psalm 139:1-5 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/22) 

When things don’t go as you would like, accept the situation immediately. If you indulge in feelings of regret, they can easily spill over the line into resentment. Remember that I am sovereign over your circumstances, and humble yourself under My mighty hand. Rejoice in what I’m doing in your life, even though it is beyond your understanding. 

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Me you have everything you need, both for this life and for the life yet to come. Don’t let the impact of the world shatter your thinking or draw you away from focusing on Me. The ultimate challenge is to keep fixing your eyes on Me, no matter what is going on around you. When I am central in your thinking, you are able to view circumstances from My perspective. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he made lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fragile Lives In Tender Hands

This morning many people in the heartland of our country awoke with broken hearts, hearts that were torn over the loss of their home, and hearts that were greatly grieved over the loss of loved ones and particularly so many children. And behind the loss was the terror of the wind against which they were helpless. There are some in this group who will find a deep comfort in knowing that even this terrible wind is not outside of God’s powerful hand, and that even in it He is very present and active.

While we cannot answer why one person dies or loses a home and why another person next to him or her doesn't get hurt or a house a block away isn't destroyed, what we can know is that our God is good and that even this did not happen out of His sovereign control. What we also can know is that God truly is the Creator of all that we see. But what we see is not as He created it. A lot has changed since the garden, from those pesky weeds to and including the changes in our climate following a cataclysmic worldwide flood which changed everything – a flood that was brought about by man’s rebellion.

God has not washed His hands of mankind and his world, but has chosen to work through this broken world to hold it together until such time that He brings a full renewal. In the meantime He saves and protects and it is He that gives us hope. In this we have opportunities to show His compassion and His mercy to those who are suffering. In this we have opportunities to bring aid to those who are needy. In this we can show His great love and even receive His comfort and know His peace.

Today’s devotion from Sarah is about our Creator God who is for us and in whom we trust. While it was not written with her having this specific day in mind or even the intensity of these events, it was written knowing that we all have times of adversity in different ways and in different degrees. It is in these times when our minds are prone to search for solutions and become anxious. But it is also in these times when we can stop and surrender to His hand, His leading, His help, His provision, His comfort, and the hope that comes from Him.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/21)

I, the Creator of the universe, am with you and for you. What more could you need? When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with Me at a deep level. I offer abundant Life; your part is to trust Me, refusing to worry about anything.

It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events. Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the results you desire. Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves. Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do. I am the Lord!

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

But as for me, I watch and hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Monday, May 20, 2013


It’s an amazing thing when you consider before you were ever born that God knew every aspect of your life, including what we might consider the worst of our sins. And yet He with full knowledge chose to send His Son pay the penalty for our sins (all of them) and bring us a full and eternal redemption. All we had to do was believe that Jesus is He that God sent and call upon His name (ask) for our salvation. This salvation is full and complete when it comes to our sins. While there may be consequences to these sins, there will never be a repeated judgment from God. The price was paid in full at the cross by Jesus.

So, when you sin and you realize that sin, turn to God and admit it, even regret it, and thank Him for His forgiveness and commit with Him afresh to walk in full dependence on Him trusting Him to direct your steps. And you know what, when this happens again come to Him again. Realize that there is a real accuser, but that accuser is not God. Rather, sitting at the right hand of God is our Advocate - Jesus Christ. And if you've never asked His forgiveness in the first place, its very easy to do. Just talk to Him about the same things mentioned above and ask. He will give.

This does not mean that we can take obedience callously or carelessly, but realizing that our God has given us a new life which is to be lived in a new way. Scripture tells us when we realize what we are doing to be wrong we are to put it off and then put on that which is right, and see what He does as He conforms us to the image of His beloved Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22-24 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

There are generally two types of places in our houses where we put our clothes. The clean clothes go in one type (dresser, closet, etc.), and the dirty go in another (hamper, laundry room, “floor,” etc.). When you choose to get dressed each day from where are you going to get your clothes to wear?

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/20)

When your sins weigh heavily upon you, come to Me. Confession of wrongdoing, which I know all about before you say a word. Stay in the Light of My Presence, receiving forgiveness, cleansing, and healing. Remember that I have clothed you in My righteousness, so nothing can separate you from Me. Whenever you stumble or fall, I am there to help you up.

Man’s tendency is to hide from his sin, seeking refuge in the darkness. There he indulges in self-pity, denial, self-righteousness, blaming, and hatred. But I am the Light of the world, My illumination decimates the darkness. Come close to Me and let My Light envelop you, driving out darkness and permeating you with Peace.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Like Trees Firmly Planted

Psalm 1:1-3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

This weekend I went on a Scout camp out with my son, Jonny, and had the privilege of seeing his patrol win the overall event competition and the breakfast competition. His troop had not fared well at these camporees in several years, and they were very excited at the campfire last night when they were recognized with both wins. But the competitions were only a part of the program. The campground we were in is a National Forest campground and one where the forest service had done a lot of maintenance on the trees and undergrowth. But with the work also came the need to clean up a lot of the leftover stuff remaining on the ground. It was the task of the various troops there to make the campsites look like campsites again, and all of the units there did an excellent job. Our campsite looked like a series of mounds with little space to pitch a tent, and when we left it was actually one in which we would gladly set up camp.  We left not only very pleased with the boys and their effort, but with the great joy of seeing how well they worked together to accomplish those goals which had been set before them.

Myself, I was afforded a privilege by being asked to bring a Sunday morning message to the units who remained. We started our program with two boys walking in wearing regular clothes and sitting down at the large tree in the front of the chapel area. One of them had a prop which was a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag, and the other a prop of white cardstock rolled like a cigarette with the end rubbed with charcoal for realism. They walked in and sat down and embraced their roles in front of the people who were waiting for the service to begin. Next came a Scout wearing his uniform. At first he walked past the other two boys shaking his head, but then he turned around and came back. As he came back he stood there for a moment rubbing his chin and thinking before again walking off. But he didn’t stay gone long, as he quickly turned around, came back, sat down, and took the fake cigarette looking straight into the eyes of the audience has he pretended a puff. You could hear the gasps from some who were looking on.

Having their attention, we spent the rest of our brief time talking about choices, the choices they made even the day before both in service and in competition, but also the choices they make in life. As a text we looked at Psalm 1:1-3, where in verse one, we have a similar situation as that of introductory drama. But then in verse two we looked at the importance of being guided by God’s Word, and by choice letting His Word shape our lives. As Scouts I also reminded them that much of what shaped our Scouting principles are those things consistent with how the Bible says we should live. But the greatest determinant in our lives of how we should live is found in the Bible. It is here that we learn about God, even about us, and how we are to live before him and others.

Then we moved to verse three, where it speaks of being like a tree firmly planted who does not wither and bears fruit in its season. I shared with them the extreme privilege we have of being able to go out and experience these trees we camped under. But also as we looked off into the mountains we could see trees that did not make it. Whether it was by disease or fire, there is the realization that not all trees make it just as in life neither do all people. Then they were challenged to consider who and what they were going to allow to shape their lives and guide their steps. As for me, I told them that it was going to be God and His words as recorded in the Bible.

Today Sarah writes about our security regardless of our feelings. Feelings can be fleeting and even misleading. As with the young Scout in our drama, he didn’t really stop to think. Worse than that, he had not determined in advance how he was going to walk and to whose voice he was going to listen. As such, the feelings and inclinations of the moment were left to determine his steps and possibly, if reality, even his direction. Our real hope is found in our God, and in the relationship we have with Him because of what His Son did on the cross. In Christ our future is guaranteed and His presence is certain.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/19)

I want you to know how safe and secure you are in My Presence. That is a fact, totally independent of your feelings. You are on your way to heaven; nothing can prevent you from reaching that destination. There you will see Me face to Face, and your Joy will be off the charts by any earthly standards. Even now, you are never separated from Me, though you must see Me through eyes of faith. I will walk with you till the end of time, and onward into eternity.

Although My Presence is a guaranteed promise, that does not necessarily change your feelings. When you forget I am with you, you may experience loneliness or fear. It is through awareness of My Presence that Peace displaces negative feelings. Practice the discipline of walking consciously with Me through each day.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

Friday, May 17, 2013

Security In The Midst Of Change

One of the big tensions (or fears) in leaving a place of security is the potential for insecurity, and the greatest release in returning to a place of security is the realized hope for continued stability. This is how most of us function, or at least think. In this world, especially with families, our interests are divided and we have many concerns.

But GOD. It is in these places of insecurity where we can best realize the security we have in Him. It is living in the reality of His sovereign control, His wise plans, good intentions, and unlimited resources where we safely seek and listen to His direction. Rather than allowing our relative security to drive our decisions, we can truly rely on God’s leading in our lives. It is here that we are freed to risk loss in order to gain His blessings.

Sarah writes today about quietly sitting in the presence of God and considering His vastness as you lay you limited resources before the God of unlimited resources. It was after reading this one year ago, this calendar day, that Robin and I knew that God was changing the direction of our lives and that we could safely step out in it and trust Him. This past year has been quite significant as we have searched and waited on His leading, and we have seen Him do some pretty incredible things. Today we move into this next year knowing that our God is faithful to complete what He starts and that He will indeed supply all of our needs. And this is not just a Burgess household story. It is one told from house to house over the ages as people have seen our God do amazing things in the lives of His children.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/17)

As you sit quietly in My Presence, remember that I am a God of abundance. I will never run out of resources; My capacity to bless you is unlimited. We live in a world of supply and demand, where necessary things are often scarce. Even if you personally have enough, you see poverty in the world around you. It is impossible for you to comprehend the lavishness of My provisions: the fullness of My glorious riches.

Through spending time in My Presence, you getting glimpses of My overflowing vastness. These glimpses are tiny foretaste of what you will experience eternally in heaven. Even now you have access to as much of Me as you have faith to receive. Rejoice in My abundance – living by faith, not by sight

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Courage For The Journey And Strength For Today

Anniversaries of things are strange. Do you remember the calendar day of the year or the day of the week? In looking at the day of the week, this is the anniversary of my starting to read “Jesus Calling.” Relying on the calendar date, it is tomorrow. But that doesn't mean I haven’t read these words before. While I actually started reading on the 17th in the midst of struggling through a season with a very difficult situation and decision, after reading the one for the 17th I wanted to read more. So, rather than reading ahead I read backwards two days. This included yesterday’s reading which spoke of the intensity of spiritual warfare, which God used to speak directly to the intensity of the struggle I had been going through and the accompanying spiritual warfare. And it included today’s (16th), which speaks of two important truths about God.

The first of those two truths, and most important, is that He is my God and His Son, Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life. As such God is totally sovereign over everything and every aspect of my life, and any plan that I might make needs to be subject to His sovereign plan. Everything that presses on my heart and pushes me in a direction needs to be subjected to God’s direction, and as such I needed to be willing to allow Him to change that direction, making sure that I wasn't just running from a difficult situation but that I was truly being led in God’s direction. That was a night that I really did need to let everything else go, and hear from Him.

The second aspect of her writing for the day spoke of God as my friend and the lover of my soul. So often when things are pressing in we can feel as if we are alone, and it was this compassionate reminder of who my God is that brought peace to everything else. It also was an assurance that following His leading would continue to lead to accomplishing His good purposes in my life and even for the protection of and provision for my family. It was and is so important knowing that not only is my God purposeful, but that He is also loving, compassionate, and merciful.

So, this morning, one year later, I listened to a message from Dr. Charles Stanley entitled “The Courage to Keep Going.” There was a lot in it that was very timely and fitting, particularly for today. Among the things he shared was this, “If I’m going to be able to keep on keeping on I’ve got to know that I’m doing what God says do, how God say do it, when God says do it, and where He says do it. I don’t even have to understand why.” Then he quoted Psalm 32:8 which reads, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” And of course, he quoted my favorite, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Our God is so incredible toward us. While He does not make the path easy, He does give us both the strength and the encouragement to walk it with Him as He goes before us and sets our steps.

So, here’s Sarah…

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/16)

I am your Lord! Seek Me as Friend and Lover of your soul, but remember that I am also King of Kings – sovereign over all. You can make some plans as you gaze into the day that stretches out before you. But you need to hold those plans tentatively, anticipating that I may have other ideas. The most important thing to determine is what to do right now. Instead of scanning the horizon of your life, looking for things that need to be done, concentrate on the task before you and the One who never leaves your side. Let everything else fade into the background. This will unclutter your mind, allowing Me to occupy more and more of your consciousness.

Trust Me to show you what to do when you have finished what you are doing now. I will guide you step-by-step, as you bend your will to Mine. Thus you stay close to Me on the path of Peace.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

“…to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:79

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prepared To Stand Firm

Ephesians 6:10-20 is one of those important passages in Scripture that speaks to the issue of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10 tells us Paul’s intention in writing this portion of his letter to the Ephesians, and that is that we might be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. It is so important that we grab hold of this purposeful instruction so that we might more fully understand how the armor he next speaks of works. Paul follows this with three instructions to “stand firm.” He goes on to tell us that our real enemy is not flesh and blood that we can attack him, but unseen and more than willing to come after us.

Paul speaks of six specific pieces of armor, three which are pre-existing of any conflict for the Christian. The first is having girded our loins or having been wrapped in a belt of truth-the unchanging truth upon which everything else hangs. God cannot lie, and all that He has declared is true. Second, he speaks of the breastplate of righteousness – the fact that having placed our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation He has declared us righteous and that is who we forever are. It’s the truth. Third, are the shoes of peace which because of what Christ did for us has made us at peace with God and results in us being able to know His peace even in the midst of the greatest battle. All three of these are written of in the past perfect tense as things which already having been accomplished are still true and effective – done deals. Or, at least done deals for those who have believed and called upon the name of Jesus Christ and received His promised gift of salvation. They are part of the being saved bundle.

Paul then goes on to three pieces which are taken up in the heat of battle, things which are there and present but specially grabbed hold of when things get tough. The first of these is the shield of faith, which Sarah speaks of today. This shield was not a small thing that we swung around in an effort to fend off an attack, but a huge door type shield that we truly could hide behind. And in that way, when we are attacked we hide in the assurance that God will wrap himself around us and take care of us. There is absolutely nothing which can separate us from Him and He has told us to trust Him in this. Taking up the shield of faith is choosing to trust God in those moments when everything else looks too large or imposing.

The second of those items taken up is the helmet of salvation, which is reminding ourselves that whether the enemy actually lop off our heads (which the helmet is to protect) or try any of his other attacks on our head and our mind, that we focus on the certainty of our salvation and the settled truth that eternally speaking he can’t do anything to change it.

And the last of the armor items mentioned, is the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. It is the word of God not in the sense that we beat the devil over the head with the Bible, but in the sense that in these times of attack we stand firm relying on all of the various pieces of truth that we have learned of God and from His Word. This is a truth battle, and our defense is hiding God’s Word in our hearts and actively thinking on it when attacked as in all other times.

There is one more very important thing Paul speaks of that is generally not looked at as a piece of armor, and that is prayer. Paul stressed the importance of prayer, and in the military sense it is God who is our head and Christ who is our Lord. Knowing that our battle is a spiritual one, we need to spend time with our God who knows all things, including the unseen. We need to spend time with Him and take our direction from Him.
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/15)

Spending time alone with Me is essential for your well-being. It is not a luxury or an option; it is a necessity. Therefore, do not feel guilty about taking time to be with Me. Remember that Satan is the accuser of believers. He delights in heaping guilt feelings upon you, especially when you are enjoying My Presence. When you feel Satan’s arrows of accusation, you are probably on the right track. Use your shield of faith to protect yourself from him. Talk with Me about what you are experiencing, and ask Me to show you the way forward. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to Me, and I will come near to you. And lest you think that this is only necessary when you are being attacked, remember that our enemy is wily and has no problem coming after us when our defenses are down.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10

In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-8

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Be Strong And Courageous – God Is With You

Stepping and Standing, these are both challenging. Sometimes we step out when we shouldn't and sometimes we refuse to step when we should. And frequently when we are supposed to step, we do so timidly with uncertainty of the results or outcomes. And similarly with standing, sometimes we stand when we should be stepping. We stand in the midst of things which are not healthy or right. We stand in place rather than accepting opportunities for service. Yet, whether we step or we stand oftentimes the root issue is the same and that is a lack of dependence.

The people of Israel after seeing God do incredible things in order to bring about their release were very short-sighted and rebellious when it came to God. No sooner had they left Egypt than they were faced with their backs up against the Red Sea with an army quickly approaching and God intervened again. As they were in the desert and Moses had left them to go onto the mountain, they listened to other voices and turned their eyes from God and began to worship gods made by human hands. When the spies were sent into the land, only two of the spies saw God’s ability to bring them victory. And so it was with them, they wandered until an entire generation had died off. They had a serious dependence issue, one that arose out of their not seeking after and worshiping their God who was daily leading them and providing their very direction and sustenance or daily manna. God did not lead them into the wilderness to abandon them, yet before they ever took one step He already knew that many would.

Then there is Joshua and Caleb. These men stood by Moses’ side with some faithful others, and it is these men that God used to lead His people into their promised land. That which God said He would do He accomplished, and in doing this He used men who depended on Him.

Scripture tells us that God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound judgment or discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). It also tells us that that which He began in us He is also faithful to complete (Philippians 1:6). But, God also tells us to seek after Him wholly, to listen to Him carefully, and to trust Him completely and He will direct out steps (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our God is indeed a mighty God and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

Joshua 1:5-9. “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/14)

I am a mighty God. Nothing is too difficult for Me. I have chosen to use weak ones like you to accomplish My purposes. Your weakness is designed to open you up to My Power. Therefore, do not fear your limitations or measure the day’s demands against your strength. What I require of you is to stay connected to Me, living in trusting dependence on My limitless resources. When you face unexpected demands, there is no need to panic. Remember that I am with you. Talk with Me, and listen while I talk you through each challenging situation.

I am not a careless God. When I allow difficulties to come into your life, I equip you fully to handle them. Relax in My Presence, trusting in My Strength.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my path power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, May 13, 2013

Products Of The Refiner's Fire

Proverbs 17:3; 27:21. The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. … The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.

Sarah starts today’s devotional with, “Thank Me in the midst of the crucible.”  Webster defines a crucible as (1) a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat, (2) a severe test, or (3) a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. As it is with definitions, you have to frequently look up other words in order to understand the original word. For me it was the word “calcining,” which is what is accomplished when the high heat is applied and volatile material is driven off (burnt, evaporated, etc…).

Pressure and Heat…. I don’t think most of us like this. And having things burnt off sounds even less appealing. Isn’t it any wonder that people, in general, resist change or desire to take the status quo path. After all, it’s the one we’ve grown comfortable with. But the reality is in this world we will have troubles or difficult times, and God uses these difficulties to grow us as He shapes the final outcome perfectly.

This time last year was one of our biggest “crucible” weeks, starting with Sunday, climaxing on Thursday, confirmed on Friday, and followed through with on the next Sunday. The temperature (circumstances and pressures) had been increasing over a couple of months as our church was facing severe restructuring and staff reductions. There had been several points during this season that gave rise to questioning God’s leading for us, but we had no clear answer. But then came Mother’s Day last year and a sermon on eclipse seasons when it seems that we don’t hear or receive direction from God though we know He is still very present and working. Robin and I had been asking His leading, but we had no answer. After the service I drove home without the radio on and pretty much told God that I wanted to hear from Him, that I needed to know what He wanted.

Well, the week that followed was full of His answering. He spoke through some meetings that raised questions. He spoke through my preparation to teach that week’s class on Spiritual Gifts, and even looking at how my service, though productive, really wasn’t in line with how He had gifted me. He spoke through a favorite radio pastor, David Jeremiah, who was speaking on recognizing open doors. And it culminated in opening a new devotional for the first time (Jesus Calling) through which he spoke loud and clear. As Robin and I talked and prayed we knew God had given us an answer, one that had we not been in this particular crucible we most likely would not have made.

The next day we heard the other half of Dr. Jeremiah’s message, which was that once you go through the door things generally don’t get easier. This was not new to us. The reality is that they often don’t get easier because there is also an evil one who does not want us to trust and follow our God, and who will try all he can to throw up opposition. But the big truth is that regardless of the opposition, our God is bigger and what He started He will bring to pass. Our responsibility is to walk in dependence and trust, taking the steps that He sets before us and staying tuned to His leading and even His shaping us in that direction.

Our God is gracious, merciful, and compassionate and He will take care of His.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/13)

Thank Me in the midst of the crucible. When things seem all wrong, look for growth opportunities. Especially, look for areas where you need to let go, leaving your cares in My able hands. Do you trust Me to orchestrate your life events as I choose, or are you still trying to make things go according to your will? If you keep trying to carry out your intentions while I am leading you in another direction, you deify your desires.

Be on the lookout for what I am doing in your life. Worship Me by living close to Me, thanking Me in all circumstances.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he made that you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Not Even A Small Piece On My Own

Today Sarah writes about being thankful to God during times of problem or difficulty, bringing those very things that are pressing on us to Him. Reading the psalms of David can give us great insight into how these troubles can be brought to God with thanksgiving. David shows us over and over again how when he was troubled he would come before God with those troubles, focus on the character and power of God, and then even find the ability to lie down and rest in the midst of it.

Below is one of those psalms, Psalm 57, which is of a time when David was fleeing from King Saul and hiding in a cave with his men. As we know elsewhere in Scripture (1 Samuel 24), David even had an opportunity in the cave to strike out to kill King Saul and possibly even end the pursuit. Yet he chose instead to cut off the edge of his robe, an act which he regretted even going that far on his own. Realizing that this act was out of line, David spoke up to his men, telling them it as not for them to raise their hand against the Lord’s anointed – the king which God had put in place as the first king of Israel. As we know, God later removed Saul and installed David in his place.

David illustrates for us through his life and his recorded words that no problem is too big for God, nor is there anything so pressing that we drop our reliance on Him and take things into our own hands. God did what he said He would do for David, and He will take care of us.

Psalm 57 (ESV) …David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/11)

Thank Me for your problems. As soon as your mind gets snagged on a difficulty, bring it to Me with thanksgiving. Then ask Me to show you My way to handle the situation. The very act of thanking Me releases your mind from its negative focus. As you turn your attention to Me, the problem fades in significance and loses its power to trip you up. Together we can deal with the situation, either facing it head-on or putting it aside for later consideration.

Most of the situations that entangle your mind are not today’s concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow. In this case, I lift the problem out of today and deposit it in the future, where it is veiled from your eyes. In its place I give you My Peace, which flows freely from My Presence.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. Philippians 4:6

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nothing's Random With God

Today Sarah writes about the difficulties in our lives being firmly under God’s control and how they are being used by Him for our benefit and growth. At first I thought about keeping my thoughts private as every day during this past week and the next few are reminders of where we were just one year ago.

One year ago today I was in a meeting that was key in a series of events that led to a decision that Robin and I made a year from next Thursday. And as I searched out the impact of this meeting and the other events, conversations, readings, and even pleadings, we saw God clearly unfold for us our need to trust Him in taking a huge and difficult step. This past year has been a series of these steps one after another as we have continued to seek Him and wait on Him, learning more and more how important it is for us to rely on Him whether it has been in hopeful anticipation or for strength in disappointment.

During this season there have been plenty of times when I wanted to panic and think of ways to take things into my hands in order to speed God along. But the reality also has been that there was nothing more that I could think of to do that would accomplish this. It truly has been one of those seasons where He has been and continues to be our hope. And I am thankful that He has given Robin and I an enduring peace as we have waited on Him. We truly do not know what the future holds, but as a dear friend who called me today reminded me – we know who holds the future. Thank you Neva.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/10)

Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View your problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.

When you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me. Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependence on Me and increasing intimacy between us. Although self-sufficiency is acclaimed in the world, reliance on Me produces abundant living in My kingdom. Thank Me for the difficulties in your life, since they provide protection from the idolatry of self-reliance.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Accepted With Warts, Wrinkles, and Wanderings

I am so glad that my God chose me apart from any merit on my part or works that I had or will ever accomplish. I am thankful that He chose me with all of my flaws and all of the things that I would ever mess up. And I am thankful that it is Him that has promised to work in and through me to conform me into the image of His Son and make me adequate for His service.

Every single one of us makes mistakes, and every single one of us has our times even of rebellion. Beating ourselves up over them is a huge waste of time. God knows how to take all of this and turn it for His good. This is where we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and place our trust fully in Him.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/9)

Don’t be so hard on yourself. I can bring good even out of your mistakes. Your finite mind tends to look backward, longing to undo decisions you have come to regret. This is a waste of time and energy, needing only to frustration. Instead of floundering in the past, release your mistakes to Me. Look to Me in trust, anticipating that My infinite creativity can leave both good choices and bad into a lovely design.

Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes. Thinking that you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride. Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses. Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me. I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes. Trust Me, and watch to see what I will do.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7