Sunday, June 28, 2009
I want to invite you on to join me in a weekly Bible study of the 37th chapter of Psalms. I have started reading it and taking a close look at that psalm. I am also reading in the book of James and discovered a connection between the two selections.
Chapter 1 in the book of James talks about the testing of your faith and makes mention that riches are like the beautiful flowers and grass. They quickly fade in the sun's heat and loose their beauty (James 1: 9-11)
Psalm 37 talks about how God has not forgotten us. It tells us not to "fret" or worry. Three times in the first 8 verses God is telling us not to worry about those who prosper over us or do evil to us. It is also full of promises. Psalm 37:1-4 sounds a lot like James:
"Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! for they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
I hope those who read this blog post, will share their perspective with the group. Psalm 37:1-4 sounds great in theory, but what about application? "Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness." is a loaded statement. Sometimes that land you dwell in is scary, lonely, uncomfortable, and the perfect breeding ground for anger, deceit and depression. How do YOU "befriend faithfulness" during these tough times?
Post your comment below.
My challenge to you is to read Psalm 37 everyday for a week or two and each time you read it, ask God to reveal something new to you. You may want to highlight all the promises mentioned in the chapter.
Thanks for checking in!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I'm thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, "Will I ever make it— arrive and drink in God's presence?" Psalm 42:1-2 (The Message)
A friend asked me recently to show her how to find the presence of God so she could take that long awaited drink that the scripture speaks about. Perhaps you, too, are looking for something to quench your thirst for that longing in your soul. This longing, doesn't mean there is something wrong with you, it was put there by God the creator. You and I were made in God's image and were designed to know and be with God. I'll tell you what I told her:
It starts by having a conversation with God asking him to be your personal, life-long companion, giving up the navigation of your life to the creator of you and your world. Along the way you shed all the really heavy things you "packed" for the trip like self sufficiency, pride and fear. God wants to carry them for you...let him.
As your load becomes lighter, you are able to focus more on the conversation during the walk. You'll learn some amazing stuff about God as you are able to listen to Him.
When you are tired, God will provide for you a quiet stream of cool water to drink from. It will quench your thirst like nothing you've ever consumed before. Once you have tasted of the perfect love of Christ, you will crave more and more. As you learn more about God's ways, you'll learn to let go of other things that weigh you down, like anger, bitterness and loneliness.
My friend, God has a wonderful gift for you, forgiveness for EVERYTHING you've done that displeases Him. We are God’s creation and He desperately desires to be loved back by us. The problem with that is the fact that our sin and disobedience to God, prevents us from being close to Him. That’s why God sacrificed his own son, Jesus Christ, who lived as a human being and paid the price of death for our sin.
Now, if only you will accept that gift of grace from God and Jesus, you can be close to Father God. Finally, you can have that feeling of being complete and stop searching for the love you crave. To accept this gift, all you have to do is talk to God like you talked to you best friend on the phone. Tell Him how you feel and ask for his forgiveness for your disobedience toward Him. He is waiting to hear from you and He will not be angry with you. On the contrary, He wants to love you so much it hurts him…so let him love you.
God has written you a love letter, it's called the Bible, begin to read it. I suggest starting with the book of John in the New Testament. Read some part of the book everyday and claim the promise from God to love you no matter what. You’ll be amazed by the peace that can fill your heart and life.
Ask God, Ask yourself and Ask me lots of questions. Seek true understanding of God. You will find it in Him and his word, the Bible. I did. It’s made a huge, positive impact on me and changed my life forever.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Awe, but tonight when I joined several other believers and friends to make beautiful music in your honor, that was the best thing ever. I am so excited to be in love with you. It’s like nuzzling your neck as I lay my head on your shoulder and feeling you caress my hair and kiss my cheek. No worries, no searching for something that’s missing, just pure togetherness.
Complete rest like lying on your back in the tall green grass in the cool of the day – contentment.
I know there are many hurting and confused people who are searching for answers to the problems that are plaguing them. My heart aches for them during their troubled times. Help me Father, to walk beside them and remind them to look to you each time something bad happens, for you are able to deliver those who call upon your name.
Your yoke IS easy and your burden IS light. (Matthew 11:30) You also always have room for our cares. (1 Peter 5:7)
Thanks for a great time, Papa God.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
On Saturday evening, after two “blessed” days of traveling 700 miles to our destination in Florida, I couldn’t wait to check out a church on Sunday morning. My husband had plans to attend his conference, so I gathered the kids and we went exploring. With a recommendation and directions from the concierge for a “more lively” church, we were on our way. I expected a medium sized church but was very much surprised to be attending The Potter’s House Christian Fellowship, a mega church of about 3000, full of excitement to praise God.
There was a large stage area with about 20 people in the worship team. The sanctuary was really a huge one story room that used to be a department store. To help everyone see the staging area, there were four giant screens that were suspended from the ceiling. There were two in the front on either side of the stage and two more half way back on the left and right. During the worship time, there were three people dancing with large scarves in the very front of the auditorium. I also saw people walking around with large ornate banners with phrases that gave praise to God. My thought was, “Wow, people really can worship freely here!”
“Faith In Famine” was the title of the sermon that day, by Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin, the senior pastor and founder of PHCF. Once again, I witnessed God teaching me through different perspectives. Most of Mclaughlin’s scripture came from Genesis (12, 15, 16, 17, 21) and spoke of the time Abraham, went back to Egypt during a tough famine instead of toughing it out like God asked him to do. Because of Abraham’s disobedience, he fathered a son (Ishmael) by someone other than his wife which fathered the Arab nation that today is known as the followers of Islam. As God promised Abraham and Sarah, they did have a son (Isaac) which perpetuated the Jewish nation. Sometimes our disobedience can have a lasting effect on future generations.
(see http://www.gotquestions.org/Jews-Arabs.html for more information about the conflict we know today between these two nations.)
Abraham’s second son, Isaac, also lived during a terrible famine in the land of Canaan and just like his father before him, God instructed him to stay in the land of Canaan and not go to Egypt. Isaac obeyed God and God sustained him during the famine. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but God was with them. And blessed them. (Genesis 26:1-13)
For several days before hearing this sermon, I had been reading in the book of Hebrews and had just reached the eleventh chapter commonly known as the “Faith Hall of Fame”, because the author (possibly the apostle Paul) explains what faith is and gives a long list of God’s people who have shown great faith in extreme situations. Then in chapter 12, he says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The faith stories of Abraham & Sarah and Isaac are among the “Faith Hall of Fame.” So, I’m not the first person to suffer for Christ nor am I the last and neither are you my friend. Our personal situations always seem so BIG to us and insurmountable sometimes, but our GOD is always bigger than our situations and our FAITH needs to match our GOD. McLaughlin said to go lookin’ for a miracle and expect a miracle when your “famine” hits.
Bishop McLaughlin, preached about not going back to Egypt (that place where life is easier and appears safer) when your situation is uncomfortable, but rather to use your faith to ride out your uncomfortable situation. My challenge to you and to myself during tough economical times, personal health crisis, marital crisis or any uncomfortable situation is to remember WHOSE you are (a child of the King), USE YOUR WEAPONS (the word of God) and stand strong using your shield of FAITH to let God show you how much he loves you and will sustain you.
Many people reading this have had many tougher situations than I have ever had to encounter. I look upon them with love and awe that they are still praising God during their extremely uncomfortable and scary times. God knows what we can handle and just when we can’t handle anymore, He is right there by our side ready to carry us THROUGH the tough times. It’s the experience from those tough times that refines us into the beautiful bride of Christ.
No matter your situation you most likely have the choice to “return to Egypt” where life is safe and perhaps even logical. Or, you can choose to stay in the “promised” land where life is difficult for a season, and reap the benefits from God’s blessing. What will you choose? Go to Egypt? Or Stay in Canaan? Will you have “FAITH IN FAMINE”? I'd love to hear your Faith in Famine story.