Monday, November 24, 2014

ARE YOU THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS?


So, here we are – Thanksgiving Week.  (Already??)

I don't know about you, but it seems this year has gone by awfully fast.

And as I approach the coming new year, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the concept of thankfulness.

It's defined this way:  Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.

That's easy enough when something wonderful happens.  But what about when it doesn't?  What does it mean to be thankful when things go wrong?

I'm specifically thinking of this verse:

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)


I really have a hard time with this verse.  To be totally honest, thankfulness doesn't come naturally to me.  Oh sure, I'm always quick to say thank you when someone does something nice for me.  I'm pretty consistent saying grace before meals.  And yes, I am grateful for my blessings.

But, am I grateful for my trials?

Um, not so much.

That's why this verse gives me trouble.

It's that one pesky word…ALL.

Be thankful in ALL circumstances?

I can think of many circumstances that try our patience, wound our hearts, challenge our understanding, and crush our spirits.

The death of a loved one.

A broken relationship.

Losing a job.

A prodigal child.

Poor health.

Financial worries.


I do not feel thankful for these things – do you?

So why are we told to be thankful in all things?  And if we are called to it, is it impossible to achieve?

I have this one thought as to why it might be important:

We are most attractive as Christians when we look different from the world.

And we never look more different from the world than when we have trials and we don't fall apart.

Yes, this is part of why we are called to be thankful – so that we might be set apart, separated from the worldin it, but not of it.


God wants us to look different.  He wants us to reflect the Truth of what we believe.  

These things:

The world is full of sin.
Sin brings disease, dysfunction, despair, defeat, and death.
Jesus came, died, rose again, and conquered these things.
Because of that, there is something better ahead.
Therefore, we have hope.


This is what the Lord wants us to live out in our lives.  This is what He wants us to show to the world.

There is an answer to the suffering – Jesus – and because of Him, we can live above our circumstances.

And yes, for that I am very grateful.


Now, the second part of that verse is interesting to me:

"…for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

I actually read that two ways.  Two interpretations that I think are both accurate in their intent, and in their meaning.


First of all, we are to give thanks for it is God's will for us to be thankful. And we can only be thankful when we place ourselves in proper position with our God.

Adopting a humbleness of spirit, recognizing our subordinate position as creatures beneath Him, our Creator.  Intentionally submitting ourselves to His omnipotence and omniscience.  Surrendering our will to His perfect purposes.

It is God's will for us to trust Him with our lives.  To believe that He is perfectly good, even when life is not.  To rely on His strength and power.  To follow Him and not our feelings.

So, in ALL circumstances, He desires that we be thankful.

He wants us to look different from the world, to yield ourselves to His sovereignty, and to trust Him even when, perhaps especially when, we don't understand life.


Now, the second way that I read that part of the verse is this way:

We are to be thankful in all things because those very things themselves are the will of God.

Nothing happens outside of God's control.  Nothing surprises Him nor catches Him off guard.  Nothing arrives without His sanction on it.

It is ALL, even the bad stuff, His perfect will for us.

This is a tough concept to accept.  How can a loving God willfully allow terrible things to happen?

It is the one obstacle to faith that seems to cause the most trouble – both for those who don't believe and for those of us who do.

Painful circumstances = A good God?

That math doesn't add up.

But here’s the promise that makes us able to not only accept this, but to embrace it:

"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, NLT)

Did you catch it?  There's another ALL in there.

ALL things are working for a good purpose, a purpose pre-ordained by the goodness of God.

Therefore, we can be thankful.

Maybe not thankful for the circumstances, but thankful in them.

For, no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how dire the circumstances, or how deep the suffering, these things are not happening because of some indefinite and quixotic force of fate.  We are not victims of an arbitrary destiny.

We are, instead and in truth, creatures destined for glory.


So, on this Thanksgiving as I reflect on this year of JOY, I am thinking about how I have learned what it means to be thankful and joyful in ALL circumstances.

It means that I change my perspective.

I take my focus off of feelings, and I fix my eyes on faith.

Let's combine those verses, and let's celebrate the Truth of what God is truly saying to us:

Be thankful in all circumstances, because you know that in all things I am working for your good.  It is My will for you who belong to Christ Jesus to be thankful people.  For you have been called according to My purpose.  Therefore, believe that every circumstance that comes into your life is part of My plan for you because I love you.  Trust Me.

OK, Lord, it's a deal.


So, I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May you remember to count your blessings.  And may you remember that even the difficult circumstances in your life are a blessing, for they are allowed by Him.

For a reason.

For your good.

For a time.

Because He loves you.

Trust Him, not your feelings.  Focus on hope, not on defeat.  Love Him with all your heart, even when you're feeling disheartened.

For He is faithful.

Praise His name, we are forgiven.  We have been freed from the futility and fatality of this life.

Circumstances do not define us, they just refine us.

And we are destined for glory.

I'm thankful for that – aren't you?!


Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!






He will dwell on the heights,
His refuge will be the impregnable rock;
His bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.



"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you...if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV)

"Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2, NLT)

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!" 
(Philippians 4:4, NLT)

"[For] we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
(Romans 8:28, NASB)

"...my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.'  Remember my affliction and my wanderings...My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every  morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"
(Lamentations 3:17-24, ESV)

"What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" (Romans 8:31-32, 35, ESV)

"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us." (Romans 8:37, AMP)

"For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, AMP)

"This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it...You are my God, and I will praise you!  You are my God, and I will exalt you!  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever." 
(Psalm 118:24, 28-29, NLT)



How do you find a way to be thankful even in the midst of difficult circumstances?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFULPLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, WISE WOMAN, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, SO MUCH AT HOME, THRIVING THURSDAY, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, EVERYDAY JESUS, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, HEART FILLED FRIDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 17, 2014

RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION


I am a voracious reader.

I love reading, always have.

And my taste in books is rather eclectic.  I tend to lean toward fiction, for I do indeed love a good story, but non-fiction has its appeal, too.  Almost entirely, the non-fiction books that I read are written by Christian authors.

As for fiction?  I'm all over the place!

First of all, might I just say that I am quite pleased to see that the world of fiction now contains some wonderful Christian books.  Just as the world of Christian music has become more "legit" in recent years – the world of Christian literature is becoming more professional, more marketable. With better writing, and better exposure, the world of Christian fiction is exploding.

No longer do we have to be "embarrassed" by faulty fiction with poor plot, shallow characterization, or stilted dialogue.  Good books are being written – books that just happen to be written by Christian authors.

Having said that, I am also a great reader of secular fiction.  I am quite fond of mysteries, having earned my *reading stripes* on Nancy Drew.  And I also enjoy fantasy and science fiction.  I find that I tend to go on "reading jags"becoming enraptured with one genre, and reading only that for several books in a row.

Lately, I've gotten rather immersed in historical detective novels.  Novels that have a wonderful plot, great characters, and a smattering of true historical facts and settings.  I've learned a lot about other centuries in other countries.  I've discovered a lot about early medical practices and forensics. And let me tell you, I'm glad I live in the 21st century!!


But, once in a while, I find that my two worlds clash.  My *Christian* comes against the worldview.

This happened just the other day.

I'm currently in the middle of a great series.  The characters are truly captivating.  The settings are breathtaking.  And the mysteries are multi-layered and intriguing.  So, I'm hooked on finishing this series, and then eagerly awaiting the next installment.

But, as I was reading the introduction of the next book (for me) in the series, which is set in Jerusalem, I was taken aback by something I read.  The sentence started out, "In the first century of the Common Era…" OK, I'm immediately perturbed at the use of this term.  I think it's a way to get rid of the traditional A.D. – which stands for "Anno Domini" – and means "in the year of our Lord."  It serves as the other side of B.C. – which stands for "before Christ."

So, I'm upset that this author is removing herself from any reference that uses Jesus as a benchmark.

Then, she refers to Him like this: "…a troublesome rabbi and carpenter from Nazareth…"

This is where my spiritual shackles rose!

How dare she dismiss our Lord?!

That entire day, I felt upset.  And I've been thinking about my thoughts and feelings ever since.

Why did I react like this?

And why so quickly?

For yes, my reaction was visceral, without rational thought, instinctual, and even protective.

I felt the same way I used to when someone would make fun of one of my sons, or try to bully them.  The *mother eagle* in me would swoop in with flaming eyes of vengeance and protection.

"Don't you dare go after one of my boys!!"

And, this is how I felt after reading these words.

"How dare you go after my Lord?!"

I felt righteously indignant.


So, curious, I looked up that term:

"Righteous indignation is typically a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice…a feeling involving anger mingled with contempt or disgust."

Yup, that's what it felt like.

But, on pondering this whole incident, and my ensuing reaction, I have three things I want to bring to the table today.  Three lessons that I think the Lord wanted me to learn.


1) We should stand up for what we believe.

In other words, sometimes I think we're tempted to slough off things that people say or do.  We're unwilling to take a stand, for we are afraid of offending them, or of being attacked ourselves.  And so, thinking we're being spiritually meek and humble (at least that's the rationalization I use sometimes), we let things slide.

I've been party to conversations when people are bashing Christians and religion to my face.  My old neighbor used to do this.  And, I was silent. While on the inside, I kept thinking these two things:

"Does she not KNOW that I am a Christian, too?"

"And why am I not setting her straight about that?"

Yeah, sometimes I made a feeble attempt to justify the actions of people associated with the faith, but often it was a very tepid, milquetoast response on my part.  And part of what made it hard to have a good response is that, quite frankly, sometimes Christians behave badly.

I have often said that Christians can "block the view."  Sometimes it's really hard to see Jesus through our faults and sins.  Sometimes we're obstacles and not reflections.

But there is another situation in which I find it hard to stand up for what I believe.

I also find myself getting upset, but staying silent, when this happens in conversations.  The person says to me something along the lines:

"Oh, you're religious."

My hackles rise, but I either stay quiet, or I make some attempt to distinguish between a religion and a relationship.

Usually it falls on deaf ears.  For most people will then look at me like I'm a nutcase, a fanatic who's having a "relationship" with an invisible being.

Koo-koo…

I am all too often a spiritual shrinking violet, slinking away from confrontation or possible offense – even though the Spirit within me has been hurt, demeaned, or dismissed.

I want to do better.


OK, the next thing that I think the Lord wanted me to learn is this:

2) We should feel compassion and pity for the unsaved.

My first reaction to this person was anger.  Oh boy, I wanted to "get in her face."  I wanted to point out how disillusioned she was, how woefully incorrect she was in her view of Jesus.  I wanted to tell her off and set her straight.

And not in a kind way.

But, over the next few hours after reading this, the Lord began to change my heart.  He began to reveal to me that this woman didn't deserve my anger and hatred – though her words might stir up ill feelings, her lost heart should move me to tears.

I felt convicted.

Righteous conviction.

I got to thinking.  Though we might be highly offended at the words and actions of the unsaved, what should move us most is sadness and pity at the lost state of their souls.

Jesus told us to love our enemies.

How can we do that?

Sometimes I think it means that we pray, fervently, for their salvation.

For after all, aren't we really offended in the first place because we are privileged to know the Savior?

And don't we want that for everyone?

It's what the Lord wants.

I am reminded of this verse:

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NASB)

These people are not ignorant or stupid.  We are not "better" than them.  For truth be told, all of us are but creatures in desperate need of a Savior, whether we know Him or not.

Therefore, we should have the heart of God, who mourns over the lost, who does everything in His power to move them toward repentance.  The One who died for them, and loves them.

So, we can feel angry, yes, but we should really feel sad, and we should pray.


And finally, the Lord had this to say:

3) We should rely on Him in these situations.

Righteous indignation.

It should lead us to action, yes, but God-ordained action.  After all, we are not perfect – (I'm not, are you??).  And in our humanness, our indignation can become anger and we can say things we ought not.

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between when I've been offended and feeling selfish anger, as opposed to a healthy indignation that comes from the Spirit.  Sometimes I can end up defending myself and not the Lord.  My heart is a deceptive thing.

Only Jesus knew indignation that was perfectly righteous.

He must lead us.

When to say something, and how to say it.

For His purpose in everything He did and said was to point to the Father.

And therefore, everything we do and say must also point to Him.  To His grace, His mercy, and His salvation.

This world is going to be offensive at times – perhaps lately, most of the time.  And we can be righteously angry and deeply offended.

How to react?

Stand up for what you believe, pray for the salvation of the lost, and rely on the Lord to do the speaking through you.

At the right time, in the right way, with the right words.


You're probably wondering, will I finish this book?  Probably.  For I do love the people, the story, and the series.  But, I am adding this author to my prayer list.

Because, though she wrote so eloquently about Jerusalem, the beautiful and shining city on a hill…

…she totally missed the Main Character.





It is ALL about Jesus.
The Way,
The Truth,
and The Life.



"Then the LORD asked Moses, 'Who makes a person's mouth?  Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?  Now go!  I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.'" (Exodus 4:11-12, NLT)

"'At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak...and will no longer be silent.  So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 24:27, NIV)

"'...when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says!'  Those who choose to listen will listen, but those who refuse will refuse...'" 
(Ezekiel 3:27, NLT) 

"…do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:11-12, ESV)

"...don't worry about how to respond or what to say.  God will give you the right words at the right time.  For it is not you who will be speaking – it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20, NLT)

"...for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!" (Luke 21:15, NLT)

"...no one can tame the tongue.  It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.  Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!...

If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom...the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.  And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness." (From James 3, NLT)



What gets your *spiritual hackles* up, and how do you handle it?




Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, TELL ME A TRUE STORYSALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, SO MUCH AT HOME, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUSGRACE AT HOMEHEARTS FOR HOMETHOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, A GROUP LOOK, SHINE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, HEART FILLED FRIDAYS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESSWEEKEND BREW, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

THE WONDER OF GOD'S NAME


What's in a name?

Well, if you're God, quite a lot!

Our pastor is doing a series of sermons on the names of God.  

And today, I was blown away by how the Holy Spirit spoke to me through his words – how the Spirit moved so powerfully in my heart when we studied this name:

Elohim.

The name Elohim means "strong one" in Hebrew.

So it's an apt name for the Almighty God.  

But what's most interesting to me is the fact that God chooses to name Himself with this name.  And it's also pretty remarkable when God chooses to introduce it.

In the beginning.

Yes, right there in the very first verse in the Bible, there is the name…

Elohim.

Genesis 1:1 could be translated this way:

"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth."


So today our pastor helped us *unpack* shades of meaning, blistering insights, and nuances of Truthall held within that name.

Let me start with some facts:

1) This name for God appears over 2500 times in the Bible.

2) Elohim is the name that is translated "God" in Scripture – so when you see the upper-case name, God, it is actually the Hebrew name Elohim.

3) The name Elohim is plural and singular – thereby declaring the existence and truth of the Trinity from the very beginning.

4) Therefore, the name Elohim declares that the Trinity was involved in the process of creation.  Yes, the one God in three Persons – all of them participated in this miraculous work.


So, God chooses this way of introducing Himself – by using a name that holds a treasure chest of doctrine, theology, and mighty truth.

Pause and ponder that.


But our pastor also elucidated other characteristics inherent in a Creator God.

He used these words: transcendent, outside of time, not confined by what exists, organized, intelligent, detailed, extravagant, sustaining.

Elohim is infinitely more than and substantially distinct from His creation.

In fact, creation only points us to conclude that there is Someone greater.

Now, I am a nature lover.  And I live in a pretty awesome place.  Surrounded by majestic mountains, and towering trees, and creatures galore.  The sky is often bright blue, and the moon glows like the sun.  The air is so clear at night that I can see the Milky Way and its entourage of a multitude of stars.

Some are tempted to worship these things.

But this awe and adoration is misdirected if we stop at the "stuff."

It would be like worshiping a book just because the cover is pretty and the pages smell good…without ever reading the words, or knowing the author.

Creation speaks.

And it speaks of its Creator.


Lately I've shared a lot about the difficulties this year has brought to my life. How sometimes I feel so alone in it all.  Just the other night, when I once again could not fall asleep, I looked out my window in the kitchen and stared at the skies.  I whispered aloud, "You know, God, that is a pretty awesome sky You've created."  And in that exact moment, the biggest shooting star I have ever seen streaked across the sky!

It was if I heard God say, "I'm here."

My eyes teared up as I was once again reminded of the transcendent God of the universe who also deigns to come near.

Elohim.

The Creator, who is all-powerful.

Think of words that mean powerful:  strong, great, mighty, awesome, commanding, authoritative, prevailing, majestic, almighty, invincible, supreme, sovereign, omnipotent.

This God is our God.


Why do we doubt Him?

Why do we struggle with trusting Him completely?

Why do we try to control our own lives, to determine our own circumstances, to manipulate our own situations, to fix our own relationships – ON OUR OWN?

I don't know why I do that.

I think I’m just a slow learner.

Are you?


So, as this very powerful message was coming to an end, our pastor chose to have us focus on a very particular scene from the book of Luke.

A young woman is confronted by the angel, Gabriel.  And he has a message for her:

"…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

I don't know about you, but if I was Mary at this moment, I probably would have uttered something really profound like:

"Huh???"

We're not alone in those feelings.  Mary was a bit confused, too.  For she knew that she was a virgin, and she knew how creation worked.  She could not fathom in her own mind how this prediction was ever going to come true.

But then Gabriel, who declared with his very own words that he stood in the actual presence of the One, uttered this amazing truth:

"For nothing will be impossible with God."


Listen to these words in other translations:

"For no word from God will ever fail."

"Nothing is impossible with respect to any of God's promises."

"Because nothing is difficult for God."

"For no word from God shall be void of power."

"For no promise from God will be impossible of fulfillment."

"For everything spoken by God is possible."

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

"For every promise from God shall surely come true."


I have written each of these interpretations of the Word, for I want them to burst upon your heart, as they have in mine, as a mighty refrain – chanted over and over, and building to a crescendo of truth.

And then, insert the name, and it all becomes thrilling:

"For nothing will be impossible with Elohim."

Pause and ponder that!


I finish with these words from our pastor:

All God needs is Himself, and all I need to do is trust Him.

Yes.

God established at the very beginning that there is no one or nothing that we can turn to besides Him.

He is the One who made it all, who keeps it going, and holds it all together.

He is the One who made me, who keeps me going, and holds me together.

He is in control.

Elohim.


As we sang the last song of the day, I coupled one sentence of the lyrics with an astounding statement from our pastor – and knew that both had come directly from the Holy Spirit like an arrow to my heart.

This will be my prayer this week, the prayer that embodies and encompasses every prayer that could ever be said:

"Elohim, hold me, please hold me…"

And the answer that is The Answer:

"JUST REMEMBER MY NAME."





I will reveal my name to my people,
and they will come to know
its power. 



"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." 
(Hebrews 11:3, ESV)

"The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created.  He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.  He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.  Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.  For when he spoke, the world began!  It appeared at his command." (Psalm 33:6-9, NLT)

"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth...For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33:6, 9, NIV)

"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:2-3, NLT)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." 
(John 1:1-3, ESV)

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10, NIV)

"'Am I a God who is only close at hand?' says the LORD.  'No, I am far away at the same time.  Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?  Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?' says the LORD." 
(Jeremiah 23:23-24, NLT)

"For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God..." (Deuteronomy 10:17, NASB)


"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."

(Psalm 19:1-4, NIV)


"This is what the Lord says,

he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name:
'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,'
declares the Lord,
'will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.'

This is what the Lord says:

'Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel…'"

(Jeremiah 31:35-37, NIV)


"For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28, NIV)




What does it mean to you that we have a relationship with the Almighty Creator of the universe, the One and Only Elohim?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYSTELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, COFFEE AND CONVERSATION, TELL HIS STORY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYSWORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, THRIVING THURSDAYCOFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FAITH BARISTA, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, SO MUCH AT HOME, FAITH & FELLOWSHIPMAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, HEART-FILLED FRIDAYS, SATURDAY SOIREE, SATURDAY STILLNESS, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

CRYING OVER SPILLED COFFEE


No, not milk.

COFFEE!

OK, so the other day I started things out with a visit to a certain fast food establishment (they just might decorate with golden arches…).  You see, there's this delicious Iced Coffee drink that I buy there.  I love it.  It's like a heavy-duty dose of adrenaline in a cup.  I'm not sure if it's the caffeine or the "liquid sugar" they use – but it's effective.

At least for about three hours.  

Then I crash off that caffeinated cliff into the abyssal chasm of low blood sugar.  And look for the nearest couch to doze off on.

So, after mumbling into the voice box order thing – and being helped by another mumbler – I finally drove off with my treasure.  For a while anyway. Until I turned a sharp corner, kinda fast.

It was then that I realized that I had placed the very large plastic cup in the wrong cup holder.  It was in the loose one, not the snug one.

Well, the walls came a-tumbling down.

Yup.

Coffee spilled all over my console, the side of the console, the passenger seat, the doormats, and all the way down to the nice carpet underneath the doormats.  Grrrr!  I'm not sure whether I was more upset over the spillage, or the loss of even one measly teaspoon of my liquid energy.

Since I was rather close to home, I decided to drive there to clean up the mess.

Several miles later, I arrived – only to see (finally) that I had driven the entire distance with my emergency brake on.  More grrrr…

Let me tell you, there is nothing finer than the odiferous smell of coffee, cream, liquid sugar, and burnt rubber to start your day!

OK, so I finally got everything cleaned up.

And then I was off again.

Of course, I dropped the keys before getting back (for the second time) into the driver's seat.  And, of course, they fell under the car so I had to crawl and maneuver myself under the chassis.  Boys and girls, my chassis isn't what it used to be, so this wasn't pretty.

Little did I know that this auspicious beginning was only the *warm-up* to a series of minor catastrophes.  (Is "minor catastrophe" an oxymoron? Or maybe I'm just stuck on the word moron here…)

Catastrophes like how I went to the bank the next day expecting them to open at 9:00 AM.  Only to find out that this particular branch opens at 10 AM.  Like how I went to another branch, only to find out that they also open at 10 AM.  What??  That whole phrase "banker's hours" is starting to make more sense to me.  Used to be that the bank was open from 9 AM – 6 PM.  Oh no, not anymore.  These two branches were only open from 10 AM – 4 PM.

What's next?  

Are they going to start charging us money to use our money??  Oh wait, they already do that…

Stand, stand for like 20 minutes.  Wait, wait for them to open the doors. Stand, stand inside.  Wait, wait for my turn.

Then off and running again.


I decided that I was going to need help to get through this day.  I was too far from my beloved golden arches, so I stopped at a certain coffee establishment(not mentioning any names, but they might just have something to do with astronomy and $$$).  

Well, as I drove up I happened to notice that ALL the employees were standing outsidewith a cop.  More waiting, and then the doors were opened again.  As I strolled by, I asked, "Were you guys robbed today?"  The guy answered, "No, someone left a suitcase."

What a world.

I ordered something to eat, which they were "all out of" – and then I ordered my drink.  OK, this drives me nuts.  NO ONE knows how to spell the name Sharon.  (Is my name really that old-fashioned, or is spelling just a lost art???)  I've had these versions:  Sheran, Sharron, Sharin, Cheran, etc.  Once I got so frustrated about this that I told them my name was Cindy. Which they spelled Cyndi.  So, this day I spelled my name out for them. And then claimed the drink that was made for Shannon.

I left.  I drove over the curb trying to get out of the parking lot.  (In my defense, a police car was in the way).


What other stuff has gone on?

I've lost my reading glasses.  Not just misplaced them, like I do at least 3 (23) times a week.  This time I really think they're gone for good.  Luckily, they were only store-bought cheapies.  But still.  I lost the case, and a nifty little cleaning cloth, and a super-duper little repair kit, too.

I've looked, and I've retraced my steps, and so far, no luck.

Call me Mrs. Magoo.

I bought another pair to replace them.  Otherwise I would not be able to read, or to write this diatribe about my recent travails.

I can hardly wait to see what the next 24-48 hours entails.  Because obviously, Murphy and his stupid law are hitching a ride with me!


But honestly, isn't this the way life goes?

Things like this happen…

ALL. THE. TIME.

The faucet leaks, the tire is flat, the power goes out, they discontinue your favorite lipstick color, you forget to put on your eyebrows, you run out of gas, an unexpected bill arrives, the post office is closed, the pen runs out of ink...

I know you know what I'm talking about.

Life.

Life throws a lot of big stuff at us, but more often than not, it's the little stuff that really drives us crazy.

Like my grandmother used to say – "It's the little foxes that spoil the vine."

(Did you know this came from the Bible?  I only recently found that out!!  It's from Song of Solomon 2:15, KJV)

Most days I'd be very glad indeed if the little foxes found another vineyard in which to perform their shenanigansjust sayin'.


Life.

Sometimes I wonder why I get so upset over all these things.  After all, in the whole scope of things they are really small stuff.  But like the steady drip-drip-drip of that aforementioned leaky faucet, they work their little incessant havoc on my nerves.

Until, if ONE more thing comes along…

I'M. GONNA. BLOW. UP.

Vesuvius, Kilauea, Mount St. Helen's, Krakatoa.

Livid lava, miffed magma, crater chaos.

Look out!

We've all been there, done this, hate it, and never seem to learn any lesson from it.

So, I'm determined to learn something here.

God, Your turn, speak.



I'm thinking the lesson is found in why these things are so upsetting.  I'm thinking of three reasons:


1) We get mad because we're in a hurry.

Yes, it seems that we are a people who are always on the go.  We've got places to go, people to see, things to do.  There isn't a lot of *wiggle room* in the average day for setbacks or snafus.  We are on a schedule, people.  And there is no time to waste.

Urgency has replaced importance.  But, if we're not careful, we can find ourselves constantly scurrying around putting out little sparks and embers, when in reality the whole forest might be ablaze.

(Charles E. Hummel wrote a great booklet about this very subject – "Tyranny of the Urgent").

But a hurried pace doesn't make up for intentional action.  And constant busyness is no cover-up for lack of goals and purpose.  After all, I can run really, really fast on a hamster wheel, but I'm not going to go anywhere.

Jesus counsels us that time is short.  But of course, He is talking about eternal missions and the desperate need for salvation.  I think He wants us to follow His example.  To take the time to notice people.  After all, you just don't know when an opportunity will come your way to speak the Good News into someone’s life.

Lesson #1:  Slow Down Your Pace

"[Go forth] with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15, NIV)


2) We get mad because we have an agenda.

I've heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

I always chuckle at this, but the truth of it kinda makes me cringe – (truth hurts).  We are a people who like to have an agenda.  We need schedules.  We have things we want to accomplish.  In our way, in our timing.

We are addicted to our planners, or our phones, or any number of other ways to keep track of the time and plan out our hours.

I think we come by it innocently at first.  After all, we all grew up listening to school bells, telling us where to be and when.  We had deadlines, and class schedules, and due dates, and homework outlines.

Then we may have graduated to the grown-up world of meetings, and lunches, and appointments, itineraries, flight schedules, and yes, perhaps more deadlines.

And everything was oh-so-neat-and-orderly.

But, the truth of the matter is this – life is most often NOT orderly.

And it certainly has no innate obligation to fit into our agenda.


Jesus has often been described as an itinerant person.  So, I looked that word up:

Itinerant: a person who travels from place to place.

I sorta like that Jesus was a wanderer.  He didn't hold to a schedule.  But, just because He didn't have appointments didn't mean that He didn't have purpose.  Every single day He came upon *God-appointed* moments.

They were there, just waiting for Him.

Jesus was certainly the most intentional person that has ever walked this planet.  But He didn't plan His days – He let the Father do that.  And His only agenda was to do what the Father told Him to do.  

Let us do likewise dedicating ourselves to the appointments God has for us, while always letting Him lead us through our days.

Lesson # Two:  Hold Your Schedule Loosely

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." 
(Proverbs 16:9, NIV)


3) We get mad because we can't control things.

Ah, control.

I looked up the word in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary.  This is what I found:

C ounting
O n
N ever
T urning over or
R eleasing
O wnership to the
L ord


Oh dear.

I hate to admit it, but control is really an issue with me.  It's taken a long time to come to that realization.  You know why?  Because in my mind, control freaks were always those "Type A" people with big ambitions, domineering personalities, and bossy attitudes.  I'm not really like that.  So, I thought that control wasn't really a "shortcoming" of mine.

Wrong.

The Lord has shown me that my incessant worrying also stems from the need to have control.  After all, the things that cause me to worry the most are really the things that I have the least control over.  The things that I can't influence or manipulate to work out the way I want them to.

So, when those *Murphy days* come along, I am highly irritated because the crazy distractions and annoyances and bugaboos have happened whether I wanted them to or not.  I have not yet figured out how to keep the *little foxes* in their place.

A dear friend of mine – (you know who you are) – recently had a lovely septic tank disaster.  My heart really went out to her.  This was an episode that literally uprooted their lives.

Talk about something out of our control!!


Pride, pride, pride will always strive to live life on our own terms.  With everything in its place (according to us), and working to make our lives comfortable, convenient, and calm.

But things just don't work that way.

Jesus knew this.  This is one reason why I find the Incarnation so utterly amazing.  Think on this – the One who created the entire universe, with all its physical laws and order – He chose to enter into the chaos of a broken and sin-filled world.  Why He even deigned to become one of the very humans He had made Himself!

Can you even wrap your head around what He had to experience?

Can you imagine the craziness of some of those crowds?  The shouting and wailing and pushing and shoving of people trying to get close to Him – or the uproar of dissenters and enemies.  Can you imagine the insanity of being tempted by a fallen angel that You had created so very long ago?  What about the limitations He chose to enter in an oh-so-very-human body?  A body that got hot and cold, tired and sore, hungry and thirsty.

Jesus left the perfect order of Heaven, and entered into a world where He was not in control.  A world in which He willingly, continually, and consistently chose to yield His life and His will to the omniscience and omnipotence of His Father.

Jesus worshiped the sovereignty of the Almighty God.

Even unto to death.

Lesson # Three:  Surrender to the Sovereignty of God

"Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth." (Psalm 83:18, NIV)


So, *those days* are going to keep coming.  They're still going to drive us to distraction.  They're still going to make us mad.

It's inevitable.

But those of us who worship the Lord – well, we must dedicate ourselves to marching to another drummer and listening to another still, small voice.

Slow down, hold your schedule loosely, surrender to the sovereignty of the King.

You know why?

Because even on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days…

God is still there, still directing our paths, still sitting on His throne.

For He is the Author of our days – every single one of them.  Each day ordained and recorded in His book long before we were ever born.  Yes, before the very creation of anything – there was Godthe One who was and is and is to come.

From the beginning until the end of time…

…and forever.





What a day
It's been all wet,
And tomorrow will be
the same, I'll bet.

But if I focus
on the only One,
At the end of the day
He will have won!!










"Cease striving and know that I am God…" (Psalm 46:10, NASB)

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15, NLT)

"Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:9-10, ESV)

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being…" (Acts 17:28, KJV)

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11, ESV)

"For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared…the King of all the earth…God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne…For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!" (From Psalm 47, ESV)

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:15-16, NLT)

"Commit everything you do to the LORD.  Trust him, and he will help you." (Psalm 37:5, NLT)

"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 straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

"O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  
They cannot be numbered!" 
(From Psalm 139, NLT)

"LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is…We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing...And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you." (Psalm 39:4, 6-7, NLT)

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God.  'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.'" (Revelation 1:8, NLT)

"…Jesus said, 'It is finished.'" (John 19:30, NIV)



What encourages you on "one of those days"?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAYS, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEYWHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN,  WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, TELL HIS STORY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, SO MUCH AT HOME, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FAITH FILLED FRIDAYFELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, THE FRIDAY FIVE, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP, STILL SATURDAYWEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"