Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week #31 Deuteronomy 4:29 "It's Never Too Late"

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Do you ever screw up?

Silly question, you might say. Of course we screw up. Some of us screw up a bit everyday.

Some days, we make choices that not only displease God, we displease ourselves, too. Everyone goes through those times when we walk our own way, ignore godly advice and worship self over the Almighty. And we hate it. We really do.

I've been there, too. I think that's why so many of us identify with the Apostle Peter. One minute he's swearing his eternal allegiance and devotion to Jesus, the next day he's denying Him publicly not once, but three times. It's enough to make the hardiest believer into a pile of mush.

So what's a discouraged, wayward Christian to do?

Simple. Seek God.

When I first read this verse from Deuteronomy, the initial question in my mind was this: The verse begins with "...if from there you seek the LORD...". But where is "there"? Where would Israel be coming from when Moses spoke this to them?

Deuteronomy 4 is a wonderful piece of scripture. It is a prime example of how God took this man Moses, who was "slow of speech and of tongue" and made him into an extraordinary preacher and prophet.

Moses was exhorting the Israelites to take the Promised Land God had given to them. But, this land flowing with milk and honey came with a price. The Children of Israel needed to heed God's commands and live a life of obedience. This obedient lifestyle involved turning away from idolatry and anything that would take God's place in their lives.

So, after hearing such a moving and rousing sermon from their man Moses, did the nation of Israel live the rest of their existence in obedience and godliness? History answers us with a resounding NO.

In other words, they screwed up. A lot.

And Moses warned them ahead of time that the consequences were dire. "...If you become corrupt and make any kind of idol...I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you." vs. 25-27


But praise God! Although these verses are about Israel (and all of us, to be sure), these verses are also about God, the Forgiver of the unforgivable, and the Lover of the unlovable.

Moses tells Israel that "if from there (meaning, from a life of disobedience and rebellion) you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him..."

What does this tell me? It comforts me in the message that it's never too late. Even when (in my best intentions to remain a faithful follower), I still screw up, God will forever be there if only I seek Him with all my heart and soul.

And the good news doesn't stop there. Moses goes on to remind Israel that no one has ever been as privileged and blessed as they. God was not simply a stern task-master, always cracking the whip of obedience at them. He was the Giver of all gifts, the Blesser of His children and the Savior to those desperately needing salvation.

It is the same for us today. No matter what wilderness you find yourself wandering through, no matter what idol you find yourself bowing to, He is there. All we have to do is look for Him.

God isn't hiding from us. If we look for Him, His loving hand will be right there to meet you.

Praise God for His unmatchable love.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week#30 Ephesians 5:1-2 "That's My Girl!"

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

There's a well-known poem by Dorothy Law Nolte called "Children Learn What They Live." You may be familiar with it. It tells us that if children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. But it also says, on the other hand, that if children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

From where I sit, that about sums up our Christian life. It also sums up nicely what the Apostle Paul is telling us in this verse from Ephesians.

The Book of Ephesians is an incredible encouragement to me. It reminds me of what it is to be a believer, a child of God, and what it means to be His church.

Here is what God is reminding me of today. I hope you find encouragement in this as well.

One, God is reminding me that, if I am to truly be an imitator of Him, I must focus on love. In these verses, I am reminded that I am dearly loved by God. Christ loved me by giving Himself up for me. And I am, in turn, to live a life of love.

Although God's love for us is not an earthly, human love that can sometimes spoil or indulge the child, God's love began for us before we were even born. Earlier in Ephesians (2:4-5), Paul says that because of God's deep love for us, He made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in sin.

What does that tell me? That God totally accepts me just as I am, warts and all. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I will try my best to do the right things, but I will fall down on occasion. I will do the very things I tell myself not to do. But, (good news!) that won't stop God from loving me just as I am. So, can we cranky, self-centered (but very human) members of Christ's church still live a life of love? Yes we can. Because we are accepted and loved. That gives us the ability to do the same for others.

Two, God reminds me that, when Christ loved us (and sacrificed Himself for us), it was to God, a fragrant offering. Remember that word: fragrant. It paints a picture of something that is pleasing, beautiful, aromatic, precious.

I have not yet given myself to others in the way Jesus did. The things I have been asked to do may not be anything that involves intense suffering and mortal sacrifice. But we all have been asked to give of ourselves in ways that may not always be pleasant.

How about all those afternoons you spent with that frightened and uncooperative child you'd been asked to tutor after school? Or that day you spent weeding and cleaning up the church grounds that left you with a sore back and blistered hands? Remember that holiday food drive you organized when it seemed all the thanks you got was criticism and stress?

Well, God remembers it, too. To us, those times were challenging, at best. But, God smelled a lovely fragrant offering. It pleased Him. It made Him smile.

I understand why He smiled. I have the same reaction when one of my own sons displays a talent or behavior that I know I taught him. I smile proudly and say, "That's my boy!" So, when we are imitators of Him, I believe He smiles just like that!

That's one of my greatest hopes. That God will see what I am trying to do, and trying to be, and smile to Himself and declare, "That's my girl!"

Thank you, Father.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week #29 Psalm 119:2 "Seeking God With All My Heart"

"Blessed are they who keep His statues and seek Him with all their hearts."

Wow....I am way behind on my blogging! It's already November, and I am only on my 29th bible verse of the year. Last blog post: August. Ouch.

Life sometimes gets busy. Then we start to put off things that are important.

But, look what also happened. My "busy-ness" has become a habit. That means I have put things off, important things like meditating and sharing God's Word. That, unfortunately, has become a casualty of my busy life.

So, it is no accident (there are NO accidents in our life with God, don't you think?) that He has called me back to His word with this verse from the Psalms. "Blessed are they Him with all their hearts."

Seeking God. What exactly does that mean for us busy, computer-connected folks of the 21st century? are a couple of ideas that have been laid on my heart today.

First, seeking God involves something that might seem obvious. Prayer. Getting on my knees, lifting my eyes to Him and telling Him the deepest thoughts and feelings I have.

Don't worry if you can't always physically kneel. Sometimes deep, heart-felt prayer must occur in places and situations where you can't actually get on your knees. While driving in the car. At work. During an emotional business meeting. Getting on my knees to pray is a matter of attitude. It means I need God. It means I humble myself before my Father and tell Him what His little girl (me!) is feeling. Yes, there's no substitute for this type of prayer.

Second, seeking God means making Him and His word a habit. This might mean reading a bit of scripture each day. No, it doesn't have to be a long passage of scripture that is difficult to understand. It can be just one verse. One verse that our Father has given you, to instruct you, admonish you or to just tell you how much He loves you.

Making God a habit also means for me, keeping up with my blog posts. That is a habit that helps me to focus on Him. He speaks to me as I write. He comforts me and encourages me through this blog, and yes, through your responses to me in the comment section!

And finally, seeking God means looking for God's presence and wisdom in our everyday life. Was that piece of advice from your co-worker today a word of encouragement from the LORD? And that tree with those beautiful leaves of changing fall color? Could that be God's glory in your neighborhood? How about that song that was just played on the radio? God's love song to you, perhaps? You get the idea.

So, I thank you, LORD, and I thank you, dear Readers, for reminding me to seek God. I needed that today. I need it everyday, but praise God it happened today.