Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31 Fully Devoted

I Kings 14: 23- 24 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.

I have been thinking about that phrase ever since last week..and then when I discovered my devotional was still at home this morning I decided to focus on the daily Bible passage that comes to my email. Very relevant it seems to me, in reflection of what it means top be fully devoted. And then there is the focus our church has for the next six weeks - on what it means to walk as a believer, one who loves God and whose life fully reflects that relationship, in particular our concern for others, and our willingness to sacrifice for their good.

My husband has always believed and practiced Ephesians 4: 28 : Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

We work to pay our bills, to serve God through the gifts and talents He has given us, but also so that we have enough to give to the needy...not so that we have enough to live a luxurious life style. OF course, the way most Americans live would be called luxurious by much of the rest of the world - after all - we have a closet full of clothes and shoes and cupboards full of food - to say nothing of our houses of many rooms. But I digress.

Being completely devoted - think of those you love, parents, mates, children, and how much of your decision making revolves around your love and devotion for them. Then think, and I am speaking to myself, how much of our decision making revolves around our love for God AND our love for one another....because that is what He calls us to, and being devoted to Him means also devoted to the well-being of others.

Judah had the high places and images and groves which completely distracted them from God. Today I am wondering what my high places and images and groves are that distract me from being completely devoted to God and His children.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my mother's birth. I know she readily sacrificed much so that I could have - whether it was an outfit or go to college. To my shame, I think, I know too little of sacrifice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27 Turning Our Backs on God

I Kings 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

Not fully devoted - powerful words! OK, I'm going to be transparent here... I have been a Christ-follower since I was eight-years-old. I confess that what that looked like varied over the years, as I grew to understand more and more of what pleased God and as I personally walked closer to and then farther from and back to God.

A couple of weeks ago, Jim and I had an opportunity to speak at a convention for home school parents and students. It was a powerful day as we wandered among shopping parents, some in the colorless or calico garb that reflected their faith tradition; others in smart stylish dress and still others in long denim skirts with hip-length hair. Since then, I have been reconsidering what it means to be fully devoted to God comparing my walk to that of these women, in particular. Not always a good thing, but sometimes a very good thing.

I do realize that clothing does not tell the complete heart story, but many of these families have chosen to separate themselves from the world and its influences to protect their children, to protect themselves from the temptations of the world. Are they somehow more spiritual than me because of their what we might call sacrifices - living a life-style not dissimilar from that of our grandparents or great-grandparents?

Of course not! But it does cause me to reflect on how fully devoted I am to God, what I might be willing to sacrifice for my faith, for my God. Solomon was drawn away from his first love by the influence of his wives. What influences do I have in my life that could draw me away from being fully devoted? What good things might distract me from the best? And what does the best look like?

I have been reading recently about other believers who chose to live monastic lives to give God more influence in their lives and to show Him their dedication to Him. How does such separation balance with a call to be light in darkness - how close to the darkness must or should we get to be light? And does isolation or complete separation from the world make our light brighter or less visible? Do we then become objects of derision rather than light? You can tell I am thinking out loud here.

David messed up, but he wept over his sin. Oh God, help me to choose rightly those who influence me, and may you be my first and primary influence. Then, I pray, that you will help me to be light, to be fully devoted to you, by loving those around me in your Name as you first loved me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26 Man, Woman and Mystery

Proverbs 30:18-19 There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.

Are we any different from the wise writer of these proverbs in our capacity to understand these things? I think about evolution and the laws behind it - that living creatures evolve in relationship to their needs to survive. Tell me how the eagle knew it needed to fly to survive and how long did it take it to develop the wherewithal to fly? Well, you get the idea.

Let's think about the way of a man with a maiden and the author's comments that each was created to supply what was missing in the other. I would like to consider this or take it one step further. Mankind was created in the image of God, but it seems to me that it requires the best of both genders to reflect the image of God as completely as is humanly possible.

Years ago, when I was in graduate school, I took a course on feminism. I wanted to understand what it really was all about, and in the end, what I learned was vey helpful. First, the literature seemed to say that for a woman to succeed in the world, she had to function as a male. Interesting! In their search for equality, women were driven to reject who they were and where God made them most comfortable and adopt male values and style of relating. Instead women not only  were to dress in male garb but reject the feminine as something weak. Child-bearing was deferred; homemaking was demeaned, until....they realized that the corporate world and life-style did not satisfy. And for many, it was too late.

Then in my research for my final project - showing that there are indeed intentional male and female biological and psychological differences, I found a scientist who made no pretensions of being a believer who affirmed all that we might say about those differences, except that God designed them intentionally.

All of that to say this, God is our Protector, and males were given the physical body and muscular development to be the protector. And God is our Refuge and Strength, our very present Helper. Woman was given the emotional makeup to comfort, to support; her very identift and job from God's mouth is to be a helper....like He is.

It is not possible to fully develop this topic in these few lines, but I am so thankful that I am designed by God and given this role, of representing Him, created in His image, and of filling the gap of what is missing - being a helper, like He is.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24 Of Hidden Motives

Proverbs 16: 2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him but motives are weighed by the LORD.

I know this is from last week, but it seems like many of the entries since them have been related to this one. The first few words: all a man's ways seem innocent to him, caused me to stop, to reflect on what the writer is really saying. The man in question, who reviews his ways and calls them innocent, is only evaluating those ways from his own perspective, from how they impact his life.

I have to be upfront about what I am going to say here, I seldom get out of bed and think through my agenda for the day to determine how it is going to affect the rest of the world. what it is going to say about who I really am. Instead, I run through my to-do list and consider how I am going to get it done...how I am going to achieve my goals set for my good that day.

How different it might be if I thought through what God would want me to do, or how He might want me to do it, or how my plans would affect those touched by them. Good choices, selfless choices require contemplation, and too often we march through our day with no time for reflection. Oh, we may be doing what we think of as good things, harmless things even, but if we took the time to think through our motives for all of our choices, perhaps we would make some different ones.

The word meditate appears 15 times and the word consider 71 times in the New America Standard Version of the Bible. It would appear that God places significance on our taking time to think about things - to mull them over so we can make right choices. I wonder if our failure to do this is a by-product of our American culture and the false virtue of busyness. It is almost as though the busier we are, the more virtuous we are. And I am pretty sure that God does not think of it that way.

He would be more honored by our taking the time, even building it into our schedule, to slow down, and think about what we do and why we do it....so that we act with pure motives and He gets the glory.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20 Disciplining for Eternity

May 20 Disciplining for Eternity and Of Hidden Motives

First I want to speak a moment with my readers. Just because I do not write a post does not mean I have not read either our devotional or the Word of God in some form. It is not that I think there is some special merit to going through the motions of "doing devos," and I need to confess to you or justify my absence from these pages. However, I do believe that this practice of using a devotional can be one tool in developing or growing intimacy with the Father.

Wednesday we visited our son and his family, and I would appreciate your continued prayers for his recovery. It looks like this is a months' long endeavor.

Yesterday I attended a conference for work, a conference with other counseling professionals from colleges and universities in northeastern Pennsylvania. It as a very helpful conference dealing with the care of care-givers or counselors...helping us identify how to do a self-check to make sure that we are people-helping for the right motives and then how to care for ourselves so that we remain healthy enough to do a good job. I will be reworking some of that material for our Res Hall Staff here at BBC.

Now to some other notes:

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child, if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

While we were at my son's house the other day, my three-year-old grandson misbehaved. He was given a time-out on the stairs - the stairs led up to the bedroom level and we could see him from the dining room. He trooped over to the stairs and sat there knowing he was missing the dinner fellowship because of his disobedience. Earlier in the day, he was told to clean up his cars, and when he failed to do so, his mother started to count. She didn't get to 2 before he began the (to him) arduous and unpleasant task.

This verse came to my mind, the subject of discipline in general. At the time this proverb was written, the concept of time out had not been invented. In that culture, the idea of time out meant nothing. There were no TV shows, or games, or play dates, or whatever that a child could be restricted from. Discipline meant some kind of corporal punishment. Not so today.

Discipline today can be as effective, for most children, without the rod being used. The important elements are consistency, unpleasantness, and relevance to the child. I had a friend who said his three children would respond differently to a time out. One would love it - that child delighted in alone time. Another would love it because there were may things to entertain him in his room. The third one would hate it because of his social nature. So for discipline to be effective, it must be thoughtful.

I think God is thoughtful in the way he disciplines or shapes our lives as well. Sometimes he uses the words of a friend. Sometimes even the unkind words, with the ring of truth in them, from an acquaintance. Sometimes we must learn from the consequences of our choices. God knows how to get our attention, but He leaves the response to us. Tommy is three, but he knows already what is expected of him and what the consequences are. Sometimes he chooses well, and sometimes not so well...but he is learning. I pray that you and I pay attention and that we are so often in fellowship with God that we recognize His voice of warning when we begin to tread in unsafe territory.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17 Wising Up the Hard Way

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Maybe you've never struggled with what it means to fear the LORD, but I have. It seemed impossible for me to reconcile the God who loved me enough to redeem me and give me a path to a life of love, joy, and peace with a God of whom I should be afraid.

As I thought about it this morning, it made me think about my context for fear or being afraid. Unfortunately, I do remember being afraid or fearful of what my father might do (alcohol does terrible things - to the one who abuses it and the one who is abused by it). That fear had little to do with respect and much to do with fear of emotional or physical harm, about the reality of that kind of pain being visited upon me personally or others I loved. So fear of someone had a real context for me...and one I struggled to connect with God.

Smith defines fear this way: the fear of God that begets knowledge is a fear which manifests such profound respect for God's authority that one dare not questions his word on any matter. This I can buy or understand. God alone has all power, all authority over His creation and the right to do with it as He pleases. God alone knows exactly what we need at any point of our lives to move us toward Him. We, as His children, have no right to ask Him why, as if He owes us any explanation for what He allows into our lives, unless....unless that question is not a challenge but an inquiry that would allow us to extract the greatest good fro our circumstances.

As I think about fearing God personally, I wonder if I have, like many women who have experienced unhealthy relationships with their earthly fathers, confused fearing or respecting God with fearing, being afraid of my early father. And in the process, missed out on something important. I wanted a sweet Daddy who always smiled at me, who would embrace me and take care of me. But I needed a Daddy who also set boundaries because He, not only had the right to, but because He loved me enough to. I needed a Daddy who had and exercised authority and was worthy of my respect and obedience.

Today, young people do not give respect easily as an older generation was taught to. Recent generations have required others to earn their respect. God has already done that. He made the greatest of sacrifices to show us His love, and He has never failed us. Not one word in all of His WORDs will fail us, will fail to move us toward peace with Him and peace within...and unending joy.

What a paradox - fear can being peace and joy!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 14 -16 The Best Laid Plans

2 Chronicles 6:8-9 But the LORD said to my father David, "Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart, Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood - he is the one who will build the temple for my Name."

Can you imagine how David felt when he heard this? A man after God's own heart, yet with both great regrets and great ideas has those good ideas confirmed but is denied the privilege of carrying out the plan.

I wonder whether he mourned these words, wondering or knowing perhaps, that this is the consequence of his sin, that he would be denied the honor of building God's temple. He could imagine the temple, see it in this mind, feel like he could almost touch it, but it would never be his to do. I am not sure that this is why God denied the building of the temple to David, but I am sure that sin has consequences.

As I talk about the consequences of sin, it is important not to get them confused with the forgiveness of sin or the payment of sin. Indeed, Christ paid the price of all of our sin on the cross and in the days of his separation from the Father. That sin debt has been paid for the believer. But....there are still consequences. The divorced cannot be undivorced. The premarital sexual experiences cannot be undone. The lies cannot be retracted...well, you get the idea, and you can see the consequences, in one's mind if not visible to the outside world.

I wonder if we might preach the gospel of forgiveness and redemption so clearly that it gives people a false sense of security. They know Christ has paid the eternal price of their sin; they forget that they must pay the temporal price, the earthly consequences of those same actions.

David was not permitted to build the temple. I wonder what blessings we are denied by the sinful or selfish choices we may make on a day-to-day basis....the personal peace, perhaps, if not the undefiled relationships.

May 13 The Importance of Quiet Times

I Kings 6:7 In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other it on tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

Can you imagine that? Those who were building the temple could actually hear themselves think. That said, I think there was still plenty of noise as they shouted to one another to move it this way or slide it over that way, or get out of the way. Perhaps the sounds of camaraderie echoed off from the huge blocks of stone, the laughter of men working on a common goal as members of a team, each one knowing his task, yet still able to laugh with one another. Perhaps they chatted about what they were going to do at the end of the day or what they had for breakfast. After all they were human men doing a job, and no matter how important the task, how reverent they might be at times, they still were people working together.

There was no cutting at the building site, no tools for cutting. The stones arrived at the building site shaped and ready to use. I wonder what that says to us today....a metaphor for the importance of being well-prepared for the tasks we attempt of the jobs we assume. Somewhere men labored over that stone with all kinds of stone-cutting tools, a task that required time, dedication, perseverance, and imagination...seeing what was inside the rough boulders they were shaping into a part of the House of God.

I think of us who work at BBC, or church workers, or anyone who has a part in the shaping of a life whether as a parent or friend or teacher of any kind. We must remember the goal, and that it requires time and focus and hope. Students come here in all stages of their spiritual growth, and as we work with them over a four-year period, we watch beautiful works of art, works of God emerge from those rough beginnings. But it would never happen if we gave up early on because of the size of the task.

So we work as a team, here at BBC and there in your churches, and we make a lot of noise as we shape the lives before us. Then, in silence and prayer, we send them out from our hands, for God to place in the wall of His Church, His Body.

Oh, I know there are errors perhaps in the semantics of what I have just said, but I do think the idea is valid, the metaphor valid. Lots of hard work and dedication and faith that God will use what we are doing for His glory though we might never see exactly the place in the wall our students assume.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12 Praying for Wisdom

I Kings 3:9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours.

Smith says that "Wisdom is only acquired through experience, thought, and reflection." Well, we all have lots of experiences, but the experience by itself does not necessarily teach us anything. It is only as we debrief, or rehearse the experience observing what happened, how we responded to it and the results of those actions that we can learn something or gain wisdom that we can then apply to the next situation.

The problem is that we too often live such busy lives there is little or no time for reflection. And we feel good about it...the busyness, virtuous even. We may complain about it, but I just heard that there are actually people who thrive on complaining about how busy they are. It is as though their identity and value is wrapped up in their busyness, and they need to complain or tell others so they can be affirmed or supported.

How sad is that!!! One thing I have noticed over the last few days is that people sure do find their value in all the wrong places - in money, in looks, in busyness, in other people, in a degree or a job....forgetting that all of those situations are temporary. Only our relationship with God will last. And His love alone determines our value; He considered us worth paying the greatest price for us, the blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, He ,Who cannot lie, has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Now who else can make and keep that promise?

Anyway, I don't think we do enough reflection in general. That's why we find ourselves back in the same old place, repeating the same old mistakes, one more time. If we spent more time, even daily, reflecting through the day's events and what we learned, that knowledge would stick and turn into wisdom. When we do not rehearse things - words, events, even people's names, we fail to transfer them from short term to long term memory, and their value is lost. Wonder if that is whey there is so much emphasis on meditation, on storing or hiding God's Word in our hearts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May11 Musings on The Mystery of Beauty

I Kings 1:3-4 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful girl and found Abishag, a Shunamite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her.

David is dying and a beautiful woman is chosen to attend him, perhaps to keep him warm - remember no central heating at the time. The writer makes the point that only the best would do to serve the king, and beauty is a qualification of the best. All of this sparks some thinking about beauty.

In high school, our Future Teachers' Club went to New York City where we met students from a school in Tennessee. Of all the young men we met, only one stands out to me. He was probably the most charming man I have ever met, and remember we were in high school. He was attentive, polite, had a sense of humor, and appeared interested in us, in me. We carried on a friendly correspondence for some months, and I actually considered going to college where he was going, a Christian college in Tennessee - Bryan College.

But he was not beautiful. He was not tall, not built, and had kind of a round head as I remember, wore glasses, and in a word, was physically homely. But he was so attractive in his person, that his looks just were not important.

Physical beauty may open a door, but what is inside keeps the door open. And physical beauty is both subjective and temporary, at least as the world defines it. Yesterday I saw a woman who has had 53 cosmetic surgeries to keep her beautiful, and she said she is going to continue to have surgeries to remain beautiful. I had to wonder who she was having the surgeries for, because it was not for other people. How sad for her....all that pain because there wasn't much inside to help her maintain relationships.

So what do we ordinary people have going for us? First we are the majority!!!! Then I think about beautiful people and the people they attract - many times other beautiful people. And without the Lord, that physical beauty tends to make one very narcissistic - or self-absorbed, not very good life-partners. Perhaps that is why Hollywood marriages tend to be of short duration - there is not enough room there for two egos of that size.

Then as I continue to think about beauty, I think about God as the creator of beauty - we are constantly attempting to capture the beauty He first created in nature. And he made us to respond to beauty in nature - there is something soothing about the beautiful sounds and scenes of nature - a sunset or sunrise, the petals of a flower or the brilliant green of unfolding leaves, the melody of birdsong or the chorus or peepers.

So where does that leave us - I think we must consider whether we are beautiful in character, or how much are we like Christ. The more like Him that we are, the more love, peace, joy, patience we exhibit, the more attractive we will be....so is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Yes, but beauty is an equal-opportunity trait....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 9 Hope in the Midst of Despair

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

When challenges of any kind come our way, we tend to want to know why, as if we have some special right to know why, as if He is not God Who owes us nothing. Then we want to know what He is going to do about it, to fix it, again as if He owes us anything.

Right now my child is very sick...oh, he is in his thirties, but he is still my child. He is in the hospital struggling to breathe, and when I saw him yesterday it brought back an incident when he was three months old and in the hospital for the first time since he was born, with a pneumonia -like illness. I watched through my own tears struggle to breathe, and I talked to God. I started with the please make him well and ended with the "He is yours. I want him well and here with me, but I trust him to you and I know with you is far better." He is here, so you know how that one ended.

But recently again I was tempted to try to bargain with God, and once again, and it is as hard or harder than it was years ago to get to the place where I say, "Your will, not mine.

The Psalms ends with note of assurance: "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one, he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help."

So I find comfort in the reminder that God has not hidden his face from me. He is watching all of this unfold, and I believe He can and will intervene when it is for our long-term good. I have always known that God's love is perfect, and tempered with His omniscience and omnipotence. Because He is God, the outworking of His love is for our good, and in that, I will rest.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6 Confession is Good for the Soul

Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledge my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. Is aid, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD."-and you forgave the guilt of all my sin.

David's psalm, his poetry written as we might journal our walk with God...that's really what the psalms are, a very personal journal of someone's walk with God. However, I think we can make some mistakes if we use these psalms as the basis for our theology...or if we do so without really understanding what is going on.

First when I think of what forgiveness means, I know many people don't get it. Forgiveness, God's forgiveness first is God's response to our desire for restored fellowship. We acknowledge that we have offended Him, that we have violated the plan He gave us for peace with Him and with each other, and we miss that fellowship. Forgiveness, and God gives it readily, as does a human father to a remorseful child, restores the broken relationship - that rift which occurs when we know we have disappointed our father or deceived him (which does disappoint) or violated his code for us. We know our behavior has separated us from him and Him and forgiveness closes that gap. We can once again commune with joy, albeit with regret.

Confession doesn't get rid of the penalty of our sin. Christ paid the penalty for our sin, all of them, on the cross. We access that gift of a clean slate when we trust in Him, accepting that gift of love and redemption. Again, confession and the forgiveness we feel restores fellowship. Oh, there may well be consequences here that we have set in motion by our sin, but the penalty before God has been paid.

I have encountered students who felt that if they confessed and admitted their sin, they should not have additional consequences. Their misunderstanding is two-fold. First that consequences are the same as punishment for sin - and indeed God took care of the eternal consequence of our sin. BUT, God knows that we learn by temporal consequences.

That pat on the bottom of a two-year-old helps him to remember not to color on the walls. No pat, and he may well not remember that coloring on the walls is unacceptable. I know that is a homely illustration, but you can grow it up as you wish. The teenager who has been smoking secretly for years and is caught smoking can confess all he or she wants, but the possibility of long-term disease consequences exists. The couple who engage in premarital sexual activity may confess and weep over their sin, but that will not erase or eliminate any of the possible consequences - like recurring regret, especially if they break up.

Well, you get the point - there is the beauty of restored fellowship with confession, but the earthly consequences of our choices may continue to haunt us.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 5 Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eye saw my unformed body.

I love the terms woven together. Can you see the threads, the warp and the woof, of your life? Where did the genes come from that determine your height, your build? How about your facial structure or the color of your eyes? Then consider how far back you have to do to find the ancestor who made a decision that caused your parents and then you to be born where you were....thus affecting perhaps your accent and your biases. Think about your heritage - the grandparents and extended family and how their choices have affected or influenced yours. All of those thread carefully woven together before you were born to design the beautiful fabric of your life, to borrow a cliche.

For me, I think about my dad's passion for untamed territory, the mountains and beautiful streams running over broad rock beds. Would I love them so much were I born of a "city feller?" Then my dad was a town guy, and I don't know how he came to love the freedom of the country, but he did love it. I think of my mother, raised as a lady, raising her daughters to be polite "ladies."

I watched my mother knit beautiful sweaters, works of art, so I think of God as He carefully knits us together - like my mother's sweaters, intended for beauty and purpose. And like my mother's sweaters, there is no thread in there by accident; each thread has a purpose, to make us more compassionate, more merciful, to make us able to speak or teach or write or cook or lead, to enable us to glorify and serve God.

We are created in God's image as creators, and He does not make junk when he weaves us all together.

May 2 Having an Inside Track

Psalm 119:98-100 Your commands make wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

I've always said, "Get it in there, then the Holy Spirit will have something to work with." I think that is the point of Psalm 119 - read the Word, memorize it, meditate on it, do whatever you can to get it from your short term memory into your long term memory, so that in time of need, God can bring to your mind what you need.

When I was ten my church had a program to earn your way to camp free - memorize and recite 100 selected verses. That exercise has formed the basis of my Christian life - when I am discouraged God brings to mind, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." I did memorize it in the old King James version. And I love the beauty and the foundation of my faith in John 1:1-14, filled with so much theology and emotion - "He came unto his own and his own received him not." How tragic is that?!!! Verse 12, "As many as received him to them gave He power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His name."

And John 14 - so much here, from our future - He is preparing a place a place for me after this life. What hope!!! and I have long been comforted by verses 26 and 27 of that chapter, " But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring into your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

We do have an inside track on a life of peace and joy, the inside track is the Word of God firmly planted in our hearts, so that when temptation and pain arrive, we are ready. The Holy Spirit has lots of ammunition to equip us for the fray.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 1 The Compassion of Human Frailty

Psalm 103:13-14 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers we are dust.
What a beautiful thought: my heavenly Father has compassion on my in the same way that an earthly father would on his own small child. The earthly father knows that child is fragile, so he adjusts his expectations. In the same way, my heavenly Father does not hold me to standards of perfection because He knows that I am made of dust; in Paul's words, I am handicapped by this sin which dwells in my flesh.
As I meditate on this passage, I find great comfort in the compassion of God, His gentle love restraining the harsh judgment our sin might deserve. Then I think about that phrase, "those who fear Him."

Fear: yare: fearing, reverent, afraid. As I reflect on that, I think about how too many people do not fear God, not because He is diminished when we talk about Him as a God of love, but because of how diminished He is by the box we put Him in. We put God in a box, like a child's toy, to be pulled out when we need Him, when we have gotten ourselves into trouble, or we are experiencing too much pain. Then we call on God for help.the Hebrew word.

I am grateful to be confident in the love of God, to be forgiven, but I also know that God does allow people to harden their hearts, and that my friend is a fearful thing, to rouse God's wrath and grief so that He would allow us to so harden our hearts that we no longer hear Him.

So, today I thank God for His compassion, I find great comfort in it, but I also pray that I will never drift away from Him into the land of hard hearts.