October 20, 2008

The Center of His Will

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own."

Isaiah 53:6

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are in fact in the center of God's will for your life? Every day we make decisions about our life that not only affect our own lives but the lives of others in our life as well. Sometimes our decisions find us wondering if in fact we have made the right choices because the wrong ones can be life shattering when in turn the right ones can bring a flood of blessings.

Many years ago I heard a great illustration about how being at the very center of God's will can be just like being right in the middle of a fast flowing river. The current is strongest in the center but slower toward the edge. When we are at the center of God's will for our lives, His guidance within our lives is strong and certain but when we drift away from His will we find His guidance to be a bit harder to discern and we move further from His protection and direction. It can mean moving from His perfect will to His permissive will and then to being completely out of His will.

The further we move from the center of His will the closer we get to being out of it all together and closer to living in our own pride and independence. Being out of His will only makes our life more difficult as we try and move ahead. We are certain to face more obstacles and troubles along the way as we manage to do it all in our own strength. As those obstacles come along, they cause us to move further and further from God's will and we find ourselves frustrated because His plan for our lives becomes unclear and decisions become harder to make. There just seems to be no clear direction. In the end, you end up feeling as if you are headed down the wrong road or you have definitely hit a dead end.

Sometimes when we recognize the place at which we have found ourselves, it is too late and life as well as God's plan has moved on and we may not be able to reenter where we left off. It is however never too late to enter back into the center of His will and He waits for you there. Do not be afraid to dive right back in and head back to the center of that river. Do not settle for the ankle deep or even a knee-deep place in that river but head right to where the river flows the fastest and find satisfaction and complete abandonment in being back in the center of the strongest and most certain will of God.




October 15, 2008

Lifeline

"This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

"I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."

Jeremiah 17:5-10

How many times do we blame circumstances or people for our lack of relationship with Christ? So many times it becomes so much easier to blame life or even someone else for our lack of commitment but we must remember that God can look past our outward appearances and can look straight into our minds and hearts to discover the truth of our condition. None of our good deeds will ever be able to cover up the sin filled hearts that we have because God examines our hearts and when deceit and sin block our lifeline to God, He judges and disciplines accordingly.

We can look at this passage and use it to determine our hearts condition. What does your relationship with Christ look like and what or whom are you using as an excuse for the lack there of at this moment? You must determine whether you are a bush or a tree. Imagine that you are walking along in the scorching heat, your mouth is dry and up ahead you see a small bush with dry brown leaves but then you look in the other direction and there you find a tall, green, lush tree close to a stream. In that moment, which direction will you head for refreshment? Clearly, it is not a hard choice to make. What is it that makes that tree so lush and green? It is something that we cannot see and something that is connected to the source of that trees life. That tree has sturdy roots that hold it planted in the ground and that grow toward that stream which brings it life and allows it to produce good fruit. That is so symbolic of what our life should look like as Christians. Our lives should be rooted in the truth of God's word filling us with His "living water" allowing us to bear "much fruit" and giving us "eternal life". Without it, as strife and pain come our way, we will fail because we cannot stand-alone.

In this world, we choose whether we will trust in ourselves and be like that bush or trust in God and be like that tree. We need to spend time examining what our relationship with Christ looks like. You cannot grow and remain in Christ if you are not already in Him or have not given your life to Him. You must confess your need for Him in your life and be honest about your bush-like traits. Christ longs to fill each of us with a joy that can only come from Him.

"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"

1 Peter 1:8

We must remember that we alone cannot produce good fruit because that can only be accomplished through a relationship with Christ. Without Him, we will wither and fade spiritually leaving us unfulfilled and lonely but if we stay close to Him, we will bear much fruit and experience His presence and joy in our life. (John 15:7-8)

October 14, 2008

Trick or Treat?

It is Halloween again and one of those holidays for Christians with a stigma attached. I have received several emails as to my thought of Halloween and as to whether it is celebrated in our home. First because of personal decisions that my husband and I made long before we ever had children based on personal convictions from the study of scripture and the holiday itself, we do not celebrate Halloween. I will not go into our personal reasons but I will share some thoughts that can be used for not only the celebration of Halloween but other activities in our lives as well.

Scripture says that we are to "Be self-controlled and alert" and that our enemy "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) Because we know this, as Christians we must be careful as to what we become involved in pertaining to the secular world. We must be careful as to not go along with everything that the world participates in so that we are not opening up ourselves to the influence of Satan and his attacks against us. Halloween can promote the belief that Satan is not real and that he is just simply a superstition or it can be used to create a fear of him within people. Both of these things serve as an encouragement to him and his agenda that in turn serve his purpose of bringing glory to his kingdom. Halloween can persuade people to think lightly of him and to fear his power, both of which he would like the world to do in order to take the focus from Christ.

As Christians we are warned to take his threat seriously but at the same time, we are not to fear him "because the One (Christ) who is in you is greater than the one (Satan) who is in the world". (1 John 4:4) As this holiday approaches, we should only have to ask ourselves if what we are doing is bringing honor and glory to God and if it is reminding us of the victory that Christ has over the forces of evil. Together we as Christians should rejoice together that through the faith that we share, there is victory. Use this holiday as a time to be creative and to reach out to the lost, sharing Christ's victory over death and the forces of evil at work in this world and in that, you will bring glory to the One who deserves all the glory.



October 13, 2008

Broken Pieces

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
All my inmost being, praise His holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits-
Who forgives Your sins
And heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit
And crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.


Psalm 103:1-5

Does your life look like a mess scattered all over the floor? Do you ever feel like nothing could be made from the jumbled chaos that is your life? Between the sins, the hurts and the failures it all lays as a million broken pieces that long to be put together.


God created us in His image and we are a beautiful reflection of who He is. He gave His only Son for us so that our lives could be turned into a beautiful masterpiece through His grace. On our own, our lives do not make any sense. When we pick up the pieces and attempt on our own to put them together it only leaves a bigger mess and the pieces just do not fit together.

There is someone who longs to put those pieces back together and He is waiting for us to lift them up to Him. Once we finally surrender and turn them all over to Him, He enters into the picture, picks up the broken pieces and begins to form them. He takes those pieces and ever so carefully turns them into a spectacular masterpiece through His mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. He transforms our lives into an object that makes sense and that is usable. We are touched by the Master, and when His creation (A reborn life) is revealed, it is made complete and new again! There are no flaws to be found because we are made new in Him. His fingerprints are evident and it is clear that He is our source of completion and renewal.

"Lord, I am wonderfully made because You are my Creator. From my beginning until my end, You form me into the creation that You have willed for my life. Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord that in my brokenness You pick up my pieces and make me Your beautiful master piece!"

October 2, 2008

Voice of Truth

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:16-19

Would you as a Christian claim to be ready-minded? Most Christians would immediately say yes because most Christians believe that by being ready and open to hear what God has planned for their lives and ready to respond in complete obedience makes them ready-minded. This is not the case because most are only ready and willing to follow Christ if the message that they hear is one that they want to hear or one that will serve their purpose. Most of the time, we try and kill the messenger that God has sent our way to bring us His message because we do not want to hear it or we do not believe it is for us or because it steps on our toes.

What does ready-mindedness really look like? It means that instead of only listening for those things that we want to hear, that we listen out for those things that we need to hear. It means that we are willing to say that we are wrong and that something in our life needs to change. When we have minds that are ready-minded, we are able to distinguish the source of the voice speaking to us. It is so easy to pay attention to those words that are encouraging or that make us feel good but none of us enjoys hearing things that makes us aware of our inadequacies.

Satan is constantly combating within our minds to convince us that a message that we may hear is not relevant to us or that in fact it may not even be correct. He will put thoughts in our mind that lead us to believe that what we are hearing is something that we already know or that may be meant for someone else and by doing so, he prevents us from hearing the Truth of what we need in order to gain our freedom in Christ.

More than once, I have heard our pastor preach a sermon on gossip or complacency in our walk and afterwards have heard people walking away saying, "it sure is a shame so and so was not here this morning to hear that sermon." WOW. This is Satan at work and not even five minutes after a service is over. This is how quickly and how easily he works when our minds are not ready to receive God's message of grace and when our minds are not focused on Truth. It is not that we do not need that message; it is that it may never have occurred to us that we ourselves may have needed that very message because we were not ready-minded.

Having a ready mind is not always easy. The more intensely that the Holy Spirit wants to address issues in our life, the more that Satan will try and convince us that we already know or do not need to hear. We must have minds, hearts and ears that are ready, willing and open to accept the messages that come into our life and we must be willing to discern the voice of truth from the lies of Satan.

"Father, may I always hear your message clearly and may I not fall into the lies that Satan uses to convince me otherwise. May I always seek after truth and embrace the message of those that you send before me to share your truth. May I always be willing to say, "yes Lord", no matter what you have to say to me. I want and desire to have a mind that pleases You in everything."