Monday, June 20, 2016

The Waiting Room

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  Psalm 27:14 

I was recently talking with a friend who's been going through a test of faith.  As she shared her heart with me she cried, "when is God going to do something?  I've prayed and prayed and PRAYED!" She said, "I read accounts in the bible where people prayed and God answered them."  She clearly felt alone, distressed and discouraged.  

When she finished and waited for my response it was this: "It's not the end of the matter yet".  It's true, many bible characters prayed and the Lord answered.  But he answered in his time.  In Psalm 27 David repeatedly cries to the Lord.  But he faithfully points out who the Lord is and what he believes the Lord can and will do.  

He begins by saying, "the Lord is my light and salvation and I don't need to be afraid.  The wicked come against me, but it is them who will fall.  In trouble he will keep me safe and set me on a rock." 

But verse seven takes a turn.  We find David saying, "Lord, hear my voice, be merciful and answer me. Don't hide your face from me, don't turn me away, don't reject or forsake me. Teach me your way."   

Obviously, now, David is crying out to the Lord for help.  We clearly see that David knows he needs to be taught something.  He said, "teach me your way".  At this point it seems that he might be feeling the same way my friend was feeling: alone, distressed and discouraged. 

Then in verses 13 and 14, David reveals the key that unlocks the situation. He says, "I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

David is sure that God will answer.  He is confident that the Lord will help.  But he then states that he knows he has to wait.  And he mentions this not once, but twice in the same verse.  


Have you ever had someone tell you something that you agreed with wholeheartedly so you declared, "you can say that again?"  

In Isaiah 40 we read, "don't you know, haven't you heard, that the everlasting God never faints or gets weary?  He gives power to the faint and he strengthens the weak.  Even young people will faint and fall (those without God) but they that WAIT upon the Lord, their strength will be renewed, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not grow faint".  

If you look into the Hebrew meaning of the word "wait" as it is used in these passages, Isaiah 40 and Psalm 27, it means "entwined".  It means "when you are right in the thick of things, when things look dark, when everything points to failure, when you can't see the end from the beginning, right in the midst of the battle, when you feel you can't go on..."

God gives you strength.  He gives you power.  He renews you so that you can run the race without fainting.  
It happens in the waiting.  

"Wait, I say, on the Lord."    


Friday, June 10, 2016

We Have Always Been Taught

Many of the conversations I have found myself engaged in lately have started with the words "we have always been taught".

The Lord has been busy in the last couple of years "unteaching" me things that I've always been taught, and I am beginning to have a clearer understanding of who he is, how much he loves me, and how much he wants to give me.

Have you ever thought this..."If I keep "messing up" God's going to get sick of it, run out of patience with me, and cast me away." (?) I've spent most of my adult life believing that. And I'm here to tell you today that it's a lie. A flat out LIE from the pit of hell!

Luke 11:11 says, "which of you fathers, if your son asked you for bread, would give him a stone? Or if he asked you for a fish, would you give him a serpent?" It goes on to say that "if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts, how much more does our Heavenly Father?"

I'd like to pose a scenario. Let's say that you've been teaching your child to not play in the road. Over and over you have had to remind and correct your child because for one reason or another, whether it is forgetfulness or even perhaps disobedience, he keeps playing in the road. What is your limit? After a number of times of having to speak to your child about this, do you take him out into the road, lay them down, make them stay there, get in your car, and run over them to teach them a lesson?

Of course not!

Neither does our Heavenly Father do hurtful things to us "to teach us a lesson".

This way of thinking limits God. It limits his love for us, his patience, his compassion, and so on. We hold him to our own measuring stick instead of his.

For example, when the 12 spies went to spy out the land, 10 came back exclaiming, "there are giants in the land and we are like grasshoppers in their sight. There is no way we can take that land!" Joshua and Caleb however, proclaimed, "yes, there are giants. But we are well able to conquer that land!"

What I see here in Numbers 13 is a classic case of men who measured themselves to the giants vs. men who measured their ability in the power of God. Scripture tells us that "Joshua and Caleb were of a different spirit".

More and more I am realizing that I have lived a limited life, void of many of the victories and blessings that my Heavenly Father intended me to have, because I believed "what I'd always been taught".

My husband has said for years, "we need to know what we believe and why we believe it". God has used this in my life a lot lately, challenging me to look at various beliefs that I have had.

I "was always taught" (and believed) that Jesus did not heal everyone. After all, at the pool of Bethesda Jesus stepped over many to get to the one, right? But one day I heard someone say, "Jesus healed everyone that asked him". This provoked my thinking and caused me to dig deeper into the scriptures. I found no account of someone asking Jesus for healing and him refusing. In fact, in many cases when Jesus healed someone he told them, "your faith has made you whole".

I recently heard a preacher, B.H. Clendennen, speak on this subject. He stressed that it is God's will that all would be whole, just as it is his will that all be saved. And as long as we continue to believe that "maybe God doesn't want to heal me, because maybe he's trying to show me something", we don't fully believe that he wants us to be whole. We don't fully believe that God wants only good things for us. We don't understand what his will is for us.

"And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief". Hebrews 3:18-19

I am challenging you today to look deeper into the written word of God. To know what his will is for you. To believe what his word says. Don't believe something because "it's what we have always been taught".

Find out exactly what his word says.

Then,

Believe it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beauty or the Beast

There has been much controversy in the past few days about Harambe, the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, who dragged a four year old boy throughout his pen and through the water.

Someone in my circle of acquaintances recently said (and I quote) "I'm so sad the gorilla died. I'm sad for the mother and how much guilt and shame she must be feeling for an accident. I'm sad for the little boy who I'm sure is traumatized. I'm sad about animals that are in factory farms and the farmers that feel like it's ok to torture those poor innocent animals. I'm sad about any living thing not treated like the beautiful beings of love that they are. Everyone was someone's baby at some point. It's impossible to look at a baby and think about shaming it for anything or wanting to cause it pain. All of this happens because of a lack of love and kindness. I start with practicing unconditional love and act kind towards myself. It then moves out and it effects every choice I make and every person I come in contact with. If we all did that the world we be a much different place."

This statement provoked many thoughts that have been rumbling around in my head and I would like to share a few.

First, it sounds to me like this person is sad over many things. I have to ask myself "in a world that is imperfect and dark, that is prone to sadness, does she have joy?" And if so, from where does it come?

Secondly, she states, "I'm sad about any living thing not treated like the beautiful beings of love that they are. Everyone was someone's baby at some point. It's impossible to look at a baby and think about shaming it for anything or wanting to cause it pain." So I ask myself, how does she feel about abortion? Millions of babies are caused pain every day. But many excuse abortion away with "it's not a live baby, it's only tissue". Really? So then if a person is pronounced dead when their heart stops beating, why isn't a person pronounced alive when it starts beating? (Doctors start counting from the gestation period when the mother stops having her menses. Therefore, the heart forms soon after fertilization. From the doctor’s calculation of the gestation period, this happens about four weeks after the mother’s last periods. This is barely a fortnight after fertilization, but the heart is forming. By the fifth week of the gestation period, the heart starts beating and divides into chambers. Six weeks later blood is flowing inside the body, and there is an improved heartbeat rate of 100 to 160 every minute. So you can hear a baby’s heartbeat at six week gestation. Read about it HERE

It seems to me that many adjust the rules as they go to ease their consciences. She says, "it's impossible to look at a baby and think about shaming it or causing it pain". Did you know that when a woman has an abortion she doesn't see the monitor screen? She doesn't see the baby being torn apart, limb by limb. The abortionist make certain of that.

And how do we explain child abuse? I strongly disagree with "it's impossible". The fact is, we are all capable of anything if we cast off enough restraint. The bible tells us "our hearts are desperately wicked and we can't even know how much" (Jer 17:9) and "it's the love of God that restrains us". (2 Cor 5:14)

I understand that "If we all did that (show love and kindness) the world would be a much different place". True. Wouldn't that be wonderful? However, if we look at the world realistically, we DON'T all do that and the world is NOT a much different place. It would be nice if it could be that way, but the truth of the matter is is that since the fall of man we live in a fallen state. There is evil, sin, corruption, etc, and the bible says the heart of man IS desperately wicked. We live in a world where accidents happen, sometimes even in the best of circumstances. And imperfection will remain until Jesus returns.

This woman said "I'm sad for the mother and how much guilt and shame she must be feeling for an accident." Isn't saying that the mother of the little boy must be feeling guilt and shame indirectly making a judgment? Perhaps she is feeling guilt and shame. Perhaps she isn't. Even though she is saying she feels sad that the mother must be feeling those things, she is actually judging her. She sounds like a nice person, and I'm sure her judgment is unknowingly. But doesn't her statement suggest that the mother did something wrong? I don't know if she did or not, but I feel it's best for the world to reserve judgment. In my opinion, no judging would be a more true and effective showing of love and kindness.

We are living in a time where there is little regard for human life. The care and preservation of animals takes precedence. We read in Genesis that God gave mankind dominion over the animals (the beasts). When Adam sinned and mankind fell from grace, it was mankind that Jesus Christ came to redeem, not the animals. Does God care about the animals? Of course. Afterall, "His eye is on the sparrow." But he cares more for man and having a relationship with man. That is why he sent His only begotten son to suffer and die on a cross and be raised from the dead, to redeem mankind so that he could be joined back to God.

In Deuteronomy 30:19 the Lord said, "This day I set before you life and death. Choose life." It's an open book test. He tells us the right one to choose.

What do we choose?

 Life or death?

Beauty?

Or the Beast?