Monday, June 30, 2008

Be Prepared: The Body

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
Mark 12:30

We are supposed to love the Lord with all of our strength. To better serve the Lord, we should maintain our strength. I believe the number one cause of women not having the strength to do the things that would please the Lord is that we do not get enough rest.

The Lord never intended for us to wear ourselves out serving the Lord while neglecting our bodies. Even to the disciples he said:

"And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." (emphasis mine)
Matthew 6:31

The disciples were so busy that "they had no leisure so much as to eat." Sounds like a busy woman, doesn't it. When their lives reached this point, the Lord called them apart to rest a while.

The things we should do in order to get enough rest to serve the Lord with all our strength are simple things that we often forget.

  • Go to bed.
I know it sounds simple, but it is so easy to want to do those few extra things after the rest of the household had gone to bed. It seems productive to work while everyone else sleeps, but it will catch up to you. The living room may be dusted and the laundry may be put away but your strength will not be such that you can love the Lord the way you should.

  • Pace yourself.
It has been said many times but life is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan those things you must accomplish in such a way that you do not destroy your strength.

  • Take time to come aside and rest.
I try to take a short break once an hour. For 10 minutes or so, I stop … drink some water … maybe step outside and enjoy the weather … just something to restore my strength before continuing on with the task at hand.

Prepare yourself to serve the Lord by getting enough rest.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Love of God

by Fredrick Lehman

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Monday, I will return to the series on Preparing to Serve the Lord and we will look at the preparing our bodies.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back to Basics

I'm not afraid to say that I am 47 years old. The number doesn't mean much to me. I laugh when someone turns 30 and thinks that they are getting old.

I am amazed though, that at 47 years old, I find that my thoughts often dwell on lessons I learned when I was four. I teach two- to five-year-olds in Primary Church every week and I am very aware that many of the Bible principles that sustain me, I learned in Primary Church.

This week, I found myself walking around singing

Faith is just believing
What God said He would do.
He will never fail us,
His promises are true.
If we but receive Him,
His children we become.
Faith is just believing
This wondrous work is done.

The song comforted me and I realized that I first learned this song when I was but four. Never underestimate the basics, or the things that you teach your small children.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Conclusion

So, can anyone name the six things?

  • It’s okay to cry.
  • Keep God real.
  • Remind yourself of the good.
  • Focus on the good—not the bad.
  • Look for something every day to remind you God loves you.
  • Look to the future.

I had no idea why God let me suffer the things I suffered. There are some things we will never know. But I do know that I have been able to comfort others. And I can tell you there IS hope when everything seems hopeless.

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."
Psalm 27:13-14

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Look to the future

Okay, quick what are the first 5 things to remember when all seems hopeless?
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • Keep God real.
  • Remind yourself of the good.
  • Focus on the good—not the bad.
  • Look for something everyday to remind you God loves you.

And finally
Look to the Future

Remember, this too shall come to pass. Believe me, I know how hard it is to look ahead when the present is so overwhelming. I have been through trials that I was sure would never end, and yet, the sun came up the next morning and I moved on.

Know that God is doing a work in you for a purpose.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Philippians 1:6

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

You may not know this side of heaven what that purpose is, but He is working.

Pillow your head tonight with the assurance that the sun will rise in the morning and you will move forward.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Remind Yourself of God's Love

One of the keys to keeping hope when all seems hopeless is to remind yourself constantly that God loves you. Look for things to remind you.

I love ladybugs. I decided a long time ago that every time I see a ladybug, I would remind myself that God loves me. Then, I surrounded myself with ladybugs. There is not a room in my house that does not have at least one ladybug in it. My little grandson knows about my ladybugs and every time he finds one, he runs to me to tell me about it.

And all those ladybugs around me make it impossible for me to forget that God loves me. There is so much hope in that one thought.

I have friends who have chosen redbirds, or hummingbirds, or even sand to remind themselves that God loves them. Try it! But above all, remember that God loves you!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
I John 4:10

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,"
Ephesians 2:4

Monday, June 23, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopless: Don't focus on the bad

"For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalm 107:9

Along with reminding yourself all the good things God has done you must

Be mindful of the good and don't focus on the bad!

It is in our nature to see the bad. When all seems hopeless, you have to force yourself to look away, especially if the bad is something that you cannot control. Illness can't be controlled. The actions of others can't be controlled. Natural disasters can't be controlled. When those things are overwhelming you, you must find the good and quit dwelling on the bad.

  • Imagine a hedge around you, don’t look at the gap—look at the protection!

Between December of 2006 and September of 2007, I spent 39 days in the hospital. I was very ill and experienced multiple complications from my surgeries and my treatments. I couldn't control that. Instead of despairing, I learned to be thankful for the marvelous medical treatment that I had access to. If I had not had that care, I certainly would have died. Because I did not dwell on the illness, I laughed my way through the trial.

  • If the bad is in the past, keep it there!
I know so many people who suffer because they can't get over the past. You cannot do anything to change what has already happened. If you continually "play the video" in your mind, you will never undo the past, you will only re-live the pain. Put the past where it belongs. Look to the Lord and the future.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, June 20, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Remember the Good

When all seems hopeless,

Remind yourself of all the good things God has done!

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s."
Psalm 103:2-6

His benefits are numberless! Every last one of us has so much to thank the Lord for. Even in the depths of trials, God has given us breath. That is a blessing!

Do you have someone who loves you? A friend? A sister? A parent?

God had done GREAT things for you! When all seems hopeless, take your mind off of the bad and think on Him.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Keep God Real

One of the most important things to maintain hope is to remember to

Keep God Real!

This is one of the hardest ones, because when all seems hopeless, the devil wants us to think that God is a fairtale—He’s not really there. If you begin to doubt God, you will lose hope.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:6

"But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works."
Psalm 73:28

Some ways to keep God real are:

  • Walk with God, page after page, verse after verse, day after day.
  • Read your Bible according to a plan. Read a Proverbs every day and complete the thought: “A wise woman will . . ."
  • Keep a prayer list and check off answered prayer
A relationship with a real God will give you hope regardless of the circumstances. Keep Him real!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: It's Okay to Cry

First I want to tell you
It's okay to cry!

"Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?"
Psalm 56:8-11

It's even a good thing to cry unto the Lord. He wants to comfort you. It's a good thing physically because a good cry washes stress out of your body.

"My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God."
Psalm 56:8-11

The Lord is with you even when everyone else has left. He wants us to throw ourselves into His loving care and pour out our grief. Because He cares for you so much that he knows how many hairs are on your head.

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Matthew 10:30

Sometimes we get to thinking that tears are a sign of weakness. They are not. They are a sign of grief and the strongest among us suffer grief. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us we can break down and cry. I'm telling you it's okay. So first, when all seems hopeless, go ahead and cry. You'll feel better. The Lord is waiting to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless: Intro

After a short break, I will continue our series on Preparing to Serve the Lord. In the meantime, I want to share a few thoughts with you on Having Hope.

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."

Romans 15:4

I wasn’t always a 44-year-old grandmother. Long ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, I was a 13-year-old girl who thought all was lost. My mother suffered from serious mental illness. From the time I was eight until I was nineteen, she spent more time in mental hospitals than she did at home with us. I was the oldest of five children and it fell to me to care for them. Don't get me wrong, I love them all dearly, but children aren't the best choice for raising other children. As I entered puberty, I faced not only the usual fears and struggles of a 13-year-old girl, but I faced those things alone with more responsibilities than many grown women shoulder. I thought all hope was lost.

I'd been in church since I was two. I had been saved when I was only five. I had surrendered my life to the will of God shortly after I turned eight. It was only my relationship with the Lord that carried me through.

Since that time, I have experienced many trials during which I found myself clinging to the Lord.

Over the coming days, I want to give you 6 things that will help you have hope, when all seems hopeless.

Those things will be:
  1. It’s okay, and even a good thing to cry.
  2. Keep God real.
  3. Remember all the good things God has done.
  4. Be mindful of the good things in your life and don’t focus on the bad.
  5. Look for something everyday to remind you that God loves you.
  6. Look to the future.
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
Psalm 42:11

Monday, June 16, 2008

Be Prepared: The Mind, Part 5

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Philippians 2:5-8

Ultimately, the mind prepared to serve the Lord belongs to a person who strives to have the mind of Christ.

  • The mind of Christ is the mind of a servant.
"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."
Mark 10:44

  • The mind of Christ is humble.
"The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."
Proverbs 15:33

  • The mind of Christ is obedient.
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love."
John 15:10

In review, a mind prepared to serve the Lord will be
  • A Renewed Mind
  • A Willing Mind
  • A Mind Stayed on God
  • A Mind That Recalls
  • The Mind of Christ
"And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
Luke 10:27

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I haven't forgotten

The weather events here have just had me a bit distracted. I will be posting part 5 to Preparing the Mind tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Be Prepared: The Mind, Part 4

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."
Lamentations 3:21-26

A mind prepared to serve the Lord recalls some things.
  • God is compassionate.
  • Great is His faithfulness
  • He is our portion.
  • He is good.
  • We can hope in Him.
  • We should wait quietly for Him.
Aren't those all wonderful things to recall? When you are hurting, He is compassionate. When you feel alone, He is faithful. When you feel destitute, He is your portion. When it seems as if only bad things surround you, He is good. When all seems hopeless, you can hope in Him.

Quiet your mind. Recall and wait for Him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Be Prepared: The Mind, Part 3

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3

In preparing our minds to serve the Lord it is important that we learn to keep our minds stayed on the Him. One of the biggest hurdles in serving the Lord is avoiding worry. We worry when we look at our circumstances instead of our God.

I don't have a lot to say about this. When you worry, just quit it! My mom was the queen of worriers. Once when my husband was teaching a Bible study on this subject he said, "Do you realize that 90% of what you worry about, never happens?" My mom piped up and said, "See how good it works!"

It was funny, but she was wrong. It is not worry that protects us, it is the Lord.

Keep your mind stayed on God!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Be Prepared: The Mind, part 2

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
2 Corinthians 8:12

In order to prepare our minds to love the Lord and serve Him, we need to develop a willing mind.

Have you ever asked someone to do something and though that person agreed, she did it unwillingly? Doesn't that drive you crazy? My grandson is four. Almost always when I ask him to do something, he jumps up and does it right away. Every once in a while, he doesn't. Just last week, he decided to see what happens at bedtime if he takes very slow baby steps on his way to his room. He was not going willingly. (By the way, he did not like what happened.)

God delights in a willing servant. So how do we develop a willing mind?

To begin with, the verse says our willingness is based on what we have, not on what we don't have. To develop a willing mind, we should
  • Asses our abilities.
What are we good at? What are we capable of? Now this is not necessarily what we like to do, but what we can do. For example, I really am a shy person. Very few people who have met me get that. I don't act shy. I don't act shy because I am capable of speaking to others. It's not something that I like naturally, but I am capable of it. I reached a point in my life where I needed to be willing to allow the Lord to use that ability.

On the other hand, I am not a musician. I can sing, but I cannot play an instrument. I even took piano lessons as an adult because I wanted to have that ability for God to use. It is just not one of my abilities. I suppose I could have continued lessons and devoted massive amounts of time to practice in order to become marginally competent, but I came to a point when I had to assess my time and decide what was good stewardship of my talents and abilities. Instrumental music is not one of them.

So assess your abilities, and then
  • Thank God for your abilities.
If you realize that your abilities came from God, it is easy to be willing to use them for Him.

  • Look for ways to use your abilities.
There is so much to be done for the Lord that no ability, no matter how insignificant you think it is, will go unused if you are willing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Be Prepared: The Mind, Part 1

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
Mark 12:30

Last week we looked at preparing our hearts to serve the Lord. This week, I want to take a look at preparing our minds. When I began searching my Bible for what God says about our minds, I was actually surprised at how many things there were. Sometimes in Christianity there seems to be an attitude that “if your heart is in it” you’ve done all you could. That’s not always true. We have a responsibility to serve the Lord with all our minds.

So where do we start? According to the Bible, we should have a renewed mind. That would be a good place to start.

  • A Renewed Mind

A renewed mind is a renovated mind. Let’s talk for a minute about renovations. There is a difference between remodeling and renovating. In this house, we remodeled our bedroom. We repainted and redecorated and repaired some things, but we kept the same basic structure of the room. A remodel is a makeover. To renovate literally means to make new. In our last house we renovated the kitchen. We stripped the room all the way down to the studs and the subfloor and started all over again with new floor, new walls, new fixtures — the whole enchilada. We made a new kitchen.

Too many times, we try to remodel our minds — keep the same basic thoughts but do a makeover. That’s not enough.

We need to start over and that begins at salvation. Before we are saved, when we are lost, our minds are blinded.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Ephesians 4:17-24

Once we have received salvation, we have to begin the daily job of building our minds up in Christ.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:7-9

Concentrate on the thoughts of God. This is why it is so very important to read the Bible every day. The Bible is God’s written record of His thoughts. In our frail humanity, we will never fully grasp His thoughts, but Scripture is the only place to begin.

So read the Bible every day.

In Sunday School we sing the little song:

Read your Bible
Pray every day
Pray every day
Pray every day
Read your Bible
Pray every day
And you'll grow, grow, grow!

Tomorrow, we will begin looking at the characteristics of a renewed mind — a mind prepared to serve the Lord.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Good Ol' Gospel Train

I know I haven't mentioned it on here before, but my grandson lives for trains. He loves trains. He eats and breathes trains.

Some Sundays, when our church attendance is down, he is my only student in Primary Church. I found a song to teach him and had the opportunity today.

It goes like this:

I am traveling on the Hallelujah track
On the Good Ol' Gospel Train.
I am on the right track
And never will go back
To the station of sin again.

I need no fare
I'm traveling on a "pass"
Tis' the blood for sinners slain.
I am traveling on the Hallelujah track
On the Good Ol' Gospel Train.

Many, many times, when I am teaching my little ones, my heart is blessed beyond measure by the lesson. That was the case today. When we came to the line, "I need no fare, I'm traveling on a pass, tis' the blood for sinners slain," my heart welled within me once again in remembrance of the awesome gift of salvation.

Since I was a little girl myself, sitting in Children's church, singing Jesus Loves Me, it has never ceased to amaze me what Jesus did for me!

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
1 Peter 1:18-19

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Every Day With Jesus

Every day with Jesus,
Is sweeter than the day before.
Every day with Jesus,
I love Him more and more.
Jesus saves and keeps me,
And He's the One I'm living for.
Every day with Jesus,
Is sweeter than the day before.

Walking with Jesus,
Walking every day,
Walking all the way.
Walking with Jesus,
Walking with Jesus alone.

Walking in the sunlight, walking in the shadow,
Walking everyday, walking all the way.
Walking in the sunlight, walking in the shadow,
walking with Jesus alone.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Be Prepared: The Heart, Conclusion

So how do we prepare our hearts?
  • Meditate on your state.
"Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah."
Psalm 39:5
  • Meditate on the awesome God!
"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."
Psalm 40:5
  • Commit yourself to Him that judges righteously.
"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
1 Peter 2:23
  • Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only.
"And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."
1 Samuel 7:3

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Be Prepared: The Heart, Part 3

To prepare our hearts, we can't be critical of ourselves or God. The next thing?

Don’t be critical of others!

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge."
James 4:11

We are blessed beyond measure and yet we complain.
  • Complaining about the price of Christian things.
I don't want to get off track here, but why do people often think that Christian things should be cheap? We pay full price for quality things of the world and then want Christian things to be a bargain. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
  • Complaining about who does what and who doesn’t.
"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;"
1 Thessalonians 4:11

I used to repeat over and over to my children, "You answer for you. Don't worry about them." Too any times we find ourselves cheering Martha on: "Yeah! Why isn't Mary working?! I'm busting my chops here and she's just taking it all in!" This isn't a lesson about Mary vs. Martha, but too often we identify ourselves with Martha in more ways than just the working.

You answer for you. Don't worry about them.
  • Complaining about . . .
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:14-15

If all you knew of the Christian life was the words that came from your own lips, would you want to be a Christian? Do you know that your own complaining can affect you? If you complain enough, your own heart will become discouraged.

Instead of complaining, suffer yourself to be defrauded! Esteem other better than yourself! Give up your way and live for others!!

"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?"
1 Corinthians 6:7

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Matthew 5:39

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I Peter 2

Instead of complaining, commit yourself to Him that judgeth righteously. It's good for your heart.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Be Prepared: The Heart, Part 2

In preparing our hearts to serve the Lord, the first thing is to not be critical of ourselves.

Then, don’t be critical of God!

Now, you might say, I would never be critical of God. Most of us cringe at the very idea, but we have our ways.
  • Sometimes it takes the form of “Well I don’t see why…”
You know what? We never will understand why. I have a four-year-old grandson. Any of you who have ever had a four-year-old will know that his favorite word is "why."

This is how the conversation goes:

"Elisha, it's bedtime."
"Because you need your sleep."
"Because you are a little boy."
"Because that's what God made you."
and so on and so on…

And when we ask God "why" it's the same conversation.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9
  • Sometimes, our criticism of God takes the form of “I just don’t think that (a loving, a just, a fair) God would. . .” Thank God we ain’t God! We try so hard to define the God who created us. Isn't that backwards?
"Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
Romans 11:31-36
Instead of being critical of God, meditate on the awesome God!

"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."
Psalm 40:5

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Be Prepared: The Heart, Part 1

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
Mark 12:30

In order to serve the Lord, we need to prepare our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our bodies.

This week, we are going to begin by looking at how to prepare our hearts. First, let us look at some things the Bible has to say.

"And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."

1 Samuel 7:3

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God …"
1 Chronicles 22:19

"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."
Ezra 7:10

"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise."
Psalm 57:7

David said, "I’m READY! I’m PREPARED!"

Sadly the Bible says of Rehoboam, "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD." 2 Chronicles 12:14

How do we prepare our heart?

To begin with, don’t be critical of yourself! Far too often, it is our own view of ourselves that stands between us and loving God with all of our hearts. Some of the things we think are:
  • "I’m not worthy to serve God in that capacity." Of course you aren’t! None of us are! God does not use us because we are able, He uses us because we are availABLE.
  • "If people really knew me . . . " Listen, we know some really bad stuff about King David. We've got some real dirt on the apostle, Peter. In spite of what we know about those people, God used them. And regardless of what people may or may not know about the deep dark secrets of our hearts, God wants us to draw nigh to Him.
Instead of being critical, meditate on your state.

"Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah."
Psalm 39:5

"What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?"
Job 15:14

And yet, in spite of our state, God loves us and wants to be close to us!!! Begin to prepare your heart by meditating on that instead of being critical of yourself.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Imperatives From Psalm 37, Part Six

"Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Psalm 37:7

Rest. We all long for rest. This is the rest that comes when he have trusted and committed so fully that we can sleep while God is driving.

We've all seen a sleeping baby in arms. This is my grandson sleeping in the arms of his Pops. This is trust. This is commitment.

Rest in the Lord.

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

On December 13, 2006, I was lying in a hospital bed. I had undergone surgery five days earlier and that evening, I took a turn for the worse. My fever had gone up and I couldn't keep anything down. A technician came and took an x-ray.

A few minutes later, my doctor entered the room and told me I was in need of another surgery. She handed me the consent form to sign and I asked "When are you going to do this?" She told me they were taking me right away because otherwise I wouldn't make it until midnight. My bowel had perforated and was poisoning me internally.

On the operating table, as they prepared to sedate me, I was fully aware of the fact that I might not wake up on earth. Like my precious grandson in the arms of his grandfather, I committed to the Lord and rested, trusting Him.

Obviously I woke up. But it forever changed me. At the end of the day, rest awaits if I only trust.