Getting Used to Him?

"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight. I will put my Spirit on Him and He will proclaim justice to the nations." - Matthew 12:18

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight. I will put my Spirit on Him and He will proclaim justice to the nations.” – Matthew 12:18

Think about where you live. Do you have opportunities to see God in nature? To hear about Him on Christian radio? To attend church? To talk about Jesus without fear of persecution?

During much of His public ministry, Jesus lived in Capernaum. Yet He condemned that town saying that the wicked cities of Tyre and Sidon will have a better chance on judgment day than Capernaum. Why? We have no record that the people of Capernaum kicked Jesus out, arrested Him, or caused Him trouble. Why does Jesus condemn them?

Maybe, for these people who knew Him so well, Jesus was just the guy next door. It’s possible they just got used to Him and when the novelty of His teaching and even His miracles wore off, they went about their business no longer paying attention to the God who lived among them.

In America we have many of the same freedoms of access to Jesus that the people of Capernaum had. Let’s not ever get used to Jesus. Let’s not ever lose the awe that the God of the universe is with us and is involved in our lives – every day. Let’s pray always to see Him with fresh eyes, to enjoy His presence, and to grow to know Him better and better.

“The true lovers of God never get enough of Him.” Calvin Miller

Growing Pains

 

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

Do you have a difficult person in your life? An ongoing health situation or a demanding job? There may be a reason for these things beyond what you can see.

I am convinced there are characteristics God wants to develop in each of us that come only by facing difficult circumstances. No shortcuts.

• How will we learn the joys of gentleness without being involved with a defiant child or a crying baby?

• Or the fruit of faithfulness if we are not in a difficult relationship from which we’d like to run?

• Or the trait of kindness without someone who needs our care and concern?

When I am tempted to complain about my “to do” list for the day, I try to  remember to pause to thank God for putting people and situations in my path which will give the Spirit opportunity to develop the characteristics in me that He wants. Sometimes the hard stuff is there to help it happen. And when it does, the resulting blessing, contentment, and happiness will overflow from us to others.

Dear God, may I be full of Your love, joy, and peace as I face each situation this day. May Your fruit ripen in my life as I am called in each relationship to be faithful, good, patient, and kind. I am eager to see how you will challenge and change me today and I yield myself to You for Your amazing work. Amen

“Next to the might of God, the serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence for good in the world.” – D. L. Moody

Thinking of Him

 

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“He is the wellspring of everything that has ever romanced your heart. . . What we have sought, what we have tasted in part with our earthly loves, we will come face to face with in our True Love.” – John Eldridge

When the lights grow dim
Are you thinking of Him?
Or is your mind too cluttered
With thoughts un-uttered
And words unspoken
And promises broken?

When the day is at end
Do you talk with your Friend?
Or are you doing the dishes
And pondering wishes
And things yet to do
E’re the evening is through?

When you woke in your bed
Was it His name you said?
Or were you thinking of rights
And yesterday’s fights
And battles to win
When the sun comes again?

Our mind is the measure
Of what we most treasure.
It shows us what holds us
And constantly molds us.
If we’re centered on Jesus
And how He does please us,

The thoughts that disturb us
And tend to perturb us
Will crumble and cower
And lose all their power.
Then when the lights grow dim,
We’ll be thinking of Him.

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” – Psalm 91:14

Pray or Bail?

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For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8

When the storm came and Jesus was asleep, the disciples woke Him up, almost accusing Him of slacking (Mark 4:35-41). After all, He was snoozing while they were frantically trying to save their boat and their lives. As they roused Him, what do you think they expected Him to do? I imagine they handed Him a bucket and yelled, “Help us bail!”

He had a better idea. He simply ordered the storm to cease. It seems that Jesus was operating under a different paradigm than His disciples were. He still is.

We tend to tackle our problems in ways that seems so logical, so appropriate given our circumstances. If we just work more frantically, try harder, or grit our teeth, we can manage somehow.

But Jesus has a better way. His ways of approaching the troubles of our lives are beyond our ability to imagine. That’s why there are times when we should stop bailing long enough to go find Jesus and ask Him to work on our behalf or to show us His better way of handling the mess we are in.

If we believe God will respond to our needs only in ways we can imagine, we will doubt. If we simply let God be God, we will have faith. Doubt is condemned. Faith is rewarded. We get to choose. Do we turn to Him? Do we trust Him?

“God is hanging on to you. He’s not waiting for you to save yourself and mature into someone who no longer needs Him. He will not let you go, come what may.” – Tullian Tchividjian

Pennies on the Path

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“I cannot cause light. The most I can do is to put myself in the path of its beam.”                                    – Annie Dillard

I had an uncle who lived at the other end of a well-worn path between my Grandmother’s house and his. When he knew the grandchildren were coming to visit, he showed up at Grandma’s door, too. Then he would invite one of us to walk with him on the path to his house. As we walked, we were amazed to find pennies all along the way. Even when I became a young adult and Uncle Walt was gone, I couldn’t resist looking for pennies when I walked that path!

I believe God has taken great delight in putting “pennies” on the path we will walk today. One author calls God’s sometimes unnoticed gifts as “small joys and pieces of beauty”. How many of them do we miss because we are not paying attention? We are watching our feet or worried about the obstacles ahead and missing God’s little gifts along the way.

As we enter this new year, let’s have enough faith in our loving heavenly Father to believe that He has “small joys and pieces of beauty” for us every single day. Then, let’s remember to look for them. If we do, 2016 will be a year filled with surprises, smiles, and praise. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next on the path!

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6a NIV)

Thin Places

"Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it." - Genesis 28:16b

“Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” – Genesis 28:16b

There are places on this planet, where the separation between heaven and earth seems very thin and, in those places, it is said that you can hear God more clearly and feel God more closely than anywhere else. Some see the mountains as thin places, where the peaks reach toward heaven and the majesty of God is revealed. Certain traditions have recognized thin places where people have met God powerfully through the ages. Retreat centers, churches, and monasteries often are cited.

I believe that we can create our own thin places:  For one of my friends, it was her daily hour-long walk where she could talk to God without interruption. For another, it was under the stairs in her home, and another tells me she has her best sense of Jesus’ presence on her backyard deck. For me, it is the couch downstairs where I can open the blinds and wait for the dawn as I read His Word and listen for His voice.

We all need a place where we can go to meet God, leaving everything else behind so, without distraction, we can connect with our Creator. Of course, we can meet Him anywhere along life’s path (and we do!), but for those of us who have been on the journey for awhile, we find there are sacred spots where God seems to break through with ease. Do you have a place like that? If not, I hope you will create one as an invitation to sacred encounters in this new year!

“Until we are able to have at least a little silence every day, both outside and in, . . . we have no hope of coming to know either God or ourselves very well.” – Joan Chittister

 

 

The Voice

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All your desire to encounter Christ is embraced, transformed by His desire to come towards you.”

There were announcements of Jesus’ coming birth to Joseph and Mary, and shepherds. But in the darkness of the Bethlehem stable, the most amazing announcement of all came directly from the swaddled newborn boy as He stirred and His cry broke the silence of that night. That baby’s cry was the voice of God Himself.

That cry shook the world of angels and demons. Eons ago, they had heard it break the silence as it called the world into being. They knew it as the voice that cast Satan and his angels out of heaven. That voice was now coming from a small bundle of humanity. Could it be? What power was contained in that cry! What foreshadowing of what would come in His life. What hope for the world, created perfectly, now fallen. God had not sent a prophet this time or a king or an angel. He had come Himself and the world would never be the same.

The voice of God still speaks today for those who will hear. As we sit before Him in worship and wonder, we listen, waiting to hear again the voice that broke the silence of that holy night. Then we hear it: His voice resounds in the deepest recesses of our heart through His Word and through His Spirit. Receive!

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!”

Quote taken from a Pray-as-You-Go meditation. Thanks to Deb Karish for posting the Christmas pageant photo from 1980!