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God’s "Requirements"

September 30th, 2013

 

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is

good.


And what does the Lord require of

you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

There’s something about Micah calling us “mortals” as he begins the verse above that brings everything he is about to say into perspective.

I think he wants us to know exactly what we are:

We are mortals.

 

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

The dictionary definition of “mortal” is this:

 

a human being subject to death, often contrasted with a divine being.

Basically, Micah is letting us know two things by speaking with such an introduction,

First, we are not God.

Second, eventually we will all die.

Knowing and believing that these are both true,

I want to know what God, who will never die, requires of me while I am here on HIs planet.

Micah makes it very clear:

God wants me to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.

That’s my prayer today.

I want to be a mortal who remembers that I have a Creator who has given me a few requirements while I am alive.

He hasn’t given me a list of rules.

He hasn’t told me exactly what I have to do with every minute of my life.

But He has said,

I want you to play fair.

I want you to have compassion.

I want you to be humble.

Today you may feel a lot of expectations and pressure coming from your worldly responsibilities,

but find peace in knowing God hasn’t piled more on you than you can handle……….

His list isn’t long.

His list isn’t overwhelming.

His list is freeing.

Today,

act justly

love mercy

and

walk humbly.

That’s all God is asking of you!

Shew!

I feel better already!

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is

good.

And what does the Lord require of

you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

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Believing Anyway……..

September 26th, 2013

 

Whether you read The Message, NIV, or KJV of Romans 4:18, you’ll discover a running theme:  Abraham believed in God’s promises even when there seemed to be no hope.

Knowing that God was faithful in keeping His Words several thousand years ago encourages me today.

God is worthy of our trust.

He offers hope no matter what our circumstances may look like at this very moment in time.

 

ROMANS 4:18

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway,

deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.

ROMANS 4:18

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,

just as it had been said to him,

“So shall your offspring be.”

ROMANS 4:18

Who against hope believed in hope,

that he might become the father of many nations,

according to that which was spoken ,

So shall thy seed be.

When my time here on earth is over, I hope my kids will always say this of their mom,

“When everything seemed hopeless, mom believed anyway.”

God hasn’t answered all of my prayers yet,

but I walk in confidence knowing that in His time He will.

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The Power of the First Step

September 25th, 2013

 

If you have a problem of any kind, you can probably find a ten-step program available to help you overcome it.

Books that begin with , ‘Ten Steps to…..”

catch our eye on a bookstore shelf.

 

Whether it’s peace, weight loss, drug addiction, or financial security,

someone has come up with a plan to help us.

 

I’ve tried some ten-step plans in my life for various things,

but I’ve found the biggest step is the first one.

 

Whether it’s losing weight or paying off your debt,

you have to start tackling the problem before you can ever think about having victory over it.

 

This morning I feel a bit overwhelmed,

but I’m thankful for the power of the first step.

 

It’s the step that says,

“I can do today.”

 

It’s the step that says,

“Even though I don’t feel equipped, I walk with the One who is able to equip.”

 

It’s the step that says,

“I don’t have this, but He does.”

 

It’s the step that says,

“I trust you even when I don’t trust myself.”

 

It’s the step that says,

“I am not so many things I need to be, but He is I AM so I have nothing to fear.”

 

I don’t know what your day looks like, or your week, or your month, or your year.

But I promise this.

 

Every step you take with Him is a step you won’t regret.

 

And it all starts…….

with the first step.

 

In their hearts humans plan their course,

but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

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“In reading class, students are taught to summarize when they read.

This means “taking a long story and retelling only the most important parts in a shorter way.”

When we summarize, we share key details and omit trivial parts of the bigger story.

I love that God summarized His story.

His summary is easy to remember and share.

His summary is powerful yet simple to hide in our heart.

His summary changed history.

It changed our calendar from A.D. to B.C.

His summary only makes sense in light of all the questions we may carry with us about the Old Testament law and history.

His summary changes lives and changes hearts.

If you want to summarize God’s story, this is all you have to remember.

Jesus.

Yes, He’s the main character in God’s story.

Prophecies pointed to Him.

And fullness came through Him.

Hope is born by claiming Him.

Peace is found in knowing Him.

He understands our questions.

He can handle our doubts.

 

He gives strength to the weary.

 

He is the way.

He is the truth.

He is the life.

 

This morning as I was reading, my eyes caught this phrase in Ephesians, and I knew that even though this has been a week of little words for me.

I had to share God’s summary of life with you before heading to work.

 

Here it is:

“…the summing up of all things in

Christ…”

Eph. 1:10

It’s that easy.

 

He sums up all things in His Son.

That’s it.

No more.

No less.

God is the Great I Am.

His Son is too.

I’m thankful this morning for eight words in Ephesians that sum up all things.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

 

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Jesus makes this bold statement in the book of Matthew,

 

“I tell you the truth,

unless you change and become like

little children,

you will never enter the kingdom of

heaven.”

(Matthew 18:2)

I don’t know about you but when I hear the phrase,

“will never enter the kingdom of heaven,”

my ears open up all the way;

and I want to know everything I can about what comes before that statement.

Jesus makes it clear.

We must change.

We must become like little children.

What does that mean??

I don’t think it means we have to trust everything and everyone without question.

Other Scriptures, like I Thess. 5:21, make it very clear that we are to

 “test everything and hold fast

to what is good.”

I don’t think it means that we depend on everyone else for our spiritual growth.

II Ti. 2:15 says,

Do your best to present yourself to

God as one approved,

a worker who does not need to be

ashamed and who correctly handles

the word of truth.

When Jesus says to “change and become little children,”

I think he is talking about our spirit.

Our attitude.

Our level of humility and acceptance and trust in Someone who longs to take care of our every need.

My nephew cannot walk yet.

He just learned to crawl.

He cannot feed himself.

He cannot get himself something to drink when he is thirsty.

He is dependent on everyone around him for his every need.

But he doesn’t worry.

He doesn’t stress.

He doesn’t fret over what is coming next.

He is filled with complete joy and unconditional trust.

When I think of Jesus saying,

“change and become like little children,”

I want to see this picture in my mind.

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I want God to see this kind-of joy and trust in my soul when He looks at me.

I want Him to know that while I am trying to grow closer to Him in knowledge and depth of faith,

I am still happily, joyfully trusting Him for the next bite of life.

 

Even when life is messy,

I want to smile and live with my heart wide open to what He has in store next.

 

    No eye has seen, no ear has
    heard, no human mind has
    conceived”-
     the things God has prepared for
    those who love him
    I Cor. 2:9

    It’s not always easy to live with this kind of spirit,but I believe the more I choose to set my mind on living this kind of life the easier it will become.
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When Something’s Got to Give

September 12th, 2013

 

You’ve been there, haven’t you?

Have you ever reached that place where the stuff of life has piled up so high you are unable to see the next thing coming?

Your to-do list is longer than the number of hours in your day.

 

Expectations are unreachable.

Life’s demands seem to exceed your physical ability.

 

What to do you when you reach the moment when the words,

“Something’s got to give,” come out of your mouth?

 

Sometimes I handle these kind-of moments with great responses like,

“Okay, what can I let go of today?”

“What can I put off until tomorrow?”

“How can I get help with this situation?”

 

Other times, I fail.

I have a meltdown.

I get angry.

I shut down completely and get nothing accomplished at all.

 

The reality is this:

We, as human beings, can only take so much.

We have limits.

We are not perfect.

We are not pieces of technology.

Even computers have limited space in their hard drive.

 

So, if you feel as if you are about to crack…

If you feel as if life is overflowing with things you cannot handle,

here’s where I would start.

 

First, I’d sit down and tell God exactly how you feel.

Ask Him to take first place in your life and show you where you need to set healthy boundaries.

Then, I’d think about all the people in your life that you love.

The people who will truly be impacted when your life on this planet if over, and ask yourself,

“How can I be who I want to be to them FIRST?”

“How can I rearrange my life so that my priorities reflect my heart?”

 

These are tough questions to ask.

 

Sometimes they nudge you towards a career change or a move to a whole new location.

Sometimes they cause you to let go of things you love so that you can focus on the people you love.

 

But, I promise this:

You’ll never regret asking these questions.

They filter out many aspects of your life that are causing you to feel as if you are drowning.

They re-center your life on the ONE thing that matters.

 

Don’t look around and think,

“Surely I can handle this if so-and-so can handle this.”

We are all created with different passions, different interests, different capabilities.

 

Be okay with your limits and be okay with setting them.

 

I’ve struggled with guilt most of my life for not being able to do everything asked of me.

But I’ve found that there is such freedom when I realize that pleasing God is all that matters.

And there’s incredible joy knowing I am headed in a direction that brings moments of laughter and love with family and friends.

 

I haven’t reached that perfect destination yet, but I know God is leading me closer to that place of peace day by day.

 

What questions do you need to ask yourself today?

Start asking them before you hear yourself saying,

“Something’s got to give.”

 

Psalms 37:5

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

Psalms 55:22

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

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I get tired of hearing empty words in the face of tragedy.

Honestly, I often find myself with no words to offer someone who is hurting.

 

I love that Job’s friends, seeing his overwhelming sadness, simply sat with him for seven days without talking.

I love that silence seemed most appropriate at such a painful time.

 

Today, I have several people on my heart who are going through very, very tough seasons.

The human part of me wants to offer all kinds of words of encouragement but if I’m really honest,

“I have no words.”

 

So, today, as I think of these friends and so many others who are hurting,

I’m going to choose to lift them to Him who has the answers and then just be quiet.

 

God knows.

He cares.

He is working.

 

My words are flat, meaningless, and empty compared to the Words of Him who writes their life stories.

His Words are alive and active.

They stir hearts, they empower, they uplift, they give hope, they inspire, and  they bring confidence.

 

His Words are both written in His book and written on our hearts as He writes each of our life stories.

 

Whether you have accepted the fact that He is the author of your life or not,

He still is.

 

He always will be.

 

He is the beginning and the end.

The first and the last.

The Alpha and the Omega.

The Great I Am.

 

Today, no matter what you’re facing,

never forget that His Words will never come up short.

They are not empty.

Let Him fill you today with His promises and His peace.

 

And let all of us who love you sit silently with you so that you know you are not alone in your heartache, your struggles, and your questions.

 

As you face today, know this:

 

YOU ARE LOVED.

 

HEBREWS 4:12

For the word of God is living and active,

sharper than any two-edged sword,

piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,

of joints and of marrow,

and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I Thess. 2:13

And we also thank God constantly for this,

that when you received the word of God,

which you heard from us,

you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is,

the word of God,

which is at work in you believers.

Acts 20:32

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace,

which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through him,

and without him was not any thing made that was made.

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In a world where so many are caught up in having more, needing more, searching for more, and longing for more,

it’s comforting to know that there is a way to reach a feeling of completeness.

This feeling doesn’t come from anything we can buy at the mall or read in a book.

It doesn’t come from anything we can achieve by success in our careers or financial gain.

It doesn’t come from approval from friends or family.

It doesn’t even come from our own good works.

I love that the Bible makes it very clear that completion comes only after we allow perseverance to finish its work.

I also love that the Bible makes it very clear that perseverance requires a testing of our faith.

I don’t necessarily love but I do believe it’s absolutely true that the only way our faith can be tested is from facing trials of many kinds.

I don’t like trials.

I’m not a fan of suffering.

 

But I will forever consider it pure joy that because I have suffered, my faith has grown.

As my faith has grown, I have learned to persevere.

This act of perseverance has changed everything about my life.

While I’m still in a state of deepening faith and continuing perseverance,

I press on believing that as I do I am becoming mature and complete.

James 1:2-4 says,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds,

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

These verses free me from a lot of anxiety and pressure.

They remind me that in this life there will be hard times, but they always have a purpose.

They work to push me towards the One who offers Hope.

Romans 5:1-4 puts it this way,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,

because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not put us to shame,

because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,

who has been given to us.

 

 

I’ve got a lot on my mind this morning,

but I’m thankful this morning for a Heavenly Father who loves me, walks through life with me, pursues me, and ultimately longs to complete me.

If you feel you are lacking something in your life today,

consider this:

God longs to make you whole but the journey to completeness will involve suffering.

 

Embrace your suffering.

Trust God with your pain.

Keep the faith.

Persevere.

One day you will find yourself “mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

I’m praying for all of you this morning,

asking God to make very clear to you His plans for your life as you journey closer and closer to Him.

 

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Living Your Dream

September 6th, 2013

 

What is your passion?

What kind of conversation can get you most excited?

When you have free time, what do you like to do or think about?

 

What if God longed for you to live within that passion?

What if His plan for you involved that very thing that energizes you?

 

I think it just might.

 

In John 10:10, Jesus says,

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I believe God wants us to have happy, overflowing lives of laughter and love.

It’s the devil that has other plans.

Right before Jesus makes this wonderful statement about why He showed up,

He warns that the devil is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Think about your passions.

Do you see ways that the devil has been successful in stealing your dreams, killing your self-confidence, destroying your determination?

I sure can in my life.

I’m finally reaching a place in life where I’m ready to step out and be exactly who God wants me to be.

Is it scary?

Yes.

Is there a risk?

Absolutely.

 

Will there be setbacks?

I’m sure there will be.

 

But, will it be worth it??

Definitely!!

 

Why?

 

Because God will walk with me as I trust Him for the next step over and over again.

 

Look straight into a mirror and ask yourself,

“Am I doing what I love?  Am I living the life I believe God created me to live?”

 

If you can answer, “Yes,” then you are already living your dream.

If you hesitate, then take some time to pray and ask God to make His plans for your life very clear to you.

 

Theologian Frederick Buechner is quoted as saying,

“Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” 

 

What is your greatest passion?

What do you see as the world’s greatest need?

 

I’m in the preparation stage of living my dream.

 

I hope you are too.

 

Many plans are in a man’s mind,

but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.

Prov. 19:21

 

 

 

 

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God’s Timing and Our Purpose

September 4th, 2013

 

A year ago when I made my appointment for my annual exam,

I had no idea that on that day particular day a year later a new nurse practitioner would be joining my doctor for the very first time.

I also didn’t know that she would almost not start rounds on that specific day but then decide at the last minute to come on the very morning I was being seen.

 

On top of that, I had no idea that there would be a little four-year-old boy

who would develop the same kind of brain tumor as Nick during this past year

and whose godmother would happen to be that very nurse practitioner who would be in the room with me yesterday for the very first time.

 

This nurse practitioner had heard of Nick’s story and, like me, had no idea what her day would hold.

She didn’t know she would meet “Nick’s mom”  as she walked into the room where I was waiting covered in a paper robe.

She didn’t know that she would tell her story and we would cry together and hug as she shared about little Boston only having days to live.

 

But God knew.

 

 

A year ago as I stood checking out from my appointment and looking ahead to make my next one for 2013,

God knew that Boston’s godmother would need encouragement on this exact day.

And He knew that I would be called to go back to painful memories from my life so that I could share His love on this day.

 

I love how God works.

 

I love that we don’t have to make all the plans and yet His plans are carried through.

 

Today, know that no matter how unplanned your day may seem to you,

God longs to use you to fulfill His plans.

 

Ask God to show you how He longs to use you today.

 

The devil would love for us to think that moments like sitting and waiting for a doctor are pointless parts of our life story.

He wants to devalue our life so that ordinary daily events seem insignificant.

When we allow him to do this, he takes away a huge part of our impact on this world because truly most of our life is made up of ordinary daily events.

 

Don’t let the devil devalue your day no matter how mundane it may seem from an earthly perspective.

Remember who holds today in His hands and know that the Creator of the universe takes great pride in every single detail of His creation.

He has plans for you today.

His plans may appear in very dramatic ways,

or they may appear while you are in the midst of a very humbling and extremely non-dramatic moment like being covered with a paper robe waiting to see a doctor.

 

Trust Him no matter what you’re condition.

He longs to use you to share His love with those who are hurting.

 

You are His love letter to a broken world.

 

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry,

written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,

not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

II Cor. 3:3

Please pray for Boston and his family.