OUR GOD IS WITH US

May 16, 2016

Pre-social media, when the only two options for long-distance communication were snail mail or costly international calls on a land line, I was a young bride in Argentina. There were days when I felt a million light-years from my family and familiar friends. That’s when I learned what it means to be alone, yet not lonely.

Elderly Juan José lived outside of our city in a community of precarious thatched-roof, cracked-mud-floor, one-room homes. His work vehicle was a custom made tricycle with a huge, cumbersome box on the back. Battered and worn, it bore the marks of countless trips into town. There, Juan José daily picked up freshly butchered meat at the central market, and literally “peddled” it to his neighbors. It was hard work. Juan José was robust, but like his tricycle, he was old and battered.

As church planters, several of us went to visit Juan José one day. Inquiring about his family, he replied that he had no one; no siblings, spouse, children…he might still have had a relative in Brazil, he wasn’t sure. All alone, Juan José was content, because He knew God was with him.

An hour before most church services, we would usually find Juan José in the meeting hall, alone. Kneeling in prayer, we could hear him audibly and passionately worshiping God, who was with him. Juan José knew the secret that I had yet to learn. He was walking hand-in-hand with the Lord.

Multiple times throughout the Bible, we read God’s reassuring promise: “I will be with you.” As His children, we can live with that assurance, just like Juan José did.

Alone? Maybe. Lonely? Never! Our God is with us!

(Join me each Monday of 2016 for new posts from my quest to know God better)

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WORSHIP ACROSTIC

December 23, 2014

The story of the “wise men from the East” is intriguing. Matthew tells us in his gospel that these men made an effort to see the King who was born. They spent time and money to make the trip and take gifts to honor Him. It was a big deal for them! When they saw the young child, they fell down and worshiped Him. I wonder why.

The wise men didn’t have half the reason to worship Jesus that we do. They were pre-Christ’s death and resurrection, and didn’t know Him as their Savior and Lord. They didn’t experience His forgiveness, His grace and salvation. They didn’t have His promises to cling to. He didn’t promise them that He would be with them every day till the end of the world, or that He would come back to take them to live forever with Him.

But they worshiped Him. They fell down and worshiped Him.

As we approach Christmas Day, let’s worship Jesus as King, just as the wise men did. Then let’s worship Him for a myriad of other reasons that we have, especially because He is our Savior!

W            “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

O             “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”  (Psalm 95:6,7)

R             “Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth…” (1st Chronicles 16:12)

S              “Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things…” (Isaiah 12:5)

H             “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)

I               “ I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” (Rev. 1:18)

P             “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1)


WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

July 26, 2014

IF you are waiting for everything in your life to be perfect before you praise the Lord, praise isn’t going to happen.
Commit to praise, as David did, even in the worst possible moments. Ps. 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Why not praise Him now?

IF you expect all of your needs and wants to be met before being content, you’ll never be content.
Learn to “be content with such things as you have. For He Himself (God) has said ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ “ (Hebrews 13:5) Why not be content now?

IF you think everything has to be going good for you in order to worship God, you will never worship.
Let your worship be focused on Him, not on your circumstances. “Because He is your Lord, worship Him.” (Psalm 45:11) Why not worship Him now?

IF you try to secure all the resources and figure everything out on your own prior to trusting God, you’ll never trust Him.
Give up your efforts. Let him handle the situation. “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) Why not trust Him now?

Really now, …what are you waiting for?

 


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – S

December 11, 2013

All in favor of a story with a good ending? “Servant” is the name of Jesus for the “S” in our Christmas acronym, (see the December 1 post) and the end of the story is VERY good! In fact, there never was, nor ever will be an ending to a story like this one.

In the prophecies of Isaiah, centuries before the birth of Christ, we find passages that are titled the “servant songs”. They foretell Christ’s mission of redemption and salvation; they promise that He would be a light to those who walk in darkness, and give freedom to all who languish in bondage. The suffering, sorrow, rejection and death of Jesus are all depicted. The story is bad, but it doesn’t end there.

The plot takes a turn in Isaiah 53:11, where it starts to get better. We read that “He (Jesus) shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” We have the opportunity to be justified – acquitted from guilt and to be declared righteous before our holy God – because Jesus came as God’s righteous Servant. Praise God!

Later, the Apostle Paul, reminding us that Christ came as a servant, describes the events of the end of the story this way: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (His Servant!) and given Him a name which is above every name, (here it comes….) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Now we know the end of the story, and it will be good! Let’s celebrate Jesus, God’s Servant, this Christmas season by bowing our knees before Him in worship, and confessing that He is Lord of our lives. That will be VERY good!


“GOOD” ISN’T A BIG ENOUGH WORD!

August 2, 2013

“…the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting…” Psalm 100:5

I open my eyes this morning and praise God because His compassions are new again today. Just in the first hour of this brand-new day, He pours His compassions on me. God is good, but “good” isn’t a big enough word.

I can think. I open my eyes after a restful sleep. Nothing hurts. I am healthy.  I can see the person He gave me to share life with, who lives out His love to me, and who I’m deeper in love with than I was when I met him. He’s right beside me. I hear “Amazing Grace” being sung on the radio and praise Him for that grace. I get out of our comfy bed. The temperature is perfect. I’m in our own home. I go through my morning routine, enhanced by hot, running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. I smell the coffee and enjoy breakfast. I taste and savor each bite. I can walk, talk, breath and digest. I have enough food in my refrigerator to prepare my lunch to take to work. I am employed.

I take my steaming mug of dark-roast to my office and sit in my cushioned chair. As I open my Bible and notebook to worship my good God and Savior who makes all this possible, my all-time favorite guitar player is playing a worship melody from his office, right beside mine. “Cuando pienso en tu amor tan bello, y te veo a ti en santidad…te adoro a ti…la razón por la cual yo vivo es para adorarte…” (I worship You…the reason I live is to worship You.)

I pray, “Lord, let me start off each new day with a sense of awe of You; with thanksgiving and praise, blessing Your name. You are our unchanging God. You are good”

At that point my heart nearly bursts with gratitude as I “taste and see” God’s goodness (Psalm 34:8) God is good, but “good” isn’t a big enough Word!


IN A DRY AND THIRSTY LAND

March 24, 2013

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless you while I live. I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied…
and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips
.”
Psalm 63:3-5

When he wrote this, the Psalmist David was not peacefully strumming on his harp, gazing on his satisfied sheep in lush green pastures. Nor was he reigning from his throne, oblivious to pain and suffering of the masses. In fact, when David made the declarations of Psalm 63, he was running for his life. King Saul’s plan was to kill David for fear that this young, popular warrior would take his throne.

This Psalm finds David in the desert, after he escaped from hiding in a cave. Even in this wilderness of Judah, David did not let his seemingly hopeless situation eclipse his worship. Here’s how David worshiped in that “dry and thirsty land

Your lovingkindness is better than life” … even life in this dry and thirsty land.
My lips shall praise You” …even though they are parched in this dry and thirsty land.
Thus I will bless You while I live”…even in this dry and thirsty land, You are worthy.
I will lift up my hands in Your name”….trusting You in this dry and thirsty land.
My soul shall be satisfied”…because I know You are with me in this dry and thirsty land.
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips”…You created me to praise You, even in this dry and thirsty land.

Your “dry and thirsty land” isn’t a wilderness; neither is mine. You are not running from the authorities to save your life; neither am I. But our “dry and thirsty land” might look like pain, disappointment, grief, uncertainty, fear, loneliness, loss. When we have to deal with those issues, like David, we must focus on the fact that God’s “lovingkindness is better than life.” Believing that, we will be motivated to worship Him…even in a dry and thirsty land!


MOSES ON THE WAY TO MOUNT NEBO

May 3, 2012

Moses. Old. Experienced. He had heard God’s voice on numerous occasions…but he also heard – more often than he wanted to – the complaints, the murmuring, the grumbling of the rebellious, stiff-necked people he was chosen to lead. Moses had seen God’s glory! He knew the Lord face to face (Deut. 34:10)…but he also saw the spiritual corruption in the people’s hearts when he saw them worshiping the golden calf. Moses was a godly leader…but first he learned to follow his God who said “I will send you.” (Ex. 3:10). Moses was an encourager….but only because he trusted in the words of his faithful God: “I will certainly be with you” (Ex. 3:12). As a young man, Moses was overly enthusiastic and took justice into his own hands…as an older, experienced leader, we see a mellowed Moses, who learned to wait and trust God’s plan; but it took years.

However, in one foolish act of impulsive disobedience, Moses was denied entrance into the Promised Land. After striking the rock to get water when God instructed him to speak to it, Moses heard God’s sentence: “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12) Moses was told that instead of entering the Promised Land, he would die on Mount Nebo.

Moses. Old. Experienced. He knew he messed up; he didn’t blame anyone. He didn’t pout, whine or wallow in self-pity. Moses understood that he would view the Promised Land from afar, but not enjoy it. Before he went up Mount Nebo, where God, in His mercy, allowed Moses to see the land of Canaan from afar off, he called one last assembly of God’s people. There he shared with them a song he had in his heart; a song of praise to God, who was faithful every step of the way. His song, in part, went like this:

“…for I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deut.32:3,4)

Moses. Old Experienced. He couldn’t enter the Promised Land, yet his last words were words of praise. Then he went up Mount Nebo.


A PATTERN FOR TRUE WORSHIP

September 16, 2011

Once Moses was convinced that God’s plan was to free His people from slavery in Egypt and that he was to be their leader, (with his brother Aaron as the spokesman) things started happening.  Moses met with Aaron and told him about God’s plan. Together, they gathered all the elders of Israel “And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses.” (Exodus 4:30) As a confirmation, and by God’s power, Aaron did signs (God-inspired miracles), by which the people believed. Knowing that God heard their cries, saw their affliction and started to execute His plan of deliverance was the best news they had ever heard! “Then they bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Exodus 4:31)

This event in the history of God’s people is a pattern for true worship. We read in Exodus 4:30-31:

  • The people heardall the words which the Lord had spoken” when Aaron related the plan to them. They understood what God had planned.
  • The people saw that God is Almighty, through the miracles Aaron performed as a confirmation.
  • The people believed.
  • The people worshiped.

The pattern was plain and simple. They heard. They saw. They believed. They worshiped. They were totally unaware of the fact that they laid out an example of true worship, but it is one that sincere believers in Jesus follow even now, thousands of years later. Can we truly worship God if we don’t hear – or read – His word? Can our worship be sincere if we don’t see how He has worked in the past, and is working right now? Can we genuinely worship God if don’t believe that He hears our prayers, sees our affliction and has a plan in place for our lives?

Let’s follow the simple example they unknowingly left for us. Let’s hear God’s word. Let’s observe His works. Let’s believe Him with all our hearts. True worship will be the natural result!


INTERVIEWS FROM THE PAST: “One Thing” (Part 2)

October 3, 2010

Our reporter traveled in time from her interview with King David around 1000 BC to the time of Christ. The next person who was interviewed was a woman named Mary. Randomly chosen for the interview from a group of people in the small town of Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem, Mary had a sister named Martha. They were privileged to entertain Jesus in their home. It was an unforgettable day for the sisters, and the reporter wanted Mary’s take on the event.

REPORTER: “Mary, you are so privileged to have had Jesus as a guest at your home! What an honor! I can’t imagine what I would have done for such a special occasion. What is the ONE THING you and your sister chose to do when Jesus was with you?”

MARY: “Well, while my sister was scurrying about, working frenetically to have everything just right, trying to give her best to serve Jesus, I chose the ONE THING that my soul needed – that good part that will not be taken away from me.” (Luke 10:42)

REPORTER: “Really? What was that ONE THING that was more important than preparing a gourmet meal for such a guest of honor? I can’t imagine!”

MARY: “You see, I chose to sit with Jesus and just listen to Him. That’s all. Just to be with Him. That is the ONE THING that is most important. That’s what is lasting; that is what it’s all about…spending time with Jesus. Performance isn’t all He wants. He wants our heart; our undivided attention. He wants us to listen to Him…”

REPORTER: “Hummmm…”

Tomorrow, we’ll take a peek at our last “Interview From the Past”. Log on!


So…What Do You Do All Day?

August 11, 2010

“I work in the office of a manufacturing plant.” “Oh, that’s nice.”

“What do you do?” the next person was asked.  “I’m a teacher.” was the response.

Our retired friend got the same question: “What do you do all day?” “I’m working on a special hobby I wanted to do all my life. Now I have the time. Grandkids are pretty important, too…”

When asked the same question, the busy mom didn’t know where to start. Her list was very long!

“I go up and down ladders and try to do the best paint job ever.” That would be my husband’s reply.

“That’s all important, but what do you REALLY do?” You work, you enjoy life, hobbies and family. But what do you really, REALLY do? … Like, all day?

Fanny Crosby, blind hymnwriter (1820-1915)

I’ve always liked to read biographies. I’m finishing the autobiography of Fanny Crosby. (1820-1915) She was blind from her infancy and wrote around 9,000 hymns in her lifetime. Many of them are still sung around the world today. Reading her autobiography, I realized that she didn’t just write words. She lived them. She experienced them. Fanny could have been asked: “What do you do all day”, and she could very well have said “I write poetry.” But she didn’t! She expressed what she did all day so well in an old favorite hymn, “Blessed Assurance”. In that song she wrote: “This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long”. Please take a few minutes to click on the link at the end of this post to see Third Day singing that truth in a live concert.

Yes, I work in the office of a manufacturing plant. You might be that retired person working on your hobby, or the teacher, or the busy mom who doesn’t know where to start. That’s what we do all day. But what God REALLY wants us to do is to praise Him while we’re doing what we’re doing. Fanny Crosby got it. The psalmist got it. He prayed in Psalm 71:8: “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.”  When we make this prayer our prayer, then we will be doing what we were created to  do… praise Him all day long!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFyp880DEiA


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