Monthly Archives: July 2014

Blushing: A Lost Art?

When King Josiah heard the Law of Moses read (2 Kings 22), he ripped his clothes in grief. He recognized God’s Sovereignty and his own guilt, and understood God’s righteous anger. Josiah repented. But it didn’t deter God from punishing a disobedient nation. What Josiah’s repentance did was to protect him from God’s wrath.

Repentance does the same today. When faced with our own sin, when driven to our knees in despair over our own guilt, and after accepting Jesus as Savior, we, too, are protected from God’s wrath. Oh, not from hardships during our lifetime on earth, but the greater expression of God’s wrath – eternal hell, separation from God forever. We who have humbled ourselves will only know his love and presence – forever!

But in our society it’s getting harder and harder to convince people of their need of Jesus. Sin is considered normal, fun, an alternate lifestyle, or a right. 

Confess what?

Jeremiah, in chapter 5 of his book, talks about how low the people had become. Verse 15 says, “Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all – they don’t even know how to blush!” 

Isn’t that true today, too? Acts of sin are so blatant we can become desensitized. When was the last time you blushed at the sight of sin on TV, in a song, in your own life? Why is that? What does that say about your heart’s condition before a holy God? What does it say about mine?

God, I confess that I have become hardened to the presence of sin. I have seen so much, accepted so much, I have forgotten how to blush. Remind me, Lord. Help me to see sin the way you see it. May I be grieved, may I repent, may I turn from sin, and honor you with my life every minute of every day.

Living Water for a Thirsty Soul

I know that Jeremiah’s prophecy was given to the flesh and blood nation of Israel during the reign of King Josiah. But, believing all Scripture is given by God for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction, I asked him to speak to me, today, in 2014, as I read the first couple of chapters of the book of Jeremiah. There is so much there!!

When I read these words as though I was the intended audience, I hear God say: I knew you, Connie, before I formed you in your mother’s womb; Get up and prepare for action; I will make you strong; I am with you, I will take care of you; you used to love me like a young bride and followed me gladly, but there have been times you strayed.

Jeremiah 1:13 has me examining myself today. “For my people (I) have done two evil things: They have abandoned me – the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!”

Is my soul restless, thirsting, unfulfilled? Is it because I have turned from the Living Water? Didn’t Jesus describe himself in those terms? What is my relationship with him?

Then, have I dug my own worthless well in hopes of finding what I need on my own terms? How is that going? My attempts can’t hold water compared to what Jesus offers.

Father God, Thank you for your Word that speaks to us when we go there. Thank you for the blessing, and the conviction, that comes from spending time in these precious pages. May I allow you to drench me with the Living Water, and may your Spirit refresh me today so that I can serve you with energy! You are all I need. Thank you.

Our Treasure

Isaiah 33: 6b says: The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Fear? Why doesn’t Isaiah say, “love’, or “grace”, or even “presence”? He talks about God reigning in Jerusalem and “providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge”. Then he says fearing God is our treasure.

I wonder how well we really know God. This Scripture tells me that being saved, receiving wisdom from above, and learning who God is, leads to fear of him. I wonder, if we were polled, how many Christians would say that God scares them.

I loved my dad and was loved by him. But I made certain choices in my life based on the fear of disobeying him. He wore a belt that was a reminder of painful consequences for disobedience.

I don’t see many children fearing their parents. I see some parents fearing their children, afraid to hurt their egos if they say, “No”, or if they swat their bottoms, heaven forbid. I don’t see many Christians fearing God, either.

The Bible teaches that fear and love are not mutually exclusive, and both are necessary for healthy living. We can’t preach God’s love and ignore his holiness, his demand to be obeyed.

We’re foolish if we neglect to remember that the consequences for disobeying him are painful and eternal.

Holy God, you scare me. When I really try to picture your holiness, your power, your anger toward sin, and when I realize how serious you are about being obeyed, I am afraid. I am afraid of the consequences, afraid of disappointing you or angering you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for saving me. Help me to live with a healthy fear, and a realistic look at who you are. Give me your righteousness, and strengthen me to live a life pleasing to you. I love you. I praise you. I worship you in all your holiness.

Barefooting

I am sure that in all the years I’ve been reading the Bible, I never realized Isaiah ran around naked for three years of his life. I have to confess that I laughed out loud when I read that today in Isaiah 20. God told him to take off his robe and shoes to demonstrate his prophesy concerning Egypt and Ethiopia.

Isaiah 20:2 says Isaiah obeyed, and walked around naked and barefoot. God wanted them to know they would be stripped of everything they thought protected them from God’s judgment. I get that. I understand the lesson Isaiah was teaching. But verse 3 tells us Isaiah taught this lesson for three years, naked and barefoot! God certainly was serious about getting his point across. 

And I get the point.

God wants me to strip myself of everything I might think can shield me from his judgment. Take heart, I am fully clothed and intend on remaining so. However, in my heart I need to strip myself of all good intentions, all excuses, all church attendance and service. I need to strip myself of righteous indignation, self pity, intellect. 

I need to stand naked before God and confess that I am nothing, have nothing without him. I need to let him clothe me with his righteousness because I have none of my own. I may have led a dozen people to the Lord, sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, talked the “talk”. But none of that will protect me from God’s judgment if I don’t personally and intentionally confess my sins and allow him to forgive me. 

Dear God, once again I thank you for allowing your Word to speak to me today. Forgive me for thinking anything I have or have done will somehow cancel out the sins I have committed, for the sins I need to confess. Lord I stand before you naked, stripped bare of good works, good intentions, good excuses. I am a sinner. Forgive me, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Clothe me with your righteousness. Thank you for forgiveness, for life, and for your Word that speaks to those who are open to what you would have us know.

Longing

I read several psalms this morning, and as I did something in Psalm 130 convicted me. It reminded me how important is my focus, my longings, my purpose. 

I am saved. I accepted Jesus’ work on the cross and when I did, he washed my sins away. I can stand before my Holy God because he has placed his own holiness on me. That, in itself, should cause me to live a life of gratitude.

But things seem to pop up that would take my focus off my Savior. My longing may shift from wanting more of him, to wanting something else: a career, a spouse, health comfort, a bigger house, or a better car. 

As I read the psalms I am reminded to long for that which is eternal. The other things will fall into place if I look to Jesus every minute of every day. I may never have that ocean front condo, or have the privilege of sharing life with a husband. But if my focus is on the Lord, on loving him and being loved by him, on obeying him, and serving him, my longing for other things will morph into what God himself longs for me.

May my prayer always be: More of you, Lord. More of you! Whatever I have on this earth fades in comparison to knowing you, loving you, serving you. 

Counting Hawks

My dad was an observer and a lover of nature. I can’t count the hours he spent looking out into his back yard, watching birds, squirrels, rabbits, and deer. He taught us girls to notice things like sunsets and clouds, like lightning in storms, like new buds on trees in spring, and like the sparkle and beauty of a snowfall. He and Mom always challenged each other to see which of them could spot the most hawks every time they went somewhere in the car. I never see a hawk today without thinking about them.

Dad could have been a psalmist. I read Psalm 104 today and once again am reminded what an incredible thing is creation. Nothing… NOTHING… happened by chance. The beauty and majesty of our world was carefully constructed, from the tiniest seed to the highest mountain.

Is life throwing roadblocks in your way? Are you troubled, lonely, afraid? Take a minute and look outside. Better yet, take a walk. Listen to birds sing, the breeze rustle through trees. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face, or allow raindrops to mix with your tears. Count the hawks perched in the trees, and know even they fit in your Creator’s design.

The God who created the fragrant flowers you smell, the oceans and deserts, the God who created you wants to walk with you today. In this whole great big world of ours, there is no one he loves more, no one he thinks of more, no one he longs to call his own more than you! Give him your heart. Rejoice in his grace. Praise him for Jesus. Look around. His love is stamped all over the place.

Storms may come. No, storms WILL come. Take his hand and let him get you through.

Dear Creator, Words fall short of expressing the awe I feel as I observe nature, as I see your hand in all that there is, and as I understand that you love me. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for making me your child when I repented of my sin. Walk with me today, Lord, as you wish. And may I never take for granted what your creation entails.

Underneath His Wings

I love the picture painted in Psalm 91 of God’s protection. There is something very comforting about nestling in the shelter, in the shadow of my Heavenly Father. He is my refuge when he covers me with his feathers and I rest beneath his wings. Tucked in, protected, I don’t need to fear the night. I don’t need to fear my enemies.

But then the psalm goes on to say if I hide there, in God, nothing bad will happen to me. No evil will conquer me, no plague enter my home. I can step on lions and cobras, and not get hurt. And I’ll live a long, healthy life.

Is that what God is saying? Should I go to the zoo and kick a lion? If that is so, and I am to interpret the psalm materially, then I must believe God has feathers and somewhere on this planet is a giant nest we can all hide in. Are we to interpret these psalms as though God is speaking materially, or is he painting a picture of spiritual truth?

Well, because I am not going to be the one who decides which verses are spiritual truths and which are meant to be taken materially, I’m going to read them all with God’s spiritual kingdom in mind.

I love Psalm 91’s picture of God’s protection over my soul. He assures me that no matter what happens, God is there to protect me from Satan, and to give me strength to face the “lions” in my life. I may face disease, heartache, pain. But my God promises to protect that spirit within me. He promises me a long and healthy life… an eternal life… forever sheltered underneath his wings.

Dearest God, Thank you for the pictures you inspired the psalmists to write so many years ago. Thank you for the times you have answered prayers I’ve prayed for physical healing for myself and others, for traveling mercies, for material requests. But, God, I know this and other psalms speak of something more, something more precious than the flesh and blood body I live in today. You promise to protect my soul, you promise to wrap your arms around me so that Satan’s arrows have no effect on my eternity, because I have asked you to be my Savior. Keep me safe beneath your wings, dear Lord.