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Fear of Loneliness: Part 2

4 Jan

God makes a home for the lonely.  Psalm 68:6a

God does not make empty promises.  So even if it is difficult to believe it right now, we can know that it is true.  This verse seems to have a number of meanings, among them that the church can be a family for us and he sets us with other people who are like family to us.  But I believe our true home is in Christ.

” Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  John 15:4

This is a command.  And it means we are to remain, to continue to be present, to be held continually, and to wait for.  I particularly like the idea that we are to continue to be present, not only in the sense of existing in a place, but in the sense of paying attention to someone.  Most of us know that you can be lonely when you’re home with a houseful of kids or even with your spouse.  But we’re never lonely when we’re present to God.  God has a very special home for us deep in His heart.

Listen for the Music!

31 Dec

You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
from palaces adorned with ivory
the music of the strings makes you glad.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.  Psalm 45:7-9

I was at my grandparent’s house one day long ago when a terrible thunderstorm passed through.  My grandma was cooking in the kitchen and my grandpa was smoking his pipe and working on a crossword puzzle in the living room.  I climbed in his lap with my book even though I was a pretty leggy 10-year-old at the time.

He sensed my fear and said, “Susie, just listen to the music in the storm.”  I didn’t get it and so he took out his record of Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. First he had me listen to the movement called On the Trail until I could hear the mules going down the trail.  Then he put on Sunrise and had me listen to the sun quietly peek up over the horizon and blast into its full glory.  Finally, he put on Cloudburst and had me listen to the wonder of the instruments recreating pouring rain and the drama of thunder and lightning.  I loved the part when the storm rumbled off into the distance.

From that moment on I loved the drama of storms because I listened for the music.

Is it possible to hear the music in other areas of life?  Do we need the contrast of minor keys and silent beats to feel the joy of the music at other times?  My mom was a music teacher and she always had a soundtrack going in her mind for her life.  Try thinking of your life as a symphony today.  What music would be playing right now?

Be Still and Know

29 Dec

Magnificent Frigatebird

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a

Be still is a command which means to let drop, abandon, relax, refrain, forsake, to let go, to be quiet.

One scholar says that God is telling us to stop complaining, and that certainly fits.  “Just drop it,” we say to someone when they’re driving us crazy.  “Let it go!”

It also means to quiet ourselves and focus on the bigness of God.  That wasn’t difficult to do looking out at the Pacific Ocean last week.  God is all-powerful and as I contemplated his creation from the ocean to the clouds to the Magnificent Frigatebirds that soaring in the thermals overhead, it was easy to quiet myself, to drop it, and know that He is God.  What peace.  Peace from the continual commentary in my brain.  Peace from fears.

The question is, how can we learn to be still and know that He is God in the middle of a hectic daily schedule?

Photo Credit: Glen Tepke  http://www.pbase.com/gtepke/

4 Days ’til Christmas

21 Dec

Sometimes we, like Ricky Bobby, focus on the sweet and cuddly Christmas Jesus.  In Luke 1, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies the birth of Jesus ending with these beautiful thoughts:

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Jesus came to this earth to have a relationship with us–an eternal relationship which is achieved through accepting his atoning work for us on the cross.  He is tender.  Merciful.  Kind.  Full of love.  And willing to take the sins of the entire world upon Him for our sakes.

The figure in these verses is taken from travellers, who, being overtaken by night, know not what to do, and who wait patiently for the morning light, that they may know which way to go.  So man wandered. So he became benighted. So he sat in the shadow of death. So he knew not which way to go until the Sun of righteousness arose, and then the light shone brightly on his way, and the road was open to the promised land of rest–to heaven. –Barnes’ Notes

Were you lost?  Are you lost?  Look toward the Sunrise:  Jesus Christ.

 

12 Days ’til Christmas . . .

13 Dec

Bright Morning Star

. . . and most of my Christmas preparations are finished.  It sounds as if I could lie down in perfect peace, but like most of you, the world and its demands keep a firm grip on my life.  Report cards need to be turned in at the end of the week.  And . . . well, you know.  Our lists go on and on.  In Revelation 22:16, Jesus is referred to as the bright morning star.  I love the reminder that we need to look to Him first thing.  Barnes Commentary explains it thusly:

The reference here is to that star as the harbinger of day; and the meaning of the Saviour is, that he sustains a relation to a dark world similar to this beautiful star. At one time he is indeed compared with the sun itself in giving light to the world; here he is compared with that morning star rather with reference to its beauty than its light. May it not also have been one object in this comparison to lead us, when we look on that star, to think of the Saviour? It is perhaps the most beautiful object in nature; it succeeds the darkness of the night; it brings on the day–and as it mingles with the first rays of the morning, it seems to be so joyous, cheerful, exulting, bright, that nothing can be better adapted to remind us of Him who came to lead on eternal day. Its place–the first thing that arrests the eye in the morning–might serve to remind us that the Saviour should be the first object that should draw the eye and the heart on the return of each day. In each trial–each scene of sorrow–let us think of the bright star of the morning as it rises on the darkness of the night–emblem of the Saviour rising on our sorrow and our gloom.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/

16 Days ’til Christmas . . .

9 Dec

. . . and I’m trying to finish up my flurry of online Christmas shopping so that everybody gets their gifts on time.  Let’s take a time out to look at the most amazing gift of all:  Jesus.  The other day we looked at Isaiah 9:6 and the Prince of Peace.  Today lets look at the ever-increasing peace of His government.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:7

Jesus rules with the law of love in our hearts.  The more we allow Him to rule in our hearts, instead of insisting on self rule, the more peace we will have.  As His government increases, our peace increases.  We need to be loyal subjects in the kingdom instead of rebellious subjects who need to be in control ourselves.

You ARE my King, Lord Jesus.  I bow down before you today, consciously denying myself and lifting you up.  Help me to continue to deny myself and place you on the throne of my heart as I walk through this busy day.

18 Days ’til Christmas . . .

7 Dec

. . . and I fear I may be caught up in to-do lists and parties and church functions to the detriment of focusing on “the reason for the season.”  Jesus.  Oh, I love that name.  Jesus who changed my life.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6

Let’s look at the word peace:

One commentator translates it as Shiloh, or “The Tranquilizer”.  LOL.  Have you taken your tranquilizer today?  Spent time focusing on Jesus and all He is?  It’s much cheaper than the cost of deductible in the States these days!

Jesus preserves, commands, and creates peace in His kingdom.  Peace is health to the sin-sick soul, sound and healthy relationships between saved sinners and God, as well as sound and healthy relationships between saved sinners and other sinners.

The Online Hebrew Lexicon gives the following definitions for peace.

1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

1a) completeness (in number)

1b) safety, soundness (in body)

1c) welfare, health, prosperity

1d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment

1e) peace, friendship

1e1) of human relationships

1e2) with God especially in covenant relationship

Selah.  Stop and think about it.

3 Stages of Faith: Stage 3 — Faith in God

1 Dec

I love mystery books.  I say mystery books and not mysteries, because I like to know that the mystery will be solved.  I don’t like loose ends.  I hate it when I see part of a drama on the streets and don’t know what happened afterwards.  Although God is a mysterious God who works in mysterious ways, he has tied up the mystery.  The mystery is Christ.  Christ is “the mystery of God,” but no longer hidden, but manifested and meant for us to know to the fullness of our capacity.

I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.” Col. 2:2-4 The Message

As we pass through stage 2 faith, where our faith in faith system is dismantled by a loving God, we have the privilege to enter stage 3:  A mature faith in God no matter what happens.  Job reached that point.  He repented for his conditional faith, for his bartering,  and recognized God’s immensity.  (Job 42:1-6)

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. 1 Cor. 13:12  Amplified

Christ is the fulfilment of the mystery and as we gaze at Him, we become more and more trusting and content and rested and fearless because of His amazing love, grace, mercy, and holiness.  He is in us.  We are in Him.  He is under us, above us, and around us.  We are important to Him.  Not as a group, but as individuals.  He wants us to grow in Him and have a mature relationship with Him.

Mike Erre says,

“We don’t like mystery because mystery forces us to trust and wait and be patient.  Mystery is painful.  Mystery and patience are certainly not the American way.

Faith in God is the kind of faith that says, ‘It doesn’t matter if God answers my questions or removes my pain.  I am content with him.” — The Jesus of Suburbia pp. 132, 130

If Jesus is the mystery, look for the clues.  The clues that He loves you.  Today.  And.  Tomorrow.

Thankful: For No Condemnation!

25 Nov

We have been made clean

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.   “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  John 3:17-19 KJV

Sunday I blogged about the power of post-salvation belief .  Here we see the idea of belief for salvation.  Condemnation means “the sentence pronounced, the judgement, with the sense of punishment to follow.”  The opposite of condemnation is “aquittal, the process of being legally declared not guilty.”

Of course, it also applies to our post-salvation life in the area of guilt.  We have been pronounced NOT guilty.  How many of us flagellate ourselves with our sins?

  • If we feel guilt consciousness after repenting for sins which were paid for by the one offering, then we are sinning willfully.
  • Instead, when we sin, we name it, forsake it, forget it, and fearlessly move on.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  Romans 8:1 NIV

From Surviving to Thriving

19 Nov

I’m reading an absorbing book that I found in a used bookstore:  Out of Control-Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out by Ben Young & Dr. Samuel Adams.  Can you identify?  I can.  The thesis of the book is that we’re called to ”  live freely and lightly.”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30

We live in a world where we are continually busy and often stressed out by our multi-tasking, our overflowing schedules, and our continual electronic connectedness.  Even our vacations can be activity intense! When we overdo it without spiritual rest and refreshment, the predictable result is worry and anxiety.  To ” live freely and lightly,” we need to cut out some of the negative, anxiety-inducing stresses in our lives, and also deliberately develop positives–like handing over the reins to Jesus (and stop trying to be in control all the time) and also focus on intimate time with Him.