Posts Tagged ‘Lord’

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NO REGERTS! – June 26

June 26, 2014

“The plan of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weights the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:1-3

I cannot resist a laugh at the irony implicit in a “No Regerts” tattoo.regerts-e1336608292682

The irony does not lies in an individual’s declaration of regret freedom becoming yet another regret.

I do not know of anyone who wants to live with regrets. No one starts their day with a desire to fill it with regrets. Being without regrets is not a matter of determination.  A life without regrets is a life never lived.

A statement that you will not feel sad, repentant, or disappointed about circumstances that have not worked out, the loss associated with poor decisions, or the indecision of a missed opportunity, seems naïve. It might seem possible for a twenty-nothing to think that life can be lived without regrets but as a forty-something I cannot imagine a life free of regrets.

The denial of regret simply creates a regert – regret in disguise.

Regrets are an inevitable part of the human experience. A life without regrets requires perfection. I am far from perfect and as a result my life is full of regrets.

I regret responses to criticism…victory…conflict…praise…rejection…
I regret selfish treatment of people.
I regret a failure of leadership in the Church and business.
I regret working too hard and not hard enough.
I regret misplaced trust placed in key people.
I regret starting and never finishing.
I regret never starting.
I regret not being the husband I want to be.
I regret not being the father I want to be.
I regret not being the friend I want to be.

The majority of my regrets can be traced to the sin that still dwells within me. My life is full of regrets because I am a sinner. To deny my regrets is to deny my sin. The denial of sin will only result in another regret, which makes it a regert.

used-2013-07-18-no-regerts-alkhall-sobriety-recoveryRegrets are not an emotion to deny. Regrets are a reminder of our continuing need of a savior. The acknowledgement of regrets leads us to the gospel.  I trust God; that He has a plan. I trust  He will take all that I regret and make something good out of them. I trust that there will be a day when I will see all my regrets for what they are in God’s plan.

However, that is an act of faith because I currently cannot see His plan.

Therefore, I find freedom from regrets by faith and a refusal to change them into regerts.
I glorify God in my regrets.
I have been forgiven through Christ of the sin associated with my regrets.

I praise God in my regrets.
His plan is not dependent upon my perfection.

I hope in God because of my regrets.
I look forward to the day when I will be truly free of regrets and regerts.

PRAYER: Father, you know all of my regrets.  You know all of my wanderings.  You know all of my sins of omission and commission.  Thank you for forgiving me.  Thank you for freeing me from my past and all that I regret.  Thank you for giving me hope.  Thank you for preparing a day in the future when I will truly be free of all regrets…and regerts. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (Andrew Murray) – May 9

May 9, 2014

Andrew Murray (minister)

“The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus’ work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, will be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord’s interests.”
~ Andrew Murray

In honor of Andrew Murray, South African Pastor and writer, who was born on this day in 1828.

Resources:
May 9 – Today in Christian History
Andrew Murray > Quotes

 

 

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PATIENT BELIEF – May 7

May 7, 2014

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Everyone has to wait. I don’t know of anyone who seeks to wait. We are forced to wait. We wait for the doctor; we wait in traffic; we wait in the grocery line; we wait for results; we wait for opportunities; everyone is confronted with the necessity to wait. Therefore, we get a lot of practice in how to wait well.

Alone on the train

The advent of Smartphone game apps makes waiting a little more bearable for me. I play solitaire on my Smartphone to pass the waiting moment. I will settle myself into a comfortable waiting chair and occupy my mind with a game of solitaire as I wait.

The particular solitaire app that I play has two game options. One option is a random dealing of digital cards. Cards appear on my screen from a random number generator with no reason or intention. It is  purely a matter of chance as to whether the cards will fall in such an order as to allow you to win the game. The other option is a dealing of a winning set of digital cards. In this case, someone has designed the order and placement of cards so that the hand can be won. It is a matter of stepping through the cards and discovering the design hidden in the stacks.

Patience

I noticed a pattern in my playing the last time I waited for my wife and daughter’s hunt for the elusive prey of fitting jeans. I noticed that I am rather impatient with cards randomly dealt. I am quick to abandon the game and move on to another because I know that chaos rarely allows a win.  A misplaced card will frustratingly block a stack that contains the link to successfully win the game and I will quickly give up.

Alternatively, I will patiently try to find the secrets of a game that I know to be designed. The knowledge that the game is not randomly driven, results in a surprising degree of patience. I will patiently flip through the digital cards long after I would have abandoned a random game with similar apparent barriers, because I know that chaos does not reign.

I realized that this pattern of patience in the simplicity of solitaire might hint at a wider truth. Waiting becomes difficult when we begin to lose hope that all will work out well. We are prone to act rashly when we sense the powerlessness that comes from waiting. The temptation to give up, grows proportionately to our belief that chaos reigns.

We are told to patiently wait for the Lord. There is a belief inherent in that command. Patient waiting only makes sense if there is a design behind the circumstances we find ourselves in. The knowledge that life’s circumstances are not randomly driven should result in enduring patience.

Because God is in control…

…we don’t have to fret about all that has gone wrong.
…we don’t have to fret about those who cheat to get ahead.
…we can refrain from anger.
…we can refrain from revenge.
…we know He will deal with the evil of the world.

Because God is in control, we can wait patiently for Him.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I don’t wait well.  Forgive the unbelief inherent in my impatience.  Lord, teach me your patience.  Teach me to trust you.  Teach me to wait upon you in faith.  Thank you for being in control.  Thank you for giving my life and this world a plan.  Thank you for the design that your hand has made in all things.  Open my eyes to the work of your hand in this world and my life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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EASTER CHANGES EVERYTHING – April 20

April 20, 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

 Easter changes everything.

 If Christ had not been raised then…

… Church wastes a Sunday.
… prayer is merely meditation.
… the Bible is a best-selling self-help book.
cross… charity is a utopian ideal.
… faith is a crutch.
… self-denial is a waste of effort.
… happiness is fleeting.
… everlasting joy is a myth.
… peace is impossible.
… God is unknown.
… sin remains.
… God does not love us.
… suffering is without meaning.
… this is as good as it gets.
…our future is a grave.
… we are fools.

Easter changes everything.

Because Christ has risen, we know …

… He is the messiah.
… the prophesies have been fulfilled.
… the penalty of sin has been paid.
… the curse of sin is removed.
… death has been defeated.
… the kingdom of God will be established.
… all things are possible.
… eternal life awaits beyond the grave.
… glory will be revealed to us.
… suffering has purpose.
… we are loved by God.
… our faith is not in vain.
… we are not fools.
… we are children of God.
… we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

empty-tombEaster changes everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for Easter.  Thank you for raising your Son from the grave.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for giving hope and eternal life.  I praise your name on this glorious day for what you have done.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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THE LURKING BEAST OF A WEIGHED-DOWN HEART – April 19

April 19, 2014

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

 

20 on explore on Sunday, July 1, 2007There is a beast that roams my small acreage.

I have never seen its shape for it comes out only after I yield to sleep. Yet, the evidence of its presence confronts me at sunrise every morning. I walk into my field and shutter at the thought of an unwanted presence having recently crossed the very path of my footsteps.

I know what it hunts. I see the numerous holes it has dug in pursuit of its prey – gophers. I do not object to that pursuit. However, I wish that it would get its own. This beast has found that it is easier to steal from me. It has discovered that at the bottom of the fluttering location flags is a gopher trap that often, by the time of darkness, contains a dead gopher. It then absconds with the gopher and my trap. I have lost two traps to this beast.

I can tolerate the presence of this beast lurking in the darkness since we have a common nemesis – gophers. However, I know there is a danger that goes beyond the thief of traps and the annoyance of hole digging (this beast does not have the common courtesy of backfilling its holes).

English: Badger hole This large hole was in th...My concern is for my chickens. I know that it is just a matter of time before this beast finds that a roosting chicken is about as easy to catch as a trapped gopher – and much more satisfying. Therefore, this beast has become my enemy before I lose something I value more than a dead gopher.

I am not sure of my success. Therefore, I must stay vigilant to the unseen dangers.

IMAG0018There is a danger to our souls that lurks in the darkness. Our danger is that the day of judgment will come upon us unaware, when we do not expect it, and when we are not prepared for it. The danger is that we are called to meet our Lord, and He is the furthest thing from our hearts and low on the list of that which we love.

We are most vulnerable to this danger when we are unconscious to its presence. That is why we are encouraged to stay awake. We are to stay vigilant against the beast of a heart that is weighted down. We are to watch ourselves from becoming satiated with an inordinate pursuit of the good things of this world and an over-indulgence of the appetites of the body.

Many of us live in an amicable truce with the cares of the world. We fall asleep and allow the beast of our cravings to roam free because we consider them a normal course of our existence. We live with competing loves because it does not appear that they are having an effect upon our spiritual lives beyond an occasional thief of joy and the annoyance of our disrupted façade.

I believe that the danger of a weighed-down heart is far greater than we realize. A weighed-down heart is evidence of misplaced love. Misplaced loves have to be killed before they can burden our hearts, steal our fruitfulness, and even cause us to give up.

From my experience, I rarely get a clean shot at my misplaced loves. They grow in the hidden crevasses of the normal course of my life. I can become so accustomed to these cares, that I fall asleep to their danger.

I have to go to their lair and smoke them out.

There is only one way to smoke out misplaced love. It is by the work of the Spirit in our lives that affections are set upon God and God alone and misplaced love is killed. We have to come to the Spirit in pray and ask the Lord to examine our hearts for anything that we love more than Him. When we feel weighed down by the cares of this world, we must yield all to the Lord and set our eyes upon the things of the Spirit.

We mustn’t fall asleep to the danger. We must not accept a beast prowling in the darkness of our hearts as normal. The danger of a weighed-down heart is nothing to ignore.

PRAYER: Father, I do not want my love to be misplaced.  I do not want to love anything more than you.  Lord, examine my heart.  Show me where I am being weighed down by the cares of this world.  Show me the good things that I pursue more than you.  Show me where my appetites are out of control.  Help me give to you those loves that I have allowed to become too elevated.  Help me keep my eyes on you.  Help me stay awake to that which I am setting my mind upon.  Keep me in your steadfast love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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APPRECIATING THE PHENOMIAL – April 16

April 16, 2014

“As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”” Luke 19:37-38

 “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself,
but talent instantly recognizes genius.” 
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

It is easy to become a critic in our culture of entertainment. Genius is streamed in from the far reaches of the world as critics assume their roles upon couches and in recliners before countless televisions.

We lament our team’s quarterback, who struggles to identify a safety blitz.
We cringe at the singer whose high note is a bit flat.
We cannot comprehend how a referee can miss a call.
We smirk at the actor who portrays the same character in every role.
We bemoan the sophomore slump which fails to live up to the standards of an artist’s debut.
We expect world class performances but often excellence is lost upon those being entertained.

Most of us live in the world of the mediocre. That fact is reflected by our application of the words genius and exceptional upon those who are typically neither. We apply those terms to acquaintances of our daily lives who are exceptional, in comparison to ourselves, but rarely are they world class. Our direct experience is rarely much higher than ourselves.

It is when we move from entertainment to participation that we begin to truly recognize and appreciate the truly phenomenal.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I was perusing the results of the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Sebastian Kienle won the event with 1:19/100 meter swim pace, 25.81 mph bike pace, and a 5:42/mile run pace. Since I am participating in triathlons, I can compare my best to those times. I recognize just how crazy fast those times actually are. I can better appreciate Sebastian Kienle’s excellence unlike someone who is not swimming, bicycling, or running.

I wonder if this is the principle at play in many churches. Many professing Christians live their lives absent the awe for the excellence of Jesus Christ. Their faith resides in the tidy compartment of their balanced and structured existence but absent any real passion. In many ways, they have assumed the role of critic in a church culture of entertainment. Week in and week out, many churches press for little more than Sunday morning attendance. It should not be surprising that those who come for entertainment fail to appreciate the majesty of our God who redeems.

A dynamic faith requires participation. We cannot sit complacently in our pews of mediocrity knowing nothing higher than our experience and those around us.

When we are striving for obedience, the sinless nature of Christ becomes astounding.

When we try to love our neighbors, God loving a world by sacrificing His Son for us while we were yet sinners is beyond comprehension.

When we suffer, Christ’s acceptance of the cross when a legion of angels awaited His call is a marvel.

When we struggle to forgive, the total forgiveness and condemnation of our sin will boggle the mind.

When we are walking in the Spirit, the gifts of the fruit of the Spirit attest to the phenomenal goodness of a God who cares for His own.

Those who accompanied Jesus during the triumphant entry were eye-witnesses to the excellence of Christ. Based on their experience, they acknowledged the majesty of the King of kings. We can have that same experience but we have to have a faith that is participating with the Spirit. It is when we participate with the Spirit by setting our eyes on the things of the Spirit that we will begin to truly recognize and appreciate the phenomenal nature of the Son of God. It is then that the dynamic faith of a child of God will join in the praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

There is no better time to renew our awe in the majesty of the Cross than during Easter. May we join with our brothers and sisters of old in praise of our Savior, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my often lackadaisical attitude to your majesty. Forgive me for not appreciating what you have done for me. Lord, renew a spirit of awe within my soul. Open my eyes to the phenomenal nature of your Son. Help my grateful heart put words to praise. Blessed is the King who has come in the name of the Lord and with return. Come quickly, my Lord; Come and establish here on earth the peace that is in heaven and glory that is in the highest. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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BAD LITTLE DONKEY – April 15

April 15, 2014

“But he said to him, “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” Psalm 32:10

 Snort was a present for my wife that I bought at a 4-H fundraising auction. Before you reach the obvious conclusion that the gift of a miniature donkey makes me a hopeless romantic, I will confess to an ulterior motive. I bought Snort for one particular joke.  A joke that necessitated, Snort being my wife’s donkey.  While I and all the other 12 year olds out there might find my joke hilarious, the Devoted Life editor (my wife) felt that it might not be very appropriate.  This is probably one of those situations where it is good for a man to be married.  Suffice to say, my joke cost me $200 but I enjoyed it immensely.

000_2627However, my joke lost its appeal as it became more evident that Snort was my donkey. I would let Snort out of his corral and he would follow me around like a dog. If I dug a hole, Snort would put his head in it. If I was trimming shrubs, Snort would work his way between me and the bush. When I was petting the dog or cat, he would chase them away and rub up against me until I scratched between his ears.  He would even try to sit on my lap.

It had become obvious that Snort was my little donkey, which ruined my joke. However, it had also became obvious that Snort was a bad little donkey.

Snort had turned into an escape artist. He had learned how to open his pen, despite the measures we took. I would be standing by the kitchen window and suddenly a donkey would go prancing through our yard, nose stuck up into the sky in defiance. Snort was out…again.

Snort amused himself by nuzzling up against me while I was kneeling down to work or sitting in chair reading a book. He found great delight in nibbling my baseball cap and then running off with it. It was cute the first couple of times but then it got annoying as I was spending more and more time battling Snort for my hat.

000_2625However, Snort’s disobedience was becoming more than a simple annoyance. He was becoming a danger to himself and others. Once, he escaped from his corral and was able to get into our neighbor’s pasture with several mules. Those mules ran Snort relentlessly. My wife just happened to notice him in the pasture when she was driving home. By the time she got him out of the pasture, he was exhausted and bloodied, having been run into barbed wire fence in several areas.

On another occasion, he had gotten himself into the middle of our neighbor’s freshly planted wheat field. We called and called him but he refused to listen. Finally, my kids and I had to chase him across a corrugated field, stumbling and falling, as that nasty little donkey refused to go back home.

The worst manifestation of his defiance was the kick he had integrated into his prance of independence. He would run by with his nose in the air and give a little side-ways kick with his rear leg. Even though he was a little donkey, that kick could cause some real injury.

My joke had run its course; it was time to train Snort.

Since I had neither the time nor the knowledge, we gave Snort to a friend who had both. Snort’s world changed abruptly. He was disciplined and trained to go where his master directed him. He was forced to do tasks over and over again until he did them willingly. He was made into something more than a joke.

There are not very many useful things for a miniature donkey. Yet, Snort has been the star in several Christmas and Easter plays and has been the ambassador in a multitude of parades. He did all of those events with only a halter because he had been trained.

I wonder how many times I have been like an untrained Snort. A little donkey prancing around in defiance to my Master’s wishes; refusing to be led away from a destructive environment; being a danger to myself and those around me; being a joke.

God did not save us for his amusement. He did not send His own Son to redeem us for the purposes of a joke. He saved us for a purpose. The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes nicely the chief purpose of man; Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The reality is that we have to be trained to this purpose. That will often require a bit and bridle to drive the rebellious Snort out of us. However, we have something that Snort does not have. We have the gift of understanding. Let’s use our understanding to cooperate with God’s purpose in our lives so that the bit and bridle are not necessary.

May we be like the horses in this video that come running when our Master cracks the whip.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for too often living without the understanding  you have given me.  Thank you for those time when you have turned my rebellious head for my own good.  Lord, continue to train me in your righteousness; teach me how I can glorify you and enjoy you in all that I do. Sanctify my heart so that I will hear your voice and come with a cheerful heart, without the need for a bit or bridle.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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SPIRITUAL FREIGHT TRAINS – Mar. 26

March 26, 2014

“And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Number 20:11-12

 Newton’s first law of motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Spiritual maturity entails learning to respond appropriately to the external forces that are applied to our lives. We can be in a good state –walking with all consistency in the Spirit. We can we be going in the right direction –following Christ with all of our heart. However, all of that uniform positive motion can be thrown into disarray by application of the slightest of force that is beyond our control.

Flickr contributor's description: Even kids on...

When I was younger much of the state of my spiritual motion was dictated by the decisions I was making. Decisions will always have consequences. My decisions applied internal forces within my life that drove me in good and bad directions. I was like a five-year learning to ride a bike without training wheels. I wavered all over the path that lay before me. There was nothing in my spiritual life that one would call uniform. I sped up and slowed down. I changed direction and then changed again as I sought out the balance of following Christ in a confusing and fallen world. The inconsistencies of my younger years were mostly due to the decisions that I was making.

As the years have passed by, the Spirit has shown me so much patience and grace while teaching me how to follow Christ. My spiritual life is far from perfect but I am no longer the wavering and inconsistent child that I once was. I look back and know that the Lord has matured my faith, despite myself, to a state of mostly uniform motion.

This does not mean that the spiritual state of the more mature is without wavering. I have come to learn how vulnerable my spiritual motion is to the forces that are beyond my control. We all have to deal with circumstances that are not of our choosing. We all have to respond to conditions that are not our preference. Most of these situations are beyond our control. Yet, they are external forces that can disrupt the uniform motion of our spiritual lives.

There was no man like Moses. He was meeker than all the people who were on the face of the earth. He lived a faithful life. God spoke to Moses, mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles. Moses beheld the form of the Lord. Moses’ faith was steadfast and uniform.

Yet, even Moses was susceptible to the disruption of external forces. The people of Israel gathered together to quarrel with Moses and Aaron. That was a bad decision. It was a decision that Moses and Aaron had no part of. Yet, it was an external force beyond their control that was applied into their lives and they wavered under it. Moses took his eyes off of the glory of God and responded in his own flesh – he spoke in anger, he usurped the place of God, and he acted with aggression. In that instance, Moses wavered due to the external circumstance that was applied to him.

The bad decisions of others created a bad decision for Moses from which he had to face the consequences.

The goal of spiritual maturity is to respond appropriately to other people’s decisions and/or circumstance that are not of our choosing. The spiritually mature child of God should be difficult to dislodge from his consistent motion behind the leading of his Savior.

Why is it hard to dislodge a freight train from its tracks?

To dislodge a freight train, one has to exceed the train’s mass and acceleration. The tremendous force of a train comes from its incredible tonnage and speed. There are few forces that can throw a freight train off its tracks. It can be done but it takes an awfully great wallop to do it.

A mature Christian should be like a spiritual freight train.
Only,
our tonnage comes from the glory of God and
our speed through the propulsion of the Spirit.

Hunter-Desportes / Foter / CC BY

We gain spiritual mass when we live for the glory of God. We are grounded when we treasure God more than anything else. The cares of the world can apply little force against a life that is filled with the wonder of the Almighty and living to uphold the holiness of God for all to see.

The child of God who sets his mind on the things of the Spirit is propelled forward as he walks according to the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who accelerates the follower of Christ forward in his faith toward life and peace.

Only the greatest of external wallops can waver the believer who lives within the bulk of God’s glory and knows the Spirit induced acceleration of a life focused only on the things of the Spirit.

May we all mature into spiritual freight trains. Lives lived with so much spiritual force that bad circumstance cannot dislodge us from our walks of uniform motion according to the Spirit.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for how far you have taken me.  Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide and teach me.  Thank you for keeping me from wandering away from you. Lord, teach me how to live with your glory constantly in my sight.  Help to continue to walk according to your Spirit.  Restore me back into faithfulness when I do waver from external forces.  Father, create in me a faith that is as stable as any freight train for you glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (Robert Lowery) – Mar. 12

March 12, 2014

lowryrsmWeeping will not save me.
Though my face were bathed in tears
That could not allay my fears,
Could not wash the stain of years;
Weeping will not save me.

Chorus:
Jesus wept and died for Me,
Jesus suffered on the tree,
Jesus waits to make me free;
He alone can save me.

Working will not save me.
Purest deeds that I can do,
Holiest thoughts and feelings too,
Cannot form my soul anew;
Working will not save me.

Waiting will not save me.
Helpless, guilty, lost, I lie,
In my ear is mercy’s cry;
If I wait I can but die;
Waiting will not save me.

Faith in Christ will save me.
Let me trust thy weeping Son,
Trust the work that he has done,
To his arms, Lord, help me run;
Faith in Christ will save me.
~Robert Lowery, “None but Jesus”

 In honor of Robert Lowery, a Baptist Pastor and hymn writer, who was born on this day in 1826.

 Resources:
March 12 – Today in Christian History
Robert Lowry: 1826-[1899]

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HEADWINDS TURNED TO TAILWINDS – Mar. 5

March 5, 2014

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

honeycut07 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I really wanted to go for a bike ride over the weekend.

I stepped outside and walked to the edge of the porch only to have a cold westerly wind change my mind.  A few moments of gazing at the trees bending under an unseen load convinced me that I did not want to venture out into that kind of wind. So, I returned back to the serenity of indoors.  I did this analysis three times before I rationalized my cycling kit on and grabbed my bike. I know that riding in the wind is not much fun, but I just wanted to get out of the house and get a work-out in.

The soundness of that logic was questioned throughout the first few miles of my ride as tree limbs bent into the roadway delivering a moaning question as to why I had ventured from my protective walls. I fought that wind for miles upon miles, grinding away in my smallest chainring, hoping to at least match my forward speed to that of the wind in my face. There was no escaping the relentless resistance of that wind since the route I had decided upon took me directly into it. I tried to stay low and ground away with each pedal stroke in anticipation of the turn.

The turn is when you pass the half-way mark and start to head home. Better yet, the turn would put my back to the wind on this day. I made my way with eagerness onto a road that would connect me to the turn. It also had the benefit of taking me out of the frontal assault of the wind. It was on this road that I felt the first few drops.  In my battle with the wind, I had not noticed the dark clouds that now barred my return.

ryanmatthew21 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I summited the last climb before the turn with the full knowledge that I was going to get wet and this ride was going to get really miserable. The skies opened up on me as I descended to the turn. Water rolled off of my chin and down my back as my wheels spun a whisper of spray that appeared to double their size.  I quickly lost all concern for wind as I made the turn, for my mind had shifted to the concerns of slick pavement and the hope of home. I dipped my head to keep the rain off of my glasses and grabbed a harder gear – I needed to get home.  I focused on my cadence as I continued to work through my gear cassette until I could not shift anymore.

I was in my hardest gear and pedaling freely. I don’t know how fast I was going since my speedometer had quit, but I must have been tickling 30 mph. I rode like this for several miles, maintaining a speed on the flats that I could never hold by myself. The only reason I was being hurried home was because of the wind. That very same wind that I had fought all the way out, was now lifting me to a speed I could never do unaided.

afphotography / Foter / CC BY-NC

That ride home was fun. The very same wind that had caused me such misery going out, provided great joy on the way home. In fact, wind transformed what normally is more miserable than a head wind, a cold ride in drenching rain, into an exhilarating experience that I will remember.

This love / hate experience with wind spurred my meditation of the workings of the Spirit of God in those who are His.  I believe that there are times in our spiritual lives when we are walking directly into the resisting force of the Spirit that is intent upon changing our direction.

 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6-7)

I don’t know how the Spirit resisted Paul but it seems like Paul’s path became too difficult so he changed it. I believe that the Spirit still works that way. We just have to discern when to follow the guiding blow of the Spirit and turn out of the wind to the path of less resistance. That is not always easy to discern because the Spirit might have other purposes.

I believe that there are times when the Spirit blows in our face not to get us to change to direction but in order to strengthen us. The trials and temptations of our lives could simply be removed by the Lord, but often He does not. Frequently, He allows them because we need the work-out.

 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The Holy Spirit guiding us through suffering is evidence of God’s love for us.  God loves us too much to leave us as spiritual couch potatoes. There are times when we feel resistance in our lives because the Spirit is blowing into our face in order to build endurance, which will produce character, and from that character will emerge God glorifying hope, and everyone needs hope to persevere to the end.  In these instances, we should not turn from the path that we are on. We need to grind on. We need to get low and endure. We need to accept the love of God through our suffering.

We can accept our suffering as the love of God because we, by faith, know that the power of the Spirit is actually what is carrying us home. While the Spirit is allowing and guiding us through difficult times, it is also the Spirit who is powering us through those very same difficulties.  It is because of the tail-wind of the Holy Spirit that we can endure longer than we could ever do unaided. It is because of the power of the Spirit that we can perform beyond our abilities.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Therefore, we are driven to hope when we grind into the Spirit’s head-wind and when we experience the powerful effects of the Spirit pushing us home.

I often don’t know where or how the Spirit is blowing in my life.

I find it difficult to know when the Spirit is guiding me to turn in a new direction or to grind on.

I regularly fail to realize the power that is pushing me forward as I labor to follow Christ.

I am quick to grumble about trials rather relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

However, the mysterious winds of the Spirit, in all their forms, are a blessing for those who are in Christ. The Spirit is our gift to help us through this fallen world.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:5)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

We never have to be discouraged or afraid. We have been given the Holy Spirit – our Helper.  He is the One who will do all that is necessary to get us home – guide us in the right direction, build hope in our hearts, and carry us when needed.  Praise God that we have not been abandoned. We are loved and cared for by our Helper who will be with us forever.  Now, let’s go live our lives relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us our Helper. Thank you for the work of the Spirit in my life – guiding, correcting, stengthening, and sustaining me.  Lord, teach me to rely upon your Spirit in all conditions.  Teach me to live in your joy and peace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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