Posted in Hiding His Word

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

life and death

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Because we are created in the image of God, we have minds to think with,  hearts to feel with, and a will to decide with and God calls us to make right decisions. We’re not robots. We can hear God’s Word, learn God’s will, and decide either to obey or disobey. We learn from Moses that making this decision is not a difficult task. After all, we have the revealed truth of God, and his Word and that Word is available to us. We don’t have to go up to heaven to get the Word or across the sea to another country because God brought his Word to us.

The choice is between life and death, and who would deliberately choose death? In Israel’s case, the choice was between trusting God and enjoying the good of the land or turning to idols and experiencing the curses. It is either life and blessing or death and curses. Today the choice is between eternal life and eternal death. Salvation by the grace of God or an eternity spent in hell. Is this a difficult decision to make? The only sensible decision is to choose LIFE.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” ~ John 3:36

God offers his people life, for He is our life.

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” ~ Acts 17:28a

The Israelites needed to choose life, but they then they also needed to maintain their relationship with God by loving Him and listening to His voice. We are called today to make the same and the right decisions and take the same steps of obedience and love. Life or death?

Choose Love. Choose obedience. Choose Life.

 

Father, Help us today to look to You and make right and holy decisions. Help us at each moment to stop and look to You for our direction. Help us to love You and love others as You would love them. Take over our hearts so that our reactions to every obstacle and every temptation remain holy. Help us to represent You well in this time in this world that You have placed us. Help us to be a light that we might draw others to You even as we are drawn closer by You. In Jesus precious Name I pray. Amen!

Posted in Hiding His Word

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – Grace

Grace

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:16-17 KJV

For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift].  For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:16-17 AMP

In the picture above and John 1:16-17 we see so many definitions of “grace.” Spiritual blessing, favor, a gift, the unearned and undeserved favor of God.  There are others definitions – but the meaning of the word “grace” I want to focus on today is in the sense of giving someone the time to “get right.”

Insurance companies will give their policyholders a “grace period” in which the policyholder has a few days to make a payment after the policy expires. If the payment is made within this “grace period,” they are treated as though the policy never lapsed.

As children of God, we need to show others this kind of grace which is the same kind of grace that God showed to us. There have been many times God has treated me as though I did nothing wrong even though I plainly had. Why did He treat me that way? Because He was giving me time to make it right and get right. He was giving me time to grow up into who I am supposed to be.

We see this in the life of Jesus over and over. He was gracious, merciful, and kind to those that showed remorse or repentance. He allowed them to time and space and grace to “get right” with dignity. On the other hand, He spoke harshly to the self-righteous and those that treated people as though they were less valuable than themselves for any reason.

Jesus said –

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Living and treating people the way we want to be treated means we will automatically show them abundant grace and mercy. We will automatically and always be kind. We will love each other through tough seasons even as we want them to stand with us through our worst days. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus is asked –

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What a difference we could see in our world today if we all showed each other abundant grace. What a love the world would see and in doing so we would fulfill every law.

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required ~ Luke 12:48b

Posted in Hiding His Word

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – 1/18/2018

image

When love is the motive, sacrifice is never measured or mentioned.  – Unknown

Daily Scripture

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ~ Philippians 2:5-8

Study

While the theme of the first chapter of the book of Philippians is Jesus Christ first, the subject of chapter 2 is others next. The verses above, are a portion of Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi and that specific instruction and encouragement to be servants and have submissive minds.

Paul talks about being humble.

Humble: not proud or arrogant; modest; having a feeling of insignificance; low in rank, importance, status, quality; to lower in condition, importance or dignity.

So what does it mean to be a humble person; to have humility? The humble person is not one who thinks ill of himself, but one who doesn’t think of himself at all. The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself and yields himself in obedience to Jesus to be a servant – for the Glory of God and the good of others.

In verse 5-6 above we see a humble man’s eyes and mind are turned off of himself and onto others. He sees the needs of others, and he thinks of others. He has the mind of Christ, and his attitude proves it.

In verse 7 we see that thinking of others, he also serves others. It is not just good words he speaks, but his actions follow with true service. Paul was a servant, but his example and our most excellent example is Jesus.

Jesus thought of others and became a servant. The Bible says that He made Himself of no reputation. He emptied Himself and laid aside His own attributes as God. He became human in a sinless physical body, and He used that body to be a servant…meeting the needs of others all the way to the cross where He willingly died for others.

Jesus was a servant, and He was humble. His service cost. The genuinely humble man will naturally pay the price to serve others because their mind is on others and not themselves. Many people are willing to help if it cost nothing, but if there is a price, they lose interest. In verse 8 we see Jesus became “obedient unto death.”

Meditation

Jesus didn’t avoid sacrifice and neither should I. My attitude as I walk through this Christian life should be one of willing submission for the glory of God and the good of others. If paying a price will honor Jesus and help others, I should willingly pay it. Will there be suffering? Very likely…but I do believe the test of the submissive mind of Christ is not how much I am willing to take in terms of suffering but how eager I am to give in terms of sacrifice.

One of the interesting things about this Christian life is that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God will bless.

I will close out with two quotes I read today:

When love is the motive, sacrifice is never measured or mentioned.  – Unknown

Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing. – J.H. Jowett

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I come before you today and declare that You are wonderful and magnificent and all knowing and YOU are the Lord of me. I declare that You are supreme and You are the great I AM! You alone Lord. Father, I come before You today having blown it again in so many ways. Did I have the mind of Christ today? Not when I compare it to Your Holy Word. Father, forgive me for allowing my mind to wander and to get caught up in trivial things and imaginations. Help me, Father, to keep my focus on You and Your Word and Your will. Help me to see You when I see others and help me to step up and be a servant. Help me to be one so willingly that it is just the outflow of my heart because of my relationship with You. Help me to know You and love You more and more and as I work and serve may YOUR LOVE and Your Presence be my strength and my only drive.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!!!

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts. ~ Haggai 2:4

A Little Something Extra

The New Testament is full of all kind of instruction in how to live with one another.  Here are just a few:

  • Prefer one another      Romans 12:10
  • Edify one another        1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • Bear one another’s burdens       Galatians 6:2
  • Don’t judge one another       Romans 14:13
  • Rather admonish one another       Romans 15:14
  • Serve one another       1 Peter 4:10
Posted in Journal, Missions

Dust

It was the last night in TZ and the team was heading back from Safari. It was a four-hour trip and we were all very tired. Halfway back, there was a traffic jam in Arusha so our guide decided to go the back roads to Moshi. The back road was Nelson Mandela Highway. It was a road sometimes paved, most times not. We passed the Nelson Mandela University. Very middle-class area in TZ, I thought.

And then he made a left-hand turn and the scenery changed. In an instant, we were on a small dirt road in the middle of a remote village. I grabbed my camera but just as I did I heard the Holy Ghost tell me to take no pictures so I put the camera down. Oh my, people everywhere, dressed every way, animals everywhere. No cars except those trying to get through. Thatch roofs and mud houses. We got about halfway through the village and a young girl was standing on a bridge yelling and pointing at us. She was mad and they said trying to put curses on us. We rolled by on that dirt road leaving clouds of dust and a group of people covered by it – breathing it unavoidable.

And with that realization, it started – the tears. I started crying. Weeping at first but then it turned into streams of tears and didn’t stop until we arrived in Moshi. Believe me…I tried to stop. Believe me…I felt like I was causing discomfort in the van and so I tried. But the Spirit of the Lord had fallen on me and what He allowed me to see on those streets even through my tears and what He allowed me to see of my own soul overwhelmed my heart.

Maybe the love of Jesus starts by not thinking our own dust is more precious than others very lives. Having some respect and love for who they are even if they exist with just the clothes on their back, a goat or two and even if we know they worship a false god. Having some respect and love even if they hate us. Having some respect and love most especially if we are just passing through. I am not sure an unreached people can be reached for the Lord by westerners (missionaries or not) who care more about their own dust (time and their own physical conditions) more than relationships built on love and respect. That takes time and while it can be dusty and dirty is never that intentionally.

One of my thoughts as we rolled through – How can those Tanzanian villagers do so much with so little? How can we Americans do so little with so much? The point of my even writing this down is for my own remembrance, as I have no pictures to show of it. Most people will never see this or care what I write in this blog. I keep my writing fairly private…but I also write it to say this…

LOVE your neighbor…and sometimes that looks like just slowing down.
Posted in Uncategorized

Loving the Four Year Olds

I was told by a wise someone when I first began working in a mental health environment that to deal with difficult people and/or difficult personality types to look at them as though they were a four or five year old. Especially for those that act out like crazy. Look at them past what is going on in the moment as a child needing attention, love, acceptance…needing something. A child from an environment that perhaps didn’t regard them or teach them manners or respect or an envirnonment that just didn’t love; maybe where there was no peace.

We have much patience and our love is more unconditional for the four and five year olds.

That mindset has always helped me deal and form connections with many different types of people and love them all nevertheless. That mindset allows me to stay graceful in some very strange situations and it allows me to see potential and precious things within the hearts, often hearts masked by the effects of a hard, hard world.

I believe that the way this wise someone told me to see people is the way God sees all of His children. It is the way He saw me. I am one of those four years olds some days…thankfully not as often as I once was.

I am grateful for those that loved me anyway and those that loved me through. I am grateful for love and I have come to believe that most everything and maybe absolutely everything that people come to this counseling facility to get help with, can be healed most through LOVE! Our heavenly Father’s love first but also our love; both unconditional and both free flowing. Love changes you. Love means sometimes putting our own selves out there. Speaking the TRUTH of GOD’s WORD and allowing both that Truth and also that Father’s love through us to give people an environment that grows them up. Not all at once sometimes but more like a plant growing silently…growing and developing sometimes even unnoticed but then one day you turn around and there it is…standing in front of you with such beauty and such purpose. Hidden no more in sometimes the most unexpected people and places.

Yes, loving some is sometimes a challenge and sometimes messy but always the rewards of seeing someone set free and bloom are beyond breathtaking.

Posted in Uncategorized

Matthew

The first time I knew for sure that I had seen the face of Jesus was when I met a boy named Matthew at a Romanian Orphanage. I had been warned of the “horrors” and told that if I didn’t want to see him and others like him that I could stay outside of their special room. I had been warned to say nothing of the experience while still in Romania because it was illegal for me to even be allowed in this particular orphanage and to speak of it put their workers in danger. Internationals and especially Americans were no longer allowed to be in these places. They are not allowed to adopt these children. Americans are allowed in the mission organization orphanages but not the government run facilities. I just happened to be hosted by a wonderful woman that once worked there and she arranged for my visit after a few days of long conversation over morning coffee.

Nothing just happens. It was a part of a great plan.

The orphanages are dark, old, and ill equipped…but their workers love the children and do the best they can with what few resources they have and within what they are allowed by law to do. Many sacrifice food and other things we would consider necessity to supplement the milk and food of these that they have grown to love so.

As I arrived at the orphanage I prayed that the Lord would help me to be able to look into the face of anything and anyone with love and without flenching. I remembered past experiences with people that had been victims of accidents and crime and having a hard time looking into their eyes. I didn’t want that to be what I left with and what I left them with.

Matthew was a little boy with a head so big that he could not sit or stand and could only lay to the side. In America we would call that hydrocelphalus or water on the brain. In America we would have treatments and special hospitals and special therapy. In Romania these children are immediately deserted and put into orphanages where they will spend the rest of their lives or until their eighteenth birthday. In Romania even the mentally challenged are set aside and out of the orphanages to fend for themselves at the age of eighteen..unless a mission organization agrees to take them in.

Matthew lay in his little crib all day, every day. He could not speak and his eyesight was poor. His head was much to big and it caused everything to be much too unstable to allow for us to hold him. He was rotated from side to side every few hours but his head had grown and flattened. His head was twice as big as his little body that had not grown much at all. Matthew’s body look to be about 3 months old. Matthew was three years old.

I remember walking up to him and I all I wanted to do was touch his face…so I did. And he smiled. It was then I saw Him…it was the face of Jesus! I knew it, for sure. I didn’t cry then like I did for so many days afterward and as I do to this day when I think of his smile. His beautiful face. I had a hard time pulling myself away. He was by far the most beautiful child I have ever seen. I was not allowed to take pictures so in the moments I had with him, I memorized his face and his body. I can see him today as though it were yesterday.

I have often wondered why God would allow a little boy to just lay there but I kind of know. I pray that every day someone can see what I saw and I know that one day I will see him again.

Since that very moment I have been able to see the face of Jesus in so many people. God allows it. Sometimes I am in awe and kind of taken breathless and speechless. I wonder if they even know what I can see in them.

The Bible says of Jesus almost what I was told of little Matthew –  In Isaiah 53:2: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

Oh that I could go again and take you to that orphanage to see the face of Jesus in a little boy named Matthew!!! Since I can’t do that yet…I just look around.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just a thought…

When Jesus told Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep,” Peter had just denied Jesus. Can you imagine Peter’s feelings of guilt? I’m sure he considered ending all ministry.

How I hear that today: Jesus says to us, “If you love Me, FORGET the mistakes and failures of the past and focus on what I asked you to do!” (Of course, I’m not talking about short-circuiting repentance)

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Posted in Uncategorized

Judas Come Home…

I have given a lot of thought over the years to Judas. Maybe because I am the daughter of a man who was also my pastor, who committed suicide. By doing so, my dad betrayed so many…yet mostly God. To me Judas is not just the person who betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  Out of the necessity of trying to figure my own life I have always sought to know him as more. Recently one morning I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me and showing me something new and really unexpected about this from these verses.

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself!’ 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:3-5

Oddly enough, I had never considered that Judas felt such deep sorrow that he made an attempt to repent. The only problem was he repented to the wrong people, the religious crowd. I began to consider what would have happened if Judas instead of going out and killing himself had went to Jesus as He was dying on the cross and pursued forgiveness from Him. What would Jesus do? Would He have forgiven Him? Will God forgive anything and everything? These were all questions that were swirling in my mind. I do believe Jesus would have forgiven Judas if He was given the opportunity, but Judas could not forgive himself so he took matters into his own hands and killed himself.

I knew the Lord wanted to show me more; in a sense I felt Judas had something else to say to me. So I continued to pray over this and I also talked to friends about their perspective on Judas and within days someone walked up to me and handed me a book titled, The Gospel According To Judas by Ray S. Anderson. I did not even get past this first sentence in the prologue when I read what was to be only the first of what Judas was telling me.

“I saw it in the men’s restroom in a restaurant in San Francisco, printed in block letters with a blue felt tip pen across the top of the mirror:

JUDAS COME HOME – ALL IS FORGIVEN!”

When I read that phrase it was like someone stuck a red-hot sword into my heart. All the memories- but not of anything to do with my dad…these were memories from my own Judas moments that came into my mind. I remembered the feelings of having betrayed my God…the rejection, loneliness and the feeling of not having a place I could call home. I also began to think about all the many people I knew and know who have also betrayed or lost face in the church or suffered rejection or shame and eventually left.

Then I heard a whisper from heaven saying tell them…tell the Judas out there, “Come home all is forgiven, I love you.” That little phrase really broadened my revelation of the Father’s heart and love toward all of us. It makes me want to go to everyone I know that has run way for any reason, even as I did, and tell them “Come home, all is forgiven, the Father loves you.” This is what Judas was trying to tell me – how big the Father’s heart really is.

In the epilogue of the book Ray gives us a wonderful picture of the love and grace of the Lord.

“My choosing of you counts more than your betrayal of Me!” Through His grace I discovered that the calling of God by which we become children of the kingdom does not rest upon our faith alone, but upon His faithfulness toward us.”

Judas please come home, I know how you feel, but all is forgiven and the FATHER LOVES YOU!!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Just Showed Up For My Own Life too

Three years ago I watched a documentary about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Honestly at that time I had no interest in Africa, AIDS or the people affected in the world. It was not in the radar of what I knew as my life, but that day God sat me down and sat me still and He touched my heart. Although it wasn’t a religious video or even one of social justice, I couldn’t turn away from what I saw and heard from Him that day…the burden. I told my family afterward that I would be going to Africa on a mission trip one day.

Over these last years I have thought about that statement and that day often. Then several days ago I watched a music video by Sara Groves. It was a video set to her song I Saw What I Saw and it was a message about how her life was changed and how it really began by a visit to Rwanda. When I saw it I started crying. I was bawling like a baby. Couldn’t contain my feelings. I know what God has placed in my heart and seeing that video brought it all into the open, if just in my own room…it had become a burden and was this true desire I was feeling?

Today I watched another documentary from the Nomad Film Series. It was titled- Just Showed Up For My Own Life. This documentary, about Sara Groves as well, chronicled both that visit to Rwanda but in much more detail and Sara ministering in Louisiana during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I am completely undone.

I have over these last years asked God to give me a heart that felt love, real love. God has taken my heart filled to the brim with so many prejudices and judgments and apathy and I can feel Him replacing it with His heart of deep longing and love and “homesickness” for these nations of Africa but also for individuals; also for this nation…the poor and broken-hearted of this nation and this town. I have cried all day for the orphans and the widows; for the elderly; for the women and for the men. Those living in poverty and a kind of trauma that I can’t even understand. His people, His children. Then I find myself praying that He would give me a nation and to help me perceive the need in the one in front of me today.

What God has placed in my heart is beyond my understanding. I guess I write it here because I have to believe there is someone out there that knows something at all about what I am feeling. I admit I don’t get it exactly and I admit it might sound crazy. I don’t even know the simple things I need to know so yes it is so beyond me…but for whatever circumstance I find myself or whatever season of my life I am in, this is. This is a new reality that has always been there in God’s plan for me. It is now a part of my own life. It is risky and yet I know the risk of not showing up for this part of my life is so much greater. I see documentaries like this and read books and listen to missionaries speak and I just want to see and know a people with that kind of love, faith, healing, joy that these people seem to know. I want to walk with Jesus there- maybe so I can know more of how He wants me to walk with Him here. One of the consequences of great prejudice seems to be great responsibility. I have to own that. I want to quit crying and yet I don’t want to ever quit. It is now my burden, my desire and my prayer.

I have been meditating on this scripture today. It has blessed me:

Isaiah 41:9-10 (New International Version)

9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.