31 October 2013

He won't feed us stones.

Scripture:

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them. 

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:16-21, 31-38 NLT)

Observation: In 16-21, Jesus is showing the disciples how simply, how easily, how willingly He will care for them. How He will supply their every need. All the while as they were bellyaching and pointing fingers at one another over who should have brought the food, and whining about being hungry, Jesus was RIGHT THERE. The Bread of Life. The Living Water. And an endless supply of both. 

Application: How often do I assume Jesus won't bother Himself with little ordinary me? How regularly do I hesitate, not wanting to weary Him? Cherishing in my heart a seed of fear in not wanting to be disappointed? Believing more in my mortal life experience than I do in Christ's eager willingness to save at every turn, and holding back from releasing His will into my life simply by telling Him what I need and turning it over to Him? He was saying to His disciples: "I've fed nine thousand people with what usually wouldn't even feed all'y'all. Why are you all wrapped around the axle about forgetting bread?" This God of ours is the God of Miracles. Why do I continue, in practice, to not let Him perform them in my life?  

Prayer: Father who is my God in Heaven, I praise You for Jesus. I praise You for who You are, and that He won the Victory for us. I'm really astounded at Your generosity, and at Jesus', and am scratching my head as I try to accept the deep rest You offer, the bounty of Your care, and to hear clearly what You would have me do. Father, show me how to walk in Your will. Show me where the truth lives between those who believe that a few words from their mouths will save them, and those who believe that it's all up to them to earn salvation through their works. Make Yourself known unto me, and give me understanding and the company of Your Spirit in my heart so I might better be who You need me to be. Let me not only believe *in* Jesus, but to actually *believe Him.* In Jesus' beautiful name, so be it. :-)

28 October 2013

God's Selfless Heart

Scripture: But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum? ” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” 

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:16, 17, 27, 28 NLT)

Observation: Jesus is all about us. Everything He did, everything He chose, all of His planning and provision, has been with an eye on the salvation and happiness of mankind. 

Application: What an amazing God He is. The only One out of all of the earth's religions that came to His people, asking nothing for Himself. (Interesting that the rest--all imaginings of the minds of men--all require various forms of self-aggrandizement.) How can I, as a parent, follow Jesus' walk more closely in my life?

Prayer: Father, I want to be a good mother--to give generously to my children that which is most vital to their healthy development and wholeness spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Show me, Lord. Teach me. Walk with me and tutor me in my calling as mother to this often-overwhelming family You have so generously given me. (Your trust in me astounds me on a regular basis, Lord. Wow.) Multiply my strength, make my back strong and my energy overflow, so in You (and ONLY in You) I might be equal to the journey You have in store for us. I praise You so loudly, Lord, for Your generous love. I lift Your name high in my life. I love you, and long to be more fully Yours, and to see Your will manifested through my life and in my family. In Jesus' most beautiful name, amen!

26 October 2013

Paul: One gutsy guy

Scripture: Acts 24-26 NKJV

Observation: Paul stood before one and all . . . and witnessed of Jesus. In a time and place where Jesus wasn't recognized or revered, to people that he had worshipped God with nearly all his life. How hard must that have been? To be called apostate? Blasphemer? And yet, he was ready to ditch it all--even his life--to testify of his visitation, of his knowledge, of his joy.

Application: I wonder how we would do, in our day, if faced with something similar? We're surrounded by unbelievers . . . so there are plenty of chances for God to put us in the way of someone who needs our testimony. The specific nature of John's speaking up to the Sanhedrin is what really got my attention, though. I wonder if there will come a day when the humble followers of Christ will face something similar.

Prayer: Lord, grant me strength. Grant me courage. Fill me with You such that that's all others can see, feel, or hear. I will let go of all of the petty, mortal things, and hold only to You.  Please, Lord, so me how to better do so every day. In Jesus' name, amen.

24 October 2013

Fire Follows Water

Scripture: Acts 19:4-6 NKJV

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Observation: When these believers were baptized & Paul laid his hands on them, something amazing happened.

Application: Amazing things happen to believers. Amazing things should happen to believers. If they're not happening--if they're the stuff of urban legend and family folklore--then there's something wrong:

But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.  Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God. Yea, signs come by faith, unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God; and with whom God is angry he is not well pleased; wherefore, unto such he showeth no signs, only in wrath unto their condemnation. (D&C 63:9-11)

Prayer: Most Beloved Father of mine, teach me to walk in greater faith. Teach me, show me, open my mind and heart to Your way, Your path, Your wonders all around me. I just want to know You better, to be close to You. And, more than anything, I just want to do Your will. Show me, please, in Jesus' glorious name, so be it.




23 October 2013

Job Had A Midlife Crisis

Scripture: Job 13-14 NLT

“Look, I have seen all this with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, and now I understand. I know as much as you do. You are no better than I am. As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God himself. As for you, you smear me with lies. As physicians, you are worthless quacks. If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do. Listen to my charge; pay attention to my arguments. “Are you defending God with lies? Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake? Will you slant your testimony in his favor? Will you argue God’s case for him? What will happen when he finds out what you are doing? Can you fool him as easily as you fool people? No, you will be in trouble with him if you secretly slant your testimony in his favor. Doesn’t his majesty terrify you? Doesn’t your fear of him overwhelm you? Your platitudes are as valuable as ashes. Your defense is as fragile as a clay pot. “Be silent now and leave me alone. Let me speak, and I will face the consequences. Yes, I will take my life in my hands and say what I really think. God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him. But this is what will save me—I am not godless. If I were, I could not stand before him. “Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent. Who can argue with me over this? And if you prove me wrong, I will remain silent and die. “O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you. Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence. Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply. Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy? Would you terrify a leaf blown by the wind? Would you chase dry straw? “You write bitter accusations against me and bring up all the sins of my youth. You put my feet in stocks. You examine all my paths. You trace all my footprints. I waste away like rotting wood, like a moth-eaten coat.

“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me? Who can bring purity out of an impure person? No one! You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. So leave us alone and let us rest! We are like hired hands, so let us finish our work in peace. “Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. “But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep. “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins. My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt. “But instead, as mountains fall and crumble and as rocks fall from a cliff, as water wears away the stones and floods wash away the soil, so you destroy people’s hope. You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away. They never know if their children grow up in honor or sink to insignificance. They suffer painfully; their life is full of trouble.”

Observation: I know that's a LOT of scripture, but honestly, it's important. Thanks for sticking it out. ;o)

In yesterday's reading, I saw hope in   words to Job in chapter eleven.  He was urging his friend to do what he had done in his own life, what had worked for him. "Stop worrying and defending yourself, trust God, and worship Him. Then He will pour blessings out on your life, and you can be happy again!"

But today, I heard Job's inability to grasp what his friend was offering. His misunderstanding of his friend's intentions, or the words he chose.  Job rejected that hope, and then went and ranted at God, feeling a healthy dose of self-righteous pity from his fleshly perspective.

The story of Job might be more like a midlife crisis.  His thinking may have been topsy-turvy with the whole "This is NOT what I signed up for!" that comes when life takes a turn that you really, really weren't expecting, did your best to avoid, and don't feel you deserve.  His friends, who love him, (Hello! They sat on the ground, silent, for a WEEK, people!), were offering hope and help as best they could, from their own perspective and experiences . . . but none of it reached Job, other than to prick and poke him enough to get him off of his rear and onto his knees.  Then he rants. He complains. He whines.*  And God starts doing cartwheels because His son is FINALLY opening up to Him, and is getting ready to listen.

*(I especially like 14:21, where Job complains about how when God strikes people down, they don't get to live to see their children grow up, and to see if they do well for themselves in life; I find it pretty hilarious Job would complain that way, when all of his own children were dead. It's like he was running out of things to complain about, and was repeating things he had heard others say, the way my children will when they're out of ideas, but their angst isn't yet spent.)

Application: This story of Job's is so much more complex than I ever thought before.  Up until yesterday, I thought the story arc went something like this: "Good man is tried with horrible, undeserved trials. His friends come to lord it over him, and judge him. He is humble, bears testimony of God's goodness, and God restores to him all he lost and more. The end."  But with the really difficult things adulthood has thrown at me, the way God has taken my life up, shaken it hard so I had to hold on to my marriage, my family and my faith, letting everything else fall away, has shown me a totally different story.  One where these trials bring out a weakness in Job that he learns to overcome. One where he is all tangled in his situation and despite the best efforts of the imperfect people that love him, can't "just get it right" or "get over it".

I also love how this new take on Job shows (again!) how, truly, God is big. So powerful. So forgiving. So purely patient. He has big shoulders. He can take our ranting, our raving, our complaining.  We can pound on Him until our strength is spent, and we can't hurt Him in doing it. He sees what we're going through, understands it perfectly, and has total mercy for us as we flail and thrash through it. And he LOVES it when we come and rant, rave, and complain to Him, because it means that we're paying attention to Him!

Prayer: Lord of Heaven and Earth, I love you. I just want to sing and shout to the skies my gratitude and my rejoicing when I stop and think about who You are, what You are, and how that makes everything perfectly and completely okay. Thank you for all You have done for me. For the way You love me without any reserve, without any failing. Because it changes everything. And I will never be the same. :o)

22 October 2013

Let go already!

Scripture: Job 11:4-20 NLT

You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure,’ and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’ If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve! “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens— and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld — what do you know? It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea. If God comes and puts a person in prison or calls the court to order, who can stop him? For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins. An empty-headed person won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child. “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help. But the wicked will be blinded. They will have no escape. Their only hope is death.”

Observation: Zophar isn't trying to give Job the smackdown here . . . despite the fact that I've read it that way my whole life, and some Bible translators saw it that way. Today, I read in these words hope. So much hope. Zophar is telling Job to stop complaining and whining "poor me" (even though he had tremendous reason to do so!), and to trust that God knows what He's doing, let go of whatever is past, look forward, and get back to giving the Highest His due. 

Application: How often do I handwring and analyze and latch on to what is past . . . worrying more about why I got into the mess I'm in, instead of getting down to business and humbling myself before my Maker, listening carefully--for He will tell me (is crazy to tell me!) what I need to be to get out of it. 

Prayer: Father, help me to let go of what's behind me. Show me the peaceful path of submission, for I'm so incredibly glad  I know I can trust Your judgement fully, for You are faithful! :-) So show me the next step into freedom! In Jesus' most amazing name, amen. :-)



18 October 2013

Stephen.

Scripture: Acts 7:54-60 ESV

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Observation: The people were frightened, outraged at the idea that Stephen could be doing what he was doing....might be close to God. 

Application: I will not be afraid of, or threatened by, another's closeness to God or power in the Holy Spirit. It's all more of what we as believers want to see. And if I think someone is in the wrong, I will take to my knees--not to the streets with a rock in each fist. 

Prayer: Dear Father, please strip all insecurity from me. I give it up to You--for You are my all-sufficient supply. In You I rejoice in other's successes, glorify Your Name for the beauties I see, and see Your miracles and Mercy all around me. Let me be Yours. Let me be part of Your church; and do Your will. Always. In Jesus' name! Amen!

13 October 2013

He Upbraideth Not

“Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. (Nehemiah 9:32 ESV)

And it shall be that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord–Christ] shall be saved. [see Joel 2:28-32.] (Acts 2:21 AMP)

Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death]. (Acts 2:47 AMP)

God wants to save us--literally. To bring us back into His presence, out of the effects of the Fall. He has made it so straightforward for us . .  . all He asks is something every one of us has: our hearts' utter and complete loving trust. 

The verse in Nehemiah showed so beautifully the simplicity of that trust and love--- trust that seeks to hide nothing, love that reserves nothing for itself. 

Our God is the God of love. All kinds of love. His love is total, complete, and all-sufficient. We stand before Him, clinging to our fears and the rags with which we strangely think we can cover our nakedness before Him. 

He knows us. Knows everything about us. And while He cannot save us in our sin, He offers no condemnation. (We are plenty good at flagellating ourselves thankyouverymuch.)

Come unto Christ, and be made whole and complete in Him. Please. He misses you. 

Father in Heaven, oh how holy is Your name. And how holy and good, how generous and kind are You and Your Son. In God there is no upbraiding--You do not punish or shame us, but are forever pleading, inviting, and commanding us to turn again to You. Father, show us our fears. Show us the traditions of our fathers that blind us to the fullness of Your joy. Set us free....set every captive free! In Jesus's most holy and beautiful name, so. be. it.  Amen. 


12 October 2013

Be of Good Cheer!

Scripture: Nehemiah 8:9-12 NKJV

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

Observation: The people's natural/fleshly response to fully understanding the Law was to mourn for their transgressions of it.  But that's not what God has in mind for them, or us. They had just finished rebuilding Jerusalem's wall, and the city was once again secure.  God had work for them to do, and He wanted them to rejoice, to look ahead to the blessings to come, to firmly plant in their minds the fact that understanding the Law is a reason to celebrate, big time.

Application: How about me? Do I celebrate when I learn more of what God wants me to do, or do I fall prey to a spirit of helplessness and defeat? Do I take courage in Christ's loving victory (oh, how wonderful that is!!!), or do I turn from His love in betrayal of all He offers me?

Prayer: Oh God of Heaven and Earth and all that IS--how great and glorious and supreme you ARE. :o) You are above all things, in all things, through all things, by the shining might of your glory and Your Spirit. I praise You for Who You Are. There isn't anything good which isn't part of You--no love nor sweetness in all of creation that can't be traced back to You. And likewise, there is no dark thing in all of creation which comes from You. You are the King, the one who offers light and life to ALL. I want to walk in Your light, to reflect it, to noise it abroad in all the land. Lord, please show me where I still falter, where I harbor tares in the fields of my mind, body and soul. I rejoice that, in Your mercy, You will not require me to gather them faster than I can withstand their pulling, and that Your love heals and restores the disturbed ground left behind by the cleansing. Let me rejoice in Your plans for me, and all around me. Let me rejoice in Your word, Your law, Your love, in Jesus' name, so be it. :o)

11 October 2013

Above all else, know God

Scripture: Nehemiah 6:10, 12, 13 NKJV

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

Observation: Nehemiah knew God's voice. He followed God's will to go support the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall--and here, God gave him discernment.  The same kind of discernment Jesus showed in Mark 2 when He perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees' hearts.  That discernment protected Nehemiah because, knowing God, nothing dark could deceive him.

Application: If I know God, I cannot be deceived. Not even by what seems to be an angel. Knowing the goodness and brilliance of God, I will be able to understand and see the difference between true and false prophecy, true and false prompting. This passage couldn't have come at a better time.

Until nothing is left but You.

Scripture: Nehemiah 4:15-18 NKJV

And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 

Observation: It didn't matter what lengths had to be gone to--the work would go on. Can you imagine one-handed bricklaying or masonry work? Yeah.

Application: Our day and culture prizes optimization highly.  Highly. We want to do things in the easiest, most smooth, effortless ways.  There should be machines to do nearly everything we need, right? And then there's God's way. The way that gets so, soooo much messier before it gets cleaner. The way that strips everything away until nothing is left but Him, and He sets us free.

Prayer: Lord, let me work for You, in Your way. Not in mine. I'm pretty fond of my own ideas (as I'm sure You've noticed!), but Yours are so, so much better. Over and over lately, I've watched the wreckage of my plans for my day become the most perfect fulfillment of Yours--and I rejoice in it. :o) Glory to You, Father, and to Jesus . . . and let peace reign in my heart as I practice the exuberant art of loving You, and the peace-filled discipline of resting in your joy. In Jesus' most glorious and wonderful name, amen. :o)

10 October 2013

Faith to be Healed

Recently, as I've been corresponding about trials and God's will for our lives, I received this sentence in an email:

Part of the faith is accepting what the Lord chooses to have us go through.

And it just didn't set right. Something about it got me all twitchy. So I marked the email as read, and ruminated for a day.

And then I got it:

The Lord doesn't choose to have us go through anything.

WE choose it.

Every last tiny bit of it.


He has a marvelous, wonderful, amazing and bounteous life planned for us . . . already created in the spirit . . . and it is up to us to choose to listen to and follow His will (as revealed to us directly through scripture and the Holy Ghost) to realize that plan in this world. Or, alternately, we can choose something that's not part of His amazing plan for us, and walk a path that's far beneath our privileges. In order to realize the good things God has in store, we have to turn towards Him, continually forsaking the things that aren't in alignment with His goodness and glory (a.k.a. repentance). We have to do as Romans 12:2 says:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

. . . and allow the Holy Ghost to renew our minds (teach us His ways, character, and truth, removing veils of unbelief and incorrect thinking) so we can be transformed/transfigured into something more virtuous and glorified, one breakthrough at a time.

The trials and illnesses of this life are a consequence of the fall . . . and while that was necessary for the whole plan of happiness, that wasn't God's choice. It was Adam's & Eve's. And it's through the tutelage of the spirit, the revealing of personal revelation, that we learn what to do in order to allow us to walk in His best path for us.

We turn towards Jesus in humility. He comes and searches us out in our distress, in our wildernesses. And He walks with us, carries us, strengthens and cheers us on, whispering encouragingly in our ear or laughing joyously at the sky as we make our way back to the even greater blessings that await.

We do not stand in a position of helplessness, waiting only upon God to deliver us from trials and the conditions of sin and death in this world. Christ came, and won the victory. :o) He is all-sufficient, and mighty to save! (Oh, how I want to shout that from the rooftops!) The only thing I've been able to see, in scripture, that we must endure without certain hope of deliverance, is persecution from other people who don't know Him, for we do not have dominion over others. But in all other things, Christ won. He overcame sin and death. We all know the proverb about death and taxes . . . and yet, we know prophets were translated. They didn't taste of death. When we submit to God, and do what He really and truly wants us to do, we're on the path to become like Him to the point where He will take us up unto Himself, as well.

He is no respecter of persons. None. I stand in the very same position of opportunity and potential blessing as ANY other son or daughter of God who has ever been born on this earth, or who ever will be. The work I am called to do might be different--more ordinary, less impressive-looking--but I stand to inherit the same kind of glory they did, if I submit to and honor my God to the same completeness in the fulfillment of it. The only questions I need to answer are "How much do I desire to know my God? How much does my heart yearn for the things of His heart? For His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven?"

I realize I just talked about submitting, after saying we don't have to submit. But hear me out. We are to submit in all things to the will of God . . . . but to nothing and no one else. If there is a person in a position of leadership that follows the will of Jesus Christ, then we will be in agreement, and participate together in the realization of God's will on earth. (How cool is that????) That's unity. It's not having the same political opinions, or philosophical perspectives, or anything else. It's about treasuring your direct line to God, listening to it earnestly, and following what we receive faithfully. Nothing else really matters, because we can trust Him. Utterly.

Jesus healed people of their infirmities right and left--and in Bountiful, he healed every one who came to Him. One by one, they came. And he healed them all. All who would come unto Him. I can imagine that there may have been a few that didn't approach Him, for whatever reason, that day. But I don't believe Christ wants anyone to be sick, or depressed, or hurt.

Ever.

Healing takes faith--and as a teenager and young adult struggling with depression, I'm not sure I had faith. I didn't know the nature and character of God well enough to have that kind of confidence in Him. I trusted Him a great deal, but I didn't really expect Him to heal me. (See what I mean? I didn't KNOW Him. I had a concept of Him, but it was seriously skewed, despite my near-perfection in the performances of my faith.) I thought I was supposed to take my herbs and eat right, and then I would be healed through the things I did. But I didn't know enough about the principles of diet and depression to make a dent. And I didn't believe God would heal me without me doing all of the work on the physical side. So I continued in depression. And I saw no miracle, because I placed my own efforts on par with God's matchless power.

What made the difference this time--what continues to make the difference now--is that I am totally and completely willing to lay everything down for Jesus Christ. Everything. I know Him. He has made Himself known to me in ways that I cannot deny, and are so, so precious to me. He has shown me how vitally living, how exuberantly loving, how joyous and sunny His disposition is. He cares nothing for my imperfections and shortcomings, for I am clothed in His righteousness through His grace. Christ's driving desire is to be able to place His righteousness over me--to bring me out from under condemnation. I offered him my tattered beggar's clothes, held together only by virtue of near-constant darning, and in return He clothed me in royal robes of glory and peace and strength. So long as I walk in repentance, retaining a remission of my sins, I can continue in that newness of life, that continually refreshed newness of mind, a new creature in Him, inhabiting a completely new world--the Kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.
And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."

But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?"

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, "Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."

And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. (Mark 2:1-12)

I have learned that, first and foremost, if I want to be healed, (and stay healed), I need to be in such a state of heart and mind that I am ready to receive remission of my sins, or be in a state of retaining a remission of my sins. (That doesn't mean perfect, folks. It means making steady progress toward God, and relinquishing our hold on sin and falsehood when we realize we're still attached to it.)  When that happens, you become a new creature in Christ, and you inhabit a new world. You are no longer subject to sin and death, and can follow Christ anywhere. The tricky, miraculous, amazing, and wondrous part for me right now is aligning my belief with His Truth as I go from grace to grace, learning line upon line, and growing in wisdom and spiritual stature before the Lord.

09 October 2013

Planted in This Place for His Glory

Scripture: Nehemiah 1:5, 6, 11 NKJV

And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer. 

Observation: This man, this servant of God, knew His heart, and trusted Him. He knew what to do, and that he stood in a unique position to gain help from the king to accomplish what he knew would please the Lord.

Application: What place has my Lord planted me? What unique situations and influences do I have that would glorify His name, and accomplish His work?

Prayer: Lord of Hosts, I praise Your holy Name, and thank You endlessly for Your goodness and grace and faithfulness. The importance of the rock-solid trust I have in You is so far beyond expression. The empowering and propelling force of it changes everything. :o) So, Lord, now that You've made me something of a superwoman, shown me Your love and grace that saves and empowers, show me the next step to take. Show me how to call down heaven into earth, how to walk in Your kingdom every moment, how to spread it abroad into the hearts of those around me, and how to rock. this. place. for our good, and Your name's glory! In Jesus' name, amen!!!

05 October 2013

Ask God. No, really. Just ask Him.

Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not. Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.
(Doctrine and Covenants 8:10-11)

We LDS folk know section eight as the residence of the flagship passages for recognizing answers to prayers through the Holy Ghost. But these two verses later in the chapter stand in stark contrast to what I have heard taught & counseled openly. 

We are to seek to know the mysteries of God. Not coast along on the coattails of others--no matter how righteous or loving they may be. Not just be happy that we had enough faith (or desperate strength) to hang on for one more day. Our God is a good daddy. He LOVES us. He WILL see to our needs and education, if we will but come unto Him with real intent. 

Father in Heaven, lead me ever more deeply into Your love, into Your wisdom, into Your ways. Teach me what I need to know to live the life You have prepared for me. In Jesus' blessed name, amen. 

04 October 2013

Mustard and Meals

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” (Luke 17:5-10 NKJV)

The disciples asked for more faith...and Jesus told them what faith was, and what a tiny, tiny bit of it could do, and then told them to be humble. 

It seems like the disciples didn't really know what faith was, or how to obtain it. I'm so grateful for the answer to their question, so I can understand that faith comes as we practice gratitude and humility, walking as Jesus wants us to walk. 

Father, increase my faith. I believe so much more than ever before in You. And I rejoice at the truth of what I know. :-) Thank You!!!

On Knowledge

"But knowledge is not given so that you can take prideful advantage of the fact that you possess something. If you have it, it is given to make you a minister, a servant, someone the Lord might be able to employ in order to raise up others. Because if you can't elevate others, then you've failed in your effort to be like Him.  He came to serve. You serve, too."  
--Denver Snuffer, Forty Years in Mormonism #3, Logan, UT.
(Transcribed from the recording.)

The Ninety and Nine

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:7 NLT)

And those ninety and nine will be rejoicing over the newly-returned one with all they've got. That's why there will be more rejoicing. ;o)

Lord, lead me to those whose hearts I can begin to help turn back towards You. Tell me whom I should pray for. And give me the words I should pray. Show me what to do, what to say, how to live, what to believe. In Jesus' name, so be it!

02 October 2013

Clean and Free! Praise The Lord!

“On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity. (Zechariah 13:1 NLT)

Observation: The Living Water is such a fountain, washing believers continually, through every part of them--so they are clean every whit--no longer limited by the filth they wore before, new-clothed in glory where before only dingy rags hung. 

Application: What an astounding, amazing, revolutionary thing this Grace is.  It washes all darkness and enjoyment of dark things from our souls, leaving us as clean and bright as a newly-washed window on one of those Autumn days where the sky's clarion blue and the clouds' white impossibility in the glory of the sun makes you ache and rejoice all at once with the beauty of it. 

Prayer: Oh, God of mine, I praise You for Who You are!!! I worship You for Who You are. Yahweh. The One who washes clean, who makes ALL things new, whose mercy for me is fresh with each morning. What a miracle it all is! What a gift, this life of living Your way as a love offering to You. I NEVER want anything else. I will follow YOU. I trust in YOU. Alpha, Omega, and my everything in between. Hallelujah!!! :-)

Live His Law

Scripture: Luke 14:1-6

One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away.  Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son  or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” Again they could not answer.

Observation: This feels like apologetics to me. Pointing out the inconsistencies, the places where men have put their own spin on commandments, on scripture, for their own convenience or gain.

Application: Jesus didn't bow to every rule and regulation laid down by the Pharisees. He lived the law He had given. That's what I feel our responsibility is, as Christians. We must know the scriptures--not just through scholarship and logic, but taught directly from heaven through spiritual means--and we must live them, teach them, be them for all to read.

Prayer: Father, show me the difference. Teach me what I need to know, in ways I clearly and easily recognize are from You. Lead me by Your Spirit, and show me how to teach my children to love You, to know You well.  In Jesus' name, amen.

01 October 2013

Heaven's Economy is Absolutely Just

Scripture: Luke 14:12-14 NLT

Then he turned to his host.  “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,”  he said,  “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward.    Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.    Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

Observation: Jesus seems to be speaking of the justice inherent in heaven. We all receive payment for our good actions and choices. They can come from earthly sources via men, or from heavenly ones (often via men). But payment only comes once, and from the source we choose.

Application: I heavily prefer the jaw-dropping generosity of Jesus over the mortal hearts of men. How about you?

Prayer: God, my Father in Heaven, help me to recognize Your hand in all things.  Increase my faith and patience and wisdom, so I can see Your loving design in my life, and keep on following You more and more closely each day, each moment.  So be it, in Jesus' name.