Monday, March 15, 2010

Claiming the Promises

The word of God truly is living and active. I love it while I am in it how God reveals, grows, deepens, and makes me hunger for more. I have been soaking up the promises and praises, as well as the lamenting and pleading, in Psalms for a few weeks now. This morning it really struck me how the claims of the Bible are ours to claim as a child of God. They are not just for David or Paul, but for every child that the Lord has marked with his seal.

They cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish. But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. (from Psalm 107)

I have been reading the biography of Nelson Bell (A Foreign Devil in China), the father of Ruth Graham Bell. He was a medical missionary in China for several years, including during the beginning of World War II. Daily he watched atrocities around him, but his walk was so close with God and his understanding and belief in God's sovereignty and His promises that he felt safer in a foreign country under daily sniper attacks and threat of kidnapping doing the Lord's work because he knew that this was where God wanted him to be.

It has really made me ponder my walk with the Lord. My trust, obedience, faith, desire to follow Him rather than my own desires. I find myself coming up lacking in the prayer department. I long to walk that close walk with God but find other pleasures that rule my life more~ like sleeping rather than forming a disciplined prayer life. Nelson held prayer and spending time with God above all else. He had set aside time daily for private prayer and family and hospital prayer a minimum of 4 times a day. It has reminded me of the story of Daniel and how he set aside time for prayer daily with the windows open for the world to see. As a result he walked with God so closely that he felt his presence. Can you say that in your life? Do you walk with God as a friend? Those promises are yours to claim from your Heavenly Father. He promises good for his children. He promises all that He does is because He loves them. He promises eternity with Him.

You don't know Him you say? He is the God of the universe. The creator of all. Because of the sin of all mankind he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for that sin. He became the bridge back to God. Scripture says that all have sinned. All are separated from God because of our sin. Ephesians 2 says that mankind is actually dead in our transgressions and sins. But because of God's great love for us he made us alive in Christ and what he did on the cross to pay the penalty for us. By grace he has promised to take away all our sin and guilt and shame and cover them with Christ's righteousness. What do we have to do you say? There is nothing we can do my friend. We are dead, remember. It is Christ who has done it all. He is the one who causes us to see our own sinfulness. He is the one who causes us to repent. He is the one who opens our eyes to salvation and begins the work of righteousness in us. As we continue on the journey He is faithful to see us to the end where we will ultimately see Him face to face. Take the time to ponder where you are with God today. Is He beckoning?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Be On Alert

1 Peter 5:8Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.~I had a very "A-ha!" kind of moment this morning as I was spending time with the Lord. Again I woke up discouraged. Rather than being able to focus on all the things that God is ordaining for his glory I found myself again only seeing the devil's handiwork. It appears that he is working overtime in his role as ruler of the kingdom of the air. I don't tend to give the devil any more credit than he is due as I know whom he has to go through to achieve any of his work, I know who really has everything under His control and I know that we as sinful beings do a mighty fine job of messing things up ourselves. But it is still so easy to only see short sighted what is happening around us. He seems to be on overtime around here.

As I was having my little pity party I realized what I was doing. I have responded, finally, to God's prompting to hide his word deep in my heart by taking the challenge to memorize Ephesians this year. For the past 2 1/2 months I have spent time nearly daily in Ephesians focusing on God's word in a very different way~ writing it, memorizing it, reciting it, letting it sink in in a way like never before. No wonder the devil did not like it. No wonder I have been feeling so attacked in my very soul. We as Christians, God's elect, live as strangers here. This world should not be our comfort, nor should we look for our comfort from it. We live in enemy territory, and as Trent has been reading about King Solomon it is easy to get sucked into the lifestyle of a foreign land. King Solomon had 700 wives whom he longed to please by building temples and idols to each of their Gods, little-by-little forsaking his God and losing his soul along the way. (1 Kings 11)

What is Peter's answer? Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:9-11)

Stand firm in the word. Watch for the attacks~ the wedges that cause division, the bitterness that causes years of pain, the discouragement that takes our focus off of Christ and what He did on the cross, the little justifications that lead us astray from the Word of God. Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

And to you, Laura and Maddie my partners in this challenge, and Alexis who has taken on her own challenge, I will remember to keep you in my prayers a bit more as the challenge continues. Now, after all that encouragement....... anybody else want to join us??? Go deep, you only live once, and we have an eternity to look forward to of telling our stories of what Christ did in our lives when we were obedient to the good works which he prepared in advance for us to do.