and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Want or Need?

For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:5 
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16 

       I was dwelling on scriptures about the flesh one day and began considering how often we ‘feed’ our flesh as opposed to ‘feeding’ our spirit.  That led me to wonder, “Of all the times I fulfill my ‘needs’ how many are actual needs as opposed to wants?”  Logic says that which you feed will grow stronger, larger.  If I want to increase my spirit man, then I must feed him more often.  Still, I was curious how often I feed my flesh.

       So, I gave myself a test day.  Everything I was about to do/watch/eat/drink/dwell on/go/buy/etc, I asked myself first, “Is this truly a need or is it a want.”  For example, I was a little hungry.  I went to get a cookie.  Hmm… want or need?  First- I didn’t have to eat because it wouldn’t be long until my next meal.  Second- why a cookie full of sugar and chocolate?  Surprisingly I found out that my wants far surpass my actual needs.  It’s an interesting test.  Try it and see what results you get.

       PS- This doesn’t mean I’m against satisfying wants; it’s just a an experience to learn more about ourselves.

Friday, September 09, 2011

But God…

       Many of the Psalms are attributed to David who was a shepherd turned king of the nation Israel.  He is very open about discouragement, oppression, despair, injustice, suffering, sin, trials and basically all the struggles of life.  Despite this, it always seems that he has a ‘but’ at the end of his ramblings, and those ‘but’s proclaim the greatness of God.  So, I decided to look up the ‘but God’s of the Bible.  Read them and think about what they say about our God.

But God came to Abimelech… Gen. 20:3
…but God suffered him not to hurt me. Gen 31:7 ASV
…but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Gen. 48:21
…ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,… Gen. 50:20
But God led the people about,… Ex. 13:18
…but God deliver him into his hand;… Ex. 21:13
But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout;… Jud. 15:9
…but God delivered him not into his hand. 1 Sam. 23:14
But God said unto me,… 1 Chr. 28:3
…for the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chr. 20:15
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave:… Ps. 49:15
But God will shoot at them;… Ps. 64:7 ASV
But God shall wound the head of his enemies,… Ps. 68:21
…but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Ps. 73:26
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Ps. 75:7
…but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness. Pr. 21:12
…but God shall rebuke them,… Is. 17:13
But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day,… Jon. 4:7
…who can forgive sins but God only? Mark 2:7, Luke 5:21
…but God knoweth your hearts:… Luke 16:15
…but God was with him, Acts 7:9
…but God hath shewed me… Acts
But God raised him from the dead: Acts
But God commendeth his love toward us,… Rom. 5:8
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;… 1 Cor.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:… 1 Cor 2:10
…but God gave the increase. 1Cor 3:6,7
…but God shall destroy both it and them… 1 Cor. 6:13
…but God hath called us to peace. 1 Cor. 7:15
…but God is faithful,… 1 Cor. 10:13
…But God has put the body together… 1 Cor. ISV
But God gives the plant the form he wants it to have,…1 Cor. ISV
…but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Gal. 3:18
…but God is one. Gal. 3:20
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross… Gal. 6:14
But God, who is rich in mercy,… Eph. 2:4
…but God had mercy on him;… Php. 2:27
…but God, which trieth our hearts. 1 Thes. 2:4
…but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. 1 Thes. 4:8

Thursday, September 08, 2011


       I enjoy a good sermon, but to me a good sermon is one that the Spirit of God wants spoken.  Years ago when I was in Bible College, my homiletics teacher made a wise statement that I’ve never forgotten.  Give the right message to the right people at the right time.  This is near impossible for man as we cannot know what an entire congregation needs to hear at any particular time, but not so with God.  God knows what each person in a congregation needs to hear at any time.  Paul wrote:

Dear brothers, even when I first came to you I didn’t use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God’s message.    And my preaching was very plain, not with a lot of oratory and human wisdom, but the Holy Spirit’s power was in my words, proving to those who heard them that the message was from God.  I did this because I wanted your faith to stand firmly upon God, not on man’s great ideas. 1 Cor. 1-5 TLB

       There are a lot of ‘great’ speakers out there who try to make us feel good about life, ourselves, and they motivate us to… something.  They use lofty words and brilliant ideas to stir us up.  They ensure their words are written for the best possible response, so that people enjoy them and want to hear more- and buy their books to read!  This is the world’s wisdom.  In contrast, Paul spoke in the power of the Holy Spirit, He who knows all, to encourage men not to rely on themselves or on another man, but to rely solely on God.

We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought: …But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. 1 Cor. 2:6-14  ASV

       The first believers spoke not in the wisdom of the world nor as the leaders of their time (all of which would perish) but through the Spirit of God who knows the things of God.  This Spirit is the very same one we received after Jesus sent Him to us. (John 16:7)  This doesn’t mean we shut off our brains and don’t use them in matters concerning God.  He gave us our intelligence and intends for us to use it.  What it does mean is He wants us to allow the Spirit of God to teach us, lead us in the way we should go (Ps. 25:4,5), and in what we should say at any particular time.  His wisdom is beyond our comprehension anyway.

       It doesn’t impress me when speakers use intelligent words or have written a quality sermon.  What impresses me is when they know God well enough to allow the Spirit of God to speak through them.  It not only touches my heart, but instigates changes in my life.  The result is that I see a great God (instead of a great speaker) and I lean more on the Author and Finisher of my faith.  For a truly great sermon, preach the right message to the right people at the right time.  Let the Holy Spirit lead the way, for He is more than willing to help.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Of Gifts and God

       Many years are wasted in our lives trying to be someone we are not.  The perfect daughter, the wife who meets all expectations brilliantly, or the supermom who does it all- working outside the home, cooking, mom duties and still has time to love hubby.  We all have expectations of who think we should be, but of more importance is who God wants us to be, and remember, He gave us our gifts and talents.

       When I first got married I went through depression because my expectations were that I would be the perfect ‘at home’ wife, cooking awesome meals for her husband, keeping the house clean, tending to his needs, and being the perfect mom to the children we wanted right away.  Too bad I didn’t have any of the skills necessary for the job- literally.  Worse yet, typical wifely duties aren’t even hidden talents!  In fact, 23 years married and I still managed to destroy a ‘box’ cake today!!!

       I can spend endless hours lamenting my lack of wifely skill sets, but what would that accomplish?  I don’t even have a desire to do those things (yes, I do them anyway), in fact I’d rather be up to my armpits in engine grease than cook anything, and I prefer power tools to jewelry and fixing things more than shopping for clothes.  Actually, I’d rather clean sewers than go clothes shopping.

       So as I was reading the story of David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17) there was one thing that stood out to me today.  Preamble- David’s talents were developed on the sheep pastures.  In the endless hours he spent there, he got to know the Lord personally.  He discovered what his talents were and used them at his ‘menial’ job.  There David learned the most important lesson of all- to trust God on a deep level even against bears and lions who came to steal his sheep.

       So it was no surprise to me that David stood up and declared that he could go up against Goliath for he had the living God on his side who would surely defend His own people.  When Saul’s armor proved too much to handle, David refused it and picked up the tools of his particular trade, a staff and a sling.  He could have just used a sword, but he didn’t have the skill set for that.  He didn’t lament his lack of skills, gifts or talents, but used what he learned with the talents God gave him and went out to do battle against a well armed giant.  David’s assurance of victory came from the greatest weapon which he ‘carried’ onto the battlefield- the all powerful, ever living God of all creation.

       David brought what he had (in gifts, talents, skills) to the battle and left the results to the God he trusted.  He was prepared for God to use what skills he had for His purposes.  It would be easy for me to consider myself a failure in the area of ‘wifely’ duties, or to feel condemned for not being ‘womanly’ enough, but God made me who I am with the gifts and talents that He gave me, and I’m okay with that after all these years.

       We all need to stop comparing ourselves to others, because God didn’t make us them- He made us, us.  And He wants us to be the best ‘us’ we can be using the gifts and talents He gave us for His glory.  David never said, “oh, but I’m just a lowly shepherd.”  He walked out on the battlefield with the tools of his trade, a willingness to use them with God’s help, and proclaimed:

… Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands. 1 Sam. 17:45-47

Then David hastily ran to meet the Philistine!

       Use all your gifts, talents and skill sets in this life and leave the results up to God.  Trust Him, for He is worthy of our trust.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Repaired or New?

       It was December of 1994 and we came home to find the back door broken in.  We had been robbed.  Thieves had taken all of the electronics we owned and left some damage in the house.  We found out then how ‘good’ our insurance company was, as they said we’d have to wait (for 3 months!) to see if our stuff was found before they would replace it, or we could take a chance on replacing it knowing they wouldn’t have to give us the money if they found our goods.

       Well, the police caught the robbers, minors, and in their possession was our VCR.  It never did run the same after it was returned, yet we were forced to keep it because they wouldn’t replace what was found.  Three times we had to send it away for repairs.  Three times they paid for those repairs, but they still wouldn’t replace it.  Eventually we had to buy a new VCR.

        I tried to ‘fix’ myself for years, struggling with habits, problems and sins.  It never seemed to work because I was living in the flesh of the old nature, walking in the world in darkness. (Eph. 2:1-3) After I was saved, it wasn’t much better when I tried to change myself by my own efforts as opposed to asking God for help or allowing Him to change me.  The main difference was that I wanted to change- at least some of the things.  God had given me a new heart*; I was a new man (Eph. ) in which all things became new. (2 Cor. 5:17)  No more old parts being fixed (like the VCR) just to break down again, but brand new.

       To be repaired, or to be brand new: if you had the choice, which would you choose?  Personally, I would choose to be new.  My old heart was corrupted by the influence of the world.  My new heart desires more of God and therefore has been changing step by step into His likeness**.  To have the Lord continue to change my corrupted mind is worth more to me than all the gold and silver of the earth.  Who I was ‘back then’ is who I never want to be again.  I choose new!

How about you?

*(For Israel and us being grafted in) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. Ez. 36:26
**But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Whole Heart

This verse comes from the song The Stand by Hillsong. 

          So what could I say?
          And what could I do?
          But offer this heart, Oh God
          Completely to you

       Can anyone completely give their heart to God?  I have to ask myself that question still.  Yes, I say the words, and I mean them in the sense that I wish it were perfectly true, but my own selfish nature still exerts itself on this journey and sometimes I wrestle control back from the Lord- and that after over 25 years as His child!

       Let’s just think about the word completely.  Here are its synonyms: totally, entirely, fully, and wholly.  That means nothing is held back.  I don’t think there’s ever been a time like that in my life, not for any substantial period of time anyway.  Still, I wish it, cry for it, and pray constantly that my heart would be entirely His.

       Perhaps the difficulty lies not with my imperfection, but with my expectations of what I think it means to give my whole heart, compared to God’s expectations of what it means.  When it comes down to it, do I really know what all God’s expectations are for me concerning my whole heart?  Perhaps it’s not the perfect giving of our heart, but the constant offer of it?  Maybe the fact that we keep trying to give ourselves more completely is what matters.  I hope so.  Because here on earth in this flesh I have NO chance of being perfect in any way, but He is still working on me and I am very glad for that.