Deuteronomy 1-2

See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your [ancestors] (1:8).

Israel was told to go and take possession of the land. While God gave the Israelites special land, God has given us sacred spiritual land. We need to go and take possession of it. We do this by seeking our Lord Jesus Christ and being sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Also by keeping the Bible close to our hearts, and using it as our road map for life (see Joshua 1:6-9).

Fear –

Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place (1:29-31).”

We have been urged by God to not be afraid. God loves us and promises to fight for us, His people. This is the truth we need, as we set our feet on this journey of seeking after our Risen Lord – Jesus! We don’t need to be afraid, because God has shown us that He will fight for us!

They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on (2:4-5a).

God prepared the Israelites, as they went into pieces of land. I can understand why God would need to direct them to be careful and not harass (see vv. 9). It is easy to want to “poke the bear,” so to speak by taking pride in the fact that others are afraid of us. When others are afraid of us, we have to be very careful.

Our Spiritual Possessions –

God urges His people to begin to take possession of it and engage [them] in battle (2:24b). The time had come, where they would begin to experience the place God was calling them toward.

There is a parallel between God giving them their land, and the spiritual possession He is desiring to give us. In our own lives, how are we listening to and answering the voice of God? If we cannot hear Him, it is possible that our sins and distractions are louder than His voice. Our sins are always louder and more distracting than the voice of God, which greatly hinders our spiritual walk and the possessions God wants to give us.

I am not talking about financial blessings that rain down from Heaven, like televanglists assure you. While God make you filthy rich, I doubt that is His plan for our lives. It might very well cause us to quit seeking God.

However, God does want to bless us!

God wants to give us enormous blessings that this world cannot begin to give. As we seek after the things of God, we will face road blocks, trials, and great difficulties. This is because of the enormous level of the spiritual possessions God wants to give to us – the people He calls His own children through Jesus’ death and resurrection!

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The Character Flaws in Trials

In yesterday’s blog post, we learned that trials bring forth a pruning process. It’s painful. It’s unpleasant. The pruning effect is equally so. I love the fruit that comes out of trials. I have found myself in that particular spot for the past few years, as I have sat on this beautiful orchard of benefits that arise out of hard times. While that is true, I do enjoy reaping the benefit, I hate the testing of my faith that goes along with my times of trial. At the current moment, I am not exactly sure what others must think of me or the representation of the fruit of the Spirit that I give off right now.

It has been a great struggle.
It’s heartbreaking to think – I am not showing the kind of person that I generally am.
I am not showing the work of God or His characteristics (referred to as ‘the Fruit of the Spirit’), as I could be.

17 Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to him for help and saves him out of all his troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; he rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. 19 The good man does not escape all troubles—he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one. – Psalm 34:17-19, TLB

While it is heartbreaking, I know God is near to the weak. He is near to me – in my struggle. He knows the struggle isn’t solely the trial. The struggle is also my ability to grow with my trial. Instead of being able to use the trial for my spiritual benefit, I feel like I am in a tidal wave being tossed about – in my words and deeds.

I wanted to find a quote to share about spiritual fruit.
I wanted to find something encouraging.
Something enlightening.
Something worth meditating on tonight.

In Guzik commentary, we are reminded that:

Real fruitfulness is only determined over an extended period of time. “Genuine conversion is not measured by the hasty decision but by long-range fruitfulness.” (Erdman)

My hope alone is in Jesus Christ. Despite my struggle within my struggle, He is still God and reigning on the throne! Despite my character flaws, God still loves me and will work through every single piece of my life that I hand back to Him! While I don’t see it, God is growing me in this time of trial. I am blind to the spiritual growth that is occurring within me at this very moment, but God sees the very good work He is doing inside of me right now! God is working not only in my life, but in the lives of those around me… despite my words and deeds, despite my physical struggles, despite my trials.

Loneliness and My Space

nouwenLoneliness.
How can it be soo incredibly loud?

When lonely, it can be easy to feel pushed away. It can be easy to feel that way without loneliness or depression’s help. Easy to feel not valued. Others, apparently, all have something far more important to say than I do. My comments. My concerns. My verbalized emotions put out there, when I have trusted others to help support me… They all get pushed aside. Whether they mean to or not, they do. They are pushed aside. They are ignored.

In this atmosphere of just me, a keyboard to write a blog, and away from everyone, this is where I feel like I belong. This is home. It is just me in my space: to think, to process, to pray, to dig into the Word of God, to draw closer to my Creator. My introverted ways come out, here in this place. To identify. process, and soothe emotions and a broken heart.

This space helps the loneliness to not be so very loud.
It quiets the loud noise of being ignored and pushed aside.
It is a place of absolutely hope.

In my life.
In God.
In Jesus Christ, my Savior.

The relationships that increase the loneliness,
The moments of being pushed aside,
They may still be there when I talk to outsiders again.
But for this short while, it is all good.

There is peace and not so much brokenness.
There is solitude.
There is comfort.

Through it all, it helps me to learn. to grow. To be encouraged.
Other’s actions reflect on them.
It doesn’t reflect on me, or determine my value.

As hard as it is to walk this muddy road, God is enough!
God listens to my words, cries, screams, groans. He listens to my prayers!
He helps me to know Him more.
He helps me to remember that He IS enough!

While many things are left to be pondered and evaluated, I can remain certain of one thing: My God is enough!
He is my Shepherd (John 10:10, Psalm 23:1).
He is the One who fights for me (Exodus 14:14).
He heals my broken heart (Psalm 147:3).
He prepares my hands (and heart) for the future battles I will face (Psalm 18:34, 144:1).
His peace transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Because of the heartache, whether it is of others or my own emotions, I can enjoy sweeter communion with my Lord and Savior. It is not an easy walk. It has not been an easy journey. It has been heartbreaking. But somehow, God makes my life and relationship with Him more beautiful through it all. It deepens my faith, and draws me a step nearer to Him than I have ever been before. It teaches me a spiritual lesson that I need to learn, and hopefully I don’t need to relearn it too many times.

For the Sake of Love

phil 2-14
Yesterday’s “Theme”

Last night, I just struggled. When we are in the midst of serving, sometimes we struggle. Our attitude deflects what we want it to be about, which is the love of Christ. We can be filled with complaints, frustrated, or just struggling in a different way. Maybe, we just had a bad day or our body’s remind us of its fragility. Whatever it is, these things happens. In all activities I commit to or find myself in by His divine will, I need to strive to have an attitude of love. I am trusting that it is a growing opportunity, and not something that is hit-or-miss.

“God’s way is love. My way must be a way of love. As I make this choice, I must consider what this choice will cost me in my attitude. My attitude of love must trump my activity.” -Lysa Terkeurst

When we say “yes” to an activity, how do our attitudes reflect God’s love in the midst of that activity? This should be something we ponder in our hearts, and bring to God in prayer. We can easily overload ourselves, and our attitude (as well as those we are serving) suffer. We need to consider the reason for our unloving attitude (circumstances, lack of rest or time in the Word, much busyness, etc). Those are two things to consider. Are we over-scheduled? Are we trying to use resources we don’t have?

I trust God has me serve in certain areas for His purposes, but I need to do more to prepare for each opportunity that I am given to serve. I want to be able to take much time to prepare my spirit for service. Taking time away to reflect on each serving opportunity is also important. This is how I can better develop an attitude of love, and learn how to glorify God more in each opportunity.

1 Corinthians 13:3 teaches that we need to do all things in love. It is what makes our activity worthwhile! We can do all the “right” things, and still get it wrong. It has to be about showing the love of Christ. It is Him working through me!

Here are the steps I need to take. Both now and in the future.

  • Confess to God our sins… our actions… Talking with God is the best way to go. We can come boldly to His throne, and confess that we fall short. We can share with God that we need His forgiveness and help, because we can’t show His love on our own- for we will fail.
  • Be ready to ask for others’ forgiveness. When we realize that our attitude is becoming less-loving, we can stop right there, ask for their forgiveness.
  • In the moment, stop and pray. Last night, I had to just stop everything and seek God’s help. My prayer was very simple: “Lord Jesus, please help me.”

Resources: 5 Questions to Ask When Making a Decision
Scriptures: Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Sweet Words

Isaiah 30-21Today is day 2 of my “Best Yes” study. It has become my intention to write, as I work toward completing this study. Lately, I am somewhere else… in a lot of different places. However hard this is, my heart needs to continue on with this study. Even if, my heart feels torn and elsewhere. I need to keep pursuing what I committed to. That’s something I know I need to be about.

Anyway,… Isaiah 30:21 is where we journey today. In the Voice translation, it says: “Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.””

Sweet words.
How I long to hear sweet words.
Words that are sweet and instant peace
that washes over my soul.

In this Scripture, we learn that God should be the One to guide us. Is God often the One who guides me? Even now, is that who guides me? I think there is a pull to follow my emotions and be led, instead of being the one to make sure I am led by God- and not my emotions. Scripture reminds us that we need to be sober-minded (see Proverb 25:28, 1 Peter 5:8).

We need to trail back to the life of Joseph, and that whole situation with his cranky brothers in Genesis 37 and 42-43. Emotions was why the brothers of Joseph landed themselves in the hot water they experienced as they retold the same lie that Joseph died, when they didn’t want to confess that they sold him into slavery, to a foreign people.

Side Note: God definitely used Joseph where he was, to save Israel from the famine, years later. But, the brothers of Joseph had to live with their lie and decisions for the rest of their lives. Are we willing to be led by God alone?

It is not enough for us to try to guide ourselves. It is not even enough to be guided by other people. No matter how much we hoped that we could be, we just cannot be. We must be guided by the Lord alone. Only He can guide us in the way we should go. Our Best Yes’ can only come, as we spend time with the Lord alone as our guide. Now, He can use the Church to help lead us, but it can be so easy to turn to others instead of Him! Let’s choose to listen to His voice, through prayer and the Bible, and pursue a life and decisions that honor God. Let’s choose to be praying people who pray before we act.

Psalm 25:8-9 and Proverbs 3:6 deal with this topic as well.

“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
Psalm 25:8-9

“In all your ways submit to him, and
he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6