Lent Day 4

Dust To Dust

For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30  In between the dust, trouble don’t last always – turn and wait on the Lord.

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Timing

And now… abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence… 1 John 2:18-29  I recently read and article about President Obama’s decision to pursue some issues concerning justice and equality. These are issues he did not press hard during his first term, but now believes it to be the right time. The reality is that there are in fact some things he can do as President (such as pardons) that he can not do serving in any other office or capacity in this land. Often we want things to happen as quickly as possible. When they don’t, a variety of ill emotions rise to the occasion. Whether we like it or not there really is a time for everything. We do our best to remain focused on our goal and the change that we expect externally actually begins to happen internally. We learn to maximize every moment and strategize every move that we have in preparation for the goals we are trying to reach. In terms of our relationship with God, his timing in our lives often requires maximizing moments and strategizing moves (unseen from our perspective), because what he has prepared for us is far greater than what we could have prepared on our own. So we take courage and know that at the right time, God’s blessings will turn in our favor.

Make Your First Move

“How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and so strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.’ Judas (Maccabeus) replied, ‘It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heavenas for you do not be afraid…   Maccabees 3:1-24  From a face to face standpoint, the feeling of being overwhelmed, is a battle you may never win because the sides whether physical, emotional or intellectual, never match up. The odds are always against the underdogs. Yet I believe true victory comes from the spirit within. So don’t let what’s outside penetrate what’s inside. Go ahead and make your first move! Stay connected to the victory within and let the righteous move forward with God’s overwhelming favor because in Him the battle is already won.

Gut Check

…out of regard for his oaths, he commanded it to be given… Matthew 14:1-12  Does losing favor mean losing your life? It depends on whose favor you are attempting to retain. The worst gut check is the one that challenges our loyalties. Every emotion possible including fear, embarrassment, grief and shame will rise up from places within us that leave us bruised, smoldering, and believing there is no way out. Don’t believe it! At times there are things we set in motion that on occasion cause us to fall short on promises either made to our selves or to one another. Although we are tempted to second guess who we are, we must remember, we are not called to live up to the world’s hype. All saints and sinners fall. Yet, as in Christ, saints always get back up and rise towards Jerusalem. We are disciplined, yet never out of favor by the one who always keeps his promises. A bruised reed he will not break; and a dimly burning wick he will not quench (Isaiah 42:3).

An Open Heart Leaves Room

…but by the grace of God, I am what I am…  1 Corinthians 15:1-11  Paul, believed himself unfit to be called an apostle and yet is used by God, in spite of his confessed shortcoming. He is called into the apostolic succession to carry the message of the gospel which began in Christ. His is a testimony that regardless of who we think we are or who we believe ourselves to be, we hold an ultimate place in the heart of God who will use the heart of the one who earnestly seeks after him, even as our minds are clouded by our thinking in the midst of uncertain chaos or organized change. What we’ve done in the past is less important than what we are now doing today. An open heart leaves room for God to affect a change from within and we like Paul will move forward in God’s grace and favor. Perhaps we have yet to reach the place God has called us to be today, but we are certainly closer than where we were “yesterday”. But by the grace of God we are who we are in Christ, with everything done having meaning and fulfillment according to God’s word.

A Kind Legacy

“Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”           2 Samuel 9:1-13   Because of his love for Jonathan, a blessed David didn’t allow Saul’s acts against him, to turn his back on God’s law. The legacy we leave will be the one we live everyday. We have only to live according to God’s Word and not in response to the world’s actions against us. As for those who choose to begrudge us because of our blessings towards others; tell them to take it up with God!

Cheese Goldfish

“…there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Mark 7:1-23  A few days ago I was eating a bag of Pepperidge Farm cheese flavored goldfish. As I reached the end of the bag I noticed a whole in the bottom of the bag. Immediately I was uncertain whether I had purchased the bag that way and simply didn’t notice or if I had placed them down someplace where something (or perhaps a wonder dog) could have tried to get at them. Either way I was pretty grossed out. It took me a spell before I accepted the fact that my body would get rid of anything it didn’t need including what I believed to be contaminated goldfish! However, I realized what is much more complex,  is getting rid of those contaminated emotions within me that cause me to do or say things that cause pain or hardship for someone else. God’s favor upon us is by his grace and mercy. So too his favor upon us requires that we must be willing to show grace and mercy. Far better is it to place our  emotional ills at the altar rather than allow them to defile our heart against one another and subsequently against God.

OPA – Other Peoples Agenda

“Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:19-26 I heard a conversation from some young ladies about how their boss treated everyone as if they could be replaced. While I understood their frustration the unfortunate reality is that it was true. Their bosses agenda doesn’t have to be their agenda. Just do the work they were hired to do and you don’t get replaced. Keeping in mind that we don’t always get to work in the best environments. Whatever we do, our work, is always done for the glory of God. In this way what we do becomes a ministry in which God’s favor and grace falls on us for our faithfulness in his desire to see us through the situation. That’s God’s agenda!

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

The Art Of Reconciliation

Jacob’s reconciliation with his brother Esau is quite the interesting story. He’s been instructed to go back to the land of his father Isaac knowing that his brother Esau would be there, yet not knowing whether or not he would be received. Humility, a modest view of one’s own importance, always seems to be an overflowing trait we find in people we admire the most. Most often it is acquired through struggle. Any experience that makes us feel used or abused can elicit two responses. The first response is revenge, destroying the spirit within that seeks the good and lives at the expense of others. The second response is outreach, encouraging the spirit within that seeks the good and lives to build up and encourage others. In the larger scheme of things any physical wealth God allows us to amass can never really compare to the deeds we choose in life. If we as Christians know what is right and yet choose what is wrong, then we too participate in life’s masquerade. Christ in all his glory, came to us through works not status, to build the spirit and not destroy it, to give life and conquer death. His works always went before him and always to the glory of God. Thus, the art of reconciliation with God strips us down to the heart of Christ’s spirit within us and eventually brings every believer to the same place of outreach to praise, love, and new life.

‘Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob… Genesis 32:3-21

The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. John 10:19-30

But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge…abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. 1 John 2:18-29

God’s Favor Alone

When Jacob left Laban, God instructed him to do so. No longer did Laban favor Jacob, namely because Jacob’s wealth was amassed through God’s favor and subsequently as a result of Laban’s selfishness. What did Jacob owe to Laban? Nothing. Jacob belongs to God not to Laban. There are many people who will favor us because of what they believe they can gain from us. They enter into God’s favor and into God’s presence with us by pretending to be on our side or traveling this journey with the same goal and purpose of a life redeemed and reconciled through Christ. In reality their motive is skewed and eventually they come out of their sheep’s clothing. When this happens we may find our selves in a place we don’t necessarily want to be. That’s okay! God knows his sheep and his sheep know him. The sheep always have favor with God! Keep listening, stay alert, return to his Word and believe in his truth. Eventually, like Jacob, God will call you out and lead you in his favor, to where he wants you to be.

God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands… Genesis 31:25-50

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit…I know my own and my own know me… John 10:1-18

I write to you, …because you know the Father…because you know him who is from the beginning…because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-17