A New Season

On the eve of a new season, God calls us to things before we think we’re ready, because it leaves room in our hearts and minds to allow Gods’ power and authority to lead and guide us in our passion for the work God has called each of us to do.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
   and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
   fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
   and a refreshment for your body.

Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
   or of the storm that strikes the wicked;
for the Lord will be your confidence
   and will keep your foot from being caught.  Proverbs 3:5-6,25-26

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Covered By Grace

I’d waited as long as I could but the noise seemed to get worse. So I braced myself and made the appointment. As I anxiously waited, finally the gentleman from behind the desk comes in to the waiting lounge and calls out “Mrs. Whitfield!” I look up and reluctantly respond. “We found the problem. It’s a bearing…” From that point on the only thing I heard was whah whah whah…it’s covered under warranty.” On the way home I felt like I was driving a new car. If it hadn’t been chilly and rainy I would have given her a bath because she (that’s right it’s a girl) really needed one. In more ways than one I had been neglecting my car, worrying that I was about to face another bill – and for what! She was covered! We sometimes treat our own life in the same way, putting things off – for what? We forget that we are covered by God’s grace. We forget to commit (our) way to the Lord to put (our) trust in him, and he will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5). I thank you Lord for you are my stronghold in time of trouble (Psalm 37:41)

Pushing God Away

…the whole town came out to meet Jesus; when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood. Matthew 8:28-34  What a bizarre event! This scripture refers to “demoniacs”, coming out of the tombs to meet Jesus, knowing what could happen to them. No doubt they were cast out of town because of a disorder in behavior. Yet, Jesus heals them by casting out the behavior. The town then wants to cast out Jesus! It leaves me to question; what’s going on in this town? What might they be trying to hide? What are they afraid of? These same questions could be asked of what is happening in society today? Is not God stronger than the “demons” of the world? To be clear, I’m not talking about mental illness. I’m referring to the kind of conscious behavior we exhibit against one another. I’m referring to the kind of behaviors God is willing to purge from us, yet knowing God’s healing power and authority, we like the towns people find our selves pushing God away. Paul encourages us to strive to be partnered with Christ (1 Cor. 10:14-11:1). If we are going to draw closer to God we too must be willing to come out from the tombs in which we’ve been cast or the town in which we find “safe” familiarity and God will meet us spiritually and emotionally where ever we are.

Calling Whole Hearts

How long will you go limping with two different opinions? 1Kings 18:20-40 Other translations use falter or waver but neither provides the imagery like the word limping. The word is used again when the author describes the prophets of Baal limping around the altar as they call out his name. The people of Israel wanted to have it both ways; a kind of “eat my cake and have it too” theology. God wasn’t having it. Everyday, we have to wholeheartedly make up our minds as to who we will serve, lest we find our selves limping; lacking in strength, structure and without recourse, working harder than we really have to.

Happy are they who trust in the Lord, they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods. Psalm 40

A Servant’s Courage

“As the Lord of hosts lives,… I will surely show myself to him (King Ahab) today. 1Kings 18:1-19   After three years, upon Elijah’a return from Zarepath, he meets Obadiah. When asked to go back to the king with the message that Elijah has returned, Obadiah, wants nothing to do with it for fear of his own life. Elijah assures him that this day was not about Obadiah’s life, he would have to trust God and deliver the message. Fear hinders courage in the best of us. Yet, walking in Christ isn’t about walking in courage. In spite of our fears, it’s about walking in faith of the knowledge of a God that keeps promises. For the God that is at work in Elijah is the same God at work in us (Philippians 2:12-30).

100%

“…she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.” Mark12:35-44  This passage is often used for stewardship campaigns. It is equally, if not more so about faith. While teaching in the temple, Jesus warns against those who “devour the widow’s houses and for the sake of appearance, say long prayers.” Knowing this, why would anyone put anything in the treasury let alone 100% of all that they have, if not for their faith by the grace of God? Additionally, why would the widow give 100% of all she had when the law only required a 10th? It seems this act of faith isn’t about money at all but rather about trusting enough to give 100% of our life over to God.

Truth Quest

...tell me both the dream and its interpretation… Daniel 2:1-16   King Nebuchadnezzar made a request, which at first glance seems unreasonable. But the dream troubled him so much he needed to be certain that the “wise men” he called upon would not maneuver the truth concerning the meaning of the dream. Dreams can be very abstract. Life experiences can be as abstract as our dreams and we don’t always understand how they may or may not be manifested in our lives. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t trust his “wise men.” Daniel was wise enough to trust God because only a living and active God could have known that dream. Through Christ our relationship with God is also living and active. Through our faith in Christ, what seems abstract will be revealed and made complete for us as well.

…I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word… your word is truth. John 17:12-19

My Different Direction

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him (Surrender; 3rd step in the 12 step program published by AA).

Some time ago while in New York, I had the opportunity to visit an AA meeting (some of the open ones allow pre-arranged visitors with the understanding that you introduce yourself and why you are there). When I left the meeting I was somewhat changed in my way of thinking. I had already understood alcoholism as a disease. What I didn’t realize was my own cowardice. I knew that I had some unhealthy “attachments” but as a Christian, had I really made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God? I am certainly not comparing my simple mundane weaknesses to alcohol addiction but oddly enough when I heard the stories from newcomers, their journeys all began quite innocently and some sounded rather familiar. How many of us at the age of sixteen have been invited to a party by a friend? I decided that it didn’t really matter where I was or how I had gotten there, what would have to happen before I really committed to making that decision? As it turned out, a lot. Although at the time I hadn’t yet reached where I believe God needed me to be, from that meeting I knew with more certainty, the direction of dependency in which I needed to go; a surrendering that allows me to let go and trust God first.

Psalm 48:13 This God is our God for ever and ever; he shall be our guide for evermore.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Lent: Day 26 – In a very busy waiting room of a hospital located in an urban city, a man impatiently makes his way to the medical station and rather authoritatively says to the woman sitting at the desk, “How long is this going to take? Don’t you know who I am?” The nurse immediately moves to the desk microphone and announces over the intercom “I have a man here in the waiting room who doesn’t know who he is can someone please help him find out?” Very cleverly, the nurse helps this man to understand that it is not her job to know who he believes himself to be. What she does know is that he is one of many in the waiting room in need of attention. As the body of Christ we are one of many who believe, one of many with different gifts, one of many in need of God’s love. God has enough grace for each of us, enough to heal our mind, soul and body all in his time. We have only to be patient and trust that he does know who we are, even when we forget and just as faithfully, when others against us, forget who they are.

Exodus 1:6-22 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us…But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.

Mark 8:27-9:1 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Psalm 69: 1-23

 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,

     that dishonor has covered my face.

I have become a stranger to my brothers,

     an alien to my mother’s sons.

Sufficient Grace

Lent: Day 24 – If Jesus had waited for perfect disciples, he wouldn’t have any. If Jesus had waited for circumstances to be perfect 4000 people would have gone hungry. Do you think Jesus will wait for you? God will move in those who allow themselves to be moved. Even when we aren’t ready, God is always ready. Indeed, our faith in Christ is sufficient! Today and everyday we must trust God and move forward in faith!

Mark 8:1-10 ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people.

Psalm 94   For the Lord will not forsake his people;
  he will not abandon his heritage;