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Friday, November 28, 2014

A Little Bit in Each of Us

A little bit of prodigal in each of us.

Tonight I watched a quality film called A Long Way Off and it really touched me. It is the best movie make of the parable "The Prodigal Son" that I've ever seen. All of a sudden certain details that Jesus put in the story were more relatable. The prodigal character almost seemed like a role that could have been mine had I made different decisions in life. Actually a lot of different people beyond the typical "wild child" could play that role.

What type of profile comes to mind when you picture someone in your mind that you classify as a prodigal son/daughter? Maybe they left the church right out of high school or college? Maybe they left their family for a more promiscuous lifestyle? Or maybe they have chosen to make career number one instead of more fulfilling things.

Now look in the mirror and ask yourself how far off from being classified as a prodigal from God are you. What if all of your financial investments began to fail? What if you lost your job and received little to no severance? What if your ministry just started to fall apart? What if former addictions became hard to resist again? What if more than one of these things happened in a one month span!?

Would you take your all the blessings, memories, and knowledge of God and walk away from him? Would you grow weary of his lifestyle and seek something else more "satisfying?" Would the prayers trickle? The Bible seem less appealing? Or would you justify not having to respond to any of the Holy Spirit's urging because you got this?

Whatever you see, is most likely not going to be pretty and not going to be comfortable--but do take that time to look....

What do you see in your self that's pulling you away from God?

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beggar by a Waterfall

For my devotions this morning, I captured this great passage from a lesson called "Friendship with the World."

When The Word often refers to His wandering children as prostitutes, it makes you wonder how to make that uneasy label go away:

"Grace is the only real solution to our plight. The proud, however, have placed themselves in a position where they can't easily receive that grace. Someone wrote that we get grace as do beggars holding out a tin cup before a waterfall. Only a person humble, meek, and aware of his or her utter need and dependency is open to grace, to the unmerited favor bestowed upon those who are in every way, unworthy." 

What a silly concept. Can you imagine a homeless person hiking up some hill to get to a waterfall and extend his arm to actually expect handouts? That would not happen! Yet, then there are those of us who have so much pride and selfishness eating away at our core, that we devise such plans as to how we will attain our grace. In our eyes we do not look foolish. In our eyes, that is the only way.

We scale hills and mountains in our lives for the sole purpose of achieving grace, forget love. "What's love got to do with it?" to borrow the famous lyrics. That's how we act when we are wandering away from Christ like a prostitute--a little that makes us shudder. For it is impossible for you to manipulate God into giving us grace for things that have become our idols; for characteristics that we refuse to give up. 

"'And she didn't care that she was acting like a prostitute. So she make her country unclean and was guilty of adultery, because she worshiped idols made of stone and wood. Israel's wicked sister didn't even come back to me with her whole heart, but only pretended,' says the Lord." Jer. 3:9-10

Each day is a new day. God takes us day by day for a reason, That reason is so that we don't have to feel so overwhelmed over how to change. We need to give things over to God step by step, day by day. Otherwise we will find ourselves looking foolish by a waterfall.

So, are you going seek God daily to help you change?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Birthday Wish from my Father

All I have is gratitude in my heart.

These past few months have been no joke. Easy was not a part of the recipe. Comfortable was not an ingredient. I have been broken, but PRAISE GOD that He restores!

What does it take to break Shana? Poverty? Taking my entire family away? Taking all that I love? Breaking my body? Funny, that didn't work for Job? So, clearly that's not a full-proof plan. I am no Job, but will all that I went through there is nothing that Satan can do that God can't turn for His good.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Despite the fact that my trials are continuing, He has blessed me with a new year of live. November 17th marked the renewing of my life and an extension of my time here.

What comes next? God fulfilling His will in my life. And that promise is my happy birthday from my Father.

It's turning around for me!

Do you truly believe that things can turn around? photo credit: PetitPlat - Stephanie Kilgast via photopin cc

Friday, November 7, 2014

No, We Do Not Have the Right

What if what we are looking for to fill the gaps in our lives has been there all along? 

What if our desires have never been lacking?

What if the next best thing has nothing over the best thing you have already had?

What if the "more" you have been looking for was never lost, but just out of sight?

"Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!" Job 40:2

Something that I have been struggling with for the past couple months is understanding self righteousness. Christians who have given his or her life to God and all that comes along with that, have taken on a life whose demands are great. Still being human, there seems to be some things missing--things desired and not yet attained. We look into the future and there seem to be pieces to the puzzle missing. What type of home are we to create? What type of career are we to posses? What type of people are we to reach? Who is to be our partner through it all?

Those are questions that others seem to get to ask without regard. However, when we ask, guilt creeps in. Maybe we should have asked a different question or asked that same question in a different way. Despite the guilt, the reason behind the question still lingers. The "more" that we want lingers in our heart.

We allow it to stay because it is apart of who we are. Why wouldn't I want to create a Godly home or have career that is more than a mere job? We are still human beings--beings with desires! So the "more" lingers in our hearts.

Self righteousness.

It was not the mourning that Job was dealing with that was the problem. He had lost everything! It was not the illness he had to daily endure that was bothering our Lord. God did not have a problem with Job feeling sad.

"Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?" Job 40:2

It was that Job felt big enough to correct God for "messing up." So Job relinquished his trust and replaced it with condemnation. It seems so silly, wild, or even ludicrous to say that God messed up,yet let's not pretend as though we have never treated God the same way Job did. We often times have a mental picture of how God could have done things better or we settle for God's way.

This time was different. The Father had plenty to say, abut three chapters worth of things to say to Job and He delivered those words personally. Why? Because God wanted this lesson to be as clear as day--no human being has the right to say that God is done wrong. I know, blows your mind doesn't it? That is not what society believes today. It believes that it has the right to call wrong whatever it pleases. Lord forgive us. Job's pain had not elevated him to a place higher than the King of kings.

He had to be reminded that the one who fills gaps had been there all along and was beyond capable.

He had to recapture the vision of the desires that God has for him that more than satisfy his desires.

He had to hear from the maker Himself that there is no "next best thing" after the Creator.

He had to experience more to realize that "more" was code word for God.

We are going to feel a lot of things in this life, but seek to never let those emotions blindly lead you to try and remove God from His throne. No one would fit there but God himself. No matter how blameless we perceive self to be, we are not without sin. We DO NOT have the big picture, so we don't understand it all. Which means we do NOT have the right to be self righteous.

So when the demands of this life seem great and the struggle all to real, don't focus on the evils and get swept into the trap of self righteousness. Instead trade in your condemnation of God's methods for trust.

Don't just take my word for it, read Job 38-42.

"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things that I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." Job 42:2-3

Our God is beautiful, wonderful, gracious, omnipotent, loving, all this and MORE God! The way that He wraps us in light and cools us with wind. He quenches our thirst with water and steadies our feet with a firm foundation. He divided the day from the night with the sun and the moon. What a great God!

How do you feel God is currently working in your life? In your favor? 
Let's recommit to trust Him through it all! Through all the ups and downs. Isn't He worth it?

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