April 29, 2010 § 2 Comments
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
How many of us need rest? Rest for our weary souls. Rest for the aching in our hearts. Rest from a hectic schedule. Rest. There are days that rest seems to be a mirage in the dessert of busy-ness. However often it isn’t the physical rest that I even need. It is that soul weariness that comes from disappointments, unmet expectations, dashed hopes, broken promises, dreams deferred or even dreams demolished. Our souls are even more weary when we do not stop at the feet of the only One who can give us rest. Jesus.
You’ve already read that Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I WILL give you rest.” It is wonderful that we can find rest in Jesus. We can come to Him and lay our burdens down at His feet and rest in Him. Although we find rest as Jesus promises when we come to Him we often find ourselves burdened and weary and weighed down again soon. Have you ever gone to church or Bible study or a ladies retreat just weary and ready for rest? You get there and almost as soon as the first song is sung or the first speaker speaks, you find the rest for which you have been looking. Oh, but on the way home that burden is building up in you. You feel your shoulders tense each mile you draw closer to home and you are NO LONGER at rest. You are no longer at Jesus’ feet and so you have picked up your burden again and carried it with you. So I have only figured this out recently, but Jesus doesn’t want you JUST to lay your burden at His feet. He doesn’t only what you to find rest. He wants you to find rest for your souls. That deep abiding rest. However that rest only comes when you lay your burden at His feet and take up His yoke. Yes, trade your burden that is bigger than you, that is more than you, that most often isn’t even yours to carry and lay it at Jesus’ feet. Then take His yoke and learn from Him! WHY? Well for one, His burden is light. It is lighter than what you carry around. It is lighter than your expectations for yourself. It is lighter than your hopes and dreams, than your schedule, than your house that HAS to be perfect. Also, He is gentle and humble so He isn’t a task master who expects more from you than you can give or who will oppress your spirit. He wants to teach you. He is easy on you, He won’t make you do more than you can nor will He force you into laboring for Him. He asks you to take His yoke, He doesn’t place it on you….Oh and if you take His yoke, here is the kicker, You can’t pick back up your burden. It has to stay at His feet. Pretty cool. Trading your burden, your sin, your shame, your pain, your fears for His yoke that is easy and light…Then is when we will find rest for our souls! Praise God we can rest in Him!!!
April 24, 2010 § 1 Comment
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” How painfully true this statement often is in my life. Have you ever known in your head something to be true or logical, but your heart kept telling you different. It is like when you were a kid and you started singing, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going to eat some worms.” When something happened that you didn’t like at home or at school. Your brain was telling you, “look you are liked, your parents like you, your friends like you, even your sister likes you (most of the time), and God, well, He loves you ALL of the time.” However your heart kept saying, “Nobody likes me.” Oh or “Nobody understands me.” When we let our hearts have free reign our minds lose the battle for control.
We spiral down the woe is me slide until we come face to face with depression or something like it. The world tells us to listen to our hearts, but God says they are SICK. They can’t make up their minds, they are deceitful…They lie. Our emotions sometimes lie to us. They tell us that what feels good is good. They convince us that we deserve better or we are entitled to something that isn’t in God’s plan for us. We often put our minds in neutral and give our hearts the reign. The problem?! Well, God says our hearts are deceitful. So when hard times come, if we consult our hearts they often tell us to run when God tells us to stay. Our hearts may even tell us that God doesn’t care or listen when our minds tell us that God loves us proved it by sending His Son. Our hearts may twist God’s word to confuse us.
So what do we do with our lying deceitful hearts? We tell them the truth and cling to it no matter what. You heart is telling you that you can’t trust God? Tell it, “God’s lovingkindness is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.” Ps 103:17 Your heart says this marriage is too hard, I don’t love him/her any more. Tell it, “Love is patient, love is kind…” 1Cor 13 Your heart says God doesn’t love you! Tell it, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
You see our mind can win the battle over our deceitful hearts, if we fill our minds with God’s word. What are you filling your mind with? Is it junk that is wasting your space? Is it listening to the lies our hearts try to tell us? Or are you filling your minds with God’s word? Are you arming yourself with the “sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God?” Or are you coming to the battlefield without a weapon? Oh Father, that I would be prepared for the battles within me. That I would know and LOVE Your word so much that I would feast on it. That Your word would be the air I breathe in and the words I speak out. Father, through Your Spirit, and by Your word may I struggle against the lies from my heart so that I may please You in all I do.
April 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
So at Bible Study we read and discussed the account of king Josiah from 2 Chronicles 34. He was a whopping eight years old when he became king. I can imagine the people who were behind getting him to the throne at such a young age. We know nothing of their intentions or who helped him with such an important job during such a young age. What we do know is that at the young age of 16 he began to seek the Lord and four years later when he was only 20, he began to purge Israel of all the idols and pagan worship practices. This young man didn’t even have the book of the law yet. He didn’t know how God wanted things done, but he did know that God was the ONLY God. He was zealous in his removal of all things that were not of God or for God in Israel. I was thinking if only I was a zealous of ridding my life of things that are not for or of God. Does that mean that I have to stop living in the world? NO. Does that mean I never talk to someone who doesn’t know God. NO. Does that mean that I carefully examine my life to make sure it matches God’s directions for my life. YES. Oh to be like Josiah and be willing to make hard decisions. To be zealous that not one thing be left that would turn my heart away from God. It says he even went to the ruins outside of cities and ground the pagan alters to dust. He didn’t say, well, no one lives there anyway, it will be ok. He fully and completely removed worship of any other god from Israel. All before he was aware of God’s law…
At age 26, while the work of rebuilding the temple was underway, they find the book of the law. So what does Josiah do? He reads it and realizes how Israel’s behavior has been hideously sinful. I wonder how many 26 year olds now would realize how sinful our society is when reading God’s word. I do not doubt the power of God’s word, but how true is it that we harden our hearts. I don’t want to hear I am wrong or sinful. I want to hear all those passages about kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Justice, discipline, punishment, I would rather skip over or point to someone else. I certainly would not want to take credit for such behavior. However this man, King Josiah, is willing to admit his sin and confess it. He is heart broken over the behavior of his kingdom. Are we heartbroken over the behavior of our society? Do we see those deceived and destroying themselves and say nothing? Or do we offer the cure to their disease? O, Father that I would not only recognize the sin in society, but that I would work to affect change. That I would live out and speak out Your good news of salvation. That I along with Josiah will root out sin in my life and point others to the cross.
April 15, 2010 § 5 Comments
So I help teach Sunday School to fifth and sixth grade girls at my church. Today during our discussion, it dawned on me that sometimes we tell kids that God loves them and Jesus loves them, but we forget to tell them that God is to be feared. Jesus isn’t a meek and mild mannered man who only turned the other cheek and forgave those lost in sin. Jesus also made a whip and turned over the tables of people selling and trading in the temple. Jesus was a carpenter, He walked every where He went. He was not a wimp. He is often depicted gleaming white, and gentle and mild, but He was much more than that. He stood up for what was right. He often called the religious leaders of the day out on the floor…He called them brood of vipers, the blind leading the blind, deceitful (because they cared about the outside of the cup, but the inside was filthy). Jesus is our lamb. That is true. He willingly sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sin, but was that easy? NO! Let’s look at Jesus in the garden before He was arrested. He was praying, he was praying that this cup pass from Him, but not His will, but the Father’s will be done. He was so burdened with the agony He knew He would soon face, that his sweat became bloody. Jesus is tough my friends. We serve a God who isn’t just a loving God, who says ok do whatever you want to do…No we serve a loving God who is righteous and just. He is HOLY. He is AWESOME…He created everything from NOTHING!!! He gave you life and can take it away at any time. He isn’t just the lamb, He is the LION OF JUDAH…He is our KING. He is strong and mighty. What Jesus suffered during He beating was enough to kills man, yet He made it to the cross. I find it amazing that no matter what His physical body endured, in the end, Jesus offered up His life. No one took it from Him, no one killed Jesus. Jesus gave His life up to God on the cross. The Bible tells us that on the cross He did the work of redemption. He paid the price for my sin and today He bears those scars. He rose from the dead victorious! And the best news of all, is that He is coming back. He is coming back this time as a conqueror. He is coming back as a MIGHTY KING!!! Don’t get me wrong, God is compassionate and gracious as His word tells us over and over, but He is also MIGHTY and “He will not always strive with us nor keep His anger forever.” Ps 103 He is patient, but not slow in keeping His promises. He is loving and He is just. He is the Lamb who died on the cross for us, but He is also the victorious Lion who defeated death! What a Savior, what a God!
April 10, 2010 § 1 Comment
So my last post was on Naaman his account is in 2 Kings 5, but his account has other people in it. Namely two servants. The first one is a young girl. She was kidnapped from her homeland, Israel, during a raid and brought to Naaman’s house to serve his wife. We don’t know her name, nor her age, but she is called a servant girl. So she was not very old. She cared enough about her master Naaman to tell his wife about the prophet in Samaria, Elisha. This girl risked quite a bit by saying that if ONLY her master went to this prophet she KNEW he would be healed. She had quite a view of God. I can only imagine how servants were treated who sent their masters on a fool’s errand. However she understood that God was powerful, that Elisha was His spokesman, and that Naaman could be healed. Her testimony and her willingness to speak up shames me. How often do I keep the truth to myself for fear of being laughed at or thought crazy. How often do I know the cure, the cure to what ails you…The disease is sin the cure is Christ and I hold it to myself…Because I am afraid of people, not God. Oh Father forgive me and make me more like this servant girl.
At the tail end of the account of Naaman’s healing is another servant. This man was a faithful servant to Elisha. His name is Gehazi. You see after Naaman was healed of leprosy, he went back to Elisha and tried to pay him. Elisha refused knowing that it wasn’t he who did the miracle, but God. Elisha refused to steal God’s glory and he sent Naaman on his way a changed man, healed of disease and honoring God. Now Gehazi didn’t like it. He thought Elisha was too easy on Naamnan, this Aramean. So Gehazi runs after Naaman, lies to him to get some payment, and hides it in his house. Elisha finds out his sin and Gehazi has to deal with leprosy himself and in his descendants because of his hypocrisy. So essentially Gehazi thought, Naaman isn’t even an Israelite, he isn’t one of God’s chosen people, so WHY should he get off that easy? Don’t we do the same to ourselves and others. It can’t be that easy to be saved, we have to do something more than just believe right? I mean at least do a few good works. Believing is just too easy. Or we look around at those in the world and decide that God cannot save him or her. When they do come to a saving faith instead of rejoicing, we think that was too easy…Their sin was too great for them to just accept Jesus. It isn’t fair. Oh, it reminds me of the Prodigal son’s older brother who asks where is my party when the Father rejoices over his brother returning; or the workers in the field that worked all day but got the same wages as those who worked only a few hours. It is as if we demand justice, but don’t realize what that would mean. JUSTICE means we all, you, me, everyone goes to hell. That is just, that is fair. However in God’s GREAT MERCY, He forgives us all. Regardless of our heritage, regardless of our past, regardless of our future sins, God’s amazing grace extends to ALL of us who accept Jesus as our savior. Even if it is someone we don’t particularly like. Even if it is an enemy. Don’t let us forget that we were all once enemies of God and Christ died for us while we were His enemies…WHY? So that we, His enemies, could spend eternity with Him. Oh Father forgive me that I shout UNFAIR, when You are just and gracious. Forgive me for being judgmental and harsh to those who come to You broken and scarred. Father remind me that I am broken and scarred too. That without Your Son I have nothing. Thank You that it is only by His blood that I can come to You. That through His sacrifice on the cross, You call me righteous. That because He shed His blood, I get to be called a child of God. Oh Father give me Your heart for those lost without You. May my words and deeds point them to You.
April 9, 2010 § 1 Comment
Have you ever thought, “God, You want ME to do THAT?! I mean seriously, God isn’t there something bigger, greater, better for me to do? You really mean for those other people to do that, not me. I’m in management.” How often have you walked away from an opportunity God has placed before you because it wasn’t how you planned it. You deserve better so why should God call you to help clean up trash or wash dishes or mow lawns or sweep floors. You have gifts.
It reminds me of Naaman the commander of King Aram’s army. You can find this story in 2Kings 5. He was a leper and desperate for healing. You know leprosy that skin disease that could eventually get to the point where your skin is literally falling off your muscle and bones. This powerful man couldn’t do anything to heal himself, he was most likely desperate. I am guessing he tried every herbal remedy, diet change, and medicine that was available to him. He was important to King Aram so I am sure he provided him with all the means necessary to try to rid himself of this disease, but it hadn’t worked. He may have even felt hopeless. We don’t know, but wouldn’t you? What we do know is that he was willing to listen to his young Israelite slave girl he had kidnapped during one of the raids on Israel. She told him about Elisha, the prophet in Samaria who could heal him. So he talks to King Aram saddles up with lots of gifts and heads out to find this prophet. When Elisha doesn’t even come to meet him, but sends a servant out with a message, Naaman is offended. In fact in the message he is told to wash seven times in the Jordan River. So know he is more than offended, he is ANGRY! ME, Naaman, commander of King Aram’s army, wash in the dirty stinky old Jordan? You have to be kidding me! However once he submits he is healed!
What are we refusing to do in our lives that may allow healing to flow? What are our Jordans? Are there people we need to forgive? Is it just having that servant spirit like Jesus and meeting peoples needs right where they are? What healing may flow to us if we humble ourselves and submit to God’s direction even when it seems like a little thing? What may God be preparing us for if we are faithful in the little things?
Oh Father God, may I be willing to lay down my best laid plans and be a servant like Jesus. Lord help me to follow Your plans for my life even if it means washing feet. Lord may I walk in humility with You and serve others as You did. May I lay down my pride, and be willing to bathe in my Jordan so that You can fully heal my life from the disease of sin. Father thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice and example. Please, make me more like Him.