Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Door: Open or Shut?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
--Matthew 7:7-8

Part of the codependent recovery is to accept that what is, is. That's a big struggle for me, Miss "Let's Do Something About This"

And to defend that somewhat, let's just say that the other extreme could be seen as a victim mentality, which I want to avoid at all costs! And also, as believers, we need to believe that all things are possible with God.

But somewhere along the line, sane people realize that they have come to the end of trying, and that it is, in essence, out of their control. Maybe not the end of praying, but certainly the end of trying.

And so, here I am. Not to give up praying though. Jesus directs us to ask, seek and knock... I have asked, and I did seek, but now I come to the knocking part. Knock and the door will be open.

Please open a door for me, Jesus! Show me the next step. Shed Your lights.

And yet, Father, what do I know? You ask us to wait patiently. Psalm 27:14 says, Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Like the church of Philadelphia, I ask for an open door, one from You, that no one can shut. And yet, Lord, I know You may wish that I say here and serve You in this place, and so I will.

I only desire not to miss what You have for me, and not to sin. If what is stirring inside of me is sin---kill it! Let me wait upon You for Your healing. However, if what You are stirring inside of me to be courageous and serve You some other way, please, You open the door. I have tried breaking them down and it only makes me weary. Let me lay it at the foot of the cross and trust You.

And You alone.

7"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
-- Rev 3

Saturday, April 12, 2008

the enemy within

20 Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a furious man abounds in transgression.

23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the LORD.

Proverbs 29

Who is the enemy within? How can I know her? How can I combat her, avoid her, flee from her?

She is Haste. I rush to do things, say things, fix things. Haste is my enemy within. The hero is Patience, Restraint, Thoughtful Prayer and Study, reflecting on the ways and power of Christ who can work through me as I seek Him. He can even work without my actions, and only my prayers.

She is Anger. Righteous anger, selfish anger, it does not matter! When I feed it, it moves from mild to furious and shows no mercy. It trips up humility. Anger is a powerful feeling. It gives the owner of it power to control by force. Christ, in contrast, was angry but did not sin. He did get angry at sin, but never tried to control by His anger. Instead, He sought to woo by His love. God's Love ultimately has more power. There are those who refuse His love, and go their own way, but even then, they are let go.

She is Pride. Pride always trips up he individual who grasps with it. We know our power and position in Christ, and are confident in Him, yet we are mindful of our own state as weak frail dust. That is humility. In humility, there is honor, in pride, dishonor. Pride is a cheater. As we grasp at what we "deserve" Christ can not give us the gift, which must be presented to us for free.

She is Fear of man. She seeks approval from man, and favor from man, thinking the man can help her, but he cannot. He is powerless; he is unstable; he is untrustworthy. Christ alone is worthy of our trust. In Christ alone, we seek justice and approval. He is able and He loves us. He will not forget to answer our messages, forget to pick up the thing we need on the way. He will come through for us in better ways we can ever imagine. He will block our ways with hedges of love when we seek in others what we can only find in Him.

Take off the dirty rags of sin. Put on instead the fruit of the Spirit of Christ, that is patience, kindness, mercy, love, self control, humility and faith.

Even this, I cannot do alone Beloved. Thank You for helping me see. Please sit beside me, my Lover of my soul, and help me remove these dirty rags. Wash me with the water of Your word. Clothe me in Your righteousness alone. I long to be beautiful for You.

Beautiful for You alone.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stir up the gift!

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant...
1 Cor 12:1

It was an important thing to do, to devote these weeks to the study of spiritual gifts. They are important, not something that we should be ignorant about. Learning about them is not a struggle, especially with Pastor Ed's excellent materials. Being able to point out the manifestations of the Spirit's gifts in each other, that too is not a hard thing to do. But this week, we come to the end of the road, we take the "test" and find out, each of us, what gifts we have. Not that there is magic in this test, it is just a tool to point to a truth, something God has planted in each of us, long ago.

What remains is what Paul urges Timothy to do, in his last letter from prison. His final words, include this exhortation to his spiritual son,

... when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you... Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began...

2 Tim 1:5-9

Because of Timothy's genuine faith, he has received spiritual gifts, that God confirmed to Timothy by his brothers in Christ. They confirmed them and prayed for him, laying on of hands.

But using our gifts in ministry is a scary thing. Mostly because our gifts call us to do what we cannot do in ourselves, in our own capabilities and power. This favorite verse, 2 Tim 1:6, is not about having no fear to do whatever we would like, it is about the having the courage to use the gifts God has given to us, the courage to do His will, to choose His way, when to go our own way seems more sensible, more reasonable, more safe.

But through the power of the Spirit, we have the courage to choose His ways, the power to accomplish His will and the sound mind to know His righteousness is best.

Before the world began, He had planned to save us, and not ONLY save us, but to use us in His plan to save the world and to call the world to Himself. He has called us to be His witnesses, His hands to serve, His feet to go, His arms to hold, His voice to comfort, His ears to hear, His heart to love.

We are called to be Jesus with skin on. He has no plan B. Even though He knows better than we do ourselves, how broken and weak we are, He delights to use us. Us!

So stir up, girls, the gift of God which is in you! Identify it! Practice it! Train it! Use it! Delight Him! Delight your friends, family and neighbors with service that is divine! Delight yourselves as you see Christ in you, the hope of glory!

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good...
1 Cor 12:4

Sunday, April 06, 2008

You have covered me with Your Mercy

6 Praise be to the LORD,
for He has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Psalm 28

Father, You have seen to it that I am covered by Your mercy, Your love. Protect me, Father, from myself, my own sinful desires, my own impatience, my own wayward will that wants it's way.

It is not the enemies that I need to be covered from, not the enemies from without, but the enemy within, who desires to have his way with me. Protect me from his lies, the temptations that I have fallen for before.

Stand next to me, Beloved, tall and strong and powerful. Cover me with Your love and tell him that I am Yours. With the shawl of love and the prayers of the saints, You have covered me. I reach up for Your hand. Lead me beside the quiet waters and remind me of Your love and the wonderful plans You have for me.

I know it was her hands that knitted it, but it is Your love I feel. Bless her for her diligence to do Your will. Bless Your holy name for speaking to her to do it.