Sunday, November 30, 2014

When to pray

Ever feel dry? You long for a cool drink.
Ever feel weary? You search for a place to sit, time to rest, close your tired eyes.

Yesterday I felt both with a deep longing. I was not physically thirsty or tired. I felt spiritually dry.

Recently my prayers had been reduced to the laundry list.  I requested all good things: wellness for sick friends, spiritual awakening for family far from God, wisdom for my boss in the affairs of his business, safety for my husband and daughters. They were prayers hastily whispered in the rush of the mundane, yet necessary things of life: meals to cook, laundry to wash, letters to mail, family to call.

Finally, at day's end, I lay in my bed exhausted but wakeful. Jesus where are You? My cries for Him seemed to drift off in the dark room.

I hear Jesus better when I sit ready to write down His words
This morning, as I sat with my Bible and journal, I read these words from Jesus' brother James and they jumped off the page at me and rested on my heart.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord... My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen...Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:5-7, 19, 22)

Then I heard Him say to me...

I want you to hear Me when you already think you know what to do.
I want you to ask Me when you think you already have the answer.
I want you to pray when you have no problem but instead an opportunity and you have already decided.
I want you to stop and ask Me when you want to forge ahead.
I want you to seek Me for courage when you have decided to stay in bed.
That's when I want you to pray.
Just when you don't want to or feel your need to pray.
And then when I speak, I want you to OBEY. 

Yes, Beloved, You are so right! I still want Genie Jesus: rub the magic Bible and I get my three wishes. But You are so much bigger and better than that fantasy! You want to give me the abundant life only available to me when I partake of your wisdom daily. Help me to remember to seek You at all times and give me the courage to obey!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grieve the Spirit

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God... (Ephesians 4:30)

What does that mean, to grieve the Spirit?

Sometimes I think God is like my mom: she dressed my brother and I up for the special party in our best clothes. She washed our faces, combed our hair, ironed our shirts and skirts, shined our shoes. When she was all done she told us to behave and not to fight or get dirty. Then she disappeared into the bathroom to get ready herself, leaving us alone.

How hard it was to be good and stay clean! How exasperated she was when she found us scraped and disheveled!

Father God is not like that. He knows the world is dirty. He brings us inside at the end of the day. He removes soiled coats and muddy shoes. He tenderly bathes us, and dresses us in clean PJs, combing knots from our hair. He gives us a hot meal and discusses our day. Yes, He is saddened by wrongs we have done, but He is not surprised. He is not unprepared. Even when He sends us out again, He does not tend to His own business and leave us alone. We are His business. He watches, He guides, He strengthens, He comforts, He confronts, He consoles, and I have even seen Him stand and block the way.

Every day we come home dirty. That is the world we live in, even in our own hearts so we cannot hide. The Spirit grieves our sin because there is a loss: a loss of relationship, opportunity, time, purity, joy, or peace, to name a few. The loss is ours, but like a father, God feels the pain of His child. Like a father, God is anguished to know that His children do not trust Him at His word and obey. All disobedience is a lack of trust in God’s wisdom and love.

Yes God is angry at some, but not us who believe. God's anger is towards scoffers who hate God and scorn His people as silly at best and deceivers at worst.

However, we are His children and He only waits for us to return home, to be cleansed, refreshed and loved. He cleanses us as we confess. He refreshes us as we talk to Him in prayer. He loves us as we worship Him as Lord.

Yes, we grieve the Holy Spirit. It is as inevitable as children playing outside become dirty. What do we do? Confess. Pray. Worship. Confession to one another breaks the power of sin. Prayer reminds us of how much God loves us. Worship reminds us of how worthy He is to trust and praise.

Let’s not stop reading in the middle of this verse that continues: …with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Another translation states: God gave you His Spirit as proof that you belong to Him and that He will keep you safe until the day He makes you free.

God seals us. He keeps us safe. He is our Father forever and will never let us go. 

Thank You Jesus for paying the entire price for every sin. We can come to You with boldness because You are always waiting for us to return. Your arms are always open and there's a warm tub waiting.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Sunday, November 09, 2014


Have you ever been in love?

It's easy to fall in love. But is it possible to fall in love and stay in love forever?

Most of us want to believe it can happen, and that it can happen to us. That's the compelling start off point for a message from Andy Stanley. It's compelling because it's true: we do want to fall in love and stay in love forever. Me too! I love my husband Al.  I thank God for Al, for his love for me and the wonderful godly man he is.

But then yesterday, we had an off night. Al was tired and went to bed early because he had to go to work later that night, but for me, it's still a Saturday night. I am left lonely, sad, and wondering: God, is this all there is, really? I am a woman who craves excitement, romance. Where did that go? Was it ever there? Was this the wrong man?

Satan is so sly. I was in the car yesterday afternoon with my daughter. The car radio was switched on to her favorite station, playing was a song called "Closer" by Ne-Yo. In it, a sweet-voiced man talked about his woman:

 Turn the lights off in this place
 And she shines just like a star
 And I swear I know her face
 I just don't know who you are
 Turn the music up in here
 I still hear her loud and clear
 Like she's right there in my ear
Saying come closer, closer...

And I just can't pull myself away
 Under her spell I can't break
 I just can't stop 
 And I just can't bring myself no way
 But I don't want to escape
 I just can't stop

 I can feel her on my skin
 I can taste her on my tongue
 She's the sweetest taste of sin
 The more I get the more I want

That is it, I want someone to feel that way about me, to sing this song to me. At age 59, with wrinkled hands and graying hair, I still want this!  I can feel the desire down to my toes. That is the love I long for even now.

So I sleep and dream about an old love, cloying, wanting to come closer to me. I wake up, shake myself, wondering, where did that come from? It was so long ago. A cup of coffee and my Bible revives me this morning. It was my own longing taunting me. God reminds me of His purpose: to perfect (sanctify) me, to heal me, to protect me with these verses: 

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it...
The Lord is faithful, who will establish and guard you from the evil one. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, 2 Thessalonians 3:3)  

The evil one wants us to be dissatisfied with our spouses. The evil one points out the imperfections in our loved ones and tells us we deserve better. The evil one tempts us with the sweetest taste of sin. He wants us to feel unable to break away from our longings.  

On the other hand, God desires that we cover a multitude of sin with love. God desires unity, sacrifice, humility. He instructs us to treat others as if they are more important than ourselves. God also wants us to be closer to Him. He longs for us, draws us, never with an evil intent, but with the purity of infinite, merciful love. The decision to accept God's love is a choice we make. He never forces, or seduces, or beguiles us.  The Holy Spirit give us self-control to protect us from the power of sin. He sees us as we are, our wrinkled hands, our graying hair, our sagging bodies, our sinful desires, and He says we are beautiful. He says we are His. 

Jesus winked at me today during our church's worship service. He arranged for the worship team to sing this better version of the song "Closer" from Hillsong:

There is no life without You
 You have all that we need
 Where You are every fear is broken
 And the darkness must flee

 Closer and closer we want to know You
 Reaching out,reaching out
 Here in Your presence we want to go deeper
 In Your light come alive

 There is no one beside You
 You alone are enough
 You fling the doors of Your heart wide open
 And we are lost in Your love

 To You we will come running
 In You we find belonging
 Your love is all that can satisfy

Jesus, You alone are enough! As my husband and I stand together to worship You, as we face You, desire to grow closer to You, our love becomes complete and life-giving. 

The wanton desires of my foolish heart still lurk within me. No man on earth fulfills my girlish dreams perfectly. But You, beloved Jesus, complete me beyond anything I can hope for and imagine.  

As we depend on Jesus for fulfilling our deepest desires, we are freed to love others with selfless love pouring our of our spirits from the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can perfect us. But He will. And He will save us from the evil one.

That is worth praising Him about!

Andy Stanley talks about "Staying in Love" click below...