Sunday, February 28, 2016

Exodus 3:7-8 "Then the LORD said, " I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, and land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of thr Cannanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites."

He sees. He hears. He knows. Why do I allow myself to think that I struggle, alone. So many times the unrest of my soul results from failing to recognize that God does indeed see what is happening.  He hears every cry of my heart. And he sympathizes with my weaknesses and struggles. But when God doesn't seem to have anything to say, doesn't seem to be acting, when the taskmasters are hard and cruel and overbearing, I often dispair by thinking that I am fighting alone.

But I am not alone. And He desires to deleiver. "...I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10). He does not desire that we remain in that land of Egypt, that land of bondage. He does not want us to remain under the cruel bondage to masters of sin. The desire of his heart, the reason for his death is to lead us out. The land he has in store is good and broad, full of richness and abundance.

What would I do differently if I truly beleived that we sees me, hears me, knows me, and desires to deliver me into an abundant land? I would rest. Even if I can really comprehend that he sees, hears, and knows me, still my heart questions, 'Does he really desire to deleiver?' That's when I get anxious and impatient. It's often when I get up from his presence and strive to do the delivering myself.

The thing about his abundant land that he desired to bring the Israelites into is that it was full of other people. It was full of the Cannanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These nations were probably more powerful than the nation of Israel and they had already established their home in this land and weren't about to surrender it.

I am reminded again that God did deliver Israel out of their slavery in Egypt but it was many years of discontented wandering in the wilderness before they finally entered this land of abundance. The reason for this was not because the other nations that lived in the land were more powerful than Israel, even though they were. The reason for this was simply unbeleif. Because God definatly had the power to come on their behalf against their strong enemies, it was just a matter of whether or not they decided to look to him for it.

Even in Exodus 3, when God tells Moses of his great plan to deliver Israel, all Moses has to say are pitiful excuses of how all of his inadequacies and incapabilities aren't good enough for God to use.

Sometimes I too grow discouraged and weary when I don't rest in the fact that God sees, hears, knows, and desires to deleiver. I see the towering enemy that threatens to take control and I wander how that abundant and victorious land could ever be mine. But just like the Israelites, that land is mine when I choose by faith to look to God for it.

And it can be yours to. Let us put away our unbeleif and our excuses. Let us beleive that God has something much better for us than the bondage or wandering we become so accustomed to. It is by faith that we enter. Because we are powerless against the enemy, but our God is not.

"But the Good Shephard has supplies green pastures for those who care to move in onto the  and there find peace and plenty." ("A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" W. Phillip Keller)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

John 15:4 "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."

Good works without power. Activity with no purpose. Dried up. Becoming like the withered branch that has been cast away from the life giving sap of the vine. This is why being connected to the Vine is absolutly vital. Without it we dry up, loose power and effectiveness. We forget why we are doing what we are doing.

But sometimes when I feel dry inside I get frustrated by lack of results. I'm hard on myself. I feel guilty. "WHERE'S THE FRUIT?" I ask myself in desperation. It is then my temptation to frantically begin looking for fruit to tape and glue onto my tree because 'Christians shouldn't be acting like you are.'

But all he asks me to do is abide. I'm skipping the most necassary and vital of all the steps. Because he just wants me to abide with him. And when I stop every other thing and abide with him, the result is not some fabricated fruit that I can make myself. It is instaed beautiful fruit that is not forced and is real and is life-giving to all who partake.

He only asks that I abide. And abiding looks a lot like resting and remaining and waiting. It's allowing his Word to permeate my mind and listening to his voice speak. Its sitting in his presence and dwelling. And it is to beccome this natural input output system, He gives life and I give it away, and he gives again.

"Abide in his love..." I must open the doors and windows of my heart to his love. I must allow the eyes of my heart be opened to the awesome and beautiful character of my God who steadfastly loves. I must open my ears to hear what his gentle voice says to my heart.

This is abiding. It is allowing God to change. Not forcing the change myself.

"The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect one. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working within him to will and to do." (A.W. Tozer "The Pursuit of God")

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken." (Psalms 62:8-9)

Friday, February 12, 2016

1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."

Some people struggle with depression because they live in the past, but what I struggle with is anxiety because I live in the future. The future easily becomes something that i fear. And when this fear of the future creeps up, it paralyzes me from living in freedom in today.

This fear ultimately comes from not trusting God. Fear comes from worshipping a God of punishment who withholds grace, conditonally loves, and is quick to become angry. Fear is doubting that God cares enough for us to provide for our every need. Fear says that God is not enough. Fear is living in unbeleif, that God is the God of love.

It is like I am standing in an ocean, and the waters are my experience of God. I stand knee deep in them, farther then I've ever been before and I see that every step behind me was worth it. But as I look ahead to the deeper waters, and the waves that are taller than I am, I am afraid to take another step. "Are you worth it God, are you worth going deeper with?" This is the inward reserve of my heart as I hesitate to go one step farther.

But what he speaks to me in his gentle voice is that I am worth it. I am worth it to him. I am worth more than the blood of Jesus and he does not desire to leave me as I am. And as I understand more in my heart who this God of love is, the fear is being cast out. It's being evicted and forced to leave as it is replaced by the truth of who God is. And the waves become less scary and more inviting because the truth about God makes me hungry for more.

He is not the God of punishment who I have worshipped for long but he is tender and gentle and steadfast in his love. The blood of Jesus is enough and he lavishes his grace on his children.

His perfect love is what casts out fear and I desire to be perfected in that love. I want to know it, beleive it, abide in it, and rest in it. Take me deeper in your love God.

I'm standing knee deep but I'm out where I've never been.
And I feel you coming and I hear your voice on the wind.
Won't you come and tear down the boxes that i have tried to put you in,
Let love come teach me who you are again.

-Bethel "In over my head"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ezekiel 37:11-14, "Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, 'This says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise your from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken and I will do it, declares the LORD."

A valley of dead and dry and lifeless bones was what the Lord showed the prophet Ezekial.  "Can these bones live?" He asked Ezekial. And then he told Ezekial to prophecy over those dead, dry bones. As he did the bones came to together and skin came over them. And he prophesied again and breath entered the bones. The dead and dry bones in the valley transformed into an army of breathing, living beings.

The analogy of these lifeless bones shows the reality of our deadness without the Holy Spirit. By myself I am no more than a valley of dry and lifeless bones that desparatly cannot bring themselves to life. I definitely don't always like to admit that and try to play this life without the Holy Spirit's strength and his tender guiding hand. Other times he gently humbles me by showing me just how dead and incapable my flesh is. It is easy to dispair when I see my depravity and think, "my bones are dried up and my hope is lost."

But how beautiful it is that when we are at that broken state, when we have dispaired of our capabilities, he is ready to come and fill as we look to him instead. And the result is life. Life that we could've never produced on our own. Beautiful and abundant life. It is the life and breath that only the Spirit can produce out of our dry and dead bones.

"And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise your from your graves, O my people."

When that life comes to all that has been dead, it is so clear to see who has done the work. When i see bones without life, I must not despair that hope has been lost because the power to raise from the dead belongs to God. It is him who creates life.

I see places in my heart that were once dead. I despaired when I could not create life out of them, I even lost hope at times. But my Life-giving God has come and breathed life where I hardly imagined it was possible for deadness to rise. It is he who has done the work.