September 20, 2017

My God Is So Big


Nehemiah 2:4-8
4 Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.


Someone shared in a Bible study small group that she would pray, “Lord, please, just get me through this day.” I thought how sad to pray for so little from such a big God. Little faith does not see a big God. A small faith has our eyes on ourselves instead of looking at God. I’m glad I have more for my resources than me, my strength and my ability! I have a big God. But I watch people around me expect little from Him.

Why do we expect so little from Almighty God?

Nehemiah would have much to say on this subject. He was the cupbearer for the king of his captivity, and yet, the king gave him everything he asked for when he prayerfully sought him for all he needed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the broken walls around the city. After praying for several months, he courageously asked for a long list of favors and supplies, and the king granted him every single request. 

Nehemiah asked Big!
He believed in a Big God!

Nehemiah makes sure the reader knows in the eighth verse of Nehemiah 2, this blessing from the king was God’s good hand upon him. Nehemiah could never have accomplished this by himself.

One of my favorite verses I love to recall when I’m asking God for something that requires a huge leap of faith is 1 Corinthians 2:5 “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” This has encouraged me many times when doubt would start knocking at my heart’s door. Doubt will shrivel up your faith like a pin pricking a balloon will drive out all the air. But the truth in this verse will chase the doubt away and remind us that we serve a powerful and Almighty God.

Do you believe God can do more than merely get you through the day? Open your eyes of faith and see a Big God!

Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

September 17, 2017

Battles and Praise: Reflections on David


I read the Psalms more than any other portion of my Bible. I take comfort and I am deeply encouraged by the strong and poetic words written by its major author, a shepherd warrior king. I keep a long list of favorite verses and passages from the Psalms that I turn to often, and I am blessed each time I read them.

And yet, when I read the story of David’s life in the books of I and II Samuel, it is wrought with danger and battles and heartache.

We see David anointed king at a young age by the prophet Samuel, and we see him victoriously kill the giant Goliath with a slingshot and go on to become a great warrior. The chant “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” puts his life in jeopardy, making him the sworn enemy of King Saul, who becomes jealous and attempts to kill him at every turn. When he is eventually crowned king of Israel, he is engaged in constant war and battles with the enemies that surround God’s chosen people and with enemies among his own people.

Yes, he writes about battles in the Psalms. But he writes more about victory given by the hand of God. We see God’s sovereign hand of guidance and protection, and we hear David declare that our battles belong to the Lord.

He proclaims God is his strength, his refuge, hiding place, strong tower, and his shelter in the storm. 

He writes praise, worship, thanksgiving, and he beautifully writes in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life… 

We see David rise, fall, and rise again, and we learn from this shepherd warrior king that there is no sin that cannot be washed away and forgiven. We learn that our Holy Almighty God is a God of healing and restoration.

We see David’s battles and we see the victories only God can bring. We read this psalmist's praise unto the Lord in words modern poets cannot duplicate. He teaches us to hide God's Word in our heart, and he teaches us through psalm after psalm that our hearts are made to worship. 

When I reflect on David, I learn a lot about my God.

September 14, 2017

Near


I want to be counted among those who intentionally draw near to Jesus—near to the One who saved us, loves us, and pours immeasurable grace and mercy into our lives; the One who leads and guides us, strengthens us, and never leaves us alone.

I remember others long before me who are known for drawing near:

I remember Mary, at the feet of Jesus.

I remember John, the beloved disciple, leaning on the chest of our Lord.

I remember David, the psalmist whose soul thirsted for God.

I remember Enoch, walking close beside Him—so close, in fact, that God just walked him on up to heaven, completely bypassing death.

The list could go on and on. I want my name to be included with those who have deeply desired intimate communion and fellowship with the Lord. Don’t you?

I want to draw near to the Lord who wakens me each morning and reminds me that this new day He has made is a day to be glad. And I am glad—deep-in-my-heart glad that I am His and He is mine. I am grateful that I have the privilege of walking in close relationship with Him.

Let’s live each day for Him and with Him and be counted near. There is no better place to be. 

Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

September 12, 2017

Forgiven


I do not write this lightly, I’ve lived it and learned (slowly at times) that the way we forgive people who have deeply hurt us is nowhere close to the forgiveness with which God forgives us. 

As I have repeatedly read the story of Joseph’s reconciliation (Genesis 37-50) with his brothers, I have been moved each time by the deep compassion and mercy he extended to his brothers. He taught us a valuable and beautiful lesson on forgiveness.

We don’t know how long it took him to reach that level of forgiveness after his brothers plotted to murder him, tossed him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery. In my personal opinion, I doubt it was early on because the hurt was so fresh and deep at that time. Maybe it was a work God accomplished in his heart through a slow and gradual process over the many years he was falsely imprisoned.

Maybe it was when he was released from prison and saw the enormous responsibility and position God had placed him in. Maybe his heart was opened then to a deeper understanding of God’s ways, as He learned God’s assignment for him was to save the people from famine.


Whenever it was that the healing work of forgiveness took place in Joseph’s heart, I am thankful that he obediently humbled himself and allowed God to bring this about in him. I have seen many people resist God’s work of forgiveness in their lives, and the result is always bitterness. Sometimes it is a very evident, outwardly visible root of bitterness. Sometimes it is a hidden, pushed down, denied form of bitterness, and yet it still spills forth in the life of the unforgiving person.

The evidence of genuine forgiveness was displayed when Joseph was reunited with his brothers and he didn’t condemn them.  He wept and cried and assured them that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. He took care of them and re-established relationship with them.

When others have deeply hurt and betrayed us, may we find it in our hearts to forgive as God forgives, as God taught Joseph to forgive, and as Stephen forgave those who stoned him (Acts 6 and 7). Stephen’s story is compelling beyond words. With his dying breath, he forgave those who were taking his life.

Following the example of Joseph, Stephen, and Jesus Christ, may we hold no charge against our offenders and betrayers and toss their offense as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God wants us to give mercy to others as He has been merciful to us. He wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Colossians 3:12b-13 teaches us to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

September 10, 2017

Butterfly Free




Something about a butterfly delights me...

So light and free,

It's how I want my heart to feel,

Like a butterfly...

Beautiful and free.


Free means
I don’t have to burden myself with deep worries
I don’t have to figure everything out
I don’t have to know where everything
Is supposed to fit
Or why things happen at all


Free means
I can look at life with a new perspective
I can see beauty in all that is around me
I can see God's hand in things I don’t understand
And when I don’t see His hand
I still believe

Because I’m Free
I know He is in control
Sovereign over all
Sees and knows everything
Holds a whole world
In His hands


That’s why I’m Free
He set me free
When I put all trust in Him
And live by faith each day
And walk in His ways

And God's way
Is for me to walk
In freedom
Because this is what
He wants for me


Freedom is what He wants for you

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.