Monthly Archives: June 2015

To Life!

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This was one of the very first things I ever wrote after meeting Christ face to face.  It was published in a monthly devotional guide called Alive Now! in the olden days 1980.  Today I read the words and still “feel” the same awe of newness in them.  That’s truly writing about Life!

“Imagine the position of a body on a cross.  Feel your feet pinned with your ankles together so that your legs are useless.  Sense your arms pinned outstretched as far from your body as possible, unable to provide any defense or protection, leaving you completely at the mercy of your surroundings.

As I hung there, pinned not by nails but by my own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, excuses and tears dripped from my wounds, not blood.  At last, when the pain was too great I ould barely speak “Be with me , God, I’m so alone,” and it was finished.

There were friends, then, who cared for me in my brokenness who prayed and stayed with me until slowly the pulse of new life grew stronger and steadier and I was free of the shame of my scars – able to say, My wounds are healed, but the scars remain as a sign of the resurrecting love of God Amighty.”

Alleluia!

The New Devotional Direction – The Inside Story

Looking for Jesus in all the right places.
I John 5:6-9
6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

Of Interest from William Barclay:
When he [Jesus] told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he was telling us to feed our hearts and souls and minds on his humanity, and to revitalize our lives with his life until we are filled with the life of God.  But John meant more than that, and was thinking also of the Lord’s Supper. He was saying: “If you want life, you must come and sit at that table where you eat that broken bread and drink that poured-out wine which somehow, in the grace of God, brings you into contact with the love and the life of Jesus Christ.”

My Thoughts:
A couple of years ago I wrote The  3R’s of Communion.  Recently I reviewed and rewrote it.  This is part of my own growth, finding words to make what I write more real than ever before.

The 3R’s of Communion.
• Responsibility — I believe what Scripture tells me that it’s Christ’s responsibility to continue and complete His work in me.  He has the power to pull it off, I don’t.  My responsibility is to regularly give Him back the gift of my faith as it grows and changes and trust he’ll do just what he says he will, build more in me.
• Revelation — Flesh and blood – the elements of communion shared between Christ and me have a powerful purpose. That little bit of bread or wafer that feels so dry in my mouth for a moment and the tingle of that small sip of wine on my tongue are actual physical reminders to wake-up and consider the “now” reality of my life in Him.  They are reminders that his plan is to show himself to me and as importantly to show myself to me.  Communion is Christ’s plan to feed, to cleanse and to nudge me one step closer to what He sees I can be – with a little taste of Grace and His life in me.
• Regeneration — Those “elemental” moments are blessings to remind me that this beautiful act is more than a ritual.  I can feel them as I take them!  I believe it is the perfect reminder that Christ meant it to be, my outside reaction to a real “inside” story –  the regenerating power of Christ living up to His promises to build and renew my life in Him.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Genesis 45;17-28
17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’” 21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!” 25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in  land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

 Of Interest:
26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them.

My Thoughts:
Reading this part of Joseph’s story will have to stand on it’s own today because a really weird thing happened as I was working on this post.  I was copying and pasting scripture from Biblegateway into my iPad Chapters app.  All of a sudden after clicking somewhere in that app the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness began to play.  I tapped everywhere to figure out how it was being controlled and actually had to leave the writing app and go to the music app icon on my iPad desktop.  I saw that it was playing but not from my iPad.  It was still in the Cloud [maybe that’s a hint?]…BUT it was playing.  I honestly haven’t a clue about it so I’m taking it as a sign from God.

I’m certain many of the characters I’ve been reading about were humming along with the hymn because they understood that God’s faithfulness was great.   I know that too, but this song mysteriously playing was an astounding reminder meant for me…today.  Doing devotions daily can easily become habit instead of heart.  Just this morning lying in bed I told The Lord I realized that I’d gone off on another devotional tangent and needed to re-charge my time in a new way today.  My heart and my eyes are both really full right now.  What  and amazing way He chose to catch my attention.  WAY TO GO GOD!  GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!!!

Run!

Genesis 39:6-18
So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.  Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”  But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants.“Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”  16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

Of Interest:
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. 

My Thoughts:
Those three words “But he refused” make me very proud of Joseph’s response to temptation.   Don’t be fooled by how easy those three words make it sound.  There’s no “just do it” lecture here.  Temptation is being trapped “between a rock and a hard place,” a nasty situation.  Joseph recognized the trap and he was smart enough to run.

The longer temptation goes on the tougher it gets, until you’re in its vise-like grip.  Don’t let temptation fool you into believing that you can keep the situation under control. That’s the very thing James warns us about in 1:14. “Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes.”  Don’t trust your own strength and resolve, sometimes you just have to tear yourself away and run!  There may be circumstances in your life that bring to mind rocks and hard places.  I’ve got good news for you.   You can run from that hard place and “Go to the Rock of our Salvation.”  That’s a BIG difference and that’s worth running to! 

Lyrics of the Chorus from I Go to the Rock by Dottie Rambo
I go to the rock of my salvation
I go to the stone that the builders rejected
I run to the mountain and the mountain stands by me
When the earth all around me is sinking sand
On Christ the solid rock I stand
When I need a shelter
When I need a friend I go to the rock

 

Brand New You

This morning I realized I’d gotten ahead of myself in yesterday’s post and this is just to good to miss so today I’m backtracking.

Genesis 35
After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.  11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. 14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.

Of Interest:
10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

My Thoughts:
That is the very best isn’t it? Have you ever done or said something that makes you want to crawl in hole and pull it in after you?  And then replayed it over and over trying to “get it right in your mind” when it’s already done and there’s no going back? Jacob certainly has been there.  God steps in with a new identity, a new name free of the negative associations of the old one…a new beginning and a new name.  No wonder he felt blessed.   He’s not alone either.

We all have those incidents in our life that only the witness protection program or Christ can fix.  Lucky for us, Christ is our ever-present blessing.  There are so many phrases that apply to how He fixes us; being healed, washed clean, transformed, made new, reborn…cleansed from sin.  Remember that moment when you came face to face with God in Christ and were freed from the negative associations of YOUR past?  His identity replaced your old one and He even let you borrow His name temporarily – Christ One.  That’s fabulous, but wait, there’s more!  Revelation 2:17 says if you are in Christ, he’s given you a new name too; yet to be revealed but ready and waiting… That’s the Amazing Grace we sing about.  Imagine it!

Aim Higher

Genesis 37
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.  19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”  21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.  23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.  25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.  26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 

Of Interest:
• 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” 

My Thoughts:
Sibling rivalry with a side dish of mercy?  I don’t think so!  Connivance, craftiness, and convenience sounds more like it to me.  Tongue in cheek… I wonder where they got all those traits?  Is it heredity?  It’s their family alright, the family that goes way, way back to when Eden could no longer be Adam and Eve’s home.  The brothers made the same mistake they did; deciding they could justify themselves with their own reason.  Have mercy on us Lord.  Restore our right thinking.  Help us to aim higher than being satisfied with doing less than the worst.

Picking the Right Thread

Genesis 37:1-4

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.  This is the account of Jacob’s family line.  Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.  Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

 

Of Interest:
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Twelve sons and some daughters too makes the phrase “more than” a pretty important fact.  Joseph is way down in the birth order – second from the last and in the cultural succession of his father’s inheritance.  It’s hard to imagine this mixed up family;  sons by two rival wives, sons by women Jacob wasn’t married to, daughters that barely get a mention, a father, brother and father-in-law who have good reason to suspect Jacob’s motives.  A casebook of family relationships of deceit, dishonor and destructive behavior.  Wait a minute, that sounds like today!

If you go with that image of thread, it’s not hard to imagine those brothers feeling like Joseph is just a pesky piece of lint in their lives to be gotten rid of. God has a different plan.   The brother’s actions and motives are meant to ruin, and possibly destroy, Joseph.  Instead God picks him as the right thread to hold His plan together.  There’s the key…the right thread.

So many families are caught in that same deceit, dishonor and destructive behavior today.  It’s not a NEW thing that we have to overcome because it’s gotten so bad NOW; it’s a STILL thing.  Good News!  God STILL has a different plan.  Remember that scripture about the strong cord in Ecclesiastes 4:12?

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” 

That’s it!  God has given us the first two threads of that strong cord; Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Could it be possible that He has chosen us/me/you to be that third strand?  Are we meant to be the right thread that strengthens and holds His plan together today in our little corner of the world?