Take My Life

27″I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. 28 Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.           1 Samuel 1:27-28 (NLT)

You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.           Psalm 16:11 (NRSV)

This week has been a time of finding the place on the mountain where God and I have sat and talked. For some time I felt I have been walking up a tall and difficult mountain path and so to find this place of rest with my Father is welcome.

Monday, God reminded me of the many times we have talked. There have been quick 30 second chats as I moved through a day. There have been middle of the night sessions when I was drawn to Scripture and read and then listened to what God had to say to my spirit.

Wednesday, I remembered how God has molded and shaped me into a workable instrument for His Kingdom. What I thought 20 years ago I would be doing when my children were grown and gone is nothing like I am actually doing now! God has taken me and pounded me on the potter’s wheel and He isn’t done yet! I am learning every day, especially when I talk less and listen more!

And then yesterday I rejoiced at the precious gift from God of His Spirit who teaches, reminds, and guides me with wisdom. I have only to ask when I need wisdom or more grace and mercy, and here comes the refilling! God surrounds me with comfort and His strength.

The Scriptures today come from the story of Hannah, who wants a child so much. She promises God that if He answers her prayer, she will dedicate the child to Him and His service. She gives birth to a son and keeps her promise, literally giving her son up to God. It isn’t an easy thing to give my child to God and trust Him when all I can see is the pain.

And when those times come when I sense that God is asking a great deal from me, I can go to my quiet place and ask God for His strength to face what is coming. When I do not have the strength to give my life to Him to do as He will, I can say, “Take my life, Father! I trust You with it!” and He is kind and faithful to lead me, never letting go. Jesus was born in a barn when He could have been in a palace. Jesus was deserted by all His followers when He could have commanded a whole division of angels. Jesus shows me how to call out to the Father and He walks with me every step. Jesus knows how to navigate through every circumstance. I can count on Him.

Spend time with Jesus. When life is difficult, even overwhelming, go to a quiet place and pour out your heart and do not leave that place until He blesses you! If life is good right now, spend time with Jesus and give thanks. Soak up His words that may very well be a preparation for a time to come. What a precious gift to spend time with God Himself!

In Your Presence written & sung by Paul Wilbur

Posted in 1 Samuel, Psalms | Leave a comment

Breath of God

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.      Genesis 2:7 (NLT, my emphasis)

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said,“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”22 Then he breathed on them and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”               John 20:19-23 (NLT, my emphasis)

From Genesis to Revelation God uses His breath to bring His life into His children. I am told that everything that is a living being, is alive because of the breath God breathes into them. God’s breath is creative. But there is more.

Intimate. When I think about receiving someone’s breath, that is a very intimate thought. Breath can be sweet and “minty fresh” but it can also be foul. I never considered the intimacy of breath until I was married and suddenly there is someone who may truly love me but my “morning breath” is – well, in need of alteration! God is intimate with His children. He could have created everything in the world black or white. He could have made our eyes see only shades of gray! But instead there are colors and textures and smells which we respond to in positive or less than positive ways. I can’t look at the delicacy and color of a kitten or puppy and not consider how God made each one. And then there are the many colors of His children. Each beautiful and alive because of the breath that God Himself gave to him or her.

Powerful and Cleansing. Some where I saw a cartoon with God portrayed as a huge old man that blew hurricane force winds, blowing down trees and everything in His path. As I have read more about God and His breath in the Bible, I do not see the power in the force but in His presence. When God comes near, all that is not “clean” or “holy” has to leave. And the first place which needs cleaning is inside of me! James said that clean water cannot come from a salty stream (James 3:9-12) and neither can my witness to Him come from inside a life that does not allow His Spirit to cleanse me of sin.

God is faithful and will respond when I ask Him to create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51). If I open myself for Him to clean, it will be done! It will involve not only openness on my part, but change to living in His Way.

Comforting. I remember lying down on my bed as broken as I have ever been in my life. My young son had died about four hours ago. I knew where he was in that moment. I knew he was well and whole and playing his drums in the Throne Room of God. But I was here in a silent home. Tired and exhausted didn’t describe my body, mind and spirit. And then came such a soft and comforting peace. I felt like a child being held and rocked in the strong arms of her Father. No more pain. Tears fell but they soaked the shirt of the One who loved me. I could hear the Breath of God in my ear. And I slept better than I had in many weeks.

It may seem like a strange thing to ask God to “breathe” on me but it is another way for me to attempt to understand how I, as a finite being, is able to intimately interact with my infinite LORD. Michael W Smith wrote a song that really makes sense to me and I hope it helps everyone today to get a deeper insight into just how much our Father God loves us, His children.

Breathe written & sung by Michael W Smith

Posted in Genesis, John | 1 Comment

A Lump of Clay

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel.4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.               Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NLT)

I did not turn out as God hoped, so He crushed and started again.

There was a time when I thought this was a statement of how difficult a season of my life had been. But now, after a time of being molded and shaped by the powerful and yet, loving hands of Father God I know that it was all about love.

A good parent isn’t one who gives their child everything and totally protects them from skinned knees, disappointments and the consequences of their choices. God shows us that a good parent makes decisions from love, not anger or manipulation. He teaches us from the living example of His Son as well as words and shows us how to live a just life, guided by His principles.

Because God made me, He knows all there is about me, in my spirit as well as my flesh. Clay in the hands of a potter is pounded and squeezed as it warms and becomes more malleable. The clay must be continually bathed in just the right amount of water and the potter’s hands must exert just the right amount of pressure, steady and yet gentle, to mold the clay into the shape that is in the potter’s mind.

God isn’t through with me yet. I believe He has the shape He has wanted in me but now He is trimming away the excess to create the design that makes me unique. I want to reflect the Creator who has made me what He has willed. When my work here as the potter’s vessel is done, may those who remember me, only remember the Potter who never gave up on me and loved me even when I was only a lump of clay on His wheel.

I hope you take the time to listen to the two videos today. The first is a wonderful 5 ½ minute message as you watch the potter create. The second is a prayer, a song of praise for our Potter.

In the Potter’s Hands, speaker: Rev Steve Hill

Potter’s Hands written & sung by Darlene Zschech & Hillsong Praise Team

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God Speaks to Me

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God.3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.         – 1 John 4:1-6 (NLT)

I have been blessed to meet many wonderful people who are out in this world serving God and His children. I have only met one man that I felt a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that he was a prophet sent by God. I tell you this because this Scripture, to me, is about teaching me to be wise and discerning about listening and believing who speaks for God, not just prophets but teachers, preachers and even well-meaning friends.

One evening my young adult daughter was stopped on her way out of church by a young man who said, “God spoke to me and told me that you and I will be married.” Without missing a beat, she said, “Well, God hasn’t told me that!”

God speaks to all His children and not always in the same way. There was a time in my life when I thought I was too insignificant and, frankly, too scared to have God speaking to me. But as I have spent more time reading and praying, I see my LORD as a wonderful father who loves me and wants to spend time with me.

God speaks through His Word. We are so blessed to have the Bible. God inspired writers to record His words and some of His interactions with His children. We are given testimonies from people through the centuries and, especially, the four gospels which gives us Emmanuel, God Himself with us. Here is a way for me to take more subjective communication from God and check myself.

God speaks through prayer. I believe this is the most intimate and fruitful way God speaks to me. I often wonder how much more I would know about God if I spent more time with Him and realized how precious time with Him is to my life and the lives of others. 

God speaks through others. Too often, we get most of our communication from God in this manner. We rely on pastors, teachers, theologians, and other “more learned” people to tell us what God says in His Word. We may even pray only with the written prayers in worship books. God can and will speak to all of His children who desire to hear Him. It is wonderful to come together and hear God and share what He has done and is doing.

Is my life dedicated to having a relationship with my LORD, my Savior, my Creator, and my Best Friend? Am I patient and persistent to spend time in quiet conversation, prayer, with Him?

A Quiet Place written by Ralph Carmichael & sung by Take 6

Posted in 1 John | Leave a comment

“I Want …”

One night while Solomon was in Gibeon, the Lord God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.”       1 Kings 3:5 (CEV)

What would I ask for if God appeared to me tonight in a dream and said He would give me whatever I asked for? I’d have to give that some thought. Solomon asked for wisdom. More importantly, he admitted his inability to rule wisely without God’s help. And that leads me to wisdom.

As I am writing this, I am looking at myself, candidly. In the past when I have done this, it was not difficult to list my weaknesses and my sins. But today when I looked, I saw Jesus standing with His hands outstretched, covering me, standing with me.

Jesus is my friend and teacher. He knows what I need. He knows what the Father wants to give me. I know Father God’s love. I am overwhelmed with His love.

Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.

33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.              Psalm 119:29-35 (NLT)

No matter who others may think I am, I am God’s child. No matter how others may judge me or what they may think I am worth, God loves me and says I am priceless because He made me in His image.

When we feel like the world is beating us down, step away and spend time with Jesus. Listen to His words. Receive God’s gifts as they are abundant!

Thank You, LORD for loving me. Thank You for blessing me with what I need. I love You, LORD. Let’s just sit here and hold each other.

 

Draw Me Close to You written by Kelly Carpenter & sung by Michael W Smith

Posted in 1 Kings, Psalms | Leave a comment

Forgiveness

After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said to each other, “What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?”
16 So they sent this message to Joseph:
Before our father died, 17 he told us, “You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.”
Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.
When Joseph heard this, he started crying.       Genesis 50:15-17 (CEV)

Most of us reading this today can think of someone who needs forgiveness. It might be a former friend or neighbor. It could be a parent or sibling. It could also be ourselves. Take a moment here and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anyone you need to forgive.

People who I respect have told me that forgiving someone is not about “letting the person off the hook” for what they have done to you or a loved one. It is about letting go of an emotion that festers and becomes bitterness, even hate. Unforgiveness is like an aggressive and insidious infection that will slowly grow until it destroys your whole being. I have learned that what I was taught – is true.

Forgiving someone is a simple act in response to a difficult decision. I saw how I was holding this person clinched in my hand and dragging them around with me to every relationship I had and every moment in my life. I could not reach out to others with two open arms because I had one firmly clinched. For what purpose? What was holding on to that person in that situation doing for me? Was it to punish the other person? If so, was that making me feel better? Was it causing that person heartache? Probably not.

Do something monumental for yourself today. Get quiet somewhere and decide that today is the day to make a change. Today is the time to move in a new direction.

Consider how much weight this unforgiveness is causing in your life. Consider how much it is affecting you. Now, remember how you felt the day/night that you accepted that you needed a Savior to take all of your sins and forgive you. Remember the weight that slid off of you. It is time to do that again and Jesus will help you with this one, too. Ask Jesus to help you open your hand and let go of whoever has hurt you. Do it now.

Jesus, I need Your help to let go of _________. I put every bit of hurt and pain they have done to me into Your hands. I trust You to be their judge. I trust You to take all the words and actions that are involved in this – and handle it the way You see fit. Wash me clean of this unforgiveness, LORD. I throw open the doors of my heart, mind and spirit so You can totally clean me. I want to hold on to nothing! I thank You for this day and hour of freedom from the burden I have carried. Thank You, LORD! Praise You, LORD! May this day be forever in my memory as a day of Freedom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Blessed Be the Name of the LORD written by Andy Park & sung by Lindell Cooley

Posted in Genesis | Leave a comment

Who Has My Ear?

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.       Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)

I’m hitting a milestone this year when my birthday rolls around. To me one of the perks to getting older is I am sure that I have more questions now than I did when I was a child. I know I do not know everything but – I have also grown into some wisdom to be careful about who I listen to. So who do I listen to?

The Sunday School answer would be “God” or “Jesus.” And that is absolutely, positively true. However, God made me and knows my weaknesses so He has provided all that I need, including wise counsel. My part of it is to seek those He has chosen, not just anyone who offers advice, be it from a pulpit or an easy chair in my home.

Jesus had many followers. There are some places in the gospels that tell me there were 5,000 or 4,000. Jesus had only 12 disciples. He explained parables to His disciples. He didn’t explain them to the followers. Jesus had only three who went with Him for the really good stuff like raising a young girl from the dead or seeing Him transfigured on a mountain as He chatted with Moses and Elijah. And then when Jesus needed wise counsel, He went alone to the mountain or to the garden to seek His Father, didn’t He? His example tells me something about how many I should have around me.

Ask God to send the people He has chosen to bring His counsel and wisdom to you. God knows how important this is and He will do it! But do not be surprised if He sends an unexpected choice. God may not send you someone who will always agree with you or believes every doctrine that you do. He may send you someone who will stretch you and encourage you to think and go to God’s Word to study. Yes, this person will also love the LORD and serve Him and seek His wisdom for himself/herself.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.     Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

And when God sends that one or two who bring His wisdom, know that it is a gift worth more than gold or silver. They are a precious gift that deserves thanksgiving to the Father who loves so extravagantly. As I am writing this, I have tears of joy for those He has chosen for me. I am so very blessed.

Friends Forever written & sung by Michael W Smith

Posted in Proverbs | Leave a comment

Life With Father

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,“Abba, Father.”    Romans 8:12-15 (NIV)

Do I live my life led by the Spirit of God? Good question that I can only answer with the help of God’s Spirit which sees into every corner of my being. There can be no “Do Not Enter” signs. If I am to live as Paul says by God’s Spirit and have the privilege of knowing God, Creator of all, in such a way that I can call Him “Father,” then everything in me is open to Him.

So being a child, in my case a daughter, of Abba Father is a sweet, easy life, right? Some days it seems hard to believe how good it is. Last night, I was so tired. As I settled into my pillows and covers such a sense of peace and comfort came over me. I felt safe and secure. Abba and I talked quietly for a while and then sleep came. Two hours later, I was awake and experiencing pain and some restlessness. There was a time when I would have been frustrated and angry. But I’ve learned to just get up and sit in a chair and read a psalm or listen to a song or two. And then my mind clears and I pray. I was up about an hour. Father had something to say to me. I had some people who came to mind in prayer and ended with thanks to Father who keeps watch.

And there are times when Abba Father asks difficult things of me. He is teaching me, helping me to build spiritual muscles and even when I know that, it doesn’t make times of sacrifice easy. Father also teaches me how to make decisions based on Kingdom principles, not the world’s instant gratification principles.

Learning about the Father, listening to the Father, and answering His call to serve is a great life. It is an adventure every day! Sometimes it’s like a wonderful river ride at Disney World! And other times it can be a full-pack hike in Glacier National Park! But if I keep my hand in the Father’s I will continue to see Father God more clearly every day – and that is a great part of this life!

Abba Father from Vineyard Music

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What Can I Give to God?

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.
2 From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.
3 Our God approaches, and he is not silent.
Fire devours everything in his way, and a great storm rages around him.
4 He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
5 “Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
6 Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.

7 “O my people, listen as I speak.
Here are my charges against you, O Israel:
I am God, your God!              Psalm 50:1-7 (NLT)

I am thinking about thanking God. There are so much in my prayer journal to bring to the LORD every day. God is faithful and patient as I bring people and situations to Him. He listens to all my words. He doesn’t cut me off or make me feel as if He has better things to do or more important matters which need His attention.

How do I know God hears my prayers? Is it because He answers my every request? Does He speak to me so that my husband wonders who is in our bedroom? No, nothing so human.

I know God answers my prayers because over the years I have seen people healed against all medical tests and treatments. I have walked through difficult seasons in my life with peace and strength I cannot explain except because God has shown me the Hope of an eternal life because of Jesus Christ who died as a perfect sacrifice for my sins. I know personally of marriages that were made new when the rest of us had given up. God is.

In this psalm, verses 8-22 speaks of God’s creation. I hope while you listen to the song today that you will read those verses. I can hear the thunder of God’s voice and the power of His spoken creation. The LORD, the Mighty One, is also my Father who holds me in His hand and reveals to me His love and great mercy. It is a mystery how God loves me. And thanks just pour from my heart as I remember all the wonderful, loving promises in this psalm and in so many other Scriptures.

23 “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
If you keep to my path,
I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 (NLT)

During these summer months, whether you are drawn to the ocean or river or mountains, a stroll through your own garden or even sitting in a ballpark and watching clouds move slowly across blue skies, give some thought to God who created every flower, cloud and breeze. Thank Him for how much He loves you. What does God want in exchange for all He has given us? He isn’t looking for gifts to balance the scales. We could never balance them if we tried! When I spend time with Him, sharing my heart, listening to His desires for my life and thanking Him for so much, then God is honored.

Creation Calls written & sung by Brian Doerksen

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God’s Will

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.    Colossians 1:9-14 (NLT)

How often have I asked God to make His will known to me? Too often. I say “too often” because many times I do really know what He wants me to be doing; I’m just hoping that if I look penitent and flutter my eyelashes, He might tell me something I want to hear!

I have often heard people say that it would have been helpful for God to simply write across the sky in big letters the answers to our questions, like what is His will in my life. The complaint being that God is mysterious and vague on some basic questions. And I confess I have looked up to the blue sky and raised my eyebrows like, “OK. Just give me a sign. A burning bush or move the sun back 12 hours! Or just write it out for me!” And one day, I got an answer.

Paul says in this letter to the Colossians that he is praying for them to have the knowledge of God’s will along with wisdom and understanding. And so there is my first point to knowing God’s will in my life – spend time talking to Him. There is no shortcut to this. It’s spending time every day in His world and listening to what God has to say and learning about His character, how He has behaved or answered in similar situations. When Paul asked God to remove the pain he was in, not once but three times, what did God say? 2 Corinthians 12:9 says God told Paul His grace is enough and when Paul is weak, God will be strong.

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that everything else that was known about God up to that point could hang from “Love the LORD with all my heart” and “Love my neighbor as myself.” If I am trying to discern what God wants me to do in my life I can discount anything that does not demonstrate my love for God and my love for neighbor and myself.

Jesus also said that anything that I do should provide light in the darkness of this world and glorify the Father (Matthew 5). And that may be when knowing God’s will and doing His will can depart ways. Whatever I do in my life, it’s not about me. It’s not about getting recognition or doing the miraculous. It is about glorifying the Father through such transparency that no one may ever know that I did anything or remember my name.

God has done so much for me. My life is assured to be eternal because of Jesus blood sacrifice on the Cross. I am a new person now. Jesus shows me how to live a fruitful life and be a conduit of God’s love and forgiveness.

God’s will for me is to live in His Light and encourage others to also live in His Light. Simple. Help me to do that today, LORD.

Spirit of the Living God written by Daniel Iverson, choral group unknown

Posted in Colossians | Leave a comment