Tag Archives: submission

July 2; Shape Up

Hosea 10-14

History tells us Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, who captured the Jews and made them slaves. The Bible tells us that before that happened, God warned them of that very thing, and gave them a chance to repent, to avoid the devastation and hardship their sins had bought them. To shape up.

“What sins?” you might ask. Warren Wiersbe (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books, 1991; page 576) breaks it down for us. Here is what Warren (and I) have to share:

  1. Ingratitude (11:1-4). They were God’s people, chosen to reveal to the world a Holy God who has the power to bless beyond imagination. God had rescued them, given them victories, provided them with land flowing with milk and honey. How did they repay God for all these blessings? They turned their backs on him and chose to worship idols. That’s gratitude for you.
  2. Hardness of heart (11:5-11). They became so involved in their worship of pretend gods, they gave no attention to God when He warned them, when He disciplined them, even when He turned His back on them. And with each rejection, their hearts became harder and harder, ignoring Him became easier and easier.
  3. Deceitfulness (11:12-12:6). Hosea used Jacob as an example. I’m sure none of the Jews appreciated being compared to the scheming deceiver Jacob, but Hosea said they were no different. However, Jacob changed when he had an encounter with God. That’s what God wanted for the Jewish people Hosea was speaking to, too.
  4. Boasting (12:7-14) “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. I certainly don’t need some spirit in the sky telling me what to do. I’m my own person, writing my own story.” Hosea is warning them to get ready to see exactly what their efforts will bring. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s not just read this Scripture as God’s interaction with a group of people thousands of years ago. Let’s use it to examine our own hearts, to check our own levels of gratitude, our own hearts’ condition, our honesty before a Holy God, and our submission to Him.

God was warning the Jews that if they didn’t shape up, things were going to get really bad for them. I believe the same thing is true today.

April 8; Laying It All Out There

Ruth 3-4; I Chronicles 2:3-16; I Samuel 1

What I read today seems to be in direct contrast to what I read yesterday. Yesterday I saw people skirting around God’s law, living right on the edge of obedience, justifying sin for a greater cause. Today I see some women who put it all out there, who seems to have trusted and obeyed God completely.

Naomi had lived for a time outside of God’s will.But she’s home now. She didn’t know how she’d be received, didn’t know if she would live or die. But she and Ruth threw themselves on the mercy of the kinsman redeemer. And they were saved.

Hannah prayed from the deepest recesses of her soul, she poured out her heart to God, laying all her desires at His feet. He answered, and she was blessed.

All of these women emptied themselves and fully trusted God to take care of them. That’s what God wants of me, too. Not a woman who lives on the edge, but a woman who thrives right in the middle of His will. Not a woman who tries to manipulate Him into giving me what I want, but a woman who wants what He wants. His desire is that I be a woman who lays it all out there, throws myself on His mercy, obeys Him completely, and trusts Him fully.

Here I am, Lord. I give you my past, present, and my future. I give you my hopes and dreams, desires and need. I don’t want to hold anything back. I don’t want to tell you what to do. Thank you for redeeming me, for welcoming me home by the blood of your Son. Help me to trust you with every detail of my life, like you deserve. I am laying it all out here, Lord. Thy will be done.

James; Humility

Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, was born in a stable, then laid in a feeding trough. The King of Kings didn’t start his life on planet Earth in a palace. His beginnings were nothing to brag about.

James talks to us about being humble. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (4:6b) “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord…” (4:10a)

As I think about Christmas 2018, it occurs to me that if Jesus could humble Himself, who am I to stand tall? Who am I to build myself up, to brag, or strive for a sense of self-worth? Everything good in my life comes from God, not by my own effort. And if I’m honest, I am nothing compared to Him.

I think that reality trips some people up today, when society tells us to believe in ourselves, to nurture self-esteem, to celebrate our “selves.” But the truth is, when we humble ourselves, when we empty ourselves and submit to God, “He will exalt (us).” (4:10b)

Jesus’ humble birth set the standard by which He lived. It’s the standard by which I want to live my life as well.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to Earth the way You did. You gave up everything to be born that day. You submitted to the Father 100%. So when You tell us to humble ourselves, you aren’t asking us to do anything You didn’t do Yourself first. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s lie that tells us to exalt ourselves. May we humble ourselves, and let you do the exalting. Help us to trust You with our “selves.”

Genesis 11 – God’s Choice

Abram might not have been my first choice to start an entire nation of people who would be known as “the children of God.” He came from a long line of idol worshippers, he was an older gentleman married to a wife who couldn’t even have kids. But he obeyed God, and I am blessed today because he did.

God doesn’t always nudge the obvious choices into service. We look at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. His ways are not our ways. His choices are not always what we would choose.

Don’t ever think you are too insignificant, or too uneducated, or too shy or untalented for God to do something amazing in and through you. Obey Him. Follow His lead. Get out of His way and watch what He can do with the abilities He’s given you.

September 10 – All Of Me

Ezekiel 42-43

These chapters have me asking myself what it means to be the temple of God in 2016. It occurs to me I was thinking way too small.

I have asked Jesus into my heart. I’ve pictured my repentant heart as the place where God lives on earth. But as vital as my heart is, it’s not everything.

Ezekiel reports that God said, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of my feet…” (43:7)

Have you ever seen the old Steve Martin movie, “All of Me”? I think one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when the “spirit” of Lily Tomlin’s character enters Martin’s character. Watching Martin trying to navigate his steps, while being controlled by that spirit just cracks me up every time. Martin has to learn to walk, and talk, and move as one with that spirit. The challenge comes when Martin tries to take control and move independently of the spirit.

Being God’s temple is kind of like that. If God’s spirit is in me, He not only controls my thoughts and feelings, but my fingers and toes, my voice… all of me! His throne, His dwelling place, reaches down to the soles my feet.

And my life can’t be complete, I can’t maneuver through this life effectively, or be of any use to God, until I learn to move as one with His Spirit.

Father, Take all of me. My heart, my thoughts, down to the soles of my feet. May my arms be Your arms, my feet be Your feet, my elbows and knees and eyes and tongue, be controlled by You alone. I submit myself… all of me… to You.

 

Sept 7 – Breathe On Me

Ezekiel 35-37

As I read about Ezekiel’s experience with the dried up bones in the wilderness, the words of an Edwin Hatch hymn kept going through my mind. This is my prayer today:

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me life anew,
That I may love what Thou doest love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So I shall never die,
But live with Thee 
The perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

                         Amen


Sticks, Stones, and Swearing

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

I understand why adults tell children that to help them ignore mean things other children say. But is it true that words can’t hurt? Reputations have been ruined, riots have started, lives shattered, when someone says something that hurts.

James, in chapter 3, tells us our tongues can be untamable. He says our tongues control us. What comes out of the mouth reflects what is in our hearts.

Slander? Gossip? Lies? Coarse language? Dirty jokes? Venom? People say, “pissed off” quite easily these days. or “OMG”, or worse. What does that say about what is in the heart?

The question is, do I want my words to come from God’s heart, or not. James says sometimes what we say comes straight from hell. When I read that, I have to stop in my tracks and consider what is in my heart. Can a person whose heart is given completely to God say things that offend Him?

The thing about words is once they are out they can’t be taken back. Damage is done, and often irreparable. Sometimes the hurt is never healed.

Control the tongue, you control your whole self, James says. Control the tongue and reveal Christ to everyone within hearing distance.

Father, I pray for all of us today as we consider our vocabulary. Is how we express ourselves any different from how people who don’t know you express themselves? If there are those things we say that offend You, point it out to us. Convict us. And may we be quick to repent. May the words of our mouths be pleasing to you. And may others recognize that our words come from Your heart.

My Heart

Earlier this year a friend of mine posted a picture on FaceBook of her twenty-something son, standing on the beach, a beautiful sunset behind him, looking lovingly into the eyes of another young man. Below the picture she had written, “Comments welcomed.”

My heart broke as I remembered her son who had been a student of mine in middle school. A quiet, shy, nice boy. A really good boy from a good family.

One of the comments I read said, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” And it made me think of Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.

There is nothing in our hearts that want to obey God’s Law until that heart is given to God. Without a repentant heart we are self serving, ego driven, self centered people looking out for number one. Like Muslims who obey Allah so they’ll be surrounded by virgins when they die, or Christians who go to church for a worship experience.

A true believer obeys God for Jesus’ sake. They go to church, resist sin, share the Gospel, not for what they gain, but because they just love Jesus so much they can’t help themselves. They don’t go to church to be entertained or to avoid hell. They go to church to give God the worship due Him.

Scripture tells me to guard my heart. And the best way I know how to do that is to give it to God. Take myself, my control, my desires, out of the picture. I want to love Him like He deserves to be loved, serve Him like He demands, fellowship with him through prayer and reading His Word like he longs for me to do, and share Him with those who don’t know Him because he died for them.

Here’s my heart Lord. Guard it. Use it. Take it. Keep it beating or don’t. It’s Yours. For Jesus’ sake.

All Of Me

“… those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8)

Paul is talking about what it looks like to be a child of God: Led by the Spirit. Putting to death the deeds of the body. Suffering for Jesus’ sake. Setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.

The opposite is true for those who are in the flesh. Their focus is on “self”: Self-confidence, self-gratification, self-acceptance, self-love. They are led by the things that benefit themselves without a thought of what benefits the Kingdom of God.

Or are they?

Can’t a Christian have a tiny bit of “self” and still be ok? Does God really insist I lose my identity?

I don’t see Paul making provisions for anything other than total submission. It seems he is telling us we are either led by the Spirit, or we’re not.

Oh God, I don’t want any of me left in this body. I want you to fill me, to transform me, to live in and through me. I want to look like You, talk like You, live like You lived while you were here on earth. I want to see people like You see them, love them like You love them. Forgive me for the times when I allow myself to be led by anything other than your Spirit, even if those things sound good. I want to please YOU alone. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

The Healing Stream

As I read Ezekiel 47 this morning about the Healing Stream, I was reminded of Jesus, the Living Water. The angel in Ezekiel’s vision described water that would freshen the Dead Sea, cause fruit trees to thrive so that they wouldn’t go dormant, and produce fish of every kind for fishermen to catch.

Fruit trees, fish, a useless body of water restored, blessed, “life will flourish wherever this water flows”. (verse 9)

Shouldn’t that describe the life of a believer in Jesus? Sometimes we don’t really know how dead we are in our sin until we are faced with the Truth of Scripture. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness causes our worthless lives to have meaning. We, too, become fishers of men, we bear fruit that reveal Jesus to those around us. And none of this comes from our effort, our frame of mind, or even our faith.

Just like in Ezekiel’s vision, our transformation comes when the Healing Stream, the Living Water, Jesus Himself, flows through us. Which makes me wonder.

“Life will flourish wherever this water flows.”

I wonder if I haven’t built a dam that prevents the water from flowing freely. Would a sin I hold onto, harboring hatred or jealousy, neglecting my time with God in his Word and prayer, cause the Holy Spirit, that Healing Stream, to hit a snag?

I want my life to be like that which the angel showed Ezekiel in his vision. I want the Healing Stream to flow freely through me. I want to bear fruit, feed hungry souls, and be an example of the power of God to a world that needs him. 

Dear Father, Forgive me when I begin to build a dam that would prevent you from flowing through me. You are the Healing Stream, the Living Water. What a privilege it is to know you. I pray that I will be that vessel through which you can flow freely to draw others to you, too. Give me the ability to recognize the beginnings of dam-building, may I quickly repent, and may you use me today. Refresh me. Flow through me. And may Jesus receive the glory.