1 Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

And I show you a still more excellent way.
1Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

God Bless You!

From across the hallway, I heard Brad sneeze three times.  "Achoo!"  "Achoo!"  "Achoo!" 
"God bless you."  "God bless you."  "God bless you."  I said.  We both laughed.  But, now I wonder, just what do we mean by the words, 'God bless you'. 

Later, in my car,  I'm reminded of those words, and again I wonder, what do we mean when we say 'God bless you' to someone or even more, when we pray these words.  I have prayed many times that God would bless my family, my friends, my church, and myself.  Was it just a general expectation that God would prosper us, or that we would be happy, or have a good day?  I have to admit, I have thought that God's blessing was little more than this. 

But, God's blessing is so much more.  When God blesses us, he will not simply give us things to make our lives happy and prosperous,  but, he will give us things that will bring us closer to himself.  And what more could we desire than to know God and to be in a thriving relationship with him.  Each time that I say God bless you, what I mean is that I want God to bring you closer to himself.

Let's name some ways that God blesses us or brings us closer to himself.  Time alone with him to meditate, to pray, and to read his Word is my richest blessing.  Also, he places within us a hungry heart that causes us to long for him and keeps us ever searching for him.  The people in our lives who encourage us and are not afraid to be truthful with us are also blessings.  Trials are blessings in disguise that teach us to trust him and to rely on him for every need. 
In contrast, we could add,  sometimes when God blesses a person with wealth and success, the blessing can become an idol.  An idol can be anything that takes the place of God in our hearts.  That person may become preoccupied with the things that wealth can buy or he may come to believe that he earned success and therefore does not give God thanks for blessing him. 

I wanted to take this idea of blessing even farther, so I asked my family, "What blessings or things bring you closer to God?"  For Larry, it was running, because it makes him feel alive.  Melanie said that for her it's listening to Christian radio on the way to work and school, because the songs help her worship God.  Being with other Christians was what Hannah said brings her closer to God.  We can see that Gods blessings are many and varied, and may be different things for different people, but we would all agree that we are truly blessed by God.  So, the next time you pray for God to bless someone remember that what you are asking is that God would bring them closer to himself.  Have a blessed day!

......blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.    Psalm 144:15b   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Future and a Hope

This morning, as Hannah grabbed her lunch and backpack and headed out the door for school, she stopped , then turned to reach for the car keys, and standing there before me I see a young woman.  When did she stop being a girl and become a young woman?  This summer, she turned sixteen, got her drivers license and a job, and everything is different now.  I no longer drive her where she needs to go and she has gained her independence.   I wave goodbye and watch from the front door.  And as I watch her drive away, I pray for her safety and well- being. 

But, I want more for her, so much more.  I wonder.  Have I done enough with the time I have had with her?  Did I teach her that true happiness comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Did I instill godly principles of honesty and integrity?  Did I show her by my example that having a good day is the result of hard work and self-discipline?

The questions keep coming.  Will she make good choices to take care of her body and mind?  Will she remain pure in her thoughts as well as her actions?  Will she remember that God is always with her and call upon him for help and guidance?

Raising a child is an enormous responsibility and I know that I have made many mistakes bringing up my children.  Ephesians 2:4, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us,...... " reminds me that God's mercy is his compassion for us.  He takes pity on us and saves us.  Raising a teenager can be downright scary.  I want all those things and more for Hannah, but I realize that she is mine for only a little while.  She will be an adult and have to stand on her own two feet.  But God is rich in mercy....

In the book of Jude we find one of the most beautiful benedictions in scripture.  It is the perfect place to end this discussion.  "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand  in the presence of  his glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.  Jude 25.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do I need the Holy Spirit?

The answer to my question may seem obvious,  but, some people seem to believe that they can manage their lives just fine on their own without any help from the Holy Spirit.  His role in the life of the believer  is of great importance, so important in fact, we would not be saved except for the Holy Spirit.

In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."  The one who draws us to Jesus is the Holy Spirit and we can only be born again by the Spirit.  I would not be saved, except the Spirit wooed me and drew me to Christ.  I can remember how I cried that night many years ago at Vacation Bible School commencement when I recognized that I was a sinner and that Jesus had died for me.  With the help of the Holy Spirit I went forward during the invitation and prayed to get saved. 

Jesus called him the Comforter in John's gospel; the Helper, and the Spirit of Truth.  He goes on to describe the Holy  Spirit's work; to convict, to guide, to comfort, to teach, to empower, to conform us to Christ's image.  The Holy Spirit has continued his work in me by directing my steps,  instructing me, and reminding me of the truths in his Word.  He keeps me from being deceived or misguided, he strengthens me when I am tired and weary, he motivates me and I become excited about living everyday for the kingdom of God.   His work in me is ongoing as day by day I ask him to fill me. 

Just what is his purpose?  Why does he do the things he does?  Well, he is making me fit for heaven; a pure, spotless bride.  He is making me to be Christ to a lost world as I live my life before others.  Do I need the Holy Spirit?  My answer, emphatically, is yes!  I cannot by my own reason or strength do anything to save myself, nor can I live a holy life, or do the the things that please God.  I need the Holy Spirit.  Read Paul's words in 2Corinthians 3:6, "....but the spirit giveth life."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Prayer for Daddy

I wrote this prayer last December, before we knew that Daddy had cancer.

My Daddy is heavy on my heart.  He asked for prayer.  He's tired of fighting this battle; he needs encouragement.  He has lived with pain in his face for well over a year and it has slowly intensified.  Pain has taken its toll; he is irritable and cranky and takes it out on Mama.  They are my parents and I love them; they sacrificed for me, prayed for me, and loved me and now I feel sad that they have to get old and sick and feeble. 
Be gracious unto them, oh Lord; have mercy.  Do not leave them in this hour of trial.  Speak to Daddy of your truth, show him you are with him, give him faith to endure. 
I do not know why you choose this lot for him, but, I trust you.  I believe you are working good in this situation.  I believe you never leave us or forsake us.  I believe you are in control, God. 
Comfort him, strengthen him, keep him from the evil one.  Fill him so full of you that Jesus overflows in his life.
I pray for an end to this pain.  I pray for peace, your peace that we cannot even understand. 
Guide him to the truth, the truth about himself and about you.  Keep him on the path you have for his life.  Fit him for heaven.  Sanctify him in truth. 
I pray for your will to be done, Lord God Almighty.  For the pain we endure now is only for a while, but, it works an eternal weight of glory in our lives. 
I pray that Daddy keeps his eyes fixed on you, that he leans upon you for everything, that he looks steadfastly on Jesus until Jesus is revealed to Daddy and through Daddy.
I ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.

When we pray, we have the wonderful privaledge of talking with the Almighty, so be honest with him and ASK whatever your heart desires.  ACKNOWLEDGE that we are dependent on him for everything, that we can do nothing.  Then,  ACCEPT  his answer, trusting him with the final result. 
Luke 18:1

Monday, August 15, 2011


Omniscient is one of those fancy, theological words that people seldom use and many do not understand.  If it is so difficult to understand, then why even bother to bring it up?  My reason - to challenge you to consider the attributes of God.  For, to know God  is our highest calling, our chief goal in life.

A.W. Tozer, in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, gives meaning to the word omniscient, "To say that God is omniscient is to say that he possesses perfect knowledge and therefore, has no need to learn.  But it is more; it is to say that God has never learned and cannot learn."

We can add, that nothing escapes his attention.  He is mindful of everything; everything concerning me, everything concerning his kingdom, and yes, everything concerning the world.  He knows all things.  Nothing is hidden from his watchful eye.  My mind is limited.  I only know what I see, what I hear, or what I experience.  God can see in the darkness; he knows the private thoughts of every person.  He is not limited by time, as we are, but sees the past and the future as well as the present.  His word tells us that he knows the number of hairs on my head.  For that matter, he knows my heart rate, my blood pressure, my cholesterol count, you name it, he knows it. God has intimate knowledge of me.  He knows what I will do even before I know I have a choice.

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!  Romans 11:33

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sin is Ugly

Sin is ugly;
no matter who wears it.
It's our fleshly garment,
our fatal flaw,
our parental curse;
ugly, marred, destructive,
none can contain it,
like cancer,
it spreads its dark fingers
where we cannot see.
It makes us do the unspeakable.
I thought I could out-smart it,
that it wouldn't get me.
But, I was wrong;
none can escape it's deathly grip.
And now, whenever I see it,
it makes me sad,
it hurts,
because I've seen what could have been
and I weep for what is lost
and I pray,
God help us!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 6:23

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How can I influence others?

 I asked Hannah what she had learned while at Beach Blast this summer. 
"How to influence people", she said. 
That certainly perked my interest and we began discussing what that would look like; how it would play out in our day to day lives.  If I would have the power to affect others, I must be deliberate, engaging them by my actions.  I won't be an influence if I ignore others.  I won't be an influence if I am too busy to look at them or too preoccupied to notice them.

Later that week, I had an a return appointment at the Breast Care Center.  Because of a spot that showed up on my mammogram,  they wanted me to come in again for more pictures.  I was a little concerned, but trusted that everything would be OK, and it was.  But, that night, as I sat there in bed thinking about all that had happened, I realized that I had missed a golden opportunity to be an influence for others.  I could have said a prayer for someone that day.  There may have been some other woman in the waiting room, who did not get a good report. But, I never looked to see.  I showed up for my appointment with a book to read and I really never looked at the other women.  I had spent the whole 90 minutes reading.  Sitting there in my bed, I felt so selfish, I felt as though I had missed out on a blessing because I had been totally focused on me and my life.  I felt so ashamed.
"What kind of Christian am I?"
 God could had used me if I had been sensitive to his Holy Spirit. 
"Forgive me, Lord,"  I prayed, "I'm listening now, and I want to do better".

What he is teaching me is, that I should be praying for everyone whose path crosses mine; not only the women in the waiting room at the Breast Care Center, but, the staff that works there, the girl who cuts my hair, the businessman that walks into our office, and the checkout lady at the grocery store.  I encounter people all day long; a thing which should never be taken lightly.  God would have me really look and see those around me.  How do I do that?  Well, I can't, but, by his Holy Spirit I can be given new eyes to see the sick, the lonely, the troubled, the weary, the lost.  And if I see, then I can pray, and maybe I can even be an influence.