1 Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Thanksgiving List

While roasting the turkey on Thanksgiving day I had my kitchen radio tuned to Dr. David Jeremiah's daily broadcast called Turning Point.  He message was about Giving Thanks.  He said that gratitude should be expressed; that it is not thanksgiving until it is expressed.  As I thought about this idea of giving voice to my gratitude, I realized I should be saying "thank you" a lot more often than I do.  For me that starts with thanking God for everything.  But it also means being thankful for all the people he has placed in my life.  To express my gratitude, I started a list of people that I am thankful for.

Romans 1:8, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 

I am thankful -
  • for my Dad who continues to give God praise after a year long battle with cancer; whose faith has been tested and tried and proved to be genuine. 
  • for my Mom whose faith never waivers; her life is built on a solid rock.
  • for Betty and her hospitality to me and my family; we have stayed in her home many times in the past months.
  • for Glen and Barbara; for being available when Dad and Mom needed them most.
  • for Andy and Charlotte; for overcoming difficulties and obstacles and giving the rest of us courage to do the same. 
  • for Sherwood and Sonia; for inspiring me to read the Bible through as they have. 
  • for Norma and all that she does on a daily basis to help Dad and Mom by checking on them, bringing them meals, and helping with their medications.
  • for Larry, for being the most interesting person I know and for sharing his heart with me; for being a great Dad, Grandpa, and Gepaw and for being a man who doesn't back down.
  • for Melanie; for giving 100% everyday to everything she does and for teaching me to believe. 
  • for Hannah; for teaching me to be joyful, to have fun and to enjoy life and for being unafraid to speak her mind. 
  • for Philip; for being an awesome dad who loves his family and puts their needs ahead of his own; for his keen sense of justice and a desire for order and peace in the world.
  • for Teresa; for being a daughter-in-law that I can trust to be the best wife and mother that she can be because she desires to be a Godly woman. 
  • for Taylor and Martin and Kate and Audrey; who give me a glimpse of the future and the courage to share my faith unashamedly.
  • for Kris; for being a true friend and for being so kind.
  • for Jeane, for being my role model; In all the years that I have known her, I have never seen her unhappy, angry, or ill tempered.  I have never heard her complain or criticise others.  She is the most gracious, loving person I have ever met.

There are many more of you that I am thankful for; old and new friends and family at church, at school, at work, in all the places I have lived.  I am so grateful for you and how you touched my life.  It is good to give thanks.  May it become our lifelong goal;  to express our gratitude in true thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Worship is the Doorway

It has been my habit in my prayer time to praise God for who he is; telling him that I love him and that I long to be with him.  This morning, his response was crystal clear.  For he began to tell me who I am.  I am his child, chosen and elect, beloved, more precious than silver or gold.  I am his costly treasure, the apple of his eye, and the pearl of great price.  I am precious to him, his little lamb, his delight.  I am the joy set before him, the reason for all he does, his prize. 

Wow!  What a beautiful way to start the day.  Worship truly is the doorway to his presence.

Psalm 100:4  "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Give Thanks to the Lord; for He is Good

Each morning in my prayer time I have been thinking of one of God's attributes and praising him for it.  I just choose a word that describes God and use it as a tool to worship Him.  For example, God is Sovereign, God is Holy, God is Just, God is Trustworthy.  As I meditate on what that characteristic means, I think of ways that God exemplifies that quality.  It has been a good tool to help me in my daily devotions to know him better and to love him more.

One word that describes God is the word Good.  God is Good.  Goodness is his nature.  Every thing that God does is good.  All of his works are good.  He made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good".  (Genesis 1:31)  Not only are the works of creation good, but he shows us his goodness everyday by his provision and care. 

Somehow, I think good is one of those words we use so often we don't attribute it to God.  We use the term loosely in our greeting, "Have a good day".  We say "This pizza is good."  But, when we say, "God is Good", we mean so much more.  God's goodness is entire, flawless, perfect, unblemished, whole, able, authentic, exemplary, benevolent, moral, righteous, and upright. 

Think about it, because God is Good.

Psalm 106:1a  "Praise ye the Lord.  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Those Whom God Calls

 I do not know how a preacher gets up to speak every week if he thinks about the awful burden of responsibility that is his.  To speak for God!  It is a very humbling experience to stand before God's people to say, "Thus saith the Lord".  At times, I'm certain they must question their ability to perform their duties. "What if  I mess this up; profane God's name?  What if I cause someone to stumble or what if I do not speak the truth?"  I have experienced some of this kind of trepidation myself whenever I click on the Publish Post button for my blog.  The biggest danger for me is that pride can easily slip in and I can loose sight of my original motive in writing, that is, to glorify God. 

We have many examples in scripture of God using less-than-perfect people who felt unworthy or ill equipped to lead others.  Men like Moses who did not think that the people would listen to him and Gideon who questioned whether God really meant it when he called him to lead the people.  In each case, God equipped these men whom he called with the skill and knowledge that they would need.  In 1Samuel 9&10 we have the account of Saul being chosen by God to be the first king of Israel.  God reveals to Samuel that Saul is the man that he has chosen and when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the Man..... but Saul expressed some reluctance to this new calling upon his life, even to the point of hiding when the tribes were being presented for selection.  God confirmed his calling of Saul not only by Samuel's words but by empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  In chapter 10 verses 9 & 10 we read, "God gave Saul another heart and the Spirit of God came upon him and he prophesied among them."  In addition to these confirmations, God surrounded Saul with a group of men to assist him because he knew that Saul would need help.

So we can surmise that those whom God calls he also equips to do his will.  Jesus understood this principle and talked about the fact that he was dependent on the Father in John 8:28b,  ".....I do nothing of myself; but as my father hath taught me, I speak these things."  Jesus knew that his Father had sent him and that he had never left him alone.  His ministry grew out of  his relationship with the Father and he always glorified his Father.

We too can do nothing without the Father's help.  And unless we are in an intimate relationship with God our Father and his son Jesus Christ, we have nothing to say or give.  I think it's important to give credit where credit is due.  For me personally that means before I write a blog post, I wait until I have a topic or idea of spiritual significance.  This is usually something I read during my Bible reading or something that came up in a conversation or something I experienced.   I pray before, after, and during the process.  I never know for sure where my writing will take me.  But, I definitely feel that the inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit.  He brings it all together, reminds me of things, helps me choose words, gives me scripture to support my ideas.  So all glory to God, for without him, I can do nothing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If You Seek God, You Will Find Him

I have seen  you, Lord;
Seen you in the sunset, seen you in the storm,
Seen you in the face of my newborn baby. 

I've seen you in my friend,
Seen you in your servant,
Seen you in your Word.

Most of all, though,
I've  seen you in my singing,
seen you in my prayers,
seen you in my quiet times,
seen you in my tears.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29;13)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Learning to Hear

One of the best tools I have found to help me with my prayer time is a Prayer Journal.  Through the years, I have tried various methods of keeping track of my prayer needs; which has resulted in a huge stack of spiral notebooks where I recorded the names of people I was praying for, answers to those prayers, along with sermon notes, and things I learned along the way.  But, the best method I found was one designed by Becky Tirabassi, a 3-ring binder with dividers and pages to record Praise to God for who he is, Admit my sins, RequestsThanks for blessings and answered prayers, Listening to hear what God is saying to me.  I recently purchased a new binder because the old one was falling apart, which afforded me an opportunity to review my old journal pages.  What I discovered when I reviewed these pages was a record of a decade long quest to hear God. 

Prayer should be a two-way conversation that includes speaking and then listening, not just reading off my laundry list of prayer requests.  Journaling my prayers, organized them so that I could keep track of my personal exchanges with God, or rather the Holy Spirit, who Jesus sent to be our teacher to guide us into all truth.  (John 16:13). 

In the Listening  section of my journal I would write down what I thought I heard him saying, then I would ask questions to discover if it was truly God's voice that I was hearing, or my own voice, or the voice of the enemy.  I used a lot of trial and error to try and figure this out, but found comfort in Jesus' promise in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me". 

Not only does Jesus promise us that we will know his voice, but we also have the scriptures which we can use to test what we have heard.  If it doesn't line-up with the Word of God, then its not truth.  In fact, many times his answer came through scripture verses that I "happened" to be reading that day.  Those verses would be exactly what I needed to hear. 

Other times, though, I had to wait on answers to my prayers.  Yet, God's timing is perfect and time will tell whether the thing was true or not by whether it comes to pass or not.  Learning to hear God is like learning to do almost anything, it takes practice.  The results are well worth the effort though, because spending time with God in prayer is how we learn to hear his voice. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How To Start the Day

I believe that how we start our day can affect how our day turns out.  Here is an example.  You get up late, because you overslept; so you rush out the door ill prepared to deal with the demands of your day.  Don't you just hate when that happens.  Or, maybe your a teenager and you never get caught up on your sleep, so in the mornings you are grumpy and irritable because you stayed up late on Face book instead of getting to bed on time.  Wouldn't you agree that the morning sets the tone for the rest of  our day. 

For me, morning is the best time of the day.  I feel rejuvenated from sleep and I can think more creatively in the morning hours.  Every morning is like a new beginning; an opportunity to start fresh and do it all over again, and hopefully to do it better this time. 

Years ago I read a book by Joseph S. Carroll, called, How to Worship Jesus Christ.  I highly recommend it because it changed my life.  The thing I learned that has stuck with me through the years is the importance of starting each day in submission to God, that is, to start each day with a simple prayer, a prayer of submission.  This prayer has become for me an established routine.  As soon as my mind leaves dreamland and comes into consciousness, I think of God.  I may say this prayer from the warmth of my bed, but many times I kneel beside my bed or a chair, and I thank God for the new day.  I offer my life to him, asking that his will be done in me.  Again, what I do is acknowledge that he is God and I am totally dependant upon him for everything I need and I can trust him, no matter what.  This prayer of surrender takes only a couple of minutes, but it fine-tunes my heart so that I can hear what he would say to me today and it helps me focus on what is of eternal consequence.

There's more, of course, to worshiping Christ than this two minute prayer in the morning.  But, somehow it  makes all the difference between having a good day verses having a bad day. 

Song of Solomon 7:12,  "Let us rise early and go to the vinyards;"
Psalm 63:1,  "O God, thou art my God; I shall seek thee earnestly:"

Prayer of Surrender

     Lord, I am empty.  The slate of my mind is wiped clean, ready for your hand to write upon it.  I yield my life to you, and I wait upon you, Lord. 
     All things are in your hand and I know that you are real.  You are here beside me, you love me, and you have a plan for me.  You are all I want and need; you are the essence of all my hopes and dreams.  You hold the key to the future and I wait patiently for your touch, your direction, and your help.
     Light of Heaven, shine on me, I pray.  Make me completely yours.