Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Help! When life throws you a curveball...

This morning I read Psalm 121...perfect.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.

"Perspective" is something that is so important, yet so easy to lose...and yet when you have it, the gift is priceless.  It is the gift of looking at life through the eyes of God, and not through the eyes of man.  When life gets confusing, or disappointing, or difficult, perspective is usually the first thing that gets chucked out the window.  It's at those moments that it is imperative we focus on the truths of God...

The truth?  God has not lost control, not even for a second.
The truth?  God's promises hold true, regardless of our circumstances.
The truth?  Our enemy prowls around like a lion looking to devour us...ever see a lion prowl?  Not a pretty picture.
The truth?  The only life insurance is trusting in Christ and His promises.
The truth?  If there were such a thing as "foolishness of God," indeed it would be and is wiser than the wisest wisdom of man.
The truth?  God is TRUSTWORTHY (see Prov. 3:5-6).

When life throws you a curveball the single most important thing is to immerse yourself in the truths of God; His promises, His eternal life, His salvation, His love, His grace, His mercy, His substitutionary death, His deliverance, His faithfulness, His Word, His Words...Him...  When you are able to see life through the eyes of God, the problems of this world grow quite dim.  It takes focus on our part to listen...


I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We have the Power - (2 Cor 12:1-10)

Ok - first, I admit, been really swamped lately which led me to two things -  1) It led me to find and re-read this older devotional that I wrote a few years ago...but this also led me to 2) re-post here on my blog...the devotional hit me again this morning as I'm in a time where I feel "weak."  I pray it encourages you as well...

First things first - read 2 Cor 12:1-10 (click here).  Then read on...

Have you have ever felt overwhelmed, beaten down, or forgotten? by God? Or perhaps you wake up some morning and you just can't fathom facing another day. If so, don't worry, you are in good company.

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness..." That's an incredible promise. The very power of God is working in us, empowering us to live the life that God has called us to live. However, for many of us, we often feel like we don't have that power and/or cannot access it. So how do we access that power in our lives? I believe that part of the answer is found in the words that the Lord told Paul when He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." How can God's power be made perfect in our weaknesses? The answer is found earlier in this passage.

In verses 1-6 Paul writes about some incredible revelations that the Lord allowed him to see and experience. In fact, they were so great that there was a chance that Paul would grow prideful or become "conceited" as a result. Therefore, as Paul himself writes, God allowed a "thorn in the flesh" which tormented him. Paul, as most of us would have done, prayed for God to remove this thorn. However, God had other plans (vs. 9). In other words, one of the biggest barriers to God's power having full reign in our lives is pride or conceit. Pride takes many forms; some outward, some inward, some very damaging to others, while other forms of pride only hinder ourselves. Whatever the cause though, it is clear that God's power is most at work in our lives when we are most relying on him.

The opposite of relying on him is the many times when we choose to go it alone, also called "pride." In these times we almost forget to inquire of the Lord and draw on His strength and power. We instead get overcome with busyness and stop spending time with him. It is in these times that God often places things in our lives to bring us back to him. While we often feel weak in these times, for we may not be "doing" all that we feel we need to be, we are in fact strongest in these times. In other words, "...when I am weak, then I am strong."

I have personally found this to be true on many Sunday mornings as I lead what I think is a "mediocre worship set," only to find that God has used something to touch someone. It constantly reminds me two things; 1) It's God's Spirit that does the work in someone's heart, and 2) when I feel the weakest, that is often when God does His best work. In fact, I have learned to be wary of myself when I feel "strong" and often, those are the times when I usually spend more time in prayer, being "wary" of my strength.

So if you're in that place of brokenness, don't be too quick to get out of it - instead, take heart that God's power is strongest in you when you feel weak.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Heaven...

"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven...And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell..." (2 Cor 12:2, 4)

Imagine...

We are in the midst of a sermon series titled "Heaven; Realizing your Destiny."  I am convinced that if we, Christians, were all momentarily raptured to heaven and then placed back on earth, it would absolutely change the way we live.  Our images and thoughts of heaven are often filled with harps, clouds, non-stop singing and and endless, boring church service.  We rarely give thought to how Scripture describes heaven.  And yet, here was a man, Paul, who was raptured into heaven and then placed back on earth...and it changed him.  Check this out...

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor 4:16-18)

Those are the words of someone who has been to the "third heaven" (third heaven simply refers to the place where Christ and his saints dwell) and returned to earth.  I have to imagine that part of what helped Paul endure all the things he did was this very fact - he had seen a glimpse of heaven, which gave him a perspective to face even the most trying of circumstances here on earth.

So what about you and I?  Do we spend anytime thinking, dreaming about heaven?  About a new, "resurrection" body?  A place that Jesus referred to as "paradise?"  A place with no more crying or pain?  A "perfect" and renewed creation?  Will we see new colors, taste new tastes?  Be able to explore parts of the earth that have remained hidden from man?  And most of all, can you imagine meeting Christ, face to face? 

Spend a few moments this morning dreaming about what is to come...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back...

I'm back.  No more "lessons from running" for awhile - instead, I've got a series titled "Lessons from Snorkeling."  Lesson #1: when it's cold and raining and windy, and you go snorkeling, you will be very cold when you get out of the water.  Where's the spiritual implication?  I haven't the foggiest...

Just got back a day ago from 10 days in paradise...at least it was supposed to be paradise.  We were in Maui; just my wife and I.  We had anticipated this vacation for months.  It was both everything we were hoping, and frustrating both at the same time.  We shared new experiences, new things, did plenty of snorkeling, eating, walking, escaping - and yet, it was some of the worst weather in Maui in recent history, combined with the fact I got sick the 2nd day we were there, and didn't get "well" for about 5 days thereafter.  It was a challenge for me, to not give in to the "frustrations" but instead to focus on the positives.  Both Julie and I made a commitment that we were not going to let weather or sickness mandate our vacation - and we didn't.

Reminds me of a Scripture passage - "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:1-2)


I know I'm taking a little bit of liberty with the context of this passage, but it really is true - where you dwell in your mind is often where your heart will follow.  We had many times where we almost gave in to the frustrating aspects of our vacation, but usually we caught ourselves, and would turn our "minds" and "thoughts" to the blessings. The facts were, we were in Maui, together, and anyone in Bellingham would have gladly traded places with us.  The weather also inspired us to do new things, which we did.

So it is in life - when the trials and hits are coming hard and fast, when sickness or stress seems about to overwhelm you, it is even more imperative that you take control of your thoughts and turn them upwards.

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