Friday, January 10, 2014

Words...

According to researchers, the average person uses about 7,000 (men) or 20,000 (women) words per day. Whether you're closer to 7,000 or 20,000, that's a lot of words. Here in our social media age, we use words differently too. Sure we talk, but we also text, tweet, and email. In many cases, we have grown careless with our words, losing their meaning.

Read the following 

103 
"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
     and all that is within me,
     bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
     and forget not all his benefits,
     who forgives all your iniquity..."
     (Psalm 103:1-3a)


Stop for a minute, on that word "iniquity." This a word that has lost it's meaning. Let's refresh ourselves...

in·iq·ui·ty
1. Gross immorality or injustice; wickedness.
2. A grossly immoral act; a sin.

Those are strong words - grossly immoral, unjust, wicked, an immoral act, a sin. These are very strong words, and they are exactly what we are guilty of. They are also exactly what God, through Jesus, forgives us of. It's only when we come to grips with how depraved we are, how no amount of good works and deeds can out-weigh our wickedness, that we can have a proper response to God's love. 

You and I are guilty of grossly immoral acts and wickedness...and God has offered up His Son, Jesus Christ, as the payment for our sin. This brings me to another one of our words that has been used and abused; the word "awesome."

awe·some
1. inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear, causing or inducing awe.
2. showing or characterized by reverence, admiration, or fear; exhibiting or marked by awe.

That God has forgiven all our iniquity, is awesome. As you read God's Word, go a little slower, and look at the words used...think about them, and respond. Psalm 103 ends the way it begins, with a call to worship...a fitting end to this post.

"Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
     you mighty ones who do his word,
     obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
     his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
     in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
(Psalm 103:20-22)

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014: A Path to Live By

Greetings and welcome to 2014. I should probably say something about how long it's been since my last post, and how I have resolved to post more frequently this year, but I'm going to skip all of that and jump straight into my "resolution" for 2014. It comes from two women who displayed two traits I want to emulate; Faith and Courage.

The first woman is one you know very well. She is a teenage girl who loves God, and loves her soon-to-be husband. Her life is on a good path, one probably similar to many of her friends and family. Love God, find a good husband, raise a good family, and serve others. However, one day her life was dramatically, and I say it again, DRAMATICALLY altered forever. Her name is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The other girl also loves God. She is a Jew, living in the land of Persia, named Esther. Her life too took a dramatic turn when she was selected above all others to be the next Queen. Esther has an uncle, Mordecai, also a Jew and servant of God. Mordecai, and all the Jews living in Persia for that matter, have enemies...especially one powerful enemy named Haman. Haman was the King's right-hand man and he tricked the king into signing a law that would have Mordecai and all the Jews (including the new Queen) murdered. Mordecai challenges Esther to do something that is punishable by death...he challenges her to enter the King's chambers, un-bidden, and unveil the entire plot to the King in order to save the Jews. (For a fuller summary of this amazing story, click here).

Both of these women's stories are amazing and worth much more than I've said, but for the purposes of this post, I want to laser in on one thing...how these women responded to the unexpected turns in their lives.

Mary gets her interruption via an angel of God. The angel informs her that she is favored by God, about to become pregnant (even though she's a virgin), and is going to be the mother of the Son of God. This news has huge consequences and implications...most not very pleasant. Her response is amazing;

" 'I am the Lord’s servant,' Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.' Then the angel left her." (Luke 1:38)
Esther gets her interruption and challenge from Mordecai, who informs her of the plot against the Jews. His words to Esther...

" 'For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?' 

And Esther's reply to Mordecai: " 'Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.' " (Esther 4:14-16)

The Bible is filled with examples of people who God used, who were at first very reluctant to do what He had asked of them, some even asking for special signs (see Gideon). And yet here we have two women who showed incredible courage and faith in the midst of life-altering news. 

The Path to Live By is this: When God asks, I act; quickly, immediately, with courage and faith. That's what I see these two women doing, and that's what I want my life to be marked by.

This is what I want for my life in 2014. I want to look back at 2014 and see a pattern of quick and immediate obedience to whatever God asks of me; in small things, and big. I'm not there yet...not even close. I am in the camp of those who question and hesitate...but I want to change that trend, and move to the camp of the faithful and courageous.

I look at it like this graph I put together...sometimes God makes small requests of me, sometimes big. I need to "train" myself with the small asks, so I'm ready for the big ones. I want it "Up and to the Right." It starts today! What is He asking of you?

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