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Showing posts from March, 2011

I Did It All By Myself With My Own Little Hammer

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” —Proverbs 27:1, NIV.
Of all the things that engage our minds about the future, planning ahead and worrying probably head the top of the list. We plan for family, for college, for vacation, for retirement, and for all points in between. Then we worry about everything we are planning for and about all the things that might screw up those plans.
Some of us like to be prepared. And preparation is reasonable and biblical. Proverbs tells us, for example, that we are to learn from the ant and work hard to be prepared for tomorrow (Proverbs 6:6-11). Worrying is the activity we are not supposed to engage in (Matthew 6:25-34) because God promised to provide for those who follow Him. To worry is a vote of lack of confidence in God.
The key word in today’s verse is “boast,” that excessive pride and self-satisfaction about our accomplishments that pushes God right out of the picture. With a nod to God, we begin to believe …

Hearing, I Cannot Hear

I can talk to God without listening for Him. I can learn all there is to learn about Him without applying what I learn. Hypocrites are those who talk without listening, who learn without applying, and then claim to hear God's voice and follow His precepts. I don't want to be a hypocrite so I will explain my behaviour (and lack of it) by saying that talking and learning aren't all that important anyway—it's the relationship that counts.

How can I have a relationship with someone I talk to, but don't listen to? How can I have a relationship with someone I research but never respond to? How can I listen if I never bother to enter into conversation? How can I respond if I have never collected enough information to base that response on?

I need to learn to talk to God, not just to dump my "God bless…" or "Be with…" or "You just gotta get me out of…" on, but to acknowledge Who He is and submit myself to Him. Then I need to listen for His voi…

TRANSFORMING PRAYER—a review

TRANSFORMING PRAYER
Daniel Henderson
Bethany House
2011

The traditional impression of prayer meeting is that of a quick Bible study, endless discussion about the people and circumstances surrounding the prayer requests and then a guilty: “Oh, we’re almost out of time, we’d better pray!”

Although he is quick to reassure us that our requests are important to God, Daniel Henderson is equally quick to point out that prayer begins long before the requests are mentioned and that it needs to start with a recognition of who God has revealed Himself to be. He writes: “Worship-based prayer seeks the face of God before the hand of God…I have learned that if all we ever do is seek God’s hand, we may miss His face; but if we seek His face, He will be glad to open His hand and satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts…Worship-based prayer ignites a desire for spiritual intimacy and personal transformation” (pg. 27).

The bottom line, says Henderson, is that we can never expect to see revival until t…

Lending A Hand

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” —Proverbs 19:17, NIV.
One of the subjects that frequently came up for discussion among our people in Venezuela was how to respond to the poor begging for money at so many of the intersections throughout the city. The topic wasn’t whether or not to help them, but which ones were genuinely in need.
I always remembered the story told by a colleague of her experience while she was at language school in Costa Rica. It was pouring rain the night the knock came to the door of her house. When she opened the door, a bedraggled woman dressed in tattered clothes stood in the doorway. She was soaking wet and clutching a baby in her arms. There was another small child clinging to her skirts. She told my friend her sad story and asked for any kind of help that she could give her. How could my friend refuse?
She gave the woman some money for which she was profusely thanked. After the woman had gone something pro…

"I Take You To Be …"

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” —Proverbs 18:22, NIV
One might tend to be a little cynical about this verse considering, among other things, today’s divorce rate. You might wonder if Solomon pens these words with some longing in his heart. The Scriptures say that he loved many women, and none of them seem to stand out as a blessing to his life. From the historical record it seems that the king’s many wives led him into idolatry and brought God’s judgment down on his head.
If we read the Song of Songs, or the Song of Solomon, as the book is sometimes titled, we wonder if somewhere among all those ladies in his life, there might have been one who was different from all the rest though many take the Song of Songs to be allegorical, describing God’s love for Israel and/or the love of Christ for His church.
Whether it was wishful thinking or true love, Solomon’s statement reminds the readers of God’s intent for marriage. At the very beginning of the…

Looking in the Right Direction

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” —Proverbs 16:18, NIV.
I remember a now very famous theologian who misquoted this verse. Mind you, he wasn’t famous then, but he was considered the brightest star in our seminary. I really enjoyed correcting him.
Years ago I came within inches of throwing away my career because I thought I was better than my colleagues. I convinced myself that because they were behaving badly God couldn’t possibly want me to be around them.
If I worked a little harder at this I am sure I could come up with several more personal examples of just how easy it is for pride to slip in, take root, and grow into something not so beautiful, like a competitive spirit or an attitude of spiritual superiority.
“Self-esteem” is a word that can provide rich soil for the root of pride because it highlights “self.” But even in Christian circles, self-esteem has become the “north” to a generation of people who have been crushed by the circumstances of their l…

Destination: Perfect, Journey: Rough

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Welcome to MONDAY MANNA, hosted by Joanne at An Open Door. Go on over for more perspectives on the verse for today.

We tend to think of God's will as a comfortable thing. God wants us to be happy, doesn't He? We ask for rescue, relief, restoration, relaxation, or recovery when we pray, and then dutifully tack on "your will be done" on the end, crossing our fingers in the hope that His will is the same as ours.

Then we get to a verse like this one from Isaiah 53:10 and our theology takes a nasty tumble.

"Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand" (NIV).

The verse refers to the mission of Christ and His death, and while the latter half is full of promise for a positive outcome, we wish we could skip the first part. We have a hard time wrapping our minds around a loving Father who woul…

The Sunday Disconnect

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” —Proverbs 9:10, NIV
“When we use the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord’ it does not mean that we should be terrified of God,” said the preacher. “We are talking about reverence, about respect.”
The parishioner sitting halfway down the sanctuary breathed a sigh of relief. It was almost audible because it was being echoed by half of the rest of the congregation. They all “respected” God and kept Him in a special place in their lives. Every Sunday morning they would bring Him out, dust Him off, and let Him ride with them in the backseat of the car all the way to church.
“The Hebrew has several meanings for the word ‘fear,’ as we have it here,” continued the speaker. “Most of us are not familiar with this third meaning, but it contains a wealth of meaning that we should think about. That word is ‘piety’ and it is here that we come to understand that our actions speak louder than words. To be pious i…

A Thousand Words

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” –Proverbs 3:5, 6, NIV.

The Garbageman

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” —Psalm 139:23, 24, NIV.
This chapter began with the psalmist’s recognition that God knows everything there is to know about him. When he asks at the end of the psalm for God to plumb the depths and discover even more, the psalmist is not doubting all that he has said earlier. He is admitting that he doesn’t knows himself as well as God does. He wants God to show him those things that only God sees—the areas of the psalmist’s life that have defied not only public scrutiny, but the psalmist’s own.
We all have things in our lives that aren’t pleasing to God. Sometimes they are nameless and elusive, niggling in the backs of the our minds and hearts where we can’t quite put our fingers on them.
With that heart’s desire to have everything in us in submission to God, we ask Him to go digging in our garbage, not because He doesn’t know what’s t…

The Ultimate "Warm Fuzzy"

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” —Psalm 139:17, 18, NIV.
Psalm 139 is one of those psalms that we can wrap ourselves in just as we would wrap ourselves in a warm, fuzzy blanket. For the believer the thought that God knows everything there is to know about us, that there is no place where we can go where He isn’t present, that He not only knew us before we were born, but formed us and has counted out our days,is beyond just comfort.
Though I have improved in this area over the years, I still don’t talk to many people about my innermost thoughts and feelings. But God knows them all.
As a single, and something of an aberration in society because of the work I do, I am often alone. But God is always wherever I am.
There was a time when I didn’t like my “look” and there are still times when I am not happy with the way I am. But God made me and is more than…

Turn On the Light

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” —Psalm 119:105, NIV.
There is a big different between using Scripture as a “proof text” to support an argument and making your argument the detailed explanation of a Biblical text.
Today’s sermons, and the endless supply of books written for the Christian audience, often make me feel as though I am having to shuck a lot of oysters of human thought and cute stories just to find one pearl of divine truth.
So when I come to a verse like this one from Psalm 119, I recognize again the importance of THE Word in my life, not as an “add-on” but as a guiding principle. Without it I can’t see where I am supposed to be going, or what the dangers are that lie at my feet.
The psalmist makes huge claims for the one who takes his connection with the Word of God seriously. If we look back a few verses in this wonderful tribute to God’s Word, we read this: “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Oh, how I love your law! I…