1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
When your weaker self, the self that has a hard time believing God will triumph, that He'll make a way, that He'll provide, that He'll work things out, get this song's chorus stuck in your head:
I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe in love!
1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
Woke up before 5 a.m. today to a heat lightning show like I've never seen. The picture on the left is courtesy of weathersavvy.com, but the video I will share below is about 30 seconds of what I saw this morning. I used the iPad to tape it so it isn't great quality. The iPad would do well with a flash I think. If it is low light you don't get much.
Thanks for the show God.
"The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the works of His hands." Psalm 19:1
I don't know much about grape vines, but I do know some things.
If the root system dies the whole plant is going to die.
If the trunk isn't strong, isn't healthy, the branches won't be healthy.
If the branches are fragile and spindly they will have a hard time producing any fruit (if they can).
And if they somehow cut themselves off, they won't last long.
I've got a good quote to share with you from the Murray book I'm reading. He writes, "What God's words are to me and in me, my words will be to God and in God."
Think on that for a while.
That is profound.
Compare this thought to your closest human relationship. If the other person in this relationship just started talking a lot and asking for stuff and expecting you to do his or her bidding and never listened or spent time with you and just sought you out to get his needs met, how would you feel? How well would you say this person knew you?
We do this with God all the time. I don't know if God gets His feelings hurt like we do, but we will not know Him if this is how we act with Him. And there is no way His words are living in us if this is the sum total of our relationship with Him.
Two more scriptures for you to think on:
"The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakes my ear to listen as a disciple." Isaiah 50:4
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides (lives) in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apartfrom Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you." John 15:5-7
What is God and God's words to you?
Can you imagine this?
Several years ago I was in Bulgaria with my Bulgarian Friend Polina. She also happened to be my husband's and my lawyer who helped us bring home our dear Maggie.
Anyway, back to my question -- I asked Polina about chocolate chip cookies. I asked if she had ever made them.
She had never had chocolate chip cookies!
In her life!!
I can't imagine a life without chocolate chip cookies.
They are delicious and delightful and they are filled with memories.
Maggie loved chocolate chip cookies.
My mom makes great chocolate chip cookies.
I love making chocolate chip cookies (which I plan on making today).
I have baked thousands of batches of chocolate chip cookies with my daughter Cheyenne (she is now 16). She has known the recipe by heart for a decade.
And yes, they are filled with fat and carbs and white flour and sugar....but they still are so darn good for you because of what they stand for.
Are there chocolate chip cookies in heaven?
I don't know.
If there aren't there is something better.
"Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. The Father doesn’t change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and the moon." James 1:17 GOD'S WORD translation
Prayer works but not the way our flesh wants it to.
Our flesh, our self-centered thoughts reads Jesus' words in John 14:12-13 ("I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name.") and think, Yes! OK Jesus, Send me a million dollars. I want a new car. Pay all my bills.
That's not the way it works.
That's not the way God works. God isn't here to do our bidding. He isn't here to take orders from us.
There are zillions (well, maybe not that many) of prayer programs out there that promise results.
God isn't a program. God's promises can't be accessed and used with a human's five-step program.
So, did Jesus lie?
Well, He said whatever we ask in His name He will do for us.
Yes, but thinking the above way takes His promise out of context. In Teach Me to Pray Author Andrew Murray has a great explanation of this situation:
"The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His name before the Father in connection with doing His works. It is the disciple who gives himself wholly to live for Jesus' work and kingdom, for His will and honor, to whom the power will come to appropriate the promise."
Are your prayer requests more like a Christmas wish list or are they in line with God's word?
The writer of James says what Murray says:
"You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures."
If prayers don't get answered the fault doesn't lie with God.
The enemy is in hot pursuit.
Go! Go! Go! Go!
The enemy is on your tail.
Keep running. Don't look back. Go faster. Get to safety.
Run! Run! Run! Run!
Towers -- they were a place of safety, a place the enemy could not penetrate easily.
They gave you protection.
They gave you a higher perspective, a better vantage point.
They gave you an advantage over the enemy. It is much easier to shoot down rather than up into the sky.
They gave you time to regroup, to rethink the situation.
They gave you respite, rest, Peace.
They gave you strength, made you stronger than you were before.
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe." Proverbs 18:10
What's true for a physical tower is that much more true for our Spiritual Tower -- God Himself. He is all a physical tower was and is so much more.
Run to Him.
In Him and Him alone is your salvation.
Last week I misplaced my copy of My Utmost For His Highest (by Oswald Chambers). I approach my Bible Study in different ways. Sometimes I might use a devotional, which is what I am doing right now. So, when I lost my Utmost book I searched the web and realized the daily entry is posted at Http://Utmost.org (I can't link that for you because I am typing on my son's iPad and have no idea how to do it). Today's entry talks about knowing Jesus vs. knowing theology. It is really good. It gave me a thought I want to share with you, how knowing and believing God's word will give us hope when life is dark and despairing.
Read this passage from John 20:11-12:
"But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying."
If Mary had remembered what Jesus had said, if she had, if she had believed His words, she would not have been looking for His dead body but Him!
Jesus told His followers He was going to be killed and come back to life on the third day. All they focused on was the killing part.
They let the tragedy make them forget Jesus' words.
They saw the horror and forgot the promise.
Do we do this?
Do we focus on the struggle and forget what God has said?
If we do we do it to our peril.
We can't live Believing lives focused on what we can see with our eyes. It won't work.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
I really really hate doing this. I mean REALLY hate it.
I used to not have to do it that much, not like I do now. I didn't even know what it was really. Not the way I know what it is now.
And now I think I kind of understand Father God just a tiny bit more.
Read this passage from Hebrews 12:
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Do you think He is up in heaven gloating when you suffer?
Do you think He enjoys "sticking it to you?"
Read those verses from Hebrews again.
He doesn't enjoy disciplining His kids. But He has to when we need it because He loves us too much to let us stay the way we are.
As a parent, I have never had to do so much grounding and taking away of privileges in my whole 18+ years of parenting as I have had to this summer.
It breaks my heart, but I gotta do it.
But it sure wears me out.
Thankfully God doesn't get worn out.
He always gets it right.
And absolutely everything He does in your life is motivated by love, the best kind of love -- perfect, good and lovely love.
Loving your spouse.
Sometimes it is so easy. Before marriage -- when two are in the throes of love and feelings and desire and those moments you feel like you're just going to die if you can't be with that person -- doing it right comes easy.
Sometimes it isn't so easy.
During times of marriage -- when you disagree and emotions flare out of control, when there isn't enough time or money or sleep or we forget why we got married in the first place -- then it can be hard to do it right.
This is how you do it -- Love without any expectations.
Love so much that your spouse knows that he knows that he knows he is loved and admired by you, that he is your man and you are proud of him.
Love so much that your spouse knows that she knows that she knows you absolutely cherish her and adore her and love to be with her, that she is the most beautiful woman in the world to you.
There are times we all get it wrong.
But don't let those moments define the rest of your relationship. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Give your spouse grace. Don't take offense. Figure out how your spouse feels loved the most, and do that. What makes her feel loved? What makes him feel like the MAN? If you think about it you can figure out the answer.
Proverbs 18:22 says,
"A man’s greatest treasure
is his wife--
she is a gift from the Lord."
Summer is winding down. School starts in less than a month for us in our school district. My two youngest kids need to go back. The lack of structure is wearing on them. But I think it is wearing on me more. And I realize I am sometimes so short in my speech with my youngest kids. I don't mean or want to be. These are the times I beg God to parent through me for I feel like I'm failing more often then I'm succeeding.
According to human nature and world thought, when we are failing, the right thing to do is condemn ourself and berate ourself mentally until we get better. We deserve to be punished, right?
But this isn't God's way. He know we're going to fail. He knows what we are made of. In Isaiah 40:6-8 God says, "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades . . . But the word of our God stands forever."
That last part is very important. Since God's word will last forever, we can hold onto what it says about God and us. Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
So, don't waste time condemning yourself (or others for that matter). When you do you are behaving and thinking in an ungodly, anti-God way.
And then there is the promise in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!"
And let's not forget the promise in Lementations 3:22-23: "The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness."
So, what have I become?
A new person in Jesus Christ. When I fail I get back up and start fresh letting that failure go.
We love to know where we're going.
We love to know how things will work out.
We love to feel important.
We love to feel appreciated.
We love it when that big windfall comes into our lives.
But if we don't have one thing we don't have anything.
That one thing is a relationship with Jesus Christ. And even if we have a relationship with Him, if we don't maintain it, if we don't focus on it we are going to get sidetracked, distracted, lost on this road called life.
"And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17
It's not about rules. It's about relationship (say that three times to yourself).
Relationship with God.
Relationship with others.
Oswald Chambers had a great thing to say in his devotional today. Here goes:
God "can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all -- we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same . . . whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him.
"The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship."
When in doubt, make a list.
If you're struggling, make a list.
If you're bummed out, make a list.
If you're anxious, make a list.
What should we list?
Things we know are true and right and where we know that we know that we know God is working on our behalf. And when you make your list of what you know that you know that you know is true, use scripture for an added punch. If God said it then He'll do it.
(Or you could list all the things going right in your life.)
Here's my list of truths:
1. God is providing, has always provided and won't stop providing.
"And my God shall supply all your (and my) needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
2. God has good good GOOD plans for me and my family (and for you too).
"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11
3. God remembers and takes notice.
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
4. Holding onto faith, believing no matter what is the right way.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;" Hebrews 10:23
5. We can be confident.
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, who has a great reward." Hebrews 10:35
6. If I'm not at peace I need to seek God even more.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
7. Focus on God and all He can do, not on the circumstances.
"'with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26b
8. I am really, really, REALLY loved and cherished by God (so are you).
"The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." Zephaniah 3:17
9. God doesn't give up on me (or you) no matter how badly I fail or doubt or fall short.
"For I am confident of this very thin, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
10. Jesus holds all things together so clinging to Him, looking at Him is the best thing to do.
"And He is before all thins, and in Him all thins hold together." Colossians 1:17
6/14/17 -- GOD GAVE US SOME RAIN! BUT WE STILL NEED MORE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS.
Who is Jane Hinrichs?
Jane is a wife, a mom, a writer, an artist, a lover of the Word of God. She has been studying the Bible since 1987 and has been writing about it almost since then. She loves to hear from her readers. Email her at:
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Dreaming Beneath The Spires
Gail Carson Levine