Monthly Archives: October 2015

Life has transformative power!

Meditation Journey Day 8

Hi Friend,

So send I youThanks for reading this each day, your comments have been very helpful and encouraging.

Verse one of Proverbs 2 says “My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide – memorize) my commands within you…” I have found this command to memorize the word is the “make it” or “break it” choice for most people to continue the process. I share this information with you not to discourage you but to encourage you. If you embrace this critical step the rest will begin to happen in your life. That is not to say God just wants us to fill our minds with knowledge. We know knowledge alone is not transformative. As we meditate through the rest of the passage you will see the entire process that involves your whole being, not just your mind.

Plant GrowthWe must think of the word as God does, like a seed. If I give you the seeds of the sweetest fruit or the yummiest veggie you can ever imagine eating, until you plant and grow them you would never taste the fruit! Let’s ponder this more…

Please know I do not add the passage Proverbs 2:1-5 for filler! I hope you will read it every day! So please DO NOT SKIP reading this each time. Yes, this is part of the process!

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

“My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you…”

In the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:11, Jesus said, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” Isaiah 55 also makes a direct connection between God’s word and the idea of it being seed. Peter also spoke of God’s Word being the seed in 1 Peter 1: 23, “…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”

Stages of ButterflyPlant seeds contain the DNA for new life and life has transformative power! God’s Word is the seed with God’s spiritual DNA and will transform anyone if they plant it in their hearts. Do you want the fruit of the Spirit in your life?

As a vegetable gardener, I know I personally cannot produce any vegetable, but if I plant carrot seeds I can expect carrots. My job is to plant, water and tend the seed. God’s job is to make it grow. Yet it is not enough just to plant a seed to get fruit. The seed must be watered for it to grow. No surprise the Water of Life is the Holy Spirit! Jesus said in John 7, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (He had not yet been crucified and resurrected from the dead!)

These are the two essential processes for transformational growth in our lives. The Word of God is the seed and as we yield to the Spirit of God the Water of Life flows in and through us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross gives us access to both the Word and the Spirit. My purpose in sending you these devotionals is to enable you see how God wants you to garden your heart to be fruitful for Him.

Receiving and memorizing His word are the first steps in you becoming a fruitful garden for God.

Observation: In this passage God is instructing us how to become a fruitful garden. It is not just listening to it or reading His Word. He insists that we also “plant” it in us through memorizing His thoughts.

Interpretation: The Word of God is the Seed of Life. The Water of Life is the Holy Spirit. We need to plant the Word in our minds by memorizing it and yield our hearts to God’s Spirit every day. He will do the work we cannot do…transform us into His image!

Application Prayer: Father God, help us to see our hearts as the soil, your Word as the seed and Your Spirit as the water. Help us to choose to yield to Your gardening plan to become fruitful for You… in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Ever Chew the Cud?

Meditation Journey Day 7

Sheep 1Hi Friend,

Verse one of Proverbs 2 says “My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you…” We have been chewing on this first verse for six days and we have much more to receive from it. I trust you are beginning to experience the joy of slowly pondering a selection of scripture. That is part of the Biblical meditative process. The word “meditation” in the Bible found in passages like Psalm 1 (But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night) means to “chew the cud”.

Sheep stomachAnimals that chew the cud, like cattle or sheep, have multiple stomachs. The cud is the previously eaten food that they are able to regurgitate into their mouths and chew again.  If they do not eat, regurgitate and chew again, the food is not fully digested and the complete nutrition is not received by the animal. This process requires the storing of the eaten food hence the need of multiple stomachs. Each time the animal chews the cud and re-swallows its food it is then passed into a deeper stomach and the process of digestion can be completed.

God describes us as sheep continually in the Bible. That is not just a sweet metaphor but spiritual insight for us to know ourselves. Sheep need a safe, calm, green pasture to lie down and chew the cud. We, as God’s sheep, need times in our day when we pause and rethink God’s word. If we do not receive the word properly (like a football player catching a pass) and do not rethink it again and again, like sheep chewing the cud, we will not obtain the complete nourishment God designed for us to get from His Word. Just like people who hurriedly eat on snack food become unhealthy; we also will not grow and become strong in our faith. Let’s see how God instructs us through this passage to eat right!

 Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

“My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you…”

The humble little word and” may be a mountain to climb for some of you, because it connects our receiving of God’s Word to our storing/hiding it within us. This is not a selective “and”. It is a connective “and” that means we must do both. We must receive His word properly and we must memorize it.

Memorization of a verse/passage is how we store or hide the word in us. I know some of you are wilting as you read this. The idea of memorizing anything is difficult. It was for me too. I falter also unless I see memorization of the word in the critical context of knowing Christ, following Him, being transformed and becoming fruitful.

We must remember God our Father, which we call Lord, Master and Savior is commanding us to do this. It is not an option for a disciple. Memorizing what the Master said is how all of the original disciples followed Jesus. They did not have a Bible to pick up to reread or an iPod to listen too. They were expected to memorize every word the Master, Jesus, spoke. Thank God we have Bibles and other recording devices, but God wants to speak to you daily to personally nourish your heart. This requires our chewing on the same words repeatedly!sheep 2

Observation: God is instructing us how to receive His word. It is not just listening to it or reading. He insists that we also store/hide it in us.

Interpretation: We are spiritual sheep. We must chew the cud if we are to grow and become obedient followers of Christ. This is how the people of the Book (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, all of the prophets and disciples) always learned and followed God. Do you want to actually follow Jesus? You must store His word in your mind/heart and learn to Biblically eat it. (If you abide in me and My words abide in you… Jesus, John 15:7)

Application Prayer: Father God, the call to memorize and store/hide the word in us is scary. Most of us think we have poor memories, yet you know us and encourage us to do this because of your Great Love for us. Help us to humble our minds and hearts to you. Give us faith to trust that you will do this in us as we chose to follow you. Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

 

Got Anxiety?

flat-tire-700x466Ever felt trapped? There is so much to make a grown person cry these days. Worries come from a variety of sources: personal problems, family issues, health concerns, and money problems. Add to this the constant stream of negative national and world news and the anxiety can eat away at your confidence and steal your joy.  Yet our worry changes nothing but our present attitude; it destroys our peace and produces fear.

Does the Bible have a solution?

Very much so! Anxiety and worry are addressed in many passages of scripture.

In Psalm 121 of the Old Testament, the Psalmist cries out, “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.”

This reminds us that the mountains (meaning our troubles and obstacles) may be huge and seem insurmountable, but OUR HELPER is the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus teaches us how not to worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not Anxiety 1worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Your Heavenly Father Knows

Jesus tells us to change our focus from us to our Father in Heaven, from our problems to His solutions. It is this change of focus that reveals our trust in Him. God is in control of everything, every circumstance and every person. He is the Sovereign LORD of all creation. Focus on this and worry will leave.

When worry comes knocking at our mind’s door, it steals away our peace.  We must turn to Jesus and trust His promise that He is in control. Isaiah 26:3 gives us the secret in applying this positive truth to all our negative worry: “You (Lord God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.” When we focus on what God has said, light shines and darkness flees.

Finally, Christian friend, remember Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. These words are assuring because they cover all the circumstances we face. We need to rest in the confidence that God, in His wisdom and Sovereign Grace is working all our circumstances together for His glory and our good.

Do you love God? Have you trusted Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to open the door to God’s grace for you? If so, look toward God not your problems. He is and always has been working out your circumstances. Humble your heart to trust His care and power, and anxiety will be replaced by peace.

Do NOT Drop the Ball!!!

Meditation Journey Day 6

Hi Friend,

Dopped catch 23We have been exploring Proverbs 2:1-5 as a communication between Father God and us as His way/path to entering into a richer relationship with Him. Receiving the word is the first step in growing deeper in your relationship with God. It is no surprise that the first question or choice asked by the Father is about us accepting or taking in His Word. Yesterday we discovered that accepting begins with receiving THE WORD, Jesus Christ. We continue to receive the word as we daily chew on the Bread of Life which reveals the full counsel of God.  Therefore, how we actually receive the Word is critical to our progress in growing spiritually. Let’s look at this more…

 Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

                                 “My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words…”

The word “receive” means to accept or take. Receiving is dramatically demonstrated when a football “receiver” receives a thrown pass. The Receiver is the one running a pattern to catch the pass thrown to him. The purpose is for him to catch the passed ball to advance his teams efforts and make a score. The quarterback throws not only in the direction of the receiver; but towards the direction he hopes the receiver will go. If a touchdown is to be made the receiver must keep his eye on the ball until it is securely in his hands. The receiver must also disregard any opposing defender; not fearing the possibility he may be hit hard to try to cause him to drop the ball. He must catch the ball and quickly tuck it into his chest for the purpose of running and advancing the ball in the direction of the other team’s goal line. If the ball is caught (completed) the receiver becomes inflamed with passion to run and gain yards or make a touch town. This animates the player to face the danger of being hit and excites him to carry the ball for the team.

Droped catchBut if he does not keep his eyes on the ball or fears the opposition he will be distracted and miss the catch or drop the ball. Or if he fails to quickly tuck the ball into his body he is vulnerable to dropping or losing the ball when hit by the opposing team member. A dropped ball is an incomplete pass and the play ends. No yardage is gained and the “down” (One of four plays a team has to move the ball ten yards) is lost. The purpose for the receiver is brought to an end for that play and the whole team has not moved the ball. Every time a pass is not received it results in no gain for the receiver and the opposing team rejoices!

I took the time and space to explain the receiving of a pass because it is a clear metaphor of the importance of accepting the Word from Father God.

We are “Receivers” on the team called the Body of Christ. God the Father is sending us Words of Life to advance our growth that will impact the whole “team” and defeat the enemy’s plans and schemes. We must learn to receive well if we are to make progress and advance the Kingdom of God.

Receiving well requires that we keep our eyes on the Word (ball) and tuck it into our hearts so that we become the animated carriers’ of the Word. It changes us just like the Receiver who caught a pass. We become excited and want to run strong for the Lord. Receiving the word also empowers us to take “the hits” that are sure to come from our opposing enemy Satan, the world and our sinful natures.

Receiving the Word focuses our hearts on the goal of knowing Him and serving Him. It animates us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Observation: Receiving the Word requires we accept that we are receivers of God’s Word. He wants to give us a message that will animate us to grow and advance His Kingdom in this world.

Interpretation: Just like the football player we must keep our eyes on the ball. Fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb.12) through the word empowers us to run the race and stand against the enemy of our soul. The receiving is not just for me but advances the whole Body of Christ. When we fail to catch the message of Christ or drop it from our minds we lose our focus and spiritual growth is hindered.

Application Prayer: Father God, please help me to learn to keep my eyes on Jesus through the Word. Help me to take it deeply into myself that your Spirit may transform me and empower me to run daily the race of faith. Help me to remember that I am part of the whole Body of Christ and what you do in me impacts the spiritual progress of the whole team. Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

 

Are you a Receiver?

Meditation Journey Day 5

Hi Friend, Are you a receiver?Receive 2

When Jesus faced the intense temptation of Satan in the wilderness His defense was the Word of God. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4). Our journey is to prepare our hearts and minds to receive every word from the mouth of God. We know “all scripture is God-breathe”, yet most people do not receive it from the mouth of God.

To receive it from God’s mouth we must be close to Him. Our heart must be prepared to receive Him.  Like the soil of a garden, our hearts must be prepared to receive the living seed of God. Hard hearts resist the Word just like hard soil resists good seed. So how do we receive His Word?

 Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

The first “if” is how we will receive His word.

“My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words…”

The word “receive” means to accept or take. I must take what God is giving me and accept it from Him. Sometimes His words are easy to take; sometimes His words seem hard. God describes His word as seed that brings forth life AND as fire and a hammer. “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

The first word we must receive is The WORD. It is Jesus Christ Himself described in John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” (John1). It is only after we have received Him personally that the rest of the Bible is able to open up in our hearts. Have you received Him? John goes on to say: (He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.)

Jesus Christ is the first Word we must receive.Receiver

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1)

He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being. To receive Christ in us is to have God in us. Yet, Jesus Christ is not only The Word; He is revealed through the Word of God. After we have yielded the throne of our heart to His Lordship all of the Word begins taking root in our hearts.

Have you received Jesus?

Receiving Jesus into our lives is a daily experience, but also a moment in time. I remember distinctly the first time I prayed that request and He birthed me into His Kingdom. Yet each day I seek to humbly receive Him more through His Word by His Spirit.

Have you requested Jesus to rule as Lord of your heart today? Allow Him to purify and prepare your heart to receive all of His grace.

Observation: Receiving the Word is not a casual experience. It must be willfully taken as well as passively accepted. He offers; we take. Receiving is a critical step for us to grow.

Interpretation: Jesus is the first Word the must be received. Apart from Him the Bible is just history or moral principles. But when He is ruling as Lord every Word is spoken from the mouth of God to guard and guide us closer to Him.

Application: Father God, I want to receive your Word as Mary did in response to the angel by saying “do unto me according to your Word”. May your Lordship rule in me to produce the character of Christ that I may honor you and become the Child of the King I am called to be. Rule in me to put away arrogance and pride; because I know the lack of humility is the first great hindrance to all spiritual growth.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Got Guilt?

forgiveness

The Bible says we can be forgiven through Jesus Christ. He redeemed us to love us and to love through us. All the guilt and shame of our past is removed it is over and gone.

Psalm 103 declares: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 Your past has past. Let it go. God has forgiven you and you need to forgive yourself. Yet even though we know we have been forgiven guilt can keep us focused on past mistakes, poor choices and wrong decisions.

In his book Devotions for a Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas tells this story:

“A relationship from my teen years still makes me wince -whenever the girl’s name comes to mind and I think about the hurt I caused her. One day recently I was wondering and praying about looking her up to tell her how sorry I felt for how I acted twenty-five years ago. One of my best friends — a marriage and family therapist from San Diego — adamantly opposed the idea.

“Gary,” Steve said, “I’m thinking this is more about you than it is about her.”

In his counseling experience, Steve has discovered that looking up someone after two and a half decades can be dangerous; you don’t know where he or she is coming from or what’s happening in his or her life.The potential for hurt is just as great as the potential for healing. But the clincher came when he said, “Look, why don’t you take all the energy you’re using thinking about this and spend it on planning how you can love your wife today.” That’s when it dawned on me: Guilt attacks us by using a dead relationship to distract us from a living one. Some things in our past can’t be “fixed.” 

You can repent, you can ask for forgiveness; but you can’t always go back — nor should you try. Some of us are more introspective and hold on to our guilt in such a way that we become blinded to our present obligations. When guilt comes knocking on your door about a failed relationship from the past, start praying about how to love your spouse today.”

And I will add not only your spouse, but everyone in your life. Don’t let a dead relationship pollute or weigh down a living one. Forgive as you have been forgiven; love as you have been loved. Christ has set you free from the past so live and love in the present.