Archive | July 2014

Be Strong and Courageous

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.” II Chronicles 32:7

Be – All the time. All of you (not just part of you) is to be. An active verb, not a passive one.

Strong – Able to cope, to handle the situation. Moving ahead against all odds. Swimming against the current and making progress.

Courageous – Unworried. Fearless. Confident. Perhaps simply willing. Perhaps shaking in your boots, but still present and obedient.

Don’t be afraid – Let go and trust in God. Breathe in His name. Breathe out the fear. Breathe in His power. Breathe out the fear. Breathe in His peace (as in complete well-being). Breathe out the fear.

Don’t be discouraged – Don’t think it’s too hard. Don’t think it’s not worth it. Don’t be depressed. Don’t think about giving up.

The king of Assyria – Substitute whatever your problem is for the king of Assyria, or substitute the prince of the power of the air (Satan) if there is no pressing issue at the moment.

And the vast army with him – Whatever you substituted in the phrase above has a vast army with it. Remember you can’t stand up against a vast army alone.

There is a greater power with us than with him – There is a greater power with us than with any enemy or problem we face. God is bigger. God is stronger. God is most courageous. Let go and let God. Don’t fight unless God tells you to – remember the many times God told the Israelites to be still, or stand still and see the mighty hand of God at work for them. We have the same God. Relax and simply be God’s instrument.

God’s Love

I have always measured love by gifts. I based my parents’ love for me on all the things they provided for me until that summer day when Daddy overheard me bragging to Sandy that “since I’m an only child, my parents pretty much get me whatever I want…” Once Daddy heard that, the well dried up and I assumed he was mad at me for my cocky, selfish attitude. I also assumed that once he was done being mad at me, he’d be more generous, but that wasn’t the case. I didn’t realize until much later that he wasn’t mad at all – it was just that he didn’t want to spoil me and communication wasn’t his strong suit.

I always measured how much my husband loved me by his gifts. I remember the year I picked out a jewelry box for Valentine’s Day and when it was delivered, I told the girls in the office, “See how much my husband loves me!” Later, I realized that he didn’t love me the way I thought he did. He was just performing what he and his best friend called “marital maintenance”. I remember a business trip to Canada that he took and brought back a tiny crystal bell. I was so appreciative until his friend let it slip that he had to “shame” my husband into buying it.

Right now I’m praying for something really important, not just for me, but for others as well, here at work. It seems though, that the more I pray, the harder I pray, the worse it gets and the more tightly Your blessings are bound. I asked You what the problem was, and it occurs to me that part of the problem is me and my attitude about Your love for me. I can see how with You, too, I’ve measured Your love by Your gifts to me. They started out so abundantly – the good job, the inheritance that enabled me to have a down payment to buy the house and the dining room suite. But since I lost the good job, Your gifts aren’t as generous. The new job doesn’t pay as much and the commute is so much longer. And so I’ve distanced myself – out of shame and anger.

I confess that I’ve measured Your love for me by Your gifts, forgetting that the only gift that matters is the gift of Your Son. Buster Brown is Your dog and if You take him home today, I thank You for the time I had him and affirm that You still love me. My money is Your money, and if I lose it, I thank You for what I was able to do with it while I had it, I ask Your forgiveness for not using it better and I affirm that You still love me. The house is Your house – You picked it out for me – and if I lose it, I thank You for the wonderful sanctuary it has been and I ask Your forgiveness for not being a better steward of it, and I affirm that You still love me.

No matter what happens, You have always loved me, You love me now, and You always will love me.

Revealings from Genesis 3

Satan works from the bottom up. First, he takes over a snake. He uses the snake and the tree to capture Eve. He uses Eve to capture Adam. He uses Adam and Eve to hurt God. That’s always his goal – to hurt God. Therefore, Stan will use us to hurt God and it’s important to be faithful in the little things.

Verse 8. God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day and visit with Adam and Eve. He didn’t just create them and then leave them on their own. He enjoyed their company. Adam and Eve hid. God knew what had happened, but He didn’t skip the visit. God enjoys our company and longs to visit with us. Even when we’ve sinned or disappointed Him, He still wants to visit with us.

Verse 9. God knew where Adam and Eve were and why they were hiding, but He still called for them. It was important that they face up to what they did, look God in the eye and confess. So it is with us. God knows where we are and why we’re hiding, but He still seeks us out and calls for us. It’s important that we face up to what we’ve done, look squarely at God and confess. This lesson repeats in Genesis 4 when Cain kills Abel. God seeks out Cain giving him every opportunity to come clean, but even when Cain is face to face with God, he still hides.

Verse 21. Adam and Eve broke God’s command and His heart, but He kills an animal and makes garments to clothe them. He still helps them to start over. We break God’s commands and His heart all the time, but God does and will do whatever is needed to help us start over.

Verse 22. God protects Adam and Eve from having to live forever in their guilt and shame. God is good. Evil does not come from such a good God. Knowing good and evil must be something we humans can bear only for a short time. Knowing the full extent of good and evil is something only the Trinity can bear. I think that when we get to heaven, we will surprised to learn all that God has shielded us from. There is great pain in knowing good and evil. Guilt when we do wrong. Sorrow at the pain others cause. Only a God of tremendous love can bear such great pain.