Faithful Followers Follow

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land.” (Deuteronomy 8:7a NRSV)

Before Moses answered God’s call to deliver God’s people, the Israelites were in bondage. The Egyptians beat them, bound them, and forced them into hard labor. Israel cried to God, “Deliver us!” God responded by freeing his people, and leading them to the Promised Land.

Today, to Jesus’ followers the Promised Land symbolizes the new life and purpose that Godimage has prepared for us. This is a place where love rules and hope energizes. This is a place where forgiveness cleanses, where fear gives way to faith, and peace washes over every soul. This is a place full of God’s goodness and abundance, where new dreams are born and God’s kingdom work begins. This is a place where impossible giants are slain, and new possibilities are discovered. This is a place of abundant life and eternal blessing!

The only problem is that between Egypt and the Promised Land lies the wilderness. Although Israel wanted to be free, they didn’t really want a difficult and dangerous march across a desert in search of the promised land.

Of course, neither do we. Still, God has a Promised Land for us, and getting there will probably involve some marching through wilderness too.

Today, maybe you are feeling like one of God’s people so long ago. You just wanted to be free. You weren’t looking for a desert march through unknown terrain. But you that following Jesus means carrying crosses. It means staying faithful through the mountains and the deep valleys of life. It means allowing God to refine your faith through life’s trials and temptations.

Here’s the good news: Jesus, our Deliverer, knows the way through the wilderness. Now, God wants you to take your freedom and follow him to a place of blessing! Only he can bring you into the Promised Land of abundant life.

So, take the Master’s hand, walk with him, talk with him, stay close to him, and faithfully follow him down the road he has prepared to bring you into the Promised Land!

Prayer:

Great God, your grace has set me free. You have also prepared a place for me, a promised land. Lead me into the place where you reign, where love rules and faith keeps watch. I want to dwell by the waters of forgiveness and feed in your peace-filled pastures. I am will follow you. I will walk by faith, and go wherever you may lead! Amen.

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2013: Prescription

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
(2Timothy 3:16 NRSV)

Want a prescription for what ails you? Consider this: The word of God is a healing balm. It is like a gentle salve that spreads across the cuts, sores, bruises and painful areas of our lives. When God’s word makes contact with our minds, when its truth begins penetrating our thoughts and flowing through our veins, it renews, restores and remakes us!

All of us need the healing touch of truth. The word of God is full of promises and power equal to every illness besetting us, every lie deluding us, and every emotional darkness engulfing us. Its power transforms lost minds, enlivens defeated spirits, and heals broken bodies. Whatever the need, the truth of God’s word is equal to the task!

What’s your need? God’s word has the light you are seeking. God’s truth can show you the way to the new life that God has prepared for you!

So why not step into the word of God today? Begin a new journey. Travel down the pathway of truth. Explore the many promises and truths that God has waiting for you. As you do, ask the Lord to use that truth to brighten your day, to enlighten you mind, and to mold you into the person God created you to be.

Remember, the beginning of a new year is the time to do things differently. It’s time to do something about the cares and concerns you carry, the hurts you harbor, and the things holding you back. It’s the time to listen to a fresh word, to make a fresh start, and to chart a new course! Make 2013 the year you walk in the Word!

Avoiding Impotence

Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.
Psalm 115:8
NRSV

Many scientists would say they have to see something before believing it. In this modern age, many of us live by that same idea. We doubt what we haven’t seen. What’s right in front of our eyes seems most real.

Ancient peoples were much the same. In Ps. 115 the writer laments about the foolishness of idol worship. He wonders, how can anyone put their trust in objects made by human hands? The answer seems to be, because they can see their idols. That makes them seem more real than the one true God, whom they cannot see.

Still, seeming to be real and being real are two very different things. The psalmist points out idols have ears, but don’t hear. They have hands but don’t feel, and mouths but cannot speak. They have no wisdom to share, no power to provide, nor help to offer. As gods, they are impotent. So are those who put their trust in idols.

I don’t want to be impotent. I don’t want to pray to deaf gods, who are no more responsive to me than blocks of stone. I want to put my trust in the Lord. He has redeemed my life. He hears my prayers, and knows my needs. He is my help and shield. He fills me with real hope and gives my life meaning and purpose.

To me, what’s real is what works. Nothing in my life has ever done for me what God has done. Nothing in my life has transformed me like God’s love and grace. Nothing empowers me like God’s guarding, guiding and sustaining hand. So I am putting my trust in the Lord.

After all, what can be more real than God, who made all of creation, and who formed me in my mother’s womb? What can be more real than God, who made himself a man, so that we could see him, know him, trust and follow him? What can be more real than God, who transforms us to live lives of faith, love and victory!

Avoid impotence, put your trust in what’s real: put your trust in God!

Prayer:

God of all, even though I can’t see you, your footprint is all over my life, and your handiwork is all around me. Lord, I believe. Help my moments of unbelief. Keep my faith steadfast and strong, so I might be empowered to serve you all the days of my life! Amen

A Love Like None Other

The LORD said to me again, “Go love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1 NRSV

In one of the most surprising instructions given in the Bible, God directs the prophet Hosea to bring a prostitute into his home. This powerful illustrates the kind of love God is ready to show God’s people, despite their complete lack of loyalty and devotion.

But it does more than that. It also gives us a window into how things look from God’s perspective. Just imagine what it’s like loving those who do reciprocate that love, forgiving those who repeatedly break their promises and vows, and seeking after those who willfully wander away over and over again.

I find that when I understand how someone else sees things, it changes how I relate to that person. It brings me closer to them, helps me communicate more openly with them and deepens our relationship. Seeing not just God’s love, but seeing things from the perspective of the One who gives that love, changes how I relate to my Lord.

In today’s video, the kind of love God shows toward us is powerfully illustrated. By using the metaphor of a marriage, we get a fresh glimpse into what the love is like.

 Click here to view today’s video. After watching, take a moment to thank God for loving us with a love that will not let us go!

Regrets Holding You Back?

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NRSV

The past is past. It is over and done, gone and forgotten.

….Or is it?

Does what’s in the past actually stay in the past?

What’s in my past stays in my memory. Then, when I least expect it, those memories sometimes pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. So the past is never really gone or forgotten.

MP900396104[1]That’s a good thing, especially when the memory is something I am proud of. Memories of accomplishments, awards and shared family moments all leave me feeling good about myself.

MP900401567[1]But not all memories are pleasant ones. Some of the most painful are those of failures and shortcomings. Those leave me with regrets. When they pop up, I find myself looking back, thinking how I could have behaved differently, responded more lovingly, used more wisdom, or been more patient.

Still, no matter how much I wish I could go back and make changes, I can’t. What I can do is to turn to Jesus Christ, and ask for his forgiving grace. His sacrificial love washes my heart clean, redeems my past, and frees me from the bondage of regret.

Yes, the past is in the past. But the past follows us, and continues to impact how we think, feel and behave. Only Jesus Christ can wipe our slate clean, free us from past regret, and give us new life and a new future.

Today’s video  chronicles some of the regrets many of us carry, and reminds us of the one who came to bear our burdens and set us free. To view the video please click here.

MP900401002[1]Then allow Jesus to heal your past, transform your present and set you on the path to eternal life!

 

Born To Love

Beloved, let us love on another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1John 4:7-8 NRSV

Every birth is a miracle. But every birth follows a basic principle: What was becomes what is. A woman gives birth to a child. A dog gives birth to a puppy. A sheep gives birth to a lamb. In each case, the newborn becomes what the parent was. If you want to know what the parent is like, just look at the child.

We not only inherit our physical characteristics, we are endowed with a spiritual inheritance too. When we experience rebirth into the new life offered by Jesus Christ, we inherit some of the basic characteristics of God’s nature.

If God is love, then we will love too. What God is, becomes what we are.

So be who you are. Do what you were born to do. Love!

 

Born

Love Like Jesus Loved

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 NRSV

MP900399820[1]A week or two ago I was talking to a colleague about ways I could help a student in one of my classes. The response from my colleague was, “Be careful, no good deed goes unpunished.” I had never heard that phrase before. Do good deeds end up being punished?

Good deeds often involve acts of mercy. Merciful acts can be quite loving and beautiful acts of charity. Jesus’ self-sacrificing decision to come to earth, so that we might live, was certainly a great act of mercy.

MP900400146[1]Still, it did not go unpunished. Instead of being welcomed, Jesus found himself the target of religious hatred, and the innocent victim of humankind’s depraved indifference to God. His good deed was punished by death.

Knowing how it would all turn out, did Jesus turn away from God’s calling? Of course not. He continued to follow God faithfully, even to the cross.

The problem is, we are not Jesus. When faced with an opportunity to show mercy, we sometimes shy away from paying the price. We would rather avoid the problems and pain that come with love. We take the road that is less rocky, and less difficult.

Jesus warned against putting our hands to the plow and looking back. For those who would follow Jesus Christ, our call to love must trump the sometimes painful and difficult sacrifices that come with living like Jesus lived. Doing what Jesus asks of us isn’t always the most logical decision, or easiest thing to do. But it is the wise thing!

MP900178883[1]I am not Jesus. But like you I want to become more like him. Why not join me in asking God for the wisdom and grace to love more like Jesus loved, no matter what the consequences may be.