Archive for June, 2010

Called To Change

No matter how much a fool suffers because of their foolishness, their folly remains. Proverbs 27:20 adapted

j0409123I’ve made plenty of mistakes. We all make mistakes. We make bad choices. We fall into temptation, and we go down dead end roads. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to never make a mistake.

The writer of Proverbs suggests that the real problem is not that we do foolish things, but that we don’t always learn from our mistakes. When faced with painful consequences, some swallow their pride, admit their wrongs and change course. That turns mistakes into learning experiences!

Of course fools don’t do that. They suffer the consequences, and then go right back to planning more folly. For them, wrong-headed ideas and sinful pursuits are the way to go. Maybe that’s because their minds have become dull, their hearts hard and their spirits numb.

God is looking for people who are ready to leave foolish ways behind. God wants people who are willing to learn from their mistakes. God j0227566wants people who are wise enough to consider the consequences of their actions, and ready to change course when they take a wrong turn.

Are you that person? May God make us all flexible enough to be willing to change, and to stay ever true to Christ’s calling on our lives!

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A Shout of Praise

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things… Psalm 98:1 NIVMP900402734

The Psalms tell us that the mountains will sing for joy, the seas will roar, and the rivers clap their hands.

Day after day all of creation is joining together in giving praise to our God.

Take a moment to click on the picture below. Then join your heart with creation’s song, and give your praise to God!

A Refiner’s Fire

The crucible is for silver and the furnaces for gold but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 NRSV

Growing up in a city known for its steel refineries, I watched out my backMP900422819 window as seemingly endless streams of molten slag were dumped out of train cars onto a large hill. What I was seeing were the leftover impurities of the refining process. The slag that was being discarded weakened the steel. So it had to be burned out.

When we are placed on the hot coals of daily living, what comes out first is usually not the purest and best. First the impurities appear. That may mean pride, arrogance, and selfishness rear their ugly heads. It may mean our worldly passions take over, our doubts scream out, or our fears intensify. We just get ugly!

The question is what do we do with all those impurities, as they bubble to the surface? They are too ugly to be ignored, and too powerful to be denied. Once they appear, there really is only one thing we can do, submit them to the refining work of the Holy Spirit. God’s refining fire will expose them, and burn away every impurity. But that only happens if we submit ourselves to the refining work God is trying to do in us.

Submit to the Spirit’s refining work.

Submitting doesn’t come easily. That’s because refining can be a frightening process. None of us want to see the nasty impurities that lie within us. Nor do we want our imperfections on display for others to see. Even more than that, we don’t like the fire that refines us. Sometimes that fire burns too hot. The pain seems too great, and the process seems unbearably long.

Unfortunately, without refining we’re never going to become what God created us to be. Our impurities will continue to limit our ability to shine the light of Christ into the world. They will also make us so fragile, weakening our resolve, and limiting our endurance.

So next time pride rears its ugly head, or your doubts pull your feet out from under you, don’t hurry to push them aside, or stuff them back down. Recognize them for what they are, the dross that the furnace of daily living has brought to the surface. Then submit them to the Holy Spirit’s work. Give them to God to refine.

j0178801Remember, God’s people are called to be holy. In fact, we are called a holy priesthood. Holiness means we live lives of integrity. Our motives are pure, and our hearts redeemed. We are not two-faced. We don’t have hidden agendas. Our hearts have been purified by God’s redeeming work.

Let’s fulfill our calling, and allow God to make us pure and holy. Let’s allow the Potter to shape the clay, and refine the impurities, so that we can shine with the light of Jesus Christ!

 

Create in Us Pure Hearts, O God!

Prayer:

Refining God,

There are impurities in me that weaken me, that compromise my faith, and keep me from reflecting fully the light of Jesus’ love. Continue to do your refining work in me. Create in me a clean heart!

Amen!

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Envisioning Tomorrow

j0178811 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 43:5 NRSV

What do you see when you look into the future? Is there a light at the end of your tunnel?

The psalmist knew that what you and I look at today colors how we feel about tomorrow. I agree. When I see circumstances pressing in, and trouble coming my way, pessimism starts knocking at my door.

That’s because my focus starts influencing my feelings, which in turn color my vision of the future. Focusing only on the problems I have, leaves me discouraged. So I need a different focus to be able to feel hopeful, and to see the future God has for me.

Thankfully, my faith reminds me that yesterday’s defeats and today’s challenges are not the only things that determine my future. Even in the most troubling times, I know that God is in control. Not only that:j0443715

God is my light and my salvation. No matter how difficult things get, God is present and involved in my life. 

God is my refuge and strength. God is my help in times of trouble.

Jesus is my Good Shepherd. The hand of the Lord guards me and guides my every step.

I know that if I see challenges, but stay focused on God’s presence and plan for me, I will feel more hopeful, and more optimistic about tomorrow. That kind of focus grounds me, helps me put things in perspective, and keeps me trusting in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness!

Remember, the future will always look bleak, unless God is in the picture.

Let’s join the psalmist by focusing our hope in God, and opening our eyes to a bright and glorious vision of tomorrow!

Come Away

Die

Who wants to hear that? I do! If I am going to follow Jesus, then I want to know what Jesus wants from me.

According to Bonhoeffer, the call of Christ is the call to come and die. That means, those who answer Christ’s call will be leaving some things behind. They will be dying to self, dying to sin, dying to deceit, and dying to the past.

That’s good! Dying to self and sin removes guilt, washes away shame, and sets those who answer Christ’s call on a new course. It opens the way to becoming new creatures in Christ!

So the kind of dying Jesus is bidding us to do is not such a bad thing. It simply means leaving behind the old nature, the old life, and embracing God’s redeeming grace and restoring power!

Why not join me and answer Christ’s call today?

Turn to him. Embrace his love. Let go of the old life, and Come!

Satisfied?

People are never satisfied. They are always looking for something more than what they have. Proverbs 27:20 (paraphrased)

MP900400653 I want more. I am never really completely satisfied.

Maybe the writer of Proverbs is right. Maybe wanting more is part of human nature. Perhaps never being satisfied is the way God made us.

If we can’t help wanting more, then the real question is, what are we trying to get more of?

Some want more stuff to satisfy selfish and sinful desires. Usually, the more they get, the more they want. In the end, their their pleasure driven pursuits become more like chains that weigh them down.

Others are driven by a longing for truth, and a desire to walk closer to God. They spend their days pursuing their passion for loving and serving the Lord. Happy business man with other business people walking besides himTheir pleasure comes from growing in faith and in the knowledge of the Lord.

So wanting more is not really the problem. The problem is whether that  desire drives us closer to God, or to self-centered indulgences.

Jesus made it clear that no one can serve two masters. One will be hated, and the other loved.

If the write of Proverbs is right, and we can’t shake our desire for more, then we need to direct that desire! We need to invest more time cultivating our faith, and nurturing our relationship with God. We need to spend less time in selfish pursuits, and give ourselves wholeheartedly to God!

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Real Truth

If truth is what we need, then the source of that truth is the Bible.

The Bible contains the truth we need to know God, to grow in our faith and to serve Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures are a sacred touchstone that leads us to a life that is both abundant and eternal!

Click on the image below for a brief video that reminds us of the power and life-changing principles the Bible’s truths have to offer.

 

 

Let the Bible’s truths transform you today!