Posts Tagged ‘ Faithfulness ’

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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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!

If Only

O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways. Psalm 81:13 NRSV

MP900399410[1]If only they would listen to me and do what I told them to do.” That’s something I’ve said repeatedly over years of raising children. I’ve found that one of the hardest parts of parenting is letting children go, and allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions as they grow up. It is painful to watch those you love stumble and fall.

If only they would listen!

Of course, the experience parents have is but a small glimpse into what God must experience. In Psalm 81, the writer makes it clear that God wants God’s people to have a single-minded devotion. God longs for them to listen to God’s words and to follow in God’s ways. The Lord longs for those who claim their place in his family to submit to his will. God simply desires the full devotion and obedience of God’s people.

If only God’s children would submit to God’s will.

If only that was what God got. Statues of strange idols dotted the landscape of the nation. God’s people bowed down and gave their worship to foreign gods. But like a patient parent, God continually admonished those who strayed, and encouraged them to change their ways. The Lord made it clear that if they would turn from their stubborn ways, then they would be blessed in ways that went beyond anything they could have asked for or imagined. God would put down their enemies and bring them victory. God would provide them with the finest of blessings and satisfy their longings.

MP900399407[1]I believe God is no different today. Each of us has a place as a child in God’s family, but we also have to choose whether we will listen and follow God’s ways.

Listening and following are a choice.

There are so many other voices today calling for our attention. There are so many other roads we could follow. But the psalmist’s plea is as fresh today as it was when it was written. God wants us to submit daily to the truth of God’s word. God wants us to walk in whole- hearted devotion to Jesus Christ. The Lord wants our worship and our full obedience.

MP900399412[1]If we listen and respond to God’s call, then God will be able to lead us, use us and bless us. If we are willing to put away our stubborn and selfish ways, then God can do for us everything God wants to do and give us everything God wants to give.

So why not love God with your whole heart, soul and mind, and then enjoy God’s  blessings today!

Walk in the Way of the Lord!

Prayer:

Patient God, your call is clear and consistent. My response is not always what you ask for. Forgive my tendency to go my own way. Help me to conform my will to yours, and to do all you ask me to do!

Amen.

Demands

Living To Worship

…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31 NRSV

MP900216072[1]By this point in the week, Sunday seems like a distant memory for many. Lots has happened since we were last worshipping God and bringing praise to the Lord. There’s also lots more to come before we will return to our churches and focus fully on God next Sunday.

That gap bothers me. I don’t believe faith is designed to work like a gas station. I’m not supposed to go to church to fill up, and hope I have enough to get me through the end of the week, when I fill up again.

Faith is to be lived out in the gaps. Faith is to be proclaimed, engaged and practiced everyday. When that happens, the way we live becomes the way we worship God!

Today’s video reinforces that idea. Click here to view it.

Then let your faith energize you to live a life of worship!

Standing Strong

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9b NRSV

MP910216389[1]Standing is a good thing. When the winds of trouble blow, storms roll in and dangerous waves come crashing into my life, I want to be left standing. I don’t want to be knocked over, swept up or washed away.

Ahaz was king over Judah. A terrible storm was rolling his way. Nations were surrounding him, preparing to invade his country and end his reign. He was scared, and shook like a tree in the wind.

God sent Isaiah to call Ahaz to faith. Even though he hadn’t been faithful to God, this was his chance to step up, align himself with the Lord and come under God’s protection. But he didn’t. He turned to Assyria instead.

God’s call is a call to faith.

MP900216140[1]It’s hard to stand firm in faith when you are under attack. It is especially hard if you’ve turned away from God most of your life, as Ahaz had done. It’s really much easier to trust someone you can see and weapons you can hold in your hand. The Assyrians had weapons and an army. What did God have? Just a prophet with words. In the end, Ahaz did not stand firm in faith.

I’m not like Ahaz. I’m not a king, and I don’t have nations plotting to overthrow me. But I do have storms that blow my way, and dangerous winds that whip up trouble around me. I believe God’s message to Ahaz is a good one for me too. I could put my trust in alliances I forge, or in resources I have. But the only way to really succeed is to stand firm in faith. Trusting God, whom I can’t see, is the only response that really makes sense.

Our success depends on standing firm in our faith.

MP900227508[1]Well, my faith is in God. Some people may believe that is misguided, but I believe it is what has allowed me to stay standing all these years. It is faith that has brought me safe so far, and it is faith that will bring me home!

Why not join me, and stand firm in your faith this week? Otherwise, you may find yourself standing on sinking sand!

Faith in God is the only firm foundation!

Prayer:

Great God of all, your word is calling me to faith. Your word is calling me to put my trust in you so that I can keep on standing strong. That’s what I want. Help me to always lean on you and to walk in your ways!

Amen.

 

Faith Sees

Wise People Walk

Happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways. Psalm 128:1 NRSV

MP900448575[1] I want to be happy.  I want to have a fruitful life, a rich marriage and close-knit family. I want peace to follow me all the days of my life. I want the blessings of God.Who doesn’t?

If I want to live a happy life, I would be wise to start with the psalmist’s words. Psalm 128 tells me to fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

What strikes me about this list is how short and simple it is. After giving God the reverence God is due, I need to focus on walking in God’s ways.

Of course, there are other things I could do. I could read about and meditate on God’s ways. Studying is always good. I could talk about God’s ways. Sharing is useful. I could even write about God’s ways. Blogging is fun.

None of these things are bad. MP900433086[1]They just aren’t the same as walking. A walker actually travels down a path. A walker experiences what the road has to offer. Those who walk don’t imagine what the faith journey is like, they live it. They don’t talk about what the Bible says, they do it.

Walkers are doers. They go God’s way. They follow God’s commands. They love and serve Jesus Christ. They don’t just read about truth and debate ideas, they act on the principles given the in God’s word.

Wise people walk. Are you wise? Are you walking the walk? The more you do, the happier you will be!

What Are You Looking At?

Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me.” John 21:22 NRSV

Peter was finishing the most difficult conversation he had ever had with Jesus. Before Jesus was arrested and crucified, Peter pledged his total allegiance to him.MP900049880[1] But, just as his Lord had predicted, Peter fell away at the first sign of trouble. Before the cock crowed, he denied his Lord three times.

Now all that was behind him. Jesus was alive, and had appeared several times to Peter and the other disciples. Everything seemed normal again. But it wasn’t.

There were still unanswered questions. Where was Peter’s allegiance? Jesus wanted to know. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter answered, “Yes!” Then Jesus gave him his marching orders, and told Peter what the future would hold.

MP900409424[1] Could there be any more intimate and probing experience than to have Jesus looking into your soul, and asking whether you love him? This is the kind of moment when time stands still, and everything else fades into the background.

But that wasn’t true for Peter. As soon as Jesus questioned him, Peter’s eyes began looking around, and his thoughts wandered. His attention was divided. His mind was full of questions, and his heart was tinged with jealousy.

Are you looking around or focusing on Jesus?

Jesus responded, “Follow me.” Peter’s vision was supposed to be focused on one person alone, Jesus Christ. If he was to have any hope of fulfilling the high calling of Christ on his life, then he had to fix his eyes on Jesus and start following. This was no time for wandering eyes. This was no time for jealousy or petty conceit. It was time to change from a focus on men to a focus on Jesus Christ. It was time to take up his cross and follow his Lord. This was the time to behold Jesus in his glory and to step forward in faith!

Follow me.” Those are Jesus’ words to every one of usMP900443145[1] who love him. Of course, in order to follow, we must first fix our eyes on Jesus. Otherwise, as we start following, we will stumble and fall. We must leave everything else behind, and focus on Jesus alone.

Leave everything else behind.

There are no choices here. Jesus doesn’t say, “Follow me when you feel like it.”  He wants us to stop worrying about what others are doing or getting, and put our full focus on him. He wants us to celebrate his action in our lives, and to follow him and him alone. What a high calling!

Why not try leaving all your other distractions behind today, and step out to follow Jesus Christ with single-minded focus. He wants your eyes, your mind, your heart, your hands and your feet. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and go his way today!

Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Your Faith!

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you know I love you. You also know my eyes wander, and I sometimes spend more time wondering what you are doing for others than I do on what you are asking of me. Forgive me, and help me to develop a single-minded focus on you. Help me to see you as you really are, and to faithfully do all that you are asking me to do! Amen.

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