Monday, March 30, 2015

Learning to Rest In the Lord

Many churches teach the great commission for Christian's young and old is Matthew 28: 19-20 -
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The secret to the Christian life is to first learn how to sit/rest in the Lord!

Christians are admonished to "GO" and "DO" but even the apostles had to learn to wait and rest upon the Lord before they did anything for God. They waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, to empower them to be able to be a vessel to have the Lord serve through them. We no longer need to wait upon the release of the Holy Spirit because since this first outpouring He is being continually outpoured to believers, but we must learn to rest in God.

We must rest our entire weight upon God, just as if we are sitting in a chair and resting upon its support. Spiritually our whole weight is our entire life (past, present and future) must be resting upon the Lord. Until we get to this point, we can not progress in our Christian "walk". Sitting comes before walking. Our deliverance of sin is not based on what we do, but on totally relying on what Christ has done. It is because of Jesus that we can confess, repent and be forgiven to walk clean, holy and righteous before God. This is a continual process of resting in grace, undeserved but provided mercy (forgiveness).

But let us look to Ephesians to understand spiritual what takes place at our salvation:
"The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places... (1:17-21)" "And raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: ... for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not works, that no man should boast in glory." (2:6-9)
God made Jesus to sit first, and then by faith we through Him also must be made to sit with Him. Our salvation is a gift of grace, not of works; therefore, even more so, our Christian life is also by faith and grace and not done by works. Christianity begins in sitting. This is the greatest secret of spiritual life. Allow yourself to meditate upon this, envision it until you know deep within every crevice in your soul that you are His, and He is yours. Be satisfied, wanting nothing but more of Him.

We begin our Christian newness of life when we by faith see ourselves forgiven and made righteous by what Jesus has done for us. Never forget that in the end when Jesus was on the cross he spoke the words, "It is finished!" He did it all! We must first learn to take deep pleasure in God and what He has done for us, knowing there is nothing we can attain for ourselves.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Who or What is Your Isaac? Lay It Down

God created us for a relationship with Him. We have an inmate need to be in relationship with another. We want to be loved and to love. We want to be known and to know. We want to be accepted for who we are fully, knowing we are a continually messing up and in need of grace.

Open your Hand. Lay it Down. (lullaby by Veriasse on Deviant Art)

God is the only perfect relationship we will ever have.

So many times we try to fill this need for our relationship with other people, a career or another passion. We allow ourselves to be filled as much as possible with this "other" and think it is part of us that we absolutely can not live without. It is an obsession, an idol, but we think "it" is the very reason we are alive and without "it" we are purposeless, empty, even dead.

God is a jealous God. He says so in Scripture. He tested Abraham in this area. Abraham longed for a son to fulfill God's promise of having descendants that would be the number of the stars in the night sky. But Sarah did not get pregnant. In His quest for an heir, he slept with Sarah's maid and had a son named Ishmael (Mohammed was his descendant who started the new religion of Islam in the 600's).

But God did not forget to fulfill His promise to Abraham. Sarah did get pregnant and she had a son who was named Isaac - meaning laughter. Isaac was the joy of Abraham's heart. Not only did he fulfill God's promise, but he filled Abraham's heart. He was everything to Abraham - his passion, his joy, the reason for living in his old age.

God will not share his place in our life with another - whether that be a person, a thing, or an activity. Understand it is human nature to seek out the passion of our heart and to fill it. God wants to be that passion. He created us to be filled with His love. We are to first seek Him and His ways, and out of being filled we than pursue the desires of our heart that He gives us. He is the one who creates us to be the way we are; He longs for us to be full and happy. He wants us to have an abundant life, but we must place Him as our everything. Out of our relationship with God, our fullness, everything else will flow. We are stable to handle the crisis and traumas and human failures that come into our life.

But God will not share His place in our heart with another. Stop and ask yourself. Who or What is my Isaac? What do I think I cannot live without? Whatever it is - lay it down! Place it in an open hand and allow the Lord to remove it and if he desire to give it back. In my life, I whenever I recognize an "Isaac" I lay it down. Surprisingly God often returns it when I release it, but He does not have to. He alone is more than enough.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pure Religion -- Are You Pleasing To God?

Did you know that the reason God let the Israelites be taken into captivity is because they did not keep their religion pure?

Do you help the poor?

You may have not heard it said that way before but James defined "pure religion" as:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)
When my husband told me one morning that the Israelites were taken into captivity because they did not take care of the poor, I was surprised. Frankly, I had never heard anyone say this. I have been reading the Books of the prophets all of last year (Isaiah  and Zephaniah) and the beginning of the year (Amos and Micah). I did not remember this warning or woe given to the people. How did I overlook it?

When I asked my husband for a reference he had me read Isaiah 1, and there it is!
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:16-17)
Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them. (Isaiah 1:23)
This was right after God had rebuked them from bringing sacrifices to him and holding feasts that were meaningless to Him because although they were going through the "churchy" motions, they were not living a life pleasing to God. They attended church, celebrated the holy days and met socially but their life was not dedicated to God's ways. They were not effecting their society for good and touching lives with the blessings of God because they were basically doing whatever they wanted to do in their life while keeping up with the religious requirements.

Oh, how this can sting personally!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ownership of Property - Out of My Window

I sit in my swervable, melon-light-green, upholstered chair looking out the dingy six-paned window of my developing office/work space, with my left leg propped up on my cream, plastic sewing machine and my right leg tucked neatly underneath me. My view goes deep into the bare, leafless tall assortment of trees that cluster the woods beyond and around our property. All is still, except the ever so slight sway of the tattered fabric atop the children's old wooden fort.

And it strikes me that this is my literal view of the world from my home. We've paid the mortgage consistently and in a few short years this little piece of the earth will for my lifetime--if we choice to remain here as we have the past two decades--by deed be ours.

Knowing many have more spectacular views from their windows, I also recognize many will never come close to having the simple, peaceful one I have right now.

Deep in thought about universal philosophies I am quickly brought back to reality... Still peering out of my window, I notice something fluffy moving into my view. I suppose it is some chilled little squirrel on this single digit temperature winter day. But no, I see this beautiful, bushy grey and white cat with a tail as long as its body. Recognizing him --our playful, adventurous, indoor cat (Grayson)--has somehow found his way out of our warm cozy home to taste the life lived on the wild side.

Of course, when I get up and go to the back kitchen door and call him in he is quite happy to comply. The only person to leave our house was my son early this morning to go to work, so that little rascal has had his fill of the winter freeze considering it is 1:30 in the afternoon now. I laugh at him. Give him a big hug and then place him back down to be about "the private life of Grayson the cat." For any cat owner knows, cats don't thank their owners from rescuing them; they don't view life that way. He is too independent to think I did him a favor; he thinks he did me a favor by coming in because I called.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prayer - Spiritual Communication

Most people struggle with prayer, myself included. Prayer takes many aspects working together at the same time: faith and focus consolidates the majority of issues.

With Childlike faith, in spirit and truth

Through Spirit and Truth

A key Bible verse for prayer is John 4:24:
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Humans are physical bodies that have their soul (mind, will and emotions) and their spirit. Faith is believing God. It is birthed and developed by hearing God's Word, which is complete everlasting Truth. If we want to know God in truth, we must read, study and learn His Word, the Bible. But many times people become unable to worship God in prayer because they only possess a head knowledge of God and try to approach Him in their mind alone. Since God is spirit, we must pray in spirit and truth. We must approach God in spiritually. My spirit must reach out to connect to His. Simple prayer is a spiritual act of the believer.

While we can pray in any physical position of our body, it helps for us to find a way to bring our entire self into unison. This is why many people kneel to pray. In bowing before God, our physical body expresses the actions of our soul and spirit. We can just as well sit and bow our head or lay out on the floor before God. Each person and situation will be able to determine the best physical position to worship God in prayer.