Monday, August 29, 2011

Faith Alone

Do you remember the story of Abram?

"The Lord had said to Abram "Leave your country, your people & your fathers\'s household & go to the land I will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation & I will bless you"
Genesis 12:1-2a (NIV)

Moving can be very nerve wracking at any age. But Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. And according to scripture, Abram had become very wealthy in livestock, silver & gold. Now i know how much "stuff" i've had to pack & move so i can only imagine how much of a task this move for Abram might have been. I knew where i was moving to & i had friends there. Abram was taking his wife & his nephew & they really didn't know where they would end up. They were moving only because that's what the Lord told Abram to do.

I remember when my hubby & i made our first move together. Let's just say that we had to use a friend's snow blower before we could load up the truck. And as so, Abram's move did not go smoothly either. He had an encounter with Pharaoh that ended badly. Then quarreling arose between Abram's men & his nephew, Lot's men. Lot went his own way, but it wasn't long before Abram had to go rescue him. Gosh! And i thought that snow was bad!

"After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
Do not be afraid Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."
 Genesis 15:1 (NIV)

So Abram had faith & did what the Lord told him. What's so great about that? Abram never saw a Bible, had no church, posed no creed, never took part in a communion service, & never heard even one of the Ten Commandments & probably knew very little about life after death. Abram risked his life, his security, his reputation, & his future. Abram's faith shows what really matters. He simply heard the voice of God & simply took Him at His word. Abram believed God's promise.

Moving is a whole lot easier today. We have motorized transportation & even companies to hire to help us pack up & move. And we now have the Bible, churches, creeds, communion services & the Ten Commandments. We have so many opportunities to learn about God & to worship Him. But God still looks for the basics - God still looks for hearts that will risk it all to trust Him.

Abram made it to his new home & was blessed many times over.  They say that faith is believing in things not seen. What an amazing demonstration of faith. And it is by faith - and faith alone - that we are saved.   

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Is The Lord

How do you praise God? There are so many ways. My favorite is singing. And it's OK to sing, whether you're on key, or off key. After all, the Bible does say to "make a joyful noise". Well, this morning i was making a joyful noise with this song:

"Great is the Lord, He is holy & just, 
by His power we trust in His love.
Great is the Lord, He is faithful & true,
by His mercy He proves He is love.

"Great is the Lord & worthy of glory.
Great is the Lord & worthy of praise.
Great is the Lord, now lift up your voice,
now lift up your voice,
Great is the Lord!" *

Singing God's praises has been a part of my life for as long as i can remember. From "Jesus Loves Me" & "The B-I-B-L-E" to "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" to "Tell Me the Old, Old Story". But today's song was a bit newer.

"Sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation day after day."
Psalm 96:1-2 (NIV)

I like that! "Sing a new song". So, what's wrong with with the old songs? Absolutely nothing!!! I think the point here in this psalm, is that we should offer fresh praises to God. Since God's mercies are new each day, we always have something to sing about. We especially need to avoid growing stale & predictable in our worship. Our God is great & mighty. He knows each of us by name. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. He knows our sins & loves us anyway. He knows us when we're happy & when we're sad. He loves us always! Now that's something to sing about.

Are you having a good day today? Or a not so good of a day? Either way, God loves you & is with you always. So whether it's a good day, or not, sing one of your favorite praise songs. Maybe you need to sing it more than once...more than twice....  But, i'd be willing to bet that the more you sing praises to Him, the more you will feel Him with you & the better you will feel because of it.

"Great are You Lord & worthy of glory.
Great are You Lord & worthy of praise.
Great are You Lord, I lift up my voice,
I lift up my voice
Great are you Lord!" *

"Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples. 
For great is the Lord & most worthy of praise;
He is to be feared above all Gods."
Psalm 96:3-4 (NIV)

I pray that God's glory will overwhelm you, so that all you can do is respond in worship & praise. Take time everyday to worship & praise.

* From "Great Is The Lord" written Michael W. Smith & Deborah D. Smith

Monday, August 15, 2011

As The Deer

For the last few days, i've had a song in my head. I'm sure we've all been there. But thankfully, this song is not one of those annoying ones that you try to get out of your head. This song is a worship song of adoration written in 1984, by Martin Nystrom & based on Psalm 42:1.

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for You, O God."

The first verse of the song goes like this:
"As the deer pants for living water
So my soul thirsts for You, O God.
You alone are my heart's desire,
And I long to worship You."

This should be our heart's desire. To worship God with all our heart, mind & soul. When we're physically thirsty, we reach for something to drink - iced tea, lemonade, soda, etc. But to truly hydrate our bodies, water is the only way. But what about your emotional thirst? What do you reach for then? Do you do the "if only's"? If only - I was making more money; if only -  I could lose weight; if only - I could meet that special someone; if only - I could just get away for a few days; etc. Do those "if only's" really satisfy the thirst of your soul? You might think they do, & maybe they do....temporarily. But does you "if only" list ever end? I think not.

Why doesn't your "if only" list end? Maybe because you're looking to quench that thirst in worldly ways. Instead, look to God to quench the thirst of your soul. The rest of "As the Deer" tells us:
"Dad by day all Your love all Your love surrounds me
And by night You're a song within.
You alone lift my spirits higher,
And my soul finds hope in You.

"When my soul faints & fears distress me,
I remember Your faithfulness.
Hear my prayer Lord, renew my spirit
As I come to worship You.

"You alone are my strength & shield;
To You alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You."

Verse 9 of Psalm 42 refer that God is our rock. He is firm. He is solid. He is immovable. He is the strongest form of stability that you will ever know. And He knows you & He wants you to know Him. So, instead of wasting time trying to quench your thirst with worldly ways, go to God. Ask Him to quench your thirst. Tell Him that you want worshiping Him to be your heart's desire. Believe me, your soul will never be thirsty again. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Big Mistake

As human beings, we tend to rely on logic to figure things out. To figure out the "whys". We look at facts & figures & logically come to conclusions. We measure all the variables. But one of the biggest mistakes that some make is that they measure God's love by their present circumstances. They reason that if things are going well, God must really love them. And if things are going badly, then God must really hate them. When i hear someone express this type of reasoning, it really makes my sad.

God works not only through our successes, but through our weaknesses too. Actually, our circumstances are constantly changing. But God is consistant. His love is with us always. His love doesn't ride the roller coaster of our feelings. The truth is, we bring many problems on ourselves because of pride & sinfulness. We are the ones responsible for many of our own problems.

It can also be hard to understand, that if God really loves us, then what is His purpose for allowing so many bad things come into our lives. Faith in God doesn't mean that there won't be any sufferings in our life. Faith & trust in God allow us to continue to live through those times of hurting, sadness, & frustration & come out victorous. We must trust God & believe that when troubles happen, He will give us the abilibity to handle  whatever comes our way. If you expect belief & faith to be an exception, you are making a big mistake.

Do you doubt this? If so, look at Jesus. The only man who was perfect. Look at the suffering He endured. And God was with Him every step of the way. Jesus suffered & died for us so that we may have everlasting life with our Heavenly Father.

So, the biggest mistake you can make is not trusting that God's love is immeasurable. He loves us always & forever. It's so comforting to know that He is with us always. 24/7. Every single day. 
"...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am so sorry that there is not post this week. I was a bit under the weather. Lord willing, i will be back at it next Monday. {{{hugs}} & prayers <><