Month: July 2015

200 Feet

So if you havIMG_0350e watched TV anytime recently you may have seen a the Toyota Corolla commercial with the car driving around a winding mountain while dark, and the only light coming from the car. During the dramatic scene the narrator makes this statement, “Wherever it is you want to go, all you need to see is the next 200 feet.” Now I have seen this commercial several times, but that particular line always sticks out to me, because though it is based on the worthiness of the car, it is very relevant to how we live life.

Like the blackness of the mountain, there is the fear and anxiousness of what we can’t see, the unknown, and the uncertainty of the next move, yet all that we really need is that short span of light to take the next stride. Our focus should be on that light so that we can stay focused on what is in front of us at all times and not get distracted by what we can’t see, because yes there are dangers on the road like bad weather, other drivers, and bears as shown, and at times we are privy to actually experience them. Anyway, focusing on those 200 feet also allows us not to dwell on what it behind us. The past is the past, and though it does have its role, there is far less light to give attention to what is behind us. Well that’s nice, huh? I just answered all of life’s hardest questions…hardly.

To be serious, this commercial reminds me of a verse in the book of Psalm, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”    The obvious truth here is that life is full of dark mountains, otherwise there is no need for a light, but draw attention to where the light is, at tlamp 2he feet. As I heard it explained before, it’s like whlampen we use a flashlight walking through the house at night especially when there are stairs involved. We don’t usually shine the light straight ahead of us, but rather down at our feet, just enough so we can see the very next step, maybe two. Even a light on a path is not that bright, just enough light to guide you to the next, like a lantern or street light even.

As the Lord has shown me, we can’t handle the big picture all at once of where the Lord is taking us, because as mentioned before, we get distracted, try to rush, get too excited and try to skip steps that are crucial to reaching our destination in tact, or get discouraged by where we are at the moment, and or what all we will have to go through to reach out destiny. This whole journey is about faith, trusting an unknown future to a God who is all-knowing. It’s a matter of going through the process trusting that the light we have been given to lead and guide us has a fire or bulb that will never burn out.

And yeah, if you are like me, you desire that piece of control that wants the whole map and the lights ogods plann the road to shine as far as the ending destination, but in the Lord’s wisdom, He does things otherwise. Now many times we do have a vision, that is knowing where we anticipate arriving, but I think I can safely say that we never know what is really in between the start and end point. But it’s around those winding roads and mountains we learn to trust God, develop courage, perseverance and patience, wisdom and understanding; we learn to love and care for others on the journey and those that may be in the car with us; we begin to appreciate the beauty of the simplest things we wouldn’t normally give notice; we are kept from veering off in the wrong direction. It’s the dark “in between” we learn to be ourselves for a purpose, ensuring that we are all we need to be once we reach our destiny. So whether you only see 200 feet or 2 feet in front of you, remember that you are being lead by the One who created even the most treacherous of mountains and terrains, and the next step is all you need to see.

 

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Empty Sacrifice

I am finally beginning to understand the greatness if David. As I am sure you have heard him described as one of the most prominent Biblical heroes, but it’s not until you look over his life and his response to situations and his words that explain his epic nature. Yes, he was an ordinary man, but God’s extraordinary work was very evident in his life, in spite of his detrimental faults, which spilled over into his son whose life for the most part was honorable and I can see why he was such a ladies man. Getting back to the point, in the last post I referenced the story of David counting the people of Israel and to right his wrong he built an altar, the process of which is my attention this go around.

Long story short David needed a place and supplies to build an altar and make a sacrifice, but the person whom the angel of the Lord led him to purchase from was reluctant to take his money because of a reverent intimidation of David and his entourage. (Read the story for specifics, 1 Chr 21:18f.) Nevertheless, during this exchange, David made this statement:

“I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Well I just thought that was the most profound thing ever! So friggin’ deep! But in all seriousness, what it says is much of the heart of being you for a purpose. For starters, you can’t give God your best if what you give Him belongs to someone else, meaning you just took it without aligning it to fit into what God has for you. At times, yes we need help in getting to where God has called us, but not at the expense of others and not in a way that refuses a symbol of gratitude or honor for those who have helped us along the way. I think the heart of David here tells us that as much as we can, what we give should be equally reciprocated in some way or another, if not now then in the future. But, if the motive is strictly refusing what God has already blessed us with and put it aside to take advantage of someone else’s blessing, the fault and wrongdoing is ours and we have utterly missed the mark and in no way are being who God would have us to be.

Likewise, any success book talks about sacrifice and investment and to me David had the same mentality, in that nothing in life worth having is for free, whether in time, energy, money, or anything of the sort. In his particular situation he wanted to make up for the wrong he had done and save the lives of his people as a result, and so I believe that his desire was to give all he could to get the ultimate response. So by not paying, it’s as if to say there was no true investment or he didn’t really give up or sacrifice anything to get back in fellowship with the Lord.

To me that just says so much, and as I’ve done before, I may be completely over-thinking, over-analyzing, or just going way to deep, but I guess the point of these blogs is to share what I took away and what I’ve learned of various things, such as my devotions. I say all that to say, don’t give God anything cheap, lacking any intrinsic or even extrinsic value, or half-hearted, otherwise you psych yourself our because true fellowship and worship will cost something and will require sacrifice, of which the gospels speak about. Don’t try to get over on God or get over on people, because God knows our hearts and motives and because He gave and continuously gives us His best – even if we don’t recognize it at the time – He then deserves our absolute best, not someone else’s because what you give of someone else becomes your worst. But, when the Lord leads you to persons to assist you to further the purpose He has for you, show humility and give them your best, because they sacrificed for you, so don’t make it empty or worth nothing.

Beautiful Mercy for Ugly Sin

This love letter is amazing. As I read it and study more, the more I learn the heart of God and how much He truly loves me in spite of. Anyhow, there are four people that come to mind when I think of those that Satan very specifically targeted, not just a demon: Peter, Job, Judas, and David. Of course there may be others, but they are all I got. The first three I mentioned you are probably familiar with, but still going through Chronicles, I read about Satan’s encounter with David, and the story I knew but Satan’s role was unfamiliar.

Briefly, Satan was attempting to bring down Israel and used David to do so, by swaying him to pride and mistrust. You can read 1 Chronicles 21 for all the details. By counting the people David’s pride caused him to think that his success as the king thus far was by him alone, and what he had attained and accomplished was his doing. On the other hand, in doing so it was another slap in God’s face because it was as if David didn’t really believe the promise God made to multiply. He didn’t trust that God was doing what He said He would do. What I find the most intriguing are the events thereafter.

After David realized what had happened and God dealt with him, he was driven to build an altar and make a sacrifice to compel the Lord to stop the plague. However, in doing so, due to his guilt and shame, he nearly backed out because he was afraid, but the mercy of God is incredible. For the same place where David humbled himself after being so full of himself that God had to correct him, the place that represented one of his most costly mistakes and or sins, God still used it to build His temple.

So often in our own lives we mess up big and God has to deal with us, but when He does it’s in such a way that only He can get glory. God takes our mistakes and creates miracles. He uses our faults and failures as building blocks to an amazing testimony of His faithfulness, mercy and power. And truth be told, like David, it can be scary coming to God knowing just how flat out wrong we were, but His compassions are new every morning and His love endures forever. Coming to Him with a repented and humbled heart, the Lord is always willing to receive us with open arms. God will take the very thing hurt us and use it as a platform to help us and to see His promises come to fruition. David prepared the way for his son, Solomon, to build the temple of the Lord in the same place he built an altar.

In the end of his preparations for the next generation who would build the temple, David encouraged them. (See 1 Chronicles 22:17-19). He reminded them that the Lord was with them and everything was taken care of, so all they needed to do was focus on the task. He told them to devote and seek the Lord and begin to build the sanctuary so that things could be set in place.

The same speaks for us. We must continually seek the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and surrender all of who we are to Him, heart, mind, body and soul (Matt. 22:37). As we do so, we begin to build our temples, our bodies, the place where the Holy Spirit resides (1 Cor. 3:16) and we allow those precious fruit and sacred things of God to fill our hearts and minds that will give witness to the name of Christ, like joy, peace, forgiveness, love, and hope. These things will give room for the work of God to go forth in our lives and through our lives that the Name of the Lord may be known by whoever interacts with us as we use our gifts, talents, passions, and abilities to usher in His presence and leave His sweet aroma wherever we go. We have to prepare the way and give God the ugly things, the broken things, the sin that hinders the process, so that His beautiful mercy and love can cover it and be our foundation to build on. In doing so we have mastered the art of being ourselves for a purpose.

Listen Again: Did God Really Say That?

One of the biggest challenges in my walk is knowing when God is speaking. Being a big thinker, I tend to find myself creating scenarios and writing scripts in my head of what could and or should happen concerning situations I go through, good and bad. I have heard enough times people who have so clearly heard the voice of God, many times that were in fact audible, and so I tend to pretend hear the voice of God or rather say to myself what I think He would say, or just imagine what it would be like to hear His voice commanding me to run into a fire and save a little girl, or reach into the casket and touch someone and raise them from the dead, or to evacuate everyone out of a building to save them from an impending explosion or gunman…yeah that’s only a small portion of what is happening in my head on a regular basis.

You see, for me I think that having something like that happen is proof to the outside world that God’s power is dwelling within me and that we have that close of a relationship. It’s like a stamp of approval. But even as I am writing this now, I remind myself that my relationship with Him is secure and that my gifts are irrevocable, and that He speaks to me in ways that He knows I will hear, listen, receive, and respond to His word best, but more importantly that what He has allowed me to experience in our communion is perfect for what He has called me to and the story it is creating.

I mean, if you don’t know by now, this Christian walk is a journey, full of ups and downs, and anyone would be foolish to think they could walk this walk and get it right every single time, and crazy to think that they will never misunderstand God, or read signs that don’t exist even though we are so certain that it was the Lord speaking to us. Now don’t get me wrong, in His own way He does give us signs, but we have to nurture our spirit to recognize what is truly a divine message. And in the same breath, there are a few times I know for a fact that the Lord did speak to me, a gentle voice, usually when I least expected it and wasn’t making things up in my head.

One of the last times I heard something that was so vivid and caught me off guard was, “I said where, but not when.” And in my last devotion reading through Chronicles, chapter 17 verse 6, I found this phrase “did I ever say.” And it struck me and just confirmed how often I have made up in my mind God had said this or that about whatever the situation and have just been flat out wrong. Like God never said He would be your husband (on more than two occasions). He never said you would get that job. He never said…

The problem is we get wrapped up in our own desires, which may not actually be bad, but they just aren’t what God had in mind. What I am learning is that what we think is best, God has something or someone else far better in mind for what He wants for our lives that He may receive the ultimate glory. If you are like me you like control, knowing what is going on with your life, and you don’t have to be in fellowship with God long to know that He often likes to take the plans we have and rip them up. We get worked up and bent out of shape, questioning God when things don’t work out the way we wanted and the whole time God is saying “if you only knew,” and there are times God will show you why it didn’t happen like you thought it would, like He has done with me. I am a thousand percent positive that God is constantly shaking His head at me fussing at the angels, “I wish this chic would just trust me and know I own the stars and unlike so many others that have, I keep my promises.”

This post is a little more personal, but I just want to challenge you as I challenge myself to listen again. There are times we really just don’t hear it right, or we misinterpret what was said, and that is okay. Learn from it and keep it moving. Understand His word and His will are perfect and won’t steer us in the wrong direction unless we grab hold of the wheel while He is trying to drive. Know how God speaks to you specifically and realize that what He didn’t say is just as important as what He has said to you. It’s a growing process and the closer we get and the more mature we become in our faith, the clearer the voice of God is and the more we are able to discern messages meant for us. These precious words of God will lead us on the awesome path to becoming all of who He has called us to be for His amazing purpose.