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Archive for the ‘Think About It’ Category

As I Went Down to the River to Pray…

I went to an old fashioned “down at the river” baptism recently. As I watched the preacher immerse the participants, I noticed that with each one, as they went into and came up out of the water, the water rippled out from them much in the same way as when one tosses a rock into the water.

As I watched the ripples waft farther and farther away, the next person was submerged and the ripples started anew. And I thought about how appropriate – how metaphorically true that was. Each of our lives “ripples” out to reach other’s lives, and then their lives in turn “ripple” out as well. You will reach people that I will never know, and your impact on my life will, in turn, reach people you will never know – and their lives will reach even beyond your or my wildest imagination.

Someone once said, “We stand on the shoulders of the Saints…” and indeed we do.

Then I saw another thing. There were 3 adults and 2 children. The adults went first with the children following and I thought again, how true. For as the ripples of the adults begin to fade away and meld into the river’s current, then the ripples of the younger generation started anew. And that’s how it should be. As God calls Saints to their reward, this earthly cycle starts yet again.

Moses died and Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River. Elijah laid his mantel on Elisha. David gave the throne to Solomon. Jesus told Peter to “feed My sheep” and He gave us the Great Commission to go into all the world, “baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit” so that the “ripples” will continue to flow…

Think about it, are we creating ripples, or just making waves?

Amen

 

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Just Wait

I watched a movie one night with my younger son. He had seen it before, but I had not. The movie was filled with twists and turns and intrigue, and I kept wanting to know, “What are they going to do about this…?” How are they going to handle that…?”

“Just wait,” He would say, “This is so cool. You’re gonna love how this comes out!”

I thought about that recently when I was reading a little devotional that talked about waiting.

It talked about how Jesus waited patiently from all eternity, until the fullness of the times had fully come. Then, He waited patiently for thirty years in Nazareth, while preparing for His life-work.

After that, He returned in victory to the Father, sat down at God’s right hand and is waiting until the day when His enemies are made His footstool. Throughout the ages He still also waits, in sure expectation of the destined end, when all rule and authority and power shall be realized and creation is redeemed.

All the pain and anguish of the world lies on His heart and He bears all with unfaltering patience, because He can see the end, and He knows that at the last God will be All in All.

Every time we state, in faith, that God is Love; every time we show that love to others, even while our own heart is breaking; every time we say “No” to self, and “Yes” to God, we make progress into His Love.

Our deepest fears are couched in darkness. It is the “unknowing” that scares us most. But nothing that happens is a surprise to God. Remember this one thing if nothing else – God never says, “Whoa! I didn’t see that coming!”

He sees it all. He knows it all. He orchestrates it all, even in this fallen world. And as we ask, and plead, and cry about the unknown, God says, “Just wait. This is so cool. You’re gonna love how I handle this…” “You’re gonna be overwhelmed by the way I walk you through this ‘valley of the shadow of death’; for I will be with you. I promise.”

We must dare to believe in the love of God, even when we can’t see it. And so, I ask you – do you dare to believe, and have faith?

Prayer:

Father, it is so tough sometimes. We want to know the outcome. We want to see the end, or at least around the next curve in the road. But, we do know that You love us and that even in this fallen world; even in the midst of difficult circumstances; even in the pain of sorrow, You are there… and You know, for sure, what the end of the movie holds.

And so, we watch and wait… and dare to believe… In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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Pink Roses…

Some days are just fuller than others. On a recent Saturday, we attended a wedding in West Knoxville at 2:00 pm, and then drove to Kingsport, TN to go to the funeral of our best friend’s mother.

The day was full of Spiritual imagery, but the thing that struck me the most was the flowers. There were pink roses in both the wedding and in the casket spray. This was (apparently) the favorite of both these women – a young woman in her 20’s and a great-grandmother in her 80’s – but both women; both Christian women. These are both women God has used and will use for His Glory.

This was a day that showed the “full circle” of life. There were tears of joy and tears of pain that were mingled with tears of comfort and peace. There was the beginning of a new life and the culmination of an earthly life with the beginning of an eternal life. And there were hugs all around…

Both events were well attended by family and friends – one by invitation, and one by the impact of a life with a far reaching influence.

My heart was so full of emotion as I gave praise to God for allowing me to be a part of these life-events. And I thought about this dearly departed woman – what were her dreams as a young woman? Did she ever think about this day? Could she imagine the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and multitude of friends whose lives she would touch? Can any of us think that far ahead on our wedding day – or any day?

Thanks be to God for His precious gift of family and friends. May we not take it for granted!

Prayer:

Father, show us today who You would have us touch – and who You would have touch us…

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

 

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The Woman with the Jowls

Who’s that woman with the “jowls” looking back at me from the mirror?

They weren’t there yesterday!

(At least, I don’t think they were…)

And that chin!

(Make that chins; where did they come from?)

Is that my Mother looking back at me?

Man, it looks like her (except for the long hair, of course…)

My husband and I – we’re not the “youth” anymore. We’re not even the “young adults” either. We’re middle age – my parents have “gone home” and I am the elder these days. I am who the young adults and young married folk look to as “one of the older ones…” And I think – “God! What would You have me do? What a responsibility, to be the elder, the parents, the responsible adult, the “decision makers…”

When they look to someone for advice, we’re the ones they look to – God! What would You have us say?

I think about the ones I looked to when I was young. They seemed so wise, so… together. Were they as confused as I am sometimes? Did they question? Were they in awe of their responsibility? Did they feel… old, at times? And did they wonder at what that meant?

Prayer:

Father God, You have brought me to this point in my life – You have brought me to this place of obligation; of duty; of responsibility – now, give me wisdom, and may I serve You…

Lead that woman with the “jowls”, the chins, the gray hair and the few extra pounds to lay all that aside and turn her attention to the experience those things bring and not focus on the appearance they present.

As the “Preacher” said, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

And that is my prayer.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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A Prayer for Everyone!

This morning I simply said, “Father, I pray for everybody.”

I didn’t pray that with a flippant or lackadaisical attitude to get “prayer time” over with quickly, but instead, I prayed it very seriously because I know that every – single – person has issues and struggles. Every – single – person faces each day with things that scare them, things that pain them, and things they are thankful for, whether they know God or not.

And so, at least for today, I wanted to lift “everybody” up to God; all of creation and all creatures great and small. For as we constantly see – worldwide – whether there are hurricanes or tsunamis, whether there are earthquakes, tornados or diverse disasters, Creation does indeed, “groan in travail” right along with the rest of us… Amen.

 

 

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But Even if No One Prays

You’ve just read about the power and comfort of intercessory prayer, and how Aaron and Hur “came along side” of Moses to help hold his arms up when he grew tired and weary (Exodus 17:10ff). That kind of praying is very important, however this morning I began thinking about that devotional, and the thought hit me that the Holy Spirit – the Comforter is the word “Parakletos” in Greek, and it literally means “one who comes along side of another.” So… even if there is no one who prays for me, as a Christian, the “Comforter”, the “Paraclete” (as it is translated into English) is already within me, already “along side” of me holding me up during times of struggle!

Yes, it is very comforting to have a warm body there holding us, comforting us and praying with us – but even if there is no one, there is still Someone! There is Someone Who takes your prayers to God, even when you have no words (Romans 8:26-27). And, there is Someone who is sitting on God’s right hand (Hebrews 10:12) Who “lives forever to intercede” for you (Hebrews 7:25).

We should pray for and comfort one another, but when you feel all alone – know this – Someone is with you who promised that He would never leave you nor forsake you… (Hebrews 13:5) and He won’t!

May this comfort and strengthen your heart as it has mine! Amen.

 

 

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Taking a break today from this “Book Journey” I want to share this word with you. Recently I have had some very negative things said about me and this ministry that I’ve been called to do (preaching, teaching, writing). At first, I was upset – but then I thought of one of God’s great promises found in Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against you will prosper…”

Now you know me – I’m all about “context”! And so I turned to a piece I’d written on this scripture before and found these words:

One commentator said, “Chapters 54-56 [of Isaiah] are oracles of salvation to three different groups of people who are the beneficiaries of the Servant’s ministry. Chapter 54 is addressed to those in exile who are faithful to God and represent the spiritual Church in all ages.”

Isn’t that where we all are? Aren’t we all “in exile”? Don’t we sing, “This world is not my home…”? The “Servant” promises children for the barren, and a redeemer for the dejected. He promises (much like Psalm 46:2) that should even the mountains be moved, His lovingkindness – His hesed shall not depart.

He promises that should his servants be attacked, it won’t come from Him (which, by the way, tells us who it IS from!) And then finally in verse 17 He says, “No weapon formed against you will prosper” and not only that, but “you will silence every voice raised against you” (NLT). [That’s just what I needed to hear!]

But, probably the most encouraging part of this promise comes next as God says, “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD.”

Oh my brothers and sisters! This is your heritage! This is your inheritance! As a born-again child of God, this promise is for you!

Now… does this mean that as a servant of the Lord, nothing will ever go wrong for me again? Does this mean that I won’t suffer or have problems? No, it just means that these things won’t rule over me – they won’t prosper – they won’t succeed in stealing my joy… unless I let them.

 

And I’m sure not going to let them! May God be glorified in all that I do and in all that you do for Him! Amen!

 

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The Privilege of the Word

Father, as I behold Your Word before me, I am in awe of the privilege that You’ve given me – and not only the privilege Lord, but the responsibility as well. GOD! This is Your WORD! Men and women have died to make this Word available to me; and what am I doing with it? I feel such a weight – such a burden to share it – to teach it – to give others the “want-to” to read it for themselves. (But who do I think I am to do that?)

Father, most of the people I know and associate with know the stories – we’ve heard them all our lives, but Lord, we don’t really “know” the stories. They are “fairy tales” – we don’t know what they are saying to us – what You are saying to us…

Father, we don’t “read what we read.” Even if we take the time to actually read Your Word, we don’t look at the words, we don’t dig for the meaning, and we think… (God forgive us) we think we already know… and so, we don’t listen, either.

What is the context, Lord? We can’t just take bits and pieces here and there and expect to really hear You. What is it they call it Lord, “proof text?” That we can “prove” anything in the world we want to prove, and say anything we want to say, (and make Your Word say anything we want it to say) if we just take Your Word away from its Holy Spirit inspired place and setting – away from its context?

Our children are woefully ignorant of Your Word. Our churches are woefully ignorant of Your Word, and You’ve said, “My people will perish for lack of knowledge…” No Lord, ignorance isn’t “bliss” – it’s as dangerous as a rattlesnake… or should I say “serpent…”

Lord, hear my cry. Lord, feel this anxiety that grips the pit of my stomach. Lord, see my aching heart. And show me what to do.

 

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

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I Have a Burden

I have a burden – actually two of them. One is for the “sheep.” And the other is for the “shepherds.” Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

On Christ lay the sin of each of us; He took it, He bore it and He buried it… but many still carry it – sometimes shamefully, sometimes arrogantly, and sometimes ignorantly – but carry it, nonetheless. And I am burdened by that. I don’t know which burdens me more, those that don’t seem able to surrender, those who feel they have nothing to surrender, or those who don’t know they have anything to surrender – those who just think “everything’s a-ok!”

Someone mentioned the passing of an individual who’d been sick a long time and said, “Well, they’re better off now…” to which I thought, “Are you right sure about that?” Of course, I don’t know the person’s heart, so I can’t say, but I certainly saw no evidence of Christ’s Lordship in their life, nor ever heard a confession of faith… All I know is – there was no fruit…

And then, there are the “shepherds;” those who have been entrusted with teaching the truth. What if they have neglected to do that – or worse – taught untruth… James 3:1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

What about all those preachers and teachers who’ve failed to ask the hard questions, and give the hard exhortations? And what about the ones who’ve led others astray? There’s an old song which says, “If I have wounded any soul today, if I have caused one foot to go astray, if I have walked in my own sinful way – dear Lord, forgive.” And every time I hear it I think, “Yes, He will forgive, but what about that wounded soul, and that foot gone astray? They are still wounded, and they are still led astray. Where’s the prayer for them?”

And today, my heart is heavy for these…

 

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Prayer for strength in times of intolerance…

 

God forgive me, for I am an intolerant and impatient person.

I don’t mean “tolerance” as the world means it – as accepting of all religions and all (supposed) ways to You; for there is only One Way. That’s not intolerance, that’s Gospel.

No, I am intolerant and impatient at times in dealing with people in general. Yes, it most often comes when I’m tired, or have a headache, or stressed, but that is no excuse; for they are your children, too. “But,” (my self says) “they aren’t acting like, talking like, living like, loving like, God’s children…”

 

Well, neither am I at this point, I confess…

 

It’s just, Lord; I get so tired of people. I’m tired of the cars that cut me off, the grocery carts that cut me off, and the individuals who cut me off, who only hear what they want to hear, and not what I’m really saying.

I’m tired of recorded phone calls, where the automatic messenger jumps right into his discourse before I can even register who is calling. (Does anyone really ever listen to the whole thing?)

But mostly, Lord; I’m tired of carrying this weight – this weight of “always doing the ‘right’ thing.” “Discernment” is a double-edged sword. It allows me to see; but it also makes me see… I see what I ought to be doing. I see what ought to be achieved. I see what ought to be said… I see what is the right thing to do, and I don’t always want to do it.

Sometimes I feel like Elijah – that I’m the oooonly person left who loves You; that I’m the oooonly person who truly serves You; that I’m the oooonly person who cares… and I only want to run and hide, just like he did (1 Kings 19).

Come to me, Lord, as You did to him. He looked for You in the fire, as You spoke to Moses, but You weren’t there. He looked for You in the wind, as You were with the Israelites, but You weren’t there. He looked for You in the earthquake, as You were with Job, but You weren’t there, either.

You came to him in a still, small voice – just exactly the way Elijah needed to meet you at that moment. And now, come to me Lord, in just exactly the way I need to hear you, and meet you, at this moment.

Speak to my soul; tell me (again) not to “grow weary in well doing.” Tell me (again) that You never promised it would be easy, but that You would be with me. Tell me (again) that You love me, and it’s not my “always doing the right thing” that makes You love me. It’s not my “works (lest any man should boast…”) It is purely Your Love and Your Grace.

God, You’ve given me this “double edged sword” of discernment. Now, I pray, grant me strength, wisdom, and grace to carry it.

In Jesus’ name (in Jesus’ authority I bow) Amen.

 

 

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