Visions

Visions

“I seek you with all my heart.” Psalm 119:10 NIV

“I sought your face with all my heart.” Psalm 119:58 NIV

Car keys

Debit Cards

Remote Controls

People

Love

Happiness

Purpose

Have you ever found yourself searching for any of these things?  I have searched for all of these things at some point in my life! I have been guilty of filling my life with the things of the world in order to find happiness, love, or fulfillment. I have also spent a lot of time searching for missing items, like the remote control! (It’s always between the cushions!) If I were to look back and think, would I be able to determine how much of me was actually involved in the search effort? When I was attempting to find happiness apart from God, I searched with my whole heart! Why? Because I wasn’t satisfied and I didn’t have a purpose! Therefore my mind, will, and emotions were searching feverishly after a source of deep fulfillment. I wanted to be wanted, and I didn’t understand that I already was wanted by the Creator of the universe himself! This search led me to make many terrible choices, some of which will have lasting consequences here on earth. I’m very grateful to God that he continued to pursue a relationship with me, and never let me be comfortable apart from it!

The Psalmist reminds us that not only are we to obey, but we are also to seek after God with all of ourselves. Not just intellectually, but in our wills and emotions. Our affections need to be seeking after the only One who can satisfy.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17

“Seek his kingdom.” Luke 12:31

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” Luke 10:27, Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30

“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:3-4

One cannot truly obey whole heartedly unless they are first seeking whole heartedly. How do we seek God with all our hearts? The same way we obey with all our hearts! We look for him not just in our minds to expand knowledge, but in our will. We deliberately make a choice to search for his truth. Then in our emotions; when we are feeling like God must not be concerned with our troubles, we direct our emotions to search for God in our circumstances. He promises us that if we seek him, we will find him!

If you are a believer, a Christ-follower, then God is with you! If you don’t see him, it is because you are not looking. God has not gone anywhere, he is there. He never abandons his children, whether or not his children feel abandoned.  Often I am tempted to pray, “Be with me, God” or “Be with them”, and then I check myself. God is already there! If I am a believer, how much closer can God get to me when he is already in my heart? No, instead I need to be praying, “Let me see you, Lord, because I know you are here!” If I seek him, I am promised that I will find him! Likewise, this promise is for all God’s children! What a marvelous truth!

“God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out to him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:27

The problem in seeing God is that we are not looking with a united heart, most notably with our emotions. No wonder we doubt so easily! Our minds look for him in his word, or in outward signs, but our will does not act with the authority of his promises. We don’t realize he has been there all along; we just missed him. We cannot be satisfied to seek him only for greater knowledge; we need to seek his truth with our whole heart. It’s a simple formula; seek and find. This formula involves not only reading his word, but spending time listening to his voice. Usually we are too busy to sit and listen, and we miss his direction and purpose. Prayer is a very important part of uniting the hearts vision of God. We never want to become out of balanced, full of knowledge without application.

The one who is whole heartedly seeking after truth will find it in God’s word and from his voice.

He is not far from us, we simply need to look.

Prayer

Jesus, I know I often get overwhelmed in my circumstances and fail to see you. I often ask you to come to me when you have been here all along waiting for me to catch a glimpse of you! Open my eyes and let me see you in my every day! I don’t want to miss what you have for me because I am too busy looking around instead of at you. Help me to learn how to be still and listen to your voice. Give me a new vision of you, and unite my heart to see it clearly with all that I am!

“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art:

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.”

Advertisements

Preparation

“Before I was afflicted I went astray.” Psalm 119:67 NIV

Preparation

What types of events might you find yourself preparing for? Perhaps it’s a musical performance, teaching a class, taking a test, promoting a product, making a speech, or running in a marathon. At one time or another we have all experienced a time of preparation. If we prepared well, we likely did well in the event, however if our preparation time was lax, our performance probably showed the effort.  I remember a piano recital where I did not give my best. Truthfully, I didn’t even give 50% of my best. I was a teenager, and I was consumed with the object of my current affection; piano recitals weren’t really a priority. Over a decade later and I still remember that day, what a humiliation! It was a dreadful performance to say the least, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there! I was too focused on what I thought was more important. It may have taken several years for me to learn my lesson, but God has drilled it into my heart that when it comes to musical performance, I can never be “too” prepared.

“…I went astray…” vs. 67

This word should be translated “to sin ignorantly”. We’re talking about a major lack of preparation.  To keep our feet on the path planned for us we need to prepare for the journey. We must know the word of God in order to follow it! If we do not know the word well, we will come under affliction, or discipline, until we have learned what is necessary to mature.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

We prepare for life by memorizing the word, storing its truth in our hearts to be ready for spiritual warfare, sickness, doubt, discouragement, confusion, or any other arrow hurled our way.

Our natural inclination:

“All of us like sheep have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own.” Isaiah 53:6

We prepare for the journey by studying the word of God and being able to discern what’s “good” from what’s “best”. We need to know the difference between a counterfeit happiness and a true joy. We want to stay on God’s path, because our own path will inevitably lead to personal pain as well as pain for those around us.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:3-4

Wisdom foresees temptation and has discernment; humility brings true wealth in God’s economy which leads to the life God intended us to have!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

When we are ignorant in the word we will stray from the path He made for us. We will fall into error and we will be disciplined (Hebrews 12:6) by our loving Father until we return to the life he designed us for.  This doesn’t mean that every “bad” thing that happens is a result of our ignorance, or sin. There is a whole book in the Bible dedicated to this common misconception (Job). However when we do find ourselves in trials, tests, and difficulties we should take that time to make sure our feet are on the path they are meant to be on. We must ask God to search our hearts and make sure we have not wandered away, chasing after a counterfeit happiness. Are we on God’s “best” path, or just our own “good” path?

The Psalmist was thankful for the affliction that brought him back to God’s path, and back in line with where he needed to be spiritually. He declared

“…now I obey your word.” vs. 67

Let us never find that our sin was caused by ignorance of God’s plan for our lives. His will is laid out in his word; it’s our responsibility to be prepared.

Prayer

Thank you for your word that guides my path! Thank you for designing a perfect plan for me and loving me enough to discipline me when I wander from your directions. Lead me to the truth that you would have me hide in my heart and help prepare me for the battles ahead. Give me wisdom and discernment that I might not ignorantly sin against you.

Focus

“I have tried hard to find you-don’t let me wander from your commands.” Psalm 119:10 NLT

Focus

 What does our life look like without the Word?

It’s so easy to lose focus. I must be a professional at this. How many times have I read Matthew 14:29-30, and scoffed at Peter for not keeping his eyes on Jesus while he was walking on the water? Come on, Peter! How hard could that have really been when you had Jesus right in front of you? Of course, easy to be a back seat Bible reader, isn’t it? How often do we see someone else going through a difficult time, and we proudly tout our Bible logic, “Just trust Jesus!” We’ve done our part, shared some wisdom, and maybe we’ll say a prayer or two for that individual.

Then OUR storm comes.

Before you know it, we’re wandering around in a sea of confusion and doubt. Perhaps this type of thing happened in the Psalmists life, and he recognized his need to stay close to God’s Word. He cried out, “Don’t let me wander from your commands!” How often do we pray such a thing?

 Maybe we would do well to ask God for some focus.

 Maybe, if we had more focus in His Word, our circumstances wouldn’t feel so crushing.

The second our eyes wander from the Word is the same second our focus gets shifted to the storm-from Him to me.

When we are saturated in the promises and truth of God’s Word, it leaves little room for doubt and wandering eyes. Does it mean we’re bad Christians if we have a moment of fear or worry? No, I think that means we are normal.  However, there is a difference between momentary glances at our circumstances (fear and worry) then there is a shift of focus (doubt, unbelief, depression).

If we recognize these feelings within us, we must force ourselves to focus on His Word, the Truth, and His care for us. It’s the only way out of the miry pit of self-pity and spiritual collapse.

“…they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” Hosea 5:15

How nice it would be if it didn’t take the misery of guilt, depression, worry, doubts, or pain to seek the face of God? Like the Psalmist we should be asking our Savior to keep our focus continuously on His Word, that we will not become distracted, disjointed, and despairing followers of Christ.

Let us stay committed to focusing on the Word of God and leave no room for wandering spiritual eyes.

Prayer

Jesus, do not let me stray from your Word! Keep me faithful to your truth, and keep my focus on your promises of care and love for me. Do not let the circumstances of life overwhelm and consume me with fear, worry, and unbelief; rather, let my focus be so intent on you that these lies will have no place in my heart. Convict me where I need a change of focus, and draw me deeper into your Word.

Opinions

“I consider all your precepts right.” Psalm 119:128 NIV

Opinions

What do you think about the word of God?

It matters.

What you think about the word of God will translate in to how you live the word of God.

In some areas of spirituality our opinions really don’t matter. For instance, what we think of God doesn’t change who he is or his character. However what we believe and how we view God and his word will always play a huge role in how we obey him.

The Psalmist recognized Gods word for what it was: right. If we truly believed the word was right, every last stroke of the pen blotted down, would we live differently? This question was recently posed in a Sunday morning class I attended and we all sat kind of stumped as we realized we really don’t live like we consider the word of God to be true.

 Silence and stares.

We often walk around thinking we know our stuff, we talk our talks, we walk our walks, and boy we have a lot of knowledge! But when it comes down to it, the unbelief, doubt, worry, anxiety, angst, and care speak for itself.

Our behavior shows what we really think of what God has told us.

“God…will supply all your needs…” Phil. 4:19

If we considered that true, would we ever worry about our physical needs, possessions, material wealth, or finances?

“He cares for you.” 1 Pet 5:7

If we recognized that truth, would we question the circumstances he has allowed in our lives?

“Your plans are too numerous for us to list.” Psa. 40:5

If we acknowledged that truth, would we wonder if God had a purpose for our lives?

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psa. 103:12

If we thought this to be true, would we agonize over the past?

When all is said and done, the Bible is full of God’s heart towards his creation-us. This book is a great gift to us, full of his love and truth, his great Gospel message and salvation along with life promised and peace eternal. There it is, all for the taking! We read, smile, nod in agreement, then we close the Book and walk through our day consumed with-our own understanding. We just don’t trust his word! We say we do, we want to, but our behavior gives us away!

I’ve lost my job, how will I pay my bills?

God could never use me for anything after what I have done with my life!

I don’t even know why I am here, I am useless.

My marriage is falling apart, I don’t know how to fix it, what will I do?

God must be punishing me for all the horrible things I’ve done, no wonder all these bad things keep happening.

We need to start recognizing these attitudes as doubt, unbelief, and distrust in the word and promises of God. Read his word, believe it, and act on it! Do as the Psalmist did, consider the word to be right!

Knowing the word of God is like knowing the answers for the test called life.

The answer is trust; the result is peace.

Prayer

As I lay my head to sleep this night, I thank you Jesus for your righteous word of truth. I thank you for your promises that give peace and life. I confess my doubt and unbelief. Let me sleep well knowing that I can trust your heart for me, trust your words for me, and trust your plan for me even if I don’t understand the moment by moment circumstances. Surround me with your peace as I sleep, and let my mind meditate on your truth as I rest in you.

I Will Not Compromise With Sin

I Will Not Compromise With Sin

 “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Psalm 119:9 (NLT)

 

When you feel yourself getting a cold you usually take precautions to fight off the infection. You may take extra vitamins, drink more fluids, or eat some chicken noodle soup. Psalm 119:9 tells us that we are born spiritually sickened and we need a remedy. (“How can a young person stay pure?”) How do we know what the symptoms of our spiritual disease are? Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a very precise picture:

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”

If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that we have all struggled with at least a few of these things that demonstrate our sin-illness. It’s very clear we need a cure. Our Great Physician prescribes us our medicine: Obey My Word. In taking His prescribed medicine we will manifest a healthy spirit exhibiting “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Make sure to take your daily dose of the King’s cure by obeying the Word of truth!

Let’s Talk FAITH

Let’s Talk FAITH

Faith is choosing to believe the Bible is true regardless of circumstances, emotions, or cultural trends.”- Life Builders (Campus Crusade For Christ)

As I find myself falling deeper in love with my Creator, I become consistently overwhelmed with His incredible hand of design and care over every detail of my life. I find myself in a constant state of marvel and worship, always with a song on my heart bursting from my lips. However, it’s not always peaches and roses. As I draw closer in divine intimacy with my Eternal Lover, I become acutely aware of the desperate failing health of hearts around me. Most notably are those of the ones I love most. While I am experiencing, and living a peace beyond compare, and a purpose that literally puts a spring in my step, my closest family members are often the ones suffering the deepest pains as they stagger through life aimlessly. Desperate and hopeless; if nothing else with the appearance of merely existing, which in and of itsef is its own horror. God is orchestrating the symphony of my life and creating the most joyous music I have ever known, and yet my own loved ones wander in darkness. I find I’m tempted to wonder why they don’t want this glorious life so freely offered to them, the life they know of in their heads, yet refuse in their hearts.

I was finally brought to my spiritual knees as I had to face face my precious Jesus, my Champion who has gone before me and continues to intercede for me daily working on my behalf-I had to admit to Him that while I may have faith to move mountains and trust Him to provide all my needs I had major doubts about the hearts of the ones closest to me, and whether they would ever change. Would they ever want to change? Why don’t they want freedom? Who wouldn’t want it?

Ah, but no surprise to my Friend, for He knows my every thought and concern. Any more prayers for these “loved ones” filled with doubt would simply be a wasted breath. It was an honest release necessary for me to see my own spiritual weakness of faith (or lack thereof). And I implored with my God earnestly.

Why, Jesus, why? Why do I trust You to provide my every need? Why do I trust You with the life of my daughter and even the most impossible of tasks and yet to change a couple of hearts I pray with cynicism and doubt with much wavering. (James 1:6) So I sat back and listened. Literally, with my eyes closed, hands lifted, and repeating:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”

Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

It seemed like an eternity as His love enveloped me, He wrapped me in His gentle presence. No guilt trips for my bluntness. It was my honesty that He desired, not as if He needed it, but it was for my benefit. I knew He would speak to me in His time. I waited.

He took me back to a place thousands of years ago. It was a heart wrenching scene to be sure. Jesus could have come sooner to save Lazarus, but chose not to. It was not the will of the Father. It didn’t make sense to everyone else. Lazarus died, and had been dead 4 days. Jesus tells them to roll the stone away from the tomb and initially Martha balks at the idea, noting the horrible stench they would encounter from the corpse. However, something deep withing her remembers. She knows who the ultimate authority is, and her spirit submits to the process that on the surface appears to be illogical. She says,

Even now I know God will give you whatever you ask.”

John 11:22 (NLT)

Does she know the outcome of this story? Of course not! She does know that Jesus can ask anything of His Father, and she truly believes whatever happens is for their greatest good. (And she had never even read Romans 8:28!)

Jesus responds to her simple act of faith with a statement that initially seems to be unrelated:

I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

John 11:25-26 (NLT)

Looking into the eyes of her Savior she is questioned. Do you believe? I am life, do you believe? You will never die, do you believe? Life is more than your physical body, do you believe? I came so you could have life abundantly, do you believe?

She could look Him straight in the eyes and say truthfully, honestly:

Yes, Lord.”
John 11:27

And what happens next is the real meat and potatoes of the story:

The doubters (all of us-or is it just me?) say:

This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

John 11:37

Or as we like to put it: God, I know You can change this situation and I want to trust You, but I’m really having a hard time. It’s coming across to me as if you enjoy watching me suffer. I’m starting to lose heart here. I’m not sure about that thing called “faith”, especially when these circumstances are less than appealing.

Jesus responds:

‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?’

So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank You for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe You sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out…”

John 11:40-44 (NLT)

And so it happened. The big light bulb clicked on and a little more of God’s truth was illuminated in the depths of my wayward heart that night. Everything, even down to the smallest detail has a purpose. Do I believe that? Yes, I do. And I know what that purpose always is: bringing glory to Jesus Christ and His Father in heaven. Can He change hearts? Of course He can! Do I believe He can use every choice (good or bad) that my loved ones make (or I make!) for their greatest good and for His ultimate glory? You bet I do!

Yes, Jesus, I do believe.

When the enemy tells me my prayers are pointless because “they’ll never change anyways”, I can tell Satan to get lost because with my God, the Only True God, the God of Life, ALL things are possible, and that is the truth my soul rests on!

For we live by believing, and not by seeing.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe…”

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we ask for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

And so you’re loving Comforter asks you to be sincere with Him. Where do you lack faith? It’s there right now, and you can hear Him calling out to you to lay it at His feet. Ask Him to simply help you’re “unbelief”. One of the most beautiful prayers you can utter and He wants to hear it is this:

I believe; help thou my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (KJV)

It’s the best place to start! When you can be honest before you’re Maker and allow Him to build you’re faith one small brick at a time, you’ll soon find yourself rejoicing passionately:

Satisfy [me]…with Your unfailing love, so [I] may sing for joy to the end of [my] life.”

Psalm 90:14 (NLT)

Do you believe?