One thing He has spoken, two things have I heard…

Isn’t it amazing how when you’re spending time in His word – you often don’t want to leave it. I think that’s why it’s so important to memorize scripture – so that it’s “hidden in your heart” & you never have to leave it – or better yet it never leaves you. I truly, truly enjoyed the scripture I read today. I read Job 14 & 15, Psalm 62 & Hebrews 18. I like going through the bible in a year plan b/c I love reading the old and new testaments together – and especially love reading a psalm or two a day.

In Psalm 62 – here is part of what I read & after that is what stood out to me about it…

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (v 1-2)

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (v8)

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.” (v11-12)

The last part is my favorite. You, O God, are strong & You, O Lord, are loving. What a perfect combination. What if He was strong, but not loving? Think about it. What if He was loving, but not strong? It amazes me how perfectly true that statement is. I am going to praise Him today because He is both strong AND loving. He is able to accomplish any task, to handle any situation, to take care of anything I need – and He loves me enough to do all of that. He will work everything out for good. He is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine – and I can trust that He will. Praise God!

Practical Worship

I read an article today by Rick Warren on the Purpose Driven website about 4 characteristics of worship. You can read the article here.

Basically, Rick said that there are 4 characteristics of God-pleasing worship:
It is Accurate – based on the truth of Scripture and reflecting who God really is (not just who we think He is or want Him to be).
It is Authentic – 1 Samuel 16:7b “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It is Thoughtful – “If worship is mindless, it’s meaningless…You must engage your mind.”
It is Practical – God asks us to give Him what we have. He doesn’t require more of us than we can give.

The last one reminded me of something we talked about on Sunday. We were studying the story of the widow who’s husband left her deep in debt and her debtors were threatening to take her children as slaves to pay back the debt. She went to Elisha and asked for help. The first thing he said to her was “What do you have?” All she had was a small bottle of olive oil. He asked her to gather as many bowls or pots as she could from her neighbors and family. Then he told her to pour the olive oil into the bowls – there was enough from that small bottle of olive oil to fill all the bowls she had gathered.

The part of this story that I was reminded of today is where he first asked her “What do you have?” When we come to God wanting to serve and worship Him, but feeling that we are not equipped to serve Him. He first asks us – “What do you have?” then shows us how to use what we already have to serve Him. It doesn’t matter if we’re not good at speaking (think Moses) or if we have a terrible past (think Paul). Everyone is usable by God. God wants practical worship – he doesn’t want you to try to be something you’re not. Who you are is exactly who He intended for you to be.

What do you have? What can you do? What are you good at? Start there. God will do the rest.

Input vs. Output

I’ve discovered today that my good intentions mean nothing to God. You’ve heard the old phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, well I’ve decided that is not far from the truth. Although, as a child of God, I’d have to say the road to disconnect is paved with good intentions. Or the road to discontent or distraction. I have been completely distracted over the last week, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how it happened. I’m sure I can give a big fat list of excuses, but the truth is I allowed myself to get distracted. My intentions were good. I am thinking all the time about scripture I’m memorizing or prayers I need to pray, or even how great God is. I’m getting a lot of spiritual input, but no worshipful output is happening on my part. God doesn’t want me to just learn all I can, memorize His word, listen to sermons and “be fed”. My purpose is to worship God with my life. My goal is to live my days in a way that brings glory to His name. I’m not sure I did that this week. I will make it my focus today.

Priority 1

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” – Matthew 6:33

During lunch today I heard a sermon that was wrapped around this verse. It was AWESOME! So awesome that I’m considering buying it on CD – which I know I do way too often. But anyway – I’d like to share some of what I learned, and some of my own thoughts too:

1st – What is the Kingdom of God? My Bible defines it as “wherever God is reigning and the people experiencing God’s reign”.
2nd – What does it mean to seek the “Kingdom of God”? How do we seek it?
The pastor I heard over lunch gave 3 ways we are to seek the Kingdom of God – and I thought these were really good:
We should seek to: EXPERIENCE, EXPRESS & EXPAND the Kingdom of God.
To experience the Kingdom of God would be to be a part of it – to know Christ personally and to be a part of what He is doing in His Kingdom.
To express the Kingdom of God would be to simply make it known to others – tell others about the freedom and grace available through Christ’s sacrifice.
To expand the Kingdom of God would be to invite others to be a part of it along with you. (Make disciples – remember the Great Commission?)

Now the next part – “and His righteousness”
What is His righteousness? – Righteousness is the state of being perfect, without sin.
So – we seek to be like Christ (since there is no one but Him that is perfect).

And the last part – “and all these things will be added to you”. What things will be added??
If you read directly before this verse you’ll see that it is all about worry. We worry about so many things! The Bible mentions a few specific things that we all worry about – what to eat or drink, what to wear. Let me pose a question – what do you seek after? Money? Happiness? Family? Friends? Comfort or Security?
The Bible says that if we seek FIRST the Kingdom of God (to Experience, Express & Expand it) and His righteousness (to be like Christ) than all those other things that we seek will be added to us according to God’s perfect will.
Think about it. If we seek God’s Kingdom first we’ll certainly be secure (there is no more secure place than in the arms of the Master), and we will be part of the biggest and most powerful family there ever was or will be – God’s family. If we seek to be like Christ – we’ll find a friend (there’s no better friend than Jesus – cheesy I know, but true). Our treasure will be in Heaven (rather than treasure here on Earth where moth and rust destroy), instead of happiness we’ll find Joy – deep, abiding Joy. The Bible says that the Fruits of the Spirit are peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are the things we experience through seeking God’s Kingdom first.

There is so much more to all of this – I just might have to blog about it later.
Til then – let’s make His Kingdom priority 1.

Connecting the Dots – Part 2

God’s faithfulness to me and His sacrifice for me have brought me to ask what should I do in return as an act of obedience and worship – here’s what I’ve come to:
As I was stewing over what it means to get connected and committed, God brought me back to a verse I’ve heard probably a thousand times in my life and perhaps never really picked it apart as I have done in the last few days: According to Jesus in Mark 12:30 it is the greatest commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your HEART, all your SOUL, all your MIND and all your STRENGTH…and love your neighbor as yourself.” So, what does that have to do w/ getting connected and committed??
Getting Connected w/ God requires your heart (it is the wellspring of life), and your soul (the innermost, eternal part of you). Getting Committed requires your Mind (Romans 12:2) and your Strength (Isaiah 7:9b – and many other verses). On Sunday I heard 3 sermons. One on overcoming the past and knowing that God has an incredible plan for you. The second on being completely committed to Christ. The 3rd about the Big and Bold Adventure God is calling us on – to make a huge impact by being bold and sharing the Good News. All made mention of the incredible life God calls us to – the “Great Adventure”. All made mention of being committed to Christ (in many different areas). And all encouraged me to get up and get moving. To get connected and get committed. There is so much more I have to share. For now, I am reminded of a song – an old song (there’s always a song!):
“Saddle up your horses, we’ve got a trail to blaze. Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace. We’ll follow our Leader unto the glorious unknown. This is life like no other…this is the Great Adventure”

Connecting the Dots

Have you ever been so overwhelmed w/ truth and revelation that it becomes difficult to make sense of it all and come up with some sort of action plan? Well, that’s me right now. I’ve been seeking God’s truth like never before, and He is delivering it full force. It’s interesting to me how the more I learn, the more I want to learn. The more I receive, the more I seek. I’m feeding on the very truth of God, and am still so hungry to hear, learn and experience more of Him. (Read Johnny’s blog for some interesting thoughts on being “fed”.) I would love to share with you all the things I’m learning (although most of it is what I’ve known for a long time and it is being reinforced by God in a big way). However, I’m afraid I could never cover it all in a way that you’d actually have time to read, so I’ll try to just connect the dots. I’ve been drawn to Proverbs 4:23 – “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (this verse comes under the heading of “Wisdom is Supreme” – how interesting is that?! Another verse I’ve been drawn to is Psalm 91:3-5 (it’s about the arrows that pierce our heart.) So, we are to guard our hearts. We also need to know that guarding our hearts is not an easy thing. Our hearts, by the way, are how we connect w/ God – they are the part of us that God wants the very most because they are “the wellspring of life” – the part of us from which everything else flows. I’ve been convinced of the faithfulness of God (there are so many verses God has given me over the last 6 months to attest to this).
God is faithful, that I well know. But God’s faithfulness (and His grace – more on grace later) requires something from me as a response. I’ll talk about that response in the next post.

Blessed Assurance

I was reading Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional today, and although it is not evening – the evening devotion was particularly gripping – here’s a little taste:

You are standing at the foot of his cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus’ precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you area child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that. Although by losses brought to poverty, and stripped bare, you can say, “He is my Father still. In my Father’s house are many mansions; therefore will I not be troubled.”
You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with all the strength of his affectionate nature-nothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may cease from the field, it matters not to the man who can sing, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.”
Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose. Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel’s land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer’socean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation.

Immediately I started to sing (in my head, of course) that old tune:
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation
Purchase of God
Born of His Spirit
Washed in his blood

I know it’s an old song – but those old songs often have deeper meanings than most of what we sing today.
What blessed assurance to know that I am an heiress of God himself, and there is nothing that will ever change who I am in Christ!! In Christ I am righteous and holy. In Christ I am strong and courageous. In Christ I am special and in Him I am loved.

The Heart Factor

I have just started reading a book called “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge and had to share a piece of it with you:
“In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished – a life without heart is not worth living. For out of this wellspring of our soul flowers all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our heart that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know him and learn to live in his love.”

It is often interesting to me, although not suprising, that when God is trying to tell me something He will continue to tell it to me in as many ways as possible until I get it. Well, God – message received. In the beginning of the book I am reading, the author mentions that all of us – no matter our relationship with Christ, are always wanting more. More love, more emotion, more meaning – More Heart. I can definitely relate to the desire for more out of life – as I’m sure you can. I have been overwhelmed with the feeling lately that there is so much more than I am getting. I seek God – but do I seek Him hard enough? I praise God – but do I praise him often enough? I worship God – but do I worship with ALL of my life, or simply with my song? I have to confess that everything I could ever give would never be enough. So, how do I get more? I’m not exactly sure. I suppose that just knowing that there is more will force me to seek harder and praise more often and try to learn how to worship with everything that is me. At least I hope that is the case.