Friday, July 27, 2012

I Thought Better Of It

Psalm 119:47-48(MSG)
I cherish Your commandments--oh, how I love them!  Relishing every fragment of Your counsel. 

It's so true!  This verse, I mean.  I do cherish the Word of God.  His words bring such comfort, clarity, confirmation and strength to any situation we find ourselves in.  The full counsel of God will find you wherever you are and minister sweetly to your soul. 

A great example of the way God uses His word to shape us and grow our confidence in Him happened the day after I wrote the previous post.  (Click here if you would like to read it and didn't get a chance to.)  I was reading along in my yearly Bible when I came to a few chapters in Ezekiel.  (Chapters 18-20).  If you have a few minutes, you should read this incredible prophet's dealings with the Israelites and his obedience to the Lord.  It will leave you refreshed, encouraged, and challenged all at the same time. 

There were several parts that jumped off the page at me, however, the portion that ended up confirming my previous reflections on choosing not to act on our feelings, was repeated by God through the spoken words of the prophet Ezekiel four different times in chapter 20. 

Here is what God said in response to a rebellious people who would not listen to the Lord's instruction about letting go of the vile things they were addicted to.

Ezekiel 20:8-10(MSG) 
I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in force right there in Egypt.  Then I thought better of it.  I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt.  And I acted in a way that would evoke honor, not blasphemy, from the nations around them. 
(Italics my own.)

I was so encouraged by God's words in this passage.  He goes on to repeat a similar message three more times within this chapter.

Ezekiel 20:14-15(MSG)
Tropical Storm Debby appears angry as she begins to
unleash her fury in the Gulf of Mexico.
I seriously considered unleashing my anger on them right there in the desert.  But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out.   (Italics my own.)

Ezekiel 20:21-22 (MSG)
"'But the children also rebelled against me.  They neither followed my statutes nor kept my laws for living upright and well.  And they desecrated my Sabbaths.  I seriously considered dumping my anger on them, right there in the desert.  But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out.  (Italics my own.)

Ezekiel 20:44 (MSG)
"'But, dear Israel, you'll also realize that I am God when I respond to you out of who I am, not by what I feel about the evil lives you've lived, the corrupt history you've compiled...".  (Italics my own.)

To read these directions straight from God, gives me courage.  It helps me understand that the emotions I feel are first of all the way I was created.  I have been made in the image of God, so therefore, I too will have intense emotions.  What freedom to know that I am not a slave to those emotions.  I can respond in a manner that is different than how I may feel.  Why?  Because "the nations" are watching.  Who are the "nations"?  My children.  My spouse.  My neighbors.  My friends.  My coworkers.  

When I am feeling mad, I can choose to be calm.  When I am experiencing frustration, I can respond with patience.  When I am afraid, I can speak peace.  When I am saturated with timidity, I can pour out boldness.  When I am overwhelmed with grief, I can allow His comfort to flow out of my heart.  How?  Through Christ who supplies my every need in His strength! 

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)~I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. 

Thank You for teaching us to "think better".  Thank You for modeling what it looks like to stop and choose our actions rather than respond to our emotions.  As the verse says tonight, I truly  relish Your counsel.  It is clear and concise and full of the unending love that You have for us! 
In Christ's Name,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No Fear

Psalm 119:46(MSG)
Then I'll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed!

Downy Woodpecker in rehab after his near death experience.
Introducing people to Jesus and sharing how He has radically changed my life should not be a tough task, so why is it?  My simple answer is that I am afraid.  Afraid of what?  I am afraid of being misunderstood.  I am fearful of looking foolish.  I am uneasy that I might not have all the answers to their questions.  Basically, I am concerned that they might think I am a nut!  Thankfully, as always, God gives me a clear assignment in His word.  Not surprisingly, He doesn't let me off the hook because of my feelings of fear.

My daughter fearlessly training him to fly.
God's direction was given through the last audible words that Jesus spoke to His disciples while on earth. There is no mention that fear can be utilized to give us a free pass to remain quiet.  No, instead it appears that we are to put that trepidation aside and press on "boldly and unembarrassed".  He said in Matthew 28:19-20(NIV)~Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Well, there you have it!  I need to share Christ with everyone that God gives me the privilege of interacting with, whether by word or in action.   Interestingly, there are many commands in the Bible.  The one that is repeated the most often, 365 times in fact, is  "Do not be afraid!"  God wants us to live fearlessly every single day, because to live without fear allows us to be an effective witness for Him! 

You know my weaknesses and my strengths.  Strip the fear from me and clothe me in faith.  Graciously allow me to be a part of Your perfect plan and purpose through the bold proclamation of who You are.
In the name of Christ,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Running With Joy

Psalm 119:45(MSG)
And I'll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for Your truth and Your wisdom.

I spotted these two beauties frolicking by the pond. 

Oops, I think he heard my camera click

Time to get back to writing!  Hopefully you are having a great summer so far.  As I stared out the window yesterday, these two beautiful fawns were "freely" running in the open field.  They were playing with each other and then stopping to take quick drinks from the pond in between their dances.  After watching them jump and kick for several minutes, I caught some movement in the thicket near by.  Upon closer observation, I could see Mama Deer hiding in the brush keeping a watchful eye on her charges.  

A beautiful picture of our lives was going on just outside my window.  As a child of God, we get to enjoy the sweetness of His creation while He stands guard over us.  He has allowed us to pick up joy and run with it.  We are surrounded with the Lord's truth and wisdom, we need only look for it.

Thank you for letting me enjoy Your creation.  Lead me into Your truth and wisdom as I walk without chains.  Reveal new insight into Your Word and let my heart fill with the warmth of Your love.