We are thrilled that our Lesotho Bible study has grown to 125 children! It was so fun spending time with them – meeting new faces and reconnecting with those we have known a while. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings with new opportunities…and especially…growth both physically and spiritually in the kids!
Understanding the Bible
Life is full of a lot of questions. I have learned that there is only One person who gives me the right answers to my questions. He is the One who has a Look of Love in His eyes.
When I ask Him: “Lord, why are You allowing all these natural disasters? Tens of thousands of lives lost. . .more are homeless and hopeless. . .Lord, You could do something. Why?” I see the Look of Love in His eyes as He says: “I AM the helper of the fatherless. . .the defender of the oppressed. I am still in control. My ways are not your ways. Trust Me when your questions are not answered.”
Some days I’m just exhausted. . .I don’t feel like I can handle any more. . .there are too many demands from my ministry. . .from my family. . .from my friends. . .from those in need. He gently picks me up in His strong arms. . .lets me put my head down on His chest. I listen to His heartbeat and I see the Look of Love in His eyes as He says: “I love you. Come to Me whenever you are weary and tired. I will give you rest.”
When I blow it and go to Him to confess my sin. . .again. With shame in my eyes I don’t want to look into His eyes. But, He gently cups my chin in His hand, lifts my eyes to His and I see the Look of Love in His eyes as He says: “You are forgiven. As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions. Go and walk in the newness of life.”
When I have been falsely accused. . .my reputation questioned. . .my ministry attacked. I see the Look of Love in His eyes as He says: “I understand. I’ve been there. You are blessed if you are insulted because of My Name. Repay evil with blessing. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . .Trust Me.”
When life gets too hard and I go to Him and say: “It’s not worth it. It’s too hard to live this Christian life.” He gazes at me with Look of Love in His eyes and says: “O My Child, My Beloved. . . every bit of pain and agony I went through on the cross was worth it to have you in eternity with Me. Fix your eyes on Me, the author and perfecter of your faith. It is I who endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. You have a wonderful future. I know. I have prepared a place for you.”
I have experienced that Look of Love in His eyes over and over again and I can’t get enough of it! I have heard Him speak to me through His Word again and again and I can’t get enough of it! How about you?
Settle for Nothing Less!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (NIV) Isaiah 6:8
God asks Isaiah, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”. Without hesitating, Isaiah answers, “Here am I. Send me!” God tells him to go, go to the people with His message.
A personal encounter with God permanently changed Isaiah’s life. God is the same today as He was yesterday. For every believer who has left Him, God desires that each turn back, encounter Him, and be revived. A revived person is one who has a deep desire to spend time with Him in prayer, to dig deep into the riches of His Word, and to share the reality of a relationship with Jesus Christ with anyone that he encounters.
God may or may not send revival to the church in our lifetime, but every believer can experience personal revival. I am determined to settle for nothing less in my own life. Will you join me?
We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul –not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable. (From The Message) Colossians 1:10-11
Are you living well for the Master? Would you say that God is proud of your work? Why would you say that? How are you learning more about God each day? Is what you learn having an impact on your “work” for Him? Where do you draw your strength to persevere through difficulties?
Anyway around it, daily time with God is essential for the Christian! During that time God will guide you with where He wants you serving Him…He will show you how and where to invest your precious time… He will reveal more of Himself to you…He will prepare you for what you will face that day…He will teach you how to apply His Word to your life…and He will give you the strength to endure! Have you had your time with God today? If not, how effective will you be today?
Praying in God’s Will
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us– whatever we ask– we know that we have what we asked of him. (NIV) I John 5:14-15
The safest way to know that you are praying in God’s will is to pray God’s Word! If there is a verse or passage of Scripture that directly relates to your request or a principle from God’s Word that applies, you can pray with confidence! God’s Word will never contradict God’s will.
What kind of a “pray-er” are you? Do you pray with complete confidence because you know it’s God’s will because it came from God’s Word? Or perhaps you are saying to yourself, “But, I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for passages that apply to my requests!” Here are a few to get you started. Look up the passage in your Bible and then pray it back to Him as a personal prayer. . .or better yet, make it a prayer for someone else!
- Comfort, Peace: Psalm 42; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; 4:7-12, 16-18;
- Church Leaders: Ephesians 4:1-6, 11, 12; 1 Timothy 4:7-16; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:5-9;
- Families: Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 5:21-6:4
- Growth in faith and character: Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:9, 11, 28, 34; Matthew 6:25-34; Galatians 5:16-26; Colossians 1:9-12; 3:13-15; James 3:17
Preparing a Place
After preparing a time to connect with God, you will find that it will help to also prepare a place. To be able to give God my undivided attention, I needed to find a location where I was free from distractions and interruptions. Many times finding a quiet place to meet with God is the biggest challenge.
Susanna Wesley was serious about her faith when she said, “There are two things to do about the gospel–believe it and behave it.” When Susanna, mother of 19 children, wanted to spend time with God, she had a unique way of finding her “quiet” place. She would sit down in her kitchen and pull her apron up over her head. She would then spend time in prayer and the children knew not to disturb her! Imagine that!!! Did Susanna Wesley’s lifestyle and commitment to God make a difference in her children’s lives? Her son, John Wesley, said, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.” Your lifestyle will impact your children’s lives more than you may think!
Most likely, you won’t find that hiding in your kitchen will produce a distraction free environment, but it does help if you find somewhere with few distractions.
That may mean. . .
. . . going to a room in your home where there’s not a lot of clutter around you so that you are not tempted to clean up the room instead of concentrating on your time with God.
. . . staying away from ear-shot of the telephone or answering machine.
. . . not gazing at laundry that’s crying to be washed.
. . . keeping the TV, radio or computer off.
. . . not checking your e-mail before giving God your attention.
I found that in preparing a place to meet God, it was important that I had all the resources, paper, etc. where I was spending time with God. That meant I needed my Bible, notebook paper (pre-computer!), different colored pens and highlighters to underline and mark up my Bible. . . and I needed good light. At first I tried to find a comfortable chair or sofa, but I quickly realized that if it was too comfortable, I had a tendency to get extra tired. I would too often fall back asleep if I managed to get myself into the prone position.
Where can you find a quiet, undisturbed (or at least semi-undisturbed) place in or near your home or workplace? A quiet corner of your living room? dining room? den? basement? Or if you live in a warm climate, mid-morning in your backyard? Or at your desk in the office at lunch? Or in your car waiting for the kids at soccer practice?
A Cup of Coffee and Jesus
What’s the first thing you do each morning? Hop in the shower? Wake the kids up? Hit the snooze button to steal another 5 minutes of sleep? Turn on the TV? Get some high octane coffee brewing? And after that, what does your morning routine look like? Does it include spending some time with God? Checking in to get in sync with Him. . . to find out His plans for your day. . . to find some peace and refreshment amidst a chaotic world?
Here’s the challenge: Beginning tomorrow, have your cup of coffee with Jesus. . . get up just 5 minutes earlier and use those 5 minutes to connect with God. Try reading a Psalm a day or a few paragraphs in a Gospel, but make sure that each morning you’re spending at least 5 minutes with your focus on Him. I’m going to check back with you next month and see how it’s going! For I am convinced that those of you that are seeking God with all your heart will find Him! (Jeremiah 29:13)
Are You Sleeping?
Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. (NIV) Luke 9:32
The Scene: Jesus has brought 3 of His disciples, Peter, John, and James, up to a mountaintop. While Jesus is praying, “the appearance of His face became different” (NAS Luke 9:29), and “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (NIV Mark 9:3). Supernaturally Moses and Elijah (both of whom had lived hundreds of years prior) appeared, and the 3 of them shining in brilliance, were discussing Jesus future.
During this once in a lifetime experience, what were the disciples doing? Sleeping! Can you imagine it? Sleeping! But, before we’re too quick judge, are you “sleeping” through potential divine encounters? Are you choosing to sleep rather than spend time with God? Do you choose to hit your snooze button instead of getting up and spending those 10 minutes in prayer? Or do you choose to fall asleep at the TV late at night rather than spending 15 minutes reading God’s words to you in the Bible?
We may not be sleeping through the mountaintop experience with Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but most of us are sleeping through our potential daily divine encounters we could have through spending time with God in prayer and Bible study! When will we wake up? Will it be too late?