Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seeing Him

"I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes." Job 42:5

Oh, how I pray that many today will "see" Jesus. I am heading out early this morning as it is our Ladies Winter Interlude at the church. I think we'll end up with close to 400 women attending and many different churces are represented. I love it when so many come in unity and praise the Lord together at these events. We also have unsaved women attending, and how I have been in prayer for their hearts to be open and ready to receive the message. Maybe they have heard about Him like Job, but trusting that today they will see Him with the eyes of their hearts. Oh that they would taste and see that the Lord is good.

If you read this today, please offer up a prayer that the Lord's Hand is evident in every detail, from the Greeter's who welcome our visitors, to the praise and worship time, to those catering the lunch etc... Please pray that God's power will be displayed mightily in our speaker, Lori Salierno from Georgia, CEO of Celebrate Life International. Thank you so much. Wish you could be here with me, but in praying you are part of the day.

Hope to be back later today to give a quick update.

Like Job, Lord, we desire to see You!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Rhetorical Questions

I never liked multiple choice questions on an exam. I usually over-thought the answer or assumed there was a hidden meaning or trick in the response. Today in our reading we are met by approximately 60 questions, which if multiple choice, all would have had the same answer - God!

The Lord silences Job with His list of rhetorical questions. Questions intended to provoke thought as opposed to bringing an answer. Questions that confront Job with the truth that God is God and he is not. Job is reminded that what he knows is so nothing to what he knows not and what he can do so small compared to what God can do. Job submits in humility which prepares him now for deliverance.

As I read through all the questions my heart thrilled with God's power and majesty. My heart is singing, "How Great is Our God". Will you lift up your voice and join me in song? That's NOT a rhetorical question!

(I chose this version of the song because two sweet young girls are signing the song and when my twin sister and I were their age we used to travel around singing and signing at churches and deaf weddings.)

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Thursday, January 29, 2009


"But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity." Job 36:15

Don't you often wish there was some other way He could get our attention! I know suffering wouldn't be my first pick.

Just the other day a friend of mine was sharing with me what this verse means to her. She expressed two different thoughts. First, she said that God could be allowing suffering to 'rescue' us from a life of sin, or He might even use suffering to 'rescue' us from this life and take us to heaven to be with Him, sparing us from further unknown hardship. Either way the 9-1-1 call has been made and God is on a search and rescue for our soul.

Romans 8:18 says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." It's hard to sometimes fathom that truth when in the center of excrutiating pain, whether physical, mental or emotional, but God says the contrast is incomparable.

In the middle of affliction, instead of asking 'why me', maybe we should be asking, 'what now'...what are You trying to tell me...what do You want me to learn from this difficulty...what are You rescuing me from? It's not easy to get to that point, but it's crucial in the journey. It's the crossroad from where your life with Him walks on.

On a completely different note this morning, I had to chuckle inside as I read the following verses, "He directs the snow to fall on the earth...Then everyone stops working so they can watch his power" (Job 37:6-7).

Living in Ontario, yesterday it snowed ALL DAY!!! The storm that was suppose to bypass us, landed with a fury. Thankfully, my son was still off school because of exam week, but I heard of many others who took a 'snow day'. Apparently we are in for more snow today. It's absolutely beautiful outside, breathtakingly beautiful. The snowbanks at the end of our driveway are well over 6 feet tall - some are 10 feet!

If you want to catch a glimpse of our Winter Wonderland, my friend Cathy posted some pictures today on her blog. She was visiting Niagra Falls last week and the beauty of God's creation are displayed there today for all to see. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God Speaking

"For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it." Job 33: 14

My neice and I have been spending the last 8 weeks reading and discussing Priscilla Shirer's book, "He Speaks to Me". Every Monday evening while my son tutors her daughter in Math, Michelle and I meet to study God's Word. It's been a precious journey. Michelle is not only my neice (by marriage), but she is one of my dearest friends. For an hour once a week we uncover treasures and encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.

As we have been learning to position ourselves to hear from God, the truth of this verse in Job rings clear. God is speaking, but we are not recognizing His voice. Why? Mainly because of our lack of time with Him.

Think about it. When you answer the phone and can recognize and identify the caller immediately without sight, how is that? It's because you have built up a relationship, spent time with that person, talked often and listened hard. In short, you KNOW them.

The same is true in our relationship with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will discern His voice. I don't believe it's so much that God isn't speaking to us, although at times He can be silent, I think it's more that we aren't preparing our hearts to listen by spending time in His presence.

I love what Priscilla wrote regarding Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:3 says, "Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was." "Because Samuel had a sold-out hunger for God, he snuggled up right next to the veil to get as close to Him as he possibly could." The night that God spoke to him, he was sleeping as close as he could get to the Holy of Holies. Christ's death has since removed that barrier for us and we have full access into His presence. Priscilla writes that we no longer have Samuel's problem, but we need his passion. God speaks to those who are passionately pursing Him. "Going into the Holy of Holies would have cost Samuel his life. Not going in will cost us ours."

God is speaking. Don't doubt that truth. If you are not hearing from Him, ask Him to show you why. Check for any unconfessed sin or pride. Seek holiness and wait silently. Ask the Lord to give you a deeper hunger for Him and for His Word. Then, when He does speak, submit in obedience to His call.

This song has often spoken deeply to my heart. Listen today. God is speaking. He's saying, "I love you".

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At the End of our Words

"I'll be over tomorrow. Too weary for words. Love u."

That was the complete content of an e-mail waiting for me this morning. It echoes the last verse in our reading today: "Jobs words are ended". (Job 31:40)

Coming to the end of our words. I wonder how often God is waiting for me to do just that. My words are many when they should be few. God is paitently waiting for my narrative to read, "Joys words are ended".

Just yesterday as I was preparing to lead our ladies Bible study later this morning I read this, "The primary reason we are sometimes at a loss for words is that we should be at a loss for words. We're in over our heads and silence is our best option".

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "God is in heaven and you are on earth; so let your words be few".

How often do I live by that advice? So ready to respond, yet God's Word warns that we should be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). As our example, Matthew 15:23 says of Christ, "Jesus did not answer a word". Silences often do speak louder than words, yet many are afraid of silence.

When I met my future husband, I had to learn to wait in quietness as he takes his time responding in any conversation. He needs stillness to process his thoughts and share his answer. I sometimes think his "slow to speak" is for me to learn the second half of that verse and be "slow to become angry"!

In order to listen, we have to stop talking. Lori Salierno, author, speaker and CEO of "Celebrate Life International" tells a story of the first time she met Mother Teresa. In her excitement Lori was speaking quickly and saying much. Sweet little Mother Teresa said, "Lori, Lori, too many words come out of mouth".

It's hard to hold our tongues at times. Without God's help it is untameable (James 3:8). Proverbs speaks repeatedly about the wisdom found in keeping silent even when you want to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is "a time to be silent and a time to speak". What season are you in right now? Are you speaking when you should be silent or vice versa?

God is a gentleman. He will non interrupt us. For twenty-eight chapters the debate of Job's life has continued and with these final six chapters his words have ended. Nothing of significance is accomplished until this point. All the 'me', 'my', 'I', 'myself' cease and we will hear God's heart in the matter.

Today, if you can't hear God speaking to you, "Be still and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10).

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Fruit of Fear

Job 28:28, "The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding."

I am a fearful person. You name it, I'm probably afraid of it. If I started to make a list now, this post would be longer than you'd care to read. I hate that so much of my life has been dictated by fear. It has kept me from really living.

Scripture tells me that God alone is to be feared. He is the only One worthy of my fear, yet He is continually saying to me "fear not". Why? Because I have misplaced fear. Only this fear, the fear of the Lord, casts out fear. All other fears will essentially be destroyed for every other creature or idea or place rests under the Almighty. Nothing else is as powerful.

This fear is not the shaking in our boots, hiding under the covers fear, but a reverence for the One who is to be feared. Too often we forget our deep awe for the character of God, His holiness and His sovereignty. We let Him get smaller and our impressions bigger. When we learn to love the wisdom of God, then we will understand the fear of the Lord.

I can remember as a young child sitting in a Sunday School class or attending Vacation Bible School, and the salvation message would be given. At the end of the presentation a question would always be asked: Would anyone here like to ask Jesus to forgive their sins and invite Him into their heart? Fear kept my hand down.

I grew up in a Christian home. My Dad was a lay preacher. Approximately 50 Sunday's a year our family would find themselves in different churches as my Dad would take the pulpit of a Pastor who was either ill or on vacation. As the visiting Minister's children much was expected of my sister and I. Pressure and expectation were put on us to be more than we were and know more than we did. Assumptions were made that were incorrect. With the passing of time, acknowledging that a personal decision had not been made yet became more difficult. It wasn't until the 'fear of the Lord' became greater than the fear of people that my heart surrendered. The proper fear of the Lord brought with it understanding. Understanding Who I was receiving was worth the whispering.

This wisdom is not knowledge. It is not just the gaining of information. It is a lifestyle. We all know people with great intellect, but there is a vast contrast to someone who is truly wise. Wisdom is the fruit of fearing the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is both loving and hating. Loving wisdom and hating evil. How do we know if we have the proper fear of the Lord? It will show up in our obedience. Deuteronomy 5:29 says, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always". Obedience is linked to the fear of the Lord.

"The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God's presence except us." Mike Yaconelli

The fear of the Lord is true wisdom. The culmination of wisdom is liberating love that no longer needs to fear. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Refiner's Fire

Job 23: 10b, "And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold."

Refining Silver

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to read the scriptures, and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." One lady's opinion was that is was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject.

She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her. "But Sir" she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes, madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way that he knows when the process of purifying is complete when he sees his own image reflected in the silver....

--Author Unknown

Refining our reflection. Can others see Jesus in me?

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blessed Assurance

My nugget today was Job 19:25a, "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives..."

Reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:12, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day."

Thankful that I KNOW Him and my life is in His safe keeping,

Rejoicing in simple yet profound truths today.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

God's Melody Over Job's Malady

Throughout my reading today, I hear God singing a Psalm over Job's life and mine.

Job asks, "What if I go to the grave and make my bed in darkness?" Job 17:13

In response God's Word says,

Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

His Words are speaking louder than my thoughts today.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dart Practice

“It’s pretty sad when it’s hard being a Christian at a Christian school.”

That sentence has echoed through my thoughts over the past couple of weeks. A friend of mine expressed her frustration to me while sharing a situation that had devastated her recently. For the second time now her teenage son, who attends a private Christian school, has been the recipient of threats to cause bodily harm.

Wait a minute. Don’t the majority of these students profess a personal relationship with Jesus? Should not these pupils be the most loving, kind and forgiving young people? Would they not be the first to respond in any situation with a Christ-like manner? Oh how we long to answer affirmatively to those questions. We want to believe there’s a difference. Sadly, their actions speak louder than words and reveal their true heart condition.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to point a finger or criticize Christian education. I’m just saying that pain seems compounded when it is delivered to us from those whose faith and beliefs walk the same path as ours. “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14

Sadly this behaviour is not contained within the halls of education. Outside the walls of these institutions, homes are tutoring these children in lessons that cause division. Denomination against denomination. Preferences against precepts. Relativity against absolute truth. Grey against black and white. Church against church. Country against country. The lines that divide us aren’t geographical. Anger rises. Jealousy flows.

I attended an event years ago that remains etched in my memory. The attendees at this celebration were all believers to my knowledge, yet what I witnessed that evening broke my heart. As conversation took a turn, and jokes became brash, crude and questionable, I was shocked to see what the majority considered “acceptable”. I felt like an outsider among my brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart ached.

Yes, it is sad when it’s hard being a Christian among other Christians. When the ridicule comes from family and not foe the pain cuts deep. I think this is what Job was feeling when his friends began to offer advice and help. Job 12: 4 says, “…my friends laugh at me, for I call on God and expect an answer.” Have you been there? Sitting in a circle of Christ-followers, sharing passionately what the Lord is doing in your life, and the blank stares and condescending remarks cut deeper than any physical wound. The pain is not just the callus words that strike you, but the agony that these dear friends don't understand, having ears yet they do not hear.

Maybe it’s criticism, disapproval, judgement or fault-finding that has you sitting with Job this morning. You have been the target of some dart practice and the remarks have all hit the bulls-eye of your heart and you have been viciously wounded. As Glynnis reminded me this morning in her excellent devotional, we can’t get side-tracked by critics. Respond like Job, cry out to Him and seek His face. “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.” Job 12:22.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dead Man Walking

I love it when I find programs on television that I watched as a little girl. I’ve discovered that one such program comes on daily. Did/does anyone else watch “Little House on the Prairie”? They just don’t make shows like that anymore. It’s so wholesome! The families always ask a blessing before each meal. They teach their children respect. God was in the classroom and spoken about in everyday life. The Christmas episode actually told the story of Christmas. It’s just so refreshing. I cry during every episode, but really, isn’t that the defining mark of a great story? One we can relate to and embrace.

Yesterday’s episode was powerful. The Ingles' family, who had left Walnut Grove during a recession time to be with their daughter Mary, who had recently gone blind and was now teaching at a school for the blind in the city, decided to travel home. The goodbye’s were beautiful. So much love in that family - it’s hard to believe you’re not watching a ‘real’ family and that these are only actors.

As their wagon approaches their town and we see for the first time the devastation that has hit during the absence of so many of the town people, as they too had left because of the economy, we look onto a desolate scene. It’s a ghost town. No businesses are running. The ground hasn’t been tilled. The farms are sitting idle. Bleakness. Life has gone.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the buildings that stand lifeless. They are just a mirror of the hearts of those, who for personal reasons had stayed behind. They had lost the will to live. Although physically there was very little, if anything wrong, their countenance reflected a life already buried. Charles visited one man who’s wife had just celebrated her 45’th birthday. She sat in a rocking chair, aged beyond her years. Her husband said, “God has forgotten about us.”

That’s where we find Job today. I think he feels forgotten by God. An outcast looking in on his life and despising his existence. He doesn’t understand what is happening and questioning why God would allow so much to happen to him. Listen to what he says about God in Job 9: 17-18, “For He attacks me with a storm and repeatedly wounds me without cause. He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.” He goes on to ask in chapter 10, “What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands…?”

Are you ever in that place? A place of bitterness and anger? Relentless storms have come and they are not letting up. Nights are dark. Days are darker. A once trusting traveller has become an atrophied adventurer, suffocating in the winter of the soul. A cancer of emotions is calling you to quietly slip away, for life has just become too hard. What’s the point? Why go on living? You identify with the man spoken of above and say, “God has forgotten about me.”

My heart aches today for you if you are in that place. How can I write about it? Because I’ve been there. I know the numbness that can settle around your heart, but I also know that God has not abandoned you. No matter how situations appear; no matter how alone you feel; no matter how far away you’ve wandered or how deep the pain, God is there. He has not forgotten you. Although your desire for Him has waned, His heart is aching for you. I don’t know why He has allowed living to be so hard right now, but God is there and He loves you. Circumstances are hiding His face. I know you have no strength to hold on, that’s not a problem. Let go and fall into His arms of love. He will carry you. God is not unfamiliar with resurrection. He can breathe new life into your heart. Praying for you this day with so much love.

"He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Comfortless Comforters

My Mom has a habit with every book she reads. She flips to the last few pages first and reads the ending. She can’t fathom reading through a couple of hundred pages at least and then discovering that there isn’t a happy ever after ending. Knowing how the novel ends gives her peace. Now she can enjoy reading the rest of the story. I used to think this was ridiculous! Wouldn’t it spoil the conclusion? I’ve discovered the very opposite is true. Instead, it heightens my appetite for the ending. You know the good part is coming and you can’t wait to get there. It’s sort of like watching your favourite movie for the tenth time. You know every detail of the plot, yet if you're anything like me, you still cry in the same scenes, and anticipate that climatic moment that has had you once again holding your breath.

Well, with the advice of my good friend, Elaine, I did skip to the end of the book of Job to remind myself of the victory to come. The Lord has helped me put my fears of yesterday into the faith of today. God is in control and I can trust Him without anxiety stealing my tomorrows.

Today’s reading reminded me so much of my last post on my other blog entitled, “He Sees”. What is my first response to a friend in need? I so much want to fix the problem. I see her pain and it tears me apart. I want to be able to give the advice she needs and infuse her with hope and strength. We begin to see today that not all advice is good advice and sincerity doesn’t equal truth. We can be sincerely wrong. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool seems right to him…” I sadly at times have been that fool.

As I read through the account of Job as he interacts with his comfortless comforters, I pray the Lord will show me the do’s and don’ts of reaching out to others who are suffering. I believe I need to talk less, listen more and pray without ceasing.

Pain and suffering are a part of life. Although we would never welcome them, they do enrich our lives. Think for just a minute of some of the greatest gifts to us that have been birthed from our deepest pain. Hymn writer Horatio Spafford, after the loss of his four daughters in an Atlantic shipwreck, penned the words for “It Is Well With My Soul.” Ministries and organizations like “America’s Most Wanted”, have been formed by those who have experienced tremendous loss. If you are a Mom and you are reading this then you will understand when I say that our children are literally birthed from our deepest physical pain.

There is One though, who bore a deeper agony to give us our most precious gift. Christ’s deepest pain opened the door for our greatest joy. “Christ endured the agony of the cross so we could enjoy the glory of heaven.” (Quote taken from “Our Daily Bread”) Joy and pain are not incompatible. We can find comfort from the Lord who knows, and for some reason allows our lives to be touched with trouble. He is our comforting Comforter.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Mystery of God's Love

As far back as I can remember I’ve been playing the piano. Music has always been part of my life. My childhood daily routine consisted of piano practice, school, musical theory, meals and sleep. My efforts were rewarded from time to time making this lifestyle worthwhile.

I remember one competition that had received much preparation. My performance was flawless. The audience applauded. First place was in my grasp. No other performance was without error. It was mine. As the judges stepped forward to present the certificates, I was handed 2nd place. First place was awarded to one who not only stumbled through the performance, but who forgot her memory and had to get her book. Life at times is unjust and unfair.

Welcome to Job’s world. You have just touched the outside realm of Job’s turf. Job, a book of misery and mystery. He was a model man. He had a resume of righteousness, yet his piety and prosperity didn’t protect him from pain. Life was unfair. Difficulties we can handle, but unfair seems too hard.

I think what touches me most in this story is that Job was just a man. He was no super-human. He was like you and I. “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz” (Job 1:1). That could be the beginning of my story today or your story today. There was a woman named _____ who lived in the land of ______. Job’s story could be our story.

It is this reality that has caused alarm in me this morning. I have tried to make several attempts at writing today's post. Each path my thoughts go down travel roads lined with questions. Fear hides behind each bush. Uncertainty threatens to invite a retreat, but the road stretches on ahead.

We read there was a man, then, there was a day. A day like no other. A day when life crashed down so hard the living of it seems unimaginable. Job's life is the personification of misery. A misery that God allowed. Here is a good man, a godly man, a faithful husband, a loving father, then, seemingly senseless tragedy invaded his life. So underserving. No warning. No understanding. A strange cosmic agreement between God and Satan. There is just no comprehending.

Job got up one morning and his life changed forever. We too can have Job moments in our lives. A phone call. A Doctor's report. A knock on the door. No one is exempt from tragedy. On a broader scale we see 9/11, drive-by shootings, childhood abuse, the list is endless. All scream of life being unjust.

Suffering unaccompanied with understanding seems extra hard. If you are punished for doing wrong, although the consequences might bring pain, they are deserving. Job had done nothing wrong. Job was a man of integrity, yet God chose for him to endure unfathomable loss and pain.

Suffering. The storms come and we question where is God? Our lives are experiencing a personal terrorist attack. Missles are flying. Bombs of doubt are going off. Yet, when all quiets and the smoke clears we realize we are not alone. We are still here. Maybe fighting the fight of our lives, but God has not abandoned us to the grave.

At the end of Job's life he is remembered, not for his wealth, his health or his wisdom, but for his endurance. I struggle with my response to Job's life. I struggle with the anxiety of wondering if God would ask such a trial of me. I don't want it. Is it bad that I can't surrender and say with Paul, I want to know You in Your suffering? I think these next two weeks as I journey with Job are not going to be easy. Knowing how at any moment, if not for God's grace, Job's life could be mine. That possibility is holding a shadow over my head this morning. I know it is not God's intent. I pray for His peace. I don't want to live in the worry of potential hardship. I need God to so captivate my mind and fill me with Himself that fear isn't my response. I pray that I will be able to accept the mystery of God's love.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

God's Blessings

As I read the account of Jacob blessing Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, I am reminded of the story of Jacob and Esau, where the younger son Jacob received the greater blessing. Joseph had tried to secure the greater blessing for his older son Manasseh by placing him by his father’s right hand, but Jacob, moving at the impulse of God's command, crossed his hands prior to giving the blessing. Jacob’s actions were not a mistake, nor was he showing partiality, but he was responding to Divine counsel. Ephraim is God’s firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9 tells us, “For I am Israel’s father and Ephraim is my oldest child.”

Blessings in life do not always flow as expected. The race is not always to the swift or the battle to the strong (Ecc.9:11). Jacob blesses his adopted sons not by birth order, but by character quality. Names often give us insight into personality. Manasseh’s name means “forgetting”, referring to Joseph’s desire not to recall his years of slavery and the cruel treatment of his brothers. Ephraim means “fruitful” reflecting the years of prosperity Joseph has enjoyed since his prison days. One looks back, the other looks ahead. Someone living in the past or preoccupied with yesterday's burdens is held in bondage. In order to move forward, captivity must be left behind.

Jacob was wise in his obedience to the Lord. Jacob would have personally fully understood being the recipient of an ill-fitting inheritance and the burden it inflicted. As parents of children today, encouraging our children in pathways for future vocations, we need to see both the external characteristics as well as the inner dreams and desires. We sometimes impose pressure on our children to follow a certain path without full consideration of their strengths and weaknesses, their limitations and their longings, trying to make an artist into a surgeon or an architect into an athlete. Each child is an individual and should not be forced into a mold or given a cookie cutter blessing.

Man wills but God’s plans succeed. Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”

“God, in bestowing blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him.”
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

How has He been pleased to bless you today?

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Deeper Starvation

As I’m nearing the end of Genesis in my Scripture reading, today was focused on the famine. I am struck once again by God’s provision. Provision in direction and supply. Unlike my son who often tells me he‘s starving, Jacobs family was in need. They had come to the end of their resources. In order for life itself they required food. It was a need that forced their travel to Egypt, not once, but twice. There was an urgency that accompanied their journey. However, there was more than a physical need that would be supplied.

Greater than the aching stomach’s were the broken hearts. Years had passed since these brothers, in a moment of overwhelming jealousy and hatred, had sold and abandoned their brother. They had lied to their father concerning Joseph’s circumstances and had lived with the inner turmoil of their deceit. Hunger was not the only thing causing starvation. They were starving for forgiveness and reconciliation. Food was their lesser need. They had a famine of the soul. In pursing what was essential physically, they received what they truly needed.

Are you facing starvation today? I’m going to guess that very few, if any, reading this know the true meaning of the word as it pertains to actual food. However, many may be experiencing an emotional, or more deadly still, spiritual starvation. Maybe it’s just from a lack of need. You’re feasting on activity, outwardly appearing the part, but the doing is providing no real nourishment. Your tummy is bloated, but as Amy Grant used to sing, you’re just a “fat baby”. Your diet isn’t causing growth. Your walk with the Lord is mediocre. You know the Lord and you’ve received what you wanted - a ticket into heaven - but the heart-burning hunger and desire for anything more isn’t there. Maybe you honestly are afraid of more. Maybe you’re frightened to need Him so desperately because others have disappointed you and walked away. That will never, NEVER be true of Jesus. He is all you’ll ever need.

“Oh God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of further desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee. I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise up and follow Thee, up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name. Amen”A. W. Tozer

You do not have to go away hungry. God's banqueting table is before you. He is the Bread of life. Daily He provides meat in His Word. He wants to fill your cup to overflowing. If it's been so long that you don't even have that craving caused by a prolonged lack of food, pray that prayer above again and tell Him you need Him to be your desire.

Then bow before Him and receive your full.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The Gift of Tears

Today’s reading would make such a great movie! I remember seeing Donny Osmond portraying Joseph in the production of “The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” Even though I knew the story well, I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for Joseph’s brother’s to discover that Joseph was still alive.

Several times in our reading today we see Joseph weeping (Genesis 42:24, 43:30, 44:1,2,14,15). There are times in our life when tears are our only response. Words fall short of expression. Nothing audible could convey our emotions. Tears are a universal language. They speak for themselves. Words would only mar their sacred shedding. Tears speak louder and clearer than the most trained voice. Chuck Swindoll writes, “Tears have a language all their own, a tongue that needs no interpreter.” Tears are a response of our heart.

There is great strength in tears. I read this quote recently, “Weeping arises from the heart and signifies an open and softened heart. Perhaps that is why so many people are embarrassed to cry; they do not want to reveal their vulnerability.”

For many years I was one who guarded herself against tears. I would set my jaw and close myself off from feeling. My heart was hard and cold. I didn’t want to be moved by pain that would cut deep. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to stay in control. The Lord has done an amazing work on this callous heart of mine. He took what was dead and numb and has birthed sensitivity and compassion. He has given me His heart for others and has thawed ice.

I’ve heard it said that the same sun melts wax or hardens clay. It is the condition of the object that brings the result from the sun. What is your heart condition today? Joseph’s heart was pliable, forgiving, kind and filled with love. Let the Son shine on your heart today, that you might be touched by the things that stir His heart and respond to others with His love.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Forgotten, but not Forsaken

“Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.”
Genesis 40:23

Not long ago our family was heading out the door for church. My husband and son had gone out through our garage just moments ahead of me and I was turning off the lights, locking the door and following. As I was turning the key in the lock, the garage door began to close and I watched as my husband slowly began to pull out of the driveway. WHAT? I wasn’t even in the car yet. How could he forget me?

Forgotten. No-one likes the feelings that accompany abandonment. Discouragement surrounds as you think no-one cares and you are all alone. Joseph in our reading today certainly could empathize. His heart was filled with hope at the thought of a quick release and rapid pardon, but days, weeks, months pass and Joseph remains in prison. Once the cup bearer drank of freedom, he forgot others who were thirsty and in need.

Companions in adversity are soon neglected in prosperity.

I wonder if God ever feels forgotten by me? I’m so quick to call out to Him in times of trouble, but what about when life is great? Am I just as desperate to be in His presence? Do I long for Him as much, or more, than my answers from Him? Am I just as quick to give Him praise and spend time with Him when problems aren’t perplexing me? Is my fervency the same whether in want or abundance? Hardship creates need. Plenty ofen weakens desire.

Joseph however was not forgotten by God. The cup bearers' forgetfulness was part of God’s plan. It was, in a sense, God remembering Joseph. The Lord needed to keep him in prison until the time was right. When Joseph is released he is blessed, and as a result even his family will receive blessings.

God always provides, not necessarily according to our agenda, but His plans are always perfect. We saw in today’s reading how He provided seven years of plenty before seven years of famine. He was preparing the people and looking after their need before they would call. Again, he wasn’t going to forsake them, He was deepening their trust. Joseph learned in his disappointment to trust in God alone.

Do you need to place your complete trust in God today? You may feel forgotten, but you are not forsaken. He will set you free.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Lesson in Purity

"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit."
1 Thess.4:7,8

Well, we certainly saw a contrast today in the behavior of Jacob's sons. Promiscuity and purity were both evidenced. We see the profligate conduct of Judah as he pursues pleasures and the holy character of Joseph as he pursues God.

Joseph put his trust in the Lord. He knew that if he followed temptations path he would give up all he had, all he was and all he would ever be. He would lose responsibility, respectability and reputation. We have a beautiful picture of a man of integrity. He was the same in public as he was in private. There was something different about Joseph and others noticed by his character the authenticity of the God he served. His life gave evidence to believe there is a God behind the message.

Four times in one chapter we read, "The LORD was with Joseph" (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23). Potiphar's house was successful because Joseph was there. Ultimately this was because God was there. This 'with' was more than a close proximity. It was an indwelling of God's Spirit giving Joseph His presence and power resulting in Joseph's prosperity.

When temptation came the Lord was with Joseph. When everyone leaves you, the Lord still remains. All the servants were gone from Potiphar's house when his wife tried to seduce Joseph. No-one would have seen...but God sees!

Joseph knew he was in trouble and he ran from the shameless enticements of Potiphar's wife. He didn't for a moment linger in lust. His feet fled. He recognized that this sin would not be against the one who owned his service, but the one who owned his heart. He had the proper fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

Was Joseph rewarded for his actions? It certainly doesn't appear that way as he is sent off to prison. On the other hand, these accusations could have had him beheaded. Again we read that the Lord was with Joseph.

So, today I question, is the Lord's presence in my life obvious to others? What do I have responsiblity or authority over? How am I using that authority? Am I content in my service? Am I taking care of my household? Am I handling my affairs with honesty? Am I avoiding sin (Genesis 39:10), and running from temptation? Do I fear the Lord?

The Lord was with Joseph. If you know Him personally, His presence and power is with you today.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How will they remember me?

I have to be honest, it's hard to read through the lists of genealogies. My tendency is to want to jump ahead. Skim over the names. Not take the time to read each one, half of which I can't pronounce. Yet, years ago my heart was convicted about such reading. These names are part of my heritage too and compose the roots of my family tree. Each name is precious. Each name represents a life lived. Was it lived well?

Some day my name will be just that...a name. A name in a list of many traced through my family history. When my ancestry is researched will there be anything more to be written of me than just my name? Every now and again in these lists one name is highlighted with a short phrase of remembrance. Will there be anything to remember about me?

Every day we make decisions. Every day is a new opportunity. Every day we can grasp hold of life. Am I living it to the full? Christ came to give me abundant life. What am I doing with the gift of time He has still given me? Maybe I won't be remembered for any one great thing. Maybe there will be nothing that is worthy of extra words in a history of my heritage, but that doesn't stop my desire to want to live great. My name is written in the most important list of names that will ever be recorded. My Father is not only Great, He is God.

Maybe there will be nothing on paper that records my life as being of value. Maybe when my life is over it will be quickly forgotten. But maybe, just maybe my greatest legacy will be written on hearts. Hearts touched by God in me. Hearts that move on for future generations and draw others to the throne of Christ. Now, that's a legacy.

Please watch the following video. You might be familiar with this song, but the graphics make the lyrics come alive. Grab a tissue and let your heart be touched.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

On the Mat

Over the holidays I played in my first boxing match. Was it ever tiring. My nephew had received a Wii for Christmas and I was attempting to play some of his games. I couldn't believe how exhausting the boxing was to me physically. I just couldn't give up, hold back or let down unless I wanted my opponent to overpower me and win.

This is just a small taste of what it must have been like for Jacob to wrestle with God in prayer. It is said that nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exhertion than wrestling. Have you been there? Have you ever strived with God in prayer over a concern on your heart? At times prayer can be such hard work, especially when our desires or distresses are greater than our dialect. Our hearts mean more than our tongues could ever say. Prayer is hard work.

Sometimes I find myself saying to a friend, "Well, you know that I'll be praying", yet it is said with a sense of surrender as if it is the lesser work, wishing there was so much more I could do. Prayer is the greatest work. It is never the work of the defeated, but the warrior. It is bravely going before God's throne of grace and often wordlessly crying out to God or interceding for the needs of another. Prayer places you on the battlefield.

God's Word tells us that the fervant prayer is the effectual prayer. Prayer brings results. Jacob said to the Lord in Genesis 32:26, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." His wrestling did not shake his faith or silence his prayer.

Does God always answer our prayer the way we desire? No. However, He always answers and His answers are always best.

Jacob had already demonstrated that he was a man of prayer. Genesis 32:9-12 provides such a beautiful pattern for prayer. Jacob thanks the Lord for previous, undeserved favours; he humbly confesses his unworthiness; he expresses his fear and despair; he surrenders to the Lord and rests his hope in Him. Things weren't looking good as he prepared to meet his brother Esau, but Jacob recalls God's promises and places his confidence in God's Word. "The best we can say to God in prayer is what He has said to us" (Author unknown).

Do you need prayer today? Is there a concern on your heart that needs wrestling? Wrestling is defined as the act of engaging in close hand-to-hand combat. One of the techniques in wrestling is 'holding'. Today, hold on to Jesus, because He's holding on to you.

If there is a prayer concern you would like me to pray over with you and for you, please leave it in the comment section below or e-mail me. I will wrestle with God on your behalf.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Household Idols

So much has spoken to my heart today on my journey through the chronological Bible. I want to camp on one passage, but I still want to just quickly point out a couple of truths that have captured me.

Laban's dishonesty and treatment of Jacob in Genesis 30 no doubt was birthed in a heart of jealousy and envy. He certainly abused his position of authority, yet the Lord still prospered Jacob. The Lord honours those who trust in His provision. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails" Proverbs 19:21.

Jacob endured so much to become Laban's son-in-law (Genesis 31:38-42). What am I willing to endure to become a daughter of God? What sacrifices am I willing to make?

Laban and Jacob eventually set up a stone monument as a reminder of their covenant. You never read one word of apology. Laban does not willingly speak of any fault, he just moves on.

However, the verse that has held my heart this morning is Genesis 31:19b, "Rachel stole her father's household idols and took them with her". A few thoughts have been awakened as I read this verse.

First, it has made me question what "household idols" I have and second, I am struck by the reality that my goods can be stolen, but not my God. Oh, our idols can be stolen, and they can steal from us, but no-one can take away our God. That's why God's Word tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It truly is a heart issue.

Why would Rachel even want to take the household idols? Didn't she have everything? She was beautiful. She was loved. She was blessed with children. The Lord had just given her the baby her heart had longed for, but obviously this child still didn't fill the emptiness in her life.

Kelly Minter, author of "No Other God's" sums this up so perfectly. She writes, "I have found myself in both the shoes of Leah and Rachel: Leah's when I am miserable because I lack, and Rachel's when I am miserable in my fullness. The way out? Jesus Christ."

Regardless of your state, contentment can be found in God alone. Paul expressed this truth in Philippians 4:12, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Only God can satisfy.

Look around the home of your heart. Do you see "household idols"? Are their gods that can be stolen? Maybe the best thing that could happen in your life would be to have your heart burgularized so that only One thing remains. The One thing that can never be stolen - God!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Desparate Housewives

Today's reading began in Genesis 28 with Jacob's dream. I was reminded that the Lord can speak to us while we are sleeping. If you awaken with an amazing idea or thought, or if you suddenly know the direction you should take in a situation you are facing, thank the Lord. Daniel experienced this as well: "Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright." God can rouse us from slumber with the answers we seek.

The remainder of our reading focused on a couple of desperate housewives. Jealousy, comparison, and resentment birth a series of events as Jacob's wives strive for his affection.

I heard a message last summer based on this passage of scripture. The speaker, Doug Blair, entitled his sermon, "A woman who was a '3' in a world of '10's." Have you been there? In our society outward beauty is sought at all costs. It tells us in Genesis 29:17 that "There was no sparkle in Leah's eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face". Nothing about Leah's appearance captured the attention of others. Years later, that would have put her in good company as it was said of Christ, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him", Isaiah 53:2.

Not only did Leah struggle with her physical appearance, but she lacked guidance (her father sold her for money) and romance. She is broken hearted and a hurting heart can lead to great bitterness.

Our pain does not go unnoticed. The Lord saw her brokenness, Genesis 29:31, and He blessed her with children. As she gave birth to each son, the longings of her heart dictate each name. Her first son Reuben means "see me". She is crying out for Jacob to see her. Her second son, Simeon means "listen to me", a plea for her husband to listen to her. Her third son's name Levi is the word for "attached", a desperate call for love. Her heart wonders, have I done enough now? Will you love me now? The forth son is Judah, meaning "praise". Something had obviously happened.

What can you do when you're being ignored? How can you respond when others are telling you you're a '3' even on your best day? Turn to the Lord to find your significance. Leah turned her eyes from her husband, sister and father to God. Her circumstances didn't change, but she began to realize that God was active in her life.

Leah had six sons. From her son Judah came the line of all the Kings, including Jesus. From Levi came all the priests. It's interesting to note that in Genesis 49:28-31 we read how Jacob is buried with Leah. History valued Leah (Ruth 4:11). In eternity Leah is very significant, yet she died unaware of her signficance. Through Leah came blessing, honour and salvation.

One last thought comes to my attention. Reread Genesis 30: 1-3. Do you see it? Rachel wanted to die because she was so desperate to have children. What was at the root of this desperation? Jealousy. Now the beautiful Rachel is jealous of Leah. Although Leah has endured years of pain, she is still the reason for someone's jealousy. Both women were competing for love and desperate to be loved.

Today, if you are feeling unloved, overlooked and unappreciated, remember that God sees you. He loves you so very much. Like Leah, turn your eyes on Him and give Him praise. Praise can be the chorus that welcomes love.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Blessed By Design

"In the planning of God, the plots of mankind are already part of the blueprint." Pastor Rick Baker, December 7th, 2008, Morning service Calvary Baptist Church

God had told Rebekah "your older son will serve your younger son", Genesis 25:23, just as He had told Sarah previously that she would have a son, Genesis 18:10, but neither woman fully believed God's promise. Their lack of faith is demonstrated in their taking control of their situations. Rebekah plots to have her younger son recieve the blessing, and we saw how Sarah arranged for Abraham to have a child through her servant Hagar.

When the fulfillment of God's plan didn't appear to be happening, both lost confidence in the promise. Our circumstances can sometimes overshadow the truth. It's when difficulties and concerns arise that we find ourselves in a place where faith is tested.

This faith requires surrender to God's plans. It's laying down of control and understanding the difference between letting go and presenting an offering. Letting go suggests abandoning, where an offering is a willing choice...a gift. If only both Sarah and Rebekah and presented their confusion and pain to God as a gift and waited for the fulfillment of the promise.

Abraham blessed Isaac twice. The first blessing was unwittingly done. The second blessing was by design. We can trust the blessings that God has willingly spoken over our lives. Blessings to give us a hope and a future. Blessings to guide us and be with us. Blessings that involve peace and safety. A. W. Tozer writes, "Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed." God is good and His promises sure.

Today I ask you, are you part of God's plan or human plotting? I want to encourage you not to take matters into your own hands. Only move when God moves and you too will be blessed by design.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Legacy Builders

I rarely dream. At least I rarely dream that I remember, but this morning as I read this daily portion of scripture, my dream returned to me. I know this may sound silly, but I think my dream might have been prompted by watching the Babara Walters interview with Patrick Swayze last evening. The one thing that really warmed my heart was observing the obvious love between he and his wife of over 30 years. In this day and age, especially in Hollywood, their committment to marriage encouraged me.

I think that could be why I went to sleep last night thinking of the love of family. My night was filled with visions of my family. We were all together. My parents, sisters and their families, my nephew and his wife and family all at my parent's home. The rooms were overflowing with love. The children were all playing together and enjoying each other's company. The adults were sharing life stories and encouraging one another. At one moment, my 83 year old Father, our resident "Abraham", commented that he wished all families could get along and be as happy as our family. We truly have been blessed.

This morning God's Word called my attention to the fact that not all families can share this testimony. It is written of Ismael's descendants that "they lived in open hostility toward all their relatives" (Genesis 25:18). A few short verses following we read of the coming birth of Isaac and Rebekah's twins, "The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals" (Genesis 25:23). Open hostility. Sibling rivalry. Sadly so many families live with these on-going conflicts, whether openly or behind closed doors.

Today, I want to rejoice and give tribute to parents who were legacy builders. My mom and dad may not leave much of this worlds richess behind when God calls them to their eternal home, but they leave a heritage of love. As my Pastor shared just a couple of weeks ago, our passing can be a comma, not a period. It can say, "To be continued...". My parent's have learned that the full measure of life is most often based upon it's contribution to the future. It's not so much what they did, but what they've made possible, refusing to allow the blessings to end with them.

The heading that began my reading today in Genesis 25 read, "What follows took place sometime after Sarah's death". It has made me consider the legacy that will follow me. Not just the events that will occur after my passing, but the heritage of future generations. Again the fervency of being intentional is impressed on my heart. Growing a godly family doesn't just happen. It takes work and time.

Do you want to be encouraged to live the truths of Deutoronomy 6:5-9 and look for teachable moments to impart God's Word into the lives of the next generation? Do you desire to be a legacy builder? May I encourage you to visit my friend Renee's blog. Just this past Monday she began a month of encouragement for mom's "to make daily deposits of faith into our children's lives and leave a spiritual legacy." Let's do all we can to raise a generation who will love and follow hard after the Lord. Let's get on our knees and pray for our families and let them see evidence in our lives of a God they will long to know deeper and love with their whole hearts. May it be said of all our future descendants, "They were living by faith when they died" (Hebrews 11:2).

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The compassion and provision of God. I wish I had so much more time this morning to share all that is in my heart. As I read the account of Hagar and Ismael (Gen 21:8-21), I was touched by the kindness of God. Although they were being justly punished for their behavior, God did not abandon them. He reminded Hagar of the promise concerning her son and then verse 19 says, "Then God opened Hagar's eyes, and she saw a well full of water." So caught up in her destitute circumstances, Hagar had failed to see the resource God has already provided. The well of water that would quench their thirst was right there, but she was unaware of it until God opened her eyes.

I have destitute family and friends who are thirsting for water, living water. The well is right there. All they need do is dip their empty life in and be filled, but they walk dry and dehydrated. The do not see the Source of water. Sometimes they must come to that place of desperation that Hagar visited before God opens their eyes and they recognize His supply.

Genesis 22:1 has never been a favourite verse of mine: "God tested Abraham's faith." Satan tempts us to sin, but God tests us to strengthen our faith. Abraham had unwavering faith that what God commands is good and His promises are sure. He demonstrates no doubt. He consults with no-one. He obeys. I rejoice in His confidence in his God when he says, "WE will worship there, and then WE will come right back" (capatilization mine). He believed he would not return alone. Whether God provided another sacrifice or even raised Isaac from the dead, Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).

I pray God would never ask me to sacrifice my son for any reason, but we all have "Isaacs" in our lives. There are things, people, positions etc...that God may ask us to place on the altar. God's Word says that we are to have no other gods beside Him. Sometimes we can love our "Isaacs" more than our God.

Abraham's love for the Lord foreshadowed a taste of God's love for us. Just as God provided a sacrificial lamb for Abraham, He provided a sacrificial Lamb for us, His One and only Son, but this time no other substitute would be accepted. No other substitute could be accepted.

The following telling of Isaac and Rebekah is so precious to read. Again my heart is captured by obedience. The obedience of a young girl to leave mother, father, family, homeland and follow.

As the servant is returning with Rebekah, they see Isaac "walking and meditating in the fields" (Gen 24:63). My mind would like to think he was even praying for his wife as he conversed with the Lord. Maybe he was already thanking Him for providing for he had been taught earlier to believe in Yahweh-Yireh, "the Lord will provide".

In closing, I loved Isaac's tender heart. The final verse of chapter 24 says, "He loved her (Rebekah) deeply and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother." In researching the time-line here, I discovered that Sarah and died about three years prior to this, and yet Isaac was not comforted until now. God not only provides for our physical needs, but our emotional, mental and spiritual needs as well.

Where do you need to see the provision of God today? Trust Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord will provide.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


There's one word that rings loud and clear in today's reading, although it doesn't appear in the text.


Genesis 18:14 asks a question that we must answer: "Is there anything too hard for the LORD?" Well, is there? Luke 1:37 puts it this way, "For nothing will be impossible with God."

Sometimes we get so consumed with the size of our problem and the size of our faith, we forget the size of our God.

Selah. Stop and consider this for a moment. Everything is possible. Nothing is impossible. Where do you need the word "possible" written over your life today? Is your marriage struggling? Is their a relationship that is strained? God says reconciliation is possible. Are you dealing with health concerns. Are their physical challenges? God says healing is possible. Do you long to see a desire fulfilled? Is their barrenness of soul? God says joy and life are possible. Do you live with anxiety and fear? Do worries exhaust most of your day? God says peace that passes understanding is possible. Whatever has you discouraged and disappointed, God wants you to have hope. God wants you to trust Him.

I realize the word "possible" means, "can be done". It doesn't mean "will be done". God is still Sovereign and He decides what is best for His children. Yet, we need to trust with joyful expectancy in a God who gives abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. Proverbs 13:12 tells us, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." We have to keep believing. We have to keep trusting. Today might be the day your hope becomes sight. Today might be the day you see God work in some miraculous way in your life.

As believers we have a hope that is a reality for us, not just a desireable possibility. We have a hope that is guaranteed in Christ's promises. Our hope is a confident expectation. Hebrews 6:18-19 encourages us to take hold of the hope set before us, a hope that is the anchor of our soul, both sure and steadfast. Our hope can rise above the cares and concerns of our "impossibles" and float on calm seas because it is anchored firm in the Hands of God.

As a little girl I was taught the following chorus. As you read the lyrics, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

"Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God;
Nothing is impossible when you're trusting in His Word.
Hearken to the voice of God to thee:
'Is there anything to hard for Me?'
Then put your trust in God alone and rest upon His Word;
For ev'rything, O ev'rything,
Yes, ev'rything is possible with God." --Eugene L. Clark

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Monday, January 5, 2009

God's Waiting Room

How are you when it comes to waiting? I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I can remain patient through many situations. I don’t mind waiting at the Doctor’s office. Getting delayed in traffic never seems to upset me. I gladly surrender my place in line at the grocery store when I see the lady behind me has fewer items in her shopping cart. To be honest, I enjoy the extra time of solitude waiting often affords. However, how do we react when we find ourselves in “God’s Waiting Room”?

Reading in Genesis 16 I find Abram and Sarai waiting. Waiting on the Lord to bless them with a child. A child that had been promised, yet so far there had been no evidence of this promise fulfilled. Waiting is a tough action. There is nothing passive about it. It requires greatness.

Recently I have pulled up a chair alongside several friends who are waiting to see God act on their behalf. I’m sitting with a very dear friend who has family members both struggling physically and facing challenges. Beside her sits a lady seeking health for her husband. Across the room, a friend sits in isolation, longing to know that God sees her situation and cares. In another chair, with head hanging low, sits a young lady whose shame has surrounded her and she wants to know if God will forgive her again. A young couple hold hands, a mixture of joy and wonder on their faces as they eagerly anticipate the nine-month wait to see the fulfillment of the gift of life that God has miraculously begun. A mother cries for the return of a prodigal daughter. A dear friend counts off another month on her calendar as the adoption of her baby girl is yet to be a reality. A family fills the remaining seats looking for guidance as a husband has lost his job due to restructuring. I complete their circle as one who is empty, crying out to God for direction and clarity. Do I find the waiting here easy? No. I want God to answer now. I want the receptionist to call my name and then provide me with a prescription that comes with the assurance of complete and lasting recovery and restoration.

Suddenly my eyes shift to a chair I hadn’t noticed before. There sits a Man of Sorrows who is well acquainted with grief. His eyes are full of love. You see, there is a major contrast between God’s Waiting Room and that of our family practitioner. The Great Physician Himself sits with us in the waiting room. He is very aware of each situation. He sees each concern. He knows each anxious longing. His arms hold each weary heart and troubled thought. His tears mingle with ours. He waits with us.

Today I offer no quick recovery, but I want to lift your eyes to the One who never leaves you or forsakes you, Deut 31:6. I heard it said once that our adversities are God’s universities. We want to avoid these times in our life, yet they are often where God does some of His most life-changing work in us. Draw near to God. Trust Him. Wait on Him – not on His answers. He will tenderly hold your heart as He accomplishes all that concerns you, Psalm 138:8

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Babel- Builders

The Lord is refining my thoughts as I open His Word each morning. He is calling me to focus in on one truth from His Word, even though many come to me as His Spirit reveals and gives understanding. There was much that filled my mind today, but one message that stood out as greater than the rest.

In reading about the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the Lord has spoken to my heart. It seems like pride and the longing for significance and power prompted the building of the tower. A tower that would make the construction workers famous, strengthen unity and keep them living together. This was contrary to God's plans. God's purpose was for man to form many nations.

Genesis 11:5 begins, "But the LORD came down to look..." How sad He must be at times as He looks down at His children, going about our own plans without inquiring of Him first. Seeking prominence and power. Wanting to make a name for ourselves, when we should be desiring to make a name for Him. "Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory"(Psalm 115:1).

God confused their communication with one another. It amazes me the various ways God uses to defeat our plans when they are contrary to His. He could have punished them in some greater way, but instead of severe discipline, he deterred and detoured their direction, not punishing them as they deserved. God's Word tell us that He doesn't deal with us according to our sins (Psalm 103:10), but He lovingly forgives and mercifully pardons.

As I thought further of the language barrier that would have developed between the people, it made me think of the foreign languages around the world. I only speak English fluently. Although I studied French well into High School, I only speak it "un peu". I don't really have a grasp on another language...or do I? God's Word tells me that I am a 'foreigner' here on earth, so my language should be different than those around me. As a child of God, my native tongue should now give evidence to my homeland. Words that encourage, help and build others up, yet how often I find unholy dialect proceeding from my lips. Harsh words. Unkind remarks. Accusations. Judgements. Words that should not be found in the vocabulary of a heaven bound resident. Praying the Lord will keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies (Psalm 34:13).

With their language confused, the people stopped working together. It is the wise person who sees God's hand in the shortfall of their project and abandons efforts. God is still able to stop the plans of Babel-builders today. He is in control. Before following our own blueprint for "tower" construction, we need to give our plans to Him and wait on Him. May the only building I do today be the result of my Divine Contractor calling me to "arise and build" (Nehemiah 2:20).

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Value of the Closed Door

This morning before I opened God's Word I prayed for wisdom. I asked the Lord to give me understanding. Although I am just writing on this blog as a form of personal accountability, it is open for others to read. It would be so easy to misunderstand a truth from God's Word, misinterpret it's meaning and then write something here that could cause confusion, or worse, lead someone astray. I feel like I should include a disclaimer: These are the thoughts of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Author. I pray that they will be His Word to me, but as I learned yesterday, error is possible. (To clarify - for those of you who read yesterday's post, on further research the Enoch in Genesis 5:18 is not the same Enoch in Genesis 4:17. I have now removed that information from my post.) Please give grace as you visit and know that I am not a Bible scholar, nor would ever claim to be. I'm a girl seeking to know her Father.

I also don't believe in going down rabbit trails. There are some things we will never understand in God's Word. That's the mystery of God. If we could explain everything about Him and the reasons why He allows certain things to happen then He would cease being God. There has to be an 'otherness' about Him. Nor can we explain all the actions and decisions of those we read about in the Bible. For example, today I don't know why Noah cursed Canaan, the son of Ham because of Ham's actions. I think maybe the whole story hasn't been included here. Possibly even Noah reacted in a moment of harshness and embarrassement. Have you not been there yourself? Have you ever handed out a punishment to your child that was greater than the act deserved at a time of peronsonal anger or because you were dealing with other issues totally unrelated to the offense, but it triggered your response? I don't think we have to try and figure out the how's, when's, where's and why's of our reading. We need to just bow the knee and ask the Lord what He wants to speak to our hearts today. This is not about gaining knowledge, but knowing Him.

Today as I read His Word, three things were impressed on my heart. The first truth is found in Genesis 7:16. This is what I read, "Then the LORD closed the door behind them." So often I pray for an "open door", but there is just as much value in the "closed door". There are times when the Lord, out of His love and mercy must close a door for our own good. We can't see the future and we maybe don't understand, but the closed door is for our protection and safety. The closed door keeps the storm from drowning our lives in a sea of unknowns. Oh, how I need to thank Him for the closed door. God will open it in His time. Genesis 8:15,16a says, "Then God said to Noah, 'Leave the boat...'". As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is an appointed time for everything. We need to trust the Lord.

As the account of the flood was given, I realized for the first time that it rained for 40 days (OK...that part I knew); there was another 110 days of floating on the water before it came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, taking us to about 5 months that Noah and his family have been in the Ark. Now comes another 7 1/2 months of waiting before the Lord gives permission to leave the boat. Think about that. I'm sure the 5 month time seemed like an eternity, but at least you were doing were going weren't just sitting still. But, almost another 8 months of waiting! Wouldn't you just love to know what happened during that time? I'm guessing Noah and his family were kept busy with the care of the animals, but I think I'd be getting a little stir crazy. I'm not good with confinement. I'm not an elevator girl. I don't like having things closed all around me. I wonder if all on the boat waited with peaceful hearts, trusting in the One who had closed the door.

Finally, I loved reading the accounts of the descendants of Noah. What thrilled me was seeing the lineage expressed from two different books of the Bible, Genesis and 1 Chronicles, and the validity from two different writers. This was my first taste of seeing this in reading the chronological Bible. Although I have never doubted one word of God's Word, I would think seeing this could help skeptics and naysayers as more than one eye-witness pens the same account.

God's Word is true, trustworthy and timely. Praying that He will speak to you personally as you spend time with Him today.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Treasure Seeker

First, I feel like I should apologize for yesterday's marathon post. I was just so excited!!! I have an intense hunger for God's Word...for The Word Himself. Every year for the past 10 years the Lord has given me a theme verse for that year. A truth He wants me to grasp. An attitude He wants me to change. Something He speaks very clearly and specifically as my focus for that year. This year 1 Corinthians 2:2 is the basis for 2009: For I resolve to know nothing this year except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. What it comes down to for me this year is Simply Jesus.

If you read my Surrender post on my other blog, then you read of the battle that raged just recently as my mind and heart collided and then conceded to His will for me. As I read through His Word this year, I want to see Jesus. I want to meet Him face-to-face. Like Moses of old, I want a glimpse of His glory.

This morning I come as a treasure seeker. Turning over each Word, I'm looking for gold. Gold that blesses, enriches and refines. Not for monetary wealth, but the Pearl of great price.

Again today so much has held my attention as I've read His Word, but I'm praying the Lord will let my mind focus on just a couple of things He wants to say to me. They may mean absolutely nothing to you, but that's our personal God.

I was struck by the lives of two godly men. Genesis 5 tells us that Enoch lived in close fellowship with God and walked in close fellowship with Him (vs 22, 24). The concluding verse of the following chapter says, "Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him."

Can that be said of me? Am I living, walking and obeying in such a way that those attributes could be penned of me? Is my life testimony to the One who lives within me or do others see more Joy than Jesus? Oh that I would be His Joy. I pray that the joy of Jesus would be evident in all I say and do.

Lord, today may I live, walk and obey all that you desire of me. May the treasure I seek be mined in my heart and easily panned by others.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

In The Beginning...

“And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.”
Genesis 1:5b

The first day of a new year and I’m embarking on a new journey. This year I am reading through a chronological Bible with many other women in “blog-land” as a result of an invitation by Wendy Pope of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I’ve decided to use this blog as my daily journal. My thoughts as I walk through the pages of His love letter to me. The precious words He speaks to me, as well as the questions that arise both in understanding the text of His Word and what His Word then means to me. It will be my method of accountability. I realize that some days my entry may be short as unforeseen circumstances can surely arise over the course of the next 364 days, even electrical power failures could hinder this plan, but it is my desire to at least check in for a brief moment and share even one word the Lord has spoken to my heart each day.

I’m not looking for words to impress. This is really not for the reader, but for me. I’m sure many of you will read an entry here and think, “How can she ask that…the answer is so simple.” I confess right now to no great intellect, but a searching heart. I pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to me through the pages of His Word. I don’t desire to be ‘smarter’ by the end of the reading. My desire is holiness.

This morning, although staying awake until close to 1am to welcome the New Year, I was up before 7am, so excited to open the cover of my new Bible. This purchase was new, but it contains “Holy Words, long preserved for our walk in this world.” A fresh new reading of an old Book. So much opened up to my mind. For purposes here, I will record highlights, without delving the depths of all things spoken.

Father, I pray the words from a precious hymn by Clara H. Scott. May it be your prayer too.

“Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!”

This morning I read Genesis 1-3. It struck me the multiple times I read, “Then God said…” followed by “And that is what happened”. Thank you Lord that I can trust in Your Word. A chorus I remember hearing has lyrics that say, “God said it and I believe it and that’s good enough for me.” I don’t agree. The lyrics need to stop at “God said it!” Whether or not I believe it has nothing to do with the validity of God’s Word. It is sure and constant and unchanging regardless of my response. He speaks and it happens. Period.

For some reason this morning I was thrilled with reading how God named “day”, “night”, “sky”, “land”, “sea” etc… Those are all God’s voice creating. I think those Words are going to all take on extra significance. They weren’t “man-made” words, but an expression of God’s creativity. They sound extra special to my ears. They are God speaking.

I was reminded again of the first Christmas back at the beginning of time through Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Christmas celebrates Jesus coming to earth as a baby, but not the birth of Jesus the Son. He was, and is, and is to come.

Genesis 2:7 says that “He breathed the breath of life” into man. The Breath of Heaven, breathed life into me. Breathes life into me. Moment by moment. Oh, not to take one millisecond for granted. As long as He keeps filling me with breath, He has a purpose for me. Lord, help me embrace life and live it to the full.

Genesis 2:9b tells us that "In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Much discussion has surrounded these trees. If God created everything and said it was good, then both trees were good. Both had divine purpose. I think the tree of knowledge was there as a sign of true love. True love always requires a choice. The only way to give a choice is to command something that is not allowed. We have to choose to follow. We have to choose to obey.

With the two trees being positioned so close together - the tree of knowlege and the tree of life, it reminds me of the scripture that says, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Jesus is the Tree of Life. Choosing life.

The ease of a lie struck me again as I saw myself in Eve’s response to the serpent. God never warned not to ‘touch’ the tree of knowledge, just not to eat from it. Why do we do that? Why do we embellish? Do we not think truth can stand on it’s own? Do we think we have to come up with more of a reason to substantiate our response? Oh Father, keep me from the tiniest of falsehood. Check my spirit immediately when I fail. Help me remember that failure isn’t final. Give me a heart of repentance when I succumb and Father keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies. (Psalm 34:13)

The progression of temptation: “she saw”, “she wanted”, “she took”, “she ate”, “she gave”. Oh Father, at that first glance, turn my head. Give me strength not to linger no matter how appealing. It’s not worth the pleasure for the moment. Eternity is at stake.

Genesis 3:8 reads, “When the cool evening breezes were blowing…” I couldn’t help but wonder how much time passed between the ‘act’ and the ‘accountability’. Wonder how long their hearts feared being found. The hiding of sin. The regret. Oh if only we could feel the weight and pain of the sin prior to our action.

Sin continued as blame was cast. So quick to defer responsibility for our choices. The serpent was evil, but personal decisions were made. It’s not surprising that so many - even men - are repulsed by snakes. The tempter that represents the death of a dream.

I chuckled silently as I read Gen.3:16 saying, “And you will desire to control your husband.” So THAT’S where that comes from :o)

I do have a question however. So, if anyone is STILL reading this (sorry it’s so long - probably won’t have this much time every day!), here’s my quandary.

Genesis 1: 27, "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them". Genesis 2:18 then reads, "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'" OK...wait a minute. Didn't I just read in Genesis 1 that God already had created "male and female"? So, explain to me Genesis 2. Is this just a more detailed account of what previously was mentioned?

God's Word encourages us not to get caught up in "vain contraversies" as it leads to ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16), so my intent of any questions is not theological debate, just letting you know where this little brain of mine wanders.

“We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.”
(Michael W. Smith)

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