When Beauty Is Contradicted

In nature there is great beauty and great contradiction.  Wind can be a soft breeze or a tornado or hurricane, the gentle lapping waves of the sea can become powerful crashing waves, powdery falling snow can turn into an icy blowing blizzard, and the sun can be warm and lovely or a blinding searing heat.

Likewise, there is great beauty in man and there can be ugliness.  There are kind, loving, compassionate people and there are mean, hateful, destructive people.  There are those who are honest, hard-working, and humble and there are those who are opportunists, philanderers, filled with boastful pride.

The world, of nature and man, is beautiful but it can also be a scary place.  God did not create it to be so, but so it is.  What are we to do when the beauty is sometimes in the shadows of ugliness?  How are we to respond when everything seems chaotic and out of control?  What does God have to say?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7 niv

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Philippians 4:6 amplified bible

It is interesting that we are not only told what not to do, be timid or anxious, but also the actions we are to take to eliminate the negative response.  We are reminded that we have a spirit of power and love and self-discipline.  And, with that spirit we are told to pray and petition, pray and ask specifically, with grateful hearts, telling God what we want.

Whenever we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations or circumstances, and we begin to fear and fret and feel anxious what we must do is remember His Word.  It is filled with the “Holy Spirit’s Comforting Commands” for everything and all circumstances.

Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.  Do what I say and you will live well.  My teaching is as precious as your eyesight–guard it!  Write it on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart.

Proverbs 7:1-3 msg

See another comforting command!

I wonder at the contradictions of this world.

I wonder at the harmony of the Spirit in this world.

Just wondering…


Wait for God only…

At the beginning of the year I wrote about my word for the year, wait.  I also wrote about waiting without complaint.  Since the first of the year I have waited mostly without complaint, but there have been days of whining and complaining. I am still a work in progress here and some days there is less progression and more digression.  I am putting effort into changing this…

In my weeks of waiting there have been some decisions and choices to be made.  I have taken these things to the Lord and waited for His guidance and direction.  He is ever faithful and of the five choices and decisions needing to be made three have been decided.  Waiting on Him has given me a  peace with what and how changes have been made that I would not have had if I had relied solely on my own thoughts.  I know in His time the remaining two questions will be settled in the best possible way.

But, I am wondering if this is what my word, wait, is meant to accomplish.  I have thought that perhaps I have misunderstood what I am to learn this year from the word wait.  It is true that I have been less impulsive with my decisions and I have sought the Lord more deliberately and with an openness that I have not had in the past.  I am not debating with Him now.  Yet, there is a place the Spirit is leading me, a place, I think, I have not really been before.

It seems I have been very busy waiting, praying, meditating, and seeking.  Maybe that busyness is not what God wants of me at this time.  Maybe He wants me to settle down, quiet myself, be still, in silence.  Maybe my hope from Him at this time is  His encouragement and inspiration; a time to grow in  confidence and trust in His promises.

Maybe wait has nothing to do with questions and answers, choices and decision, plans and agendas.

Maybe wait is  being still and quiet and alone in His presence.  Maybe wait is just being with Him.

My soul, wait in silence for God only.
For my hope is from Him.

Psalm 62:5

It may be that I have worked at wait when I am meant to simply wait.

Just wondering…

 

 

Daniel’s prayer example…

We know that God wants to hear our prayers; He wants us to come to Him with our needs and wants. But how do we bring this kind of prayer to God?

Daniel was a man of prayer and in chapter nine of Daniel  is recorded a prayer of his, a prayer of supplication, a plea for God to turn away His anger from Jerusalem (v.16). We can learn from this prayer; it is like a recipe we can follow with assurance that our prayer has been heard and only have to wait on God’s answer.

First, Daniel prepared for his time in prayer; he turned to God, faced Him, gave Him his full attention.  Daniel emptied himself of pride and self-centeredness.  His attitude was one of penitence and mourning (v3).

Then he acknowledged God for who He is and what He has done.  He is great, awesome, righteous, merciful, forgiving.  (4,7,9).

Third, Daniel confessed his sin and the sins of Israel.  There has been wickedness, rebellion, disobedience, disrespect, unfaithfulness.  They have sinned against God and brought disaster to Israel (v5-15).

Not until Daniel confessed and acknowledged sin for what it is and what it has caused does he bring his request to the Lord.  He pleads with God to turn away His anger, not because they are righteous or for their sake, but because of His mercy and for the sake of His Name (v16-19).

So there is a recipe for supplication:

  1. prepare your heart–use only clean empty clay pots
  2. worship God–only the best of ingredients are used
  3. confess your sin, all of it–beat until smooth with no lumps left
  4. ask forgiveness–sprinkle with tears as needed
  5. bring you requests to God–using a dish you do not want back is suggested, you will leaving it with Him
  6. desire only His will be done–for quality assurance purposes
  7. Amen–rejoice and enjoy

At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out…for you are greatly loved.

Daniel 9:23

As Daniel was greatly loved, so are you.  When you begin to pray, as Daniel prayed, you are heard and an answer goes out.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I wonder why I think I will be less loved if I confess it all?

I wonder why I sometimes do not like the taste of God’s will?

I wonder if others wonder these things?

Just wondering…

What does God ask of us?

When I began my journey with the Lord over thirty years ago I was truly lost.  My prayer was simple:  “I have been doing things my way and it is not working. So, Lord, I will do it Your way.  But I do not know what that is or how to do it.  Teach me, show me the way.”  I prayed, read the bible and Christian books, went to church and bible study.

Sometimes it all was a bit confusing.  Though there is no error in scripture, there is often error in what is taught about it. God is ever faithful and by His grace I was given the gift of discernment.  I learned to respond to the music of His truth and turn away from the clang of false teachings.

I learned about the greatest commandment; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37,39.  It was like rain in the desert to my soul.  Still, I wondered, how does one do this, follow these commands?

I asked many people, and received as many answers as people I asked.  I was told to give money and to serve, pray and have quiet time with the Lord, go to church and bible study, and spend most of my time with other believers.  Within these answers there were formulas.  How much money and time to give to the church, visit and take meals to the sick and grieving. Pray and have a daily morning quiet time of one hour.  Be at church every time the doors opened. And study the bible in a group, with one other person, or alone.  Socialize only with believers.  And my favorite, just do what you think you should do.

All fine suggestions and worthy of commitment. (Except maybe “the do what you think you should do,” that sometimes leads to trouble.) But none of what I heard really answered my question.  Anyone can do all these things and not be pleasing to the Lord.  After all, the Israelites did all these things and offered burnt sacrifices to Him and He was often angry with them. Why is the work, the doing of these things not completely pleasing to Him?  Could it be because we are working and doing without godly thought?  Are we busy working and doing just to do it and get it checked off our to-do list?

God asks more of us than robot like obedience. 

We are to be active with fairness and determination and discretion.  Our faith is of little value if lived without intelligent thought and understanding.  There is to be kindness in our hearts, mercy, a covenant love; a love that is committed, within the boundaries of God’s word and will.  He wants us to surrender ourselves to Him and be utterly dependent on Him. He wants us to follow Him, to grow and mature, to be in fellowship with Him.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 nasb

He tells us what to do; to act and to love.  He tells us how;  by giving ourselves to Him without reservation.  And He tells us why; because He is our God.

Man’s formula is rather cumbersome, God’s is short and sweet.

I wonder why we make so many rules and regulations?

I wonder if we think the more complicated something is the more important it is, and then we are more important?

Just wondering…

What are your plans?

A common question we all hear is “What are your plans?”  What are your plans for today, the week-end, the holidays, school, marriage, children, life?  We are told that we must have plans.  Without them we will be aimless or worthless and contribute nothing to society, we will wander hopelessly without direction or purpose.

So, we make plans about what we want to do and where we want to go.  Long and short-term plans.  Plans about how we are going to carry out all our plans.  Some  plan to change the world, others plan to get along as best they can.

To help us with our plans we are given lists and schedules, books, graphs and charts, lectures and advise, warnings and pep talks.  We are lifted up and dragged down, pushed one way and pulled another, told to hurry and to take our time, to be single-minded, explore all the options, look at the big picture, and the details are most important.  Sometimes we spend so much time on our plans we end up going nowhere and accomplishing nothing because we are worn out with the planning.

If all our thoughts and energies are spent on the planning process we have little left to put the plans into motion.  Then, when the unforeseen, the unplanned snags and setbacks, happens we have no resources within ourselves to solve them  and continue on. 

How do we make plans and see them to completion without wearing ourselves out and giving up?  The most important and basic part of any plan is often overlooked. We study, get advise, and work hard; but we leave out a piece of the picture.  We forget to consider and consult the Master of Plans.

If we will first go to the One with the Master Plan, and work to have our plans fit His blueprint of life we will have direction and purpose and reason for what we do.  When we are in agreement with His plan we have a clearer view of what is to be done and how to do it in order to see our ideas and plans and dreams  become  reality.

When we work in concert with the Master of Plans we are not left to our own devises and strengths, we have the architect and supervisor at our side.  We may not have all the details of the plan but with Him the overview is all we need.  He will keep us on track.

I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  Jeremiah 29:11 The Message Bible

I wonder why I find it so hard to with work His plan?

I wonder why I tend to argue and debate the plan with Him?

Just wondering…signature