Thursday, July 25, 2013

God Astounds Me

Psalm 51 is a beautiful picture of God's mercy, love and grace.  The entire chapter is a prayer of confession and repentance.  It is a reminder that even the mightiest of us can fall into sin.  However, when we humble ourselves, confess our sins and repent, we find compassion, forgiveness... mercy. 

David was confronted by Nathan, a prophet of God, about the adultery he had committed with Bathsheba.  If you are familiar with the biblical account, then you know David was also guilty of murder, for he had Bathsheba's husband killed to cover up the adultery.  David was God's chosen, God's anointed.  At some point in his relationship with God, God called David a "man after My heart", and yet we read in Psalm 51 the way David had grieved his God through sinful acts.

Each time I read this psalm, I am moved by the brokenness, the sincerity and even the confidence with which David approaches God.  How could he go before a holy God with such confidence after sinning?  It's because he knew his God.  He knew that God is a loving God, slow to anger and not willing that any should perish.  He knew that God desired their relationship to be restored.  David had seen God's faithfulness time and time again throughout his life.  He knew that this breach in his relationship with God was because of his own actions, not because of any unfaithfulness on God's part.  He knew that if he was willing to humble himself and pray, and seek God's face that God would be faithful yet again and forgive him!  Does this not cause you to be in awe of God?  Just think - a holy, righteous God willing to forgive our sins each and every time we are willing to submit to Him!  God astounds me!

There are many people who consider God to be a bully.  They think that He is an arrogant tyrant who smugly demands dominance over us.  This mindset stems from a rebellious spirit and a prideful mind!  God IS God.  He IS holy.  He IS the ruler of the heaven and earth.  And yes, every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that He IS LORD (Romans 14:11).  BUT - as I stated above, He is a compassionate God, slow to anger and not willing that anyone should perish.  He has gone above and beyond to prove His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  I know I frequently site that verse, but it is because it is the clearest, simplest way to share the gospel.

My prayer is for those who are lost - meaning those who have not called on the name of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:13) - to realize that the love of God is extended to them, and for them to humbly accept it.  My prayer is also for followers of Christ to remember that when we fall back into sin, God is still faithful to forgive us if we confess and repent (1 John 1:9).  A relationship with God is a daily, deliberate choice.  It's not a one-time decision.  It is something that we must continually choose (I'm talking about the relationship, NOT salvation. I don't believe we can lose our salvation, but that's for another post).   "Submit yourselves, then, to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Below is a beautiful musical rendition of Psalm 51 by one of my favorite groups, Sons of Korah. I pray that today Psalm 51 will be your prayer, as it is mine.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Anchor for my Soul

YEARS ago I wrote a song I titled "Anchor for the Soul", which was inspired by Hebrews chapter six.  After mom died, for some strange reason, I threw away all the songs and poetry that I had written over the years.  I don't know why I did that & I don't know why I'm sharing that story. This morning I read part of Hebrews six and that phrase once again stood out to me.   

What does an anchor do?  It stabilizes.  It secures.  It holds fast.  Even when storms rage about, an anchor will keep a boat from drifting away.  Jesus is the Anchor for my soul!  My soul is stabilized in Him.  My soul is secure in Him.  He will hold me fast! What a comfort!  What a Savior! 

Hebrews 6:16-20 "People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Dear Lord, thank You for being an anchor for my soul.  Thank you that when the storms come in my life, I can trust that You will hold me secure in Your hand.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Garden Lessons, God Lessons

While working in my garden yesterday morning, God was teaching me spiritual lessons.  I garden organically, which means I do not use chemical pesticides.  Instead, I go through plant by plant and hand-pick any pests that I see.  One of the main pests that I contend with are squash bugs.  They lay their eggs on the leaves of squash plants.  I use soapy water to remove the eggs before they have a chance to hatch.  Sometimes I find eggs on the top of the leaves, which makes it easier to find and remove them

However, sometimes the eggs are underneath the leaves, meaning that I have to search harder and longer before I find them.  They are also usually very near the veins of the leaves, making it much more challenging to remove them, and sometimes I end up tearing the leaf slightly, leaving a mark on the plant

I had been away from home for several days, which unfortunately means that there were many pests to deal with since I wasn't here to search the garden daily.

So while I was going through searching for these pests, God showed me an analogy:

I am a gardener searching the plants for pests.  
God is the Gardener searching my heart for sin. 

The eggs represent sin, the leaves represent my heart.  The eggs planted on the leaves will eventually develop into pests that will destroy.  

Eggs that are on the top of the leaves are easily spotted and removed.
Some sin in my heart is easily and quickly spotted, thus more easily removed. 
Other sin lies deeper, or underneath the leaves of my heart, making it harder to be seen and thus more challenging to be removed. There are even times where sin is so deep that even after God removes it, there is a mark or scar left behind. 

The soapy water represents the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  If I apply them to my life, They will remove the sin from within me.  

To be an effective gardener, I need to search on a daily basis.  To be holy and righteous in God's eyes, He needs to search my heart on a daily basis.  If I don't allow Him to do so, sin will accumulate, making it even more difficult later on to deal with.  

When I was finally finished removing all of the eggs that I had found, I held the cup in my hand and saw the great number of potential pests that were now no longer a threat to my plants (I meant to take a picture, but forgot).  I always flush the pests so that there is no possibility for any of them to resurrect.  God reminded me that once I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)!  He then tosses my sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) - out of sight, out of mind - just like when I flush the pests!  

I was very grateful for God giving me this visual and I wanted to share it with someone right away.  I called my kids (and our cousin who was visiting) to the garden.  I had them search some of the plants that I had intentionally left undone.  While they were searching I shared the above analogy with them.  I knew that if I had only told them about it that they likely would not have listened well, but if they did their own search it would most likely stick with them.  

There were a couple other things that God showed me.  For one thing, there were several bees buzzing around while I was searching.  I asked God if they represented the devil, since they were so annoying!  However, He said that no, they are His workers and therefore represent other believers.  Sometimes when we believers have unconfessed sin in our lives, other believers come across as annoying to us - especially if they are speaking truth to us and we don't want to hear it.  They are, however, necessary in order to spread the truth and therefore produce more fruit. Just like the bees spread the pollen and help produce more plants. 

Water is vital to the garden. However, if I water the garden at the wrong time of the day, it can actually do more harm than good. If I water during the heat of the day, it could possibly burn the plants, and of course most of the water would just dissipate before it had a chance to nourish. The Word of God is vital to the believer. However, if we use the Word of God at the wrong time or in the wrong way, it can do more harm than good.  Yes the Word of God is a weapon, the Bible calls it a "sword", but we are never to use this is a weapon to harm others.  2 Timothy 2:15 says

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

There was even more that God showed me, but I think I will save it for another post!  I have been gardening for about four years now, and God continues to use this experience to teach me more about myself and about Him. I can't thank God enough for telling me to start this gardening endeavor; because of it I have grown in my faith and closer to my God!