Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Matthew 14:29 "Come," He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.
What is my dream of God's purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.
God's training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.
God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious. -Oswald Chambers
Am I looking for the shore's destination or the Son's salvation?
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. The only way to know hope, is to know Him. God is not holding out on me; He's waiting on me. He is giving me a future and a hope right now. Standing between His plans and my "future" is my choice of immediate intimacy. He gives everything to me and I give everything to Him; He receives me as His love and I receive Him as my life. THEN, I will know Him. THEN, I will live out His relationship with me in the details of my days. As the saying goes, "the future is now."
Whether the seas are raging or resting, where are my sights set at this moment? Personally, my sights are constantly searching the shoreline...searching for that "ship to come in"...searching for satisfaction like a hurricane wind. That ship may be financial, it may emotional, it may be physical, it may tiny, it may be huge. It could be anything that the moment desires.
In reality, I am already satisfied and the ship is a mirage. A ship desired is not a ship required when walking on water! Every moment, whether I walk or sink, depends solely on where my sights are set. Peter's choice then is my reality now. My sights (body, heart and mind) are constantly set somewhere (water, shore or Savior) at any moment. Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
The waves (trials, circumstances, distractions, etc.) can be very real, overwhelming and even deadly. The question is not whether or not I see them; the question is whether or not I see ONLY them. They are temporary, but they are tempting me from the Eternal One. If I am determined to either rise above the waves or dismiss them altogether, I am still focused on the waves! It's not about the waves, it's about walking...simply because He says "Come!"
More real than the spray that drenches my face, is my Savior's love that holds me in Grace. Whether dark nights or clear days, He remains to soak in my praise. No matter the sight change my view, to behold and be held in this moment's Truth. -mlp
This is the plan; this is the hope and future: to call on Him, pray to Him, seek Him and we will be heard and found. What Brennan Manning calls the "now here." This moment may be a savage storm or a calm cruise. Either way, if I am straining to see the shoreline, I miss savoring the Savior. The moment is my gain or loss, depending on where I lift my eyes. Where does love lead me look? Right now, Who or what do I seek?
What are you looking at?
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Ephesians 2:7-10 Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (MSG)
A friend asked, "What if I get to heaven and find that I missed the life that I was supposed to live?" I believe that this is a question that many ask, but ask amiss. In reality, I don't think we are asking "when I get to heaven" as much as we are asking "when I leave earth." The difference is this: Heaven has no time - past, present or future - therefore, these will not be a concern. The question stated is actually a worry over our future becoming our "failed past." In other works, we are presently concerned about our future living producing our past's legacy. Talk about pressure! We haven't even got there yet and we're questioning whether or not we lived life "right." Matthew 6:34 "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." (NIV) We are to live to live a life that glorifies Him alone. With this as our vision, He is our victor.
"God cannot be disappointed," that same friend told me years ago. By that nature of God, whatever our choices are, when we stand in His arms - known as He is known - we will hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness." (Matthew 25:21 NIV) We will hear these words not because we are good or faithful in our choices or accomplishments (because that would be prideful) but because He is good and faithful and lives His life through us (that would be humility). When we trust Him and obey Him, others experience Him through our lives.
Side note: Please keep the eternal perspective in mind. The preceding verses state that, "After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled account with them." (Matthew 25:19 NIV) God is intimately involved in our lives and I believe that He will have a personal conversation with us about our "eternal lives in our human experience." As we see and understand it on this side of time, this will be future event with discussions of our past. However, in the reality of experiencing this eternal moment, it will be a part of an eternal discussion in an eternal relationship. Think of it as our greatest desire - eternal conversation with out Deepest Love. The only way to be cast into darkness is not to obey His request of investing our lives in His Son - it is a choice of eternal relationship, not temporary works. Other than that, we will not face condemnation for a nonproductive life, but an intimate conversation of our eternal relationship with Jesus and how that is lived out. It's a discussion our spirits have now and in all eternity. (This is my own thought on an "Eternal view" of "earthy works." I keep in mind that I was "created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works" Eph. 2:10 says and I'd better be doing them. I don't do good works to gain my Master's favor, but to fulfill His purpose, as He already favors me through His grace. For me, living out my relationship with Him is my only motivation to be about my Father's business and His business is to draw all men to Himself through His Spirit).
Start with our beliefs, not our behaviors. We are called to view our choices from God's perspective Who is residing within us, not from our limited perspective hoping that "it's enough." One is relationship, the second is religion.
"I'm only human, how is that possible?" Not only is this possible, it is commanded by God. Deuteronomy 30:11-14"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up on heaven, so that you may ask 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea and get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it." (NIV)
"How are we to find that within us which seems to constantly elude us?" We have the power for proper perspective within, we must humble ourselves to ask and receive. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 (NIV)
"So, if I ask for wisdom as to His will, and He gives generously, then why do I still not have a clue as to what I am supposed to do?" Most all of us are looking for the top of the puzzle box, not so much today's puzzle piece. Box tops arrive when breathing departs. 1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (NIV)
He never asked us to try and figure out the full picture (what we call "His Will") and arrange our lives, piece by piece, to complete the masterpiece in our minds. When we call Him Saviour, He said that we are already His masterpiece because He IS the full picture revealing the portrait of Himself, piece by piece and work by work, for His glory alone. Our hope is not in placing the pieces correctly, our hope is in HIM who guides us with enough wisdom and love...just for today - not the next 5 or 50 years, but just for today. The next piece may not come tomorrow, but we are satisfied in our Painter, not in our own picture.
Knowing Him is the piece we search to find; obeying Him is placing the piece into our empty spaces. Just for today, ask for just one piece and the wisdom to place it according to His Will. Trust Eternity to create the tapestry of your time.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Friday, July 17, 2009
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."1 John 4:11-12 "He has given us this command, whoever loves God must also love his/her brother/sister." 1 John 4:21
"Here I am, distractions aside, wanting You to change my life" - Anthony Evans
How we love God is expressed in how we love others. My expression of love to others is also my expression of love to God. These are not two different paths, but one. Intertwined, and often, unnoticed by ourselves - but intimately noticed our loved ones: 1. Jesus and 2. anyone we communicate with at any time, even strangers.
I am terribly distracted. You would not believe how many sites I have flipped through before finally completing this blog, an email, a devotional...it's crazy. And that's just this hour. That's aside from personal conversations with people, and above all, a personal conversation with God. It's not ADD, it's just being distracted by everything (there is a medical difference and caffeine is not the culprit...yes, I'm sure). It's like I'm surfing channels on my eyes - from one interesting station to another and back again. There is no focus where there is no...be right back.....
I was anticipating meeting a friend for the first time this past weekend. We had emailed for weeks and finally our "paths crossed" for a few minutes in a busy cafe. We talked for a few minutes. She is such a joy and an wonderful work of God! A couple of other friends approached and then it hit me - distraction. I introduced the two sets of friends, but then got lost in a side conversation. I never intended to ignore anyone, I just got distracted. Not for long, but for long enough. I felt horrible for being distracted and knew that I would feel uncomfortable, maybe even unwanted or undesired, if a friend's attention seemed so insincere as to lose focus. It wasn't in the intention of the moment, it was in the intimacy of the moment - at whatever degree that may be. This may seem more dramatic than it really was, but it was certainly a wake up call as to how my mind's eye wanders away from the present moment and loses so much, even with the best of intentions.
It was a wake up call. How distracted am I with Jesus? Too much. How does He really feel when I am meeting with Him and loving our conversation, but another "more important moment" catches my eye. I may introduce them to Him, but the catch comes when I get lost in a my "side conversations" - whether it is with others, myself, my computer, my phone, etc. - that I lose focus on Him. I am not asked to ever neglect any of these; I am asked to never neglect Him in any these. Pray continuously, not legalistically, Paul says. It's not about time, it's about relationship. It's not about condemnation, it's about passion. It's not a mental concept, but a spiritually controlled life.
My priority is my passion and it is reflected in my relationships. I notice the paths are one: I am distracted with my personal relationship with God AND I am distracted in how I spend time alone and with others. When I am focused on His love, I am focused on being His love to others.
There is a clear order (both in priority and charge): 1. He loves me and I receive His love (often the hardest step is to fully receive Him if we are distracted and not seeing Him as He is). 2. His love lives in me (the unfathomable and unfailing love of God Who IS love, lives inside my finite and fallen self). 3. I love others by HIS love, not mine (this is impossible if we are trying to love others with an infinite love through our finite hearts alone). 4. His love is made complete in me (the measureless love of God is made COMPLETE in ME...WHEN I love others with HIS love. It is a crucial and pivotal moment for me and everyne around me as the love of God moves from "when" to "who." Constantly.). 5. I love God, I love others - regardless of who "others" is - there is no difference or division, but my life is all one path of divine love. The results are immediate - one way or another.
Wherever I am, I am constantly in relationships with God, myself and others and I have a constant choice: to wait on Him and to walk in His love. Start at His Feet, then walk with my own. As I walk step by step, I impress the path with our scars of love.
Enjoy Him, Michelle