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Life Out of Focus?

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Out of FocusOne of the great things about most cameras today is the automatic focusing feature. I’m old enough to remember using a camera that required fiddling with a bunch of dials before snapping the picture. Most of the time, those waiting to be photographed weren’t very patient about this process, and, oftentimes, after all that effort, the photo turned out to be out of focus after all.

As children of God, it would be nice to have this automatic focusing mechanism built into our daily lives, so that the moment our lives became blurry around the edges—from taking part in all the world has to offer, from neglecting Bible study, from participating in non-glorying activities—then our focus would automatically be returned to our Father and to living out Christ in us, “the hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27).

However,  none of us has an automatic focusing mechanism. What we have is something even better—the Word of God. While having a device to automatically redirect one’s  focus towards God sounds good, in reality, such a device would ultimately lead to taking God for granted, and it would not adhere to the command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

God’s Word directs us to focus on Him in numerous passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament. One of my favorites is 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Have you lost your focus? Direct your heart today to the love of God“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Direct your heart to the steadfastness of Christ. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Spending time  with the Lord in daily Bible study brings clarity to our lives and sharpens an otherwise blurry picture.

Fear The Lord!

March 24, 2016 2 comments

Fear God 1The notion of being afraid of God seems foreign to those of us who view God as the Lover of our Soul, who sing of His blessings, and who trust Him with our eternal soul.

Yet, one can’t read the Bible without encountering the oft-repeated admonition to “fear the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God’s children receiving a blessing because they fear God. Also, because of fearing God, they do what He commands them to do. (Genesis 42:18; Exodus 1:17; Exodus 18:21)

Fear of God  is not just an Old Testament concept, though. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Nevertheless, there are times in my life when I’ve struggled with the concept of what it means to fear God. That’s why, when I recently came across a definition of fearing God in Drew Dyck’s book, Yawning At Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, I spent time meditating on it.

Dyck says, “To fear the Lord is to be grounded in reality, to have an accurate view of God’s holy nature and his awesome power.”

Fearing God doesn’t mean we cower in His presence—like a dog who knows he’s displeased his master—nor does it mean we run and hide instead of joyfully approaching Him. Instead, we embrace the fear of God because we recognize His to-be-feared characteristics, such as His all-powerful wrath toward sin, His unending sovereignty, and His unapproachable holiness, are an accurate understanding of who God really is.

The  fearfulness of God is a reality, even if we don’t like it very much.

Having a true picture of God is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

I live in Norman,  Oklahoma. That means I know what’s it’s like to watch a mile-wide tornado approaching my city. It’s a fearful thing. However, if I’m hunkered down inside an indestructible storm shelter, I’m able to be in awe of the storm’s fierceness without fearing for my life.

We should fear God. We should  be in awe of His wrath and His judgment. Yet, at the same time, we should have peace, knowing He is shielding us from wrath, sheltering us in His arms forever.

Pinhole Glimpses of God

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment

SpaceI love looking at NASA’s Hubble image of the day, and I’m drawn to any Pinterest image displaying views of outer space. My Astronomy board testifies to this obsession. But, I’m not a big Science Fiction reader, nor did I ever take a course in Astronomy.

I’m drawn to the heavens because I’m able to see the incredible beauty of God’s handiwork there. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above declares his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1.

Scientists tell us when we look at the heavens above our heads, even with the most powerful of telescopes, we’re only able to see a minuscule portion of the universe. Human beings can never fully grasp the vastness of the world our Creator has made all in order to display His glory.

I believe God intended it to be that way.

God created an incomprehensible universe because He is incomprehensible. The immense heavens reflect an immense God, giving us, at best, only the barest pinhole glimpses of a God of unlimited power.

Someone has suggested perhaps the Universe is just ONE of God’s thoughts. How mind-blowing is that?

Trying to comprehend the power behind a Being who can create the Universe is impossible for a finite human creature. It’s just as impossible to understand the grace of God in making provision through His Son for human beings to live with Him in His Universe forever and to enjoy a personal relationship with him.

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

What to know more about the possibility of a personal relationship with God? Watch the video below.

 

Had Any Surprises Lately?

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Christmas is a season of the year when we think about surprises—parents surprising their children, children surprising their parents, friends surprising each other—but God is a God of surprises throughout the year.

God reveals Himself in Scripture as a God who loves surprises. Throughout the Old Testament, God manifests Himself in surprising ways, He chooses surprising people, He acts in surprising circumstances.

God Manifests Himself in Surprising Ways:

  • A burning bush
  • A whirlwind
  • A bunch of dry bones
  • A barren womb

God Chooses Surprising People:

  • An idol worshiper
  • A murderer
  • A con man
  • A shepherd boy
  • A prostitute

God Acts in Surprising Circumstances:

  • A Flood
  • A Battlefield
  • A Famine
  • A Murder

In the New Testament, God Himself becomes the surprise. From His birth announcement, His earthly life, His horrible death, and His anticipated return, it’s one surprise after another.

His Birth Announcement Surprised:

  • His mother Mary
  • His father Joseph
  • The shepherds
  • King Herod

His Earthly Life Brought Surprising:

  • Miracles
  • Teachings
  • Revelations

His Horrible Death Surprised:

  • The Disciples
  • The Unbelievers
  • The Roman Soldiers

His Anticipated Return Will Surprise:

  • The Unprepared
  • The Uninformed
  • The Unbeliever

How will God surprise you in 2016?  It could be a way in the wilderness or a river in the desert. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19. 

God will surprise you. Anticipate it. Look for it. Embrace it. 

Abounding–It’s Not About Basketball

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment

NOTI’m not a big fan of basketball—nor do I plan to become one. As it stands right now,  I’m barely able to keep up with the game of football, which is the one sport I do love. However, I do know the basics of basketball and most of the terms used in the game.

In basketball, to rebound is to gain possession of the ball after it bounces off the backboard or after an unsuccessful shot. The player grabs the ball for himself and either takes a shot or passes it off to another player.

I thought of the word rebound the other day as I was reading Psalm 103:8:The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

I’m aware the word “rebound” and “abound” don’t mean the same thing. In fact, they’re nearly opposite in meaning, and that’s why I thought of rebound when I read abound.

To abound is to have something in great abundance, to be richly supplied. So, to be “abounding in steadfast love” is to possess plenty of never-failing love. That’s how the Psalmist describes God’s love for us—there’s plenty of it, in fact, there’s a never-ending supply of it.

God’s love is always abounding and never rebounding. He never takes back His love, never takes it away from us to give it to someone else. That’ why His love is labeled a “steadfast love.”

There’s also a purpose in God’s abounding love and grace toward us. Paul explains it in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

God expects our love to be abounding toward others even as His love is abounding toward us And, like God’s love, it should always be abounding and never rebounding.

I Don’t Love You

October 23, 2015 Leave a comment

I don't love youThe words, “I don’t love you,” have to be the most hurtful words ever spoken. As human beings, we are born with the desire to be loved. Whether it’s romantic love, family love, brotherly love or even self love, God gave us the desire to be loved and to love God, others, and ourselves.

Love comes from God. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” (1 John 4:7).

Because human love is so flawed by sin, none of us can ever love ourselves or another human being perfectly. In the same way, until we receive our glorified, perfected bodies, we can’t love God perfectly.

God has no such hindrances. He loves perfectly. On three different occasions, the prophet Daniel was told by the angel Gabriel that he was greatly loved by God. “I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” (Daniel 9:23). The same thought is expressed in Daniel 10: 11 and Daniel 10:19.

How sweet those words must have sounded to Daniel! How would you like to hear those words for yourself? Well, you can.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-5:God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ.”

God’s love is on display for us in Romans 5:8.But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Like Daniel, God sent word to us that we are greatly love. He sent  His Word in the form of His Son who demonstrated how much he really loved us by paying the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross

Accept His love. Bask in His Love. Know His love for all eternity.

That’s Not How It Works

July 31, 2015 1 comment

Depositphotos_21089997_s-2015When an old woman from a small village won a washing machine in a contest, she was delighted. A few days after it was delivered, a friend visited her and was astonished to discover the old woman was still washing her clothes by hand, filling the tub with water and rubbing the wet clothes against the sides of it!

“That’s not how it works,” the friend explained, showing her how to let the machine do the work for her.

The old woman replied, “But if I do it that way, everyone will praise the machine and not me.”

As human beings we crave praise. Because we’re made in the image of God, that’s understandable. The desire for praise is an integral part of who God is. In Isaiah 48:11, God says He does everything in order to bring glory to Himself. “For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, my glory I will not give to another.”

However, as a result of our fallen, sinful nature, we reject the idea of giving praise to God and seek it for ourselves instead. Jesus warned his disciples about religious acts carried out in order to get praise from others. He gives an example of this in Matthew 6:1, where he pointed to the prayers of the religious leaders of the day.  “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.”

While not as obvious as praying in public in order to bring glory to oneself, to glorify oneself in private can be just as troublesome. Do you give yourself high marks for  reading God’s Word, church attendance or tithing? What about being faithful to God? Do you find delight in your high moral standards?

To make sure all our praise is directed outward, to the one who deserves it most, His love for us needs to be at the forefront of our hearts and minds. The Psalmist says in Psalm 26:3, For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”

It’s the faithfulness of God that we walk in, not our own. It’s God’s love for us, not our love for God, that we’re depending on. It’s what God has done for us, not what we have done for God, that makes us able to spend eternity with Him.

For Him to get the praise, that’s how it works.

 

 

 

 

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