While reading this morning, I knew the Lord was speaking again to a very deep place in my heart...
I've been reading through a chronological version of the Bible and today's chapters were in Deuteronomy where God is giving Moses final instructions & reminders for Israel before they move into the promised land with their new leader, Joshua. So as I come to chapter 18, I glance at the sub-titles: Offerings for Priests and Levites, Occult Practices, The Prophet and dive in. After reading the previous OT books, a lot of this is beginning to look repetitious, but I move on. I resonate with the Levites, agree quickly with the avoidance of occult practices, and want the voice of the prophet. Oh, but I haven't noticed this before... Look at verse 16!
For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
I want His voice & presence to be near. I trust Him. I honour & fear only Him. I want Him to speak & move through me.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children...
"In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return... "
Isaiah 10:20, 21a
I hear this call just about everyday, "Return". What? Is Wanda backsliding? Isn't Isaiah talking about the 'remnant' of Israel who survived God's punishment toward them because of their unfaithfulness toward Him? In less words... they were a remnant of disobedient people.
Every day I make choices to either stay close to innocence (God) or not. I see, smell and hear things that want to challenge my desires and appetites - that require some type of response. These parade as allies - fulfilling my imminent needs while sabotaging my future. Often, the best reply I can give is what may look like indifference - to walk away without response. You know; not taking the 2nd look, closing the fridge door, turning the pity off, etc. Otherwise the pity starts to party and the treat turns into bondage.
Sound trivial? Maybe, but these are the things that spoil my connection with the Holy Spirit. I am human. I decided to follow Jesus a long time ago. And I tend to get distracted. When I do, He calls me back.
Maybe one day I'll be so perfect in my desires and pursuits that I will not need to have this reminder. But until that day comes, this remnant will return as often as is necessary!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)
Freedom is not the absence of rules;
it is the release to actually follow them with great joy and satisfaction.
I am concerned that many of us who claim to follow Jesus are mistaken, having watered down the truth of the gospel to fit personal desires. In our desperate search for love and meaning, have we forgotten truth? Has the tyranny of legalism caused us to swing so far that we have forgotten that surrender and obedience are part of God's equation?
I know this seems abrupt, but as I sat reading the Psalms this morning my spirit was stirred. I appeal to you to search the word of God. He does give us guidelines to follow, not because He is a dictator or control freak, but because He knows how we operate best. God's laws come out of His unfailing love. They are liberty for each of us. In them, we find who He is. In them, we find blessing. Freedom is not the absence of rules; it is the release to actually follow them with great joy and satisfaction. When I am free in Christ, I no longer want what I had.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1-8)
Did you know that if you read four chapters a day
in your Bible that you will get through it in one year?
Some of the biggest battles in the church have been over this one. What do we sing? What traditions do we hold on to? Why change things? What about us? If we pull things to the contemporary some love it, some hate it. If we leave things as they were in our parent's generation or farther back... we loose this one.
I believe that as Christians, we should always be in motion, never hanging our hats on one tradition or even one successful genre of meeting. It's not to discount or minimize the past, but rather to let the past continually build strong foundations that the present walks on.
"It's not to discount or minimize the past, but rather to let the past continually build strong foundations that the present walks on."
Paul talks about this a lot as someone who was asked by God to move beyond the acceptable boundaries of the Jewish culture. Jesus lived it; always taking the letter of the law to a deeper level. He did not discount or nullify the commandments, but went beyond the act to the heart of them. It wasn't just 'Don't commit adultery (as in physically going out and having sex with someone that is not yours)' ... but, don't even look at someone else with evil desire, for adultery is committed in the simple act of the wanting & lusting. (see Matthew 5:27-28) Jesus didn't abolish the law, He actually took it to a more integral level.
Anyway, here it is to ponder... read Romans 7 & 8. Let the word that came from God speak life & freedom to you. The law does not save, it only guides. Our traditions and styles do not save. We will always struggle with our wants & desires, but need to be purposed to know God's. And sometimes that will mean doing things a little differently, for He may desire it.
This is the verse that actually got me thinking about all of this today:
"But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." Romans 7:6
Ask God for His heart. Ask Him for His plan to reach your community, your family... you. He loves you, so it can only be good!
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For many years I have asked God to heal me. Now you may be surprised at that, but when I was a young teenager we discovered that I had a twisted spine. The label the medical community puts on it is scoliosis... For the most part it never really hindered me from doing what I wanted. But, as time marches on, I have had to battle the effects of imbalanced muscles caused from the curve. I have been through seasons of migraines, muscle spasms and chronic pain and each time God has healed me ... but not when I wanted Him to.
I have examined this from many angles, but today I was listening to someone that I admire greatly and who has much to say about this subject of healing. Her name is Joni Eareckson Tada and she is a quadriplegic (she has a new audio-book that is being released and you can download the 1st hour of it free at https://christianaudio.com). Joni said something that surprised me, but that I can totally relate to. She quoted Psalm 37:4 and said that as much as she desires to be free from the wheelchair and the present pain, she has a greater desire to know God & to grow in Him. Joni is allowing God to work good in her despite (or is it, 'to spite') what the enemy has thrown her way.
My heart totally concurs. I started to recall all of the times that I went up for prayer, with absolute faith to be healed (and each time in response to God's prompting for me to do so, I might add). I have continually come away from each of those experiences with God answering a deeper need, a greater need every time. My back is still curved. He eventually healed me from the migraines & spasms. But again, my back is still curved.
My greatest quest in life is not to have a straight back, although I won't argue if it comes. My greatest quest is to know God's peace, to really trust Him, to have His mind, to be so intertwined with His presence that I am truly one with Him. My 2nd greatest desire would be to reflect & wear Him well to my family... and to you.
I'll stop here. If you are in a hard place, trust God to deliver you. If He does not alleviate your physical circumstances, trust Him. Do not let the enemy gain control of your mind & your spirit.
I received this note in an email from my sister-in-law and just had to share it with you all...
"I just read this story of a man from the 1600s, named Blaise Paschal. He
was a brilliant mathematician and scientist and has done lots of things that
are still valued today. Anyway, he wanted to write a Christian apology for
the church of the day. He figured it would take 10 years and was very
committed to the project. He spent 2 years writing up his notes and then he
became sick and never fully recovered. He prayed, "Prayer for the right use
of illnesses." Instead of writing he devoted his life to the poor.
author says this, "As I read his biography I am moved to tears by the heart
of this man who was so surrendered to God. He surrendered the glory of a
particular service to God. Everything was placed on the altar and there was
no bitterness at all when God decided to keep it. Paschal just kept serving
the Lord. God, make me like that man! It has taken me some time to learn
that the real test of true faith is not how successful we are, but how
surrendered we are.""
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5