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Not the Obvious Choice

It’s so easy to dismiss ourselves as not qualified. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too much this. I’m not enough that.

David spent his entire life in the back 40 watching sheep. But God knew him well. So when looking for a king to replace Saul, he rejected the “obvious” choice, and chose David. Remember that when you’re thinking you’re not enough. Or someone tells you that you’re too much.

Point to ponder while you wander….

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

Musical Monday-Greatness

Do you want to be great? Guess what? God wants you to be great too!  But He wants to partner in your greatness like he did with King David.  David understood that his greatness and position came directly from God, and He gave Him the Glory for it.

You empower me for victory with Your wrap-around presence. Your power within makes me strong to subdue, and by stooping down in gentleness You strengthened me, and made me great!”  Psalm 18:35 TPT

God made David great, and David turned around and recognized God’s greatness. He magnified Him. That’s what happens when we worship, God is magnified. God doesn’t change because of our worship, but our perspective of Him does. Worship reminds us that God is good, that He is for us, that Nothing is impossible for God.

This is for everyday, not just on Sunday mornings. It could be as simple as a “Thank you, Father.” or “I love you, Father.” in the middle of our hectic day. Or taking time in the morning to sit in His presence or dance with Him. You could even paint, shout, write, sing, or however you feel He should be honored that day.

But let all who passionately seek you erupt with excitement and joy over what you’ve done!  Let all your lovers rejoice continually in the Savior, saying, ‘How great and glorious is our God!” Psalm 40:16 TPT

I think Psalm 40:16, captures all this post is trying to say. That’s why today’s song is Great Are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters.

He gives life. He is love. He is the light in the darkness. Things to remember when you are facing death, feeling unloved, or anytime really.

Further reading:  Psalm 48, Psalm 70:19, Psalm 76 and Psalm 104

Something to ponder while you wander:  The Hebrew word translated great and glorious in Psalm 40:16 is gadal (H1431), can also be translated to make great or to magnify.

PS:  Here’s A Bethel Worship Set starting with Great Are You LORD. The initial song is about 5 minutes or so, but the worship set is over an hour.  The whole thing is about the greatness and awesomeness of our Papa God and His love, so I hope you’ll make the time to worship with the whole video.

No Virginia, God Is Not Like Santa Claus

I overheard a conversation between a parent and a child that went like this:

“That’s enough now. You need to be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”

“I’ll be good.”

Not anything earth shattering. Not anything new. I’ve heard this said many times. I’ve been told this many times. I’ve even said this many times myself. But this time when I heard it, it smacked me. It actually made my stomach knot up and I didn’t know why. It was commonly spoken and commonly believed, why did it suddenly upset me?

It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I figured out that that way of thinking prevented me from receiving from God most of my life. I thought God was like Santa. He would only give me things if I were good. He only loved me when I was perfectly well behaved. I didn’t think that God loved me, because I wasn’t perfect. Is this way of thinking preventing you from receiving from God too?

Honestly, there are a lot of people out there who think God is the same way. They believe that God only loves us when we “be good.” He only approves of us when our behavior is within the little box of rules and regulations. We need to be flawless to be loved. We are only given the things we want and need when we are “behaving” and being “good.” But it’s a lie. The truth is that God loves us all the time, unconditionally. The whole Bible illustrates that He loves us and that He gives good gifts to all people. Period.

Here’s some truth about God’s gifts:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)

For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:29 (NLT)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18 (KJV)

What was His best gift? I think it was Grace. The grace that came in the form of a small baby born in Bethlehem approximately 2013 years ago. His name was Jesus. You wanna know why?

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8(NLT)

God gave Jesus (the person of grace) to everyone who will ever be born, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. No matter what family you were born into or what country you were born in. No matter your past, present or future behavior. Whether you are wealthy or poor, brilliant or slow-witted, Jesus was given to you so you could be reconciled to God.

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s wrath. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:9-11(NLT)

God is not trying to control your behavior, like your parents did with the “no gifts from Santa” hogwash. He wants you to know Him and have a relationship with Him. From that you learn how much He loves you! You also discover who He made you to be and are set free from the lies people have spoken over you. The change in behavior comes as a side-effect from knowing who you are and how much you are loved. You are righteous and holy because Jesus is righteous holy, not because of what you do or don’t do. This is the reason He sent Jesus. This is the reason for the celebration of Christmas.

No Virginia, God is not like Santa Claus.

Not alone

Today’s thought of the day: God is our provision.

One of God’s names is Yahweh Yireh (Jehovah Jireh). This means that He doesn’t just provide, but that He, Himself, is our provision!

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!” Nehemiah 9:19-21

Perception is the Key

Picture this. A prisoner has been pardoned. But instead of leaving the prison, the prisoner sits there in the cell. The shackles have been removed. The door is open. The prisoner could just walk out and be free. Yet the prisoner sits there because he’s not chosen to walk in freedom. His perception and perspective is that he is and will forever be a prisoner. But the truth, the reality, is that he’s free. He doesn’t believe the truth but has chosen to believe a lie.

If you are caught up in the cycle of addiction, you are that prisoner.

If you are beating yourself up over the past, you are that prisoner.

If you believe that you are worthless, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your situation is hopeless, you are that prisoner.

If you think that things will never change, you are that prisoner.

If you are allowing your past to bind you and prevent you from moving forward, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your past is more powerful that Jesus’ sacrifice, you are that prisoner.

Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation was His main purpose. But that was not the only benefit and purpose of His death and resurrection. Luke 4:18-19 (Also found in Isaiah 61) tells us that He came to restore us body, soul and spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

He came to reveal the whole truth. The truth of His Kingdom, who we are, and how God feels about us. (In case you don’t know He loves us A LOT).

He came to show us who the Father is by doing what He saw the Father doing.

He came to heal your body and your heart.

AND He came to set you free. John 8:31-34 says,

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Even though you have been set free, you need to walk out that freedom. A slave (prisoner/unbelief) mentality and not understanding their true identity kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. See Deuteronomy 1. They still saw themselves as slaves. They cried out to go back to Egypt. Their wrong perception of themselves and their lack of belief robbed the ENTIRE GENERATION of their inheritance. Only two men of the millions that left Egypt from that generation entered the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Did you hear that? Two out of millions! And the only difference between those two and the rest of their generation was that they believed what God said, not what anyone else said. Did you hear that? They believed God. Not their circumstances. Not what they saw. Not what everyone else said. They believed God.

What’s my point? Well my point is that you need to believe what the Lord says about you and your future. You need to stop speaking negatively over yourself and beating yourself up for your past mistakes. You have value. You are loved.

Your situation is not too hard for God. Joseph went DIRECTLY from the prison to the palace. See Genesis 41. You don’t think God can do that for you? Nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING.

God is Good.

Okay, I have to admit that in the past I’ve been annoyed with people saying God is good, because it doesn’t seem enough.  I’ve even annoyed myself by saying it.  True story.  The truth is that it annoyed me because I kept thinking that God is so much bigger than just boring ole standard good. He’s great! He’s awesome! He created the entire universe and everything in it. He’s omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful. Simply put, He knows all things, is everywhere at once and nothing is impossible for Him. Mind blowing, right?

So with all that, how can people just say, “God is good?” and leave it there?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve said it because it’s hard to describe God sometimes. He’s so fabulously magnificent that words sometimes fail me. So I just simply mutter, “Wow. He’s good.”

Words have power. Even the word good. So today I want to check out this word good.  It first appears in Genesis 1:3-4, “Then God said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

This same word good is found to describe God MANY MANY times in scripture. Here are a few of them:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I Chronicles 16:34

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

Good in Hebrew is the word ‘towb.’ It is H2896 in the Strong’s Concordance. It essentially means good, pleasant,and agreeable. It can also be translated into the following: beautiful, best, cheerful, at ease, fair, favor, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyfully, kindly, kindness, loving, most merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, right (as in ethical) sweet, wealth (valuable in estimation, rich), welfare (as in benefit) and well-favored.

Put all those words together into a description and it’s starting to sound like a better description of God to me!

So NOW every time you hear someone say God is good or you read in the Word that God is good, you know what good really means.  So NOW you can join in the praise!  You can give a shout and say, “He sure is! All the time.”  I know I’m going to!

Have a good Tuesday!

Musical Monday: I Will Not Be Moved

‘I Will Not Be Moved’ by Natalie Grant has been my theme song on and off since it was released.  Take a gander:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTeQdLKiRg8

Wayward child acting out….

I was a good kid for the most part.  I was a tad mouthy and such but I generally did as I was told.  I got good grades.  I only got one detention in all of high school.  I went to and liked church and youth group.  I officially got saved at 16.  Pretty good track record, huh?  Yep.  But then…I turned 17.

Something happened to me at 17 where I just LOATHED any sort of rule.  I may have still obeyed most of the rules I was given, but in my heart anger had begun to build.  I looked obedient but looks were deceiving.  I was rebellious and becoming more and more bitter every day.  While I still attended church and youth group and loved Jesus, I told God to take a hike.  (Please don’t ask me how the 17 year old me thought she could separate the Son from the Father…I have no idea how she thought this was possible, but she did.  She was weird and angry and borderline crazy.  Anyway…)  I saw God as the mean one just waiting for me to screw up, so he could cast me out.  I hated His rules more than any others because of this lie I believed.

I went off to college planning to leave parental rules, Biblical law and every other regulation in the dust.  I was FREE!  Right?  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  There were still rules and laws at the university level too.  Dorm and campus rules.  Michigan laws.  The laws of gravity and motion.  Oh and that God guy…He’s there too.  Great.

It took 7 years before I realized I actually needed God.  I missed church too.  I came back to Him very broken and fully expecting to be treated poorly.  I could go to heaven, but I’d be homeless there.  I would be permitted to attend to church, but on a probationary period only.  God wouldn’t actually like me, let alone love me.  At best I expected to be tolerated, at worst severely punished.  Maybe if I behaved perfectly I could earn my way back into His good graces.  Maybe.

It’s grace I’m standing on…

Then I actually spent time with God and began to get to know who He really is.  I learned that He was a creative genius who made the sky, trees and filled the earth with beauty.  I saw that He was love.  I learned that He was good and He doesn’t want a single person to perish.  I learned that He had a good plan for my life, even still.  Best of all, I learned that He never left me, not one time.  He was with me when I walked out of His will and chose to go the world’s way.  He was with me at the bar.  He saw me make MANY dumb choices.  He was with me when my first love and I broke each other’s hearts.  He saw me graduate from college.  He was with me when I got engaged to the wrong man.  He was with me when I got sick.  And through all of that, He loved me.

He what?

He loved me.  Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. (“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3)

Then when I called out to Him, He opened His arms to me and welcomed me back.  I didn’t have to beg or plead or beat myself up.  I didn’t have to burn sacrifices on the altar or volunteer to lick anyone’s boots.  I just had to call out.  That was it.  I wish I’d have understood about His grace before I spent nearly a decade trying to make up for all the crap I pulled.  Lesson learned.

I will make mistakes…

I’ve come a long way from 17, but I’m by no means perfect.  I will make mistakes.  But my mistakes remind me that I need Him.  My weaknesses are not a design flaw.  Where I’m weak, He’s strong.  We are a team, God and I.  And that’s exactly what He wants from you too.  Partnership.  Relationship.  He wants to love you and help you to succeed.

That’s why I will NOT be moved.  I need Him.  Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. I NEED HIM.

I’ll leave you with Psalm 107.  This Psalm shows that no matter what kind of trouble you’ve gotten yourself into, cry out to God.  He’s waiting for you to ask for His help.  He’s waiting for you to tell Him you need Him.  We all need Him because of Adam’s sin in the Garden.  We’ve all inherited it.  Jesus is the only cure.

Psalm 107

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.

Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins. They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation and before the leaders of the nation.

He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase.

When they decrease in number and become impoverished through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, the Lord pours contempt on their princes, causing them to wander in trackless wastelands. But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.”